Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 is going to be nasty because hogs love the mud

If one thought the push polls and rumor campaigns in South Carolina during the South Carolina Presidential Primary were bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Look at how Romney and Gingrich go at each other in Florida. Fact checkers catch both their campaigns in flat out lies about each other. Yet millions of dollars continue to be spent in promoting those allegations.
Frankly, such political nonsense, from all types of campaigns is allowed to go on because both mainstream and blog media types sternly tell us it is not about the facts, it is about the seriousness of the charge. Let that sink in. Some politico either paid to do so or with some personal agenda concocts some charge, leaks it to a few bloggers in the know, and then the media, out of both laziness and the desire to be in the center of things, run with the "allegation" story.

Those allegation stories are created by political consultants to define the opponent. It does not matter to them if the matter is true or not. What matters is creating an image of the opponent to run against. Campaigns are no longer about ideas or running against who an opposing candidate really is. They have become about saying anything to create an image that can be defeated. It is at all levels of politics and robs people of a real choice in politics and it is part of the reason this country is in the mess it is in. Political operatives of all stripes are guilty. And, it happens at all levels.

A case in point is the State Senate race in Lexington County. Blogger Will Folks, known for his on again off again support of Nikki Haley and her cohorts and her agenda and for a sense of the sensational, ran a recent blog post about State Senator Jakie Knotts. The allegations in the post had all the elements of a tailored made allegation to attempt to create an image of Knotts to run against for Katrina Shealy, a Haley cohort running against Knotts.

Folks reported that Knotts was alleged to have “roughed up” a prostitute years ago in a motor home at a flea market. The elements make it seem consultant made. First, Shealy wants to define Knotts as a hothead, out of control. Thus he roughed up a woman. Shealy also wants to define Knotts as sleazy, so it’s a prostitute he roughs up. Third, Shealy wants to define Knotts as a redneck, so the alleged encounter is in a motor home parked at a flea market. Further, Folks tips his hand in the matter by quoting an anonymous source supporting Knotts who refers to the Governor and her husband and “titty bars,” again reemphasizing the point about Knotts and his supporters as redneck and sleazy. There is an offhand remark in the post about being able to prove the charge, but the damage is done, and the message is out there.

This post is not to pick on Mr. Folks or the Shealy campaign. They are just doing what they do. However, as such things continue to happen at all levels of politics, true debates on issues are lost. Good people with sense avoid public service. And, that pleases those in it just fine. It has happened in America before. America suffered through some sorry Presidents and politicians during the era of the muckracker and yellow journalism when the newspaper became a new modern media. The internet media is now going through that phase and political operatives are taking advantage of it.

The problem now is that the state and nation are in real trouble. In other such trying times, politicos and media types were jolted to sift through the manure and give people real choices. But, this year that is not likely to happen. There is too much money to be made and too many egos for those types to put the state and country first. The election of 2012 is going to be nasty, false and people are going to make choices based on whatever some well paid consultant or blogger comes up with next. VUI hopes to be proved wrong by political leaders and media types, but realistically, it’s not likely. Hogs love the mud too much.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Newt had his Reagan moment in South Carolina

Back in 1980, the former Governor of California, Ronald Reagan had a moment in a New Hampshire debate where he expressed disgust with the moderator and it propelled Reagan to the nomination and the Presidency.  

You can see Reagan's moment of frustration here. 

And here is Newt Gingrich's comparable moment.

Gingrich's outrage matched Reagan's in a campaign dealing with hard national times. Being angry with nonsense is how people feel, including Republicans and Independents. If you want to know why Gingrich won so big in South Carolina, look no further. This moment won the race.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A helluva Presidential Primary

As predicted by the staff of VUI, this has been one helluva of a primary season in South Carolina.  We have received emails about Ron Paul not supporting marriage, Newt Gingrich wanting an open marriage and wanting one of his wives to commit an abortion, and Rick Santorum being in the mafia and his wife having an affair with an abortion doctor.  And, then there was the stuff about Mitt Romney,not only do his attackers call him liberal, they offer that he does not believe in Christ and believes in 12 Gods in 12 universes.  We are not kidding.  That is the stuff pitched to us to urgently run with. 

We ran with none of it.  As VUI predicted, this is the ugliest Presidential primary in South Carolina history.  Falsified emails, hit mail peaces and constant robo calls have been the political staple of late. 

The nonsense is not limited to emails to political bloggers.  The mail and phone calls to South Carolina voters has been bombarding.  Good people who dare to have voted in previous primaries have been subjected to constant mail and phone calls.  Folks can not eat their dinners in peace without some robo call interrupting it.  It does not even stop there.  VUI has learned that a Midlands school district office has had to deal with robo calls to one of their phone lines.  In other words, people who work for the taxpayers have to waste their time answering such calls.  Now, that is conservative, right?

Frankly, whomever wins the South Carolina Presidential Primary will leave South Carolina bloodied and battered.  The only real winners will be the people of South Carolina, who will be finally relieved of all the nonsense that they have been dealing with lately and President Obama, who looks better as as the mud storm continues. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Betting on South Carolina

Every four years it seems South Carolina goes through this.  Presidential candidates, especially Republican ones, show up for meet and greets throughout the state wearing either blue jeans or khakis and open collars.  Told, of course, by some consultant, that us folks down South have to be catered to.  You know us hayseeds love our blue jeans.  

It is almost comedic to see some guy like Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich with their casual clothes saying things like "you all."  The national media chimes right in, talking about how South Carolina has to be appealed to.  

Fair enough.  But, the negative nature of the ad campaign in the next week or so will really be uniquely South Carolinian.  Millions of dollars from Morman businessmen will flow into the Super Pac for Mitt Romney to attack Newt Gingrich and whomever else Romney's allies sees as a threat.  Not to be outdone, Newt Gingrich has a Super Pac funded partially by billionaire Sheldon Adelson that promises to spend over three million dollars in South Carolina exposing Mitt Romney's business practices.  Others are certain to follow suit.  In other words, it will be political ad silly season in South Carolina from now until January 21st.  

Such is not new to South Carolina.  Outside billionaires such as Howard Rich have tried to influence Palmetto State Republican politics for years.  Some say Governors Sanford and Haley are the Governors from Rich, not South Carolina.  

As insulting as the wardrobe changes, the bad use of colloquial language, and the money from outsiders on negative ads is to South Carolinians with common sense, the truth remains such things have worked in the past in South Carolina Presidential Primaries and are likely to work again this year.  The big money from all sides in the Presidential race are betting on it.  They are betting on South Carolina being South Carolina. 

And it going to get nasty in South Carolina.  There will be an onslaught of negative ads.  There will be push poll phone calls.  There will be negative mail outs.  The next week will likely make the battle between George W. Bush and John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 look like a church social debate. 

One thing is certain though.  Win, lose or draw, Mitt Romney needs to drop the attempt at being a Southern Good Ole Boy.  At least the President can drink a Coke.  Besides, good ole boys don't wear tailored made blue jeans with their tailored made open collar button down shirt.  Those are the kind of clothes some yankee wears when he comes down here to shut a plant down and lay off people.  Besides, this Southerner likes the idea of someone wanting to be President actually wearing a tie.  It shows he takes the office seriously. After all we are not selecting someone to be the spokesman for Old Navy or the Six o'clock News weatherman, we are selecting someone to run for President of the United States.  It would be refreshing if the candidates acted like that instead of betting on those of us in South Carolina to be the embodiment of their stereotypes about us. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

South Carolina to be Texas Governor Rick Perry's Alamo Stand

The battle of the Alamo was fought in Texas back in March of 1836.  Leading the soldiers of the Texas Republic who would all die in that battle was South Carolina native William Travis.  One of the last letters that Travis managed to get out from the besieged Alamo was marked on the envelope "Victory or Death" and its contents described how he thought he was doing God's Will.  

So it is fitting that the Governor of Texas makes his grand stand in South Carolina.  Rick Perry made very big gaffes in debates and came in fifth in Iowa.  Perry has little chance of doing better in New Hampshire.  The situation caused Governor Perry to pause for a moment to reassess his chances.  Then, he chose to come stand in South Carolina. 

It is not a bad political move.  South Carolina has not warmed to Mitt Romney.  Rick Santorum is the flavor of the week in the GOP, but his lack of money and organization could derail his dream of being the challenger to Romney for the nomination. Bachman is out of the race and Gingrich seems to be staying in to go after Romney.  Paul is a spoiler at best. 

Thus, Rick Perry makes his stand in South Carolina.  If Perry somehow wins the Palmetto State, his money and contacts, and frankly, his record as Governor of Texas, all come into play and present a real challenge to Romney as the campaign heads into Florida and beyond. 

So its victory or Presidential political death for Governor Perry in South Carolina.  We are guessing Governor Perry would have it no other way.  After all, where better for a Texas Governor to either win or go down swinging than the state that gave Texas one of its greatest heroes?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Can a man who believes drinking coffee and tea is a sin be elected President?

The results in Iowa are good news for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  He will finish in the top two, with upstarts Rick Santorum and Ron Paul close to him.  As things stand at this posting, it is Romney, Santorum and Paul, in that order.  

That is good news for Romney.  Romney should have a solid win in the New Hampshire.  That will give him momentum going into South Carolina.  But, there is where the questions will start.  

We ask the most basic of questions, will people vote for a President who thinks that drinking coffee and tea are a sin?  Romney is a devout Morman, not some lip serving follower, and according to the Word of Wisdom, supposedly revealed to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon faith, by God, the consumption of tea and coffee is a sin.  So is the consumption of a Coca Cola.  

Now in the South, even the most devout among us like  a good cup of coffee in the morning and iced tea or Coca Cola with our meals.  Think about it.  Millions work hard every day, pray to God, go to Church, tithe, and are loyal to their families.  Yet, according to the Mormons they live in sin because they have a cup of coffee in the morning or drink a Coca Cola.  

Do not get VUI wrong, if Mormons want to believe that, so be it.  They are not lesser human beings for doing so.  But, do we want the leader who represents all of us to be someone who has beliefs that are so contrary to the rest of American values? 

Further, the irony is the Tea Party.  The consumption of tea is so ingrained in our history, both Southern and Northern.  It was the tax on tea that led to the real Tea Party before the American Revolution.  Now, will the new Tea Party really back a candidate for President whose faith contends that the consumption of the beverage they are known for is a sin?  It really makes no sense.  

Romney has money.  He has friends with money.  He is polished. But, do we really want a President whose Faith directs that a good cup of coffee on a cold morning and a cold glass of tea on a hot summer day are sins?  

The nation turns to Iowa

President Obama is ripe for defeat by most political standards.  The burning question is can the Republicans nominate someone that the middle of the road voters who actually decide Presidential elections can back? 

The process of answering that question starts today, in the heart of Bowl Season.  While a good many Americans are worried about how college football games turn out and about the NFL Playoff match ups, the playoff for a shot at the greatest job in the land begins today in Iowa. 

The Iowa Caucuses are a thing of wonder.  Unlike primaries, where voters simply go the polls and secretly cast their ballot, people in Iowa will caucus.  That means that people will actually stand up with friends and neighbors and literally stand with the candidate that they support for President. 

Historically, although it is the first contest of Presidential contenders, few winners of the nomination in both parties have been selected in Iowa. Its results have made things more interesting as the primary season develops.  

That said, VUI breaks down the GOP field and who must do what to survive the race.  

First, former Senator Rick Santurom and U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman must do well.  They both trail in national polls but have invested a lot of time and resources in Iowa.  If either of them finishes in first or second, they will make the race interesting.  

Second, Congressman Ron Paul must do well.  Nothing less than second place will keep his rebel campaign alive.  Paul has moved considerable resources to Iowa and is counting on a ground game. 

Third, there is Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas.  Perry raised a lot of money and looked like a real contender until his debate flubs.  Now, he needs a solid showing to hold on to South Carolina.  

Fourth, there are the guys who do not want to be embarrassed.  That would be former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  Both men have some following in national polls, but either or both could be embarrassed with a bad showing in Iowa as they have not put the time and the resources into the state.  

That brings us to former Utah Governor and United States Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.  Huntsman has the resume of a President.  But, his campaign has not gained any real traction.  If Huntsman, by some miracle, could finish in the top three, it would change the race. 

Chances are Iowa will end true to its history.  Some upstart, perhaps Bachman, Santorum, or Paul will do really well.  The front runner Romney will do respectively, and the race will go on to New Hampshire and then to South Carolina, where the smart candidates will start dropping out and positioning themselves for appointment in 2013.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The truth about South Carolina and taxes and state government

The Tax Foundation came out with his list of the most taxed and least taxed states to live in and retire in.  South Carolina was listed as the second least taxed state in the union, behind Mississippi.  (There is always Mississippi to count on in lesser wanted rankings such as health care and education so it figures they would top South Carolina in something we would actually want.)

Such a fact does not deter those activists and bloggers who cry out that South Carolina is an overtaxed, over spending bloated place.  They drone on and on about how the structure of government needs to be changed, and how money is all but stolen from people.  But, the fact remains South Carolinians enjoy the lowest state and local tax burden in the country, but for Mississippi.  And, Mississippi's claim is questionable when one considers that South Carolina collects less taxes per ca pita.  

Those who work in once were thought essential government services, such as law enforcement and education do not have to be told we take in less money than most.  They deal with cuts that really affect the services that they can provide.  If that is how the people of South Carolina want things to be,  fair enough.  

But, what is nonsensical is the notion that we in South Carolina are taxed to extremes and that our state government is just some bloated mess.  The numbers do not have an agenda.  They are what they are.  Compared to the rest of the nation, South Carolina lives on a spartan budget.

There lies the dilemma for Governor Haley and Republican activists on the web and elsewhere.  Do they tout the good standing of South Carolina when it comes to taxing and spending, or do they keep droning on about how bad it is when it really isn't?  What is their real agenda?  Is to make state government more efficient in how it provides services or is it to have no state government at all?  

And, as for those out of state groups and individuals who like to dump their money to campaign for "conservatism" in South Carolina, perhaps they should see there are 48 other states where their money might be better spent.  South Carolina seems to be doing just fine on taxing and spending, thank you very much.  And, we need political leaders who brag on that so we can attract real economic development and jobs.  The naysayers can pack their carpet bags and go back to their home states where the problems really are. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Top 9 Most Powerful SC Politicians

As the New Year begins, we take a look at who really run things in South Carolina.  Here is our take on the 9 most powerful politicians in South Carolina. 

9) SC State Representative Brian White, (R- Anderson). As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, White was the handpicked successor to former Chairman Dan Cooper.  With that he has the support of establishment Republicans.  He also has the support of the Haley crowd at a level.  White has youth and power together, which makes him a man people in Columbia have to deal with.

8) SC State Senator Hugh Leatherman, (R-Florence). Leatherman is Chairman of the State Senate Finance Committee, which, with his old boy ties and knowledge of finance and of the rules of Senate makes him a formidable political force to reckon with.  Call Leatherman names, call him too old, call him whatever, but in the end a state budget has to get by him. 

7) United States Congressman Tim Scott (R-1st District).  Few freshmen Congressman have had the chance to influence power the way Congressman Scott has.  Further, Congressman Scott seems situated nicely with all the shuffling around that involved adding another Congressional District to South Carolina.  Tim Scott is a real player in South Carolina politics and will be for some time to come.

6) Congressman Jim Clyburn. Clyburn is known for his personal touch and his famous fish fries. Clyburn also has the safest Congressional seat in South Carolina and the ear of the President of the United States. Congressman Clyburn is simply the most powerful Democrat in South Carolina.

5) Congressman Joe Wilson. Joe Wilson’s outburst of “you lie” seemed to define him. Some could have argued that would be in a bad way.  But, back in SC, he touched a nerve.  And, he hit a home run with people around the nation, both right and left, when it comes to Obama’s health care plan.  Add to that Wilson’s incredible constituent service and the fact his oldest son is Attorney General.  Congressman Wilson toiled for years in the shadow of his mentor, the late Congressman Floyd Spence.  But, now is Joe Wilson’s time.  Joe Wilson is the powerful old timer in the room.

4) Senator Jim DeMint.  DeMint is the darling of the more libertarian elements of the Republican Party in South Carolina and around the nation.  DeMint has almost a cult following that is bolstered by a great constituent service program in his office.  Do not be shocked if DeMint is offered the Vice Presidential nomination of the GOP this year.  If Romney is the nominee, DeMint would be a perfect fit as VP.

3) Senator Lindsey Graham. Sure, some GOP activists loathe the guy. However, Senator Graham has respect in both parties in the United States Senate.  And, his all too easy election and re-election have to be noted as well.  Everyone seems to want Graham out until it is time to put him back in.  His clout in the Senate insures his mark, and thus South Carolina’s, is on every major issue that the nation deals with. As such, he is often the go to guy in the federal delegation South Carolina politicos go to for federal help. Look for Graham to be considered for either Secretary of Defense or the Supreme Court should a Republican defeat President Obama in 2012.  Even if President Obama wins re-election, do not be shocked if Graham’s name comes up for nomination to high office.  That is the kind of respect Graham has in D.C.

2) South Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Bobby Harrell. Government at the state level often impacts our daily lives much more than government at the federal level. With such a weakened Governor, the General Assembly is now where the action is. Speaker Harrell made sure of that and will push his agenda fully this session as he has before.  The Speaker will tolerate Governor Haley giving a State of the State speech, but have no doubt; the agenda of the General Assembly Session will be his.

1) South Carolina State Senator and State Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell. There is one member of the General Assembly who knows the rules and the ends of out of Columbia better than Speaker Harrell: Glenn McConnell. Even “reform” he proposes seems to take care of him, and no one seems to have the guts to call him on it. Like the legendary Edgar Brown of old, McConnell remains and Governors and other statewide officials come and go. Nothing in Columbia gets done without him. Frankly, Glen McConnell is the reason Governor Haley can feel safe in her job, despite the scandals, and that Lt. Governor Ken Ard can feel safe in his. McConnell does not want to be “elevated” to a position of lesser power. As the most powerful President Pro Tempore of the SC State Senate in history, McConnell seems content to let others appear to play at power while he actually wields it