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.