Vains of Jenna's rocks hard on "Lit Up/Let Down"

The last day of the month and here is the last of the three album reviews that we promised to deliver as part of our ROCKtober efforts:

Any band which consider's Motley Crue's Too Fast for Love album their number one musical influence has got to be a great band, and Vains of Jenna, four hard rockin' dudes from ... Sweden ... have got what we're needin'.

Their first album release, Lit Up/Let Down, is a hard, fast, straight-up rock and roll metal gem, in the best LA tradition. From the first track on this album, they hit you hard, hit you fast, and don't let up. You can pick up influences of the Crue, Guns n' Roses, LA Guns, all put together and thrown at you as fast as the early Crue stuff was.

But don't mistake these guys for hair band wanna-be types who are just a cut above some lame cover band. They dish it out with their own style and attitude, building upon the influences of these great bands to come up with their own breed of great metal. This is a must-get album, so shut up and go get it!

In the meantime, check out their live show:



11 years later, he's back

The Blogland congratulates Heyward Hutson, the former and new State Representative from Summerville. He won tonight's GOP runoff with 55% of the vote in what was a very hotly contested race, winning back the seat he gave up in 1996 to Converse Chellis, who recently became State Treasurer.

Even though the Democratic candidate backed out, and a lot of Heyward's supporters frankly hate our guts, we're still endorsing him for the December 4th election, opposed or not.

Congrats, Heyward, and good luck.

600 posts later

... and amazingly, we're still here.

To mark this special occasion, we take you to Schwab Road, somewhere on I-10 in east Texas. We appreciate the folks at Schwab Road for being ... Schwab Road, and the Texas DOT for putting up the signage which included the number "600".

It may be east Texas, but it looks a lot like somewhere on I-85 in Cherokee County to me.

Whereever your travels take you, remember, the journey is half the fun (and 80% of the costs, due to gas prices) ... and whereever you are, the Blogland is right there, stalking you whereever you hide.

Thanks for tuning in, and as always, stay tuned ...

We support Shane Massey for the Senate

Some say it's not possible to shake up politics, to bring new perspectives and new faces - but once in a while, someone comes along to prove those people wrong.

In the last couple of months, we've watched a bold new voice prove that the status quo and the good ol' boys don't always have to win: Republican Shane Massey.

In the Republican run-off, he knocked off the good ol' boy who had managed the previous Senator's re-election campaigns with crushing a two-to-one victory, and now he faces yet another long-time politican in Democratic State Representative Bill Clyburn.

Clyburn has his own good ol' boy connections through his cousin, U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn, and he's been using them all he can to help his candidacy. Democratic Presidential candidates, eager to curry favor with Congressman Clyburn, a high-profile Democrat in the House, have poured people and resources into the district to help defeat Massey. That's good ol' boy politics as usual, and at it's worst.

We think it's high time people stopped getting elected because they cut the right insider deals or had the right relatives.

For Massey, this election is about Senate District 25, not the ambitions of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and he has kept working and reaching out to the people of the Senate district, to make sure their voices are heard in Columbia. He hasn't let the invasion of outsiders slow him down, and we're proud of his continuing committment to win the seat so he can go to the Senate to be a voice for much-needed reforms.

When contrasted against Clyburn, whose record of support needed reforms and restructuring is nil, and who makes no bones about the use of his cousin's political good ol' buddy networks, it's clear the two candidates offer very different visions and directions.

If the voters of District 25 want a hard-working Senator who will be a real reformer, then Republican Shane Massey is their only choice in the upcoming special election.




House of 1000 Pleasures

This song was first recorded in the mid 80s by EZO, a short-lived Japanese heavy metal band, and then redone by Loudness, another Japanese metal band formed by several former EZOers.

The most kick-ass opening of a metal song I've ever heard is the first 30-40 seconds of the classic "House of 1000 Pleasures". Go take a look at this You Tube clip:



Blogland Weekend: Off to Bamberg

U.S. Group personnel pulled aside the barrels and opened up Main Street for a parade that was well over a mile long, and the Blogland was there for the occasion.

The kids had a good time watching the parade and scooping up the candy that was being thrown out from the 90-plus parade floats and vehicles. That is after they were done laying down in the street.

Once the ribbon was cut and the parade continued rolling up Main Street, the road was closed back off to allow the community to enjoy a street festival. Once some minor patching work is completed Monday, the road will be opened permanently to traffic. Once minor detail work is completed in the coming weeks, the entire project will be done.

An interesting moment of historical irony was found in the picture we took of Representative Bakari Sellers riding in the back of a Bentley at the parade, being driven by John Sanders. His father, Cleveland Sellers, was the only protestor jailed after the Orangeburg Massacre, accused of "inciting a riot", and grew up in a time when the role and ethnicity of the politician and driver in such a car would have been quite opposite.

It's certainly a comforting sign that the progress that Seller's father helped to bring is finally happening.

Sanders stuck around, but Sellers had another engagement to attend. We'd really hoped to meet the guy, but maybe another time.

For the rest of the weekend, it's kids and studying ... fun, fun, fun. But whereever you're at and whatever you're doing, be sure to have a great weekend ... and check out these pictures from the ribbon-cutting:


Bamberg's Main Street to open tomorrow

While some detail work needs to be completed, those of you who travel through Bamberg will have your Main Street back tomorrow, and everyone I've talked to is looking forward to it (no surprise there). It'll reopen tomorrow with a big parade and we'll be there. If you come, we'll see you there ... if you don't, we'll bring you some pics of the occasion.

The patience of the community with our work has been greatly appreciated. While most only noticed Main Street closed, there was a lot of other work that had to take place in conjunction with the main project: a series of intersections had to be realigned and widened for safer turning (especially US 78 where trucks could not make turns onto Main Street) and a two mile storm drainage ditch needed to be constructed, which will help with flooding issues for the entire south side of the Bamberg community.

As usual, what you see isn't all of what you get with construction projects, especially highway ones. But the end result of all you see, and don't see, will be major progress for a community that has been overlooked for years. That's what counts, and that's what we're glad to bring you.

For a bit of nostalgia, here's a picture of Main Street just before our work started.

Libertad: Velvet Revolver Re-loaded

Billed by Sammy Hagar "the best rock and roll band left on the planet", the super-group Velvet Revolver, led by Scott Wieland of Stone Temple Pilots and with three former Guns and Roses members, give us a great second hard-rocking piece of work with their new release "Libertad".

If you wanna know which songs I liked best from the CD ... She Builds Quick Machines, She Mine, and American Man. But there is not a single bad song on this entire album and everyone I've talked to has their favorite songs.

As with the first Velvet Revolver CD, I can't help but wonder why Axl is struggling to put out a single album while most of the REAL former Guns are continuing to tour and put out solid work without any of the drama. These could have been great GnR albums, except Axl's appetite for dysfunction wouldn't allow that.

While we can't do anything about Axl, you can make sure you don't miss out on a great album from a great rock band. Go buy Libertad today.

While you're reading this, here's a You Tube treat - the video for their first release from the album, entitled "She Builds Quick Machines":



Iraq: Popular resistance and lower casualties continue

During the American Revolutionary War, history notes that the fight for the southern colonies was a see-sawing affair between Continentials and Royal forces. When pushed by heavy-handed British regulars and brutal Tory militias following the destruction of the entire southern Continential Army at Camden and Charleston, local Americans realized they could not remain neutral and took the lead in fighting for their safety and their independence.

While militia forces would wage a brushfire rebellion across the South, at Kings Mountain and Cowpens they dealt heavy and irreparable blows directly to British regular forces. Where regular Continental forces had taken four years to lose the southern colonies, militia forces, with very little outside help, were able to drive the British out in less than two following those two battles.

A similar pattern is continuing to develop in Iraq, where the Iraqi people, fed up with continued terrorism, are taking sides and taking up arms alongside American troops, with notable results:


The commander of the battle zone — Lt. Col. Val Keaveny, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne) — said his unit has lost only one soldier in the past four months despite intensified operations against both Shiite and Sunni extremists, including powerful al-Qaida in Iraq cells.

Keaveny attributes the startling decline to a decrease in attacks by militants who are being rounded up in big numbers on information provided by the citizen force — which has literally doubled the number of eyes and ears available to the military.

The efforts to recruit local partners began taking shape earlier this year in the western province of Anbar, which had become the virtual heartland for Sunni insurgents and al-Qaida bands. The early successes in Anbar — coming alongside a boost of 30,000 U.S. forces into the Baghdad area — led to similar alliances in other parts of Iraq.

"People are fed up with fear, intimidation and being brutalized. Once they hit that tipping point, they're fed up, they come to realized we truly do provide them better hope for the future. What we're seeing now is the beginning of a snowball," said Keaveny, whose forces operate out of Forward Operating Base Kalsu, about 35 miles south of Baghdad.


As in our own war for independence, the Iraqi people, not American forces will decide the fate of the conflict. We can train them, support them, and fight alongside them, but this is their nation and their war to win.

Let us hope this is yet another sign that the conflict is finally turning the corner so our troops will be able to start coming home, with their heads held high and able to say "mission accomplished".

Someone appreciates hard work

This arrived at my office today as a reward for all the hard work someone's been doing as of late from this BBQ place in Kansas City that I've never been to - Jack Stack BBQ. Beef brisket and baked beans and some other stuff, all nicely packed in a foam ice chest with lots of dry ice.


The dry ice has kept it rather well, so I'm sure it'll keep until the weekend, and if nobody else wants it, then my little one and I will just have to eat it ourselves.

Today's warm fuzzy message

This morning we can't think of much to say, but we felt it's always important to start one's day out with positive messages ... uuhhhhh ... who are we kidding? This is the freakin' Blogland we're talking about.

Anyway, we've got a YouTube video from the guys with Ugly Kid Joe with a real positive message, going out to one of our regular readers on what could be considered a special day. To that reader (and others) ... click on the photo ... and we hope you like it ...


College costs up in South Carolina - yep, more crybabies

Some good thoughts can be found over on FITS about the cost of higher education, as The State shares with us more News of the Obvious about the costs of a college education in South Carolina:

Students and their parents can attest to a painful truth about college costs: They’ve been on a rocket ship rise for years. And there is no end in sight.

Paying for college is especially tough in South Carolina, where public universities are the most expensive in the Southeast.


Jumping Jimmy Hodges! I thought the lottery was supposed to fix this problem ... I guess it didn't. Is anyone surprised?

Yes, one of the legacies of the "Education Governor", aside from a former Chief of Staff in prison is "tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities in South Carolina averaged $7,916 a year. That figure is 36 percent higher than the national average and 58 percent higher than the Southeastern average."

Thanks Jimmy. We really appreciate what you've done for our schools.

Paying for higher education is like buying a car. The price you pay tends to roughly equal the amount of money you can afford to spend. This is why in-state tuition spiralled once most college students had a few thousand more dollars to spend, via the lottery.

But to be fair, there are a lot of problems with higher education in South Carolina that had nothing to do with Hodges. Just stand in the parking lot between two state public colleges which offer two-year associate's degrees for transfer to our four year colleges, or economically depressed communities which have USC campuses but no technical education facilities to help attract industry.

FITS says duplication, waste, and turf are the problems with our system of higher education ... and they're right on the mark. It's past time to streamline our colleges as a means to making higher education more affordable for our state's families.

But one does have to marvel at these s*** for brains who attend state-run public colleges, complain about the high tuition at those state-run public colleges, but somehow decide working for federal candidates is going to solve the problem:

Lauren Johnson, a 20-year-old junior at Winthrop University, said she has two scholarships, a Pell Grant and a student loan, and she still has a hard time covering all of her costs.

“Each year, tuition goes up,” said Johnson, the daughter of a military family that settled in Columbia. “We’re scrambling even more to try to figure out how to pay for this.”

Molly Emerson, a 19-year-old volunteer for the Obama campaign, said college costs were “a huge consideration” in determining which candidate would get her support.

“The costs are astronomical,” said Emerson, who is taking a year off from college to help the Obama campaign. “I’m one of four children. My parents have many more years of costs.”

Like Emerson, Johnson is also supporting Obama, and college costs are one of the main reasons.


I'm sure glad such geniuses are working for a candidate that I don't support. I hope he keeps attracting people with such a great understanding of government.

If they're so concerned about getting an education, maybe they should:

1) Not take a year off from college to go campaign (must be tough to be so poor) and get a job to pay for their education - like I did, and
2) Stop worrying about how to spend money taken from other people's paychecks (taxes) and spend more time working for their own paychecks.

I know ... I'm cold, heartless, and cruel for talking like this, I know ... but hey, if you wanted lots of love, you've be over at FITS, not here.

Challenging Republicans?

Recently, some of my readers have contacted me, asking me to tone down my criticisms of fellow Republicans, concerned that I am helping Democrats by hurting the party's image.

As the ones who have contacted me are good and decent people, who presented their concerns in a respectful and thoughtful manner, I see no reason to name them or criticize them, here in the Blogland or elsewhere. In fact, I appreciate their candor, their willingness to speak up, and their believing that I would give them a fair audience to address their concerns.

However, I must disagree with their calls for silence. When Republicans go bad, we in the party have a responsibility to speak up and challenge them. These rogues often play a sort-of bluff, hoping that we will eventually back down for the "good of the party", while they act with no regard for the same.

In looking back at the loss of the GOP's congressional majorities, much of it can be placed on the arrogance of the likes of former Speaker Dennis Hastert, former Senators Allen and Burns, and others who bulled forward with little challenge. They took their powers and priviledges for granted and in the end, squandered the work of hundreds of thousands of GOP activists and contributors.

In the face of Hastert brushing his dozen or so rotten apples under the rug, and the arrogant and insulting public commentary of Allen and Burns, many in the GOP remained silent. Not to mention the silence of the GOP grassroots at the skyrocketing federal budgets. As a consequence, they defined the GOP as a party that had turned rotten and spendthrift, devoid of principle.

We allowed them to get away with this, and in the end, we got what we deserved - thrown out of power.

Here in South Carolina, we're confronted with the reality of a Republican political majority which increases spending by over 40% in three years and party hacks abuse their positions of power. The differences between these home-state Republican idiots and Hastert and Company in Washington are few.

It's not just Beltram's threats and lies or bloated spending either. The Berkeley County GOP, after rejecting an audit following accusations of embezzlement and check-bouncing, is facing state Ethics charges ... two constitutional officers nailed by the feds ... you get the picture.

This is looking more and more like the days of corrupt and incompetent Democratic rule which made anti-establishment types like myself into Republicans. But somehow we're expected to just shut up and let this happen?

To them, I have no choice but to say: "Hell No!"

A simple rule of media and public relations holds that when you fail to define yourself, others will do it in your stead. Either Republicans will stand up to turn their party back to its core beliefs in limited and ethical government, fiscal restraint, and greater individual opportunity, or someone else will be glad to recast our image as amoral, power-hungry hypocrites - using the words and deeds of our state GOP's rotten apples to do so.

The 2006 elections should have taught us the voters will not tolerate incomptence, corruption, and arrogance for long. Either we can clean up things up on our own, or the voters will do it for us.

When Beltram and others bluff here at home, hoping nobody will question their actions to "protect the party's image", you can count on the Blogland to call their bluff. We'd rather people see a party where some are principled and outspoken than one where none are.

... so what do YOU think? Speak up and be heard.

Good morning Kansas

No, Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore ... heck, we've never even been to Kansas in the first place - but we've been told they've got really good BBQ there. However, we do know people who've been there (there's one we know and think she's pretty hot), and others who are there right now.

According to our crack research team, at least one resident of the great State of Kansas will read this post, and we hope they're going to enjoy more quality time with Senator Brownback, seeing as he's decided not to run for President after all (not like he had a snowball's chance in hell in the race ...).

In any event, we're flattered that someone from Kansas is reading (heck, we're flattered that anyone at all would be caught dead reading this stuff). To that reader from Kansas, we'd like to say:


THANK YOU FOR VISITING THE BLOGLAND

... and ...

WE'RE GLAD YOU ENJOYED
YOUR STAY IN THE PALMETTO STATE!


How come you didn't bring us anything while you were here?

So as a special tribute to the great state of Kansas, the state that ... uuhhh ... we're not sure what it is or does ... can someone help us out here ... we'd like to share this You Tube piece on the making of Bob Dole's famous Visa Check Card commercial:




The Donnas ROCK with "Bitchin'"

As part of the Blogland's ROCKtober 2007, we promised you a look at three new releases from new bands who carry on the best of the 80s hard rock traditions, but without coming across as a tired cover band ... and as always, we deliver.

First up is one of this year's most important album releases, a great piece of work from The Donnas, a hard-rocking all-female lineup. Everything about this album, from the cover art with an 80s-esque logo to the hard rockin' tunes on the disc, screams great rock and roll with a solid connection to the long tradition of 70s and 80s headbangers.

This quote from an interview on their website explains in words what you'll find in the music about the connection between this album and 80s-era metal:



As for their sound, “We’ve always felt somewhat sceneless,” says Castellano. “But these days, when we go to a metal show I feel like ‘these are our people!’ That’s where I really feel the connection-Motley Crue, Cinderella, Aerosmith, Def Leppard-that’s where I want our band to be.”
The first song on this album, the title track - Bitchin', will hit any real metal fan like a hammer, and before you know it, I promise you'll find yourself listening to the rest of the album cranked all the way UP:


You're gonna listen up
We're gonna take you over
You're gonna lick it up
And you're gonna want more, more, more, more!
This is what it sounds like, When heads roll!
This is what it sounds like, We're all going down!
This is what it sounds like, and you're gonna want more, more, more, more!
More! More! More! So hold on tight!
This is one band that I've gotta go see play live. Even if you've got to skip lunch at work for a week to buy this CD, go out and buy it. You'll be glad you did.

In closing, the usual YouTube eye and ear candy from a live performance:



The origin of our quote

Ok, with it being a slow news day in the Blogland, we'll give you a YouTube treat of the line that helped inspire the Blogland's "Most Unwanted" quote ...





Please support vital Blogland research activities

Rocktober hasn't been a cheap effort for the Blogland, so we're out there, doing what it takes to solicit the support which is necessary to continue our cutting-edge research into the issues of the day.



Please do your part to help support our vital research activities. After all, what would you ever do without us?

Hanging Rick Beltram with his own words

We'd like to take a little bit of your Tuedsay to hang Rick Beltram with his own words. We're sure he won't mind.

Recently, the Evil Blogger Conspiracy held a closed-doors meeting in our secret lair, deep in a wilderness area of South Carolina ... or maybe it was a mountain ... or a swamp ... or the back of an arcade in a shopping mall ... who knows? It doesn't matter where we met, just that we were secretly conspiring to go after Rick over his allegations that bloggers are evil shadowy characters who make extreme and unsubstatiated allegations, while hiding out of the reach of public contact behind veils of secrecy.

Yep, real shadowy characters ... secret handshake, decoder rings and all.

As one of those bloggers who he could not reach, I got an email from him which complained about how he was being protrayed and naming who some of the affiliations of those who ran the blog sites which he expressed concerns about:

-----Original Message-----
From: rick.beltram@intedge.com [mailto:rick.beltram@intedge.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2007 5:12 PM
To: Earl Capps
Subject: Re: RE: Invitation to 10/15 6PM to Spartanburg

You were not included in the original Press Release.
I was referring to ....Quinn...Starboard....TTS.
However, you jumped at it!

Think about it....a blogger workimg for a firm that gets paid by a Pres. Candidate.....a sure conflict of interest.

RSB


Now, this excerpt from the original press release claims the bloggers which are the subject of the media release are anonymous:

Finally, several of these Bloggers do not make known to the Public, contact information for the Editor of these web-sites.

It would stand to reason that if one knows who they're affiliated with, then they should know how to reach them, right?

Rick, please do us a favor: stop treating people like they're stupid with this sort of misleading crap, and we'll stop picking on you.

Blogland, the Soundtrack album?

Having gotten through my campaign for State Treasurer, where I tied with the Governor's candidate, with a slogan and theme song, both suggested by Blogland readers, it occured to me that perhaps there needs to be a soundtrack album for the Blogland. Since it's ROCKtober in the Blogland, it seems to be a great time to do this.

So, the question to you, my readers, is what songs would you recommend for this album? Get creative, but please keep in mind that it needs to be something I might actually be caught listening to.

I'll give one of the two remaining ROCKtober prize packages to the best suggestion. If you post anonymously, be sure to email me as well to make sure I know who you are for prize purposes.

So start making those recommendations ...

Weekend in the Blogland: Running the roads of the Midlands & Upstate



This weekend was another weekend running the roads with the little one. Today we went to my company's annual Employee Appreciation Day, held at Frankie's Fun Park in Columbia, and then a weaving and winding trip to Spartanburg.

That included a stop at a favorite Newberry landmark, the rocks in front of the Shakespeare plant on US 76, a bit west of town. For years, the college students have been painting and repainting these rocks.

After getting to my mother's house for a surprise visit, only to find she was spending the weekend in Charleston, we hung out, visited with some friends and then went to see Transformers.

I rememebered them as the basis for a somewhat-cheesy cartoon series back in the 80s. With the partnership of Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay ... wwooowwww ... the movie version is one hell of a ride!

Special thanks are owed to my company's President, who has chosen to respond to tough times in the construction industry by working to rally his team, instead of pulling back. His decision to go ahead with the annual event, in spite of a tough business environment, was intended to boost morale when it is needed the most.

Once upon a time, President Franklin Roosevelt once challenged tough times with the counsel of "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself". Stand firm, pull together, and one can pull through. It was good advice then, and it works now.

Thanks, Embree, for a fun Saturday for me, my daughter, my co-workers, and their families, as well as choosing to fight uncertainty with something positive.

Well, after a long long day on the road, going here and there and catching up with friends and co-workers, Bonnie and I will get a good night's sleep up here in Spartanburg and head home in the morning. As Sunday is my big study and research day, I just can't wait to hit those books ...

Be sure to make the most of the rest of the weekend.

Rick Beltram and the Short Bus

More bad publicity for Rick from the Spartanburg Herald Journal, in a great story all of you outta check out:

We hear from Beltram a lot. I mean -- a lot. To those who just get his daily e-mails: That's nothing. We are the local paper, but try not to give him a bigger stage than he deserves. My philosophy is we should use him as much as he tries to use us. But when you have someone who sends out e-mails across the state -- and usually gets attacked for them -- as a reporter, you can't just ignore that.

You may have seen today's story about the potential impact the Internet could have on the 2008 presidential race. Tomorrow's story focuses more on the blogosphere.

I was wrapping these stories up Thursday night when -- surprise, surprise -- Beltram called. Eventually, I had to say, "Look, I've got to go. I've got finish my story on the Internet." Immediately, he saw an opportunity, saying that he was the person most often attacked online, and he felt he could contribute something to the story. (I'm writing this part from memory as I deleted the quotes.) "Like what?" I asked, and he goes into his spiel about bloggers needing to be honest, nice, etc. I don't even bother telling him the whole point of blogs is that they are wily, sometimes offensive, slanted and, most importantly, uncontrollable. I thank him, get off the phone, and finish my stories.


... but there is more to the story, in which ultimately closes with "To A Daily Shot: It's not fair to imply that Beltram rides the short bus. I doubt his head would fit on board."

Jason Spencer is a pretty good journalist. Always fair, does what it takes to chase a lead down ... so if he says it, I trust it.

Cleaning up political campaign discourse?

The recent discussion of the Hixon mailing in an ongoing Senate special election contest raised a good question about the issue of the responsibility candidates have when outside groups involve themselves, sometimes in ways that confuse voters. This can happen when, as Hixon did, a misleading appeal alleging the candidate has control over these attacks is sent out, or when, as we saw in the recent Beaufort House special election, the acts of rogues may have actually hurt the one they intended to help.

Well-intentioned efforts to reform campaign finance to reduce the influence of special interests and well-heeled campaign backers have failed, and possibly even backfired. An ever-growing web of laws and regulations have made it easier than ever for those who want to conduct irresponsible attack campaigns to get away with it. The public, confused by the complex webs and loopholes within which the attackers operate, often mistake who is behind such campaigning, and end up blaming the wrong campaigns for the trash.

Post-Watergate campaign finance reforms didn’t work, and McCain-Feingold didn’t either. It stands to reason that putting patches on top of the existing patches will fail as well, so we’re not going to advocate fixing today’s problems at the price of empowering the next generation of scofflaws and political hustlers.

But make no mistake about it – the public sees growing negativity in political campaigns, especially television, and they’re sick of it. They have every right to be.

Many of us in the political arena want to help the public become informed about candidates and issues through the dissemination of truthful political advertising, while making sure the right parties are held responsible for the trash that floods our airwaves. We want to talk about the truth in a fair manner, even when it’s not always nice, but we certainly don’t want to deluge our communities in sludge either.

So how can we make things better? How can we make campaign discourse more informative, constructive and respectful?

Come on everyone, let’s speak up and be heard …

First ROCKtober prize winner


Since our intial posting inviting people to sign up for our ROCKtober prize giveaways didn't generate responses, we decided to give one to the first person to correctly "Name that Nazi", who was featured in our recent "Adolf of the Upstate" posting, as Rick Beltram, the current chairman of the Spartanburg County Republican Party.

The winner of ROCKtober Prize Package #2 is Mike Reino of Florence, who also happens to be a big fan of the Blogland.

We've still got two more prize packages to give away this month to our readers, so click on this link for more details, and stay tuned to the Blogland, where we don't just TALK politics - we ROCK politics.

Rick Beltram's facist outlook out of step with GOP?

Recently, we heard (yet again) from Rick Beltram, the Spartanburg County GOP chairman. His recent press release alleged that South Carolina political bloggers "do not make known to the Public, contact information for the Editor of these web-sites" and accused them of "personal attacks and the publication of completely false information" (unedited quote taken directly from his media release).

In response, a number of blogsites and bloggers fired back at Mr. Beltram via blog postings and emails. It should come as no suprise that the Blogland has been one of those blogsites who have challenged Mr. Beltram's claims ... yet again.

While we're used to his spin and empty talk, as well as seeing the use of his party office to promote his personal agendas, he took his political games to a new and dangerous low. Claiming attacks made been made by bloggers who were anonymous, he called for the employers of bloggers to force their employees to forfeit their First Amendment liberties as a condition of employment:

Since, most of these Bloggers are known political personalities and work for firms that engage in daily Political Consulting; there needs to be some restraint imposed by the employer.

- Unedited quote taken directly from his media release.

That Beltram would even consider, much less advocate, calling upon the employers of bloggers to silence opinions he finds disagreeable should scare good citizens of all political stripes.

These comments are reminiscent of Hitler and his thugs who used force and intimidation to silence critics during their rise to power, and the concentration camps to kill them by the millions once in power. It also reminds us of those plantiffs in Briggs v. Elliott who lost their jobs and homes in retaliation for challenging South Carolina's discriminatory and then-segregatged education system in federal courts.

His views do not seem compatible with a party whose creed proclaims:


I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon.

If I can seek opportunity, not security, I want to take the calculated risk to dream and build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for dole.

I prefer the challenges of life to guaranteed security, the thrill of fulfillment to the state of calm utopia.

I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, save my God.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid. To think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations; to face the whole world boldly and say, "I am a free American."

History teaches us that allowing a fascist who wants to destroy democracy to participate in the democratic process they loathe makes as much sense as allowing Michael Jackson to run a day care center. As such, Beltram's fitness to serve as a leader of the GOP, which claims the defense of liberty as its primary mission, should be questioned.

Beltram's regular puffery and abuse of party resources for his shameless self-promotion has been embarassing enough for many Republicans, but when he advocates the silencing of political dissent by threatening the ability of those critics to support their families, in the best traditions of the Nazi party and Jim Crow era southern Democratic Party, he has crossed a dangerous line.

Spartanburg Republicans should ask themselves if this is the kind of leadership their party needs or deserves. If they decide they deserve better, then it's time for a change.

Cultivating relationships between risk communicators and news media

For something different, here is an excerpt from a paper I wrote which examined the ability of news media to disseminate messages related to risks and hazards ...

By allowing communication professionals to disseminate their messages to large audiences with a minimum of effort, news media can play a vital and indispensable role in the process of risk and hazard communication. The relatively high levels of credibility of news media, compared to those of communication professionals and corporate executives (Budd, 2000), suggest the presentation of risk communication messages by news media would also add a degree of increased credibility to those messages. While this would suggest there is considerable value in the development and maintenance of close relationships between communicators and those who work in news media, this does not guarantee that those relationships are easy to develop.

The Public Relations Society of America’s National Credibility Index assesses the levels of credibility of various public figures (Budd, 2000). This index showed notable differences in the levels of credibility between key figures in news media and those who may be responsible for communicating messages related to risks or hazards on behalf of corporate or governmental organizations:

Official Rating (out of 100)
Network TV News Anchor 69.2
Local TV/Newspaper reporter 65.8
Head of State Dep’t/Agency 63.1
Head of Local Dep’t/Agency 62.9
Corporate President 61.6
Wall Street Executive 57.9
Public Relations Specialist 47.6

These findings are consistent with research which shows that people will turn to alternative information sources, such as news media, when they do not trust official messages which originate from risk communicators (Fessenden-Raden, et al, 1987; Fischoff, 1987). The need to rely on other parties with higher levels of credibility, such as the news media, is even greater in situations when an organization may already be viewed in a bad light by the public and audiences (Frewer, 2000).

WORKS CITED
Budd, J. (2000). The Incredible Credibility Dilemma. Public Relations Quarterly, 45(3), 22-26.
Fessenden-Raden, J., Fitchen, J., & Heath, J. (1987). Providing Risk Information in Communities: Factors Influencing What Is Heard and Accepted. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 12(3 & 4), 94-101.
Frewer, L. (2000). Risk perception and risk communication about food safety issues. British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin, 25, 31-33.
Lundgren, R., & McMakin, A. (2004). Understanding Risk Communication. In Risk Communication: A Handbook for Communicating Environmental Safety, and Health Risks (pp. 13-28). Columbus, OH: Batelle Press.
Young, S. (1990). Combatting NIMBY with Risk Communication. Public Relations Quarterly.

The Blogland's ROCKtober Reader Appreciation Contest

At the Blogland, we've become fond of saying that we're the one South Carolina political blog that doesn't just talk politics - we ROCK politics. While a lot of Republicans want to bring the President of the 80s, we're the Republicans who want to bring back the rock and roll of that decade too.

Over time, we've noticed a tendency by our readers to raise a clenched fist in the air and call out "Blogland" like they're yelling "Megadeth" or "Anthrax" or the name of some other great metal band. I guess we, like William Shatner, have become a bit typecast ... except our hair is real and we can't offer you great deals on travel via the Internet.

This year, our daily readership has doubled, and our comment volume has gone up tremendously. That's not because of us - it's because of YOU, and we're amazed, we're flattered, and we're appreciative.

We'd like to show our appreciation by offering a prize contest in which three lucky winners will win prize packages featuring the Blogland's irreverent mix of hard rockin' heavy metal and great political reading:

Prize package 1
Two books: “1945” by Newt Gingrich & “Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms” by Ed Rollins
Three CDs: Anthrax’s “Sound of White Noise”, “Painkiller” by Judas Priest, and Van Halen’s self-titled CD.

Prize package 2
Two books: “1945” by Newt Gingrich & “Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms” by Ed Rollins
Three CDs: Anthrax’s “Volume 8: The Threat is Real”, Black Sabbath’s self-titled CD, and Skid Row’s self-titled CD.

Prize package 3
Two books: “1945” by Newt Gingrich & “Behind the Oval Office” by Dick Morris
Three CDs: AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, Dangerous Toys’ self-titled CD, and Ozzy Ozbourne’s “Blizzard of Ozz”

How can YOU be a weiner in the Blogland without being Rick Beltram? It's easy - email me your name and contact information (that's to "earl@earlcapps.org). You'll also need to answer a couple of easy questions which will serve as a sort-of market survey - but there are no right or wrong answers:


  • Q1: What do you like or hate (or both) about the Blogland?

  • Q2: How long have you been tuned in and how often do you visit?
Three lucky winners will be drawn at the end of the month, and at some point in the following weeks, I'll track you down, wherever you're hiding in or near the Palmetto State, to give you your prize package.

Only those readers who are in the state of South Carolina, or in the Augusta, Charlotte, or Savannah metro areas, are eligible for this contest. Even Rick Beltram and others who've been criticized here on the Blogland are eligible to enter.

Blogland Contest: Adolf of the Upstate?

Does anyone recognize this guy?



Details to follow later this week - and YES,
we will unmask the Upstate's new leading voice for facism
.

The first person to guess who it is wins one of this month's
Reader Appreciation Prize packages, so stay tuned ...

Dave Sells and I'm Buying - Megadeth ROCKS Myrtle Beach

Tonight's Megadeth show, without a doubt, one of the best hard-rockin', head-bangin' shows to come to the House of Blues in a long time. The best show I've been to there since the WASP/LA Guns/Stephen Pearcy show.

The band hit several songs from "United Abominiations", their new (and one of their best) album, as well as wide range of stuff from across their career.

The best-received songs in the show were "Peace Sells", "Trust", "Symphony of Destruction", and "A Tout Le Monde". However, there wasn't a bad song in their entire set. Dave was in great shape, and the rest of the band played tight right along with him. All together, at least a dozen songs, so their part of the set lasted a good hour and a half, which is longer than you'll get from a lot of headliner bands.

The Confession, the opening band, wasn't bad at all, but In This Moment sucked. They're one of those new metal bands whose female lead singer was growling most of the lyrics, and when banging her head with the band, holding her chest to avoid a Janet Jackson-esque "wardrobe malfunction" moment.

You could see a lot of the audience, especially the older ones, were disinterested, if not outright bored with In This Moment - and I was one of them. But the performance of Dave Mustaine and the band was well worth the wait. I'd have put up with about anyone, including Britney Spears, if enduring such crap meant Megadeth would be my reward.

If they're coming to your town, or even anywhere near, quit making excuses about why you can't go and DON'T MISS THIS SHOW!!! It's the metal show of the year, without a doubt.

"I'll Huff, and I'll Puff, and I'll ... "

... not do a damn thing.

Yep, the Big Bad Wolf of Spartanburg County, Rick Beltram, is at it again, according to this media release that came across our desk:


SPARTANBURG- The Spartanburg County GOP would like to challenge all South Carolina Political Bloggers to a Pledge of Honesty. Over the past few months, it appears that the Bloggers are all trying to outdo each other with "over the top" statements.

It is certainly fair game to criticize public people and be humorous in the style of presentation. However, personal attacks and the publication of completely false information is not to be tolerated.

Since, most of these Bloggers are known political personalities and work for firms that engage in daily Political Consulting; there needs to be some restraint imposed by the employer. These Bloggers generally aspire to have credible political voices for the present and in the future. As a result, the intent seems to be to teardown pillars of our political world not to make the World better.

Rick Beltram, chairman, states "As a frequent target of attention by these Bloggers; I certainly have no problem with them editorializing on facts. However, many of the statements made in these reports have no basis of validity. Heck, all they have to do is call and ask a couple of questions. My contact information is well known and I am very accesible."

Finally, several of these Bloggers do not make known to the Public, contact information for the Editor of these web-sites. This is just plain bad form! Guys, let us know who you are and how we can contact you.

Thanks Rick! After a long and tiring week, I really needed a good laugh.

My first thought is "what a freakin' Nazi" - believing that "there needs to be some restraint imposed by the employer" over what we write. My second thought was "use spell and grammar check" - as I identified several mispellings and grammatical errors in the media release.

We all know just how anonymous and secretive this blogger is. I talk about my kids, my work, my academic stuff, put my email and phone number on the blog. Heck, we all know how shadowy and secretive the author of a blog named "The Blogland of Earl Capps" can be, right?

By the way, in my effort to hide and avoid Rick's wrath, I was last month's featured speaker at the Palmetto House Republican Women, who meet at ... of all places ... the downtown Spartanburg Mariott. It was well announced, but when it came time for the Republican women to hear from their Republican leader ... they had to settle for me.

As to what I've been saying about Rick ... well, let's take a look at some of these old postings and you can decide for yourselves if "these reports have no basis of validity":

It never fails to amaze us as to what some people come up with when they've got too much time on their hands and nothing better to do. But in South Carolina politics, the absolutely amazing and the totally ridiculous seem to be far too much the norm for our liking. This media release is just another example of this problem.

In closing, here's a video of my favorite version of that classic tale. Only in my version, the three pigs call Rambo, who fixes the Big Bad Wolf's ass once and for all.



Now that's what I call "happily ever after" ...

September 2007: The month in review

September was a lot less exciting around these parts than August. But that's ok, we needed a break, and we're sure you did too.

So, what did go on in the Blogland in September? Beaufort elected a new State Representative, I started my last semester of coursework on my Master's degree, we remembered 9/11, I enjoyed time with kids and watching movies, and started sharing some of my research into crisis and risk communication.

While school kept me rather busy and buried, as always, it was great to meet some of the Blogland fans this month, especially Chad and Josh.

Strangely enough, a year after it went up on the blog, my album review of last year's Iron Maiden album release, A Matter of Life and Death, is still in the top ten of most read postings, continuing the late blossom of traffic it started getting last month. I'm not sure what that's all about, but if you're here for the album review, thanks for dropping by.

But what turned YOU, my readers, on and what got you to tune in this month?

The ten most-read postings:
1) Defending Donehue
2) Hixon's Fiction: Misleading claims in State Senate race
3) Who is to blame for phone attacks in Beaufort House race?
4) Huntin' Hixon - RINO accusations in Senate special election
5) Congratulations, Representative Erickson
6) Thomas Ravenel: Good bye and good luck
7) Jim DeMint: Budget fighter
8) Risk Communication and the Blogland
9) Thomas Burnett: A Hero of 9/11
10) Converse Chellis: The Real Killer?

The ten most-discussed postings:
1) Defending Donehue
2) Hixon's Fiction: Misleading claims in State Senate race
3) Huntin' Hixon - RINO accusations in Senate special election
4) Orangeburg County: Not the poorest in America (but close)
5) Risk Communication and the Blogland
6) August 2007: The month in review
7) John Drummond, a great South Carolinian
8) Power Phrases: Take ownership & avoid generalizations
9) Rock stars really do die young?
10) Risk Communication: Understanding the difference between Hazard and Outrage

With ROCKtober in full swing here in the Blogland, we're sure it's going to be an exciting month, especially for our lucky contest winners. Be sure to stay tuned and join the fun!

Please help us finish a veteran's memorial in Bamberg

On Main Street (U.S. Route 301/601) in Bamberg, about five blocks south of U.S. 78 sits a vacant lot with a rusting flagpole and an over-looked marker paying tribute to the community’s veterans.

Thanks to Lane Anderson, the U.S. Group Project Manager and a demolitions expert in the Navy Reserve, the marker and flagpole will be moved to a new spot at the existing location or to a nearby location on Main Street. Materials and labor are being donated by the Town of Bamberg, U.S. Group, along with several subcontractors involved with the project.

When completed, a small plot will be landscaped, with benches and walking stones, with the memorial plaque incorporated into a larger memorial to the community’s veterans. The roadway is expected to be open well before then, and this has been seen as a sort-of “thank you” present from U.S. Group and the other project partners for the town’s patience and cooperation with the construction project, which resulted in the closure of Main Street since the spring.

It’s Anderson’s goal to finish work on this side project and dedicate this new Veteran’s Memorial on November 11 – Veteran’s Day. But the project won’t be complete without eight aluminum flagpoles: seven for each branch of our nation’s armed forces, as well as National Guard and the eighth pole, a taller one, for the stars and stripes.

We’re looking for anyone who donate them, or donate towards the costs of buying these for this project. If you can help, please email me.

Massey wins GOP runoff in District 25

Final numbers are in from the GOP runoff in Senate District 25 ...

With 63% of the vote, Shane Massey will be the GOP nominee for the State Senate, going on to face a Democratic state Representative Clyburn from Edgefield County in the upcoming special election.

Shane Massey has worked hard to lead the pack in the primary, and extend a seven point primary lead into a 2-1 runoff rout. That's the kind of work ethic that shows he will make an excellent Senator. Republican Shane Massey will go forward with the full support and endorsement of the Blogland in his upcoming campaign. Please join us in supporting his candidacy.

Those who think this race is like other recent special elections, where GOP nominees were unopposed or won handily, Massey is by no means out of the woods yet. As this seat has been held by a Democrat and has sizable numbers of Democrats residing in the district, we expect it to be a competitive race to the finish. As a current House member who has faced competitve races, Clyburn will not be a pushover, and the Democrats, on the defensive for the first of this series of special elections, won't yield this seat easily.

Unlike the Beaufort and Berkeley Senate special elections, where we (correctly) predicted those races to be over with the nominations of Paul Campbell and Catherine Ceips, you can bet that tonight's run-off was just the beginning of a third red-hot round of campaigning.

In one corner, a surging GOP nominee, and in the other, a veteran Democratic legislator. It's gonna be a hell of a show, and you bet we here at the Blogland will be watching this race and will continue to keep you informed. Stay tuned ...

Senate 25 news

Early reports have Massey leading Hixon by about 60-40. Most precincts from Aiken and Edgefield are in, which will likely be two-thirds or more of the total votes cast in the run-off.
Stay tuned for more info ...

GOP Run-off in Senate 25 special election today

The race for the GOP nomination for the State Senate in District 25, vacated by Tommy Moore, has been a hectic fight. Six Republican candidates were led in the primary by Shane Massey, who won 37% of the vote, and Bill Hixon, who got 30%.

Much of the run-off has centered around questions of party loyalty, and has gotten rather heated in a race that many Republican politicos see as a prime opportunity for the GOP to pad it's already healthy Senate majority.

While one can argue about who is the real Republican and who is a RINO, there is no disputing that both candidates and their campaigns have given this race all they've got. For that, both sides deserve a big pat on the back (and a few beers and a good night's sleep, too) when the votes are counted.

We've heard all sorts of predictions about where this race is headed, but we say the only poll that counts is the one that's going to take place today. Given the close primary finish and the intensity of both campaigns, we think the outcome is going to be a close one.

Thanks to some friends on the inside, we're going to be reporting on the outcome of today's voting as those reports become available, so stay tuned and we'll keep you informed.

Civilian and military casualties down in Iraq


BAGHDAD - Deaths among American forces and Iraqi civilians fell dramatically last month to their lowest levels in more than a year, according to figures compiled by the U.S. military, the Iraqi government and The Associated Press.

The decline signaled a U.S. success in bringing down violence in Baghdad and surrounding regions since Washington completed its infusion of 30,000 more troops on June 15.

A total of 64 American forces died in September — the lowest monthly toll since July 2006.

The decline in Iraqi civilian deaths was even more dramatic, falling from 1,975 in August to 922 last month, a decline of 53.3 percent. The breakdown in September was 844 civilians and 78 police and Iraqi soldiers, according to Iraq's ministries of Health, Interior and Defense.


While one month's statistics is hardly something to base long-term predictions upon, it's certainly welcome news and something we hope to see more of .

While the terrorists in Iraq are changing tactics and approaches in order to remain a force to be reckoned with, our troops, the best in the world, are just as good, if not better, at adapting to this evolving combat environment. The aggressive and innovative tactics shown since the troop surge began certainly suggest our forces are doing just that, and hopefully these efforts will continue to bear fruit.

ROCKtober in the Blogland

Here in the Blogland, it's ROCKtober. To celebrate, as well as to let you know how much we appreciate all of you tuning in, we're our readers some great reasons to stay tuned to the Blogland, including:
  • Album reviews from some of today's great news rockers, including The Donnas, Vains of Jenna and Velvet Revolver,
  • A Megadeth album review from their upcoming show at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, and
  • A special Reader Appreciation contest with drawings for great prize packages for our lucky weiners(yep, we're really splurging now).
All this, plus the usual screwball mix of commentary that keeps you, our readers, coming back for more.

So be sure to stay tuned here at the Blogland, where we don't just talk politics - we ROCK politics.