Tuesday, May 31

Copper is the new gold for thieves, but should we pass more laws over it?

With South Carolina's economy still struggling, especially in construction and real estate, folks with some knowhow are chasing after the new gold:  stolen copper.  
Copper thieves strike rural churches and homes especially.  Air conditioning units are their usual target.  They strip the copper and sell it to scrap dealers for a nice amount of money.  Law enforcement around the state is worried about the problem and seems almost helpless in stopping it.  The church or homeowner hit ends up paying thousands for repairs.  It is a real problem today.  

So, the General Assembly is trying to act on it.  Everyone from police groups to insurance companies want the General Assembly to pass a copper theft bill that includes a provision that requires anyone who sells more than ten pounds of copper to a scrap dealer to have a permit from the county sheriff to do so.  That seems reasonable on some level.  

But, State Senator Glen Reese of Spartanburg County is holding up the legislation.  SC Senate rules allow just one senator to do so.  Some hate that rule, but it might be a good for something like this.  Here is why. 

First, the vast majority of salvage people are honest and work hard.  Getting scrap metal of any kind is hard work and most folks who do that work are not crooks.  Adding another layer of government bureaucracy for them to deal with just hurts a sector of our economy already struggling.  

Second, the most political and personal of jobs in most counties in South Carolina is the office of County Sheriff.  Most of our Sheriffs are good men.  But, can we count on that from here on out?  Having a Sheriff decide who gets a permit to sell copper and who does not is a dangerous thing.  Such a process is just ripe for good ole boy politics and playing political favorites.  What is to prevent Sheriff Whomever to decide his brother in law can get a permit but the guy who gave to his opponent can not?  

There lies the danger of well meaning legislation carried out in the real political world.  That brings up the third reason.  New laws made rarely, if ever, make people accountable to existing laws.  We have laws against theft and against receiving stolen goods in this state.  Politicians like to act like they are solving a problem with a new law to address the lack of enforcement of the laws already there.  But, what really makes copper theft more important, then say, plastic or iron theft?  Sure it is the problem of the day, but a law is usually forever. 

So, we say hooray for Senator Reese in pausing the rush to a new law pushed by high paid lobbyists.  And hooray for the framers of our State Senate who made that provision for a senator to slow such things down.  Indeed, a new law and a new set of political hoops to jump through for honest people will do nothing to solve the copper theft problem. It will, like most things politicians do, feel good for a moment, but only result in more hassle and little results.  If the General Assembly really wants to get serious about copper theft, then it should find some money to give the Sheriffs for more deputies and money for the Solicitors to prosecute thieves.  But, no one is taking folks out to dinner and lobbying them for that.  

Public education still matters

It is hip, using the word of the day, to "dis" public education if one considers himself a Republican.  The South Carolina GOP now has a purity test on the subject.  If one is not for tuition tax credits for private schools, then one is not a real Republican.  So be it.  This comes for the party that has as it champion a Governor who would rather cater to Wal Mart than work to give people jobs in South Carolina.  Governor Haley made clear she would not support jobs in SC through Amazon but she would let the bill to locate them here go unsigned. Haley is no Carroll Campbell.    Fair enough.  No wonder she stands where she does on public education.   

Make no mistake, public education needs real reform.  Politicians need to roll up their sleeves and get to work to make the public schools better.  After all, the better educated our workforce is the more high paying jobs we can bring in and that adds to the tax base and so forth. Further, educating the least among us gives them a chance at the American economy and keeps them off welfare and out of prisons, things we taxpayers pay for.  But, try telling that to Governor Haley and her minions.  

They have a narrow focus.  They want to give tax breaks to the the well to do and to those who try to be well to do to send their kids to private schools.  It is appealing for those folks. Who does not want a tax break on their kids tuition that enables one to have the nice car or the big boat to show off?  If Haley and her minions sold that as their purpose, fair enough.  But, they do not.  They tell us the tuition tax credits for private schools gives poor kids a chance.  It is a flat lie. 

Think on it.  Suppose some single mom in Allendale county has two kids.  She wants the best for her kids, as we all do.  She gets on a bus and rides to Hilton Head Island to clean hotel rooms.  She makes, at the best, thirty grand a year.  Her kids go to Allendale public schools.  She learns of a private school nearby, which, frankly there is not one that would take her kids.  Say the tuition for each kid in five grand, and that is being conservative and low in the estimate.  So, this single mom, who makes only about thirty thousand, is told she can give her kids a chance at a better education if she pays out ten thousand, a third of what she brings in at best, and some point in the future she will get it back.  

Frankly,no matter her intentions, that single mom can not do it.  She has to pay for rent, utilities and health care.  The landlord and the power company are not going to wait on her getting a tax credit from the state.  So, even in Haley's ultimate world, those kids remain in the public schools.  

And, what do they face in those public schools?  If we rob tax money from the people to subsidize the well to do to get the big boat and big car, the public schools suffer.  The kids in Allendale end up with the least education the state can offer.  

I realize that some might say, "who cares?" about such.  Fair enough.  But, in the end we as a society will spend money through welfare programs, and if not that policing and prisons to deal with the children who are not well educated. Frankly put, the tax break that allowed you to buy the big boat or the Volvo will in the end cost you more in tax money to pay to protect you from the children you chose not to pay to educate.  

That is reality.  That is life.  It might hurt someone's conservative agenda and model, but in the real world, life is what it is.  If we really want to fix this state and set it on the right course, then getting public education right is the way.  Kowtowing to those outside the system will no do it.  Their kids have to live in the real world with the rest of us.  What will those kids think when they find out you took a special tax break that kept the guy who held them up from getting a good education?

I know that seems dramatic.  But it is true.  Educating young folks is the silver bullet for most of our ills.  There is a lot wrong with how public education does that.  But, public education needs to be reformed, not done away with.   Without good public education, we have a weak minded people.  For the short term, the rich and ne er to wells might enjoy it.  But, in the long run, they will suffer as they have to pay to protect themselves from a public that no longer produces.  

Indeed,when you look at the historical writings of our nation, good public education was at the center of good order and a business friendly America.  Public education is an American value.  But it does lack.  For so many who claim to champion our constitution have never read it and can not cite it to save their lives.  Most of them are a product of public schools.  But before we let a big government program subsidize private schools, lets roll up our sleeves and do the hard work of reforming the public schools, whose graduates make up our state and nation. 

Monday, May 30

9 things that might indicate your summer cookout is not going well

9) After a few beers, one of your guests goes on about what the founding fathers would want for this country.  You ask him to name one.  He can’t and calls you a liberal for asking.  He drones own about how he should not pay for the beer he is drinking. Deadbeat.

8) Another guest decides now is the time to show her special tattoo of Jakie Knots wearing a turban on a place not usually seen.  You just wonder what made her want to put Jakie Knotts there?

7) Your cousin who has talked about Jesus for about an hour goes quiet when one of your police friends on duty stops by for a quick hot dog.  “Man, I got warrants” your cousin tells you as he tries to hide.

6) The fifty something neighbor who never wears a shirt after April 1st shows up and talks about all the ladies he has had.  People suddenly lose their appetites.  Your shirtless neighbor hits on some teenager and goes “giggity giiggity.”

5) One of your neighbors shows up drunk and/or high and asks can “anybody give me a ride to Bi Lo?  I will make it worth it.” The shirtless neighbor goes, “alright.”

4) Just when you think the evening is finally going well, a Kyle Busch fan shows up, hellbent on telling everyone how straight Busch is. All you can do is laugh.

3)You learn the hard way that the guys known as Evan Williams, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Smith and Wesson do not work well together as you wait on the ambulance to arrive.

2) Your cousin’s ex shows up with “his kids.,” and shouts to everyone, “you better love my kids they are his, and he better pay me. That is my baby daddy right there, now feed them.” Your shirtless neighbor seems nervous about it all.

1) As your guests are enjoying the BBQ hash, someone asks, where is your dog?

Friday, May 27

Is this really the best we got?

After a strong storm moved through my beloved Honea Path, I was feeling pretty grateful.  I had the Gamecocks on one television and the South Carolina Senate on the the other.  Both broadcasts disappointed me and brought me back to reality.

Of course, the Gamecock that I am, the Gamecocks losing to Vanderbilt in the SEC baseball tournament bothered me, but not near as much as watching the clowns that pass for state senators.  No wonder some of those guys want to cut ETV funding, the ETV broadcasts of them in action is embarrassing for us all.  Guys like Ryberg, Grooms, Bryant, and even the likable Tom Davis, looked liked little school girls trying to put off who was going to be elected Homecoming Queen when it came to Amazon legislation.  I watched the amendment process and the so called debate on television right there before me, wishing every SC voter could see the nonsense.  I kept thinking about what the late Carroll Campbell would think about those guys, trying the best they could to keep jobs out of South Carolina with delay tactics and just droning on.  

I then thought about how dumb they were.  That is right dumb.  Just flat dumb.  Guys like Ryberg, who owns a chain of gas stations, and Laurens Senator Danny Verdin, who owns his own mom and pop garden shop are getting their butts kicked in business competition by Wal Mart and other big box stores.  But, there they were, doing the bidding of those stores in fighting Amazon. It was just sad.  

Then there was Grooms and Davis. Who knows their motivations.  But, when Grooms offered an amendment to make sure that Amazon only hired South Carolina people for its jobs, I shook my head.  When Davis chimed in, I was even more puzzled.  Those men represent districts filled with "transplants," people who were not born in South Carolina but chose to live here.  Indeed, Tom Davis's best friend was a transplant who became Governor of South Carolina and who actually negotiated the Amazon deal.  Does the name Mark Sanford ring a bell?  

That said, it puzzled me how ignorant some senators seemed because of either fear of the Tea Party, now funded by big box stores, or just plain stupidity.  I bet Grooms and Davis enjoy the conservative nature of the transplants who have moved to their districts and the local businesses enjoy their money being spent there.  I bet even good ole boy Danny Verdin wants some of those "outsiders" who will move to Laurens as the ICAR plant project develops to buy some gardening stuff from him.  Maybe even that chicken box in his the back of his pickup truck that Senator Bryant talked about could be bought by some dreaded outsider.   

Let's be clear.  The opposition to the Amazon deal defies the conventional logic of South Carolina business set forth by the late Carroll Campbell.  When people move to South Carolina, they buy houses here, they pay taxes here, they shop here, they pay sales taxes, they give to our culture.  For years, we have wanted them to do so, and said we in South Carolina we are open for business.  But, along comes some big box retailers who line the pockets of extreme activists, and Senators who ought to know better go along with them, delay things, make asses of themselves on statewide television talking about all sorts of things and showing a marked ignorance of laws and bills.  

That was one time what being a Republican was about.  Not anymore.  Thank God the RINOs and Democrats worked out a deal to get jobs for SC at the midnight hour on Amazon in the State Senate.  

But, I have to have some sense of shame.  For the two state senators from my county, Bryant and O'Dell, did not act like real Republicans.  They both voted for all the delaying amendments.  I will give this to O'Dell, he did not speak to the Senate and make himself look like an ass, like Grooms did.  Bryant did speak.  And, we at VUI like him.  But, when he spoke on and on about his dad making him working more than 40 hours a week and all that, it was disheartening to us.  It was irrelevant to the issue at hand and a waste of time for the taxpayers.  Also, as his remarks went on, one of our staff emailed and asked," so, Bryant only pays people for 40 hours work at his store, but he expects them to work more than that?"  Bottom line, it looked bad.  Another staffer emailed, "guess O'Dell will go along with Bryant on that working more than you get paid for thing. Make the mops and brooms and keep your mouth shut." 

In that lies the problem.  Ryberg and Verdin stood up for the people who kill their businesses.  Bryant spoke like a man who thinks people owe him for working for him.  O'Dell went right along with it.  Fear of the Tea Party and whatever campaign cash big box retailers offer only goes so far.  It certainly can not explain Grooms.  Anyone with any sense of business and how the real world works who looked at the how some Senators acted last night can only wonder if this is actually the best SC has to offer for leadership?  We sure looked pretty dumb to investors and the nation.  But, hey, maybe some little radio station with 12 listeners loved it. Too bad that little radio station can't hire thousands. 

Tuesday, May 24

How to help these people

This is what the New York Times showed as Joplin, MO.  Like others, the people of Joplin are suffering from this Spring's natural disasters.  You can help.  Text "redcross" to 90999 on your mobile phone to give $10 to the Red Cross to help them help the victims of Joplin and all the other places hit by the awful weather this spring  It is only $10 and it will make a difference.  Keep these folks in your prayers.  

Why voting for the State Superintendent of Education matters

The South Carolina State Senate will be dealing with a bill soon that addresses whether or not the people of South Carolina can elect the Superintendent of Education who oversees their children’s public schools.  The House passed a measure to put to the ballot a constitutional amendment that would make the post of State Superintendent of Education an appointed post under the Governor.

Supporters of the measure say that it will restructure state government and give the Governor greater power on public education in South Carolina.  Fair enough.  However, we at VUI think the measure is not in the best interests of the people of South Carolina and what they traditionally expect in governing their children’s schools.

Here is why.  First, South Carolina is a state filled with people who like to have the most direct control over their children’s education.  For that reason, dozens or local school boards are elected around the state to oversee the many school districts that are within the state.  The leaders of those school districts are chosen by those elected boards, and the people can oust those boards if they do not like their choices.

The State Board of Education oversees it all.  The South Carolina State Board of Education is elected by the members of the South Carolina General Assembly.  It is broken down by districts.  Board members are often elected by members of the General Assembly as political favors, both right and left, and often without Governor Haley’s beloved on the record voting.  It is the good ole boy system at its best.

The saving grace of the supervision of education at the state level is the fact that the people have a voice at the polls to actually elect a Superintendent of Education.  Whatever the kickbacks and favors and whatever else that goes into to making up the State Board of Education, the people decide now who will head the Department of Education.  There are not Governors or legislators or political favors in play, just the people choosing who they want to oversee one of the state’s most important roles.  That is South Carolina.  We are a people who want a voice in such things.  We are not New Jersey, as some activists would have us become, with a Governor all but an elected dictator.

There are those that say General Zais, the current South Carolina State Superintendent of Education, wants his office appointed.  Fair enough.  The General, though elected by the people, has considerable political reasons for making that stand.  Frankly put, re-appointment is easier than re-election.

And, frankly, that is why South Carolina should keep electing its Superintendent of Education.  It ought to be tough to get the job and hold onto the job.  There should be no good ole boy appointments and back slapping.  The people should decide who gets the job.  After all, the role of education in the state is far to big for a Governor or even the legislature to decide who runs it.  Big government liberals love that power, not conservatives, not South Carolinans.  If you believe in the right of the people to best decide who leads them in big things, as a real conservative would, then you  must stand up and say let the people’s voice continue to be heard when it comes to electing the South Carolina Superintendent of Education.

Joe Jackson

There is an old family story in my family.  I am sure that many families in the South have similar stories.  In my family, my great grandfather was a great pitcher in baseball.  Frankly, he was. He was in his late 70s teaching the little chap that was me the finer points of the knuckle ball and curve ball.  The legend goes sometimes in the 1930s he faced down Joe "Shoeless Joe" Jackson in the textile league baseball. 

One has to understand what textile league baseball was at the time.  It was bigger than the minor leagues.  Mill owners took special pride in their baseball teams and hired men to play for them that never worked a hard days work in the mills, as long as they could perform on the field.  Among the ringers was Joe Jackson of Greenville. 

Joe Jackson was a man done wrong.  Though he could not read or write, Jackson was caught up in the great "Black Sox" scandal of 1918.  As most know, that scandal accused members of the Chicago White Sox of throwing the World Series.  Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, brought in to be Commissioner of Major League Baseball, threw all the White Sox starters out of baseball, even though they were found innocent of charges in court.  

Among them was Jackson.  Again, Jackson was a man who could not read or write and seemed to be the most innocent of the lot when you look at how he did in the questionable series.  Yet, Judge Landis's decision stood and Jackson, like all the rest were banned from Major League Baseball.  

The Sporting News once ranked Jackson at 35th among its best 100 baseball players.  Jackson batted a career .356.  But, through Landis, Jackson's name was ruined.  Jackson spent the rest of his life toiling around the minor leagues and other leagues under other names.  

So perhaps my great grandfather, with his pitching wares, faced the legendary Joe Jackson.  Who really knows?  But what we do know is a man, so talented as Joe Jackson, was cast out of America's past time on the whim of some old Judge, who God knows had his own faults in life.  It is one of the shames that haunts baseball today.  

As for old Joe Jackson.  Rumors are he made his rounds and some money with minor leagues and textile teams.  No one can really verify all he did in that regard.  Jackson died in 1951, in Greenville, as an owner of a liquor store.  

When Joe Jackson died, no one stood up to clear his name.  Perhaps it is far past time to.  Jackson was a good ole, tobacco chewing baseball kid who had no idea what the big mob bosses wanted from him in 1918, Not only does Jackson belong in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, but he deserves an apology, even in death, from the MLB for getting it wrong about him.  All the years he spent playing under another name earned that at least. The statute at Greenville is fitting.  Joe Jackson was one of baseball's greats.  He was and is a legend.  And, if he could not hit my great grandfather's pitches, so  be it. 

Friday, May 20

Ô Chateau -- Wine Bar

Olivier Magny, co-owner extrodinaire

 68, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001 Paris
+33 (0)1 44 739 780
Website: www.o-chateau.com
Contact: contact@o-chateau.com

Rating Standards: 5-Stars = Extraordinary; 4-Stars = Excellent; 3-Stars = Average; 2-Stars = Fair; Star = Poor
€ = Inexpensive: 30€ and under; €€ = Moderate: 31€-49€; €€€ = Expensive: €50 -75; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than €76 (prices based on plats--main course)
1-Bell = Pleasantly quiet (less than 65 decibels); 2-Bells = Can talk easily (65-70); 3-Bells = Talking normally gets difficult (70-75); 4-Bells = Can talk only in raised voices (75-80); BOMB = Too noisy for normal conversation (80+)

  4.5 - Stars................ (prices to meet everyone's pocketbook)....................................3 - Bells

I don't normally review wine-bars because for one, as much as I'd like to be, I'm not a wine connoisseur, but I've been to a number of wine bars throughout Paris to know that Olivier Magny and Nicolas Paradis have a hit on their hands with Ô Chateau.  Ô Chateau has been opened since 2004 and they had a 3-year renovation project.  No expenses were spared.

Tonight was a special night, because Karen Fawcett of "Bonjour Paris" hosted a get-together of fans and writers of "Bonjour Paris".

It was a particularly warm spring evening, and our group of friends first met at a cafe and then proceeded to the wine bar.   

My Impressions

Physical Space.  This has got to be one of the biggest and well planned wine bars in Paris. The main floor of the wine bar is enormous.  How Olivier and Nicolas were able to procure such a large place must've been a miracle. Most wine bars in Paris are so tiny that you literally can smell what the person next to you is drinking.

Selections of wine displayed.  I was amazed at the special devices used to keep the wines at a particular temperature, and for easy dispensing. All the wines and bottles were well laid out and very orderly. If I didn't know any better, I'd say Olivier and Nicolas are a little bit on the "OCD" (obsessive-compulsive-disorder) side, in a good way.

Wine cellar.  This to me, by far, was the most impressive. They had large cavernous rooms for special wine tasting events or for private parties.  Words can't do it justice, so with that said, I've posted several random photos:

Now to the wines themselves, Olivier and Nicolas have an ENORMOUS wine selection. And, they are extremely knowledgeable about the wines. I am not a wine connoisseur, but I know what I like and dislike and for me, basically anything sweet is "interdit".  So with this knowledge at hand, Olivier steered me to wines that I would like, and so I stuck to sancerres and rosés.

In summary.  I'd love to tell you about all the different wines etc. that I tired and reviewed, but that wouldn't be fair to Olivier since I'm not that knowledgeable.  Hence, for someone like me who is not a wine connoisseur, this is a great place to be educated because of their extensive wine knowledge.  And, if you don't speak French, no worries, Olivier speaks perfect English, having lived in San Diego.  For those who are wine connoisseurs, then this is the place for you. You will be challenged and offered some very exciting wines. Because of the size of their wine bar, they are able to store an enormous varied amount of wines and champagnes.  The prices are varied and for every pocketbook. And, if you've never been to a wine bar in Paris, this is a great way to start!

The wine bar also serves food, but it's more as an accompaniment for the wine, sort of like a food-wine-pairing "tapas".  By the way you can also make reservations.

I highly recommend Ô Chateau.  It's in an easily accessible location.

Tuesday, May 17

Amazon revisited

The South Carolina House is going to take up again voting for or against giving extending sales tax breaks to Amazon.com if the company builds a distribution center in Lexington County.  Not only are Lexington County jobs on the line, but other places in South Carolina could benefit from related Amazon investment.  

The illogical debate over the subject can only be defined by the money being spread around by the likes of Wal-Mart and Target who have given money to fund a group for so called "main street values."  It sounds good, unless you consider that Wal-Mart, Target and other big box stores have done more to put small businesses on main street out of business than anything online competitors like Amazon or QVC has.  In fact, South Carolina gave a break to QVC.   Amazon actually opens its site for smaller vendors to participate in.

But, Amazon is different, it hits the big box stores bottom lines.  So around the country, they have fought Amazon building distribution centers, citing always, main street values.  They throw money around, hire good political guns, give to taxpayer groups or at least fire them up, and fight Amazon from doing business.  It is politics at both its best to some and its ugliest for the people in South Carolina looking for jobs.  

Further, the ultimate illogical part of the argument is that if South Carolina does not help Amazon set up here, South Carolinians will not buy tax free goods from the online retailer.  Wrong answer.  The goods simply will come from some other state, where the workers are not from South Carolina and  the competition with Wal-Mart and the big box retailers will remain the same as it is now. The losers are South Carolinians looking for work and the little guys who do their business through Amazon.

In short, members of our General Assembly and leaders of so called taxpayers groups are being played by very well paid political hands from the big box retailers.  We are pawns in their game.  Jobs for our people are the cost we pay to be those pawns.  That is not the South Carolina the late Carroll Campbell envisioned. 

Further, for those worried about saving the small businessman selling his wares on main street in some small town, think on this.  Who is the real competition?  An online retailer that you have to pay shipping costs to and wait a few days for what you want, or the big box retailers down the street, who might pay the same sales tax you do, but have you beat because they are so large around the country they dictate the price to suppliers and they have the resources to spend hundreds of thousands to keep from competing on items you don't usually sell that are found online?   And, who is more likely to offer a small time business access to a national market, Amazon or the big box retailers?

If you think about it in those terms, and consider the jobs at stake, standing up against the big box retailers is a main street value. But, of course, standing up against that money takes courage.  We will see what happens and list the votes again.

Market Day on Rue de la Convention

Here's a video tour of our local market on "Rue de la Convention."  The market takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, with Sundays being the busiest.

The Market begins at Metro Convention (line 12), corner of Rue de Vaugirard and Rue de la Convention, and ends at Rue de Cronstadt.   (local map)

Hope you enjoy my personal tour of the market.

Sunday, May 15

Top 9 ways of knowing your terrorism days are coming to an end

9) You try channeling Allah and all you get is a busy signal.

8) Your newest wife needs something stronger than Pepsi and milk to come to your compound.

7) Your loyal courier stops bringing the infidels’ dye for your beard and Satan’s blue pills.

6) You spend your free time watching Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” on satellite television and cry out, “You are fired infidel!”

5) Even smoking the infidels’ Satan weed can not make you forget that Steven Tyler, and not you, is a judge on American Idol. You shout at the tv, “that infidel does not even have a beard!”

4) The only chemical weapon you have left comes from eating chili beans and drinking goat milk.

3) Speaking of your goats, your favorite goat wanders off, leaving you broken hearted and writing bad poetry.

2) You hear the whirl of helicopters in the air.

1) You suddenly have a little red dot on your head, courtesy of the United States Navy Seals.

Wednesday, May 11

Either government should do something or not

Two issues coming up this week in the South Carolina General Assembly deserve the attention of the people.  First, the state government is gong to try to find money in this tight budget year to finance the Republican and Democratic Presidential primaries.  That has not happened before.  Usually, political parties pay their own bills for Presidential primaries or caucuses.  Republicans in the General Assembly seem to like the idea because the Republican Presidential Primary is probably the only one that will be contested.

Fact is, state government has no business paying for such, be it Republican, Democrat or Libertarian.  As always, let he political parties pay their own way in the Presidential beauty contests, and keep the taxpayers cost for such as low as possible.  The General Assembly and the taxpayers of South Carolina are a not a fundraising arm for any political party.

That said, there is a move afoot by Governor Haley and some legislators to issue private contracts for school bus operations.  Such might on the surface sound good, until you look at the costs other states have incurred with such when they went with for profit companies.  The costs went up.  Indeed, just look at MediCare now under private insurance, the cost has nearly doubled in six years.  It is common sense, is it not?  Paying for profit entities to do jobs mandated by government simply costs more.

Now, whether or not government should provide transportation as it does for all students to schools is another issue.  It is mandated now by our state’s constitution.  A debate on that would be honestly a one looking at what government should and should not do.  But, we at VUI fear that handing over government mandated services to private for profit entities opens the system up to corruption.  It would not be the first time that big money contributions to well placed political leaders in this state led to big contracts that cost the taxpayers more money.  That is not limited government.  That is special interests using government to take your money.

That is why we say no to political parties getting paid by the state to have Presidential primaries and no to private entities taking over the state’s school buses.  Want to amend the constitution on the matter?  We will listen.  Want to reform the spending on buses?  We will listen.  Want to make sure some fat contract is given to folks who laid down campaign cash? Well, we are going to call you on it.  The people of this state can not afford that kind of big government.  

Boeing in SC issue will decide the soul of the nation

It is widely reported that the National Labor Relations Board, a Presidential appointed body, has ruled that Boeing’s decision to locate its new plant in South Carolina as “union busting.”  The President of the United States has said nothing on the matter, letting big labor interests move to take away South Carolina jobs for working families who do not pay dues to them to keep their big labor bosses in wealth.

The state government of South Carolina, along with local governments in the Lowcountry of South Carolina made a deal with Boeing to entice them to build their new plant near the Charleston Air Force Base.  In return for such incentives, working families got jobs.  There was just one problem.  South Carolina is a right to work state, which makes it harder for big labor bosses to “wet their beaks” on the backs of working men and women.

So, big labor went into overdrive, with their big labor lawyers, moving to make Boeing build its new plant where they can “wet their beaks” more easily.  Senator Jim DeMint called it “thuggery.”  DeMint is not far off in that assessment.

What started out as a South Carolina issue is now one about the heart and soul of the nation.  Are we a people who believe in the right to work, that is a man or woman contracting for their labor, free from paying some sort of “protection money” to some union, or are a way a nation in which working men and women have to let big labor get a cut of their paychecks in order to have a decent job?  It is no longer about South Carolina, or even Boeing, it is about that.

And, just where does the President of the United States stand on such?  The President claims to be champion of hard working folks looking for work.  Well, he will not find better hard working folks looking for work than those in South Carolina.  The President also owes big labor bosses big for political and financial support.  So, whose side is the President going to be on?  The working man or woman who really can not afford to pay some union boss dues with things like gas prices, or the union bosses who need to wet their beaks?  The next few weeks will tell.

There is also something the more cynical will say is at work.  Something we at VUI do not really want to think about the President of the United States.  Some contend that right to work states like South Carolina did not vote for him, so his political apparutus is apt to go after them to protect states like Washington, who big labor delivered for him in 2008.  Look at the situation and make up your own minds.

One thing is for certain, the government of the United States must make clear that true freedom means a man or woman can contract for their labor with an employer without having to give some labor boss his “dues” or cut.  Big labor demanding a cut is just as bad as big corporations controlling things or big government demanding their taxes.  Such things shut working families out, no matter how much the President and his big union boss backers say they are all for working families.

Tuesday, May 3

GOP Debate in Greenville is a non-starter

Early Presidential debates always seem to appeal only to the hardest core of political followers.  Yet, even among hardcore Republicans and politicos of both parties, the debate on Thursday night in Greenville is shaping up to be yawner and a non event in the nomination process.  

Here is why.  While no disrespect is meant to the five participants, former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, former United States Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, Herman Cain and former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, their debate is missing the biggest names being tossed around in the GOP field.  

Unlike recent Presidential races, the heavyweights are sitting and biding their time, considering things, and expressing regrets to the Greenville event.  Absent from debating will be Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, Ambassador Jon Huntsman, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and of course Donald Trump.  Indeed, only Pawlenty has been mentioned as a serious contender for the nomination.  

That might be a wise move by the heavyweight contenders.  The primary season is months away and President Obama will have the major media attention on Thursday with his visit to Ground Zero in New York.  Fair or unfair, the debate among the five GOP candidates in Greenville will take a backseat to the coverage of President Obama in New York.  Count on that. 

Such is curious.  While so many GOP heavyweights seem to be unwilling to jump all the way in the race, President Obama's approval ratings, even in the aftermath of the Bin Laden operation, still hover around fifty percent, which is dismal for an incumbent President of the United States who just pulled off a military operation of such importance.  It would seem GOP contenders would be chomping at the bit to get into the race full forced at this point.  But, they are not.

We at VUI wrote before that there is no Ronald Reagan out there like there was in 1979, just waiting to pounce on then President Carter in 1980.  Mike Huckabee comes to mind, with his radio commentaries and columns, like Reagan's in the late 1970s, but at this point Reagan was committed.   It is a strange primary season shaping up.  One, that at this point, bodes well for President Obama's re-election chances. 

Think of the contrast to the independents that decide elections on Thursday.  Five guys most have never heard of will spend the evening sniping at each other and President Obama, while President Obama goes to Ground Zero to rally Americans after the operation that killed Usama Bin Laden. 

The GOP needs a game changer with fundraising connections, strong political ties and the charisma to match Obama's.  Jeb Bush, what are you doing over the next few months?  If not Jeb Bush, can Huntsman develop into a contender?  Can Huckabee?  Will Romney cool his temper?  Can any of those candidates develop the "Big Mo" Bush the Elder talked about?  Time will tell. But Thursday night will not.

Thoughts about Usama Bin Laden's death

You would have to live under a rock not to know that the terrorist mastermind behind attacks on Americans for over a decade has been killed.  A lot of people are voicing various thoughts about the death of Usama Bin Laden and we at VUI have several of our own.  

First, what a great job the intelligence and military communities did in tracking down the evil UBL or SOB as we call him.  The Navy Seals who got the job done should be American heroes for life.  Though, we will likely never know their names or the names of the intelligence operatives who assisted them.  But, whomever they are, wherever they are, thank you! 

Second, give President Obama some credit for his part.  We at VUI are not fans of the President, but on this job, he got it done and it took some political guts.  The operation the President ordered was risky and was defiant to many in the leftist world that make up his base.  The President showed guts and ought to be be given his due for it.  There are other issues to fight him on politically, this one is not one of them. 

Third, the sniping about the President referring to himself in his remarks needs to be reconsidered.  I understand the issue with the President's ego.  But, what the President done by taking full responsibility was actually admirable.  By making it "his" call, he legally freed those in the chain of command from being hounded by those who will, at some point, likely tout how the operation violated international law and treaties.  Watch what Pakistan especially says and does over the next few weeks as the initial excitement dies down. The President made clear it was his responsibility and detractors could deal with him.  It is another issue you have to give the President high marks on. 

High marks also have to given to former President George W. Bush and his team.  They made it the policy of the United States to hunt down UBL relentlessly.  They engaged the United States in tactics that candidate Obama opposed but President Obama continued to use to finish the job.  

All the demonstrations in the streets of Washington and New York and beyond actually give us at VUI some pause.  Gloating over the death of an evil person is not really in American character.  We simply do what we have to do.  There is a sense in the public that the war on terror is over.  That might be premature.

UBL was the SOB we wanted to get.  But, there are still people out there hellbent on avenging his death and striking a blow against the United States.  The United States still has armed forces in harm's way in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The United States still has financial and economic problems that at times seems overwhelming.

The killing of Usama Bin Laden was a boost to the American spirit and a statement to the world that if you mess with us, we will hunt you down and kill you, and dump you in the ocean.  We will continue that hunt for a decade, through different Presidents of different political philosophies, but we will hunt you down. 

Other random thoughts:

What is it with bad guys like Bin Laden and Gaddifi having different spellings of their names in the accepted press out there?

Pakistan has some serious explaining to to.  The United States gave them money and trade deals since 2001 that were incredible, and UBL was living next door to their version of West Point in a city a good of their military retire to?  Come on.

Will Donald Trump take credit for this somehow?

Watch out for folks who say that UBL is not dead.  They will be the same ones who claim President Obama was born in Africa to a non American woman.  

Watch out for Jon Huntsman.  We at VUI wrote about him before and his possible GOP Presidential run.  The GOP will have to nominate a heavyweight like him to beat Obama now. Consider Palin, Trump and Balkman done.  Gingrich might suddenly become a factor.  Whoever does will have to take a lesson from Bill Clinton in 1991 when he gave Bush the Elder credit for the Gulf War, but ran on the economy. 

Finally, hat's off to the Greenwood, SC Index Journal for the best headline, "BASTARD'S DEAD!"
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