Category Archives: Say something nice

Democrats walk back their awful casino proposal (a bit)

Two days ago, I said I hoped that when the SC House Democrats announced their legislative priorities on Tuesday, they would back away from their awful idea of legalizing casinos in order to pay for roads.

I didn’t have much confidence that they would, and I didn’t attend their presser.

But I’m pleased and surprised by the release they sent out after yesterday’s event. No, they didn’t abandon the idea. But it was no longer the first thing they mentioned on the topic of paying for roads, and the first thing was now the one rational way to do it — by raising the tax that is intended for that purpose, a tax that hasn’t been raised since 1987:

SC House Democrats Announce 2015 Legislative Agenda
Highlights include road funding, education funding reform, equal pay, redistricting reform
Columbia, SC – South Carolina House Democrats announced their legislative agenda for the 2015-16 session at a press conference at the state house on Tuesday. Led by Minority Leader Representative Todd Rutherford, Democrats first stressed the need to tackle road funding this session.
“House Democrats are endorsing an ‘all of the above’ approach to road funding this year,” said Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland). “The time to be picky about how we fund our roads is over. Simply put, we will not stand in the way of a gas tax increase, nor will we stand in the way of new revenue through casinos. The only thing we’ll stand in the way of is kicking the can down the road. We have to plug our $45 billion infrastructure deficit before a bridge collapses and people die.”
Democrats also called on the Governor and Republicans in the general assembly to withdraw their “embarrassing” appeal to the Supreme Court ruling over K-12 funding.
“For twenty years, Republicans have ignored the issue of education funding in South Carolina,” said Representative James Smith (D-Richland.) “Instead of fighting the Supreme Court ruling calling on us to address the inequalities in school funding, let’s actually roll up our sleeves and do it. We owe it to the students, parents, and teachers of South Carolina. “
Democrats also called on Governor Haley to negotiate a South Carolina-centered alternative to Medicaid Expansion with the federal government to allow us to bring our federal tax dollars back to the state.
“It makes zero sense to continue to refuse to accept our own tax dollars just so Governor Haley can thumb her nose at the President,” said Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg). “Fourteen Republican Governors have now come out in support of some sort of Expansion alternative that they negotiated with the federal government. Why shouldn’t we do the same?”
The other issues Democrats will focus on this session include equal pay for female state employees. South Carolina is one of just four states in the nation without a equal pay law. Representative Leon Stavrinakis has proposed a bill that would ban gender pay discrimination among state employees. His bill was modeled after a Louisiana bill that passed an overwhelming Republican General Assembly and signed into law by conservative Republican Governor Bobby Jindal.
House Democrats also endorsed a plan to establish a living wage in South Carolina. Currently, South Carolina is one of just five states in the country without a state-mandated minimum wage law. Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter’s proposal would set the wage at $10.10 per hour.
Democrats also pledged their support for ethics reform this session. Though they said any ethics reform should also include reforming the redistricting process in South Carolina. Their proposal would install an independent panel to draw district lines instead of partisan legislators. In 2014, 100% of all incumbent legislators were re-elected in the general election.
“District lines are purposely drawn by legislators in order to create a safer political environment for themselves and their political party,” said Rep. Laurie Funderburk (D-Kershaw), the author of the bill. “Gerrymandering has created a polarized legislature that seeks to root out moderates and replace them with politicians who only have to worry about winning their primaries. Reforming our redistricting process is critical to a more functional General Assembly and regaining the trust of the voters.”

Sure, I’d like to see them pick up the gas tax ball and run with it, but this indirect sort of endorsement at least marks progress.

Congratulations to Ted Pitts, and to the gov for picking him

Y’all probably think I don’t praise Nikki Haley enough (y’all are just hypercritical, you know that?), so here goes…

I think she made a great decision choosing Ted Pitts — my former representative — to be her new chief of staff:

COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley has named her former fellow Lexington County legislator, Ted Pitts, as her new chief of staff.

Pitts succeeds Bryan Stirling, who was the S.C. Department of Corrections director last week.

Pitts served with Haley while she in the General Assembly from 2005-11. He was in the legislature from 2003-11 before he chose not to run for reelection when his S.C. National Guard unit was deployed to Afghanistan. He also ended a bid for lieutenant governor…

Ted’s a good guy who has his head on straight, and I think most people agree with me on that. And unlike her first chief of staff, he actually knows South Carolina.

So good one there.

OK, you got me, Bob. Semper Fidelis

One of the most aggressive email marketers laboring to fill up my Inbox is GoDaddy. The only business I’ve ever conducted with them, or ever plan on conducting with them, was buying the rights to And if I remember correctly, my renewal each year is automatic. This makes all of those notices of special deals pretty superfluous.

But I had to stop and acknowledge this one:

Dear Brad Warthen,

Please join me on November 10, 2011, in wishing the United States Marine Corps a Happy 236th Birthday. I’m proud to honor my fellow Marines past and present on this special day. Please take a moment to watch our birthday tribute by clicking the‘View 2011 Tribute’ button below.

I’d also like to extend this tribute to all of the men and women serving in every branch of the U.S. Military – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard. Thank you all for your tireless commitment to keeping our country safe.


Bob Parsons
CEO and Founder

Several years ago, I had the honor of being a guest at a Marine birthday banquet, out at Embassy Suites. I’ve been to a lot of black-tie affairs, but never have I felt less entitled to sit down with an assemblage as I did with all those Marines in their dress blues. It was really something. No service honors its traditions with greater ceremony the the Corps, and it was a privilege to have the chance to take part.

And I appreciate being reminded of what happened on this date in 1775.

Semper Fidelis, Bob. And thanks for your service.

And to all you gyrenes out there, Happy Birthday.

USC connection brings 707 jobs to Midlands

First, for the overview, I’ll give you the press release from today’s event (provided by the SC Commerce Department):

Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation Announces New Operations in Lexington County

$313 million investment expected to create 707 new jobs

COLUMBIA, S.C. – October 28, 2011 – Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation today announced that the company will locate its new operations in Lexington County. The $313 million investment is expected to generate 707 new jobs.

“We are excited to expand our company by locating our new manufacturing facility in Lexington County. This is a big step for our firm and will help us meet increased demand, expand our market share and develop our pipeline of products. South Carolina has an excellent business environment and we look forward to our expansion into the Palmetto State,” said Lou Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation will establish a new pharmaceutical manufacturing campus and offices in Lexington County. The company is based in Orlando where it currently operates 250,000 square feet of manufacturing, distribution and packaging facilities. Additionally, the company has distribution centers in Kentucky and Arizona.

“It’s another great day in South Carolina with today’s announcement. We celebrate Nephron Pharmaceuticals’ decision to locate its new manufacturing facility in the Midlands and create hundreds of well-paying new jobs. This is a big win for our state,” said Gov. Nikki Haley.

In June, William and Lou Kennedy were awarded the Order of the Palmetto for their philanthropy in founding the Kennedy School of Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina. Both are South Carolinians and alumni of the University of South Carolina. Discussions between the Governor and the Kennedys during the Order of the Palmetto visit led the company to consider South Carolina for the new facility.

“I am gratified that Lou and Bill Kennedy, who have already established the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center at Innovista, see the University of South Carolina and our state as locations to further their commitment to pharmaceutical manufacturing with world class quality and efficiency. Their vision and keen business acumen have led to an important second step in increasing innovation and the knowledge economy in South Carolina,” said Dr. Harris Pastides, USC president.

“Nephron Pharmaceuticals’ investment and new jobs will have a huge positive impact on our state. This new facility will be a major boost for our pharmaceutical manufacturing sector. Today’s announcement is the largest one in the state’s life sciences industry this year,” said Bobby Hitt, Secretary of Commerce.

The new facility will be located on a 60-acre parcel of land near the Amazon facility in Lexington. It is expected to be up and running in the next couple of years.

“I would like to take this opportunity to publically recognize and celebrate the remarkable achievements of Nephron Pharmaceuticals and to hail their decision to expand their operations into their ‘home’ state. This expansion will bring over $313 million dollars into our local economy and will generate more than 700 jobs for the citizens of Lexington County, the Midlands and South Carolina. Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation is a

renowned leader in its field, and through the years has grown to manufacture over one billion units of medication. What an accomplishment,” said Lexington County Council Chairman Jim Kinard.

Central SC Alliance Chairman Jim Apple said, “Today’s significant capital investment and high-wage job creation announcement by Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation is a game changer in our quest to recruit international life science/biotechnology industries to the Central South Carolina region. This company is a market leader that produces millions of units of life-saving medications every year right here in the United States and shortly, product will be coming out of Lexington County. We want to recognize and thank the Kennedys for coming back home to South Carolina in making this announcement. The Central SC Alliance is proud to represent a dynamic nine-county region and we value the outstanding working relationship with the University of South Carolina and the S.C. Department of Commerce as we collectively grow our region.”

The S.C. Department of Commerce has committed a set aside grant of $4.5 million for site preparation and infrastructure. The company was also approved for job development credits, which will be available when hiring targets are met. The company will receive training support from the state’s ReadySCprogram.

Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation is a global leader in manufacturing generic respiratory medications. The company’s products are available to retail pharmacies, hospitals, home care companies, long term care facilities, mail order pharmacies, and various other customers. For more information about Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, please visit

About S.C. Department of Commerce

As South Carolina’s leading economic development agency, the Department of Commerce works to recruit new businesses and help existing businesses grow. This year, Commerce won the Gold Shovel Award and the Deal of Year Award from Area Development magazine. Commerce has been part of recruiting world-class companies to South Carolina such as Boeing, Bridgestone, Continental,, Heinz, ZF Group, BMW and Google Inc. Commerce also supports small and existing business, rural development initiatives and offers grants for community development. For more information, visit


This was a big day for all concerned, as you can tell from the basic facts, but the pics below will help confirm. Everybody wanted to get in on the act — the governor, Harris Pastides and a large array of USC honchos, Lexington County Council, the Lexington legislative delegation, Steve Benjamin and his folks, and of course the whole economic development community, from Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt (who was sort of the master of ceremonies) through all the local and regional recruiters. Walid Hakim and others from Occupy Columbia were there, which really confirmed what a big deal it was.

There was enough glory to go around for all, especially for USC. Hence the Horseshoe venue. Lou and Bill Kennedy got their start at USC, and they have a child who is a freshman at the university. More to the point, they had already set up the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center as part of Innovista. This is what Innovista is to look like, folks. Not White Elephant parking garages, but industries getting a foothold here through a research relationship with the university, then expanding into good jobs for South Carolinians.

After the formal ceremony, Lou Kennedy said the jobs they’ve produced in Orlando pay an average of about $70,000. And at this point, they don’t plan on bringing any of their Orlando personnel here.

So, very good news. And very little controversy — so far. House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham was given a chance to compare this to the fight Lexington County lawmakers had with the governor over Amazon (which will be this plant’s neighbor), and he declined. This one was nothing but cooperation.

Part of that may be that the industry itself wanted to come here, rather than having to be enticed. (There apparently were incentives, but no one — aside from those involved in the deal — knows what they were yet. I ran into my friend Kevin Dietrich of The Nerve, the scourge of incentives, there, and he didn’t seem on the scent of any yet.) But whatever the reason they’re here. And I don’t feel like I’m going out on a limb when I say that’s a very good thing. Congratulations to all involved, from the governor on down.

It’s just not hip and edgy to criticize Nikki Haley any more. What am I going to do now?

Back in 2008 (when this was taken), before she reinvented herself and started running for offices for which she was completely unqualified, I used to write supportive things about Nikki Haley. Could I do so again?

I’m going to have to start sticking up for Nikki Haley. If I can possibly rationalize a way to do so.

The thing is, everybody — except the people on her staff who are paid to say otherwise — is criticizing her. Especially, of course, Republicans. Just as with Mark Sanford.

That makes criticizing Nikki Haley, well… popular. Like Reality TV. Like, you know, “The Situation.” This is disturbing. It is so uncool. So unhip.

More to the point, what’s the use of sitting down at a laptop to say critical things if everyone is doing it? It’s just… redundant. If you don’t have anything new or original to say, why write?

I mean, speaking of “The Situation,” look at this one:

  • The “Wide Chasm:” Kenny Bingham — the House Majority Leader, from Lexington County no less — got a standing ovation when he stood up to light into her in the House the other day, furious that GOP lawmakers had done what they thought she wanted, only to have her veto it. If senators had been there, they’d have applauded too. It’s taken Nikki WAY less time to alienate the State House than it took her predecessor.
  • The Departing SLED Chief: Reggie Lloyd says he totally blew off the gov’s effort to get him to refuse raises to hard-working, lower-ranking agents.
  • Michael Haley’s list: The SLED chief also said the “first man” presented him with a list of people he wanted Lloyd to hire as agents.
  • He can’t hold it back any more: After trying to hold it in for a year, Wesley Donehue has taken to expressing typical Republican frustration with the gov via Twitter: “Very proud of the SC General Assembly for overriding Gov Haley’s presidential primary veto today. Great work team!” And especially with her campaign manager… I mean, chief of staff: “This is what happens when your Chief of Staff isn’t from South Carolina. Everyone say THANK YOU TIM PEARSON!” Poor Wesley. He’s been trying to control himself for so long.

This creates a dilemma. Every once in a while, Nikki does something right. Should I just not mention her at all until those occasions arise?

Or maybe I should just try a little harder, and find ways to explain the problems with her leadership in original terms, ones that others aren’t thinking of. That could work…

Is Gov. Haley doing something responsible on health care? (If so, ssshhhh! I don’t want to get her into trouble with her base!)

Down in this story about how Jim DeMint is putting hurting Barack Obama ahead of good health care or saving millions of dollars (and is it supposed to be news that DeMint places ideology over sound policy?), was this bit:

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has shared DeMint’s national spotlight in opposing health care reform, challenging President Obama, first, to repeal the legislation and, later, to speed up a judicial review of its constitutionality.

Outside the spotlight, Haley also is using a $1 million federal grant to see how South Carolina might enact the law if it has to.

Wait, run that by me again? She’s doing what?

But even as she pushes against the health care law, Haley has instructed key agency heads to get ready for its implementation.

“We don’t know what the outcome will be, but for the citizens of South Carolina, we have to be prepared for whatever happens,” said Tony Keck, Haley’s new director of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

“Right now, the law of the land is health care reform,” Keck said. “Although we’re fighting it and looking to produce our own alternatives, we also have to prepare to implement it to meet the deadlines. The risk of not preparing for any eventuality is simply too high in the form of penalties from the federal government and interruption to care.”

The state is using a $1 million grant under the law to evaluate whether it will set up and run its own health insurance exchange or turn that function over to Washington, an option under the law.

Keck and new S.C. Insurance Commissioner David Black are heading up a task force, formed by a Haley executive order and to include members chosen by the General Assembly.

With its first meeting scheduled for April 15, the panel will call in experts from states that already have insurance exchanges, among them California, Massachusetts and Utah….

Normally, this would not be news, either. Away from the TV cameras, most elected officials — regardless of the wacky ideological stuff they may crank out publicly — quietly go about their duty, obeying the law and administering the government as responsibly as they are able.

It’s just that with Nikki Haley, she has gone so far out of her way to irresponsible that are NOT consistent with good stewardship — the Darla Moore fiasco comes to mind — that I find this tidbit reassuring. It may not be much, but I take comfort where I can.

Good for you, governor…

Obama: Ready To Tap Oil Reserve If Needed — which it ISN’T, not by a long shot

The president at this afternoon's presser. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Well, gasoline prices are rising toward levels that might, just might, cause some of us to face reality and acknowledge that it’s not a good idea at all to be so desperately dependent on cheap oil from crazy-dangerous parts of the world, and what are our elected leaders — Democrats and Republicans — doing?

Why, what they always do — pandering. But there’s pandering, and then there’s pandering.

The GOP is busily blaming Barack “Root of All Evil” Obama. The president himself is responding by saying, at a press conference today, that he’s prepared to tap the strategic oil reserve, if needed.

But that last part is key, and his way out as a rational man. It’s like his promise to “start” withdrawing troops from Afghanistan by a certain date, which in no way commits him to draw down dangerously before it’s wise to do so. Obama’s smart; he’s not going to pander so far that he commits himself to something irresponsible. This is a quality that he has demonstrated time and again, and which has greatly reassured me ever since he beat my (slightly) preferred candidate for the presidency. This is the quality — or one of them — that made me glad to say so often, back in 2008, that for the first time in my editorial career, both major-party candidates for president were ones I felt good about (and both of whom we endorsed, in their respective primaries).

It’s certainly more defensible than Mr. Boehner’s reflexive partisan bashing. And it’s WAY more defensible than Al “Friend of the Earth” Gore asking Bill Clinton to tap the reserve to help him win the 2000 election.

To quote from the report I just saw on the NPR site:

Obama said he’s prepared to tap the U.S. emergency oil reserve if needed. But as gas prices climbed toward $4 a gallon, the president said the U.S. must adopt a long-term strategy of conservation and domestic production to wean itself off foreign oil.

“We’ve been having this conversation for nearly four decades now. Every few years gas prices go up, politicians pull out the same political playbook, and nothing changes,” Obama said.

“I don’t want to leave this to the next president,” he said.

Some in Congress have been calling on Obama to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And the president made clear Friday that that was an option, although he indicated he wasn’t yet prepared to exercise it. He declined to specify the conditions that would trigger the step, but said it was teed up and could happen quickly if he chooses to call for it….

His threshold, based on what he said, is a Hurricane Katrina, or worse. Personally, I’d raise the bar a bit higher than that, but he’s on the right track, trying to set a high standard. (You make a disruption like Katrina the standard, then next thing you know, you’re tempted to lower it to, say, a BP oil spill — and that’s not the direction you want to go in.)

The key word here is “strategic,” a threshold that I would think wouldn’t be crossed until we have a sustained inability to GET oil to power our economy — something we came close to, in spots, in recent crises. But it seems to me one only turns to such “strategic” options as a last resort. The president should be “prepared to tap the U.S. emergency oil reserve if needed” in the same sense he is expected to be prepared to crack open the “football” and activate the codes for going nuclear. OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you get where I’m going with this. It’s something we hope and pray never happens, and we do our best to pursue policies that avoid such an eventuality.

By the way, back to that excerpt above. I particularly love “the president said the U.S. must adopt a long-term strategy of conservation and domestic production to wean itself off foreign oil.” Earlier today, I disparaged the president for being no Energy Party man. (I was essentially repeating an observation I made about both him and McCain in a July 6, 2008, column.)

But maybe I was wrong. If he keeps saying things like that, he may deserve the Energy nomination in 2012 after all.

Our young governor’s presumption apparently knows no bounds (and it’s kinda freaking me out)

Been feeling the need to write this ever since I read the paper early this morning. I haven’t had time before now…

Nikki Haley kind of blew my mind on three fronts this morning, which caused me to go on a bit of a rant at breakfast (Wesley isn’t the only ranter in Columbia), along these lines:

  1. Haley to grade legislators.” Did you see that headline this morning? I normally eschew text-speak, but WTF? None of the lawmakers quite came out and said this, but I’ll tell you what they were thinking: “This little girl couldn’t even get called on when she raised her hand at the back of the class a year ago, and now she’s going to grade US?” This would be followed by the aforementioned “WTF?” Yep, lawmakers really think like that, the insensitive brutes. Now, before you think this is just a question of whom you like — with reactions divided between Haley fans who cheer, “Go get ’em, Nikki!” and the harrumphers who do not and never will be Haley fans — allow me to point something out to you. It would be presumptuous for anyone to do this. Back when I worked in Tennessee, some writers at one of the Nashville papers would grade all the legislators at the end of the session each year. I thought it presumptuous as all get-out, but… it was still within the bounds of acceptable commentary. And it would certainly be permissible for me to do something like that on my blog, although you would be equally free to tell me to what extent I was full of it. Just an exchange of views among citizens. But here’s the problem with Nikki doing it, in case you didn’t make it through Civics 101: She’s the governor, which means she’s the closest thing to a head of the executive branch that we’ve got (in another state, she’d be the head of the executive branch, but this is South Carolina). For the chief executive to use whatever political influence she has to harass and bully and threaten lawmakers, even in as silly a manner as this (do my will, or I’ll give you a bad grade!), smacks of bossism. Ben Tillman would have loved a device like that for keeping lawmakers in line, and Boss Crump as well. Folks, the best virtue Nikki Haley has going for her is that she advocates restructuring that would make the executive branch more accountable to the governor (and in fact, it’s their positions on reforms like that that she plans to “grade” lawmakers on). But this kind of behavior gives executive power a bad name, and gives lawmakers — who don’t want to give the governor power anyway — an excuse to blow her off, just as Mark Sanford did with his defecating piglets. And that’s what takes this beyond silly, practically to the realm of outrage. The very modest restructuring legislation that just passed the House will have tough-enough sledding in the Senate (where all such reforms go to die) without this nonsense.
  2. Governor takes aim at state employee benefits.” Wow. Poor Nikki. Last year, she was the darling of the national media (which is how she won the election), making the cover of Newsweek twice. Now, she feels forgotten. Through the lens of this story, you can see the little wheels turning in her head: Look at all the attention that governor in Wisconsin is getting! That’s so unfair? What’s he doing? Oh, he’s trying to take away state employees collective bargaining power. What an awesome idea! I’ll do that too, and then I can get some attention? What? Oh, drat! We don’t HAVE public employee unions in South Carolina, so I can’t strike dramatic poses fighting against them! That’s really, REALLY unfair! What, oh what am I going to do? There must be SOMETHING I can do to state employees here that will draw attention… but what? I know! I’ll go after their BENEFITS…
  3. The mystery man on Haley’s staff.” THIS one is so weird, that I suspect there’s a typo in it somewhere. So… Nikki has a guy on her staff who supposedly is only being paid $1 a year. He’s supposedly a government-efficiency expert who’s gonna help the gov straighten out waste and inefficiency in our gummint. He uprooted his family and moved here from Pennsylvania for the job — for the $1-a-year job. OK, this causes a lot of people to suspect there’s something else going on, and speculate that he’s waiting around for a real job that could come open soon. This he denies, or at least says he hasn’t been promised anything. But that wouldn’t be my theory anyway, given those facts. MY theory is that he’s being paid by one of those national ideological groups that flock around the Mark Sanfords of the world. Howie Rich, or Grover Norquist or some such. But he says no, that he’s living off his state employee pension from Pennsylvania. Got that? OK… The story also says he’s 32 years old. Twice. In the main body of the story, and in a graphic. After someone suggested it was a double-typo, I Tweeted John O’Connor to ask him. He Tweeted back that “No, that’s his age according to the governor’s office.” So maybe the governor’s office is wrong about his age. But if not — this guy’s able to live on a state pension (and I went back to look again, and yes, the only jobs listed in the published summary of his resume sound like state jobs) at the age of 32 — and he’s here as an expert on government efficiency? That ought to make state employees breath a sigh of relief. No way he’ll have the nerve to urge the governor to reduce their pensions, huh? Unless he’s the nerviest guy in two states. Somewhere, there’s gotta be something inaccurate in this picture, because the “facts” we have definitely don’t add up.

OK, I got all that off my chest. Now, to shift gears on you, and praise our governor for her pushiness — in that same story about state employee benefits, she promised to present lawmakers with a comprehensive tax reform plan. THAT’S the kind of presumption I can cheer for. But I’m going to hold my applause until I see whether it’s comprehensive, and whether it’s reform. The first sign will be whether she steps up and proposes to undo the execrable Act 388.

And… now that I’m cooled down a bit… I’ll go further in that backtracking direction: I still haven’t made up my mind about what I think of the bill I wrote about earlier that would do essentially what Nikki’s saying with state pensions. (Mainly because I haven’t yet seen enough about it — on something that complex and that financial, I sort of need some broad input to make up my mind.) But the truth is, I read items 2 and 3 right after reading item 1 this morning, so it all looked bad while I was in that mood.

And now that I’m looking at them again before hitting “Publish,” I’m still kinda freaked out…

Tom Davis has the right approach on cameras

Sen. Tom Davis is my favorite Sanfordista, because while he believes some unlikely things with which I disagree, he at least takes a reasonable approach to things. He has a laudable willingness to engage with people with other views, and to avoid letting his ideology blind him:

BEAUFORT, SC (AP) – Beaufort Sen. Tom Davis wants a commission to study automated traffic cameras like the ones being used in Ridgeland on Interstate 95.

Ridgeland’s use of the cameras to catch speeders has prompted a senator to offer a bill to outlaw the cameras, as well as a federal lawsuit challenging the use of the cameras.

Davis wants a panel of members of state government, law enforcement and the South Carolina Bar Association to report to lawmakers by Nov. 1.

Bonneau Sen. Larry Grooms wants to ban traffic tickets based on photos and to require police to give tickets to drivers within an hour of a violation.

Ridgeland has mailed tickets to more than 8,000 drivers since last summer.

Some Beaufort County House members have offered a bill to ensure the traffic cameras are legal.

Yes, study it. While I vehemently defend the local government’s right to do this without being stepped on by the state (that subsidiarity thing again), I’d like to know more. I have my own reservations. For instance, don’t you lose a deterrent effect when the speeder is not stopped at the time of the offense (which tends to slow him down, at least for a time). Is that deterrent loss offset by the signage warning drivers of the camera’s presence? I don’t know.

But the standard should be, What works? Not vague anti-gummint ideology, or the preferences of the defense lawyers who represent speeders, or the perverse urge to frustrate local communities’ desire to govern themselves without state interference, or any of the other factors that tend to predominate in our XGR.

Congratulations, Cindi!

Just wanted to make sure y’all saw that Cindi Scoppe got another award:

Associate editor Scoppe received the eighth annual Hovey-Harkness award from Governing magazine for “journalistic coverage of state and local government.” The magazine cited her “insightful analysis and commentary” on South Carolina’s state government in her editorials and columns on the editorial pages of The State newspaper and The award is named for the late Hal Hovey, a reporter and public official, and Peter Harkness, founding editor and publisher of the magazine.

The magazine said: “Scoppe has been a dogged advocate for the restructuring of government in the state of South Carolina. Her ability to explain in clear language complex state policy issues has given her columns broad-based appeal. She has written with candor about the need to strengthen ethics in the South Carolina State House and is not afraid to point out certain inconvenient truths that are glossed over by the rhetoric of politicians.”

Scoppe was presented the award Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Obviously, The State was pleased with this award — the last time anyone on the editorial board (and that was me) went to Washington on the company dime was 1998, near as I can recall. But they’re not as pleased as I am to see Cindi get this well-deserved recognition.

I mean, congratulations to Sammy Fretwell and Ron Morris and all, but I single out Cindi because I feel responsible for her. She started working for me when she was 23 and more or less fresh out of UNC, so I taught her everything she knows. Or some of it. OK, maybe some of the bits she’d rather forget. But I’m sure I had some impact.

Whoever deserves the credit, there is none better at understanding and explaining South Carolina government and politics. And that counts for a lot in a state that badly needs more good analysis of what goes on at the State House. Governing magazine agrees:

Scoppe is being honored for her insightful analysis and commentary about South Carolina’s state government.

Scoppe has been a dogged advocate for the restructuring of government. Her ability to explain, in clear language, complex state policy issues has given her columns broad-based appeal. She writes with consistency and candor about the need to strengthen ethics in the South Carolina statehouse and is not afraid to point out certain inconvenient truths that are often glossed over by the rhetoric of politicians. In a recent column about the politics of government waste, Scoppe pointed out that cutting government waste has become “a rallying cry for politicians who don’t have a clue how to reduce spending and don’t want to make hard choices.”

More on Rod Shealy, from his sister Sherry

Photo courtesy of Nathan Ballentine...

The former Sherry Shealy has put up a couple of blog posts about her brother Rod, which you can find here and here.

An excerpt:

Rod was a gift to many people. He ran winning campaigns for lots of candidates who probably wouldn’t have won without him…
Two years ago, he had a cancerous brain tumor. He had surgery in August 2008; one hour after the brain surgery, he was on the cell phone doing business as usual. Rod quipped: “I can see the headlines now: ‘Shealy Survives Surgery; Dies of Boredom’.”
That surgery removed the tumor – totally – and he was fine.
At least for a while.
Some time during the summer of 2009, he learned that the cancer was in his lungs.
This year, we learned it was back in his brain.
Rod had maintained a very positive and upbeat attitude. Sometimes he said things like, “The folks at the hospital like me ‘cause everybody else is sick.”
I first ran for office in 1970; he helped me in that campaign and then ran every campaign of mine after that one. He ran my campaign for lieutenant governor in 1990; it’s was my first loss and I believe he took it harder than I did. …
When I asked him several years ago if it was too late to throw my hat in the ring for a particular race, he replied, “Yep. By about 34 years.”
Whether it was politics, family, or anything else, Rod enjoyed life to the fullest. He had a dry wit, a keen sense of humor and a heart of gold. He loved to play the guitar and sing. He loved being creative.
Other than in the hospital bed, I can’t remember the last time I saw him without a bright floral Hawaiian shirt. That was one of his trademarks. In fact, he went to an inaugural ball; like others, he wore a tuxedo – but with the Hawaiian floral print bowtie and cummerbund, along with tennis shoes, I believe.

We have the best blood! (Or at least the best Red Cross)

Congratulations to our local Red Cross blood services. I just saw this release:

South Carolina Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross Ranked #1 in the Nation

Columbia, S.C.— The South Carolina Blood Services Region of the American Red Cross has been named the top performing region in the national Red Cross system. The South Carolina Region is one of 36 Red Cross Blood Services regions in the United States.

American Red Cross Blood Services regions across the country provide blood and blood products to more than 3,000 hospitals, making the Red Cross the largest single blood provider in the United States. The South Carolina Blood Services Region serves 54 hospitals in South Carolina and parts of Georgia.

The South Carolina Region was rated for high performance in areas including growth of red blood cell donations and distribution to hospitals, quality control, cost effectiveness and hospital satisfaction.

“We’re proud to be named the Red Cross Region of the Year,” said Delisa English, chief executive officer of the South Carolina Blood Services Region. “This accomplishment is only made possible by the tremendous support of our staff, volunteers, blood donors and blood drive sponsors who work hard each day to ensure blood products are available for patients in the South Carolina Region and across the nation.”

Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. The American Red Cross South Carolina Blood Services Region must have 500 people give blood and platelets each weekday to meet hospital demand. Accident victims as well as patients with cancer, sickle cell disease, blood disorders and other illnesses receive lifesaving transfusions every day. There is no substitute for blood and volunteer donors are the only source.

How to Donate Blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. Blood can be safely donated every 56 days. Most healthy people age 17 and older, or 16 with parental consent, who weigh at least 110 pounds, are eligible to donate blood and platelets. Donors who are 18 and younger must also meet specific height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross

Governed by volunteers and supported by giving individuals and communities, the American Red Cross is the single largest supplier of blood products to hospitals throughout the United States. While local hospital needs are always met first, the Red Cross also helps ensure no patient goes without blood no matter where or when they need it. In addition to providing nearly half of the nation’s blood supply, the Red Cross provides relief to victims of disaster, trains millions in lifesaving skills, serves as a communication link between U.S. military members and their families, and assists victims of international disasters or conflicts.

# # #

First we have the national champion baseball team; now this.

Personally, I’m going to claim a measure of credit for this. No doubt the blood that I have given has contributed mightily, if only in terms of sheer quality of the blood collected here.

We still aren’t collecting enough of it, though, so get on down there and roll up a sleeve…

Just ran into Nikki Haley. She looked well…

I ran into Nikki Haley at lunch today, at M Vista on Lady Street. She was there with Rob Godfrey and Tim Pearson of her campaign.

I think it was the first time I’d conversed with her since that time at Starbucks on Gervais shortly after the 2008 election. That day, she had a young woman in tow whom she introduced as being “with my campaign,” and I thought that was odd. The ’08 campaign was over, and it was early for a House candidate to be having meetings about the next campaign. I was probably the most shocked guy in South Carolina when it came out a month or two later than she was running for governor — it just seemed so totally unlikely that she would see herself as ready for that. It was the beginning of me seriously wondering about Nikki…

Anyway, Nikki was pleasant and charming as always when I went up to chat with her today. I don’t think Rob or Tim were all that thrilled to see me, though. They certainly didn’t smile, but then we guys don’t, do we, under such circumstances? Nikki did, but then ladies do.

We didn’t talk shop. She did the standard thing polite people do when other topics are awkward — she asked after my family. Then she asked how I was doing, and I told her that I was with ADCO and having lunch with my colleagues over there, and gave her one of my ADCO cards. She said I was probably glad not to be at the paper any more, and I thought that was perceptive of her. Or a good guess. Maybe it was just an understated slap at the paper; I don’t know. So I asked how she was holding up, and she said great, and I said something about how things had probably gotten a lot less crazy in the last few weeks, and she agreed. And then she asked me again about my family. So I began to dismiss myself, thinking I should wish her all the best but wanting to be honest, and ended up saying something totally inane like, “Well, as long as you’re enjoying yourself; that’s the thing…”

My ADCO friends thought it odd that I had gone to speak with her. Maybe they thought I was showing off, as in That Brad! He’ll just do any crazy thing! But that’s because they only know about Nikki and me through what I’ve written on the blog lately. They don’t realize that I’ve known her for years, and we’ve always had a very cordial relationship. I’ve happily endorsed her twice — in 2004 and 2008 (those were the only elections in which she had opposition), and always enjoyed chatting with her. I always had good hopes for her — before she embarked on her quest to become the new Mark Sanford and darling of the Tea Party, South Carolina’s answer to Sarah Palin. Which is deeply unfortunate.

So it was nice to see her, even though there was that slight awkwardness.

That was an unfortunate picture of Nikki today

I’m talking about the one in the paper today.

Made her face look fat. Don’t you think? Nikki does NOT look like that.

In fact, if anything, she’s too skinny. She looks great in photos because the camera adds 10 pounds, and she could use 10 pounds. In person, I always worry about her; she just looks too thin.

But this camera must have been turned up to 30 pounds. This is not our Nikki.

Just wanted to let y’all know, I will stick up for Nikki when the situation calls for it — I mean, she’s a lady and all — even though the idea of her being governor appalls me.

OK, let’s beat up on ME: I’m a horrible citizen

People are giving me a hard time for being mean to Andre, as I knew they would. I just got to thinking about how recently lots of folks were worried about him becoming governor (with reason) and thought someone should take note of how fortunate things turned out.

So now I’m going to feel like a louse next time I see Andre. Only I won’t tell him that because I hate backing down, and that’ll make me feel like even more of a louse… It’s tough being a Catholic blogger. All that guilt.

But let me see if I can expiate a little of it with some mortification of me. Don’t feel bad, Andre: I’m a horrible citizen. I’ll bet Andre at least knew who he wanted to vote for for U.S. Senate. But I didn’t, so I left it blank, and look what happened: A guy facing charges for indecency got nominated over the only candidate I’d heard of on the Democratic side — a guy who, as far as I know, was perfectly fine.

How can a guy facing a morals charge, a guy with “no campaign funds, no signs, and no website” even, win the primary over a guy who had at least campaigned a little? Someone suggested it was because his name was on the ballot first. Kind of makes you wonder about this whole Democracy thing, huh?
I mean, come ON, people — I’d never heard of this Greene guy. I didn’t know MUCH about Vic Rawl, beyond the fact that he’s one of my 542 Facebook “friends.” At least he’d taken the trouble to do THAT.
But I can’t castigate anyone but myself. I didn’t vote in that race. And that was supremely irresponsible of me. I should have done the research, in spite of the fact that Jim DeMint seems inevitable. I don’t like having DeMint as my senator, and I should at least do my best to decide whom I want going up against him, however slim that candidate’s chances may be.
But I didn’t. I was so mesmerized by the governor’s race, and a couple of others that happened to catch my eye along the way, that I neglected that one. And of course, I hadn’t even decided to vote in the Democratic primary until the last minute.
My problem is, I’m so accustomed to knowing a lot about these candidates in spite of myself, because they all used to come see me for endorsement interviews. I have to learn to do what everybody else does (at least, they do it if they are good citizens), and do my research as a citizen and be prepared. Next time, I will.
Y’all remind me.

I disenfranchised myself for ONE positive vote, and it was worth it

On the day of the Republican presidential primary in January 2008, I dropped by the office to check on things, and wandered through the newsroom to see what they knew, if anything.

I was wearing one of those “I Voted” stickers that the Palmetto Project gives out to encourage civic engagement. I’ve always proudly worn one on election days as a visible symbol of being one who cares enough to make the effort, without revealing anything inappropriate (for a newspaper editor) about how I voted.

But John Monk remarked upon it, saying, “I see you voted Republican.” Dang! I had completely forgotten the insane fact that the parties had insisted upon having separate primaries a week apart (yet another reason to hate parties). Flustered, I just said, “Well, of course I did.” If I had thought there was any danger of Barack Obama losing the Democratic primary, I would have had a dilemma on my hands. But while I thought McCain would win the GOP contest, I wasn’t sure of it, and I was damned if I was going to fail to do my bit to prevent my state from committing the travesty it had in 2000, when it gave George W. Bush to the world. It just had never occurred to me not to vote in that primary.

Of course, if you live in the Quail Hollow precinct in Lexington County, you’re accustomed to voting in Republican primaries, if only because that’s the only way you get any choices at all. This morning when I asked for a Democratic ballot, I could not remember ever having done so before since I’ve lived there.

And of course, as a result of taking that ballot, I was disenfranchised in terms of who will be my congressman, my lieutenant governor, my treasurer, my attorney general, my SC House member, and my county councilman. In every one of those, there was no Democratic contest, and in two of them (treasurer and county council) no Democrat at all; in those two this WAS the election (and in several of the others it might as well be).

But it was worth it to cast a positive vote. Yeah, I guess I could have held my nose and hoped that Henry McMaster would govern the way he has served as attorney general, rather than the way he has run as a candidate, and thereby minimized Nikki’s margin of victory. But by taking a Democratic ballot, I actually got to vote for someone I actually want to be my governor, without any reservations. And as I’ve said over and over again, electing the right governor is FAR more important than what happens with any other office. We have got to turn this state around, and as weak as the office of governor is, it’s the one office with a bully enough pulpit to make a difference. No matter how perfect my House member may be, he’s just one vote out of 170, and can’t make news (and thereby influence policy) with a mere word.

And I feel good about it. After all the slime we’ve been dragged through over on the Republican side, from talk about who’s bedding whom to “Vultures” to … well, I just don’t even want to think about it. After all that, to vote positively, without reservation, was a great relief.

If I were endorsing, I’d endorse Vincent Sheheen

Ignore what I wrote in that last post. It does Vincent Sheheen a great disservice, by suggesting the reason to pick a Democratic ballot and vote for him tomorrow is simply because of the mere absence of negativity in his campaign.

He deserves a much more positive endorsement than that, for the simple reason that he is far and away the best candidate running for governor in 2010, a year in which we badly need new and visionary leadership in the governor’s office.

Of course, I put myself in a bind a couple of months back, when I sorta kinda decided not to endorse candidates as a blogger. I had all sorts of good reasons not to: No one was paying me to take all that aggravation. No longer representing the voice of the state’s largest newspaper (at least, that’s what it was when I was there), I had no institutional obligation to do it. And while doing it for the newspaper was business, if I did it on my own blog it would be personal, with all the many levels of messiness that entails. Then there was the unstated reason: For the first time ever, I found myself in a situation in which there would be a personal cost of sticking my neck out. A year’s unemployment had shown me how reluctant employers can be to take on someone with as much well-documented baggage as I have (much of it from having taking a stand FOR this powerful person, and AGAINST that one). And I was about to start trying to sell advertising, with the only thing I had to sell being my own brand and how it was perceived — and there is no surer, more infallible way to infuriate close to 50 percent of the public than to choose one candidate over another. Did I not owe it to my family to try to launch this enterprise on a sound footing, and not undermine it by making arrogant (at least, that’s how a lot of people perceive endorsements) pronouncements that would inevitably alienate? After all, I could be honest about what I think about candidates without taking that formal, irrevocable step.

Lots of good, solid, self-interested reasons not to endorse, right?

Well… sometimes one must stand up and be counted, even when one is not being paid to do so. Remember how, when Grace Kelly demanded to know why Gary Cooper had to make a suicidal stand against Frank Miller and his thugs when he wasn’t the marshal any more, he explained “I’ve got to, that’s the whole thing.“? Full of nuance, that Gary Cooper. Anyway, this is an “I just gotta” moment for me, minus the gunplay (we hope).  There are things more important than my own self-interest, or the good of the blog. One of them is South Carolina’s crying need for new leadership at this point in its history.

Ours is still a poor state. On all sorts of measurements of economic and social and physical well-being, from income to health, we continue to be last where we want to be first, and first where we want to be last. We continue to have a political culture, and institutional structure, that reinforces that dynamic, and resists change more steadfastly than the government of any other state. Our government was designed by landed slaveholders to preserve the status quo, because that’s what benefited them. Those men are all gone, but the system of government designed to serve them still exists, and holds us back.

We are also held back by a lack of trust of each other, and a lack of faith in the idea that together, we can overcome the challenges that face us. This manifests itself in the phenomenon we see being played out so dramatically in the Republican primary this year, as the candidates — even candidates I would think would know better — compete to see who can be the most negative, the most rabidly anti-government. What does it mean to be anti-government, in this context? It means to deny faith in our ability to get together, people of different attitudes and philosophies, and work through our differences to build a better future to share.

The radical individualism that all of the Republican candidates embody this year — especially Nikki Haley, the front-runner — has been tried in South Carolina, over and over. Our current governor, Mark Sanford, is easily the most ideologically pure manifestation of that philosophy ever to hold that office.

It is painfully clear after eight years of Mark Sanford — whom I enthusiastically endorsed in 2002 — that such an “I, me, mine” approach to governance does not work. One cannot govern effectively when one holds governing in contempt. That should have been obvious then. It’s certainly obvious now.

Vincent Sheheen offers the positive alternative. Not the “big-government, liberal” alternative that the propagandists of the GOP will accuse him of offering (not because of anything he advocates, but because that is their reflexive, automatic reaction to everything), but a sensible, moderate South Carolina-friendly approach unencumbered by radical ideology of any kind. Before he began this campaign, he was pushing his own proposal for restructuring our government to make it effective and accountable for a change. It is a pragmatic approach that would actually have a chance of becoming law if a governor were behind it. Rather than throwing unacceptable ultimatums at the Legislature and reveling in lawmakers’ rejection, Vincent Sheheen would actually work with lawmakers of both parties (he has a proven ability to do so) to make his proposal a reality. Instead of a governor who can’t even work with his own party and doesn’t want to, imagine how wonderful it would be to have one who works amicably with both?

Now, many of these same things can also be said of Jim Rex. He, too, has a positive, teamwork approach. He’s worked across party lines in advancing his public school choice initiatives, and has formed alliances with some of the most conservative Republicans in trying to improve the way schools are funded in South Carolina. But, because it’s been his job, his policy experience in office has been limited to education. And while better education may be the thing South Carolina needs most, it’s not the only thing; Vincent Sheheen’s experience with public policy is broader, despite his youth.

And in this election, when we have such a need for new beginnings, his youth is an advantage.

That I would say that would surprise some people who have worked most closely with me. I was the grumpy eminence grise on the editorial board who would ask a young candidate, “How old ARE you, anyway?” with a tone that suggested they hadn’t lived enough to be ready for the office they were seeking.

But it’s time now for a generational change. And among the 39-year-old Sheheen’s strengths is the fact that he offers us that.

An old friend, sensing I was leaning that way — because I’ve been honest about what I think of candidates, however much I’ve resisted a formal endorsement — asked me several weeks ago why I would choose Vincent over Jim. I answered as follows, after protesting that I was not, repeat, NOT going to endorse:

Now between you and me, I’d go with Vincent. So you inferred correctly.

Several reasons:
1. You know that with me, it’s seldom about the sum of policy positions. I would be hard-pressed to tell you [off the top of my head] what their policy positions are, beyond the fact that nothing has jumped out at me as bad. Rex has a plan for spending cigarette tax money that I’m not sure about, and I know Vincent’s all about restructuring, to cite a couple of differences that jump to mind. And the restructuring is a biggie.
2. So that leaves us with character, and I think the character of both is fine. But I’ve seen Vincent grow during this campaign in terms of his ability to connect with voters, while Rex is still that trustworty elder statesman who I’d be OK with as governor, but who isn’t likely to inspire. Vincent generates a newness, a sense of a new generation taking over from all the nonsense of the past, that is appealing. And he wears it well; he has his head on straight.
3. Vincent could work with the Legislature. He’s one of them, and that helps make up for being a Democrat. He would come in with lawmakers knowing that about him. He could make a difference. Rex is the guy that they’re accustomed to thinking of as “that ONE statewide Democrat,” and they just won’t be as likely to want to engage with him.
4. Vincent could win in November. Normally I wouldn’t mention that, but this year it’s important. The Republicans are all running so hard to the right, trying so hard to convince us that, in varying ways, they will be Mark Sanfords — even Henry, who should know better — that this year I just don’t see anything good coming out of any of them becoming governor. We so desperately need a break from what we have. And that makes it vitally important that the Democratic nominee not only be someone who’d be an improvement over what we have, but who could WIN in the face of the odds, which are always against the Democrat.

Let me stress again the generational factor. South Carolina needs a fresh start, a real break with its recent past. Vincent embodies that the best. This is a decision I’ve come to gradually, in my own holistic, intuitive way, but I’ve tried to spell it out as systematically as I can for you.

To elaborate on that: Rex radiates the aura of a civic-minded retired guy who’s willing to “give back” if there’s no one else to do the job. Vincent wants to build a better South Carolina, the one that he and his young children will live in. Makes a difference.

It occurs to me that I do my readers a disservice by sharing those thoughts privately with one friend, but not openly with them. So there it is. It may seem to be high on intangibles and low on specifics, but that’s because I had already reached the conclusions that on the specifics, I’ve concluded that Vincent is sound. That makes the intangibles — the ability to inspire, the ability to be positive rather than negative — of great importance. We didn’t worry about the intangibles (such as his aloof manner, his sleep-on-the-futon quirkiness, his hermitlike aversion to the company of other Republicans) with Mark Sanford, and look where it got us.

As I’ve explained before, none of the Republicans is offering us anything positive for our future. That puts me in the unaccustomed position of not having a preferred candidate on that side. But there is no doubt that there is a Democrat who stands well above them all, as well as being a stronger candidate than any in his own party.

That candidate is Vincent Sheheen.

At least, that would be what I’d say if I were endorsing.

Yes, Henry, THAT’s the way you do it…

… you play the guitar on the M-T-V…

Oops, got off track there. Wrong video.

What I meant to do was applaud Henry McMaster for a positive campaign ad, which helps remove the bad taste from some of his Obama-and-his-allies-are-dangerous-radicals approach of late.

I don’t agree with everything Henry’s saying in this ad, titled “It’s time to show the world what South Carolina can do”:

I have a plan to put South Carolina back on the Path to Prosperity. We’ll grow small business with lower taxes and less regulation. Encourage innovation and recruit high paying jobs in emerging industries. Expand our ports and open our economic door to the world. Improve education with choice, accountability and higher standards. It’s time to show the world what South Carolina can do!

… especially the idea that “choice” is the very first thing our schools need. Or that “lower taxes and less regulation,” while laudable in themselves, will substitute for building the workforce that businesses want and providing the basic societal infrastructure they need. But what I like here is that Henry’s talking about SC presenting a positive face to the world (for a change), instead of making us look like the wacky extremists that too many think we are already.

He’s talking about what he’s FOR, rather than trying to resonate with negative people about what they’re against.

Good one, Henry!

More power to Jenny (just not POLITICAL power, OK?)

Last week, a Republican friend drew my attention to, which he derided as being … I forget the word he used, but it was something like “egomaniacal.”

But when I looked at it I saw little to criticize. It’s apparently been up for awhile — I saw posts from 2008 and even 2007 — and why shouldn’t the First Lady have a Web presence? It was tasteful, and had been quietly updated with such language as:

Mrs. Sanford is enjoying spending more time in her most important role as mother of her four sons … and is separated from her husband…

I mean, what else are you gonna say?

Anyway, Jenny made a bit of a splash over the weekend when it was learned that, right after the Argentinian bimbo eruption, she went out and trademarked her name.

Well, so what? Hey, when you find yourself in the center ring of a media circus, which always creates the possibility that somebody‘s going to make some money off your name, why wouldn’t a reasonable person make sure that she is that someone?

You know what I did, first thing, when I learned I couldn’t take my old blog with me when I left the paper? I went out and bought One of the few smart things I did, even if it hasn’t lead to any money yet. And I advised Robert to run out and buy, which he did.

More power to Jenny, say I. Just not any political power, please. We’ve had enough of where that leads, in the past seven years.

Lay a little capitalism on me, baby

No matter what your political views, you’re bound to get at least a smile out of the S.C. Policy Council’s new “Unleashing Capitalism” site.

For my part, I was prepared to be bored to death when I followed the link, only to be greeted immediately with this:

“I stopped going bald because of capitalism.”

So I kept watching the automatic slideshow, and while none of the other assertions had quite the comic punch of the first one, the others weren’t bad:

  • I lost 70 pounds with the help of capitalism.
  • I sleep with the windows open thanks to capitalism.
  • Our marriage was saved by capitalism.
  • I don’t hate Mondays thanks to capitalism.
  • I learned algebra because of capitalism.

I am not, as Dave Barry says, making this up.

I didn’t know my friends at the Policy Council (and I do have friends over there) had this much of a sense of humor. But I’ve got to hand it to them; this is a grabber. It’s cute, and enjoyable whether you agree with the Policy Council’s worldview or disagree sharply.

Of course, it’s not all sweetness and light. Far from it.

Be sure you’ve taken your antidepressants before you watch the video on the site, which paints a picture of South Carolina that makes “Corridor of Shame” look like a Chamber of Commerce production. It makes the Airstrip One of 1984 look like Disneyland. It makes South Carolina look even worse than it looks to me as a guy who’s been looking for a job for 8 months.

And of course, guess what the cause of all this misery is? Well, no, there’s not a lot of guessing to be done with an organization that would assert that capitalism, and not public education, is the best provider of algebraic knowledge.

But interestingly, the video doesn’t attack government so much as it attacks “politicians,” with assertions such as:

We gave politicians too much power…

We’ve trusted them to make decisions for us…

It’s time to take power back from politicians.

Of course, this is a direct attack on the greatest form of government ever devised — representative democracy. You know, the system in which we elect representatives to make public policy decisions. The only logical conclusion to derive from this presentation is that we should grab our pitchforks and run riot in the streets, a la France in the 1790s.

Which persuades me once again that, no matter what you may say about it, the Policy Council is certainly not a “conservative” organization.

By the way, lest you get too depressed watching the video — it gets all happy at the end. And here’s a thought to cheer you up even more — I’m guessing those bustling free-enterprise operations they’re showing (in the color, Dorothy-arrives-in-Oz part) actually exist already in this world that is supposedly crushed and oppressed by “politicians.”

One last thought, though, just to cover all my bases: Hey, if you’re going to unleash some capitalism, unleash some on me. The public sector isn’t hiring, because we live in a state run by politicians who would rather have their eyes put out with sharp sticks than raise taxes to maintain even the minimal level of services we have come to expect in South Carolina. In fact, if underfunding gummint will unleash capitalism, we should be experiencing a tsunami of private investment about now. I’ve got my surfboard, and I’m ready…