Arnette to apologize to Schuster at tomorrow's GOP Breakfast Club meeting?

Blogland staff members are trying to track down the source of a rumor that Berkeley County GOP Chair Wade Arnette plans to issue a public apology for making a number of personal attacks upon local Republican Breakfast Club moderator Charles Schuster.

Reportedly, this apology will be offered at the Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club at tomorrow morning’s monthly meeting, where Arnette made his accusations to news media representatives following his failed takeover attempt.

According to the source, he will claim that his attacks were motivated by a desire to seek revenge for not being allowed to take over Schuster’s group. Specifically, Arnette will apologize to Schuster for questioning his character and for wasting state tax dollars by involving the State Ethics Commission with what was termed a “frivolous complaint that had no basis in fact”.

The alleged desire to make up for the attacks upon Schuster’s character may have been prompted by comments by Steve Query, the county GOP’s Treasurer, who recently told local media that he wanted to see “a few minutes allowed where opposing views could be made, as long as it doesn't get into character assassination or personal vendettas.

Arnette’s false allegations, which accused Schuster of personal mishandling of funds, rose to the level of both character assassination and personal vendettas.

Other sources have claimed that the rumor was false and Arnette does not plan on returning to the place where he was booed by meeting attendees. Arnette has refused to return calls from the Blogland, leaving it to attendees to tomorrow’s meeting to see if Arnette will return, and if he does, whether he will be big enough to apologize to Schuster.

RSVP: Earl's Graduation Party & Roast

Plans are in the works for a graduation party to celebrate the end of my graduate school studies - and you, our readers, fans, friends ... and even enemies ... are invited to attend.

Even if your name is Rick Beltram or Anita Floyd, you're still welcome to join the festivities.

For those of you who have watched me dish it out here in the Blogland ... or even been the subject of some of the dishing ... part of this event will include a roast where you'll be able to throw some of it back at me.

The date of the event will be Saturday, May 10 - but the time is yet to be decided, based upon the amount of interest we have in either an afternoon or an evening event.

If you'd like to attend,
please drop an email to us to confirm your interest. Be sure to indicate whether you can attend an afternoon event, evening event, or both.

I'm back

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm back in the Palmetto State, safe and sound. What a great conference!

Special thanks go out to Paul Connerty, our Executive Director, Michelle for the great travel arrangements, and the members of Dorchester County Council for supporting my efforts to give back to my community through serving on the board.

Give me a little time to get caught up on things at the office and school, and I'll be back in the swing of things by Friday.

Thank you for tuning in. Have a great evening.

NAWB report: "Two Million Minutes" sounds workforce development alarm

The end result of workforce development efforts - whether through traditional processes, such as primary and secondary schools, or through less traditional approaches, such as workforce development organizations or community/technical colleges - is to empower individuals to be successful and productive citizens.

But in today's world, the comparison isn't just to our fellow Americans. Today's citizens must be successful relative to a standard which includes those in China and India.

For those trapped in the post-WWII worldview, where the United States alone was spared the devastation that swept the world: Europe and much of the Pacific basin was in ruins. The British empire, considered to be the most-likely second power of the post-war era, staggered in the post-war era and collapsed.

That era allowed the United States an opportunity to prosper and lead much of the world, which it did. However, in the sixty years since the war ended, the ruined nations of Asia and Europe recovered, inspired by our innovations and often able to grow thanks to our military umbrella. Now they're fully-developed nations who are competing with us ... and sometimes leading us.

The movie "2 Million Minutes", which was the subject of a panel discussion, was a documentary which examined the differences in our primary career development vehicle: the high school, compared to India and China. The differences presented in the comparisons which the video makes are striking - ones we fail to notice, much less question, and will play major roles in our ability to lead, much less compete, for the next two generations.

The write-up on the movie website represents key issues discussed in the movie:

Statistics for American high school students give rise to concern for our student's education in math and science. Less than 40 percent of U.S. students take a science course more rigorous than general biology, and a mere 18 percent take advanced classes in physics, chemistry or biology. Only 45 percent of U.S. students take math coursework beyond two years of algebra and one year of geometry. And 50 percent of all college freshmen require remedial coursework.

Meanwhile, both India and China have made dramatic leaps in educating their middle classes - each comparable in size to the entire U.S. population. Compared to the U.S., China now produces eight times more scientists and engineers, while India puts out up to three times as many as the U.S. Additionally, given the affordability of their wages, China and India are now preferred destinations for increasing numbers of multinational high-tech corporations.

Just as the Soviets' launch of a tiny satellite ignited a space race and impelled America to improve its science education, many experts feel the United States has reached its next "Sputnik moment." The goal of this film is to help answer the question: Are we doing enough with the time we have to ensure the best future for all?

For those who worry about where we're headed, it's something to watch.

NAWB Report: Gingrich calls for “fundamental change” on workforce development policies

While attending the NAWB, the Blogland was lucky to sit in this morning’s keynote session, which featured Newt Gingrich.

His opening comments to attendees challenged them to come up with new approaches:

We need to have a radically different conversation … because all the politicians are talking about change. We are trapped into a series of structures that are not working, and we keep trying to find ways to make them work. What we need to be asking is what needs to be done, and ask ourselves how we get it done.

In responding to a question from an attendee, Gingrich laid out several recommendations that he believed should be the centerpiece of efforts to a skilled workforce:
1) National dialogue “what does it take to have a successful economy?”
2) Comprehensive plan for economy and energy. Has to have tax reform to reward savings and investment, aggressive attitude towards trade agreements “I would appoint a lawyer”
3) Workforce training program which is very adaptive, flexible, and competitive.

Responding to question on workforce development policy from an attendee, the former House Speaker advocated a continual separation between workforce development efforts and more traditional educational institutions, warning against trying to achieve innovative policies in existing bureaucratic organizations.

Gingrich warned of growing economic threats from China and India. To confront this challenge, he believed: “we have to talk about fundamental change. I’m going to be an advocate for fundamental change, and hope you go back to talk about making fundamental changes in your community. If we do this, nobody will catch us in the 21st century”.

He criticized current education bureaucracy as “engines of disengagement” which were failing to meet the challenges of preparing the future workforce, challenging attendees to be creative in developing effective solutions that would address workforce needs.

Now to workshops and award luncheons. Stay tuned for more news from the NAWB conference this evening.

NAWB Report: Sightseeing

While taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the NAWB conference, the Blogland figured it was time to chase the childhood days, so away we went, visiting two places I lived as a kid while my father was stationed in DC:

An apartment near Greenbelt, MD that has moved a little more upscale since I was a kid:

What had been Army-owned housing in the Maryland countryside after a first life as a missile test pad, but has since gone private and decidedly downhill. It's in an area called Croom, just a couple of miles up the road from Charles Town, which was once a village and the county seat of Prince George's County

So you win some, you lose some. Still, it was nice to visit those places so many years later and see that I still recognized them.

NAWB preview: On the road in Virginia

Today was a long day on the road in Virginia. To break the monotony, the Blogland took a few side trips.

The first was to the Petersburg National Battlefield. For those of you who don't know, Lee and Grant faced off along a relatively static front line on the outskirts of Peterburg for nearly a year, until Lee evacuated Richmond and Petersburg in an attempt to withdraw to regroup, resupply, and buy time.

What was probably the most spectacular moment of the siege took place near the present-day junction of Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 460 in what became known as "The Crater".

Union forces attempted to tunnel under Confederate siege lines. The tunnel was packed with explosives. The intended plan to rush Confederate lines and cut the Petersburg forces in half failed as Confederates realized the unsupported attackers were sitting ducks at the bottom of the blast crater. The result was a costly defeat for Union forces.

The second noteworthy stop of the day's ramblings was a visit to the site of the Battle of Sayler's Creek. About an hour's drive west of Petersburg, in rolling rural farm country, Lee's rear guard caught in their retreat from Richmond and Petersburg.

Outnumbered, outgunned, and exhausted, the Confederates turned and attacked pursuing forces, under the command of General Sheridan, and almost broke through. The outcome turned when blistering Union artillery attack turned what could have become a last victory into the tragic los
s of most of Lee's rear guard - nearly a quarter of the 35,000 troops remaining in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

Stunned by the rout at Sayler's Creek and cornered by two Union armies, Lee surrendered his command to General Grant three days later at Appomattox Courthouse. This battle was considered by some to be the last stand of Lee's army.

Here are some pics from the visit:

The Confederate starting position east of the creek

The Union starting position west of the creek:

A house converted to a Union field hospital:

Tomorrow, the conference starts. Stay tuned.

Workforce Boards National Conference

Yours truly will be on the road for a few days to attend the 2008 annual National Conference of Workforce Boards in Washington, D.C.

This will be a great opportunity to meet other people like myself who are involved in workforce development from communities across the United States. Among the many workshops and seminars that I'll be attending, keynote speakers will include:

  • Daniel Pink, best-selling author and expert on innovation, competition and the changing world of work will speak at the Opening Session on Sunday morning.
  • Newt Gingrich, author, speaker and architect of the "Contract With America" will present at Monday's Keynote Session.
  • Gene B. Sperling, former National Economic Advisor to President Clinton, consultant and writer, will kick-off the closing session on Tuesday.

In addition, I plan to do some sightseeing around the city, visit some Eastern Catholic parishes around the metro area, and visit some places where I used to live out in the Maryland suburbs when I was a kid.

Looks for news and photos from the trip. I'll be leaving tomorrow.

Y'all be sure to have a great weekend!

We deliver the shocking truth about Carl Gullick ... EARLY!

Our shocking news about State Representative Carl Gullick was so good, we just couldn’t keep this cat in the bag … or a straight face … long enough:

We’re at the Blogland are making Carl Gullick our first endorsee of the 2008 election cycle.

That’s the first shocking revelation. The second is that we’ve known him since way back to the beginning of his political career.

Why would we endorse Carl for re-election? Simple – it’s about leadership.

Carl started out in politics in 1992, when he toppled the Democratic chairman of York County Council, leading the council’s first GOP majority. In fact, we were there and we walking neighborhoods and putting up signs right alongside him, even at 2 in the morning.

When Carl Gullick took office, York County was, to sum it up in a single word: broken.

The county had lost millions in illegal investments of retirement funds, taxes were out of control, county government was regularly the subject of protests of dozens … and then hundreds of county residents, and there was no clue about how to address problems that were facing the county, including congested roads and replacing thousands of jobs lost due to the collapse of the textile industry.

Carl was asked to serve as chairman of County Council on his first day. Maybe they planned to make the new guy the sucker and sacrifical lamb, since the last three Chairs had all been ousted at the polls amidst feuding, finger-pointing, and political gridlock.

Fortunately, for both Carl and York County, this story ended very differently.

For his entire eight year tenure, Carl Gullick was Chair (he gave up the seat to challenge Congressman John Spratt). In that time, they voted the Pennies for Progress program, and then 71% of voters approved renewing the 1 cent sales tax. Industrial development increased notably and county government began to work for the people instead of over and against them. Carl Gullick was one of those who looked beyond the present crisis, believed things could be turned, and worked to make that vision a reality.

That’s the kind of leadership you don’t find very often.

Carl Gullick was, as he is now, a bit unconventional and not afraid to speak his mind. He doesn’t take orders or follow agendas, but has remained the deep thinker who sees solutions, and works hard to make them happen. In today’s world where scoring political points often seems more important than solving problems, Carl Gullick has earned another term.

Those people who appreciate the quality community that York County is today owe much to Carl, even if they don’t realize how bad things used to be. Those of us who were there before he took the helm back in 1992 know this all too well. That’s why we support him, and so should they.

Those of you who were hoping for shocking truths to be revealed that would suit your own political agendas … we're sorry, but that’s all there is. We know it’s a bit lame, but the joke’s on you! Stop taking things so seriously, get out there, and have a great weekend!

My co-worker a Good Samaritan

Some of you may have read this story about one of my company's employees:

Someone -- or in this case something -- was watching over the Good Samaritan whose act of kindness almost landed him in jail Monday.

Around 8:15 a.m., Stanley Davis of Camden noticed a wallet containing $600 in cash inside the north Hilton Head Island Shell Station, 165 William Hilton Parkway.

At first he thought it belonged to his supervisor at the town's Horseshoe Road construction project next door, so he took the wallet and set off to track down his boss. When it became clear the wallet didn't belong to him, Davis returned to the store and gave the wallet to the gas station clerk. Davis then left to go back to work.

Meanwhile, the wallet's owner had returned to the store to claim it. The clerk told him she didn't have it ...

Thank goodness for the fast-forward button.

The tape showed Davis returning the wallet to the clerk about five minutes after he'd initially left with it. It showed the clerk looking at the cash inside before stowing the wallet beneath the counter, the report stated.

There's more to the story, so go check it out. Not only does he almost get framed for stealing the wallet, the owner didn't even thank him.

We also have to thank Daniel Brownstein of the Island Packet for writing this story and recognizing a good deed that almost went unnoticed.

Phil Shoopman runs for the Senate

We were rather surprised to see that recently-elected State Senator Lewis Vaughn decided to take a pass on seeking a full term in the Senate seat he had taken after the death of Verne Smith, who had spent decades in the seat.

I'm sure nobody else was expecting Smith's successor to move along so quickly.

In any event, Phil Shoopman, who won the House seat Vaughn had vacated in the Greer area, has decided to run for the Senate seat that Vaughn is now giving up.

Confused yet? Let's stop, step back, and recap exactly what the heck is going on here.

1) Two years ago, Vaughn decides to retire from the state House,
2) Shoopman runs for, and wins, the House seat formerly held by Vaughn,
3) State Senator Verne Smith dies,
4) Vaughn reconsiders retirement and runs for the remainder of Smith's Senate term,
5) Vaughn decides less than two years in the Senate is enough and that retirement ain't so bad,
6) Shoopman runs for the Senate seat, now held by Vaughn.

For those in the foothllls who are used to changing Senators every few decades or so, this chain of events has to be a little out of the ordinary. But Shoopman's a pretty good guy, and a Blogland reader to boot, so of course we're gonna wish him the best of luck.

Stay tuned for shocking news about State Rep. Carl Gullick

We're sure the Governor's people are gonna be drooling at the prospect of reading this exclusive. Be sure to tune in Monday for all the shocking truth, right here in the Blogland.

Whose words?

Without fail, new media YouTubers are quick to respond to the brewing controversy over Obama's supposed affection for Deval Patrick's speeches by conducting their own content analysis of their speeches. One product of these content analysis efforts made its way onto YouTube.


This is not to say we're taking sides in the Democratic presidential race, but many of you have noticed that we like snaring people with their own words. It's a bit of a fun sport, but behind it is the belief that words matter, and that everyone should be held accountable for what they say in order to get elected.

Our long-time readers know we're equal opportunity about who we shoot around here. When we catch 'em, we skewer them equally here in the Blogland.

Even Barack Obama.

Another attempt to hijack breakfast club?

We at the Blogland have been informed by our readers that there will be a second attempt to take over the Berkeley GOP Breakfast Club by Berkeley County GOP Chair Wade Arnette. This effort will be made tonight at a meeting he has called at the Sangaree branch of the Berkeley County Library, at 7pm.

That's at 595 Sangaree Parkway, Summerville SC 29483. Mapquest it and be there.

Arnette's position that the Chair has authority over every Republican organization within it's county should warn Republicans across the state that their own groups could be taken over at the whim of their county's Chairman - Breakfast Clubs, Lunch Clubs ... not to forget Women, Young, and Teenage Republicans.

Even more troubling is the silence from the state GOP leadership to allegations that we've raised that they may be supporting Arnette's efforts. Grassroots Republicans should be demanding to know if Dawson wants to allow local GOP clubs to be co-opted.

We were informed that Arnette failed to notify a number of members of the county's Executive Committee, so we're not even sure if whatever happens tonight will have legal standing.

It should concern Republicans that the Berkeley GOP has withered to the point where they can meet at a library. Folks, that's just one stop from the proverbial phone booth.

Now THAT is what you call leadership.

Come on out to show your support for Schuster and while you're there, ask Arnette when he'll conduct an audit of his own organization. After all, if it's good for the goose, it's gotta be good for the gander.

That's 7pm, at 595 Sangaree Parkway, Summerville SC 29483. Mapquest it and be there.

Obama Comedown Syndrome

David Brooks makes some good points about "OCS", the hypocrisy of Barack Obama, and the blindness of his followers in his recent column, entitled "When the magic fades":

At first it seemed like a few random cases of lassitude among Mary Chapin Carpenter devotees in Berkeley, Cambridge and Chapel Hill. But then psychotherapists began to realize patients across the country were complaining of the same distress. They were experiencing the first hints of what’s bound to be a national phenomenon: Obama Comedown Syndrome.

The afflicted had already been through the phases of Obama-mania — fainting at rallies, weeping over their touch screens while watching Obama videos, spending hours making folk crafts featuring Michelle Obama’s face. These patients had experienced intense surges of hope-amine, the brain chemical that fuels euphoric sensations of historic change and personal salvation.

... and then he points out the rampant hypocrisy and the sad truth behind "Change":

As the syndrome progresses, they begin to ask questions about The Presence himself:

Barack Obama vowed to abide by the public finance campaign-spending rules in the general election if his opponent did. But now he’s waffling on his promise. Why does he need to check with his campaign staff members when deciding whether to keep his word?

Obama says he is practicing a new kind of politics, but why has his PAC sloshed $698,000 to the campaigns of the superdelegates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics? Is giving Robert Byrd’s campaign $10,000 the kind of change we can believe in?

If he values independent thinking, why is his the most predictable liberal vote in the Senate? A People for the American Way computer program would cast the same votes for cheaper.

How is a 47-year-old novice going to unify highly polarized 70-something committee chairs? What will happen if the nation’s 261,000 lobbyists don’t see the light, even after the laying on of hands? Does The Changemaker have the guts to take on the special interests in his own party — the trial lawyers, the teachers’ unions, the AARP?

The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out ...

Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions ...

Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no ...

... And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?

Rush's "Moving Pictures"

As was promised to some lawyers the other day (we really did), it's gonna be a little quiet here in the Blogland for the next couple of weeks. A thesis, a couple of technical proposals and an upcoming conference will keep us quite busy.

So, if we can't take the time to discuss real news, we'll just throw out an album review of "Moving Pictures" by Rush. This album is a kick-ass piece of rock and roll that belongs in everyone's album collection.

Those of you who are old enough will remember two early 80s rock radio staples: "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight". If you didn't crank the audio up to full-blast to those songs (or still want to) ... well, we feel sorry for you.

Red Barchetta tells a tale of a future where personal cars are forbidden, except for a young rebel who takes a ride in his uncle's long-concealed red Barchetta. YYZ is an instrumental which taps out the morse code spelling of YYZ. For those of you who don't know (we're willing to bet that Moye does), YYZ is the airport designation for Toronto's international airport.

At any rate, we're gonna get back to an action-packed week. But if you want to make your week a little better, this is an album that will do the trick.

Special thanks

... go out to a group of Blogland readers who invited yours truly to join them for an evening recently. I always enjoy meeting my readers, getting to know them, and letting them know how much I appreciate their readership.

I was asked not to reveal the names, professions, or affiliations of those at the event, and that's something I always respect. But I had a great time meeting all of them. They're a real credit to their profession (I think), and their dedication and loyalty to their "leader" was quite admirable. One should be proud to have friends like them.

Thanks again, please keep in touch, and as always, stay tuned ...


I'm not always a political hack or headbanger. I'm also a bit of a tech geek who thinks neat new scientific ideas, especially with regard to space exploration, are just cool things.

In the New York Times, Dennis Overbye talks about how a new approach to astronomy is allowing scientists to better observe what's out there, in their quest to continue looking for planets, solar systems, and maybe other forms of life.

Since 1995, around 250 planets outside the solar system, or exoplanets, have been discovered. But few of them are in systems that even faintly resemble our own. In many cases, giant Jupiter-like planets are whizzing around in orbits smaller than that of Mercury. But are these typical of the universe?

Almost all of those planets were discovered by the so-called wobble method, in which astronomers measure the gravitational tug of planets on their parent star as they whir around it. This technique is most sensitive to massive planets close to their stars.

The new discovery was made by a different technique that favors planets more distant from their star. It is based on a trick of Einsteinian gravity called microlensing. If, in the ceaseless shifting of the stars, two of them should become almost perfectly aligned with Earth, the gravity of the nearer star can bend and magnify the light from the more distant one, causing it to get much brighter for a few days.

If the alignment is perfect, any big planets attending the nearer star will get into the act, adding their own little boosts to the more distant starlight.

That is exactly what started happening on March 28, 2006, when a star 5,000 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius began to pass in front of one 21,000 light-years more distant, causing it to flash. That was picked up by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, or Ogle, a worldwide collaboration of observers who keep watch for such events.

This seems to be a promising approach to help look for planets more like our own, and maybe see who else is out there. Pretty cool stuff.

Now, back to my thesis. Enjoy the weekend everyone.

David Brooks' "Fresh start conservatism"

In the New York Times, columnist David Brooks suggests if conservatives were willing to be a little more pragmatic and focused on long-term objectives, they could chart a new course for the country:

In the 19th century, industrialization swept the world. Many European nations expanded their welfare states but kept their education systems exclusive. The U.S. tried the opposite approach. American leaders expanded education and created the highest quality work force on the planet.

That quality work force was the single biggest reason the U.S. emerged as the economic superpower of the 20th century. Generation after generation, American workers were better educated, more industrious and more innovative than the ones that came before.

That progress stopped about 30 years ago. The percentage of young Americans completing college has been stagnant for a generation. As well-educated boomers retire over the next decades, the quality of the American work force is likely to decline. Mitt Romney captured the consequences in his withdrawal statement: “I am convinced that unless America changes course, we will become the France of the 21st century — still a great nation, but no longer the leader of the world.”

Americans feel the slippage every day.

If I were advising the Republican nominee, this is one of the places I’d ask him to plant his flag. I’d ask him to call for a new human capital revolution, so that the U.S. could recapture the spirit of reforms like the Morrill Act of the 19th century, the high school movement of the early 20th century and the G.I. Bill after World War II.

Doing that would mean taking on the populists of the left and right, the ones who imagine the problem is globalization and unfair trade when in fact the real problem is that the talents of American workers are not keeping up with technological change.

Doing that would also mean stealing ideas from both the left and right. Liberals have spent more time thinking about human capital than conservatives, who have tended to imagine that if you build a free market, a quality labor force would magically appear.

Bold thinking ... but Brooks may be onto something. Bill Clinton redefined his administration and fought back against a GOP-held Congress by incorporating some conservative points into his agenda. Shrewd conservatives may be wise to take a page from the Clinton playbook if they want to prevail this year.

Arnette's search for "Mo Money" finds just pocket change

Today's second story about stupid, heavy-handed moves by a political has-been brings us more news about the ongoing meltdown of the Berkeley County GOP. County Chairman Wade Arnette's sour-grapes efforts to smear Charles Schuster, the moderator of the local GOP Breakfast club, after his effort to hijack the club failed, ended up flopping as badly as his coup attempt, when the State Ethics Commission found nothing wrong and dropped the case:

Last week, Berkeley County Republican Party Chairman Wade Arnette wrote to Hazelwood, expressing his concerns about the breakfast.

On Monday, Hazelwood said that the breakfast would only fall under her office’s jurisdiction if it made contributions in excess of $500 to political candidates.

“The main thing is, the breakfast club has made it clear that … they are a group outside of the jurisdiction of the ethics commission, and outside of the party,” she said.

Hazelwood said the commission would not investigate the breakfast unless new information is presented.

- Goose Creek Gazette (2/13/08)

It's amazing that a group of people who gather for breakfast once a month can be so intimidating to Berkeley County's power structure. Either that, or Arnette has become quite adept at making mountains out of molehills.

Disclosures of the Breakfast Club's finances seemed to have pulled the plug on Arnette's allegations of financial wrong-doings, when Schuster opened the books, revealing that the club not only had very little cash on hand, but that this was a normal state of being for the club, and that the biggest beneficiary of what little money there was may have been the American Legion:

On Sunday, breakfast moderator Charles Schuster said that an audit of the breakfast’s finances revealed that the club has never had more than $1,097 in its bank account, and that all “deposits, checks and bank statements are on file,” he said.

According to Schuster, attorney Wheeler Tillman, along with Schuster, completed the audit Feb. 9.

“We looked at everything,” Schuster said. “Anytime we approved any money, it was always by voice vote. We’ve never done any cash. We have a tax ID number …

“We don’t solicit money from people. We are just a breakfast group that gets together.”

The breakfast’s current balance on hand is $560, Schuster said, and its checking account is with First National Bank of South Carolina.

Schuster said that all of the breakfast’s expenditures are voted on by the membership before any money is spent.

“Over the years, the club has given money to charities associated with the American Legion,” Schuster wrote in an email release over the weekend. The club also purchased a public address system, he said.

Surely Arnette wouldn't say the American Legion is unworthy of donations, would he? Perhaps Arnette cooked all this up while watching a re-run of In Living Color?

Sometimes they don't get away with it

Almost two years after he lost his attempted political comeback, former State Senator Bill Branton was ordered to pony up $15,000 for a last-minute sneak attack mailing:

Former state Sen. Bill Branton was ordered Thursday to pay $15,000 in damages to former Dorchester County Council Chairman Skip Elliott in a libel suit, according to an order handed down by First Circuit Judge James Williams.

The lawsuit stems from the 2006 Dorchester County Council District 7 race where Elliott claimed he was libeled by Branton in campaign literature in June of that year.

This is the second situation arising from Branton’s County Council campaign. Last July, he was fined an undisclosed amount and found in violation on four counts of state ethics laws that require filing campaign contribution forms.

- Summerville Journal-Scene (2/14/08)

Branton attempted to duplicate a dirty trick that had been employed against him in his failed 2004 Senate re-election campaign - created a fictious third-party group to send out an attack mailing making false and over-the-top charges against the incumbent. Usually when campaigns pull this kind of stunt, they get away with it.

This time, the culprits got caught, and paid dearly for their games. If only it happened like this more often.

The Blogland's Love Advice column

As part of our ongoing efforts to provide even more valuable services for our readers, we at the Blogland decided to explore having our own sort of "Dear Abby" love advice column, just in time for Valentine's Day.

After this short trial, we realized it just wasn't gonna work out:

Like about everyone else who blogs in the South Carolina political culture, we're single. Smart, successful women usually look our way, and run like hell. If not right away, then usually within a few weeks. Not that we don't understand why ... twice divorced with a teenage daughter at home does not exactly put one at the top of the most-desirable singles list.

Instead of trying to be Ms. Abby, Dr. Phil, or the lecherous creep next door, we'll stick with what works - political commentary, inflammatory rhetoric, a little theological insight and lots of great rock and roll. Besides, we know y'all love us already.

After all, in the Blogland, our number one job is rocking politics (and the boat) in the Palmetto State.

So, whatever you're doing, wherever you are, be sure to read this posting from Sic Willie at FITS about today.

Good riddance

When we read this story, our best theory was that his death was an accident, since the Israelis have denied any connection (surely they wouldn't have done it covertly, now would they?).

Maybe one of the bombs he was making detonated prematurely, or maybe he committed suicide by car bomb. Who knows? What we do know is this: when you piss off people like the Israelis ... sooner or later, accidents happen.

To tell you the truth, we really care don't how it really happened. With someone like this, results are all that matters. In any event, there is a certain bit of dark humor in seeing the master of car bombings got blown up by his own car.

Imad Mughniyeh, the militant accused of attacks that left hundreds of Americans and Israelis dead, including a U.S. Navy diver during the infamous 1985 hijacking of a TWA jetliner, has been killed, Hezbollah said Wednesday.

The militant group blamed Israel for the assassination — a charge the Jewish state denied — but it did not say how he died. However, Middle East media reported he was killed in a recent car bomb in Syria.

His killing is a major blow to Hezbollah, which fought Israel in the summer 2006 war in Lebanon, and its Iranian and Syrian backers.

Mughniyeh, who had been in hiding for years, was among the fugitives indicted in the United States for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed. He was also suspected of masterminding attacks on the U.S. Embassy and the Marine base in Lebanon that killed more than 260 Americans in the 1980s when he was then the Iranian-backed Hezbollah's security chief.

Parole Alert: Brian Nelson

We at the Blogland are asking our readers to take a few minutes help us keep a convicted double cop killer behind bars and honor the memories of two fallen Lowcountry law enforcement officers.

On November 19, 2002, Patrolman William Bell of the Summerville Police Department and Deputy Gene Wright of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office stopped to assist a stranded motorist on U.S. 17A, in Summerville, South Carolina.

While changing the motorists tire, both officer and deputy were struck by a passing vehicle.

The driver, Brian Nelson, was not supposed to be driving, as he had a medical condition which prohibited him from legally operating a vehicle and a suspended driver’s license. Both William and Gene died at the scene from trauma.

Nelson had to be detained at the scene by good Samaritans who came upon the horrible scene until the arrival of the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.

Nelson was charged and convicted of two counts of reckless homicide, but will be eligible for parole on February 27, 2008. Six years for the lives of these two officers is not enough time served, and that Mr. Nelson, by the virtue of his willful and reckless disregard of the threat he presents to the public, needs to remain behind bars.

How can you help? By visiting on the web and signing a petition to keep him behind bars.

When signing the online petition, be sure to enter this information -
Offender Name: Brian L. Nelson
and SC Inmate #: 00292367

This literally takes only a few minutes to do, and we ask all our readers to take a few minutes to sign, and share this with your friends, family, and co-workers.

Special thanks to Blogland reader Linda Riney for providing us this story lead.

Just desserts for the "Mount Pleasant Ten"

It seems as if Charleston area acting Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is taking some flak from well-financed whiner suburbanites for taking a stand on two high school students sentenced to ten years for armed robbery:

Family and friends of two Mount Pleasant teens incarcerated for armed robbery want to change South Carolina's sentencing laws to keep youths who commit serious crimes from being sent to adult prisons.

Supporters of Sean Shevlino and Mike Anthony are mounting petition drives, wearing T-shirts and starting Web sites to draw attention to what they consider an unjust system that sent the two high school students to prison for 10 years.

Some supporters also have set their sights on defeating 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who prosecuted the case. Wilson faces a June Republican primary against former Deputy Solicitor Blair Jennings.

Shevlino, 17, and Anthony, 19, were among 10 Wando High students arrested in 2006 in the armed robberies of a Food Lion supermarket and a Subway sandwich shop.

Their attorneys resisted Wilson's offer of 10 years in prison on the crimes, but the teens eventually gave in and pleaded guilty last month after their co- defendants acknowledged guilt and agreed to testify against them.

It took a gang of ten to hold up a Food Lion and Subway?!? Somehow, we don't think that's gonna make them sound too big, bad, and intimidating when the lights go out in their cellblocks at night.

People like this usually demand the inner-city hoodlum who sells their kids drugs or holds them up at the mall be shown no mercy, so why should they expect to be treated any differently? If ten years in prison is good enough for the poor kid who holds up a store on Spruill Avenue in North Charleston (who will usually get more than 10 years), it should certainly apply to someone who does it in Mount Pleasant.

While they're out raising money for their t-shirts and websites to tell us how the rules that apply to the rest of us shouldn't apply to them, maybe they can spare a little change to help Doc Norris, a nearby armed robbery victim who took a shotgun blast to the face. He may not be from their part of town, but he could sure use some help:

A bank account established to help the family pay Norris' mounting medical bills grew to more than $4,000 with donations from across the Lowcountry.

Judy Norris said her husband's health remains fragile, but his overall outlook has improved dramatically since last year, when she and other family members wondered if he would live to see Christmas.

Today, Norris eats through a feeding tube. He subsists on seven vanilla-flavored nutrition shakes a day. The steady diet has restored some of his strength as he pushes through the final rounds of chemotherapy.

If the treatments sideline the cancer, MUSC doctors will consider finishing the facial and dental reconstruction.

- Support, gratitude pour in over shooting victim's story, Post & Courier, 5/21/07

Justice is best left served blindly and equitably ... and sometimes coldly too, so as to give others who think that committing violent crimes against society is mere fun and games a little something to think about.

Religion and politics - my Priest sounds off

Some thinking from my priest on his blog, Byzantine Ramblings, where he sounds off on what he believes should be the proper role of clergy in the realm of politics. We certainly find ourselves confronted with these questions with the religious leaders, such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson, who have announced their support for various GOP Presidential candidates:

I would certainly agree that it is highly improper for a religious leader to endorse or oppose particular candidates. Even when such opinions are expressed as personal opinions there remains potential for a perception of an institutional endorsement. What's more, taking such specific public positions risks linking the religious institution to one or the other party or candidate, and thus potentially alienating members of its own flock who might support the other side.

However, it is irrational to suppose that religious institutions and religious leaders should be silent regarding all things political. Indeed, it is impossible. While it would be immoral (if not illegal) for a religious institution to endorse particular candidates or parties, it would be hypocritical for a religion to proclaim certain values and then remain silent in the face of political issues that directly relate to those values. This is decidedly different from supporting or opposing candidates and political parties. To argue otherwise is ipso facto to deny to religion the right to a voice in the public sphere and the right to integrity in what it proclaims.

There's a lot more on this subject over on his blog, so I encourage all of you to go check it out. If you've got something to say, I encourage you to take a minute to go over to his blog and say it.

Sunday of Orthodoxy

Tomorrow, we will celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The Sunday of Orthodoxy is celebrated the first Sunday of Lent. This commemorates the day when the Seventh Ecumenical Council ended the iconoclast controversy and allowed the use of images in worship, when it proclaimed:

We define that the holy icons, whether in color, mosaic, or some other material, should be exhibited in the holy churches of God, on the sacred vessels and liturgical vestments, on the walls, furnishings, and in houses and along the roads, namely the icons of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, that of our Lady the Theotokos, those of the venerable angels and those of all saintly people. Whenever these representations are contemplated, they will cause those who look at them to commemorate and love their prototype. We define also that they should be kissed and that they are an object of veneration and honor (timitiki proskynisis), but not of real worship (latreia), which is reserved for Him Who is the subject of our faith and is proper for the divine nature, ... which is in effect transmitted to the prototype; he who venerates the icon, venerated in it the reality for which it stands.

As some of y'all know, I've done some research on the subject of iconography for graduate school, examining how icons are used to communicate faith and tradition. To read more about the original posting from 2006, click here.

Congrats to our newest state judges

What was expected to be a wide-open slugfest for 18 judicial seats turned into 17 uncontested elections and a close one for a Family Court seat.

We'd like to congratulate all of the new judges, especially the three who were endorsed by the Blogland:
There was a close race between Coreen Khoury and Thomas Sprott, for which Sprott prevailed in an 81-73 vote. We congratulate Judge Sprott and hope that Khoury will try again for the next open seat.

It is interesting to note that those judicial candidates whose qualifications were questioned in Blogland postings proceeded to today's voting: Michael DuPre, Anita Floyd, and Linda Lombard. It was never our intent to question the fitness of these candidates to continue their service as attorneys. We simply insisted that our judges meet the highest standards of the legal profession in order to be entrusted with judgeships.

In those races where we were involved, through our endorsements and critiques, we believe the legislators listened to what we were trying to say, understood our concerns, and did the right thing.

Sometimes, even in South Carolina, the good guys do win.

Stupor Tuesday is over

Ok folks, it looks like Stupor Tuesday is over ... and so is my birthday. It looks like we all survived the day in one piece.

If your name is Joe Daning and you live in Goose Creek, congratulations - you're now a State Representative. You get to work out of town three days a week, for five months a year, and for all that, you will get paid a lousy twelve grand a year.

Does that mean you won?!?

If you're a Huckabee or Romney supporter, it's time to have the guts to admit to yourself that the GOP race is over. Don't feel bad about it - after all, it's not like your guy was a one-state winner, like Walter Mondale. For those of you who don't know who he is, he's the dude on the left.

If you're John McCain, congratuations - you won a healthy delegate lead from coast-to-coast. Now you're all but assured the GOP nomination. Use this opportunity wisely.

If you're a Democrat, yesterday was the one day that could have produced a clear-cut winner ... but didn't. On points, Hillary won the day, but barely.

This morning, the Political Groundhog came out of the hole, looked from California to Massachusetts, saw the delegate count, and predicted six more weeks of Democratic primaries. Good luck, guys. We'll be watching you ... laughing our asses off as you slug your way through two dozen more primaries, caucuses and conventions to figure out who your nominee will be.

Last, but not least of all, if you were me, you got a free dinner from your boss, some birthday cards, some cash, some gift shopping cards and some hugs.

On Stupor Tuesday, it may have been my birthday, but for all you political junkies, there were presents galore. Some good, some bad. Whatever you got, be sure to make the most of them.

Berkeley GOP chair a sore loser?

When Berkeley County GOP Chair Wade Arnette was booed out of the Berkeley Republican Breakfast Club on Saturday, his next step was to do more of what he has been known to do: lie.

It seemed as if he lost no time in attempting to sic the State Ethics Commission on the breakfast club:

“I am calling an ethics investigation,” Arnette said. “We are not going to associate ourselves with that breakfast club.”

The call for an investigation came on the heels of a weeklong war of words between Arnette and breakfast moderator Charles Schuster. It also followed the latest GOP breakfast in Goose Creek, which saw Arnette asked to leave the podium as he addressed the gathering.

It would seem that if Wade Arnette can't control the group, he'll simply smash it. We thought games like this only took place in elementary school.

Arnette seems hell-bent on making the crybaby joke apply on a bi-partsian basis. One should not be surprised that he's turned on Schuster and this club, just as he turned on former County Supervisor Jim Rozier, whose campaigns he once managed.

While Arnette's actions have been of grave concern, even more concerning are reports that the "Breakfastgate" situation goes even higher. Over a dozen individuals have approached us and informed us that they believed state GOP chair Katon Dawson has been guiding Arnette's efforts. We certainly invite him to present his side of the story - and hope he does it soon.

It's my birthday

... so don't expect too much from me today. I'll be off trying to get some work done up in Georgetown and Mount Pleasant. Heck, I was working until midnight on the 4th. But cash, free beer, and heavy metal CDs are always welcome.

Instead of rambling, I'm gonna share a rehash of past birthday postings with y'all ... enjoy:

Go see Pedro at South of the Border & Happy Birthday to me

Happy Birthday to me, Birthday Drama & Today's important Safety message

TV advertising research - PLEASE help a fellow graduate student with her survey!

Carrie is a fellow graduate student. Last semester, I worked with her on a collaborative research project on the use of internet-based issue advocacy videos and the paper that resulted from that has generated considerable interest.

This semester, she is working on a project assessing the impressions made by Super Bowl advertising, which includes a web-based survey. Please take a few minutes to go to:

... and help her out by filling out her survey!

Legislative reception - mark your calendar!

Now that we've got your attention ... for those of you who were invited to Wednesday evening's legislative reception being hosted by Carolinas AGC ... this is a friendly reminder to mark your calendars and set some time aside between 6 and 8 pm attend this event.

The location is awful convenient, and the construction industry is a vital part of our state's economic engine, so come on and join us!

January 2008: The month in review

If you're reading this right now, then you too survived the month of January, one of the most unusual months that we've covered here in the Blogland. Congratulations.

During the month of January, several plagues of locusts descended upon our beloved Palmetto State: Presidential candidates, legislators, and judicial candidates. To top it off, we were treated to the Governor's State of the State address on what would become one of the coldest nights in recent memory (... and that was even before legislators heard the speech).

When it was all said and done, John McCain had entered the month on equal standing with Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney and Thompson. When it was over, McCain was the strong front-runner, while Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama left the state far more focused upon ripping each other to shreds than on winning in November.

Our Inside Interview series rolled out four interviews with South Carolina "insiders", and several of those interviews made at least one of the top ten rankings for the month. Also, a lot of discussion of the upcoming judicial elections made our charts as well as judicial politics entered the blogosphere.

While there are usually a few non-political postings that make the top tens, this month, every freaking Top Ten posting was political this month.

Can't you people think of something else to talk about?!?

Amazingly, our state somehow survived all of this, along with the usual daily grind that is life here in South Carolina. Now, let's take a look back at some of what turned you on in the Blogland:

The ten postings you read the most:

#1) On Shaky Ground: Anita Floyd's judicial candidacy - 1/14
#2) Day of Mourning announced for House Majority Leader Jim Merrill - 1/15
#3) Inside Interview: Phil Bailey - 1/11
#4) Inside Interview: Wesley Donehue - 1/10
#5) Judicial candidate interviews - 1/8
#6) State of the State address receives frigid response - 1/16
#7) They're back: The Blogland's 2008 legislative preview - 1/7
#8) Inside Interview: Shannon Erickson - 1/4
#9) John McCain draws hundreds in Summerville - 1/13
#10) Inside Interview: Nathan Ballentine - 1/2

The ten postings you discussed the most:

#1) On Shaky Ground: Anita Floyd's judicial candidacy - 1/14
#2) They're back: The Blogland's 2008 legislative preview - 1/7
#3) Inside Interview: Wesley Donehue - 1/10
#4) Justice League of America endorsement rocks state judicial race - 1/19
#5) Certain about uncertainty: The present and future of South Carolina's GOP Presidential primary - 1/20
#6) Research finds no link between voting for Obama and racism - 1/24
#7) John McCain draws hundreds in Summerville - 1/13
#8) Inside Interview: Shannon Erickson - 1/4
#9) Who is Earl Capps? - 1/18
#10) Watchdogs and Junkyard Dogs in Myrtle Beach - 1/23

February will be a busy month with my birthday, Valentine's Day (always a great time to pour on the hate around here), the 2008 National Workforce Board conference in Washington, D.C., as well as my ongoing thesis research. Add the approaching Armageddon of the Presidential primaries, judicial votes, legislative primary races, as well as the usual legislative politics ... and you know it's bound to be a busy month around here.

As always, please stay tuned and we'll do our best not to disappoint.

Berkeley coup attempt fails

This write-up is the promised extended report of what transpired at today's Berkeley Breakfast Club meeting ...

As promised, Wade Arnette showed up at this morning's meeting of the Berkeley Republican Breakfast Club to what was one of the largest turnouts in years.

While he succeed in turning 'em out, what he didn't succeed in doing was ... well ... succeeding at his mission - which was to take over the club. When it was over, Schuster continued to wield the gavel, adjourning the meeting as normal - as shown in the photo.

To help save face and keep the event from turning into a free-for-all, Arnette met with Schuster before the meeting, admitted defeat, and was allowed by group Moderator Charles Schuster to give an update about the Ethics Commission of the party.

When the "brief report" turned into a thirty-minute rambling diatribe, the crowd's response became hostile. In fact, most Gong Show losers don't get booed down half as badly as Arnette did.

If one of the possible reasons for the takeover attempt was to keep speakers from criticizing of County Supervisor Dan Davis, who Arnette has long supported, it failed. The meeting went on as scheduled, with the originally-planned speakers, with the exception of Davis, who did not show. Davis, his policies, and his proposals were repeatedly criticized by several of those attendees.

Council members Tim Callanan and Dennis Fish, scheduled by Schuster before Arnette's demands were issued, informed attendees that Davis' proposed raid of property tax rebate money was dead on arrival in County Council. They also criticized numerous upper-level vacancies among county government, high salaries being given to those hired under Davis, and the high costs associated with implementing the name change of the county Water and Sewer Authority.

One of the vistiors was Tim Scott, the conservative Republican Chairman of Charleston County Council, who pointed out to attendees that unlike Davis' plan, Charleston County Council intended to continue to keep its promise to dedicate 100% of the Local Option Sales Tax to property tax rebates.

Some of you may remember Tim Scott was one of the candidates in the recent race for appointment to state Treasurer, finishing in a tie with our own Earl Capps. Local talk is that he may be looking at waging a challenge to RINO House member Tom "Doc" Dantzler in the GOP primary. Should he run, he can expect an endorsement from the Blogland

We want to thank all of our readers who attended today in support of our constitutional freedoms of speech and assembly.

Schuster survives Berkeley County coup attempt


Efforts by Berkeley County Republican Party Chairman Wade Arnette to oust the leader of the Berkeley Republican Breakfast Club and take the group over failed utterly.

Arnette conceded to Schuster and his legal counsel before the meeting and the meeting proceeded as planned with Charles Schuster as moderator.

Details to follow later this afternoon.


Goose Creek lynching update

The Blogland received reports of efforts by Berkeley County GOP Chair Wade Arnette making numerous calls this morning to recruit support for his attempted putsch of the Berkeley Republican Breakfast Club. Failing to recruit support for his planned hijacking, Arnette reported has spent the afternoon calling various GOP activists, claiming the matter had been resolved.

Based upon a phone conversation with Schuster, Arnette's claims are completely false. There has been no resolution or compromise between Arnette and Schuster and the showdown threatened by Arnette is still expected.

However, it sounds like Arnette may be outnumbered by those supporting Schuster and free speech.

As part of our efforts to identify who is involved in Arnette's efforts, as well as to catalog the deceptive and threatening tactics they have employed, we ask anyone who may have received phone calls from Arnette or others to contact Schuster, Wheeler Tillman (his attorney) or the Blogland and let us know what you've been told and who told you.

If you were planning to attend to protest Arnette's planned lynching in the morning, PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE YOUR PLANS TO BE THERE.

We'll see you there ...

Chicago '68 or Goose Creek '08?

According to the Post and Courier, those Republicans who attend the breakfast in search of life, liberty, freedom of speech and assembly ... as well as grits and eggs, will be met by the cops in a manner more like that of 1968 Chicago than modern-era Goose Creek.

We don't know about you, but we're having a little trouble telling the difference between the two, thanks to Berkeley County Republican Party Chairman Josef Stalin ... whoops ... Wade Arnette, who has threatened to sic law enforcement on Charles Schuster, the long-time moderator of the group:

"I might have to have him arrested, or not, I don't know," Arnette said of Schuster on Thursday. "We might have to have a police officer down there. I am absolutely disgusted by this."

Arnette is THAT intimidated by Schuster? If you've ever met Charles, he's about the last person you'd be afraid of, much less call the cops on.

Then why is there such a need to muzzle dissent with arrests and Soviet-style party purges? Well, according to Arnette:

"The purpose of that breakfast is not to get up there and criticize anyone," Arnette said. "If they want it to stay as a Republican breakfast, then they need to follow the rules of the Republican Party."

We'd be interested in knowing what Mr. Arnette defines as the "rules of the Republican Party"? The last time we checked, people in this country have a right to question and criticize public officials, and nowhere in the Republican platform is freedom of speech prohibited.

It is with some irony that we recall seeing Mr. Arnette criticize a number of current and former public officials while attending past breakfast club meetings, including former GOP County Supervisor Jim Rozier and current GOP Governor Mark Sanford. Perhaps he'd be willing to step aside for such heinous violations of his own rules.

To refresh Mr. Arnette's memory, part of the Republican Creed says:

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."

That is, except when you're in Wade Arnette's presence. In that case, stay out of his way or he might have you arrested.

The biggest irony is that the place where Arnette will attempt to force his hand is the local American Legion, a place dedicated to those who sacrificed for our liberties, including the freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

To use Arnette's words, we're "absolutely disgusted by this".

Arnette claims that he's seeking an opinion from the state Republican Party. We are certainly interested in knowing if Mr. Dawson plans to assist Arnette's efforts to force the entire Berkeley County Republican Party under the control of Arnette's Stalinist faction.

Tomorrow, we'll be there for grits and eggs ... and maybe handcuffs and bond hearings. Maybe we'll end up in jail , but if Charles has the guts to stand up to Comrade Arnette, then the least we can do is stand beside him.

Bill Cotty: Legislative reformer

Those of you who've been long-time fans of the Blogland know that among our favorite legislators is Representative Bill Cotty.

No look at Bill's long and distinguished legislative career would be complete without taking the time to recognize the important role he has taken as a reformer, taking on deeply entrenched special interest groups to reform the state's Constitution. We'd like to look back at one of those crucial moments during Cotty's legislative career:

Thanks to Bill Cotty, the evil grip of the mini-bottle monopoly over our state has been broken. Just one of several great accomplishments of Bill's career, for which we are grateful.