Patriot Guard Riders

In recent years, an national association of motorcycle riders has begun standing guard over the funerals of fallen law enforcement officers and soldiers - the Patriot Riders Guard.

This volunteer association was formed as a response to the disgusting incidents of disruptions of military funerals by protestors by motorcycle riders who wanted to pay their respects to the fallen and protect their families, just as those officers and soldiers protected all of us.

The association has the support and involvement of a wide range of local and national motorcycle organziations. They don't ask their participants to hold any political views, just to show respect for the fallen and their families. You'll usually find them lined up near the entrance of the funeral services, standing guard, holding American flags.

Here in the Blogland, these men and women are heroes too.

National Work Zone Safety Week - April 2-6

It's that time of the year again ... yep, National Work Zone Safety Week is next week (April 2-6).

On this blog, that's an important week.

As someone who works for a highway construction general contractor, I'd like to ask all of you to put safety first at all times when driving, but to pay extra attention in those work zones.

While my company has been fortunate to have had zero injuries or fatalities due to work zone incidents, U.S. Group is the exception to the rule in that regard. Having had a couple of near misses myself while on job sites, I know just how risky it is.

Keep in mind that when workers can work safer and therefore with more confidence, they work faster. That means they can open those roads up sooner. So, please help us help you.

There's even a Work Zone Safety coloring book you can download for hours of coloring fun. West and Mike ought to enjoy that.

Florence Republican willing to consider VP slot

Florence County Republican Mike Reino surprised South Carolina political observers when he announced that if asked, he would consider being the GOP Vice-Presidential candidate. He enters a large field of those who have been the subject of Vice-Presidential rumors, including South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

“Who wouldn’t consider this,” he said. “But I’m not sure if I’m interested in the job. There’s a ton of travel, the work hours suck, and if I got elected, I’d be the butt of late-show jokes, just like the last three Vice-Presidents: Dick Cheney, Al Gore, and Dan Quayle. Not only that, but fewer people would want to go hunting with me.”

Moye Graham, Vice-Chairman of the Clarendon County Republican Party, dismissed these rumors: “If it’s this hard to get Mike to come down to Wyboo for free beer, how in the world can he find the time to travel the country, doing hundreds of fundraisers and publicity events?”

This speculation about Reino’s candidacy has reached a feverish pace amid surveys of Republicans indicated that, if asked, most of them would consider the slot. “Not surprising,” said Joe Schmoe, a Washington-based political columnist. “After all, if you ask me to shoot myself, I’d consider it. It doesn’t mean I’d do it, but we tend to think about most things we’re asked to do before we decide if we’re going to do them or not. At least after we graduated from college, stopped smoking pot and dropping LSD, and sobered up a bit so we could get a job.”

Brian McCarty, a Midlands attorney and GOP blogger, agreed with Schmoe: “Think about it - the odds of actually getting asked are about as good as most of us getting the hottest dame in the bar to talk to us. If it happens, great, but let’s face it, it ain’t gonna happen for most of us. But if asked, sure, I'd be willing to consider being number two in the fall of next year, as would most of us.”

Democratic Disunity in Beaufort Senate race?

For whatever reason, someone emailed me this scan of a post card that went out for a campaign fundraiser event for the State Senate campaign of Beaufort Republican State Representative Ceips.

It's no secret that there are many relationships and alliances in the House and Senate that transcend party identification, such as geography, rural areas, and even gender. While the listing of women legislators is likely intended to create the impression that women legislators are lining up solidly behind Ceips, it is interesting to note that as a majority of these legislators listed on this postcard as backing Ceips are Democrats, not fellow Republicans. I'm sure this will leave some on both sides of the party line at least somewhat confused:

  • Confusing for Democrats, who worked hard to recruit a candidate willing to wage uphill campaign in strongly-Republican district, and
  • Confusing for Republicans, to find she has so much support from Democrats.

But for others, it may seem promising. Those Republicans who oppose her will certainly point to this as a reason to question her party loyalty in the primary, and if nominated, pragmatic Republicans would love to have this to trumpet to demoralize what little effort the Democrats can rally behind their nominee.

In any event, an interesting event in what is bound to be a rather interesting Senate race.

News from Afghanistan & Iraq

Mike Burleson brings us thoughtful discussion of news and issues in Afghanistan and Iraq:

... growing cultural, economic and political progress in Afghanistan.

"The Afghan economy is booming at 12 percent growth rate a year. Fourteen billion [dollars] has been spent on aid since 2001. Six TV channels and a hundred free, uncensored publications are available to the people. Literacy is increasing rapidly. The ring road is now two-thirds complete. The 40,000 soldiers of the [Afghan National Army] are growing rapidly in numbers and capability. There are 45,000 NATO and U.S. troops in country. There is a functioning democracy with an elected Parliament, and a serious, dedicated Afghan president in office. Afghanistan can be a strategic victory in the struggle against terrorism. We are now on the right path."

... criticism by the Washington Post of the return of "business as usual" pork barrel politics by the House Democratic leadership to win a close vote on their anti-war budget resolution:

Altogether the House Democratic leadership has come up with more than $20 billion in new spending, much of it wasteful subsidies to agriculture or pork barrel projects aimed at individual members of Congress ... The legislation pays more heed to a handful of peanut farmers than to the 24 million Iraqis who are living through a maelstrom initiated by the United States, the outcome of which could shape the future of the Middle East for decades .... House Democrats are pressing a bill that has the endorsement of but excludes the judgment of the U.S. commanders who would have to execute the retreat the bill mandates.

All good points, and well worth a read. Go check out Mike's blogsite.

Devo to replace JC Hammer, Democrats to "Whip it real good"

Following reports of breakdowns in the Democratic ranks in the House of Representatives with defections among Democratic ranks nearly costing Pelosi her much-sought-after vote against funding the Iraq war effort, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Way out there, dude), announced a major leadership shakeup. In this move, Majority Whip J.C. Hammer (D-Too Legit 2 Quit) was replaced by the new wave band Devo.

In a press release, Devo announced their new agenda for the House Democratic leadership:

When a good time turns around
you must whip it
You will never live it down
unless you whip it
No one gets away
until they whip it

Standing beside the band members, clad in off-yellow colored jumpsuits, Pelosi defended her decision, aruging "if the Democratic majority is devolving, then we must make sure every man, woman, and child knows the full story behind de-evolution." Wearing her new Power Dome, a symbol of her submission to the process of De-Evolution, she outlined the new Democratic caucus agenda:

Are we not men? we are DEVO!
we're pinheads now we are not whole
we're pinheads all jocko homo
are we not men? D-E-V-O
monkey men all in business suit
teachers and critics all dance the poot
are we not men? we are DEVO!
are we not men? D-E-V-O
we must repeat o.k. let's go!

Meanwhile, J.C. Hammer was reported in his office, wielding a whip and wearing an Indiana Jones hat, furiously lashing office furniture and staffers, swearing to regain his lost post.

Queensryche's Building Empires video

Last weekend, when I couldn't take the endless hours of research and writing, I tossed it all aside for a while to watch a movie I'd bought a while back, but hadn't had the time to watch: Queensryche's Building Empires.

Building Empires is built around music videos and concert footage from their Empire album and the tour supporting it, with a lot of extra material and interviews, including a lot of stuff from their early days.

The video does a good job of showing one how far they've come, especially with honest and straightforward discussion from band members about what they viewed as bad learning experiences or just stupid things they'd done.

Very little material from the Mindcrime album and tour is included in this video, leaving it the only part of the band's career up to Empire that wasn't really looked at in this video. This was probably intended to avoid duplicating what was covered in their Operation Livecrime video, as well as to help the band focus on covering new ground that hadn't been presented via music videos or concert attendees.

They also included some footage from their MTV Unplugged performance.

Queensryche was always known for being a deep-thinking band, and this video shows that they're just as willing to examine and critique themselves as the subject material they cover in their music. If you're a Queensryche fan, this video is worth getting, especially if you don't know much about the band's earlier days.

The State scoops Mike Reino?

Hats off to Mike Reino, who got scooped today in an article published in The State, who seem to think that we bloggers really aren't journalists.

... on March 13, Mike Reino's article:Upcoming Iraq Spending Bill: Clyburn's First Big Test as Whip, included the following point:

Up to this vote, the legislation presented by the Democrats have been pretty simple and populist. Clyburn has had a pretty easy time currying up positive results to this point. It all ends here.

... on March 22, The State's article: War-funding vote tests Clyburn’s skills as whip, raised this point:

The expected House vote today on a $124 billion emergency war-spending bill is Rep. Jim Clyburn’s stiffest challenge as majority whip, and the Columbia Democrat worked into the evening Wednesday to corral the 218 votes needed for its passage.

Doesn't this sound familiar ... ? It could be just coincidence, couldn't it ... well ... uuhhhh ... then again, maybe not.

Sherman's back

... and according to the Drunk Pundit, Columbia is gonna pay ...

Union Gen. William Sherman said today that he plans to attack and burn Columbia to the ground, more than 140 years after doing it the first time.

“I took total war to the South in order to punish that region for what it did to our country,” Sherman said at his encampment near the Broad River. “Atlanta learned this lesson well, and without me we never would have experienced ‘crunk,’ ‘Freaknik’ or OutKast’s seminal album ‘Stankonia.’ Unfortunately, the residents of South Carolina never changed.”

Pretty funny posting - go check it out.

The S.C. Higher Education Tour visits Sumter

As promised, the Blogland has started its tour of our state's higher education facilities. We start this tour in Sumter, a town where defense, industry, and agriculture fit together with some really nice country to make a nice place to live and raise a family.

In the middle of this, not too far from the center of town, is the town's techical college - Central Carolina Technical College. Right next door is the USC-Sumter campus. These two schools, both of which offer an Associate Degree as their terminal degree - not only duplicate services, they even share a parking lot.

In the past, efforts to upgrade USC-Sumter to a four-year college have been led by State Senator Phil Leventis, a local endangered species who barely won re-election in 2004, and who hasn't seen sixty percent of the vote since the 80s. These efforts have even been opposed opposed by the President of the USC system.

The effort to strong-arm this was so outrageous that legislation to make it a four-year campus was bobtailed into the 2004 Life Sciences Act, without the support of the USC President or the Commission on Higher Education.

While it may have made some sense to have two-year "feeder" campuses for USC once upon a time, that time has passed. The technical college system has grown and evolved to offer transfer programs (I was one student who did the transfer route), and several of the two-year campuses in or near larger cities have grown into full-fledged four year campuses.

It seems to make more sense to merge those campuses into the two year system, and put those resources to work to improve our technical colleges and allow the USC system to focus on their undergraduate and graduate programs. Unless, of course, politics, turf and job security are your priorities. Then having two public colleges issuing Associate Degrees while sharing a parking lot makes perfect sense.

USC Sumter advocates claim there are more students at USC Sumter than USC Beaufort, which just became a four-year college. But people in and near Beaufort are 80 to 110 miles from a four-year public college, and the area is booming, with tens of thousands of people moving into the area every decade. By contrast, the Sumter region is, for the most part, pretty stagnant, and is about 40 miles away from both USC in Columbia and Francis Marion in Florence. Sumter's need is, at best, questionable, but Beaufort's need was real.

What Sumter needs is a State Senator with a little less ego and a little more concern for the educational needs of his district. If a hundred or so more of his constituents agree in '08 than in '04, maybe they can get one.

Stay tuned for the ongoing saga of the South Carolina Higher Education Tour ...

Microsoft Project anyone?

In my work, I use Microsoft Project, which is a pretty serious project scheduling program. While I've done some pretty complex schedules with it (up to 200 items over a 2 year period duration), I know I've barely nicked the surface of what this stuff can do.

If anyone knows any good resources or personal twists that help them do a better job with Project, feel free to speak up.

Want to see the preview of MS Project 2007?

New direction for Giuliani?

The Chaser links to an interesting article about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to develop his political resume beyond the 9/11 imagery which has served him well, as well as dodge the moderate wolf in sheep's clothing imagery his opponents are seeking to attach to him.

As McCain, once the favorite in this race, flounders and struggles to move beyond the slump in support which followed his long-expired honeymoon phase. While he struggles to get his campaign moving and get back into the race, it appears Rudy may be ready to recover from some recent stumbles and shift into a more active campaign mode. His (and McCain's, for that matter) ability to do so will be crucial to their survival, considering the questions being raised by many Republicans and lack of confidence in the GOP fielding of Presidential candidates.

Sharpton, Obama, and the Capps Family: The intersections of race, heritage, and history

Recently, we’ve come to learn of the sordid histories of slavery in the ancestry of Barack Obama and Al Sharpton.

Sharpton learned of his family ties to the Thurmond family, as his ancestors had been kept in bondage by ancestors of the late Senator Strom Thurmond, once a fiery segregationist, and recently visited Edgefield, South Carolina, land of the Thurmonds, and challenged others descended from slaves to look into their past, believing that “it's good that it comes out so we can deal with it.”

Then we learned that Barack Obama’s mother’s family included ancestors who owned slaves. Considering the large numbers of those kidnapped by African slave traders over the course of several centuries, it is also possible that some of his Kenyan ancestors may have become slaves. So his ancestors may well include both slaves and enslavers.

A couple of years ago, the potential for these histories to cross in our own lives hit home, during a tour of some Clarendon County historical sites with the editor of the county paper. One stop was the Richardson family cemetery, located in the northwest of the county, not too far from Lake Marion. The family buried there included a former Governor of South Carolina and founder of The Citadel. They were some of the first people to settle what became Clarendon and Sumter Counties.

While some may view them as an honorable family of our state, and praise their contributions, I'm sure that the ancestors of my first wife and oldest my daughter, who were held in bondage as the slaves of the Richardson family, might view them differently.

As a white Southerner ... but as also as a parent ... how am I supposed to feel about what I saw? Two years later, I still don’t know.

My daughter and Obama are part of a growing number of Americans whose family histories touch both sides of this sad chapter of our nation’s history. The history of this time is typically viewed in sharply-opposing contexts: either as a time of growth and opportunity, or as a time of great brutality and inhumanity. While those on either side of this debate can present passionate arguments in support of their points-of-view, does either perspective represent the full truth?

The intersections these experiences create should help us to consider that the views of both sides have a degree of validity. They require our willingness to consider their points of view with honesty and candor, as well as regret and forgiveness.

I never thought I’d find myself agreeing with Sharpton, but on this issue, he’s right. The sooner we find the courage to talk honestly about these dark moments of our nation’s history, the better.

Can't keep up with Windows Vista

In the 1980s, the punk band Minor Threat's song "Out of Step" talked about someone who couldn't do most anything he wanted to do:

I Don't smoke
Don't drink
Don't f***
At least I can f*****g think

I can't keep up
Can't keep up
Can't keep up
Out of step with the world

This email from my College's IT admin staff kind of reminds me of their song:

Student Computing Support at the College of Charleston suggests you avoid switching to or purchasing Windows Vista at this time if you use or do any of the following:

· Student Webmail (Edisto): Some Webmail components are not available in Vista.

· Student (SIS) or CougarTrail: Web links may not be visible in your browser.

· CampusWide or ResNet wireless connection: You can experience constant signal loss resulting in lost data because of hardware compatibility issues.

· WebCT: Vista comes with Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) which may not display all of the links and features used with WebCT.

· Older peripherals (e.g. printers, joysticks, keyboards, other USB devices): Software (drivers) needed to operate many older devices are not included in Vista.

· Play games, DVD’s or CD’s: Vista’s enhanced security features may prevent it from playing certain older CD’s and DVD’s or properly installing some games.

So if you get Windows Vista, you may find out that you can't surf the web, can't get an Internet connection, can't play games, and you probably can't listen to music or watch a DVD ... but at least you can f***in' think.

If bloggers are newsmakers, are they journalists?

Today's Blogland trivia question comes to us from Aaron Shenin with The State:

"What is a journalist?"

That's a good question, which he presented to his readers in a recent story in The State:

The growth of Internet sites focusing on government and politics has put Web loggers and self-described “citizen journalists” into positions typically reserved for traditional media practitioners, including reporters and editors working for newspapers, wire services, and television and radio stations.

In state capitols across the country, officials are trying to figure out how to treat the proliferating members of the new media.

In his story, to support the point of view that bloggers, who often present late-breaking SC political news faster than traditional media outlets, aren't really journalists, he quoted Bill Rogers with the S.C. Press Association, who rejected the notion that bloggers could be journalists:

The honoring of credentials is a courtesy offered to traditional media outlets so that the general public, through their reports, can have better access to government meetings, sporting events, police investigation scenes and the like. Anyone can be a blogger, which is fine, but that doesn’t make them a journalist.

Really Mr. Rogers? I didn't know the journalism field was so selective. Granted many of these positions require a formal education, but so does being a teacher in Clinton or Ware Shoals. But it doesn't always guarantee they're any more ethical or professional than any other Joe Blow.

Of course, take note the guy said "traditional media outlets", so if you're not with a news outlet that is printed or broadcast over the airwaves, you can't join his old-tech "Boy's Only Club".

By contrast, the folks at PR News, people who don't make the news, but make a good living dealing with it, have a somewhat different view of bloggers, advising their readers to respect and work with bloggers, portraying them as people just as interested in getting and presenting information as any traditional news media outlet:

Building relationships is important, as well as monitoring your space, even if your client decides not to blog. You must monitor the bloggers who blog about your client, so you can respond in a timely manner to the chatter that's out there. A rumor or critical situation can turn to wildfire very rapidly.

Bloggers are well informed, savvy and opportunistic. (They are) passionate about their topics but also very willing to listen. They have opinions, but they are open to listening to arguments. They won't always agree, but you can start a conversation.

Bloggers want the exclusive as much as The New York Times does. It's good to offer things like that to bloggers, especially ones with a big audience base. Because they are so viral, you need to build good relations with bloggers.

It might benefit the folks at The State to take a few minutes to look at what is going on out there and realize us bloggers aren't a bunch of misfits after all (that label only applies to yours truly).

Giuliani SC campaign - not very motivated?

The recent endorsement of firefighters of the Giuliani campaign by South Carolina fire-fighters raises the question of how much money is being allocated for long-distance calls and gas money for their South Carolina campaign.

A look at their list of endorsees is big on Spartanburg supporters, who are local to the Palladian firm the Giuliani campaign recently hired to oversee their South Carolina campaign effort.

By contrast, the Blogland is aware of calls made to the Giuliani campaign by GOP activists and party leaders in other locations in South Carolina which have yet to be returned, some over two weeks ago.

No doubt these endorsements were intended a re-active response to criticisms by firefighters' union from New York. Perhaps a more active campaign might have moved earlier to line up their support, reinforcing the visual imagery of 9/11 which has done much to boost Giuliani's political stock.

The Palladian firm is probably best-known for its CEO, failed GOP Education Superintendent candidate Karen Floyd. Floyd's race ran into trouble when it fell thousands of votes behind the rest of the 2006 field of GOP statewide candidates in her home county of Spartanburg. Floyd's campaign was criticized for cold-shouldering GOP party events in the fall campaign, in favor of fundrasing opportunities. In spite of their focus on fundraising, a significant cash advantage over Jim Rex, the Democratic nonimee, and year plus head-start over Rex wasn't enough to win at the ballot box.

Given the key role the South Carolina primary holds in the bid for the GOP nomination for President, it's understandable that the Giuliani campaign would want to nail down local talent early. But when their early efforts seem to be focused in the home county of their consulting firm, while other GOP activists elsewhere in the state get left in the cold, one has to wonder if they're really off to a good start in the Palmetto State.

CPAC columns discuss Giuliani, McCain, Romney

Two recent articles discussing CPAC and the leading contenders for the GOP presidential nomination - Giuliani, McCain, and Romney, were deemed worth discussing in this morning's Blogland yak-fest: one in the American Spectator, and a column by George Will (as published in The State).

The American Spectator column mostly focused on the issues of Second Amendment rights and abortion-related issues, criticizing Romney for attacking others about their records and public statements while being less than honest about his own record on both issues:

With his poll numbers still mired in the single digits, it's understandable that Romney is desperate to tear down his opponents, but his campaign should do so with a little more tact, and some modesty about Romney's own flimsy conservative record.
Will's column looked favorably upon Giuliani and McCain on notable conservative political positions ...

On Giuliani:

He favors school choice; he opposes bilingual education that confines students to linguistic ghettos, and he ended the “open admissions” policy that degraded City University, once an effective instrument of upward mobility. The suggestion that 9/11 required city tax increases triggered from Giuliani four adjectives: “dumb, stupid, idiotic and moronic.”
On McCain:

McCain, whose career rating from ACU is 82 (100 being perfect), voted in 2003 against the prescription drug entitlement because of its cost. He is a strong critic of corporate welfare. And since 2003 he has been insisting that the mission in Iraq requires more troops — even more than will be there during the current “surge.”
Both articles gave unflattering assessments on Mitt Romney's conservative credentials:

Some may argue that this is a perfectly valid answer at this point in the campaign. But if Romney, with a public pro-gun control record dating back to 1994, wants to be able to attack an opponent for being anti-gun, he should have the guts to rule out the idea of imposing new federal restrictions on gun owners. (American Spectator)
Romney, however, is criticized by many conservatives for what they consider multiple conversions of convenience — on abortion, stem cell research, gay rights, gun control. But if Romney is now locked into positions that these conservatives like, why do they care so much about whether political calculation or moral epiphany moved him there? (George Will)
With ten months to go before the South Carolina primary, which opens up two months of free-wheeling primaries and caucuses, this race may be the most competitive seen for the GOP nomination. For the Romney campaign, these kinds of criticisms of Romney's record can't be making their jobs any easier.

We'll defintely be staying tuned ...

Corporal Mike Deese: One of the Good Guys

Yesterday afternoon, Dorchester County lost one of its finest when Dorchester County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Deese and his K-9 were killed in a head-on collision with a pickup truck on Interstate 26.

While several other cars were hit by the vehicle, fortunately, none of the other injuries were severe. As the driver of the truck was also killed, we may never know what happened. When I passed by the scene on the way back from Columbia, about 10:30 p.m., I will say it was one of the most amazing collision scenes I've ever witnessed, so it was no small miracle that noone else was seriously hurt.

Four years ago, Deese and his K-9 were hit by gunfire when responding to a domestic call, but both recovered in good health and returned to duty.

Knowing Sheriff Ray Nash, I know today and the next few days will be tough for him and his men. In this time, they deserve the support and the prayers of a grateful community. They'll have mine, and I hope they'll have yours.

May his memory be eternal.

Give 'em enough rope: Classic Clash

Another classic album from the Clash was their "Give 'em enough rope" album.

Their second album, it was released in December 1978, about a year before their famous London Calling album. It showed them moving away from the straight-punk style of their first album, and towards the much more creative style that would be credit for the success of London Calling.

While it remains an often-overlooked album, it's one of my favorites. What are my favorite songs on the album? Safe European Home, Tommy Gun, and Julie's been working for the Drug Squad.

If you're into the Clash, or want to learn more about the roots of punk music, this is a must-have album.

... and now, the You Tube video of a concert performance of Safe European Home:

Time for some office fun

Wanna have some fun while at work? Staples has a neat contest and statement generator, where you can put some words in, hit the button and see what kind of statement it generates.

Here is what I came up with:

I'm God, and I am an office manager. Although this is my official title, it's more accurate to say that I'm stupid. A day in my work life is like a day in/at Disneyland because I'm always working smoking crack.

The most unusual thing I've ever had to as an office manager is pretend I care. The office product that best represent what I do is the plunger because it is hard to break.

The best part of my day is when I can start drinking at my desk and throwing stuff out the window at passers-by when everyone else goes to lunch.

Come to think of it, I think I sound a little bit like Sic Willie.

By the way, my office is on the ground level and my windows can't open, so that posting is not true.

Richard Chalk - a Representative and Senator in TWO states?

In North Carolina, Richard Chalk served as a state Representative and Senator from the Triad area of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point. After moving to Beaufort County, he won a seat in the state House, and just announced his intentions to seek the Beaufort County Senate seat that was recently vacated by Scott Richardson.

While there are plenty who have have served in both legislative chambers in this state and others, how many have done it in TWO states?

To say the least, this will be interesting to watch, due to its historical novelty. As Richard, a Midlands native, is a pretty good guy, he has the best wishes of the Blogland in his Senate bid.

Rudy's "Party of Freedom"

Kathryn Lopez of the National Review shares a fundraising letter from Rudy Giuliani, in which he outlines his (much-needed) vision of a "Party of Freedom":

My hero Ronald Reagan once said, "The future belongs to the free." This statement captures what so many Americans admired about President Reagan — his optimistic leadership, his belief in building a better future, and his continued focus on freedom ...

I believe that the Republican Party is "The Party of Freedom." At our best, we believe in giving people more control over their own lives. This principle runs through the policies that unite us as a party: keeping taxes low and cutting the size of government, finding market solutions to generational challenges such as entitlement reform, and increasing opportunity through education reforms like school choice ...

When I look to the future, I see a country where citizens are confident that our nation is in control of its destiny. I see a country where citizens feel they have a right to live in freedom from fear. I see a country where citizens believe we will hand our nation to the next generation better than it was handed to us. Because people who live in freedom have much more strength than people who live in oppression.

That is the story of the Old Testament. That is the story of the Second World War. And that will be the history our generation writes when we win the War on Terror.
Amen, brother. Amen.

The party that lost its way - and its Congressional majority - could use this kind of vision right about now ...

Me in the National Journal

I got a very favorable write-up/bio in the National Journal on Saturday.

Oh, I think Algore is going to summon the forces of nature to put a hurtin' on Sic Willie. Ya'll say a prayer for the guy.

That's all the news for now. Ya'll get out there and make it a great Monday!

February 2007, the month in review

Ok, time to take a look back at what turned ya'll on - or pissed ya'll off - here in the Blogland during the month of February. In the month of love, the topics covered quite a bit of ground, from love to hate, with heartbreakers, neo-nazis, highway construction projects, First Aid training and even my birthday.

Here are the postings which got you, my readers, talking this month:

Getting ready for Valentine's Day?
Happy Birthday to me
U.S. 321 highway widening event recap
2/9: Neo-nazis attack S.C. blogger
The McCarty-Wilson debate: Racism in our society and political culture
2/14: Mike Campbell endorses ... ah, who really cares?
2/15: Ron Wilson to face racism allegations

Thanks for staying tuned in to what's going on in the Blogland and for sharing your thoughts. Be sure to keep coming back for more good chatter - it's only as good as you make it!

What do straw polls prove (Rick Beltram is a blow-hard)?

... very darn little.

Last night's straw poll in Spartanburg shot down some expectations and presented some surprises. Giuliani led the pack and McCain came in third, consistent with what most people would expect, given their status as national front-runners, but Duncan Hunter's second place finish had to be a surprise for everyone.

But for Romney's people, who have made an intensive effort to recruit support across the state, and Huckabee, who attempted to make a big splash with the endorsements of Iris and Mike Campbell, I'm sure it was disappointing to come in near the back of the pack.

This is contrasted against Aiken County's straw poll back in January, where the top three were Romney, Tancredo, and Gingrich.

What do we learn from this? Don't bet on any outcome in a straw poll this early out that is going to be relatively consistent with scientific polling (this early out, don't count on that polling too much either).

What it also proves is that Rick Beltram can't keep his stories straight.

A few weeks ago, the blowhard said
"We anticipate to have about 2000 voters that night", and then took offense when I challenged his assertion.

Last night he told the media "he expected fewer than 2,000 people to vote". It looks like his turnout, with 81 of 91 precincts counted was somewhere between 600 and 700, down from the over 1000 he claimed turned out in 2003.

Needless to say, seeing him lying to cover his tail provided a much-needed morning chuckle. Maybe he thinks he can fool all the people all the time, but this time, he didn't fool everyone.

Well, Rick, which is it?

Black Sabbath and Megadeth news

Two big developments early this year in the metal music scene:

Ronnie James Dio and Black Sabbath, minus Ozzy, are touring as "Heaven and Hell", recreating the band's line-up when Ronnie James Dio replaced Ozzy Ozbourne in the late 1970s. They're touring with Megadeth on most of these dates and in March, will do their first leg of the tour, across Canada and ending up in NYC on March 30. More dates will be announced soon, presumably farther south at some point.

Megadeth will be releasing their United Abominations album on May 15, their first album since The System has Failed in 2004. I'm sure this will make a big splash during their tour. Gears of War has already been plugged as an early cut from the album, and here's a link to the YouTube copy of their concert performance of the song from last year's Gigantour:

... stay tuned for a review of their new album shortly after it hits the stores in May!