Secret bloggers? Launch the blackshirts!


There is something disconcerting about one blogger attempting to “out” another blogger because they don’t like the material the latter posts.

The Palmetto Scoop is apparently on the warpath again against certain anonymous SC bloggers, asserting that they “hide behind their computers while launching vicious, borderline libelous attacks on both public and private figures.”

The Scoop argues that “while some might argue that individuals have a First Amendment right to anonymity, there is no Constitutional defense for defamation.”

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Sin taxes: Invasive and ineffective


Sin taxes have played roles of varying importance throughout US history, going all the way back to 1790, when Alexander Hamilton proposed the first excise tax on whiskey to pay off Revolutionary War debts.

That brought about the Whiskey Rebellion in Western Pennsylvania a few years later, in which President George Washington was forced to lead nearly 13,000 militia to quell the insurrection. 

Throughout much of US history, federal excise taxes have been predominantly enacted as wartime emergency measures, and the majority of the taxes were customarily repealed when hostilities ended, according to Richard Williams and Katelyn Christ of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

In a paper titled “Taxing Sin,” the pair write that arguments for imposing new excise taxes and increasing existing ones – on such items as cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, gasoline, bullets, and, more recently, sugary soft drinks and fatty snacks – have reemerged with bipartisan support and have spawned several myths about the efficacy of sin taxation.

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New FNSC boss gets enticing package


The man tasked with turning around First National Bank of the South could realize a pretty payoff if he accomplishes the feat.

Barry Mason, named last week to replace chief executive Jerry Calvert, signed a three-year employment agreement with First National that pays him an initial annual salary of $275,000 a year.

The agreement also includes a signing bonus of $550,000 and Mason is eligible to receive a lump sum bonus of $200,000 upon successful completion of First National’s capital restoration plan, according to information filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Legislature sticks it to South Carolinians


Here’s a shocker: The SC General Assembly slipped a last-minute proviso in the budget earlier this year to pay off a pair of loans that were taken out by the city of Columbia and Aiken County to build hydrogen fueling stations.

The bill for this legislative end-around? Some $1.45 million, according to the South Carolina Policy Council.

“In a last-minute move, legislators slipped a proviso in the FY 09-2010 budget that repaid $1,450,800 taken out by the city of Columbia and Aiken County for the fueling stations,” the Policy Council reports. “That money went to pay off loans originally taken out by the municipalities through the ConserFund, a low-interest program administered by the South Carolina Energy Office.

“But the maneuver was really just a backdoor deal to get more money for one of House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s favorite economic development programs – without coming out and saying the money was for hydrogen transportation research.”

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Higgs on ‘The Treaty of Non-Aggression’


Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute has penned a brief but well-written piece on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union 70 years ago this week.

Higgs, an economist and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation, pulls no punches when discussing this oft-overlooked event:

When American students learn about World War II, they are usually taught that it began on September 1, 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland. They do not get much instruction about the Treaty of Non-Aggression between the Third German Reich and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, better known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (after the foreign ministers of the two countries), signed early on August 24, 1939, but dated August 23.  By this agreement, each side promised to remain neutral in the event that the other were attacked by a third party.

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First National to modify agreement


Struggling Spartanburg, SC-based First National Bancshares got good news Wednesday when it reached an agreement that will help it avoid defaulting on the $54.1 million loan it used to purchase Carolina National Bank last year.

The agreement, which is pending regulatory approval, will allow the holding company for First National Bank of the South to modify its loan agreement with Nexity Bank of Birmingham, Ala., and nullify three covenant violations that arose in April tied to the company’s declining capital position, according to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

The announcement came the day after the company replaced it founder and chief executive Jerry Calvert.

The company also said it has reached a verbal agreement with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for an extension that will allow it to continue operating for an unspecified amount of time as long as it continues to improve its capital ratios.

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Remembering the other Ted Kennedy


Long before Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy began making headlines, another Ted Kennedy was already famous.

Ted “Teeder” Kennedy led the Toronto Maple Leafs to five Stanley Cups in a Hall of Fame career that stretched from 1942 to 1957. Kennedy, who won the NHL’s most valuable player award in 1955, died on Aug. 14, at age 83. 

Kennedy, a center born in Port Colborne, Ontario, captained Toronto from 1948 to 1955 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.

Kennedy was the embodiment of an era when hockey players were expected to give all they had to the team without concern for the size of their paycheck or endorsement opportunities, according to a story in The Toronto Glove and Mail.

“He was a great guy and an absolutely great leader,” said Howie Meeker, who played on the wing beside Kennedy in the late 1940s. “He was tough as nails and there’s never been a harder worker in every game. Maybe Wayne Gretzky might come close.

“You would be ashamed if you didn’t go out and work as hard as he did. He was never I or me, it was always we or us.”

Kennedy wasn’t the most skilled player but he was the smartest, which along with his work ethic made him the best player, according to The Globe and Mail.

In 1998, Kennedy he was ranked No. 57 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Palmetto Scoop taken to the woodshed


Waldo Lydecker’s Journal does an amazing (and quite humorous) job dissecting a post by The Palmetto Scoop’s Adam Fogle on a new book about South Carolina state parks, authored by Chad Prosser, the director of the SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

Fogle’s latest windmill-tilting exercise aimed at Prosser alleges a variety of affronts to humanity, such as the book being possibly funded by taxpayers and Prosser possibly getting a cut of the profits.

And, of course, as Waldo points out, no story on Prosser or Parks, Recreation and Tourism is complete without mention of the PRT-funded “South Carolina is So Gay” ad campaign that Fogle so adroitly uncovered last year, saving the Palmetto State from being inundated by hordes of gay Britons.

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Consumer end-around on tobacco taxes


Here’s something legislators counting on increased revenue from higher tobacco taxes likely weren’t counting on:

A growing number of smokers have turned to cultivating tobacco to blend their own cigarettes, cigars and chew, driven by ever-rising tobacco prices, according to The Associated Press.

Across the Southeast, smokers and smokeless tobacco users are planting Virginia Gold, Goose Creek Red, Yellow Twist Bud and dozens of other tobacco varieties in both urban lots and on rural acreage.

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Foundering First National changes CEOs


First National Bank of the South, the Spartanburg, SC-based subsidiary of embattled First National Bancshares, replaced chief executive  Jerry Calvert with J. Barry Mason Tuesday.

Mason joins First National from Arthur State Bank where he was executive vice president, chief lending officer and a member of its board of directors, First National said in a statement.

“Barry Mason brings rich experiences in financial services leadership, particularly in capital and credit, which are significant to the needs of First National,” said First National Bancshares Chairman C. Dan Adams in a statement. “As the Bank completes its 10th year of operations, Mason is undertaking a new vision of leadership to promote success at First National.”

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