Overkill Takes Over

One of the longest-lasting speed metal bands (and one of the earliest ones) was/is Overkill.

Overkill was a thrash/speed band that came out of New Jersey. Formed in 1984 from the remnants of a punk band, Overkill blitzed onto the stage, getting their first major exposure in 1986, when they toured with Megadeth on that band's "Peace Sells" tour. Ironically, they just toured again with Megadeth last year on Megadeth's Gigantour.

In 1987, Overkill released their first major label release, "Taking Over". The improved production and leadership they got from a major label helped them produce a great, fast and hard rockin' album that still preserved their speed and raw edge.

I saw these guys play in Charlotte back in 1991. WOWWWW ... talk about a wild show. Not only that, but as that was back in the day when clubs still allowed thrashing and slam dancing, I got the crap beat out of my pretty good that night. But still had a GREAT time.

One of the songs from this album, Wrecking Crew, would become an unofficial nickname for the band, as well as their website address:

Demolition of the mind.
Desolation, left behind.
Light the fuse, dynamite.
Light the sky! in the night!!!
We will walk! All over you! 'Cause we are! The wreckin'! Wreckin' crew!!!
They're still out there, playing, touring and recording albums, 20 years later ... and just as good as ever. Amazing.

My favorite songs on the album? Wrecking Crew, Powersurge, and Overkill II (The Nightmare Continues).

More video treats from YouTube...

... concert footage of the band performing "Wrecking Crew" in concert back in 1992:

... and some guy playing one of the two guitar positions in "Powersurge" ... darn good job too:

Beaufort politics on the web

I've gotta give Ian Leslie at the Beaufort Gazette a plug for their website's "Political Pulse", which watches local and regional politics. With the upcoming House special election, this ought to be a well-visited site in upcoming months.

He's done a good job with it, so by all means, check the site out!

Rock Hill to tackle payday lending

With the legislature having gone home without dealing with the issue of predatory lending - today's equivalent of video poker - the city of Rock Hill has decided to take aim at these businesses through zoning:

Leaders in Rock Hill have decided to make it tougher for new payday lenders to open after the number of businesses in the city offering the short-term high-interest loans tripled in six years.

The City Council passed zoning laws on the businesses Monday night, banning new payday lenders from opening within 300 feet of neighborhoods, churches and schools and within 1,000 feet of existing lenders.

The rules also won't allow lenders to open in stand-alone buildings, requiring them to be in shopping centers or supermarkets of at least 30,000 square feet.

Six years ago Rock Hill had less than a dozen payday lenders. Now the city has 38, officials said.

The boom happened after North Carolina, just 10 miles to the north on Interstate 77, banned payday lenders. Georgia also has banned the businesses.

- Greenville News (6/26/2007)

... to which Jamie Fulmer, the local predatory lending PR hack complained "If you take away our product, all you've done is take away one of the tools that folks have to choose from when they find themselves in need of money".

Really, Jamie? Do you really think that people come to you because they have any other "tools" to use to make ends meet?

In any event, it will be interesting to see where this effort ends up. We certainly hope that this helps reduce their appeal in York County.

Pied Pipers and "Extreme Politics"

The indictment of Thomas Ravenel has brought forth discussion of another issue: that of the “Pied Piper” effect in politics, where candidates will play the role of demagogue, firing extreme and often polarizing commentary on issues, hoping to earn the support of the activists who are active in political parties, as well as in single-issue organizations.

Too often, we find such candidates are good at rallying the political base with their hype, but do poorly at winning elections. Many party activists, if given a choice between:

A - A candidate from their party who plays to their position on issues,
B - A more-electable moderate candidate from their party who disagrees on some issues,
C – A candidate from the other party who they disagree with on most issues.

… would blast Candidate B to help Candidate A get the nomination, and then pat themselves on the back because they stopped the loathsome "moderate", while Candidate C (who they really hate) goes on to kick the crap out of Candidate A. In the end, their attempt to have it all gained them nothing.

Two cases in point:

In 2004, Howard Dean appealed to a narrow bandwidth of activist Democrats with over-the-top rhetoric that overlooked his record as Governor of Vermont, where he was known as a fiscal moderate with a pro-NRA record. He rallied large numbers of activists, but failed miserably at the ballot box with a broader range of voters.

In 2006, Karen Floyd’s candidacy for Superintendent of Education set off a wave of mudslinging where those who supported other candidates, myself included, were called "RINOs" and worse. None of those she defeated in the primary supported her for the general election, where she said little about her much-touted school choice position. Her supporters failed to notice problems in her political backyard, which should have been telling about her record of public service. There, she fell thousands of votes behind the rest of the GOP statewide ticket which rolled Spartanburg County, which was key to losing her race by hundreds of votes.

Now, we hear questions as to if Ravenel’s conservative rhetoric may have intended to win over activist supporters and gloss over signs that could have pointed to trouble. While we should reserve judgment about Thomas until the facts are known, I'll agree that they've raised a valid question in asking if partisan activists allow themselves to be fooled and used by those who talk the talk, but in the end don't walk the walk?

In a State House race last fall where I did counter-negative work, I looked at an attack campaign which distorted the record of a Republican incumbent, which was waged by SCRG, an organization which recently set up shop in South Carolina and while it spends big bucks on political efforts, feels it does not have to disclose its finances. I also showed where another candidate in that House race had almost no direct mail budget, possibly relying upon that direct mail attack campaign to assist his own candidacy.

Can anyone tell me how any of THAT could be considered ethical?

In politics there are “Pied Pipers” who play songs people want to hear so badly that style trumps substance and the ends justify the means. As for me, I’d rather lose a race fair than win it dirty, because if we can’t campaign honestly and fairly, how can we possibly hope to govern any better? In looking at the number of recent indictments and convictions of public officials, I think it's time we asked ourselves where things are headed, and if it's where we want to go.

Where would YOU like to see our state's political culture headed? Your thoughts, comments, and insults are welcome ...

Don't leave pets in locked cars!

Today's public service message from your friends at the Blogland.

Survey of bloggers and readers - go participate!

This came my way today regarding a survey being conducted by a doctoral student in Louisiana who is studying blogs that discuss and impact state-level politics. She's taking the time to learn about us and hopefully shed a little light on the things we bloggers, as well as our audiences, are able to accomplish, so the least we can do is help her out:

Blogs & state politics research (Emily Metzgar)
From: Emily Metzgar emetzg1@lsu.edu

Dear Colleagues,

I'm a doctoral student in media and public affairs at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and my research focuses on the impact of weblogs on state politics around the country. This is a quick reminder of my request for your help in compiling data for my research.

A quick profile of my research is available here:

I have prepared an online survey for both bloggers and blog readers to complete. The survey is available online through June 30 at the following link:


I would be grateful if you could take the time to complete this survey and to circulate it among your colleagues. If you like, I'd be happy to keep you informed of my findings as my research progresses.

Many thanks for considering this request. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this -- like any good doctoral student I'm always happy to discuss my research!

Best regards,

Emily Metzgar
Doctoral student
Manship School of Mass Communication
Louisiana State University

It's Thursday (we're almost there)

Congratulations (again) to Senator Ceips

Tonight, we at the Blogland congratulate Catherine Ceips,
the new Senator from Beaufort County, who steamrollered
her competition by earning 78% of the vote in today's special election.

We wish her the best of luck next year in the Senate.

Firefighters lost in Charleston

For links to information about this tragedy, click on this link.

According to a media release from College of Charleston President George Benson, donations to assist these families may be mailed to the
City of Charleston, Families of Fallen Firemen Fund, P.O. Box 304, Charleston, SC 29402, or can be given to any teller at any Bank of America location.

Following the loss of several uniformed public servants in the Lowcountry in recent weeks, we mourn the loss of nine firefighters in Charleston:

Nine firefighters died Monday night in a fire that destroyed the Sofa Super Store in West Ashley.

"Nine brave, heroic, courageous firefighters of the city of Charleston have perished fighting fire in a most courageous and fearless manner, carrying out their duties," Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said at a news conference this morning. "To all of their loved ones, our heart goes out to them."

Our prayers go out to their families and their fellow firefighters on this sad morning, and we hope yours will be as well. As we reflect upon those lost last night, we should be grateful for their courage and devotion to duty.

Such heroes will not easily be replaced, and they'll never be forgotten.

Ceips & Hinson for the State Senate on Tuesday

Whether you live in Beaufort County or Berkeley County, you have easy choices for tomorrow's State Senate special elections. In the humble opinion of the Blogland, voters should give well-earned promotions to two sitting state Representatives: Beaufort County Representative Catherine Ceips and Berkeley County Shirley Hinson.

Both have extensive political experience that will do them well in the Senate, where experience and relationships are important keys to success. Ceips has several years' service in the House, as well as several years working for Congressman Joe Wilson. Hinson has served in the House for over a decade after serving for eight years on the Berkeley County School Board.

By contrast, none of the other candidates for these two Senate seats have any legislative experience and only one other candidate for either of these seats holds an elected office - a seat on Berkeley County Council. While their willingness to go through the headaches of running for the Senate and their desires to serve their communities is commendable, their lack of experience would do a major disservice to those whom they wish to represent in Columbia.

I have gotten to know both Ceips and Hinson and can personally vouch for their willingness to return phone calls, listen to their constituents, work hard to move things forward, and be outspoken on important issues.

You've got twelve hours to vote, and turnout is expected to be light. While we can't assure you that the voting machines are as easy as the Fisher Price model shown above, trust us, they're easy to use and you only have three choices in both Senate races, so to please take a few minutes to do your part to send these two hard-working and well-qualified ladies to the State Senate.

We'll see you at the polls tomorrow.

Southern Commandments

Jennifer, my old middle and high school acquaintance over at Four Weddings and a Funeral, is having a little fun over on her blog, asking her readers to come up with "Southern Commandments":

Being from South Carolina, and growing up hearing all kinds of little "rules," I thought it might be fun to come up with a list of Southern Commandments that pertain to life in the South. To that end, I'm inviting anyone who grew up in and/or currently resides in the Southeastern US, specifically the Carolinas southward and no further west than Louisiana, to leave a comment with a "Southern Commandment."

Monday being a slow newsday here in the Blogland, I thought I'd throw this out for y'all to check out and share your thoughts.

Happy Fathers' Day

Happy Fathers' Day to one and all.

Mine was golden. I hope all of you can say the same.

Thanks for tuning in.

Favorite Places: Old Sheldon Church

Next stop on my tour of my favorite places in South Carolina is the Old Sheldon Church, down in Beaufort County. This is right of U.S. Highway 17, about two miles south of Gardens Corner.

The church was burned once during the Revolution and again during the Civil War. If you've got a spare 15 minutes when traveling between Beaufort and I-95, it's worth checking out.

Gary Simrill: Time Traveling legislator?

It's been said that no man, or his assets, are safe so long as the Legislature is in session. If this saying holds true, then this week, it would appear as if the people of this state are now half-safe, with the legislative session over. Granted they still have some vetoes to consider and other unfinished business, but for now, they're gone.

Of course, there is one hope for the Legislature to go back and get it right: Rock Hill's Representative Gary Simrill. According to our friends at FitsNews, Representative Simrill, through the power of the flux capacitator, one of the greatest inventions ever, is able to hop back through time.

Will he do it? Stay tuned, and if you see two flaming lines down a street near you, followed by a suddenly clearing of legislative gridlock in Columbia, then you will know that our state was once more saved by none other than Gary Simrill.

If it doesn't happen, then we'll know he's no Marty McFly after all.

Romney denies pardon to Iraq veteran for juvenile offense

I can't think of any logical reason why Mitt Romney refused this guy's pardon request while he was Governor of Massachusetts. This can't possibly be part of any strategy to win the veterans' vote:

Decorated Iraq war veteran Anthony Circosta seemed like an ideal candidate for a pardon from then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his boyhood conviction for a BB gun shooting.

Romney said no — twice — despite the recommendation of the state's Board of Pardons.

At age 13, Circosta was convicted of assault for shooting another boy in the arm with a BB gun, a shot that didn't break the skin. Circosta worked his way through college, joined the Army National Guard and led a platoon of 20 soldiers in Iraq's deadly Sunni triangle.

In 2005, as he was serving in Iraq, he sought a pardon to fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer.
Any way you look at what could be behind it - indifference, incompetnence, or arrogance, it looks just plain wrong to me. Hopefully, his successor will re-examine this issue and give this American hero another chance.

"Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

Fellow blogger Mike Burleson reminds us that twenty years ago today, President Ronald Reagan stood before the Brandenburg Gate and demanded:

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe , if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
- Address from the Brandenburg Gate

For those my age and older, the Brandenburg Gate, which stood on the other side of the Berlin Wall from the free city of West Berlin, was a powerful symbol of just how divided Europe had been, and how radically different those two Europes were.

You can click here to listen to the speech.

When Mr. Gorbachev failed to answer Reagan's challenge, the people of West and East Germany came together to tear it down themselves. In doing so, they reclaimed their nation and changed the course of human events.

For my generation, Germany was powder keg, divided against itself, which threatened to become the flash point for a devastating global conflict. For my children, Germany is a unified nation, peaceful, prosperous, and a key partner in Europe.

What a change twenty years can make, with a little vision and the courage of a nation whose people were "yearning to breathe free".

Pictured are two portions of the Berlin Wall which were removed and brought to Spartanburg. They were erected in front of the Menzel plant on I-85 Business (the green I-85).

USS New York: New navy ship's ties to 9/11

Mary Reed with Construction Equipment Guide writes about the connection between the nearly-completed USS New York, part of which was built using steel recycled from the World Trade Center debris:

Despite geographical distance, a strong link connects the destroyed World Trade Center in New York City and the Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) shipyard in Avondale, La., which, like nearby New Orleans, was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The bond between them is the U.S. Navy ship currently under construction in Avondale, for the vessel’s bow stem was cast from steel salvaged from the ruins of the World Trade Center.

Cleanup efforts after 9/11 included removal of approximately 200,000 tons (181,437 t) of steel, much of which was sold worldwide to be reused for various purposes. However, an I-beam was retained to be recast for the Navy vessel’s bow stem, the most forward part of a ship. The role of the bow stem is to forge a path through the water, leading the ship to its mission.

Opening fire on predatory lenders?

It sounds like Michael Bolton over at The State is pissed over the Legislature's failure to rein in predatory lending during the recently-adjourned 2007 session of the General Assembly.

On the 6th, he blasted the industry for its ability to wield legislative influence to bottle up efforts to rein them in:

Payday lenders have shown their true color — money green — and they’ll do anything to keep their gravy train riding roughshod over our state.

Shamefully, this isn’t just the fault of payday lenders. Lawmakers sanctioned this predatory business and have the authority to rein it in, but have decided they won’t. Legislators such as Sens. Jim Ritchie and Jake Knotts helped ensure nothing meaningful got done this year

The next day, he took aim the partnership with numerous banks have with predatory lenders, by fronting them large amounts of cash for their operations:

Considering the fees they charge, the least banks could do is help their customers who are being taken advantage of by payday lenders. One of the few requirements for getting one of the short-term loans is that you have a checking account.

Despite the fact that they put their own customers at risk, banks have no problem extending multi-million-dollar credit lines to large lenders, particularly the few that are publicly traded.

Backing from major banks and investment firms such as Morgan Stanley has helped payday lenders pull off a major coup: They have been able to take a faulty business model that depends on people’s inability to repay their debts and convince Wall Street investors to buy into it.

Shame on the General Assembly for not standing up to an industry that has become as widespread and predatory upon our state's working poor as the video poker industry had become in the 1990s. Once more, we become the best, last resort for an industry which has been run out of other states. When will we do better?

Look for more discussion about this subject in the near future.

Playing Eleanor Rigby

One of the blogs I link to has the YouTube video of her daughter playing the Beatles' song Eleanor Ribgy on the piano. This is by no means the easiest song to play and she did a great job, so I thought it was worth sharing with my readers too.

It's always great when someone raises their kids up with an appreciation of the classics ...

For those of you who've never heard of this song, this was on their Revolver album, and released as a single on the backside of the Yellow Submarine 45 disc. Want to know more about this song? Check out the Wikipedia reference.

It's gonna be a hot Carolina weekend out there. Be sure to get out there and make it a great weekend, but stay out of the sun, drink plenty of liquids and keep cool!

New friends and good times in Clarendon County

Recently, we opened up four lanes on our U.S. 378 widening project in Clarendon County, the second of two major highway projects in that county. About three years, twelve miles and eight bridges later, it’s been a great opportunity to get to know the great place that is Clarendon County.

In the public relations work for my company, I found a great media partner in the Manning Times, especially with Cathy Gilbert, their hard-working editor. Cathy was a friendly ear whenever we had project-related news, and ever-watchful over our work. She’s also a great salesman for the county – she knows her beat well, and isn’t afraid to show it off. More than once, a late-afternoon visit to the county would lead to an invitation to attend a community event or a tour of some part of the county. There are few rural areas anywhere that I’ve come to know as well as Clarendon County, and few so beautiful.

But my company didn’t just build some roads and make some money in Clarendon County – we also gave back. Ten homesites for the local Habitat of Humanity will be built on some of the best possible foundations – two truckloads of SCDOT-grade fill dirt that is of much higher quality than higher-priced homes are built upon.

While Clarendon County is like many in the region – rural, agricultural, poor, and struggling to look out for its own – there is a sense of community spirit and willingness to pull together among its citizens that you don’t find in many places. If I ever move to a rural community (and I'm not a big small-town person), this will be one of the few I’d consider.

Two of the nicest people in the county are Senator John Land and his wife Marie. I had the opportunity to meet them when we opened up four lanes on U.S. 521 back in December. I appreciate Mrs. Land’s service to my college, as Vice-Chair of our Board, in addition to being a fellow southern Catholic. Senator Land, agree with him or not, is definitely focused upon the needs of his district, such as pushing to make sure this project got moving, as well as working to make sure water and sewer was in place to help attract industry to the newly-widened highway.

The local state representative, Cathy Harvin, couldn’t make it, but I’ve had more than one conversation with her and she was most friendly, accessible, and concerned about making sure these needed projects were finished in good order.

When we opened 521, as the MC for the event, I opened with a moment of silence to remember one of the most important movers behind this project – State Representative Alex Harvin – who pushed for the project and saw its initiation, but passed away before we completed the project. His long service and devoted attention to the needs of his constituents, as well as his willingness to be reached about the project, said much about him.

Last year, I had the opportunity to do two speaking appearances on behalf of Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, and in doing so, found The Palms at Wyboo Plantation – a great bar and restaurant near Lake Marion on the Clarendon County side - is a really neat place to go hang out – where a lot of the regulars, especially Moye Graham, are fans and regular readers of the Blogland. Thanks for reading, friends.

But my favorite place to go in all the county, the one place that will keep me coming back (not counting my friends) is the home of the best BBQ in the all the world – D&H Barbeque in Manning. It’s just north of the county hospital on S.C. 260, about four blocks south of U.S. 301 on the south side of town. Henry Brailsford runs a great place there, and if you’re passing down 521 to Georgetown, or up or down I-95, it’s must stop.

While I’ll be back, I want to take a moment to look back at the last three and a half years and thank my new friends in Clarendon County – Moye, Cathy, the Lands, the Gibbons, and many others. You’ve made Clarendon County a place that I’ll miss spending time in, and well worth coming back.


Thanks to World War II History for this photo

"For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history."
- Ronald Reagan, Remarks on the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1984

Cutting-edge business & academic partnerships in the Carolinas

In "Michigan needs to look south", in the Detroit News, columnist Daniel Howes looks at how the Carolinas are working to partner higher education with cutting-edge manufacturing technology development, and in doing so, is leaving Detroit behind.

The business-and-political establishment of the Carolinas is doing what their counterparts in Michigan and here on Mackinac Island are only beginning to comprehend amid a gloomy fiscal outlook: Leveraging the power of higher education drives economic growth, attracts foreign and domestic investment and improves the caliber of would-be employees.

The story discusses USC, Clemson and UNC, but pays special attention to Clemson University's ICAR:

Now, it's Clemson University in South Carolina -- not the University of Michigan -- that is home to the International Center for Automotive Research, a 200-acre campus that BMW AG built for $100 million and donated to Clemson.

More about Clemson's ICAR facility:

CU-ICAR is a new model for economic development in South Carolina, matching Clemson's strengths in automotive research with the state's strong automotive economic cluster. CU-ICAR is a 250-acre "technopolis" where BMW, Michelin, Timken, Sun Microsystems and other corporate partners are joining with Clemson to focus on automotive and motorsports research and other transportation issues. The State of South Carolina is also a key partner, having created legislation to support economic development and innovation.

At Clemson's ICAR, the latest news includes Computational Center for Mobility Systems, featuring a high performance computing (HPC) system from Sun Microsystems which will allow the center to perform cutting-edge product development for the automotive, aerospace and shipping industries, as well as the soon-to-open Carroll A. Campbell Jr. Graduate Engineering Center, which will allow Clemson to grant the first Masters and Doctoral degrees in Automotive Engineering.

This is big news indeed, and a heck of an achievement for the academic, business and governmental team partners who made this vision a reality. Also one more good reason why we need to reassess the structure and missions of our state's higher and technical education systems, so Clemson and USC can focus more aggressively in these areas.

Last week of the General Assembly

Last week of session in the General Assembly, and three days to go to settle a whole raft of issues stuck between the House and Senate, including the state budget, tax cuts, SCDOT, and workers' compensation reform.

Behind those major issues, as always, are lots of other bills and issues that probably have a lot less of a chance to see progress, including:
  • Predatory Lending (H 3294, Rep. Clemmons)
  • "Grandfather" zoning requirements to keep developers from annexing into cities to get out of county zoning requirements (H 3642, Rep. Herbkersman)
  • Protecting child visitation for non-custodial parents called up for military service (S 0808, Sen. Hawkins)
  • Requiring all Highway Patrol cars to carry breathalyzer test devices (H 3634, Rep. Gullick)
  • Prohibit state agencies from hiring lobbyists (H 3360, Rep. Merrill)
Lots of bills, such little time. What to pass, what to shelve ... ?

So, what are your thoughts about what was done good, done bad, or not done at all by the General Assembly this year.

May 2007, the month in review

As I do every month, time for the obligatory discussion of what you were interested in over the last month, using the two measures - what you talked about the most, and what you visited most.

Which postings got you talking?

In past months, discussion tended to focus upon politics subjects, but this month, some of the top ten most-discussed postings were non-political (... at last!!!). Which means either some of you are getting a life outside of politics, or maybe my political commentary just sucked this month.

May's most-read postings?
Again, we find a bit of a difference between what people read and what they responded to, with our ranking of the month's ten most-read blog postings:

... as always, we appreciate all of you, friends and foes alike, who made a stop in the Blogland this month. We certainly hope you'll keep coming back, reading and sharing those comments. After all, if you don't speak up, who else will do it for you?

Either way you go ...

Try to make sense of this sign that one will find east of
Bamberg, while traveling east on U.S. Highway 78

... ya'll have a great weekend!