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SCE&G cites advantages of nuclear project

By Jerry Bellune, Lexington County Chronicle
jerrybellune@yahoo.com

Despite its critics, S.C. Electric & Gas believes its nuclear plants will benefit its customers.

The company wrote the Chronicle that it hoped in a spirit of fair and balanced coverage that the newspaper will point out the many benefits of the plants.

Among them, SCE&G’s Eric Boomhower wrote:

  • “A clean, reliable energy future for the people who live and work in South Carolina, as well as their children and grandchildren.
  • “The nuclear units will help ensure South Carolina is well positioned to comply with any federal rules requiring states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • “On completion of the two new units, SCE&G’s electric generation portfolio will be 60% non-greenhouse-gas emitting.
  • “If schedules are met for both units, the benefit of Federal Production Tax Credits to SCE&G customers could be approximately $2.2 billion.
  • “The new nuclear units will result in a very balanced energy portfolio for SCE&G, providing the flexibility to take advantage of whatever generation option makes economic sense for its customers.
  • “This project is creating thousands of jobs for a homegrown workforce and fueling substantial economic development in South Carolina.  Already, approximately 3,800 workers have been hired to support construction of the units.

A majority of these jobs are held by South Carolina residents. Operation of the units will create about 800 permanent job positions.

  • “SCE&G has partnered with numerous South Carolina colleges and universities to develop nuclear-related academic and technical training programs that will continue to build a highly skilled workforce in our state.

SCE&G defends analysis, benefit to customers

By Jerry Bellune, Lexington County Chronicle
jerrybellune@yahoo.com

Accountant have found that a state law actually helps utility customers.

That S.C. Electric & Gas’s response to critics of an analysis on the state’s Base Load Review Act.

Critics say the accountants’ analysis failed to reveal how cost overruns and delays robbed customers of ever recovering their investment through annual rate hikes.

The state Office of Regulatory Control hired a professional accounting firm to perform an independent analysis of the Base Load Review Act to determine if it benefits customers.

“This review confirmed that the BLRA is cost beneficial to customers and in the state’s public interest,” SCE&G’s Eric Boomhower responded to the Chronicle.

“As state legislators envisioned when they created the law, the BLRA has the effect of lowering the total cost of our new nuclear units to customers (independently verified to be approximately $4 billion in savings) while protecting them from responsibility for imprudently incurred costs.”

To questions about penalties for cost overruns and delays, Boomhower wrote, “Nearly a year ago, we announced that our Engineering, Procurement, and Construction contract for this project had been amended to provide for significantly higher financial penalties linked to timely completion of the nuclear plants.

“We also negotiated a fixed price option which provides substantial value to our customers, investors and our company by limiting the risk of future cost increases. In electing this option, we are fixing the costs on the biggest remaining facets of the project, to include time, materials, and contractor wages.

“This shifts financial risks associated with timely completion of the project to Westinghouse, which is responsible for construction at the site.”

“Regarding the figures you (the Chronicle) reference in your question — you say that the $86 million figure (SCE&G’s share of the liquidated damages provision in our original EPC contract) is “less than 1% of the originally estimated construction cost.” To clarify, SCE&G’s total share of the project, as originally approved by the Commission in February 2009, was $6.313 billion (Order 2009-104A for your reference).

One percent of that would be $63 million.”

SCE&G foes call for analysis of lost savings

By Jerry Bellune, Lexington County Chronicle
jerrybellune@yahoo.com

An audit of S.C. Electric & Gas fails to show how cost overruns hurt customers.

That’s the contention of members of the Stop the Blank Check Coalition.

It’s why they want an independent analysis of what SCE&G’s rate hikes under a state law are doing to the company’s customers.

SCE&G spokesman Eric Boomhower responded that professional accountants confirmed that the state law benefits customers.

He said the law has lowered the total cost of new nuclear units to customers.

SCE&G’s full statement is on Page __.

Critics contend that state law was written in error to give SCE&G a blank check to profit from accelerating costs of its nuclear plants, all paid for by customers.

“The SCE&G pitch is that the law (the Base Load Review Act) will save consumers money,” said S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce CEO  Frank Knapp.

“They even point to a study conducted for the Office of Regulatory Staff that says that.  But the issue has never been that paying the construction financing costs right away instead of letting the interest build up until construction is completed will save money.

“Any high school economic student can tell you that.

When the American Association of Retired People and the Small Business  Chamber asked for the study last fall, they wanted to know how many savings promised under law had been lost due to cost overruns and delays, he said.

“That’s not the analysis that was done,” he said.

The group proposes law reforms that will make it work better for consumers.

“The SCE&G pushback is a smokescreen to deflect from the poor construction management and lack of Public Service Commission ability to say no to SCE&G under the BLRA,” he said.

“Unfortunately some legislators who really don’t understand the law and how SCE&G has used it are inclined to fall for the tactic.”

The reforms require:

  • Additional construction financing costs be paid by SCE&G, not its customers.
  • Empower the Public Service Commission to adjust a 10.5% Return on Equity that gives SCE&G a profit when it raises rates.
  • Force SCE&G  to show its business decisions were prudent and not the result of mismanagement.

Editorial: Public Disservice Commission needs reform

From the Lexington County Chronicle

When state lawmakers named the first regulators in 1878, Wade Hampton was governor and the commission’s job was overseeing the railroads.

Since then, the state grants utilities and other service providers monopolies in specific territories and supposedly oversees what they do in the interest of the public. Great concept, poor execution.

As constituted now and governed by ham-stringing state law, Public Service Commissioners are paid more than $100,000 a year to rubber stamp just about anything a utility asks them for. That includes excessive rate increases to fatten the wallets of utility shareholders and executives who work for them.

Regulators should have the power to act to protect us from utilities’ abuses.

Frankly, in the cases of renegade, out-of-state-owned Carolina Water Service and S.C. Electric & Gas, the argument that the PSC regulates anything is a joke.

Carolina Water customers have endured years of indifferent service from owners who don’t even live here, dirty water, a failing underground delivery system and sky-high water bills.

Let us ask you this: How would you feel about paying $2,400 or more a year just for clean water? If you could get clean water from Carolina Water Service?

Customers have testified multiple times before the PSC about Carolina Water and what happens?

Zip. Zero. Nothing.

There seems to be no need for the PSC if they don’t, won’t or legally can’t regulate utilities.

Now as to the SCE&G rates, the story is the same but with this interesting twist.

Our state lawmakers, in their wisdom, passed the Base Load Review Act which apparently gives utilities the right to raise rates any time they want to any height they want and the PSC is hamstrung to do anything about it.

A coalition of community groups wants lawmakers to change the law to better protect the public from Carolina Water and SCE&G.

They want utility investors to bear the costs of building nuclear plants, not customers like you.

They want the PSC to have the power to adjust rates so that those who mismanage these plants do not profit by their own mistakes.

If you agree with them, please let your lawmakers know about it.

$21.5 Million Available for State Roads, But Going to Congressman’s Wish List

‘This congressman is still in Washington . . . I’ll just stop at that’


By Hannah Hill for TheNerve.org

August 24, 2016

Last week, the Department of Transportation Commission voted to spend $21.5 million of federal money on a list of projects associated with Congressman Jim Clyburn.

The commission-approved project list looks very different from DOT’s road project priority list, however. It includes, for example, $11.5 million for a Main Street revitalization project in Sumter and around $360,000 for pedestrian facilities in Anderson – neither of which are even on DOT’s priority list.

That’s somewhat surprising, since one of the few things lawmakers seemed to agree on during the 2016 session was the need for road funding to align with an objective priority list. The roads bill finally passed by the legislature included a gesture toward prioritization by requiring the STIB to run all loan decisions by the DOT commission and to follow Act 114 criteria for road funding decisions. Read the rest of this entry »

NOBLE COLUMN: Corruption, Plantations and Politics in South Carolina

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

Recently, I was talking with a woman who lives in Columbia and works with government contracting on the local, state and national level.  She is a very accomplished professional who has built a multi-million dollar business. She runs her business with honesty and integrity.

In talking about her work with South Carolina state government she said something that stopped me dead in my tracks.  She said, “State government has become so corrupt on every level and it’s been that way for so long that people just accept it as business as usual – just the way it is.”

Read what she said again.  Normal = corruption.

There are lots of reasons for this and one of the biggest reason is that the legislature makes the laws – and thus write in loopholes, exceptions, fuzzy language and such that makes what ought to be illegal legal.  Many things that happen in the daily course of doing business are not illegal but they should be and are definitely corrupt.

What struck me most about my friend’s statement was that folks who do business with state government have come to expect that things will be corrupt… and it’s this expectation that allows it to continue. This set me to thinking about the idea of expectations and what are our expectations of our state.

Child psychologists tell us that children’s self-image, what they think of themselves, has a lot to do with their own expectations for success.  Kids who think they can’t succeed don’t – and kids who think they can succeed do.

So how have our expectations and experiences as a state played themselves out? On the one hand, we have had great victories and on the other hand, we have had humiliating defeats. This has given us as a state a very bizarre psyche.  One writer said that we have a ‘debilitating inferiority complex’ coupled with a ‘soaring arrogance’ – and I think we do.

Much of this mindset was shaped by our experiences in the two revolutions where our state played such a vital role. In the first revolution against the British, South Carolina played a pivotal role – and we won. There were more Revolutionary War battles (in all honestly, many were just skirmishes) in South Carolina than in any other colony. South Carolinians were bold, audacious and willing to take on the most powerful nation on earth. And, with the help of 12 other colonies, we won.

In the second revolution, the Civil War, the sons and grandsons of 1776 displayed that same audaciousness against the government their ancestors helped create.  This time, we lost – and it cost our nation 600,000 lives, more than in all the other wars before and after combined.

Though some would never admit it, this last humiliation has left us with a psychological scar and terrible self-image. For generations we have thought of ourselves as ‘poor ole South Carolina’ …’thank God for Mississippi’ as they are always worse off than we are.

Given the scramble of these two historic events – and then throw in the issues of slavery that permeated both revolutions – it’s no wonder that we in South Carolina have developed a unique and bizarre psyche. I don’t quite know how to describe it but I think the Millennials have a phrase for it – a hot mess.

In short, as a state, our triumphs are tangled up with our tragedies.

Both of these big events, indeed much of South Carolina’s history, have played out within the context of a Plantation Mentality.  A few people ran the plantations (and later textile mills) and the rest of us worked for them.  The masters call the shots on the plantation, in the economy, in society, and in politics.  Occasionally, there have been a few domestic uprisings (Ben Tillman, the Textile Strike of 1934, the civil rights movement, etc.) but by and large we accepted that the folks in the Big House will run the show.

The Plantation Mentality also says there is not much we can do about it, that we have to accept what they in the Big House (i.e. Statehouse) do. Further, when there is no political competition or challenge, we get one party rule – first it was the Democrats and for the last generation or so, the Republicans. One party rule leads to one party having essentially unchallenged power – and you know the rest – “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

So what does all this historic psycho-babble have to do with corruption in South Carolina government today? Is this just a rant by a Democrat who wants to get ‘us in and them out’?

No, as it’s really not about Democrats and Republicans but about insiders and outsiders. Too often Democrats have simply given up on challenging the Republicans and trying to win and have instead just decided to cut their own deal to get what they can for themselves and their friends…. i.e. see my friend’s comments at the top of this column.

There is not space in this column to list all the solutions – and there are solutions – but we must first begin with a clear-eyed understanding of where we are and how we got here … and we must expect more of ourselves and our leaders.

It’s a beginning.

 

Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and writes a weekly column for the S.C. Press Association. www.PhilNoble.com   phil@philnoble.com

“Leaners” from The Times and Democrat

"Leaners" from The Times and Democrat

“Leaners” from The Times and Democrat

“Fed Regs” from The Times and Democrat

"Fed Regs" from The Times and Democrat

“Fed Regs” from The Times and Democrat

“Clinton Pants” from The Times and Democrat

"Clinton Pants" from The Times and Democrat

“Clinton Pants” from The Times and Democrat

“GOP Outreach” by Stuart Neiman

"GOP Outreach" by Stuart Neiman

“GOP Outreach” by Stuart Neiman

“John McLaughlin” by Stuart Neiman

"John Mclaughin" by Stuart Neiman

“John McLaughlin” by Stuart Neiman

Austin Dillon Wins Food City 300 At Bristol After Leaders Have Trouble In Closing Laps

Photo by: Tyler Goodson/TheFourthTurn.com

Photo by: Tyler Goodson/TheFourthTurn.com

By: Camille Jones/TheFourthTurn.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. –  Austin Dillon took home a surprise victory in NASCAR Overtime after a tight battle for the top position took dominant race leaders out of contention in Friday night’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Dillon, the driver of the Richard Childress Racing No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet Camaro only led the final four of the 308 total laps raced to capture his second victory of the season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He won at Auto Club Speedway Back in March. Friday Night’s win marks his first at Bristol Motor Speedway, as well as his 12th top-10 finish of the season.

“First of all, I’d like to say hats off to Bristol for really doing their job to try and make this race as good as possible,” Dillon said. “It really was. I feel like the fans had to love it.”

Austin Dillon continued and said, “It ended up being a race on the bottom. Those last two restarts I felt like the good cars were there. I’m proud of Justin Alexander (crew chief). This is his first win in the XFINITY Series. It’s our first win together, and it’s our first race together, so that’s a great way to start.”

Finishing in the second position was Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Brandt Chevrolet Camaro. Allgaier accepted that his car may not have been the fastest on the track, but he was focused on finishing the race with all four fenders on the car. The runner-up finish was Allgaier’s 18th top-10 of the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 ENEOS Chevrolet Camaro, was forced to settle for the third position after leading 200 laps throughout the night. On the final restart, Larson was shuffled back into the field from the front row before claiming the final top-3 spot. Larson now has sixth career top-10 finish in seven races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Food City 300 was scheduled for 300 laps around the half-mile, high-banked oval, but with multiple cautions in the final 100 laps, the race ended in NASCAR Overtime with 308 laps recorded.

What seemed like a promising day for the Joe Gibbs Racing team, comprised of Kyle Busch, Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez, ended with three damaged cars.

On lap 245, Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Reser’s Main Street Bistro Toyota Camry, made contact with his teammate, Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry, sending both of drivers crashing hard into the outside wall. Jones led 31 laps of the race before finishing in the 33rd position. Suarez finished 30th.

“I just made a mistake,” Jones. “I basically turned the 19 (Daniel Suarez). It’s unfortunate, I feel bad for Daniel and I feel bad for this team and my guys. The Reser’s Camry was really good and it deserved a good finish and was probably good enough to win. I just threw it away on that restart and tried to make too much happen too quick. Just trying to get back in line behind them before the others got there and I wasn’t clear. Just mad at myself.”

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Tunity Toyota Camry, suffered a similar fate by the end of the race. While making a pass in an exciting battle for the lead Kyle Busch was sent into the outside wall after not clearing Brad Keselowski. Busch bounced off the wall, and with nowhere to go, Austin Dillon slammed into the back of him. The crash resulted in a 24th place finish for Kyle Busch and a 25th place finish for Ty Dillon.

“Kyle (Busch) is of course real good at this track and he was quite a bit faster,” Keselowki said. “I was just trying to hold him off anyway I could. He got a good run on the bottom and the bottom groove was just a little bit faster in one and two than it was in three and four. He knew that and made a really smart move and got up next to me, but I had a big run on exit and he wasn’t quite clear. I knew he needed to come up because three and four, like I said, the bottom groove wasn’t as good. He knew he needed to come up and there just wasn’t enough room. I was already there and it clipped him in the right-rear. I don’t really know what happened from there, but it was tough. We were battling really hard and definitely didn’t want to see it end that way.”

Under the caution, Brad Keselowski ran out of fuel and finished the race in the 12th position. Keselowski led 67 laps throughout the race.

“I guess we had enough gas, but running under yellow it doesn’t pick it up so it ran out and once it runs out these cars don’t have all of the fuel-injection stuff and it just stops,” Keselowski said.

After 22 races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season, Elliott Sadler leads the championship point standings by 51 over Daniel Suarez. With the second place finish on Friday, Justin Allgaier jumps up to third in the standings, 52 points back.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to competition at Road America for the Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville on Saturday, August 27. 3 p.m. ET. Live overage will be found on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3 p.m. ET.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Kevin Harvick Captures First Sprint Cup Series Victory At Bristol Since 2005

Photo by: Wayne Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

Photo by: Wayne Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

By: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. – For the first time since 2005, Kevin Harvick drove atop the infield care center and celebrated a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win in Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway, after winning the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Sunday.

The 500-lap race was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but it was postponed to Sunday after multiple rain cells hit the track. After track drying were repeatedly soaked by Mother Nature, NASCAR decided to postpone the race with just 58 laps completed.

Kevin Harvick, who started the race in 24th, was out in front of the field by lap 286 on Sunday. The driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS made the winning pass on Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin with just 71 laps to go. Throughout the day, Harvick led on four occasions for 128 laps en route to his second victory and 18th top-10 of the season.

“Yeah, just really from the drop of the green flag, the car was really fast,” Harvick said. “Our strong point was the top groove in (Turns) 3 and 4. Our weak point was being a little bit too free on restarts. But I think as the runs would go, our car would just keep turning, and I think that was really our advantage.

“For me, I was excited that you were able to use the bottom of the racetrack, and the lap cars had an option. You just didn’t get pinned up high. Really just want to applaud the racetrack for the effort that they made this weekend to really get that bottom groove working so that we had multiple grooves of racing, and I think today as a driver you had a lot of options to make your car work and maneuver through traffic and make up positions. We started 24th and pretty much drove through the field because of that.”

After Harvick took the checkered flag, he invited his team owner, Tony Stewart to celebrate on the frontstretch with him. The 2016 season is Stewart’s final full-time effort in the series, and Sunday was his last visit to Bristol Motor Speedway as a driver. Stewart finished 30th.

“Well, I will see it (Bristol Motor Speedway) in the spring,” Stewart said. “I will be back here. I just won’t wear a helmet when I come back here. It is cool. This place is so much fun. I told myself the last 10 laps we weren’t racing anybody, there wasn’t anybody around us, I said, just enjoy these last 10 and just savor the moment and think about it. So, that is what I did, I really thought about what I was doing those last 10 laps and kind of soaked it all in.”

The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race saw nine cautions between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The first caution for a multi-car accident took place on lap 309, when Kurt Busch sent Kyle Larson sliding sideways through Turn 4. Both cars were able to continue.

Kyle Busch led a race high of 256 laps, but as he was leading on lap 359, something in the rear end of the No. 18 M&M’s 75th Anniversary Toyota Camry broke in Turn 2. Busch was able to keep the car off the wall, but as he sat in the middle of the turn, Justin Allgaier, who was subbing for a sick Michael Annett, made heavy contact. Allgaier ricocheted off the nose of Busch’s car, shot up the track and into Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson. Following the accident, Busch wasn’t happy with Allgaier.

It’s a shame,” Kyle Busch said. “The last few times we’ve been here, we’ve had really fast M&M’s Toyota Camrys and we haven’t been able to finish. We’ve been having parts failures here, so something we’ve got to address and fix. I’m really tired of losing races here with parts falling apart, so they’ll hear about it on Tuesday. But the person that’s really the biggest moron out there is the spotter of the 46 and the driver of the 46 (Justin Allgaier). I’ve been wrecking for half a lap and they just come on through and clean us out. That’s stupid, so I don’t know – frustrating day.”

On lap 374, the caution came out for an 11-car pile-up. The chaos started when Kurt Busch got loose and crashed, while exiting Turn 4. Busch was leading at the time, when his car came out of the corner sideways. Joey Logano made slight contact, sending Busch’s No. 41 Monster Energy Chevrolet SS down the frontstretch. With nowhere to go, Brad Keselowski drove into the side of Busch’s car. Other drivers caught up in the chain reaction included Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Brian Scott, Austin Dillon, Paul Menard and Jimmie Johnson.

“I think I just missed the bottom groove by a few inches, got loose and the wreck was on,” Kurt Busch said. “The way that our car was restarting it felt comfortable, it felt good. That inside with the rosin and the VHT if you don’t hit it exactly right you lose a lot of time. I tried to make up for it and got loose. I feel really bad for the Monster Energy guys. We had a win in our sights and I just drove the car at 101 percent instead of that 99.”

The final caution of the day came out on lap 435, and it was for yet, another rain shower. The red flag was displayed for 6 minutes and 57 seconds. Once back to green, Kevin Harvick was able to hold off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Denny Hamlin for his 33rd career victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“Well, we knew we had the performance that we needed to have in the cars pretty much every week,” Harvick said. “And it’s been one of those deals where things have just not gone exactly right. But to have the win now and just try to get that momentum before we get into the Chase and get things rolling is really what we needed.”

Runner-up finisher, Stenhouse Jr. piloted a car that featured a scheme to honor Bryan Clauson, who recently lost his life due to injuries sustained in a USAC race. The second-place finish is Stenhouse Jr.’s best of the season, and the effort marks his third top-five of 2016.

“We really wanted to get this Bryan Clauson tribute car in victory lane,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “It just wasn’t meant to be today.  We made our car a lot faster throughout the race and came from two laps down to get back on the lead lap.  We missed some wrecks and gave it all we had.  I thought we were matching the 4 car there lap for lap, but he got away from us and we had to restart sixth there on that last restart, but it was an honor to drive this car.

Denny Hamlin finished third, and Austin finished fourth. Rounding out the top-five was Chris Buescher, who is now Chase eligible since he has a win and sits 30th in the championship standings, 13 points ahead of David Ragan.

“That’s Chase eligibility in one race out of the four we had to do it,” Buescher said. “Now, we have to hold onto it. I’m really proud of this team. Our Love’s Ford Fusion had great speed this weekend. We’re looking forward to the next handful of races. We’ve got some really good tracks for us coming up. We knew Bristol would be a good one for us. It took us a day later to do it, but we got ourselves a top-5 and had a blast out here. That was an awesome run.”

Completing the top-10 on Sunday was pole sitter Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano.

With the win, Kevin Harvick now leads the championship standings by 27 points over Brad Keselowski. Kurt Busch is in third, 70 points back.

Next on the schedule for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, August 28. Coverage for the race will broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.

TheFourthTurn.com is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

NOBLE COLUMN: The New South Carolina – The Politics

Phil Noble

Phil Noble

By Phil Noble

This column is part of a continuing series on The New South Carolina – about the changes that are transforming our state.

In sports, the Gamecocks wear garnet and black, Clemson wears orange and purple and in politics, South Carolina is red and deep red.

These are what is known as ‘self-evident truths.’ Things that just are.

While the garnet and orange will probably last until the Second Coming, the red in South Carolina politics is changing – and changing faster than most folks think.

A recent poll by PPP found that Hillary is within two points of Trump in South Carolina. All the Democrats started hyperventilating over the numbers and the Republicans just dismissed it as a poll that was ‘bought and paid for’ by the Democrats. While it is true that the S.C. Democratic Party paid for the poll, and one should not read too much into a single poll, there is a lot of data in the poll that is more significant than the horserace numbers of Hillary and Trump.

(Full disclosure: I’m a Democrat so I’m glad to see good poll numbers for Hillary, but I’m more excited about the secondary numbers that show how our state is changing.)

The poll asked about a number of social and economic issues that have traditionally been very divisive issues with stark contrasts between Democrats and Republicans. Consider the following verbatim analysis of the internal data from the poll: Read the rest of this entry »

“Club of Extinction” by Stuart Neiman

"Club of Extinction" by Stuart Neiman

“Club of Extinction” by Stuart Neiman

My Brain on NASCAR by Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

Cathy Elliott

Just a few short months have passed since GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump asked the following question at a campaign rally in North Carolina: “NASCAR endorsed Trump, can you believe that?”

Well, it was pretty unbelievable … except it wasn’t NASCAR that made the endorsement. It was Brian France, the sanctioning body’s chairman and CEO. France had some fallout to deal with, some damage-control scrambling around to do, a few ruffled sponsor feathers to smooth and whatnot, but for the most part this minor squall in a very turbulent political season blew right on over.

Mr. Trump, despite his knack for stirring up Kansas-level clouds of dust, has somehow found a way to weather every storm. And when you look at some of the remarks he has made during his campaign, you realize that while he may not speak the language of politics all that well, he is actually quite fluent in NASCAR-speak, and may even be giving some behind-the-garage tips to its athletes.

Take Brad Keselowski, for example. Keselowski got his start in racing by cutting grass and mopping floors at his dad’s race shop. I can just imagine Trump pulling him aside for a little one-on-one time and offering what are now a couple of his most famous lines. “I always want to think of myself as an underdog … but when somebody challenges you, fight back. Be brutal. Be tough.”

Just a few short years later, thanks to a no-holds-barred, aggressive driving style that sent his competitors – and himself – flying into the catchfence a time or two, the driver now known as “Bad Brad” was mopping up the competition instead of floors, and hoisting the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship trophy.

2010 was also the year that Denny Hamlin went on an absolute reign of terror, winning eight races after being sidelined by a knee injury early in the season. Never known for his humility, Hamlin and his team had T-shirts printed proclaiming, “All We Do is Win.”

Perhaps Mr. Trump, who has his own various lines of “American” men’s apparel manufactured in patriotic places like China and Bangladesh, spared a few moments of his precious time to share the following sentiments with the fiery Hamlin, who by the way finished the 2010 season in second place, behind champion Jimmie Johnson.

“Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing,” he said. “My whole life is about winning. I don’t lose often. I almost never lose … You have to think anyway, so why not think big?”

Coming soon to a department store near you – the Trump Hamlin collection. It’s nearly the best.

Speaking of Jimmie Johnson, well, he must be a man after Trump’s own heart (or whatever he has lurking inside his chest that passes for one). The six-time champion is NASCAR’s poster boy for the new millennium Handsome. Charming. Articulate. Able to drive the wheels off his race car, then hoist the wheel-less Chevy onto his back and take the checkered flag on foot without even breaking a sweat.

Although this is probably not the description JJ would want to use on his official website, he is Trump’s kind of guy, as evidenced by the words, “In the end, you’re measured not by how much you undertake, but by what you finally accomplish.”

That is lovely … and I’m pretty sure Trump didn’t write it, although I have no trouble giving him credit for the veiled threat that followed — “Anyone who thinks my story is anywhere near over is sadly mistaken.”

(Let’s pause here for an inappropriate personal comment. Although I realize this is sounding a lot like a political column, honestly I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for. In the interest of bi-partisanship I looked and looked for some pithy and entertaining Hillary Clinton quotes, but found that to be the driest of wells. She should check out a NASCAR race sometime, it might lighten her up a bit. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.)

The 2016 Olympics have taught us that nothing is a sure thing. Even Michael Phelps can lose once in a while – OK, once – and there is glory to be found in one’s very best effort, even if it yields no gold, silver or bronze.

A seventh championship for Johnson? Probably.

A presidency for Trump? Stranger things have happened. I just can’t think of one right now.

“Campaign HQ” from The Times and Democrat

"Campaign HQ" from The Times and Democrat

“Campaign HQ” from The Times and Democrat

“Why Campaign” from The Times and Democrat

"Why Campaign" from The Times and Democrat

“Why Campaign” from The Times and Democrat

“Arm And Leg” from The Times and Democrat

"Arm And Leg" from The Times and Democrat

“Arm And Leg” from The Times and Democrat

House and Senate Spend Tens of Thousands on Men’s Suits

Your legislature employs some well-dressed security guards.

 

By Hannah Hill for TheNerve.org
August 12, 2016

The South Carolina General Assembly spends thousands of dollars on men’s suits, a review by The Nerve has found. Since 2007, over $94,000 of public money has been spent at several high-end clothing stores, including Cahaly’s Custom Clothing, Bill Owings Custom Clothing, Joseph A. Banks, and Lourie and Sons Fine Men’s Clothing.

Since 2007, the first reported year, the Senate has spent a total of $42,103 at these stores, and the House has spent a total of $52,576. In 2015-2016 alone, the Senate spent $7,139 at Cahaly’s, and the House spent $5,198 at Joseph A. Banks.

For reference, the least expensive suit advertised online by Cahaly’s is a seersucker suit for $795, an item available as part of the store’s summer special. Depending on the package, you can spend nearly $9,000 for two suits, two shirts, and two ties. Read the rest of this entry »