Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dylan in Disgusta

We piled in the car and headed to Lake Olmstead Park (home of the Augusta Green Jackets) on Thursday for one of the best Bob Dylan concerts I've seen.

(The best was at the Township, night before Easter, 2004.)

Highlights on Thursday were "Positively 4th St.," "Hwy 61" and "Like a Rolling Stone," but the entire show was smoking.


1. Maggie's Farm
2. The Times They Are A-Changin'
3. Lonesome Day Blues
4. Positively 4th Street
5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
6. 'Til I Fell In Love With You
7. To Ramona
8. Cold Irons Bound
9. Girl Of The North Country
10. Highway 61 Revisited
11. Sugar Baby
12. Summer Days
13. Like A Rolling Stone
14. All Along The Watchtower

Monday, August 14, 2006

More response to column in The State's letters to the editor

Shealy failed to get facts straight before launching attack

Ross Shealy (“On barbecue, politics and what defies parody,” Aug. 1) exemplifies the ignorance and vitriol of the fanatical left.

Mr. Shealy is a coward hiding behind a slippery keyboard. For the record, Mr. Shealy never contacted me and does not know a wit about me, my business or the disease that 20 million people, including me, suffer from. Rather than a doctor’s note, Mr. Shealy needs a lesson in reporting facts. They are:

I have had Lyme disease for 14 years, have been hospitalized on too many occasions to recall (even when appearing pretty in pink). I sit on the Board of Dispoz-o Products Inc., a major manufacturer of plastic disposable products that has done great good for humankind, exceeded only by the greater shame Mr. Shealy brings to journalism. I am a founding director of the Philadelphia Trust Company. We have broken more records for funds under management than Shealy has writing any reputable news.

I have never signed a pledge to support the Alliance for Separation of School and State.

I have a passion for kids, freedom, excellence, learning and the American way. South Carolina would not be left behind if organizations such as the National Education Association would get out of the way.

One of the hardest things I have ever done was resign from the Education Oversight Committee. Maybe I should have asked Mr. Shealy to chauffeur me back and forth between Greenville and Columbia, because I temporarily lost my hearing and eyesight and could have used a good seeing-eye pit bull.

The S.C. Club for Growth knew I was ill and recruited me as a board member. This is one of the savviest groups of people I have had the pleasure to join. It waited for me to get well and work the phones.

So, what else does Mr. Shealy want to know that’s fit to print? He should call me sometime. I’ll be happy to supply the facts, only when he stops writing bad fiction.



Friday, August 04, 2006

Response to column in The State's letters to the editor

Shealy hits bottom by mocking disease

It is always sad when political discourse turns to pathetic name-calling. In that vein, Ross Shealy (“On barbecue, politics and what defies parody”) hit a new low Tuesday when he mocked one of our board members’ difficult battle with Lyme disease.

Karen Iacovelli is a well-respected businesswoman in Greenville as well as an experienced and renowned constitutional attorney. She has served our state well as a member of the Education Oversight Committee, until her health deteriorated to a point where she could no longer serve. I hope and pray that when she fully recovers from this awful disease she may be able to resume her excellent service to our state.

While I disagree with many points in his column, the author has proven himself not even worthy of engaging in legitimate debate. To point out (and argue) with points of fact and opinion are one thing; to make jokes about anyone’s life-threatening illness is morally reprehensible and well beyond the bounds of acceptable civil discourse. Surely, The State would not print opinion pieces mocking cancer or AIDS patients; why, then, print this piece?

Shame on Ross Shealy for his cowardly attack on the health of a public servant, and shame on The State for printing it.

Executive Director
South Carolina Club For Growth

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Today's guest column

On barbecue, politics and things too weird to parody

By ROSS SHEALY, Guest columnist

For almost a year, I published an Internet weblog known as “Barbecue & Politics,” in which I tried to put a humorous spin on S.C. government, politics and culture.

I conjured up the Andrebahn, a fictitious freeway for the sole use of a speedy lieutenant governor. I spoofed our lost AAA credit rating by having the state’s governor and treasurer take out a title loan on the deed to the Palmetto State. Then there was the colorblind merchant who opened the first “green dot” liquor store.

I occasionally reviewed barbecue restaurants — hence the name. But even in the buckle of the Mustard Belt, I found far more political follies to satirize than pulled pork to criticize.

I also found that some aspects of state politics require no parody.

Case in point: the tomfoolery of South Carolina’s voucher lobby as it tries to resemble a native, grass-roots effort. If you aren’t closely following the shenanigans of the group behind “Put Parents in Charge,” I submit that you may be missing out on one of the best political comedies in state history.

Take Karen Iacovelli. This outspoken voucher supporter bills herself as the “director” of Dispoz-o, an Upstate plastic cutlery company. This year, Dispoz-o has forked over thousands of dollars to the campaigns of pro-voucher candidates Mark Sanford and Karen Floyd.

No big surprise. Last autumn, Sanford appointed Iacovelli to the Education Oversight Committee, the group that oversees the improvements to S.C. public schools. Among her qualifications, according to her bio, was her adviser role in “United New Yorkers for Choice in Education.”

Sadly, Iacovelli didn’t even get a full year to impart her Yankee know-how. In March, meddling political bloggers like myself ascertained that she had signed a pledge stating, “I publicly proclaim that I favor ending government involvement in education.”


The oath, curious for someone overseeing public schools, is the mantra of the California-based “Alliance for Separation of School and State” — which I suspect rarely if ever abbreviates its name.

A few days after the revelation, Iacovelli resigned from the EOC, citing health reasons related to Lyme disease. She quickly assumed a more suitable post on the board of the pro-voucher S.C. Club for Growth. In other words, it seems the “tick” involved in Iacovelli’s departure from the EOC was the tick of the time bomb she represented for Sanford and the voucher lobby. It was an altogether peculiar episode, made funnier by the fact that Sanford wants the superintendent of education to be a governor-appointed position.

Then there’s South Carolinians for Responsible Government, the voucher lobby group that calls itself “grass roots,” yet is reluctant to reveal its funding or membership. The group has been notoriously sloppy with such things as numbers and names.

In early May, a spokesman reported a depth of “2,000 grass-roots supporters” to The State. By the next week, the group had ballooned to a “statewide grassroots organization of 200,000 citizens,” according to its guest column in the Greenville News.

From 2,000 to 200,000 in a matter of days. When things grow that quickly, you can bet there’s some manure involved.

The group released a radio ad in June that bungled the pronunciation of its own name. The spot was standard fare, right up to the point when the sugary female voice mentioned “South Caro-LINE-ians for Responsible Government.”

News flash: Neil Diamond doesn’t have a song called “Sweet Carolyn,” and Sandlappers aren’t referred to as “South Caro-LINE-ians.”

If you’re like me, all these “United New Yorkers,” California-based alliances and “South Caro-LINE-ians” trigger your innate ain’t-from-around-here reflex. That’s because, while all the clowning around occurs here at home, the ringmaster of the Voucher Circus hangs his top hat in New York.

Howard Rich is the millionaire libertarian who appears to shoulder the financial burden of the S.C. voucher effort through countless intermediary “companies” based in his SoHo apartment. In addition to bankrolling several would-be legislators, he’s flouted the intent of the state’s $3,500 contribution limits to subsidize the Sanford and Floyd campaigns with more than $30,000 and $40,000, respectively.

To Howard Rich, an “LLC” is a Libertarian Loophole for Contributions. And he has plenty of them. According to the latest ethics filings, Floyd received $14,000 from Rich in one day. On another day, he provided her with a paltry $10,500. All told, he apparently was responsible for nearly a quarter of her contributions for the filing period.

The attempted influence of this one-man voucher lobby is far-reaching, from his position on the Club for Growth “leadership council” to his prop-up organizations in several states, which typically carry grass-roots, native names like Missourians in Charge and Oklahomans in Action.

But we just don’t know if Rich bankrolls South Carolinians for Responsible Government. It’s a huge mystery (wink, wink).

Suffice it to say that when we chuckle at the shoddy radio ads, nutty oaths and erstwhile appointments, we are — quite literally — having a laugh at Howard Rich’s expense. It’s a comedy well worth the price of admission, especially since we aren’t footing the bill.

Jim DeMint probably doesn’t know every word to the musical “RENT,” and the Lizard Man may never actually try to unseat Congressman John Spratt, though both have been dutifully documented in my corner of the blogosphere.

But if, like me, you appreciate a good farce, look no further than the “South Carolina” voucher lobby. It is, in many ways, its own best parody.

Mr. Shealy lives in Cayce with his wife and children. The archives of Barbecue and Politics are at