Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day tribute video

It is Memorial Day. Where to we begin to honor all that died for the cause of freedom and this idea of something called America? All vets who died were heroes who gave the full measure of devotion at the alter of freedom. But, there were some, like today, who fought in a war that people did not care about. The alternative country artists Big and Rich paid them tribute and VUI offers their video as a tribute to not only those who fell in Vietnam, but for all of those heroes who gave the full measure devotion for this idea we call freedom. God bless them all. If you like your freedom to pontificate on the internet, thank a vet, more importantly, take time to honor those who did not come home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend and what it really means

This is Memorial Day Weekend.  It is a time when many of us celebrate some time off work with trips to balloon festivals, stock car races and cookouts with family and friends.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But, in our festive celebrations, we should take time to remember those who Memorial Day is meant for. 
Memorial Day is meant to remember those who gave their lives in service to this country.  Those who gave their lives came from all walks of life.  Some were farm hands from Saluda, others where college graduates with big careers ahead of them.  Whatever the background, whatever their future, so many of our young men and women gave the full measure of devotion to this idea of America on the fields of battle, from Gettysburg, to Flanders, to Iwo Jima to Iraq and Afghanistan. 
From the beaches of Normandy to the sandy steppe outside of Kabul, we owe those who gave all for our country.  Indeed, the world owes them, and frankly, the United States.  For, in the annals of human history, no great power has sacrificed such blood and treasure to the cause of the freedom of others as the United States has.
The United States has its detractors today, even within it.  Those detractors, for whatever reason, like for us to believe that those who died for this country died in vain.  Some say they died in vain in World War II.  Others claim they died in vain in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Foes to freedom always try to belittle the sacrifice and accomplishment of those who fight and die for freedom.  Such detractors have cold hearts disillusioned from reality. 
 As the Second President of the United States John Adams once said, “facts are stubborn things.”  The facts show that the United States is the only world power in world history to sacrifice so much for the freedom of others.  Those who have died fighting under the flag of the United States died protecting not only the freedom we in the United States enjoy, but to give freedom others.  As such, those who died deserve the full respect and honor of the United States and the world they died to protect.
So, sometimes in your Memorial Day Weekend festivities, take  a moment to remember and pray for the boy from Saluda or the boy from Inman or the thousands like them, men and women, who gave their lives for the freedoms so many enjoy.  Each and every one of them died at the tip of freedom’s sword, fighting a world that would deny even the basic freedoms we embrace if it had its way. God bless those men and women who gave the full measure of devotion to the ideal of freedom.  May we never forget what they done for this country and how they defined what this country is really about. 
 As a side note, for the editor's late uncle, VUI offers this video by George Jones about those who fell in Vietnam.  Listen and think.  Try to get it.  That is the least you can do. 

Where's Ric Flair when we need him?

This year's race for the South Carolina Gubernatorial nomination has been one of the most fluid and unpredictable races in the history of gubernatorial politics.  Outside the core supporters of each of the four candidates, each of the four have had times in which they seemed to have the "Big Mo," and then saw it slip away.

Eventually, we have to endorse one of the candidates.  As such the staff of VUI, which contrary to nasty comments, does exist outside the head of our editor, have debated the candidates.  One retired politician VUI often goes to for insight had none to offer, remaining undecided and noting the weakness of the field.  One staffer said he would be voting for Gresham Barrett, but wondered aloud, "Where is Ric Flair when we need him?"

That staffer meant the question as a joke.  But, when you think on it, it is a serious question.  Ric Flair in his professional wrestling career had the star power to carry the show.   Flair was loved and hated, but he had the star power to get attention for his profession, make people pay attention and be, as he put it, "the man." 

Indeed, professional wrestling and politics are a lot like.  There is a lot of grandstanding and exaggeration.  The most exciting moments are all too often just downright fake.  The difference is, wrestlers only claim to entertain, political candidates claim to have what it takes to run the state.

Over the past couple of years, the race for Governor has unfolded.  Now, there are four candidates for the GOP nomination.  Each had their chance to be the man or the woman.  Each slipped under the spotlight.

Attorney General Henry McMaster entered as the heavy favorite.  Yet, McMaster could not close the deal.  As the campaign hits the homestretch, stories about bizarre threats on the Attorney General's life are getting more attention than McMaster's campaign message.

Lt. Governor Andre Bauer works as hard as any politician for a vote.  But, Bauer suffered a bout of foot in mouth syndrome a few months ago that seemed to get him off message just when it seemed he was taking the spotlight.

Congressman Gresham Barrett had money to spend.  He spent it.  But, his ads were ill targeted and were panned as weak by marketing folks who know a lot more than VUI. Then, the upstart campaign of Nikki Haley got Barrett off message and into things like suing her supporters.  Regardless of the merits of the lawsuit, it took Barrett off his message.  Then, came allegations that some of Barretts people pushed the Haley-Folks rumors.

That brings us to Nikki Haley.  She had the "Big Mo" at the right time, then came allegations from blogger Will Folks of an affair.  Frankly, VUI does not know who to believe.  But, Folks keeps offering up information that seems like the political version of Chinese water torture for the Haley campaign.  Frankly, the fact that Haley addressed the issue in anything other than a curt dismissal hurt her and got her off message.

That brings us to where we are today in the GOP Governor's race.  All four candidates have had their chance to take it over, and all four slipped.  Thus, the race remains fluid.  Bauer has more money left for the crunch than the others.  Barrett still has a good bit of money.  McMaster has the advantage of maturity and some sympathy for being under some kook's death threat.  Haley has people enraged and motivated over the allegations against her.

If forced to call it, VUI sees Haley and McMaster in the runoff, but we would not want to bet a cup of coffee on it.  There is no clear star of the show that will guarantee excitement and votes in the Fall. As of yet, we endorse no candidate. 

Which brings us back to Ric Flair.  Where is Ric Flair when we need him?  Of course, Flair could file as a petition candidate.  Wooohhh.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The race for State Treasurer is a mud fight

Last week VUI commented about how the race for State Treasurer was becoming a nasty affair on the internet.  Though we are leaning towards Converse Chellis for the job,because Chellis stood tall in the saddle when it counted in the wake of the Thomas Ravenel disaster,  we are still disappointed at how Chellis and his opponent Curtis Loftis have got into a mud fight.  Both men have their qualifications and they could have had a race between two well meaning candidates discussing issues.  

That, apparently, is not to be.  Instead, we are getting the nastiest race for Treasurer in the history of South Carolina.  As this year has shaped up to be one in which down ballot statewide races have a hard time to get attention, the gloves have come off in the Treasurer's race.  Never before has South Carolina seen such a race for that office.  It is nasty, it is brutal and it bare knuckle politics.   Somewhere, the late Grady Patterson has to be shaking his head. Such a race would have been beneath his dignity.

Loftis is running ads about Chellis driving a state owned SUV.  Chellis is running ads talking about how Loftis wasted hundred of thousands of dollars in his previous government positions and how Loftis was arrested back in 1990. There is a battle about who is really a C.P.A. 

Never before has such a campaign been waged for the officer of Treasurer. It is a train wreck.  People are sick of both candidates by and large and that makes the race fluid.  Who knows who will win this mud fight.  But, the mud fight is a loss for the people of South Carolina and one of the best arguments that the position should be appointed.  Mark Sanford owes a big thank you to both Chellis and Loftis for showing why South Carolina politicians can not be trusted to run for such an office.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back before Lord's handlers got to him

We at VUI have been addressing the rather insulting way the ads and mailouts by Attorney General candidate Leighton Lord seem to exaggerate Lord's resume in all but claiming he has hands on prosecution and law enforcement experience.  Such a stretch is insulting to the men and women on the front lines of law enforcement and the men and women who prosecute cases to bring criminals to justice.

A few months ago, Lord sat in a interview with WIS.  In that interview he described how his lack of prosecution experience was not a big deal and was frank about how his so called "law enforcement training" his ads tout now was limited to working for a Congressional committee.

My, what a few months and taking the advice of shady consultants can make.  Take a look at the Leighton Lord of a few months ago and compare him to the guy on the ads his big money is airing today. Why does a man with a resume like Lord's conduct a campaign that exaggerates his resume on law enforcement?  Frankly, we do not know.  Some say it is because Republican primary voters want to hear about law enforcement experience with a candidate for Attorney General.  Others say some clients that Lord represented in the civil side of things could come back to haunt him.

Regardless the reason, South Carolina is being presented with two very different Leighton Lords.  The first one, from months ago, is a man who thinks his managerial experience matters most.  The one now is willing to stretch his resume in a campaign.  Watch the video below and decide for yourself. Again, we at VUI wonder why in the world such a man would allow his campaign to stretch his resume on a particular item when he has a strong resume in the first place.  It is disturbing.

Indeed, just watch and listen to the first lines of the ad Lord is running ad nausea now on state television.  See it below and compare it to the mailouts and radio ads.  The Lord of today is claiming to be something he is not, for no good reason.  The Lord of a few months ago had better sense.  Even if Lord wins, he leaves in the wake of any victory the insults of law enforcement officers and prosecutors who are growing increasingly bitter about his ad's implied exaggerations.

Haley-Folks controversy adds to already unconventional political year

As stated earlier, VUI is not getting into who is right or wrong in the Haley-Folks thing.  We will leave that up to others.  

But, the controversy surrounding the GOP front runner for Governor only adds to how unconventional this political year seems to be.  Despite the efforts of Tea Party groups and others, people seemed turned off.  People are certainly not donating money to various campaigns like before.  Campaigns for various statewide offices are starting their media drives late because they did not have the money to start any earlier.  

Add to that the state of today's mainstream media.  Gone are the days of the likes of someone like Lee Bandy.  If a candidate, like Attorney General candidate Leighton Lord, exaggerated his resume, someone like Bandy would have hit that candidate hard.  The Lee Bandy's of the media world have been replaced with overworked reporters who want a quick and easy story.  Today they might write about a political race.  Tomorrow they are covering the chili cookoff winners.  Reporters today simply do not put in the work to get at real stories that really matter.  Thus, when a sex scandal like the Haley-Folks matter comes up, they latch on to it.  It is easy to grasp and it gets readers.  

But, the attention paid to such hurts the people of South Carolina.  Outside the Governor's race, there are some very important constitutional offices up for grabs. The lack of mainstream media attention to those races make them fluid, and frankly, easier to be just bought by someone with means than ever before.  

 Is that the South Carolina we want?  Are we as a electorate so lazy and our media so lazy that we just engross ourselves in sex stories and not bother to learn about the politics and issues involved in the races to decide who leads us and who spends our money?  

Think on that as we try to do our part to at least let you know our take on those who are running for various offices.  We at VUI share some of the Tea Party's excitement about some things happening around the nation.  But, here, in South Carolina, it just seems like more of the blind leading the blind to the next easy story to write and read.

Monday, May 24, 2010

VUI will let you without sin cast the stones

The blog world and the news world is excited over FITS News Blog founder Wil Folk's admissions in regards to GOP front runner Nikki Haley. VUI is not. 

We at VUI said before that Haley was now in the heat of the spotlight, and time would tell what happened.

That, said, time will still tell what happened way back when.  The sickening jockeying of Haley's  and Folks's opponents, Republican and Democrat, in wake of this event is disappointing.  Before this situation turns into a political knife fight, some of the folks better remember a political knife can be turned around pretty quickly or can come from out of nowhere.  Getting in the middle of this kind of thing is tricky stuff and it's not right.   

The other campaigns should have nothing to say, and that includes their anonymous minions on the blogs.  Shut it up.  Let it play out.  People are best left to judge for themselves in things like these, and
most of us are not qualified to judge such things in the first place.

As Christ said, "let you without sin throw the first stone."  VUI won't.  Perhaps some of you are perfect and know better than we do about casting stones at people's personal lives and personal honor.

That said, we will caste one stone of a sort.  The likes of James F. Byrnes, Strom Thurmond, and Carroll Campbell must be shaking their heads somewhere in disgust over how South Carolina politics has become an expensive soap opera. Further,  Fritz's Hollings's "cash and carry government" statement should now include "cash, carry and gossip."

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Top 9 political things that really tick us off

Pundits say the electorate is mad as Hell.  They say that is why long time incumbents have went down so far in earlier primaries.  Well, we are pretty ticked as well.  And, here are the Top 9 things that really tick us off in politics. 

9) The President of the United States standing like a humble school boy while the President of Mexico lectures him on the White House lawn about how the United States should allow illegal immigration.  Then the President of the United States fed that guy dinner. 

8) The fact that candidates always claim to be against the good ole boys and gals, but in fact are just as sneaky as anyone when it comes to who is paying for their campaigns. When anyone running for office tells you they are not a politician, put your hand on your wallet. 

7)The fact the media does not call Leighton Lord for what he is.  His false claims of law enforcement experience really pisses us off.  Walk up to a car with Florida plates on I-95 at three in the morning and then tell us about your "law enforcement" experience, pal.

6) The way the Obama Administration kicks around Israel.  They are the only nation in the Middle East with Democratic values like ours, but the Obama Administration treats Israel like the wayward stepchild. 

5) Politicians like Gresham Barrett who stand up against suing people and then sue a group that they contend is supporting a political opponent. 

4) The fact that South Carolina politics is dominated by blowhard consultants in the so called "Big Three" who have not one clue how people really live. 

3) The fact that a genuine flake like Kelly Payne is actually taken seriously as a candidate for public office and that her pissant email pal Dick Eckstrom is a shoe in for re-election as Comptroller General. Somewhere, Charlie Brown is shaking his head. 

2) The fact that no one seems to remember the fact we are sending good men and women to war in places on the other side of the world.  It seems no candidate wants to start off his campaign by acknowledging that we are still at war with Islamic fascism.  

1) The fact that the liberals who want us to pay for everyone's health care are joined by false conservatives who think taxpayers should subsidize someone's kid going to a private school. The average guy paying his taxes doesn't stand a chance with those clowns doing the bidding of the people who pay them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jim Rex has a party's nomination

The South Carolina Election Commission is reporting that Jim Rex has secured a party nomination that will place Rex on the November ballot for Governor.  Rex is running for the Democratic Party's nomination in the June primary, but Rex has already secured the nomination of the Working Families Party.  

The slate of candidates nominated by the Working Families Party is below: 

"Working Families Party
Jim Rex
U.S. Senate
Vic Rawl
U.S. House of Representatives District 1
Robert D Burton
U.S. House of Representatives District 3
Jane Ballard Dyer
State House of Representatives District 8
Tom Dobbins
State House of Representatives District 31
Mike Fowler
State House of Representatives District 31
Harold Mitchell Jr
State House of Representatives District 35
Tom Davies
State House of Representatives District 37
Delores Frazer
State House of Representatives District 38
John Lewis
State House of Representatives District 82
William Bill Clyburn
State House of Representatives District 113
J Seth Whipper"

As you can see, the list is filled with Democratic candidates.  The WFP is banking on Rex winning the Democratic primary.  Because, if Rex loses the Democratic nomination battle, it would be illegal for him to run as the WFP's nominee.  

Further, the WFP seems be a fan of fusion voting, in which they nominate another major party nominee as their nominee and then hope the votes add together to victory, giving WFP clout with their numbers.  

The last candidate to try the fusion voting approach at the statewide level in South Carolina was Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s.  He lost twice.  

Further, factor in the Rex thing and how Rex swore to  not run as another party's nominee should he lose the Democratic primary, and one has to wonder if the WFP's efforts in South Carolina are well thought out.  

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mr. Barrett goes to court

Congressman Gresham Barrett's race for Governor is off track.  Barrett's supporters and staff will argue otherwise, but the facts are there.  

Six months ago, the big political story was about how much money Gresham Barrett had to spend on his race for Governor.  Now, the political story of the day is that Barrett is suing a group his lawyers claim is illegally supporting Nikki Haley.  Six months ago, Haley was not a factor in the Governor's race.  Now, she seems to be Barrett's chief rival, while Attorney General McMaster seems assured of a spot in the runoff.  

The current situation can not be what the Barrett campaign wanted at this point.  Afterall, Barrett stated in his stump speeches and even mentioned in his ads how litigation reform is needed.  Barrett argued lawsuits are an impediment to economic development.  

Fair or unfair, it is going to be hard for Barrett to champion that idea now that his campaign sued Reform SC for an ad the group ran that the Barrett campaign contends illegally supports Nikki Haley.  

The merits of the case are real. There are legitimate points of law to be argued in the case.  However, when Judge J. Mark Hayes, II ordered the ads to be taken down, it gave no political favor to Barrett.  

It adds to what VUI calls the flip flop problem of Barrett's.  He voted against the bank bailout and then voted for it.  Barrett goes after lawyers for litigating, but his campaign is quick to sue.  The suit has its legal merits, but politically it is not very smart, unless the Barrett campaign thinks they are out of the race already. 

Perhaps what we are seeing here is a politician who knows he is not going to win the Governor's race, but he has enough left to wound the Sanford crowd and the out of state folks who have come to dominate Republican Party politics over the past few years.  That is the only thing that makes political sense in this situation.  No politician or consultant worth a hill of beans can actually believe that suing people turns on Republican primary voters.  

Mr. Barrett's day in court was a short term legal victory for his campaign.  But, it was a political victory for Nikki Haley and those who support her.  They got Barrett off track and mired into a rivalry with her when instead Barrett should be duking it out with McMaster.  Barrett also gave Haley ammunition about how desperate "good ole boys" will get.  

We will all know in the next few weeks how all of this plays out.  But, as it looks now, VUI thinks politically Mr. Barrett should have delayed his day in court.

The internet ad wars

The rise of the internet has led campaigns, activists, and well, just some strange people, to put out all sorts of campaign ads via YouTube.  Over the next couple of weeks, VUI will be looking at that those ads and offering them up for our readers to check out. 

Among the most interesting in the first round of ads we reviewed was an ad on the Governor's race by someone called Working Tommy C.  We have no idea who that guy is.  But, the ad he posted was interesting in that it featured one of our favorite films, The Planet of the Apes, as a theme.  

Take a look for yourself below and let us know what you think about the ad and all the other amateur political ads out there.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wilson gets on the air

Alan Wilson joined the tv wars with his most recent ad.  We at VUI like Wilson.  His experience as a proven prosecutor and as a military man who served in Iraq hits home with VUI, as we have friends and family fighting the bad buys on the front lines of law enforcement and in the military.  Wilson is no daddy in law's  boy and no phony who has to exaggerate his resume to look good.  Alan Wilson is the real deal, so to speak, and VUI is proud to present Wilson's first ad in the TV ad wars.  

Some might contend we are biased.  Sure we are.  VUI is always biased about standing up for someone who has the real record on taking on the bad guys. Wilson is one of the good guys and stands ready to lead as Attorney General.  We in South Carolina will be fortunate to have a man with Wilson's true experience as our Attorney General.

Here is the ad. 

The GOP race for Treasurer

The race for the Republican nomination for State Treasurer is not making headlines, but it has been downright dirty on the internet. Both campaigns have had supporters lurking on the internet sling the mud about each candidate’s lives and records. Charges of being a RINO and a tool of the legislature have been met with charges about divorces and personal lives. That is the internet. People who support someone often get overheated when they can post relatively anonymous comments.

The fact is both candidates are pretty decent guys. VUI will start with Treasurer Converse Chellis. Chellis took the job of State Treasurer in the most difficult of circumstances. The office of State Treasurer had been dominated by the late Grady Patterson. Patterson served as the State Treasurer of South Carolina from 1966 until 1994 and from 1998 until 2006. Patterson was a man beyond reproach, even to his Republican opponents. An elderly Patterson lost re-election in 2006 to the once political force named Thomas Ravenel. Ravenel brought the vigor of youth and change to the job until he was arrested on charges of distributing cocaine. No state constitutional office had ever been subjected to such a disgraceful charge and office holder.

Governor Sanford moved quickly to remove Ravenel temporarily and appointed respected Columbia area attorney Ken Wingate as Acting Treasurer. When Ravenel pled guilty to the charges against him, the General Assembly faced electing a State Treasurer. The General Assembly chose Converse Cheillis from Summerville to fill the post.

Chellis had the resume. He had served several terms in the House. He was a C.P.A. On becoming Treasurer in the worse of circumstances, Chellis moved quickly to restore respect to the office. Frankly, Chellis did that.

But the election of Chellis upset the Sanford crowd. They wanted someone else that was not supported by the General Assembly. Thus, upon his election by the General Assembly, the campaign by some factions in the Republican Party against Chellis began. Some would challenge policy. Others would lurk on the internet and smear the man behind pen names and the like. One thing was clear; there was a rank bitterness about Governor Sanford, who then was not dogged by the Argentina affair, not getting his way.

The rank bitterness remained. From it came a demand for someone to challenge Chellis in the GOP Primary. That someone turned out to be Curtis Loftis.

Loftis is no villain or ne’er do well. Loftis is a successful small businessman who served as Director of the Office of Aging and Director of Transparency in the Comptroller General’s office. Loftis is a charitable leader.

VUI believes either man could do the job of State Treasure. Neither would embarrass South Carolina as Thomas Ravenel did. But, we have to voice our disappointment at the negative comments on the internet by both camps. Such nonsense is below both men. We recognize that people in lower ballot statewide races have to get attention anyway that they can, but still, the Treasurer’s race could have been a race between two good men with different ideas. Instead, it seems to be an internet mud fight.

Mud fight or not, VUI has to make a call on this one. The staff debated. In the end, VUI concluded, that when South Carolina needed someone to clean up a mess, Converse Chellis showed up. As such, VUI endorses Converse Chellis for the Republican nomination for Treasurer for another four years. Chellis did the job when it counted most. That counts for something and earned our support in the primary.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Top 9 things overheard about the Governor's race

We at VUI like to get out there amongst the people.  In breakfast places, feed stores, bars and grills, and backyard cookouts, we are there, listening to what you have to say.  As a result, we came up with this week's Top 9 things overheard about the Governor's race.  They are real comments.  Funny or not, here we go.  

9)Who knew that a pretty boy like Andre Bauer would go after the redneck vote?

8)If you think Obama does not give a damn about Louisiana, watch what happens if South Carolina gets hit by a hurricane while McMaster is Governor. 

7)I got to say a thousand Hail Marys to repent for the thoughts I had when I saw Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley together. 

6)I tell you, Robert Ford is a playa.  I would love to party with that guy. 

5)Who else is running?  Damn, I thought Sanford was bad. 

4)That "Shehee boy" seems like such a nice young man.  He reminds me of the nice boy who cuts my grass. 

3)This year proves anybody can grow up to be Governor of South Carolina. 

2)If you bought Jim Rex lunch, he would whine about how you did not buy him dessert. 

1)Barrett is for loser pay lawsuits?  That makes sense, because he is paying millions to lose the Governor's race. 

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The race for the First District seat in Congress

There are three hotly contested Republican primary races for the United State Congress in South Carolina this year.  VUI will be taking a look at the races in the Third and Fourth Congressional Districts shortly.  However, the wild affair in the First is best covered by Lowcountry blogger and old political hand Earl Capps.

That race features a rising Republican star, Tim Scott, and two sons of political legends in Tumpy Campbell and Paul Thurmond.  There seems a laundry list of other candidates joining them to replace retiring Congressman Henry Brown.

In the interests of giving our readers some of the best information about races around the state, VUI defers to the learned Mr. Capps on this one. His latest post on the race can be found below. 

Check out that link and see what Capps has to say.  He makes a very good point and some sense out of a wild primary race in the Lowcountry. If we at VUI had a gun to our heads to force us to predict the runoff, we would say Thurmond and Scott, but again, Capps has a better take on the race than VUI does. Here is the link.

The Blogland of Earl Capps: The Dorchester Wild Card?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lord's campaign ought to be ashamed

Republican Attorney General Candidate Leighton Lord is at it again. After insulting law enforcement officers and prosecutors around the state with a mail piece that touted Lords alleged “law enforcement experience,” the Lord campaign is now running radio ads touting Lord’s law enforcement experience and training. Lord himself talks about how he went after organized crime and terrorism.

Those ads sound oh so good. It is amazing what a wealthy lawyer can do with his own money and his father in law’s wealthy contacts. However, no amount of money can distract from the facts. As President John Adams once said when he was practicing law, “facts are stubborn things.”

The fact is the law enforcement experience that the Lord Campaign touts did not come from prosecuting the bad guys or being on the front lines arresting the bad guys. Lord reaches yet again to make himself to be something he is not by touting his time as a counsel to a Congressional committee as law enforcement experience.

Perhaps Lord did do important work while as counsel to that Congressional committee. But, to compare that work to the work that prosecutors and cops do is insulting to both. We at VUI have relatives and close friends who do that work. We know firsthand lawyers who work tirelessly for relatively low pay to put the bad buys away. We know firsthand cops who walk up all alone to the car stopped on some interstate. Frankly, we at VUI wonder how Leighton Lord can look a police officer in the eye in good conscious and tell them that working as a committee lawyer makes him law enforcement.

What is puzzling is why Leighton Lord’s campaign seems bent on so stretching his resume. Lord has a strong resume and contacts, especially through his in laws, which would seem to be enough. Indeed, in the earlier stages of the Attorney General’s race, Lord contended that criminal prosecution was not all that important. He touted his record as a manager of one of the state’s most powerful law firms. That made sense.

Now the Lord campaign wants to take the brief time Lord spent working for a Congressional committee and turn that into real law enforcement experience. That is a big mistake and makes no sense. It is insulting to career prosecutors and it is insulting to the men and women who are on the front lines of law enforcement.

Perhaps the consultant advising Lord has convinced him that stretching the resume will not be noticed. Perhaps the Lord Campaign thinks we are too dumb to read resumes and asks questions. But, those of us who have family and dear friends on the front lines of law enforcement are insulted. We know firsthand that working as the counsel for some Congressional committee is not like prosecuting a bad guy or walking up all alone to a car on some interstate. Money cannot buy that real world perspective about what people we care about deal with. Those people deserve respect for the jobs that they do, not someone whose campaign pretends he has done the job to get some votes.

If Lord had stuck to his true resume, perhaps he would have better standing in the eyes of VUI. But, when his campaign stretched and portrayed him as having real law enforcement experience, Lord lost us and frankly, ticked us off. Lord’s campaign ought to be ashamed.

The "Big Mo" has Haley in the game

Like her or not, Sarah Palin is a force in Republican Party politics and has rock star status among some groups of conservatives. Palin’s endorsement of Nikki Haley for Governor churned up a race that has remained fluid. Further, if you doubt Palin’s prominence in the Republican Party, note how Attorney General McMaster and Gresham Barrett chose to swipe at each other instead of criticize Palin and her endorsement of Haley.

Indeed, events over the past few weeks seem to indicate that Haley might have what President Bush the Elder called “the Big Mo.” Haley held her own in the debates, her campaign got Gresham Barrett off track, and Reform SC’s full throated support gave Haley a financial boost. Now, that someone as prominent as Sarah Palin has endorsed Haley, the Haley campaign is for real.

Haley’s rise comes at the time the three other Republican candidates seem to not be doing as well as they had planned. Of course their camps will spin otherwise. But, frankly, the lack of excitement over the race so far has set up an interesting race to the primary finish line.

First, McMaster has not closed the deal. A year ago, Henry McMaster looked to be in position to win the Republican nomination without a runoff. However, the Attorney General’s numbers plunged since then, and he has been mired in the high twenties for some time now. Lt. Governor Bauer, as hardworking of a campaigner as they come, has had gaffes that have him with relative high negative numbers even within the Republican Party. Gresham Barrett performed extremely well in earlier debates and had a large war chest, however, in all frankness, his ads have been lackluster and all that money spent still cannot get him past 20 percent at this point.

Now that voters are starting to pay close attention, in comes Haley. To many Republicans, she has Sanford’s good ideas without his baggage and ego. With the events mentioned above, Haley’s campaign is catching the “Big Mo” at just the right time.

All that said, the race is still very fluid. Now that Nikki Haley has become someone that people think can actually contend for the Republican nomination, she and her campaign will be under much more scrutiny then before. People are now going to seriously ask themselves if they can see Haley as Governor of South Carolina. If the Haley campaign were frank, they would have to be happy to be taken seriously. But, now that Haley is taken seriously, it is on her to close the deal.

The “Big Mo” is fickle in politics. It can leave a candidate in a day. McMaster, Bauer and Barrett have all dealt with being the focus of the spotlight. Frankly, they did not perform as well as they probably hoped to in those moments. Now, the spotlight will turn for a moment to Haley. She is in the game. Whether or not she can find a way to win will be determined in the next few weeks.

The above photo was taken by the AP.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sense about sin taxes

Big Brother is after another part of your life, this time smoking. South Carolina’s General Assembly finally succumbed to second hand smug inhalation and voted to override Governor Sanford’s veto of the cigarette tax increase. The smug proponents of this bill tell us that it will save lives and bring in money. They quietly tell us that people with class do not smoke anyway. It is symbolic of the mushy logic of today’s smug elite.

Think about it. People who weigh 300 pounds plus and polish off a half gallon of ice cream a night sit and demand that “smokers pay their fair share” of health costs. Even worse are the fit smug elitists. They sit around filled with hidden judgment for their fellow human beings because they basically won the genetic lottery. They think that people who are not like them have something wrong with their character, so taxing “those people” is okay. The government elitists know better how to run people’s lives and are always happy to have people pay them for the privilege of hearing how they should live. The religious elitists think that is God’s Will to make “sinners” pay a “sin” tax.

We the people are told that the cigarette tax will save lives by getting people to stop smoking. Perhaps stopping smoking extends some people’s lives. But, here is something you can bank on. You and I, our neighbors, our relatives, our friends, we are going to die. It might come from smoking, drinking, eating, just living, walking in front a bus, being it an accident, being struck by lightning, or being hit over the head with a golf club, whatever the cause, the end of physical life comes. It is the height of elitist arrogance to believe that a tax can change that significantly. Besides, where would the revenue come from for government to spend if people really stopped smoking?

The second point being made by those who pushed for the cigarette tax is that it will keep children from starting the habit of smoking. The law forbidding minors to buy cigarettes has not worked, so again, is it really logical to believe that a tax can do that in a significant manner?

Further, smoking cigarettes is not what ails our youth. Most rational people love the children in their lives, so what VUI is about to say is going to be difficult to face. Studies show that when compared to young people around the world, our youth are, as a group, ignorant and lazy. More children are either virtually ignored by their parents or catered to by their parents. More children experiment with sex at an earlier age, have access to pornography and violence via the internet and mobile phones, and are on prescription drugs for behavior than ever before.
Our culture has created this great myth about tobacco use and character in people. There are people who actually say things like, “Well, Junior couldn’t break 700 on the SAT, but it’s okay the doctor is trying to get his meds right now that Junior is dealing with his sexuality and his violent tendencies. But, thank God my boy has never touched a cigarette.”

It seems that is the culture we live in now. We have activists and elected officials who melodramatically throw studies at us created to enhance their points on how the rest of us live. So, tax the “sin” of cigarette smoking. Fair enough. Let’s balance the budget with new sin taxes.

First, let’s have a fornication and adultery tax. Adultery is illegal in South Carolina, so let’s tax it. Members of the General Assembly must pay double since they are to be examples to the rest of us on how to live. Sex chat would be taxed as well. Lying about an affair would constitute tax evasion. Second, let’s tax sugar. Sugar is a killer. No one under 18 should be allowed to consume it. No more dreaded sugar highs and the low character that comes with them. Third, and this one hits VUI in the gut, let’s have a fat tax. Let’s tax a dollar a pound over a certain weight. Again, members of the General Assembly should pay double.

That brings us to the alcohol tax. The revenue made from this simple tax could run the state budget by itself. Under the VUI plan, only the alcohol sold in the Columbia metro area during the session of the General Assembly would be taxed. With some of the things this year’s General Assembly came up with, rest assured the state would be floating in money.

Some might think VUI’s sin tax suggestions are funny. But, watch out, we are betting the fat tax will be next. Big Brother Bobby and his cohorts want to take care of you and save you from you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In a perfect world, Kitzman would be elected Lt. Governor

The Lt. Governor’s race is filled with weak candidates. The office itself is not very powerful. The best thing the people of South Carolina can hope for is to elect someone to the post who understands issues and uses the office to promote important issues and South Carolina. As things stand in the campaign today, Florence County Council member Ken Ard and his consultant sidekick, known to politicos as “Sneaky Spanky” claim to be the front runner. Bill Connor served the nation well in the military, and despite Larry “The Lounge Lizard” Richter’s criticism of Connor, Connor is honorable to run for Lt. Governor. The Lounge Lizard is in the race himself, but he brings out rumors and fears of being another Thomas Ravenel.

That leaves us with Eleanor Kitzman. Kitzman knows the insurance industry better than anyone in South Carolina politics. With Obama’s health insurance bill so prominent in politics, Kitzman’s knowledge and experience is refreshing. Kitzman not only headed up the South Carolina Department of Insurance, but she started her own insurance company. Kitzman knows the issues of insurance and all others. In interviews and on her campaign website, Kitzman offers intelligence and positions on issues that seem grounded on good sense.

But, alas there is politics. Sneaky Spanky and his ilk around Ard are good at what they do. Larry the Lounge Lizard has the Shealy machine and money behind him. Connor, honorable as he is, still has paid politicos from the old Sanford machine behind him. Those candidates have the political machines behind them and in a race as weak as this year’s Lt. Governor’s race that will probably be enough for one of them to win.

That is unfortunate for the people of South Carolina. Twenty minutes with Eleanor Kitzman shows that she is smarter than the gentlemen she is running against. South Carolina needs someone like Kitzman in the office of Lt. Governor. Kitzman has the sense and the experience to lead. Kitzman has the knowledge that the other candidates lack. But, in this state, that might not be enough.

In a perfect world, South Carolina would elect Eleanor Kitzman Lt. Governor and then support her for Governor four years from now. She makes sense. But, again, this is South Carolina, and making sense and being smart probably insures someone as smart as Kitzman does not even make the Republican primary runoff. Sneaky Spanky and Mr. Shealy demand such.

None of the Gubernatorial candidates show leadership

The candidates in both parties for Governor are historically lackluster. Indeed, 2010 seems to be one of the most dispassionate political campaigns for Governor in recent history. Outside political insiders and hardcore supporters, the gubernatorial race is a yawner for most people in South Carolina.

There is a reason for such. The candidates are all playing the game set forth by their paid handlers. They offer no inspiration and passion that captures the people of South Carolina.

Some blame the lack of passion for this year’s political races upon the dire economy. They are quick to point out that people do not have the disposable income to donate to candidates and are too worried about their own lives to donate their time and energy to a candidate.

Perhaps the economy is a factor. But, frankly, South Carolina has been through difficult times before. After all, we are a state that survived slavery, reconstruction, the Great Depression, and gave more than our fair share of blood and treasure to our nation’s wars. The history of the people of our state is diverse and proud. Through wars and hurricanes, and derisions by others, the people of South Carolina have always stood proud and pressed on.

So, these hard times will not rock the stuff that South Carolinians are made of. However, throughout our history, we always had leaders that seemed larger than life. Whether they were right or wrong, those leaders rose above the din of politics to lead. That is missing now.

Think of it, regardless of the party you belong to, does Haley, Barrett, Bauer and McMaster rise to the level of a Thurmond or Campbell, or even an Edwards for that matter? (For those of you with short memories, Jim Edwards was the first Republican Governor of SC since Reconstruction.) Does Sheheen and Rex rise to the level of Hollings and Byrnes?

Indeed, the leaders who built this state, right or wrong, were their own men. They did not rely upon some consultant to tell them what to say or what to believe. They were larger than life on their own. They were no one’s puppets. In the end, they built their careers on what they believed, not what some consultant told them to say to appeal to what the polls said some group believed.

That is how leadership inspires. Leadership is not following the advice of handlers. Leadership is not trying to guess what everyone wants. Leadership is inspiring people to follow the leader’s ideas. Leaders like Ronald Reagan and Carroll Campbell knew what they believed and convinced and inspired people to follow. In all frankness, that is missing in this Governor’s race. Not one candidate has illustrated that ability to know his or her own core and to lead people to be better.

Instead, the major candidates for the office of Governor huddle with highly paid consultants and try to guess what we want them to say to us, hoping to get our votes. Such is weak and uninspiring, fueling the rank and file voters in this state to not care as much as those of plugged into politics think that they should. Frankly, who can blame them? Candidates, who seem to be open, like Nikki Haley, play fast and loose with campaign laws and let groups run virtual campaign ads for them. Other candidates seem so handled by consultants. It is no wonder so many South Carolinians seem uninspired about the 2010 election. It is difficult to get fired up to follow people who do not seem truly able to lead.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Lt. Governor's race heats up on the net

This years race for Lt. Governor in South Carolina has been lackluster to say the least. Frankly, there is no candidate that is setting folks afire with excitement. But, someone is trying to. Whether it is the Ard camp or the Connor camp, someone posted a video on You Tube featuring Larry Richter on the attack. VUI will not speculate on which camp is behind the posting, as both have within them people capable of doing such. For that matter, Richter's camp could have it put it up for all we know. But, it does bring a spark of something to the Lt. Governor's race. Watch below and judge for yourself. Yes, folks, there is actually a Lt. Governor's primary in the Republican Party.

It's time to cancel "Days of our Sanfords"

Over the past weekend, we were hit with the Days of our Sanfords again, as news outlets and bloggers reported and opined about Governor Sanford taking a weekend in the Florida Keys with some female guest. Bloggers, especially in “comments” sections seemed to go nuts over that.

Lt. Governor Bauer’s spokesman was quick to tell us that the Governor did not tell the Lt. Governor about the Governor’s plans. The Governor apparently was in touch with his staff during his brief vacation.

Add that story to the stories about the former Mrs. Sanford having a boyfriend, and well, it is time for the Days of Sanfords to stop. It is time for the media and the bloggers of this state to let the Sanford’s personal lives be their own. They are divorced. The former Mrs. Sanford has no official duty to this state. Frankly, who cares?

Apparently, the media cares and their readers do as well. VUI has been critical of the Governor for his policies, for his AWOL status last summer and his abuse of the ethics laws. But, we at VUI could give less than a damn about who the Governor or his ex-wife is dating. Indeed, the media in South Carolina seems to have taken on the role of the nosey and instigating mutual friend of a divorced couple. Most readers know the type. Such a mutual friend likes to tell one divorcee about the other and vice versa, stoking what controversy they can out of it. Such people typically do so because they are too lazy to think about other things or they have no lives of their own. Sometimes they are thoughtless pawns of the divorcees.

It is disappointing that the media have assumed the role that they have. I guess they have to sell ad space and papers. However, before you get caught up in the Days of our Sanfords, perhaps you should think about the following. First, the vast majority of those who comment or blog about the Sanfords’ personal lives do not know either of them personally. Second, even close friends do not truly know exactly what goes on behind closed doors in their friends’ marriages or romantic relationships. Third, always be leery of people who get angry and bitter about someone else’s personal life, especially someone that they do not know.

Finally, there comes the time to stop feeding the beast of controversy and ego. Nothing good comes from feeding that beast. Indeed, the Book of Proverbs tells us that one of the things that the Lord detests is sowing discord in another’s home. Now, the Sanfords are divorced, but they have children, thus still a family. It is time for the Sanfords to be left alone. It is time for the news articles about the particulars of their private lives, the posts, the comments, all of it, to come to an end. It is the decent and right thing to do.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Top 9 things Americans learned this week from the British elections

This week's Top 9 has an international flavor as the British, our key allies, had a general election.  Here are things Americans learned from this week. 

9) The British have no President.  Debates among their party leaders are like mules fighting over a turnip.  It is interesting to watch for a while, but in the end it means nothing.

8) If you think counting votes in Florida is bad, try counting them in some constituency outside of London while some drunken soccer fan shouts his vote only counted once.

7) Like in American politics, the most powerful woman in Great Britain, the Queen, does not have anything to say about the elections. Hillary understands.

6) British Prime Minister Gordon Brown seems a lot like Jimmy Carter with a British accent.

5) The British Parliament is akin to the South Carolina State Senate after a five drink minimum. 

4) A Tory is not a car that Paris Hilton’s latest boyfriend drives.

3) The self professed “Liberal Democrats” of Great Britain are actually more conservative in nature then President Obama.

2) The Speaker of the House of Commons, even after this election, is not on Zoloft and Botox.

1) A “hung” Parliament is nothing gay men and straight women should get overly excited about.

Rex trying to defy history and political conventional wisdom

State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex has had a disappointing campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor so far. The only elected statewide Democratic official, Rex enjoys the highest name identification of any Democratic candidate. Yet, despite that fact, Rex faces money troubles and history.

First, there are the money problems. There are two that come to mind. First, is the dismal campaign fundraising by Rex. Even if Rex makes a runoff against State Senator Vincent Sheheen, Rex will go into that runoff without the resources needed to win.

Yet, Rex did win statewide office four years ago below the political radar and spending less money than his opponent. The second money problem Rex has will hurt him repeat the performance. Four years ago, Rex had a network of teachers and school officials that were enthusiastic about his candidacy and they worked to turn out their families and friends to vote for Rex. Much like retiring Adjutant General Spears had unofficial campaign headquarters at every National Guard Armory because of the Guard’s support of him, Rex had unofficial headquarters at most public schools four years ago.

That support is unlikely to be as strong because of the lack of money in the state budget and the overall loss of morale among the ranks of teachers. Frankly, it is hard to find an educator who is happier with the state of affairs of education now than they were four years ago. It has to be difficult for the same group to be excited about Rex after four years of seeing teachers and rank and file staff furloughed and laid off while the fat cats at the Department of Education kept their jobs.

Then, there is history according to the biographies of Superintendants from the South Carolina Department of Education website. Only one Superintendant of Education has ever been elected Governor of South Carolina. That happened 128 years ago in 1882, when outgoing Superintendant of Education Hugh S. Thompson was elected Governor. The only other Superintendant of Education to go on to another elected office was John J. McMahan, who served as Superintendant from 1898 until 1902. McMahan went on to be elected to the South Carolina House twice, in 1908 and 1914 respectively. Thus, it has been 96 years since a South Carolina Superintendant of Education was elected to anything else.

It appears that history and conventional political wisdom are against Jim Rex. If, and it is a big if, he were to somehow be successful in his run for Governor, it would be one of the biggest political upsets in South Carolina political history. Chances are though, Rex’s active political career as a campaigner will end a few weeks from now.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Haley Campaign still shooting at Barrett and more

From the last debate to a string of press releases, it appears that the Haley for Governor campaign sees their chief obstacle to the Republican Primary runoff as Gresham Barrett. Indeed, in press releases and public remarks, Haley campaigns as if Attorney General McMaster and Lt. Governor Bauer were not in the race at all.

There is a reason for that. Now is not the time for Haley to attack McMaster. He is safe for the runoff unless South Carolina voters issue a huge upset on primary day. Bauer, on the other hand, is to most old hands in Columbia, done. Thus, Haley continues to run a "positive" campaign that attacks Gresham Barrett nearly every day.

Haley and her camp perhaps have a point about Barrett's bank bailout vote. But, they dilute their legitimate shots by not shooting straight. The Haley camp's latest attack on Barrett is his support of a bill that includes a Value Added Tax. The Haley camp makes Barrett's support as some support of big government only. But, if you look carefully at the measure, one finds that it imposes a Value Added Tax on goods from countries that place such taxes on United States goods. In other words, it is a fair trade idea, not a tax increase idea.

Now, if the Haley camp is against a fairer playing field for American products in competition with foreign goods, let them shoot us straight and come out and argue that point.

The language and the tactics of the Haley campaign are similar to the Sanford campaign of 2002. Barrett will be angry by the fuzzy details of Haley's attacks, but if he attacks back, he will be quickly labeled as negative. Ask Bob Peeler how that ole play by the Sanford folks works.

We at VUI call that campaign approach the "positive attack" campaign. Here is how it works. A candidate, like Haley, talks up issues and about how things should be open and honest. Then, the candidate attacks their chief opponent in a way that plays fast and loose with the details. That is meant to get the chief opponent angry. It is meant to get the candidate and their camp thinking, "here's this candidate who says she is for openness and honesty who won't be honest about my record in her campaign." That anger turns into attacks back. Those attacks back are deflected, either by the "awe shucks, folks, I am just trying to be honest" approach of Sanford in 2002 or the "we are trying to make government more open" approach of Haley in 2010. By having already defined themselves to lofty platitudes, a candidate like Sanford or Haley feeds off of negative hits by their opponents, even when those opponents are just trying to set the record straight.

For the above type campaign to work, the campaign has to have a likable candidate. In 2002, Mark Sanford and his card tables at grocery stores made him seem like the earnest guy down the street. Nikki Haley comes across as the crusading soccer mom. Democrats traditionally like that approach, but in South Carolina this year, that perception is owned by Nikki Haley.

That fact, and the tactics of her campaign, make her still dangerous. If Haley gets in the runoff, she will be a very problematic opponent for the McMaster people. VUI believes that the McMaster camp will be tempted to pull the trigger on a negative campaign against Haley if numbers shift. When they do, Haley could feed off those numbers and win the nomination. One pundit dubbed Haley "Sanford in a skirt," and when it comes to campaign tactics, that pundit could be right. But, remember, Sanford won.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Prayers and thoughts for the SC Air National Guard

According to published reports, an AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed at McEntire Joint Air National Guard Base near Columbia on Sunday afternoon during training exercises. According to the reports, one soldier was killed and another was injured.

VUI offers thoughts and prayers for the victims and their family, friends and comrades in arms. While most of us think about the troops who face enemy fire overseas in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, we tend to forget the dangers and the service of those who train here to be ready at a moments notice to serve us in war and disaster.

So, take a moment today to think about and pray for those impacted by the crash and those who work hard and expose themselves to danger everyday to be ready to serve when the state and nation needs them.

May God bless the victims and the South Carolina Air National Guard.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Candidate statement from Brent Nelsen

The first of the candidate statements VUI is offering space to comes from Brent Nelsen, Republican candidate for Superintendent of Education. Below is the statement, unedited.

As summer nears, high schools are getting ready for that grand spring ritual -- graduation. Soon, promising young men and women will walk across a stage and into college, technical school, military training, or the workforce.

Our problem, though, is that too few of our young people make that walk. It is costing each of us and killing our state’s economic future, not to mention suffocating the careers and earning potential for thousands of our state’s young people.

Only 6 of 10 students who start high school graduate with their peers, according to the Southern Regional Education Board (2009).

We rank 48th in the country and 15th out of 16 southern states, only ahead of Louisiana. Half of our high schools were identified as "dropout factories" that graduate 60 percent or less of their freshman entrants, according to a Johns Hopkins University study.

Low graduation rates affect all of us. South Carolinians who do not graduate from high school will, on average, make $10,000 less per year than their classmates who graduate. And low-skill jobs are vanishing. By 2014, six of ten jobs will require workers with some college. Fewer graduates mean lower incomes, lower tax revenues, and higher government spending on unemployment relief, healthcare, and law enforcement.

If South Carolina is going to emerge from the recession with any hope of replacing the 95,000 jobs it lost, we need to find the resolve to improve education now.

Politicians tell us that poverty and budget cuts are the excuse. But graduation rates are the same as they were in 1996 -- long before the budget crisis. If poverty is the dominant cause, why do schools like the Garrett Academy of Technology and James Island Charter successfully graduate nearly all their impoverished students?

No more excuses. Other states have moved their graduation rates up. We must act now.

We can improve graduation rates by focusing on three areas:

* At-risk students
* Transitions
* Incentives

Studies demonstrate that students most at risk of dropping out are those who have been retained because they can’t read well; scored poorly in math in the 8th grade; or received a long-term suspension in 8th or 9th grade.

These students are easily identifiable and need targeted, intensive remedial work. The best solution is to teach them the math and reading skills they need before 9th grade. Ending social promotions by adopting a skills-based approach in the elementary grades will go a long way to addressing the problems that emerge in high school.

Transitions into and out of high school are also critical. Many successful schools require rising 9th graders to attend a week of summer classes that acclimate students to high school-level courses. Students don't just learn their locker combinations; they learn how high school teachers teach and what they expect. Freshman academies that separate 9th grade students from upperclassmen further improve retention rates.

Seniors also drop out because they are often afraid of life after school. Many students grow more confident if they have an adult mentor who will help them apply to college, explore technical training, or seek employment. Groups such as Communities in School have proven track records in raising graduation rates by deploying volunteer mentors to help at-risk students, but guidance counselors and community volunteers are stretched to fill this need.

Each of us, and our churches, civic organizations or businesses can act now to turn lives and our state’s economic future around. We must do more to match adult mentors with apprehensive seniors.

Finally, many students need incentives to remain motivated. Representatives Tom Young and Bill Wylie advocate tying driving privileges to school attendance and academic performance –requirements that have proven effective in other states.

We must consider mandating successful performance on the high school exit exam as a requirement for a driver’s license. Such incentives will require students to be responsible before enjoying a privilege.

We can increase graduation rates in South Carolina by being smart -- not necessarily spending more money.

South Carolina cannot wait. It needs someone who is qualified and ready to lead. Someone who is ready to act boldly, to Act Now! With passion and vision.

That is what sets me apart. I have the qualifications. I have the breadth and depth of experience. I bring 27 years of classroom teaching experience. I have lead one of the country’s best political science departments in one of the top liberal arts universities in the country. As a student of international politics, I have also focused our efforts to train students to be globally competitive.

And I have a passion for making our public schools work. My three children went through public schools and I helped turn around an inner city elementary school to help it become a magnate school as the leader of the Summit Drive Elementary School Improvement Council.
My uncompromising commitment to conservative principles and urgent action in education is why I am endorsed by Sen. Jim DeMint. I also am endorsed by two former governors, David Beasley and Jim Edwards

I have also demonstrated a deep commitment to the public school system in South Carolina. I committed my life to educating others and my wife Lori and I committed to sending our children to Greenville County schools. We have been very involved in leadership roles in our children's schools, including long stints on School Improvement Councils, PTAs and Booster Clubs. We have seen the schools from the inside out; we are happy with some of what we see but deeply frustrated by the fact that so much of public education in the state needs dramatic improvement.
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Thank you for your time and your consideration ahead of the June 8th primary election.