Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

We at the Blogland want to thank our readers for making this year the biggest one yet ... our daily visitor averages have more than doubled, which means something.

Exactly WHAT it means ... we're still not sure. But we think it's good that there are at least that many people in South Carolina who can read - in spite of the best efforts of the South Carolina Department of Education.

In any event, we want all of you to have a safe and happy New Year, as well as your friends and family. Be sure not to drink and drive ... lest you end up like Brian McCarty or Mike Reino ... or worse yet, like this guy here:


Rick Beltram: The Blogland's Joker of the Year

In the game of life, one has to play the cards they're dealt. It may not always be fair, but that's the way life goes.

In the game of life, some of us are playing at least a few cards short of a deck (word has it we're not). Up at the top of that list in the Blogland is none other than Spartanburg County's GOP Chair, Rick Beltram.

Or as one of our readers has called him - Dick Belstrami. Whatever that means.

This is the kind of guy who can send out press releases which tell outright lies, threatens the jobs of those who question him, and no matter how many he sends ... still has the kind of bad grammar and misspelling you would usually associate with some old, angry raving lunatic who nobody listens to, but nobody has the balls to tell to shut up and go away. No wonder the Spartanburg Herald-Journal suggested he rode the short bus to school.

Usually such people are on the far outside fringes of their party's organization, but for some reason, he's been elected, and re-elected, Chairman of the Spartanburg County Republican Party.

We can't help but wonder what the hell they were thinking ... or smoking? Or did the Democrats sneak in and stuff the ballot box to help him win?

His lies, pathetic attempts to bully and intimidate others, failure to master the art of spin, and most of all ... piss-poor grammar and spelling ... have put him at the top of our list of most-watched public figures.

Hands-down, Rick Beltram, South Carolina's Trophy Mouth and most functionally- illiterate political party leader, is qualified above all others to be the Blogland's Joker of the Year.

We're sure that Spartanburg Republicans are proud of him. They must be since they keep him as their Chairman.

As a tribute to Rick, he's a video of the original Slick Rick ...

General Petraeus: The Blogland's Righteous Dude of the year

In choosing our Righteous Dude of the Year, the Blogland wanted to pick someone who took a calculated risk in a tough situation, and pulled off what was considered nearly impossible.

This year, more than any other major American figure,
General David Petraeus has done just that. Leading American efforts to learn and adapt to the changing threats faced in Iraq, he led a surge effort which was written off by many. By year's end, these efforts reversed a military quagmire in Iraq and a political one in Washington.

According to Mark Davis of the Dallas Morning News:

Gen. David Petraeus sent troops into Iraq's toughest regions - to live there. And he sent Iraqi security forces with them. This brought more stability to more square miles of Iraq and gave the Iraqi forces a boost toward the competence they must display to one day keep their own country safe.

In meeting their enormous challenge, Gen. Petraeus and those under his command have, in turn, created a huge obstacle not just for al-Qaeda, but for those who have hindered the war effort here at home.

Those who pilloried President Bush showed their total lack of military knowledge. The President commits forces, who are then responsible for confronting the enemy, learning his methods and weaknesses, and adapting their own methodologies to prevail. That's exactly what Petraeus and America's finest men and women did. They adapted, and judging by the shrinking number of military and civilian losses, their efforts worked, no thanks to those who claimed to "oppose the war, but support the troops".

Petraeus proved the anti-war crowd wrong twice: once by showing that Iraq was not hopeless, and again by enduring a wave of media attacks from MoveOn and other groups which proved their claims of "we support the troops, but not the war" were nothing but calculated lies to support their real agenda - an effort to politicize the war as a partisan weapon by which to attack President Bush.

Interestingly enough, the success of Petraeus' surge seems to not only have benefitted Bush, it may have played a role in the revival of John McCain's presidential fortunes. But we're sure political fortunes of Bush and McCain aren't among Petraeus' concerns, so much as giving Iraq's leaders time to securely root it's first-ever democratically-elected government, and ensuring that as many of those troops we send overseas return home safe and sound.

General David Petraeus has managed to do what was considered impossible: change the course of the military conflict in Iraq, as well as the political one back home. That makes him one righteous dude in our book.

The Pretenders' debut album

In what is sure to be a bit of a puzzling sidetrack from our usual fare of heavy metal album reviews, we're going to share one of our Christmas presents with you: the Rhino Records re-release of the 1980 debut self-titled album by The Pretenders.

This album featured the original, but short-lived, lineup of Chrissie Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott, Martin Chambers, and Pete Farndon. The video for Brass in Pocket received a lot of play in the early days of MTV, helping the band build a strong following in the United States, the homeland of lead singer Hynde.

The Pretenders, along with The Police and Elvis Costello, came up in the era of the British punk revolution. Like the punk bands, the Pretenders turned back the clock to the original blues and rockabilly influences of rock, but then went forward in a different direction than the UK punk bands.

Like the punk bands of their time, every song feels real and genuine, with a straight-on attitude. Unlike those bands, a lot of different directions are explored throughout the album, and one can easily pick out a wide range of influences, including punk, blues, 70s guitar rock, reggae, and rockabilly.

It's a solid piece of work, and if you're interested in slowing down a little bit, this is a CD well-worth buying. The re-release contains a second disc of outtakes, demos and live versions of cuts from the album, so spend a little more and get the whole enchilada.

Here are a couple of YouTube clips ...

Brass in Pocket

Tattooed Love Boys

Benazir Bhutto, Martyr for Democracy

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Pakistan, especially with the friends, family, and supporters of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Given the rash of bombings and attempted attacks, Bhutto had to know death stalked her every move since she returned to Pakistan, yet she never wavered or backed down. The rise of a free and democratic Pakistan, safe from both military coups and Islamic extremism, would be a fitting tribute by which to honor her legacy and her sacrifice

This savage act was intended to deter reformers and send a message of fear to silence those who worked to bring democracy to this region. We hope that the people of Pakistan will reject their threats and send an even stronger message to the terrorists by going to the polls in the upcoming elections.

2007 in review: New elected officials

This year, the Blogland welcomed a number of people to public office, including several new legislators to the General Assembly, who took office in a unusual rolling chain of special elections, including Senators Paul Campbell, Catherine Ceips, and Shane Massey, as well as Representatives Shannon Erickson and Heyward Hutson.

Converse Chellis, my now-former state Representative, was
chosen to serve as our new State Treasurer following Thomas Ravenel's resignation.

While Converse has been hard at work since transitioning in from Ken Wingate, who did a great job as the interim treasurer, the five new legislators will be taking office right after the first of the year with our best wishes for success!

Congressional Dems' broken promise on earmarks

The Manchester, NH Union Leader's editorial endorsement of John McCain shares some interesting facts about how the Democrats have failed to keep promises related to ending earmarking in the federal budget:

What wonderful projects did you pay for?

* The Andre Agassi prep school in Las Vegas -- $200,000.

* Olive fruit fly research in France -- $213,000.

* The Stark County, Ohio YMCA -- $500,000.

* A bike trail in Minnesota -- $700,000.

The police department in Bastrop, La., got $1.6 million, supposedly for bullet-proof vests. Even if you think Washington ought to fund local police, consider this comment from a Bastrop cop:

"There's no way we'd need that kind of money just to put all our people in vests," said Det. Curtis Stephenson.

Outraged yet?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged in March to cut the number of earmarks by half. Didn't happen. This budget contains more than 11,000 earmarks, the second-highest number in history.

We can already hear the gasps of surprise at such unbelievable news ... right?

It's been a common thing for the Democrats to blame their many legislature failures on President Bush and the congressional Republicans, but on this one, they could easily have ended this by voting party-line to exclude such items from the budget. But they didn't.

It'll be interesting to see how, or if, they spin this one.

2007 in review: Who we're thankful for

In going over this year's blog postings to see what we talked about, I wanted to remember to some good people who left us this year:

  • Dorchester County Deputy Mike Deese,
  • Berkeley County Deputy Dawn Tillman,
  • Boris Yeltsin,
  • Our friend Senator Bill Mescher,
  • Austin Whetsell,
  • Lady Bird Johnson,
  • Lillee Schuster,
  • Robert Scarborough, and
  • Kevin Dubrow

  • Please take a moment to say a prayer for them and their families in this holiday season. We are thankful for the gifts they gave us while on this earth, and they will be missed.

    2007: The Blogland's Year in Review

    When you write hundreds of postings of drivel, sooner or later you're gonna look back at what you've done ... and call your lawyer and run for cover.

    Or, if you're not so smart or don't care what other people think, you're gonna dig through it and try to make sense of it all. Which is what we decided to do here in the Blogland.

    Over the next few days, we're going to look back at the Blogland's 2007, looking at the good, bad, and downright ridiculous-but-true. Our 2007: In Review series will look at various themes and subjects that we focused on over the past year, in a series of small daily postings, finishing up with the Top Ten postings of the year and a review of what went on here in 2007.

    It's good to do a review, but frankly, we forgot. While you probably did too, it's a great chance to look back, laugh, and realize why you hate us so.

    Stay tuned ...

    Snakes in the judicial races?

    Twas the day before Christmas,
    and all through the State House,
    not a creature was stirring,
    except those who were busy cutting deals ...

    Already, reports are coming in about deal-making in the state judicial races. While we're big believers that a lot of legislative rumors are just a tad bit more credible than Jerry Springer guests, stories that WWE wrestling is real, and all those breast and penis enhancement emails we get ... some of them seem more real than others.

    It's a good thing when judicial candidates are out there, working their butts off to discuss their qualifications with legislators to win votes.

    It's a bad thing when they cut deals to get votes they couldn't get on their own. It's also unethical and just plain wrong.

    Those reports we receive which we believe to be credible, we intend to discuss here in the Blogland. So if you're one of those snakes out there, cutting deals to get a job you're not truly fit to hold, watch out ... for we may be shining the spotlight on your dealings real soon.

    If you've got a news tip, just drop an email to earl@earlcapps.org and tell us about it. You don't have to post it publicly and your tips will remain confidential. Helping blow the whistle could make the difference between a good judge and a bad judge.

    If you want to know the difference between a good judge and bad judge ... just ask those whose families have been the victims of those released from prison, but shouldn't have.

    The stakes are real, so please don't be afraid to speak up. We're not.

    Boarding the Mothership with Led Zeppelin

    We normally don't discuss compilation albums here in the Blogland, nor do we typically waste our own time and money on such things. For music fans, they are often a lame way to squeeze more sales out of the same old stuff we've already heard.

    But there are rare exceptions to that rule. Led Zep's "Mothership" 2 CD set is one of them.

    On this album, you get a good slice of classic Led Zeppelin, from the beginning to the end, remastered by Jimmy Page himself. So you get something that sounds cleaner and a little better than anything else you've previously bought.

    We enjoyed cranking this up in the car all the way home the other night, so that means it's pretty good stuff.

    For those of you who are looking for last-minute Christmas present ideas, this may not be the one for those who have everything Led Zeppelin, unless they're obsessed about having everything Led Zep. However, if there's someone you know who you think would like an introduction to some classic hard rock and roll, this two cd set would be the perfect gift.

    Two less reindeer

    A creative display of two reindeer who won't be on duty this Christmas:

    - courtesy of TackyChristmasYards.com

    Crawford bills lead the way for legal reforms

    For too long, we've heard the joke that our state's legal profession was "fit to judge itself". The recent bar exam flap has certainly added fuel to that fire.

    Florence Representative Kris Crawford has prefiled bills which would address these problems, and we think he's got the right idea:

    Two bills by a Florence Republican would move the disciplining and licensing of the state's lawyers from the South Carolina Supreme Court to a new committee.

    Rep. Kris Crawford said he talked about the proposals before a controversy involving July's bar exam, but those problems pushed him to get the bills ready.

    The bills would create a constitutional amendment and the necessary legislation to create a 13-member commission to regulate lawyers under the control of the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, like some other occupations that require doctoral degrees, such as medical doctors.

    "It doesn't make any sense to me to have the profession of law treated any differently than the other doctoral-degree professions," Crawford said.

    We certainly think that if the LLR is qualified to regulate the state's many skilled professional vocations, including doctors, engineers, beauticians, and many others, then it shouldn't be too difficult for them to add this to their plate.

    It's Friday - all aboard the Crazy Train

    We mark this Friday by inviting y'all to join us on the good ol' crazy train with Ozzy:

    Make it a great weekend out there!

    We support Rudy Giuliani

    Elections are about decisions and choices. We’ve considered the candidates out there, and as our long-time readers know, we've had plenty to say about them. In considering our choices at hand, our choice for President is clear.

    We're supporting Rudy Giuliani for President.

    Many recognize Giuliani’s leadership during the tragedy of 9/11. As Mayor of New York City, there is no public figure that could be more closely associated with that day, but to support him solely upon our recollection of 9/11 would not be enough.

    There are many great Americans who have risen to the occasion when crises occur, but a President has to be about more than one historical moment, even one as large as 9/11. Our President must be able to see and think long-term, define the vision necessary to address the challenges that lie ahead, and have the ability to work to make that vision a reality.

    Time and time again, Rudy Giuliani has answered the call of duty.

    As a federal Attorney in the 1980s, he took on the Mafia. He led an effort that was so intense, only a single vote more by mafia leaders would have resulted in a contract being put upon him. In the end, he won his fight, and the Mafia has never recovered.

    As New York’s Mayor through much of the 1990s, Giuliani waged an effort to bring order to a city racked with ethic violence and suffering from major mismanagement and overtaxation. Violent crime plunged, city services improved, taxes were cut and the city’s cumbersome welfare state was scaled back considerably.

    While some would say 9/11 was a defining moment for Giuliani, we would argue that he was well-defined long before that day. His record of taking on tough challenges had prepared him well for 9/11.

    Time and time again, Rudy has proven he can get things done.

    Those who think a Giuliani presidency would have no room for the social conservatives who make up a large part of the GOP base need only look at the numbers of conservative Republican candidates he has backed across the country. When it came to raising millions of dollars, making campaign appearances and starring in mass media advertising, Giuliani did not apply litmus tests.

    In fact, of all the candidates running, only McCain and Giuliani campaigned for fellow Republicans on a national scale long before they decided to be candidates. Others only got involved once they began sizing up their Presidential prospects.

    Republicans should be confident that Rudy Giuliani will keep his promises not to appoint liberal jurists, nor veto legislation passed by those conservative Republicans in Congress which he has done much to support. He will be a friend to his party’s conservative base.

    However, one can expect that a Giuliani presidential agenda will reject the divisive wedge politics of appealing to social conservatives while ignoring the party’s fiscally-conservative base. This is much of what alienated swing voters from the GOP in the 2006 elections and put the Democrats in charge of Congress.

    Polling numbers generally point to Giuliani as the Republican candidate who is most electable among crucial swing voters. His record of campaigning for House and Senate candidates suggests that he will be an active partner in GOP efforts to regain lost ground in Congress. Not only can he win, but he can help other Republicans oust Democrats.

    Time and time again, Rudy Giuliani has delivered – as a prosecutor, as a Mayor, and as a Republican campaigner. We’re proud to repay what he’s done for his city and his country by supporting him for President.

    Radio Reino

    There are reports that Pee Dee region blogger Mike Reino dropped a bunch of LSD while watching Airheads, and now he's gonna take over a radio station and play loud rock music until the SWAT team storms the place.

    No, seriously folls, Mike Reino, the Pee Dee's favorite Republican blogger, has three daze on the air on Florence's talk radio station - News Talk 970AM - from 7 to 9am, Wednesday through Friday of this week. It looks like he's got a pretty good line-up, so if you get a chance, call in and talk with him and his guests.

    Mike's line-up includes:
    • Wednesday:
      730 am - Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone
      800 am - Carolyn Jebaily and Peggy Brown from RED (Responsible Economic Development)
    • Thursday:
      800 am - Florence County Councilman Morris Anderson
      845 am - Democratic Presidential Race Analysis w/ Clyburn Rep. Charlene Lowery.
    • Friday:
      700 am - The Reino Dysfunctional Family Christmas Special.
    Anyone want to guess which day I'll be calling in?

    Anyway, be sure to pick up that phone and dial Mike's magic number ... 888-345-WJMX (9569).

    This is a great picture

    In "The one where I need oxygen", Jennifer over at Four Weddings and a Funeral, an old high school acquaintance from those crazy teenage James Island days, has a really great picture of her kids with her narrative of her experience of having her fourth child:

    My fourth child was due on October 27, 2006, but somehow I just knew I would be having this baby earlier than expected. My mom was in standby mode in SC, waiting for the call to drive up to help out while I was in the hospital and for a few days after I came home. I called her on October 18th and told her that I thought it would be a good idea for her to come on up. She left on the 19th. That night she called to say that she was staying at a hotel for the night rather than driving through and would arrive the next morning. I had contractions on and off all night, but nothing regular.

    ... click here to read more.

    Here's that great picture of her kids at the hospital:

    Going to jail for thirty six bucks? Only in Dorchester County

    It’s no secret that many county courthouse offices across our state are filled with hacks who were elected far more upon their political associations than actual qualifications related to the jobs they hold.

    In looking at the qualifications of Cheryl Graham, the Dorchester County Clerk of Court, who holds a degree in dental assisting, one can't help but ask themselves how she's qualified for her job.

    When the qualification of the person at the top is questionable, it can only lead one to wonder how they lead their department and what kind of staffing choices they made. The IQ level of her staff is certainly in question after yours truly received a letter notifying me of a thirty-six dollar balance due that had been rolling over in my child support account for the last three years … and threatening me with court action unless I pay up.

    My weekly payment for my daughter Bonnie is eighty-four dollars, or twelve dollars a day. This means that three years ago, a payment was exactly three days late, which is the difference between receiving a payment on a Friday or Monday. Yep folks, you can bet it's time to call out the firing squad.

    This is not the first problem I’ve had with the staff of her office. A few years ago, they screwed it up by $1800, and then tried to get me locked up when I questioned it. After a considerable amount of trouble, including a bench warrant that was issued and then rescinded, a judge ordered the account corrected. Not surprisingly, there was no explanation or apology from Graham or her staff for their royal screw-up and heavy-handed treatment.

    The attorney who helped me clear that mess up warned me that Graham’s staff had it in for me and that I’d better watch out. When I’m threatened with court over thirty six bucks, I guess that attorney was right.

    Will I pay it? Since the arrearage looks legitimate to me, and the money is for my daughter, of course I will. But they sure as heck could have been nicer about it.

    So be warned that here in Dorchester County, if you’re so much as three days behind in child support, it might take three years for them to figure it out, but when they do, you can bet Cheryl Graham and her team will be coming for you.

    If yours truly gets threatened over being three days late, then that must mean that all those other deadbeats who don’t pay for months or even years are caught up with their back child support or they're in jail, right?

    Somehow, I rather doubt it.

    A lousy way to spend an evening

    Apparently, not even the holiday spirit will gag Rick Beltram and lock him in a basement somewhere.

    According to Adam at the Palmetto Scoop, Rick the Oaf decided to ruin a perfectly good evening with his presence, including taking a few minutes to amuse Adam with his usual puffery masquerading as threats.

    It seems as if Adam is no nicer to Rick than we are here at the Blogland. Usually there is a good reason for it ... we're not sure which is funnier ... his hollow threats, the loads of horse manure he continues to try to shove down people's throats, or his functional illiteracy (which proves you don't have to go to South Carolina schools to be an imbecile).

    Adam, we'll make it up to you one evening. We may not be as amusing as Rick is, but after a few beers, most anyone can be quite entertaining.

    Sebastian Bach rises with Angel Down

    Recently, we’ve seen a lot of acts from the 80s put out some of their best stuff in years – Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Warrant are three that we've talked about here in the Blogland. You can easily add Sebastian Bach’s first album in eight years, Angel Down, to the list. This album definitely exceeded expectations and comes across as an outstanding piece of metal that would fit well in anyone’s collection.

    Not content to rest on his 80s laurels, his band includes some great new metal talent, including guitarists Metal Mike Chlasciak (Halford) and Johnny Chromatic, bassist Steve DiGiorgio (Death) and drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Painmuseum). The end result is an album that hits you hard from the first track, with a great combination of classic Bach and newer metal influences. There’s not a bad song on this album.

    Axl Rose, whose appetite for dysfunction has put his music career into the basement and made Chinese Democracy one of the biggest jokes in metal history, does three songs on the album with Bach. While each of those songs is solid and Axl sounds great, you start to wonder if Axl’s really that hard up to record something, and it hits you – yes, Bach actually has his act together better than Axl. Who’d have ever seen THIS day coming?

    Whether you’re an undergrown 80s headbanger like myself, or lean towards today’s faster, darker metal fare, you’ll find this album has plenty of offer. This offering from Sebastian rocks just as hard as anything he’s put out, on the Skids or not. Those of you who miss the old Skid Row days will find this album a heck of a treat, but be warned, it’s no time machine back to the 80s.

    In any event, it’s a great piece of metal, so get out there and buy it.

    Melkite conference, 2007

    I ran across this while You-tubing recently.

    Here's a clip from one of the dinners at the 2007 Melkite conference, when Father Gabrielle of the Miami Melkite Catholic parish takes the mike for a while. I'm in there as the camera pans around the room, but only as a very brief blur:

    The annual Melkite conferences are largely family vacations and gatherings for many Arabic Melkite families, so us non-Arabic converts have a bit of challenge finding a place to fit in. The challenge is usually nowhere near as bad as fitting in with our own parishes.

    The toughest thing is not knowing a lick of Arabic, so we're lost when they start singing and all that at these things. I wish they'd offer something to help orient us American converts at these events so we're not so lost.

    Vladimir Putin: "a K and a G and a B"

    A really good op-ed in yesterday's Post and Courier cautions of the steps by Vladimir Putin to hang onto power after his tenure as President ends, warning readers that:

    The hopes for a democratic future that were inspired when Boris Yeltsin climbed on a tank in 1991 to resist a Stalinist coup are fading as KGB-style rule returns.

    This is not the first time we've heard these warnings.

    Putin has done much to right the Russian ship of state, by restoring order and clamping down on the widespread corruption that had followed the collapse of the exhausted Soviet Union, combatting a malaise that had some similarites to what was experienced by post-imperial Great Britain between the 1950s and the Thatcher years. But in many ways, Putin's efforts couldn't be more different, as well as the outcomes.

    Unlike Britain, where Thatcher's reforms led to revitalized national pride and a blossoming of freedom and opportunity, Putin's moves replaced chaos and malaise with a dull grey blanket. Weighing that blanket down is the gradual erosion of Yeltsin-led democratic reforms, growing consolidation of industry in the hands of the state and state-allied oligarchs, a remilitarization and a growing effort to reach out and build alliances with non-democratic nations.

    Those of us who were teens and in our twenties in the late 1980s had great hope when the Soviet Empire collapsed. Suddenly, the prospect of war - anywhere between a massive land war in central Europe to a global nuclear conflict - had ended and our generation faced a much brighter future. We had hoped that whatever rose from the ashes of the fallen Soviet Empire would be a new partner for peace and progress, but this dream would only be half-fulfilled.

    While much progress was made when freedom moved east and many of the former client states embraced the West, Russia and its neighboring states first struggled through chaos and corruption, then moved away from the democratic reforms that had prevailed in central Europe. Today, Putin with one hand in the Russian electoral process and another closely meddling in the affairs of his neighbors, makes plans to install a figurehead ruler while retaining his real power.

    John McCain's warning about Putin seems rather prophetic: "I looked into Mr. Putin's eyes and I saw three things — a K and a G and a B." For those generations who remember the KGB as the sword and shield of Soviet-era tyranny, and see Putin's manueverings, both at home and abroad, McCain's comparison presents an ominous warning.

    What's coming up in the State House?

    Well, folks, if you live in the Midlands, it's almost time to run for cover, lock up your daughters and barricade the doors and windows.

    Yep, you guessed it, the General Assembly will be coming back to town ... and along with them, five months of dramatic oratory, increased spending and, of course, lots of public displays of affection between the Legislature and the Governor.

    To help give our readers a bit of a sneak preview of what our House members have in mind for the upcoming session, we decided to take a look at some of the bills they've prefiled. Here's some that caught our eye:

    H4307 by Rep. Rutherford (D-Richland) to penalize those who drive recklessly in the vicinity of emergency vehicles which are either en route to a call or on site, with emergency lights.

    WE THINK: Those who stupidly or recklessly endanger our public safety officials deserve what they get.
    WE RECOMMEND: Pass this bill.

    H4311 by Rep. Hagood (R-Charleston) to give Purple Heart recipients their license tags for free.

    WE THINK: What the hell? These heroes should NEVER have been charged for those tags in the first place. All hail Hagood!
    WE RECOMMEND: Pass this bill - and anyone votes against it should be publicly flogged for high treason - and we'll buy the rope!

    H4323 by Rep. Crawford (R-Florence) to add advanced age as an aggravating factor that would qualify a murderer for the death penalty.

    WE THINK: Hell yeah - prey on the elderly in this state, and die. Period.
    WE RECOMMEND: Pass this bill ... and make it retroactive. Kill all those creeps, and fast.

    H4334 by Rep's Neal (D-Richland) and Harrell (R-Charleston) to require that criminal background checks be a condition of EMT certification

    WE THINK: This wasn't already a qualification? Wwooowwww ...
    WE RECOMMEND: Pass this bill.

    ... and our favorite bill is from one of our favorite legislators, Laurens County state Representative Mike Pitts, HR 4329:


    We think this bill is a great idea which pays well-deserved tribute to our constitutional liberties. Those who think armed citizens no longer have relevancy need only look at the long struggle to shut down Islamic extremists in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    If you're a legislator with at least half a brain, you should do what you can to pass this bill. If you're one of those with less than half a brain, just do what we tell you and vote to make this bill law so we can pay tribute to this important part of our Bill of Rights.

    If you go to
    http://www.scstatehouse.net/html-pages/pref08h1.htm, you can see what they've already put on the table. While only about five percent of bills pass, you can bet the early ones fare much better, so these bills might be next summer's laws.

    Class is over

    Last night, after nearly eight years of college, was my last night of class as a student. While I seem to have picked up a bit of a bug from somewhere over the weekend, it cleared up enough for me to get to class, where I presented my research findings and wished my friends good luck in their studies.

    The only thing left to complete is my thesis, and that's already underway. That should be done by March.

    I'm tired, exhausted, worn out ... but in some ways, I'm gonna miss it. I won't lie. My time at the College of Charleston has changed me, pushed me, and helped me be who I could be - once I had the courage to stop holding myself back.

    In January 2000, my goal to complete a Bachelor's degree of a yet-to-be-determined major. I just wanted the paper on the wall to qualify me for a better job. Back then, I had no idea I was going to graduate with a long list of honors, much less go on to graduate school.

    It's been a long journey, and one that didn't do it all by myself. My thanks go out to all of you who've been a part of this long and arduous journey.

    I'm also thankful for having had the opportunity to do more than just work for myself. I've spent a lot of these last few days of school helping other students with their work, and frankly, it's been far more enjoyable to help with their work than do my own.

    As a tribute to those long eight years, here's a video of GWAR re-doing the Alice Cooper classic "School's Out":

    Don't worry ... plans for a big Blogland graduation party in the spring are already in the works. Stay tuned ....

    A Twisted Sister pin ... on your uniform?!?

    Long-time headbangers will no doubt recognize the line from the guy who played Neidermeyer from Animal House when he starred in the Twisted Sister video. Well, thanks to a couple of soon-to-be newlyweds in California, their engagement party featuring the Twisted Ones will be a fundraising tribute to our troops:
    So imagine that you and your boyfriend just got engaged.


    A) Uncork the champagne and call your folks

    B) Rush out and buy a copy of Modern Bride

    C) Borrow $100,000 to book the ’80s big-hair band Twisted Sister with the hopes that you will sell enough tickets to make all your money back, and then some.

    If you picked C, your names would be Megan Moore and Danny Peykoff.

    The couple dreamed up the scheme on the heels of their engagement in September (while listening to a Twisted Sister song) as a way to start their marriage off on the right foot.

    Our hats are off to these folks ... and our fists in the air for such a hard-rockin' idea for such a great cause. If they weren't all the way in California, you can bet the Blogland would be there!

    Too hot for NBC?

    Since NBC didn't want to air these videos, then the day after Pearl Harbor Day, we're gonna run them, in appreciation of the brave men and women who are doing their best to make sure we'll never get sucker-punched like that ever again:


    (... and may Jane Fonda and Cindy Sheehan both rot in hell)

    "A date which will live in infamy"

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Pearl Harbor Speech to Congress, December 8, 1941:

    Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

    The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

    Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

    It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

    The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

    Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.

    Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

    Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.

    Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

    Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.

    This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

    Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

    As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.

    Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.

    No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

    I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

    Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

    With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

    I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

    Insider dealing for state judicial races?

    Tuesday's screening of candidates for the Supreme Court left us with three finalists, which Senator Robert Ford described as "two guys from Greenville":
    • Court of Appeals Judge John Kittredge of Greenville,
    • Circuit Judge John Few of Greenville, and
    • Chief Court of Appeals Judge Kaye Hearn of Conway
    Four other candidates were eliminated from the race: circuit judges Diane Goodstein of Summerville and Deadra Jefferson of Charleston, and Family Court Judge Eugene Morehead of Florence.

    Today, the Ninth Circuit candidates were:
    Not surprisingly, Charleston attorney Michael Dupree didn't make the cut.

    Even though many of our state's judges are elected from a process so devoid of ethics that even a prostitute would blush, we're going to ask the people who matter to us what they think about these judicial races:

    Our readers.

    Here at the Blogland, we're kicking the politicians out and letting YOU, the Blogland readers, be the drunken, unethical legislators for a change. Make yourself at home in our very own legislator-free smoke-filled backroom where we can drink, chase interns and cut imaginary deals that would be the envy of even the good ol' days of South Carolina politics.

    That is until they outlaw us in a fit of jealousy, or Mike Reino pukes on the carpet.

    While we can't promise you'll get the judge of your choice, we promise that whatever you do while in our special Smoke-Filled Backroom, you'll have a ball.

    So, Blogland readers, let's hear from YOU ...

    State judicial race watch

    Looks like the qualifying round of the state judicial election process is underway. Already, we have a report of one "upset" with the finding that Dorchester County Judge Diane Goodstein, who everyone expected to get a thumbs-up for her Supreme Courty bid, was shot down. Nobody saw that one coming.

    Today's hearings will review the four candidates for the open Ninth Judicial Circuit Court judgeship. One of these candidates is Charleston rap star ... ummmm ... professional boxer ... no, not that either ... oh, yes ... attorney Micheal Dupree. He's that lawyer who has anger management issues and attacks cops. The one we told you about first ... and then the Post and Courier heard about and decided to do a second story on a couple of weeks later.

    We've received information that suggests another candidate for that judgeship has EXTREME conflict of interest issues that should he get the go-ahead, we look forward to revealing here in the Blogland. The kind of shady and sleazy insider politics that will look at least as bad as the recent bar exam scandal.

    If that candidate gets the ok from the Stacked Deck ... uuummm ... Judicial Merit Screening Committee, we look forward to presenting what we know, and then we'll let you decide if it's as rotten as it looked to us.

    Here in the Blogland, we think our readers are smart people - they deserve the truth ... and that's what we plan to give them.

    Stay tuned.

    Academic fruit loops

    In academia, one finds a wide range of divergent opinions, but sometimes, one finds some really out-there stuff, including this article in a recent e-digest of Communication Currents:

    Fighting the Prison-Industrial Complex with Communication Activism

    The United States incarcerates more than 2 million people and monitors another five million persons who are on probation or parole. These numbers represent a ten-fold increase in the prison population over the past 30 years. This historically-unprecedented expansion of the U.S. prison system has taken place with little public conversation and debate. How have Americans come to accept the imprisonment of more than two million as justifiable? How has this happened with so little resistance and discussion?

    PCARE (Prison Communication, Activism, Research, and Education), a group of communication scholars and activists, is committed to fighting against the prison-industrial complex by teaching, writing about, and both supporting and participating in activism regarding America’s crisis with crime, violence, and prison. We believe that the drive to incarcerate millions of Americans is a tragic waste of our national resources. For example, California spends more money on its prison system than on its college and university systems combined. While funding for education declines, the state is building 53,000 new prison and jail beds. As a result of this shifting of resources from education to imprisonment, California has more young black men in prison than in college.

    Pretty far out-there stuff, ain't it? A few thoughts that occurred to me...

    • If we wanted more resistance, then maybe more law-abiding citizens should be fighting back?
    • Last time I looked, we accepted it because it's better their asses be locked up than allowed to roam the streets ... at least for a few months.
    • They "believe that the drive to incarcerate millions of Americans is a tragic waste of our national resources" ... as compared to doing what with them? Reducing waiting periods for executions?

    Anyone else wanna share some thoughts ...

    November 2007: The month in review

    With our big ROCKtober behind us, the month of November was a little quieter than last month. We can attribute that to a lot of things, including several research projects for grad school that needed to be wrapped up, Thanksgiving holidays, and Rick Beltram not saying anything stupid in the last few weeks. However, we expect we'll be hearing from him soon - the guy just can't help himself.

    There were some winners in the Blogland this month: Mike Reino and Brian McCarty, who received their ROCKtober prize packages, Shane Massey, the state's newest Republican Senator, and me, with my research on political television advertisements and Dorchester County voters being accepted for presentation at a major upcoming academic conference.

    To be fair, we found some losers too (and not Rick Beltram). Namely a couple of those hoping to be elected to seats in our state courts - we started taking fire over that one almost as soon as it went online, which is proof people actually read this stuff. Even though they clearly take us far more seriously than we take ourselves. Heck, we can't even get dates most weekends, so that should tell y'all something (NO, we're not Star Trek fans, so don't go there ...).

    Our Inside Interview posting featuring Berkeley County's Kristi Harrington, a deputy solicitor, gave new life to our series looking at state officials as the most-ever commented Blogland posting. It was both the most discussed and second most-read posting of the month. Not bad for a non-political posting. Some of the praise showered upon her by Blogland readers was pretty touching and compelling testimonials, and well worth a read.

    We also took some time out to talk about a couple of major initiatives taking place in Orangeburg County: fighting vandalism and providing tourist information to alien invasion fleets. Yep, only in Orangeburg County.

    Oh yeah, looks like a story we brought you first on judicial nominations took a couple of weeks to make it to the mainstream media types ... either they took the Blogland without due credit, or they were too lazy to cover it when it was fresh news. Yep, we're talking about our friends at Channel 2 and the Post and Courier.

    But as those MSM types will tell you ... us bloggers aren't journalists, are we?

    So ... all venting aside, which postings turned YOU on most this month?

    The most-read postings of November:
    1) Congratulatons to Senator Massey
    2) Inside Interview: Kristi Harrington
    3) The knives come out in Beaufort County
    4) Deep doo-doo in Kershaw County?
    5) What makes Fred Thompson so different?
    6) Slugging through judicial qualifications
    7) Count on who? More on judicial qualifications
    8) Vote for the UFO guy for Mayor of Bowman
    9) Congrats to the Ryberg family
    10) Graduate school survey on CNN & Fox

    The most-discussed postings of November:
    1) Inside Interview: Kristi Harrington
    Slugging through judicial qualifications
    3) Vote for the UFO guy for Mayor of Bowman
    4) Congratulations to Senator Massey
    5) The knives come out in Beaufort County
    What makes Fred Thompson so different?
    7) Happy Thanksgiving to one and all (where's Big Bird?)
    8) Changing news media readership
    9) Is the Internet destroying political discourse?
    10) Breaking news/Cultivation update #4

    Blogland contest: Name your Muhammad

    We at the Blogland are sure that most of you have seen the plight of the British teacher in Sudan whose only thanks for trying to help educate the children of Sudan was jail time, death threats, lynch mobs and expulsion. All because her students wanted to name a pet Muhammad.

    We don't know about you, but we're appalled that a nation could be so destitute, yet so ungrateful, as shown by their conduct over this case.

    That's a sad way to treat people who come to your backwards, tribal society from a modern progressive nation like Great Britain. If it was my decision, I'd order every teacher out of the country as a protest against such ingratitude. I'm sure there are other societies who wouldn't act like such ingrates and would welcome her and other teachers with open arms - and far more respect and tolerance.

    Today, in solidarity with that poor teacher, we're going to invite all of you to play our "Name your Muhammad" contest.

    The rules
    are simple - take something that is important to you (a pet, body part, or some other object) name it Muhammad, then take the name of whatever your object is and insert it in the blank spaces in the following statement:

    This is my (name), who I have named Muhammad. My (name) is the almighty one, before whom many show bow with great reverence. They shall see (name) and give praise and be grateful that they have been chosen for the honor of being able to cast their eyes upon my almighty (name). For while there are many who may seem to be like Muhammad, the truth is that there is none greater than my (name).

    Have fun with it, get creative, and by all means, please share with us what you named Muhammad.

    "It's gonna be one hell of a dogfight"

    In January, look for the Sarah Connor Chronicles to air on the Fox television network.

    Taking up where T2 left off, the series will show Sarah trying to raise her teenage son while on the run from Skynet, who has sent another Terminator on their trail. We'll see where it ends up, but with the producers behind two of the Terminator movies on board, and the preview for the series looking the way it does, it seems like audiences can expect some pretty heavy-duty stuff:

    Count on who? More on judicial qualifications

    Late breaking news from the Lowcountry as News Channel 2's 11 o'clock broadcast discussed what has been old news in the Blogland for over a week - critical assessments by the South Carolna Bar of two Lowcountry judicial candidates: Charleston Magistrate Linda Lombard and attorney Michael DuPree:

    The South Carolina Bar Association says out of 46 South Carolina judicial candidates, Charleston magistrate Linda Lombard is the only one considered unqualified to run for office.

    She was in the running for a seat on the 9th Circuit Court.

    However, after a judicial review committee interview of more than 30 bar members, the opinion was that Lombard lacks the experience and temperment required for position of circuit court judge.

    More proof that if you want late-breaking inside news in this state, don't Count on Two, count on us in new media types to bring it to you, and MSM types to bring it to you after it's safe to stick their necks out or we've done their homework for them.

    Or both.

    This news story focuses upon Lombard's plight, having been the only judicial candidate found not qualified, and only gives passing mention to DuPree, who in spite of a history of attacking police, Bar members citing his volatile temperament and his self-confessed anger management issues ... is somehow still considered qualified.

    Given that the 48 page Bar report was quite lengthy (we read it, so we know), we can understand the need for brevity, which is why each candidate was given a rather modest summary. But in the case of the two candidates of whom they were most criticia: Lombard and DuPree, we believe it would have been best if they would have provided more information to support their concerns.

    In case you haven't read the report, and need help sleeping at night, click here to see it.

    Maybe the whole "right to know" concept is a little radical for them, but in light of the other black eyes our judicial system has taken recently, we believe a little transparency may help provide some much-needed damage control.

    We're disappointed they couldn't do better, and we're also disappointed - once again - with the folks in the MSM for either scooping us without giving us due credit, or taking so long to get around to this story.

    The most important issue of 2008?

    Many of us politicos are working hard to try to understand what is on the minds of voters, as well as how we can best address their concerns.

    The friendly folks at The Onion have this late breaking news on the top issues of the upcoming 2008 election:

    Changing news media readership

    This story from the Public Relations Society of America discusses the changing news-reading habits of American news audiences, showing the continuing shift of audiences from print media to online news sources:

    The New York Times stories reported that “circulation declines of American newspapers continued over the spring and summer, as sales across the industry fell almost 3 percent compared with the year before.”

    These figures were from the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC). A “growing shift of readers to the Internet” was blamed for the drop in circulation.

    The other story was from Reuters, which reported a Harris Poll revealed that four out of five adults in the United States now go online. According to the survey of 2,062 adults, 79 percent, or about 178 million, spend "an average 11 hours a week on the Internet.”

    For those of us who are communicators on the net, these shifts play in our hands, if we're smart enough to see the trends and take full advantage of the opportunities they present.

    Click here to read more ... and as always, your thoughts are welcome.

    Ad Watch: Giuliani TV spots seek to reach beyond 9/11 role

    Three Rudy Guiliani for President TV spots avoid any mention or suggestion of 9/11, instead focusing on his past experience with fiscal, crime, managerial and economic issues, both as Mayor of New York City and as U.S. Attorney General for New York.

    While being the public official most closely associated with 9/11 has helped Giuliani's candidacy greatly, it also becomes the bright light which has worked to obstruct the view of other issues the campaign has been trying to highlight with voters who are looking for more reasons to support the candidate.

    The ads, "Leadership", "Tested" and "Challenges" work to portray the former New York Mayor as a pragmatic, results-oriented leader:

    Kevin DuBrow: Thanks for the rock and roll

    It's a sad day in Headbanger Land with the news breaking that Quiet Riot frontman Kevin Dubrow was found dead at his home in Las Vegas yesterday.

    I got turned on to Quiet Riot back in middle school. They were loud, agressive, and Dubrow was full of attitude. Riding MTV's rock and roll wave, their major label release, Metal Health, sold over six million copies and became one of the most noted metal albums of the 80s.

    The crazy masked and straight-jacketed dude was one of the most-recognized metal mascots, right up there with Iron Maiden's Crazy Eddie and Megadeth's Vic.

    After their second album, the underappreciated Condition Critical, they began to stumble and never seemed to really get their footing again, even as other bands pulled back together and started hitting the roads, albeit to much-smaller audiences than their heyday. When I started getting back out to the concert scene the last 3-4 years, they were one of the few bands I never got to catch up with, and I'm sorry I didn't.

    There are few who did more to make me metal than Kevin Dubrow and the boys from Quiet Riot. There are more than a few of us out there from those days who might've turned out perfectly average and normal, but thanks to Kevin and company, we're all crazee now.

    May his memory be eternal.

    Shirley Hinson: Thank You & Good Luck

    Since Shirley Hinson’s post-Thanksgiving retirement announcement, a number of people in the blogosphere have asked me for my take on things. So, I'll set aside the books, research journals, and academic writing and get it off my chest ...

    My involvement with Shirley goes back quite a while. In 2000, I ran the campaign for her opponent in the GOP run-off. Understandably, she and I were not on good terms for several years afterwards. However, she was gracious and when we were on the same side of an issue, we were able to put first things first and work together. I truly appreciate her willingness to do so.

    There are some issues that surround her 2000 race. Those who wish to continue to dwell upon those old issues should take note that she supported Jimmy Hinson for the school board last year, and he supported her for the Senate this year. If they can move on, then so should everyone else.

    In recent years, her and I were on the same side in a number of efforts and I’ve been grateful for her assistance. This includes my work last fall to oust several members of the Berkeley County school board who had embraced “alternative funding”, and the Lowcountry Graduate Center.

    When she saw an open seat in the Senate as an opportunity to take on a new challenge, she may have been surprised to find me among one of her first and most outspoken supporters, but I was proud to do so. The outcome of that campaign may not have been what she deserved, but I was proud to support her in what has turned out to be her final legislative campaign.

    Shirley’s new role at the Lowcountry Graduate Center offers her a great new opportunity. As I am the Vice-Chair of the Communication Department’s Alumni Council at the College of Charleston, which relies on the LGC/North Campus to host our undergrad Corporate Communication major and Master of the Arts program, I can tell you firsthand she’s been a great partner.

    Shirley’s new role will allow her to be an even greater asset to the LGC, as well as to better serve the needs of the workforce and business community of the Lowcountry. In this new venture, she can again count on my full support, as well as my best wishes and prayers for success.

    Troops: A Star Wars "Cops" parody

    This video is a parody of the Cops show, focusing on what took place at the Skywalker home just before the opening of the first Star Wars moive. Special thanks to our friends at the Heartless Libertarian for digging this up.

    Green Eggs and Ham

    We've received complaints that the Blogland is not providing enough family content these days, and like you, we're really worried about that.

    To respond to those criticisms, we've asked the boys from Ludichrist to perform "Green Eggs and Ham", their retelling of the classic Dr. Seuss kids' tale.

    Happy Thanksgiving to one and all (where's Big Bird?)

    After work stops in Bamberg and Columbia, we'll be heading off for our standard three-day Thanksgiving Exile, to study late, sleep even later, as we work to knock out the last of our papers and get ready for finals. Before we vanish and can't be found until sometime Sunday morning, we'd like to wish you and yours a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving ... yes, even you, Rick Beltram.

    Be sure to enjoy some time off, get stuffed and remember this important information: don't act like a turkey this holiday season - just eat one.

    Studying sounds like a hell of a way to spend the holiday, but it's not like the world is banging on our door or trying to kick it down (at least not until the SWAT team arrives). But on December 6th, at the end of the very last class of grad school - that will be our turn to give thanks to one and all.

    Thanks for tuning in and be sure to have a great Thanksgiving. We'll see y'all in a few days.

    A good example of a bad PR campaign

    Bruce Landis with the Providence (R.I.) Journal brings us an excellent example of a poorly-planned public relations campaign from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, which attempted to hype their recently-completed Interstate 195 relocation project. Their well-intentioned efforts, which aimed to avoid the urban project being associated with the Boston "Big Dig" quagmire, were poorly planned and stumbled in execution, ruining a good opportunity to gain the RIDOT the kind of positive publicity most public agencies would kill for.

    To help, we've highlighted the goofs in bold red italics:

    DOT spends $500,000 to avoid a ‘Little Dig’
    01:00 AM EST on Wednesday, November 14, 2007 by Bruce Landis

    Journal Staff Writer

    PROVIDENCE — Partly to avoid having its biggest construction project maligned, the state Department of Transportation is spending $500,000 on an energetic public-relations campaign to trumpet the $610-million relocation of part of Route 195 and brand it with the name “Iway.”

    The DOT’s campaign had been largely successful, despite massive delays on the stretch’s first evening commute last week — a problem that got progressively better as the week went on.

    The DOT called last month “Iway October” in hopes that the project would open then, but it missed by a few days. For the last two years, the agency has issued a multimedia stream of publicity ranging from an “Iway” logo, with arches like those of the new Providence River Bridge, to decks of cards, numerous media events, a slogan (“Yours. Mine. Ours.”), and even promotional podcasts in two languages.

    The $500,000, most of it from the federal government, comes to almost $95 per foot of new road.

    Why focus a four-year public-relations campaign on attaching a made-up name to a one-mile stretch of highway that’s only a short piece of another, much longer highway?

    Fear that people would start calling it something else, in particular the “Little Dig,” a backhanded reference to the Boston highway project. The “Big Dig” capped a history of cost overruns and delays last year, when a woman died because a poorly built tunnel ceiling fell on her car.

    “We wanted to name it, and not have somebody else name it something less fortunate,” said Dana Alexander Nolfe, the DOT’s chief public affairs officer. She said she had started hearing “Little Dig” before the DOT launched the Iway campaign almost exactly two years ago.

    The contract has cost $186,000 so far, Nolfe said. That includes money spent on numerous efforts other than publicity and “branding” the project, including widely publicized safety information and arrangements for highway closures and detours forced by major construction around and over two interstate highways.

    It’s not clear how vigorously or how skillfully the DOT checked the Internet for other Iways. Lately, Nolfe has been swamped with work getting ready for the road’s opening last Sunday, and the ensuing traffic jams.

    There are some other “Iways” on the Web.

    For instance, there’s the New Delhi, India-based www.iway.com, which claims it has more than 3,300 cyber cafes in more than 150 cities. “Be an iway surfer,” the iway company urges.

    There’s also the book, I-Way Robbery: Crime on the Internet.

    The DOT is proud of its use of podcasts, which are digital media files intended for download to computers and portable media players. The DOT’s include video, music and narration extolling the virtues of the new highway.

    On YouTube, the sprawling video Web site, the DOT’s podcasts are jostling for attention with several using the same name.

    For example, the year-old video “Iway Farm” opens with the message, “Die Iway Die.” That Iway is an ax-swinging warrior who battles in the multiplayer role-playing game Guild Wars. He can deflect arrows and has the peculiar habit of carrying pets into battle. The video that starts with “Die, Iway, Die” ends with the message, “This Has Been An Anti Iway Production.”

    That’s OK, Nolfe said. “We didn’t expect to be the only ones on the planet with an Iway. It’s new to Rhode Island.”

    Responding to the PR campaign, journalists regularly drove up an embankment off Allens Avenue to what must be the most attractive venue for a news conference in Rhode Island — the new Providence River Bridge, with a great view down Providence Harbor. There and in news releases, the DOT has announced things, re-announced them, and sometimes announced its own announcements.

    Take the podcasts, for which the DOT says it has been billed $52,202 so far.

    In mid-September, the DOT announced a “premiere showing” Oct. 1 of a dozen podcasts, which would be released in English and Spanish, promoting the new section of highway.

    On Oct. 1, it announced that the podcasts would be released, four at a time, during the following three weeks. DOT Director Jerome F. Williams was quoted saying, “This is an exciting time for RIDOT.”

    In an otherwise-undated October memo on its Web site, the DOT announced that “RIDOT Enters the Age of New Media,” and explained that podcasts are not “just for 20-somethings.”

    In fact, it said, “Many of our parents and even grandparents own computers and media players.”

    On Oct. 9, the DOT announced that it had “launched a series of 12 bilingual Iway podcasts last week,” and that podcasts numbers three and four were released that day. Williams was quoted saying the podcasts “break new ground for Rhode Island.”

    On Oct. 15, the DOT announced that it had now issued all 12 podcasts, with the last four going out that day.

    The campaign is part of a contract with Duffy & Shanley, the Providence advertising, marketing and public-relations firm whose founding partner, David A. Duffy, has been a political ally of Governor Carcieri. The governor made Duffy head of his transition team in 2002 and later appointed him to the state Convention Center Authority.

    The contract runs through October 2008, with an option to renew for a fifth year. Included in the contract is what the DOT describes as “branding.” In a memo, the agency cast branding in advertising terms, saying it “creates a measure of consumer awareness for a product” and will “positively position the project with the public,” in the process creating a “valuable asset for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.”

    As for “Iway,” the memo said, “The name is simple, clear, and most importantly … memorable.”

    The DOT’s original goal, avoiding the nickname “Little Dig,” has been a smashing success. There are tens of thousands of references to “little dig” on the Web, but most of them are about being snarky, and only a tiny number about construction in Providence.

    The DOT has done even better in the pages of The Providence Journal, with just two references to “Little Dig,” one in February in a real estate section “neighborhood of the week” article about Fox Point, and another one-sentence reference in a column the same month.

    “That’s great,” Nolfe said. “I’ve done my job.”

    On the other hand, using the name “Iway” set the DOT up for something that could be worse. After a few of the miles-long backups triggered by the new highway’s opening, one commuter coined a play on words that fit easily in a newspaper headline: “Iwait.”