Taking a break from meaningful discussion and dialogue

For a refreshing break from thoughtful discussion, voluminuous dialogue, potshots, and finger-pointing, please find these photos I took last week of the Pocataligo Swamp near Manning, South Carolina.

I was visiting our widening project on U.S. Route 521 and the view was just too good to pass up.

Enjoy the pictures.

Oh yeah, don't forget to vote in today's Republican Run-Off elections (if you're a Republican).






My Run-off Votes: Bauer & Willis


As many of ya'll know, there's an election on Tuesday: The GOP run-offs for Lt. Governor and State Treasurer. The other four races were ended in the run-off, including the highly-contested race for Superintendent of Education. I already voted via absentee ballot, so again, I don't mind sharing my choices with those of ya'll who might care (maybe 5 or 6 people ...?).

Why would I support Andre Bauer? I support Andre based upon his OFFICIAL record, which is a sharp contrast from his challenger - full-time constituent service, blocking 1.5 billion in tax increases, and leadership on senior citizens' issues. Having the support of the NRA also says a lot about his willingness to support our constitutional liberties. His challenger, by contrast, has no significant record.

Andre's opponent is the son of one of the state's greatest leaders, but in spite of the opportunities this relationship gave him, had not pursued any of them prior to this race. Should he lose this race, hopefully he will find a more suitable entry-level position in which he can better facilitate his ambitions (just like his father did in the 60s and 70s).

The endorsement of Andre by Dr. Henry Jordan, who finished third-place in the primary, may factor significantly into what is expected to be a very close race.

Why would I support Jeff Willis? In my humble opinion, the GOP race for Treasurer should have ended on Thursday, June 15, after 2nd-placer Greg Ryberg quit the race, and 3rd-placer Rick Quinn quit as well. However, Jeff Willis, the 4th placer, decided to stick it out.

Jeff Willis was the first to commit to the race for Treasurer, before anyone else was taking it seriously. A nice guy who worked hard, he soon fell behind as the well-funded races of Ravenel and Ryberg eclipsed him. However, Jeff didn't let that get him down - he remained commited to the race.

There is very little difference between the remaining two candidates seeking the GOP nomination, so either candidate would make a good Treasurer. While I fully expect Thomas Ravenel to win the run-off in a landslide which will be a boost to his campaign, my vote goes to Jeff Willis, the determined underdog in the race.

Online Party Crashers? Employers and blogging

Just in time for the weekend, this recent New York Times Editorial gives some food for thought on what people post in the course of blogging, or through services such as MySpace.

All good things must come to an end, including the chance to post lascivious photographs and diary entries on the Internet without repercussions. A generation that has come of age with blogging, Webcams and social networking sites is waking up to the fact that would-be employers are looking over their shoulders — and adjusting their job offers.

Alan Finder reported in The Times last week that companies have moved from putting applicants' names through Google to checking sites like Facebook and MySpace. There are ethical concerns about corporate officers snooping through registration-only sites designed for students. But the first order of business is for the indiscreet to think twice.

Every generation has its shrinking violets, and plenty of high school and college students still comport themselves with dignity and decorum, but the standards of decency in public behavior have surely changed. Between reality television shows like "The Real World," and "Girls Gone Wild" videos, our culture has sent the message that acting stupid in front of a camera is a way to get attention or even start a career in show business. Many young people think nothing of posting intimate material on the Web, whether it's daily minutiae, personal poems or snapshots of a fraternity beer pong tournament.

What they are getting now is an education in the virtues of privacy.

The Internet feels private in certain ways that it isn't. Sharing posts with friends, fellow hobbyists or potential dates, a user could be forgiven for overlooking the possibility that a human resources executive might be zeroing in as well. So much attention has been focused on sexual predators and swindlers that it's easy to forget that businesses and the government want to retain the right to peruse our correspondence as well.

A recent survey found that more than a third of large American companies read their employees' outbound e-mail, and just under a third fired someone as a result. We are only just beginning to wake up to the wider ramifications of the Internet on the personal and the confidential. In the meantime, don't leave a digital trail. That photograph from your friend's party could be more than just embarrassing. It might cost you your dream job.

If you're concerned about being "found out", you should be. If you're not concerned, think again.

The REAL threat to World Peace

Obviously, this guy gets it:

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel rose with an impassioned defense that seemed even to surprise the president.

"I think it's grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, a lot of countries," Schuessel said. Europe would not enjoy peace and prosperity if not for U.S. help after World War II, he said.

"We should be fair from the other side of the Atlantic," Schuessel said. "We should understand what September 11th meant to the American people."

Amen, brother! After all the talk about needing to "understand" the bad guys, it's about DAMN time that someone wanted to listen to our side of the story.

Europeans support Bush on nuclear stance, 6/21/06.
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

Sad news

Got this news today about one of my co-workers at my company:

Dear fellow employees:

U.S. Group, Inc. suddenly lost one of its own this weekend. John Roof, our lead mechanic at the shop, had a heart attack, and passed away on Sunday, June 18, 2006. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his co-workers, his family, and his friends. He will be greatly missed.

Visitation and Viewing will be held on Wednesday evening, June 21, 2006 from 7:00 PM until 8:00 PM, at Barron Funeral Home in Chester, South Carolina.

Graveside services will be held on Thursday, June 22, 2006 at 11:00 AM, at Evergreen Cemetery in Chester, South Carolina.

May he rest in peace.

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

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

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

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

Eternal be Your memory.


(Trisagion Prayer for the Departed)

Come on everyone ... play nice

One can tell it's Run-Off time!

I've had a number of postings taking shots at other candidates on my blog which I have opted not to allow to go forward, especially with regard to Mike Campbell. Most of these are at least somewhat personal, and none of them have anything to do with records of public service.

Those of you who know me, know that I support Andre, and some of you may be aware of how I've been kicked around by Campbell's campaign. But in spite of that, I believe in sticking to the records and issues. I'm better than that, and I ask ya'll to be the same.

If you want to toss the sludge around, there are other blogs where that sort of stuff is welcome. But it's not welcome here.

Thank you for your cooperation.

New to the Blog Roll: Metal Mark

The newest addition to my blogroll is Metal Mark's Heavy Metal Time Machine.

He's doing some of what I'm doing, with regard to reviewing metal albums from the great 80s, and talking about the metal scene from that perspective, giving some much-needed exposure to bands who have kept going years after they stopped racking up more platinum albums on the walls and hair spray cans in the trash.

Those who like what I've done on the album reviews on my blog should go check him out!

Flick of the Switch: Turnin' on AC/DC

With the recent elections past and a pretty hectic week behind, it's time to re-shift gears and change subjects ... which means "BACK TO THE ROCK AND ROLL!!!"

While there are a lot of AC/DC albums that are unforgettable hard-rockin' classics, one of the best ones is their much-overlooked Flick of the Switch album.

On the heels of their multi-platinum albums For Those About to Rock and Back in Black (which is
one of the top ten selling albums of rock history), this album took a different direction, with a raw, faster, and harder-edged sound.

This album was recorded in the Bahamas and was self-produced by AC/DC band members, which probably has much to do with the album's raw-edged sound. The hard guitar sound and raw and powerful vocals that are much of the classic AC/DC sound stand out prominently throughout the album.

My favorite tracks on this album are Flick of the Switch, Guns for Hire, and Rising Power. But there's not a single bad song on this album, so it's an album you don't want to miss. I promise you'll not be able to listen to this album on anything less than full blast!

New look of the blog

As ya'll may have noticed, the blog is being revamped. I'm toying around with some new ideas for layout, but promise that the blog links that were lost in the change and other features will be coming in the next few days.
Please stay tuned.
Don't forget to vote tomorrow, in case you haven't already voted via absentee ballot.

They're running! ( ... and running, and running ...)

Today's commentary on politics and campaigning brought to you from Bloom County (one of those 80s things that I'm still big on ...)


It sounds like the opposite of a local candidate here in Summerville - Bill Branton, who ran for Governor in 2002 (and lost), ran for re-election as State Senator in 2004 (got 38% there), and now, he's dropping down to a bid for County Council. Ambition in reverse?

Now, off to the races ... see you at the polls on Tuesday!

South Carolina Blogland or Sludgeland?

I was recently in Manning, talking with a statewide candidate. When I mentioned my blog and discussion of statewide races, he got a little testy and said "I don't read those any more", explaining that he only saw them as forums for cheap shots and personal attacks.

I'm sorry he felt that way, but I have to admit that he had a point.

A number of these blogs, such as ones run by Mike Reese, Mike Reino, Lauren Manning, and Sunny Phillips and myself clearly identify who owns/publishes them. The ones who are most vicious in what they have to say, both blog publishers and comment posters, tend to be anonymous (is anyone surprised?). These attacks have included:

  • One candidate getting in a bar fight with a legislator,
  • A legislator's favorite brand of booze,
  • One candidate making shady deals with video poker,
  • Another candidate is a really a Democrat and "Satan" himself.

One reason I've hesitated to get into discussion of SC politics on my blog is because I didn't want to get drug through the mud, or have my blog used as an attack vehicle. Since I decided to test the waters, personal attacks, threats, and other childishness that had never been part of the discussion on my blog now pop up in the comments regularly. Some of them I approve, some I don't.

There is nothing wrong with speaking clearly on the issues, but if one is willing to make claims, they need to be able to stand behind them. People have more respect for those who make harsh claims and criticisms when they have the cojones to put their names to them. While some may have legitimate reasons for concealing their identity, others use anonymity as a weapon, not a shield, both as bloggers and posters on blogs.

Let's try to clean up our act.

Based on how media figures are tuning in and getting story leads and inputs from SC blogs that deal with politics, in part or whole, we have the potential to have some real influence out there, broaden the dialogue, and bring some valuable perspectives to the table that wouldn't have been included in the political process before. Those are good things - let's not let the rogues ruin them.

For Daniel: Sanford's 2005 budget vetoes

My recent posting on my "None of the Above" decision in the Governor's race has drawn questions from "Daniel". As I've got a big problem with some of the BS and cheap-shotting that takes place in the SC Blogosphere, I try my best to say nothing that I cannot substantiate.

Daniel asked me to back up my remark about the Governor's vetoing items that he'd requested:

I'm really curious as to what you were referring to with this comment - "This has included the bizarre vetoing of a number of budget items that his office had requested."

I don't know who he is, but I'm glad he decided to call me on my words, because I can easily back up what I say with the following story from the Charleston Post and Courier, which I pulled off Lexis-Nexis, and bold/highlighted the reference in red:
Copyright 2005 The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
May 22, 2005 Sunday FINAL
Edition
SECTION: SECTION A; Pg. 1ALENGTH: 768 words
HEADLINE: Statehouse veto dispute approaching critical mass
AH: Sanford cut $95.9M from budget passed by state Legislature
BYLINE: JOHN FRANK Of The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA--When Gov. Mark Sanford's veto pen met the proposed state budget last week, it slashed some of the governor's own spending recommendations, speared proposals to improve the state's top moneymaking industry and skewered a Senate leader.

Sanford might have used up his last credit with the GOP-dominated Legislature, and he left Charleston's Bobby Harrell bewildered.

"These vetoes make absolutely no sense," said Harrell, the House's lead budget writer.

GOP lawmakers have been reluctant to attack their party leader, but that could change this week. The House Republican Caucus is considering a public denunciation of some vetoes.

"The mistake last year is we went and did our job," said Harrell, referring to the quick override by the House of most of Sanford's vetoes. "This year, we realized we were dealing with a public relations machine, and the people needed to hear both sides."

Caught in the crossfire are dozens of projects and initiatives in the $5.8 billion budget aimed at helping South Carolinians.

Legislative budget writers say quality of life will suffer if the vetoes are sustained, while Sanford believes improving the state's fiscal footing by replenishing trust and reserve funds comes first.

He asked the Legislature to put the $95.9 million in vetoed appropriations toward those accounts.

Lawmakers responded that the governor can veto, but he can't appropriate funds.

In explaining his 163 vetoes, Sanford noted how he struck a number of pet projects in various lawmakers' home districts. But many vetoes would cut deeply into state agencies' operating money, lawmakers said.

More than 40 vetoes strike money for agencies' base budgets, and nearly 60 more would eliminate money for state colleges, Harrell said.

"In order to get to $95 million (Sanford) couldn't find enough pork in the budget to do it, so he had to make deep cuts into agency budgets," Harrell said. "He is striking at the heart of ... a host of agencies that are the core functions of government."

Sanford spokesman Will Folks, in turn, criticized budget writers for giving the Department of Social Services nonrecurring money for operating expenses. "They are not in a position to make that kind of comment," he said.

One veto would redirect $1.8 million from the Clemson extension offices that assist the state's agricultural industry. Officials told lawmakers most offices would have to close if the veto stands.

Another would cut nearly a half million dollars for family health centers that serve small communities. It would force those families and the state to pay more for health care, Harrell said.

By striking deferred maintenance items for state colleges, "it will end up costing the state more money" in the long run, he added. "As a fiscal conservative he should understand that."

Harrell and others are perplexed by Sanford's vetoes of at least 15 items he included in his own executive budget.

"What's up with that?" said Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin. "You are for something or you're not."

Sanford had various explanations in his veto message for cutting the money for these projects. Folks said it largely boiled down to the Legislature giving those agencies too much money in other areas."This has a lot to do with how the budget gets rolled up," Folks said. "You have to find something that represents that level of spending (to veto)."

Brian Hicks of The Post and Courier staff contributed to this report.
John Frank covers state politics and the Legislature from Columbia. Contact him at jbfrank@postandcourier.com or (803) 799-9051.
LOAD-DATE: May 31, 2005

While some of ya'll may want to snipe at Daniel as having some sort of agenda, I appreciate his efforts to fact-check us bloggers. I wish more people would challenge some of the stuff that goes up here, to help keep us honest.

Daniel, I hope this answers your question. Let me know via posting or email to
earlcapps@webstop.net if I haven't.

Why I didn't vote for Governor

Those of you who know me, and some who don't, know I have been a big supporter of Governor Mark Sanford, and campaigned extensively to oust former Governor Jim Hodges in 2002. Ya'll may be surprised that at the top of my ballot, I DID NOT VOTE for either Mark Sanford or Oscar Lovelace, just like all those New Yorkers in the movie Brewster's Millions.

After all I've done for Sanford ... why would I do that?!?

While I feel that Mark Sanford is far more qualified to be Governor than any of the Democratic candidates, I believe that neither his record, nor that of Oscar Lovelace, was worth my vote in this election. Mark Sanford had the potential, as an "outsider", to be a strong reformer, but instead has chosen to engage in legislative approaches that have been petty, ineffective, counter-productive, and even abusive.

Governor Sanford seems more concerned about scoring media points and upholding the purity of principle than trying to get anything passed. While a lot of the time I've agreed with him on principle, I'd much rather have seen him try to get something now, and come back for more later, a far more successful style which characterized Campbell's tenure in the Governor's office.

His first major fiasco was the defeat of his "all or nothing" plan to streamline the constitutional offices. His practice of submitting dozens of budget vetos got him nowhere, as most were easily overridden in a bi-partisan manner not often seen in many years at the State House. This has included the bizarre vetoing of a number of budget items that his office had requested.

Disagreeing on policy does not make someone a bad person, but that's not how it seems with the Governor's inner circle. Make one wrong move, and you could have them turn on you, or a press conference held in your backyard, complete with a choice of livestock.

I've even been warned not to post this, "or else". Little ol' me - imagine that?

While a second Sanford term seems to offer little more than benign gridlock, there is little to recommed Mr. Lovelace to me. A minimal political resume, support for a massive tax increase, and many of his supporters seem motivated by a desire to get even with Mark Sanford - that's no more encouraging.

Although I may agree with some of the reasons these people are disgruntled, being disgruntled, in this case, doesn't warrant my active involvement or vote in this race. Neither candidate has given me anything to vote FOR - so I voted for neither.

I can only hope that Mark Sanford, should he return to the Governor's Mansion next year, will reflect on how he has soured so many, like myself, who did so much to support him over the years, and attempt to regain our lost trust.

Maybe he doesn't need us, but earning and keeping trust, showing appreciation for those who've been there for you in tough times, and tackling major challenges are some of the key attributes of leadership.

We'll see what happens ...

Who did I vote for: Andre, Hammond, Weathers, Ryberg & Staton

Since I stay pretty busy with work, kids, and grad school, I've made it a habit to take advantage of the state's loose guidelines on absentee voting to request my absentee ballot for the GOP Primary and send it in.

For those of you who care enough to read, much less care what I think, I'm going to discuss my choices this week, starting with the down-ballot races, and then finishing with the Governor's race tomorrow.

I'm sure ya'll have your own picks, and if not, what the heck has kept you from figuring out who and why for so long?!?

Your comments are welcome and encouraged ...

ANDRE BAUER FOR LT. GOVERNOR

No, this has nothing to do with some of Campbell's people accusing me of tearing down their signs - I promise!

While Andre's driving record has drawn a lot of attention (some of it well-earned), it has taken it away from his public service record, which is also deserving of attention and has earned the respect of the Senators who deal with him on a regular basis, including Democrats. This editorial by my State Senator, Randy Scott, is a particularly good discussion of the real issues in the race.

Our Lt. Governor should, regardless of appointment or direct election, should continue to preside over the Senate. Since he was first elected to the House in 1996, Andre has served in both houses of the Legislature and has experience which neither of the other candidates has. This puts him heads and shoulders above both Campbell and Jordan.

Andre has, in spite of his mistakes, earned a second term in office.

MARK HAMMOND FOR SEC. OF STATE

How come this guy doesn't have a campaign website?!?

I can't think of anything wrong Mark has done in the job, and through initiatives like the Business One-Stop project, has attempted to continue Jim Miles' efforts to improve the office and been smart enough to leave what Jim accomplished in place.

The other candidate, while a nice enough guy, just really hasn't made enough of an argument that Hammond hasn't earned a second term.

HUGH WEATHERS FOR COMM. OF AGRICULTURE

This was, believe it or not, my toughest choice. Both William Bell and Hugh Weathers come with impressive resumes of leadership in the agricultural community, and both come well-recommended from people I know and trust.

Unfortunately, a decision had to be made, and I could only choose one candidate. For me, the deciding factor was Weathers' experience in the job and his leadership in keeping the agency moving smoothly after Charles Sharpe gave up the office under indictment.

But either way you vote in this race, you can't make a bad choice. I wish every race for public office had a fielding of candidates who were as well qualified.

GREG RYBERG FOR STATE TREASURER

Greg, who barely lost in 2002, is making a second bid for the office, and has my support. Having served in the Senate since 1992, and been known for his tenacity, he'll make a great improvement in the office and on the Budget and Control Board.

However, had he not been in the race, I may well have supported
Rick Quinn. After losing re-election to his State House seat (a point which he has clearly downplayed in the "as Majority Leader" rhetoric), he has waged an aggressive campaign across the state for this job. He has racked up more miles than any other candidate in the race, and has clearly out-worked anyone else in the race. If nominated, he would likely pose as much a threat to the Democratic incumbent, Grady Patterson, as Ryberg would.

Jeff Willis started out as a pretty sincere guy, but as the race heated up, his campaign seems to have lost momentum and focus. His "Homes for Vets" and "Fight Identity Fraud" efforts, while commendable, have no relation to the office of Treasurer and seem to be ploys to regain the spotlight which other candidates have drawn away.

While Willis complains about personal money in this race, an argument that has some merit, it's worth noting that he was the first to seed his campaign with a big chunk of personal cash. Still, he worked hard in this campaign, and he is sincere in his desire to be a good public servant. I hope this is not his last bid for public office.

BOB STATON FOR SUP. OF EDUCATION

I know this one is gonna piss some people off, but too bad. I calls 'em like I sees 'em.

I support school choice, but I still support Bob Staton. Why? Because education involves many more issues than just K-12. I've met all five candidates, and even had a pretty good political chat with
Ms. Floyd, but as someone who deals with issues related to adult education and workforce training, Bob is the only candidate who really expressed concern or understanding of these issues.

As a non-traditional student who graduated high school courtesy of a GED, got a BA at the age of 33, and continued to grad school, I know education is truly a life-long process. Bob shares my belief and wants to facilitate this for others who want to engage in this pursuit to create new opportunities for themselves and do better for their families.

While I'm not really concerned about Floyd's history of giving to Democrats, I am concerned about how her supporters have waged an attack-dog campaign to discredit Staton's record as a Republican, and her lack of willingness to convince them to back off. You know what they say about glass houses ...

Kerry Wood is a really nice guy, whose concern for our state is commendable. Mike Ryan is someone whose political career, I hope, will not stop at County Council. But in this race, I have to choose one candidate, so Staton gets my vote.

Last but not least, tomorrow is my discussion of how I voted in the Governor's race. I'm sure few of you will expect THIS outcome!