The Bloggers - Righteous Dudes of the Year, 2008

This year's winner of the year award goes to a varied group of individuals who did much to shake up the landscape of South Carolina politicals - the electronic motley crew known as bloggers.

For a long time, the process of deciding winners and losers in state government has been a largely controlled process, where well-heeled special interests, powerful politicians and mainstream news media picked who would wield power and those who wouldn't. But in 2008, that grip was challenged by bloggers, who used their electronic talents, some creativity, perspectives outside of the Columbia insider realm, and more than a little gutsiness, to shake things up in Columbia.

Will Folks showed plenty of guts when he took on GOP State Senator Randy Scott, publicizing his DUI arrest, including jailhouse records which were ordered muzzled by a judge. Those content of those tapes, which crossed over into mainstream media, did much to create unflattering public impressions of the Senator, which did much to undo any potential political gain from his acquittal.

We did our share to contribute to the process. Our coverage of several judicial races helped push one candidate considered a longshot to an easy victory and shined the spotlight on two other candidates, who later withdrew. We helped push Representative Shannon Erickson's Lauren Gentry Act through the State Senate, where it flew through in just three weeks, and then with the help of other blogs, brought out her Democratic opponent's arrest record.

Bloggers from across the political spectrum shined the spotlight on the power play between House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Midlands State Represenatives Nathan Ballentine and Nikki Haley, and then rallied in support of Haley's legislation requiring recorded voting on legislation.

Increasingly, political bloggers are building trans-partisan alliances based upon specific issues, as well as other factors such as personalities and non-political interests. As the influence of bloggers rises, it will be interesting to see how these new approaches influence the overall political picture.

Newspapers regularly picked up our discussions (and amazing they even started giving us credit) in their own news coverage. Ian Leslie at the Beaufort Gazette (who has since moved on) and Jason Spencer at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal stand out as those who have given us the most respect, but there are a lot of other outlets who have been doing a good job as well.

We're not just influencing what goes on in the insular world of state politics. Many bloggers, including Folks, Ross Shealy, and ourselves, regularly speak to interested groups and lecture at schools and colleges around the state. In doing so, we're shaping how politics works on the inside as well as how people view it from the outside.

Probably the single biggest sign of the rising influence and credibility of bloggers is the Monday editorial content of The State, which has a section which quotes bloggers on current state issues.

In the year 2008, bloggers have come a long way in contributing and influencing the political process in South Carolina. In doing so, they've clearly earned the Righteous Dudes of the Year title.

Looking back at 2008

Here in the Blogland, it's been a hell of a year, and we'd like to thank all of you who've come along for the ride through the chaos and carnage. It's been, without a doubt, a very active year as we've continued to run our mouth, and if you don't mind, we'd like to take a look back at some of the damage we've caused in this year's 420 postings ...

We started out the year jumping into a couple of judicial elections in which we endorsed Kristi "Handcuffs" Harrington, also known as Wonder Woman, for a seat on the 9th Circuit Court and Ronnie Norton for a seat on the 15th Circuit Family Court. We also set off a lot of fireworks when we talked about another candidate for the 15th Circuit seat. Both Harrington and Norton are on the bench, and we've received a lot of good reports about their service.

In February, we blew the whistle on efforts by the heavy-handed GOP leadership in Berkeley County to squash that which they could not control. Later that month, we went to Washington for the annual National Workforce Boards Conference. Meeting Newt Gingrich, who addressed the conference, was definitely the highlight of the event.

Our Inside Interview series chugged along, giving you more looks on the inside of government in the Palmetto State. We talked with State Reps Nathan Ballentine, Shannon Erickson,
Nikki Haley, Phillip Lowe, 9th Circuit Judge Roger Young, Charleston County RMC Charlie Lybrand, elder abuse legal consultant Erin Gaddy, two of the state's foremost political operatives: Democrat Phil Bailey and Republican Wes Donehue, and the two candidates for the 9th Circuit Solicitor's office - Blair Jennings and Scarlett Wilson. Our series wrapped up the year with an interview with our first Democratic legislator, Senator Joel Lourie.

The 2008 GOP national convention was very much on our minds. We endorsed delegates, followed them to the convention, and also endorsed Glenn McCall, the state's new national committeeman.

Our first Legislative Awards recognize two outstanding retiring legislators:
Senator John Drummond and Representative Bill Cotty, and two great freshmen legislators: Senator Shane Massey and Representative Shannon Erickson.

We also followed Erickson's Lauren Gentry bill and strongly pushed for its passage until it finally became law. Later on, we signed onto Rep. Nikki Haley's legislative transparency initiative. In 2009, we'll continue pushing for Haley's bill, as well as other legislation that catches our eye.

We also called new media types, such as bloggers, the real winners of the 2008 elections.

On the spritual side, we talked about the
Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Akathist Hymn, Pope Benedict's praise of Melkite Catholics in "A thriving future for the Melkite Church", Orthros once and Orthros again. Prayer of Saint John Chrysostom, and the Psalms,

On a lighter note, a round of William Shatner regurgitations erupted, starting with "
William Shatner raps Julius Caesar?". It got even sicker with William Shatner redoes "Rocket Man" and culminated with "Shatner serenades George Lucas". Reportedly some people won't even turn on their computers after that one.

Eight years of college at night - four for my BA and four more for my MA - reached the finish line when I passed my comprehensive exam, defended my thesis, walking across the stage, and then
having a great graduation party, complete with free beer and a roast of yours truly that went on for about 40 minutes (click to watch some highlights). Finally, printed and bound copies of my thesis arrived.

With graduation past, it was time to hit the road for some kick ass concerts: in Atlanta with Sebastian Bach and Dokken, and
DC with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest.

There were certainly a lot of other moments that have gone by over the last year where we enlightened our readers a little, probably motivated them a little, and probably pissed them off quite a bit. But for whatever reason, some of you still love us - or at least haven't found the time to track us down and shoot us. For your time, friendship, and patience, we thank you all and look forward to a great 2009.

South Carolina's 7th District?

There's been a lot of recent speculation about South Carolina getting a 7th Congressional District. This is big news for a state that once had nine districts, but has only had six since Reconstruction.

Relative to a much smaller House of Represenatives, nine seats was several times the congressional voting power than the state's delegation wields today, where six seats is about 1.5% of the total membership of 435.

Where will the 7th District go? We think the driving consideration will center around representing large population centers. The four that don't have a representative are Aiken, Florence, Horry and Spartanburg. Since Florence and Horry are interconnected, and the Pee Dee and Grand Strand don't have resident members of Congress, a district could be drawn quickly without upsetting incumbents and give this region the ability to seat a congressman.

As Florence is also the only county Clyburn usually loses, we think he'd be ok with losing those voters. Pair Florence with Horry and some of the stray rural counties in that part of the state, and you should get a seat that favors a GOP candidate.

Swing the 1st back to Beaufort, restoring it's historic alignment, pull the 2nd out of the Lowcounty entirely to keep the district's partisan balance from changing much. Nor does the 1st District's change much. Considering Joe Wilson's stronger challengers come from Beaufort County and the rural Lowcountry offsets the votes he gets from the coast, we think Joe would be ok with it.

The 5th loses some population to the new 7th, but the overall political balance, as with the 1st and 2nd, changes very little.

We played around with a rough map of how the 7th could fit in, with some minor other adjustments to the map to speculate about other adjustments that would be required:

Rep. Olin Phillips dies

Cherokee County Representative Olin Phillips, one of the few remaining Democratic legislators in the Upstate, died of a heart attack this morning. According to The State:

Authorities say South Carolina Rep. Olin Phillips has died after having a heart attack in his Gaffney home.

Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler says the wife of the 74-year-old Democrat found him unconscious around 12:45 a.m. Saturday. Phillips died less than an hour later at Upstate Carolina Medical Center.

Phillips was a businessman and had served District 30 in Cherokee County since 1979.

South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler served the same area as Phillips and said his colleague was a statesman who benefited every family in Cherokee County.

Phillips is survived by his wife and three children. Funeral services have not been announced.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and his long record of service to his community and state is greatly appreciated.

Christmas news flash

Since Ozzy Osbourne did not bite the head off Rudolph, there will be a Christmas today, and we hope all of our readers are off enjoying it with their families.

But if you've got nothing better to do, allow us to share a collection of some of our favorite holiday tunes:

Twisted Sister - Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Dokken - Santa Claus is coming to town

Skid Row - Jingle Bells

Twisted Sister - Heavy Metal Christmas

Giving thanks

In this holiday season, it seems appropriate to reflect upon the gifts that have been received here in the Blogland.

The Blogland is not just a rheotrical platform upon which to run my mouth - it has also been a learning experience by which yours truly has learned a lot and made a lot of new friends. I continue to be amazed by how so many of you have given so generously of your time and effort to present your ideas, views, and concerns to help the Blogland become what it has been.

Those experiences are the treasured "gifts" that I have received so abundantly, and for those gifts, I am truly and eternally grateful.

Thank you and may you and your family have a safe, happy, and joyous holiday season.

A message to Senator Mike Rose

Maite Murphy is well-known and respected Summerville attorney and former 1st Judicial Circuit prosecutor. She has a strong work ethic and when in consideration for a 1st Circuit judicial seat, she was found qualified by the South Carolina Bar review panel. While she did not make it through the JMSC screening process, we believe her experience and enthusiasm for public service is too valuable to let go to waste.

We understand that Murphy may be seeking a magistrate's appointment in Dorchester County. If so, Murphy is well-qualified to serve and her appointment to such a post would do a great service for the people of Dorchester County.

Help the Manning HS band play the Presidential inauguration

The Manning High School marching band has been chosen to play in next month's Presidential inauguration. Having been to events in DC, we know it's expensive for just one person or a small group, but according to the Charleston Post and Courier, it can be pretty darn expensive for a group as big as a high school marching band:

Thirty hotel rooms for four nights cost about $19,000; two charter buses for five days run $12,600. And then there are the uniforms.

"You guys are going to have to pay $80 for your clothes," Francis says.

Throw in another $8,500, $20 per student per day for food, and all of a sudden you are talking about real money.

That's $40,000 or more to take the Manning High School Golden Pride Marching Band to Washington in January — and the kids don't have it. So far they have raised $13,000. If they can't come up with another $27,000 in the next few weeks, they could miss out on their place in history.

We're asking our readers to give them a helping hand by donating to help cover the $27,000 shortfall for this event. You can send your donation to:

Manning High School Band
2155 Paxville Highway
Manning, S.C., 29102

Christmaas is a time for giving and making dreams come true. You can do both for this bunch of students by simply sparing next weekend's bar money or a couple of nights' dinner out.

More proof that news media bias exists

We've all heard that news media shows a bias, so this story shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, but yet it did, as we just never thought we'd hear it about the Weather Channel ...

The Dutch Fork reform team

The newest rising stars on the South Carolina political landscape didn’t win an election, nor did they run a major campaign (at least not yet) … heck, most of them aren’t even old enough to vote or run for office.

We’re talking about the students of Mrs. Kelly Payne’s civics class at Dutch Fork High School.

In the last few days, this bunch has gotten attention in the blogging world after they got a visit from our friends Representatives Nathan Ballentine and Nikki Haley. We decided to check them out after they got praise from Richard Eckstrom when he spoke down in the Lowcountry last week.

Every call we made confirmed this bunch is the real deal – they're fired up about the need for reform, doing their homework on the issues, and ready to get to work to shake things up. Their current focus is upon helping pass one of the most-needed legislative reforms – 100% roll call voting. They're written legislators and even talked about having “Transparency Day” at the State House to press the case for this important reform initative. As this issue is one near and dear to the Blogland, we appreciate their support.

What we see in this bunch of students kind of reminds us of this radical rabble-rouser who stirred the pot at James Island High School back in the mid-80s - a Mohawked half-nuts headbanger with a spray-painted army jacket and an intense attitude who spoke out about a state filled with corruption and inept leaders - and got involved in politics to help make a difference. Twenty years later, that nutcase is now running things in the Blogland (but the hair is a little longer these days).

We see that same fighting spirit in this bunch and we’re excited to see that they're ready to play a role in working for a better South Carolina. Our hats are definitely off to them and we hope to see a lot of them in the months and years ahead.

Shaken, not stirred

That's the news in the Lowcountry today. At about 7.40 a.m., while getting ready for work, the house was shaken for about 4 seconds and a rumble was heard, which was initially thought to a clandestine meeting between Governor Sanford, Speaker Harell, Nikki Haley, Nathan Ballentine and Ashley Landess. Or maybe a Marine fighter pilot getting a little fast during the morning flight time.

But it turn out to be a geniune real live earthquake and was felt from Summerville to Goose Creek to Moncks Corner, possibly caused by the same fault line which caused the great earthquake of 1888 (which is about a half mile from the home of yours truly). The official Richter Scale reports rated it a mere 3.6, which is far stronger than the half dozen or so 2 point something tremors that hit the Dorchester Road side of Summerville every year, but still pretty minor.

There were no reports of damage, but we've gotten a flurry of calls and emails from everyone wanting to know what went down and if all is well -it is, but thanks for checking in with us!

So that's the news. Go back to work everyone.

Richard Eckstrom brings transparency crusade to the Lowcountry

Last Saturday, State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, called it like he saw it in Summerville at the December meeting of the Lowcountry GOP breakfast club, where he talked about his ongoing efforts to increase transparency in state governmental finances ... and the Blogland was there for the show.

Concerned that "government's never been that open", he talked about his latest initiative, the state's Spending Transparency website, where monthly and annual spending reports for state agencies are posted on the web. He also talked about his efforts to make this program available for local-level governments, working with banks to help local governments make their transaction data available online.

Eckstrom also passed out copies of this much-easier to read "Citizens Report", giving the highlights of state government finances for 2008.

We've been
big fans of his contined calls for increased transparency in state government, which is part of his mission to promote fiscal accountability. It's just the right thing to do and we're glad this guy is leading the charge for real fiscal reform in state government.

By the way – the group meets there every second Saturday at 9am sharp. It’s always a good show, so if you’re in that neck of the woods, don’t miss it!

On a final note ... While the Grim Reaper endorsed his opponent in 2002, he did tell us that he felt that might have a better chance at getting that crucial endorsement next time, saying “I should because I’m working my staff to death these days.”

Looking at Senate pre-filed bills

Friday we looked at the pre-filing at the House. Now we’ll look at what they’ve done over the Senate – and they’ve done a lot of it. Nearly 200 bills were filed, and it looks like a whole lot of them by Senator Robert Ford. From those 200 or so, we picked out a handful that seem like pretty good ideas, and ones that we hope will receive positive action from Senators:

Harvey Peeler is keeping his promise to support fiscal reforms by fulfilling of his pledge to continue pushing the transparency issue forward in the General Assembly. If passed, Bill 11, by Senator Harvey Peeler, known as the “Taxpayer Protection Act”, will require recorded voting on legislation in both Houses.

There are two bills which honor our state’s military veterans that we wholeheartedly support. The first is Bill 16, by Senator Joel Lourie, would allow the state to award high school diplomas to those who have completed military service who served in a time of war. The second is Bill 49 by Senator Ford, which would allow military veterans to qualify to receive free tuition at state colleges and universities.

Making classrooms safer is another major issue in the Senate. Bill 4 by Senator Glenn McConnell, known as the “Teacher Protection Act”, would allow teachers to bring civil actions against students who commit crimes against them, and to classify violent crimes against teachers, with the most serious of the three classes being a felony.

There are a few other bills that we like:

Bill 40 by Senator Ford would allow patients to designate their authorized visitors, regardless of the existence of a blood or legal relationship to the patient.

Bill 44 by Senator Ford would allow offshore drilling for oil and gas resources within the waters under the jurisdiction of the State of South Carolina.

Bill 57 by Senator Ford, would allow the chief administrative judges of a circuit to schedule court dockets. Our inside friends in the legal and judicial community liked this one.

Bill 121 by Senator Knotts, would allow the state to issue Second Amendment license plates, with proceeds from sales designated to go to the state Criminal Justice Academy (where now-retired Sgt. Capps used to teach classes).

Bill 128 by Senator Sheheen, would create a Department of Administration, which would absorb many of the administrative functions currently held by the Budget and Control Board.

Bill 155 by Senator Campsen, would protect visitation and custody rights of divorced military parents by not allowing the change in circumstances caused by military service to be used against them in court.

Bill 168 by Senator Cleary, would protect licensed health care providers from being held liable for civil damages when acting in a voluntary, non-compensated manner, except for acts of gross negligence.

Son of Rep. Whipper killed in I-95 accident

According to The State's website:

Jasiri Whipper, a reporter for The Post and Courier of Charleston and the son of astate lawmaker, has died.

The newspaper reports the 24-year-old Morehouse University graduate was struck by a car on Interstate 95 in Florence County late Thursday and died early the following day. Family members told The Post and Courier that Whipper crashed and was struck after getting out of his car to investigate.

Whipper covered North Charleston and Berkeley County.

North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said Whipper was considered a friend who cared about the community.

Whipper was the son of state Rep. Seth Whipper and Carrie Whipper, and the grandson of Lucille Simmons Whipper, who served for 10 years in the state House. He also is survived by a sister.

Our prayers and condolences go out to the Whipper family.

Showing love for wisdom

Prove your love and zeal for wisdom in actual deeds.

- Quote attributed to St. Callistus Xanthopoulos, Patriarch of Constantinople (14th century, A.D.)

It's pre-filing time in the House

It’s pre-filing time again – that wonderful time of the year where legislators flock to the State House to file the first of thousands, of pieces of legislation that will be sponsored over the next year, hoping to have their ideas become among the four or five percent of bills that make it through the legislative process, across the Governor’s desk and into state law.

We looked through the list of over one hundred bills that were pre-filed by House members. After wading through a list, a quarter or so of which seem to have been sponsored by Rep. Herb Kirsh from Clover, we found some good ideas, and some bad ones as well.

Here were several bills that stood out as good ones:

Bill 3020, by York County Rep. Carl Gullick – this bill would allow prosecutors the same number of jury strikes as are allowed to the defense in criminal cases.

Bill 3028, by York County Rep. Herb Kirsh – this bill would allow the court to order those who bring frivolous charges to pay legal defense costs.

Bill 3047, by Lexington County Rep. Nikki Haley – this is the much-talked about Roll Call voting bill. We’re so in love with this legislation that we sleep with a copy of it every night.

Bill 3064, by Richland County Rep. Chris Hart – this bill requires nursing homes to carry at least $100K in liability insurance (we can’t imagine any that wouldn’t carry far more than this amount).

Bill 3067, by Horry County Rep. Alan Clemmons – this bill would require candidates to file with one party, instead of using multiple-line filings to confuse voters and win third-party votes.

Bill 3075, by Dorchester County Rep. Annette Young – this bill would work to prevent a major problem in fast-growing areas, knowing as “zoning shopping”, where developers annex into property into a municipality to get more favorable zoning. If the county zoning is for lower density, then that zoning requirement must remain in effect for five years after annexation.

Bill 3090, by York County Rep. Herb Kirsh – this bill would address the “bundling” of campaign contributions by requiring a single campaign contribution cap to apply to business entities which are under shared control.

While most of the bills represent well-intentioned efforts to enact good ideas into law, we found one bill that left us scratching our heads – Rep. Gary Simrill’s bill to name the Marsh Tacky the official state horse (Bill 3044). We know this was an effort that was once spearheaded by former Senator Catherine Ceips, but it didn’t make sense to us any more now than it did back then. Perhaps Kirsh’s bill on frivolous prosecution needs to be amended to protect taxpayers from having to pick up the tab for frivolous legislation.

Several of these bills address issues near and dear to the Blogland, so please stay tuned as we focus on those bills. But good government doesn’t happen by leaving all the work up to legislators – it only happens when it’s a team effort between legislators and active, concerned citizens. We encourage our readers to find bills that represent issues of concern, as well as issues which aren’t being addressed, and make your voices heard with your legislators.

Anderson Independent-Mail: "Bauer, seniors have helped each other"

Hats off to America's Hardest-Working Lieutenant Governor, whose efforts on senior issues won him praise in today's Anderson Independent-Mail's op-ed section:

The irony of the nation’s youngest lieutenant governor willingly taking the South Carolina Office on Aging under his wing has turned out to be a good fit for both. Andre Bauer has matured in the office, and seniors have benefited from the programs he has implemented — and encouraged — in the last few years.

Some were state-mandated, others by the federal government. Yet others have come about because Bauer, as a former member of the state legislature, has forged a relationship with lawmakers and for the most part, has received their support. He’s been able to coordinate efforts to promote wellness, address healthcare issues, combat fraud, create and promote senior centers and demonstrate that particularly with the aging population, prevention of illness is infinitely more productive — and less costly — than long-term nursing care.

A new program to address fraud was the topic when Bauer visited with the Independent-Mail editorial board on Tuesday.

... to read more, CLICK HERE.

How much for the little ... Senate seat?

Two shady characters sit down in a restaurant in Chicago, a city well-known for corruption, and ask someone "how much for the ... "

The news about the brewing scandal over the attempt to sell (or trade) favors for the appointment to Barack Obama's soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat reminded us of a scene from the Blues Brothers where Jake, John Belushi's character, turns to the table next to them and asks "how much for the little girl?".

Bad joke, we know, but we couldn't help ourselves.

It's interesting to note that Blagojevich represented Illinois' 5th Congressional District, based in Chicago. The seat, which is currently held by Rahm Emanuel, was once represented by Danny Rostenkowsi, the House Ways and Means Chairman who was toppled by voters in 1994 when he sought re-election while under indictment for wire fraud, of which he was later convicted. In the fifty years from 1958 to 2008, four people have held it - one was Ways and Means Chair, one elected Governor and another became White House Chief of Staff, while two of the four have been nailed on federal charges.

Depending on how you look at it, it's a great seat to hold, or a terrible one. In any event, apparently some Fifth Districts are worse than others.

Your right (not) to know

In the opening lines of "Know your rights" by The Clash, listeners are informed:

This is a public service announcement
With guitar
Know your rights
all three of them

Here in South Carolina, it is becoming increasingly obvious that some believe the right to know what your public officials are doing is not one of those rights.

While this issue has been highlighted by the debate over roll call voting, recent findings by the folks at the S.C. Policy Council in their efforts to study spending by local school districts ran into a tougher stonewall than Union troops at Bull Run. It was similar experience to what was encountered by the folks at Voice for School Choice.

The friendly folks over at the Palmetto Scoop smell a rat, and we agree with them:

The state Freedom of Information Act allows districts to collect fees “not to exceed the actual cost of searching for and making copies of records,” and the act states “records must be furnished at the lowest possible cost to the person requesting the records.”

But it has become standard operating procedure in South Carolina for public entities to exploit that section to keep a would-be requester from gaining access to the information. Public school districts seem to be particularly fond of this tactic.

We would like to recognize the honest guys who spoiled the party for the other school districts by offering to share the records for little or no cost:

* Sumter District 1 (9,007 students) - Free
* Aiken School District (25,068 students) - Free
* Richland District 1 (24,663 students) - $337.80
* Florence District 5 (1,583 students) - $464.80
* Cherokee School District (9,286 students) - $525.00

This is contrasted with the worst of the stonewallers:

* Lexington District 1 (20,161 students) - $24,000
* McCormick School District (924 students) - $26,405
* Greenville School District (67,928 students) - $35,045
* Beaufort School District (19,276 students) - $55,388
* Greenwood District 52 (1,597 students) - $217,192

Our hats are off to those who did the grunt work as FOIA requests are seldom easy. In this case, the stonewalling may end up being a bigger story than the actual expenses.

As we push for greater transparency in government in South Carolina, it's important to make sure local government, including school districts, are included. According to the folks at the Policy Council, a budget proviso requiring the posting of spending records was stripped out during budget dicussions last spring. Making sure this proviso doesn't get buried should be a priority for legislators in the next budget.

As with roll call voting at the State House - knowing what's going on is one of our rights.

Louisiana - the new face of the GOP?

As we continue to talk about new directions for Republicans to consider, we look south and west to Louisiana.

Bobby Jindal, the state's Governor, has family roots in India and is the nation's first Governor of Indian descent. On Saturday, Republican Joseph Cao, who emigrated from South Vietnam as a child, ousted indicted Democratic Congressman William Jefferson in the New Orleans-based Second District to become the nation's first Congressman of Vietnamese descent.

In a state known for corruption and cronyism, as well as a Democratic lock on power that survived the GOP's sweep of many Southern states in the 1990s, these two won by talking about reform and promising to stand up to business-as-usual. That sort of positive, constructive message resonated well with cynical swing voters, and had much to do with Republicans recently sweeping most of the state's Constitutional offices, as well as quickly closing in on majorities in both chambers of the Lousiana legislature.

Cao and Jindal are part of the unusual mosaic of cultural and ethnic diversity that is the Louisiana GOP, where whites and non-whites, as well as Catholic and Protestants, work together. As the GOP seeks to reach out to those outside of the shrinking WASP population majority that it has long over-relied upon, Republicans would be wise to consider what the GOP has been accomplishing in Lousiana towards its efforts to broaden and diversify its support at the national level.

Prayer of Saint John Chrysostom

In the state's political culture, it's been a good week for pointing fingers, hurling insults, revenge and conspiracy theories, but a decidedly bad week for getting along. That's why we thought we'd wrap up the week with some uplifting and constructive thoughts in the form of the Prayer of Saint John Chrysostom:

  • O Lord, deprive me not of Thy heavenly blessings;
  • O Lord, deliver me from eternal torment;
  • O Lord, if I have sinned in my mind or thought, in word deed, forgive me.
  • O Lord, deliver me from every ignorance and heedlessness, from pettiness of the soul and stony hardness of heart;
  • O Lord, deliver me from every temptation;
  • O Lord, enlighten my heart darkened by evil desires;
  • O Lord, I, being a human being, have sinned; do Thou, being God, forgive me in Thy lovingkindness, for Thou knowest the weakness of my soul.
  • O Lord, send down Thy grace to help me, that I may glorify Thy holy Name;
  • O Lord Jesus Christ, inscribe me, Thy servant, in the Book of Life, and grant me a blessed end;
  • O Lord my God, even if I have done nothing good in Thy sight, yet grant me, according to Thy grace, that I may make a start in doing good.
  • O Lord, sprinkle on my heart the dew of Thy grace;
  • O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me, Thy sinful servant, cold of heart and impure, in Thy Kingdom.
  • O Lord, receive me in repentance;
  • O Lord, leave me not;
  • O Lord, save me from temptation;
  • O Lord, grant me pure thoughts;
  • O Lord, grant me tears of repentance, remembrance of death, and the sense of peace;
  • O Lord, grant me mindfulness to confess my sins;
  • O Lord, grant me humility, charity, and obedience;
  • O Lord, grant me tolerance, magnanimity, and gentleness;
  • O Lord, implant in me the root of all blessings: the fear of Thee in my heart;
  • O Lord, vouchsafe that I may love Thee with all my heart and soul, and that I may obey in all things Thy will;
  • O Lord, shield me from evil persons and devils and passions and all other lawless matters;
  • O Lord, Who knowest Thy creation and that which Thou hast willed for it; may Thy will also be fulfilled in me, a sinner, for Thou art blessed forevermore. Amen.
Having shared this, we hope our readers have a great weekend.

... for those who would like to know more about St. John Chrysostom, Orthodox Wiki has a lot of good nuggets of information.

House Speaker should show more restraint

News that House Speaker Bobby Harrell yanked Republican House members Nathan Ballentine and Nikki Haley from their previous committee assignments spread quickly today, along with the conspiracy theories.

There are two ways one can look at Harrell's actions: a vindictive House Speaker lashing out, or out-of-line legislators being rightfully disciplined through reassignments. In recent days, we've talked with those who believe one story or the other, and in some cases, some of both.

While it's very tempting to join into the many politicos who have begun to see this as a fight between Harrell and Haley, and there's a lot to suggest that's what this is becoming, doing so would remove the focus upon the issues, where it needs to be. As Speaker, Harrell is supposed to exhibit leadership virtues, which include restraint and tolerance, but one has to wonder if he's doing a very good job at that.

We would ask Harrell to consider the example of Newt Gingrich, whose political rise to power was driven by his combative style and continual challenges of the House Democratic leadership in the 1980s. While Gingrich became a favorite target of Democrats, who went so far as to wipe out his first Congressional seat, those attacks made him a heroic martyr in the eyes of many Republicans. When the smoke cleared, many of his enemies had been toppled and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.

If Harrell chooses to do things which fuel perceptions that he is being heavy-handed or vindictive, no matter how justified those actions may seem, he risks creating an even greater problem. As politics is often driven by perceptions, not realities, we hope he'll consider showing more restraint in the future.

Roll call voting - Mission Incomplete

Here in the Blogland, the recent House rules change which allows limited roll call voting is viewed with some degree of skepticism. While some may interpret it as a sign of progress, there are others who view it as a sell-out. From here, it's hard to tell which is the case.

Now that they have embraced the principle that recorded voting is important, legislators need to finish the job they've started. While fiscal accountability is important, the General Assembly deals with many other issues which have a real impact upon the lives of South Carolinians, including public safety, state government administration, restructuring, education policy, and economic issues. If an issue is important enough for legislators to address, then it's important enough for the people of this state to know where their legislators stood on that issue.

In today's Sun News, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom shared his thoughts in support of greater transparency, which roll call voting can help address:

Providing better government transparency - giving people more and better information on how government spends our money and knowing how elected officials make decisions that affect all of us - is a cause dear to my heart.

Too many decisions are made behind closed doors, diluting accountability of our elected officials and eroding public confidence in government itself. When elected officials make decisions in secret and without a record of their votes, they sometimes pass things they never would approve in full view of the public.

It is up to legislators to decide if the rules change will be an important first step towards greater accountability, or a compromise with old style backroom politics. The right thing would be for them to finish the work they've started by adopting legislation which requires 100% roll call voting - and to do it as early in the next session as possible.

Punky Brewster for Coroner?

One of this year's more amusing candidacies was waged in Spartanburg County, where Punky Brewster lost her bid for County Coroner.

Some of you may recall that Punky Brewster was the main character of an 80s sitcom series. While we're sure she's not the same person, there've been a number of occasions when we passed one of her signs and couldn't help but conjure images of some happy go lucky kid be-bopping through the morgue, or making cheezy sitcom-eqsque jokes at some horrible fatality scene.

Pretty scary thought, ain't it?

Perhaps one of our Spartanburg County readers, such as Mr. Beltram, would have some commentary they'd like to add to this, because eight months after we started seeing her signs, we're still not sure what to make of this candidacy.

While the Punky Brewster of the 80s was definitely not a politician, Montgomery Brewster, as played by Richard Pryor in the movie "Brewster's Millions", proved to be rather insightful about contemporary American political culture and had some helpful advice on what voters should do:

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Apparently some people don't get it.

The House GOP caucus is mulling a roll-call voting proposal that ... well, there doesn't seem to be much recorded voting taking place in this one.

Our request - let's make sure the vote to adopt this rule includes a recorded vote. We think voters deserve to know who thinks they don't deserve to know what is going on and who is responsible for it.

According to a report from our inside source:

No recorded vote on most legislation, except the adoption of the budget, and amendments that spend $10,000 or more. But there won't any of those amendments -- they will all be included in the budget, which gets the same up or down vote it gets now. There is NO recorded vote on the sections of the budget -- this is pure business as usual.

Keep in mind that just a few short years ago, another Republican House Speaker thought it would be ok to bend a few rules, so he bent them ... then bent a few more ... then covered up for a few of his buddies ... and then the voters threw a lot of his fellow Republicans, who accepted his BS, out the door.

Similarly, we believe that once the voters get their gut full of it, they'll do the same here. The voters aren't as stupid as some might think. Neither are we.

Guest editorial - Charlie Lybrand: "Message, Candidate and Hard Work"

Right now is just not a good time to be in the Charleston County GOP.

While things like loyalty tests and running a Senate candidate who lives and works in Lexington County have been recent priorities for their leadership, the 2008 election was a nothing less than a disaster. Democrats hold the first 6-3 Council majority in a generation, two "safe" GOP House seats have been lost (one of which the GOP has held since the 70s), and it was the first time since 1978 that a Democratic candidate for the First Congressional District won Charleston County.

To say it's time to try something different would be the understatement of the week - and because we've got a lot of friends in the Charleston GOP, we hope they do change course. To help inform and guide that process, Charleston County RMC Charlie Lybrand, a veteran of Charleston County politics who has held countywide office since 1990, has an op-ed that we'd like to share with our readers about how the GOP can repair its battered electoral ship:

Most of the dust has settled since the big Republican mauling of 2008 and the soul searching and finger pointing has begun. Meetings are now taking place all over South Carolina on how to fix this problem. The one I attended missed the real issue. It's not that the Democrats out worked us, that they were better organized than we were, that they bent or even broke the rules, or they had more poll workers than we did. All of that may be true but we did not have the right message or the right messenger.

Even if the stars had lined up in our favor, I think it would have been darn near impossible for Republicans to overcome the euphoria that President Elect Obama was able to generate. Everyone knows the sitting President gets either the credit or the blame for what happens on his watch. It's true the surge worked and the war is being won honorably but when your 401K is being devastated, the stock market has tanked and your bank is gone under, the surge is not the issue you want to hear about.

How do Republicans regain momentum? First we must have a message that resonates with the majority of America as well as a candidate that connects with the voters. We must also work harder than our opponents. Let me repeat, message, candidate, and hard work. That combination works in most elections. I don't believe there has been a sea change in South Carolina's conservative values or a shift to the left. What I do believe is: We must give the voters a reason to vote for us not a reason to vote against our opponents.

The Legislature and the Governor can't constantly be at each others throats. The Democrats will use that against us and I don't blame them. We must give the voters a reason to vote for us by standing up for core values like: less taxes, less government and more personal responsibility. I will admit that is a hard sell right now with all the bailouts that are going on in Washington but those are our core values.

We cannot expect to win elections if we remain a narrow-minded lilly-white party. We must have genuine outreach programs to attract the State's Hispanics, Blacks, Indians, Asians, multi-racial folk and any one else who shares our core values. We must also unite on what we agree on and decide which things that we don't have to agree upon.

I also believe we must unite behind a leader as soon as possible. Once the Democrats coalesced behind Senator Obama, they were unbeatable. We Republicans have a history of cutting, shooting, and tearing apart each other during the primary season and then leave a bloodied up winner to face a fresh face in the General Election. That has got to stop. The Republican Party is also blessed with many women's clubs and men's clubs yet they sometimes shoot at each other like the other is the enemy. That too must stop.

Remember: Message, Candidate and Hard Work. I think it's pretty simple.

We couldn't agree more ... Thanks, Charlie!

If you're in Georgia, Vote for Saxby Chambliss

... and if you're not, but know someone who is,
please take a minute to make calls and send emails
to get them to vote to keep Georgia's hard-working Senator!

Happy Friday

We owe y'all an apology for being so tuned out, but we're sort of busy right now. We'll be back next week. Until then, we'd like to share this important work zone safety message:

Columbia College interview

Hats off to Jesika Brooks, a Columbia College student, who is writing for a class via a series of blog postings, including "Election 2.0", which looked at how new media impacted the 2008 elections, as well as how it will continue to impact national politics.

It's great to see students who are willing to do their homework and show us new media types some respect. We're also flattered that the Blogland was able to participate in her work Go give her article a read!

What's going on at the Fairgrounds?

Anyone driving down Assembly Street near the USC stadium has probably noticed the ongoing work at the Fairgrounds. If not, then maybe you saw the story on the front page of The State:

The State Fairgrounds parking lot — one of the main tailgating areas for USC football games — is undergoing a $4.5 million beautification project that will include paved roads, drainage, curbing and 250 adult trees.

The work comes a year and a half before a 40-year contract expires between USC and the independent, nonprofit society that runs the fair.

Under the contract, the State Agricultural and Mechanical Society of South Carolina, established by the Legislature in 1869, receives $8,500 per game for 5,600 spaces.

Today, the university charges Gamecock Club members — fans who make donations to the university for better seats — $225 to $260 per season for a space.

That means, on the low end, USC could make about $1.2 million before any fees are paid in a season with seven home games.

What you're seeing is my company's latest project, which started a few weeks ago (yeah, I really work in the private sector, so I'm not pimping myself out to the education establishment or anyone else for a paycheck).

U.S. Group will be busy for the next few months doing a considerable amount of work on the Fairgrounds site, improving the parking areas and storm runoff drainage systems. Part of this includes a pretty neat high-tech system which will allow storm water runoff to be put into the soil underneath the parking lot, instead of running off into nearby neighborhoods or the Congaree River, both known for flooding problems.

We'll be done in the spring, well before Gamecocks football and the State Fair. People going to both will probably appreciate a drier walk to and from these events, and those who live and work in the surrounding area will appreciate the fact that we're using an innovative approach to solving this problem which won't involve flooding their neighborhoods and businesses.

Picking the next RNC chair

After weeks of speculation, SCGOP Chair Katon Dawson announced he's in the running for the RNC chairmanship.

The chair of the RNC will face the toughest challenge since Haley Barbour was named to this post in the wake of Clinton's ouster of President George Bush back in 1993. A year after his appointment, the GOP was riding a building wave of electoral fortune that would sweep the Democrats from Congress to county courthouses, wiping away decades of electoral decay. Barbour was a key player - a smart tactician with good political skills, sharp communication abilities, and a good coalition builder with a keen eye for the sensibilities of both the party's base and the swing voters who seated Clinton in 1992 and then unseated his party from Congressional power.

Regaining power will require the GOP to recapture the support of swing voters, which was key to the 1994 electoral sweep. In some regards, today's swing voters share similarities with swing voters of the mid-90s, fiscally conservative, politically independent, concerned about ethical government, and often live in the same states. In other regards, they are very different voters - many of them are educated and hold down white collar occupations. They are far more diverse ethnically and while they don't like excessive taxation, they're concerned about the size of the national debt and support reasonable taxation - with accountability for results. They often go to church with their family and believe faith is important in their lives, but they're not flaming social conservatives.

Our next RNC chair needs to understand how these voters tick, look for the common threads between them and the GOP, and look for how they can be weaved into the fabric of a revitalized GOP majority. Then they need to be able to make the tough decisions necessary to keep the GOP in the fight until electoral trends allow the GOP to mount a comeback.

While Haley Barbour was able to mount this bid, we've seen both here and abroad where other dethroned conservative parties failed to get the messages delivered by the voters, and spent years in the wilderness for doing so. The British Conservative Party failed to figure out how return to power and, four leaders later, may finally end a record-length Labor majority that has lasted nearly a decade and a half. Republicans can choose to make the same kinds of mistakes, or choose leaders and positions which help pave the way for a 1994-style comeback.

The 2010 elections will require the GOP to defend a number of governorships and avoid further Congressional losses. Several open gubernatoral seats currently held by Democrats in traditionally GOP states and a number of Democratic House members in their first or second terms in historically-GOP seats may be vulnerable to the midterm swing effect. The right leadership could help capitalize on these opportunities, but the wrong leadership could help the Democrats lock in their majority for a decade or more.

We're going to be watching the candidates and for what little it may be worth, sharing our opinion about which candidate is best suited to help the GOP make a strong comeback in 2010 and 2012.

Democrats not the first to challenge the Howard Rich agenda

Recently in The State, Ken Campbell of the South Carolina New Democrats tried to take the credit for being the first to take on the corrupting influences of Howard Rich and his front organizations. While he might like for voters to think his efforts were the first and that Republicans aren't willing to stand for ethical campaign practices, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Howard Rich's efforts were challenged long before the fall elections, and Republicans played key roles in those efforts. A group I was part of - Take Back South Carolina - included myself and recently-retired GOP State Representative Bill Cotty on its board. In the fall of 2006, several postings on this blog - hardly a Democratic forum - challenged a number of attacks made by SCRG, a front group associated with Howard Rich.

There are many Republicans who are concerned about the adverse effects of Rich's out-of-state cash and have been working to stop the buyout of our state. In doing so, we also joined with other South Carolinians of many political perspectives. In those early efforts, Mr. Campbell was nowhere to be found, but I'm glad he's decided to join the cause - so long as his motives are sincere.

Odds are that Campbell's efforts would not have received anywhere near as much attention had bi-partisan efforts in the spring not already warned voters and the news media about these well-funded out-of-state efforts. Many of the races in the June GOP primaries where Rich-associated groups targeted their resources, valued at tens of thousands of dollars in each of over two dozen General Assembly campaigns, began losing ground when and wherever information provided by critics of Howard Rich's efforts began showing up in stories and editorials presented by traditional news media outlets. This blog site and my Take Back SC efforts played key roles in getting the word out.

If Mr. Campbell wants to use Howard Rich's shadow groups to score political points on Republicans, that would be unfortunate. But if he wants to work to end the long history of well-funded special interests, like Rich or video poker in the 1990s, bullying state government and misleading voters en masse, then we in the Blogland welcome his help.

"I thought I just hit a mailbox"

That's what she thought she'd hit yesterday morning at about 7.05 a.m.

But what the driver of a Dodge Durango actually hit when she swerved through someone's yard along Axtell Drive in Summerville was my daughter Bonnie, who was walking to school.

After hitting her with her rear-view mirror hard enough to knock the glass out, the driver just kept on going.

Fortunately, someone was right behind that car and stopped to help my daughter and call 911. He also got a good look at the driver and her vehicle, finding her about an hour later at her home nearby. While talking with the trooper, the driver seemed rather indifferent, saying she figured she'd hit a mailbox, so she just kept going. She admitted to having just gotten in from an all-nighter, during which time her windshield was apparently smashed in (she didn't seem to know how it happened) - prompting law enforcement to send an alert to see what other hit-and-runs she may have been involved in.

After spending most of yesterday morning at her doctor's office and getting x-rays, the prognosis is a fractured clavicle - collarbone - with weeks with a sling and limited use of her writing hand, but we'll know more later today. It's also a good thing we have insurance, because it seems it seems the driver doesn't (her first claim about insurance turned out to be bogus). She was cited for several offenses, including leaving the scene of an accident, and driving too fast for conditions. We expect that driving without insurance will be added to the list.

All things considered, it could have been worse, but it's still infuriating that it happened at all.

Since she didn't really care what she hit or bother to see what happened, then we figure she won't care what charges are brought against her. To that end, the Blogland will be talking with the 1st Circuit Solicitor's office real soon, and we're looking forward to seeing what they can do to hold her accountable.

Stay tuned.

Good guys & bad guys

Dirty Harry, toting his .44 magnum looking for crooks to blow away ... uhhh, we meant to say Secretary of State Mark Hammond ... named names in this year's Scrooges and Angels listing, just in time to guide holiday giving. Even better was having his helpful staff share the list with us for our review.

Hammond's office identified a number of charitable organizations as "Angels", or those who:

... were selected by review of financial reports submitted annually to the Secretary of State’s Office. The following criteria were considered: the charity must have been established for at least three years; has collected revenue greater than $20,000; 80 percent or more of the revenue must go toward the charities’ program goals; makes good use of volunteer labor; and receives minimal finding in grants. The panel also sought to showcase charities with different missions, and chose charities across South Carolina and the United States.

By this definition, the following organizations made his list of Angels for 2008:

  • Animal Protection League of SC, Inc., Hopkins, SC 93.5%
  • Careteam, Inc., Myrtle Beach, SC 95.8%
  • Carson Scholars Fund, Inc., Baltimore, MD 88.1%
  • Country Santa, Pickens, SC 99.3%
  • Experience Works, Inc., Arlington, VA 92.5%
  • Fatherhood & Families Engagement, Florence, SC 93.3%
  • Golden Harvest Food Bank, Inc., Augusta, GA 95.0%
  • Historic Charleston Foundation, Charleston, SC 85.6%
  • NAMI of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 87.2%
  • Outreach Farm, Inc., Pawleys Island, SC 98.8%

Hammond's office also named their "Scrooges", based upon the follow criteria:

The Scrooges were selected by review of financial reports submitted annually to the Secretary of State’s Office. The following criteria were considered: the charity had given 40 percent or less of the revenue to the charities’ program goals; collected revenue greater than $20,000; had many complaints filed against them; and spent a large amount of money on the use of professional fundraisers rather than volunteers.

The starring scrooges for 2008 were ...

  • American Police & Sheriff’s Association, Chepachet, RI 12.7%
  • Cancer Assistance Network, Gig Harbor, WA 24.0%
  • Children’s Cancer Fund of America, Inc., Powell, TN 14.4%
  • Committee for Missing Children, Inc., Lawrenceville, GA 10.2%
  • Dakota Indian Foundation, Inc., Chamberlain, SD 17.8%
  • Disabled Police Officers of American, Inc., Niceville, FL 11.4%
  • Dogs Against Drugs/Dogs Against Crime, Anderson, IN 10.3%
  • Firefighters Charitable Foundation, Farmingdale. NY 11.1%
  • Foundation for American Veterans, Inc., West Bloomfield, MI 7.6%
  • National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, Inc., Alexandria, VA 11.3%

It's interesting to note that seven of the ten Angels were based in South Carolina, with one right across the Savannah River in Augusta. By contrast, all ten of the Scrooges were based outside of South Carolina. We also noted that a number of the Angels, such as the Animal Protection League of SC and Historic Charleston Foundation, had local missions, while the Scrooges were based out of state and spent their money out of state. We figure that South Carolinians are more likely to be conscientious and responsible with funds they solicit than an organization from elsewhere.

We certainly appreciate the work being done by Mark Hammond's office in helping inform us about both the good and the bad charities at work in South Carolina.

The Leaders of the Pack

This afternoon, the members of the Freshmen Caucus of the State House's 2009-2010 class elected a decidedly conservative and mostly Upstate leadership, with all four officers seen as staunch conservatives and three hailing from the Greenvile County:
  • Chair: Tim Scott from North Charleston
  • Vice-Chair: Dan Hamilton from Taylors
  • Secretary: Wendy Nanney from Greenville
  • Treasurer: Tommy Stringer from Landrum

"It's a huge honor to facilitate this Freshman Caucus a conduit for the best ideas of others and get them to the leadership of the House," Tim Scott told us this in an interview this evening. He sees his role as their Chairman as a facilitator who would help move good ideas forward and make sure his fellow freshmen would play important roles in the next two years. Given the large number of freshmen, including several who toppled incumbents, he will have his work cut out for him.

Given Scott's highly-visible candidacy and his long record as a leader on Charleston County Council, as well as a number of other Lowcountry organizations, we're confident that of any freshman who has the ability to lead the freshman caucus, he was the right choice. We want to thank those who supported him for making a wise choice.

Anton Gunn, a freshman Democrat who won the seat vacated by Blogland favorite Rep. Bill Cotty, made bids for three of the four freshman offices, including Chair and Vice-Chair, losing each time. That's a whole lot of ambition for a first-week member, and we have to wonder if it's not too much.

These freshmen will face tough challenges: a slumping economy, the likelihood of one or more tight budget years, and a highly-combative relationship between the Governor and the General Assembly. They will be expected to make some tough decisions that may entail more political risk for them than with others with more seniority who have stronger political bonds in their districts. But we're confident
many of them will put their duty as legislators above politics-as-usual.

To the officers of the Freshmen Caucus, we say "congratulations", and wish to extend to Scott and the other freshman our best wishes and prayers for successful two years in the House.

Bad boy Jim Brown

We see Shannon Erickson's former Democratic opponent got himself locked up again, just a couple of weeks after election day. Last time, he swore it was all a set-up. We'll be interested to see what his excuse for this one is - and if he plans to run again anytime soon:

Former Democratic S.C. House of Representative candidate Jim Brown was arrested Friday for trying to prevent a car -- not his own -- from being booted in downtown Beaufort.

Officers from the Beaufort Police Department served Jim Brown, 37, of Lady's Island with a warrant Friday afternoon for interfering with a police officer following an incident Thursday in downtown Beaufort, said Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy.

Clancy said Brown tried to prevent an officer from putting a boot on a car.

"The officer was dealing with a parking violation, and a car was being booted, and (Brown) became involved and interfered with the officer's actions," Clancy said. "It wasn't his car. He wasn't immediately involved but he came along and involved himself."

Brown, whose website described him as:

Feared by his opponents for his take-no-prisoners approach to pursuing justice for his clients, Beaufort attorney Jim Brown is held in extremely high regard by his colleagues in the S.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers because of his outstanding research, writing, lecturing, and leadership skills.

We find it sort of ironic when a criminal defense attorney can't keep himself out of jail. Come to think of it, Brown's act sort of reminds us of those famous words uttered by another Democratic politico ... "Bitch set me up".

Monday's music

We've had a pretty busy last few days, and to be honest, we're off doing stuff non-political (which is a healthy thing - we recommend it highly).

Until tomorrow, we'll leave you with a promise that we'll be back with more substantive content tomorrow and this YouTube video of Sum 41's parody of the 80s metal scene with this video of their performance of "Pain for Pleasure":

We have it on good authority two of these guys were reprising roles played by Mike Reino and Brian McCarty.

Working for the weekend

We want to thank our readers for tuning in this week. Tomorrow, we'll be teaching a Red Cross First Aid & CPR class down in Bluffton, as well as catching the new James Bond flick. But don't worry, we'll be back on Monday.

Until then, here's a little Loverboy for ya:

Rob Halford's Metal "Resurrection"

After a long streak of thoughtful and profound postings, it's time for something a little less political. Since yours truly will be busy doing safety compliance site visits and teaching First Aid and CPR to employees today and tomorrow, it seems like a good time to start getting back to the heavy metal album reviews that inspired some of our readers to throw up clenched fists and call out "Blogland" when we've seen them over the last couple of years ...

At the end of a long musical journey that lasted throughout the 1990s, where he left Judas Priest in a rambling solo journey which turned in a number of music directions, in 2000, Rob Halford returned to his metal roots with his kick-ass solo 2000 album, very fittingly entitled “Resurrection”.

While I couldn't find any YouTube stuff that links to anything from this album, here's a link to a video of him performing the Judas Priest classic "Delivering the Goods" with Skid Row:

A bit ironic that since this, Halford's band wanted him back and Skid Row has moved on without Sebastian Bach, ain't it?

Winning and losing in the Blogland

Now that the dust has settled, let's look at how some of the races we've look at fared.

Blogland Races to Watch: We predicted a number of legislative races were going to be close, with the winner coming in under the sixty percent mark.

Senate District 10: Democrat Nicholson holds an open Dem seat with 51 percent.
Senate District 11: Democrat Senator Glenn Reese wins re-election with 57 percent.
Senate District 16: Republican Mick Mulvaney holds an open GOP seat with 54 percent.
Senate District 25: Republican Shane Massey wins re-election with 54 percent.
Senate District 28: Democrat Dick Elliot wins re-election with 57 percent.

House District 29: Democrat Dennis Moss wins re-election with 53 percent.
House District 45: Republican Deborah Long holds an open GOP seat with 57 percent.
House District 49: Democrat John King holds an open Dem seat with 68 percent.
House District 60: Republican Phil Lowe wins re-election with 57 percent.
House District 79: Democrat Anton Gunn wins this open GOP seat with 54 percent.
House District 97: Democrat Patsy Knight wins re-election with 54 percent.
House District 108: Democrat Vida Miller wins re-election with 53 percent.
House District 115: Democrat Anne Patterson Hutto ousts GOP Rep. Wallace Scarborough with 51 percent.
House District 124: Republican Shannon Erickson wins re-election with 58 percent.

... of the 14 races we called as being close, all but one was. But there were a few that we missed:

GOP Senator Kevin Bryant (Dist. 3), who held on with 57 percent,
GOP Rep. Don Bowen (Dist. 8), who got 53 percent,
GOP House candidate Mark Willis (Dist. 16), who got 53 percent,
Dem. Rep. Olin Phillips (Dist. 30), who got 54 percent,
GOP Rep. Derham Cole (Dist. 32), who got 54 percent,
GOP House candidate Steve Parker (District 37), who got 57 percent,

We want to thank our readers, whose helpful intel helped us assess what was going on out there and make our calls. Hopefully next time around, we can get a little more input from people who live along the I-85 corridor, where we missed a handful of close races.

Blogland Endorsees: Six out of our nine endorsees won their races:

Nikki Haley, House District 87 - Wins with 83 percent
Sabrina Gast, York County Coroner - Wins with 64 percent
Shannon Erickson, House District 124 - Wins with 58 percent
Phil Lowe, House District 60 - Wins with 57 percent
Dean Fowler, Florence County Treasurer - Wins with 57 percent
Shane Massey, Senate District 25 - Wins with 54 percent
Dee Compton, Senate District 10 - Loses with 48 percent
Jill Kelso, House District 108 - Loses with 47 percent
Marvin Rogers, House District 49 - Loses with 32 percent

"GOP in dire straits" ... ?

To that question, we say yes, responding to concerns raised in an article posted on, where Jonhathan Martin takes a good look at the GOP's present woes, as well as offers some guidance as to fix them:

Thumped convincingly in consecutive election cycles, the Republican Party now finds itself in its worst straits since the rise of the conservative coalition — a minority party without the White House, fewer seats in the House and Senate, only 21 governors and full control of just 14 state legislatures.

Most ominous for Republicans, the GOP is increasingly becoming less grand than old — and outdated. As reflected in Tuesday’s results and exit polls, it’s a party that is overwhelmingly white, rural and aged in a country that is rapidly becoming racially mixed, suburban and dominated by a post-Baby Boomer generation with no memory of Vietnam or the familiar culture wars of the past.

The article offers some good advice on where to go to fix the problems, including this advise from former Governor Jeb Bush:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the party should take four primary steps: show no tolerance for corruption, practice what it preaches about limiting the scope of government (“There should not be such a thing as a Big-Government Republican”), stand for working families and small business, and embrace reform.

“I hope there is a strong focus on recruiting candidates for governor as a top priority for 2010,” said Bush. “A reform conservative agenda can be shown at the state level regarding education, health care and environmental policy while the liberals advocate the status quo, just more of it, in Washington, D.C.”

It's worth a look, so go check it out.