Happy New Year's from the Blogland

Best New Year's Wishes to one and all from the Blogland!

May 2007 be a great year for you and yours!

In case you're wondering, this picture is from Sydney, Australia, the first major city to celebrate the New Year.

Happy Birthday to Moye Graham

Moye Graham, a regular commentator on this blog, and globe-trotting good ol' boy from the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, had a birthday today ... two great reasons to drink and party are always better than one.

Ya'll take a minute to tell him Happy Freaking Birthday!

Losing at Hangman, Baghdad style

Tonight, Saddam Hussein is no more.

Hussein was, unlike the victims of his reign of terror, tried in a court of law, in the plain view of the world, and given legal counsel drawn from around the world. For just a small fraction of the crimes he committed against his own people, those of other nations, as well as humanity, he was convicted and sentenced to death.

Tonight, that sentence was carried out.

Some may celebrate his death, which is understandable, but we should all reflect upon what he did and think of those who died by his hand and by his orders. We should pray for the souls of those lost, for the healing of their loved ones, and most importantly, that we shall see a day when such acts are no longer tolerated, nor committed, among men and nations.

Tonight, let a message be sent to the world.

While there are many other butchers who still roam free in this world, let this example serve notice that sooner or later, they shall reap what they have sown.

Warrant's Born Again

I decided to do something I don’t do very often and take a look at the latest album by an old band – Warrant’s “Born Again” CD.

Warrant’s changed a bit. Jani Lane is out as lead singer, and Jamie St. James is in. Normally, most new releases by 80s metal don’t compare to what they put out back when they were big time. Bands with substantial changes in their membership, especially vocalists, very seldom put out anything that doesn’t suck. Combined, the first album with a new lead singer is usually the end of the line for a band.

This album is the exception to both rules.

This album, without a doubt, rocks hard and steady. Jamie St. James, as their new lead singer, is a little more raw-edged than Lane, and doesn’t hit the high wailing notes that Lane always hit. The song content is more mature, with none of the sappy ballads and broken-hearted wails that were what many true metalheads hated most about the band. The band plays just as well together as ever, if not better than ever.

This is Warrant older, wiser, and grown up. If this is a trend, then I’ll certainly be looking forward to their next release.

My favorite songs on the album? Clearly, Bourbon County Line is my favorite, but Hell, California and Down in Diamonds were also standout tracks. But the whole album is a solid piece of work well worth the ten or fifteen bucks.

Grandparents' visitation rights? Hooray for David Weeks!

As this is the season for families to come together, the Blogland brings you news of a bill to be introduced in the State House by State Rep. David Weeks, a Democrat from Sumter.

Weeks' bill seeks to make it easier for grandparents who are denied time with their grandchildren to seek visitation rights through family court. This bill seeks to address a long-standing problem.

I know more than one grandparent who is jerked around by their adult children or in-laws over this issue, expected to be babysitters and providers of financial assistance, and then cut off on a whim. It's time to stop this abusive practice and put our children first.

Weeks' bill is a good idea, and it's a long-overdue sign that someone recognizes that grandparents should have rights too. Be sure to drop him an email and thank him for standing up on this issue.

President Gerald Ford, Rest in Peace

Tonight, President Gerald Ford was lost to us.

For a generation, from Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan, not a single President would serve two terms. The departure of each serving in that time were under less than favorable circumstances including Kennedy by assassination, Johnson under fire for Vietnam, Nixon under investigation for Watergate.

Into that difficult time, President Ford, like Carter after him, was noted for bringing a different approach to the Presidency, in an effort to restore the faith of the American people to the office.

President Ford had his work cut out for him in those two short years, but he did his duty as he saw fit, even to the point of sacrificing his re-election. While his pardon of President Nixon assured his defeat by Jimmy Carter in 1976, it spared the nation from the prospect of a President being convicted and jailed, as if in some third-world military coup d'etat.

While it would still be some years before the Presidency regained the respect lost in Vietnam and Watergate, Ford took the first steps forward, both by preserving the office through his pardon and his personal conduct in the office.

In two short years, he did much. For that, he has earned the respect of his nation, and for that, he will truly be missed.

"O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who has trampled down Death and overthrown the Devil, and given life unto Your world, give, we beseech You, eternal rest to the soul of Your departed servant, in a place of brightness, in a place of verdure, in a place of repose, from whence all pain, sorrow, and sighing, have fled away.

Pardon, we beseech You, every transgression which may have been committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For there is no man who lives and does not commit a sin. You only are without sin, Your righteousness is everlasting, and Your word is the Truth.

For You are the Resurrection, and the Life, and the repose of Your departed servant, O Christ our God, and unto You we ascribe glory, together with eternal the Father, and Your Most Holy, and Good, and Life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and for ages to come. Amen.

May our gracious and merciful Lord, who rose from the dead, Christ, our True God, through the intercessions of His Holy Mother and of all the Saints, establish the soul of His departed servant in the mansions of the righteous; give rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number his soul among the just, and have mercy upon us and save us".

Eternal be Your memory.

-Trisagion Prayer for the Departed

Merry Christmas

Today, we Christians celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Lord (that means Christmas, ya'll) as one. Let us share with each other the spirit of peace and goodwill on this day.

Here are some audio clips of the Liturgy of the Feast of the Nativity.

... and of course, with my blog, it wouldn't be Christmas without some loud, crude, and unrefined head-bangin' rock and roll. Here's a new Christmas video from Twisted Sister:

Merry Christmas everyone, and thanks for tuning in. Now quit reading this blog, turn off your computers and go enjoy some time off with your friends and families!

300 posts later ...

Yep, just in time for Christmas ... the sign says 300, which means this is my 300th posting of a blog that is about 14 months old ... and of an author who is a few bricks shy of a full load.

I reached my 100th posting on March 17th of this year and my 200th posting on September 14. That reflects a heckuva spike in my activity.

The most amazing thing of all is that some of ya'll actually kept up with it - which either says I'm getting good at this, or I've developed a following of those who are as clueless and lost for meaningful activities as I am.

I'm honestly not sure which is the correct answer.

New to my Blogroll

I want to welcome the following blogsites to my blogroll ...

  • A Light from the East

  • Democrats in the South (yep, a Democratic blog)

  • Eddie Trunk's Metal Blog

  • Mike Burleson's New Wars (lots of foreign policy stuff)

  • Heavy Metal Addiction

  • Ross Shealy

  • The Body Politic (as blatantly partisan as DITS above)

  • If you're a reader and have your own blog, let me know. I'm sure I can fit a few more in my blogroll.

    Not sure if your blog will fit it? Think again ... as electic a roster as I have, I'm sure whoever you are, or what your angle is, your blog will fit into the roll quite nicely ...

    Today's Joke: Gilmore for President?

    In the closing days of Election 2006, while his friend and fellow Virginia Republican George Allen was struggling to prevent losing his Senate seat and prevent a Democratic takeover of the US Senate, Jim Gilmore, former VA Governor and RNC Chairman, thought long and hard about where he could make the biggest difference.

    Then he headed down to South Carolina to make a series of campaign appearances ... ?

    It looks like Gilmore believed advancing his personal ambitions for 2008 mattered more than his team did in 2006. Now, he's looking to build upon his record of "leadership", by offering to do for national Republicans what he did for Virginia Republicans:

    Former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III has decided to form a committee to examine running for president in 2008, casting himself as a fiscal conservative with executive experience and national security credentials.

    In an interview yesterday, Gilmore said his candidacy would fill a void among Republican presidential hopefuls, who he believes are not dedicated enough to important conservative principles.

    Now, after he helped to deliver control of the Senate to the Democrats, Gilmore would now like to make a difference in the Presidential race.

    I'm sure the Democrats can't wait ...

    Will Nukes save Iran?

    Some very interesting thinking from Mike Burleson's blog, about the efforts of Iran and other nations to construct nuclear arsenals to draw attention away from internal dissent and provide breathing room from the West, while they seek to short up domestic instabilities:

    While the insurgents dominate the headlines with suicide bombers, car bombs, and IEDs, an equally hopeful President George W. Bush is winning the war of ideas. He has been hotly ctisized, especially after his Axis of Evil speech of January 2002, which was strangely reminiscent of Reagan’s speech 20 years earlier, both in its truthfulness and the amount of sarcasm it has received. By challenging the tyrants and terrorists to mend their ways, or face the wrath of the people, he has placed their backward ideology on notice.

    Iranian President Ahmadinejad and other demagogues may shore up their defenses, expand their nuclear arsenals, and seal their borders, yet the truth will always filter through. While they console themselves in the strength of their suicidal converts, and with the sympathy of Western elites, the very extremeness of their constant rhetoric reveals an increasing dread that their time is short.

    "Nukes won't save Iran" (12/11/2006)

    As the world watches Iran, hosting a conference denying the Holocaust, while Iranian students protest against their President, one does have to wonder if the hand of the tyrants is a strong one, or a weak and desperate one ...

    Person of the Year 2006

    As I struggle to get a computer up and running so my kids can use it for some projects that are due in school this week, I notice that Time Magainze just announced their Person of the Year.

    After carefully examining the events of the past year, and those who made them, Time Magazine's Person of the Year is ...

    Here's some of what Time had to say about their choice:

    To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

    But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

    ... interesting idea.

    Anthrax's Sound of White Noise

    Anthrax is one of the most-enduring and better known bands in the metal scene, and still going strong. Without a doubt, these guys are the real deal.

    The band's Sound of White Noise album, released in 1993, came at a pivotal point in their career. After the success of the band's recent partnership with Chuck D of Public Enemy in the groundbreaking fusion of rap and metal in the song "Bring the Noise", lead singer Joey Belladonna (who is back with the band) was replaced with John Bush, former lead singer for the band Armored Saint (who is back with that band now).

    The first product of the new lineup was their hard-rockin' Sound of White Noise album. This was considered by many, including myself, to have been their best album.

    Unfortunately, as it was shortly after the 80s metal scene collapsed, taking all bands from that time down with them, whether or not they deserved it, so it didn't get the exposure it deserved - AND IT DESERVED A LOT!!!

    My favorite songs on the album? Potter's Field, Room for One More, and Hy Pro Glo.

    What are you waiting for? Go check the album out!

    Peach Road interchange opens (Exit 32, I-77)

    I got photos back from my company's latest highway project completion: the Peach Road interchange at Mile 32 on Interstate 77 in Fairfield County, and thought I'd share them with ya'll.

    There I am, standing off to the side, trying to keep warm in the 40 degree weather, watching a rather well-organized event roll right along ... but the best part was the barbeque lunch provided by Po Pig's from West Columbia (go check that place out, ya'll! ... and Ross, thanks for the lead!)

    With just a week's notice and quite a bit of help from the following people, the opening event, which I was asked to coordinate, went rather well:
    • Jeremiah Bradley, SCDOT Resident Construction Engineer
    • Cheryl Brown, Clerk of Fairfield County Council
    • Tiffany Harrsion, Fairfield County Economic Development
    • Tina Hembree, SCDOT Governmental and Public Affairs

      ... but especially Tiffany!
    The project took an existing road which crossed over I-77 and upgraded it to a full interchange, providing a direct connection to the county's industrial park. The event turnout included management from my company and subcontractors, the local and state levels of SCDOT (including two commissioners), county officials, Congressman John Spratt's office, as well as management from the companies in the adjacent Walter Brown Industrial Park.
    Ribbon cutting

    Of course, the signs for the interchange arrived just as we were getting ready to have the ribbon-cutting event. Talk about perfect timing!

    With 200-300 acres of undeveloped land, with water, sewer, and roads in place, between Charlotte and Columbia, improving access to this park might be the catalyst for development in a fairly poor rural county that needs good paying jobs and tax revenue.

    Also, I have to thank the local officials who invited me to attend the tree-lighting in Winnsboro the night before, after I looked over the event location. I didn't have much time to check it out, considering how tired I was between two events in a week, finals in grad school and a pretty bad cold, but it was definitely worth making the side trip.

    Winnsboro is a nice little town, and one that hopefully will be a little better off for my company having done our part.

    Some of my co-workers

    McMaster stars in video on online predators - what's the big deal?

    According to The State, Attorney Generalissimo Henry “Ferris Bueller” McMaster has garnered some free publicity for himself and provided a small peek inside his office’s efforts to snag online predators via an online video on Hitachi’s website.

    The video focuses on his office’s online task force, discussing their work, and how they use Hitachi computing products in their work. The aim of the company’s program is to show some unconventional uses of their products, no doubt to convince potential buyers to give them a try.

    In return, Henry and his staff get some free publicity. In the worlds of PR and political communication, “earned media” is never a bad thing. I call it a fair trade.

    The story also raised questions that there may be an unfair advantage in that Henry received free advertising, which to me seemed to be fishing for a deeper story. They even put up an online poll asking readers if they felt that it was appropriate for Henry to appear in the video (I said yes).

    Having just been re-elected unopposed, and with no discussion of any next political move, I don’t see the point of throwing that issue on the table. If he was gearing up for a Senate bid in two years, there might be something to discuss here.

    But he’s not, so that dog ain't hunting.

    If anything, since his election four years ago, we’ve probably seen the least overtly political behavior from Henry since before he first got into politics in the mid-1980.

    Congrats to Henry on getting free publicity for its efforts to get on the cutting edge in the war on crime, and shame on Ben Werner at The State for trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    If you'd like to know more about Henry's video, click here, and you can click here to see The State's copy of the video.
    As some of ya'll alredy know, my father has been doing this same kind of work in the Lowcountry for years ...

    Grad School - Halfway there

    At long last, the halfway point to my Master's Degree has been reached. Five classes down, four more to go (two in the spring), and of course, my thesis project. So far, I'm on track to be among the first to receive the new Master's Degree in Communication in the spring of 2008.

    Then, with no doctoral program nearby, I'll be confronted with the toughest challenge I've ever faced - getting a life.

    Having completed the required core courses in the Master's program, I'll receive my Graduate Certificate in Corporate and Organizational Communication after the first of the year, which will be the next framed thing on the wall.

    Next spring, a course in Risk Communication and one in Rhetoric Theory, where I'll continue to dig deep and inflict pain, suffering and sleeplessness upon myself.

    But for now, I get to try out a very wierd and different experience - being able to get home by 6 or 7 in the evening on weeknights and get a good night's sleep for a change.

    Congrats to Charleston Law School

    It's an early Christmas for the folks at the Charleston School of Law, where they received their accreditation from the American Bar Association. Those who took the leap of faith by enrolling in the school while it was a start-up will be rewarded with the opportunity to take the Bar exam and pursue careers in the legal profession.

    This venture was supported by a large cast in the community, and will do much to help increase the quality and prestige of higher education offerings in the Lowcountry. The region will also benefit by their emphasis on public service, which requires students to perform pro bono work in the community as part of their work towards their degrees.

    This is a win-win for the Lowcountry.

    As the Vice-Chair of the Alumni Council for the College of Charleston's Department of Communication, whose new Masters program is hosted entirely at another major resource for graduate education - the growing Lowcountry Graduate Center - I know how important it is that the Lowcountry offer more graduate education opportunities.

    To the team behind Charleston Law's success: Congratulations for a job well done, and thank you for your committment to making the Lowcountry a better place.

    Branton's End: The price of negative campaigning in Dorchester County

    For today's lesson in what unethical campaign "dirty tricks" can get you, we present the example of former State Senator Bill Branton of Dorchester County, who has gone to ground to duck a series of fines and judgments over his past campaigns.

    Last spring, the Post and Courier was assured that he would address his mounting fines for not filing campaign disclosures from his 2002 campaign for Governor (which he lost). With nearly $40,000 in fines still due, it's obvious he hasn't settled the matter after all.

    If you think not filing forms or paying fines is bad enough ... it pales in comparison to the mess he made this spring, in his attempt to make a comeback from his stunning 2004 landslide ouster from his State Senate seat, where Randy Scott defeated him by 63-37%:

    Mr. Branton now faces a judgment for an attempt to send out a mailing from an anonymous group, making false claims about the County Council incumbent he sought to defeat.

    The damages continue to mount from a negative flier that Dorchester County Council Chairman Skip Elliott says cost him a re-election bid this summer.

    A judge will tell former Sen. Bill Branton how much money he owes Elliott next month. Elliott sued Branton for libel, and Branton failed to respond to the complaint. Elliott is seeking actual and punitive damages.

    Meanwhile, two companies that helped print and mail the flier have been left holding the bag for the bill.

    The flier arrived in Summerville mailboxes a few days before the Republican primary in June. It implied that Elliott had voted for his own property deals on council.

    Actually, Elliott's father conducted the deals, and Elliott recused himself when council voted on them. The mailing urged people to "vote for anybody but Walter 'Skip' Elliott."

    The flier was labeled as paid for by Citizens for Change, an unregistered name for which nobody claimed responsibility. Branton denied knowing anything about it, as did Elliott's other opponent, Jamie Feltner.

    - Charleston Post and Courier (12/9/2006)

    For all his trouble, he finished third and didn't even make it into the runoff. Then he tried running for the school board in the fall ... and then quit the race.

    In any event, Bill's blustering and ranting on the campaign about "backroom deals" and "my daughters won't even move back here" can be put into a more informed perspective with the lies and sleazy games that have come to light about his own campaign conduct. If he doesn't run for office again, the people of Dorchester County will be better off for it ... and he won't be missed.

    Cultivation update #3: The analysis

    For those of you who are interested ... here is the conclusion of my research into Cultivation Theory and its potential applications to understanding the persuasive power of political television advertising ...

    Hypothesis 1, which predicted those who watch more television would have a higher level of willingness to rely on television advertising in making voting decisions, was not supported by these findings. As the highest hourly mean score (2.423) was for those who watched an average of two hours of television daily, increased exposure to television did not increase the overall willingness to rely on political television advertising.

    Hypothesis 2, which predicted that the willingness to believe positive claims about candidates made in political television advertising would generally increase along with viewing time, was supported. As the highest mean score (3.122) was for those who watched five hours of television daily, there was a general upward trend in the willingness of respondents to believe these advertisements.

    Hypothesis 3, which predicted that the willingness to believe negative claims about candidates made in political television advertising would generally increase along with viewing time, was not supported. As with Hypothesis 1, the highest mean score was for two-hour viewers (2.08), followed by an overall decline in believability. Therefore, the willingness to believe negative political advertising did not increase with viewing time.

    Overall, the research findings presented here did not show a significant cultivation effect to be present with regard to political advertising. However, as there is much research which shows that television programming, including advertising, can have cultivation effects upon viewers, these findings alone cannot be assumed to deny that such an effect exists.

    There are a number of factors which were not examined in the course of this research that could affect willingness of voters to consider the claims made in political television advertising. These factors include personal viewing interests and motives, as well as the amount of political advertising in programming that viewers watched. For example, a voter who views television for purely entertainment motives may largely disregard political advertising (as well as other forms of advertising), while one who watches news programming regularly might pay closer attention to such advertising.

    Another point worth considering is that while voters may claim to have a low level of willingness to rely upon political advertising, research indicated that there may be subliminal processes at work which allow messages to be processed and stored in the minds of viewers without conscious thought (Posner & Snyder, 1975; Jamieson, 1992). Further research into what takes place in the minds of television viewers who are exposed to political television advertising can help determine if these findings are an aberration, or an indication of the shortcomings of cultivation theory in this area.

    There exists considerable research which shows that political advertising has a significant influence upon voters who are exposed to it, even if such effects may not be fully understood. While this alone presents sufficient justification for further research, the knowledge that campaign tactics used in American political campaigns may later be used in political campaigns in other nations should serve as caution that these methods of political communication can have effects on a global scale. Given the potential global reach of these effects, the need to better understand this form of political communication presents a challenge which should not be taken lightly.

    With many of the survey participants having indicated a willingness to participate in future research, as well as the number of questions which my research raised, this project may well end up becoming the subject of my thesis project, to begin next summer.

    As always, your thoughts on this subject are welcome ...

    Rebels Immediately Regret Seizing Power In Zambia

    Rebels Immediately Regret Seizing Power In Zambia

    The Onion

    Rebels Immediately Regret Seizing Power In Zambia

    LUSAKA, ZAMBIA—"None of the blood that filled our streets nor the carnage that choked our citied could have prepared us for these pathetic annual GDP figures," said former rebel and new head of state Uwimana Kowry.

    "After months of combat, the United Deliverance Front has this morning taken command of one of Africa's most beleaguered nations, installing itself as the supreme ruler over 11 million desperate, ailing, and angry citizens. Dear Jesus, what the hell were we thinking?"

    The mood among UDF soldiers quickly worsened when they realized it was up to them to pick up the pieces after a very recent and destructive uprising.

    "And to think we were so proud to catch government forces in [the city of] Harbel by surprise," UDF General Gahiji Boshoso said. "Those lucky bastards were probably just as relieved as they were shocked that anyone would want to be in charge of such a nightmarish wasteland. Even parts of Nigeria are better than this, and that's one of the worst countries on earth."

    "Would it have killed us to take over Estonia instead—you know, a country with running water?"

    ... click link above for the full story.

    My own "24"

    The clock ticks to the end of my fall semester, the toughest one yet. In the next 24 hours, I will try to put in six hours of study time, work a full day, chair a midday work meeting, drive to Columbia for a presentation and make it to class by 6pm for the final in my last class of the semester.

    Somehow, I think the poor guy on 24 had it easier than I will in the next 24 hours ...

    Enough already ... agreed

    Sunny Phillips over at the Crunchy Republican has tired of her blog comment section becoming fertile grounds for anonymous cowards with petty agendas, dishonest motives, or just plain mental issues, and is cracking the whip in her "Enough Already" posting.

    Like her, I'm tired of trying to have an intelligent and thoughful discussion and have these losers ruin a good thing. I support her, and will make more of an effort to only allow postings which ...

    1) Allow people to express thoughts related to the subject, or
    2) Postings so ridiculous that approving them provides a degree of entertainment value.

    As some of ya'll know, dissenting opinions, so long as they're respectful, are allowed and even encouraged. That part of this blog will, as always, continue.

    Congratulations to Mary Pearson

    This morning, Governor Mark Sanford appointed Mary Pearson as the first Republican Treasurer of Dorchester County. She will serve the remainder of the current term of office and stand for election to a full term in 2008.

    Thanks go out to those of you across South Carolina who voiced your support for the appointment of this dedicated public servant following the previous blog posting on the subject. Mary will be a strong voice for the taxpayers of Dorchester County.

    Special thanks to fellow bloggers Mike Reino at SC 6 and Brian McCarty at Voting under the Influence, who joined in this effort - more proof of the effect of coordinated efforts by S.C. bloggers to present issues and advocate action.

    I died and went to Hell (graduate school)

    This is the final two weeks of the semester in graduate school ...

    Last Monday, I turned in a 22 page paper.

    Last Wednesday, a 25 pager, with a 15 minute discussion of my research.

    Tomorrow, a 14 page group paper, with a discussion of our analysis.

    On Wednesday, a cumulative final ... and then it's over ... until January ...

    Some wait until they die to go to Hell, but some of us who go to graduate school may already be there ... click here if you want to hear my current state of mind.

    U.S. 521: Now 4 lanes from Sumter to Manning

    On Wednesday, the first day my voice returned, I drove up to Manning for our lane-opening event to mark the end of one of my company's largest highway construction contracts - the widening of U.S. 521 from Manning to I-95, which included the replacement of eight consecutive bridges over the Pocataligo River.

    Little did I know that not only was I going up there to make sure the event set-up was done, as the event organizer, but I also ended up as the "MC" for the event.

    Notables in attendance included State Senator John Land, Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart, several people with the SCDOT, as well as several of the crews who had been involved in much of the project.

    Barbeque was served by D&H Barbeque of Manning. When in town, ya'll have got to go check them out!

    A project that ran pretty smoothly, overcame hurdles with little difficulty, and most importantly, no serious injuries or fatalities among anyone who worked on the project. What more could one ask for?

    With our work complete, the town of Manning now has a four-lane connection to the interior of the state, which will improve travel times, increase safety, and serve as an economic development magnet for the area. No doubt a fine Christmas present to the people of Clarendon County.

    In both pictures, Senator Land is on the left, and I'm on the right, with ...

    In the center (above) is Dwight Stewart, Clarendon County Council Chairman.

    In the center (above) is Jim Porth, the District 7 SCDOT Resident Construction Engineer.

    November 2006 on my blog, in review

    This past month has been quite active, with my site logging upwards of 200 visitors for several days. This includes eight postings out of this month's postings which generated a lot of discussion.

    I spent the whole month yakking about what I think, so enough about me. Let's see which postings YOU, my readers, were most interested in during the month of November:

    Out of state money floods House District 79 race
    11/5: GOP losing Virginia Senate race while VAGOP leader campaigns in SC?
    11/6: Grady Patterson loses it
    11/16: Blogger Love Connection
    11/16: Beyond Politics: Workforce Development

    11/20: Romney and the end of the Massachusetts GOP?
    11/20: Message to the Governor: Appoint Mary Pearson
    11/21: Jim Rex wins education race ... at last
    11/28: I'm a .. moderate?!?

    So those are the postings that got ya'll in an uproar in November. Take a minute to go back, take a look, and feel free to restir some old pots.

    License to Kill: Malice's moment of glory

    Malice could have been something big back in the 80s, but for whatever reason, they didn't last long.

    Critics compared the band to Judas Priest, and in this case, the critics had it right about this band. Their lead singer definitely has quite a vocal range on par with Rob Halford of the Priest, and their twin guitarists worked together well to produce a hard-charging album that is loud and powerful, but not too fast or too pop-sounding.

    Hard-edged rock and roll is what you get with this album. It's all the rock and roll that some bands couldn't come up with in three or four albums combined.

    In spite of this, this band came and went after a couple of albums in the 80s. Go figure.

    Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson of Megadeth joined Malice in the studio to help record this album.

    As many bands used to do, Malice had worked their way up the ladder, and License to Kill, which followed minor label releases, was their first (and last) major label album. I remember buying this on cassette as a hot new release back in the day, and now I have it on CD.

    That this band went away so quickly, while other lame-ass bands stuck around and kept flooding the record stores and airwaves with wanna-be metal, is unfortunate. But it still leaves us with Licenese to Kill, which is a legacy they should be proud of ... and a great album you should own.

    Favorite songs on the album? Chain Gang Woman, License to Kill and Sinister Double.

    Blogger departures

    Two blogs that were very active in recent months have given us notice of their upcoming departures: Faith in the Sound and Politics Rocks.

    After the primary, we saw several very active blogs take a bow and fade away in a similar manner ... but rest assured the Blogland will continue blogging in the land that is South Carolina.

    Actually the term "Blogland" was inspired by Jimi Hendrix' "Electric Ladyland". I didn't have the same hedonistic thinking as Jimi may have, but it sounded like a neat name, and one that wasn't overused by others.

    This blog was intended as a creative outlet for me, to help increase my level of writing for grad school, as well as let it hang out a little. Where else on the net can you find politics, 80s heavy metal and Catholic and Orthodox religious thoughts all at the same locale?

    Obviously, the 2006 elections are behind us, and it's time to move on from this subject, which motivated many of you. That's what I intend to do - move on, but to keep the posts coming.

    As a preview of what to expect (as if I'm very predictable ...), look for more album reviews, continued academic insights, more religious ramblings, and more discussion about these presidential candidates who are starting to show up in our state.

    Your thoughts and comments and nonsense have been greatly appreciated. Please stay tuned and continue sharing what YOU think with me and my other readers.

    Thanks for tuning in, and thanks for putting up with me.

    ... now, time to go back to being sick ...

    I'm a ... moderate?!?

    When I got home from class this evening, I wanted to go to bed, as I'm tired and starting to get sick, but something came up earlier today that I felt needed to be addressed before I could do so ...

    I've seen a lot, and I've been called a lot of things, but today, I found out that I've picked up yet another label which really puzzled the heck out of me.

    I was called, of all things ... a moderate?!?

    On his blog, Josh Gross classified me as a political moderate. How in the world did he reach THAT conclusion?

    I could see libertarian, or neo-con, or something like that. But I've never, ever been called a moderate, nor do I know how someone could possibly have reached that conclusion about my views - especially if they read this blog.

    Can anyone who reads this blog help me understand what I may have said here, to give someone that impression about me?

    Cultivation update #2: Surveying completed

    At long last, surveying is completed. What agony!

    Of the 441 responses, 428 watched 1 to 5 hours of television daily, so I excluded the outliers, which gets this survey down to a 4.7% margin of error. Good enough for academic work, and as good as any major polling firm.

    How much did the numbers change since the first polling summary? Not much - take a look:

    The paper is nearly complete, but the numbers suggest cultivation theory may have limitations as to how applicable it can be with understanding the persuasive power of political tv ads.

    Stay tuned for upcoming discussion of my paper and the conclusions I reached ...

    Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

    Believe it or not, I'm not the only academic metal-head in the world.

    Last night, while working on a paper, I watched "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" on VH1 Classic, a documentary about the heavy metal scene produced by Sam Dunn, an anthropologist, and like me, an unrepentant 80s headbanger.

    It was a really good look into what is metal culture. It goes beyond the wasted dudes and party chick stereotypes that are commonly attached to those of us who are into this genre of music, and looks a number of aspects, including the roots of the music, some of the misconceptions and deceptive information about the genre in general, as well as specific bands and songs, and yes, it takes an honest look at the good, bad, and ugly of the metal scene.

    Sam takes us on a journey from the LA Strip, to the blue collar cities of England, to the world's largest metal fest in Germany, as well as lots of other points in between. We get to meet some of the stalwarts of metal, including Alice Cooper, Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie Dio, Lemmy Kilminster, Dee Snider and Rob Zombie.

    There is not a lot of glitz here, nor a lot of over-analysis. It doesn't dwell on the dark imagery commonly associated with metal, none of the Behind the Music-esque sad stories or over-charged attitudes. His work gives us a solid look at what metal is, and where it came from.

    Sam gives us understanding, in a thoughtful manner which respects both true metalheads, as well as those wanting to know what we're all about. If you haven't seen it, do it.

    Believe me, this is one DVD I'm going to buy for my personal Christmas present.

    Cultivation update #1

    For those of you who are following my research into the cultivation effect of political advertisting, here's an update (yeah, this is what I've been doing with my time off from work and school for Thanksgiving - i'm quite the party animal).

    As originally discussed, there is a notable cultivation effect in many areas affected by television programming, news, and advertising. Is my research showing this effect present with political advertising?

    So far ... the answer is "kinda", but not exactly.

    Sometimes, research won't confirm a particular point of view or validate a theory (though it is nice if it does). Research findings which show the limitations of theories aren't always a bad thing, and can help lay the foundation for more informed research on a given topic.

    What am I asking?
    1) As an average, how many hours of television do you watch a day?

    Next, rate these questions, on a scale of 1 being the lowest, and 5 being the highest.

    2) On a scale of 1 to 5, how influential is television advertising in helping you decide who to vote for?

    3) On a scale of 1 to 5, how believable do you find positive political TV ads, which are those that make positive statements about the candidate?

    4) On a scale of 1 to 5, how believable do you find negative political ads, which are those that make negative statements about a candidate?
    What are the results so far?

    To a point, believability increases along with daily average viewing time, but it tends to level off, and overall influence and credibility of negative advertising numbers begin to drop off as viewing time increases. This suggests the culivation theory may not perfectly apply to understanding political advertising. Understanding why this is so is certainly a question worth asking, especially if I decide to expand upon this research for my yet-undecided thesis project.

    I still have more calls to make, but as the total number of completed calls increases, the daily swing in the running totals shrinks, so I'm pretty confident that the final scores won't change much from where they are now.

    While I'm presenting the totals of my ongoing results, I will hold off on offering any analysis or claims about the data I'm gathering until I've completed my calling this weekend. Stay tuned ... and feel free to share any thoughts you may have.

    My survey sample is 374 voters (I'm completing 20-25 responses on weeknights and more on Saturdays). This is estimated to give an accurate response with a 5% margin of error for 22,0o0 voters who have voted at least twice in the last four general elections (i.e. - regular, reliable voters).

    Thanksgiving News Story

    I thought some of ya'll would want to see this story ...

    Rudy moves quickly

    Rudy sure moves quick ...

    Republican Rudy Giuliani has assembled a group of high-powered business executives, including billionaire Texas oil mogul T. Boone Pickens, to raise money as the former New York City mayor weighs a full-blown presidential bid.

    Giuliani headlined a meeting of the finance committee in New York on Wednesday. The group will be chaired by Roy Bailey, a former finance chairman for the Texas Republican Party and a founding member of Giuliani Partners, the former mayor's consulting firm.

    Among the most notable members of the group is Pickens, a longtime contributor to President Bush and other Republican candidates. In 2004, Pickens donated more than $4 million to GOP causes, including $3 million to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group that made unsubstantiated allegations about Democratic Sen. John Kerry's military record.

    Other members of Giuliani's finance committee include Barry Wynn, former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party and the finance chair of Bush's re-election campaign. The South Carolina primary is a key early contest in the presidential nominating process.

    - AP/Yahoo
    With Barry Wynn on his team, he'll have some solid inroads into South Carolina's GOP circles.

    Jim Rex wins education race ... at last

    To those who don't already know, Karen Floyd looked at the various potential issues and decided to throw in the towel today. Jim Rex will, without contest, become the next Superintendent of Education.

    For those who made some pretty unfair attacks on me as a "RINO lover" for backing Staton ... well, I want to congratulate you for all you've done. You helped nominate a candidate with serious flaws, especially in her own backyard, and helped give this office four more years of Democratic rule.

    In spite of the many warning signs, you let yourself fooled by the Pied Piper who played the tune you wanted to hear. While you may have been fooled, the voters weren't.

    Public education needs many reforms, including fiscal restraint, accountability, discipline, a greater emphasis on workforce development and lifelong learning, and yes, choice for parents - including charter and private schools. But school choice requires a systemic overhaul and faces major opposition, and therefore is the part of education reform which will take the longest time to bring to fruition.

    But Karen Floyd's campaign agenda overlooked a lot of those concerns and issues, and she lacked experience in education policy, which handicapped her candidacy from the start.

    There are conservative reformers who have a lot to say about education, along with serious credentials in the field of education leadership. Republicans who want to take back this office in four years need to find one of them for their candidate. If Mr. Rex fails to make progress, given the close outcome, it's easy to see where a more qualified Republican candidate could win in four years.

    Responsible school reform should start with those goals which are most easily achieved, and then proceed to the more complex and difficult challenges. While Rex and I do not agree on the issue of private school choice, there are many areas where he correctly believes reforms can, and should, be made.

    If he is a man of his word, and one of vision and drive, then I wish Mr. Rex the best of luck in the next four years. He will certainly have his work cut out for him.

    ... and next time you have a good rockin' concert event, let me know. Especially if I can get in for free. If you read my blog, good rock is right up my alley.

    Message to the Governor: Appoint Mary Pearson

    Mary would be abundantly capable and qualified to serve the people of Dorchester County in the recently-vacated office of county Treasurer.

    Not only that, Mary Pearson is a fiscal conservative who cares about the impact the taxes has upon the people who pay them. She won't just collect taxes, she'll be a voice for those who pay them, and work hand-in-hand with other courthouse officals.

    She has already been endorsed by the county Auditor and two members of County Council, who look forward to working with her.

    Message to Governor Sanford (since I know you and your staff read this blog): Appoint Mary Pearson to this office!

    Romney and the end of the Massachusetts GOP?

    Already, South Carolina has seen large amounts of attention from those who are looking at seeking the 2008 Republican nomination to run for President. While these candidates seek to curry favor through a number of approaches, including contributions to local party organizations and candidates, it's not a bad idea to look at how effectively they've led in their home states and districts as an indication of what kind of job they would do in leading their party on the 2008 campaign trail, and once elected.

    Recently, I was criticized for questioning the last-weekend presence of former Virginia GOP Governor and RNC Chairman Jim Gilmore, who chose to spend the last few days of the 2006 campaigns here instead of in Virginia, where control of the Senate was swung by a seven-thousand vote defeat. The kind of major reversal that a well-known and connected politico like Gilmore could have helped prevent.

    Ironically, I predicted the very possibility of this happening.

    No doubt some of the Mitt Romney supporters who praised my posting which questioned recent attacks on Romney's religious beliefs will be surprised and probably not pleased with this posting, but I may as well be fair and start looking at some of the other GOP presidential hopefuls who are courting South Carolina voters.

    While GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has made a bit of a splash down here in South Carolina, there are some interesting words of concern about his ability to build and lead the Republican party voiced from "back home" ...

    The party's slide has been so precipitous that Republicans yesterday did not contest 130 of 200 legislative seats, fielded a challenger in only three of 10 congressional districts, and put up fewer candidates for statewide office (three) than the Green-Rainbow Party (four).

    Even in 1986, the previous modern low point for Republicans in the Bay State, the GOP held a seat in Congress and more than a dozen additional seats in the Legislature. In those days, it was sometimes said that Republicans were a third party in Massachusetts, behind liberal Democrats and conservative Democrats.

    The party's numbers in the Legislature have continued to ebb steadily for a decade, even after Governor Mitt Romney's aggressive, well-financed assault on the Democratic Legislature two years ago. It was a disaster as Republicans actually lost a net three seats to the Democrats. As he explores a candidacy for president, Romney leaves behind a party in ruins in his own state.

    - Boston.com
    Here are some pretty strong words from James Rappaport, a former Mass GOP chairman:

    "Locally, this is a rebuke to Mitt Romney and checking out within six months after being elected and having accomplished almost nothing," said Rappaport, whom Romney rejected as a running mate in favor of Kerry Healey four years ago.

    "Mitt Romney, through his stalwart efforts, has managed to bring our party back to where it was in 1986," he said.

    Statistics about the loss of GOP seats in the Massachusetts legsiature can be confirmed at NCSL.org. They lost a Senate seat and two House seats to end up 35-5 in their Senate and 141-19 in their House. But the GOP hasn't held much more ground than that in many years, so it wouldn't be fair to blame him for a GOP blowout, but it is still fair to ask what he's done to improve the situation back home.

    So, what do ya'll think ... ?

    Writing in APA style

    One of the torments of academic writing is the various writing styles and conventions. APA, Chicago, Turabian, and others ... they all come with their quirks, and failing to get them right to the most infinite and minute detail.

    It is enough to drive one to drink.

    In my program, they use APA style. Most of it is pretty straight-forward, but even after several years of writing with it, owning the official stylebook and buying template software, I'm still struggling to get it all right.

    Including this weekend, where I'm dealing with three papers that have to be wrapped up in the next three weeks.

    Oh, what fun ...

    Cultivation effect and political tv ads

    In the field of communication research, a very popular theory known as Cultivation Theory , originally proposed by George Gerbner, argues that television can create and reinforce alternate views of the outside world which can be contrary to reality. When this is applied to topics such as fear of crime, negative perceptions of certain cities and regions, food/beverage and fashion advertising, and cultural and racial stereotypes, television programming does indeed have a cultivation effect.

    In other words, many people, to some degree, believe what they see on television, when they have no other frame of reference which they can turn to for more informed insights about that topic.

    I am working on a research project this semester in which examines if political tv ads have a cultivation effect. If there is a strong cultivation effect, then the more television one watches, the more they'll rely upon it as a major source of information, and will believe what they see.

    This research includes a rather extensive telephone survey of Dorchester County voting households, doing a random sample of those voters who have voted at least twice in the four general elections 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004.

    Stay tuned for updates on my research ...

    Beyond Politics: Workforce Development

    Beyond election year politics, one of the most critical challenges facing South Carolina is that of the quality of our workforce.

    The quality of our workforce affects a lot of aspects of life in South Carolina. While the more obvious impacts are felt in terms of economic development and employment statistics, there are impacts on a wide range of other issues. This has a real impact upon the lives of the people of our state.

    Unfortunately, too many areas of our state rely on low-wage, low-skill industry and distribution centers, where the pay is so low that workers require public assistance to meet their basic needs for housing, food, and health care, and the companies expect hefty tax breaks to provide these jobs. The real solution is to have a quality workforce which can attract a higher quality of industry that wants and expects a top-notch workforce, and is willing to pay to get it.

    In a recent op-ed in the Myrtle Beach Sun News, Darla Moore, the Chairman of the Palmetto Institute, raises some valid concerns about the problems we face here in South Carolina:

    S.C. counties can no longer only compete against each other for jobs and win. Our competitors are global.

    A diploma no longer is enough; workers must have real-world technical skills to meet employer demands.

    That's a big challenge for our state that, according to the U. S. Census Bureau, has as many as 600,000 workers who do not have a high school diploma or the literacy and technical skills to hold a meaningful job for three years. That's one-third of our work force.

    That's a real problem that will keep our state from getting the good-paying jobs needed to raise household incomes, move families off public assistance, and bring much-needed economic stability to our rural communities.

    In serving on the regional Workforce Investment Board, and doing HR work for my company, as well as others I've worked with before, I see these problems every day. Addressing these issues requires a team effort from all of us.

    The recent move of Workforce Investment efforts to the state's Commerce Department was a step in the right direction. This recent report from the Palmetto Institute points the way for continued improvement of our workforce development efforts.

    We don't have much time to lose ...

    Blogger Love Connection

    Today's thought - using a blog for picking up chicks.

    It was recently suggested that one of the reasons that I was running this blog was to make my single life easier, but to be honest, I'm trying to figure out how that works. To date, all I've accomplished with this blog is making people mad at me, and keeping me up late working on postings. Time I could have spent looking for love in all the wrong places.

    The only sexual offers I get are ... well, to do something to myself. Those don't count.

    All you fellow bloggers who've built up sizable harems from your efforts, here is your chance to speak up and let the world know we're not just losers with too much time on our hands.

    So here's my winning, sure-fire, can't miss blogger's personal ad - I'm 35 years old, defintely brainy-geeky, twice-divorced single parent with a teenage daughter at home, I work long hours on the road and spend what little time I have left in the pursuit of a Master's Degree. If you feel like taking a chance on someone whose martial track record sucks, has a teenager at home who is used to being the only female in the house, and has barely enough time to sleep, much less sleep around ... give me a call.

    Not like I've got anything better to do ... or else I wouldn't be here in the first place.

    Come on, everyone ... where's the love?

    ... but still, OJ did not kill her ... ?!?

    I've seen a lot, but this "I didn't kill her, because if it was me, I'd have done it this way ..." defense is right up there with the Robert Blake "I wasn't there when she was shot - I was in the restaurant, getting my gun" defense takes the cake:

    Fox plans to broadcast an interview with O.J. Simpson in which the former football star discusses "how he would have committed" the slayings of his ex-wife and her friend, for which he was acquitted, the network said.

    The two-part interview, titled "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," will air Nov. 27 and Nov. 29, the TV network said.

    - AP/Yahoo

    How many of ya'll feel much safer now?
    I wonder if his publicist approved THIS stunt?

    My 2006 races to watch - how did they do?

    For us political hacks, Election 2006 has been a hell of a ride in South Carolina.

    The first round was primaries headlined with a last-minute surge by Governor Sanford’s GOP primary rival and a stunning run-off save by Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who overcame a 2nd place primary finish to prevail over Mike Campbell in the runoff.

    But the surprises reached down the primary ballots – five House members lost their primaries, including the senior Democrat in the House – Tom Rhoad – and the only Democrat to chair a House committee. They were joined by all but one County Council chairman who faced a primary challenger. In the larger counties, roughly half of all County Council members were ousted. It was not a good year to be an incumbent.

    The GOP rode into the fall hoping to gain a seat or two. While it didn’t work out that way, their losses were as marginal as their original expected gains – a net gain by Democrats of one seat.

    To look back for a moment, here’s how my "races to watch" turned out:

    Races I called "very competitive":

    • District 29: DEM open seat in Chester, Cherokee, and York Counties-
      Dennis Moss - D 4,591 50%, Danny Stacy - R 4,525 50%
      Less than 100 votes!

    • District 30: DEM incumbent in Cherokee County-
      Olin Phillips - D 57%, Bobby Beattie - R 43%

    • District 45: DEM open seat in Lancaster and York Counties - GOP pickup
      Mick Mulvaney - R 51%, Alston DeVenny - D 49%
      Less than 200 votes!

    • District 60: GOP open seat in Florence and Sumter Counties-
      Phillip Lowe - R 60%, LaRue Kirby - D 40%

    • District 79: GOP incumbent in Kershaw and Richland Counties-
      Bill Cotty - R 45%, Anton Gunn - D 43%
      ... and Michael Letts - I 9%, John Nelums - UCP 3%
      Cotty holds by under 300 votes!

    • District 97: GOP incumbent in Dorchester County- DEM pickup
      Patsy Knight - D 51%, George Bailey - R 49%
      Less than 200 votes!

    • District 119: GOP open seat in Charleston County- DEM pickup
      Leon Stavrinakis - D 54%, Suzanne Piper - R 46%

    Races I called "potentially active":

    • District 7: GOP open seat in Anderson County-
      Michael Gambrell - R 56%, Ron Gilreath - D 44%

    • District 75: GOP incumbent in Richland County-
      Jim Harrison - R 55%, Boyd Summers - D 45%

    • District 108: DEM incumbent in Charleston and Georgetown Counties-
      Vida Miller - D 56%, Ricky Horne - R 44%

    • District 115: GOP incumbent in Charleston County-
      Wallace Scarborough - R 5,938 50%, Eugene Platt - D 5,893 50%
      Less than 100 votes!

    • District 120: DEM incumbent in Colleton and Hampton Counties-
      Bill Bowers - D 55%, Joe Flowers - R 45%

    I only missed one race where the winner came in under 60%: Dem rep Anne Parks, in Greenwood and McCormick Counties, who held District 12 by 1100 votes - 58% to 42%. I also predicted that the House 60 race would be very close, as it had been in the past, but GOP candidate Phillip Lowe scored a stunning 60% victory. Nobody I talked with expected him to run away with it.

    But I can't take all the credit for calling what turned out to be pretty good shots ... much of the credit is due to those who contacted me, and provided me valuable insights into races which helped me fine tune my analysis. Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!

    ... your thoughts ... ?

    SC Politics 2006: Good campaigns, bad campaigns

    This year, we saw some campaigns excel, and others flounder. Here’s my look at those who did good, and those who blew it:

    “Did good”:
    • Andre Bauer, who pulled off a surprise win in the GOP runoff, and then held on in the face of a strong challenge by Democrat Robert Barber.

    • Thomas Ravenel, who first KO’ed two very strong GOP opponents in the GOP primary, and then blew out Grady Patterson. Patterson had scraped by with two close wins in 1998 and 2002, but not this time.

    • Richard Eckstrom, who held on in the face of negative publicity and an intense attack campaign by his Democratic challenger.

    • Jeff Willis on making the GOP runoff for Treasurer. He didn’t have a prayer of winning, but making the runoff, in spite of the circumstances, is something to brag about … and he spent a lot less than any other GOP candidate in the race to get there.

    • Jim Rex, who closed the gap with GOP candidate Karen Floyd, in spite of Floyd’s big lead in fundraising. Apparently, Floyd’s problems reached all the way back to her home county, and they made the most of it, by hanging tough until things broke their way.

      Now, maybe they’ll take me off their “Republicans for Rex” email list, but if they ever do another “Rex Rocks” event, I doubt I’ll get an invite.

    • Hugh Weathers AND William Bell, who faced off in the GOP primary for Commissioner of Agriculture. Both were exceptional candidates who ran good races, and made it one of the hardest ballot choices I’ve ever made.

    • GOP state rep Bill Cotty, who held on in spite of a two-way squeeze play by Anton Gunn, a hard-charging Democratic candidate, and perennial candidate Michael Letts. He was buried under tons of SCRG attack mailings, but when the smoke cleared, he held House District 79 by a couple hundred votes.

      ... and Anton Gunn, who made the most of the occasion to run a strong race. I get a feeling we'll be seeing more of him in the future.

    • Phillip Lowe, the GOP candidate for House District 60. The seat was considered a tough one for any GOP candidate, and he ended up winning it by twenty points.

    • The Dorchester County Democratic Party, whose superb GOTV effort which took out GOP state rep George Bailey, and were probably the best of any county party – Democrat or Republican – in the state.

    • My friends Terry Hardesty and Jimmy Hinson. Both took out incumbents on the Berkeley County School Board. Terry’s opposition brought in the major-league Stoneridge Group campaign consulting firm, and he still beat her. Jimmy Hinson ousted his opponent with the support of his ex-wife, Shirley Hinson.

      A driving issue in those upsets was the board’s decision to use “alternative funding” to finance school construction, which also led to the ouster of two of the four incumbents on the Dorchester school board in the Summerville area.

    • Paul Thurmond, whose unassuming approach to running for office on his own merits without attempting to hijack his father’s legacy and pass it off as his own (unlike a certain former statewide candidate), earned him a seat on Charleston County Council, ending the short-lived Democratic Council majority. This is one guy to watch ...

    "Did bad":

    • Mike Campbell, who found that waving the Campbell name around failed to impress GOP regulars and that a sludge-slinging campaign against Andre Bauer did little more than give the Democrats a running shot at taking the office. Waging the kind of campaign that could have helped Democrats is not what Carroll would have done …

    • Greg Ryberg, who pulled the 2002 Treasurer’s race to a 52-48 finish in a strong race with great TV, then came back this year, raised a million bucks, added two mil of his own money, and still didn’t make the runoff. He’s a really great guy whose campaign never seemed to catch fire this time around.

    • Karen Floyd, who pulled off a close win in the GOP primary, raised a bunch of dough for the fall campaign, raised a bunch of money for her fall campaign, and created an air of invincibility … but then ended up in a photo-finish defeat by Democrat Jim Rex, who nobody (myself included) gave a chance of winning.

    • Drew Theodore, whose campaign attempted to make the most mileage of the least stuff I’ve ever seen against GOP incumbent Richard Eckstrom. As his father was a pretty decent guy, and he didn’t seem to wave around the family as Mike Campbell did, I expected him to have the humility to run a positive and construction campaign. Instead, we got an amazing amount of sludge.

    • GOP state rep Wallace Scarborough, whose gunslinging approach to dealing with late-night utility workers, combined with his “they’d be dead if I wanted to hit them” remarks unleashed a wave of negative publicity which his opponent, Democrat Gene Platt, took advantage of. Combined with cheap shot attack mailers from the SCRG, it took a guy who’d never even run close in a major race to within dozens of votes of prevailing.

    • GOP state house candidate Suzanne Piper, who ran for what was a safe GOP seat in House 119, and ended up blowing a twenty-point lead to lose by eight points. This gave Democrats three things to crow about – one, seeing the end of Rep. John Graham Altman, two – taking his seat, and three - winning a seat that had been comfortably in GOP hands for a generation.

    … if any of you have recommendations, feel free to share them with us.

    Talk about a paper-thin loss

    The so-called "wave" of 2006 wasn't quite all it was cracked up to be. Especially since the Democrats were talking about scoring big gains early, but many races weren't called until hours after the polls closed, and several House races are still not called, 36 hours later.

    Two Senate incumbents with big mouths screwed up their re-election bids, and with just a few thousand votes, the Democrats took control of the Senate. Hardly a mandate for "change".

    As for what happened in the House:

    One of the things that is different from 1994, is that in 1994 when Republicans won 56 House seats, all but a handful were won by a range of 10 or more percent. Last night if you look at the election, of those 28 House seats, 22 were won by 2 percent or less — 22 of the 28. And of those, 18 were won by less than 5,000 votes, and four of those by less than a thousand votes ... you can basically go back and say that we lost control of Congress by 11 seats. You’re talking about less than 50,000 votes.

    This doesn't bode well for the Democrats in 2008, if the GOP numbers recover sufficiently. In the 1996 elections, much of the House margin the GOP won in 1994 was wiped out when incumbents who were swept into swing seats over-estimated their appeal and their voter bases, and then were booted out two years later for being too far from the political center.

    In looking at some of these races, I see some of these seats will be held by "wing-nuts" who are too far from the political centers of these districts. If the Dems blow it in the next two years, then that 28 seat loss could be easily wiped out and then some in a similar manner.

    If you want to read the rest of this short article from National Review Online, click here.

    Reading my blog, by topics

    One of the really neat new features of Blogger dot com is the ability to add keywords to blog postings, and to display an index of topics, for quick reference for those visiting my blogsite. You should find that index on the right-hand side of my blog.

    I hope you find this new feature on my blog helpful.

    Over the last couple of weeks, I've gone through and tagged my over two hundred back postings, so those of you who find a topic of interest on my blog can now dig a little deeper, see what I had to say, and hopefully find some weblinks to take you to more reading on those subjects.

    Hopefully you'll want to dig deeper than just my postings ... because if you're dumb enough to actually take my word for it alone ... well, let's just say that I'm surprised someone like that is smart enough to find the power switch on their computer.

    Moral of the story (I'm one to talk about morals ...): Don't take my (or anyone else's) word for it alone - always do your homework.

    Defenders of the Faith: Judas Priest Rock and Roll

    One of the best of the many albums recorded by Judas Priest was their 1984 "Defenders of the Faith" album.

    The album covered featured another machine-monster creation: "Rising from darkness where hell hath no mercy and the screams for vengeance echo on forever. Only those who keep the faith shall escape the wrath of the Metallian... Master of all metal"

    Powered by a creative and well-produced video for Freewheel Burnin', which combined the band's strong performance presence with the then-popular Pole Position video game, the album locked the band into the forefront of the metal scene. The tour for that album included Great White, Quiet Riot and Ted Nugent at various points.

    It was also THE album that made me a confirmed metal-head.

    Several band members also regard this as the band's best album:

    I know that this is standard procedure, but I really do think that this new album is the best work we've ever turned in. It's very much a natural progression from Screaming For Vengeance, but I think the songs here are far better. There are potential singles everywhere, yet the album still retains a total rock feel.
    - Dave Holland

    I think DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH is the most committed album that Priest has ever made to really defining heavy metal as we feel it should be, in the '80s especially."
    - Rob Halford

    ... and the best quote of all:

    If I had to pick my favorite Priest album, I would say DEFENDERS OF THE FAITH, because it’s the album that defines Judas Priest. I don’t want to slander the other albums, but this one combines all the elements of the band. It’s got a variety of songs: brutal, melodic, slow, fast. This variety is absent nowadays. Most of the bands come up with one-dimension, monolithic albums. Heavy metal is not only speed metal or death metal and it never was. Heavy metal also has a most mild side, even though it combines elements from various genres, but in recent years, variety is absent. I believe that this is one of the reasons heavy metal doesn’t have the reflection it had before.
    - Ian Hill

    Get this album. Period.

    Tooth Fairy ... or something like that

    Sunny over at Crunchy Republican isn't the only blogger who can show off kids ...

    When the tooth fairy falls behind on her production goals
    for the month - extreme measures are called for ...

    ... by the way, that's my little one, Bonnie,
    and it's just a rubber mallet she's wielding!

    Someone really hates me - read for yourself

    Just to let you know that someone out there hates me and is really obsessed with me, based on her continual comments on my blog, and wants to warn people about me. Those of you who, in spite of your better judgment, think I am prime dating, mating, or any other form of relationship material, go read what my self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner would like you to know about me.

    Apparently, when Dawber71 posts, that really sets her off (I presume it's a she) and she can't help but start ringing those warning bells. To be honest, I usually approve the posts because they're so darn entertaining.

    No matter how many women problems Sic Willie is accused of having, I'm sure mine could give him a run for the money.

    As always, feel free to join the discussion.