Subsidizing oil addiction?

Edmund Andrews in yesterday's Washington Times reports on a plan to subsidize American's continued dependence upon fossil fuels:

Even as Congressional leaders draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gases linked to global warming, a powerful roster of Democrats and Republicans is pushing to subsidize coal as the king of alternative fuels.

Prodded by intense lobbying from the coal industry, lawmakers from coal states are proposing that taxpayers guarantee billions of dollars in construction loans for coal-to-liquid production plants, guarantee minimum prices for the new fuel, and guarantee big government purchases for the next 25 years.

How much pork do they plan to offer up to keep us headed down the same ol' road?

Among the proposed inducements winding through House and Senate committees: loan guarantees for six to 10 major coal-to-liquid plants, each likely to cost at least $3 billion; a tax credit of 51 cents for every gallon of coal-based fuel sold through 2020; automatic subsidies if oil prices drop below $40 a barrel; and permission for the Air Force to sign 25-year contracts for almost a billion gallons a year of coal-based jet fuel.

According to the story, key supporters of this effort include:
  • Representative Nick V. Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee
  • Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat
  • Senator Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat,
  • Senators Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Larry Craig of Wyoming, both Republicans.
  • Former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, who has been hired to lobby for the initiative.
Some may remember the boondoggle known as the Synthetic Fuels Corporation back in the 1980s. When it failed to create markets to make alternative fuels commercially viable, it was shuttered by the federal government in 1985. Likewise, this approach has been questioned from studies done by MIT and the U.S. Energy Department:

“At best, you’re going to tread water on the carbon issue, and you’re probably going to do worse,” said Howard Herzog, a principal research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-author of “The Future of Coal,” a voluminous study published in March by M.I.T. “It goes against the whole grain of reducing carbon.”

The M.I.T. team expressed even more skepticism about the economic risks. It estimated that it would cost $70 billion to build enough plants to replace 10 percent of American gasoline consumption.

The study estimates that the construction costs for coal-to-liquid plants are almost four times higher than the costs for comparable petroleum refineries, and it argues that cost estimates for synthetic fuel plants in the past turned out to be “wildly optimistic.”

In a new report last week, the Energy Department estimated that a plant capable of making 50,000 barrels of liquefied coal a day — a tiny fraction of the nearly 9 million barrels in gasoline burned daily in the United States — would cost $4.5 billion.

There's a lot to suggest this proposal offers no real solutions to the greater problems we face with regard to our oil supplies, as well as environmental concerns. It the end the only guarantee we're getting from this raw deal is that one way or another, we'll continue paying for our oil addiction.

This is one proposal we can't afford.

Giuliani tackles tough issues

Those who say that a fuller measure of Rudy Giuliani's record should be considered during the course of his candidacy for President, and we at the Blogland couldn't agree more. To help better educate our readers about 's record as Mayor of New York City, here are two videos which outline Rudy's efforts to tackle two major issues in New York City ...

Graffitti sucks:

Cracking down on Ferrets:

Media crackdown in Venezuela

A day after Memorial Day comes photos from Venezuela that remind us of one of the reasons why the United States IS a better nation than others.
Apparently, not everyone in Chavez' Venezuela was too happy with the takeover of RCTV. Word is that other major news media outlets that don't toe the government line will be next, including Globovision.

Obviously, these words would mean little to Chavez:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, andto petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Remember this next time you pull up at a station that sells Citgo gas (Citgo is owned by the Chavez regime).

Since most gas stations make pennies on the gallon from gas sales, and rely on inside merchandise sales to make their money, they'll lose very little if you buy your gas elsewhere. I shop the inside of the local Citgo retailer several times a week, usually for 32 ounce fountain Pepsis.

Special thanks to Publius Pundit for the photo links.

Certified South Carolina: The best food in the world

Hugh Weathers and our friends over at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (the dude with the really cool cow TV spots) has a new advocacy campaign for South Carolina agriculture - Certified South Carolina.

In the wake of the really bad weather earlier in the spring which dealt a heavy blow to our state's peach crop, this sort of campaign couldn't have come a better time.

When I talked to Commissioner Weathers at the MCASC event a couple of weeks ago, he had told me this campaign was getting ready to start and asked me to check it out. It looks like a good effort that has great potential - it certainly deserves our support.

Don't forget, when it comes to good eatin', there's nothing finer than grown in South Carolina:

The Certified South Carolina program is a new, exciting cooperative effort among producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA) to brand and promote South Carolina products. Our goal is for consumers to be able to easily identify, find and buy South Carolina products.

Public interest and perceptions, image and awareness, distribution, legislation, regulations all have an impact on the sustainability and growth of agribusiness. In order to tackle these issues, overcome obstacles and keep agriculture profitable, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture in cooperation with public and private partners has implemented the Certified South Carolina program.

Certified South Carolina is a call to action for South Carolina citizens as we ask you to Buy South Carolina because Nothing's Fresher. Nothing's Finer.

Starting now, farmers and processors from across the state are invited to be a part of this unique, industry-wide marketing and branding effort of the SCDA.

... and in case y'all missed last year's campaign TV spot
with Hugh, his dairy farm, and all the cows, here it is:

Lexington County program to reduce dropped CDV charges?

The Lexington County Sheriff's office is launching a program to use detectives to keep those accused of domestic violence from attempting to sweet talk their accusers out of dropping charges:

Some men just won’t stop beating women, and Lexington County is trying to block the blows in a novel way.

The Sheriff’s Department has a $1 million plan to hire specialized detectives to combat accused batterers who figure no one can stop them from intimidating or sweet-talking their partners to avoid prosecution.

It would be an innovative, expensive plan that no other police agency in South Carolina has, law enforcement agencies and victim rights advocates said.

Prosecutors hope it helps them convict more batterers when victims are reluctant to cooperate, like the Sheriff’s Department said has happened in 80 percent of its cases since mid-2005.
- The State, 5/27/2007

It's no small secret that some use this process, via bogus CDV charges, to wear down an adverse party during a divorce fight, but in those cases, the accused aren't following their ex-people around, trying to convince them to drop the charges or get them to come back - they usually WANT their accusers to go away.

The ones who are trying to harass the accusers into dropping charges are those who have no defense and therefore will do anything to get charges dropped and continue their abusive and predatory behavior.

Let's hope this program bears fruit.

S.C. Higher Education Tour: USC duplicates Technical college services?

The purpose of the Higher Education Tour is to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of higher education facilities in South Carolina, to promote discussion of how we can streamline the overall system and offer a broader range of overall education opportunities to all South Carolinians, which can help improve the incomes and quality of lives of individuals as well as help attract better economic development prospects in our communities.

As an aside to the tour, Wednesday's edition of The State discusses how the USC system is working to streamline the transfer process from those who start college in the technical college system. This begs the question of why USC needs to hold onto its two-year feeder campuses, duplicating courses and degrees which are offered by our state's excellent technical college system?

USC aims to boost transfers from Greenville Technical College from last fall’s 31 students to hundreds with a Bridge program university officials say will ensure a Greenville Tech student a seamless admission to the Columbia campus after one year of successful academic work.

USC president Andrew Sorensen said Tuesday he envisions a parallel academic experience between students who sign up for the Bridge program and those who begin their college lives on the Columbia campus.

If the USC people have an answer to why South Carolina needs to continue to have two duplicating junior college systems, as always, the Blogland is ready, willing, and eager to hear from them.

Judicial Elections in South Carolina - Can we do better?

Tonight, Justice Don Beatty deserves to be congratulated for his election to the South Carolina Supreme Court. For him, his family, his friends and supporters, it is a moment of pride and accomplishment, and a rare honor for which he hopefully is well suited.

Behind the honor and prestige that will come with his seating in our state’s highest court is a wreckage-strewn battleground, instead of a dignified and deliberate debate. Television ads, media releases and internet campaigns weighed in, lobbing all sorts of accusations – this candidate was a liberal, that candidate’s supporters were driven by racism, backroom deals were being made by legislators, and so on, and so on.

Having the legislature fill judicial slots was intended to allow for thoughtful consideration of candidates, as well as to help avoid the sorts of vicious attack-driven political combat that have been seen in some states with judicial elections. While we’ve seen a degree of contentiousness in some judicial elections, nothing could have prepared anyone for what just took place.

With Pandora’s Box opened, we can expect more brawling of this kind to take place when other key judicial vacancies occur unless major changes are made. Now is the time to make those changes, while the memories of what just transpired are fresh on everyone's minds.

South Carolina has long believed that our courts would not benefit by allowing judicial and legal “insiders” to control how judges are selected. This is an indispensible central principle that we should protect. However, the sorts of political free-for-alls that just took place cannot be allowed to become commonplace, or another elite - political special interest groups - will exercise undue influence upon our courts and legal community.

What’s the answer? Frankly, I don’t think anyone knows. But the last two weeks should give us a pretty good idea of what we don’t want to see happen again.

My Experience with Judge Kaye Hearn

The race to fill the Supreme Court slot has been like no other that we've seen, especially with the amount of venom directed at Don Beatty. I could join the circus, and given the subject material on my blog, it probably wouldn't surprise anyone if I did.But I'm not going to do that.

Instead of making charges of a political and somewhat sterile nature, allow me to share with you a personal experience, not an opinion, of Kaye Hearn, one of the candidates:

In 1995, I was a single parent, finally moving forward with my divorce and custody fight for my oldest daughter. It had been quite a circus up to that point, but every judge had ruled in favor of my keeping custody of my oldest daughter.

Then one afternoon, my ex-wife and I were in front of Kaye Hearn, then a Family Court judge. While she ruled in favor of my keeping custody ... she wouldn't order child support.

Yes, you heard that right: Judge Kaye Hearn did not order child support by my ex-wife, the non-custodial parent, to me, the custodial parent.

Does anyone suspect gender bias?

If the roles had been reversed, and I was the non-custodial parent, do any of you think I would have gotten off the hook for child support?

It was the last hearing where she was present, and she never showed up for the final hearing. Therefore, we never got another chance to have her ordered to pay. As a result, I've never seen a penny of child support, and believe me, there are a lot of times that little bit of extra money would have helped out.

I guess that wasn't on Judge Hearn's mind that day, but you can bet it's been on mine ever since.

If you're a legislator casting a vote to fill this judicial slot tomorrow, or know someone who is, I hope this thought will be on yours as well.

Rex gets it - PACT test on the way out?

A few months ago on this blog, I singled out the PACT test as a problem in South Carolina public education:

A year or so ago, I took my GRE exam - a two-hour exam which was my last obstacle to be an official graduate student (I had gotten in on a waiver since the program was new). It took me two hours and I got my scores on the spot (I even passed it, believe it or not). Many other similar tests are administered and scored via computer. If it's done for those seeking professional certifications and entry into graduate programs, then I have two questions:

  • So why does the PACT test have to be done the way it is?
  • Who stands to benefit/profit from the way it is presently being done?

The answers to these questions will likely tell us a lot about why they won't modernize the state's assessment tests.

About five years ago, when a friend of mine who was then on the State Board of Education was one of those who tried to stop local school districts from continuing to creep their start dates back to early August. Why the need for a change? They need more time to teach the PACT test ... to get the desired scores ... to rig the system.

- A Game of PACT Scam? (2/23/2007)

We won't claim credit for the idea, but it looks like State Superintendent Jim Rex is now sharing our position on the PACT test and agrees that it's time for this cumbersome and ineffective boondoggle to hit the road:

Students in South Carolina will no longer take the Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test if the state education superintendent gets his way.

On Thursday, Superintendent Jim Rex proposed sweeping reform to the state testing system. His plan is to replace the standardized test for third- through eighth-graders with a new accountability test that would consume less time at the end of the school year and to devote more time to diagnostic tests.

Rex hopes to bring the plan to the state Education Oversight Committee and the General Assembly for approval in 2008.

Students could begin taking the new test in spring 2009.

-Myrtle Beach Sun News (5/18/2007)

We couldn't agree more.

It is past time we sought to better identify the accomplishments and needs of South Carolina school children, instead of guarantees employment for over-paid consultants. Our children should come first, and in this area, we're glad Rex is on board.

SC GOP convention report, part 2

Again, it was a great time yesterday at the S.C. GOP convention. Due to the lack of hotly contested party races, there really wasn't much to do for a hack like me except to float around the place, meeting some of my fans, including Slick Rick, and talking with people with some of the presidential campaigns.

However, even though there was no free beer or good hard rock being played anywhere at the event, I still found some interesting and entertaining moments:

  • A modest amount of booing when Lindsey Graham argued in favor of compromising on immigration reform, cautioning "anything is better than the current system". A position with which I agree - anything is progress.

    While we're talking about the rampant Hispanic-bashing, I'd love for anyone to show me when Hispanics were caught plotting with Al Queda.

  • The over-the-top speech from (1-900) Van Hipp on behalf of Duncan Hunter, Congressman from California and Congressional candidate. As some remember, Hipp was the religious right's favorite candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat in 1994, only to lose to Mark Sanford in the GOP runoff. I was seriously expecting the guy's bombast to lead to him waving his fingers, shaking his face and proclaiming "I am not a crook".

    With his 1997 conviction for getting illegal campaign contributions via an elaborate phone sex credit card scam, one would think the Hunter people could find someone more credible to speak on his behalf (hint - don't invite me, I would do no better).

  • Thomas Ravenel being cut off in the middle of his endorsement speech for Giuliani when he ran out of time. Whoops!

  • The priceless look I got from Rick Beltram when, after I said hello to my friends in the Spartanburg delegation, I turned to him to say "Hey Rick, how ya doin'?"

    I think he wanted to deck me. Being just rows from the front of the stage, it would have given everyone a real floor brawl at a convention that otherwise didn't have one.

  • Last, but not least, getting the four Sanford boys to autograph the book they did about the Statehouse. My little one will love it.

It was also a good chance to meet and talk with some of my readers, and I really appreciate hearing from you all.

Senator Ceips was most gracious, in the wake of her recent win, not to mention Moye ... Ryan ... Wes ... Trey ... Bobby ... June ... Hugh ... Mark ... Thomas ... Mary ... Chuck ... Arthur ... Rod Jr. ... Katherine ... Bill ... Mary ... Annette ... Steve ... LaDonna ... Tim ... Elizabeth ... and of course RICK B ... and so many others that took a few minutes to say hello and let me know what you thought about my work, and your ideas for how I can make it better.

I look forward to seeing all of you again out there - but don't forget to take a few minutes to say hello and share your thoughts out here in the Blogland.

SC GOP convention report

There are more details to come as today's SCGOP convention is taking its own sweet time today. However, in our first report, let us tip our hat to Rick Beltram.

In a rather surprising note, we found out that Mr. Beltram, the GOP chairman for Spartanburg County, is a great big fan of the Blogland. So much so that I when visiting my friends from the Spartanburg County delegation, I had to say hello to Mr. Beltram. I guess I must have caught him by surprise, seeing as how he couldn't find words to express his love of our work ... or take a shot at me.

Even he had, it would've been alright. Every convention needs a brawl on the floor, and believe me, this one could have used some excitement.

According to reports, he can't get enough of reading every word and punctuation mark on the Blogland, and we really appreciate him taking the time to think of us.

Stay tuned for all sorts of interesting convention news that I'll be sharing a little later this weekend, including the return of 1-900-Van-Hipp, thanks to some of our fans who we heard from today, and Lindsey Graham's cheering section ...

Pat Benatar keeps it coming with “Precious Time” and "Get Nervous"

By 1981, the growing use of music videos had given many up-and-coming artists, including a new generation of guitar-powered hard rock acts such as Benatar, much-needed exposure, helping them compete with longer-established acts who by-and-large overlooked the new promotional media. When MTV debuted in the fall of that year, and quickly spread from just thousands households in New Jersey to millions nationwide in just months, Benatar’s videos were in high rotation on the new channel, adding to the strong following she’d already built from radio play and relentless touring that accompanied her first two albums.

As MTV burst upon the music scene, the music industry was turned inside-out by many new artists who used the publicity afforded by video media to topple more-established acts from the charts. Benatar would be one of those music video “revolutionaries” who made the most of the opportunity. Thanks in part to MTV, her fans and album sales booming as fast as you could say “I want my MTV", and a number of top-ten hits would come from “Precious Time”, her 1981 release, and "Get Nervous", her 1982 release.

Precious Time, 1981

Benatar's "Precious Time" album, her third release, is another really good recent hard rocking addition to my CD collection. Well received by the rapidly-growing audiences drawn by the booming MTV channel (where they used to play nothing by music on your TV) and back by lots of hard touring, it was another great hard rocking album for Benatar.

While there's a lot of good stuff, like everyone else, I've got my favorites, including the title track, Promises in the Dark and Fire and Ice. It's a great album, so go get it.

Get Nervous, 1982

Her Get Nervous album is, in my humble opinion, her best album ever. "Get Nervous" is a straight-forward hard rockin’ album, driven by a one-two punch of Benetar’s street-tough attitude and strong vocals combined with the tight guitar work of her husband, Neil Gerardi. Even the one ballad on the album is given a rock hard edge with Gerardi’s guitar work.

Favorite songs on the album? The title track is my favorite, but there are three other strong cuts which stand out in their own right, including the title track, Shadows of the Night, and Looking for a Stranger. But this album is chock full o’ the hard rocking tracks which made her one of the queens of rock radio in the early 80s.

Here are some YouTube-hosted videos of songs from these albums:

Anxiety (Get Nervous)

Fire and Ice

Investigating the Orangeburg Massacre

Representative David Weeks of Sumter has a bill in the House to call for a formal investigation of the Orangeburg Massacre. While this incident is by no means the only atrocity of our state's past, the fact that this incident involved public officials at the state level, via State Troopers, calls for a fuller understanding of what happened, and why:

Rep. David Weeks, D-Sumter, has filed a bill to open a review of the shootings - known as the Orangeburg Massacre in which three people were killed at the predominantly black South Carolina State University in 1968.

Weeks' bill won't get very far with less than a month left on this year's legislative calendar, but it can carry over to the next session, which starts in January. In February, the state will mark the 40th anniversary of the event that Weeks says still causes "hard feelings" among some black South Carolinians.

"There are still a lot of questions - a certain mystery about what happened," he said. "We may not like what (an investigation) finds, but perhaps we can bring some closure to this."

The shame of it is that only one white legislator and one Republican, Jim Harrison of Richland County, put his name on the bill. He should not have been the only one.

It's not the first time that the Blogland has said something nice about Mr. Weeks, so he's on his way to becoming one of the Blogland's favorite Democrats.

While time in this session is short, I hope we'll see Weeks' bill back next year, with more support. The truth may not be pretty, but it's past time for us to get to it, and move beyond it.

Congratulations to Senator Ceips

A close State Senate race in Beaufort County is essentially over with the victory of State Representative Catherine Ceips in yesterday's GOP runoff. Ceips won 53% of the vote, coming from a close second place finish in the primary two weeks ago. While she still faces opposition in the special general election, given this district's voting trends, the Republican nominee should be the landslide winner.

We kind of like Ceips, since she helped present my company a public service award from the local business and community association on a past highway project on Ladys Island, which is in the heart of the district. In the photo, she's standing with Greg Cook, my boss.

It is certainly interesting timing that in the middle of the Blogland's tribute campaign to one of the best female rockers, Pat Benatar, who challenged the "boys club" of rock music, the voters of Beaufort County are sending a female to join the "boys club" of the Senate.

We at the Blogland would like to congratulate the next Senator from Beaufort County, the Honorable Catherine Ceips, and wish her best of luck in her new job.

Fact checking in the Beaufort Senate Race

A well-deserved pat on the back has been earned by Ginny Skalski and the Island Packet newspaper for their efforts to present factual analysis of the claims made by campaigns for Tuesday's GOP Senate run-off in Beaufort County.

While a candidate comparison/interview story was constructive and enlightening, fact checking of a number of claims made by both candidates provided something that media at the local level has been hesitant to provide, but greatly needed. Facts and issues relevant to local and legislative campaigns are often distorted, and fact-checking helps ensure that when made, false claims will be closely scrutinized.

For years, local media has often taken the position that their job is to simply report what is presented to them. However, when they end up helping carry water for negative campaign efforts by simply reporting those claims unchallenged, their credibility is damaged and they can be accused of having an agenda to support a particular candidate. Fact checking provides a higher level of critical analysis which protects the credibility of media outlets, but even more importantly, it holds candidates accountable for what they say and do, as well as tries to provide more useful information with which voters can make informed decisions when voting.

Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come by media in this area, and Skalski and the Island Pack deserve a pat on the back for starting this effort in the Lowcountry. Let's hope other local media outlets aspire to this higher standard.

The proper spelling of "Y'all"?

JMC, who I discovered I went to middle and high school with, over at Four Weddings and a Funeral (the newest addition to my blogroll), talks about something very important to those of us who are from down South who pride ourselves on being literate: the correct way to spell "y'all":

Hey, y'all. Please note where I placed my apostrophe in the word "y'all."

After the "y" and before the "all." There is no apostrophe between the "a" and the "ll." As a southerner, it is one of my pet peeves to see this southern colloquialism mis-punctuated. If you are guilty of doing so, don't feel badly, you are not alone. In fact, I often think that I am the only one on the planet who punctuates it correctly. I have seen "ya'll" in novels by famous authors and in big bold type in advertisements. It seems that, while wrong, it is the most often used spelling of the word. When I see it punctuated correctly, I do a double-take. It is that bad.

Ok, everyone, listen to the lady and do what she says. Anyone tough enough to have four kids is tough enough to kick your butts and mine. She says I've got more than a few misspellings of the word ... and I probably do ... that need correcting. This from a Lowcountry native who moved to Pennsylvania where she's probably the only one in her neighborhood who uses the word, correctly or not. Geezzzzz ...

Go read the rest of her posting on the subject ...

Happy Mothers' Day

A very important Mothers' Day message from the Blogland:

A very good idea on a day like this is to take a moment to call your mother, or a special mother in your life, and wish her a happy Mother's Day.

Not missing an occasion like this is highly recommended by experts in the Blogland.

Don't hestitate, don't delay ... we really recommend you swallow a little pride and do it.

Extra attention, housework, breakfast in bed ... all good ideas. But most importanly, don't forget to say ...

"I Love You"

The Origins of Mother's Day

As we count down the days to Mother's Day (and you'd better be keeping up with the date too ...), here is some neat background information about Mother's Day from Mother's Day Central:

The majority of countries that celebrate Mother’s Day do so on the second Sunday of May. On this day, it is common for Mothers to be lavished with presents and special attention from their families, friends and loved ones. But it hasn’t always been this way.

Only recently dubbed “Mother’s Day,” the highly traditional practice of honoring of Motherhood is rooted in antiquity, and past rites typically had strong symbolic and spiritual overtones; societies tended to celebrate Goddesses and symbols rather than actual Mothers. In fact, the personal, human touch to Mother’s Day is a relatively new phenomenon. The maternal objects of adoration ranged from mythological female deities to the Christian Church itself. Only in the past few centuries did celebrations of Motherhood develop a decidedly human focus.

There is a lot more reading on this page about the holiday, so click here and keep on reading.

Also, a chart shows the breakdown of spending for the holiday:

Pat Benatar breaks out with “In the heat of the night” and “Crimes of Passion”

In this review, I’ll discuss my thoughts about Pat Benatar’s first two albums: “In the heat of the night”, released in 1979, and “Crimes of Passion”, which was released in 1980. These two albums started her rise to rock stardom, and several of the tracks were chart-toppers that quickly made her one of the queens of rock music.

In the Heat of the Night, 1979

In 1979, as the rock music began its recovery from the disco era, a number of new rock performers began breaking out, featuring loud vocals and hard-edged guitar work that set them apart from the “AM Gold” easy listening and disco music that had dominated the music scene for a number of years. One of those making her break-out that year was Pat Benatar, with her debut album “In the Heat of the Night”, a hard-rocking piece that jump-started her career, and was the first of four albums that would she would record over the next four years.

The album may not have been her best, in my opinion, but it was pretty darn good, and gave the world a good taste of what was to come. It ended up going platinum (a rare accomplishment for debut albums back then) and the opening track, Heartbreaker, a fast paced song where Pat’s tough attitude and vocal range and Geraldo’s blistering guitar work introduced fans of what was to come and has endured as one of her best-known hits.

Crimes of Passion, 1980

Write text here ...

Here are some videos hosted on YouTube if you want to check her out ...

You Better Run


Hit me with your best shot

Iraq update

If the media can bring us graphic images of civilian and military casualties and the latest speeches by opposition Democrats, it ought to at least be fair and present some alternative views. Since they won't, here are some alternative views, courtesy of Mike over at New Wars:

Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister asks "Don't Abandon Us":

Last weekend a traffic jam several miles long snaked out of the Mansour district in western Baghdad. The delay stemmed not from a car bomb closing the road but from a queue to enter the city's central amusement park. The line became so long some families left their cars and walked to enjoy picnics, fairground rides and soccer, the Iraqi national obsession.

Across the city, restaurants are slowly filling and shops are reopening. The streets are busy. Iraqis are not cowering indoors. The appalling death tolls from suicide attacks are often high because of crowding at markets. These days you are as likely to hear complaints about traffic congestion as about the security situation. Across Baghdad there is a cacophony of sirens from ambulances, firefighters and police providing public services. You cannot even escape the curse of traffic wardens ticketing illegally parked cars.

Tonight, the lights are back on in Ramadi.

One year ago, in a report that received national attention, the Administration, Pentagon, and Coalition General Staff had unofficially declared Al Anbar Province and Ramadi to be “lost.” Incidents in Ramadi, Fallujah, and Al-Qaim were measured in how many per hour. Stories of fighting in Ramadi’s “Snake Pit,” or the tragic August 2005 report of fifteen Marine reservists of Lima Company, 3/25, killed in Haditha splashed across the news each night. This was the Sunni and Al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgency at its worst.

But Ramadi is a far different town than when I visited in October 2006 and Jan-Feb 2007. And it’s decidedly different than a year ago.

Sheik Sattar al-Rishawi: We are proving that AQI can be defeated by joint Marine and Iraqi efforts.

We [the Sunnis] want to participate in the national government. We are an important part of this land, and we need to be heard. We are talking to our brothers in Fallujah, Taji, Zorba, and northeast Baghdad.

General Zilmer [the former commanding general in al-Anbar] was my friend. General Gaskin is my friend. We want the Marines to stay.

There is much to do here, but to write this nation off now, and to leave these people who are fighting for their country to fend for themselves, contrary to the opinions of on-the-ground military commanders (not the politicians on either side of the debate back home), would be a grave mistake.

South Carolina blogger becomes Ukrainian ladies' man

Single bloggers follow the Ukranian vacation of fellow Palmetto State blogger Mike Reino with great envy.

Reports were that the public disorder rivaled the early 1990s concert stops by Guns 'n Roses, with Reino being arrested twelve times for drunk and disorderly, including by threating to "re-start and re-finish the Cold War when I dig up all those commie bastards and singlehandedly kick their asses back into their graves.", as well as mobs of crazed, scantily-clad teenaged females attempting to smash down the front door of the hotel where he was staying, to have their ... chests ... autographed.

Ukranian officials reportedly were hard-pressed to maintain order due to the mass hysteria by Reino, who has become a cult figure with a following rivalling that of David Hasselholf in Germany. Hasselholf reportedly threatened:

If this keeps up, I'll jump in KITT and drive over and put that Reino jerk in his place before he starts luring away all the German chicks that normally worship me.

Reino reports back on his adventure, sharing reports of wooing the hearts of hundreds of Ukranian women with his tales of Pee Dee swamps, the fiery pork BBQ found in many restaurants near his home, the evils of Jim Clyburn, tales of "I could've been a Congressman, but the Man was out to get me", offers of the Vice-Presidency, and of course, his career as a Hollywood action star.

"What can I say", said Reino from his hotel room in Odessa. "I'm the big bad pimp daddy in this land. When you've got it, you've got it."

His readers had praise for his Ukranian adventure, with comments such as:

"Looks like you're havin a good time, and she's smokin' keep up the good work son!"

"Maybe Mike can bring me one back. I just got free for the Silver Elephant. Someone needs a extra ticket.

Others had caution for Reino, including one who asked him "are you sure she's had her shots?", as well as:

Earl Capps, author of the Blogland of Earl Capps, who warned him to "Be careful what you ask for - some of them might find out where you live and show up at your doorstep."

Another reader told Reino that "Clyburn's people are celebrating, and looking how they can get someone to bar your re-entry to the United States.

Keep up with Reino's Ukranian adventure online at Be sure to say hello and teach him some Ukranian and Russian vocabulary so he can find the public restrooms.

"A Breath of Fresh Hydrogen" comes to Columbia

Sounds like this is something worth checking out:

The public can get a glimpse of what a hydrogen-powered future might look like when The Hydrogen Education Tour comes to Columbia this week.

The exhibit will be part of FuelCellSouth’s 4th Annual Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technology Conference and Expo Wednesday through Friday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

The traveling exhibit gives people the opportunity to learn about and experience the future of hydrogen through interactive pavilions and displays. It offers information on hydrogen production, storage and infrastructure, safety and fuel cell applications.

Admission to the exhibit hall will be free on Wednesday, which has been dubbed Hydrogen Day at the conference.

Teachers are encouraged to bring their students to see the exhibit. Group reservations or additional information can be obtained by contacting Keely Saye at (803) 777-2572 or e-mailing

... don't miss what could be a vital technology for our future.

The Sad Fall of Kevin Geddings

Prison sentencing is today for Kevin Geddings, a long-time Democratic political operative in the Carolinas, convicted of perjury for fraud charges related to North Carolina's lottery.

Those of us in South Carolina politics will remember him best as the architect of the 1998 upset victory of former Governor Jim Hodges. After his successful orchestration of efforts to pass a lottery referendum in 2000, Geddings’ efforts in 2002 to stop Mark Sanford from ousting Hodges, then his political patron, fell short.

Not long after Hodges' defeat, Geddings moved to North Carolina, where he helped push that state’s lottery through. While his South Carolina political opponents failed to prove their allegations of favored deals and shady associations, it would his latest political victory, the North Carolina lottery, that would be his downfall.

While South Carolina’s lottery can be faulted for sparking a wave of steep tuition hikes, failing to address socio-demographic inequities among the state’s college student population, as well as failing to help school districts cope with school bus shortages or provide the billions they were forced to borrow since then to fund school construction, at least no ethical questions have been raised about the lottery.

But in the wake of North Carolina’s lottery scandal, one does have to wonder what might have visited South Carolina had Geddings not left the state after Hodges’ ouster. Would the corruption that he helped bring to North Carolina had infested Columbia instead?

While this may be a vindication of those who warned that corruption would follow video poker and the lottery, both of which were associated with Geddings, to South Carolina, corruption still runs rampant in South Carolina. A series of indictments of public officials in Orangeburg County, including a Chairman of County Council and a police chief, are stark reminders that ethical governance is still a challenge in the Palmetto State.

Whatever sentence the judge imposes upon Geddings, it will do nothing to restore the trust the public has lost their in government. It will also leave a wife without the comfort and companionship of her husband, and a child without his father. Personally and politically, there are no winners, only losers.

One of the worst flaws in our state’s political culture is how it blurs the line between the political from the personal. Along with many Blogland fans, I regularly worked against Geddings’ candidates, but I hope we can be big enough to set aside political grudges and consider what he and his family face on a personal level. We should hope and pray that they will endure and emerge stronger from whatever lies ahead. I hope you will too.

As we consider what could have been, let us be grateful that it did not. But we must also keep a vigilant watch over government in South Carolina, as well as demand the scrupulous maintenance (and improvement) of our state’s political ethics laws. Let us hope and pray that the political corruption which is still disgracefully commonplace in our state will one day be remembered a sad chapter of our state’s past and not read about in the headlines of our newspapers.

Bloggers of the state unite

... for you have nothing to lose but the barbs of The State and clueless politicians!

Last week was an interesting week for South Carolina blogosphere, when Tim Cameron of A Daily Shot got booted from Glenn McConnell's weekly show. Interestingly enough, it happened to be a show where Senator Jakie Knotts started firing away at bloggers.

Then both McConnell and SCETV went into full denial mode, trying to pass the blame to someone else for booting Tim ... while leaving Jakie as the only executioner willing (or clueless enough) to stand in plain view.

It's not the first time I've seen a politician tee off at us bloggers.

I join those not-so-anonymous bloggers who've had enough. We play by the rules, we do our homework, we dig and find things traditional media can't or won't, and we promote broader discussion of issues relevant to our state. Even if we're different from traditional print and broadcast media, we're news media.

To add to this discusion, a proposed Bloggers Code of Conduct was proposed over on Not Very Bright. I agree with most of what she had to say, and think it's a great start to look at how we can set our own system of standard, ethics, best practices, or whatever they might be called.

In recent weeks, a number of us bloggers have been talking about the need for our own media association, to stand up to the traditional media types, as well as set some common standards for how we do what we do. Being pushed around, attacked as not credible, and then getting scooped for stories time and time again (especially by those outlets who attack us most) ... it's really gone too far.

I think it's time we stood together, don't you?

Pat Benatar's first four albums, 1979-1982

Good hard rock and roll is more than screaming vocals, wailing guitars and a crunching bass beat – it’s passion, rebellion, courage, and fire. While it would be a stretch to suggest Pat Benetar is heavy metal, she was clearly one the biggest hard rock queens of the post-disco period where hard-edged guitar-driven rock was the mainstay of the long-lost AOR radio format, as well as the then-fledgling MTV.

The next two Fridays, my album reviews will look at the first four of Benatar’s albums, in a two-part series:

Part 1: In the Heat of the Night (1979) and Crimes of Passion (1980)
Part 2: Precious Time (1981) and Get Nervous (1982)

In an era where most females in music fit into one of several music models: “divas”, bubblegum pop floozies, or kumbuya easy-listening crap (that’s what alternative has devolved into), listening to these albums was a refreshing trip back to a time when women were just as ready, willing, and able to rock as any guy out there. In a time where everyone wants to be like, or better than, someone else, the music scene would do well to follow the lead of those like Benatar, who charted their own course and went where nobody else had dared to go.

Of course, the songs were devoid of the "good times and easy women" material that is commonplace in the male-dominated rock scene, but Benatar shoots straight from her perspective with no apologies or holding back, often with a "tough girl don't take no crap" attitude that earned her the respect of male rockers, and won over a lot of females as well.

While Benatar’s name and vocals were all over the music, it is important to note the strong contributions of her lead guitarist and husband, Neil Geraldo. Through all of these albums, Geraldo’s guitar work is hard-edged, strong, and makes solid and distinct contributions to many of the songs on these albums.

Her later albums softened somewhat and explored new directions, partly out of burnout from years of struggling to break out, and then trying to keep up the recording and touring that would support her booming music career. In fact, her seventh album, “Seven the Hard Way”, was titled as a back-handed slap at those in the music industry who had pushed her to the brink of a breakdown. Regardless of where she went later on, these four albums gave us rock fans many hours of great listening, helped put rock music back on track from the disco era, and proved that women could rock, helping to open the door for many who followed.

If you haven’t heard of her, or these albums, you’re really missing out. Try one of the albums, and before long, I’m betting you’ll be looking for the rest of these four.

Stay tuned - there's some serious hard rockin' music, just up ahead ...

2007 Carolinas Joint Utility Coordinating Committees convention

Yesterday, I attended the 2007 convention of the joint North and South Carolina Utility Coordinating Committees. I was there to receive the Tom Crosby Award for safety leadership for my company from our friends with PUPS - the “call before you dig” people.

Having been very active in utility coordination efforts at both local and state levels, a lot of the people there have been long-time friends and partners on these issues, and it was good to see a lot of familiar faces. The presentations were helpful, and as always, neat presentations and giveaways from the vendors at the event.

An amazing thing about this business is that those who retire seldom really retire. They retire, take a year off, get bored, and then go work for someone else. Same faces, new places. This year was no different, and it was good to see some of those who’ve been such assets to my work coming back into the business, especially Marion Leaphart and Bill Seaborn.

It was good to meet one of my cohorts whose wife was elected the GOP Executive Committeeman from Spartanburg County, which is the home of Rick Beltram, one of the biggest fans of the Blogland. We hear he sings our praises often, and believe me, we think he's just a swell guy.

There was also a lot of buzz about the status of the SCDOT-related bills, as well as the appointment of Buck Limehouse as the new Executive Director of the SCDOT.

It was a great time, and special thanks to the folks from PUPS for the award, as well as picking up the tab for the overnight accommodations at the Myrtle Beach Hilton.

MCASC Legislative Rally recap

Last night, I attended the annual “Legislative Rally” of the Mechanical Contractor’s Association of South Carolina, the third one I’ve attended. First of all, I want to thank Mona Flowers and the MCASC for their hospitality. As always, it was a first-class event that helped keep our Legislature focused on issues near and dear to the construction trades.

Mark Sanford was this year’s speaker. His remarks were short, but he stressed the need to see action on Worker’s Compensation reform, singling out opposition in the Senate by Senator John Land. He also advocated the need to continue working on restructuring, reform the budget process and control spending. Needless to say, with this crowd, his messages were well-received.

It was a good opportunity to introduce my company’s President to Governor Sanford, as well as a number of legislators and VIPs at the event. I want to thank the following for taking the time to speak with us:

  • Senator Larry Grooms, who was concerned about the progress of the S.C. DOT restructuring efforts which he led in the Senate.
  • Representative Chip Limehouse, whose father, Buck Limehouse, was just named the new Executive Director of the S.C. DOT.
  • Representative Carl Gullick, a first-termer whose political career started in 1992, when I worked on his first campaign for York County Council.
  • Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers, who talked about an upcoming South Carolina agriculture publicity campaign (stay tuned ... we'll be talking about that here soon).
Other VIPs who attended included Senators Glenn McConnell and Harvey Peeler, as well as House Education chair Bob Walker. At least a half-dozen Democratic House members attended, mostly sitting together, including Herb Kirsh, Patsy Knight, Harry Ott, and Grady Brown. Two judicial candidates were also working the crowd, presumably seeking to line up legislative support (they show up every time … the things some people to do to get a job … geeezzzz …).

I appreciated the time these people took to hear the concerns of the construction industry and share some of their insights as to what is going on with the legislative process. It's not often that we can get such an audience, and we hope they will consider our concerns in the legislative process.

April 2007, the month in review

It was another busy month at the Blogland, with a total of postings. As always, we covered a wide range of topics, and counted on you to throw in your ten cents' worth. Here are the postings that got ya'll stirred up and talking this month:

4/1: From the Blogland: Ceips news story
Inside Interview: Wallace Scarborough
Would you like fries with that?
Change your light bulbs?
4/15: Back to Hell?
4/18: Shirley Hinson for the State Senate
4/19: Inside Interview: Bill Cotty
Protecting the Camden battlefield

Also, now I have the ability to track traffic in considerable detail, so here are the ten most visited postings of the month:

Inside Interview: Wallace Scarborough (4/4)
Shirley Hinson for the State Senate (4/18)
Bill Mescher: The American Dream (4/8)
From the Blogland: Ceips news story (4/1)
Inside Interview: Bill Cotty (4/19)
Beaufort Senate election preview (4/22)
Florence Republican willing to consider VP slot (3/29)
Pascha - The Eastern Celebration of Easter (4/12/06)
Jesse Jackson assails Don Imus while JC Hammer mumbles (4/16)
Progress in Iraq? The McCaffrey Report (4/3)

... as you can see, there is a bit of a difference between what people read and what they talked about. Two of them weren't even written last month. Honorable mention goes to a runner-up that was also an oldie: Give 'Em Enough Rope: The Clash.

As always, thanks for caring enough to visit and share your thoughts. Remember that in the Blogland, we care at least as much about you, as you do about us. Be sure to keep coming back for more ...

Favorite Places: Wildcat Falls

For a break from more meaningful discussion, I want to share with ya'll one of my favorite places in all the world: Wildcat Falls.

I discovered this roadside waterfall, complete with a well-shaded wading area within view of SC Highway 11, between Cleveland and the north junction with U.S. 276, a few years ago. When I visit my mother, who lives in Spartanburg, it's a stop I like to make.

With weather warming, and those miserable Lowcountry summers on the way, you'll be sure to find me there ... be sure to find your own places to get away and enjoy life a little!

In case you'd like to know more, here are some additional links about this place ... Hiking trail info ... ... a really good fall photo of the lower waterfall.