Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Top Ten

Mark Sanford (pictured, after being forcibly subdued by state officials) vetoed 243 items in the SC budget yesterday. Vetoed line items included $20 million in “fatty fatty pork pork” to expand Medicaid programs for children; $500,000 in “pork-covered pork with pork filling” for the Dept. of Disabilities and Special Needs' disabled-friendly campground; and $1.2 million in “wee wee wee all the way home, not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin, th-th-th-that's all folks!” pork-a-rama for a dropout prevention program for at-risk students.

Some may call him “heartless,” but Gervais thinks he’s more Scarecrow than Tin Man, if you know what I’m saying. At any rate, Barbecue & Politics asks the question, what are the...

Top Ten other items Sanford vetoed from the state budget:

10) $25 for fire extinguisher, Colleton Home for Abandoned Orphans and Fireworks Depot

9) $300 for drinking straws, Palmetto Center for Armless Veterans

8) $500,000 security detail for persons threatened with sexual assault by Rep. Thad Viers

7) The Sex and the City episode where Carrie breaks up with Big – oops, that’s one of the top ten items Sanford has TiVo’d

6) Unintelligible string of “emoticons” bobtailed onto budget via text message from Sen. Glenn McConnell

5) $.75 for USC researchers to conclusively determine number of licks required to reach Tootsie Roll center of Tootsie Pop

4) $5,000 for novacaine, Kershaw Dental Clinic for Homeless Puppies

3) Throw Momma From the Train – oops, that’s one of Sanford’s top ten favorite movies featuring Danny DeVito

2) $3,000,000, electricity, South Carolina public schools

1) $800,000, construction, Mark Sanford Gubernatorial Museum and Library, Fairbanks, Alaska

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Doc’s Barbeque: a Front Page Meal

Have you ever seen newspaper editor Brad Warthen put a biker in a headlock for a cup of banana pudding? Or semi-retired columnist Lee Bandy arm-wrestle an Eagle Scout for a piece of fried okra? Or writer John Monk shoot a man for ‘eyein’ his catfish fritters?’

Well, neither have I. (Except for the John Monk part. Long story.) But if you’re ever gonna see those things, it’ll probably be at Doc’s Barbeque & Southern Buffet. Out on Shop Road, just beyond The State newspaper's headquarters, Doc’s serves up one mean lunch buffet.

This buffet bar has the goods – “sweet blend” mustard-based pulled pork, pepper-vinegar pulled pork, mac and cheese, potato salad, collard greens, and cole slaw – along with a ton of extras you might not find at just any old ‘cue joint: like Doc’s spicy, mouthwatering fried catfish nuggets and its famous “chocolate cobbler.” Or, as a co-worker calls it, “chocolate meatloaf.”

Trae McCarthy (pictured) and his crew serve up the goods from 10:30- 3:00 PM on weekdays, and on days of games at nearby Williams-Brice Stadium. And from what I’ve seen, Doc’s always packs the house.

It’s worth mentioning that Doc’s also has Diet Dr. Pepper on their soda fountain. Which is good, because they serve what may be the spiciest hash in town. What’s the secret ingredient? Sources say it’s either Cindi Ross Scoppe’s latest editorial ground into a fine powder, or the ashes of N.G. Gonzales.

Either way, next time you get a weekday (or gameday) craving for good barbecue, great sides and a whole slew of cole slaw, cruise on down to Shop Road by the 3:00 deadline. Gervais says, you’ll be glad you did.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wagener councilman insists he's not part of 'Cartel Ravenel'

Wagener Ravenel supporter and town councilman Mike Miller says he's not the same Michael Miller involved in the cocaine distribution conspiracy allegations against Thomas Ravenel. From the Aiken Standard:

"It was kind of cute to begin with but now it's bothersome," he said. "It's gone on all day for two days now. I sure would like to clear my name."
I bet you would, Mr. Miller. I bet you would. Why don't you start by describing in detail where you were during, let's say, 2005?

UPDATE: B&P has learned that the actual alleged drug dealer, Michael L. Miller, has responded by emphatically denying any involvement whatsoever with the Wagener town council. Said Miller from a Charleston detention center, "I, too, wanted to clear my name of such unsavory insinuations."

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Check out the photo accompanying the Ravenel story on Charleston's ABC affiliate's website. If that's "less than 500 grams," then I need to recalibrate my triple-beam.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Voucher Voice, pt. III: the sad, predictable finale

So where were we? Oh yeah, trying to figure out if the Voucher Voice is a genuine SC blogger with an axe to grind or just another libertarian outsider pushing the voucher scheme here in the Palmetto State.

So far, all we know is that the Voucher Voice is a man named Herbert. "Herbert1820." He likes to “blog it, nee-ga!” and advertise his site on SCHotline. That’s good stuff, but it tells us little about Herbert’s motives here in South Carolina.

As an added bonus, while doing my figgerin', Gervais also happened to learn that the philosopher Herbert Spencer (father of Social Darwinism) was born in 1820. That’s probably just a coincidence, though. What does Social Darwinism have to do with vouchers?

Turns out, Herbert1820 isn’t really named "Herbert." I lied about that, but you folks seem to like a dramatic build-up for these sorts of things. As a point of fact, if you plug the Voice for School Choice's username into the LookSmart database, you’ll find that the “herbert1820 education archive” belongs to a fella named Chaim “Chuck” Karczag.

Who is Chuck Karczag? Yeah, he's a blogger who says “Inez is a total slut." But who is he and what is he doing in our state?

a) a “notable libertarian” and one-time “leader of the … College Libertarians at Rutgers University -- a campus so anti-freedom that he dubs it ‘Moscow on the Raritan [River]?’”

b) West Orange, NJ signatory of the anti-public school pledge, "I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education?”

c) apparent aficionado of Herbert Spencer

d) the “PR director for a grassroots organisation in South Carolina?”

e) all of the above.

I don’t want to give away the answer, other than to say that it’s a vowel. Like I said before, the Voucher Voice may be a soccer mom from Irmo, a farmer out in Gilbert, or a pastor from the Pee Dee. But then again, he may be just another shill for 'South Carolinians' for Responsible Government.

Gervais says, reach your own conclusions about Chuck Karczag. Personally, I don’t think “ending government involvement in education” is an SC value. People who sign pledges like that typically don't want other South Carolinians to know about it. I think the average Sandlapper – conservative, moderate or liberal, public or private school parent - values our public schools and wants to improve them. And I think that’s why the libertarian fringe behind Put Parents In Charge/SCRG has been so unsuccessful here. (next Voucher Voice post)

Ravenel coverage in the SC blogosphere

Below: Thomas "Escobar" Ravenel smuggles coke across the border

Ravenel's Alleged Co-Conspirator
The Indictment

Palmetto Scoop:
Giuliani Statement on Ravenel Indictment
New perspective means new questions

Brad Warthen:
Looks like Lindsey is safe
Rudy not having a good day
What does Ravenel cocaine bust mean?

The Shot/Chaser:
Ravenel Stings Rudy
The best video ever!
Dems take a whack at Ravenel

A MAJOR hit for Giuliani

T-Rav indicted on drug charges

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Voucher Voice pt. II: "Blog it nee-ga!"

So who is the Voucher Voice: an anonymous Sandlapper blogging his or her SC heart out, or just another paid shill for the out-of-state voucher lobby? It’s a fair question, considering the blog advertises itself on SCHotline. Not many bloggers use their hard-earned money to promote their blogs.

Turns out, the Voucher Voice isn’t as anonymous as it seems at first blush. A quick Google blogsearch reveals that the Voice goes by the handle "Herbert1820."

So the Voucher Voice is a guy. Named Herbert. Makes sense, because guys named Herbert are 39% more likely to get beat up in school than non-Herberts; ergo, they are more likely harbor a deep-seated resentment for the rest of their lives.

Herbert1820 has another website, too. Really, he just uses another website to store info about vouchers. It’s called LookSmart FURL, “Your personal web file.” Pretty neat idea. There, at the Herbert1820 Education Archive, he likes to keep a list of voucher articles written by various newspapers and libertarian think-tanks. And that’s not all – Herbert also adds comments about the articles he finds.

Some of these comments are mundane, like "Bush the big spender" and "For Christ's sakes."

Others can be downright entertaining, like “Inez is a total slut” and “Blog it nee-ga!

I think “Inez” might refer to the former Supt. of Education, but I have no idea what “nee-ga” means. Sounds Native American.

If there are any Native American studies majors out there who know what the Voucher Voice means by “blog it, nee-ga!” shoot me an email. We can discuss that tomorrow, when we try to finally figure out whether the Voice has the best interests of SC at heart, or simply has an ideological aversion to public schools. (Go to Part Three)

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Voice for School Choice: vocal local or shillin' villain?

Some of you may have seen a new blog called the Voice for School Choice, which often has a banner advertisement over on SCHotline. I dunno why a blog would advertise itself like that, but I admit I like to look at it every now and then.

There’s no question the voucher lobby here in SC is funded and operated by out-of-state libertarians. I think I’ve noted once or twice how the voucher prop-up group “South Carolinians for Responsible Government” once sent bogus letters to the editor to The State newspaper under a pseudonym, even though they supposedly have legions of grass roots supporters. And maybe I’ve pointed out here or there that SCRG is funded by an out-of-state millionaire who has similarly named organizations in several states. Or perhaps I’ve mentioned in passing how SCRG’s radio ads mispronounce the word “Carolinians.” Oops.

De-legitimizing the "grass roots" voucher lobby, you might say, is my bread and butter here at Barbecue & Politics.

But this blog, the Voice for School Choice, is totally different. According the the website, the Voice "is committed to advancing expanded education opportunities and options right here in South Carolina." It’s probably written by an actual South Carolinian who cares about what's best for the Palmetto State, not just some ideologue here to lobby for a libertarian voucher agenda. Perhaps she’s a soccer mom with two kids in Irmo. Or maybe he’s a black minister from the Pee Dee. Maybe the Voice is a farmer out in Gilbert, I don't know.

There’s no telling where this down-home blogger resides, because he or she blogs anonymously -- possibly to protect himself from the nefarious “Education Establishment” when he or she posts things like this:

"I’d hate to be an anti-school choice Republican around the next election. I have a feeling that a few of them are going to meet with the wrath of some angry, unforgiving, and politically-engaged parents."

That's not a cool breeze you feel: that's the refreshingness of having someone with authentic South Carolina values blogging for vouchers.

[pause for effect]

Okay, I’m just messing with you. I may have just fallen off the turnip truck, but I was wearing my turnip truck helmet when it happened. If vouchers were an SC idea, or were even good for SC schoolchildren, I’d play along. But y'all know I’ve always been leery of the folks who came here a couple years ago to assail our schools. So Gervais decided to pose the question:

Voucher Voice: Lone citizen gunman taking aim at public schools, or another libertarian outsider shilling for the SC voucher lobby?

We'll see... (Go to Part Two)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rep. Thad Viers: sic, sic, sic

They say crime doesn't pay, but I don't know about that. Some crimes, if I had to guess, pay pretty well. Embezzlement. Fraud. Counterfeiting money. Those crimes will probably buy you a nice house in Shandon, or at least a flat-screen TV.

No, I have to think that whoever coined the phrase "crime doesn't pay" was thinking of stupid crimes, like threatening to sexually assault another man and his parents over the phone. State Rep. Thad Viers pleaded no contest to charges of phone threats yesterday morning. He released a statement, too, which is pasted below, verbatim, from the WLTX News site:

Rep. Viers released a statement to News19 Thursday:

"Todays events mark the conclusion of a sad chapter in my life [sic]. What started as a very promising day last Fall in an attempt to reconcile with my wife, went horribly wrong when she told me she had been seeing someone during the course of our separation. I and those around me lost our tempers and exercised poor judgment. In a world where public officials all to often seem to have no shame, I admit to being very ashamed [sic]. The words left by me and others on Mr. Ziegler's machine were wrong and hurtful. At the same time the some of those emotional words were mine, and were the words of a man still very much in love with his wife [sic]. In most of our lives, we can point to a time where as it relates to matters of the heart our emotions override our good sense. These events represent that for me and I look forward to moving on with my life."

I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone get sic'd so thoroughly by a news outlet before. And I know what you're thinking, so I asked a friend of mine: yes, the Citadel does require students to take English. And yes, a cursory familiarity with the language is an asset at USC Law. And the SC House -- well, I saw a representative spitting tobacco juice into a Starbucks cup last week on the House floor, so I don't want to jump to any conclusions about that.

If I'm being totally honest, Gervais didn't hear any violins as I read this release. I even put on one of Hannah Jane's Indigo Girls albums and re-read it, but still no tears. Maybe I'm jaded, but I don't buy the whole love-struck Romeo line. I doubt Viers and his buddies were sipping Merlot and watching Ghost when they decided to call up this guy and threaten to sodomize him.

In fact, this behavior isn't an entirely new experience for Viers at all. Back in 2003, in another moment of weakness, Viers apparently puffed out his chest at a circuit court judge who ultimately didn't rule his way:

On Friday, when Viers learned the clinic was asking a judge to rule, Representative Viers said, "They forget in this state that I get to vote on the judges." [in South Carolina judges are selected by the legislature] He later said the comment was not serious and prompted by anger.

Before the hearing began, Breeden warned that "intimidation and veiled threats cannot be allowed," and he promised to "rule without fear or favor."

Threats seem to be this kid's modus operandi if you ask me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Top Ten

One of SC’s bestest and brightest, Rep. Thad Viers (R-Horry), will be in court this morning facing charges of unlawful communication, for allegedly threatening the boyfriend of his estranged wife. Columbia resident John Zeigler says that last September, Viers called him six times and threatened to physically and sexually assault Ziegler and his parents.

Gervais says, I believe in the tenet of "innocent until proven guilty," but I also believe in its lesser-known corollary: “unless there is a recording.” We’ll see. Regardless, here are the…

Top Ten other allegations in the “unlawful communications” complaint against Rep. Thad Viers

10. Refused to silence cell phone during Mission: Impossible III, despite clear admonition during previews

9. Profanity-laden phone calls were made “collect,” without saving money by “dialing down the center”

8. When describing sexual acts allegedly performed on victim’s girlfriend, paused to ask “Can you hear me now? Good.”

7. Menacing communications rudely placed during Super Nanny season finale

6. Caller threatened to “get to second base” with victim’s truck

5. Failed to properly credit Stevie Wonder as inspiration for phrase “I just called to say I’m going to beat up your parents”

4. Contrary to Telephone Consumer Protection Act, called a member of the national “Do Not Call and Threaten to Rape” registry

3. Deftly disguised voice as “idiot legislator with hand cupped over phone”

2. Neglected to phrase all threats in form of a question, contrary to explicit Jeopardy rules

1. Ended every vulgar missive with an enthusiastic “all in favor say ‘aye’”

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Great news

Rumor has it that Hudson’s BBQ, on Sunset Boulevard in Lexington, is opening up shop where the Po’ Pigs Bo-B-Q used to be on Knox Abbott Rd. in West Columbia. This is great news. Driving past the vacant, lifeless Po’ Pigs building on the way home from work each day is like watching your childhood home burn to the ground with your dog inside.

Only more emotional.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Weekend Trimmings

Here's Gervais' trimmings from the MSM over the weekend... enjoy!

The Dixie Stampede must be booked:

Thousands could be flocking to the Palace Theater in Myrtle Beach. Not for a broadway production or a big stage play but to be broadcast, around the world, the final Democratic presidential debate before South Carolinians vote next January.

City prepares for possible debate, WPDE TV Florence

This just sounded nice:

Congaree National Park is seeking volunteer "citizen scientists" of all ages to help with the park's annual Butterfly Count. The 2007 Congaree National Park Butterfly Count will be held on Saturday, June 30, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center.

Butterfly counters needed at Congaree National Park, Gaffney Ledger

“Queen” of all trades:

Laurin Manning is taking a break from law school to work as Democratic Senator Barack Obama's jack-of-all trades in South Carolina, earning about $2,300 a month. Her office walls are bare and her title not yet settled. The 26-year-old Manning says she's doing a little bit of everything, politics, communications and policy liaison. She had worked on Virginia Senator Jim Webb's successful campaign one week last year.

Presidential campaigns create jobs for college grads, WIS-TV

Cobb-Hunter sounds off on the budget:

“I believe that (the Senate version) is more fair to a greater number of working people. The House version would have given money back to the top 2 percent as opposed to the Senate version, which is bottom-up… I have always favored relief for working people,” [Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter] said.

Cobb-Hunter: Budget ‘hostage’ to DOT reform, tax cuts, Times & Democrat

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ryan's Bill becomes law

This Thursday, South Carolina became the 18th state to require that health insurance includes coverage of autism therapy for children. Doctor-prescribed ABA therapy is an intensive, and therefore expensive, autism therapy - but it's so effective that about half of the children who receive it are able to enter 1st grade on time.

Gervais says, great job Autism Angels and legislators!

From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

The Legislature also overrode Sanford's veto of a bill that would require insurance companies to provide coverage for children with autism. After the House overturned the veto by a 114-0 vote, Rep. Jimmy Bales, D-Eastover, looked at the tally board and with a grin said, "Now that's an override."
From the Greenville News:
"How often has there been a unanimous override in the House and the Senate?" said Dr. Desmond Kelly, medical director of developmental-behavioral pediatrics at Greenville Hospital System's Children's Hospital. "The legislators were clear in their support, and that's great."

Friday, June 08, 2007


"The average bus in the state is 14 years old, with some 1984 models still on the road, according to the agency."

Legislature overturns bus veto, The State

"If there's a silver lining in this veto - and admittedly it's hard to find - it's how the support for replacing these old school buses was solidified in both the House and the Senate," said state education Superintendent Jim Rex. "What's frustrating, though, is to see how long it can take sometimes to do things that most South Carolinians want done."

-News from around the Statehouse on Thursday , AP

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New Top Ten

On Sunday, the Dem presidential candidates had their second debate, and pretty much out-of-nowhere decided to break the long-standing tradition of boring-ass Democratic debates. The highlight was undoubtedly Barack Obama’s response to John Edwards’ attack on his leadership on Iraq. Replied Obama to Edwards (who voted to authorize the war in Iraq), “You are about four and a half years late on leadership on this issue." Ouch.

Now Barbecue & Politics asks, what were the…

Top Ten other times John Edwards has been four and half years too late

10. 1991: Edwards learns to “Walk like an Egyptian,” long after the Bangles have faded into obscurity

9. 1953: Edwards born in Seneca, SC after unprecedented five-year pregnancy

8. 1987: Edwards calls for Royals slugger George Brett to use less pine tar on bat

7. 1990-present: still occasionally makes “Macaulay Culkin face” when reporter catches him off guard

6. 1989: Edwards contracts the last known case of “Pac Man Fever”

5. 1496: Edwards sails the ocean blue

4. 2007: FEC disclosures show Edwards spent $400 in campaign funds for hairstylist to give him “The Rachel”

3. 1986: realizes Coke actually is it

2. 1974: upon wine request, Edwards informed, “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969”

1. 2011: During 2012 presidential bid, calls for downgrade of Pluto to “dwarf planet”

Monday, June 04, 2007

Weekend Trimmings

A healthy skepticism:

[State Sen. Kay] Patterson said he questioned the motives of groups pushing the vouchers - such as South Carolinians for Responsible Government … "Last week these groups are railing against having a black judge on the Supreme Court, and this week they're speaking out in the best interests of poor black children," Patterson said. "I get suspicious of that."

School voucher concept finds few friends in state SenateSpartanburg Herald-Journal

Different building, ergo different funding:

Some people think CEO does the bidding of SCRG, a voucher-lobbying group widely believed to be bankrolled by out-of-state interests. That’s hardly the case, they said. CEO isn’t funded by SCRG, and purposely located its offices away from that group to make sure people know the difference, the Rev. Davis said.

Black school choice advocates say goal is to save poor black kids, The State

Now I'm just piling on:
Does all of this debate indicate a true concern that our state provide equal opportunity for a quality education or simply the anticipation of successfully establishing a voucher system in South Carolina, a campaign backed in part by out-of-state interests? (What their interest is, no one seems to know. Or, at least, they’re not telling.)

Let’s get this party started:

Cory Burnell, leader of the Christian Exodus, said he is ready to move his family and operations to Anderson…Another two dozen families, he said, anticipate being here by 2008.

Christian Exodus leader to call Anderson home by July, Anderson Independent-Mail

Added to my "places not to go while taking LSD" list:

Hay bales and a 1936 farm truck decorate the lobby, along with an animatronic cow named Bessie that talks about Billy Graham as a young boy. Critics dubbed the animal the "Golden Calf," saying it wasn't appropriate for honoring the evangelist. But Franklin Graham said it was critical to include displays appealing to kids.

Graham's museum, library is dedicated, AP

As long as we’re coming clean, I never read Ethan Frome:
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards misspoke when he said he read a National Intelligence Report before authorizing the war in Iraq, his campaign said…. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, acknowledged this week that she also did not read the full report before voting to authorize the war.

Edwards' campaign says he misspoke about reading Iraq report, AP

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Re-Hash: Scowl Scowlson

The big news in the blogosphere this week is undoubtedly the official entry of Frown - er, Fred - Thompson into the GOP presidential contest. Visit the fine SC blog coverage here:

Brad Warthen's Blog: Playing Hard to Get
SC '08: Fred Frenzy
The Chaser: Thompson begins courting SCGOP
The Palmetto Scoop: SC legislators urge Thompson to run
FITS NEWS: Right Said Fred

In honor of Thompson's official big splash into the race for the GOP nod, Gervais has a little game: The Faces of Fred. It's pretty easy ... just match the expression in the photos to the event which elicited such a tender, emotional response. Here goes:

1. Just watched YouTube video of baby panda bear sneezing.

2. Found twenty dollar bill in pants pocket.

3. Hears his Weird Al Yankovic ring-tone.

4. Sees elderly couple holding hands in park.

5. Dog just farted out loud.

6. Just "huffed" a nitrous oxide balloon.

7. Feet being tickled by nuzzling baby bunny.

8. Narrowly escapes fiery automobile crash.

9. USA defeats Soviet Union in hockey, 1980.

Answers: (1)C ( 2)G (3)I (4)A (5)F (6)H (7)B (8)E (9)D

Have a great weekend!