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.

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 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.

Grim Reaper appears ... grim

In a late-evening press conference in a cemetery near the end of Interstate 126 and Huger Street in Columbia, the Grim Reaper appeared grim at the news of the defeats of the two Democratic candidates he had endorsed: defeated gubernatoral nominee Tommy Moore and comptroller candidate Drew Theodore.

"I tried to get across the message that death was good, and the state needed more of it," the Reaper said, shaking his skull. "I guess positive messages just had more appeal this year, and while things were looking good for a while, apparently, we were just, to pardon the pun, dead in the water."

Noted GOP political analyst, Haywood Jablowme, saw a silver lining in the election results for the Reaper: "If the Grim Reaper wanted to see something killed, and left lifeless, then there is always the South Carolina Democratic Party. I'm sure he'll fit in well there, and we certainly hope he is able to help them do a better job of what they're doing to themselves."

During the press conference, a message left by a crank caller on the Reaper's cell phone urged him to consider consulting defeated Democratic Treasurer Grady Patterson, but he shrugged his shoulders and rejected the offer: "I thought he was already dead?"

Can we do better?

PERSONAL NOTE: This will be my last post before Election Day. To be honest, after such a disillusioning year, I'm looking forward to having more time to spend with my grad school studies and my kids.

This year, I've attempted to provide some thoughtful political commentary, and poke a little fun at the political process along the way. Some of you have gotten the joke, some of you haven't - but either way, I appreciate those of you who've shared your thoughts here, via email, or phone calls. Let's keep the dialogue going ...

Elections are supposed to be about ideas. But 2006 has, for the most part, been the exception.

Voters are asked to choose between one party which protects pedophiles and corrupt politicians, while spending money like a drunken sailor, and another party whose message is simply “we’re not them”.

When you think about it, that’s not much of a choice.

You can argue these things aren’t true, but don’t try telling me that. Tell the voters around the country who are poised to throw the GOP out of power, and give control of Congress to a party which has failed to offer any sort of alternative vision or set of policies. In politics, perceptions, true or false, are often reality. People see scandals, perceive problems, and act accordingly. Who can blame them?

This year has seen an unprecedented barrage of negative campaigning in which the truth, respect for the voters, and ultimately, faith in our democratic system have been the ultimate victims.

We’ve failed to put ideas first, turned political races into personal sludgefests, and allowed Machiavellian political leaders and campaign operatives to justify the unjustifiable, distort the facts, and “do whatever it takes to win”. Along the way, we forgot that people should be able to vote FOR something, instead of voting AGAINST something. Far too often, we don't try to make things better - we simply look to see how we can manipulate facts and situations to our advantage, and don't give a damn what the long-term consequences are.

Who gets the blame? For those of us in the political system, we need only look in the mirror - Republicans and Democrats alike.

Our Republic, like none other in the course of human history, was built upon the hopes, dreams, and ideals of our Founding Fathers. Our political process should aspire to the same standards. No nation can hope to exist in contradiction with its founding principles for long.

We, Republicans and Democrats alike, can do better. Our communities, our state, and our nation deserves the best we, as Americans, can do.

Grady Patterson loses it

This fall, we've watched a sad display as State Treasurer Grady Patterson stumbles through his re-election campaign in the face of an aggressive challenge by Thomas Ravenel.

Should he lose tomorrow, it would be unfortunate that someone who has such an unmatched record of duty and service to his state and country, which included bringing defeat to the biggest threat to humanity, should end that service in defeat.

But if Grady Patterson's distinguished career ends tomorrow, it is not the fault of the voters who supported Ravenel, but rather Patterson in choosing to run again, or maybe his handlers who prodded him into seeking another term in office.

I can honor Patterson for what he has done, while voting for Ravenel. Which is exactly what I've already done, via absentee ballot. I'm sorry it had to come to that.

When I came to that spot on the ballot, I stopped to ponder Patterson's record of service. I wished there was some other way to allow Patterson to end his duty on a positive note.

But there wasn't, so I pushed Ravenel's button, and kept moving down the ballot.

Please join me in making that tough, but necessary, decision.

The picture at the right, is of Patterson asleep at a Budget and Control Board meeting, courtesy of Faith in the Sound.

Sunny Phillips at the Crunchy Republican brings us stunning video of an interview, making rambling and unsubstantiated allegations about Thomas Ravenel. These comments are also described in Brad Warthen's blog.

GOP losing Virginia Senate race while VAGOP leader campaigns in SC for 2008?

As George Allen, the GOP incumbent Senator in Virginia, slips behind his Democratic challenger and in doing so, threatens to throw the Senate to the Democrats, former Virginia governor and RNC chairman Jim Gilmore, will still be spending the last critical 48 hours of the 2006 elections here in South Carolina.

Attaboy Jim, that's really putting your team first.

If you meet Gilmore on his campaign swings through South Carolina, ask him how George Allen is doing.

Floyd to hold free campaign event

In a rare move, GOP Superintendent of Education candidate Karen Floyd is having campaign events in which attendees are not being charged to attend.

Turnout at these events is expected to be low, as many Republicans, used to being told "she has a busy schedule" of fundraising events, and can't attend various GOP events around the state, skip the event, finding it hard to believe that she might actually be having a free campaign event.

Check out her schedule at her website - - and see if she's doing one of these events in your neck of the woods.

You might want to go - it might be your one and only chance to meet her without having to pay to do so.

Just Desserts

Given today's news of the death sentence of Saddam Hussein, this photo from the liberation of Baghdad seem ironic.

Needless to say, these is the just desserts which he has earned - with the wars he launched against two neighboring nations, the atrocities he afflicted upon his people, the great wealth he stole from his nation and squandered, and the many times he betrayed his closest associates.

In the end, the arrogrance, brutality, betrayal, and self-indulgence were the hallmarks of his reign gained him nothing but a noose.

Our efforts have taken his boot off the necks of his people, and given them the opportunity to chart a new course. Perhaps the final direction will take years to resolve, as with Bosnia and Lebanon, two other multi-ethnic nations, but now, they that change.

While that new course remains to be clear, one thing is for sure ...

I'll glady spring for the price of his rope.

Maata's still proud of John Kerry

Randy Maata, the Democratic Party's candidate for the First Congressional District, is still darn proud to be associated with John Kerry, as evidenced by the fact this photo of him with Kerry is still on his campaign website:

If he wanted it off his website, he's had ample opportunity to have it removed. Maybe he's still proud to be associated with the guy, even after all that's happened - if so, I'm glad to help get the word out.

Those of you who are First District voters should keep this photo in mind on Election Day.

Grim Reaper endorses Moore for Governor

After praising Drew Theodore’s initiative to kill state workers through opposing asbestos removal, the Grim Reaper slashed his way into the Governor’s race, by announcing his support for Democratic State Senator Tommy Moore’s challenge to Governor Mark Sanford.

The Grim Reaper indicated the refusal of the Moore campaign to rebut comments by State Senator Jakie Knotts challenging Sanford’s criticism of the killing of unarmed protestors by law enforcement officers had much to do with his endorsement of Moore:

There is nothing wrong with killing people. The Governor was wrong to question this practice, and the Moore campaign was right in saying that Sanford had no right to call it wrong. This is an outstanding example of pro-death leadership.

In a recent meeting, Senator Knotts told Moore supporters:

“We don’t need a governor that’s running commercials on a radio station apologizing for what law enforcement has had to do in the past.”

The Grim Reaper dismissed concerns from the state NAACP leadership about the protestors being unarmed, and some shot in the back. “Who cares? If those stupid protestors didn’t want to get shot, they should have shut up and stayed on campus.”

Then he chuckled and added: “But I’m glad they went.”

Out-of-state money floods District 79 House race

For many of my readers, House District 79, which is located in Kershaw and Richland Counties, isn’t too far away. As this district touches I-77 and includes a nice chunk of I-20 between Camden and Columbia, many of us pass through it from time-to-time.

Being South Carolinians, we’re at least somewhat connected to the people of District 79, in the political sense: many of their issues of concern are shared by many around the state, their legislators vote on issues which affect us, and what our legislators do affects them. They are part of the shared realm that is South Carolina’s political culture, so it makes sense that we should care who they send to the legislature.

This year, District 79 is a three-way battle between a twelve-year GOP incumbent, Bill Cotty, Democrat Anton Gunn (a pretty decent and thoughtful guy in the emails that him and I have bounced back and forth) and petition candidate Michael Letts.

If Letts’ name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s run for that seat, and lost, as Republican three times before, as well as other offices in northeastern Richland County. After Cotty fended off a strong primary challenge, Letts decided to run for this seat … again.

Not only did Letts enter the race, but it seems as if his candidacy has allowed others to jump in, some from hundreds and thousands of miles away. If you click on the image to the right, you can see his contributors' report in full-size, showing all but one of his contributors from this filing cycle.

Political candidates often have friends, family or professional associations outside of the state, so it’s normal to see candidates getting a modest amount of out-of-state contributions. But when a staggering ninety-six percent of the Letts' campaign warchest comes from places which are no less than six or eight hours’ drive from South Carolina, it’s enough to make one wonder what is going on.

Of the $21,850 of contributions reported by Letts in his campaign finance report filed on Wednesday, just $850 was raised from South Carolina contributors - just under four percent of his total warchest. About half of his contributions came from two states - $5K from Pennsylvania and $6K from New York.

In fact, every single out-of-state contributor gave more than the total raised from in-state donors.

Why is this race so much more important to those who live outside of South Carolina than those who live here? How does the outcome of the race affect them … and what do they get out of electing Letts and ousting Bill Cotty, a twelve-year incumbent GOP legislator?

That’s a question worth asking those who’ve ponied up the bulk of contributions to fund Letts’ latest bid for this House seat. It’s also a question that the residents of District 79 may want to ask Mr. Letts.

As these contributors are giving the max to Letts’ campaign, they have to know him, and his history as a repeat loser. Either they have an amazing faith that this guy has suddenly transformed himself, or as we asked a few days ago, is this an effort to elect Gunn by splitting Cotty’s GOP voter base?

Whether they are seeking to elect Letts or Gunn, the outcome of the race may not affect these contributors very much. But it will affect those who live in District 79, as well as the rest of us here in South Carolina.

As always, your responses, either via email or blog postings, are welcome, especially if they can help shed some light on this matter.

... Democratic candidate Anton Gunn has promised to post comments, and we appreciate his taking the time from his campaign to think of us. Win or lose, he's a pretty thoughtful guy with a lot to say, and I hope he continues to say it here from time-to-time.

John Kerry's "Howl"

It seems likely that John Kerry put an end to his hopes of a comeback in 2008 with his recent "stupid people go to Iraq" remarks. Leave it to an educated man to do what Howard Dean did, but in a more eloquent manner than a simple rabid howl.

That wasn't a very "swift" thing to do ...

Gee, John, it's a real shame that some of us have to work for a living, instead of being smart enough to marry money, like you did.

This Republican hates Puppies

I saw this amusing innoculation television ad from GOP Senate candidate Michael Steele, addressing allegations that he hates puppies.