Glenn McCall wins landslide - SCGOP convo recap

Thanking his supporters, newly-elected RNC Committeeman Glenn McCall proclaimed “I’m ready to fight” to the attendees of the 2008 South Carolina GOP convention. Making no bones about his Christian faith, McCall was backed by a broad coalition of Republicans, he easily brushed aside opposition by interim National Committeeman Drew McKissick, whose candidacy was largely backed by movement social conservatives, including Roberta Combs and Senator Mike Fair.

Expectations of a close race quickly faded when the first counties called out their counts, revealing overwhelming delegate support for McCall. Most of the rural counties broke almost unanimously for McCall, and lopsided wins in early large delegations, such as Aiken, Charleston, and Dorchester, gave McCall an unexpectedly strong lead.

The lone standout against the McCall tide was Berkeley County, home of Christian Coalition director Roberta Combs. McCombs and many of the county’s GOP leadership supported McKissick. Going against McCall 23-1, most of their delegates, Combs and her allies included, walked when the race ended.

We were proud to have supported Glenn, and know that he will be a strong leader on the Republican National Committee. We know he’ll do his home state proud.

By contrast to the overwhelming support McCall received, one major loser at today’s convention was Governor Mark Sanford. His speech received a lukewarm reception by attendees, and while others such as Jim DeMint and Andre Bauer were surrounded by packs of friendly attendees, he was seldom seen with more than one person at a time (even former Secretary of State Jim Miles seemed to have a bigger following). Often he was off on the sidelines by himself, and even sat down with the Dillon County delegation at one point.

As shown in this picture, even people standing next to him were ignoring him. Not a good sign.

For someone who once scored an upset win over an incumbent Governor just six years ago, this weak reception was a sign of how far many in his party had distanced themselves from him. In spite of having backed him in a major way in 2002, like most attendees, we kept our distance from him and avoided being seen anywhere near him.

Other memorable moments included:

Sunny Phillips working hard on the convention, as well as growing her family.

Horry County Rep. Alan Clemmons being the eager water boy of the event.

Mike Reino, GOP Sixth District Vice-Chair, caught plotting with Britton Pruett, a Clarendon County GOP State House candidate.

Seeing Glenn McCall conduct his first press conference as an RNC representative.

Saying hello to the friendly folks from Bonnie Blue Public Relations, who coordinated a great direct mail effort for McCall.

The convention was, as is always the case, a well-run event put on by the state GOP and many hard-working staff and volunteers. Our hat’s off to Katon and the team for putting on a great show.

Last, but by no means the least, we want to thank the many Blogland readers in attendance. We continue to be amazed at how well-read the Blogland has become, and flattered that so many of you deem us worthy of your online reading time. We hope that we will continue to live up to your expectations (maybe next time we need to have a new media table?).

For more info, you can read:

The Palmetto Scoop

All fear the whip of Wonder Woman

For decades, we’ve seen the fates of those who dared cross Wonder Woman. No matter how easily she vanquished the enemies of truth, justice, and the admirers of hot babes … uhhh … the American Way, criminals always seemed eager to take her on - and pay dearly for their poor judgement. Thus, the staff at Marvel Comics always kept their jobs to draw another day.

You can add one Mr. Jeremy Nordstrom, formerly of the Myrtle Beach area, to the list of those who learned the hard way that Wonder Woman doesn’t mess around.

Mr. Nordstrom was charged with felony DUI the night he blew a staggering .234 and killed two young ladies who were celebrating a birthday party. Ironically, they were passengers in the car they were in, having the good sense to call someone to get them after they had had too much to drink.

According to the Sun News story, this guy was no stranger to getting in trouble:

Nordstrom was free on bond at the time of the crash after being charged with driving under the influence in 2006 when he crossed the centerline and struck a motorcyclist in Murrells Inlet. He also pleaded guilty to reckless driving and open container in 1998 after being arrested for DUI. In 2001, he was charged with DUI in Pennsylvania and possession and intent distribute marijuana and placed in a pre-trial intervention program.

When Mr. Nordstrom pled guilty, Wonder Woman wielded the mighty whip of justice, harshly, but (in our humble opinion) justly:

Judge Kristi Harrington sentenced Nordstrom to 21 years in prison for each of the two counts of causing death and 15 years to the count of causing great bodily injury. The sentences will run concurrently.

"It was your decision to order drink after drink after drink," Harrington said. "And it was your decision to get behind the wheel of that car."

In politics, it is disappointing when candidates get elected with lots of hard work, only to let their supporters down by becoming something they’re not. In this case, along with others we've been informed of, Judge Harrington's many supporters from across the state should be proud of her.

We know we sure are.

When Wonder Woman wields the golden whip of justice, South Carolina is truly a safer place.

... and if Wonder Woman's golden whip doesn't scare ya, then check out the chick in this video. We wouldn't wanna make her mad:

Florence GOP coup in the works?

We have reports that when two Florence County GOP officers arrive at today's state GOP convention, Vice-Chair Mike Reino and Secretary Tommy Grimes, they will be met by the Florence County GOP Chair, Tommy Phillips, who will inform them that he is removing them from their offices.

Our sources inform us that Phillips is justifying this ouster on the basis of the two being elected Sixth District GOP officers - Grimes as District Chairman and Reino as District Vice-Chairman.

If the allegations are true, the next questions that come to mind are:

1) Can they be removed for this reason, and
2) Does Phillips have the authority to act without a vote of the Florence County GOP Executive Committee?

To us, this seems to be a rather mean thing to do, and probably counter-productive. Given the tough fights the Florence GOP will face this fall to hold Phillip Lowe's District 60 State House seat and re-elect their recently-switched Sheriff (their second-ever courthouse officer), the idea of picking fights amongst one's fellow Republicans seems a little short-sighted to us.

If this is really Mr. Phillips' plan, we hope he'll reconsider these plans and seek a solution other than such a harsh and unilateral action.

Condy rocks!

There are a lot of things you could have told us about our Secretary of State which wouldn't have surprised us, but this latest bit of news did:

The KISS Army fan club has an enthusiastic new recruit: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Apparently this really did happen, according to the band's website.

That's a wrap, folks. Be sure to have a great weekend!

Inside Interview: Blair Jennings, 9th Circuit Solicitor candidate

Round two of our special Inside Interview look at the 9th Circuit Solictor's race goes to Republican Blair Jennings. In charge of the Berkeley County Solicitor's Office under Solicitor Ralph Hoisington, who died last year, Blair is running to fill the office for both counties in the circuit.

Let's hear what he has to say:

Tell our readers a little bit about what made you want to go into prosecution.

I actually got involved in prosecution during law school when I began clerking for the Solicitors Office in Columbia. What I found was that as an attorney, this was the best way I could give back to my community, and make it a better and safer place. It is an incredible feeling to know that everday when you go home, you have made the community safer. I am not sure there is a similar area of law where one can make such a profound impact. It is also incredibly rewarding to help people who are many times experiencing the worst situation of their life.

What would you consider to be your most meaningful case? Tell us a little bit about it.

This is definitely the Jesse Sapp case. Mr. Sapp murdered South Carolina Hoghway Patrolman Jeff Johnson at a traffic checkpoint in July 2002. Mr. Sapp was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. This is extremely meaningful because it was an honor to represent all of the men and women who serve our community and country as law enforcement officers. They place their lives in danger everyday, and we need to do everything we can to protect them hen we have the opportunity.

To work on a case everyday for six weeks, you build an incredibly tight bond with the victim's family. It is impossible to express in words the fulfillment I felt after helping Missy and her family through their devastation.

In the next five to ten years, what do you see as the biggest challenges that will be faced in dealing with crime in the Lowcountry?

The next five to ten years will see unparalled grouth in the lowcountry. Therefore, it is going to be imperative that we use innovation and foresight to come up ith new ways to increase the efficiency and productivity of the solicitors office so that we are able to focus our resources on the prosecution of violent criminals. In addition, we must make sure that each governmental agency works together to make sure we maximize our response to the illegal immgration problem that is plauging the lowcountry.

Should you win on June 10th, what do you see as the two biggest priorities for your term as solicitor?

Should I be elected, one priority will be to bring them same working relationship I enjoyed with law enforcement in Berkeley County to Charleston County. THis is something that needs to be done no just in the month's leading to an election, but all of the time. Over my 7 years in Berkeley County I built a reputation working with law enforcement to not only assist with their training, but also to provide any needed assistance with ongoing investigations. I believe this working relationship was reflected in the decision of the Police Benevolent Association to endorse my candidacy for Solicitor.

Secondly, we need to reduce the overall backlog of cases in Charleston, so that the focus of prosecution can return to violent criminals and we can reduce the overwhelming backlog of Murder cases. By instituting many of the initiatives I began in Berkeley County we will reduce not only the backlog of pending cases, but also backlog of old murder cases.

Criminal prosecution is tough work. What keeps you going and committed to your profession?

There are many frustrating times associated with prosecuting. However, I am kept going by a simple thank you from a victim who has appreciated my help.

One of the most important things here in the Blogland is music. What’s your favorite album(s)?

Favorite album - with 11 and 8 year old daughters, I don't get to listen to much adult music. There is not much on our radio except Disney Channel and Hannah Montana.

3 great national delegates: McAbee, Pearson, and Ryggs

Those of us attending Saturday’s GOP convention will have important decisions to make. Yesterday's endorsement of Glenn McCall was intended to provide guidance on one of those decisions.

Regarding other decisions – the matter of filling the state’s remaining national convention delegate slots - there are three candidates who have earned delegate slots: Mary McAbee of Anderson County, Mary Pearson of Dorchester County, and LaDonna Ryggs of Spartanburg County.

All three have distinguished themselves as local Chairs and State Committee members from their respective home counties, as well as leaders in the State Federation of Republican Women. We’ve gotten to know all three of them, and we’re impressed with their records of contributing to the party.

McAbee, Pearson, and Ryggs – why do we support them?

Mary McAbee is a true team player in Anderson County. From Gresham Barrett and Henry McMaster to a whole pack of local candidates, she has worked hard for them. In the 1990s, when Anderson County’s long-time Democratic Party rule was toppled, McAbee was one of those most responsible for electing many of the county’s first generation of elected Republicans. As the current President of the State Federation of Republican Women, she’s worked hard to extend the growing influence of that organization and provide crucial support for the 2008 general election races.

Mary Pearson is no stranger to the Blogland. We endorsed her successful candidacy for Dorchester County Treasurer, in one of the first statewide blogger political efforts. She has a thirty-year record of local, regional, and statewide Republican leadership – you name it, she’s done it. Her creative and hard-driving leadership of the county’s Victory GOTV efforts accomplished amazing results with the most minimal of resources. But she’s not just a political leader - in addition to being the current Treasurer, her business background and community leadership roles, including as a treasurer and trustee for several Dorchester County fire departments, make her a well-rounded leader.

LaDonna Ryggs is one of the reasons the State Federation of Republican Women has become a force to be reckoned with. Under her term as President, which ended last winter, the organization’s influence allowed their members to play key roles in judicial races, seating conservative judges, as well as playing pivotal roles in a number of legislative and gubernatorial appointments. Currently the State Committee representative from Spartanburg, she may be soft-spoken, but her record shows she truly carries a big stick for her Republican team.

Remember these three proven Republican leaders - McAbee, Pearson, and Ryggs.

These three have earned their national delegate slots. They’ll have our votes on Saturday, and we hope you’ll join us in supporting them.

Inside Interview: Scarlett Wilson, 9th Circuit Solicitor candidate

As promised, our Inside Interview series will introduce y'all to the two Republican candidates seeking to fill the 9th Circuit Solicitor's Office.

Since she won the coin toss, Scarlett Wilson, who was appointed interim Solicitor, goes first ...

Tell our readers a little bit about what made you want to go into prosecution.

At first, I wanted to prosecute because I wanted trial experience. Very quickly, however, I was moved by seeing the impact that I could have on victims by giving them and their cases my time and attention. I feel blessed to have realized very early in my life that prosecution is my “calling.” Knowing that I help those who have been hurt and who have lost so much is the most rewarding experience; it’s one that you just can’t put a price tag on. Working with law enforcement also provides a camaraderie that is unique to those of us involved in prosecution. Knowing that we are all a team and are working together for common causes is great… you always know that somebody has your back! Becoming Solicitor was the highest honor of my career because the Governor could have chosen anyone. Continuing Solicitor Hoisington’s legacy and building upon it has been extremely rewarding. From aggressive murder docketing to taking steps to close the “revolving door” to streamlining the bureaucracies of the office, we’ve made real progress working together as a team.

What would you consider to be your most challenging and memorable case? Tell us a little bit about it.

In my first year as a lawyer, I tried a case in which a mentally handicapped woman had been raped. She was in her early 20s but had the mind of a 7 year old. She was the apple of everyone’s eye in her entire family and they doted on her like she was The Queen. Before I took over the case, there had been 4 prosecutors assigned to it. That is simply ridiculous. The family was so kind and patient but I was outraged that the case had dragged on for three years and that so many prosecutors had not wanted to deal with the case. I worked very closely with the victim and with her family and we convicted the guy and he got the max of 30 years. I will never forget how sweet the victim and her family were to me and how gracious they were in such terrible circumstances.

The most challenging case that I’ve had involved the prosecution of a “no body” murder case. The Feds wouldn’t take the case though there were interstate aspects to it. Edwina Sims disappeared after traveling from Virginia to visit Ronald Coulter (who was her daughter’s father) and his family in Charleston County. We proceeded to trial against Coulter despite the fact that Sims’ body had not been found. After convicting Coulter and obtaining a 30 year sentence, a team of investigators and I located the body in rural Berkeley County. Being able to take a case that no one believed we could win and to end up not only getting a 30 year sentence but also finding the Edwina and giving her family a proper burial was amazing. Calling Edwina’s family from the woods of Berkeley County and letting them know we had found her was something I will never forget. As difficult as it was, I knew that without finding her body, Edwina’s children would always wonder if she had simply abandoned them and was living somewhere else in the world. Working the co-defendants against each other until we found the body was a grueling process but one where my Federal experience came in handy.

In the next five to ten years, what do you see as the biggest challenges that will be faced in dealing with crime in the Lowcountry?

The growing problem with illegal aliens is going to be more and more of an issue in the criminal justice system. The federal government has failed us and it is now up to us at the local level to step up to the plate. As the chief prosecutor, I will continue to vigorously prosecute illegals and do my part to see that they serve time and then get deported.

Multi-defendant violence is a continuing problem that is likely to get worse. This includes gang activity. I already have provided my prosecutors with training on how to recognize gang activity and we are working with local law enforcement to make sure we are sharing information about related crimes. Assigning agencies to specific teams of prosecutors will help us all work together to keep our neighborhoods safer.

Should you win on June 10th, what do you see as the two biggest priorities for your term as solicitor?

1) Continuing to crack down on violent offenders, especially those who are repeat customers. Abolishing parole will be a key tool in keeping those who prey upon society behind bars. We have to approach this from both ends with fierce bond revocations and serious consequences for those who violate probation and parole (while it still exists!). I want my office to help an overwhelmed and discouraged Probation and Parole Agency get results in the courtroom. Unlike the federal system, the State system does not provide for our involvement in probation and parole violations. I want to change that and have taken steps to help them out. Probation and parole are privileges that should be “yanked” when criminals violate. Aggressive Murder Docketing will continue to be a policy while I am Solicitor. The results we have achieved in just 10 months have been remarkable, having brought more killers to justice than ever before.

2) Doing my part as Solicitor to crack down on illegal aliens who are robbing us of our wonderful quality of life is a priority. We cannot allow this area to be considered a sanctuary. We have to convict these criminals, give them prison time so that their message home is: Don’t come to Charleston and Berkeley Counties. It also will give them a second thought about returning to our area once they are deported… AFTER serving their time in prison.

Criminal prosecution is tough work. What keeps you going and committed to your profession?

It’s not hard to stay committed. Seeing the face of a victim turn from devastation to empowerment and accomplishment is very rewarding. Knowing day in and day out that I am making a difference in people’s lives and am helping make our community safer is all I could ask for in a career.

One of the most important things here in the Blogland is music. What’s your favorite album(s)?

There is absolutely now way I can pick a favorite album. I love music and seeing folks in concert is one of my favorite things to do. To give you an idea of what I like, in theWinter, I listen to a lot of Country Music. I listen to Willie Nelson, Toby Keith, Dolly Parton, Dirks Bentley and Sammy Kershaw. The Summer months call for Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow and a little James Taylor.

Support Glenn McCall – our proven Republican leader

It’s no secret that times are tough for the GOP. If you chose any of the following reasons for these troubles, you’d be right:

  • Disconnects with voters on today’s key issues,
  • A willingness to tolerate criminal and ethical misconduct by GOP leaders,
  • Failure to keep up with the Democrats in team-building and fundraising approaches,
  • Lack of enthusiasm among the GOP base,
  • Poor candidate recruitment, and
  • Ineffective and failing party leadership by many.
These are the major problems we see, but they certainly aren’t the only ones.

While things appear bad, sometimes it is when you hit rock bottom that you can truly turn things around. In the race to elect a new RNC National Committeeman from South Carolina is a candidate who will play a major role in turning things around: Glenn McCall.

Presently, McCall is the chair of the York County GOP, which has a thriving and robust party organization, as well as 2nd Vice-Chair of the state GOP. He is employed as a Vice-President of Bank of America.

Glenn McCall has a record of leading and building, and knows the GOP team needs to be broad and bold, in size, perspectives and vision, if it is to build a true and lasting governing majority. Also, it can no longer be a “whites only club” if it is remain competitive and relevant with an increasingly-diverse electorate.

But McCall believes these changes must also reconnect the GOP with its bedrock principles of fiscal conservatism, domestic security, limited and accountable government, and the empowerment of individuals, families and businesses. McCall is someone who believes these things, and he will work hard to make them happen.

In Glenn McCall, we see someone who is strong and assertive enough not to take orders, but is confident enough to reach out and work with others to reach our common goals of peace, prosperity and progress. He won’t take orders from those who have narrow agendas, or as did former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, fail to speak out against those who make a mockery of the GOP by illegal conduct or abandoning key GOP principles. In a party that needs to learn how to fight back, this guy is a fighter.

The GOP has a long road to recovery. As our National Committeeman, Glenn McCall can do much to help with that process. That’s why we’ll be voting for him at the upcoming SCGOP convention, and so should you.

9th Circuit Solicitor candidates, here in the Blogland

Without a doubt, the Ninth Circuit GOP primary is shaping up to be highest-profile primary fight in the Lowcountry. Skilled litigators, they've been dueling with greater intensity across the Lowcountry for months now.

When you look at the records of the candidates, you’ll quickly see that both are heavyweights in their profession: they’ve a drug-dealing Sheriff sent to prison until he died, put cop killers on death row, and rounded up organized gangs. If one was out to recruit a candidate, we don’t think they could have found two better ones.

While there are two top-notch prosecutors in this race, only one can win. That’s why we’ve decided to invite them into the Blogland to take a few questions and let us get to know a little bit more about them.

Tomorrow begins a two-day series of Inside Interviews. We flipped a coin, so tomorrow is Scarlett Wilson, followed by Blair Jennings on Friday.

Lauren Gentry bill moving forward in spite of resistance

We want to thank the Senators who unanimously moved Rep. Erickson's Lauren Gentry bill out of subcommittee and up to the full Education Committee ("Representative Erickson's bill shines light on the problem of punks in S.C. schools "):

Reports have come our way that this bill is now facing resistance from officials with the state's High School League, who wants to address this issue administratively, promising they can now address the problem faced by Gentry and too many others without the need for a legislative remedy.

If they could fix this problem, and really wanted to, it would have been done already and Rep. Erickson wouldn't have needed to sponsor the bill. Having failed to solve the problem on their own, they should drop these eleventh-hour delaying tactices and help those, like Erickson, who are trying to do something about it.

This bill needs to be passed, and in this legislative session. No excuses, no stalling tactics.

We appreciate the reception this bill has had in the Senate thus far, and hope the Senators will continue to keep this bill moving forward until it reaches Governor Sanford's desk.

No student should be afraid in South Carolina schools, nor punished for trying to get away from threats to their well-being.

Campaign prank of the year

We saw this video from an Upstate race and were laughing our collective tails off.

Four years ago, Lee Bright came within dozens of votes of ousting an incumbent Senator. This time around, he's facing current State Rep. Scott Talley for the now-vacant Senate seat, and it looks like both sides are going all-out to win the seat.

A recent Lee Bright campaign fundraiser was "crashed" when a boat with a 4x8 sign for Scott Talley floated back and forth offshore of the event. This video shows the unknown Talley supporter having a little fun, as well as Bright taking the whole thing too seriously.

Our advice to Lee Bright - don't get pissed off. Counter-prank 'em. Have a little fun at their expense:

Personally, we recommend sending this guy to board the next Talley boat, or lead a raid:

We don't like sleazy dirty tricks in campaigns, but moments like these provide some much-needed stress relief for both sides. Maybe Bright's people took this too seriously, but we do appreciate them YouTubing this to lighten our day.

Blogland goes to Spartanburg

Yesterday, we visited with the good folks of the Spartanburg GOP for their hospitality at their cookout yesterday, during our weekend on the road.

While there, we talked with a number of people, including Glenn McCall, who was traveling and stumping for the vacant RNC seat, Sarah Knuckles, the new 5th District SCDOT commissioner, our friends Robert and LaDonna Ryggs ... and even Rick Beltram.

We want to thank Rick for not shooting us on sight. We certainly have given him plenty of reason to do so.

It was a great opportunity to talk with our readers, thank them for their support, and get a little chance to peek under the hood of Upstate politics.

President McCain to face Congressional grilling?

In this story in the online edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, we find John McCain offering to introduce Question Time to the United States Congress:

On the policy front, McCain said that by 2013, the end of his first term, he envisions most U.S. troops coming home from Iraq "in victory," as well as delivering health care and restoring "economic confidence."

And, acknowledging a White House criticized as too partisan and insular, McCain said that as president he'll ask Democrats to serve in his administration and vowed to "set a new standard for transparency and accountability. ... When we make errors, I'll confess them willingly." He vowed to institute regular presidential question-and-answer grillings before Congress, much like the British prime minister's weekly televised "Question Time."

It would certainly be interesting to see a President McCain slugging it out with the Democrats on the House floor.

For those of y'all unfamiliar with Question Time, a weekly staple of British governance and political discourse, here is a great clip of British PM Gordon Brown battling Conservative Party leader David Cameron in the British House of Commons.

We've been fans of the Question Time ever since we first saw it on C-Span manhy years ago. Sure this tradition lacks a lot of the decorum that creates a facade of false civility and non-partisanship in both Houses of our Congress, but at least they're honest and don't dance around the points. Perhaps our Presidents should be able to defend their administration's policies in front of audiences of politically-motivated skeptics, as well as live television audiences.

We don't know about y'all, but we would be so ready to watch a little more fire, passion, and locked horns help keep both sides in check.


Two more William Shatner gems ...

Performing "Common People" with Joe Jackson on Jay Leno

A parody of "Seven" featuring Captain Kirk, TJ Hooker and Rescue 911

Hey Mike ... backatcha!

Graduation Party videos, part 2

... and the hits just keep coming from the big graduation party roast of yours truly.

Mike Reino from SC6 believes that I won't campaign for candidates in dry locales:

Department of Communication Chair Brian McGee, who I had for an Executive Speechwriting course, looks back on his experience of dealing with me:

Terry Hardesty, serving on the Berkeley County School Board, complained about the late hours which I returned his calls when I ran his school board race:

State Representative Carl Gullick takes us back to 1992, when I was helping him during my aborted first attempt at college. Fortunately his first attempt at running for office was a lot more succesful:

Joe Lieberman: "Democrats and Our Enemies"

Yesterday, we shared with you the thoughts of Ed Koch, who challenged his fellow Democrats to remove partisanship from foreign policy. Today, it's Joe Liberman, who takes his party, including Obama, to task for putting partisanship ahead of national interests:

I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.

In this, Sen. Obama stands in stark contrast to John McCain, who has shown the political courage throughout his career to do what he thinks is right – regardless of its popularity in his party or outside it.

John also understands something else that too many Democrats seem to have become confused about lately – the difference between America's friends and America's enemies.

Amen, Joe. We couldn't agree more. Go here to read the full op-ed.

More campaign bloopers

We've seen some stupid stuff this election cycle, but this one missed the mark by a couple thousand miles ... literally.

Joshua Gross over at the Columbia Conservative shares an NRA-ILA endorsement piece for Jakie Knotts which opens by supporting a legislative candidate ... in Idaho?!?

If you look close at the image's second line (I zoomed in on the back half) you'll notice they asked the voters of District 23 to "Vote for Judy Boyle". Now, as everyone in Lexington County surely knows, Judy Boyle is running for District 9 in the Idaho House. That happens to be only 2472 miles away from downtown Lexington, according to Yahoo Maps. Here's to hoping Jakie's voters write her in on June 10...

There's more in this mailing, but we don't want to steal all the thunder, so if you'd like a good laugh, head on over to Joshua's blog and take a look.

Graduation Party videos

Ok everyone ... we spent weeks telling you about the big Blogland Graduation Fest, inviting you and hoping you'd make it. Some of you did, others didn't - those that didn't make it, missed a really great time ... and free beer as well.

We told you it would be a party, but we didn't tell most that the event would include a roast of yours truly. We could tell you about it, and we did try, but when all is said and done, nothing does it better than video. The videos from this occasion, which we'll be putting out on a piecemeal basis for our readers, will share some of the good, bad, and ugly from this event.

Gary Stroble, my company's operations manager, marvels at how well I used school to avoid work, and used work to avoid school:

Fellow blogger Mike Reino of SC6 fame, talks about my efforts to fit in with younger college students, using my love for heavy metal:

Britton Pruett, who I'll be helping in her challenge of Clarendon Rep. Cathy Harvin, admits she was never so afraid of someone wearing a plaid shirt (correction - I don't own plaid shirts, but I do have a lot of beach shirts):

Mike Reino breaks the news that Rick Beltram couldn't make it:

Be sure to check back daily as we roll out more clips from the event

Ed Koch: "History Will Redeem Bush"

We don't know what it is about prominent Jewish Democrats that makes them support the President, aside from maybe their ancestral connections to the Middle East, which make the threat of militant Islam far more real, and thus more relevant, to them.

We've often talked about "Fightin' Joe" Lieberman, but another well-known Northeastern Democratic icon, former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, sounds off in continued support of President Bush:

Today, with the passage of time, most historians and certainly the American people, see Truman in a different light, primarily for his willingness to stand firm against Soviet aggression, whether against Greece or South Korea, and proclaim the Truman Doctrine, effectively defending the free world from Soviet efforts to expand their hegemony. Like Truman, George W. Bush, in my view, will be seen as one of the few world leaders who recognized the danger of Islamic terrorism and was willing with Tony Blair to stand up to it and not capitulate.

The rest of the op-ed is well worth a read. Go check it out.

Erickson, Ceips turn on St. Helena's Island traffic signals

1Monday morning saw U.S. Group reach the final major milestone on it's Sea Island Parkway (U.S. 21) widening project on St. Helena's Island - the activation of two new traffic signals. These signals were the last part of the project affecting traffic, completed three months ahead of schedule.

Joining us for the occasion were Representative Shannon Erickson and Senator Catherine Ceips. Our latest on-the-job trainees, they eagerly studied the challenges of programming and operating a traffic signal control unit (also known as a cabinet):

They then formed a project team to execute the most important task - flipping the switch to activate the signals:

Here they are posing for photos with Lee Murray, our Project Manager (the short guy), and Archie Evans, our Project Superintendent (the tall guy):

Lauren Gentry's bill before Senate Education Subcommittee tomorrow

Recently, we sang the praises of a bill by Representative Shannon Erickson ("Representative Erickson's bill shines light on the problem of punks in S.C. schools "):

Erickson submitted the bill in February in response to a case involving Lauren Gentry, a star softball player at Battery Creek High who transferred to Beaufort High to escape harassment from an ex-boyfriend.

The S.C. High School League’s executive committee has twice denied her eligibility to play softball, citing a rule that students who change from one public school to another without a change in address cannot play sports for one year.

The committee ruled in March that Gentry’s case didn’t meet its hardship exemption, and Gentry missed her senior season of softball after being Battery Creek’s most valuable player in 2007.

Tomorrow, this bill goes in front of a subcommittee of the Senate Education Committee, led by Senator Wes Hayes from York County. We understand that Ms. Gentry will be there in person to provide testimony regarding this bill. While it's too late for her, we are proud that she has the courage to continue to stand up for the rights of others who may become the victims of schoolground stalkers.

We know it's late in the session, so we appreciate the willingness of Hayes and his colleagues to listen to the concerns of those who, like Gentry, are being preyed upon by those who should be in jail, not stalking the hallways of our public schools.

We would ask the Senators in this committee to listen to the facts which will be presented to them by Gentry and others, and we hope they will vote to send this worthy bill to the full Senate.

Huckabee endorses McCall for SCGOP National Commiteeman

An email we received this evening from a top Glenn McCall advisor let us know that former Arkansas Governor and GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has endorsed the candidacy of York County GOP chair Glenn McCall to fill the recently-vacated National Committeeman seat.

Such involvement in a race for a National Committeeman slot is most unusual, but McCall apparently has made connections and is eagerly working to call upon these friends to boost his candidacy in what is expected to be a close race.

We also understand McCall may be receiving other national-level endorsements in upcoming days. Should these reports turn out to be true, we'll be sure to share this news with your readers as soon as it lands on our desk.

Is the GOP relevant in 2008?

Right now, a lot of Republicans are probably feeling the way Winston Churchill felt at the end of 1945.

Two months after Germany surrendered, the crowning achievement of a war effort that many of his countrymen once believed to be unwinnable, Churchill was ousted as Prime Minister in elections in which half his party's seats were lost to the new Labour government.

On the heels of losing special elections for three longtime Republican congressional seats, Republicans are wondering what lies ahead, concerned that many of the roughly two dozen open seats may follow suit, reducing the GOP to its pre-Clinton era minority in the House.

What went wrong?

History shows that while voters may appreciate past performance, their current concerns are more important in influencing their voting behaviors. So long as the GOP chooses to remain silent on the issues which most affect people, they shouldn't be surprised at their present state of affairs, which we believe centers around three key problems:

First, an unpopular President, who has chosen to hunker down and ride out the last two years of his term in office, has hurt the party. Second, the work of Congressional GOP leaders, who abandoned the party's fiscally-conservative principles and allow ethics to return to the days of Jim Wright and Danny Rostenkowski, convinced swing voters that Congressional Republicans had no more appeal than the President. Third, with Saddam Hussein dead and Bin Laden either dead or in hiding, the last ace the GOP had, security and military issues, was no longer relevant.

As in 1945 post-WW2 Britain, today's electorate has moved on to new issues. Thus the question before the GOP is not one of if it's right on issues, or what it's done wrong to upset voters, so much as one of relevance.

Some of our die-hard Republican readers may argue that the GOP is right on the issues, but look at the polls - voters now favor Democrats on the key issues of the day, and the issues where Republicans enjoy the highest (but still losing) levels of support, are low on the priority lists of voters.

Whether the issues are fiscal conservatism and governmental ethics, where their credibility has been severely damaged, or issues like energy prices and health care, issues of high importance with voters, where they are painfully silent, Republicans may be talking, but for the first time in a long time, nobody's listening.

The Republican congressional majority, which was installed in 1994, was based upon the perception the Democrats were out of touch with the American people. Putting together an agenda that connected with the views of voters, both right and center, on the issues which were of the greatest concerns, the GOP rode to victory from coast-to-coast.

In the months following the GOP's electoral romp, Bill Clinton "got it" and started to speak to the concerns of voters, even when he didn't actually do anything. As a result of his combination of symbolic and substantive tactics, Clinton salvaged his re-election prospects and the GOP gained little additional ground throughout the rest of his term.

Right now, the Democrats may not have much of an agenda, but they don't have to - they're not in charge. They need only keep their heads down, avoid infuriating voters, and wait for the voters to throw them the keys of power. So long as the GOP holds the White House, voters perceive its congressional members as part of the political majority - and will reward or blame them accordingly. In the last three special elections, the voters have done just that.

So how does the GOP turn it around?

In business, it's all about serving the customers - listening to them and meeting their needs. For a party that is supposed to be pro-business, the GOP seems to be doing a pretty lousy job of emulating that basic approach of DOING business these days. Republicans should try treating voters like customers - learn their needs and concerns, and offer them a quality product they'll want to buy on Election Day.

We'll be talking about some of these problems, and hope you'll join the conversation.

What's getting done in Columbia?

That question is on the mind of Nathan Ballentine, one of our favorite House members:

With just three weeks left before the end of this two-year legislative session, I keep hearing the same question back home “What’s everyone thinking down there in the State House? Is anyone listening to the people?”

They remind me we have a Republican majority in the House, a Republican majority in the Senate, and a Republican Governor but we seem to not be getting what the citizens want accomplished.

They know what “this guy” thinks and what I’m working towards but I can’t speak for the rest of the body. I can only share what folks mention in passing at the grocery store, church, schools, and at neighborhood meetings:

Right on, Nathan!

Now, go read the rest of his posting.

Playing with photo perspectives

Jennifer, who I kind of knew a little in middle and high school, and got to know even more as a blogger, over at Four Weddings and a Funeral, did some really neat photographic tricks:

For more - go check out her original posting, and share some thoughts while you're there!

The Cow

If you've lived in the Lowcountry, or even just spent a lot of time there, then the Coburg Cow probably needs no introduction. But if you don't know what in the world we're talking about, our favorite cow made it into the May & June edition of the Charleston Post and Courier's Lowcountry Living magazine:

Bessie is almost 50 and looks as good today as she did in her youth – maybe even better. After all, back then she was hanging from a pole. Now she runs circles around the rest of us, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. She does stop temporarily in the event of a hurricane, but other than that, her life is “better than it has to be.” And she’s even been given special recognition by the city of Charleston, which means she doesn’t have to follow the same rules that her neighbors do.

In case you haven’t guessed, Bessie is the Coburg Cow.

If you wanto learn more about some of the more eccentric landmarks that help define the Lowcountry, it's great reading. It also makes for some light, but informative, reading for the weekend. Go check out the article.

Conservatism reframed?

Over at the New York Times, columnist David Brooks talks about the rise of center-right political movements, especially in Britain, where the Conservative Party looks like it is on course to take back power after the longest-ever run of Labour Party rule.

Brooks uses the British Conservative example of how the new political right parties are moving beyond the Thatcher/Reagan conservative models, adapting the old emphasis on individualism and free markets with a more progressive outlook that still values these bedrock conservative principles, but looks to the next destination along the way, wanting

(V)oters to think of the Tories as the party of society while Labor is the party of the state. They want the country to see the Tories as the party of decentralized organic networks and the Laborites as the party of top-down mechanistic control.

As such, the Conservative Party has spent a lot of time thinking about how government should connect with citizens. Basically, everything should be smaller, decentralized and interactive. They want a greater variety of schools, with local and parental control. They want to reverse the trend toward big central hospitals. Health care, Cameron says, is as much about regular long-term care as major surgery, and patients should have the power to construct relationships with caretakers, pharmacists and local facilities.

Cameron also believes government should help social entrepreneurs scale up their activities without burdening them with excessive oversight.

This focus means that Conservatives talk not only about war and G.D.P., but also the softer stuff. There’s been more emphasis on environmental issues, civility, assimilation and the moral climate. Cameron has spent an enormous amount of time talking about marriage, families and children.

While some of this, on the surface, may look a little unrecognizable to conservatives, beneath you find individual choice, localized government, free markets, and safe and stable communities, but without the social zealotry and economic Darwinism that often makes voters flinch at the idea of supporting conservative candidates.

If the GOP wants to challenge the soft paternalism offered by the Democrats, the British conservative experience may well offer points worth considering. As polling suggests voters are increasingly turned off by the "tough party for tough times" image that is often associated with contemporary American conservatives, a softer and more nuanced message may help lure them back into the GOP column before they become, as voters did for a half-century following the Great Depression, lost to the Democrats for two more generations.

Graduation party report

Moncks Corner, South Carolina, was ground zero for a good time today as the Blogland Graduation Party rocked and rolled the packed-to-the-walls Train Depot. Those of you who missed it ... missed a truly great time with great people.

But we're still trying to figure out who invited the riot squad.

While we were disappointed not to see big-time GOP leaders like Rick Beltram and Wade Arnette take time out of their busy schedules to join us, a lot of others did come - from work, academia, family, church ... and of course, plenty of politicos.

We were especially surprised, and appreciative, at the company of those who traveled from the Upstate to join us - longtime SCFRW leader LaDonna Ryggs and her husband Robert from Spartanburg County, our long-time friend Rep. Carl Gullick and GOP National Commmitteeman candidate Glenn McCall (who we support) from York County, and Dan Rushing of TELICS (not a politico-just a swell guy we've worked with a lot over the years on a professional basis).

We did receive an offer from the legendary FITSnews girls to do a strip show. We hated to do this, since we knew Moye was coming with great BBQ from three different counties (really Moye - THANKS!!!), but since there were kids there, we had to turn that one down. Darnit.

Fellow bloggers Mike Reino and Joshua Gross made it.
Mike's already sounded off on the event, and Joshua did one as well. The problem with bloggers is that you just can't keep a secret once guys like these show up.

Of course, the event wouldn't have gone down without mom, along with a few aunts and cousins.

The highlight of the event was clearly the roast. Indeed, we were roasted ... after years of dishing it out, an evening of taking it was ... well, better handled after downing a few beers. With Charles Schuster, the leader of the Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club serving as emcee, it was full of non-stop laughs and some moments that I'll never forget. In a couple of days, we're going to share the video footage of the roast with our viewers, along with memorable quotes, so stay tuned.

Thanks again for all of you who showed up - and those who were invited but didn't show ... your loss.

Graduation night

It was a heckuva night for the Blogland down at the College of Charleston, as yours truly walked across the stage at the college's Sotille Theater to become one first to receive the College's new Master of Arts degree in Communication.

Having gone from a 10th grade drop-out with a GED to a Master's degree. Those who say the American Dream is dead ... well, they're wrong.

Here are some pictures from the evening's events:

Chatting with Senator John Land (caught collaborating, some say)

A hug from my little one

Me and my mother

The youngest graduate

... stay tuned for reports from tomorrow's graduation party.

"He was a cop, that's just a job"

Sunday's posting regarding the cold-blooded killing of Deputy Howell seems to have gotten the notice of a group of losers who seem far more concerned about the death of the person who killed the cop.

Initially we were hesitant to post the comments because of their selfish and callous nature, as well as the shocking degree of illiteracy many of them showed. But as we try not to censor commentary too much, we decided to post them. Here are some excerpts:

I will always love and miss Derrick (Duke)Buras.
(We guess his estranged wife, who he assaulted that night, didn't write that one)


Derrick Buras was a very wonderful person and did not deserve to die by some piece of trash wife. He was loved by many people I knew him personally and I loved him! He was a great friend. I hope they slam the book in her face for what she did. If the court system dont get her someone will its just a matter of time. RIP Derrick u will b missed!!


Needless to say, we were disappointed at the kinds of comments that we've received. The discussion on other sites was far more respectful of the deputy and did not try to justify or defend Mr. Buras.

We believe that Howell, and others in law enforcement, do indeed matter, and that being a cop is more than "just a job". When we lose one in the line of duty, we've lost a hero. Such things should touch us and make us stop to reflect upon their courage and say a prayer for them and their families. Such losses should also outrage us, for someone willing to kill an armed cop is afraid of no man, and respects no law. By attacking a law enforcement officer, they attack us all.

While we're sick and f***ing FED UP with the number of good cops who have been killed in the last couple of years in the Lowcountry, these comments make it apparent that some of our readers don't feel the same way.

We hope they're a small and angry minority of our readers.

If you have an alternative opinion that you'd like to express about the loss of Deputy Howell, click on this link to go back to the original posting and share your thoughts.

The Blogland Graduation Party:
This Saturday - don't miss it!

We’re having a graduation party to mark the end of graduate school and you, our readers, are invited to come join us. It’ll be this Saturday, at 3pm, near Summerville down here in the Lowcountry.

Even if you’re one of those people who read, but never post, and would like to help us mark the end of this ordeal, drop us an email and let us know you’d like to attend. We’ll give you the lowdown on the location and directions to show you how to get there.

For those of you who miss it, you'll have to settle for photos and small You Tube videos whenever we get around to posting them ... but why settle for rehashed digital photos, when you can be there, live and in person?

Drinks and lots of little edible things will be provided. We’ve even got beer, but it’s a kid-friendly event, so don’t think it’s gonna be one of those wild, drunken things … that was last weekend.

For those of you who don't wanna come out and have a little fun … remember that you’ve gotta fight for your right to party.

Senate upsets in the making?

Sources have indicated to the Blogland that two incumbent GOP Senators may be facing upsets in next month's Republican Primary: Jakie Knotts from West Columbia and Randy Scott from Summerville.

Knotts has come under considerable fire from a number of directions for his loud and vocal support for Democratic candidates for Governor, as well as a number of key legislative votes where he sided with Democrats. Caught in a squeeze between state Republican Women leader Katrina Shealy and the cousin of the State Representative he ousted in 1994 to begin his political career, Knotts reportedly is now polling slightly behind Shealy, with negatives near the 40% mark.

Meanwhile, in Summerville, continuing negative publicity surrounding Randy Scott has stalled his re-election campaign. While the outcome of the DUI charges may be in question, a number of well-publicized comments, including threats against the job of Sheriff's deputies and demands to get magistrates out of bed to let him out on bond seem to have hurt him, with undecided voters moving towards his challenger, Mike Rose. Initial numbers, which seemed rather promising for Scott, now appear headed in a downward spiral.

In what is the first case of new media tactics being employed on a large scale in a South Carolina legislative race, the incumbent Summerville Senator has been hit with less-than-flattering YouTube videos and recordings of phone calls he made while in the Dorchester County Jail.

Knotts and Scott can't be counted out yet, but when up against hard-charging challengers, anything can happen. These two Senate races are definitely going to be ones to watch.

Kudos to Richard Eckstrom!

As the first CPA elected State Treasurer and then Comptroller, Richard Eckstrom brings something that is hard to find in state government - actual financial and accounting knowledge. It's no small surprise to see him put such knowledge to use as a fiscal watchdog over state government.

Last weekend, on his blogsite, Watchdog for the Taxpayers, he went beyond the usual political chatter to talk about a more fundamental problem in today's society: the inability of many people to really understand personal financial issues.

Because of “Tax Day,” April is a month when many people take stock of their finances. Unfortunately, it is also a grim reminder for many citizens that their personal finances are in trouble. Our personal habits for saving, borrowing and spending not only have a big impact on the well-being of our families, they affect the health of our state and national economies, and even our national security. With this in mind, many community leaders are increasingly involved in efforts to ensure that America’s students have the sound financial literacy skills they will need to be successful in life.

Sadly, America’s lack of personal financial literacy has helped to create some very serious problems in our nation, from massive borrowing and personal debt, the sub-prime mortgage crisis with resulting home foreclosures, trade deficits, our national debt, the large number of people who file for bankruptcy, and high taxes to finance the “safety net” provided for those in economic trouble.

As part of my work as my company's corporate communication officer, the biggest issue that we discuss in our publications that is not related to work is personal finance - budgeting, taxes, avoiding predatory lenders, etc. It's a real problem that will require a lot of education to overcome.

Kudos to Comptroller Eckstrom for highlighting this issue. As is often the case, we in the Blogland couldn't agree with him more.

Campaign season bloopers

We in the Blogland would be nothing without our readers – they love us, they hate us, send us William Shatner video links, occasionally pick up our bar tab (talk about asking for trouble) … and sometimes they give us great story leads that are so good, even we can't make up.

Special thanks go out to our readers who shared these interesting moments from two Lowcountry State House races:

Know your candidate

East of the Cooper, GOP House candidate (and current Isle of Palms Mayor) Mike Sottile came under quick and early attack from Club for Growth, who endorsed Joe Bustos, his primary opponent:

His opponent, Isle of Palms Mayor Mike Sottile, seems to be running in large part to bring more state resources back to his home community. An article about his announcement quoted him saying that his coastal district needed “more state assistance.”

A recent mailing from Bustos seemed to challenge his Club for Growth backers, promising voters:

"Make no mistake about it - my FIRST PRIORITY will be to fight for our fair share of state government's attention - both in funding and law making.”

Maybe the voters aren't making mistakes, but we certainly have to ask ourselves if Club for Growth isn't making a few? It's a question we've asked before, and so has Bob Dalton at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Different races ... more "mistakes".

Is it Lowcountry – or Low Country?

Up in Summerville, realtor and attorney Jenny Horne (either she’s real busy or maybe she can’t make up her mind?) is facing GOP Representative Heyward Hutson in a rematch of their fall special election primary battle. A Dorchester County native, raised up in Ridgeville, sent out a recent mailing referring to the “Low Country”.

Spelling “Lowcountry” as “Low” and “Country” is a grievous sin which is usually only to be expected from those who recently arrived from points far north of Ridgeville. While we don’t know if Jenny failed to proof-read her mailings or if she authored them, we’ll give her the benefit of a doubt and suggest that she reads this stuff before it goes out.

Got a blooper story of your own?

Help us keep a little humor and light-heartedness in this usually-nasty primary season. If you’ve got any good candidate bloopers,
drop us an email and let us know.

John Land to address the Blogland and CofC Graduate Students on May 9

This year’s speaker for the Spring 2008 graduation ceremony for Master’s graduates at the College of Charleston is long-time Senate Democratic Leader John Land. In attendance, as a graduating Master's candidate, is the Blogland’s own Earl Capps.

Believe it or not, this is purely coincidence.

We first met John Land a couple of years back, at the event marking the completion of work on the four-laning of U.S. 521 in Manning. His efforts to prioritize the widening of U.S. 521 from Sumter to the coast have borne considerable fruit, with nearly half that section of the highway widened since 2000. It’ll be a major asset for economic development in that region, not to mention a great help for hurricane evacuation for the booming Georgetown County portion of the Grand Strand.

Agree with the guy or not, he’s survived over three decades of South Carolina politics and come out on top of a lot of scraps and feuds. His wife is passionate about the College and we know he takes her concerns to the General Assembly, and we appreciate that.

While CofC doesn’t have the volume of alumni in the General Assembly that USC and Clemson does, having the Senate Democratic Leader’s wife on the college's board and Glenn McConnell as an active alumni (we talk with him every year at the big graduation week Alumni social) makes a big difference. Until this state gets a Board of Regents system for its colleges to rationalize the allocation of higher ed resources, Senators Land and McConnell go a long way to helping CofC offset the political muscle that backs Clemson and USC.

On May 9th, we promise to behave while he’s speaking, listen politely, and clap with everyone else. So if you want to see him interrupted by yelling, air horns, or the squeal of pigs, don't ask us to do it.

We’ll leave that to the Governor and his cohorts.

Deputy William Howell - Thank you

We wanted to take a moment to pay our respects to the family and colleagues of Orangeburg County Deputy William Howell, who was killed in the line of duty near Holly Hill last Friday night.

Howell was well-known across the Lowcountry and well-respected by many in law enforcement. Such people are hard to find, and impossible to replace.

We understand that Deputy Howell had a promotion pending, and was waiting for such a time that his entire family could gather to receive it. Sheriff Williams intends to honor him and his family by ensuring that he will receive this promotion as his final act of duty. We couldn't think of a more deserving tribute.

Stories on the Charleston Post and Courier and Orangeburg Times and Democrat websites have discussion, including testimonials and thanks for Howell's service.

This will surely be a difficult time for many in Lowcountry law enforcement, who have seen a number of their own lost in the last year or so. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Ironically, the piece of human crap who killed Deputy Howell, Derrick Buras, was killed shortly afterwards by his estranged wife. We consider this to be well-deserved justice for Mr. Buras.

No doubt Ms. Duras was under an unbelievable amount of duress that evening, after being the victim of an assault and watching a murder of a deputy. She probably believed that he would again be released on bond (he was already out on bond for another violent assault) and may return to kill her. Therefore, she likely saw killing Buras as the only way to save her own life.

We believe the justice system should be merciful towards Ms. Buras. If Derrick Buras is determined to have killed Deputy Howell, Ms. Buras should not be charged and be allowed an opportunity to get her life in order and make a fresh start. Especially considering the millions of dollars that would have gone towards trial and incarceration costs.

May is Safe Digging Month

You hear the ads and see the signs that say "Call Before You Dig" ... but you figure since not a big construction company or not working near a highway, that doesn't apply to you. Especially if you're doing something simple, such as laying water ines for a sprinkler system, placing fencing posts, tying into a sewer system, or planting trees.

Right? Wrong.

Many developments have utility easements on private lots which allow them to place underground utility lines, especially near the perimeters of lots. If you dig without calling, you can put yourself in harm's way, or disrupt utility services for you and your neighbors.

If you call 811, the national Call Before You Dig toll-free number, that will put you in touch with the PUPS notification service, which notifies most utility companies in South Carolina. But since state law (unlike most states) does not require all utility companies to be part of this system. Therefore, you might have to make more than one call.

A helpful guide is to round up your utility bills before you call 811. Let them know where you're planning to dig, and they'll tell you which utilities they will notify, and if there are any leftover, call their office number.

South Carolina law requires that once you notify, utility companies have three days to respond. That means they either have to mark the location of underground lines with flags or spray paint, or notify you there are no underground utilities where you plan to dig.

One way to help them is to "white-line" the area where you plan to dig, so they will know exactly where to mark the ground. Ordinary spray paint will do just fine. The helpful color code to the markings (as shown to the right) will tell you what they found, so you'll know if a wrong move will blow up the block, knock out the neighborhood's phone and internt, or just wash out your front yard.

Here at the Blogland, we're all about a better South Carolina, and that includes one where everyone works together protect themselves and the utility services that provide for our quality of life. Please do your part by CALLING BEFORE YOU DIG.

The Summerville Senate Slugfest

Editor's Note: In the interests of full disclosure ... while I live in Senate District 38, at the present time, I support neither of the candidates. In fact, at this point, I plan not to vote for either of them.

In recent months, the race for the GOP nomination for Senate District 38 seemed to take a backseat to more colorful primary battles around the state as incumbent Senator Randy Scott faced Mike Rose, who had been ousted from the seat back in 1997.

While Rose had begun an aggressive campaign, a benchmark poll I’d run on a number of Dorchester County races last fall for a planned political communication project, using Conquest Communication, suggested Scott held a significant lead over Rose. Survey results showed that 48% of voters surveyed held a favorable assessment of Scott, and negative ID of just 8%. By contrast, Rose scored a much weaker recognition standing, with positive name ID of 25% and negative name ID of 17%

If an incumbent has twice the name ID of their challenger, and only half their negatives, that’s usually a good sign. But that poll was conducted last fall, and a lot can change in six months – and in recent weeks, it seems to have done just that.

I moderated a candidates’ forum featuring Randy Scott and Mike Rose a few weekends back, and the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife (including the jerk from the Rose campaign who yelled at me because he didn't like the way I introduced Rose). Some video footage from that event later appeared on YouTube, courtesy of some tech-savvy Rose supporters. Media research indicates similar efforts have "viral" effects which have enabled them to play pivotal roles in some races, and accordingly, these videos have shown up on political websites and made the rounds among Rose supporters.

While the YouTube clips have yet to reach many viewers (traffic counts on YouTube reported just several hundred viewings), the fallout from Scott’s highly-publicized DUI arrest could present a serious challenge for his re-election campaign, depending on how the case should go.

Those who think a couple of bad weeks of misfortune will be enough to sink Scott’s re-election prospects should take note that he ousted Bill Branton, the then-incumbent Senator, by a two-to-one margin four years ago. Such feats are nearly unheard of in politics, and suggest that Scott is a tenacious campaigner. That his positive name ID, as shown in the polling, had changed little in the three years since his 2004 race suggests that he still has a lot of friends in his Summerville-based district.

For an incumbent to win, they only need fifty percent plus one of the votes cast in the upcoming GOP primary. Both sides of this race seem to expect a close and hard-fought race. Recent events are likely to make this even more likely, and we're pretty sure this will be one of the most closely-watched races in the June 10 primaries.

As for me, I'm content to sit back and watch this race spiral downwards, wondering if I'm the only one for whom “None of the Above” has become an appealing ballot option, just as it did in the Richard Pryor movie, “Brewster’s Millions”:

Shatner serenades George Lucas

For those of you who are cringing at the prospect of more William Shatner video footage ... including Mike ... here you are.

Today's heapin' helpin' of Shat is his performance of Frank Sinatra's "My Way". The chorus line of Stormtroopers is ... uummm ... original: