Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pray for President George H.W. Bush

Regardless of how your politics run, if you are honest and logical, you have to recognize that George Herbert Walker Bush,41st President of the United States, is an outstanding American.  News is President Bush is struggling for his life in a Texas hospital.  We should all pray for this great American,

Bush's service to the country started young.  During World War II, George Bush was among the youngest naval aviators the United States Navy had in its Pacific War against Japan.  Bush made many successful flights as an aviator, but one in particular stands out.  Bush and his cohorts in his plane took heavy fire, completed their mission, and got shot down.  Bush survived, and was rescued by a United States Navy submarine.  That flight lived with Bush his entire life, and helped to define him to serve.  The Navy honored him by naming an aircraft carrier the USS George H.W. Bush. 

And, serve Bush did.  Bush, though the son of a Senator, went out and ran a successful business on his own in Texas.  Then he got elected to the United States House of Representatives.  He did his party's bidding and lost a US Senate campaign, but returned to service.  He served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, United States Ambassador to China, Director of the CIA and then Vice President of the of the United States.  

In those roles.  Two stand out.  As Chairman of the National Republican Committee, Bush had the guts to stand before then President Richard Nixon and tell him that Watergate had crippled Nixon and it was time to go.So many of this generation do not understand how difficult of a time that was.  Bush put country before party and the President,    As the representative of the United States to China, Bush set a tone that enabled the strong economic ties between the United States and China that exist today.  

There is also Bush's Vice Presidency under President Ronald Reagan.  Again, we so many of us today do not understand that time and the chaos that was created when President Reagan was shot in late March of 1981.  Cabinet members were squabbling over who was in charge of what.  Secretary of State Alexander Haig went on television to say he was in charge.  Vice President Bush was on a trip to Texas.  When then Vice President Bush returned, things calmed down.  He refused Marine One, saying that was Reagan's.  When he arrived at the White House, he checked all the egos with his calm resolve.  Bush's calm sense of things and diplomacy calmed the nation and the world.  

The performance as Vice President lined Bush up to be elected President.  Then Vice President Bush defeated Governor Mike Dukakis to become the 41st President of the United States.  Bush was a rare sitting Vice President to be elected President.  As President, he oversaw big military operations in Panama and in the Persian Gulf, expelling Saddam Hussein"s Iraqi forces from Kuwait.  That has its historical due.  

But, perhaps the greatest achievement of President George H.W. Bush was how he handled the fall of the Soviet Union.  There was chaos there.  Gorbachev seemed overthrown.  Came back.  The Berlin Wall fell.  Bush's calm nature and diplomatic acumen kept the world calm during it all and kept the hardliners in the Soviet Union from launching an attack out of the desperation that is brought on by disrespect.  Indeed, there was probably no President in the history of the United States whose temperament and abilities were better suited for the situation than President Bush. How President Bush handled that situation will likely be looked at by historians as his greatest accomplishment. 

However, historians do not matter in current politics.  Bush lost re-election to Bill Clinton, an historic force on his own.  Bush's decision to do the right thing for the country and deal with the Democratic Congress and raise some taxes was part of the problem.  Bush's abilities to deftly deal with foreign affairs were the other.  To many Americans, Bush seemed out of touch. And, then there were just silly things in 1992, like President Bush getting ill at a Japanese state dinner, making folks think of the idea of then Vice President Quayle becoming President.  

After his defeat to Bill Clinton, Bush continued to serve.  He served with charities and continued to be a man who conferred with world leaders.  He tried to show old folks that being old was not a death sentence by several parachute jumps.  Then, he struck a friendship up with the man who beat him.  Presidents Bush and Clinton worked together to raise almost a billion dollars for relief funds for victims of the tidal wave in Asia and Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana   

We all know that Bush's oldest son went on to be the President to succeed the man that beat President Bush for the job.  But, that does not define George H.W. Bush.  He expected his sons to serve.  He did.  Though it is difficult for academics to rank one term Presidents as great, Bush deserves consideration.  He is right there with James K. Polk in doing a lot that really mattered to the country in his term.  Beyond that, a great American patriot lies in a Texas hospital, fighting for his life.  We first should pray that God is with him and with his family and then we ought to thank God for Americans like George H.W. Bush.  We are praying for you Mr. President. Thank you, sir, for all you have done in service to our country. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lets be human again

The events of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut cut us all to the core. How someone could so act so evil and take the lives of little kids and those around them.  It hits us hard.  It shakes us.  

For me, what hit me was the fire station scene.  There were parents hugging their kids as they found them.  Then those were those parents looking for children who would never run up to them.  Children that they would never hold again.  I think on that.  Those parents will never fix a breakfast for those kids again.  They will never rush them to practice.  They will not put out Santa for them.  They will not see those kids off to their proms or their graduation.  That evil man with that gun in a moment robbed those parents of that and robbed those little children of all that they could be.  It was pure evil. 

As a man of Faith, I take some comfort in knowing that those children are with Christ now.  But, I also think about how Christ told us "do this unto the least of my Kingdom and you and have done it unto me."  Preachers on the past Sunday gave solid sermons about why God allows such things to happen.  I look at it another way.  I see God, saying to us, "I gave you free will, why did you let this happen?"

It is that question that haunts me.  Keeps me up at night.  Now there are politicians who argue it is all about guns.  That is the easy discussion.  Blaming such things on a inhuman thing like a gun is easy and simple and well, wrong.  The evil man who did the act had guns, true, but the guns he used were not legally his.  There were laws already in place that forbade him from having the guns he used.  

That begs bigger questions and a tougher discussion.  It starts with this culture we live in.  It is device driven. So many of us do not talk to one another, learn about one another, we just facebook and tweet.  It is an impersonal world we have created with technology.  Our youth are even more immersed in the impersonal.  Things are said and done online in social networks that we would never do in person and life itself just seems to be a name on a device.  Not a living human being.  Not someone to understand.  Not someone to respect.  Just a name on a device.  

Add to that the incredibly violent video games so many of our youth get lost in.  It is not like playing war with other kids outside at the play fort anymore.  Its all on the video screen, and a killshot gets you points and success.  No suffering you see.  No humanity. Just a game with points to score.  A soul lost in that world has no sense of humanity.  And, so many of us not only let it happen, we buy the games for our youth.  

That brings to mind other issues, like how we deal with mental illnesses and how drugged up we all are.  The mentally ill are people we just find a "magic" pill for, not work with them to deal with their problems.  Once we give them the magic pills, we isolate them usually.  We say, "hey they have their meds."  

And, when it comes to meds, we all love them as a society.  We condemn the man who might smoke a joint or take a drink, but we love the prescribed drugs.  If your kid is too hyper, we got a drug for that.  If you feel down this week, take a pill.  Big drug companies make big money making sure you and yours are medicated to a state where you can not tell good from bad, because hey that is judgmental, just take a pill. 

So many of us and our kids are so addicted to the prescribed pills that when something like Newtown happens, we demand a tool like guns be dealt with. Do not dare touch our culture of technology and drugs that combines to make us so inhuman.  I say balderdash with that.  It is time we did the real work of being human.  Lets talk to one another for real.  Let our youth go out and play and interact with others.  Lets deal with problems for real.  Do the work.  Say no to the magic pills marketed to us.  Let this tragedy forge us to work to be human beings again, and have a culture in which human beings touch other human beings and work out problems instead of hiding behind pills and blaming some tool. 

May God be with the victims of Connecticut and have mercy on us all for the culture we created. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Seventh Annual VUI Thanksgiving Political Awards

It is Thanksgiving.  Time to gather with friends and family to be thankful of the blessings in life and time for football and parades.  It is also time for VUI to hand out its Thanksgiving political awards.  This is the seventh time we at VUI have done this, and this year was as difficult as any in making the choices.  But, after much debate and what not, here we go.  

The Cornbread Dressing Award for Career Achievement goes to outgoing State Senator Jake Knotts.  Sure, Knotts made a mess of things in his legal efforts to get Katrina Shealy off the primary ballot, and that made him a candidate for the Holiday Ham Award as well, but we look at things as a whole.  Shealy got on the Fall ballot and defeated Knotts at the November polls.  But, let's measure Knotts on his entire career.  Knotts was accessible to South Carolinians inside and outside his district and was always good for straight politically incorrect remarks.  Knotts stood for the everyman, the little guy, the redneck, the ne'er do well.  Further, Knotts was not the product of out of state big money or well paid handlers.  He did his own work and he was who he was, like him or not, honestly.  The State Senate filled with handlers and out of state money whispering in State Senators ears will miss an honest voice like Knotts, whatever his faults.  VUI thanks Knotts for his service in the South Carolina House and Senate and wishes him well in his retirement.  

The Cranberry Sauce Award for achievement in local politics goes to Eight Circuit Solicitor Elect David Stumbo. Stumbo took a big risk taking on the political establishment in Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens and Newberry counties when he left his job in the South Carolina Attorney General's office to take on the politically entrenched and well connected incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace in the Republican Primary.  Stumbo rightly saw that people in that area wanted a fighter for justice, not the status quo. Stumbo defeated Peace in the primary and then a Democratic opponent in the Fall.  Stumbo has goodwill and support that transcends party politics in that area and his integrity will be a breath of fresh air to that area.  

The Fruitcake Award goes to all those people on Twitter, Facebook and the blogs who just kept spewing nonsense about President Obama and former Governor Romney during the campaign.  You have heard the phrase, "that guy is as nutty as a fruitcake," well, read some of the outlandish stuff people posted about both Presidential candidates and you can see how nutty that they were.  Donald Trump was the leader in that he just embarrassed himself when it came to President Obama.  But, there were so many others.  That is what is both amusing and disappointing   People that we personally know, people we thought were sane until  we read the nonsense they posted and reposted on social media.  They earned the title "fruitcake." with their nonsense. 

Speaking of nonsense on social media, the self chest thumping by staffers and by the man himself gives Congressman Jeff Duncan of the Third District of South Carolina the Holiday Ham Award for self promotion.  Duncan got 60 plus percent of the vote in a heavy GOP district against a convicted felon who did not run a campaign.  From some of the remarks of his supporters and even some of  his staff, you would think the man won a dogfight against a formidable foe.  It was not the case. He ran against a joke.  But, the joke got bigger in how his minions claimed how great the victory was.  To add to it, Duncan joined the Lindsey Graham for Senate campaign by bashing UN Ambassador Susan Rice.  Sure, it is his right to do so, but he formed a petition on Facebook to oppose her nomination as Secretary of State.  That might seem okay to some, but think on this.  The President has not nominated the woman for that job.  The House has nothing to do with confirming appointments to that job, and the day the Congressman launched his all important petition was the same day his leader, Speaker Boehner was meeting with President Obama to discuss something that the US House actually has something to do with, the upcoming fiscal cliff. That's a triple dose of self promotion worthy of a Holiday Ham. 

Speaking of President Obama, lets get to the Golden Drumstick Award for political achievement.  That goes to the President.  A struggling economy, all those fruitcakes on social media, nearly a billion dollars spent to derail his campaign, some rather ugly racial undercurrents, and still the man won re-election.  The President showed that he is a smart pol.  He got Clinton involved.  He appealed to middle class values.  He overcame a dismal first debate.  Whether you like him or not, the President is good at the game.  And, he showed himself to the best at it this year.  

That brings us the Political Turkey of the Year.  That award goes to the political figure who really fowled things up.  Romney and his inner circle might contend that Karl Rove deserves such because Rove blew $300 million on a loss.  But, the real turkey is South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.  No Governor in South Carolina's history, or the history of any state in the United States for that matter, has ever oversaw a Cabinet whose failures did so much harm to its people than Governor Haley.  Millions of people were harmed by the hacking scandal under the Governor's watch now and for years to come.  Millions of people, and hundreds of thousands of South Carolina businesses have had their private information that they trusted the state government cabinet department under Governor Haley to keep safe compromised. 

What is really galling is how the Governor shirks taking responsibility and hides behind a so called credit monitoring program that the state is paying for that is just window dressing.  Indeed, Governor Haley seems like the farmer, who after his cows went away, decided that those who advised him to spend money on fences might be right after all.  But, make no mistake, the Department of Revenue is in her cabinet, under her control, and the it was her choice to secure the information as she saw fit, or did not. The harm done to the people of South Carolina will be long lasting and is unprecedented,  For that, Governor Nikki Haley richly deserves being dubbed VUI's Political Turkey of the Year. 

Friday, November 02, 2012

Keep Electing the Lt. Governor

One of the best kept secrets in this year's election politics is that the office of Lt. Governor of South Carolina is up to be revamped via a state constitutional ammendment on the ballot.  The ammendment proposed would take away the people's right to elect the Lt. Governor seperately, abolish the Lt. Governor as President of the State Senate, and allow candidates for Governor to pick their Lt. Governors as running mates like Washington does for the President and Vice President.  It short, its an effort to make South Carolina's government more like the federal government. 

The push for such a change came with the scandal of former Lt. Governor Ken Ard.  Ard's embarrassing resignation sparked the General Assembly to push through the proposed constitutional ammendment.  As with most things, the heat of the moment often makes bad law. 

Now, academics and the political pundits disagree.  They seem all too eager to have Columbia mimick Washington in many ways.  But, we have learned that mimicking Washington, i.e., with the the cabinet form of state government under the Governor we moved to currently have, does not result in ideal things.  Just ask all those taxpayers and businesses who had their identification information stolen under the Governor's cabinet if you doubt that. 

That said, here are the reasons to vote no and keep things as they are. 

First, as it stands, right or wrong, the people of South Carolina, as a whole, elect the second highest ranking state official and the President of the State Senate.  Allowing the State Senate to choose their own President via its membership would reward cronyism and factions.  Further, a candidate for Governor would likely pick a running mate that satisfied some narrow interest or reward some campaign donor.  Thus, instead of a Lt. Governor who serves as the people's elected President of the State Senate as a whole, we would end up with two public officials, the Lt. Governor, and the President of the Senate, who would be beholden not the people of South Carolina, but the narrow interests that gave them their offices.  Instead of being vetting at the polls by the people of South Carolina as a whole, they would be chosen by a few. 

That brings the second point.  There is an ever growing movement that South Carolina's government should be more like the federal government.  It is a great irony that some of those who demand this change the most are those who protest the most against the federal government.  Their reasons are petty and personal.  Some politicians, groups and pundits are just flat unhappy with Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell being Lt. Governor and were unhappy with former Lt. Governor Bauer.  They want a Lt. Governor who walks lockstep with their pet Governor's agenda.  And, that is why South Carolina's way of having the people elect the Lt. Governor matters most.  South Carolina is not supposed to be Washington.  Our Lt. Governor is not supposed to be anyone's pet.

We in South Carolina have this notion that the people, as a whole, decide who is President of our State Senate.  Forty-six senators are elected.  The Lt. Governor is elected to preside.  Acadmemics and pundits contend that the Lt. Governor has no real power.  They do not understand real politics.  As a statewide elected official, the Lt. Governor serves as a "state senator at large" if you will, a person who can use the weight of being elected on his own to help constituents, and stand for good things for the state.  People like George Bell Timmerman, Fritz Hollings,  Robert McNair, John West, Nancy Stevenson, Mike Daniel, Nick Theodore, and yes, even Bob Peeler and Andre Bauer, used that bully pulpit of election on their own to do good for the people of South Carolina.  They made a difference not because they walked lock step with the Governor, but because they were elected on their own.  Their, and others contributions serve as shining examples of why a state government, particularly South Carolina's should not mimick Washington's.

Think on it a bit.  If we decide yes to the change, then come 2018, the Lt. Governor will be just another member of the Governor's adminstration.  A call from the Lt. Governor will have no weight on a matter with someone until what the Governor wants done is checked out.  People will have one less elected representative contending their case in that those in government will know the Lt. Governor is just some political pet picked from a narrow agenda. The respect for the office, and what its occupant can do for South Carolina will go down, not up.  The days of Lt. Governors doing great things will forever be gone.

That brings up the last point.  It is contended that a Governor needs to be comfortbable with who might take over their office.  Again, this is not Washington.  The transition argument is all but a red herring argument.  Rarely has it happened in state history.  And, state issues do not correspond with issues like national defense and the like at any rate.  Perhaps its healthy that the people of this state have someone like a freely elected Lt. Governor to vent to with an agenda free of the Governor's.  Historically, our state government structure with a freely elected Lt. Governor kept us from having the likes of Talmedge and Wallace.  Having the people decide freely who was Governor and who was Lt. Governor kept us from such things. 

In sum, we are South Carolina.  We are not Washington, D.C.  Letting the people freely elect the Lt. Governor of South Carolina has served this state and its people well in our history.  No one bad guy or no outside groups who want us to be more like the federal goverment should change that.  The people should choose their Lt. Governor, not politicians in a back room.  Vote no to the constitutional ammendment proposing to take that right away.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shame on the boo birds at Clemson

Clemson University President James Barker admonished those fans in Clemson Memorial Stadium who broke out in boos when soldiers taking there enlistment oaths came to the part of the oath that they swore to follow the orders of the President of the United States.  

Barker's letter has unleashed a right wing fire storm about freedom of speech and President Obama and all sort of well, just plain ugliness.  Those who booed where not high minded folks exercising their constitutional rights to free speech, which they have, but seemed disrespectful and low class.  Shame on them for their lack of respect for those kids and for their lack of respect of our American system.  

There are several issues to consider.  First, let us consider what Clemson University was trying to do.  It was  Military Appreciation Day at the game.  Clemson rightly wanted to recognize and pay respects to those who serve, served and were about to serve in the United States armed forces. As such, respect demanded that people put aside their partisan anger and salute young folks about to take an oath to serve our country and protect our freedoms.  Disrupting the the solemn oath those young people were taking was just selfish, petty and ignorant.  

Ignorant because it fails to recognize how the United States Constitution works and who we are as a people.  Like him or not, Barack Obama is the duly elected President of the United States until January 20th, 2013. As such, he is the Commander in Chief of the military forces of the United States.  The Founding Fathers of the United States Constitution wanted an elected civilian as Commander in Chief of the military in order to prevent the military from running over the country.  It was part of the checks and balances our nation was founded upon.  

History has proven them wise.  Napoleon rose to ravage Europe.  Africa and Asia have been riddled by military takeovers.  South America is famous for Generals in funny big hats calling the shots.  Not the United States, we have our military answer to a civilian that the people elect.  Thus booing those enlisted inductees swearing to follow the orders of the President, whomever he might be, is a slap at our Founding Fathers and a slap against the Constitution that we in America cherish. 

There are some other thoughts.  Perhaps many of the boo birds are Romney supporters. That is their right.  But, if Romney is elected, they booed the office that Romney will hold for the most of the time those taking the enlistment oath serve.  Just a thought.  

Another thought was conveyed to me by an old friend who has seen far too many college football games to count.  There are people who enjoy their drink before such games, perhaps too much.  He suggested that the boo birds were just intoxicated and did not even know the seriousness of their insult.  

Perhaps they were intoxicated.  We have no way of knowing.  But, frankly, that is really no excuse for making the solemn ceremony of induction  into the United States armed forces disrupting.  
Indeed, the boo birds showed what is wrong with America today.  We abuse our freedom to express ourselves to act out in ignorance to insult.  The boo birds had a right to boo.  I have the right to say shame on them for doing so.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

America deserves better

This election is shameful.  Not in my lifetime have I seen people, both on the right and left so readily digest bull manure and spread it about the other candidates.  I mean crazy stuff.  Like Romney is gay and Obama is a Muslim.  

Most of all, I am tired of watching folks run down the United States of America and this state to get elected or to help a pet candidate get elected.  We are a nation that has to have paid professionals manufacture fear in the political campaigns.  And, make no mistake, the cancer on American politics are those leeches of life, the campaign professionals who make big money making us afraid of one another and hate one another.  Further, they make candidates and  elected officials lazy shells of leaders who spew out talking points and glad hand at fundraisers without ever actually doing  the homework to know what they are talking about it.  The leaders can go to some think tank or consulting group funded by some nut who fell into a lot of money and not worry about having to work and really learn. 

If I sound angry or insulted, I am.  I am angry and insulted because America deserves better political discourse than this.  Paid brats whispering in the ears of leaders is not what built America.  America was built by blood, work and people eventually respecting one another's opinions on the issues of the day and the right of a free American to disagree and still be a worthy person.  

Let's talk about what America is today.  We are the innovators of technology in the world.  Some can argue that there are too many technological gizmos in American life, but we are on the cutting edge of such things.  Indeed all the folks who complain about paying this or that tax or not getting this or that from the government usually have every gizmo known to man to make their complaints on.  While we as Americans probably spend too much time pontificating on things we really do not know about or people we do not know on the internet, other people in this world live in real fear, do not have food to eat, do not have clean water, do not have a place to go the bathroom.  Their children have no schools to go to.  And, in some places, if they have daughters, those daughters are forbidden to learn simple things like how to read.  There are people who die because they can not get basic health care or who are killed for their faith. Not in America.  And, we have most of the world's wealth, despite all the whining about China on the campaign trail.  

Yet, we get worked up in such manufactured fear frenzies.  Well paid folks create movies that scare people into thinking Obama is going to be some of sort of Islamic dictator if re-elected.  Others go on about Romney making people die without healthcare.  Its all balderdash.  And, we as a people should be ashamed to get caught up in such nonsense.  

We are Americans.  We live in the most secure and wealthiest country on Earth.  We should act like we are blessed, not cursed.  Arguing our points about the legitimate issues is part of our fiber, but real Americans argue them honestly and with respect for one another as human beings and free Americans. Our political campaigns should not be as manufactured and fictitious as professional wrestling.  America is better than that and better than this election. Your neighbor can disagree with you and be a good person.  And, whomever is elected President does not affect your life nearly as much as the choices you make for yourself.  

And, one choice you should make is to decide to be a free American and live in faith instead of fear no matter who takes the oath of office at the State House or the White House come January. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

We're not dead yet

Sure, we have taken some time off from writing and blogging.  Some think we at VUI are done.  Some are pretty pleased with that.  Some are disappointed.  There have been a lot of things going on, but we are not dead yet.  In the coming days and weeks we are going to be back up and commenting about everything from the Presidential race to public education in South Carolina to football to whatever.  

All of us who work to put together VUI thank all of our readers, both friendly and unfriendly, for the understanding and well wishes during the sabbatical. Now, back at it.  Let starts with some self deprecating humor from Monty Python....

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Top 9 things not say at a Fourth of July BBQ

It is that time year again, the Fourth of July, when folks around the state of South Carolina will be invited to cookouts.  Here is some advice on what not to say so that you have a pleasant time with your hosts.

9) President Obama was born in the United States.

8) Sweetie, hold my beer while I show these dumbasses how to do this.

7) Who cares what kind of barbecue Jakie Knotts likes, this stuff has too much mustard.

6) Your wife might be hot to you, but she really needs to wear a bra. And, yeah, I don’t care if you bought them for her for Christmas.

5) We really don’t want to see your middle aged beer belly, dude, put a shirt on.

4) I’m sober you sonabitch, give me another beer.

3) Easy, Governor, I will show you the Roman Rocket in due time.

2) Watch out, I am gettin’  loose with it

1) Hey ya’ll, watch this...I got fireworks.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Remember D-Day

Let us never forget the courage and the sacrifice of so many to liberate Europe some 68 years ago.  May the beaches be still with their memories this day and every anniversary of their sacrifice.  General Eisenhower and President Reagan sum up that day and the honor of that day more than I can. 

And, forty years later, Reagan honored them...

Friday, June 01, 2012

"It might be legal, but it ain't right"

The South Carolina House of Representatives Ethics Committee recently reopened the investigation of Governor Nikki Haley's conduct as a member of the House of Representatives.  The conduct in question was whether it was proper for her to take thousands of dollars in consulting fees from interests that lobbied and did business with the state of South Carolina while she sat in the House of Representatives.  

Haley's attorney, Butch Bowyers, a very competent attorney, when speaking to the House Ethics Committee recently, did not deny Haley took the money or that folks she took money from lobbied or did business with the state.  Instead, he took the position that everyone does it.  Indeed, according to the State newspaper, Bowyers stated: "Sitting among you in the chamber there are members employed by or paid by lobbyist principals, and there's nothing wrong with that."

So, the Governor elected to reform our state government, who promised open government, has her attorney tell the House Ethics committee that there is nothing wrong with members of the House being paid by lobbyists.  Let that sink in.  The attorney, representing the sitting Governor of this state, stated that members of the General Assembly can be on the payroll of those who lobby them.  It smacks of a tacit approval of legal bribery.  

Now, perhaps state law will prove to make the Governor's actions and the actions of others who acted and act like she did legal.  But, as the late Skip Davis once said, "It might be legal, but it ain't right." 

And, here is how.  The elected representatives of the people in the General Assembly are elected, and swear to serve the people, constitution of this state and the constitution of the United States. It is unavoidable for that sworn duty to at times come into conflict with the lobbyists or lobbyists principals who pay a member of the General Assembly the bulk of his or her income.   What is good for the state comes into conflict with what is good for the entity that pays a member.  Legal or not, it is a glaring conflict of interest, and at the heart of what is wrong with state government today.  

Perhaps state law allows it.  But, it should not.  The people of South Carolina deserve better from their elected officials.  Again, "It might be legal, but it ain't right." For the integrity of state government, for the integrity of the House, the House Ethics Committee should make a strong stand against Haley, and any other current or former member that acted so.  There should at least be new rules placed that forbid such things from this day forward.  

Read more here:

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Here's a hooray for all the good moms out there

It is said that even the most hardened of criminals has a soft spot for his or her mother.  On this Mother's Day, if you are lucky enough to have your mother still alive, do something or say something, to say "thank you" if she did a good job being your mom.  Do not take that for granted, whatever your age, whatever her age.  

I say that because there are all sorts of mothers out there.  Unfortunately, I have seen the worst of them, and fortunately, I have seen the best of them.  

The worst of them comes from some of the DSS cases I have been appointed to.  Mothers who let their children be abused by the man in there lives because "they love him," mothers who love to get high more than provide for their children, and mothers who are well, just plain mean.  

It is easy to be cynical about motherhood when you see things like that, but in the vast majority of situations, there are the best of mothers  among us, like single mothers I know who work long hours to provide for their kids and still make time to be there for their kids.  Mothers like my own, who even though they had the support of a husband, made sacrifices for their children.  And, even though we are grown still have our backs.  

Richard Nixon was one of the most corrupted politicians in this nation's history.  Yet, in his last speech as President of the of the United States, minutes before he resigned that office in disgrace, he remarked, "my mother was a saint." 

Most of us who had the mother who cooked breakfast for us, saw us off to school, put the bandages on our cut knees, and stood by us when we messed up as kids and even as adults, feel the same way as Nixon.  A good mother is a saint. She not only gave birth to us, she puts up with us.  She always sees the good in us, sees how better we can be.  

Those good mothers come in all forms.  Some might be from a home with a husband and a two car garage.  Others might be single and work two jobs to give their kids a chance.  But, they are the same.  They love their children, even when we grow up and they always want the best for us.  

It is why men, especially men in the South, always have a weakness for mama.  A real mama, or mother to my yankee readers, loves you until the day she dies and keeps hoping you will do your best.  When you mess up, when you fail, your mama, if she is a good one, always is there.  She will give you fits about how wrong you are, but defend you to the world.  And, that is why we honor the good mothers so.  

Mama is always on your side.  It is a comforting thing.  And, yes, I think my mother is a saint in her own way, as I bet most of you do.  Happy Mother's Day to all the real mamas out there and thank you for all you do.  You make the world go around more than you know. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Dick Lugar's loss is a sign of our times

Longtime Senator Richard "Dick" Lugar was defeated in the Republican Primary in Indiana on Tuesday by a "TEA Party" backed candidate.  Some might say "hooray."  VUI does not.  

Lugar, who is 80, has spent nearly 36 years in the United States Senate.  Before some of you cry out about how great it is to see him gone, remember, Lugar was a guy who gave Ronald Reagan the intellectual weight in fighting the Cold War in the 1980s, and is still regarded as the "wise old man" among Republicans when it comes to foreign policy issues.  Lugar had respect from people in both parties. 

In this race, that respect from people was used against him.  Somehow, some way, we have become a country of people who seem to want the least knowledgeable and least experienced people among us to have political positions of power over us.  It is as if not really knowing how the world works or how to do things is a virtue.  

In such a climate, a guy like Lugar, a man who knows how life works is taken out.  Replacing him will be either the Republican nominee or the Democratic one.  Both candidates think that compromise is something evil.  Just like thinking and reasoning with people are.  

Dick Lugar put it best himself in his concession remarks: 

"Unfortunately, we have an increasing number of legislators in both parties who have adopted an unrelenting partisan viewpoint.  This shows up in countless vote studies that find diminishing intersections between Democrat and Republican positions.  Partisans at both ends of the political spectrum are dominating the political debate in our country.   And partisan groups, including outside groups that spent millions against me in this race, are determined to see that this continues.  They have worked to make it as difficult as possible for a legislator of either party to hold independent views or engage in constructive compromise.  If that attitude prevails in American politics, our government will remain mired in the dysfunction we have witnessed during the last several years.  And I believe that if this attitude expands in the Republican Party, we will be relegated to minority status.  Parties don't succeed for long if they stop appealing to voters who may disagree with them on some issues. "

Amen, and indeed, if we Americans can not have the reason to elect the reasonable, if we champion the hot head, the candidate who does not let the facts get in the way of his or her opinions, then why should we be shocked when we have a government that is so dysfunctional and a society that continues to slip when in competition with the reasonable societies of the world?  Blame the politicians all you want.  But, in a democracy, the problem with a failing political process is us.  We choose them.  

Thursday, May 03, 2012

A Big Wednesday in South Carolina politics

Two things came out Wednesday that reshaped South Carolina politics for the near future, and maybe for years.  

First, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that candidates who did not file a Statement of Economic Interests statement when they filed for election were not eligible for the ballots.  That removed nearly 100 candidates from the ballots and made this year's election very incumbent friendly.  Incumbents were excluded from the decision because they already file such statements on an annual basis.  

There will be some loud huffing and puffing among some about the State Supreme Court's decision, but it was sound.  The law is clear on the matter.  All the Court did was enforce the law.  

Less clear is how Governor Nikki Haley escaped a South Carolina House Ethics Committee hearing about her lobbying while she was a member of the South Carolina House.   The House polices its owns members on such matters, and as the questions were about Haley's conduct while a member of the the House, the House panel decided not to pursue it any further.  

They did so by a partisan vote of 5-1.  They cited ambiguities in the law, that frankly, it seems that they and other current House members want to take advantage of.  If they would have found that Haley was wrong to take nice checks from people doing business with the state for "consulting" then members would have to give up their own legal fees and consulting fees.   That is not going to happen. 

Instead, the so called "conservative" and "open" Republican State House of Representatives made clear and, to their credit, openly, they are open for business.  They gave the green light to members to rake in the money helping entities that do with the business with the state while those members serve in the House.  

It was a sad day for South Carolina.  It was a sad day for the House.  And, was perhaps a sadder day for Governor Haley then she might think.  After campaigning against "the good ole boys," they just declared her one of their own.  Her buddies in the House covered her, even if for their own sake. 

They did not do that for her.  They did that for themselves.  Not only did they protect selfish economic interests, but they now have a Governor in Haley, who was already weak on a number of levels, that owes them.  

Add it together, and those who hold the strings of power in Columbia had a very good day Wednesday and solidified their positions very well. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

The office of Lt. Governor and the Governor's rant

The South Carolina House and Senate recently passed a bill that would submit to the people of South Carolina a measure that would amend the State Constitution to allow Lt. Governors to run on tickets with Governors, like Washington does, so called conservatives contend. That alone makes you wonder. People who rail against Washington want Columbia to be more like Washington. We will get into the merits of electing a Lt. Governor and why things are set up the way they are further in this post. But, first we will address the tantrum on social media Governor Haley threw when she found out the State Senate passed the bill effective for 2018. On the surface, it appears the Governor got what she wanted, wise or unwise, conservative or not. But, the Governor was angered by not getting to pick her own running mate in 2014, and launched into hyperbole with a statement that went “they don’t want the girl to get it.” Frankly, the Governor’s remarks are pathetic. Her sophomoric ranting embarrasses her and the state. The fact is fundamental changes to officers of state and federal government have always excluded the current office holders. Why does Governor Haley think she is different? Indeed her ranting makes one think that perhaps the office of Governor ought not to be elected and some sort of state manager should be hired by the General Assembly. I am, of course, using the Governor’s logic to come to that idea. The office of Lt. Governor of South Carolina is part time. It is to most an afterthought. Ken Ard did embarrass himself and the state with his antics, but legislation in the wake of such things has always proven to be shortsighted and rather dimwitted in the long term. When passions run high in public life, thinking things through runs low. The crafters of the State Constitution did not fear some Black man’s election, as the false propaganda of the pro federal government types say. There are papers, there are records. They feared egos and demagogues. They wanted the executive power of the state government to be not only spread out, but for the holders of it to be answerable to the people, not one politician who appointed them. The Lt. Governor, as President of the State Senate, was to be elected by the state at large, sort of a State Senator at large, if you will. The Howard Rich funded crowd will go on about efficiency and things like that. Fair enough. But, under the current structure, South Carolina has not created any George Wallaces or Herman Talmadges. We have not had the corruption seen in places like Illinois and New Jersey. Sure, the people of South Carolina have made some mistakes at the polls. Ravenel, Sharpe, Ard, they come to mind. That said, those mistakes, made by men who were in the political bed with the folks who want to change how our state works by the way, does not warrant us to throw out the structure of our state government. It was the very structure of our state government that protected the people from further harm. Indeed, who are these people who want South Carolina State Government to be like the federal government? Aren’t they the ones railing against the federal government? I believe in the people of this state. I swore to defend its constitution. I think the people are smart enough to elect their own executives, and I believe, that for their protection, South Carolina should not have concentrated executive power like Washington or New Jersey. Indeed, the point of federalism, and of states’ rights, is that we do what is best for South Carolina, not mimic other states or the federal government. When it comes to our leaders in this state, I think of what John Adams once said, “I look around and wonder if you all have gone mad.”

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The courage of Christ

He was a teacher. He was a humble preacher. He was the son of God Himself. The Roman Empire, the power of the day, reluctantly sentenced the humble teacher and preacher to death.

So the humble man went forward to die for our sins. Your sins and mine were washed away with the sacrifice of the humble son of God.

Think about that man and that day long ago. The Son of God humbled himself and had the courage to go through the torture of crucifixion. Jesus Christ would be beaten, humiliated and nailed to a cross.

Think of that pain. There was the Son of God Himself, whipped by Roman soldiers, and after that whipping, Jesus carried the cross he would be nailed upon up Calvary.

Crucifixion was no merciful or quick death. The nails were driven coarsely through one hand and then the other, and then through the feet. The Son of God hung on that cross and suffered. Then a thorn was put through his side and he was mocked as “King of the Jews” by the Roman soldiers.

How tempting it had to be to our Lord to call down a legion of angels and wipe out those who treated him so badly. Yet, our Lord did not do that. He knew he had to go through that humiliating death to wipe our sins clean with his blood.

Think about what many of us would have went through. Would any of us go through such a painful ordeal for our fellow human beings? After standing and preaching for peace, Jesus met a cruel death. His death was made all that more cruel in that the people he came to save were the very ones who demanded his humiliating death.

What courage Jesus Christ had! Too often we forget the courage of Christ. The story of him taking a whip and running the money changers out of the temple is lost as well as the courage of Christ in his last day. He took a beating that many of us would cringe under. He took the pain of the nails into his flesh. He had the power to cry out to angels to end it, but he had the courage not to do so he could die on that dark day for our sins.

On this Easter weekend, enjoy yourselves, enjoy your loved ones and remember that brave man who took the beating and the humiliation so we all could have our sins washed clean in his blood, the blood of the lamb.

Sinner that I am, I am proud to proclaim my devotion to the man who gave up so much to save us all. It humbles my heart to think what Jesus endured for me and for us all. Jesus Christ is Lord! I proclaim him as my Lord and Savior without apology. If the PC crowd does not like that, well, I just don't care. Happy Easter and don't forget the courage and sacrifice of Christ.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Top 9 Things I just don't want to think about but do

9) How long before another South Carolina elected official ends up a subject of the Daily Show or Entertainment Tonight.

8) When a windshield bully will strike again and force me to make my insurance company pay for a new windshield for me. Those windshield bullies are everywhere. The radio ad tells me so.

7) President Palin

6) The average I.Q. of the United States Congress

5) What Mormons drink at a Tea Party.

4) How the world would react if Lt. Governor McConnell presided over the State Senate in his Confederate officer uniform.

3) How many people who the public helped to educate now want to attack public education

2) I hope President Obama is better at picking winners and losers in international affairs than he is at picking basketball.

1) Just what part of a chicken is considered the nugget?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

VUI is not paid by anyone

Voting Under the Influence is among the most critical blogs of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Haley remarked on her facebook page that blogs daring to criticize her were being paid to do so.

VUI can not speak for other blogs. But, we are not paid by anyone. In fact, no one involved with putting this blog together gets paid by any political interests. We simply see things as they are and present things as we see them. Everyone involved with VUI makes their living through other means. This endeavor is out of love and concern for this state.

Perhaps that notion is foreign to Haley (R-Rich and friends), but there are some people who love this state and its people and put themselves out there, not for personal financial gain or personal political gain, but just to do the right thing, to call it like it is.

Further, this is America. Blogs like VUI have a right to criticize, to question, to be a thorn in the side, so to speak, of those with power. That is the American way. It is disturbing that Governor Haley seems to contend that such voices should be silenced if they are aimed at her. That notion of Governor Haley's is even more outrageous when one considers that she benefited not only from the campaign contributions of the Howard Rich gang and the Georgia port folks, but from paid bloggers singing her praises.

Perhaps that is Haley's new definition of conservative government. Government should be limited unless it can be used to silence critics. Perhaps there are some paid critics, like there are paid champions of Governor Haley. But, VUI is not paid by anyone to blog our opinions, period. Not one penny. And, we say that Governor Haley and her staff are immature, ignorant of how government works, irresponsible and arrogant. As the second President of the United States, John Adams, once stated, "facts are stubborn things."

And, the dadgummed thing about facts, you can not buy them. They are just there for the world to see.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Another of the SC GOP House Brat pack

South Carolina State Representative Thad Veirs resigned and is out of the House. But, that does not mean there are not more brat like representatives from Howard Rich.

Today's brat in the SC House is Rep. Eric Bikas (R-Rich/Haley) Apparently, Bikas and Representative Josh Putnam were "dressed down" for "dressing down" in the House Chamber a couple of months ago. Putnam, (R-Rich-Haley) apparently decided he would dress better and show up to work. Bikas went home and stayed.

Fair enough. If a member of the South Carolina General Assembly feels that he in good conscious can not be a part of the body, then he has every right to resign. That said. Rep. Bikas and the Rich-Haley pitchman Will Folks go on about how the Speaker treated Bikas, etc. as justification of sorts for Bikas sitting at home the past two months and drawing a pay check from the people of South Carolina. Bikas even flipped flopped on whether he would return his pay to upstate television station WSPA. Yet, Bikas is a product of so called South Carolinians for responsible government.

There lies the problem. Since a billionaire with kooky ideas and his friends decided to take over the small state of South Carolina, South Carolina has elected officials who are incredibly irresponsible and short sighted. Further, though they claim to be for limited government, the efforts to use taxpayer money to subsidize private entities has never been higher. That is big government at its worst, picking winners and losers in the private sector.

And, far too many of those elected in the wave of out of state cash and well paid wordsmiths have been long on ego and short on sense. But, even more sinister is their arrogance. Rep. Eric Bikas stands as a shining example of it. Bikas refused to work for the people for two months out of his own petulance, and is arrogant enough to think the people should pay him to do so. Bikas sums up the Rich/Haley crowd and shows what is wrong with South Carolina today.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A hidden cost to private school busing

This blog made reference to possible increased costs to the taxpayer because of role unions might play if the state school bus fleet is privatized. Charleston County served as an example. Yet, that is the not the big hidden cost to the taxpayers that is not mentioned in all the talk about choice and freedom.

In the bill, the State Department of Education will turn over facilities to school districts. That might sound good to some who do know understand the way things work. Those bus facilities have enjoyed being exempt from DHEC standards on things like gasoline and oil spills because they are owned and operated by the State Department of Education. They are facilities that sit as potential money pits with the environmental issues that have already happened.

The problem is school districts are not exempt from DHEC laws and regulations. School districts will simply be given “junk” at a big cost if the bill to privatize school bus services comes to be. Literally overnight, local school districts will be strapped with cleanup costs that taxpayers will have to pay for.

It is a puzzling thing. It shows how Nikki Haley and General Zais and their supporters in the General Assembly do not think things out. In their zeal to supposedly limit government and give choice, they will create more government cost, either through unions or environmental clean ups or both. Let us be frank. More expense through a state tax or through a local school property tax is still more cost for government. The cost of cleaning up the now exempt facilities alone will hamper public school districts in a way that is unprecedented.

Now, if Governor Haley and General Zais just simply loathe public education and kids getting a shot at decent life through it, let them come clean and say that. After all, they seem all too eager to grab every dollar from education. They will not admit it. Instead, they will both rake in big campaign dollars doing the bidding of donors with self-interested notions, all the while not doing the homework , so to speak and not realizing that what they support is something that will actually cost taxpayers more money overall. Who knew that Governor Haley and her supporters in the legislature would fight so hard to bring us higher taxpayer costs via unions and environmental costs? But, hey, they will get their contributions.

There lies the real problem. For whatever reason, South Carolina elected a Governor, a Superintendent of Education, and some members of the General Assembly who seem dimwitted in thinking things out about how their policies will really affect this state. The campaign cash created them. It blinds them. It created pundits who walk lockstep with them. People who voted to make government cost less have ended up with leaders who will make government cost more. The only difference is the added costs will go into the pockets of folks who put them in office.

South Carolina was rated one of the most corrupt states in the United States recently. And, that is no surprise. Our leaders are not for limited government, they are for big government that benefits theirs. The school bus issue is just another example of it. They hide behind words like choice and freedom, but as the second President of the United States, John Adams, once said, “Facts are stubborn things.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Top 9 reasons Romney has for his primary opponents to drop out

9) I love to fire people. Isn’t that the GOP way?

8) Come on Tea Party folks, I don’t have any Black or Gay friends. Yee-haw ya’ll.

7) Money. Money. Money. I got more money than Donald Trump and better hair than he does.

6) I made it clear I do not care about poor people.

5) Like most American workers, I too am a son of a father born in Mexico.

4) Come on who do you want as national weatherman during a big hurricane? I got Weather Channel charisma.

3) Why are these people still here? I mean, I got the money, the looks, and the organization, do you really think some quack doctor or some fat white guy from Georgia or some guy who thinks sex with his own wife is a sin can beat Obama? Good grief what do I gotta do? God help us, they all drink caffeinated beverages.

2) I am Mormon. Resistance is futile.

1) My Etch-a-sketch is better than yours.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Apparently SC's Flounder does not take rejection well

SC Representative Thad Viers, the "Flounder" of South Carolina politics, is leaving the political scene. Flounder resigned his South Carolina House seat as news broke that he is about to be indicted for harassing an ex-girlfriend. A few weeks earlier, Viers ended his campaign for the United States Congress.

This is not the first time that Viers has had an issue with former love interests. A few years ago, when VUI first dubbed Viers "Flounder," he was dealing with issues related to his ex wife's boyfriend and threatening phone calls.

Apparently, Flounder does not take rejection well.

Add that to the rumored partying around Columbia, and you get the perfect representative according the Nikki Haley- Howard Rich crowd. They love the guy. But, then again, maybe they do because they don't want to deal with how he would handle the rejection. But, that crowd spent tens of thousands of dollars keeping Viers in office to to their bidding. Flounder defines their idea of a public servant. South Carolinians for responsible government indeed!

Some parting advice.....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ron Wilson revisted

Long time readers of this blog will remember we called out then Anderson County Councilman Ron Wilson as a different kind of RINO, and we outlined his racist ties that were never refuted. All kinds of things ensued, including death threats on our founding Editor, Brian McCarty, and some twisted media stories.

That is politics. That is life. But, what is happening now is just plain ugly with Mr. Wilson. Various news accounts, along with the Attorney General of South Carolina, accuse Wilson of swindling millions of dollars from investors.

It is alleged that Wilson, and his business took people's money to buy precious medals and did not do that, among other things. VUI is not shocked at the allegations. This blog, and its owner are sorry for the folks who invested in the business that seems to have lost their life's savings. And, we hope, should the allegations prove true, Wilson gets the full force of justice from the state and federal governments.

But, after what we went through with this guy, we are not shocked. Not shocked at all. It seems par for the course, so to speak.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Remove US forces from Afghanistan now

In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, then President Bush and his national security team looked at the options for attacking Afghanistan, the home of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the attacks. There were no good plans in the Pentagon. And, for good reason, the United States national security apparatus had made a decision during the Reagan Administration that putting United States boots on the ground there was not a viable option.

The country needed it, so we did it. Then Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's "limited" war with the United States sending operatives to help the so called Northern Alliance against the Taliban was ordered. The search for Bin Laden was ordered. Frankly, it had to be that way. The American people demanded it. American honor demanded it.

Now, American honor demands leaving that God forsaken land that has taken down world powers before. It is complicated. It is difficult, but in the end we have no business having boots on the ground there anymore.

When the forces of the United States first overthrew the Taliban, the United States was supported by the world and viewed as liberators. The Taliban's harsh regime was replaced by an American backed government that allowed things like girls going to school and other measures accepted by world standards.

But, the United States stayed. We told the world we wanted to get Bin Laden for what he did to us. That seemed reasonable. We increased our military footprint, under two Presidents, both Bush and Obama, and our presence in the lives of people who are literally on the other side of the world.

Then, we found and killed Bin Laden in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. That started the feeling of Afghans about just what the United States was up to. But, we got the bad guy. Then the United States did not leave. Instead, the United States remained in Afghanistan, in force. That was the start of the problem we faced in credibility, not only with the Islamic world but with the entire world.

The people of Afghanistan are used to someone with power lording over them. When a people have spent most of their lives submitted to a powerful military entity, the Taliban, then is liberated by a stronger power who does not leave, then feelings develop that one oppressor has simply been replaced by another.

Add to those feelings of the past few weeks and the last few days. A incredibly stupid General ordered Korans burnt because a few prisoners passed notes in them. Then, a rogue United States Army Sergeant walked off post and killed civilians, including 9 children. Then that rogue Sergeant tried to burn the bodies.

That rogue Sergeant is a despicable human being and a disgrace to the United States and to the United States Army. His heinous actions have sullied the honor of the United States and the Army and the service and sacrifice of all those who have honorably served. If General George Patton was alive, Patton would shoot him on sight.

That said, no apology from various Generals, Secretary of Defense Panetta or President Obama will do in this case. The United States needs to leave the business of Afghanistan to the people of Afghanistan. If what rises up there decides to mess with our people again, we hit them. But, the United States is not an occupier, not an empire. The act of stupid Generals and rogue Sergeants can not happen if we are not occupying someone else's country.

The Navy Seals took care of the guy who masterminded the attacks of September 11th, 2001. The United States made it clear to the world, that we will relentlessly hunt down and bring to justice anyone who attacks us so. Now is the time for us to pull out of Afghanistan and show the world we are not angry occupiers of other nations.

If we stay in Afghanistan, it will get worse there. The people there will not trust us and they will plot against us. Already rumors are there that it was more than just one rogue soldier who did the killing of civilians. We stay there, and we play into the hands of the Islamic extremists who try to portray us as against God, occupiers, evil, etc. Further, we seem like like the bully on the block to the rest of the world instead of the keeper of the peace.

So, for the honor of the service of our military people, and for the honor of this country, and for the future security of the United States, I urge President Obama to remove United States forces from Afghanistan now.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Ard's resignation could shake up McConnell and the State Senate

This blog, and others have accepted as conventional wisdom that when, and I suppose to be fair at this point, if, Lt. Governor Ken Ard resigns due to his campaign finance scandals, State Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell will maneuver not to take the job, as the South Carolina constitution prescribes. It makes sense. McConnell is far more powerful in his current position than he would be as Lt. Governor, except for one thing, the Lt. Governor can be automatically elevated to Governor.

That elevation is no remote possibility in the chattering classes around Columbia. Those who are Haley supporters spread the word that Mitt Romney will be pick her as his running mate. If that is the case, and if gas is five bucks a gallon in November, Haley leaves Columbia to become Vice President of the the United States, leaving whomever is Lt. Governor from the time of her resignation until January of 2015 as Governor of South Carolina.

Those who are more critical of the Governor see a different end. Haley does have some ethical questions out there, and those are amplified by her critics. If Obama is re-elected, is not far fetched to think that some sort of federal investigation might happen on some matters, again, forcing Haley out. As one staffer puts it, it seems like Agnew and Nixon right now when one takes that side of things.

The bottom line is a good many folks are talking about Haley not finishing her term, which makes the choice of the next Lt. Governor, should Ard resign as predicted, all the more important. The odds of Haley completing her term are better than average. Fans and detractors could be just fantasizing in their murmurings. But, the rumors about Haley, good and bad, flying around adds to the intrigue that will choose the next Lt. Governor of South Carolina.

Then there is the State Senate make up to consider, should McConnell maneuver not to be Lt. Governor. It seems Democrats would support Republican State Senator John Courson as the stand in Senate President to be elevated. Maybe some of them really like Courson, but Courson's personality holds a State Senate Seat that Democrats could win should he become Lt. Governor. On the other hand, some Republicans seem to contend for Democrat Nicki Setzler, who holds a seat that but for his personality, Republicans could win. A possible compromise contender is Republican Larry Martin, who is in a primary fight with former Rep. Rex Rice. But, the seat is safely Republican. On the compromise note, Harvey Peeler would be an interesting choice, and would join his brother Bob as the first brothers to hold the office of Lt. Governor.

Further, should McConnell step aside for the stand in, we are guessing his re-election to President of the Senate will not be automatic, unless some deal is cut. Other blogs, and some folks in Columbia say Hugh Leatherman of Florence might challenge McConnell in that re-election.

Don't be shocked if Glenn McConnell, a man with a lot more insider knowledge of this state and its political players than this or any other blog, does not weigh the odds with his knowledge and just takes the job of Lt. Governor, gambling on something more and a shot at history. The calculations of that gamble might include the rumors that McConnell's re-election to the post of President of the Senate is not guaranteed after a stand in Senator is elevated to Lt. Governor. It could come down as an outside shot at being Governor versus a shot at being just a Senator from Charleston.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Nikki Haley and Mick Zais Pro Union afterall?

Governor Nikki Haley made a national reputation of taking on labor unions when she fought the National Labor Relations Board in regards to its stand on Boeing locating a plant in South Carolina. State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais seems to take a shot against the SCEA, the equivalent of a teacher's union in South Carolina, every chance he gets. So, hardcore real Republicans cheer both as fighters against unions.

But, their shortsighted stand on school bus transportation has union folks licking their chops. Haley and Zais, for various true believer and money reasons, support the bill in the South Carolina House that will sell all the school buses in the state fleet and make districts provide their own transportation or preferably contract with a private company for bus transportation. As their public money for private school tuition scheme, it is not well thought out.

First, public bus drivers in South Carolina can not be unionized. Charleston County decided to privatize its district buses and was met with unionization by the Teamsters, which drove up the cost of those buses. They could afford it. Other counties around South Carolina can not.

VUI will dig deeper into the public school transportation issue. But, this post is about unions. Under the Haley-Zais plan, unions will have an open door to take over your children's transportation to and from school. A private company doing that can be unionized by the Teamsters. They can strike for higher pay, better conditions, whatever, and at whatever time, and leave you scrambling to get your children to school.

As it stands now, your child's transportation is ran by the public. The buses are going to run everyday school is in session. Their trips to and from school can not be held hostage by a Teamster's Union Boss who makes a decision a thousand miles away.

But, that is the kind of thing that happens when two politicians who really do not think things out and have no beliefs other than their own well being push for things they are talked into by well paid lobbyists and groups. The truth is, privatize school buses, and you will have union battles all over this state as well as increased local school taxes, and kids finding themselves unable to get their constitutionally provided access to public schools, which will lead to more taxpayer costs with lawsuits and the like.

Who knew Haley and Zais were so pro union and so much for raising taxes and government spending? They might claim they are not, but their support of this bill shows that they are. Actions speak so much louder than words.

The "Fight of the Century"

It has been years since the sport of boxing was iconic in American culture. But, 41 years ago, on March 8th, 1971, boxing was the center of the cultural world. On that day, in Madison Square Garden, Joe Frazier, a native of South Carolina, met Muhammad Ali in the ring. It was billed "Battle of the Champions" and the "Fight of the Century," and for good reason. No fight like it had happened before in sport of boxing, and no showdown perhaps had happened in all of sports.

Joe Frazier was the recognized heavyweight champion of the world and was undefeated. Ali was undefeated as well, and had been the heavyweight champion of the world before he refused induction into the United States Army on religious and conscious grounds. That led to Ali being stripped of his titles. That led fight commentators and fans to see Ali as the true champion, since he had never lost his title in the ring.

The circumstances surrounding Ali's political stands created a cultural clash. It was billed as establishment versus anti establishment. It was billed as working class ethics versus elite liberalism and views. Some in the Black community billed as Uncle Tom (Frazier) versus a real Black Man. Added to all that, Ali was press friendly, smooth in his talking and his hyping. Frazier was gruff. It was a true cultural battle. The working class folks, especially working class whites, backed Frazier. The press and the so called elite backed Ali.

The fight would prove one of the ages. It would go the distance of 15 rounds. Frazier would win a unanimous decision, in part because of his performance in the late rounds and his knockdown of Ali in the final round. That would be the high point of the career of Joe Frazier.

Frazier would lose the heavyweight championship to George Foreman, yes the grill guy. Ali would then add to his legend by defeating Foreman with the "rope a dope" strategy in a fight billed as the "Rumble in the Jungle." The questions about Ali's toughness caused by the late rounds against Frazier would never be raised again as Ali took all the powerful Foreman had and simply made Foreman too tired to fight on. Ali's strategy would be praised and used by others in sports. Ali would also defeat Frazier twice in future fights, lose and win back the title again and become one of the most adored athletes in the world.

The relationship between Ali and Frazier was strained. Reports say when Ali lit the torch at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Frazier was still bitter about Ali. The two did reconcile of sorts, and Ali attended Frazier's funeral.

VUI mentions the fight 41 years ago to lament the fact that the sweet science of boxing has no such figures today. Once a boxing match was the center of the cultural world, a place where the clash of ideas could be reduced down to two men fighting in the ring. Now, boxing is just a sideshow, filled with clown promoters and boxers with no personality. But, it was not that way 41 years ago. That day, the whole world was watching.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Two Senate legends, on opposite sides, are stepping down

Two South Carolina Senate legends have announced they are stepping down and not seeking re-election. The men are politically polar opposites. State Senators Greg Ryberg of Aiken and John Land of Clarendon are wrapping their careers up.

Frankly the South Carolina State Senate will be less without them. Ryberg was a conservative to the core, always arguing the conservative cause, right or wrong. Land had the role of the liberal, always arguing the liberal cause, right or wrong.

What made VUI respect them both? They did their own homework. Neither were ran by handlers. Both frustrated the powers that be in their respective parties. We believe both were intellectually honest. One might think this or that idea of either man was a bit crazy, but they offered real ideas, thought out, and they fought for them. Having the two of them duke it out in the South Carolina State Senate was the very embodiment of the deliberative body in action.

Both had that detractors. They both had personal attacks. Some said Land was this and that, Ryberg was this and that. That is politics. Indeed, that is life in any great endeavor. There are always those who try to tear down people greater than them. That is human nature.

But, let's pause that stuff for a moment to think about the contributions of the two great champions of their own causes who now are calling it a day. The state of South Carolina will be lesser without them, not because one of them was right or wrong, but because they both were men who did what they thought was right and through that fight, made the Senate and the rest of us think on things.

As such VUI offers the same compliment to both Land and Ryberg. They thought for themselves, and they fought for what they believed. Good wishes and a thank you to both of them.

The political train wreck that is SC right now

The State newspaper reported in two separate stories that some folks are rallying around the accused.

First, the State reported tacit support from both Republican and Democratic politicos from the Pee Dee region of the state for one of their own, Lt. Governor Ken Ard, who has admitted to misuse of campaign funds for things like personal items and family vacations. Ard is under investigation by the state Grand Jury, and rumors abound he is about to be indicted.

But, if the story from the State is correct, those folks in the Pee Dee think such a misuse of campaign funds is a much ado about nothing and that Lt. Governor Ard is a good guy. The Pee Dee is legendary, for shall we say interesting politics, but the effort to make Ard look like an honest and earnest man who just goofs up on paperwork seems a longshot to VUI. Seriously, while South Carolina, and especially those in the Pee Dee play fast and loose with the rules, things like vacations and women's clothing items are not likely to past the smell test, even in South Carolina. Further, if Ard was a Democrat, he would probably be wearing an orange jumpsuit by now. And it would not have a Tiger Paw on it. Just saying.

Then there was the story about how Governor Nikki Haley voiced support for embattled South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Chairwoman Caroline Rhodes. Rhodes is accused by members of the South Carolina Senate of lying under oath to them in hearings on February 1st, about The Savannah Port Gate. The Savannah Port Gate being what we at VUI dub the dirty deal done to sell out South Carolina to dredge the Savannah River to give Georgia a good port and take away from our port at Charleston.

Frankly, Governor Haley had no choice but to give Rhodes some cover. After all, Savannah Port Gate is Haley's deal. A lot of good folks were strong-armed into it. Haley has money and support riding on it.

Add to all that the publicity the Laurens County Republican Party is getting for its sexual purity pledge. If published reports around the internet and the nation are correct, the Laurens County GOP will only accept candidates for office who did not have premarital sex and who did not engage in extramarital sex. Some contend that the measure was aimed at Republican Sheriff Ricky Chastain, who admitted an affair. Whatever the reason, it adds to the making of the image that South Carolina's leadership seem out of step and silly.

And, we at VUI could live with out of step and silly, but corrupt we can not. Add the rallying around the accused and the silly, and well, the mess that this state is in now is clearly illustrated. We are a long way from the vision of what Carroll Campbell would want for South Carolina. For that matter, as a bone to you history buffs like VUI, we are a long way from what the likes someone like Coley Blease would tolerate. South Carolina is a political train wreck right now.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Parting ways with the SC GOP

I have spent my entire life as a Republican. I worked to elect Republican candidates for offices from the local level to President of the United States. I was Chairman of the College Republicans as an undergraduate. I served as an executive committeeman, and as counsel to Republican parties.

I choose now to part ways. It is not an easy thing walking away from a party you spent your entire adult life trying to help. But, in the end, my conscious can not allow me to continue to be a part of the Republican Party in South Carolina.

I am still for limited and well focused government. I am still pro-life in that I believe abortion should only be used in exceptional cases, such as rape, incest and the mother’s life in danger. I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I think that guns are tools only, and that people commit crimes, not tools. I am no big fan of gay marriage, but perhaps civil unions are okay. I am for the Fair Tax. I grew up admiring men like Carroll Campbell, Ronald Reagan, and Barry Goldwater. I am proud that I actually worked for Congressman Joe Wilson at his law firm. Nothing about that changes.

But, I cannot go along with what is happening in the Columbia today. The South Carolina Republican Party is a bought and paid for special interest group. Governor Haley, Lt. Governor Ard, both are corrupt and indefensible, but Republicans walk lockstep behind them. I will not. VUI laid the facts out. People do not care. Fair enough.

There are things that government should and should not do. It never should do the bidding of a billionaire from New York and his friends with crazy ideas. Indeed, if you look at what they demand, Carroll Campbell, Ronald Reagan, and Barry Goldwater would all be labeled RINOs.

Because I dared to believe that, I was labeled a RINO. I was told by race haters and the young paid punks I was not welcomed in their Republican Party. It would be a pure breed. Never mind I was working to elect Republicans when most of the people who are paid by the crazies to take over this state were in middle school. But, that, however, is just part of the problem I have with the South Carolina GOP.

The other part of is good old fashioned hate. Maybe it’s the rise of the Tea Party, or just a revival of old feelings, but there is a movement based on hate out there. People hate having a Black President of the United States, so they buy into bull manure about things related to his birth, his objectives, etc. I have never seen a President of the United States so disrespected in my lifetime, and frankly, I am disgusted by it. I might not support President Obama for re-election, but he is the duly elected, by God, President of the United States. This race thing, that is covered up with arguments about freedom is bull crap. I see through it. I cannot be a part of it.

Closer to home, we have a Governor who campaigned on openness who is not open. We have a Governor that will dole out the big bucks, at taxpayer expense, to those she favors. The Governor will even sell out South Carolina, via the Jasper port deal, when her campaign coffers are filled. In the words of former Senator Hollings, we have a “cash and carry” state government.

That is not the GOP I worked for. That is not the ideal that I gave so freely of my time. So, from this point on I and my blog are Independent. Sure, Democrats, there will be Republicans we back. Get over it. And, Republicans, you get one less RINO, I guess. I and this blog are going to call them like we see them, and our limited fortune and efforts will never go again to people who pay so much to say we are not wanted and seem filled with the stupidity that just comes with ignorant hate of others.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The war on public education

In a previous post, VUI alluded to the campaign finance fix that legislators seeking re-election are in and how that will impact their stands on public education. But, it needs to be made clear, that here in South Carolina, there is a war against public education. It is well funded. Talented people are paid big amounts of money to espouse anti public education points of view. Big money is poured into to political campaigns to elect a General Assembly that goes after public education.

There are problems in public education. Some teachers do not belong in the classroom. Too much money is wasted on administrative costs. But, instead of doing the hard work of tackling those issues, more and more Republican members of the General Assembly and their pundit backers, seem bent on finding ways, both directly and indirectly, to use public money for private schools and private businesses related to schools. It is not a solution to whatever ails South Carolina public schools, instead it is a bought and paid for stand that will do more harm than good.

And, if you doubt that the stand is bought and paid for, just look at the money. Millions have flowed into the South Carolina politics. Candidates have been funded almost solely from out of state sources. Groups have been paid for. Bloggers have been bought. The video poker lobby pales in comparison to how the private education and related business lobby has bought South Carolina politics.

The General Assembly will take up two measures that will show just how bought South Carolina is. First, there is yet another effort at tuition tax credits and public scholarships for private school tuition. Second, there is an effort to make the public schools use private companies to operate school buses. Those private companies are dumping dollars in South Carolina. They all wrap themselves in looking out for the children and parents and use words like choice. But, the hard cold truth is it’s about business and making money. Money is made to espouse the issues. Money is contributed to politicians and money is on the line with things like school transportation contracts.

To make matters worse, those who defend public education and public bus transportation for students seem to be like deer caught in the headlights. They often argue for the status quo and do not think to argue for needed reforms. They also fail to argue the better points about such things.

Let’s be frank. Before there was widespread public education in this state, and public provided transportation to that education in this state, the literacy rate was horrible. The economy was agrarian, and most people lived tough lives, except for the plantation class. Public education changed that. Young people learned and got skills, and the lived what became known as the American Dream, not only in South Carolina but throughout the country.

The numbers and the facts are there for anyone to find. Look at South Carolina in 1895 and South Carolina today. Is there any doubt that more people have meaningful jobs and lives, own property, and are happier? Public education created that world. It made America one of the strongest economies the world has ever known.

Indeed, one great irony is that the legislators and the pundits who do the bidding of the crazy billionaire and his buddies now are mostly products of public education. They got their learning, so to speak, from the help of the rest of us, but now they want to degrade that, and work to undermine that, all for the money.

There is also this to consider. On some school bus Monday morning, in some rural place in South Carolina, might be a little boy or girl, the son or daughter of a maid or manufacturing worker, who loves science. That little boy or girl gets a shot through public education to work hard at their studies and might someday find a cure for cancer or find the next great electronic device. He or she might perform the surgery that saves your life. We pay for public education as a people, not to fund so called educrats, but to make our society better, to give each and every young person the same shot at the American Dream we had.

Indeed public education is the one thing that is proven over decades to actually do that. The war on public education seems to be one manufactured by people who choose their own financial interests over the future and by a handful of rich folks who wish the plantation style economy was back.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Speaker Bobby Harrell the PAC Man ushers in Mr. Rich

South Carolina Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell is one of the most powerful politicians in Columbia. As such, he had little problem making PACs in South Carolina pay the bill for two national legislative conferences in Charleston. The problem with PAC man Harrell, or should we say Speaker Harrell, is that his big parties dried up the well, so to speak in campaign finance in South Carolina House races. Harrell ate up all the little dots that are campaign money.

After giving up big money to let Harrell have his parties, PACs and others are simply tapped out. Add to the problem the economy we are in. Thus, SC Republican House members are finding limited sources of funding for their races this year.

But, one source of funding remains for them. That is billionaire Howard Rich, his friends, and the groups he and his friends back. Thus, GOP members can find money for re-election if they sign on to the odd ideas of those folks.

Let's lay it out there. Suppose Representative X is running for re-election as a Republican. Normally, without the dry well created by Harrell, he would be able to go to businesses and their PACs for campaign cash. With those sources tapped out, Representative X faces a problem. Either Representative X votes the way the Rich folks want and gets money from them or faces a primary opponent funded with so called Rich money while he scrambles to compete.

In the end, politicians look after their own interests, their own re-election. Some might retire, but the vast majority of Republicans will be careful to not offend the so called Rich crowd, so they can rake in the money for their re-election bids.

Blame PAC man Bobby Harrell for this. He gobbled up all the money for his parties, and the ghosts of Howard Rich, (playing to the 80s Pac Man crowd here) are emboldened. Indeed, Harrell himself might find his very Speakership challenged if the legislature is filled with Rich funded men and women.