Sunday, January 30, 2011

We cannot afford racism, hate and senseless bias anymore

Racism and hate have been as much a part of America as mom and apple pie for years.  There have always been groups of malcontents who blame their own failings in life on some group.  There have always been people who think that if that or that person or group was more like them, all would be well.  Blood has been shed on both sides of such issues.

As time passed, the open haters have been moved to the margins of American life, while the soft racism remained strong.  What VUI means by that is that most people will not use the N word in their discussions, but they would churn inside if their son or daughter brought home a date of another race.  And, yes, that includes Black parents with a black son or daughter bringing home someone white or Hispanic.  And vice verse.  Racism and senseless prejudice knows no color.  Such is found in the workplace as well, as the white man often resents the black woman promoted over him and the black woman resents the Hispanic or Asian promoted over her and on and on.

But, we cannot afford such anymore.  Through technology and other means, we are globally connected.  Our local communities compete with the world.  The world does not share our biases for race or whatever, or even who has the better college degree, it simply competes.  To compete ourselves, we must leave the illogical ideas of racism and the like behind.  Biases based upon race, religion, region or education background must be put aside if America is to survive and thrive in today’s world.

Think on it.  If you have an MBA from Harvard and you pay yourself a big bonus this year, but it causes the goods you sell to be of higher price and lower quality than the same goods sold by some simple Indian who had a better idea and more dedication to his customer, then you lose eventually.  If  you are a white cotton planter, seventh generation, who looks down on the Hispanics who work for you, thus causing them to be unmotivated to do their best, you are going to lose to another cotton grower out there in the world.  Further if you run any type of business and you decide who should do a job for you based on anything other than performance and dedication, you will lose.  This world simply has no room for hate and racism to compete.

Ironically, Americans can find a example of how to live their everyday business lives in their leisure activities: professional sports.  In professional sports, winning is what matters.  Racism has long been put to bed in professional sports.  People cheer the winners.  They demand winning, whomever gets it done.

I know some doubt that, especially on the left.  But, they should consider the example of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers.  Now, if any team has the reputation and fan base for being white and blue collar, it is the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Yet, they are led by a young Black coach, Mike Tomlin.  Tomlin is not there because he is Black.  Tomlin is there because he knows how to put together a coaching staff and team that wins.  Tomlin is leading the Steelers for the second time to the Super Bowl, the youngest coach, of any color, to ever do such a thing.  Tomlin is an example of the best of America, win or lose this Super Bowl.

That said, in corporate and everyday America, there have to be more Coach Tomlins out there.  There are young and talented minorities, and even out of the loop whites, that can find a way to win in their respective fields.  Maybe it’s a Hispanic woman who knows how to run the cafĂ©.  Perhaps it is a white guy who never finished college but knows how to run a manufacturing plant.  Maybe is the guy people think is gay that can really sell the product for the company he works for.  The list goes on.  The bottom line is if America is going to compete in this global economy, we have to really compete, leave old biases behind in our everyday business world and let the best at what they do flourish on their merits.

Take it from this old ball coach, anything less than that, and we lose.  The competition is just too good for us to waste time and resources on such things as racism and hate. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Remembering the Challenger Seven

I was high school way back when, I watched, with the horror of my fellow students, when the first space shuttle with a teacher on it exploded.  Later that day we were comforted by President Reagan.  People are remarking a good bit about Reagan these days as we as a nation mark his 100th birthday and the 30th anniversary of his taking office.  But, one of the days that made Ronald Reagan great was how he led the nation in its mourning and its determination that sad day 25 years ago.  

Top 9 signs your new relationship might not work out

9) At 3AM, some drunk guy, who calls himself “Larry” beats on your door looking for “his woman.”

8) In the midst of making out, your would be new lover says, “wait, to be fair baby, we ought to wait until after the test results from the clinic come in.”

7) After a nice a dinner, you stroll along the riverfront on your first date.  Your date turns to you says, “you do love me, right?  You do love me!  You better love me or I am going to jump in.”  You quietly say, “ do what you will.”

6) Your 30 something year old date looks at you in total seriousness and states, coldly, “mother says I have to be home by nine, but you can spend the night in one of our hotel rooms.”

5) Your date admits to you that he or she is afflicted with the most dreaded disease on Earth when they announce to you, “my blood runneth orange.”

4) Your date’s name is Achmed and he tells you this night with you is his last worldly sin.

3) “No, I ain’t go not flowers, baby, but these tractors we gonna watch, they gonna pull for our love, Saluda style.”

2) “Just one more lottery ticket, baby, and we can go to dinner.  Hey, do you have ten dollars?”

1) “Governor, quit calling me Earl.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Standing up for Governor Haley

There is a lot to not like about Governor Nikki Haley.  She talks about openness and sunshine, but held back her own emails in regards to the blogger sex scandal and skirted questions about her job at Lexington Medical Center after being elected to the SC House and her "consulting" fees paid to her by Wilbur Smith.  The Governor seems like a woman hellbent on making others live up to a openness standard that she herself is not willing to live up to.  On those issues, people who attack her are on fair ground.  

Where they are not on fair ground is when they attack the Governor of South Carolina for speaking out in defense of our laws insuring people have a right to work.  According to published reports, Governor Haley is being sued by the International Association of Machinists, an union outfit backed by the AFL-CIO, for her remarks defending people's right to work in regards to the Boeing project in the Charleston area.  The big labor syndicate is trying to silence the voice of the Governor of South Carolina through court action.  It seems their brand of intimidation has changed from guys with picker sticks disrupting small mill town life into folks with briefcases and big fees suing an elected official for speaking her mind.  

There is a lot not to like about Governor Haley.  But, she is our Governor and she was elected by the people of this state.  People suing her for speaking her mind on the issues is just flat unacceptable.  Further, the right to work is one of the most basic freedoms a man or woman has.  

In South Carolina, we believe and put into law the notion that a person has a right to go to work.  They do not have to give a cut to some union boss to work for their living.  In South Carolina, we believe in the freedom of a man or woman to work for an employer on their own.  We think people are smart enough to know what is is best for them and their families and to know how to contract with an employer for an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, without giving a cut to some union boss.  We in South Carolina just do not need some middle man to pay to get us to work.  

Such has happened before.  In the hard times of the 1930s, big union bosses were hungry for money, and turned to the textile industry in South Carolina and other parts of the South for dues.  They created so called "flying squadrons" of angry union folks who went to small towns with textile plants to disrupt order in those small towns to get textile plants unionized.  The effort failed, and made South Carolina workers more anti-union than ever.  Whatever our faults, South Carolinians just do not like to be bullied.  

Now, the bullying is not physical, it is legal.  Big labor bosses are trying to sue our Governor to make her silent on her beliefs for the right of people to work on their own.  Fair enough, I guess.  But such things makes VUI, who otherwise would criticize the Governor, stand up for her.  Nikki Haley is the duly elected Governor of South Carolina.  She is our Governor.  Governor Haley leads a people who don't want to give a cut of their paychecks to big union bosses. And, those union bosses should know one thing.  Be it through ball bats or briefcases, trying to bully South Carolina or its Governor will not work.  Even those of us who don't really care for the Governor, will stand up for her against the likes of you.  You can bank on that.  

Facebook status: Live from jail.

Facebook and web portals like it, such as My Space and Twitter have taken the world by storm.  There are good things about such portals.  People meet new people, reconnect with friends and family and have a place where photos and updates about happenings can be easily found.  

But there is a downside.  Some folks use such portals to libel folks that they are mad at.  Some of those folks are either blocked from looking at the remarks made about them or just are not online.  The good things in life often get hijacked by the crazy and the bad folks at some level.  That is just life.  The web portals give louder voices to the nuts and the mean who once had their voices contained to gossiping at the supermarket or local diner or the like.  Further, such easy access to comment to the world by just typing in words and staring at a screen and not facing other human beings inspires people to say things that they never would say to one another.

Now, it seems, in South Carolina, the convicts get to have their voices heard on the web as well.  There are published reports that inmate Quincy Howard has been updating his Facebook page from prison.  Howard is serving a 30 year sentence for his conviction on manslaughter charges in Marion County, SC.  South Carolina Corrections officials have been quick to say they will make sure such does not continue to happen with Howard.  Fair enough.  But, frankly, how many more convicts get on the social networking web portals?  

The bigger issue is how do the social networking web portals redefine our culture?  A person can have his or her reputation ripped to shreds by some nutcase on Facebook or My Space or Twitter and not even know it.  A nutcase living in his mother's basement or a convict updating from prison can write pretty much what they want to write about the people who brought them to justice, or the even the mailman who crumpled their favorite magazine.  It gets that crazy.  

Trust us, the staff of VUI knows it firsthand.  Because we choose to work to write to inform and entertain folks on the internet, we opened ourselves to getting some really strange folks take us on.  Some of it you can read in our comments section.  But, some of the really nasty and untrue stuff has come from Facebook posters who "block" our editor, Brian McCarty, from their Facebook pages.  McCarty's is the only name front and center, so some of it is found out because the staff sees it.  

But, the concern is not about us. We chose to be public figures here at VUI.    What about the man who fired someone because they were drunk on the job and does not have a Facebook account?  When the woman he fired untruthfully posts on Facebook that he made unwanted sexual advances, and the people who know him see that before he does, is that a good thing?  Or what about some convict posting the names of the children of the man who brought him to justice for people to see?  

It brings to mind a recent conversation with an old engineer who worked on some of the stuff for the space program.  He remarked that America had not done anything great since we put a man on the moon.  The internet came to mind. He quoted another space program era person and said, "the internet is nothing but an efficient way to gossip and look at porn."  It makes one think.  Are the social networking portals really a good thing, or do they just inspire the worst among us to have a louder voice?  

Friday, January 21, 2011

General Assembly should admit the mistake

South Carolina is in a budget crisis.  There are hundreds of millions of dollars less in revenue coming in than needed to fund the state budget.  Some cry out “hooray” and call for budget cuts here and there.  The Governor offers symbolic cuts that really mean little in the grand scheme of things, such as cutting funding for ETV.  Others are giddy about the prospect of cutting medical care benefits and education.  After all, the people effected are not their friends and neighbors.

The Governor’s State of the State Address was weak.  Republicans might tout it to tow the party line, but the truth is the Governor offered no real solution to the budget problem.  The Governor ignored the real problem more than she did her parents in the balcony.  Revenue is the problem.  No government in the history of the United States, at the state or federal level,  has ever cut its way out of a deficit.

A few years ago, the South Carolina General Assembly decided to remove the sales tax off of food items.  It sounded good then and it sounds good now.  After all, it keeps the state from taxing the poor from buying groceries, right?  It is a measure that can allow so called neo Conservatives to thump their chests about helping out the poor with a tax cut while gutting the programs that help the most needy among us and our children.

The fact is the elimination of the food item sales tax was done in the blind.  There was no alternative source of revenue to make up for the lost money.  Thus, hundreds of millions of tax dollars were left on the table while the state wallows around in a budget crisis.

Candidate Haley saw that and proposed bringing back the sales tax on food items.  Governor Haley acts like she never said that.  Just as a late night tryst with a midlands blogger, Haley’s flirtation with bringing back the food sales tax never happened.

Frankly, candidate Haley was right.  The sales tax on food items does need to be brought back.  Here is why.

First, let’s get real, South Carolina is not California.  Despite with Howard Rich’s pro Haley minions would tell you, South Carolina state government spends very little compared to the other fifty states on government programs.  South Carolina is not even Lamar Alexander’s Tennessee.  We have cut the fat and are into the bone.  With federal mandates and basic human decency expected in state government, we can not cut our way to balancing the budget.  We have to have some revenue increase.

Why the food tax?  Some say it hurts the poor the most.  Well, that does not wash.  Sure, poor folks will pay the food tax, but so will the others, and with it, the money for the programs that help the people of South Carolina flows in.  Sales tax is the big revenue generator in the state coffers.  Food items are a big part of that.  The people will get what they pay for.  Paying five percent on groceries will seem reasonable to a poor person who gets Medicaid access or a fully funded education for their children.

The real truth is that members of the General Assembly have too big of egos to admit that they made a mistake.  This state was on sound financial footing when it had the sales tax on food items.  When it was removed without an alternative source of revenue being found, it put us on the road we are on.

Some folks, such as the people around Governor Haley, are okay with that.  They want to cut out essential programs because they do not affect people like them.  But, they can find the money to pay the Governor’s staff more salary than ever and to fund Department of Commerce officials like never before.  After all, that is their buddies.  But, spending taxpayer money to make you child’s trip to school safer or to make sure that grandma and them are taken care of, well, forget that, they don’t have the paid lobbyist.  And, why should former Lexington Medical Center employee Haley, a job got after her election to the SC House, care about the funding to more rural hospitals?  They did not pay her.

So, if the General Assembly has any guts, they should stand up the Governor and her well paid cronies and reinstate the tax on food items to raise the revenue to make sure that the people of South Carolina get the programs that they deserve. Forget the cuts. The revenue is there to be had.  Reinstate the food tax.

Further, if the legislature really wants to rectify all past mistakes, then it can bring back gambling outside the lottery, such as video poker, and tax it.  Do the math.  The coffers would be flush.  All programs fully funded and then some.  But, Howard Rich would be pissed.   Haley and her minions could not have that, but they can find money to make sure her folks get paid well.  What is really irking is that they hide behind God and morals.  VUI calls bull manure on them. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dr. King

The holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is not just a day off in January.  It marks the life of a great man.  Dr. King was man who made America better.  He challenged us to allow all to share in the American Dream.  Dr. King had the courage to stand up against evil to stand for freedom.  

So many of us now forget how hard it was for our Black friends to just be men and women back then.  We take such for granted now. That is because of the courage of Dr. King.  He stood up and said no more to Jim Crow and racism.  Dr. King demanded equal rights and dignity for people who looked like him.  

But, let us not forget, just a few decades ago, people that we now call friends, eat with and work with were cast to the side when it came to having basic human rights.  It might seem silly to some now, but pure racism made folks eat separate, live separate, and even find different toilets.  Dr. King's courageous acts changed that and changed us all for the better.  Dr. King's courage was rooted in peaceful protest rooted in the teachings of Christ. 

Therefore it is fitting that America has a holiday honoring such a freedom fighter.  And, that is why those educrats in Rock Hill, SC, and other places who think that since it snowed last week that the Martin Luther King holiday can be ignored are just damn ignorant.  Every and each year, we must honor Dr. King.  Not for him, but for us.  We must be a people proud of such a man who fought for freedom and dignity with the armor of God and peace.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Top 9 things NOT heard at the 95th SC Inaugural

9)Security, I smell a couple of bloggers around.

8) Where is Jim DeMint?

7) Lt. Governor Ard, wow, you are indeed a lucky man. 

6) Has anyone told Glenn McConnell that he is not Governor?  Oh, Okay, let him drone on.  It is the price we pay for him not being in Confederate dress up.

5) Mrs. Beasley still has it going on. 

4) Leave your racism aside.  That guy sitting with the Haley family is smart.  I wish I had all that on my head. That dude is warm.  

3) Ample supplies of viagra and government power keep Lucy from moving the football.  General Eckstom "aka" Charlie Brown got his kicks in. 

2) Henry, sit down, Alan Wilson was elected to your office, let him take the oath in peace. 

1) Oh My God! She wore a white coat!

Palin: a VP loser like no other

The recent events in Tuscon have shaken American political ideals.  While we at VUI believe that people simply do not want to believe that evil acts just for its own sake, as in Tuscon, those on the Left are aiming at Sarah Palin. 

And, why shouldn't those hard calculating souls on the Left go after Palin?  After all, the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee is one of the most successful losers in American political history.  No Republican losing Vice Presidential candidate has ever been so prominent after defeat. Sure, Bob Dole went back to the United States Senate to serve after losing with President Ford in 1976, but no GOP Vice Presidential loser has had the star power of Palin.  Palin is blamed for this or that.  Palin is credited for this or that.  Palin sells books and has a hit television show.  Like her or not, Sarah Palin has turned the lemon of the McCain-Palin defeat in 2008 into lemonade for her and her family.  

Indeed, one has to go all the way back to 1920 to find a Vice Presidential candidate who lost in either party who turned such a loss into victory.  Back in 1920, the nation was tired of the Democratic incumbency of Woodrow Wilson, so they turned to the Harding-Cooldige ticket, which won in a landslide over the ticket of Governor James Cox and Under Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.  That is right, that Franklin D. Roosevelt.  It is ironic that the big win of Harding over Cox was roughly by the same margin as Obama over McCain.  Both Harding and Obama won after the incumbents were coming off waging unpopular and costly wars.

In the years that followed, Franklin Roosevelt got polio, learned humility through it, mastered machine politics, mastered the media of the time, radio, and got elected Governor of New York before being nominated for President in 1932.  In short, Roosevelt parlayed his loss as a Vice Presidential candidate into being a serious national figure in the Democratic Party which led him to become President of the United States.  Some people hated the man.  Some even wanted to kill him.  One even tried to kill him when he was President-elect.  Others said his speeches incited people. 

Now, VUI is not contending that Sarah Palin is FDR.  No, not close.  But, the historic status she holds must be noted.  Not since Franklin Roosevelt has a person who lost a race for Vice President of the United State ever been so prominent in the national discussion.  Love Palin or hate Palin, she is there in the national discussion like no other Vice Presidential loser in modern times.  

What does that mean?  Who knows?  In today's times, Palin will make more money and security for herself and her family by running from politics and being a celebrity with television shows and books.  But, the same could have been said back in the 1920s when Mr. Roosevelt wrote about his fight against polio and wrote for his ideals in newspapers columns and spoke on the radio.  Good politicians know their times and how use the medium of their times to get to the people.  

For that reason, VUI thinks those on the Left in the Democratic Party are playing a tricky political game trying to somehow blame Palin for the evil that happened in Arizona.  It could backfire in a big way.  It happened before.  Back in the early 1930s, a former Vice Presidential candidate was demonized for his writings and stands and even blamed by some Republicans for the civil unrest in the country.  Democrats blame the redneck from Alaska today.  Then, Republicans blamed the patrician from New York.  What happened was historic back then.  Roosevelt swept to power in 1932 in a storm no one saw coming.  

VUI is not saying that Palin will gain power in 2012.  All we are saying is that what she is already is historic and there is affection for her, right or wrong to folks, out there.  Palin has the gift to know how to manage the media of her time, and to underestimate her is a silly thing to do. 

Not to be picking on Governor Haley, but....

Watching and then reading over Governor Nikki Haley's remarks in her Inaugural Address left VUI a bit perplexed.  On one hand, Haley sounded like a Lexington redneck, ready to man the batteries at Fort Sumter to start the War between the States again.  On the other hand, she touted her own American Dream status, commenting on how she was the child of first generation immigrants who rose to be a Governor of South Carolina.  

That story is a good one and fine just there.  But, Haley had to ad, in her spoken words, that her mother was the first woman offered a judgeship in India but had to turn it down because of the problems of being a woman in India.  In the Governor's defense, the written text says "one of the first."  Well, whatever, we all got stories in our family that might be a bit exaggerated that we draw strength from.  Maybe what Haley said is true.  But, we cannot find any evidence of it.  Instead, we find that a woman named Ann Chandy became the first Indian woman to be named a Indian High Court Judge in 1959.  

Stating such, we mean no disrespect to Haley's mother.  Just like we mean no disrespect to those of the American Revolution that Haley mentioned in her remarks.  All VUI means to point out is that when a Governor says something, people check it out.  Indeed, a little over 13 years ago, a half joking Governor David Beasley became a joke himself for a day or two when he touted track records that would have made him the fastest man on the planet.  

If Governor Haley doubts that people, including those in her own party, are watching and ready to pounce, she ought to replay the DVR recording of State Senate President Glenn McConnell's speech to open the ceremony.  It was actually longer than Haleys and it sounded like a man who was setting an agenda not one was ready to work for the Governor's agenda.  

We at VUI know what we offer is unwanted advice, but the Governor and her people should listen to it.  Governor Haley can no longer play the victim.  She can no longer be the one with the cutest outfit in the room.  She has to watch herself, play the game of politics both carefully and ruthlessly.  The Governor is swimming with the political sharks now, and there is not one moment that she can be perceived to be either sentimental or weak.  That includes how she feels about her own mother.  That includes her rhetoric about the Tea Party.  Here is hoping the Governor's State of the State kicks things up a notch above the platitudes and flat nature of the Inaugural Address that has opened the Governor up for attacks if the sharks see so fit to bite.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

More on Arizona

Editor's note: we had two posts ready for this weekend, one serious and one humorous, a "Top 9" about the incoming Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley.  VUI shelved those posts after what happened in Arizona.  But, we do have something to say about that. 

The shooting in Arizona still leaves big questions.  What was the motivation?  Who all was involved?  What do the answers to those questions mean to American political discourse?  All that will be found out in time.  The incident is too fresh for anyone, of any political persuasion, to rush a to a judgment about the answers to those questions.  But, there are some thoughts that can and should be expressed.

First, whatever the motivation or the nature of those involved, the Arizona incident was senseless and an affront to our way of doing things.  Think on it.  A member of Congress, doing her duty to the people she served, set up a table in a supermarket to talk with constituents.  A federal Judge, of a different political party, but a friend, thought he would stop by to say hello to the Congresswoman after attending mass earlier.  A little girl, just elected to her school student council, all of nine years old, was there to meet her member of Congress.  A 30 year old aide was there to assist her boss in the meeting with constituents.  People gathered around the table to voice their concerns to their Congresswoman.  That is American. That is what we expect from our elected leaders and what makes America so special.

What happened in less than a minute, according to reports, is an outrageous affront to our American ideal.  Multiple gunshots rang out.  They left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded with a gunshot to the head.  They killed Chief Judge John Roll, 63, Chistina Taylor Green, 9, Gabe Zimmerman, 30. Rev. Dorman Stoddard, 76, Dorothy Murphy, 76, and Phyllis Schnek, 79.  According to reports another dozen were wounded.  Police took in custody a man reportedly tackled by others at the scene, Jared Loughner, 22.  The internet and cable news networks are filled with all sorts of things about the alleged gunman.  But, it should be noted that police are looking for others, most notably a 40-50 year old man also at the scene.

As stated before, now is a time for investigators to do their work and we should wait until the facts come out before jumping to conclusions.  There are political activists on both sides of the political scene already spinning this situation their way.  Some on the left are saying the alleged gunman was inspired by the Tea Party and Sarah Palin.  Some on the right are contending that the alleged gunman’s supposed words against God and the like make him a leftist.  Ignore those pathetic people.  They live to turn tragedy to their advantage and they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

But, there are some things that should be said.  First, we ought to pray for Arizona and especially for the families and friends of those in this outrage.  Second, we must say loudly that such nonsense is just not acceptable in political discourse and that anyone, for any reason, that kills a child especially, is just pure evil, period.  That is not politics of any persuasion.  That is evil.

Last, perhaps more importantly, as tragic as the event in Arizona was, we can not for one moment let that evil act, whatever its motivation, whoever was behind it, stop us from having a real dialogue with the people who lead us.  They should not be afraid to do as Congresswoman Giffords, and set up meetings with the people they serve.  Further, we should not be afraid to go to political meetings and let our voices be heard.  That is the American way of life.  Great powers have tried to stop it.  High financed and well trained terrorist organizations have tried to stop it.  Indeed, the American way of life has been bullied from within and without since its existence, but we always stand up and keep our idea of freedom alive.  Along with our prayers, we Americans owe those good folks in Arizona our commitment to keep the American ideal of political freedom alive.  God be with the people of Arizona, especially the family of that little girl.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Prayers for Arizona

The entire staff and family of VUI offers sympathy and prayers for the people of Arizona on today's terrible event.  May God be with them in this difficult time. 

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Rep. Jim Merrill wants the state to control high school sports

Lowcountry State Representative Jimmy Merrill apparently wants taxpayers to pay the entire bill for high school sports.  Merrill, the former GOP Leader in the SC House, proposed a bill to eliminate the South Carolina High School League and put such things under the Department of Education.  

Some contend that Merrill is angry that a high school in his district suffered sanctions from the SCHSL and that is why he wants to eliminate the SCHSL.  Frankly, there are not enough confirmed facts out there to substantiate that allegation, so VUI will look at things as they are. 

First, the South Carolina High School League has governed South Carolina high school and middle school sports for years.  It is a non profit organization that actually gets some of its money from corporate sponsors and ticket sales in addition to member schools dues.  Its rules for games like football and basketball are a textbook for competition at the youth sports level as well.  

Further, as someone who has coached at the youth sports level, I can attest to the fact that SCHSL has great respect among coaches and those who put together youth leagues and competition.  The officials who get its accreditation are well respected.  That is because it is a league ran by members and that shows in its even handed rulings.  It is free from partisan politics. 

What Merrill offers is introducing high school and middle school sports to good ole boy politics.  You can bet that if the Department of Education takes over such things, that good ole boys will work hard to make sure that their favorite teams get preferential treatment.  The track record is what it is, no matter what the politicians say.  And, of course, we the taxpayers will pay the full bill for having them intrude on a part of life they otherwise cannot intrude upon.

That is why VUI says no to Merrill's bill and encourages members of the General Assembly to say no to it.  High School Friday nights are sacred events in South Carolina.  They are nights when folks of all political persuasions can come together to cheer on their teams.  The SCHSL is not Republican or Democrat.  It is made up of member schools and officials who love the games.  As such, it gives us something that is not controlled by the good ole boys or those who claim not to be good ole boys.  It is our break from that stuff.  Let us keep it.  Let's keep politics out of high school, middle school and youth sports. 

Throwing water on the flame that is the American Dream

The American Dream is under fire.  It is not under fire by the Obama Administration, but by a group of Republican state legislators who want the Constitution redefined to deny so called "natural born citizenship" by children born in this country to so called "illegals."  

It sounds good, doesn't it?  Let's keep America for Americans, right?  Well, that is not the true American dream.  That is not the promise of America.  And, frankly that is not a true conservative's take on the constitution.  

Since the adoption of the 14th Amendment, the constitutional provision in question, the United States went from a third rate world power just out of Civil War to the biggest economic and military power the world has ever known.  Freedom gave that leap to power.  America became a place in which those who wanted to have their children reach their full potential and live free came.  The United States became, as Ronald Reagan once put it, "the shining city on the hill" that all wanted to become a part of.  It became a place where hope was found and that immigrants could find a better life.  

Now, some of those who thump their chests in righteous indignation about our constitution want it redefined so that government can limit the freedom and opportunities of those not like them.  

Such has happened before.  In the mid 19th Century, before warm bodies were needed for the United States Army in the Civil War, Irish were scorned by so called natives.  During, the early 1930s, an American Nazi movement and the Ku Klux Klan rose up to keep America American.  Those movements ended up on the trash heap of history where they belonged, along with the Old South Democrats and their idea of Jim Crow. 

For being American is not just being from the United States.  It is believing in an ideal.  It is believing in freedom.  It is taking a chance to have a better life.  One commentator summed up America nearly two centuries ago when he said, "the cowards never made the trip, the weak died during it, and only the strong made it."   That, my fellow Americans, is the stock we are made of.  Outside a few tribes of Native Americans, not one political leader this day can claim not to come from immigrants, some legal, some illegal.  But, making it here was a show of strength.  That is a trait that made America what it is.  

For some politicians to now be afraid of that freedom and that courage is disheartening.  It goes against the heart of the American Ideal.  Freedom cannot be just for a few.  For freedom to work, it must include all.  That includes the Central American mother who cleans houses and gives birth to a baby.  That baby is an American citizen today and should remain one.  For that baby could be the next Henry Ford or Bill Gates or even more.  Fretting over paying for that child's status might make some feel better, but it throws water on the flame that is the American Dream.  America is stronger than that.  America is better than that.  

For, if we ever become so weak of a people that we are afraid of such things, then we no longer are a special nation.  We are just lines on the world political map.  And, we will join other nations that once rose to prominence with high ideals and lost their power due to our own fears to keep the dreams that made us alive.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

More evidence that being the President changes how you think

President Barack Obama was a firebrand as a member of the United States Senate and a candidate for President of the United States.  Obama was against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He was against budget deficits, even saying on the floor of the United States Senate:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better."

Now, under the leadership of President Obama, the deficit is even larger and his staff is arguing that not expanding it is "irresponsible."  Further, we are still at war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Some Republicans might get up and holler about Obama's changes.  We at VUI see something else. The Presidency of the United States modifies the man.  There are things that this nation is really up against that any decent man who takes the office understands and is stuck with.  But, you can bet leftists will never give former President Bush credit for doing the job and will instead blame him for what Obama does as a decent man in office.  One thing is for sure, it is helluva easier running for President then being the President of the United States. 

Real Health Care Reform starts with true openess about the market

We Conservatives tell folks that free market approaches to health care in America will solve the problem. We are correct, if that market is open.  Now it is not.  People who have a medical procedure done often do not know what it costs or what their insurance privoder pays for such costs until after the fact.  If there is a reform needed in the American health care system it is openess in pricing and effectiveness so that people can make a real free market choice. 

Think on it.  We live in a society in which Amazon. com offers us hundreds of HD TV choices and comments from users.  We have a society in which Burger King and McDonalds have not only shown the prices for their sandwiches, but the nutrional values.  But, when it comes to the health care, we are in the blind.  How can we make a free market choice without the information?

Think on it, the last time you were in Burger King, the price was right there before you, with the nutrional information.  But, when your doctor told you that you needed a knee replacement or a stint, the costs were not open, the success rates at that faclity were not open and you just had to go ahead or stay unhealthy. 

So here's a real idea for true free market health are reform. Let the prices of health care be known at various failicities.  Let their success rates be known.  Let those who are not in need of urgent care make a really informed market choice.  The real problem most Americans face is not with insurance coverage; it is with costs.  Let the people have an informed choice.  Afterall, we demand such of hamburgers,  and you would think we would with health care. 

And, for those who are afraid of such and talk about blah, blah blah, what are they afraid of? We can non longer allow lobbyists to make the market uniformed and uncompetitve.   Either we have a free and informed market of health care choices or we don't.  If we don't God help us.  We are headed to socialized medicine.  For, it is better than a monopoly of people afraid to be in open competition.

That is not how a free market functions.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Get rid of the Budget and Control Board

There is some political hay being made in Columbia over Governer-elect Haley and Treasurer-elect Loftis disagreeing over who ought to be Executive Director of the Budget and Control Board.  The conflict shows that politics will create enemies among the best of friends.  

That said, Haley and Loftis should worry less about who to get to run the Budget and Control Board and more about how to get rid of it.  Its very existence goes against the grain of good sense in government.  

No other state has such a system.  The Budget and Control Board of South Carolina is made up the Governor, the Treasurer, the Comptroller General, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.  While people think that the Governor "runs" the state, South Carolina government is actually ran by the five headed monster of the Budget and Control Board.  That Board further has an agency filled with employees, some of which make more than the Governor.   They even have their own mail service.  That's right.  They have a mail service.  They also control things like state leasing and maintenance of vehicles, all the day to day operations most folks think that a Governor should be responsible for. 

What is wrong with the current system?  Well, it gives too much control to the legislature and allows folks to pay out favors.  As Governor-elect Haley is learning, being politically connected and owed a favor means a lot more than actually knowing how to run things.  As such, the Budget and Control Board, which runs the day to day operations of the state, is a wasteful political favor backwater.  Slapping backs is more important than getting things done. 

It is time to put the South Carolina Budget and Control Board on the trash heap of history.  Eliminate it.  Let the Governor run the day to day operations and let the Governor fight it out openly with the legislature over all budget matters.  Let's have no more of five people huddling in a room and deciding to cut this or that or to hire this or that political buddy.  If Governor-elect Haley and Treasurer-elect Loftis really want to reform South Carolina government, then they should stand and scream out to get rid of the Budget and Control Board.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Reagan at the Berlin Wall

People tend to forget the Cold War and the threat of the Soviets that America lived with until Reagan beat them with his words and ideas of freedom.  This was one of Reagan's greatest speeches, when he stood at the Berlin Wall, something that young people today don't even know about, and said, tear it down.  Reagan had the ideas and the guts to build up America's strength and make the Soviets yield.  He saw America as the good guys, and convinced the world of the same.  What he would do today, who knows.  But, one thing is clear, Reagan crystallized the American ideal of freedom.  Enjoy the speech. 

The Alvin Greene show goes local

Alvin Greene got national headlines with his upset win in the Democratic primary for the United States Senate.  One of the oddest political characters in a state whose history is filled with odd characters, Greene is on the scene again.  

After telling folks he was going to run for President of the United States in 2012, Greene appears to be taking his act local.  The AP is reporting that Greene has filed to run for the Democratic nomination in the special election being held in Clarendon County for the SC House after the death of Rep. Cathy Harvin.   

Harvin and her husband who served in the House before her, served the state with distinction.  Other worthy candidates, such as the Mayor of Manning, are jumping into the race, but Greene's entry will guarantee a circus like election.  

It is hard to figure Greene out.  Is he a egoistical pervert with criminal charges pending who has said things like, "I am the greatest individual ever.?" Or is Greene a simple man who is being played by the media looking for something to entertain the public with?  Who knows? 

What is certain is that with Greene in the House race in Clarendon County, the race will have more attention then it otherwise would.  It is going to get wild over there, wait and see. The folks in places like Manning and Summerton better get ready for the CNN trucks and a media blitz.  God help this state and those people if Greene wins the seat.