... IRREVERENCE, INSTITUTIONALIZED ...

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.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Floyd Conceding Superintendent's Race

Republican Karen Floyd will concede the State Superintendent of Education race to Democrat Jim Rex at a press conference tomorrow in Spartanburg, sources tell FITS.

More on Spurrier

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is indeed on the University of Miami's short list to replace head coach Larry Coker, sources familiar with the school's search efforts told FITS Monday.

Others on the list include Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez, Auburn's Tommy Turbeville, Georgia's Mark Richt, West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez, Rutgers' Greg Schiano, Arkansas' Houston Nutt and NFL Offensive Coordinators Norm Chow (Tennessee Titans), Cam Cameron (San Diego Chargers) and Bob Bratkowski (Cincinnati Bengals).

Just off the A-List are several up and coming college coaches including Boise State's Chris Peterson, TCU's Gary Patterson, Southern Cal Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffen and Miami Defensive Coordinator Randy Shannon.

FITS has also learned that Miami President Donna Shalala (yes, she's the former Clinton Administration Cabinet member) and Athletic Director Paul Dee have started the process of contacting coaches and schools about the soon-to-be-announced opening, but there is no word on whether or not Spurrier has been contacted about the job.

Spurrier and Dee were fraternity brothers at the University of Florida, incidentally.

CSTV, which broke the Spurrier to Miami rumor late Saturday night, is still sticking by its story that Spurrier is in fact headed to Coral Gables next year.

Spurrier has denied the rumor, but has not definitively outruled it.

Denying such rumors is not uncommon in college football. Southern Cal's Pete Carroll, for example, repeatedly denied that he was taking the Trojans' job after initial reports surfaced only to accept it later.

Some believe Miami is putting up a smokescreen to distract attention from its true choice, something the school has done in the past. Others argue Spurrier is not a good fit for a program that has a history of hiring younger, less established coaches.

FITS' own Will Folks, who broke the story of Lou Holtz's hiring at Carolina back in 1999 for The Gamecock, said the fact CSTV is sticking to its story despite Spurrier's denial should give South Carolina fans at least some cause for concern.

"Some sources are good, some are bad," Folks said. "The one I had for Holtz back in 1999 was as good as they come and for whatever reason, happened to be a real fan of the student newspaper. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time."

In addition to posting an uncharacteristic 5-6 record thusfar this season, Miami's season has been marred by several on-field brawls, including one against Florida International in October that received nationwide attention and resulted in the suspension of several players.

Miami has long been regarded as one of the dirtiest programs in the nation, earning the nickname "Thug U."

In his six years at Miami, Larry Coker has a record of 58-15 including a national championship in 2001.

Stay tuned to FITS for the latest on the Steve Spurrier situation ...

Romney's Backyard Problem

Earl Capps has an excellent blog post this morning hightlighting the not-so-great relationship between Gov. Mitt Romney and the Massachusetts GOP.

Apparently, after Romney won election four years ago he immediately started positioning himself for a Presidential run and basically let Bay State Republicans go hang themselves.

Sadly, that sounds entirely consistent with everything we've heard and seen thusfar from this central casting Presidential clown.

If we were producing a made-for-TV movie about a group of evil terrorists and wanted to include one of those scenes where the President is sitting at the end of a long table with a bunch of military people and says something like "You tell those bastards that America does not negotiate with terrorists," we might choose Romney.

But he'd get the part only if that was the President's sole line in the movie.

If it was a bigger part, we'd chose a real actor like Harrison Ford or Michael Douglas.

It continues to amaze us that so many South Carolinians are being duped by Romney's transparent candidacy. Of course now that he's hired Warren Tompkins, those roles are likely to be reversed.

Spurrier Not Taking Miami Job?

CSTV, one of the nation's top college sports websites, reported this weekend that South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier is leaving the Gamecocks to become head coach at the University of Miami following the 2006 season.

The website first reported the story here, then stuck by it here despite denials from Spurrier during his Sunday teleconference.

South Carolina media outlets, as evidenced by WIS-TV's piece and this article in The State, are trumpeting the denials, but oddly enough the most convincing direct denial quotes taken from Spurrier's teleconference appeared in this article in The Miami Herald.

We don't know about the rest of you Gamecock fans out there, but we're hoping today brings further clarification from the Ole' Ballcoach that he is not - and will not - be a candidate for the Miami opening and is positively coming back to Columbia next season.

Also, what's with USC's athletic director declining to comment - and doing so through a subordinate? Don't we pay this guy close to $300,000 to deal with precisely this kind of situation?

Seriously, for $300,000 a year Eric Hyman should at least have the balls to decline comment himself.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The 2006 "Bloggie" Awards

Last year we gave our winners an all-expense paid trip to Upper Conway Lower Aynor and their very own blue ribbon-winning Alpaca. After numerous complaints about the Alpacas, however, we are finally acquiescing. This year's "Bloggie" award recipients will receive "Golden Freds" in honor of our pet squirrel, whose name is actually Genghis.

To the envelopes ...

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Ross Shealy, BBQ & Politics - Ross has given up blogging to focus like a laser beam on the rectum of billionaire school choice advocate Howie Rich. In his prime, however, there was no one funnier than Gervais S. Bridges.

KING AND QUEEN OF THE S.C. BLOGOSPHERE AWARDS

Kings - Jeffrey Sewell and Mike Green, SC Hotline
Queens - The FITS Girls

BLOG OF THE YEAR AWARD

Crunchy GOP - What can we say, Sunny Philips stepped it up this year. Lots of good original content, breaking insider news and some of the most spirited "comment wars" we've seen in a long time. Minus the Katon Dawson lovefests, the Crunchy Republican is a must-read.

BEST NEW BLOG AWARD

Jaded Listener - A tad on the conservative side for our tastes but the kid has definitely got game. We linked you straight to his "Election Notes" article above, which is one of the smartest blog posts we've ever read.

BEST LOCAL BLOG AWARD

Seeding Spartanburg - Our girl Tammy calls 'em like she sees 'em and really doesn't give a damn if she pisses you off. We like that.

BEST ENTERPRISE BLOGGING - CAMPAIGN 2006

S.C. Solon - This blog had its way with Democratic Comptroller General candidate Drew Theodore, and got the mainstream media to pick a lot of it up. Nice work, pledge.

BEST ORIGINAL VIDEO FOOTAGE ON A BLOG AWARD

Brad Warthen - Grady Patterson's editorial board interview.

BEST USE OF AUDIO TECHNOLOGY ON A BLOG AWARD

Michael Reece - Okay, we could have done without the three Trav Robertson segments, but Reece is by far and away leading the field in this category.

BEST NAME FOR BLOG AWARDS AWARD

The Golden Crackpipes - Tim Kelly cracks us up regularly. Now come on, daddy, your girls are hurtin' bad, just give us a little bit ...

BLOGGER MOST LIKELY TO ASK IF YOU HAVE READ HIS BLOG TODAY AND THE ANSWER IS "NO" AWARD

Joshua Gross - Live it, learn it, know it, love it ... and click on every hyperlink. There will be a quiz at the end of this conversation on how brilliant Josh is and how many SCRG/Club for Growth candidates were victorious in this year's elections.

"AS THE BLOGOSPHERE TURNS" NEEDLESS SOAP OPERA DRAMA AWARD

Roxanne Walker

"HOW IN THE HELL DID I LET WILL FOLKS MAKE ME HIS BITCH?" AWARD

John Rainey, Greg Ryberg

BLOG MOST LIKELY TO COMMENT INAPPROPRIATELY ON THE FEMALE ANATOMY AWARD

FITS - Seriously, after butts and legs it's only a matter of time before Sic Willie turns his attention to State House Hooters.

POLITICIAN MOST LIKELY TO RELATE WITH BLOG READERS AWARD

T-Rav - It's just how he rolls, people.

POLITICIAN LEAST LIKELY TO RELATE WITH BLOG READERS AWARD

Hugh Leatherman - Probably things "Blogs" are edible.

LOBBYIST MOST LIKELY TO BE READING BLOGS WHEN THEY SHOULD BE WORKING AWARD

Sara Hopper - Relax, Sara. If we start making fun of your clothing selections again we'll give you a heads-up.

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES MOST LIKELY TO BE READING BLOGS WHEN THEY SHOULD BE WORKING AWARD

Anybody who works for Jim DeMint or Joe Wilson.

STATE LEGISLATORS MOST LIKELY TO BE READING BLOGS WHEN THEY SHOULD BE WORKING AWARD

Reps. Wallace Scarborough and Catherine Ceips.

PRIVATE SECTOR EMPLOYEES MOST LIKELY TO BE READING BLOGS WHEN THEY SHOULD BE WORKING AWARD

Rebecca Dulin and the TFC.

Well that wraps it up for us, but here's the fun part - your comments. After all, the best "Bloggie" Awards are the ones you think up and post below!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Adopt-A-Pet This Holiday Season

"My name is Todd. I am a very sweet little pup. I have had a bad start as I was abandoned and nobody wanted me. I am in need of a warm and loving home. I would be good with other dogs, cats and children."

We don't care who you are - if that face and that description doesn't make you want to adopt a pet this holiday season, there's something wrong with you.

Fortunately, six-month old Todd's story had a very happy ending this morning.

He was adopted into a warm and loving home and is getting along splendidly in his new surroundings. He's even napping on the floor as we speak, watching a little college football with his new buddies, Miss Emily, Uncle Will and a cute little Westie named Cotton.

Todd is just one of hundreds of dogs and cats who are looking for a home this holiday season.

Across South Carolina and the rest of the nation, groups including S.Q. Rescue are devoting their time, talents and energy to saving hundreds of animals who would otherwise have been put to sleep.

Working with online services like Petfinder, volunteers like Mary Key Escue (who runs S.Q. Rescue) pick up dogs and cats like Todd from the pound, get them spayed or neutered, fix them up with all their shots and then help place them in new homes.

The adoption fee - which goes to cover all the shots and medical check-ups prior to adoption - is usually only around $125. That's a fraction of what it would cost to purchase a dog or cat at a pet store or through an online breeding service, plus you get the satisfaction of knowing you've saved an animal's life.

This morning, Todd and about several of his canine buddies were on display at the Northeast Columbia Petsmart store, where S.Q. Rescue holds regular doggie adoption events.

FITS has been granted an exclusive interview with Mrs. Escue next week, and we're looking forward to hearing her story and getting more information about this wonderful opportunity to open your home to a loving new pet this holiday season.

In the meantime, you can check out a list of S.Q. Rescue's available dogs by clicking here, and you can get more information on the program by e-mailing klangley@sc.rr.com.

Look for more on S.Q. Rescue and other Dog Adoption services on FITS soon, and we hope you'll consider adopting this holiday season so that more pets like Todd can have a happy ending.

Skrady

skrady \ska-ray-dee\ adj - skrad-i-er; -est 1. One who embodies sketchy and shady qualities or mannerisms, ostensibly possessing questionable ethics or morals which are used to advance nefarious ends.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Katon, You're Killing Us Man

FITS knew over a week ago that there were voting irregularities in Sumter County this election cycle. Why is it that auto parts store owner and SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson is just letting the media know about it today?

Heck, anybody who watched out-of-state Morris College students illegally casting the decisive ballots in Sen. Phil "LeBuster" Leventis' paper-thin victory over Dickie Jones two years ago could have told you there's always some shadiness going down on Election Day in Sumter County.

In case anyone has forgotten, Dickie Jones lost the GOP's best chance to knock off a leading Democratic obstructionist in the State Senate by less than a hundred votes two years ago. Why? Because the Republican Party didn't have its act together in Sumter County. Nobody challenged the legality of any of the suspect ballots when it mattered - before they went into the box.

Challenging ballots is easy. You just say "I challenge that ballot." The poll worker then registers that vote as challenged and doesn't it count it with the rest of the votes. In the event the outcome of the election depends on it - which it usually doesn't - the challenged ballots are examined one by one to determine if they are legitimate.

Why is challenging a ballot so important? And why is it so critical that the state parties have people who know what they're doing at historically suspect polling places - especially in tight races?

We're glad you asked.

Once a vote is officially counted (i.e. once a ballot "goes in the box"), the burden of proof shifts from the voter to the challenger. If a ballot is challenged, it's ultimately the voter's job to prove that he or she is legit and that the vote should be allowed to count. Once the ballot has actually been counted, however, you're more likely to get a judge to overturn the Bill of Rights than to start digging into the box and taking votes out - no matter how egregious the alleged voting improprieties may be.

"Votes go in the box, they don't come out," a senior Election Commission official told FITS. "If it's been counted, it's going to count."

All of which brings us to auto parts store owner and SCGOP Chairman Katon Dawson, who apparently doesn't understand either the notion of challenging ballots or managing perception in the media.

People were told last Wednesday that Jim Rex won a very, very close election but that there was going to be a recount. Then yesterday, people were told that the recount had been completed and Jim Rex was still the winner.

Predictibly, Jim Rex declared victory on both occasions while Floyd's people kept regurgitating the same old tedious, highfalutin language about "respecting the integrity of the electoral process" or something equally mind-numbing.

Sure, Katon said at one point that he was "confident" Karen was going to win, but there was nothing substantive buttressing his remarks (which we have to say isn't all that surprising coming from this Chairman).

Like a ballot that's already gone into the box, public perception is that Rex has won the race (twice). Just look at the body language of the two candidates: He's up and about setting up his transition team while she's holed up somewhere trying to decide whether or not to challenge the results in court. Floyd finds herself in the same hole Al Gore was stuck in six years ago in Florida. Not only does she have to make up the votes, more importantly she has to overcome the now-cemented public perception that she's lost the race (twice).

Even compelling evidence of impropriety becomes very suspect under these circumstances, which is why you never hold your ammunition when it comes to recounts. The longer you allow the perception of a clear winner and a clear loser to gel in the minds of the public, the further you paint yourself in a corner.

Of course the ammunition you've got also needs to matter. Katon claims Rex received 266 "erroneous" votes in Sumter. Floyd is down by 455 votes.

Looks to us like too little, too late.

Good Grief

In case you missed it, Secretary of State Mark "The Bean" Hammond's office released its annual "Scrooges and Angels" list yesterday.

The cleverly-titled list keeps South Carolinians abreast of how well different charities currently operating in our state are fulfilling their missions.

Here's how it works ... First, the Secretary of State's office compiles the list. Second, an overweight state employee wearing a sweater with snowflakes and a Christmas tree on it hands the list to the Bean. Finally, the Bean stands nervously in front of the two or three reporters who drew the short straw that morning and patters on and on about "who's been naughty" and "who's been nice."

It's basically like fourth grade show-and-tell, except using grown-ups.

The whole exercise underscores how utterly ridiculous it is that we even have a Secretary of State's office in South Carolina - let alone one that the voters are Constitutionally required to elect.

Is it nice to have a list of good charities and bad charities? Sure, it's nice. And is Mark Hammond a nice guy? Sure, he is, and his puffy, red cheeks just scream holiday cheer to us.

But this is government, people, not a bad talent show.

Sic Willie, who is running for the Secretary of State's office in 2010 on a Montgomery Brewster-esque "None of the Above" platform, wants to transfer the "Scrooges and Angels" project to University of South Carolina graduate students.

"Research students can collect the data and PR students can release it to the media - all as part of their class projects," he said. "We can unlock the idealism potential of our state's young people while at the same time eliminating the need for government to perform what is essentially a fringe function."

Lawmakers, however, said the Sic Willie plan (like Sanford's restructuring) has no chance of passing because it "makes too much sense" and "would save money we could be spending."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

As the Blogosphere Turns

Sombody get us Lindsay Lohan on the phone, because the S.C. political blogosphere is turning into Mean Girls ...

We literally couldn't believe our eyes when we say this post from self-proclaimed "token liberal blogger" Roxanne Walker.

With about as much class as we should probably expect from someone who attended both Western Kentucky and USC-Spartanburg, Walker point blank called Crunchy GOP Girl Sunny Philips a "self absorbed bitch" for getting her (Walker's) name wrong during ETV's election night coverage.

Whoa!

Undeterred, Sunny responded by saying "Angry liberals like Roxanne are nothing new" and telling Walker to "keep your teasing and insults coming."

Ooooooo Goodie goodie gumdrops!

Now all we need for this to officially become FITS' "Best Week Ever" is for Laurin Manning to start suffering from some kind of online identity crisis ... wait a minute ...

Seriously, there is nothing like a good catfight to get the juices flowing ... and there is nothing like someone calling someone else a "self absorbed bitch" to get a good catfight started.

Of course, we were a tad disappointed upon visiting Roxanne Walker's website. It's not that you're liberal, honey. Or that you're mean. Or that your blog is not particularly well-written or interesting.

Not to put too fine a point on it, darling, but your problem is that you look a lot like Jakie Knotts.

And for God's sake, put some damn shoes on.

Yes, Sunny gets under our skin from time to time, too, Elizabeth ... er, Roxanne.

She's so friggin' cheerful all the time, for one thing, and when she starts blathering on and on about how great Katon Dawson is we literally get sick to our stomachs.

But a "self-absorbed bitch?" Hardly.

Currently, we'd have to give that blogger award to you.

THAT REMINDS US ...

FITS will be unveiling its Second Annual "Bloggie" Awards in this weekend's "Echo Chamber." If you thought last year was hilarious, wait 'till you see what we've got in store for your funny bone this go-round ...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Free Parking in 5 Points? Thanks, But No Thanks

In an effort to drum up business and get a little good Christmas-time PR, the City of Columbia is offering free parking in Five Points through the holidays.

So in the event you and your children have never strolled through the Demilitarized Zone in Korea, gone spelunking in Tora Bora or surfed the Tsunami in Sri Lanka, here's your chance.

Free parking through the holidays? Are you kidding us? That's all we residents of downtown Columbia get for eons worth of traffic-snarling, business-crippling, vehicle-dinging construction?

They could have offered free parking thru 2097 and it wouldn't come close to making up for this massive inconvenience - which by the way has yet to run its course.

Five Points is a war zone - the construction area that time forgot.

Don't take our word for it, though.

Drive through Five Points yourself - after ten minutes you'll come out on the other side (two blocks away) wondering a) if your therapist has an opening later that afternoon, b) if you still have a job, c) if it's too late to start smoking again and d) how in the hell did Bob Coble ever get reelected Mayor of Columbia with such an unmitigated disaster on his hands?

And driving through the clusterf--k is just half the battle. God forbid you actually need to get out and do anything.

Getting a Blended Venti Mocha Frappuncino (with the chocolate drizzle) from the Five Points' Starbucks is like trying to extract a Somali Warlord from his downtown Mogadishu hideaway (think Blackhawk Down). Just turning into the Harper's parking lot for nice lunch is like trying to establish a friggin' beachhead in Normandy. Window-shopping on Saluda Street? Try navigating your way through Kristallnacht - and don't even think about doing it in three-inch heels.

Free parking through the holidays? Come on Mayor Bob.

It's going to take a little more than that ...

Sanford's Lack of Balls Infuriates Legislators

For the second time, Gov. Mark Sanford has infuriated State Legislators by refusing to show them his balls.

The governor announced today that his 2007 reinauguration - like his 2003 inauguration - would feature another barbecue at the State Farmer's Market in place of the traditional black-tie Inaugural Balls favored by his predecessors.

Sanford, who promised angry Republicans in 2003 that he would hold a formal, Inaugural ball if he was reelected to a second term, was greeted by a storm of criticism from lawmakers in the wake of his announcement.

"He told us he would not surprise us and he told us we would have a ball at the second inaugural," said House Ways & Means Chairman Dan "Egg-Tooth" Cooper. "Four years later, all he's done is surprise us and today we find out we won't be seeing any balls from this governor."

"Gov. Sanford's lack of balls is truly astounding," said Mayor of Importantville Bobby Harrell. "We have some philosophical disagreements to be sure, but I've never seen such an absence of balls in my life."

"Screw him," said State Sen. Jakie Knotts (R-Lexington), who endorsed Sanford's opponent Tommy Moore in the general election. "I think I speak for a majority of us in the Legislature in saying I didn't want to see his goddamn balls anyway."

The governor argued that an Inaugural ball would be inappropriate given the fact that state spending in South Carolina continues to far outpace the growth in population and inflation.

"I would simply say this - at the end of the day, when you look at the numbers, what you end up with is a beta that's ultimately unacceptable when it comes to contemplating the notion of holding an Inaugural Ball," Sanford said. "I've said throughout my time in public life that keeping South Carolina home to mine and Jenny's four little boys - and frankly a lot of other kids and grandkids that are out there - starts with the notion of change, even when it comes to our own balls."

"As much as it may from time to time disappoint some folks whose intentions are ultimately good, the ball we've consistently been advancing from day one as an administration has been the ball of change," Sanford said.

"Holy hell, dude, we get it already, you're trying to look like a populist everybody can relate to, again," said House Majority Leader Jimmy Merrill. "What's new?"

No word on whether or not Pork and Barrel would be making an appearance at Sanford's second Inaugural BBQ.

Jim DeMint To The Rescue

It may just be us, but we think this picture of U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint looks eerily similar to the fictional televangelist Jimmy Lee Farnsworth from the 1989 movie Fletch Lives.

Those of you who have seen the movie, be honest - the thought of Jim DeMint saying "Demons, Be Gone!" while giving personal tours of Bibleland from his golf cart really isn't all that far-fetched, is it?

Anyway, Sen. DeMint's latest big idea is the Secure Port Workforce Act, a bill that would prevent murderers and other serious felons from working at America's ports.

According to DeMint's press release:
A serious felon is a prime target for those trying to smuggle a nuclear device or chemical weapon into our country. Trusting convicted murderers and weapons smugglers with secure access to our ports allows the fox to guard the henhouse and this legislation will put a stop to it.
What can we say? This idea - like anything that pops into Jim DeMint's head - is pure genius, right down to the creative "fox guarding the henhouse" metaphor. Seriously, that's a really unique way to describe the recent rash of murderers and weapons smugglers who have been granted secure access to our ports. Yesterday we were literally sweating bullets over this one, but now that Jim DeMint is on top of things we may be able to get some sleep tonight.

Sen. DeMint's release continues:

Joseph Billy Jr., the FBI’s top counterterrorism official, commented that the FBI is “continuing to look for a nexus,” between organized crime and terrorists and that they are looking at this very aggressively.
Again, we applaud Jim DeMint for flapping his gums about the work of other people who are not only continuing to look for a nexus, but who are in fact continuing to look for a nexus "very aggressively." Our only concern? DeMint probably could have chosen someone better than Joseph Billy, Jr., to quote in his press release.

Why? He's got two first names, and people find it extremely hard to trust people who have two first names.

Think we're crazy? Just ask Karen Floyd and Drew Theodore how crazy we are, friends.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Did Inez Withhold Bad Report Card Release?

Preliminary details of South Carolina's school report cards were released today by the State Department of Education and the news - as expected - was not good.

Last year, 25.9% of our public schools were either failing or below average. This year, that number has mushroomed to 35.3%. That's one out of every three public schools, people, in the event you were educated in one of those failing S.C. schools and don't do percentages that good.

Rest assured, we'll have something to say about the report card results (once Bill Robinson over at The State has finished putting the Rex-Tenenbaum spin on them, anyway), but the real story here could be the timing of the release - coming as it does one week after an extremely tight race for State Superintendent of Education.

Sources tell FITS that the report card data was ready for release two weeks ago, but was "delayed" until after the election - ostensibly so as not to diminish the prospects of Democrat Jim Rex, who is currently clinging to a 500-vote lead over Republican Karen Floyd.

So, the million dollar question is this: Would outgoing Democratic Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum have done something like this intentionally to bolster Rex's chances?

We certainly wouldn't put it past her.

Everyone knew the Floyd-Rex race was going to be close, although few would have predicted it would actually fall within the 1% threshold triggering the mandatory recount that begins tomorrow. Fewer still would have predicted that it would enter the record books as the closest statewide race in South Carolina history.

There's definitely something fishy going on, but don't count on the mainstream media to pick it up ... after all, that's why we're here.

But before you start calling us Josh Gross and what-not, just remember we've been quite vocal and consistent in our criticism of the Floyd campaign.

Who Will Lead in Sanford II?

The ink is barely dry on Gov. Mark Sanford's convincing reelection win and speculation is already rampant about who will lead the governor's senior staff during a second term.

Of course we all know who the real Chief of Staff (COS) is, but since the departure of Fred Carter in 2004, Sanford really hasn't had a formal COS in his office, choosing to split the duties among different staffers.

Carter himself was a transitionary COS, never giving up his full-time job as President of Francis Marion University, and oddly enough, the most influential member of Sanford's first administration (other than the First Lady) wasn't a COS, it was his Communications Director, Chris Drummond.

FITS has learned, however, that jockeying for the Chief of Staff position in Sanford's second term is intense.

According to our sources, the person the governor wants to fill the position is Tom Davis, his former Co-Chief of Staff, Legislative Director and a key 2002/2006 fundraiser and campaign advisor. Davis is a rarity in Columbia - he's a Sanford guy who has excellent relationships with the General Assembly, the media and the lobby. Well-known, well-liked and well-respected on both sides of the aisle (and in all corners of the echo chamber), Davis has been been the governor's friend and supporter since the two were in college together at Furman. If Sanford II is going to yield any substantive compromises between the executive and legislative branches, Davis will be the bridge.

The person who wants the job most, according to our reports, is Senior Policy Advisor Scott English, a key 2002 advisor and Sanford's Legislative Director during the governor's six years in the U.S. Congress. English was rumored to be departing the administration following the November election to return to his native Maryland, but the Democratic takeover in D.C. may have soured those plans. Known not-so-affectionately around the State House as "Dr. No," English might as well have "Bad Cop" tatooed on his forehead. If he doesn't get the COS job, FITS hears English will insist on a Cabinet-level position. Loudly.

In looking at Chief of Staff candidates, let's not forget the glue that held a young, inexperienced Governor's Staff together during much of Sanford I, Chief Legal Counsel and Co-COS Henry White. Steady, imperturbable and largely unconcerned with the intrigues and power plays going on around him, White's future aspirations seem more focused on the judicial branch of government than Sanford's executive, however.

Stay tuned ... the first critical personnel decision of Sanford's second term could come within the next 10 days.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Pelosi Ponders "Brit" Look for Speakership

Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (you know, the woman most people had never heard of until after the Ralph Norman campaign was over) is rumored to be pondering a "Britney Spears cut" (or "Brit" for short) as she prepares to become the first woman to hold the nation's highest Legislative office.

Sources close to Pelosi tell FITS the Speaker-to-be first noticed the "Brit" during Spears' recent surprise appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

We're going to go out a limb here and say that Spears' new haircut is probably not the first thing that most of you are noticing right now. Nor is it probably the second thing most of you are noticing right now.

We're also going to go out on a limb and say that the third thing you're noticing is probably the same thing as the first thing you noticed, and the fourth thing you're noticing is probably the same thing as the second thing you noticed, and that by now your eyes have just decided to split the difference and be happy.

Very, very happy.

Anyway, Pelosi knows that young voters were a key to the Democrats' success last week, and the "Brit" is a way for her to stay hip and relevant with the younger crowd.

South Carolina politicians have employed variations of the "Brit" from time to time, namely Shirley Hinson and perpetual Brit-wearer Joan Brady. Some claim Annette Young is also a fan of the look, although we have been told the feeling is not reciprocated.

Of course, if you want to know what Pelosi is really up to, our bud Chris Cillizza (do you ever take a vacation, dude?) has got your hook up here.

If you want to see more of the "Brit" in all its glory, where else would you go but What Would Tyler Durden Do?

Bachman-Turner Overdrive "Fed Up" With GOP

FITS has learned that Rock-n-Roll supergroup Bachman-Turner Overdrive is officially "fed up" with the Republican Party.

"BTO," as the band is known to its fans, wrote the classic white collar anthem "Takin' Care of Business" in 1973, a song that was adopted as the GOP's theme during the 1980's under master party strategist Lee Atwater.

The song, now universally regarded as the "GOP anthem," also made a brief resurgence during the aborted Republican Revolution of 1994.

Asked why the group was choosing to disassociate themselves with the GOP, guitarist Randy Bachman said the answer was simple.

"They didn't take care of business," Bachman said. "You can't go around playing our song unless you're actually taking care of business."

Other band members provided additional insights.

"We were optimistic in 1994 when the Republican party appeared to have returned to its core principles of less government and lower taxes, but then the GOP committee leaders refused to abide by their own self-imposed spending caps on the appropriations bills the following year," BTO co-founder Fred Turner said. "That was the beginning of the end of their ability to take care of business."

"The GOP's over-reliance on the immigration issue was the last straw for me," said little known band member Miguel De Francisco Jimenez L'Overdrive. "That's when it became clear to me that they cared more about getting reelected than taking care of their business."

GOP Chairman Ken "Opposable Thumbs" Mehlman, who is resigning in the wake of the 2006 debacle, said a number of other songs were being considered as a replacement, but that he would leave that choice to likely successor Michael Steele.

"We're looking at 'Gimme Somethin' to Believe In' by Poison, 'Oops, I Did It Again' by Britney Spears, 'Loser' by Beck, 'Everybody Hurts' by R.E.M., 'Down In A Hole' by Alice in Chains, 'Cry! Cry! Cry!' by Johnny Cash, 'Year of Tha Boomerang' by Rage Against the Machine, 'Fell on Black Days' by Soundgarden as well as several exceedingly depressing Country songs and some melancholy Lawrence Welk selections," Mehlman said.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Call Me Girl

We blogged awhile back on the famous Tennessee Senate ad paid for by soon-to-be former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman.

Turns out, the actress who played the "Playboy Party Girl" in the controversial ad is named Johanna Goldsmith and she's a native of Austin, Texas.

How do we know this?

Cause we're cool like that.

Actually, no we're not. Elise Hu is cool like that.

The former WYFF TV reporter (now working at KVUE in Austin) tracked down Goldsmith and broke the story, which is also featured prominently on 67 Degrees, one of the best political blogs we've seen in a long time.

(67 Degrees even links to us here at FITS, which we think is incredibly cool even though we're hoping they'll change the link from "Will" to "All The Girls in Will's Head" or just "FITS," to keep up appearances, you know).

Anyway, according to Elise's report, the actress made up the famous "wink" at the end of the ad herself. Also, it turns out her scenes were shot in Dallas, not in Tennessee. And she's apparently had two marriage proposals as a result of all the publicity, although neither Goldsmith nor Hu would confirm whether one of those proposals was from Sic Willie.

It certainly wouldn't surprise us.

Sanford Denied "Bandate" - Will He Use Mandate?

Mark Sanford may have won reelection in a landslide, earning a mandate to "stay the course of change" and achieve other oxymoronic objectives, but the ultimate electoral prize in South Carolina politics has eluded him once again.

According to this morning's State newspaper, Sanford was denied the all-precious "Bandate."

And after all, what's a mandate without a "Bandate?"

Lee Bandy, keeper of the sacred "Bandate" designation and perpetual pot-stirrer over at La Socialista for the last four decades, made the argument this morning that Sanford doesn't deserve to claim a "mandate" given the close calls in other races further down the GOP statewide ballot.

These close calls, according to Bandy, shorten the length of Sanford's "coattails," thus depriving him of "mandate" status.

We happen to think Sanford's 10-point win is clearly a mandate, if not a "Bandate," although it remains to be seen whether or not the governor will use it to advance his ideas this go-round as opposed to enhancing his own political security.

For example, the Sanford administration is literally infested with political appointees who do not share the governor's views on critical economic development, education and restructuring issues.

Take RINO-in-Chief John Rainey, who has used the Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) and its liberal economist Bill Gillespie as a vehicle for waging nonstop jihad against income tax cuts, school choice and government restructuring. As if that wasn't enough, Rainey used the BEA again in an unsuccessful "everything but the kitchen sink" effort to discredit Treasurer-elect Thomas Ravenel, who vigorously supported all three of these core Sanford I Agenda items - and a host of other progressive, market-based reforms - during his campaign.

Yet Sanford, like GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, hardly lifted a finger to reprimand Rainey and Ravenel had to fight him off on his own.

Nationally, you can count the number of Republicans who knocked off Democratic incumbents in Congressional or Statewide races on one hand, and Ravenel was one of them. Will the governor risk alienating his key Budget and Control Board ally-to-be and keep someone around who has opposed him on all of his signature issues? Not to mention underestimated revenue in South Carolina by nearly a billion dollars over the last four years?

And what about the anti-free market majority on the State Ports Authority (SPA) Board of Directors? Sanford (or at least Joel Sawyer, anyway) has paid lip service to leveraging private capital in an effort to expand port infrastructure in Charleston, but he has refused to change the makeup of a militant "total state control" majority on the SPA board. As it stands now, the SPA answers to another RINO, Hugh Leatherman, not Sanford - but the governor could change all of that with a single stroke of the pen, just like Rainey and the BEA.

Oddly enough, the SPA situation is another example of Sanford's questionable loyalties.

Consider this: One of the quiet, under-appreciated architects of the Sanford reelection was Beaufort attorney Tom Davis, a former SPA Board Member, Sanford Co-Chief of Staff and tireless advocate for free market port expansion. Davis raised the governor hundreds of thousands of dollars and did the heavy policy lifting behind Sanford's TV blitzkrieg. He even served as the point man in Sanford's poorly-received (but remarkably effective) effort to define Tommy Moore as a political insider back in the dog days of summer, when Moore had no money to combat the charges.

It was a thankless job. But Davis did it because the governor "couldn't be the bad guy" and needed someone with Davis' credibility to raise the issues.

Like Ravenel, Davis went to the mat for the governor's issues. Now secure in his second term, will Sanford finally show some intestinal fortitude and go to the mat for those issues himself?

And what about school choice? As Cindi Ross Scoppe reported this morning, getting the governor to talk about his former passion these days is a lot like getting a room full of three-year olds to eat their vegetables. Sanford says he'll focus "one-sixth" of his energy in a second-term on school choice, not exactly a reassuring percentage given the entrenched institutional opposition he faces on this polarizing issue in both the legislature and the press.

President John F. Kennedy loved to tell the folk story of a group of Irish lads crossing the fields who one day came upon a wall seemingly too high to scale. Rather than turn back, they threw their caps over the wall - leaving them no choice but to follow.

Sadly, at the midway point of his career as the chief executive of our state, Sanford's hat remains in his hands.

Yes, the governor has a mandate. And yes, his announcement Tuesday that this was his "last election" gives him even greater freedom to act decisively.

Will either matter, though?

The people of South Carolina are behind you, governor. And the people who fought in the trenches for your ideas are waiting for you to show us the leadership you promised.

Instead of scaling back, why not scale the challenges in front of you?

Simply put, it's time to throw your cap over the wall, governor.

LT2 Killin' It For Sic Willie's Fantasy Football Squad

Okay, it's pretty obvious who's taken control of the blog this weekend ...

His name is Ladainian Tomlinson (a.k.a. "LT2"), the star running back for the San Diego Chargers who is single-handedly responsible for keeping Sic Willie's "No Corn, No Nuts" fantasy football franchise alive.

Anway, for the third time in four weeks, LT2 was responsible for four - count 'em, four - touchdowns in the Chargers' 49-41 win over the Cincinnati Bengals today, registering a total of 42 fantasy points.

It's also the third time in four weeks LT2 has broken the 40-point barrier, which is amazing considering that anything over 15 points is generally considered a solid fantasy outing for a running back.

"Yeah-ya, boy-eee," said Sic Willie. "That's my mo-fo."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Geez ... fantasy football, Kevin Federline and Espadrille articles. We promise we'll make our favorite bad boy start taking his Ritalin again.

Heartbreaker

Five losses.

All to Top 20 teams. Four of them by a touchdown or less. Three on tipped passes. And one of them - today's emotionally-draining 17-16 loss to No. 5 Florida in "The Swamp" - by a fingertip.

South Carolina's 2006 football season would appear at first blush to resemble the history of the program - the definition of mediocrity.

Closer inspection, however, reveals a team that is playing on the same level (if not better) than the finest teams in the finest conference in all of college football.

Gamecock football is at long last making the leap to competitiveness in the upper echelon of the Southeastern Conference, and head coach Steve Spurrier is just getting started.

Keep your chins up, Gamecock fans ...

Friday, November 10, 2006

How the Consultants Fared

Easy TFC, we're not grading Sic Willie so you can all relax and go back to hastening the self-inflicted demise of mid-level politicos in Horry County or whatever it is you're doing with your ample free time these days.

In fact, Ol' Wilbur will be the first person to tell you that all he did this election cycle was lend a little late-inning relief pitching to Election 2006's biggest winner amongst the top-tier Palmetto political consultants.

To the grades ...

ROD SHEALY - A+

Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's "Miracle on Lincoln Street" over Robert Barber and his come-from-behind primary win over Mike Campbell are already the stuff of legend in South Carolina politics. There is simply no way Andre should have even gotten out of the primary, let alone get reelected, but somehow he and Rod did it. Shealy also guided Richard Eckstrom past a formidable (not to mention vicious) challenge from Drew Theodore and helped T-Rav send a nine-term incumbent packing from the Treasurer's Office (this after Ravenel crushed a guy who spent $2 million in the GOP primary). Speaking of the GOP primary, let's not forget about political unknown Oscar Lovelace scoring 35% against an incumbent governor. After sub-par years in 2002 and 2004, Shealy is back in the saddle again.

RICHARD QUINN - A

Attorney General Henry McMaster is hugely popular had no opposition in either the primary or general election this go-round - quite a feat in and of itself, and Adjutant Stan Spears coasted in his statewide race, too. Quinn and his son, Rick Quinn, also masterminded Jim Harrison's landslide win over potent challenger Boyd Summers in a House District where all the other Republicans got their hats handed to them. With dozens of establishment political figures already flocking to U.S. Sen. John McCain's Straight Talk Express for 2008, things are definitely looking up again at the Quinndom.

JON LERNER - D+

Sure, Mark Sanford won in a landslide, but how much of that is the consultant and how much of it was the candidate's pre-existing cult of personality (pigs in the State House, etc.)? Sanford ran a shaky campaign against a second-tier challenger who couldn't even raise half of the money he raised -and who ran an even shakier campaign himself. And now the bigger question: How good is Lerner independent of Mark Sanford in South Carolina? Here's a hint - look for the answer among the stacks of provisional ballots Karen Floyd supporters are currently combing through in search of enough votes to put her over the top against Jim Rex.

WARREN TOMPKINS - I (Incomplete)

The former grand pooh-bah of political consulting in South Carolina couldn't even get a statewide candidate out of the primary this year, with two well-funded horses in the GOP Superintendent of Education and Treasurer's races both getting unceremoniously trounced. Tompkins' evil hordes did get RINO artifact Bill Cotty reelected against everything SCRG could throw at him in a State House race, but the former Bush "S.C. architect" was so thoroughly not a factor at the statewide level this cycle that he gets an "incomplete" grade. Tompkins will be looking to reclaim his former dominance in 2008 at the highest possible level, but signing onto Mitt Romney's soon-to-be-announced Presidential campaign is probably not the answer. Word is the same pin (pen) that popped the Ryberg balloon with social conservatives in South Carolina is poised to do the same thing - albeit on a much bigger stage - to the Massachusetts governor.

WALTER WHETSELL - F

We don't care how many State House or City Council races Walter may have won this year. He could have personally elected every Republican in the House of Representatives and still gotten an "F" for the phantasmagorically pathetic performance of Ralph Norman. Whetsell has some talented and energetic youngsters in his employ like BJ Boling (who helped Lewis Vaughn win the only State Senate seat up for grabs this cycle) and Eliot Peace (who guided Hugh Weathers through the hard part of his successful reelection bid for Commissioner of Agriculture), but again, none of it makes up for the Norman debacle.

Alright kids, let the comments rip! We're big girls! We can take it!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Somebody Needs To Get This Guy in Politics

No, we're not talking about Kevin Federline, the soon to be ex-husband of Britney Spears, we're talking about the writer of the blog "What Would Tyler Durden Do?"

We linked to WWTDD awhile back and have since become hopelessly addicted to it, much like our Natalia Espadrilles and our Starbucks' Venti Blended Mocha Frappucinos (with the chocolate drizzle).

There's simply nothing funnier on available on the Internet these days, unless of course your name happens to be Kevin Federline and you're getting served left and right all the time, in which case it probably isn't all that funny.

Anyway, WWTDD demonstrated again the other day why nobody even comes close when it comes to making fun of famous people. Here they are describing the chart-bottoming performance of Federline's debut "rap" album, Playing With Fire:

"(Federline's album) is now number 5,345 on the Amazon sales chart, after opening this time last week at number 4,143. Which is even more amazing, because I don't think there even are 5000 albums. Like, total. I think there's only been like 4,000 albums since the beginning of time, and yet Kevin can't outsell any of them. Those god damn dogs who bark Christmas Carols were in the top 10 last year, and those aren't even real dogs. I think they're just on a computer. So Kevin made a record, and some pretend dogs made a record, and the pretend dogs whopped his ass. Way to go Kevin. You must be very proud."

Seriously, if you haven't checked out WWTDD yet, you're missing out. It's the funniest thing we've seen since Rick Quinn showed us Charlie Murphy doing the Star Trek Cribs (especially the Captain Kirk Non-Fat Latte) on YouTube.

FITS Long-Awaited Ralph Norman Blog












We told you.

Then we told you again.

Then we told you one last time.

Walter Whetsell, Jon Lerner and the rest of the Katon Dawson A-Team running Ralph Norman's Congressional challenge against John Spratt had perhaps the best candidate the GOP has fielded in years in the 5th District, which was incidentally also trending more Republican than it had in years.

There's really not much else to say except that this one could go down as the worst-managed campaign in state history.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yes, We're Going to Blog on K-Flo and Ralph Norman ...

... because we think this is a really nice picture of K-Flo and we've written too much on Norman's campaign not to do a post-mortem.

Don't worry. The Norman blog will be short.

And no, we're not kidding. This is a really nice picture of K-Flo (probably the only favor The State newspaper did Karen during the whole campaign was running this picture). We're even sitting here listening to Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O'Connor trying to picture Karen with no hair and she's still hot.

(Useless Music Trivia: It was the 1990 video for O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U" than convinced R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe to try lip-syncing for just the second time in his career in the 1991 "Losing My Religion" video. Stipe had previously lip-synced just once - in the band's 1982 video for "Wolves, Lower" off the Chronic Town EP, but had vowed never to do it again because he felt it made him look foolish. R.E.M.'s breakthrough 1983 "Murmur" album, incidentally, was co-produced by Lancaster, S.C. native Don Dixon and the town of "West Columbia, South Carolina" is specifically referenced in the B-Side Classic "Voice of Harold" off of the 1984 "Dead Letter Office" compilation album. Any commenter who can correctly identify the R.E.M. song title - and album - that first included the alternate-lyrics version of what would later become "Voice of Harold" gets a free hug from Heather S.).

Okay, knowing that some poor secretary in Anderson probably just read all that to John Rainey is priceless.

And knowing that far too many of you are scouring R.E.M.'s Wikipedia page in search of the correct answer is also priceless.

Moving on ... like we said until we interrupted us, we were going to blog on Norman and K-Flo tonight, that is of course until we came upon this story chronicling the breakup of Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Whatever His Name Is.

The basic premise of this article is that by examining Reese and Ryan's split, we can divine some relationship wisdom that might come in handy in our own lives.

We're going to link to it again here in case you are attempting to imagine the most ridiculous thing you've ever read in your entire life and need something to remind you of it.

Ballin' on a Budget (& Control Board)

Give it up for Richard Eckstrom.

The so-called "Endangered One" on the Statewide GOP ticket turned out not to be so endangered after all, posting a convincing win over Democrat Drew Theodore.

Turns out running an entire campaign (as Theodore did) based on one minor deviation from a career of taxpayer protection (a deviation Eckstrom admitted and apologized for) wasn't a winning formula after all.

Eckstrom was by far and away one of the most qualified and accomplished candidates on the 2006 ballot, but an incessant barrage of negative attacks (most of them untrue) from the Theodore campaign had many experts thinking he was in serious trouble.

As it happened, the voters weren't as stupid as Theodore (had hoped).

Ordinarily, the day after an election is a time of extending olive branches here at FITS. There's something about patting your opponent(s) on the back after a hard fight and saying "you worked hard, let us buy you a drink."

Trav Robertson and Lachlan MacIntosh are two perfect examples of good guys who fall into that camp. They worked hard, they fought fair but their candidates came up short. That doesn't make it any less of an honor to shake their hands and congratulate them for all the hard work they did on behalf of their respective campaigns.

But Phil Bailey?

He's the guy you want to pour a drink on, until you realize he's just not worth it.

Guess we should have expected as much from the "man" who gutlessly attempted to post anonymous comments trashing former Gov. Carroll Campbell the day after he died.

Aftermath Central

And you thought we meant the aftermath of last night's elections ...

Nope, as it turns out all Sic Willie wanted to talk about last night (and this morning) was pop sensation Britney Spears filing for divorce from her wanna-be rapper husband, Kevin Federline.

"It's like Christmas," Folks said. "Last week it was Reese Witherspoon ditching Ryan Phillipi or whatever his name is and today it's Britney dumping K-Fed."

In fact, our favorite bad boy was so ecstatic about the news of Spears' break-up that he decided against mounting a legal challenge to Republican Mark Hammond's victory in the Secretary of State's race, a contest in which Sic Willie emerged as a last-minute write-in candidate.

"The lawyers say we've got a good case but after a lot of prayer and introspection I've decided to let the Bean (Hammond) have it," he said. "I'm grateful for all the thoughts and prayers I received from so many good friends over the course of my six-minute campaign, but the people have spoken and I hope my supporters will now join me in facing the challenges of tomorrow - like getting Reese and Britney to move to Utah with me. At the end of the day, our campaign for change was all about keeping Utah home to me and polygamy."

In addition to banning gay marriage (which was already illegal), South Carolina's ballot referendum yesterday also made it technically impossible for Folks to marry both Spears and Witherspoon simultaneously in South Carolina.

"I think Britney, Reese and I were all hoping that an activist judge somewhere - New Jersey maybe - would be able to establish the validity of our union here in South Carolina," Folks said. "Now it's looking like Utah is going to be the last resort."

"The Era of Wasteful Spending in Columbia is Over"

The "Quote of the Night" definitely goes to T-Rav.

True, it wasn't quite as cool as saying "That's just how I roll," but South Carolina's Treasurer-Elect put a clever, fiscally conservative twist on Bill Clinton's famous "Era of Big Government is Over" quote from the 1996 State of the Union address.

Combined with the reelection of Gov. Mark Sanford and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, Ravenel's victory means fiscal conservatives now hold a 3-2 majority on the powerful State Budget and Control Board, drawing a curtain on the wasteful spending votes that became so rampant under the Harrell-Leatherman-Patterson "Axis of Pork."

Ravenel also showed a lot of class in praising his opponent, Grady Patterson, for the incumbent's lifelong service to the state, even though Patterson refused to debate him and attacked him repeatedly during the campaign.

"We can disagree on politics all day long, but anyone who’s fought in two wars and given his so much of his life to the service of South Carolina deserves our respect, our admiration and our thanks," Ravenel told supporters in his victory speech.

Not only did T-Rav win, so did one of his signature issues - the ballot initiative to allow for international investment of our state retirement fund assets.

And capping off a solid night for T-Rav, his father Arthur Ravenel, Jr. was also elected to the Charleston County School Board.