... IRREVERENCE, INSTITUTIONALIZED ...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Will Jim DeMint Seriously Please Just Shut Up?

Honestly, it seems like every time we go on Sunny Phillips' blog these days, Sen. Jim DeMint is blathering on about this, that or the other.

First, he was telling us not to weigh in on the upcoming SCGOP Chairman's race (which he then proceeded to do himself in the same friggin' statement). Now, he's telling us not to pick a 2008 Presidential favorite.

Look, all of us here at FITS love Sunny (especially Sic Willie), but we really do wish all the DeMintedness would stop.

Jim DeMint should go back to doing the only two things he's proven remarkably good at: Sitting very still and staying very quiet.

One Degree of Kevin Bacon

"Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," the pop culture phenomena by which virtually anyone in the world can be linked to the actor Kevin Bacon within six steps, is expanding its tentacles even further into South Carolina this week.

Bacon is in Columbia shooting a new movie, and just last night its filming location actually blocked the FITS girls from passing through Five Points on our daily carpool ride home.

Lordy, Lordy what a commotion!

Anyway, here are some guesses as to what movie Bacon is filming here in the Palmetto State (and his star character):

-"That's How I Roll" (as Thomas Ravenel)

-"The Quinndom of Heaven" (as Rick Quinn)

-"Mark Hammond - International Man of Mystery" (as reporter at "Scrooges and Angels" press conference)

-"The Taxpayer Pit" - (As Grady Patterson, forty years ago)

-"Thaddeus Maximus" (As Rep. Thad Viers)

-"Training Day - The Utility Workers' Version" (As Rep. Wallace Scarborough)

-"Anger Management" (As Will Folks)

-"Darlington Nights - The Legend of Andre Bauer" (As Andre Bauer)

-"8 Mile - Southern Style" (As Joel Sawyer)

-"The Alvin H. Glenn Detention Center Redemption" (Also as Will Folks)

-"The Seersucker Proxy" (As John Rainey)

-"Pimp My Budget" (As House Speaker Bobby Harrell)

-"She Wears the Pants - The Jenny Sanford Story" (As Mark Sanford)

-"Stir of Vetoes" (As Sen. Phil Leventis)

-"Under the Bridge to Nowhere" (Animated, voice of an endangered Owl in Sparkleberry Swamp who opposes the Clyburn Connector)

-"Bringing Sexy Back - Metro Style" (As Larry Marchant)

Well, that's our list - Send us your ideas!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Never Assume Anybody Cares, People, Pt. II

While nobody outside the eight people who read FITS will probably care about this, we are sure that this little nugget will nonetheless have lasting reverberations and recriminations here on our comments page.

It seems as if our own Sic Willie has landed himself smack dab in the middle of campaign 2006, which suprises every one and no one all at the same time.

Our favorite bad boy is, after all, suis generis.

Below in its entirety is the press release from the Sicster himself that landed in our inbox just a moment ago:

SHEALY RETAINS VIEWPOLITIK, LLC FOR THREE STATEWIDE RACES
Former Rivals to Collaborate on Electing Conservative Republicans in November

September 28, 2006

Veteran South Carolina political consultant Rod Shealy has retained the services of Viewpolitik, LLC, the Columbia S.C.-based political consulting firm founded by former Mark Sanford spokesman Will Folks, to assist in three statewide races over the final stretch of the 2006 campaign. Viewpolitik will provide counter-negative consulting services for the campaigns of GOP Treasurer Nominee Thomas Ravenel, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom and Lieutenant Gov. Andre Bauer, all of whom are being advised by Shealy.

“As far as crafting and delivering a message, Will has one of the sharpest young political minds I’ve seen in a long time,” Shealy said. “The Democrat opponents in these three races – Mr. Barber, Mr. Theodore, and Mr. Patterson – have each begun their misleading “mudslinging” campaigns, and I expect Will to be an invaluable asset to counter these negative attacks, just as he did for Sanford four years ago.”

Folks, 32, was the lead spokesman, copywriter and graphic designer for Gov. Mark Sanford’s successful 2002 gubernatorial campaign. He also served as the governor’s press secretary from January 2003 to August 2005. Since leaving the governor’s office, Folks has worked on a variety of different issues and campaigns, serving as a media consultant to groups like SC Free Market Ports and Putting Students First.

-###-

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is Drew Theodore Really Prince Humperdinck?


Okay, okay, okay.

It's really only funny if you're five years old or happen to be a huge fan of The Princess Bride.

But since we happen to fall into both categories, indulge us for just a moment by closing your eyes and imagining Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom in place of actor Cary Elwes, sprawled out on Princess Buttercup's bed delivering the famous "To The Pain" speech to Mr. Theodore.

Better yet, imagine it taking place on a WIS-TV soundstage with anchor David Stanton moderating during a live televised debate:

DAVID STANTON: Our next question comes from a viewer. Bobby Sue from West Columbia. Bobby Sue wants to know, what does "to the pain" mean? Hmmm. Good question, Bobbie Sue. General Eckstrom, would you like to be the first to tackle that one?

GENERAL ECKSTROM: I'd be more than happy to, David. "To the pain," Drew, means the first thing you lose will be your feet below the ankles, then your hands at the wrists, next your nose.

DREW THEODORE: And, then my tongue I suppose. I killed you too quickly the last time; a mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight.

GENERAL ECKSTROM: I wasn't finished. The next thing you lose will be your left eye, followed by the right . . .

DREW THEODORE: And, then my ears, I understand. Let's get on with it.

GENERAL ECKSTROM: Wrong! Your ears you keep, and I'll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish, every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out: "Dear God, what is that thing?" will echo in your perfect ears. That is what "to the pain" means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery, forever.

DAVID STANTON: Alright, well that's all the time we have for tonight gentlemen, I'd like to thank you both for participating in our debate.

Asleep At The Wheel

This is a picture of State Treasurer Grady Patterson sleeping at a Budget and Control Board Meeting. In the background is former Sanford Communications Director Chris Drummond.

A picture says a thousand words, don't it?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Virtually Yours

Again, we love our girl Laurin P. Manning.

Anybody combining her writing skills, verve for life and documented kinship to our two favorite NFL quarterbacks will always be "A-1" in FITS' book.

Laurin (whose virtual self is shown above standing on a virtual soundstage on virtual Mark Warner's website) happens to be great guns for the Virginia governor, which we find commendable, too.

Check out Laurin's latest post here for a sampling of the unrequited love.

What we did find interesting about Laurin's latest post however, was an observation that shows how low the bar currently resides when it comes to meeting our nation's leading public figures in a "public" setting.

"There’s never any sense that Warner is looking over the shoulder of the person to whom he’s speaking, a condition that ails many politicians," Manning wrote.

Actually, she's dead on in this observation, as anybody who has spent the requisite half-minute talking to Jim DeMint can tell you.

Of course then there's the opposite end of that spectrum, which includes politicians like Joe Wilson or Mark Hammond who are usually there leeching off of somebody else's crowd to begin with and will talk your ear off until you finally find a polite way to excuse (extricate) yourself from the conversation (and, ideally, flush their business card down the toilet).

Sure, we "normal" people residing here among the unwashed masses should recognize that politicians are busy, and like any cocktail hour, nobody should seek to engage them in an extended Cyndi Mosteller-style grilling.

But they're not that busy. And no, they're not that important.

Working the crowd is one of the few remaining spontaneous components of modern political life, which is probably why so few politicians do it well. In our opinion, though, it's a damn shame that we bestow such praise on these people for simply being able to hold a half-minute conversation with the people who put them where they are in the first place.

In other words, it's nice to know Mark Warner can make eye contact and appear to be relating to the average Joe or Jane, but in our humble view that should be a given, not a quality worthy of any enduring admiration.

Old RINO's Die Hard

We get a lot of grief for calling people RINO's (Republicans In Name Only) here at FITS. Hell, Gervais S. Bridges made a cottage industry out of rebuking our RINO pronouncements.

That's why it gave us some measure of satisfaction to see one of the State Senate's RINO kingpins, J. Verne Smith, announce his endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tommy Moore yesterday.

Flanked by Moore and former Democratic governor Dick Riley, Smith is apparently still upset at Gov. Mark Sanford for bringing pigs into the State House two-and-a-half years ago.

Of course, Sanford's campaign flunkie Jason Miller flubbed this one completely (what's new) by going to the hard offensive against Smith, a sick, old, used-up, shadow of a man who announced his retirement months ago.

Instead of saying something like "we have disagreed with Sen. Smith many times in the past on cutting taxes, reducing spending and streamlining state government, but we respect his opinion and his right to engage the process," Miller instead played the cards Katon Dawson should be playing and tried his best to resemble a hatchet man.

Katon's quote?

"We'll move on from this and win this election."

Sounds an awful lot like the tepid support Dawson gave GOP Treasurer nominee Thomas Ravenel when the latter was attacked by a much more formidable RINO media whore, "Seersucker Kingfish" John Rainey.

This stuff isn't rocket science, people. The job of the party chairman is to "let slip the dogs of war" when any of his party's statewide nominees are attacked, thus enabling the candidates to stay above the fray and remain focused on their core messages.

So far, Katon's "dogs of war" look like a bunch of malnourished Yorkies.

Fortunately for Sanford, Smith's endorsement isn't likely to make "a nickel's worth" of difference in a race that all polls agree is the governor's to lose, which is all the more reason his chief campaign boob should have known how to handle the situation.

Seriously, J-Mo, you've got a double-digit lead in the polls. Act like it.

Miller reminds us a lot of the guy in that new Dick Vermeil Coors Light Commercial, you know, the one who is "freaking out" over the Beer's new "Silver Ticket Promotion."

"You have to learn to handle it, okay?" Vermeil tells him. "You have to learn to handle your own intensity."

Monday, September 25, 2006

"Hey Beavis, Our Polls Are Rising"

It seems like almost every single day FITS' home office gets bombarded with new polling information.

Some of it (Sanford internal polling, Rasmussen) is usually pretty accurate, some of it (Survey USA, our anonymous Lewis Vaughn informant) is not so accurate.

But since our good friend Tee Pee Tidwell consistently reminds us of the fact we've "got a commitment to the truth" and need to be "keepin' it real," we share it all with you .

Plus, the campaigns themselves are starting to pump up the poll volume in press releases and calls to the major media, which pretty much makes all of it fair game anyhow.

Last Friday, for example, Gov. Mark Sanford's campaign sent out a press release touting the governor's noticeable uptick in a number of recent polls.

Unfortunately, while going to great lengths to stress the seemingly stratospheric percentage of the black vote the governor was receiving in two of these surveys (between 22-25%), the Sanford campaign accidentally poured a bit of cold water on the independent findings.

Here's why:

Black voters generally do not cast their ballots the same way they answer polling questions.

That's not a value judgment or a racist statement, obviously, it's just a proven discrepancy that is often related to how the polling questions are asked. For example, lots of polls don't ask partisan ID questions (i.e. tagging the candidates' names with their party affiliation), which leads many black voters to answer soley on the basis of name identification.

The bottom line is that even with a massive black outreach effort, a statewide Republican candidate in South Carolina is lucky to get 12%, let alone 15% or 20% of the African-American electorate.

The Democrats experienced this in struggling to interpret one of their internal polls that was leaked to FITS earlier this month, a poll which showed Sanford getting 21% of the black vote en route to a commanding 49-35% lead over challenger Tommy Moore.

Here's the good news for Team Sanford, though: You can slice the black vote any way you want in all of the recent polling data we've seen and the governor is still cruising.

The most recent poll leaked to FITS, conducted ten days ago by SC Index, showed Sanford with a 66% approval rating, including an 89% approval rating amongst Republicans. This jives with just about every other poll FITS has seen, including the notoriously unreliable Survey USA poll, which last week had the governor's approval rating at 63%.

Internal polling from the Sanford campaign and other public and private polling we've seen show the governor's approval ratings at anywhere from 65%-72% - very solid numbers indeed against a challenger who remains completely unknown to roughly half the electorate with only five full weeks of campaigning to go.

Bottom line? The gubna's recent slump seems to be at an end.

In the Lieutenant Governor's race between incumbent Andre Bauer and Democratic challenger Robert Barber, we've literally seen polling all over the map. The SC Index poll showed Barber up by three points (37-34%), or well within the 5.5% margin of error. Of course, we've seen reputable numbers recently showing Bauer up by as much as 10%.

One thing is for certain, Bauer's position is nowhere near as strong as Sanford's, which reinforces the theory that if these guys could just get together and iron out their differences at the top of the ticket, good things could happen for Republicans up and down the ballot. Andre would benefit from Sanford's strong endorsement and coattails statewide, while the governor could improve his standing amongst Republicans in Lexington and Newberry Counties (both of which he lost in the primary to Oscar Lovelace) where Bauer is running exceptionally strong.

Will that happen? Eh ... we'll see.

One final note of interest from the SC Index poll is the unbridled (and dare we add, justified) skepticism with which the public apparently views House Speaker Bobby Harrell's bogus 2006 tax shift. Asked if they felt the Harrell tax swap would actually end up lowering their tax burden, only 25% of all respondents said "yes."

Ouch.

Of course the only poll that matters is Nov. 7, but in the meantime count on the FITS girls to continue delivering to your desktop all the latest surreptitiously acquired S.C. political insider news we can get our faux French manicured fingers on ...

Musical Media Chairs

FITS has learned that major shakeups are in store for the South Carolina press corps heading into the critical five week stretch before the Nov. 7 elections.

Sources close to The State newspaper have informed us that beginning on October 4, longtime Associated Press reporter-turned-editor Mona Chamberlin will begin working at South Carolina's largest newspaper as government editor.

Replacing Chamberlin on Oct. 23 at the Associated Press as interim news editor will be former AP Columbia reporter Jennifer Holland, who is currently working with AP New York. Holland, who has previously served as interim news editor for the Columbia bureau, could very well assume the news editor position on a full-time basis following the elections.

Both women will wield tremendous influence in their new positions, overseeing content and coverage for what are arguably the state's two most influential news outlets.

Stay tuned to FITS for more breaking South Carolina political news and commentary ...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Typical Tenenbaum, Etc.

Of course outgoing State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum flatly refused to prioritize her multi-gazillion dollar agency spending plan at a budget hearing last week with Gov. Mark Sanford.

Does this really surprise anyone?

Having doubled the number of non-classroom bureaucrats making $50,000 or more at her Ministry of Monopolistic Moronisitude since taking office, how dare we assume there may be some fat we could trim to - we don't know - actually get more money to the classroom or something.

The lady who's doubled per pupil spending and yet continued to preside over the nation's worst school system is going out just like she came in eight years ago - sucking up hundreds of millions in new tax dollars every year while viciously attacking anybody who doesn't go along with her totalitarian sinkhole approach to government as being "anti-public education."

After nearly a decade of the most lavish spending increases in state history and nothing to show for it, all we can say about the Tenenbaum administration is thank God it's almost over.

WHO PEED IN CYNDI MOSTELLER'S CORN FLAKES?

South Carolina's resident Queen Bee of social conservatism recently took it upon herself to corner Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and grill him on his Mormon faith.

While we think Mosteller could have exercized a bit more discretion in her approach, the issue was bound to come up.

SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson, perhaps sensing that the stock of his number one "Anybody But McCain" candidate (Virginia Sen. George Allen) is on the decline, was quick to ingratiate himself with Team Romney, calling Mosteller's questioning "in bad taste."

Forgetting for a moment the fact that Katon Dawson has as much business weighing in on matters of taste as Elizabeth Taylor does opening a marriage counseling center, we can see why ingratiating oneself with the Romney crowd would be appealing.

We'd campaign for Jesse Jackson if it meant we got to hang out with Leslie Gaines.

LINDSEY V. SC HOTLINE

FITS used to get a lot of love from SC Hotline. It even got to the point where the sheer volume of posts that got picked up was starting to piss off Laurin Manning.

Thesedays, however, it's all Lindsey Graham, all the time.

Sadly, we view writing about Lindsey a lot like Justin Timberlake views paparazzi, or kids view vegetables, or Whitney Houston views a day without crack rock.

It's just not a prospect we relish.

Hey Hotline, it's 2006 - not 2008 - and our bet is Lindsey will be just as annoying this time next year.

In the meantime, we've got a great idea for interrogating terrorists - tell us what you know or you'll be forced to listen to Lindsey debate techniques for interrogating you while staring for hours at images from his GQ photo shoot.

Seriously, I bet if we tried that tomorrow we'd have Osama bin Laden by the end of the week!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Eckstrom: Will Folks to Chauffer Future Trips

State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom today announced that any future non-taxpayer related trips would be taken in a bright red 2001 Corvette convertible - with Will Folks serving as his chauffer.

"From this point forward, this will be how I roll," Eckstrom told reporters while fumbling to readjust the bass levels on the car stereo as Wu Tang Forever blasted from its speakers.

"It's Will muthaf---er, Will Folks muthaf---er," Eckstrom freestyled to the infectious rap beat.

"Yeah-ya, uhhh-uhhh," Folks added. "Uhhh-uhhhh."

Eckstrom's affiliation with Folks - whose unauthorized use of a Corvette from a Columbia area car dealer in 2004 prompted four AP stories - seemed not to trouble the Comptroller General.

"Will is my ace boom coo," Eckstrom said. "And we gonna smoke dat fool Drew. Ya know?"

In all seriousness, though, trying to slam Richard Eckstrom for being wasteful with your money is like trying to link Rudy Guiliani to al-Queda. He's been the most passionate defender of the taxpayer this state has seen in years, in addition to being one of the few good guys left in state government.

It's also pretty telling that the first shot out of the box from his Democratic challenger Drew Theodore isn't anything substantive about what he'd do as Comptroller General, but rather a petty political leak against a guy who made a $600 error in judgment (which he has since repayed) while trying to go see a dying relative.

Personally, we'll take Eckstrom's $600 "indiscretion" over the millions in wasteful spending Drew Theodore would represent on the Stat Budget and Control Board anyday.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Take the FITS Girls Boling, Take Them Boling

No, the title you just read is not repetitive, it's a ripoff of the chorus from Camper Van Beethoven's hit song "Take the Skinheads Bowling."

But speaking of ripping off, that's what Starboard Communications' up-and-comer BJ Boling and his crew of anonymous commenters did to the head of our very own Sic Willie earlier today.

In case you missed it on SC Hotline, it wasn't pretty ...

Everything got started, you see, when the FITS home office received some polling information on Rep. Lewis Vaughn's primary race last week that turned out to be ... well, wrong.

The poll we were shown (and we'll spare the person who shared it with us any embarassment) had Vaughn in a pretty close race, ahead of his nearest competitor by 8%, but he actually cleared the second-place finisher in Tuesday's special primary election by 18%.

So yes, we were wrong, and like the tenth step says - we're not only promptly admitting it, we're going to go the extra mile and take the heat ourselves instead of throwing the person who gave us the poll numbers under the bus.

Of course, for committing the unpardonable sin of incorrectly predicting the Lewis Vaughn primary race by 10 points, Boling's minions accused our favorite bad boy of everything under the sun, including having a small penis.

That's right, if you miss predicting the correct outcome of a low turnout State Senate special primary election by 10 points they'll start calling you out for contracting Smallcox disease from Nick Lachey and JW Ragley.

Seriously, you just gotta laugh at South Carolina politics sometimes ...

Believe it or not, we here at FITS actually think quite highly of BJ.

We didn't know he was involved with Rep. Vaughn's race, but the fact that he was makes him a good guy in our book. He's also buds with one of FITS good friends, McCain S.C. Field Director Chris Allen, which makes him a double good guy in our book. And finally, Boling recenly worked on Rep. Nikki Haley's race, which makes him a triple good guy in our book.

Anyways, it's never easy to admit when you're wrong, which is why most people in politics never do it. Truth is, it takes a special kind of man (or at least a special kind of man with multiple female voices in his head).

Congrats to BJ Boling, though, and more importantly best of luck to Lewis Vaughn in his quest to replace retiring State Sen. Verne Smith in Senate District 5.

Happy Hour With A Purpose?

We about lost it when we saw this link from Laurin Manning's blog recently.

Apparently, since 2001 Virginia Gov. Mark Warner has hosted a series of political events called "Happy Hour With A Purpose." The series even has it's own website, the aptly-named but for some reason still odd-sounding www.happyhourwithapurpose.com.

In fact, one of these "Happy Hour With A Purpose" (es) is actually scheduled for Columbia, S.C. this coming Monday, September 25 at Jillian's.

Now our girl Laurin makes no bones about her love of both happy hour (Chardonn-hey!) or her worship of Warner.

In fact, she's gone so far as to create a virtual version of herself for the specific purpose of tooling around virtual soundstages on Warner's website (no word yet on whether virtual Laurin and virtual Mark Warner have hooked up yet).

Unfortunately, with all due respect to the undisputed Queen of the S.C. Blogosphere, we've got to call b.s. on this one.

As it turns out, where we come from, the purpose of Happy Hour was not to hear Mark Warner flap his gums about how great he is and why he should be President.

In fact, that's not even in the Top 100,000 purposes for Happy Hour.

Last time we checked, the purpose of Happy Hour was to drink numerous alcoholic beverages at a discounted cost and - to borrow a phrase from Vince Vaughn's legendary Wedding Crashers soliloquy - "maybe get hopped up enough to make some bad decisions."

Happy Hour in Columbia's Vista district - like Happy Hour in thousands of mid-sized cities all across our great nation - is one of the few unimpeachably pure, distinctly American things we've got left in this crazy world.

There's just an indescribable poetry and limitless entertainment value to be derived from watching dozens of inebriated, cologne-drenched mid-level downtown sales executives knocking back some cold ones, flashing business cards and throwing Lincolns around like candy while they try to play a little game called "just the tip" (just for a minute, just to see how it feels) with a bunch of dolled-up West Columbia dental hygienists' receptionists doubling as Bon Jovi groupies.

That's America, people. And Mark Warner wants to interrupt this defining moment in our nation's heritage to help us "bridge ethnic and generational differences in the community?"

Please.

There's plenty of time to talk politics and be all serious about society and what ails it from 9-5, people. In fact there's probably too much time.

Don't give Happy Hour a bad name, Gov. Warner.

Show us you feel where we're coming from by getting a little glazy-eyed yourself, putting politics on the backburner and giving our homegirl Laurin the ole "up-down."

Just for a minute. Just to see how it feels.

Look Out Al-Queda, Here Comes Grady Patterson


Nothing like the sight of a cantankerous 83-year old man to strike fear into the hearts of those who seek to harm America.

Grandpa Grady Patterson, who as it turns out was in New York City today to raise money for his campaign from vested special interest groups, nonetheless managed to send out a press release from his South Carolina office dated "Friday, September 21" (it's actually Thursday, Mr. Treasurer).

Aside from Mr. Patterson not knowing what day it is (no news there), what did the release actually say, you may ask?

Well, after four decades of fighting every attempt to modernize our state's investment strategy, all of a sudden (six weeks before the election, no less) it turns out Mr. Patterson has become the second candidate for Treasurer (T-Rav being the first) to support investing our state retirement money globally like they do in 47 of the other 49 states.

There's just one catch to Mr. Patterson's support - no investment will be permitted in companies or countries with ties to terrorist organizations.

Well, duh.

Never mind that just two percent of the world's GDP comes from Middle Eastern nations - the vast majority of which have no ties to terrorist organizations - or that Patterson has waited until the 11th hour of his 36th year in office to finally embrace the same investment strategies most states have been using since the 1960's.

No, the purpose of this release is simple (just like the circa 1970 photos we'll see later in his campaign ads) - Mr. Patterson wants to remind us that he hates terrorism and was once a military fighter pilot.

"When I served in the military as a fighter pilot, I swore an oath to protect and serve. As a member of the State Retirement Investment Commission, I pledge this same oath.” Patterson said in today's statement.

Gee, it was really tough to see that one coming, kind of like it's really tough to see one of those big concrete pylons in the State House parking garage coming (Grady wrecked three state vehicles before somebody finally wised up and took the keys from him a couple years back).

Look, we all owe Mr. Patterson a debt of gratitude for his wartime service, there's no doubt about that, but the sad fact is that he has about as much business running for Treasurer as he does reapplying for a learner's permit.

Whether behind the wheel of a $25,000 state-owned Crown Victoria or guiding the investment of $35 billion in state assets, Mr. Patterson's abilities simply can't be trusted any longer with your money.

Why Didn't We Think of This?

If you haven't paid these guys a visit yet, Jersey GOP is a must see.

No, it's not a boring State Republican Party website, it's a page devoted exclusively to Republican hotties.

Described by the New York Times as "somewhere between hard-core patriotism and soft-core porn," Jersey GOP's current hottie of the week is Diana Irey (above), the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District.

Other "Republican Babes of the Week" include Bo Derek, Heather Locklear, Jessica Simpson and Cheryl Ladd.

So ... who wants to send them a picture of our very own Annette Young?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Never Assume Anybody Cares, People

It was big news in The State paper this morning when it was revealed that Democratic gubernatorial challenger Tommy Moore is declining to participate in an NAACP voter forum next month in Augusta with incumbent Republican Gov. Mark Sanford.

Seriously, how often does a Democrat reject an invite to address the state's largest black advocacy group - particularly when a Republican opponent has already accepted? After all, the NAACP could be holding its voter forum on the Fra Mauro hills or the recently downgraded Pluto and a Democrat is pretty much obliged to be there, right?

Conversely, the NAACP could hold a forum inside a Republican's bedroom and there's still a good chance the GOP representative wouldn't show.

Dispensing with the "who agreed to what, when and where" specifics, which is really just scenery, let's take a look at the impact this will have on the governor's race.

Short answer? Not much.

Moore will anger some Democrats, and Sanford will pick an incredibly small percentage of those voters up. Sanford will anger a few Republicans, and Moore will pick an incredibly small percentage of those voters up. Independents will likely just scratch their heads and go back to fawning all over U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's GQ spread.

Where is the outrage, you may ask?

Well, as Paris Hilton might say, it's "so five years ago."

The NAACP "economic boycott" of South Carolina is a joke, and everybody knows it.

Unlike when Christians got upset at K-Mart or Catholics got ticked off at Pepsi, the NAACP's economic protest of the Confederate flag has literally had the economic impact of a flea biting a Brontosaurus on the ass.

Far from the lightning rod it was in 2000, the Confederate flag is not a fringe issue (although it did beat out our own Sic Willie to win "Political Faux Pas of the Year" among Free Times readers in 2005).

The long and short of the NAACP Confederate flag boycott?

White people don't care. Black people don't care. Basically, nobody but the NAACP cares.

That's why this morning's news story in The State, while indeed interesting, will have minimal impact on the 2006 Governor's Race.

To borrow a verse from Billy Ray Shakespeare (Capricorn), it's "full 'a whoo-whoo but ain't doo-doo."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Time Mag Disses State Paper, Etc.

In a bit of journalistic irony, Time magazine got its "disrespect on" for our very own The State newspaper yesterday, referring to it as "one of" the largest newspapers in South Carolina in this puff piece on U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Color us tickled.

The State (a.k.a. La Socialista) is by far and away THE largest newspaper in South Carolina, with circulation numbers easily outpacing those of its nearest rivals, the Charleston Post and Courier and the Greenville News.

What makes the slight so ironic to us is the fact that these two publications share a very defined left-of-center news and editorial philosophy.

Consider the precedent set by the hiring of reporter Jim Hammond, whom The State brought on board AFTER his stint as Communications Director for Democratic Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum's 2004 U.S. Senate campaign.

Now we don't blame Hammond, he's a good guy trying to scratch out a living - as well as a friend of ours here at FITS. But could you imagine The State hiring former Sanford communications director Chris Drummond? Or Sic Willie?

Anyway, the Time article was also noteworthy in that it showed some love to one of our buds, arch-conservative SC Hotline co-founder Jeffrey Sewell, who is becoming something of a fixture on The State's editorial page.

LEWIS, MY MAN

Upstate voters will go to the polls tomorrow in a special election to determine who will compete for the seat of outgoing State Senator J. Verne Smith.

Most of the fireworks in this contest have been on the Republican side, where longtime Upstate Rep. Lewis Vaughn is facing a tougher than expected fight from a previously-disbarred lawyer named Kathleen Jennings Gresham. Vaughn, a strident supporter of school choice and one of FITS' favoritest legislators, should be running away with this race, but the latest polls show him hanging onto a lead that's just outside the margin of error.

Not surprisingly, Vaughn's race is being (mis)handled by Starboard Communications, the same bozos who are running Ralph Norman's campaign against U.S. Rep. John Spratt into the ground.

Hopefully Vaughn will hang on and win the GOP nomination, but the closeness of this contest is yet another example of Starboard's declining effectiveness.

FITS IN PRINT (AGAIN)

FITS got some additional Upstate love over the weekend from the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, which published this story on the impact of the school choice issue on the Karen Floyd-Jim Rex race. The Queen of the S.C. Blogosphere, Laurin P. Manning, also got some ink from SHJ reporter Bob Dalton in the story.

BAD BOY IN THE UPSTATE

Sic Willie will be in the Upstate this week at the invitation of Furman University's political science department, making the first of his two scheduled appearances on the campus over the course of the fall semester.

No word yet on whether our favorite bad boy will don his "home blue" or "road white" Indianapolis Colts' jersey for the initial speaking engagement.

Folks has spoken recently to the USC College of Journalism and Mass Communications (his alma mater) and the SC Winning Women conference, where he followed GOP Superintendent of Education nominee Karen Floyd.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Wofford Almost Wows

With apologies to our friends Laurin Manning, Craig Melvin and Jon Ziegler, we were quite relieved to see our beloved Shamecocks hang on for a 27-20 win over Division I-AA Wofford College Saturday at Billy Brice Stadium ...

South Carolina's margin of victory was identical to that of the hated Clemson Tigers, but the farmers get their due this week - they beat the No. 9 team in the entire country.

We tried to get a little more sports info from Sic Willie for this post (before flapping his gums for the governor, it turns out our bad boy was the USC Athletic Department's feature writer), but apparantly some guy named LaDanian Tomlinson who plays for his fantasy football team was on television.

Boys and their silly games ...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pac Man Sanford Story Goes Statewide

FITS' original story about Gov. Mark Sanford's close ties to the Political Action Committee (PAC) "Carolinians for Change" has been picked up and expanded on by the mainstream media today.

Jim Davenport of the Associated Press filed a lengthy investigative story this evening about the PAC, slated for publication in the Sunday papers.

Among the information included in Davenport's report:

*Gov. Mark Sanford is the honorary chairman of Carolinians for Change.

*First Lady Jenny Sanford confirms "facilitating" political action committee donations on behalf of Carolinians for Change, but then denies having a "formal" fundraising role with the organization. FITS' original report referenced an e-mail in which Mrs. Sanford is quoted as recommending a PAC donation to Carolinians for Change "because Mark doesn't take PAC money."

*At least one of the checks received by Carolinians for Change specifically earmarks money for Gov. Sanford's 2006 GOP primary election. Another check specifically earmarks money for use by the "Sanford Leadership PAC."

*Gov. Sanford's political consulting firm, Red Sea, LLC, and his polling organization, Basswood Research, both received funds from Carolinians for Change. Red Sea, LLC, is also closely linked to current SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson.

The potential fallout from the Sanford PAC flap remains to be seen, but government watchdog John Crangle of Common Cause was quoted in the AP story as calling the whole affair a "devious scheme to accept the benefit of PAC contributions through the back door even though they won't accept actual cash through the front door."

Aside from the hypocrisy of taking PAC money when you say you don't, then there's the questionable manner in which the Sanford campaign chose to handle the situation - insisting that the original FITS' post be taken down because it was "factually inaccurate" and subsequently informing us that leaving it up could be "bad for business."

At issue in the original FITS' post was our reference to Carolinians for Change as "Sanford's PAC," as assertion the Sanford campaign vigorously insisted was inaccurate.

After documentation was produced showing that the governor did not appear on either the bylaws or articles of incorporation for Carolinians for Change, the post was taken down - a move we now regret given that the Sanford campaign conveniently neglected to inform us of the governor's status as "honorary chairman" of the PAC.

Stay tuned to FITS for more on this breaking story and other South Carolina political news ...

What Would Tyler Durden Do?

So, like, we know the new PACT results are out and there's like a bunch of other political stuff happening in South Carolina today, but you should seriously like take a chill p, and totally ask yourself, What Would Tyler Durden Do? LOL!!!

It's not like a question, people, it's a way fab website (www.wwtdd.com) that's one of the FITS' gals like total faves.

Ohmigod, he is like, so funny.

Tired of hearing about Mark and Jenny Sanford? Check out the latest on Britney Spears and K-Fed (Kevin Federline) then. FOTFL!!!

Sick of Karen Floyd and Inez Tenenbaum? Give party pics of Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan a shout. LMAO!!!!

Bored with Jason Miller or Joel Sawyer? Try Jessica Simpson on for size.

Done with DeMint (we sure are), well do DiCaprio instead. OMG! FOTFLOL!!!!

What Would Tyler Durden Do? is like totally way hot. A must read for discriminating gossip hounds like us.

Oh, and TFC, you can thank us later like for the tip and all!!!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pac Man Sanford

Governor Mark Sanford's campaign called FITS' home office this morning, insisting that the story we posted earlier today regarding the "Carolinians for Change" PAC was untrue and that the organization was not, as we originally asserted, the governor's PAC.

"You gotta take that post down," we were told by the campaign. "It's not true."

According to the Sanford campaign, the governor has "no involvement whatsoever" with the PAC's operations, despite the fact that his wife, First Lady Jenny Sanford, is actively soliciting contributions for it from special interest groups.

Backing up their demand-slash-request that the post be taken down, the Sanford campaign claims to be sending us some legal documents proving that the governor is not involved with the PAC's operation.

Incidentally, we were also not-so-subtly informed by the campaign that leaving our original post up might be bad for business, so to speak.

So let's recap ... after getting caught with their hands in the special interest cookie jar (well, Jenny Sanford's hands anyway), the governor's campaign wants us to a) accept the premise that he's totally clean because his name doesn't appear on the group's articles of incorporation, and b) "think about our future," to borrow a Sam Giancana line.

Obviously, if our original story was wrong, we will correct it. We're not in the business of publishing false information (well, except for our Onion-esque political satire stories), and we will publish whatever information the Sanford campaign provides regarding the governor's involvement - or lack thereof - with this organization.

We do think, however, that whether the governor's name is on the articles of incorporation of this PAC or not, it's pretty evident what's going on here. After all, when the First Lady of South Carolina is telling other PACs to give their money to this group "since Mark doesn't take PAC money," does Sanford's name not being directly linked to the organization really prove there's no connection?

We also think that the Sanford campaign's response to all of this pretty much speaks for itself.

What's the old expression? A hit dog hollers?

To be continued ...

DeMint Doublecross, Hypocrisy

Up until this morning, we'd never really had much of a problem with U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. Other than penning the occasional cookie-cutter social conservative press release or pro-Iraq War opinion editorial, we weren't entirely sure if DeMint actually did anything up in Washington, D.C.

Well it turns out the man who was recently ranked as the nation's least powerful Senator does do one thing quite well - stab his longtime friends and key allies in the back.

This morning, we logged onto our friend Sunny Philips blog and stumbled upon a letter DeMint sent out to the Republican faithful.

In one breath, DeMint attacks individuals who have injected themselves in the 2007 State Chairman's race.

"We simply cannot afford for party leaders and activists to lose focus on this November’s election," DeMint writes.

Yet in the very next breath, DeMint injects himself into the 2007 State Chairman's race by endorsing current SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson.

"For the record, I support Katon and hope he will seek re-election next year," DeMint continues.

Last time we checked, telling people not to do something and then immediately turning around and doing it yourself was the definition of hypocrisy.

And let's not forget that DeMint is openly encouraging Dawson to break his word, the latter having promised to serve only two terms when he was elected.

Not that Dawson's word ever really meant anything, anyway.

Many will remember how Dawson pledged to strictly enforce party neutrality when he was elected in April 2002 as Chairman, but then turned around and stroked a check to former Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler's failed gubernatorial campaign and stored Peeler for Governor signs in his auto parts garage complex (Peeler lost to Gov. Mark Sanford 60-40 in the June 2002 GOP runoff).

And even after Sanford (and Lindsey Graham, Greg Ryberg and Andre Bauer, among others) won in the 2002 primaries, Dawson still refused to help these candidates, actually withholding the SCGOP donor list from his own party's statewide voter mobilization organization, Victory 2002.

Dawson also muscled GOP 5th Congressional District challenger Park Gillespie to the side in an open GOP primary against Bush's golden boy Ralph Norman - odd indeed, given the fact that Dawson did nothing to keep Oscar Lovelace from mounting a primary challenge against an incumbent Republican governor, and then did nothing when a Republican State Senator threatened to mount a write-in campaign against his own party's incumbent in the general election.

Want more?

Mr. Katon "Strict Neutrality" Dawson is already telling folks that he will be leading the South Carolina 2008 Presidential campaign of Virginia Sen. George Allen, who is currently in danger of losing his U.S. Senate seat after making racially insensitive remarks.

Yup, Dawson has remained about as neutral in his role as SCGOP chairman as groups like SCRG have been "neutral" on the school choice issue.

Which brings us back to the endorsement of the good junior Senator, Mr. DeMint.

In backing Dawson, DeMint is openly opposing the candidacy of one of his biggest personal and financial supporters, longtime SCGOP activist and fundraiser Kevin Hall, who raised tens of thousands of dollars for DeMint during his 2004 primary and general election campaigns (not to mention tens of thousands for Sen. Lindsey Graham and Gov. Mark Sanford two years earlier). Long story short, there are any number of Republican "powerbrokers" DeMint could have stabbed in the back without fear of it coming back to haunt him, but Hall is most assuredly not one of them.

And what does DeMint stand to gain from this morning's "Et tu, Brute?"

Not much.

Endorsements in any political race have a questionable impact (i.e. George H.W. Bush and Jenny Sanford endorsing Mike Campbell for Lt. Governor, Mark Sanford endorsing Greg Ryberg for Treasurer, etc.), but their impact is even less important in a state chairman's race - where turnout at precinct organizational meetings and county conventions determines the slate of delegates that decide the chairmanship.

Sadly, DeMint's cold miscalculation is the latest chapter in an ongoing, debilitating intra-party struggle that dates all the way back to the Bush-McCain spat of 2000, and it is the best recent evidence we have (other than Dawson's consistent intra-party favoritism) that this struggle continues unabated to this day.

The bottom line is that DeMint should have heeded his own advice.

The Republican Party's fratricidal war of internal attrition (McCain v. Bush, Graham v. Social Conservatives, Sanford v. General Assembly, Rainey v. Ravenel, etc.) requires - in Bush's own words - a uniter, not a divider.

Sadly, DeMint has shown us with today's letter that he, like Dawson, understands the politics of division all too well. He may, too, soon understand what those divisive words will sow for him ...

"Mischief, thou are afoot. Take what course thou wilt!"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Windsor Contemplates SCGOP Chairman Race

FITS has learned that longtime Lexington County Republican Tommy Windsor is contemplating a second bid for State Party Chairman.

Windsor, who currently works for former Party Chairman and current Attorney General Henry McMaster, ran unsuccessfully against current term-limited Chairman Katon Dawson in 2002.

Columbia attorney and Graham-Sanford-DeMint confidante Kevin Hall has already made clear his intentions to run for the position, and FITS recently reported that Dawson will be breaking his previous pledge to serve only two terms as Chairman.

Spartanburg County GOP Chairman Rick Beltram, among others, also fancies himself as a candidate for the position.

Stay tuned to FITS for the latest on this emerging race ...

Rainey Steps Up Seersucker Media Whorishness

South Carolina's "Seersucker Kingfish" is at it again.

Less than two weeks after demonstrating his arrogance for all to see on statewide television, Palmetto powerbroker and Sanford Board of Economic Advisors Chairman John Rainey is stepping up his attack on GOP Treasurer nominee Thomas Ravenel.

In a letter to Ravenel dated September 8, Rainey explicitly refers to "my being the recognized catalyst for (Gov. Jim Hodges) failure to be re-elected to a second term."

Rainey even attached to the letter a copy of a Nov. 24, 2002 article by Greenville News reporter Dan Hoover entiteld "Rainey Becomes Hodges Undoing" to reinforce his thinly-vieled threat.

Ironically, Ravenel last week made clear his intention not to run against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2008, which had constituted the sole basis of Rainey's opposition to his candidacy.

Accordingly, if anyone doubts Rainey's true motivations for continuing this assault against his own party's nominee, another segment from his September 8 letter should clear things up. Referring to the $450,000 lawsuit that resulted from his refusal to step down from the Santee Cooper Board of Directors in 1999 (after Gov. Hodges fired him), Rainey writes:

"This was a matter of major importance in South Carolina with much television, radio and print media coverage ... All of the state's major daily newspapers took editorial positions. I wrote extensively in guest editorials and was widely interviewed and covered by all media."

Oh well, at least we can give Mr. Rainey a modicum of credit for admitting he's a media whore.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Mighty Fortress

Somehow these words of Martin Luther, set to the tune of Ein' Feste Burg, seemed appropriate on this particular day:

1. A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevaling. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

2. Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God's own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabbaoth, His name, from age to age the same, and He must win the battle.

3. And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.

4. That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth; the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru Him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God's truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What's Up With K-Flo and School Choice?

Like Governor Mark Sanford, former Governor David Beasley and House Speaker Bobby Harrell, we've always been big fans of GOP Superintendent of Education nominee Karen Floyd.

Seriously, what's not to like?

Floyd is successful, eloquent, attractive and a virtual shoo-in to win election over Democrat Jim Rex in November.

More importantly, Floyd emerged during the 2006 GOP Primary as a solid pro-school choice candidate, advocating a sensible "Put Parents in Charge" compromise targeted exclusively at children trapped in failing or below average schools.

Recently, however, Floyd's campaign has bumbled a series of publicized exchanges with the Rex campaign that - to some - muddy the waters of her previous school choice bona-fides.

Specifically, Floyd has stated that she doesn't support giving "public dollars to private institutions," leading many political observers wondering whether she is running to the center in an effort to avoid heat on the issue.

It goes without saying that strategy in a general election differs dramatically from strategy in primary elections, and that many candidates often retreat in the former from positions they had staked out aggressively in the latter.

But does Floyd's apparent waffle on school choice constitute such a shift?

Of course it does.

Floyd's campaign is being run by Washington D.C.-based consultant Jon Lerner, who also happens to be Gov. Sanford's most trusted political advisor. Lerner, a devout conservative from the Arthur Finkelstein school of campaigning, has also worked for the Club for Growth and is rumored to be a consultant to the SCGOP, as well.

Lerner is an expert at campaign tactics and minimizing the negative impact of incoming attacks, making it highly likely that Floyd's tack to the center is an effort to diminish the potential ill effects of Rex's lone avenue of assault against his candidate.

It is probably no coincidence that Sanford recently told reporters that government restructuring - not school choice or tax cuts - would be his top priority should he be elected to a second term.

The question is - does Floyd's apparent retreat symbolize an actual change in the candidate's thinking on this central issue? Or is it simply a tactical consideration?

Given the steady flow of school choice dollars into Floyd's campaign coffers (and the presence of Lerner at the controls), odds are the move is entirely tactical in nature, and that she maintains her philosophical allegiance to choice.

At least we hope so.

Having said that, some compelling questions should be asked regarding the advisability of such a retreat, to say nothing of the fumbling manner in which it was conducted - on Floyd's opponents' terrain and a time of her opponents' choosing.

With most polls showing support for school choice at an all-time high in South Carolina, why would Floyd not embrace the issue? Particularly against a poorly-funded, virtually-unknown opponent?

Furthermore, why would Floyd risk alienating the core constituency that funded and led the grassroots push to secure the nomination for her in the first place?

Maybe Floyd and Lerner both know that whatever disappointment or confusion these comments may have generated among school choice supporters, none of them are likely to precipitate a mass exodus.

That's why we continue to believe that despite these recent comments, Floyd remains personally committed to school choice, which we also believe will be sufficently demonstrated by the ongoing support she receives from groups like South Carolinians for Responsible Government as well as, we assume, her decision-making once elected.

Her status as an unapologetic public defender of the issue, however, is presently not viable.

In fact, the whole GOP school choice head-scratching exercise reminds us of that famous line from the Dr. Suess book, Horton Hatches an Egg:

"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful, one hundred percent."

Whether on tax cuts, spending limitations, restructuring or school choice - all South Carolina Republicans would be wise to heed Horton's message.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Grady Issues Additional Debate Demands

State Treasurer Grady Patterson today released a list of additional demands which must be met before the 83-year old agrees to debate Republican nominee Thomas Ravenel:

-Ravenel must pledge to serve 36 of the next 40 years as State Treasurer.

-Ravenel must jump down, turn around and pick a bale of cotton.

-Ravenel must promise to carry a cane to debate. Editor's note: This may not be so so far-fetched from a guy who once said "that's how I roll." Possible Huggy Bear suit and Derby lid, too.

-Ravenel must submit to Patterson an essay on his fondest Lawrence Welk memory.

-Ravenel must pledge to rename the Arthur Ravenel, Jr., bridge in Charleston after Patterson's imaginary friend, Frumpy.

-Ravenel must hit the deck and give Patterson fifty pushups.

-Ravenel must disavow his belief in silly things like the free market economy, tax cuts, spending limitations and government restructuring and promise to continue running the state's finances into the ground.

-Ravenel must agree to not exceed Patterson's most recent three-year investment record of 77% below the national median return.

-Ravenel must promise to fall asleep at least five times during any televised debate and accidentally fart without knowing it.

-Ravenel must pledge to learn all the lyrics to the song "I Want to Be an Air Force Ranger" and sing it prior to answering any questions during televised debates.

Blogs Across America Set to Commemorate 9/11

It's called Project 2,996, and the goal is to have 2,996 different bloggers remember a different victim of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks this coming Monday, the fifth anniversary of "9/11."

A number of local bloggers, including BodyPolitic's Josh Gross, will be participating in this original and inspirational project, but like all good things - FITS couldn't resist being just a step ahead of the crowd.

Actually, we were several steps behind this time as it turns out, because the Project 2,996 list had already been finalized by the time we heard about the website and tried to sign up.

But borrowing a page from local blogger Brian McCarty, we figure no one will be particularly offended if some people get honored more than once.

You know, so much has already been written about "9/11" that charting any new ground is next to impossible. Of the thousands of lives that were lost that day, so many hundreds of thousands of other lives were impacted that the sheer scope of the tragedy defies comprehension.

"They're (crying) like they knew the man," a character in Oliver Stone's film JFK derisively says of the former President Kennedy's mourners on November 22, 1963.

Well, on Sept. 11, 2001, they did. Practically everybody in America knew somebody who knew somebody who died.

We've read the 9/11 Report and a number of different writings on the subject, but the book that probably does the best job zeroing in on the individual sacrifice of that day is "102 Minutes," a minute-by-minute account of the fight for survival inside the twin towers. Written by veteran New York Times reporters Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, "102 Minutes" provides one of the most chilling, up-close-and-personal accounts of the tragedy as told by the people who did - and in many cases - didn't survive it.

One story we found particularly riveting was that of Abe Zelmanowitz, an employee with Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield who worked on the 27th floor of the North Tower, the first tower struck on September 11.

Rather than evacuate the building with his colleagues, Zelmanowitz chose instead to stay with his best friend Ed Beyea, a paraplegic confined to a heavy wheelchair - in a building where the elevators were no longer working. Dozens of friends, rescue workers - even Beyea himself - implored Zelmanowitz to leave, but he never left his friend's side.

Both men were killed when the North Tower collapsed at 10:28 a.m.

In two towers, the Pentagon and aboard the four hijacked airplanes, there are countless stories to be found, many of which participants in Project 2,996 will explore in detail.

This is as it should be.

Just as it is vitally important for America to win its war against terrorism, it is equally important that we keep telling each other the stories of September 11.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mo' Mo' Money?

Has Tommy Moore raised enough cash in the past month to make the South Carolina governor's race interesting? And if so, will he be smart enough to know how to spend it?

According to Moore, he raised a cool million in August.

At the last report, Gov. Mark Sanford had more than $4 million on hand, but he's been on TV consistently since the primary and shows no sign of slowing down with two new post-Labor Day TV ads.

Moore no doubt got a fundraising boost from public polls showing him pulling within single digits of Sanford. Apparently, he also got quite the kick in the pants from some key members of the Democratic establishment regarding the importance of dialing for dollars.

Fortunately for Sanford-backers, Moore's campaign has been an even bigger joke so far than the governor's.

An attempted hit on the ports issue (where Sanford is decidedly vulnerable) was pitifully mismanaged and Moore's attempt to paint Sanford into a corner on the domestic violence issue very nearly blew up in his face.

More damning, voters seem more confused than anything else on the uber-critical jobs issue, and the anti-school choice voting bloc isn't one Moore can rely on to carry him to victory, particularly if he doesn't have the cash to mobilize it.

The bottom line is that Moore's campaign has utterly failed at this point to exploit a number of glaring weaknesses in Sanford's current campaign strategy, and it is showing no signs whatsoever of being able to do so as the 2006 election enters its most critical phase.

That's why there's no guarantee that Moore - even if his boast of raising all this money turns out to be true - would have the foggiest idea as to how to leverage those dollars for maximum impact.

Internal polls - both Republican and Democratic - currently aren't offering the Aiken Senator much hope.

"Andre's in trouble," a longtime Democratic operative told FITS in reviewing the results of a recent Democratic poll. "But Sanford seems to have stopped the bleeding. His positives have actually upticked again, probably because of his television."

Sanford's ads this go-round are a far cry from his brilliant 2002 offerings, but when you get down to the Soccer Mom heart of the matter, even a weak performance from the telegenic incumbent beats a strong showing from your typical politician.

To be sure, Sanford's approval ratings and cult of personality have slipped considerably from their previous stratospheric heights, but the fact that even Democrats are admitting that he has "stopped the bleeding" bodes well for his re-election chances.

Stay tuned to FITS for the latest on Campaign '06 ...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Scandalous "Olsen" Twins Picture

We don't think it's really them.

More like a Gervais S. Bridges-style photoshopped picture, but what the hell - we're posting it here for your edification regardless.

Hopefully your reaction will be a shade more mature than that of our own Sic Willie, who's been running up and down the halls of the office all morning shouting "here butterfly, here butterfly."

Anyway, this provocative picture was taken from the MySpace homepage of TK, one of Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's 680+ online friends.

Even more shocking, it was discovered yesterday that another of the Lt. Governor's online friends, Devine, featured a homepage image that turned out to be identical to a picture used in an online advertisement for a prostitute.

Devine has since removed the "escort picture" and replaced it with a more family-friendly image.

Speaking of changing webpages, the blog that started this whole online feeding frenzy -Palmetto Republican - has also removed its original post, as chronicled by the newly-sleeked up Laurinline here.

You just gotta love the S.C. Political Blogosphere ...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Oops!

There's an interesting blog post getting some attention this morning from the eponym-challenged "Palmetto Republican" website, which is not to be confused with Palmetto Neocon, Palmetto Observer, or for that matter, a Palmetto Tree.

The blog shows a negative TV ad targeting Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer that was cut during the GOP primary by the Mike Campbell campaign - but never used.

Hitting Bauer on the pro-life issue and his controversial MySpace page, the ad was produced by former Bob Dole Press Secretary Nelson Warfield's company, which did all of Campbell's decidedly less-than-stellar offerings during the 2006 primary and runoff.

What's interesting is that whoever was responsible for linking the Bauer ad accidentally led viewers to THE ENTIRE DIRECTORY of Warfield ads - some forty offerings for over a dozen different clients.

Somebody's gotta be furious.

As for FITS, the whole episode was an excuse to check out Andre's MySpace page again - which was really just an excuse to keep Sic Willie occupied for a couple of hours.

What can we say, there's just something about Ashley, Maggie, Stacie, Reed, Kimberly, Keli, Liz Beth, Jeanette, Christina, Jess, Kristy, Jamie, Carolyne, Haley, Jeannette, Caroline, Sarah, Katherine, Tiffany, Jessica, Kelli, Whitney, Amy, Margaret, Trace, Megan, J, Katie, Dana, Kelly, Kristy, Amanda and Keelie that our bad boy finds simply irresistable.

Of course there's also something about Devine and Courtney, too. They're both breaking the Andre-imposed "No Bathing Suits" rule! More power to ya, girls! We know where we'll be hanging out for football games!!

Andre's friend TK also has a background pic of what appears to be the half-nude Olsen Twins that's pretty hot.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Only in South Carolina

If you haven't picked up your typically slow Saturday morning copy of The State newspaper today, go ahead and cough up the fifty cents.

Trust us, it's worth it.

According to The State, Secretary of State Mark "The Bean" Hammond is investigating the Miss South Carolina pageant after 2004 winner Ashley Wood (pictured) claims the organization failed to pay for her college tuition.

We're not sure what's funnier here - that a beauty pageant would actually stiff one of its "sash-bearers," or that our Secretary of State has found something marginally productive to do with his time and $2 million of our tax dollars.

Either way, the whole episode is vintage South Carolina - an office that shouldn't even exist investigating an alleged crime that's sure to bring new national embarassment to our state.

Way to earn that $92,000 a year salary, Bean.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mainstream Media to Report on Scarborough, Ceips

For the past few months, the alleged affair between State Representatives Wallace Scarborough (R-Charleston) and Catherine Ceips (R-Beaufort) has been a "fringe" media story, percolating in the corridors of the political blogosphere and in B-grade tabloids like the Columbia City Paper.

That's all about to change ...

FITS has learned that one - and perhaps even two - major daily newspapers in South Carolina will be breaking the story to a much larger audience this Sunday, a distinct departure from form in a state where elected officials have routinely been given the "Kennedy treatment" when it comes to keeping their alleged affairs out of the public eye.

Of course that was B.C., Before Clinton.

Rest assured that the impact of this editorial decision(s) will be felt long after the public has forgotten about either Scarborough or Ceips ....

A Tale of Two Seasons - Looking Ahead

With the Labor Day holiday almost upon us, two seasons are about to shift into high gear - football and politics.

South Carolina's Gamecock squad got a jump on the action yesterday with its nationally-televised 15-0 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and the Clemson Tigers' officially open up their 2006 slate tomorrow against Florida Atlantic.

For both schools - and for all the candidates whose names appear on the general election ballot - hope springs eternal in September. Then comes October, a month in which the proverbial cream rises to the top. Finally, come November, we get the answers we've been waiting for.

As a prelude to the ad and earned media blitzes to come, here's a quick recap of where the Top Four 2006 statewide campaigns currently stand:

Governor - Incumbent Republican Mark Sanford's campaign has stumbled - badly - turning what should have been a reelection rout into a marginally-competitive race. Fortunately for the governor, his Democratic opponent Tommy Moore has failed to capitalize on these numerous missteps, and barring a miraculous fundraising quarter from Moore the race is still Sanford's to lose. Sanford's people keep bragging about his huge cash advantage, but it's frankly past time the governor put something resembling a decent message behind that mountain of money.

If the race were held today? Sanford 53, Moore 47.

Lt. Governor - As much as it pains us to say, incumbent Republican Andre Bauer is one step away from pulling off the most impressive political comeback in state history. Written off by the pundits (and us) following a second-place finish in the GOP primary, Bauer stormed back to win the GOP nomination in a close runoff race with Mike Campbell. Democrat Robert Barber is the most viable of his party's slate of nominees, to be sure, but thusfar his campaign seems lethargic in every area but fundraising. If there's one thing the GOP runoff proved, it's that lethargy against the hard-working Bauer is lethal.

If the race were held today? Bauer 52, Barber 48.

Treasurer - Oddly enough, this race has gotten more ink than the top of the ticket contests due to the consistent defiance of political wisdom and shoot-from-the-hip style of GOP challenger Thomas Ravenel (a.k.a. T-Rav). What could have been a lethal intra-party spat with prominent GOP Kingfish John Rainey has instead turned into a debate over whether incumbent Democrat Grady Patterson's performance is merely bad or downright abysmal. The 82-year old Patterson, who yesterday announced his refusal to debate Ravenel, also has yet to face the inevitable T-Rav TV onslaught.

If the race were held today? Ravenel 54, Patterson 46.

Superintendent of Education - The only open seat among the big four races, the battle to replace outgoing Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum has been fought almost completely under the radar thusfar. That will change after Labor Day, but at this point Republican Karen Floyd remains solidly in the driver's seat. Democrat Jim Rex is a capable, likeable candidate, but he just doesn't seem to be raising the money needed to be competitive. Well-funded, eloquent and disarmingly attractive, Floyd has to translate those advantages into better TV this go 'round (her primary and runoff ads were pathetic), but the lack of a well-funded, big-name opponent on the Democratic side makes this the least competitive of the season's top races.

If the race were held today? Floyd 55, Rex 45.