Monday, March 28, 2011

Who will watch horse racing sober?

There is a new Sheriff in town, at least in Camden, South Carolina, the home of the Carolina Cup horse races.  New Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews and Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd are joining forces to crack down on alcohol abuse at the Carolina Cup races.  They are going after underage drinkers, those who ferry alcohol as “cooler carriers” and anyone who has too much to drink at the event.

Such sounds good and it is certainly good public relations for both Matthews and Floyd to show how tough that they are on crime.  That said, trying to make sober one of the state’s biggest drinking parties is not going to be easy and it just might backfire.

We at VUI have only been to one Carolina Cup event.  It was not all that enjoyable.  People dress up in their best clothes to get drunk and watch horses race.  The kids of semi wealthy people make up a good part of the crowd.  They are in ties, drunk and obnoxious.  The elite show up, drunk themselves from the coolers brought in by the guys who cut their grass.  All that said, what we saw was a few thousand drunk people dressed in good clothes watching horses race.  Frankly, if we are going to get drunk and watch some futility in sports, we will take Death Valley or Willams Brice.  At least there we don’t have to wear our Sunday best and pretend to be important.

Locking up some rich brats and those who enable them will not bother us at VUI.  However, as people tuned into politics and how this state works, Matthews and Floyd need to know they are playing with fire.  A good many of the kids and the adults who get drunk at something like the Carolina Cup think they are entitled to do so.  Messing with their fun could have political consequences.  Locking up some redneck for being a public drunk at Joe’s Bar and Grill is one thing.  Locking up the kid of someone important is another in this state. Locking up someone important gets you on the news one day and people looking for your replacement the next day.   That is the political reality.

Besides, have you ever been to a horse race?  If people are not gambling on the outcome, they are drinking hard.  Likely they are doing both.  Take that away from them and they might as well be watching two middle schools from Georgia playing volleyball.  Nobody gets dressed up and lays down money for that.

It all does make VUI wonder what will be next?  Will Darlington County “crack down” on drunks at the Southern 500?  Will Richland and Pickens Counties “crack down” on Clemson and Carolina game days?  Think on it.  Law enforcement could really thump their chests and pad the pockets of the local coffers if they set up DUI checkpoints coming out of Death Valley or Williams Brice and cracked down on those drunk tailgaters.

Of course, a round or two of such enforcement and heads would roll and people would stay away and not spend their money in the local economies.  That is the ugly reality.  South Carolina is a Bible thumping state, but at events like the Carolina Cup, the Southern 500 and Clemson and Carolina football games, we as a people party hard.  We also spend a lot of money that pumps into local economies.  That is why for decades now law enforcement has kept order, but not cracked down at such events.  The potential costs, both economic and political, have outweighed the benefit of cracking down.  Of course the good folks in Kershaw County have to bluster a bit and talk crackdown, but really do they expect people to come to their town and watch horses race while sober?  They really expect Buffy and Chippy to come there and be interesting in horse racing?  It will not happen.  A tough crackdown will result in people not going to Camden next year and spending money.  Making the Carolina Cup a sober event is like banning all people who live in trailers from attending races at the I-20 Speedway, it just can’t be done without destroying the event. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Princess, I mean Governor Haley versus Darla Moore and the world

Meow South Carolina.  You are about to be witness to a great cat fight.  Governor “Princess Nikki” Haley made clear to the world she was in charge of the state of South Carolina, and especially the University of South Carolina, when she “fired” Darla Moore from the Board of Trustees of that university in favor of some Lexington lawyer who gave to the Haley campaign coffers.

Never mind that Darla Moore has donated millions to the University of South Carolina.  Princess Nikki, a Clemson graduate of all things, had to show that “liberal” Darla Moore what is what.  Or at least Princess Nikki’s minions had to.  Princess Nikki rules this land, Ms. Moore.   Whatever the case, Princess Nikki, I mean Governor Haley, removed from the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees the woman who is perhaps the University of South Carolina’s greatest benefactor.

How did Darla Moore respond to the insult from Princess Nikki, I mean Governor Haley?  Moore gave millions more to the University of South Carolina for aerospace education on the condition that it, gulp, get this, is in honor of Ronald McNair, the South Carolina astronaut who was killed in the Challenger accident.

Now that had to send the minions of Princess Nikki into a tizzy fit that is ready for the Jerry Springer show.  McNair was a black man.  The minions around Princess Nikki seem more concerned that the family members of Mr. McNair might vote Democrat than honoring the fact that he was a great man and that a great woman, Darla Moore, chose to honor him so.  And, those folks are getting paid some really big money from the taxpayers to feel that way.  What really has to hit those folks is the class that Darla Moore has.

You know the type who serve our Princess, I mean our Governor. They get paid six figures to tell teachers and highway patrolmen that they make too much.  They call anyone who dares to question their assertions “RINOs” or liberals.  They talk about scorecards for legislators who do not do the bidding of Princess Nikki.  It is their way.

Now, they pick a fight for Clemson graduate Princess Nikki, against a woman who just might have more respect in business circles and around the state then their Princess.  Make no mistake, the firing of Darla Moore from the USC Board was not conservative versus liberal or Republican versus Democrat.  It was about Princess Nikki and her followers showing that they are in charge.  Just as they threaten duly elected servants of the people in the General Assembly, they go after the benefactor of the state’s flagship university for their Princess.

That said, Darla Moore is in good company.  From what VUI has learned, State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, a man who no sane person can call “RINO,”  will soon join Moore in being on the list of politically “untouchables” that our Princess, I mean our Governor, holds.  Wait and see.  

RIP Geraldine Ferraro

Geraldine Ferraro, age 75, lost her battle with cancer recently.  For those young political folks out there who do not both to read or understand history, Ferraro was the first woman and the first Italian American to be on a major party ticket for Vice President of the United States.

Twenty four years before Sarah Palin, then Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro was chosen by Democratic Presidential nominee Walter Mondale to be his running mate.  It created a great political and news firestorm at the time, pulling Mondale even with President Reagan. Ferraro was no typical liberal of the times, as she supported the Reagan military build up.  But, Reagan came back and he and Vice President George H.W. Bush whipped the Mondale-Ferraro ticket.

It was good that Reagan won re-election.  Have no doubt about that.  But, Ferraro did make a difference.  People took women in politics in both parties more seriously.  People took Italian Americans in politics more seriously.  Though they might never think it, Justices Scalia and Alito could have been helped a bit with Ferraro being taken so seriously.

That is not to say Ferraro was not wrong on many issues.  She was.  But, she was who she was without apology and she out campaigned her running mate in 1984 and endured family scandals to remain a influential attorney and commentator for the rest of her life.  She went on to serve under President Clinton as Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, an issue she held a passion for.

Ferraro was also a frank woman.  Perhaps too frank.  In 2008, she stated, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."  That set the left wing in America into a frenzy and the right wing harped on it as well.  Ferraro called the firestorm that followed the worst weeks of her life.

That was Geraldine Ferraro being the teacher and the prosecutor from Queens that she was.  She called it like she saw it, like it or not.  Ferraro apologized for her remarks, as leftists seem to do, but don’t hold that against her.  Whether you liked her positions or not, Ferraro was a tough political and legal fighter for what she believed in.  Sarah Palin could learn from her.

 So VUI pays honor and respect to a fallen political foe, a woman with guts and refreshing frankness that those today on the right and left don’t seem to understand.  They just don’t get the honor of fighting the good fight with and against people who you will fight until the end but respect them all the way there.  Rest in God’s peace, Geraldine Ferraro, and may God comfort your loved ones.  

Top 9 ways to celebrate turning 40

It happens to the best of us, if we are lucky and blessed.  We turn 40.  We have to turn in our membership cards to anything that begins with the word “young.”  We suddenly show up on the AARP’s mailing list.  Trips to the doctor’s office become serious things.  The get up and go has days where it got up and went. Some of us become cougars or dirty old men.  Most of us just get old.

Well, joining club 40 is not a death sentence and you should celebrate it.  Here are 9 ways to do just that.

9) Indulge yourself.  Subscribe to “Arthritis Today.”

8) Go for the light beer and the sugar free cake and ice cream.

7) If someone is getting on your case, grab the left side of your chest and say, “I am too old for this crap.”  If that does not work, start checking your blood sugar.

6) Instead of dyeing Easter Eggs with your kids this spring, dye your hair.

5) Go berserk on some young political punk and blame it on your Type 2 Diabetes.

4) Instead of a “Yager Bomb” have a “Geritol Bomb.”

3) Get a “Princess Nikki rules South Carolina” tattoo on a part of your body you think will wrinkle last and you secretly wish Princess Nikki would see.  It will give you that old teenage rush.

2) Watch an episode of American Idol and take a look at Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.  It is uplifting.  If he lived that long, so can you.

1) Run for office and spend some of your campaign funds on the blue pills.  Just be sure to note that it helped you with “political relations,” after all, a politician has to be able to do what politicians do to the people. 

1) Have we listed nine things already?  I forget.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A history lesson on the office of Lt. Governor

There are rumblings in Columbia about either eliminating the office of Lt. Governor or making the Lt. Governor be appointed by the Governor.  The past two Lt. Governors of South Carolina beg the question to be examined.  Former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer’s lead foot and current Lt. Governor Ken Ard’s campaign finance woes are fuel for the political fire that is reforming the office.

That said, the office of Lt. Governor of South Carolina is steeped in history and has had political giants occupy it.  During royal rule of South Carolina, the Lt. Governor represented the people and Assembly of the state while the Governor was a royal appointee.  Under the current constitution of 1895 that South Carolina currently operates under, the intention of the crafters was not as cynical as the so called reformers want people to believe.  They claim that the fear of African Americans being elected to high office made them dissipate powers.  The office of Lt. Governor flies in the face of that.  The crafters wanted the President of the South Carolina Senate to be elected by the entire state of South Carolina.

For years, that prominent position was filled with politicians of great merit.  The job was sought by longtime legislators and others who were politically plugged in.  Since 1895, seven Lt. Governors, Miles McSweeney, Thomas G. McLeod, Ransum Judson Williams, George Bell Timmerman, Ernest F. Hollings, Robert McNair and John West went on to be Governor of South Carolina.  They entered the Lt. Governor’s office with proven resumes and after their terms as Lt. Governor and Governor, they went on to strong careers.  McSweeney was a influential newspaper man.  McLeod served as President of the Bishopville Telephone Company.  Williams served on college boards. Timmerman became a respected judge.   Hollings became a long term United States Senator.  McNair became the state’s most prominent lawyer in his time.  West became Ambassador of the United States to Saudi Arabia.

Other Lt. Governors who did not go on to become Governor have had success after the job.  Lt. Governor Earle Morris went on to serve several terms as Comptroller General of South Carolina.  (Morris did have some legal woes when he retired from the office of Comptroller General, but as he died about six weeks ago, VUI will not go into that and instead remember what the man did in public service.)  Lt. Governor Nancy Stevenson was the first woman in South Carolina history elected to statewide office and instituted the Lt. Governor’s writing contest for school children.  Lt. Governor Nick Theodore lost a close race for Governor to Governor David Beasley, but became a close advisor to Governor Jim Hodges.  Lt. Governor Bob Peeler lost the Republican nomination to Governor Mark Sanford but went on to serve on the Clemson Board of Trustees.

In sum, serious people held the office and they accomplished things.  The office began to change in 1995.  Lt. Governor Bob Peeler was elected as the first Republican Lt. Governor since Reconstruction.  The Democrats who controlled the State Senate at the time were already frustrated with some things that Lt. Governor Theodore had done.  Add to that the idea of a Republican sitting as President of their body and they used their majority status to strip the Lt. Governor of a number of presiding powers.  When Republicans gained control, President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell seemed unwilling to give those powers back to the Lt. Governor.  Thus, the office seemed weak to those who were in the know about it.

That resulted in people who were not as prominent seeking the office.  Why would a senior member of the General Assembly or a member of Congress give up their seat to seek an office that could not do anything?  Lt. Governor Bauer worked to get the Office of Aging under the Lt. Governor to offset that notion.  But, it did not.

Bauer’s own lead foot,  and whatever else he brought to the office came to diminish the office further when Governor Mark Sanford faced the AWOL/Appalachian Trail scandal in the summer of 2009.  Two factors came up that damaged the office.  Rumors swirled that the Lt. Governor was not fit to take over the job as Governor and more importantly, rumors swirled around the state capitol that President Pro Tempore McConnell was not interested in the least in giving up his power to be elevated to Lt. Governor as state law would do if Bauer took Sanford’s place.  Such illustrated that being a senior state senator from Charleston was far more desirable than holding the office of Lt. Governor.
As a result, a list of relative political lightweights sought the office of Lt. Governor in 2010.  That resulted in a Florence County Council member, Ken Ard, being elected to what is still the second highest state office.

That brings us to the charges the Ethics Commission brought against Lt. Governor Ard.  Frankly put, after reviewing them, VUI believes that the majority of the charges could be easily shot down by a good lawyer as legitimate campaign expenses.  However, there are a few charges, such as football tickets and things like that are likely going to stick.  But, it was Ard’s reaction to the investigation that hurt him the most.  That comes from being a political lightweight.  It also comes from being a Lt. Governor under a Governor who leads a band of revolutionaries with a scorched Earth policy to get their way in appointing offices.  A more seasoned politico on the state scene would have handled the situation better.  They would have friends that would not allow things to get to this.

Some call that the good ole boy system or the privileged class.  Whatever.  But, in years past, a small time politician from Florence County would have had no chance of being elected Lt. Governor, and once elected there is no way that a bunch of under qualified thirty year olds making a hundred grand a year working for the Governor would have dared to paint the Lt. Governor in such a way in the Columbia circles.  But we should not let those well paid for insiders who call people names destroy the institution of the office of Lt. Governor because of the perceived weakness of Lt. Governor Ard.  The Lt. Governor needs to realize the office he holds and realize the history of it, and stand up, smartly, for himself and his office.  Since our state’s beginning, the office of Lt. Governor has had an important role for South Carolina.  It still can, if the current occupant decides to fight for not only himself but his office.

For the office, Lt. Governor Ard should fight the charges that are weak and just write a check for the charges that are strong.   Then, Ard ought to be go on the attack about folks around the Governor who pushed this to cover up her own problems.  This ain’t Florence County, Lt. Governor Ard, you are playing in the show now and history and the people of South Carolina demand you step up.  Think of all the men and the one woman who sat in that chair.  They deserve you to step up, along with the people of South Carolina. Either resign your office or fight.  Anything in between is an insult the history of the office. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Piss Ant way our leaders cut education

It seems like a lifetime since Republican Governor Carroll Campbell made improving public education a centerpiece of his agenda as Governor.  Governors David Beasley and Jim Hodges carried on that legacy.  That all changed with Governor Mark Sanford and now Governor Nikki Haley and the Republican leadership, once champions of public education for economic development, now stand by helpless as school districts issue cuts left and right that make little sense to the people.

A couple of years ago, South Carolina shifted the weight of funding public education from local levels to the statewide level.  What has ensued is school districts around the state coming up short and laying off people left and right, all in the name of budget cuts.

Of course, that is all well and good until one considers how nonsensical some of the layoffs are.  Layoffs are being made for petty and political reasons around the state in the name of budget cuts.  Old scores are being settled by school board members who want to show who is boss over old rivals.  Even dumber is the notion that folks in education, be they teachers, administrators or support staff who are retired, should be laid off because they are already retired.

Firing such folks seems sensible to those who know little.  Politicians can scream about how some employee who is retired is drawing a pension and a paycheck.  The problem with their logic is that the people who have retired are paying into the retirement system as they remain employed.  Laying them off puts them on the retirement roll without them working and contributing to the system.  It might sound good to the ignorant, but in the end, it will cost more money.  Stupid is as stupid does, as Forrest Gump puts it.

Then there are other factors, things that are just flat insulting.  People who have worked their entire lives serving the public in the education system are getting notice via things like email and text messages that their services are no longer needed.  Frankly put, that is the piss ant world we live in.  Real men and women look a man or woman in the eye and tell them face to face that their services are no longer needed.  Think about it, after thirty years or so of service, a man or woman gets an email or text message saying they are no longer needed.  That is not how to treat or appreciate people.  But, that is the world we live in today.  But, we will not fire you if you create an atmosphere that allows your employee to file a false inspection report on an amusement ride that failed and killed a child. That is Nikki Haley’s South Carolina and the world we live in.

And, that world is because of the culture created by our leadership.  Say what they will, our state leaders do not care about public education, because most the of kids in public education are children of people not like them. They speak outside of one side of their mouths about how they support public education and out the other side about how those who have years of experience are “educrats” and need to go.  Make no mistake, far too many of our state leaders, at all levels, are scared to death of the politics the Howard Rich money can make for them.  As such, they will put good men and women out to pasture with an email or text message to make sure they have the taxpayer money to pay for Rich/Haley crowd’s tax subsidies to prop up failing private schools.  After all, their kids are not in a public school in Ware Shoals or Iva or Branchville or Great Falls or Allendale.

Such is wrong.  Such is not conservative.  It is just big government working for those who pay for it.  And it is big government that insults people who have given their lives to public service. It is an atmosphere created by our state leaders that allows old scores to be settled while state leaders smile about putting some career educator out to pasture.  Indeed, it is anti conservative.  State and local government is being used to carry out an agenda that seems bought for by a man from New York.  And, it is being done in a piss ant way, which seems typical of that crowd and those who hide behind them. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Governor Haley should "clean house" at LLR

Last year, we at VUI criticized the Department of Social Services under then Governor Mark Sanford in the wake of missteps that led to a child being placed in a dangerous home that resulted in that child’s death.  We called for resignations and reform.  We got little satisfaction.

We at VUI hope things will be different under Governor Haley and her supervision of the  Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.  The LLR, as it known, is responsible for inspecting rides such as the one in Spartanburg County that malfunctioned and left people injured and a child dead recently.

Various published reports make clear that the inspector from the LLR charged with inspecting the miniature train that crashed did not do his job.  Allegations are that the inspector filed a completed inspection report without actually finishing the inspection.  What strikes us is that the inspector worked in an atmosphere in which he seemed to think that such could got be gotten away with.

A few days later, the good folks from Corinth Baptist Church in Gaffney had a church outing at the park in Spartanburg County that the miniature trained operated within.  Think about it.  There was probably laughter and good times being had and a fun ride on a miniature train awaited.  Then, tragedy struck.  A terrible accident struck, leaving injured people and little Benji Easler, the son of the Corinth pastor, dead.

When we move past the sadness of the loss of a child, the outrage about the incompetence of state government takes over. The Department of LLR is a Governor’s cabinet agency.  One can not blame the structure of state government in the old arguments on the tragedy.  No RINOs did that.  An agency under the Governor of South Carolina failed to do its job.

Now, to be fair to Governor Nikki Haley, her head of the Department of LLR has only been on the job for a few weeks.  But, firing the inspector alone will not do.  Any Governor worth his or her salt should fire anyone associated with the alleged false report filed for creating an atmosphere in which an inspector believed that such could be gotten away with.

Frankly, even those of us who believe in limited government believe that state government has important functions.  The most important is protecting the public.  Inspecting amusement park rides so that families can enjoy them safely is an essential function of state government.  When families suffer so after having faith in their state government deemed such a ride safe, then all those in the chain of command are responsible and should be held accountable.

For far too long in South Carolina, essential functions of state government have been way too political.  Friends and family of those in power, including those who claim to be for “reform” get passes when the folks that they are supposed to supervise make tragic mistakes.  We at VUI do not care whose toes get stepped on.  A good family is mourning the death of a child because state government failed them.  Heads should roll, so to speak.

The Department of LLR is under Governor Haley.  As such, VUI demands and expects Governor Haley to do the right thing and fire everyone involved in the chain of command that led to the alleged false inspection report that made those good people from Corinth Baptist Church think their state government had deemed safe the amusement ride they got on.  Anything less from Governor Haley is unacceptable and will be deplorable. 

The history and numbers behind Obama's confidence in re-election

With the grief that the President of the United States is taking over ordering military operations in Libya while he was kicking soccer balls in South America and the American economy continuing to struggle, one would think that the Obama folks would be very worried about 2012 and re-election.  Instead, the Obama team is confident from reports VUI is getting and that confidence was illustrated when President Obama accepted an invitation to attend the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil as if he will be President of the United States then.  That smacked VUI as confidence that President Obama and his folks believe he will be in the last year of second term and still President of the United States.  We were all set to deride that confidence, until we looked at the numbers.

While President Obama’s latest Real Clear Politics merge of polling data has his approval at 47.8%, that number is higher than Ronald Reagan’s in the spring of 1983 and Bill Clinton’s in the spring of 1995.  Further, the GOP challengers are late getting into the race.  Less than a year away from the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, no Republican has officially declared a candidacy for President.  Thus, the GOP candidates will be fighting it out while President Obama does “Presidential” things a year from now.

Among the Republicans that are potential candidates, President Obama matches up well so far.  Again, citing Real Clear Politics, Mitt Romney is today the strongest potential candidate and President Obama leads him 47.7 % to 42.6%.  Obama leads all the others by larger margins and the others candidates are in the thirties, with Ron Paul being the strongest among the rest of the field.

If Romney gets through the GOP primaries and secures the nomination, he still has a historically uphill Electoral College fight.  Romney is from New England, and no Republican from New England has won states like North Carolina and Virginia that are essential to any electoral math for a Republican.  (Yes, both Bushs had New England ties, but both claimed to have ran from Texas.)

Obama now runs 45% to 43% against a generic GOP candidate, so victory is possible.  But, to win, the GOP nominee must beat Obama in North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Ohio and Michigan.   That gives the GOP nominee the quickest route to 270 electoral votes and the Presidency.  Right now, Obama is approved more than disapproved in Florida and Michigan.

Conservatives do not want to read such numbers.  But, reality is reality.  And, the reality is President Obama is a lot stronger of a candidate for re-election than it seems.  What the GOP needs in 2011 is what it had in 1979, a game changing candidate like Ronald Reagan waiting in the wings.  The GOP needs someone optimistic about America, with a great story, charisma and the ability to show that bloated government does work and that Republicans want government and the free market to work for all Americans.  As it stands, there is no Ronald Reagan on the scene, and that is probably why President Obama thinks he will be around for a second term.  

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maybe South Carolina should appoint a Governor and Lt. Governor

The crowd around Governor Nikki Haley argues that the state of South Carolina elects too many officers in the Executive Department. For years now they have fought to make more South Carolina officers in the Executive Department appointed instead of elected. They tell us that people do not really pay attention to those elections and that appointing those offices will lead to more efficient government.

Maybe they are on to something. Maybe South Carolinians can not choose leaders wisely. After all, the track record for the two highest offices in state government is dismal. Former Governor Mark Sanford's famous AWOL tryst and open 2006 campaign account come to mind. As does former Lt. Governor Andre Bauer's lead foot. Now, South Carolina has a Governor who has alleged sex affairs and now allegations she lied on a job application. South Carolina also has a Lt. Governor who just seems boneheaded in dealing with his election campaign account and faces 106 charges from the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

With the track record for the past two Governors and Lt. Governors, why should we stop at appointing officers like Agriculture Commissioner, Adjutant General and Superintendent of Education? Maybe it is time to truly revamp the state constitution and go back to having the General Assembly choose a Governor and Lt. Governor. After all, using the reasoning presented by the “restructuring” crowd, the past two office holders in those two highest state offices beg for the notion that the people can not handle the decision as to who holds such offices.

It has happened before. Until the Civil War, South Carolina chose its Governors and Lt. Governors via the General Assembly. Before the American Revolution, such officers were selected by the British Crown. Such a measure would truly get back to what the state's founding fathers wanted. It would also mirror how executives are chosen at the county and municipal levels around the state.

Of course we at VUI offer this suggestion with our tongues placed firmly in our cheeks, but it is something to think about. If the argument against electing so many Executive Department officers is that the people choose unwisely, then the state's choice of the most recent Governors and Lt. Governors must be questioned in an honest debate on the issue.

Of course, in all frankness, we at VUI believe that such an honest debate about such will happen right after the phantom identity thief who allegedly altered Governor Haley's job application to Lexington Medical Center is brought to justice. When that happens, news will come to us about the Devil being iced over.

Top 9 options President Obama has in dealing with Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi

9) Send South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to Libya to help Gaddafi with his application for his next job.

8) Drop Gaddafi as a Facebook friend.

7) Set up an embargo that bans all decorative rugs and blankets into Libya, forcing Gaddafi to dress like a normal human being.

6) Offer Gaddafi “expert advice” on picking the NCAA basketball tournament’s Sweet Sixteen round if he steps down.

5) Use U.S. military technology to jam all radio and television stations and replace the signals with rotating episodes of Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer.

4) Have the CIA kidnap Gaddafi’s favorite goat and threaten to have the goat “tell all” if Gaddafi does not step down.

3) Make Charlie Sheen special envoy to Libya with instructions to “party hard” with Gaddafi.  Of course, with this option, the goat would have to stay in Libya.

2) Forget the “no fly zone.”  Create a “no 15 year old Toyota truck loaded down with crazy men armed with old Soviet weapons zone.”

1) Send a private message to Gaddafi that says, “ Don’t make this brother from Chicago go Bush on your ass.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Top 9 GOP Presidential contenders on our mind for 2012

Despite the fact that President Obama has some very weak polling numbers, the Republicans, less than a year out from the Presidential Primaries, do not have people out their working for the nomination to challenge the President of the United States for re-election.  It is odd.  That said, VUI offers the TOP 9 GOP Presidential contenders on our mind right now.  We offer it with the consideration that in such fluid times someone out of nowhere could come along.  But, right now, if we had to call a Top 9, here they are:

9) Haley Barbour-  Barbour is the current Governor of Mississippi.  As Governor, Barbour was the lone star and good official during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, showing that the man can get things done.  Further, Barbour has experience as a lobbyist and former GOP Chairman, so he knows were the political bodies are buried, but can he overcome his Southern twang and awe shucks persona?

8) Tim Pawlenty-  Pawlenty is the former governor of Minnesota.  He served two terms as Governor of a heavily Democratic state and has strong Midwest appeal, which will help in Iowa.  Pawlenty is also removed from the some of the more controversial GOP governors of today, but he lacks the foreign policy experience.  He will have to go "to school" on such things and surround himself with heavyweights to be considered seriously. 

7) Jim DeMint-  Though Senator DeMint tells folks he is not interested in running for President, the Tea Party and the the right wing element of the GOP would love for him to run.  Like DeMint or not, he is crystal clear on where he stands on domestic and foreign issues, and in a short and crowded primary, if he gets in, that could be the difference. 

6) Sarah Palin-- There is so much not to like about Palin, like her quitting her job as Governor of Alaska.  But, Palin has celebrity status that rivals President Obama.  While she might not be the most articulate person to espouse the Republican position, the tv host and best selling author might have the status to be a contender. 

5) Mike Hucabee-- The former Arkansas Governor gave it a great run in 2008 and has found a niche as a host on Fox News that might give him a celebrity boost.  Christian conservatives love Huckabee.  But, he has alienated the Howard Rich big money in the GOP and that might kill his chances within the party.  That said, if you had to leave your children to stay in the care of anyone, it would be Huckabee and his wife.  If being good people matters, watch out. 

4) Newt Gingrich-- The former House Speaker is today's William F. Buckley.  Gingrich is the intellectual in the GOP and the man who can appeal to the big brains for the conservative way.  The problem he has is that, despite being the smartest man in the room most of the time, he would have hard time winning the nomination. But, if Gingrich did, he would flat embarrass President Obama on debate night.  It would be ugly. 

3) Mitt Romney--  The former Massachusetts Governor seems to be the early GOP favorite.  He has a strong economic resume.  That said, he also has the aftermath of Romney Healthcare to deal with and in 2008 he seemed too much like an ill tempered Morman tv weatherman.  VUI ranks him this high because he is tied into big money and that matters. 

2) Jon Huntsman-- The former Ambassador to China under President Obama and former GOP Governor of Utah has broad appeal.  Huntsman is a solid economic conservative with a strong foreign policy resume.  Add to that deep money ties.  The downside is that he is Morman and that religion is taking a beating in popular culture.  Yet, his record is something that is hard to shape into a negative attack.  Watch out for this guy. 

1) Jeb Bush-- Sure, he says he is not interested.  But, how could he not be?  His father's and his brother's Presidential approval ratings are on the upswing as the Obama years continue on.  Bush's record as Governor of Florida is a strong one. He would appeal to Hispanics in that he married a Hispanic and thus his own children are Hispanic.  Frankly put, there is no one in the GOP that could make big splash in what appears to be a shortened primary season like Jeb Bush.  His ties to politics and money,couple with his fathers and his brothers, and his own resume, would make him the front runner upon announcing his intention to run.  No other potential GOP candidate has that sort of status at this time.  

The Obama Hangover lingers

On Election night 2008, the United States media and talking heads were in a drunken state.  Even the staff of VUI got it that night when an African American was elected President of the United States.  People were filled with hope.  People believed that things would be different.  Black, white, rich and poor, the rock star status of President Obama made people think that things would change.

Change did not happen.  The President remains a rock star.  There is not doubt that the United States electing an African American President of the United States changed the political game.  However, over two years into the Obama Presidency, the hangover is taking full effect for Americans of all ilk.

For those on the political left, President Obama has let them down by continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Bush tax cuts.  For those on the right, President Obama is hindering business with his Administration’s huge deficits and regulation changes.  For average Americans who do not consider themselves right or left, making ends meet continues to be difficult with continued high unemployment rates and the rising costs of health care, food and fuel.  Add to that the fact that the Obama Administration seems woefully inept, right or left, in dealing with unrest around the world that affects American interests.

If you doubt the Obama Hangover, just look at the polling numbers.  Real Clear Politics is one of the most reliable indicators of American political opinion.  When President Obama was three weeks into to office, they had his approval rating at nearly 66 percent.  However, for the past 14 months, the President has been below 50 percent, with his latest rating being 48 percent.  During that 14 month span, Democrats lost their supermajority in the United States Senate and lost control of the United States House of Representatives.

When unreasonable great expectations are present, it is only natural that reality turns those unreasonable expectations to almost unreasonable disapproval and disappointment. Frankly put, VUI has always contended that the Presidency of the United States modifies any decent man who takes the job.  While VUI vigorously disagrees with the economic politics of President Obama on a number of levels, it must be noted that President Obama had to stick with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and that any President would seem overwhelmed by the events unfolding in the Middle East.  Ronald Reagan had it right when he called Middle Eastern factions irrational and impossible to cut a deal with.

Yet there are two factors working against President Obama.  One is his left of mainstream approach to problems that seems out of touch with most Americans and the out of mainstream folks he surrounds himself with.  The second is the expectations of the people in regards to Obama.  Working folks out there still hurting who voted for him thought that they were getting another FDR, or even a Bill Clinton.  Instead, they seem to have a Jimmy Carter with celebrity status.  Thus, the Obama Hangover is in full effect.  When the President takes Air Force One for a spin to take his wife for a “date” in New York, or worries about the NCAA basketball selection, it is no longer cute to Joe Sixpack who can’t pay his mortgage because he can’t find a job.

Obama does have one thing going for him.  We are only nine months removed from Presidential primaries, and no Democrat seems strong enough to challenge him for his party’s nomination and no Republican lurks out there like Reagan did in 1979. That said, if the hangover continues to grow, someone will emerge, in both parties.  Look for President Obama to have a challenge in the Democratic primaries and look for a Republican to emerge “out of nowhere” who can challenge the President.  After all, if there is anything that Americans love more than elevating a rock star, it is tearing him down.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How SC Democrats are letting big government take over in education

Since the administration of former Governor Richard Riley, South Carolina Democrats have enjoyed the upper hand when it comes to education issues.  The late Carroll Campbell and former Governor David Beasley all but danced to the tune of better public education that South Carolina Democrats were known for.  That has changed. Some blame political fatigue, others blame big outside money that South Carolina does not have the stomach to hold ethically accountable. Whatever the said reason, education is about to change in South Carolina, and probably for the worse.

Let’s be clear.  Skippy and Mitsy down on the one the islands will love Haley’s tuition tax credit plan straight from the Howard Rich world.  It will help them make the Volvo payments with private school tuition tax credits that subsidize the private school little Skippy goes to with public tax money.  Skippy and Mitsy will be thrilled.  But, such a tax payer subsidy of private schools will not have help the people most in need in South Carolina’s underachieving belt.

Why?  Well, its is simple.  In schools that have the lowest performance, the students in them are the children of parents who are on the low end of the economic spectrum.  A single mom of two working two jobs to make ends meet can’t afford private school tuition in the first place to get the tax credit.  It is a disconnect from the reality that people face to think that they can.

Now, there is a school of thought, so to speak on those parents and children that says, “forget them.”  In that mindset, Skippy got his, and if his maid can’t get hers, well her children were meant to clean his house, too.  The second school of thought is actually more troubling.  It is filled by people who have no idea how people who are in poor performing schools really live.  Those folks actually believe in the idea of choice through tax credits.  They actually believe that such will do good, and as well meaning as they are in being caught up in catchwords, they are oblivious to how things in the real world work.

Democrats have a huge blame in this situation.  For far too long, they have been on the defensive about teacher pay and the status quo, all but beholden to the SCEA and other liberal points of view on education.  As such, they spend their time defending liberal ideals without considering how tuition tax credits on education under the Haley plan attacks the heart of the idea of conservative government.

Here is how it does.  First, in the midst of a state budget crisis, the tuition tax credit plan virtually becomes a big government subsidy to private schools.  The state treasury will have dollars taken from it as parents and corporations get tax credits to prop up private schools that otherwise would not be able to compete without such government help.  If you think that welfare, farm subsidies, and corporate subsidies are not conservative, think about the millions that will flow from the public to prop up otherwise non-competitive private schools. It is a common sense argument that liberals will not make, because they are afraid to.

Perhaps one reason liberals are afraid to make that argument is that they know, through tuition credits or grants, they can make private K-12 schools quasi public like they did colleges through a similar system.  Just look at what happened to colleges in this state.  It was the ultimate big government takeover. A long line of legal cases opened the door for tax credits or grants to bring in government regulation. So, while Skippy and Mitsy might get some help on the Volvo payment, little Skippy just might have to attend school with some folks they never wanted him to go to school with.  Conservatives seem unable to see two steps down the road on this type of thing.

Of course, the tax credits will take money out of the general fund, and makes things like paying for state troopers even harder to do in this economic climate.  Further, it will take money away from public education and the people who are at the bottom. Deficits will balloon.   Those people at the bottom, who will not have the money to pay tuition to pay to get a tax credit on, will be in lower funded public schools, likely resulting in them being products of society we have to spend law enforcement and social service money on.

There is were the vicious cycle begins.  Less money for public education and law enforcement creates more social unrest.  So, while little Skippy might graduate with honors from some private high school while his parents make the Volvo payment, little Skippy enters a world with more social unease, which chases off economic opportunities.  Businesses simply will not relocate to South Carolina, no matter what individual tax breaks local and state government gives them, if the workforce is unruly and uneducated. A handful of elites will not be able to pay for the order that they desire.

Such is what happens when big government, no matter how conservative it might call itself, gets in the business of subsidizing private entities such as private schools in the market place.  The private school tuition tax credit plan begs several questions about what is next.  Will people opt out of local police and fire services for private ones?  Will government give tax credits to spend money at certain grocery stores?  Where does the government intrusion giving public money to private endeavors end?  Shall we all get a lobbyist for our pet issue to get the public to pay for?

Indeed, that is the argument that South Carolina Democrats have missed about this state. If they had the guts to stand and call private school subsidies with public money for what it was, they might have a chance in defeating the effort.  Instead, they seem all too eager to miss that argument and let South Carolina state government become a big government in education that they can control through the courts.  The Republicans seem too ignorant and drunk with campaign money to understand what they are actually doing.

There is a model to see where such things come to fruition.  It is found in Brazil and other South American countries.  There, government took care of the elite with public tax money only to find itself and its people virtually broken.  Big government, be it for the poor, or the rich, simply does not work, no matter how much money some guy in New York pays people to argue otherwise.  South Carolina is not Brazil, or India for that matter.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Governor Haley is using Clinton's playbook

The New York Times is running an article about South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and how she is a political “comet.”  It comes on the heals of two stories that have been out there.  One is about blogger and political consultant Will Folks writing a tell all book about his affair with the Governor among other things, and the other is the Governor’s decision to “gun for” legislators who do not do her bidding by issuing report cards on them.  Haley said in the article that she would not read Folks’s upcoming book because she “did not have time to read fiction.”    Haley and her people are playing the game well.  Here’s why.

Over twenty three years ago, Gary Hart was seen as the perfect Democratic candidate for President to beat then Vice President George H.W. Bush or Senator Bob Dole, the two GOP front runners.  Then, Hart was derailed by a sex scandal with an young aide.  People do not even remember how the “monkey business” on the boat named the “Monkey Business” derailed Hart’s ambitions.

That is because Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary changed the game forever.  As American sexual moorings shifted, the Clintons took an aggressive approach to President Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.  The President lied about his affair.  Then the President even admitted he lied and then he, his wife and his operatives attacked political opponents.  It was a master play by them.  It resulted in Bill Clinton now being a respected elder statesman on the world stage and Hillary Clinton being the Secretary of State.

So, who can blame Haley for making the same play?  After all, true or not true, the allegations against a popular Governor of South Carolina are being made by a controversial blogger and consultant.  Just as President Clinton wrapped himself in the Presidency, Haley will wrap herself in the Governor’s office.  And, just like the Clintons, Haley and her people are on the offensive against legislators who might raise questions about her veracity about such things.  Hillary Clinton called it the “vast right wing conspiracy.”  The Haley folks are all but calling the charges about her sexual peccadilloes the “vast RINO conspiracy.”

To be frank, the Haley people probably want a few more miles from the Folks sex scandal.  With it, Governor Haley gets to play the first woman Governor of South Carolina so maligned by the good ole boys.  Even if every bit of the stories about the Governor are true, she wins with the controversy because it takes the attention of the press and others away from other things.

The biggest of those other things is how someone who calls for political openness is not open about her consulting fees paid by businesses while she was a member of the General Assembly.  Further, how can a Governor who demands openness and accountability just sit by while her mentor/predecessor still has an operating campaign fund from 2006?  Forget who Haley may or may not have had sex with, where is her moral clarity in demanding that laws be written to get rid of such political slush funds?  Also, will the Governor submit to a political report card that judges things like actual attendance on the job in the office?

But, such questions are not likely to be asked by the mainstream media.  Such things take work.  And, the people love sex and sex sells and people lie about their own sex lives, so they understand.  The Clintons knew that and so does Haley.  The irony is Nikki Haley, the so called conservative champion, uses the tactics of Barack Obama in being a rock star and Bill Clinton in being a victim of people dwelling on her sex life.  It seems Nikki Haley and the people around her know people very well.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Top 9 Signs that you might need to get a life

9) You spend all of your free time trying to prove that President Obama was in fact born in Nigeria and that Joe Biden is the real President.

8) You create a blog to discuss the typo you found in Sarah Palin’s book and how that made you have an affair with Governor Nikki Haley.

7) You try to think how former President Bush caused you to overdraw your checking account. Somehow that SOB is getting a commission on those overdraft fees!

6) You go on Facebook and blast your wife’s ex husband to show what a real man you are.

5) You ask your husband to do such a thing.

4) Your prom date in 1985 did not look at you right at the high school reunion. So, to get even, you blast them online, being sure to block them from reading your comments. You got ‘em!

3) You cannot sleep at night since you found out the mom on Family Ties is gay. Thoughts of her and Justine Bateman (Malorie) just keep racing in your head.

2) You suffer head wounds from your buddy hitting you with a golf club trying to prove what really happened to Tiger Woods.

1) You sit around and spend the time to come up with this Top 9 list.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

President Obama is in over his head

The Middle East is in an uproar.  Throughout the region, pro democracy dissident groups are rising up against regimes.  While some might praise such, it must be noted that the rise of such groups is not to the United States’ advantage.  Those in the streets in the Middle East and the Arab world want a very different kind of democracy than what then what we know.

They are led by groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, who want a traditional Muslim state to be ran in the nation states that they rise up in.  In other words, they want to go back to the Sixth Century.  They hate American values, especially those that say women are equal.

World pundits are scrambling to find a reason for the uprising in such places.  Some blame the American government.  But, if the American government is to blame, it is pretty ignorant.  For, with the uprisings, crippling oil prices have developed that could bring America to its economic knees.  For decades, the United States has cut deals with despots in the region that kept the oil flowing and kept us from being the victims of craziness.  It might not seem ideal, but it was in the interests of the American people.

That brings us to Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.  Back in the 1980s, he was easy to hate.  But, during the most recent former President Bush’s war on terror, Gaddafi freely showed his cards and cooperated with the United States.  Now, the United States stands ready to cut Gaddafi off at his knees and see the uprising rule the day.

On the surface, such sounds so good.  The United States stands for freedom and uprising.  But, chaos and anti American regimes will follow.  What happens when the Jordan or Saudi Arabia are so challenged by those in the streets?

Further are we so removed from “laying down the law?”  Think on it, if two hundred thousand “tea party” protesters started making their way to the White House, would the US government just sit by or would it defend the President of the United States with all it had?

Be clear, VUI is not comparing President Obama to Muammar Gaddafi.  All we are saying is that the United States ought be very careful before it takes sides in such matters and should remember how we would act ourselves.  After all, the United States removed sanctions from Gaddafi’s Libya after he towed the terrorist line a few years ago.  In the wake of the United States abandoning an old friend like Hosni Burbarak in Egypt, how can we appeal to other Middle Eastern leaders to trust us and be on our side in the real problem, the war on terror?

Indeed, the Obama Administration’s policy in the Middle East is a “feel good” policy.  It might appeal to the editorial pages of the New York Times, but centuries of history says such a policy does no good in actually making things work for American interests in the Middle East. And, right or wrong, the President of the United States should be looking out for American interests first.  That is his job.  Appealing to the Muslim Brotherhood’s wishes and wants should not even be considered.  Indeed, the events in the Arab World show that President Obama is woefully over his head.  It appears we have a feel good President who does not even consider the reality of real world politics, or realpolitk. America has a President the extremists can push around.  And, they know it.