Wednesday, March 29, 2006

House allocates $12 million towards Bauer Expressway

‘Andrebahn’ construction could start in early 2007

B & P News - Columbia

After two and a half hours of floor debate, House members voted yesterday to finally set aside state funds for the long-discussed infrastructure project known as the Bauer Expressway, or ‘Andrebahn.’

“I know it seems like a waste of money at first, an entire $12 million highway system for just one person,” said James Schweitzer, director of the state’s Department of Public Safety. “But believe me, the saved State Trooper manpower alone makes it worthwhile. The net savings is like $20 million.”

Experts agree the savings will offset the construction costs, but questioned whether funds should be used to man the expressway’s sole rest area with staffers who can change all four of the Lt. Governor’s tires in less than a minute. Several other issues also delayed passage of Andrebahn funding, including concerns over the speed limit on the new roadway.

“When I first read the proposed speed limit of 90 miles per hour, I was outraged,” said Speaker Bobby Harrell. “I thought it was way too slow. Luckily, [Rep.] Jim [Merrill] explained that 90 was the lower limit.”

The upper speed limit for the planned highway system is 140 mph, above which the Lt. Governor could face harsh punishment. According to sources, potential penalties include a “strong verbal admonition,” a “thorough mussing up of the hair,” and a “complementary cleaning of the piece in his glovebox.”

The Lieutenant Governor, for his part, seemed pleased with the development.

“I have a need,” Bauer said at a press conference from his office in Columbia, leaving reporters scratching their heads as he left his desk. Bauer continued his remarks at a Myrtle Beach press conference an hour later, drinking an ICEE purchased at a Hartsville convenience store. “A need for speed.”

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sanford hires publicity stuntman

Below: Publicity stuntman Earl Baggs
practices for Sanford’s next publicity stunt

Look-alike to perform future gubernatorial publicity stunts

B & P News - Columbia

The Governor’s Office announced Friday that Mark Sanford, weary of performing his own publicity stunts, has hired a publicity stuntman to cover the remainder of his attention-grabbing gimmicks. The stuntman, Arkansas native Earl Baggs, was selected from a pool of dozens of candidates based on his resemblance to the Governor and willingness to work with livestock.

“Earl’s a dead ringer for Mark, and he showed us during stunt tryouts that he could take a fall into furniture,” said Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer. “You never know when that’ll come in handy in this administration.”

Baggs was also raised on a swine farm, Sawyer said, which gave him a leg up on the competition and could be helpful in Sanford’s next planned publicity stunt – riding a horse-drawn carriage into a bank vault while carrying two squealing, defecating pigs.

The stunt, which symbolizes Sanford’s efforts to "reign in barrels of budgetary restructuring," has been preemptively dubbed “the mother of all Sanford publicity stunts” by some political analysts.

“A bank vault. That’s pretty original,” said USC political science professor Hugh Ganott, stifling a yawn. “Anybody know how the NCAA tournament is going?”

Baggs says he is impressed that Sanford has done his own publicity stunts for so long, but he is eager ratchet up the level of danger to perform stunts Sanford has previously been too cautious to perform.

“I want to swim with the sharks at the state aquarium to take a bite out of frivolous spending on mental health, higher education, and the Special Olympics,” said Baggs. “That’s something he confided in me, that he’s terrified of sharks. Sharks and doctors.”

Sanford, for his part, has mixed emotions about relinquishing his starring role in the attention-grabbers that, along with rampant unemployment, have defined him as a politician.

“From joining the Air Force Reserves four years ago to badmouthing our schools with John [Stossel] four months ago, it’s been one wacky publicity stunt after another,” said Sanford in an emotional interview. “While I’m sad to let it go, I’m glad I found a good publicity stuntman like Earl to fill my shoes.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sanford on

Today I stumbled across a site called that collates quotes from respected leaders, and also has a few gems from our own governor. It’s worth a visit. Sanford's very top quote particularly caught my eye:

"I think good debate ultimately makes for better ideas. And the fact that he's [Howard Dean] a little spirited in his debate, some people see that as an advantage on the Republican side. Some see it as a disadvantage. The bottom line is, more involvement is a good thing." - Mark Sanford
I happen to agree on this point – good debate does make for better ideas. But there are other bloggers out there who decry big money politics in one breath, then claim a fat campaign war chest insulates a candidate from debating the issues in the next. That's a shame.

Luckily, Sanford doesn’t believe this. Luckily, he believes debate makes for better ideas.

It’s just hard to tell unless you visit

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Top Ten

Palpable PBS bias has Sanford acting
like a big yellow bird

Lately the idea has been Bandied about that Mark Sanford is afraid to get his feathers ruffled in a debate with GOP challenger Oscar Lovelace. Sanford responded to Lovelace’s debate challenge earlier this month by saying “Maybe in June,” then abruptly changing his answer to “No way” -- a waffle so huge it almost earned him the ambassadorship to Belgium on the spot.

So what is it? Is the 'champion of choice' choosing the chicken route or just lamely ducking the debate? Let's find out.

Top Ten Reasons Sanford Won’t Debate GOP Challenger Oscar Lovelace

10. SC-ETV has overt pro-Oscar bias

9. Proposed Sunday evening debate time at odds with previously scheduled “meet and greet on Wisteria Lane”

8. Not going to waste time badmouthing SC public schools on a program that isn’t even going to be televised nationally

7. Gave up debating for Lent

6. Debate not Sanford’s optimum format, and Lovelace wouldn’t agree to a “big-stupid-chart-off”

5. Lacks constitutional authority to lower flags, debate issues

4. Not Sanford’s job to create debates, just to establish fertile underlying soil conditions from which debatage will naturally occur

3. Worried about being able to list both his accomplishments in a brief, one-hour session

2. Sanford refuses to appear on primetime until networks agree to ban unseemly words like "bitch," "damn," "shit," "unemployment," and "TIME magazine's three worst governors"

1. Fundamental disagreement: Lovelace wants three debates; Sanford needs a pair

Monday, March 20, 2006

Presidential March Madness

Here is a neat site that puts 64 GOP presidential hopefuls - some more presidential, some more hopeful - into brackets, then lets voters advance their “candidates” through the tournament. (I think you can click on the picture for a larger, more legible view.)

In second-round action this week (vote March 24th and 25th), Senator Lindsey Graham takes on Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who ambled past Mark Sanford over the weekend in their first-round contest.

First-round action isn’t quite over yet. In the East bracket, John McCain faces formidable opposition in the form of Idaho Governor (and let’s face it, household name) Dirk Kempthorne. Also, Liddy Dole faces her first non-Viagra induced Boehner in decades. Vote on Monday and Tuesday for those match-ups and others.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Stuffy's Barbecue Sandwich

I might have to break down and get me one of these new-fangled camera phones. My friend took this picture today and had already emailed it to me by the time we sat to eat at Stuffy’s, on South Main Street near the USC Law School. How crazy is that?

Truth is, Gervais doesn’t even own a “regular” cell phone. Never have. And Hannah Jane hates it.

She always asks these contrived “what if” questions involving the dire need to talk to me immediately, and I offer my standard answer, pointing out that our parents and their parents and their parents didn’t have cell phones yet somehow managed to get by.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by Stuffy’s barbecue sandwich. (Sandwich, coleslaw, fries and drink: $5.75). Not only do Stuffy’s prices reflect its college clientele, you can also choose your barbecue base – mustard, vinegar, or ketchup.

That’s a no-brainer for a kid raised here in the buckle of the mustard belt, but my boss ordered the ketchup-based, over my strenuous objection. He’s from New York. I tasted it, and it was okay. I think I’ll stick with my mustard.

One day, though, I may venture out into the world of ketchup-based ‘cue. When I do, I’ll document the event with my camera phone.

Gervais says, stuff your face with a Stuffy’s barbecue sandwich. The burgers ain’t bad, either.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

In case you (blinked and) missed it

From Monday's State Newspaper:

Iacovelli steps down from education panel

Greenville County businesswoman Karen Iacovelli has resigned from the Education Oversight Committee, the state’s school reform watchdog panel.

Iacovelli, appointed by Gov. Mark Sanford in September as his business-sector representative on the 17-member panel, stepped down for health reasons. She said she is receiving treatment for Lyme disease at the Jemsek Clinic near Charlotte.

Iacovelli is a vocal supporter of new biology teaching guidelines that encourage critical analysis of the theory of evolution. Critics say those guidelines would open the door to teaching religion in the classroom.

go to next Iacovelli-related post

An Altman retrospective

Political observers try to predict next Altman gaffe
Below: Altman, with new hat
Breast-feeding legislation seems likely source, agree experts

B & P News - Columbia

As the onset of the next legislative session nears, experts from around the state have been focusing their energy on predicting the next gaffe by Representative John Graham Altman (R-Charleston). Most observers agree that the next blunder will somehow pertain to the public breast-feeding bill.

“Oh, definitely, the breast-feeding bill – he’ll find a way to put the shoestore in his mouth with that one,” said USC political science professor Bobby Blugranitte. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the words ‘tig ol’ bitties’ find their way into the legislative record this session.”

Other political scientists from around the state agree that the debate over public breast-feeding legislation will be -- like the domestic violence hearings -- a fertile chance for an Altman faux pas.

“John Graham will definitely oblige us with an off-color comment,” said Hoyt Butter, political scientist at Furman University. “I could see him referring a question to ‘Representative Emerson,’ and then when asked ‘Who’s that?’ saying, ‘Emerson big boobies, lady,’ or something to that effect.”

Still, the exact nature of the next Altman gaffe remains uncertain, even to the most astute political spectators.

“My initial instinct was that Altman would reference the widespread 'Got Milk?' ads, but then I realized that may be too subtle,” said Francis Marion University’s Pete E. Rivers. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to refer the bill to the ‘Titty Committee’, a play on the grammar school classic ‘Itty-bitty Titty Committee.’”

Rep. Altman was unavailable for comment, because he was at a Charleston Spencer’s Gifts retailer purchasing a hat.

Cromer's P-Nuts files lawsuit against state GOP
L-R: Historic Cromer's slogan, Rep. Altman, Sen. Fair
Company accuses party of deliberately luring worse nuts into capital city

B & P News - Columbia

Attorneys for Cromer's P-Nuts, Inc. today filed a lawsuit against the South Carolina Republican Party for "collusion to undercut the Cromer's company in worst-nuttiness."

"Cromer's has operated under the slogan 'Guaranteed Worst in Town' for decades," said Cromer's president Claude "Peanut" Flanders. "Now the Republicans are luring in worse nuts to Columbia from all over the state. It's insidious."

Only two Republican legislators, Rep. John Graham Altman of Charleston and Sen. Mike Fair of Greenville, were mentioned by name in the suit. But some insiders speculate that more prominent GOP politicians will be included in the prosecution's case.

"Finding nuts in the Republican Party is like finding a mullet at the Barnyard Flea Market" said state Democratic Party Director Lachlan Macintosh as he thumbed through his notebook of state-specific one-liners for the press. "It's like finding a pig under Governor Sanford's arm. Wait, no -- it's like finding calabash shrimp at Murrell's Inlet."

GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, consulting his own file of press-ready zingers, said he expects the case to get "thrown out like a boiled peanut shell at Williams-Brice Stadium" and the lawsuit "has about as much merit as Piggie Park has kosher food."

Senator Fair took exception to being named in the lawsuit.

"If fighting 'evil'-ution and trying to get the Ten Commandments posted in our rest areas makes someone a nut," said Fair, "then feed my ass to an elephant."

Representative Altman agreed, adding "Cromer's aren't very bright, are they?"

Primordial Primer: the terms you need to know about the origins of man
Below: Ascent of man from Homo Idioticus (or "Alt Man") to Homo Pious Piedmontus

Today the Education Oversight Committee’s subcommittee on academic standards will listen to testimony from scientists hand-picked by Senator Mike Fair, to determine whether our science standards regarding evolution should be revised. It’s a complicated topic - it would take one decades to attain Fair’s nuanced understanding of evolutionary biology and education standards – but here are ten terms you should know if you want to keep up with what is probably the most important issue in our state, except for every other issue in our state.

Charles Darwin – A 19th Century naturalist so far ahead of his time scientifically that he patented a magnetic ornament of a fish with legs, to adhere to automobile bumpers, long before the automobile was even invented.

Genesis – Creationists believe this first book of the Bible to have a scientifically correct description of the origin of Man. Scientists argue that there is only one man whose origin in Genesis is systematically verifiable: Phil Collins.

Homo erectus – A species of hominid that lived between 1.8 million and 300,000 years ago, eventually dying off out of embarrassment for its name.

Intelligent Design – The theory that Man is too physically complex and beautiful a creature to have evolved without some divine or extra-terrestrial guidance. Disproved in 12,000 B.C. with the discovery of the scrotum.

Linnaean classification – This is what it’s called when scientists say Homo sapiens instead of “man.” Linnaean classifications are used to provide scientists with common nomenclature because they are the same everywhere. The lone exception to this rule is the Roadrunner, who is alternately called Speedipus rex, Velocitus delectibus, and Tastyus supersonicus.

Mammals – The class of animals that share characteristics such as hair/fur and mammary glands, as in the original draft of the public breastfeeding bill: “Be it enacted that breastfeeding mothers ain’t nothing but mammals, so as to provide that they may do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.”

Peking Man – A Homo erectus discovered in China in the 1930’s. Also, the reason that South Carolina is 48th in the nation in unemployment. See, there’s this book called the Flat World or something, and it says people in McCormick County are in direct competition with people in Shanghai and New Delhi and blah blah blah, etc etc…

Scopes Monkey Trial – In 1925, a young biology teacher named John Scopes taught evolution, contrary to a Tennessee statute passed by religious fundamentalists. The trial was immortalized in the classic film, Footloose, starring Kevin Bacon.

Social Darwinism – the type of Darwinism right-wingers don’t have a problem with.

Vestigial -- Any structures that have been greatly reduced in size and function over evolutionary time, to the extent that they now appear to have little or no current function. Famous examples are the Tyrannosaurus Rex’s arms, the ostrich’s wings, and John Graham Altman’s brain.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sanford challenges Lovelace to June 14th debate

‘Republicans deserve to know, on June 14th, where we differ on the issues,’ says Governor

B & P News - Columbia

Eager to discuss where he differs from Newberry Physician Oscar Lovelace on the issues, Governor Mark Sanford has challenged his GOP primary opponent to a televised debate on Wednesday, June 14th.

“I’ve always said that competition makes you stronger, and choice makes all the difference in the world. For those reasons, I am challenging Oscar Lovelace to a debate on the issues,” said Sanford. “On June 14th.”

While the June 14th debate timeframe is later than Lovelace expected, the candidate is thankful for the additional preparation time permitted by a June 14th engagement.

“South Carolina’s unemployment is 46th in the nation, and people are losing tons of weight in the Super Duper Sanford Shrinkdown,” said Lovelace. “Simply put, he’s on fire. I can use the extra time for him to cool off from this hot streak.”

While it is an uncharacteristic move, some analysts say they are not surprised by Sanford’s keenness to spar with Lovelace on the issues that matter to Republicans, on June 14th.

“I’m not exactly shocked,” said USC political science professor Jerry Manders. “If I had Sanford’s list of accomplishments, I’d throw down the gauntlet too.”

“On June 14th,” continued Manders.

This is the second debate to which Sanford has challenged Lovelace in as many months. Early last month, the Governor blasted his GOP challenger for not responding to a debate request. That contest was proposed for February 29th.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Update on Iacovelli

The name and photo of Karen Iacovelli, the Sanford appointee to the EOC who declared, “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education,” no longer appears on the member page of Education Oversight Committee website.

Her bio (PDF) is still available on the EOC site, as well as her subcommittee assignment(PDF).

go to next Iacovelli-related post

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More on the spoon tycoon

Last week Gervais introduced Karen Iacovelli, the Constitutional Law Scholar (circa 1996), Vince Foster suicide conspiracy theorist (circa 1997), office manager for a plastic cutlery company (circa 2002), and resident education anarchist on the Education Oversight Committee (circa right now). She’s the one who signed her name to the following affirmation on a California website:

“I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.”
I came across footage of Mrs. Iacovelli here at the WIS-TV website. Portions of the excellent School Swap series were shown at an EOC meeting, and sparked some deep thoughts from Iacovelli on how to improve our children’s education:
She says public education in the state is so bad, we should consider scrapping the system, "I'm not optimistic."
Gee. Thanks for that. If I wanted an unnecessarily dreadful forecast, I’d get Ben Tanner to kick me in the balls repeatedly while saying, “Partly cloudy.” The job of the Oversight Committee, though, is to monitor the implementation of improvements to our public schools, not to try to throw them out like a cheap plastic fork.

Gervais says, it’s fine if a member has a healthy distrust of bureaucracy - the way a hemophiliac might be wary of Will Folks – but Iacovelli has a full-blown disdain for public schools. Here's an example of her contribution to the committee, from the minutes of a recent meeting:
"Mrs. Iacovelli stated that she voted against the budget recommendations because of her concerns that the educational system is failing to meet its purpose and that stricter accountability and more choices are necessary rather than continued investments."
Basically, Karen Iacovelli is a Sanford-appointed “fly in the ointment.” As if it wasn’t enough for the Governor to badmouth South Carolina public schools on national television, forever associating our state with elitism, arrogance, and John Stossel's moustache – now he’s gone and ensured that our schools will have an adversary in the most unlikely of places: the Education Oversight Committee.

go to next Iacovelli-related post

Monday, March 06, 2006

Governor’s performance results in Oscar

Below: Sanford holds his Oscar
for the role of "governor without
49th-ranked unemployment"

Academy honors Sanford's acting

B & P News - Hollywood

SC Governor Mark Sanford earned an Academy Award last night for his role in the 2005’s “Soil Conditions,” in which he acts like a governor of a state unaffected by rampant unemployment. Though the film is technically a documentary, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences made an exception and granted Sanford the Best Male Actor award for his over-the-top portrayal.

“He’s a terrific actor - especially considering the role is such a stretch,” said film critic Roger Ebert. “From beginning to end, Mark has the audience convinced that he is the governor of a state without 49th-ranked unemployment.”

“It’s the eyes,” agreed critic Gene Shalit. “When you look into them, there's an aloofness that could only belong to the governor of a state with a pristine AAA credit rating. I don’t know how he pulls it off.”

Hollywood insiders have speculated for months that Sanford’s convincing performance as "a governor of a state without high joblessness" would result in Oscar. During his acceptance speech, Sanford thanked loyal supporter and special effects director John Rainey, among others.

“I’d especially like to thank Alabama Governor Bob Riley, who I studied under,” said Governor Sanford. “I watched his every move, from securing Airbus to reducing unemployment to 3.1%. I pretended that was me. That's the magic of Hollywood.”

Sanford accepted his award in a custom-made Marc Jacobs tuxedo.

“The tux was definitely cutting-edge,” said fashion commentator Joan Rivers, from the red carpet outside the awards show. “You could almost see the coattails shrinking as he walked by.”

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Why is this lady on the Education Oversight Committee?

If Gervais was to sift through a list of potential nominees for my state’s Education Oversight Committee – the folks charged with improving South Carolina’s K-12 public schools – one of the first questions I would ask is, “Do you believe in public schools?”

Just in case, you know? It’s like asking a babysitter if he or she likes kids. I’m a tough interviewer like that.

In EOC member Karen Iacovelli’s case, a better question might be, “Have you ever signed a decree that says, ‘I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education?’”

I almost fell out of my tree when I saw her name on this California website as a “Proclamation Signer.” Sure, it’s a valid opinion. But not for someone appointed by the Governor to improve public schools. That’s like appointing an arsonist as State Fire Marshal. (note to self: make sure Sanford did not appoint an arsonist as State Fire Marshal)

SC Hotline’s banner headline yesterday was a five page letter from Iacovelli about why our public schoolchildren should learn to critically analyze evolution. It was as good an explanation as any I’ve read as to why we should tinker with our A-rated science standards, but I became particularly interested when I read:

..revising the biology standards is a mere blip on the education reform Richter scale.
Gervais notices even the most subtle mixed metaphors, but that one was a “5.0 on the radar screen.” So I read on:
...Townes called upon all scientists and students to “explore as much as we can.” It was those 5 words that convinced me that everything else I had read by self-anointed experts in the field of high school biology and evolution was nothing more than scientific arrogance."
In addition to actually valuing public schools, people who oversee them should probably be able to distinguish five words from six, so I did the concerned citizen thing and checked out her bio.

Pretty straightforward, really. Studied at Illinois, Northwestern, and Harvard, but no degrees mentioned; makes plastic spoons for a living; active with United New Yorkers for Choice in Education. According to this 2002 Greenville News article, she is an office manager for the Dispozo disposable products company, of which her husband is CEO. A Google search reveals that as recently as 1996, she billed herself as a Constitutional Law Scholar, too. If you read her article on SC Hotline, it's evident she's more Plastic Spork than Robert Bork.

But absolutely nothing in the resume about her proclamation that she favors ending public education. Nothing about "I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education." Oversight, indeed.

What the hell is going on here?

go to next Iacovelli-related post

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Sanford vetoes 'beelboard beel'

Below: A racially charged billboard
permitted under the Road Scholar Act

Bill permits racial insensitivity, encourages kids to 'keep yelling,' says Governor

B & P News – Columbia

Governor Mark Sanford yesterday vetoed the General Assembly’s reauthorization of the Road Scholar Act of 1997 -- also known as the "beelboard beel" -- a measure that permits stereotypical depictions of 1950’s-era Mexicans on South Carolina billboard advertisements.

“There was a time and place for these billboards on our highways, but that time has passed,” stated Sanford in his veto message. “Things change – while it’s chili today, it may be hot tamale. That’s what this veto is all about.”

Sanford’s veto is in part a response to the public outcry generated by the 2005 documentary Corridor of Pedro, which exposed the deplorable state of billboard stereotypes along Interstate 95.

The veto message was delivered to legislators upside down, because of what Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer called “too moch tequila.” It is expected to be overridden by the legislature this week.

“I never sausage a veto-using governor,” said House Speaker Bobby Harrell. “He’s always a wiener in my eyes.”