Thursday, April 27, 2006

Making heads or tails of unemployment

Statistic of the day:

Number of SC counties whose non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate lowered in March 2006: 46

Number of SC counties whose non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate lowered in March 2005: 46

"A drop in unemployment rate for every county in the state is one more sign that we're moving in the right direction with respect to our economy." - Mark Sanford

Just like it was last year, right?

The fact is, SC's unemployment rate went up in March, because fewer jobs were gained than usual for the month. So either Sanford doesn't understand the process/purpose of seasonal adjustment, or he's trying to pull a fast one on taxpaying voters. I wonder which one it is...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Porky D's

I recently got “served” on Two Notch Road.

You heard me. This weekend the Bridges family loaded up the wagon and headed out to the “other Two Notch” - Two Notch Road in Lexington - to try a new barbecue joint called Porky D’s. Actually, new isn’t the best word for it.

The D stands for “Dooley,” a Lexington name if I ever heard one, and Porky D’s has been in business a long time, selling carry-out smoked barbecue that Mama would bring by the house on Saturdays. Now Porky D’s is an eat-in restaurant too, but still has only weekend hours.

I’ll start by saying the decorating leaves a little to be desired. There are roses on every table (yellow, orange, and pink ones) and there are porcelain pigs lined up on shelves on the wall.

But what Porky D’s lacks in ambience, it makes up for in righteous barbecue and great prices. My plate (pictured) was only $5.99 and scored a perfect 10 in taste. Next time, though, I’m getting the ribs. Hannah Jane gave me one of hers and it was phenomenal.

HJ, Petunia, and I finished off our meal by splitting a piece of chocolate-iced pound cake three ways for dessert, which made me glad Gervais Jr. doesn't yet have a tooth in his whole head.

Try the ribs and barbecue at Porky D’s, just barely on the Columbia side of I-20. It's definitely worth the trip. Gervais says, you won’t regret getting Dooley served.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Nothing but steers and Libertarians...

...and I don't see any horns on him.

Statistic of the day:

Sanford's first quarter contributions from Greenville County, SC: $52,675

Sanford's first quarter contributions from Dallas County, TX: $53,500

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fries with that Whopper?

"I'm gonna order the kid's meal
when I become a real boy."

From Jim Davenport’s Friday AP story about SC’s unemployment rate, which is higher than when Sanford took office, despite an impressive 1% drop nationally during the same period:

"There continues to be more people working in South Carolina than ever before […]" Sanford said.
But from Jim DuPlessis’s article in The State on the same topic:
The state had 1,898,300 nonfarm jobs in March, only 2,200 jobs shy of its 1,900,500 jobs record set in June 2000.
All this leads me to just one conclusion: Jim DuPlessis is a dirty liar.

I got my eye on you, DuPlessis.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Below: Sanford gives SC a deep, dark tan
Today's good news: Katrina-ravaged Mississippi, Ford-ravaged Michigan, and Global Warming-ravaged(?) Alaska have worse unemployment than SC.

Today’s bad news: Only these three states have worse unemployment than SC.

Sanford campaign's blame: "the liberal Democrats" and "their plans to increase spending and raise costs for small businesses." (AP)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Joblessnessfulness, revisited

In honor of the March unemployment numbers coming out this Friday, and my general unwillingness to come up with anything new, I thought I’d pull a few winter leftovers from the B&P freezer… Enjoy!

Sanford abruptly creates Department of Unemployment Control, names Tenenbaum as head
Below left: Governor Sanford. Below right: New
Director of Unemployment Control Inez Tenenbaum

‘I'm disappointed in her performance so far,’ says Sanford of new unemployment czar

B & P News - Columbia

In a surprise announcement Friday, Governor Mark Sanford created a new government agency, the Department of Unemployment Control, and named current Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum as its director. He then blasted Tenenbaum for South Carolina's soaring 6.9% unemployment rate.

"Third from the bottom is just unsatisfactory," Sanford said at a press conference Friday morning, three days after October unemployment figures were released. "Tenenbaum is not getting the job done. I'm disappointed in her performance so far."

GOP chairman Katon Dawson echoed the governor's sentiments. "The state's economic situation is horrid, and taxpayers need to be able to hold someone accountable," said Dawson. "That person is obviously Inez Tenenbaum, head of the Department of Unemployment Control."

Tenenbaum was surprised to read criticism about her performance in her new position in the newspapers Saturday morning. "Aren't these the October statistics?" she asked. "How could I... Oh [expletive deleted] this [expletive deleted]."

Asked about the timing of the new department, a Sanford spokesman said that "it had been part of his government restructuring plan" all along. "Don't let the Tenenbaum 'Unemployment Establishment' fool you," said press secretary Joel Sawyer. "They've had hours to fix the unemployment problem. The buck has to stop somewhere. That somewhere is Inez Tenenbaum."

This is the third new department Sanford has established this year. In August, he created the state Credit Rating Department and named Democratic Senator John Land as director. Earlier this month, he created the Department of Prison Escapees at the request of political ally and Department of Corrections director Jon Ozmint. To lead that department, Sanford appointed Newberry physician Oscar Lovelace.

Title loan to get SC through holidays
Below: Governor Mark Sanford and Treasurer
Grady Patterson obtaining title loan

Loss of AAA credit rating forces state to pursue alternate lenders

B & P News - West Columbia

South Carolinians got more economic bad news Tuesday, when top officials used the title to the state as collateral for a high-interest loan.

"The good news is that losing our Standard & Poor's AAA credit rating hasn't altogether stopped us from being able to borrow," said Governor Mark Sanford, outside the Paycheck Advance store on Highway 1. "The bad news is that if we default our state will be owned by this guy named Hector."

State Treasurer Grady Patterson, when asked about the title to the state about an hour after the transaction, replied only, "The Palmetto State," then farted loudly.

While some Democrats pointed to the title loan as evidence of another Sanford failure, USC Economics professor Jebediah Tweed applauded the move.

"I think the fact that the governor is supporting small businesses is great," said Tweed. "The very proliferation of these outlets is a testament to the governor's small business initiatives. I can't think of a better indicator of a healthy economy than a payday loan shop on every corner."

Cayce resident Hector Rumph, owner of Paycheck Advance, would not disclose the amount of the loan.

"I don't like to disclose personal information, such as loan amounts and interest rates," said Rumph. "Let's just say, South Hector-lina gets kind of hot in the summer, if you know what I mean."

Ford, Sanford merge to form unemployment juggernaut

Below: Governor tells a SanFord™ employee
to clean out his locker

Analysts call SanFord™ a potential ‘unemploymonopoly’

B & P News – Dearborn, Michigan

In a business deal that could reshape the unemployment industry, unemployment leader Ford Motor Company announced its merger with unemployment powerhouse Mark Sanford LLC, to form what may be the single largest unemployment provider in the country.

“We’ve had our eyes on unemployment bastion Mark Sanford LLC for a long time,” said Ford spokesman Roland Lemmon. “With his unemployment savvy on our side, SanFord™ can take unemployment to a whole new level.”

The merger was announced Tuesday morning, to coincide with Ford’s obliteration of a quarter of its workforce and the release of Sanford’s latest, comparable unemployment numbers. Sanford subsidiary “South Carolina” recently overtook rival Louisiana to post a solid 49th place finish in state unemployment rankings for December 2005.

“We simply out-underperformed them,” said Sanford via closed-circuit television at the merger announcement. “Let this be a lesson to any would-be challengers: SanFord™ will not be outdone in joblessnessfulness.”

According to some analysts, the Ford/Sanford merger could mean trouble for small unemployers.

“What we’re dealing with here is the Wal-Mart of joblessness, a vortex that consumes all employment in its path,” said USC economics professor Adam Smythe. “Expect to see small unemployers driven out of business as SanFord™ establishes its unemploymonopoly.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Po' Pigs... a family affair

Petunia, pudding, Pee Dee Pepper.

Po' Pigs Bo-B-Q on Knox Abbott Drive gets better every time I visit, and is fast becoming one of my favorite buffets.

Tonight Mama treated Hannah Jane, the kids and me to some great barbecue, served up Po' Pigs style. As usual, they had good-time music playing in the kitchen, clean high-chairs at the ready, four varieties of Sandlapper sauces, and they came correct with variety of sides: squash casserole, creamed corn, okra & tomatoes, baked beans, green beans, rutebaga, cuke/vidalia/tomato salad, potato salad -- not to mention your basics like pulled pork, fried chicken, hash & rice, and cole slaw. All this, and never a line... there's even a drive-thru.

Petunia, with 14 teeth in her whole head, loves the barbecue, and has an affinity for the banana pudding that rivals my brother's prom date. Gervais Jr. doesn't quite have the wherewithal for solid food yet, but I could tell he wanted me to fasten the nipple of his bottle to the top of the Orangeburg Sweet sauce.

And here's a throw-away fact for you: the word cole slaw (also spelled without the space) comes from the Dutch "koolsla." Kool means "cabbage," and is rooted in the Latin caulis, and sla is shortened from the French salade, meaning "salad." Cabbage salad...who knew?

Gervais says, next time you get the hankerin' for good 'cue and decent koolsla, stop by Po' Pigs Bo-B-Q -- and put some Dutch on your fork.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sanford becomes SC’s chief export

Exporting 40% of candidacy to out-of-state interests 'crucial to trade balance,' says governor

B & P News - Columbia

With 2006 out-of-state contributions reaching a staggering 40%, the gubernatorial candidacy of Mark Sanford has become the hottest commodity sold across South Carolina’s borders, according to a report released Tuesday by the Department of Commerce.

The report, a joint effort with the State Ethics Commission, says Sanford’s candidacy has outpaced even time-honored exports like vehicles, wood-pulp, and cotton to earn the coveted title of “the Palmetto State’s chief export.”

“The folks buying Mark Sanford’s candidacy are people with pockets that are deep, especially compared to their familiarity with the state of South Carolina,” said Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor. “Many of these folks are sending their checks to Charlotte.”

Taylor said the major markets for the purchase of Mark Sanford’s candidacy include New York City and Dallas, where investors find the Sanford price tag of $3500 to be an “irresistibly good deal.” But the report also shows growth in Sanford exports to areas other than the well-known hotbeds of Sanford candidacy investment.

“I purchase some Sanford each quarter, for the good of the state,” said Arlo Wagess, an Alabama worker supporting the new Airbus facility in Mobile. “Not your unemployed-ass state. My state.”

Sanford was pleased by the news, telling reporters that vigorous exporting plays an important role in maintaining the state’s trade balance. He said the export of 40% of his candidacy to out-of-state interests is crucial to that balance, and offsets major imports like milk and rampant joblessness.

“I couldn’t be happier that my candidacy is South Carolina’s leading export, especially since the word ‘leading’ is finally being used to describe me,” said the candidate. “That being said, I pledge if re-elected to give South Carolinians 110% of the remaining 60% of my political focus.”

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ethics Reports, Pt. 1: Sanford, Floyd take plastic

Thankfully, even though SC boasts a 43rd national ranking in wages, that doesn’t mean our companies are too strapped to make high-dollar political donations in lieu of Christmas bonuses. Take Dispoz-O Products of Fountain Inn, which sent gubernatorial candidate Mark Sanford a fat $2500 check towards his re-election campaign, according to today's Ethics Commission reports.

Never heard of “Dispoz-o” before?

Of course you have. Dispoz-o is the synthetic cutlery company that (Sanford appointee to the EOC) Karen Iacovelli calls home when she’s not pledging, “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education.

Dispoz-o made the contribution just a couple weeks before meddlesome bloggers revealed Iacovelli’s ties with the Alliance for Separation of School & State. Her stint on the EOC only lasted a few days longer. (Health reasons.)

I know, I know…a public school hater donates to Sanford – yawn. Not exactly “man bites dog” as far as news goes. Like Sunny Philips says: “No real surprises in Sanford’s filings.”

Sunny's name, I couldn't help but notice, shows up a few times on Sanford’s filing. She's eager to point out that a "whopping" 30% of Republican Oscar Lovelace’s donations come from “doctors, spouses of doctors, medical suppliers, pharmacies, and other medical related services,” but inadvertently omits the fact that nearly 40% of Sanford’s 1Q contributions are from out-of-state. Honest mistake.

But I digress. On the off-chance that Sunny would leave this stone unturned in her "comprehensive review" of the filings, I decided to see if Dispoz-avelli had donated to anyone else this election cycle.

What I found out surprised me a little. Iaco-spozo also donated $2500 to Supt. of Education candidate Karen Floyd last quarter. Gervais says, when an avowed opponent of public schools pledges her support to a candidate who wants to lead our public schools, that makes me a little nervous.

Of course, I'll be the first to admit it is possible that Floyd got $2500 from Iacovelli because her views on education are so closely aligned with those of the plastic utensil industry.

And maybe Sanford got $2000 from Iacovelli because of the super job he's doing with the economy.

Update: Crunchy Republican's filings review now says, "As usual, [Sanford] does have some out-of-state support, but not enough to be eye-popping" instead of "no real surprises." Thanks for the update, Sunny!

Update 2: In the comments, Sunny questions Gervais's public-school figgerin' of Sanford's nearly 40% out-of-state contributions, claiming it's actually 16%. Let me illustrate my complex methodology:

1. Geography-in': Identify those contributions that came from somewhere besides "SC," which I believe is the postal abbreviation for the Palmetto State.

2. Readin': Peruse the filing for the information.

Itemized Out-of-State Contributions: $276,000
Total Contributions: $781,400
Minus 'Contributions' from Bank Interest: -$75,000

3. Mathin': Divide $276,000 by $706,400:
Of course, this assumes none of Sanford's unitemized contributions are from out-of-state, and has nothing to do with the point of my post: candidates for Governor and Education Superintendant have the financial backing of an outspoken opponent of public schools.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sanford classifies state unemployment figures

Below: Sanford, with sealed unemployment numbers
Governor cites executive order, says leaks could be dangerous to state

B & P News - Columbia

Citing an obscure gubernatorial declaration known as Executive Order #48-2006, Governor Mark Sanford yesterday assigned a “confidential” status to all South Carolina unemployment figures.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics is like the CIA of joblessness, and it’s important that we don’t let this sensitive, top secret information get into the wrong hands,” said the Governor in a press conference. “Specifically, the hands of national news magazines and impressionable registered voters.”

The Governor’s Office said too much dangerous intelligence has already been leaked to the press, such as the state’s recent 48th national unemployment ranking and 43rd national wage ranking. From now on, the office says it will process raw economic data into a more useable, less sensitive format for the general public.

“We’ve developed an Unemployment Alert System to help keep the public informed,” said spokesman Joel Sawyer. “For instance, right now we’re in the 0-20% band, or ‘okey-dokey’ region. That’s pretty much all you need to know.”

Officials agree that raw unemployment data could be dangerous if disseminated without first being vetted for top secret information. One top analyst believes unemployment and wage rate leaks compromise what is otherwise "one helluva economy."

“I work tirelessly to make sure people have jobs in this state,” said Board of Economic Advisors chairman John "Scooter" Rainey. “Right now, I’m focusing on one particular person’s job, and these unemployment rate leaks aren’t helping.”

Sources say the unemployment figures could be declassified by Sanford as early as this year, with dates such as June 14th and November 8th being considered.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

New game: "Federal agency or Sanford appointee?"

Here’s a fun new game called “Federal agency or Sanford appointee?”, where Gervais gives you economics news and it's up to you, the reader, to determine the source of the news: either a federal agency or a Sanford appointee.

To make it easy, we'll stick with news items from the last eight days. Make sure you don’t peek at the answers - you will be graded.

Here goes... Who said it - a federal agency or a Sanford appointee?

1. “SC 48th in nation in unemployment”

“The South Carolina Economy has a Great Story to Tell”

“SC 43rd in nation in per capita income”

“Legislation obscures strong economy in South Carolina”


1. Federal Agency (Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Unemployment Summary 3/30/06)
2. Sanford Appointee (Joe Taylor, Greenville News guest column 4/4/06)
3. Federal Agency (Bureau of Economic Analysis, State Personal Income 3/28/06)
4. Sanford Appointee (John Rainey, Greenville News guest column 3/29/06)

How did you do?

4 out of 4: Perfect score! You have a knack for distinguishing the subtle differences between economics news from federal agencies and Sanford appointees.

3 out of 4: Congratulations! It can be tedious trying to separate federal government economics from Sanford appointee economics, but you are up to the task.

2 out of 4: Great effort! Half of the time, you're able to hone in on the slight disparities between the reports of non-Sanford-appointed federal economists and Sanford-appointed officials.

1 out of 4: Don’t be discouraged! The striking similarities make it nearly impossible to distinguish federal agency economics news from Sanford appointee economics news. Here’s a hint: go with your gut.

0 out of 4: Thanks for playing! Remember, it doesn't matter where you rank against the other players; you are strong and you have a story to tell.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

SC Buddhist Republicans unanimously condemn Jordan

Ernie Barrow, president and
sole member of SCBR

'Not a single vote of our single vote will go towards his election,' says member

B & P News – Columbia

Anderson physician Henry Jordan’s primary campaign for Lt. Governor faced its first setback today, as the Republican candidate was blasted unanimously by a state GOP organization.

“We unanimously condemn the candidacy of Dr. Jordan,” said Columbia native Ernie Barrow, the president, founder and sole member of the SC Buddhist Republicans. “Not a single vote of our single vote will go towards his election.”

Political analysts say that the non-endorsement is the result of an off-color comment made by Jordan in 1997 while serving on the state’s Board of Education. The candidate was quoted as saying “Screw the Buddhists and kill the Muslims” in his effort to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in public schools.

“Dr. Jordan’s mouth certainly caused him to lose this precious bloc of vote,” said Furman University political scientist Bo Leggett. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the GOP Muslim Coalition follows suit and casts his vote elsewhere too.”

Jordan, for his part, maintains that his words were misinterpreted.

“I said ‘screw the Buddhists’ in the same fun-loving way you might say ‘screw the pooch’ or ‘screw you, you screwed-up screwball.’ I don’t see the big deal,” said Jordan. “As for the rest, I never said it. I said ‘kill the Mormons.’ It’s totally different.”

SC Buddhist Republicans plans to protest Jordan’s candidacy with an anti-Jordan march next week in Columbia, when the organization plans to carry “one, maybe two signs” during its daily walk around its neighborhood.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Upstate Update: News from the Tomato Belt

As you know if you’ve been with Barbecue & Politics since the get-go, the Tomato Belt has always been a sort of terra incognita for Gervais. Still, the blog managed to get a little ink from the Greenville News this weekend, in Dan Hoover’s Sunday piece called “Bauer's foot puts career on the line":

The state's political blogs are having a field day at Bauer's expense.

One, Barbecue and Politics, reported on ficti
tious legislative action appropriating $12 million to build an "Andrebahn" where the minimum speed would be 90 mph and only Bauer would be allowed on it.
Thanks for the mention, Mr. Hoover!

Also in Tomato Belt news, an astute commenter pointed out the latest tidbit regarding avowed public education opponent (and Sanford appointee to the Education Oversight Committee) Karen Iacovelli. The upstate businesswoman - who resigned last month for health reasons as meddlesome bloggers discussed her pledge, “I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education,” - has resurfaced on the board of the SC Club for Growth. From her bio on the Club’s site:
She currently serves as advisor to United New Yorkers for Choice in Education and is a member of the South Carolina Education Oversight Committee [sic?!].
While I have no doubt Mrs. Iacovelli has Lyme Disease, as reported in The State, nor do I have any misconceptions about the debilitating nature of the disease, I do question the notion that it’s why she resigned from the bi-monthly-meeting EOC. Especially now that she’s bounced back and joined the Club for Growth.

Gervais says, the only tick involved in Iacovelli leaving the Oversight Committee was the ticking of the time bomb she represented for Sanford.

(go to next Iacovelli-related post)

Lastly, Andersonian Henry Jordan has already thrown up a campaign site for his Lt. Gov. candidacy, which features the Christian Wire Service article announcing his candidacy:
He was best known during his tenure on the State Board of Education for his defense of the public display of the Ten Commandments, including the constitutional right of students to post the Ten Commandments on the walls of our public schools.
Finally, a champion of the Constitution.

As I’ve said before - whether you’re a strict constructionist or a loose constructionist, there’s one thing you cannot deny about the Framers of the Constitution: They all thought tomatoes were poisonous.

Maybe they were onto something.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Top Ten Mania!

Not to overstate the obvious, but Top Ten Lists = Sound Campaign Strategy. Mike Campbell takes a crack at it with this press release (WIS-tv):

The Bauer campaign is trying to divert attention from its meltdown by attempting to compare his pattern of inexcusable behavior over several years to one incident in which my staff member was stopped in February. Here are my top ten differences:

1. I am not an elected official.

2. We did not use a police radio with a made up call number to try and intimidate the officer.

3. I have the good sense to have someone drive me to events, particularly at night when I'm tired or have a heavy schedule.

4. My campaign aide who doubled as driver is paid by the campaign, not the taxpayers.

5. He was only driving about half the speed of Mr. Bauer’s 103 mph world land record.

6. I have not sent out apologists demanding that the taxpayers pay $64,000 for someone to drive me around, and will not do so as lieutenant governor.

7. No law enforcement officer has ever had to point a gun at me.

8. My staff member will not be joining the Lt. Governor at Frankie’s Fun Park tonight.

9. He stopped immediately for the officers
[sic] blue light and didn’t ask if his camera was running.

10. The incident occurred in dry daylight, not on a rainy Saturday night at 11:45 PM.