Got an old formal gown? Donate to the Cinderella Project.

Several of my pals in the South Carolina Bar Young Lawyers Division are working with the Upsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority to host the tenth annual Cinderella Project “Boutique” in Columbia.  The group is collecting gently used formal gowns, handbags, and accessories for high school students who are financially unable to purchase these items for the prom.

Donated dresses should be clean and on hangers.  The 2011 dress donation drop-off locations in the Midlands are Richardson Plowden Law Firm, Revente, M Boutique, Lexington Chamber of Commerce, Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce, Chapin Chamber of Commerce, and the West Metro Chamber of Commerce. These locations are accepting donations during business hours Monday through Friday until Friday, February 25.  For more information about donation drop-off locations and shopping day details in other areas of the state, visit www.scbar.org.

The official “shopping” day for high school students of the Midlands will be Saturday, March 5 at the USC School of Law Auditorium from 9:00 a.m. until noon.

The group is also seeking donations from local businesses for a raffle to be held at the Cinderella Project Boutique, which will take place on March 5.  Suggested donations include items or gift certificates to restaurants, department stores, and specialty shops that will help ensure these students have a memorable prom night.

If you have any questions, contact Michelle Kelley at (803)576-3736 or by email at mkelley@richardsonplowden.com.

Daily Suds: Where is Don Draper?

  • Former fluke U.S. Senate hopeful Alvin Greene racked up a whopping 28 votes yesterday in the Democratic primary to fill the seat vacated when Rep. Cathy Harvin of Clarendon County passed away in December.
  • A rather strange domestic dispute errupted in Spartanburg County on Sunday when a Landrum woman alleges that a man threw fish sticks in her hair, prompting her to pull a gun on him.
  • Both the proposed Arizona-style-we-hate-brown-people immigration bill and the proposed Voter ID bill bouncing around the legislature right now are going to be expensive to implement.  (And nevermind that South Carolina has seen a 21% decline in illegal immigration since 2007.)  We are facing a projected budget shortfall of nearly $1 billion.  Republicans are supposed to care about deficits and fiscal responsibility, right?
  • Cindi Ross Scoppe digs up the dirt on these raffles that the South Carolina Senate wasted an absurd amount of time debating.  (Something about it never did pass the smell test.  Follow the money?)
  • A Georgetown economics professors slaps down a report by the shadowy, Howard Rich-fueled South Carolina Policy Council on how implementing public school choice will decrease the unemployment problem of five poor, rural South Carolina counties.  The report “wins this year’s prize for the most fatuous cause-and-effect claim.”

As our reviewer explains, the claims in the report are based overwhelmingly on the “tuitioning” programs established in Vermont and Maine back in the 19th century, whereby very small towns that do not operate schools pay tuition to schools in other towns. Milwaukee’s choice adventures are also cited, as children there are said to be more entrepreneurial. But none of the source documents were peer-reviewed and the data are simply cross-sectional; no causal inferences are (sensibly) possible. Moreover, while ascribing New England small town characteristics to South Carolina counties may seem fanciful, it is not too far a reach for Mr. Larson. Unencumbered with traditional citations, the author announces that the benefits of vouchers are “widely documented.”

Daily Suds: Stay Classy

  • This afternoon, at the request of Sen. Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg), the South Carolina Senate excused home-schooled children from snow days.  Seriously.
  • Ummm, so I’m a week late on this story. After the Super Bowl, Gov. Nikki Haley lashed out at WACH Fox 57 via her Facebook page, posting the following message at 12:33 AM: “WACH FOX 57 is a tabloid news station and has no concept of journalism.”  Wow.  Stay classy.  WACH Fox responds here.  Charleston City Paper columnist Chris Haire sounds off about the lack of mainstream media coverage of the latenight gaffe.
  • My hometown of Hartsville suffered a devastating fire last night at a local fertilizer plant.  Thankfully no one has been reported hurt.
  • Capital City Complainer-in-Chief Kevin Fisher has it out for Michael Wukela, aide to Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin.  Geez.  Kevin Fisher is annoying.  I don’t really understand why the Free Times gives him a perch.  Benjamin should be free to hire whoever he wants to in his office, and Michael is a smart, hard-working guy.

Doggone good dog

The LuLu at LuLu's on Devine St.

My friend Rhodes Bailey of Whiskey Tango Revue fame raved about LuLu’s hot dogs on Devine Street beside Publick House, so yesterday I decided to swing by for lunch.  Turns out that on Monday’s, LuLu’s offers a lunch special of a hot dog, chips, and a drink for $5.  Score!  I opted for the LuLu — their signature ‘dog, which is topped with chili, mustard, onions, and slaw.  It didn’t disappoint.  Next time I’ll probably go with no slaw since I’m not a huge slaw fan in general, but LuLu’s does the classic Carolina combination just right.  LuLu’s is simple, tasty, cheap, and kid-friendly.  Stop by and check it out.

PS – LuLu’s is cash-only.

Daily Suds: Happy Hallmark Holiday!

  • The Post & Courier has a neat feature piece on President Bill Clinton’s love for Dick Riley; WJC asked Riley to serve as a Supreme Court Justice and as White House Chief of Staff — both posts that Riley declined.
  • Hospital execs aren’t happy with Gov. Haley’s Medicaid bailout plan.
  • Mississippi Gov. and Republican Presidential Hopeful Haley Barbour takes a page out of the Sanford/Palin manual on how to use an official state aircraft for lots of fun things not at all related to serving as governor.
  • Senators Vincent Sheheen and Shane Massey team up to write a bipartisan op-ed condemning the Budget & Control Board’s quick-fix decision to disregard the state’s constitutional obligation to maintain a balanced budget and instead run hundreds of millions in deficits for the remainder of this fiscal year.  <Insert rant about the Greenville News‘ annoying online pay wall.>
  • Still haven’t made Valentine’s Day plans? Head over to 701 Whaley Street in downtown Columbia for the annual “What’s Love?” event featuring stunning and provocative visual and performance art.  Lee Ann Kornegay, the event’s chief organizer, describes the occasion as “a sensual sensory feast unlike any other art show in Columbia and an alternative to a Hallmark Valentine’s Day.”  Advanced tickets, which can be purchased at www.nickelodeon.org, are $15. Tickets at the door will be $20. A cash bar will be on hand for wine, beer, non-alcoholic drinks and food. Sponsors include Revente, Sid Nancy, Penelope Design, Bombshell, City Art, Tic Toc Candy Shoppe, Shop Tart, WXRY and Free Times.

Mark Byrnes: Coin of the Realm

“The Congress shall have Power … To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin.”

That would seem clear enough to most people, but not to South Carolina State Rep. Lee Bright, R-Roebuck, who according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal “has introduced legislation that backs the creation of a new state currency that could protect the financial stability of the Palmetto State in the event of a breakdown of the Federal Reserve System.”

“If there is an attempt to monetize the Fed we ought to at least have a study on record that could protect South Carolinians,” Bright said in an interview Friday. “If folks lose faith in the dollar, we need to have some kind of backup.”

Let us, for the moment, put aside the question of the (at best) dubious constitutionality of what Bright is proposing. What is the mindset behind it?

For starters, it would seem that Bright has been spending too much time listening to Ron Paul and Glenn Beck. This idea is the political equivalent of Beck’s shameless shilling for gold on his TV and radio programs. “Be afraid! The end is nigh! Protect yourself! Buy gold!”

But even more interesting to me is what this idea reveals about the default setting for Bright: that if his paranoid fears come to pass, South Carolina can go it alone and save itself while the rest of the country falls.

Does he really believe that if U.S. currency were to lose its value, that South Carolina, all by itself, would be able to reconstitute a meaningful currency that would shelter it from the resulting economic storm? The idea is self-evidently absurd.

As the Herald-Journal article rightly notes, this is part and parcel of Bright’s political playbook. Last year he proposed what amounts to a nullification bill targeted at the Affordable Care Act. “If at first you don’t secede, try again,” Bright said at the time.

Now, I know he was joking. But that joke is telling. Secession is no laughing matter, but seeming to take the idea of secession seriously is enough to make Bright (and by extension, South Carolina) a laughingstock. (Though a quick Google search shows his state currency idea is playing well on secessionist websites all over the country.)

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Bright’s proposal is yet another example, like the “ban foreign law” idea, of a disheartening lack of seriousness among South Carolina’s elected officials. It panders to the people’s fears and their desire to feel in control of events in trying times. Rather than confront actual problems facing the state, problems which good and effective government might actually be able to address, they propose these silly, time-wasting distractions from the real business of the people.

Lastly, it is sad that so many alleged “constitutional” conservatives in fact advocate such unconstitutional ideas. There was a time in American history when states had extensive control over the value of currency, under the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution (which they purport to venerate) explicitly took that power from the states. As James Madison says in Federalist 42, by doing so, “the Constitution has supplied a material omission in the articles of confederation.”

Like it or not (and Bright clearly does not), one of the most important of “original intents” of the Constitution was to shift power from the states to the federal government to make for more efficient and practical governing of the United States.

Bright will no doubt argue that what he proposes is within what is allowed by the Constitution. If that is true, then what he is proposing could not possibly be capable of addressing the false specter of disaster he raises. Either way, his proposal is nonsense.

In assessing Bright’s real motive then, I can do no better than quote David Ramsay, doctor and member of the Continental Congress from South Carolina and later a member of the South Carolina state senate. Writing under the name “Civis” in the February 4, 1788 edition of the Columbian Herald in Charleston, Ramsay exhorted South Carolinians to ratify the Constitution. Don’t listen to what opponents say their reasons are for opposing the ideas of the Constitution, Ramsay warned. “Examine well the characters & circumstances of men” to find “the real ground” of their positions, he said, since “they may artfully cover it with a splendid profession of zeal for state privileges and general liberty.”

Mark Byrnes is an associate professor of history at Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC.  He blogs at The Past Isn’t Past. Mark’s obsessive interest in politics goes back to watching the Watergate hearings as a child (seriously). You can follow him on Twitter at @byrnesms.