U.S. Group - rolling in Bamberg

I made the front page of this week's edition of Construction and Equipment Guide:

With large stretches of its main downtown streets reduced to a mess of rocks and dirt and gaping holes, Bamberg, S.C., looked more like a war zone than a quiet Southern town during work late last year and earlier this year to widen U.S. 301/601 and crossroad U.S. 78, said Earl Capps, spokesman for contractor U.S. Group Inc.

“Basically, [the streets] were torn down to dirt. … We had to pull up everything [and] start over,” said Capps, whose company is based in Columbia, S.C., approximately an hour north of Bamberg.

The $8 million project entailed widening eight blocks of U.S. 301/601, called Main Highway or Main Street, and six blocks of U.S. 78, called Heritage Highway, creating a passing zone for traffic between Charleston, S.C., and Augusta, Ga., he said.

So far, we're on track in Bamberg and might even finish a few weeks ahead of schedule, which will be a nice deal for the people in that area.

Highway opening to feature Eckstrom and Hammond in Newberry tomorrow

Tomorrow, my company will thank those involved with a series of successful major highway contracts in Newberry County, with a “thank you” luncheon on S.C. Highway 121 between Newberry and I-26. Featured VIPs will include local and county officials, representatives from key contractors, as well as Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom (a Blogland favorite) and Secretary of State Mark Hammond.

Since 2000, U.S. Group, Inc. has completed four major highway projects in Newberry County:
  • I-26 rest area reconstruction,
  • Widening of S.C. Route 219 and I-26 interchange
  • Widening of U.S. Route 76 and railroad overpass replacement
  • Widening of S.C. 121
Any of you media people reading this are invited to attend this event.

Andy Brack makes points about environmental responsibility

Over at the Statehouse Report, Andy Brack talks about the importance of individual responsibility in addressing environmental concerns:

Bottom line: It's not terribly hard to be greener because there are numerous things you can do that save energy and money without dramatically impacting your day-to-day routine.

Governments have a major role to play in reshaping the South to be greener. But if everybody does just a little bit to conserve energy and cut down on greenhouse gases - without major impacts on the quality of their daily lives - the South would become a greener place.

He makes a number of smart, affordable and easy recommendations that can make a difference, some of which have been done around the Capps household.

  • I replaced the light bulbs in my house with CFL bulbs, which last longer, give off less heat (always a good thing), and save electricity.
  • I did a tune-up on my car recently, replacing the spark plugs, wires and distributor on my car, taking less than 30 minutes to increase my gas milage at least 10 percent.
  • To shade one side of my house that had no tree cover and give kids something fun to do next year, I planted an orange tree and a tangerine tree this summer (saves electricity too).
Politics aside, these are just smart ideas that pay for themselves, and reduce our impact upon the world around us.

Simpsonizing Rick Beltram

A friend of mine sent me a link to a promotional website for the Simpsons movie, Simpsonize Me. At this site, your photo will be "Simpsonized", revealing your true inner Simpons self.

To test the site for accuracy, we put in a photo of one of our biggest fans, Spartanburg County GOP chair Rick Beltram. Take a look for yourself:



Please note how we presented him with a pet cat and in front of a school to help portray him as kind-to-animals and pro-education.

So, what do YOU, the reader, think about the accuracy of the Simpsonizing process?

Now, for some fun today, go try this on somebody you know ...

Dangerous Toys rocks!

From out of Austin, Texas, Dangerous Toys made a splash back in 1989 with their hard-rockin' sleaze metal debut self-titled album. Produced by Max Norman, who produced albums for Loudness, Megadeth and Ozzy Osborne, it went gold and once in a while, a track from this album makes it on Sirius satellite radio's Hair Nation channel.

This is a kick-ass album that if you can find on Ebay easily enough if you look for it, and it's well worth your ten bucks or so to get your hands on it.

While there are a lot of great songs on this album, my favorite tracks are Scared and Queen of the Nile:

She makes me shudder
She makes me shake
At night i think and i want
to take her away
Rainbows are on her face
Visions of tattooed chains
Egyptian rain in my world
A princess on her throne

Queen of the nile
Love me like an earthquake
Queen of the nile
Please let me be
your king

... and we close the review by presenting a YouTube archive of their video for "Scared":

Ted Kennedy to hold hearings on those trapped and left to die

According to reports, Senator Ted Kennedy has responded to the recent mine disaster in Utah. The Senator from Massachusetts is now demanding hearings into how a young woman ... uh, six miners ... could be trapped, left behind by others, and left for dead:

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, also demanded a list of documents Thursday from the Labor Department about the Crandall Canyon Mine and its operators.

We at the Blogland, as big supporters of occupational safety initiatives, such as the decision by our state's Comptroller General, Richard Eckstrom, to have long-overdue work to remove asbestos from his offices, certainly hope there will be a serious and thorough investigation into what happened, and how such disasters can be avoided in the future. There is still much to be done to make America's most dangerous occupations, such as mining and construction, safe.

Although we're encouraged to see such a high-profile effort to get to the bottom of what happened in Utah, we're concerned that when such matters are immediately turned over to politicians, the agenda will shift from fixing the problems to fixing the blame. This approach is all but certain to increase the polling numbers of the politicians exploiting the issue, as well as the potential for future fatalities.

While Senator Kennedy is looking into the cause of such tragedies, we at the Blogland are waiting for additional Senate hearings into other instances where people have been abandoned, left unable to escape from a sudden mishap, and ultimately died without being rescued?

Not that we at the Blogland want to point fingers or name names, but we're sure the Senator from Massachusetts will try to cross that bridge when he comes to it.

Midlands Republican to seek Presidential nomination?

Bob Price is a Project Manager for my company's Midlands region. Media inquiries should call 803-331-4127.

Back to grad school

This week, the last semester of coursework for my Master's degree begins ... thank God I've made it this far. It's been a long road, and for those around me who've suffered as I've struggled with managing time and stress from my studies, one that has been rough on a lot of people.

Those who've stuck by me, put up with the continual re-shuffling of lunch appointments or evenings or weekends, THANK YOU!!!

But now, for a little fun, the Carl and Alfred Sigmund blog provides us with a list of academic phrases and their definitions to help you understand the mysterious language of science and medicine (special thanks to my advisor, Dr. Robert Westerfelhaus, who forwarded this link to me). These special phrases are also applicable to anyone reading a Ph.D. dissertation or academic paper:

I didn’t look up the original reference.

These data are practically meaningless.

An unsuccessful experiment, but I still hope to get it published.

The other results didn’t make any sense.

This is the prettiest graph.




I think.

A couple of others think so, too.


Rumor has it.

A wild guess.

Three pages of notes were obliterated when I knocked over a glass of soda.

I don’t understand it.

They don’t understand it either.

Mr. Blotz did the work and Ms. Adams did me.

A totally useless topic selected by my committee.

I quit.

Child Abduction Emergency notice

Bulletin - Eas Activation Requested Child Abduction Emergency South Carolina Law Enforcement Division In Columbia South Carolina Relayed By National Weather Service Columbia SC 353 PM EDT Tue Aug 21 2007

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Is Looking For Mckinley Shane Lowe... A While Male... 3 Feet Tall... 35 Pounds. The Child Has Light Brown Hair... And Blue Eyes. He Was Last Seen Wearing Red Pajamas With Cars On The Red Pajamas. The Child Was Last Seen At 4273 Santolino Way... Murrells Inlet... And Is Believed To Be In Extreme Danger.

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Is Also Looking For Hunter Chase Lowe... A While Male... 8 Years Old... 4 Feet Tall... 50 Pounds. The Child Has Brown Hair... And Brown Eyes. His Clothing Is Unknown At This Time. The Child Was Last Seen At 4273 Santolino Way... Murrells Inlet... And Is Believed To Be In Extreme Danger. The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division Is Also Looking For Micheal Elijah Lowe... A While Male... 6 Years Old... 3 Feet 6 Inches Tall... 40 Pounds. The Child Has Brown Hair... And Blue Eyes. His Clothing Is Unknown At This Time. The Child Was Last Seen At 4273 Santolino Way... Murrells Inlet... And Is Believed To Be In Extreme Danger.

Authorities Advise The Child Was Likely Abducted By A White Male... Age 27... 5 Foot 10 Inches Tall... 160 Pounds... With Dark Brown Hair And Blue Eyes. He Was Wearing Blue Jean Shorts And Nike Tennis Shoes. They May Be Traveling In A Bright Purple 1999 Dodge Dakota... With A Matching Camper Shell. Tennessee Tag Number 723 Qbg. This Vehicle May Be Headed To Tennessee.

If You Have Any Information Regarding This Abduction, Call The Georgetown County Sherrif's Office At 843-546-5102 Or 843-546-2752.

The Following Message Is Transmitted At The Request Of The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division In Columbia South Carolina.

I get interviewed

To help give y'all a little bit of a peek inside in the odd and quizzical mind that is behind the Blogland, I thought I'd do something a little different than your standard Q&A. I asked a friend of the opposite gender to write up and interview and agreed to answer them all, as best as I could. The end result is this interview, which I'm sharing with all of you.

Feel free to ask more questions in the comments if you'd like. I might even answer some of them.

Where were you born, and where have you lived most of your life?

I was born in Charleston at Roper Hospital. While I’ve lived in the Lowcountry most of my life, an honorable second place goes to York County.

What got you into blogging?

I wanted to increase the volume of regular writing I was doing, since I was in grad school. Oddly enough, even though my political blogging is responsible for a lot of the readership I get, as well as comments, I spent most of the first year boycotting political discussion so I could explore new areas and subjects.

What are your favorite blogs to read?

Faith in the Sound, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Mike Burleson’s New Wars, and Mike Reino’s SC6. If Andy Brack had one, I’d read it. He comes from the left, usually, but he’s far more concerned about solving problems than defending any sort of political orthodoxy. He’s someone I can agree with some, and respect a lot.

Which issues are you most concerned about?

Workforce development, cracking down on predatory lenders, higher education reform, and reining in taxes and spending in state government.

How would you describe yourself, philosophically?

Pragmatically conservative on most issues. I’m not going to expend eighty percent of my effort and political capital to accomplish the least important twenty percent of my agenda. I also believe that in the long run, it’s best to give a little, so long as we get a little in return, and remember that those we disagree with are often disagreeing with us over the means by which we make South Carolina a better place, not the need for those improvements.

Name three living people you would most like to meet?

Ed Rollins (major GOP political consultant), Rob Halford (the lead singer for Judas Priest), and Pope Benedict.

Where do you go to get away?

A waterfall on South Carolina Highway 11 in northern Greenville County, between the town of Cleveland and the turnoff to Caesar’s Head. Forget the beach – cool, clear water, shady, quiet, and never a crowd.

What do you do for a living?

I am responsible for corporate communication and special research projects for a construction general contractor. I also assist the HR director and Safety manager when they need anything in my division of the company.

What are your interests and hobbies?

I enjoy traveling in my car, especially listening to my music. I’ve got a ton of CDs and talk about a lot of my music favorites on my blog. I read a lot – especially history and action adventure novels. I did recently buy an electric guitar that I hope to learn to play one day, but I’m not sure when that will happen. Also, my graduate school studies take up a lot of time these days, along with the occasional conference or effort to submit something I’ve done for publication.

When do you graduate? What do you plan to do academically, if anything?

My last coursework will be completed in December, then I write my thesis. Tentatively, I plan to graduate in the spring of next year. There is talk that I may get to teach a class or two at night as an adjunct, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. As for where I go next, right now, I think my Masters’ degree is plenty enough. I’ve been going to college half or full time non-stop for eight years, and three degrees is plenty. Maybe one day I’ll pursue a doctorate, but not TO-day.

Religious beliefs? Do you attend church often?

I was raised Southern Baptist, but now I’m an Eastern rite Catholic. Melkite Catholic to be exact – one of the formerly-Orthodox churches that reconciled with Rome and are once more part of the Catholic Church. But with some quirks – married clergy, regular bread instead of communion wafers, chanted liturgies, and priests facing forward, to name a few. When I'm in town on Sunday, I'm usually downtown at Sacred Heart at 9am sharp.

Nothing personal against Southern Baptists, but what I’m doing now works for me. To be honest, I had tuned out of religion years ago, but during the divorce in 2003, I had a “re-awakening”. I haven’t achieved sainthood by any means, but I do finally accept that there is a God who has created this universe, and he has entrusted us with that universe, and that we should try to think and act responsibly. I don’t always do a good job of that, and sometimes, I’ve done a terrible job. But I pray a little, ask for forgiveness and the strength to face myself and the world, and try a little harder the next time.

What about your family?

My father just retired from the City of Charleston Police Department and lives in Charleston. I’ve got a wonderful five year old sister, and three brothers younger than me, but much older than my sister. My mother married again and is living in Spartanburg. She teaches at a Montessori school up there. As for me, I’m still single, four years after becoming that way, yet again.

You’re single, is that likely to change anytime soon?

Let’s just say I’m not going to say one way or another. When I get my hopes up and try really hard, things turn to crap. When I don’t bother, things happen and I miss the opportunity. Sometimes, I think the best thing to do is give up and become a hermit, but I hate the prospect of spending the rest of my life alone. But I do believe that God has created someone truly wonderful, and who is much better than I deserve. If she’s smart, she’ll avoid me like the plague, but if she’s not, then I hope and pray for the opportunity to be at least a small partner in helping make all of her dreams come true and that I'll be worthy of her.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I’ve been so grateful to my many readers. I’m amazed at the people I find who are reading this stuff, and that they actually like what I’m saying. I do hope they have the sense to balance this with information and insights from elsewhere, because one would be crazy to trust me as their only source of information. But I’m truly flattered to have the following I’ve built up, and it’s been one of the biggest honors of my entire life. There are very few times where I’d like to thank someone more, but yet I feel like saying “thank you” wouldn't come anywhere near expressing the degree of gratitude and appreciation.

Have a great weekend

My apologies to my readers who've gotten used to expecting a high volume of relevant discussion of South Carolina issues on this blogsite. It's been a hectic week and I just haven't felt as inspired to write this week.

I could say that losing the Treasurer's race was a downer, but when one considers that I got as many votes as the guy the Governor endorsed, I didn't do so bad.

In any event, I'm looking forward to having a weekend off. Look for me to be out and about with my little one. Hopefully, I'll feel recharged when I get back.

Even though it's gonna be as hot as a mo-fo out there, go out there and make it a great weekend!

What kind of a weapon are you?

This quiz is intended to match your personality to a weapon.
I came up as an AK-47 ... how about you?

Ak-47 Assault Rifle

A well seasoned fighter and capable in any situation. Extremely dependable you got your buddies back regardless of circumstance. You can take a beating and give it back just as easily. Though it may not be what you want, you stand out as a well rounded fighter.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to take the Quiz

Power Phrases: Improve your communication skills

For those of you wanting to improve your communication skills, Meryle Runion has a helpful resource in her Power Phrases email newsletter. The most helpful and insightful parts are:

The PowerPhrase of the Week – Learn phrases others have used that you can use too. This short segment provides a quick illustration of what a PowerPhrase is. The showcased Power Phrases apply to personal, professional and political situations. From how to correct the record when a detractor smears you to how to let someone know their breath needs attention, the phrases are practical and powerful.

The Poison Phrase of the Week – This is possibly the most popular section in the newsletter – mostly for its entertainment value. It’s certainly one of my favorites! Discover words that can land you in hot water and have the opposite effect from the one you intend. Sometimes you will see yourself in the examples, other times you will marvel that people can be so clueless as to say these things. They are, and they do.

I got this via a referral a few months back, and it does give me some things to think about. Take a look and see if it can help you as well. Give it a try.

Go see Michael Graham on the 23rd

I've known Michael for years, and enjoyed his pointed humor. Regrettably, his "Usual Suspects" column, well-known for bringing the conservative point of view to many alternative papers around the region, will be coming to an end.

But before it does, he's coming to Charleston on Thursday, August 23, and if you're looking to laugh your ass off about the good, bad, and ugly of South Carolina politics, you should be there. I'll be there:

A column that began with his banishment from South Carolina Public Radio fifteen years ago will come to an end when author, comedian and former GOP political consultant Michael Graham “Rounds Up the Usual Suspects” at Theatre 99 on Thursday, August 23rd.

Graham spent six years as a national, touring comedian, working with performers like Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld. In 1992, he returned to South Carolina to begin a career as a GOP political consultant. This special one-time-only performance will be Graham’s first stage appearance since his successful 1997 one man show “Strom Thurmond’s Love Child Tells All.”

“It’s a part of my past that many of my readers aren’t familiar with, but the truth is, I spent years staying up late, doing blow and partying with my friends,” Graham confesses. “That’s right—I was once state treasurer of South Carolina.”

... I'll see you there!

Now hiring: Political communication professor at Georgia State

I got this from one my academic groups. Without a PhD, I couldn't even be a candidate for this position, and after my bid for Treasurer, I'm going to take some time off before I heed the career advice of my readers. But some of you political junkies might be interested in this position being advertised at Georgia State in Atlanta:

Political Communication: The department of communication invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor in political communication, to begin in August 2008. The successful candidate will be able to teach undergraduate courses in mass or speech communication and will have a research program in one of the following areas: qualitative/ humanistic research methods, political discourse, politics and new media, political communication theory (including theories connected to opinion polling or cognitive research on voter behavior), campaigns, historical research relating to the development of political communication. Candidates should have the ability to teach in the department’s undergraduate mass or speech communication program and contribute to work done in the M.A. and doctoral Public Communication programs. Applications should include a letter of application and CV, transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and evidence of teaching effectiveness. Review of applications to begin October 15, 2007. Georgia State University is an EEO/AA employer; applications are especially encouraged from women, minorities, and candidates from traditionally underrepresented groups. Send application materials to Dr. Mary Stuckey, Political Communication Search Committee Chair, Department of Communication, 662 One Park Place, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Ga., 30302-4000.

Gee, do y'all think the Governor's endorsement would help? Not that it went too well the last time he tried to help someone get a job ...

High tide for the S.C. Senate Democrats?

Tuesday's special election for the vacant Senate seat in Berkeley County may have been the last, best opportunity for the Democrats in the State Senate to stop decades of bleeding.

They recruited a well-known candidate with a record of winning elections, ran a well-funded and polished campaign, but still lost handily. While John West, their candidate, ran much better than their 2004 candidate, getting 42% of the vote does little to regain lost ground.

Just weeks before, their nominee for the special election for District 46 in Beaufort County, chock full of the kind of northern retirees famous for splitting tickets for moderate Democrats, ran a distant second, barely ahead of the Libertarian candidate.

Now, eyes shift northwards, up the Savannah River, to the race to fill the Senate seat recently vacated by long-time incumbent Tommy Moore. This seat is a sprawling conglomeration of rural forests and farmland as well as suburban Aiken County, reaching across four counties. The Republicans fielded six candidates for the seat, with several with strong connections to the Aiken County GOP. Whoever survives the primary and probable run-off will go on to face the sole Democratic candidate, State Representative Bill Clyburn of Edgefield County.

The district may be a somewhat of a toss-up, but the combined weight of the strong local GOP, determined to wipe out the last Democratic holding on their county's Senatoral delegation, and state party organizations should make holding this seat a tough proposition for the Democrats.

History hasn't been good to the Senate Democrats. In the last two decades, the GOP has only yielded three Senate seats to Democrats, one of those a majority-black seat won in a special election. In spite of these losses, the GOP has gone from 11 to 26 seats in the Senate.

The possible retirements of Democratic Senators from GOP-leaning seats in Greenwood and Horry Counties next year create tempting opportunities for the GOP. A potential rematch for the Sumter-based Senate seat between Democratic incumbent Phil Leventis and GOP challenger Dickie Jones, which came down to a margin of dozens of votes, should also present a tempting opportunity. It is hard to imagine that at least one of these three seats won't fall into GOP hands.

A streak of good luck means the Democrats hold their own and remain outnumbered 20-26, but another streak of bad luck could take their numbers down to 16. Just a third of the Senate, and one of the smallest party minorities in any legislative chamber in the United States. These prospects have to have them worried, and GOP strategists salivating.

While they presently hold some power in being able to vote as a bloc and attract the occasional GOP Senator to cross over and vote with them, a shrinking minority will make it even harder for Democrats to convince potential supporters that they are still politically relevant. If they get their noses further bloodied in these upcoming races, it won't make their challenge any easier.

July 2007: The month in review

After things seemed to slow down last month, as the Legislature went home and summer began, I thought things were going to slow down here in the Blogland as well. But no such luck ... your participation via visits and comments was some of the most active I've ever seen!

This month saw some very bad news, especially with the loss of Walter Whetsell's son Austin. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Walter and his family as they continue to recover from their loss. The ongoing campaigns for the State Senate special election in Berkeley County and my mock campaign for State Treasurer also stimulated a lot of reading and discussion.

As always, the month in review looks at those postings that turned you, the readers, on more than the other postings. It's the time of month where we look at what you think and what you say, and it's always interesting to see what's on your mind. This month's volume of comments was the highest ever seen around here, and we appreciate that you shared so much this month.

Here's the ten most-read postings of the month:

1) Austin Whetsell and the Whetsell family - 7/2
2) Goodbye Thomas - 7/24
3) Capps announces bid for State Treasurer - 7/30
4) Who could be - or should be - South Carolina's next Treasurer - 7/26
5) Shirley Hinson for the Senate - Do it tomorrow - 7/2
6) Attack mailing seeks to create false criminal associations - 7/4
7) GOP troubles = Democratic opportunities? - 7/18
8) Blogger credibility? - 7/25
9) Richard Eckstrom exonerated - YES! - 7/20
10) Environmentalists attack McCain - 7/13

Here's the ten most-commented postings of the month:

1) Who could be - or should be - South Carolina's next Treasurer - 7/26
2) Goodbye Thomas - 7/24
3) Richard Eckstrom exonerated - YES! - 7/20
4) Capps announces bid for State Treasurer - 7/30
5) Environmentalists attack McCain - 7/13
6) Governor Sanford endorses Tim Scott, incites a riot - 7/31
7) Blogger credibility? - 7/25
8) Attack mailing seeks to create false criminal associations - 7/4
8) 2010 Gubernatoral candidates - 7/10
10) Austin Whetsell and the Whetsell family - 7/2

As always, thanks for tuning in, and be sure to keep coming back! In closing, we'll share with you a YouTube treat - the video from the Bulletboys' song "For the love of money", that almost became the official theme song of my Treasurer non-candidacy:

Congratulations to Berkeley's Senator Campbell

After what had been a roller-coaster ride of a night, Paul Campbell pulled ahead to keep Berkeley County's Senate District 44 in the GOP column.

The intial reports I'd received first indicated a close race, and then a call that West was up by 700 and the Post and Courier was going to call it. About 40 minutes later, the final numbers were confirmed, and Paul Campbell will be the Senate's newest freshman member. While his margin of victory was far smaller percentage-wise than Bill Mescher's 2004 66% romp, with an open seat and a candidate of West's caliber, a closer margin was to be expected.

Congratulations go out to Paul Campbell for a job well done.

While two House special elections are ongoing in Beaufort and Dorchester Counties, the next major special election battleground will likely be the Savannah River Valley region, where seven candidates have filed to run for the swing State Senate district recently given up by predatory lending vulture Tommy Moore.

Stay tuned - because you know we'll be watching ...

Let the Crybabies work

When I went back to college, my tuition saw several double-digit increases until my graduation in 2004.

I worked full-time and kept up with my kids as best as I could. Somehow, I held down full-time enrollment, and my GPA, which started out at 3.0 my first semester, rose steadily and I graduated with a 3.71 GPA and a bunch of honors.

But in spite of my full-time enrollment and my grades, I could not receive a penny of lottery money. A provision in the lottery funding requires all students to complete college in four years' time - a clause which disqualifies almost every adult (taxpaying, since most adults have jobs) student. Even those who go back and prove themselves, as I and many other older students do.

In my case, the lottery not only didn't help me, it actually hurt me when tuition increases put thousands of dollars of extra financial burden upon me. Thanks, Jim Hodges (Jimmy, I hope you're reading this ... or if you know him, pass this his way).

This story in the Rock Hill Herald made me want to laugh:

Lottery profits were $273 million in the year ending June 30, down from a peak of $320 million in 2005-2006.

Meanwhile, the cost of the college scholarship program is expected to grow by at least $10 million a year over the next three years.

Lottery profits pay for most of the scholarships, which totaled an estimated $245 million last year. However, $50 million from the state's general fund also was needed to pay for LIFE scholarships. The taxpayer share of the LIFE program is projected to rise to more than $80 million for the year that just began.

"The decline in revenue was predictable," Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman said. "After three to five years, every lottery experiences a decline in revenue."

Today, any S.C. student who qualifies for the LIFE scholarship receives the $5,000-a-year grant. However, Leatherman said the most likely way to control the future cost of the scholarship program would be to cut that amount. That could be done by capping the total amount to be paid out in state-financed scholarships and then dividing that money by the number of students who qualify.

If the number of students qualifying continues to grow, the amount of the individual grants would decline.

But state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said lawmakers should honor the commitment they made to give more S.C. students a chance to get a higher education.

No offense intended, Senator Martin, but if little Johnny or Susie wants to go to college, fine, let 'em go. But don't buy into the whining about "if I don't get the lottery money, I can't go to college". If I didn't get the free ride, managed to support a family and still graduated in the top 4% of my class, then they outta quit crying and get a job to help pay their way through, like I did. Or swallow some pride and stay with their parents for four more years to afford to pay their tuition.

I've conducted polling in a number of political campaigns around the state, and anytime I asked where lottery funds should go, the overwhelming majority say the money needs to go into K-12, not college funding. I'd put the average of those responses at about four-to-one in favor of K-12 funding.

Given the dangerous condition of our school bus fleet, I'd say that should be a priority for education funding. Or maybe paying off the billion dollars in school construction bonds the state issued in the late 1990s. Not pandering to a bunch of kids who don't value a college education enough to sacrifice for it.

Paul Campbell for the State Senate - Vote tomorrow

If you live in Berkeley County's State Senate District #44, then do yourself and your community a favor by turning out to cast your vote for Republican Paul Campbell.

Senator Bill Mescher was my friend, and there are many who supported Bill, including myself and Kitty, Bill's wife, who are supporting Campbell. Please join us in supporting Campbell.

If you live near the district, look up some friends, neighbors, relatives and/or co-workers and take a few minutes to call them up to encourage them to vote for Campbell tomorrow.

Two birthdays: Blogland and Bonnie

Today is two birthdays in one: The Blogland turns two, and Bonnie, my youngest daughter, turns nine.

For the Blogland, it's been a helluva year, and you've been right there with us, reading, ranting, and telling others to tune in to the discussions. We can't thank you enough ... so just reach into your screen and we'll give you a piece of birthday cake.

If it's your birthday, then allow us to wish you a Happy Birthday ... and many more.

Converse Chellis, our new State Treasurer

The wild ride of the last week or so came to an end with the selection of Converse Chellis to be South Carolina's next State Treasurer.

Not surprisingly, legislators bitch-slapped Governor Sanford when his recommended candidate, Charleston County Council Chairman Tim Scott, couldn't even get a single vote for nomination. An attempt by Senator John Courson to delay voting for more candidates (presumably) to help elect an outsider, such as myself, falled handily. In the end, Chellis handily defeated State Senator Greg Ryberg (R-Aiken).

The rejection of the last-minute smear campaign against Chellis was wider than expected by legislative observers. Perhaps had they tried to based their allegations in reality, instead of blind ambition, it might have worked. Instead, their over-the-top attacks were ignored, and even mocked by some.

Meanwhile, hidous allegations against Chelis by OJ Simpson that he was the real killer, as well as other charges that Chellis is the Devil himself, remain unproven. We look forward to getting to the bottom of these and other accusations in the months ahead.

Ravenel's indictment and the recent smear campaign have no doubt served to increase cynicism to how the public views the office. We wish Converse well, and hope that as our Treasurer, he has the ability and opportunity to give this office a fresh start, by restoring the trust of the public, as well as New York bond companies, in this office.

Presidential Speechwriting: A look at Presidential speechmaking

Since the advent of broadcast news media, beginning with radio, Presidential speechmaking has become a tool of mass discourse. Beginning with the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and continuing to the present, Presidents use this form of discourse to outline policies, sway millions to support their causes, and defend nations.

In “Presidential Speechwriting: From the New Deal to the Reagan Revolution and Beyond”, editors Kurt Ritter and Martin Medhurst assembled chapters written by those who studied the political rhetoric of the Presidents from FDR to Ronald Reagan in great detail. Each author examines the speechwriting and speaking approaches of an administration. In their examinations, we find that each President had a different approach to speechmaking and these approaches are looked at in great detail.

First, the editors poke holes in ten major fallacies about Presidential speechwriting:

1) Before broadcast media, Presidents always wrote their own speeches,
2) Franklin Roosevelt was the first President to use speechwriters regularly,
3) Presidential speechwriters have always been called speechwriters,
4) Presidential speechwriters have always been employed as White House staff,
5) Speechwriters simply represent the President’s policies,
6) Speechwriting reduces Presidents to marionettes who speak the words of others,
7) The most successful speechwriters are those who seek anonymity,
8) Presidential discourse would improve if the wrote their own speeches,
9) It is hard understand what Presidents believe because their words are not their own,
10) Speechwriting is a very small part of the policy-making process.

In the first chapter, these myths are challenged in brief, but throughout the book, we find them challenged with many examples presented by the authors.

Of the many critiques made throughout the book, the harshest judgment was reserved for Lyndon Johnson, whose 1968 speech announcing he would not seek re-election began with an appeal to “speak to you of peace in Vietnam and Southeast Asia”. The speech was described as “instead of withdrawing U.S. troops, President Lyndon B. Johnson withdrew himself”.

Other in-depth looks are made by the authors. including the Carter administration, where President Carter, who had little use for speechwriters or speechwriting, began his Presidency offering idealism and change from the cynicism of Watergate and Vietnam, only to stumble through crisis after crisis. The role of Ted Sorenson, Kennedy’s main speechwriter, in defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis, is discussed as an example where the process of speechwriting produced persuasive options to resolve critical situations.

Presidential speechwriting isn’t just applicable to the rhetoric of Presidents. Those wanting to make their own speeches more persuasive, better understand high-pressure group dynamics, how important messages are put together and presented, as well as those who are interested in studying Presidential administrations, would all find this book a great read and a permanent addition to their library.

You can find this on Amazon for a pretty cheap price, so go get it – it’s well worth it.

Converse Chellis for State Treasurer

For those who've followed the saga of Thomas Ravenel, the last few weeks have been disappointing indeed. On Friday, the General Assembly meets to elect a Treasurer who will serve out Ravenel's term in office.

Our first choice to fill this office would have been Ken Wingate, who has served as Interim Treasurer since Ravenel's indictment. His experience with financial management and enthusiasm for public service made all the difference in heading off a potential crisis following Ravenel’s indictment and subsequent suspension. Had he desired to remain in this office, Wingate likely would have done an outstanding job. Unfortunately, he has chosen to serve only until either Ravenel was cleared or a permanent replacement chosen. We’re sorry to see him leave, and hope he will continue his commitment to public service in other capacities.

With Ken Wingate no longer an option, the Blogland will hereby endorse State Representative Converse Chellis for the office of State Treasurer. Chellis' professional background as a CPA, along with his eleven years of legislative experience, puts him ahead of others who have shown interest in being appointed to this office.

There have been considerable questions as to whose side he would take in the ongoing battles between Budget and Control Board members. Often, the Blogland sides with Governor Sanford and Comptroller Eckstrom on fiscal issues, and we hope that Chellis will consider their points of view with an open mind. Chellis is known for being quiet, deliberate, and willing to buck the crowd when he has reached a decision. We hope he will apply this same approach to deciding how to vote on the important issues that come before this board.

Last year, the Blogland supported State Senator Greg Ryberg for this office. Given the issues and qualifications of the candidates seeking this office at that time, he stood out as our favorite. While we always appreciate Greg's willingness to serve as well as his outspoken manner on many issues, Chellis' qualifications make him the most qualified of the given candidates in this race.

In spite of the widespread series of attack campaigns being waged against Treasurer candidates, this endorsement, as well as the ending of the Capps for Treasurer campaign, was not motivated by a payoff incident which allegedly took place in Florence last night. In fact, we ask those involved in the race to look solely at the qualifications of the candidates and disregard these false and misleading rumors.

Representative Converse Chellis is the candidate most qualified to fill the office of State Treasurer, and as such, deserves an opportunity to serve the people of South Carolina in this office. On Friday, the Legislature would be wise to give him that opportunity.

Sleaze and Payoffs in the race for Treasurer?

Like most of you know, I am a big Mark Sanford supporter, and I decided to 'eliminate' any and all other candidates for the upcoming Treasurer position. I was going to work on Rep. Converse Chellis, but after work, I see that someone else was working on that. That led me to the No. 2 guy - Earl "Love Gun" Capps.

In a deliciously deceptive move, I invited Earl to Florence to discuss the upcoming campaign. After three years of coercive activity, I had been able to identify Earl's weaknesses - women, Beer, and Fast Food. Since I can't get women myself, I decided to focus on the other two.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Here is the truth about these allegations:

1) I did not withdraw my candidacy in return for any offers or promises,
2) I did not have sexual relations with that woman,
3) I did not inhale,
4) I have never referred to myself as "Love Gun", and
5) The Blogland will continue to offer its readers an independent (though often conservative) outsider look at South Carolina politics, and is NOT for sale at any price.

As Marion Berry, the famous former Mayor of Washington D.C. once said: "B**** set me up" ... and that's what I was, set up. I'm asking you, my readers, to ask yourselves if I'd really sell out for Arby's and a T-shirt.

Do y'all really think I'd stoop so low?

Blogland readers should be careful not to fall for any of the misleading smear campaigns being waged against those running for State Treasurer.

Capps to quit Treasurer's race and endorse Chellis

In a press conference, Lowcountry political blogger Earl Capps angrily ended his short-lived campaign for State Treasurer, throwing his support to State Representative Converse Chellis.

Everything about this last-minute personal sneak attack is reminiscent of the worst of the "good ol' boy" style of politics that Converse's critics accused him of embracing - whisper smear campaigns based upon deception, strategic disclosures, and masked identities. Further, I'm personally offended to see friends drug into this sort of self-serving assassination politics, including Converse, who is my friend and Representative, and Palmetto Scoop, who was so supportive of my candidacy.

We saw such smear tactics used by the Nazis to gain political power. I see no real difference in what was done today to Converse. I'll be dammed if I'm going to support this sort of reckless "anything goes" power grab. In a free society, the ends never justify the means. I don't care who you are or how important you think your cause may be.

When asked who he felt was responsible for the attacks, he offered "some chickenshit, that's all I know at this time. Just sniff around and when you find a revolting stench, you'll know you're close".


I want to thank all of my readers who hatched up this crazy notion that a total outsider could be, and should be, trusted with the responsibility of the office of Treasurer. The unsolicited outpouring of support from across the state and beyond was more than I ever expected, and certainly more than I deserved.

While I'm sure y'all wanted me to stay in this until the votes were cast Friday afternoon, I felt that a statement had to be made about the attacks on Converse. For those I haven't met in person, I hope to meet each of you in person to thank you personally for your support.

Me running for Treasurer may have been a crazy idea, but then again, that's what they said about those head jobs who signed the Declaration of Independence. Look what they started.

Thanks for believing in me, but more importantly, thanks for believing in the little guy ... and in the power of your own voices to shake things up. From the days in 1991 after the "little guys" turned back the tanks and fought the power of Soviet Communism in the streets of Moscow, here's a video for all of you:

... you rocked, and I salute YOU.

State Treasurer candidate passes drug test

To help address concerns about drug use in state government, political blogger, head-banger and State Treasurer candidate Earl Capps volunteered to take a drug test, sharing the results with his supporters and news media in a press conference.

See y'all, I'm clean. I spend all my money on 80's heavy metal CDs, my kids, high South Carolina taxes, and of course, Green Bean museums. After all that, I can't afford a drug habit. If this state's tax system was ever overhauled, you can bet more South Carolinians would find their productive potential freed to have the kind of drug lifestyle that most people could only dream of having.

He also announced that several bands had expressed interest in performing at his inaugural ball, as well as his re-election campaign event, should he be appointed, and they get out of rehab. "Some of these bands will work for almost nothing", he said. "Except for Quiet Riot. That Kevin Dubrow wanted us to throw in a membership for the Hair Club for Men so he could get a better wig."

To explain the test, the bars only turn colors if the subject has not done the drug in question. A positive result would result in no color change:

The "C" bars at the top are the controls, to indicate the test was working properly while the other six test for specific drug usage. The six drug test bars are as follows:

COC - Cocaine (or College of Charleston, according to some)
THC - Marijuana
mAMP - Meth/Crystal Meth
OPI - Opiates/Heroin
PCP - Duuuhhh
AMP - Amphetamines