The "Ethics" of the SCRG

For a group whose name presents themselves as "responsible", the folks at the SCRG are quite puzzling in their adoration for funding high-volume attack campaigns. The more mud they throw, the bolder they get with the next round of sleaze.

But don't just take my word for it ... The State has also weighed in on the SCRG attacks.

It's far from the first time I've talked about their tactics this fall. In previous postings, I've looked at their shady tactics and distorted messages in the race for House Seat 115 and House Seat 119, both in Charleston County.

One of the targets of the SCRG is GOP State Rep. Bill Cotty in the Midlands, who faces a tough race with perennial candidate Michael Letts waging a petition candidacy on his right, and Democrat Anton Gunn on his left.

Outlasting such a squeeze play, in any event, is a tough proposition, but normally, a show of party unity bleeds a petition candidate on the right enough for the GOP candidate to make it through. But the direct mail attack campaign being waged by the SCRG is attempting to damage Cotty.

While their motives remain murky, many observers feel they are trying to aid Gunn's candidacy. We lean toward this theory, given Lett’s history of being repeatedly trounced in bids for this seat, as well as the history of petition candidates prevail in three-way races. To date, Letts has lost three races for this seat, as well as getting 38% in the GOP runoff for County Council two years ago. If Letts is a proven loser, then who else could they be trying to stack the deck for?

However, given Gunn's positions, including opposition to school choice, it's unlikely such an association is welcomed by the Gunn campaign, no matter how beneficial their attacks may be to his candidacy.

Their recent attack mailing against Cotty, entitled “Ethics Matter”, makes a number of questionable claims about Cotty:

Relationship with schools: As an attorney, Cotty provides legal counsel for a local school district. On the Education Oversight Committee, he is involved with overall policy review for the state. Two different bodies at two levels of government - so where's the conflict?

As a member of the SC Bar, Cotty is bound by their Rules of Conduct - to avoid conflicts of interest. Ass a public official, he is governed by the Rules of Conduct of the South Carolina Ethics Commission. Acting in his own financial interest is expressly forbidden:

A public official, public member, or public employee may not knowingly use his official office, membership, or employment to influence a government decision to obtain an economic interest for himself, a member of his immediate family, an individual with whom he is associated, or a business with which he is associated.

As both an attorney and public official, Cotty is overseen by very explicit guidelines, with some very serious consequences for violating them. It's doubtful that with two watchdogs, he'd do something so stupid, or at the very least, he wouldn't get away with it for long.

That his opposition has chosen to make a campaign issue about it, rather than seeking an investigation, does much to suggest these charges are hollow, or at least they’re more concerned about winning elections than seeing any allegations of wrong-doing addressed.

Liquor contributors: Again, more blurring. Many legislators receive contributions from individuals associated with groups or companies who are on the bad end of state policy-making. So long as there are no offers of "pay for play", there is nothing illegal. In fact, Cotty was opposed to keeping mini-bottles, a position strongly opposed by the liquor industry.

Again, if there really WAS a conflict, we refer back to the above quote from the Ethics Commission regarding acting to benefit one’s contributors. If they had something, they could have just turned him in. They didn’t – which says plenty.

Legislative Allowances and Expenses: The mailing attempts to claim that Cotty received allowances and expenses while residing nearby, which he does, as does any legislator who incurs expenses on the job.

For that matter, it is common for most people in their jobs to be reimbursed for expenses. So what? I'll bet employees of the SCRG expect to get paid too ...

Also, the footnote “5” in that claim refers to the Mapquest website. One who visits it will not find any information about South Carolina legislators there, only directions and travel time and distance estimates.

Based on their continual attacks, it seems a safe bet to expect there will more of the same being piled on Cotty.

It's a shame this is the best this bunch could do.

As the SCRG says in their mailer, ethics DO matter. However, it is unfortunate that they can't do a better job of embracing them.

Why vote for Joe Lieberman?

Since it's Halloween today ...

Beyond Politics: Five key South Carolina Issues

The website for The State outlines five key issues at which this state needs to address. While I disagree with some of their positions, I do agree that these are vital areas which deserve long overdue attention:

* We do need school choice. The State parrots the same uninformed mantra that it's taking away money from schools, while not mentioning that it is also reducing their cost of operation and giving parents less than the per-child funding, allowing the schools to retain "free" money with no costs associated.
* A Board of Regents or some centralization of higher ed policy making is long overdue.
* School choice offers competition, but only if we free public schools to compete on a level playing field. Freeing public schools from red tape and bureaucratic barriers has to happen, with or without school choice. This issue wasn't mentioned, but I'm throwing it in anyway.

Two South Carolinas:
* Addressing infrastructure, workforce development, and inclusiveness in governance - all good ideas.
* Governor Sanford was right about the Orangeburg Massacre. So long as one side ignore the other's points of view on racial and cultural issues, we'll never make progress. When Jakie Knotts ran his mouth about the apology being wrong, it said a lot about both him and Tommy Moore, as well as the challenges we face with this issue.
* This state cannot exist, as it does, in two very opposite worlds.

* I agree - we need to keep moving with this. Maybe not wholesale, but then again, the 1993 round wasn't wholesale. As in the private sector, restructuring should be a continual process to meet changing needs.

Economic Development:
* Hey Tommy, not chasing low-wage jobs, in the long run, is smart. Companies with low-wage jobs are the ones most likely to pick up in five years and move overseas. In the long run, our workforce needs to be able to do more than low-skilled, minimum wage jobs if we're to have a decent standard of living.
* South Carolina is becoming a key player in the automotive industry, and through companies like Santee Cooper, we're a major exporter of energy to other states. Clusters to build upon these strengths are smart, and in the long run, will draw more jobs and help educate and train South Carolinians for them.
* Commerce Department - spends less, recruits more. They're doing a good job. Let's work to build upon what they're doing right.

Taxes and Spending:
* Tax cuts aren't a bad idea, but let's face it - our fiscal house is shaky. In good years, collections outpace the economy and are squandered, and in bad years, they fall farther than the economy. Examining how to even out the revenue flow, and do a better job of conserving extra funds, is a good idea.
* Spending cuts can be good, but even better is a cost-benefits analysis. A lot of state programs would fail this test, but those that don't should be handled carefully.

Those are my thoughts ... now, I invite your thoughts and discussion on these issues.

While they are relevant in this year's election, I hope that come 2007, they're not thrown back into the basement until the next election. Our continued failure to address them has much to do with the problems that hold our entire state back.

Scary Democrats 2: Attack of the Killer Taxmen

Halloween season horrors rise from their graves ...

They're coming ... run for your lives!
The blood-sucking, life-stealing, hunt-you-to-the-grave Democratic Taxmen are coming for us all!!!!!

Special thanks to Sunny at CrunchyGOP for tipping me off about Zucker's latest "too hot for the RNC" video.

This one takes aim at the Democrats over fiscal policy, and it's a hoot. His first one, considered to aggressive for airing by GOP strategists, took aim at the Democrats over foreign policy.

Enjoy the video and have a great weekend!

State House races to watch, in summary

For those who missed my postings on the more competitive State House races (and who really care what I think), I'll repost a summary of them, along with some additional thoughts.

This was a three part series, in which I looked at races in the Upstate, Midlands, Pee Dee and Lowcountry. You're welcome to look them over and share your (respectful) thoughts ... and if you don't like it, don't follow me around in traffic about it:

Very competitive races:

  • District 29: DEM open seat in Chester, Cherokee, and York Counties
  • District 30: DEM incumbent in Cherokee County
  • District 45: DEM open seat in Lancaster and York Counties
  • District 60: GOP open seat in Florence and Sumter Counties
  • District 79: GOP incumbent in Kershaw and Richland Counties
  • District 97: GOP incumbent in Dorchester County
  • District 119: GOP open seat in Charleston County
Potentially active races:

  • District 7: GOP open seat in Anderson County
  • District 75: GOP incumbent in Richland County (added this one)
  • District 108: DEM incumbent in Charleston and Georgetown Counties
  • District 115: GOP incumbent in Charleston County
  • District 120: DEM incumbent in Colleton and Hampton Counties
Here are some "big picture" thoughts:

The last of the Upstate Democrats? Ten years ago, the GOP was just taking over the ex-urban counties of Anderson and York, and didn't even come close in Cherokee and Lancaster. Now, Districts 29, 30, and 45 represent three of the eight majority-white House seats in the Upstate held by Democrats. At this rate, it would not be out of the question to see the Democrats lose all the almost-fifty Upstate House districts, save a handful of majority-black districts, in ten years' time.

Stalemate on the Coast? A sort of stalemate exists in the Pee Dee, as well as the rural and urban Lowcountry, where there isn't much room for improvement. In the Pee Dee and rural Lowcountry, the GOP failed to reach out effectively to black voters and the Democrats rallied their formidible political base in these regions to knock out what few Republicans managed to pull off victories, before they could hope to dig in by establishing long-term incumbency. This will keep seats like 60 and 97 in play every election year.

Along the coast, poor GOP candidates and weak incumbents sometimes fall prey to the more selective voters that make up the regional GOP base - many of them aren't as strongly-wedded to the GOP label as Upstate voters are, and don't mind tossing a bad apple overboard. This seems to be the problem in the three House races in Charleston County - 108, 115, and 119. Unique circumstances in each are hurting GOP prospects this year, but normally, those races would be sleepers.

Overall, this points to the possibility that GOP gains in the State House have largely peaked with a membership range averaging in the mid-70s. From the looks of things this year, that won't change much. I say one or two seat shift, either way.

What do you think?

VA Governor to get out vote ... in South Carolina?

In Virginia, there is a GOP-held Senate seat and a GOP-held House seat that are so close they're often in the margin-of-error, so a former Republican Virginia governor has decided to do all he can to get out GOP voters, which is admirable.

But in South Carolina?!? What's THAT all about?

I appreciate his intent to lick boots and polish his Presidential resume, but if he wants to impress South Carolina Republicans, shouldn't he start by boosting his home-state GOP?

Is he that determined to win SC votes ... that unpopular back in VA ... or what is it?

On Friday, Governor Gilmore wishes to show his appreciation to Republican Party supporters, and their commitment to the Spartanburg GOP Victory 2006 efforts, by hosting the “Friends of the Spartanburg GOP” Get Out The Vote Reception. The reception will be held at Ribault Street Eatery on East Henry Street in Spartanburg from 5:00 to 6:30 pm on Friday, November 3.

On Saturday, Governor Gilmore will be leading the final grassroots effort of the 2006 election cycle in Spartanburg County. The Spartanburg GOP Get Out The Vote Rally and Breakfast will take place on Saturday, November 4, at Ricky’s Drive-In, located at the intersection of Henry and Union Streets in Spartanburg.

Note to Jim Gilmore: Your fellow Virginia Republicans need your help. Just find I-85 north, and follow the signs. Virginia is that a'way ...

State House Watch, Part 4: Coastal races

I don't know why the last installment of my race watches never got posted on The Shot, so I'll just put it up here instead ...

The Coastal Lowcounty, with the exception of inner-city and rural black districts, a strange sort of GOP stronghold. While it typically goes for a Republican statewide, and is rock-solid for GOP Congressmen Henry Brown and Joe Wilson, many of these voters are much more moderate on social issues and sometimes revolt on GOP candidates, as shown in the ability of former U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings to pull majorities from this region, as well as when they went for former Democratic Governor Jim Hodges in 1998.

House 119: Charleston County (Current party: R)

The Democrats thought they had a really good shot at this seat, following a number of highly-publicized statements by Rep. John Graham Altman. They recruited Leon Stavrinakis, the Democratic chair of Charleston County Council.

While they expected a boost the fact that Altman was a controversial incumbent who had attracted a lot of negative publicity, he opted not to run for re-election. Instead, the GOP nominated Suzanne Piper, in a come-from-behind GOP runoff win, scrambling their initial hopes to have a weak incumbent to work against.

Stavrinakis is pointed to as the kind of Democrat who can win crossover votes, as one of only two Democrats to win seats on County Council between 1994 and 2004, when the county went from the at-large method of election to single-member districts. However his crossover appeal may be overrated, as he ran for the State Senate to replace Ernie Passailague in 2001, in a Democratic-leaning seat, and got beat handily by John Kuhn. Having been placed into an overwhelmingly-Republican single member district, where Paul Thurmond is the GOP candidate, he chose to run for the State House.

This seat was one of the first legislative seats in the Lowcountry to fall into GOP hands, and has been that way for nearly three decades. It’ll be tough to see this seat changing hands, but the Democrats think they’ve got a shot, and talk from on the ground says the race is close. Control of this seat decides the balance of power on the county’s Legislative Delegation, therefore there is a lot at stake and both sides are giving it all they’ve got.

Also to watch … House 108: Charleston and Georgetown Counties (Current party: D)

Since she took this seat ten years ago, Democratic State Rep. Vida Miller stays on the top of the GOP hitlist. While her margins have been less than impressive, she has managed to hold on against a string of good and bad challengers.

The GOP is trying again with Ricky Horne, who ran for the State Senate in 2004, but dropped out before the primary.

This district, which includes the lower Grand Strand in Georgetown County and the outskirts of Mount Pleasant, is definitely competitive, but Miller has worked hard and prevailed, no matter what had been thrown at her.

Horne will need more than general voting trends to put this seat back in the GOP column.

Also to watch … House 115: Charleston County (Current party: R)

Rep. Wallace Scarborough has usually fared well in this solidly-Republican seat on James Island and Folly Beach With the exception of Robert Barber’s six-year tenure, this seat has been in GOP hands for a generation. His challenger, Gene Platt, ran for the seat in 1994, and was beaten 2-to-1 by former Rep. Lynn Seithel, who was later ousted by Scarborough.

Platt serves on the local Public Service District board, which serves about half the House 115 residents, and has won every race for an at-large seat since 1992. However, his every effort to “break out” by running for Congress and seats on the old at-large County Council have been losing efforts.

Normally, this race should be a sleeper, but an embarrassing chain of events have hurt Scarborough’s image: a highly-publicized divorce battle, and a late-night incident with SCE&G workers in his parents’ backyard, in which his gun was fired (but not at the workers) and he was arrested (the charges were later dropped).

In a quiet bedroom community like this, this sort of publicity could make the race interesting and steer some extra votes into Platt’s column … but it will take more than a few hundred crossover votes for Platt to pull off an upset.

To add to the mix, groups backing Scarborough have jumped into the fray to attack Platt, brining up his poetry, which is even steamier than the allegations in Scarborough’s now publicized divorce files. Thus far, these efforts seem to have accomplished little, and may even have backfired. But if they’re going after Platt, is the race is closer than the GOP would like for it to be?

Meet Sergeant Capps

Congratulations to my father, Sgt. Bill Capps, and his fellow officers with the City of Charleston Police Department's Digital Evidence Laboratory, who made Page B-1 on the Monday edition of the Post and Courier:

Last month, Charleston police became the only municipal department in the country - and one of only three law enforcement agencies at any level - to have a computer forensics lab with the Society's international accreditation.

It's a tough job, catching the bad guys out there, and the tools and skills they have are nothing short of amazing. Rest assured, if you're using computers or related electronic devices, such as PDAs or cell phones, they can dig deep and find what they're looking for every time.

Good job, Lynette!

My friend Lynnette had her letter published in The State recently, regarding the "tar baby" issue and Mark Sanford:

The people who are attacking Gov. Mark Sanford for his comment about dancing with a tar baby need to pick up a book. This attack on the governor is embarrassing for the state of South Carolina because it shines a bright light on the fact that we aren’t well-read enough to realize that he was making a literary reference. I read the comment to my 16-year-old daughter, and she knew immediately that he was making reference to a story about Brer Rabbit. Now, if she knew it immediately, why didn’t the critics know?

Democratic state Sen. Robert Ford said, “I don’t want an apology,” but then says: “I try to watch what I say, I choose my words. Sanford is supposed to be the smartest governor in the history of America. He has enough words in his vocabulary to use other terms. He doesn’t have to use that.”

Sanford showed his intelligence when he made this literary reference. But less intelligent people, such as Sen. Ford, seemingly don’t have the mental capability to appreciate or understand it.

Her letter got a reply from Mark, and she's pumped up about it! It was a great letter and makes an excellent point about Robert Ford's continual efforts to play the race card.

Congrats on getting published!

Good news everyone

Happy Monday, everyone.

As the last week of my life has been too hectic for me to keep up with happenings in the SC blogoshere, I will offer you a different perspective on political advertising ...

Make it a great week out there -
and don't forget ... whatever you do, play nice.

Hastert resignation

Thirty-six percent (36%) of Americans now believe that Hastert should resign as Speaker of the House, while 27% disagree. Republicans oppose his resignation by a 3-to-1 margin (48% to 16%) while Democrats believe he should resign by a five-to-one margin (50% to 10%). Among those not affiliated with either major party, 41% favor his resignation while 27% are opposed.

For what it's worth, I agree - Hastert has had his turn, and that turn is up. A strong gesture such as his resignation would allow the GOP to revamp it's House leadership, clean up their team, and get back to discussing issues, and not scandals ... and maybe save its majority as well.

There have been just too many problems with GOP House members for him to not be aware of trouble. Either he did know, or as a long-serving speaker, he should have known about at least some of these problems. There may have been pressure to avoid risking those seats, but that seems to have done no good. The seats held by DeLay, Foley, Ney, and others are all going Democratic anyway.

But if he'd confronted the bums, and demanded they retire or he'd go public, maybe we'd just lose those half-dozen seats, and not twenty or more, as it looks right now. After all, leadership does entail some degree of risk.

It doesn't matter what the Democrats have allowed, or how they may have manipulated the Foley mess for their own benefit - they're not the ones losing power. Republicans should demand their leadership "clean house", majority or not.

After the 1998 elections, where the House GOP failed to reap benefits from the usual "six year itch", Gingrich, saw that negative perceptions, fair or not, were a large part of the problem. Rather that risking the loss of a fragile majotity in 2000 that he'd done much to build, he stepped down. End result: the GOP majority suvived and grew - only to be again jeapordized by the tarnished image of another Speaker.

Hastert, the longest-serving GOP House Speaker in history, should be content to rest on these considerable laurels, and do the right thing for his team, while there is still time: renounce any interest in seeking the Speakership, or any other position of House GOP leadership.

... and if the GOP loses the House, because Hastert would rather sacrifice his team to save his own image, it would be justice if his own seat was one of those lost.

Malvin Mann

Malvin Mann, Chairman of the Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club, and a four-term Mayor of Goose Creek, left us at 8 am this morning, following extensive illness.

A former USAF pilot, as well as a husband, father, and grandfather, he gave much to those around him. His blunt, straight-shooting attitude will be hard to replace in Lowcountry politics. His efforts, as Mayor of Goose Creek, to address water, sewer and railroad crossing issues made his community a safer place.

He will be missed. May his memory be eternal.

S.C. Work Zones: 16 THOUSAND tickets in three months

The other day, I'm told my company's VP came from a meeting where he learned that sixteen thousand tickets had been written in South Carolina highway work zones over the last three months.

Yes, I said SIXTEEN THOUSAND tickets.

From that discussion, I was directed to put together this poster to circulate to our employees, as well as others in the construction arena, to help educate their workers and engage them in spreading the word about the need to slow down in work zone:

Slowing down might be a good idea ... for you, for other motorists, and for those working. I may be the office brainy-geeky HR and corporate communication person, but I've been out there on the side of the road and have my own personal close call stories.

Even worse, I've stood just feet away from a tarp that covered someone who was just moments before, a living, breathing human being - someone who was a friend, co-worker, father, and husband. It's something you'll never forget.

What can you, as a motorist, do to help? Here are three things easy things that you can do in a work zone:

  1. Slow down,
  2. Watch for slowed or stopped traffic ahead, and
  3. Keep an eye out for flaggers and construction vehicles in the roadway.

You can slow down for us, or you can stop for the blue lights. Either way, it's up to you ....

In any event, everyone make it a GREAT weekend out there!

Midlands GOP activist attacks Theodore family goldfish

In a Saturday press conference at the state Capitol building, Brian McCarty, a Midlands GOP activist who publishes the Voting under the Influence blogsite, defended the recent attack he made on the Theodore family's goldfish:

What people don't realize is how deep this sinister operation goes. They may seem Greek, but deep down inside, they're so much a crime family that even their pets bark and howl with Italian accents. Believe me when I tell you that this family is the root of all evil in South Carolina.

I've got pictures of the family goldfish riding in a motorcade, escorted by 214 South Carolina State Troopers, and SLED copters overhead, on a round-the-world trip. The whole world will soon see what they're all about - and when they do, you can bet that Drew Theodore will blame it all on Will Folks ... again.

Drew Theodore arrived at the press conference in the armpit ... uh, Columbia ... driving his Porsche, to confront McCarty, but was late due to a late morning message-deleting session. In spite of nobody being there, except for youth group from a local church, Theodore stood on the steps of the State House and went on the attack:

We know who is responsible: Will Folks, Brian McCarty, and those Solon dudes ... and believe me, we're hard at work to drag them through the mud and make them sorry they messed with me. Why they've made me so mad that I almost wrecked my Porsche.

Brian McCarty was not available for further comment.

On saving the GOP majority

Mired in public unease over foreign policy, complaints of a loss of a sense mission, lack of commitment to party principles among party leadership, along with mismanagement and sex scandals. In spite of a strong economy, pre-election polls point to an almost certain change of power ...

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

This was the situation on the ground in Britan in the run-up to their 1997 elections, where the voters threw the ruling Conservatives out after 18 years in power, losing half their parliamentary seats. This situation has some eerie parallels to the situation presently faced by the Republican Party.

Outside of the Beltway, beyond the Capitol, many Republican voices are calling for the GOP leadership to ... show some leadership.

I agree with them - lead, follow, or go home and get the hell out of the way.

Toward that end, here are a couple of recent columns that I found worth reading and discussing.

In "The Way Back for Republicans", Cal Thomas shares some thoughts on where the GOP needs to go from here:

It's not just the war, or the travails of former Congressman Mark Foley, or any number of other things that political experts and pollsters tell us has jeopardized Republican control of Congress in the coming election. More than anything else, it is the perception that Republicans stand for little more than maintaining power for its own sake.

In former days, Republicans had ideas. They even had an ideology from which those ideas sprang. They forced the media and liberal Democrats to debate those ideas and the country was better off for it. Now, in just 12 years of majority status, they may be about to do what it took Democrats 40 years to achieve - disgust the public to the point that it wants to clean house (and possibly the Senate, too).

In "Mr. Hastert, Move Out of the Way", Lawrence Kudlow calls for Hastert to go and the GOP to move beyond Foley and Hastert and get back on track with the issues that motivate the GOP base, while there is still time to hold their majority:

Message to Mr. Hastert: The polls are calling for your head. The more you try to explain your way out of the Foley mess the more you crowd out important Republican messages on low-tax economic growth, falling gas prices, the record Dow stock market, and a strong national-security stance against terrorism. These are the messages the GOP must emphasize if it is to stay competitive in the final sprint to the November 7 elections.

Hastert should have stepped aside as speaker more than a week ago, telling voters that he will roll up his sleeves and get to the bottom of the Foley sex scandal in the months ahead. Instead he is making the political problem worse. Every time he appears in public he not only reminds voters of GOP corruption, but of the fact he has done nothing about it.

Your thoughts, comments, rants, and even insults are welcome ... fire away ...

Democrats on the attack?

Sunny Phillips at the Crunchy Republican reports on a pretty agressive sign-trashing campaign, targeting several GOP candidates in the Midlands:

There are Tommy Moore signs on the corner that seem to make it through the night. Why, then, does every Sanford sign that goes up in the neighborhood seem to get mutilated almost as soon as it gets staked up?

For a Democrat Party that claims they are all about freedom of speech, why are my personal rights being trampled? Are Democrats so frightened by my strong support of my slate they just must prevent my opinion from being heard at all costs?

This problem isn’t just mine. The Sanford signs on the corner of my block get knocked over or taken all the time too. Throughout town, I’ve seen Joe Wilson 4×8s slashed to the ground with box cutters. The campaign has lost around 100 of them and new ones are discovered damaged every day.

Sign destruction is low-ball, cowardly crap. I put them at the bottom of the hog trough in terms of political tactics, along with anonymous last-minute mailers and push-polling. Those who do these things are scum of the earth.
Why do they do this Sunny? Because they don't feel they can win a fair election, and are self-righteous enough to think they're justified in doing whatever it takes to win. Be it firehoses on children, burning crosses in the yards of those "uppity" minorities, union thugs storming into GOP campaign offices, or stealing signs, dirty play and intimidation of their opponents is a long-time Democratic tradition. Talk about "progressive".
To those Democrats who think I'm being unfair ... well, I guess you need to clean up your team, because it seems like these things get treated with a wink and a nod when they happen.
I encourage anyone who can provide photographs or any other proof of the use of these sorts of tactics to please send them to the Blogland via email at

There is no place in South Carolina for this kind of political thuggery.

Blogosphere in Review: October 8-15

Ok, time for Monday's round up of what's gone on in the SC blogosphere over the last week ...

Faith in the Sound and the Laurin Line both noted the passing of long-time GOP confidant Rick Davis, who passed unexpectedly at the young age of forty-five.

Say a prayer for Rick’s family, folks. This is going to be a tough time for them. It’s tough to lose a father and a husband, but when there are children at home, even tougher.

Painter in Hiding talks about the stupid things people do.

Nettie is taking a break – enjoy the time off, and we hope you come back soon!

The Body Politic is taking part in a straw poll of potential 2008 GOP Presidential candidates. Go cast your vote.

Over at Cavaliers and Roundheads, Darth Vader faces imminent doom.

S.C. Solon continues to ride a wave of publicity over their discussion of online commentaries by Democratic state Comptroller candidate Drew Theodore. They’ve done a really good job making bloggers a credible source of media information.

Brian McCarty, over that Voting under the Influence,
attempts to set the Drew Theodore straight about his misdirected attack upon Will Folks regarding questions McCarty raised about Nick Theodore, Drew's father, using state vehicles and staff for personal trips while he was Lt. Governor in the late 80s and early 90s:

One line from Mr. Theodore stood out to me. He blasted Mr. Eckstrom for hiring someone convicted of domestic violence to attack Mr. Theodore’s family and his “seventy eight year old father.” Well, I don’t know what Mr. Folks, who I assume Mr. Theodore was talking about, has done. I know that I, on this blog, pointed out the hypocrisy of the Theodore campaign.

But, let me be clear. I am on no political payroll. Indeed, I have been on the outside looking in for quite some time now. But, I do think it is hypocritical for Drew Theodore to criticize someone for using a state car when his own father had bodyguards and drivers at state expense, and took those people out of state with him for a purely partisan political event.

For daring to challenge Theodore, Brian has caught quite a bit of flak, including some very bitter personal cheap shots from the usual (anonymous) suspects.

To be nice, Faith in the Sound turns its aim away from Drew Theodore, who complained about being picked on by bloggers, and takes aim at State Treasurer Grady Patterson:

If you haven't yet seen the video of Treasurer Grady Patterson's editorial board interview with The State newspaper, click here.

You may never see anything quite like it again.

"He makes up stuff," Patterson says of GOP nominee Thomas Ravenel, but then fails to offer any examples.

"I don't have a list of it or anything," Patterson says.

Then to By the Sea (which has a really cool look to it!), we get to find out about thirteen things that are in her car (twelve now … since I saw something I liked, I took it!).

Bad news: Erin Dailey is going to hell. … and Kelly hasn’t laughed in a week. These can’t be positive developments.

Jared woke up at 7:49 a.m., and made it to class by 8 – in downtown Charleston, no less. Talk about a small miracle.

Everyone - have a great Monday and make it a great week out there!

Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance

While they had been a strong presence in the steadily-building metal scene in the United States and Europe for a number of years, Judas Priest's following and reputation exploded with their 1982 Screaming for Vengeance album.

The band plays faster, louder, and more intense than any of their previous albums. If you don't have this album, then you either get it, or you're no true headbanger.

Incidentally, this album was their first album to go double-platinum.

The back side of the album proclaimed: "From an unknown land and through distant skies came a winged warrior. Nothing remained sacred, no one was safe from the Hellion as it uttered its battle cry...Screaming for Vengeance."

The opening set of the album, The Hellion and Electric Eye, remain the opener for the band's concerts. When going to the shows, it's obvious that most fans know the words by heart:

Up here in space
I'm looking down on you.
My lasers trace
Everything you do.
You think you've private lives
Think nothing of the kind.
There is no true escape

I'm watching all the time.
I'm made of metal
My circuits gleam.
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean.

I'm elected electric spy
I protected electric eye.
Always in focus
You can't feel my stare.
I zoom into you
You don't know I'm there.
I take a pride in probing all your secret moves
My tearless retina takes pictures that can prove.

Electric eye, in the sky
Feel my stare, always there
There's nothing you can do about it.
Develop and expose
I feed upon your every thought
And so my power grows.
Protected. Detective. Electric eye.

My favorite songs on the album? ALL OF THEM. So shut up and get it!

Below is a promo poster for the album:

... make it a great weekend out there!

Men Working ... ?

Just had to share this photo,
poking a little fun at my industry:

Have a great weekend everyone!

ACORNS and nuts: Dirty politics everywhere

Looks like the guys from ACORN, the group which has been the subject of numerous accusations related to fraudulent voter registration activities, finally got caught red-handed in St. Louis:

Election officials say hundreds of potentially bogus registration cards, including ones for dead and underage people, were submitted by a branch of a national group that has been criticized in the past for similar offenses.

At least 1,500 potentially fraudulent registration cards were turned in by the St. Louis branch of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, leading up to Wednesday's registration deadline for the Nov. 7 election, said Kim Mathis, chairwoman of the St. Louis City Board of Election Commissioners.

Invalid registrations solicited by ACORN workers included duplicate or incomplete ones, a 16-year-old voter, dead people registering, and forged signatures, Mathis said.

... and a case of the federal Justice Department alleging black Democrats of working to suppress the white vote in Mississippi:

The Justice Department has chosen this no-stoplight, courthouse town buried in the eastern Mississippi prairie for an unusual civil rights test: the first federal lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act accusing blacks of suppressing the rights of whites.

The action represents a sharp shift, and it has raised eyebrows outside the state. The government is charging blacks with voting fraud in a state whose violent rejection of blacks’ right to vote, over generations, helped give birth to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yet within Mississippi the case has provoked knowing nods rather than cries of outrage, even among liberal Democrats.

... and last, but not least, the guys from SCRG go on the attack (against the truth) once more in Charleston County, once more causing collateral damage upon the candidate they thought they were trying to help:

Charleston County Council Chairman and state House hopeful Leon Stavrinakis blasted a mail-out campaign ad Tuesday featuring an image of a marijuana cigarette and saying he gave money to a pro-drug special interest group.

"It's just the kind of sickening partisan politics that people have had enough of," he said.

The mail-out was done by South Carolinians for Responsible Government, a Columbia-based conservative group that recently sent a similarly controversial mail-out criticizing the racy poetry penned by Eugene Platt, the Democratic challenger in the District 115 House race.

Republican Suzanne Piper, who is running against Stavrinakis for the District 119 seat formerly held by John Graham Altman, said she knew nothing of the ad.

... That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!

Two GOP advocacy videos on War on Terror: Funny & Serious

First, the funny video:

Matt Drudge breaks news of a pro-GOP campaign satire video produced by Jerry Zucker, the man who brought us Scary Movie 4, Airplane, The Naked Gun, and a lot of other comedies.

According to Drudge, Zucker produced this ad and gave it to GOP strategists to help themtake aim at the Democratic Party's approach to foreign policy. Apparently, the video was deemed to over the top for them to run with.

Next, the serious one ...

Progress for America, whose issue advocacy video campaign I recently discussed, has released a new commerical featuring David Beamer. Beamer's son, Todd, was killed on United Flight 93 in the successful effort to thwart a second terrorist attack on Washington, D.C. on 9/11. He sees the War on Terror as a global effort, and advocates continuing involvement in Iraq.

State House watch, parts 2 & 3

The folks over at The Shot are running Parts 2 and 3 of my State House previews ... including races for
  1. State House #60: Florence and Sumter Counties (Open Seat - R)
  2. State House #79: Kershaw and Richland Counties (Incumbent - R)
  3. State House #97: Dorchester County (Incumbent - R)
  4. State House #120: Colleton and Hampton Counties (Incumbent - D)
Go take a look! As always ... your feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Up next ... the "Competitive Coast" ... stay tuned!

CBGB: The original punk rock club closing ... dammit!

Yes, it's true ... CBGB, the hole-in-the-wall bar that became the cradle of American punk rock, is closing following an unresolvable tenant-landlord dispute.

It's a shame that this couldn't have been worked out. With a tenant like this, you'd think their landlord would use their freakin' head and not want to destroy such a historic cultural landmark.

I guess some people will just, no matter what, have crap for brains.

CBGB will be missed, and we'll not likely see another place like this for a long time to come ... no one place has had so much influence on American rock and roll.
Legs McNeil remembers the night back in 1975 when he walked into the dingy storefront club perched in the even dingier Bowery neighborhood. The band onstage, four guys in leather jackets and torn jeans, was the Ramones. McNeil sat at a nearby table, watching their set with Lou Reed.

It was unforgettable. But as McNeil would soon discover, it was just a typical night at CBGB's, the club that spawned punk rock while launching the careers of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Blondie, the Talking Heads and the Ramones.

"Every night was memorable, except I don't remember 'em," said a laughing McNeil, co-author of the punk rock history "Please Kill Me."

After Sunday, memories are all that will remain when the cramped club with its capacity of barely 300 people goes out of business after 33 years. Although its boom years are long gone, CBGB's remained a Manhattan music scene fixture: part museum, part barroom, home to more than a few rock and roll ghosts.

Check their website out, while you can ... and see if you can name the artists pictured without having to look at the website.

Blogosphere in Review: October 1-9

Ok, Monday is here. As is a new tradition, I'm going to take a break from running my mouth and take ya'll on a spin around the South Carolina blogosphere over the last week ...

According to Andy Paras, Groucho Marx is coming to Walterboro this week.

Max is still on his self-appointed hiatus.

The guys over at S.C. Solon make the news in print media with their discussion of Drew Theodore’s dissing of Columbia – congrats guys!

… and Will Folks, who got called a thug by the state Democratic chair, is pissed that Drew Theodore is putting the squeeze on the ladies.

Brian McCarty over at Voting under the Influence
thinks House Speaker Hastert needs to go (and I agree) … and that Nancy Pelosi should join him (I agree, too):

My gut feeling tells me that the Republicans covered up the actions of Foley against teen boys to keep a seat and the Democrats did the same until the past few days to gain one. It is my belief that pure politics, on both sides of the aisle, came before protecting the young people who act as pages in the United States Congress.

If you doubt this, watch the carefully orchestrated press releases coming out of Pelosi's office and other Democratic campaign arms. They were prepared for this situation. That means, they knew in advance, too.
Laurin Manning talks about Ralph Norman and that immigration issue.

Mike Reino might be pulling for the Yankees, but I’m not too sure.

Janet Lee confesses that she sometimes buys cat toys for herself … and has pics of her cats dressed for Halloween.

As a followup to my discussion of non-Protestants in the GOP, Cyndi Mosteller’s shameless act of attacking Mormonsism, Crack the Bell brings us an example of an Upstate fundamentalist in the GOP taking a potshot at us Catholics, blaming the whole Foley thing on Catholicism and booze.

Chuck laments the changes in how Halloween is being observed:

Hallowe'en was a neighborhood thing then not the car-pooling transporting around movement it has become. Now we see an invasion of strange cars and SUVs dropping children off in new areas as they go from door-to-door of people they don't know and hold open their Trick or Treat sack or pillowcases to accept candy, gum, fruit(?) and sometimes pennies.

My bank puts up posters and "gets in the mood" each year which looks strange when someone visits the customer service rep for some investment or banking advice.

… ok, that’s what ya’ll missed (or maybe you didn’t) … in any event, get out there and make it a GREAT week!

House Race previews, Part 1

The folks over at The Shot are publishing my State House race watch as a four-part series, looking at the Upstate, Midlands, Pee Dee & Rural Lowcountry, and the "Contested Coast".

Part One looks at four House races up for grabs in in the Upstate:
  • District 7 in Anderson County (GOP open seat)
  • District 29 in Cherokee, Chester, and York Counties (DEM open seat)
  • District 30 in Cherokee County (DEM incumbent)
  • District 45 in Lancaster and York Counties (DEM open seat)
I want to thank those of you who have contacted me, from both parties, to share your insights about the House races this year. Many of your thoughts have made it into my write-ups, and I appreciate that you took the time to let know what is going on in your necks of the woods.

Tomorrow, you'll see Part Two, which looks at the Midlands House races, as well as Part Three, which looks at the Pee Dee and Rural Lowcountry races.

Feel free to share any thoughts about my assessments here.

A War for our Country's Freedom, Security, and Survival?

The War on Terror is
a War for our Country's Freedom,
Security, and Survival.

Presumably, these ads are intended to help aid GOP candidates and incumbents who have supported the President's "stay the course" approach to confronting terrorist organizations, by reinforcing messages that point out the threats posed by these groups.

An interesting twist to these ads is in how they don't talk about candidates. They present personal narratives and information about the history of militant Islamic terrorist organizations, combined with strong visual imagery from various moments in the history of terrorism. Among these are Munich, terrorist training schools, the mass-murder attack of the World Trade Center, and various terrorist leaders speaking.

As polling is showing that there is a growing belief in this country that these organizations and activities are interconnected, and those who hold this view tend to support the President and GOP, it certainly is in the interests of the GOP to promote this point of view as widely as possible, to mobilize voters who are most responsive, as well as persuade those who are undecided.

Watch the videos and see what you think.

As always, your thoughts are welcome and encouraged ...

Front page of the Beaufort Gazette (Me)

I made the front page of the Beaufort Gazette today, being interviewed for my day job about our newest highway project, down on St. Helena Island. I could not have written a stronger opening than this ... so good, you'd swear it was a marketing piece, not a newspaper story:
A road construction firm given accolades for a widening project on Lady's Island in 2003 has started work on the widening of U.S. 21 on St. Helena Island.

U.S. Group started work Sept. 7 on the 3 miles of the highway from the Chowan Creek Bridge to Tomm Fripp Road, surveying and moving trees and power, phone and sewer lines, company spokesman Earl Capps said Wednesday.

We're widening and improving intersections along a three-mile section of U.S. Route 21 - Sea Island Parkway. We've had a long relationship with the community, including our award-winning S.C. 802 widening project, and the replacement of the Johnson Creek bridge farther down U.S. Route 21, which connects Harbor Island to Hunting Island.

The 802 project was where we developed and implemented what was then the first PR / community relations program in the road construction industry in the Carolinas. We left a very strong impression in the area ... and a positive one at that.

LIBPA - the Ladys Island Business and Professional Association - was a community partner on the 802 project, and gave us their annual Spirit Award for community service. Their website recently gave their opinion of my company:
This is a very competent and professional construction company with a superb record for bringing their projects in “on time” and within budget. Welcome back to the Lady’s Island and St. Helena area.

If any of you are in that area, check out the communit project information website -

See, I'm not just some boring political hack after all!

Grim Reaper and Attorneys endorse Drew Theodore

The 2006 election season in S.C. took a bizarre turn with unexpected endorsements in the Comptroller General’s race, when the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys’ Association and the Grim Reaper held a press conference to announce their support for Democrat Drew Theodore, who is challenging GOP incumbent Richard Eckstrom.

The Grim Reaper attacked Eckstrom's spending on office renovation:

When it comes to protecting workers from asbestos, Richard Eckstrom’s efforts are nothing less than a waste of dollars … and deaths. If we allow him to squander tax dollars to make workplaces safer, there will be less work for me to do, and fewer wrongful death lawsuit opportunities. We appreciate people like Drew Theodore who call asbestos removal what it really is - a useless waste of tax dollars.

These endorsements came after Drew Theodore took Eckstrom, the to task for spending money for costly asbestos abatement work, as well as replacing other items in the office that may have been contaminated by asbestos.

According to The State newspaper, these frivolous expenses included:

“hiring mechanical engineers, moving phone lines, asbestos abatement, and moving and storage fees.”

- The State, 10/2/2006

Eckstrom took their endorsements in stride:

“Any time I can cheat death and trial lawyers at the same time, while addressing workplace safety issues that were thirty years overdue, I’d call that a good day on the job,” he said. “If those lawyers want to make more money, I guess they’ll just have to go out and get real jobs instead.”

- Rotter's News Service, 10/2/2006

The Theodore campaign reported that endorsements would be forthcoming next week from the American Abacus Manufacturers’ Association, upset with his blatant waste of tax dollars on calculators, adding machines, computers, and accounting software.

More information on the dangers of asbestos can be found on the web at

Watching the State House races

Next week, I'm going to put out my list of potentially-competitive state House races. I've been looking around the state, and have a handful to discuss, so be looking for it to appear in several installments.

If you have any tips or thoughts, R or D, please feel free to share them. The more input I have, and the more sources which are providing it, the better my reports will be.

I know a lot of you out there have your own thoughts, favorites (and favorite targets, too), and in the interests of presenting a well-thought out and objective discussion, I ask that you email those leads and tips to me at

Porn in the mailbox: SCRG & the race for House Seat 115

One of this year’s more interesting State House races takes place in a district where the race should be far from interesting. Given the strong GOP lean of House District 115 in Charleston County, the race should be over already.

But this year, the race for this seat is far from normal.

State Rep. Wallace Scarborough has been the center of a lot of recent media attention. First a hostile confrontation with utility workers, followed by publicity of the divorce contest between Scarborough and his estranged wife.

Personally, I wasn’t too keen on the media dragging the personal stuff out, a position which I’m sure Mr. Scarborough shares.

Now, we have free porn in the mailbox, courtesy of the folks at the SCRG, which takes Scaborough's Democratic challenger, Eugene Platt, to task for some poetry he published. Take a look for yourself at what got sent out – in plain brown envelopes, presumably to make sure children didn’t see the mailing.

For this mailing to go out suggests there may be concerns that Platt, a semi-perennial candidate who is a long-time incumbent on the local Public Service District board, may have a shot at taking this seat from the GOP, so they felt a need to tear him down.

But is it really fair to attempt to regain ground THIS way?

In 1994, I helped run a House race in which we beat Platt two-to-one, without making his poetry a public affair. We knew about it, but didn’t feel it was something we needed to discuss to prevail.

While the mailing attempts to mischaracterize him as a danger to his community and/or a lurking pervert, especially with the positioning of the quoted content and poem titles next to the title of the book, the Charleston Post and Courier reports that it hasn’t gotten the desired response.

This was a low blow - but as most political operatives don't have to go home to face the mud they've slung, or the people they've offended, that makes it easier to do stunts like this.

In no way is Eugene Platt the bad person that this mailing would suggest he is. In reality, he is a genuinely decent person. Normally, I wouldn't vote for him, but after getting a mailing like this … well, that’s enough to make even me consider it

Of course, a response from SCRG is welcome (but not expected) ...

The Blogosphere in Review: Sept. 24-30

Last week was a very active week in the S.C. blogosphere. Lots of interesting news floating out there … and here’s a look at the juiciest cuts of meat thrown to the masses of ravenous readers:

Jaz brings us pictures from Charleston Blognic 2006, which I missed, due to study and yardwork obligations - which I'll discuss soon!

Will Folks with Faith in the Sound, who finally found a job (does that mean he'll finally pay his bar tab?),
brought us this picture of State Treasurer Grady Patterson sound asleep in what was reported to be a state Budget and Control Board meeting. OUCH!!!

Laurin Manning, who recently ran into John Lovitz in Columbia, digs out the past connections between Cyndi Mosteller and the 2000 Presidential campaing of John McCain, to suggest possible motives behind her recent attack on GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Mike Reino, who escaped captivity this week. questions the high crime statistics for the Florence region.

Sunny Phillips breaks the news (and our hearts) with news that she will be cutting back on the blogging for a while due to campaign obligations. Sunny, say it ain’t so!

On the Left, Max does the same thing, to campaign for Robert Barber.

Devinely Southern discusses the Richard Eckstrom travel thing, correctly pointing out what us communication academics and professionals have long known:

Unless a politician is shown pulling someone out of a burning car, they don’t really won’t to be the lead story in the their state’s largest newspaper. For the genuine flak out there, they may say any press is good press, but that’s assuming they are able to spin it in their guy’s or gal’s best interest before most folks have an opportunity to decide for themselves what it all means.

Mike Reese talks about the two opposing polls in the Bauer-Barber race. Personally, I think that there is no way a former state representative who has been out of politics for over a decade and has yet to run the first television spot can be anywhere near 40%, no matter how popular or unpopular the incumbent may be.

To bring us back down to Earth a bit, Caitlyn shares some wisdom from the Book of James:
Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,there is disorder and every foul practice.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure,then peaceable, gentle, compliant,
full of mercy and good fruits,without inconstancy or insincerity.
That’s last week in review – let’s look forward and make it a great week out there!

GOP groups leading in spending

In 2004, a well-funded offensive by Democratic outside groups, using the new 527 rule, caught the GOP off-guard and buried them under months of attack advertising. This advertising had much to do with bringing President Bush's numbers down enough to allow John Kerry to get his campaign off to a running start.

GOP groups eventually figured out how to play ball, and got into the game late in the '04 campaign season, but with some strong results in several swing states in the Presidential election, which held off the Democrats in the closing weeks of the fall campaign.

This year, reports are that the GOP groups have learned well, and are leading the TV war this time around:

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 26, Republican-leaning groups spent $13.8 million on advertising while advertising on behalf of Democrats totaled $6.3 million, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. Throw in the advertising the political parties are paying for, and the Republicans have spent $5 on ads for every $3 spent by Democrats.

That is a significant reversal from 2004, when Democratic groups outnumbered and outspent Republican organizations. Now, some Democratic officials are wondering when their deep-pocketed liberal allies will step in to help.

"If it's there, I haven't seen it," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois Democrat who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "I can't tell you what happened from '04 to '06 and why some decided either not to participate in this election or not be at the same level."

- Associated Press, 9/30/2006

There would be no small irony if this lagging interest is a key factor in allowing the GOP to turn back the Democratic drive to take control of the House and/or Senate.