... IRREVERENCE, INSTITUTIONALIZED ...

Friday, December 22, 2006

FITSNews For Now






A temporary home for FITS is up ... for all y'all who couldn't stand the long, hard winter without us. (That means YOU, Mitt Romney!)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

COMING IN 2007 - FITSNEWS.COM

Monday, November 27, 2006

Peace Out, Ya'll

FITS has been a lot of fun, and we guarantee you FITSNews (which we'll get to one of these days) will be a lot funnerer, but for now it's time to move it on down the road from this little corner of the blogosphere.

Thanks to everybody who took the time to read and react.

We hope ya'll had fun!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Heard in the Echo Chamber - Romney's Footwear, Etc.

The Boston Globe had an interesting column this morning on the "evolution" of Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's so-called social conservatism.

If you want the nickel tour, the column explores how the governor from central casting supported both abortion and gay marriage so he could get elected in liberal Massachusetts, but now opposes both practices because he wants to win the more conservatively-oriented South Carolina Republican Presidential Primary.

The Globe columnist actually took it fairly easy on Romney.

Shockingly, we would have been a bit more aggressive in our language.

We don't care that Romney is for or against abortion. Nor do we particularly care whether he's for or against gay marriage.

We happen to oppose both, but minus some extraordinary circumstances we have a hard time getting excited about government involving itself one way or the other, especially on the gay marriage issue (with the exception of Heather S., we're all lesbians here).

What we do care about is yet another politician saying or doing anything to get elected, holding the voters in such low esteem that he or she would rather lie than trust their ability to handle the truth.

Sadly, we wrote recently that the number one reason Karen Floyd lost the State Superintendent's race was that she had previously lost her ability to "look 'em in the eye" after flip-flopping on the school choice issue.

We call it 'Electoraphobia' - the fear of speaking plainly on hot-button issues. Its symptons include contortions where there were once strong convictions and evasions where there were once earnestly-held beliefs. Unless treated preventatively, there is no cure.

MORE DUMBASS STUFF FROM KATON DAWSON

It would be nice to have a Republican Party Chairman who spoke of having a "high-minded debate of the issues" or an "honest, spirited exhange of ideas" in the upcoming 2008 Presidential Primary.

Of course it would also be nice to have a Party Chairman who kept his word, whether on his term limit pledge or his promise to stay neutral in GOP primaries.

Alas, we have auto parts salesman Katon Dawson, who in addition to violating his pledge on both those counts is now suggesting the title "Slugfest 2" for the pending Presidential Primary (see this morning's column by Lee Bandy).

Apparently thinking that Presidential politics should remain on par with a Playstation video game, Dawson added that 2008 campaign would be "blood sport" in South Carolina.

Nice.

Dawson's affinity for the English language we knew we could count on during the 2008 cycle, but what about the tattered remains of his "pledge of primary neutrality?"

Stay tuned ...

SIC WILLIE REPLACES SPURRIER ON MIAMI SHORT LIST

We wrote extensively last week on the University of Miami's not-so-super-secret courtship of South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier. We're still not 100% convinced that Spurrier is 100% committed to staying in Columbia, but we're certainly feeling a lot better about it today than we were this time last week.

Funny how finally beating Moo U. does that to us ...

We have learned, however, that Sic Willie himself has now made Miami's short list thanks to this season's superb performance from his No Corn No Nuts fantasy football squad.

Folks' Nuts are 8-4 this season, following a disastrous 1-12 record last season.

"I don't know any other way to describe it save for pure brilliance," said Miami President Donna Shalala. "He picked up LT in the offseason, signed Tony Romo as a free agent, knew when to cut the Giants' defense and special teams and most impressively, he's done it all without leaving his couch. If he's having this kind of success in the pros, imagine what he could do at the college level."

Sic Willie could not be reached for comment on the Miami opening, but a spokesman for his Nuts said he had no intention of parting with them.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Finally

The last time South Carolina beat Clemson, Jim Hodges was governor, there was no war in Iraq and Steve Spurrier was still coaching at Florida.

Five years of futility finally ended this afternoon at Death Valley, where Spurrier's Gamecocks scored the final 17 points of the game against their archrival to escape with a 31-28 victory.

Much to our surprise, South Carolina was clearly the better football team today - gaining nearly 500 yards in total offense while holding Clemson's potent offensive machine to a single second-half score.

But even these impressive, gut-check performances on both sides of the ball almost weren't enough, as the bad breaks and inopportune bounces that have plagued USC all year looked ready to do the Gamecocks in yet again.

Tennessee. Arkansas. Florida. Take away a bad tip in each of those games and Carolina is 10-2 right now - not 7-5.

But finally, something went right for USC.

Most college football fans have butterflies in their stomachs during the final few minutes of a close football game. Not us. As lifelong Gamecock fans, we know it's usually only a question of how South Carolina ends up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, not if.

In a season where every key break went the other team's way, South Carolina finally relocated its "Mojo" Saturday when Jad Dean's 39-yard field goal attempt sailed "Wide Left." Less than an hour earlier, trailing by two touchdowns, Carolina got another huge break when a generous official's spotting of the football gave Spurrier's offense a first down on a crucial fourth down conversion attempt.

Did the Gamecocks actually make it past the marker on that play?

We'll just say they got a Nell Carter-sized break.

The most encouraging thing about today's big win, however, didn't take place on the field. It took place during Spurrier's post-game interviews. The Ol' Ballcoach talked about the future of the program, and of his being a part of it, which is what you want to hear out of a coach who has been linked to one of the most attractive job openings in all of college football at Miami.

For today, though, we're just thankful that the Clemson skid is snapped and Carolina caught a break ... finally.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

FITS Thanksgiving Day Rewind - Sanford Refuses to Pardon Turkeys

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on our website on November 22, 2005. We are republishing it today for those of you who missed it. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

It was supposed to be the launch of a new South Carolina Thanksgiving tradition. It ended up being the latest in a string of recent public relations debacles for South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

FITS has learned that new Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer, presumably in an effort to stop the recent bleeding his boss has suffered in the press, organized a South Carolina version of the President's annual pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkey.

The plan was simple - bring two birds into the governor's office, write up a witty press release and Thanksgiving Day proclamation, then have His Excellency the Governor "pardon" one of the animals and ship it off to a life of leisure at a local petting zoo.

"Great politics," said Francis Marion political scientist Neal Thigpen. "Or at least it should have been."

As it happened, everything was going along smoothly until it was time for Sanford to actually pardon the bird. Turns out, the governor - in addition to having his legendary frugality offended by giving something away for free - suddenly became more than just a tad peckish (that means "hungry" for those of you who received your public education here in South Carolina).

"I can't do this," Sanford abruptly announced to the assembled press corps. "The taxpayers' aren't going to see a dime of that petting zoo revenue and besides, I haven't eaten lunch yet."

Crumpling the Executive Order pardoning the turkey and summarily dispatching it to the waste bin of good media ideas, the governor then proceeded to have both turkeys returned to their cages, ordering them shipped to the Governor's Mansion for "preparation."

"Now we got turkey sandwiches for lunch AND Thanksgiving dinner," Sanford said. "Ya'll come on over and dig in - but it's BYOC, remember."

Sawyer, left speechless at Sanford's latest self-inflicted public relations reverse, was momentarily unable to clarify the governor's BYOC reference, which FITS later discovered means "Bring Your Own Condiments."

"Governor Sanford is becoming more and more out of touch with the people of South Carolina," said State Sen. Joel Lourie. "This makes you wonder what he really did with those cute little piglets Pork and Barrel."

"The governor fully supports the concept of pardoning turkeys for Thanksgiving," Sawyer said. "Unfortunately, since the legislature failed to incorporate a revenue-sharing plan allowing the state to receive a percentage of this turkey's petting zoo proceeds, the governor was left with no choice but to eat him."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why Karen Lost

Tim Kelly may be thanking God over on the LaurinLine, and it's clear the Socialistas at The State are barely able to contain their "unbiased" excitement, but Karen Floyd's concession today to Jim Rex in the Superintendent of Education race has got us feeling more than a little bit blue here at FITS.

Sure, we wrote a concise, Why England Slept-themed title for our blog (and make no mistake - these are certainly observations that somebody needs to put out there for public consumption), but for some reason our hearts just aren't in it today like they should be.

Maybe it's the gloomy skies or the sub-freezing rain outside, but for whatever reason right now we'd much rather be running a bubble-bath, lighting some candles, grabbing a glass of Shiraz, putting the Garden State soundtrack on our portable CD player and escaping with the latest edition of Us Magazine.

Seriously, somebody build us a Bridge Over Troubled Waters ...

But lamentably, this is show business, not show friends, and the show must go on. Accordingly, here are (in order of importance) the reasons Karen Floyd lost the State Superintendent's race:

1. Vacillation on the School Choice Issue

If you went to a South Carolina public school, take your time with that first word - look closely, we know it's big, but just sound it out ... Ready? Okay, what that big "V" word means is that Karen was never quite sure where she stood on the school choice issue during this campaign, or at least she gave the impression that she wasn't quite sure where she stood. Voters can forgive a lot of things - even things that they vehemently disagree with - but something they usually won't look past is someone who evades direct questions and appears to be hiding something.

If you've never seen Oliver Stone's Nixon, there's a great scene that runs during the opening credits that shows the future Watergate burglers are sitting around a table smoking cigars and watching a sales training video. "Don't forget to look 'em in the eye," a fictitious manager in the film tells a struggling salesman. "Nothing sells like sincerity."

It's true. Unfortunately, Karen gave up the ability to "look 'em in the eye" when she backpedaled on school choice immediately after securing the GOP nomination. The sad thing here is that no matter what she did in the general election, the media (see reason #4) was going to make the race about school choice anyway. But by ducking and running instead of sticking to her guns Floyd missed a truly unique opportunity - not only to educate the public about the positive side of the school choice issue (which they won't get from the papers), but more importantly to avoid the lethal perception, or in this case the reality, of inconsistency.

2. Katon Dawson

Democrat campaign manager Trav Robertson told reporters that he walked into his party's GOTV (Get Out The Vote) headquarters on Election Day and knew immediately that his candidate, Grady Patterson, and the rest of the Democratic ticket was in serious trouble.

Why? There was hardly any organization in place to mobilize people to go to the polls.

Against such a ridiculously understaffed, underfunded and generally underwhelming Democratic opposition, the Republican Party has absolutely no excuse for losing a single statewide race. Let us repeat that - no excuse whatsoever.

Of course, Dawson could have atoned for his lack of adequate grassroots mobilization by having poll watchers stationed at all the controversial precincts to challenge ballots, but he somehow managed to screw that up, too.

In the end, Dawson's voice was among the most aggressive urging Floyd to formally challenge the recount results of the election.

That shouldn't surprise you. It's because his ass is now on the chopping block for failing to fully exploit a complete Democratic collapse.

3. Jon Lerner

Jon was hot property following Mark Sanford's improbable journey from a Sullivans' Island basement to the Governor's Mansion. Now we see how much of that trip was driven by the candidate and how little of it was guided by the consultant.

Let's break this down in the simplest terms - Karen Floyd is attractive. She's tall, she's well put-together, she's got a pretty face, a nice speaking voice and unlike a lot of candidates out there (i.e. Drew Theodore) she doesn't have a problem putting complete sentences together. In fact, she was probably the most intelligent, eloquent Republican candidate on the ballot in 2006.

Karen's strength in this race should have been her television advertisements, particularly given the huge fundraising advantage she enjoyed over Jim Rex.

When Floyd's TV advertisements during the primary were less-than-impressive, we naturally assumed it was a fluke. Then came the general election ads, which to our utter amazement were even worse.

Lerner's TV for Floyd was by far the biggest disappointment of the advertising wars this year, if not this decade.

4. The Liberal Media

Okay, before you left-leaners start accusing us of right-wing ranting, notice that the top three reasons for Floyd's loss were all Republican in their orientation ... and just wait till you read #5.

And no, we don't think a liberal bias is the South Carolina press corps' default setting - it just was in this race.

Based on the coverage in La Socialista, for example, it's not implausible that Mark Lett, Steve Brook and Bill Robinson just got together one day at lunch and decided that since Jim Rex didn't have the money to get his message out, The State would pick up the slack for him.

Seriously, Rex could have walked into an elementary classroom, pulled out an AK-47 and shot everybody in sight and The State's headline the next day would have read "Floyd's Voucher Plan Criticized By Educators."

Now usual suspects Brad Warthen and Cindi Scoppe are editorial writers, which means they can say pretty much whatever they want, but Lett, Brook and Robinson are in the newsroom, which means they are supposed to adhere to a journalistic code. They didn't come close ... and not just to being impartial. They didn't come close to giving the appearance that they were even trying to be impartial.

Seriously guys, does the Devil let you keep the change when you take him his cigarettes?

5. The SCRG/ Josh Gross Ad

As much as The State newspaper completely deserved to have a negative ad run against it for its biased coverage, the actually writing, producing and airing such an ad was one of the dumbest moves we've seen in a long time.

We don't know how much the ad cost to produce (after watching it, hopefully not much), but whatever cash, time and energy was spent on this poorly-written, completely pointless, kneejerk exercise in frustration, it served absolutely zero purpose.

Think about it - What might have happened if those resources had gone to helping Karen Floyd push it across the finish line - or at the very least educating the public about the benefits of school choice? Come to think of it, where would the school choice issue (and Karen's candidacy) be right now if educating the public was actually where SCRG had been pouring its millions from day one here in South Carolina?

This stuff isn't brain surgery: One out of three S.C. schools is failing or below average. One out of every two South Carolina school kids doesn't graduate.

We'll put it in capital letters: IF YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE, YOU'RE LOSING.

Oh well ... the water's running, time to forget about all of this for awhile and relax.

Tompkins' Opening "Shot"

Write this date down - November 20, 2006.

That's the day Mitt Romney's newly-minted S.C. consulting team of Tompkins, Thompson and Sullivan started lobbing Campaign 2008's first grenades at U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Appropriately enough, "The Shot," a blog run by Tompkins' flunkie Mike Rentiers (formerly a Joe Wilson staffer and RINO campaign manager) published this post yesterday attacking McCain for a comment he made to ABC's George Stephanopolous on the subject of homosexuality.

We all knew this garbage was coming. Like the tides, the swallows returning to Capistrano or South Carolina choking in close football games, it might as well have been chiseled in stone long ago or told to Keanu Reeves' girlfriend in one of those Matrix movies.

After all, "attack sleaze" is the only thing Warren Tompkins and his stable of minimally adequate consultants (Heath Thompson, Terry Sullivan, Rentiers, Wes Donohue, Jason Puhlaski, etc.) are capable of producing. Oh, and the sleaze has to be targeted to a dwindling segment of the electorate that votes exclusively on social conservative issues, because if you're talking about anything else, these guys are as worthless as tits on a bull.

Of course, if the basis of your campaign is calling your opponent a fag-lovin', baby-killin', Jesus-hatin' liberal, then Tompkins is your man.

True, the "Tompkins Method" worked on McCain in 2000 when Panderer-in-Chief George W. Bush was running hard right to social conservatives, but three key factors make it highly unlikely that the "Method" will have the same effect this go-round.

FACTOR ONE - McCAIN IS NOW THE FRONTRUNNER

In 2000, the "Straight Talk Express" was the "Little Engine that Couldn't" in South Carolina, an insurgent campaign taking on the anointed frontrunner George W., a candidate who had huge advantages in cash and in-state institutional support. Today, McCain is the candidate with the most money and the biggest in-state GOP network - including many former Bush supporters. In the immortal words of Rick James, "the tables have turned!"

FACTOR TWO - ROMNEY'S SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE FLIP-FLOPS

Tompkins and his slime factory can light McCain up all campaign long on hot-button social issues like homosexuality and abortion, but the fact is their candidate has a history of flip-flopping on these very issues. That's poison not only to the same GOP fire and brimstoners they're courting, but also to moderates who don't appreciate hypocrisy. To put it another way, there's really only one candidate in this race who should fear getting busted open like a pinata in the eyes of social conservatives, and it's Mitt Romney.

FACTOR THREE - TOMPKINS' DECLINING EFFECTIVENESS

We wrote a controversial blog called "The Impending Fall of J. Warren Tompkins" back in April prior to the primary elections, essentially making the argument that his predictible bullying tactics in support of exclusively social conservative issues were all used up on the South Carolina electorate. Tompkins then proved us right two months later when both of his well-funded statewide candidates failed to make it out of the GOP primary. One of them, State Sen. Greg Ryberg, spent $2 million on his campaign - a good chunk of it on anti-gambling commercials and mailings that targeted the GOP's social conservative base. Of course the fact that Ryberg, like Romney, had a bit of a consistency problem on the very social conservative issues he was advancing ultimately came back and bit him in the ass. Hard.

Seriously, Warren. Can you at least try something new? Just for a minute? Just the tip? Just to see how it feels?

Being so consistently and unambiguously right about you and your moron factory's burgeoning incompetence is getting boring.

O.J. Show Cancelled, Viers Show On Hold

FOX has cancelled the TV/Book special "If I Did It" in which O.J. Simpson was to describe how he "would" have committed the infamous double murder of his wife, Nicole Simpson, and Ron Goldman.

Considered the greatest legal travesty in American history (until Rep. Thad Viers was granted pre-trial intervention yesterday), O.J.'s aquittal in 1995 continues to spark torrents of emotion among people who watch television during the daytime.

The cancellation of O.J.'s show prompted Viers to reconsider his own "If I Did It" episode, in which he details how he "would" have left numerous allegedly threatening messages on Columbia resident Jon Ziegler's cell phone voicemail - including reported references to sodomizing Ziegler's father.

Like O.J. before him, Viers' plight continues to spark torrents of emotion among people who live in mobile homes in Horry County ... and watch television during the daytime.

What Next?

After today's anticipated concession in Spartanburg, life begins again for Karen Floyd.

More than a few readers have commented on the fact that we have yet to follow through on our promised post-election "K-Flo" blog, which is true.

We'll be doing so, but there are a lot of mixed emotions on this one.

On the one hand, we're incredibly sad to see Karen lose. Jim Rex, for all his polish and sway, amounts to little more than a continuation of the failed "Tenenbaum Doctrine" of throwing more money and more government programs at our ever-worsening public schools.

On the other hand, Karen disappointed us, too. Sure, the vast majority of the blame for this shocking loss (as we will get into later) rests with bad advisors, misapplied support resources and a totally incompetent Republican Party, but the candidate isn't entirely exempt, either.

For now, though, we hope Karen will use today's concession in the closest statewide race in South Carolina history as a springboard, not a surrender.