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.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Lt. Governor Courson?

Rumors are rampant around the Columbia political scene and on various blogs that Lt. Ken Ard is about to be indicted by State Grand Jury for misuse of campaign funds. Lt. Governor Ard has been under investigation for his misuse of campaign funds since he took office. There are things like campaign money being spent for televisions, and even women's clothing being alleged.

Ard did himself no favors when he stated in an interview with the Columbia Free Times that he tried to recoup his personal investment in running for the office. Ard later backed off those remarks, but with what we have seen, coupled with the remarks, it looks bad for Ard.

SC Attorney General Alan Wilson correctly turned the matter over to the State Grand Jury. If the State Grand Jury decides to indict Lt. Governor Ard, then he will be temporarily removed from office. That will bring on some considerable political maneuvering.

As it stands, State Senator Glenn McConnell would be elevated to the post of Lt. Governor as President of the South Carolina State Senate. The problem is McConnell does not want the job. McConnell is far more powerful in his current post then if he was elevated to Lt. Governor. So, look for McConnell to temporarily step aside in his current post in favor of State Senator John Courson. We at VUI also hear that he might step aside for State Senators Harvey Peeler or Jake Knotts. One thing is clear. Glenn McConnell will not take the job.

Here is why we think John Courson will get the nod. First, Courson is Mr. Republican in the South Carolina State Senate. People respect Courson for his sense of history and as such, the man will love ending his career as Lt. Governor. Second, the elevation of Courson frees up his State Senate seat for Haley ally Nathan Ballentine. Haley might offer a pay for play government, but the fact remains she and her well funded allies run this state now, and getting a crony in the State Senate appeals to them.

Haley and her cronies bring up another reason that Ard will probably go down. South Carolina voters have a short attention span and are tired of scandal. If Ard goes down, the issues surrounding Governor Haley and her seemingly pay for play handling of the Savannah port deal will likely fade away. Ard going down to some sort of campaign finance scandal will whet the appetite of the typically lazy media in South Carolina. It also will give ammunition to the Haley crowd about appointing a Lt. Governor instead of having one elected.

Thus, Haley folks will be pleased, and Courson will get to see his picture hanging on some wall, appealing to his sense of history. So look for it. Ard goes down. Courson becomes a caretaker Lt. Governor and Governor Haley gets off free for her indiscretions.