RNC Report: Indiana and South Carolina team up to raise Gustav relief funds

According to RNC delegate Moye Graham, relief fundraising efforts have already begun with a strong effort from the Hoosier and Palmetto states:

This is a joint event with SC and Indiana the At&t and BMW event place is full. They are raising money for hurricane relief.

RNC Report: Moye arrives in Minneapolis

We've asked several delegates and alternates to give us live reports from the Republican National Convention. Our first comes from Moye Graham, who we backed for a 6th District delegate slot:

Talked to Lindsey Graham also Rob Godfrey of the SCGOP.

Was up at 2 AM to catch the flight out of Charleston at 530 AM was at airport at 4 AM. Flying first class was nice. Flew with a US Senator from NC - Burr. Also a Female Congresswoman from NC believe her last name was Ford just not sure man it was too early and they are not from SC.

Everybody is talking Hurricane. We have had Obama people with tee shirts in our lobby I was told by Joshua and last night I understand several people arrested I hear Joshua has already blog that.

Bush and Cheney will not make convention due to hurricanes.

Just met the new SC Rep, Ms. Nanny and her husband.

We'll keep you posted with more reports as we get them.

The price for criticizing Castro: $28

Porno para Richado is a Cuban punk band whose lead singer was fined $28 for dissing the Castro regime:

A Cuban punk rocker known for his raunchy lyrics criticizing Fidel Castro was convicted of public disorder Friday, but freed after a court dismissed a more serious "social dangerousness" charge that could have sent him to prison for four years.

Following a two-hour trial, the court ordered Gorki Aguila to pay 600 pesos (US$28) and released the 39-year-old singer.

"I am very proud of all the people who have supported me, and I feel even more hate for this tyranny," Aguilar told reporters upon his release.

... and we thought all protest bands of the punk and metal vein were left-wingers.

28 bucks may be a small deal here, but in Cuba, it's serious money. If that band can attract a big enough audience to get their protest message across, the Blogland will be glad to contribute some cash towards his legal defense fun. At $28 per Castro-spankin' performance, that's less than some of the concerts we've attended this year.

We found this video of the band, which kinda reminded us of the Black Flag classic "Bastard in Love". Take a look and tell us what you think:

Porno para Ricardo

Black Flag

Presidential experience?

Those who are criticizing McCain's selecton of Sarah Palin feign concern about what they allege is a lack experience to fill the VP slot, having formerly served as the mayor of a town of 9,000.

This is from those who support a Presidential candidate who, four years ago today, was a member of the Illinois State Senate.

Which option presents a higher degree of risk?

Which candidate can only talk about change, and which one actually ousted public officials to bring about real reform?

Yep, that's what we thought.

It's McCain-Palin

A news report like this makes it pretty obvious that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (a fellow communication degree holder) is John McCain's soon-to-be-announced running mate:

A Gulfstream IV from Anchorage, Alaska, flew into Middletown Regional Airport in Butler County near Cincinnati about 10:15 p.m. Thursday, said Rich Bevis, airport manager. He said several people came off the plane, including a woman and two teens, but there was no confirmation of who was aboard.

"They were pretty much hustled off. They came right down the ramp, jumped in some vans here and off they went," Bevis said. "It was all hush, hush."

It appears Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's move yesterday to cancel all his appointments today may have been intended to draw media attention away from the Democratic Party's big O-day event. Apparently he will be enjoying today with his family at the state fair.

Mitt Romney's people put word out last night that it's not going to be him.

We think the selection of the Alaska governor is a smart pick and certainly offers a fresh new face on the national political scene. This reform-minded Presidential ticket will have the full support of the Blogland.

Winning power through mass persuasion tactics

Barack Obama isn't the only one who liked to pack 'em in by the tens of thousands, put on a great show, and stir the crowds up with feel-good speeches that masked a questionable record and vague agenda:

... and look how well that one worked out.

House 124 Democratic candidate arrested for school violence

In politics, it's often risky to run candidates with pending criminal charges against them. This had plenty to do with the recent downfall of Summerville Senator Randy Scott, and has plenty to do with the ongoing controversy over York County Council member Paul Lindenmann.

We understand Beaufort County Democrats have a similar hot potato on their hands: a House candidate who, while possibly lacking in conviction, may soon have one: House District 124 candidate Jim Brown.

While Brown has made a lot of hay about education reform, it's interesting to note that he probably could do more about school violence. As in not getting arrested at a school for causing a disturbance.

It seems as if back in January 2007, Mr. Brown was arrested for causing a disturbance at a school in Beaufort County. You can look up information on this arrest by clicking here. A hearing on these charges is still pending.

We understand this arrest was on the campus of Ladys Island Elementary School and that Mr. Brown was seeking to confront a parent who worked at the school over an unrelated personal matter. We're sure the local solicitor's staff is over a barrel on this one, trying to decide which approach to handling the case will be more problematic: bringing the case to trial during the course of his candidacy, or postponing it until after the election.

On his campaign website, the would-be legislator claims to be:

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

In light of this arrest, we have to wonder if Mr. Brown sees Beaufort schools as just another arena for no-holds-barred violence. We also have to chuckle at the irony of a defense attorney being arrested for an act of public violence, hence becoming the kind of case he usually would represent.

Considering the demographics of House District 124 make this seat highly competitive for both parties, one has to wonder how the Democrats ended up with a candidate like this?

Budget shortfall sounds alarm for budget reforms

Few were surprised when the current economic slowdown resulted in a budget shortfall. In fact, most were only surprised that the situation wasn't worse. One of the critics was the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, who took the General Assembly to task:

South Carolina lawmakers have failed in their primary responsibility to create a practical, balanced state budget, and they refuse to let Gov. Mark Sanford push them into fulfilling their obligation to the state.

Lawmakers ended their legislative session knowing they had passed a budget that didn't provide enough money for core state responsibilities like school buses and prisons, even if the economy held steady. Worse, they knew an economic downturn was likely, throwing the budget even further off balance.

But their pet spending priorities were funded, so they left anyway.

Now their unfinished work has become a bigger problem. State revenues are falling short, and the budget has to be cut.

- Editorial: "Legislative obfuscation", Spartanburg Herald-Journal, 8/24/08

We've criticized the Governor for a lot of things - but when it comes to his concerns about the legislature's fiscal approach, we've largely agreed with what he's had to say.

In good years, surpluses are squandered, and in bad years, shortfalls result in blind and arbitrary cuts. In good times, politicians crawl over each other to get credit for doling out the pork, and in bad times, they can't fix the blame on someone else fast enough.

It's time state government stopped playing the role of the proverbial rat in the spinning wheel. We'd like to put forward three ideas that can help:

The first step to reforming this process can be taken by embracing the efforts by Representative Nikki Haley and Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell to impose roll-call voting over financial matters. Let's establish a paper trail to those who create these problems.

The second step would be to allow the Governor to have the responsibility to make the tough decisions when minor budget shortfalls surface when the legislature has adjourned. As he or she is the full-time executive, let him or her have the power to make minor course changes to avoid legislative wrangling that would result in cuts being more painful and politicized.

The third step would be to restructure the Budget and Control Board, as Governor Sanford has called for, placing the daily administration of the state's assets and administrative matters into a Department of Administration. The Budget and Control Board would simply serve as an oversight board which would be responsible for making financial decisions in the event of major budget shortfalls or emergency situations.

The General Assembly will be asked to take the first step early in next year's session, which we believe is essential. While we hope they'll consider all three, it is imperative that the budget process be reformed before the economic cycle swings around and billions of dollars are squandered once more.

3AM: Hillary on John McCain & Barack Obama

Time to scrutinize higher ed?

Our neighbors at FITS, who seem to think we've sold out to the education establishment, have ironically decided to join our call for real reforms in higher education in South Carolina:

In case you missed it, we were pretty hard on South Carolina’s higher ed leaders in our first installment of this year’s “Palmetto Power 100″ list. Frankly, we think it’s inexcusable the way they’ve been jacking tuition and fees on our state’s citizens in recent years, particularly while they’re hiding multi-million dollar slush funds (in Clemson’s case) or gobbling up real estate like the Wehrmacht (in Carolina’s case).

Of course, like their K-12 counterparts, these ivory tower blowhards always blame tuition increases on “budget cuts,” despite the fact that South Carolina grew government at obscene levels over the last four years and continues to spend more than 16% of its state budget on higher ed (compared to the national average of around 10%).

As part of our attempt to hide the senseless waste and duplication that helps put a college education beyond the financial reach of a growing number of South Carolina families, the Blogland has been working hard to find good examples of duplication via the infamous network of two-year USC campuses, including by showing you the USC "feeder" campuses in Sumter and Walterboro.

We invite our readers to visit USC-Sumter, where the highest degree you can receive is an Associate's in Arts or Sciences. Across the parking lot from that campus is the Central Carolina Technical College campus, a two-year public college where the highest degree you can receive is ... you guessed it: an Associate's in Arts or Sciences.

We've also challenged the state's lottery system of tuition assistance, the implementation of which was followed by massive tuition hikes which have in many cases, exceeded the amount of additional money the lottery put in the hands of students.

A simple rule of economics proposes that more money = more demand for goods and services. In turn, more demand = higher prices. Guess what? It applies to higher education prices as well.

In spite of all this spending and turf-building, statistics show that we're not getting a decent return on our education investment as the quality of our state's workforce continues to fall farther behind. Is anyone surprised?

As we - and FITS - have pointed out, the politics of higher education are getting in the way of the real objective: producing the best college graduates with the least amount of money. There's more we're going to talk about soon with regard to our state's irrational system of higher education, so stay tuned.

Hillary gets passed over

... and the McCain campaign, with some of the fastest response people we've ever seen, gives us their take on it:


Has anyone been to http://www.mccain-ridge08.com/ lately?

A John McCain & Tom Ridge ticket? We ain't buying this one. We think it's someone's idea of a joke. Possibly by the McCain campaign itself.

Debra to Democrats: "It's okay, really!”

Debra was a Hillary delegate, but now she's standing with Democrats like Joe Liberman who are saying "Country First" and are joining the McCain team.

Biden and Obama seal the deal

We wanted to share this video of a meeting between Barack Obama and Joe Biden as they discuss linking up for the 2008 Democratic Presidential ticket:

See where a few nice words can get you

It looks like a few kind words about Barack Obama must've helped Joe Biden get himself a slot on the 2008 Democratic Presidential ticket:

You got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.

"Poor Joe Biden", 2/1/07

... one way or another, Obama's running mate won't run out of things to say. No matter what, the Senator from Deleware should be able to dig around and find the right thing to say.

FITS' Power 100: Congrats to these runner-ups

Sic Willie and company over at FITSNews put out their list of honorable mentions today, as a prelude to their list of the 100 most-influential people in South Carolina government. While we were flattered to be one of the parties recognized, there are a lot of people who made the Blogland what it is, and plenty of others much more deserving of recognition.

We were pleased to see some of them get a well-deserved pat on the back and appreciate the folks at FITS for recognizing their contributions to the Palmetto State. There were two we were especially proud to see on this list:

Kristi Harrington – Circuit Court Judge:

Everybody we spoke with said a first-term circuit court judge didn’t belong on our Top 100, let alone the “honorable mentions,” but the fact is Harrington isn’t your typical circuit court judge. She’s “wonder woman,” people. Not only ridonkulously hot in her robe, she’s tough as nails in it, too, already earning the nickname “handcuff Harrington” for her no-nonsense brand of dispensing justice. Plus, she’s incredibly well-liked and well-connected in Columbia and seen by many conservatives as a rising star in the judiciary.

Glenn McCall – GOP National Committeeman:

Although it won’t have the same impact as another historic African-American addition to the Republican Party (which you’ll read about in our Top 100), Glenn McCall’s selection as national committeeman is still a big deal. What people forget, though, is that McCall has been a force in this state long before he decided to run for this post. We’re just glad he’s finally gotten some of the visibility he deserves.

Other honorable mentions that were well-deserved include:

  • BJ Boling – VP, Starboard Communications
  • Drea Byers, Sunny Phillips – GOP fundraisers
  • Ian Leslie – Lowcountry Economic Network
  • Paul Campbell - State Senator
The only one we really disagreed with this one:

Mrs. Sic Willie – Saint

You might think our founding editor imposes his will on the world around him, but you should see how fast his arrogant, sarcastic tail tucks between his legs the second Mrs. Sic so much as bats a disapproving eye. Forget “wearing the pants,” we’re not even sure Sic has any underwear on.

Uh, Will ... being twice-divorced, we know a few things about how to piss the ladies off. Anyone who puts up with people like us deserves a freakin’ gold medal.

Take it from your friends at the Blogland: while we agree that she has to be a saint above saints, unless you like sleeping on that thing called a couch, you’d better put her on the top of the big list when it goes online.

Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?

The American Issues Project will begin airing this TV spot, asking audiences in targeted markets if they really know Barack Obama. The ad points out his connections to terrorists and political radicals:

Reader pics: Costa Rica

Continuing something we started recently when we publishd some pictures a reader shared from their trip to the West Coast, we wanted to share these pictures from another reader's recent trip to Costa Rica.

If you're a Blogland reader who'd like to share some pictures from interesting and faraway places, please send them our way. We'd love to share them with our readers!

Inside Interview: 9th Circuit Judge Roger Young

Ninth Circuit Court Judge Roger Young is a veteran to public service in the Lowcountry. While his record of public service is certainly commendable and noteworthy, it wasn’t until we read his judicial bio that we knew he was someone we just had to interview:

Through no fault of his own, he was born in Michigan; however, his family moved to South Carolina when he was two years old, allowing him to maintain that he is truly a Southerner at heart. He grew up in North Charleston, and in 1980 graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the Baptist College at Charleston, which is now known as Charleston Southern University. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1983 with the degree of Juris Doctor, and with the degree of Master of Judicial Studies from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2000 …

Roger also served as a Municipal Judge for the City of North Charleston from 1988-90. He was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1990 and served two terms. He was Master-in-Equity for Charleston County from 1996 until he replaced Judge Vic Rawl on the Circuit Court bench upon his retirement on July 1, 2003 …

Through an odd confluence of interstellar events, Roger has received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Charleston in 1992, was appointed an Honorary Kentucky Colonel by Gov. Brereton C. Jones in 1993, and was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by Gov. Carroll A. Campbell in 1994.

That’s a nice introduction, but as our readers know, the canned introductions are never enough. Circuit Court Judge Perry Buckner, from the state's 14th Circuit, praised Young as:

A patient and dignified Circuit Court Judge who does not take himself too seriously, and uses common sense on the bench every week.

As part of our ongoing Inside Interview series, Judge Young was obliging enough to give us an opportunity to dig a little deeper and find out more about some of those who play roles in state and local governments in South Carolina. So let’s see what he has to share with us:

1) As an attorney, you could have made more money in private practice, or stuck around in the General Assembly and worked your way into a leadership position by now. Instead, you chose to pursue a career on the bench. Why?

Making a lot of money has never really been a motivating factor in my life, and I found through being in the state legislature that I enjoy public service. Serving in the General Assembly was a wonderful experience; however, I'm not cut out for that job. I have a special appreciation for those that do it and enjoy it, but constantly driving up the road to Columbia and always running for re-election is not my cup of tea.

There is nothing like being a circuit court judge to have something new to deal with every day. I consider myself one of those fortunate people who look forward to going to work every day, although there are some days it flat wears you down, but I suppose that is true of every job.

2) You’ve served the state both as a legislator and as a judge. Do you think that gives you perspectives that other judges who never served in the legislature might have? If so, what are they?

Every judge brings their own unique perspective to the bench, so while I would say it gives me a different perspective, I do not want to imply that it makes me a better judge than my colleagues, because some of the best have never served in the legislature. I would say the experience made me a better citizen. I think everyone should run for office at some point in time (as long as they don't run against me). It will humble you to have to go out and ask people for their vote.

3) What do you see as a major challenge for the state’s court system in the years ahead?

The case load for circuit court judges is the highest in the nation and is getting worse. While the legislature has authorized three new circuit court positions, they have not funded them in several years. We are trying to manage our dockets so that people don't have to wait years to get their case heard, but you can only squeeze so much.

We also now have two law schools in this state graduating twice the number of new lawyers. That has to have an effect on the number of case filings. Technology can only get us so far. You have to have a body on the bench to hear the case at some point.

We are trying to more cases resolved through alternatives to trial by jury, such as mediation and arbitration, but the sheer volume means that there are still a lot of cases left on the trial roster. In addition, those cases that do not resolve themselves are increasingly complex and demand more pre-trial attention from the judges, who cannot be in two places at one time.

4) Your term is up in 2009. Do you plan to seek another term, or maybe move up the judicial ladder?

I am filing for re-election this fall. That election will be early next year. I enjoy what I do immensely and have no foreseeable desire to seek an appellate court position. I may change my mind one day. However, I have set on the Supreme Court twice when justices have been sick or on vacation, and while it was a great experience, but left me wondering if I wanted to read briefs and transcripts all day.

I like the interaction with people you get as a trial court judge, especially with juries. I think the combination of the adversarial process and a trial by jury is the best system for settling conflicts ever devised by man.

5) Anyone who thinks Sweatman’s BBQ is a great place to eat rates highly in the Blogland. Tell us a little bit about your work as a BBQ judge. Also, name five of your favorite BBQ restaurants.

I started judging barbeque the minute I ate at Sweatman's 30 years ago in college. That's the gold standard for what a commercial barbeque joint should be, in my humble opinion. However, competition barbeque is something else entirely. I started judging at the local Prestigious Palmetto Pig-Pickin' in Charleston over ten years ago, and look forward to it every year. It's grown and become quite a well-respected event. The quality of barbeque produced by the competitors is very high.

Believe it or not, the hardest part of judging competition barbeque is to not over-eat early. You can't eat more than a very, very small amount because you will probably be eating 15-20 samples within a few hours. I learned the hard way.

As for commercial places, locally Fiery Ron's Home Team and Jim and Nick's are putting out some outstanding barbeque. I recently tried a new place in North Charleston off East Montague called The Barbeque Place and it showed great promise. I also held court in Moncks Corner this week and tried a new place called Moose's BBQ. It was very good and had an outstanding beef brisket, which you don't find much of in this area of the country. The owner, Moose, wandered around place constantly checking on his customers and chatting people up. It was a fun experience.

Candidly, growing up in the low country I have a soft spot for any of the Bessinger brothers' places when you just need to scratch an itch and eat a good sandwich and onion rings. There is a branch of Brown's BBQ in Moncks Corner that is really good. Finally, there are branches of the ubiquitous Dukes BBQ in Beaufort and Ridgeland that serve fried chicken gizzards on their buffet which earns them an honorable mention for that fact alone.

Man, I could talk about bbq all day.

6) It looks like you’re pretty well-read, with references on blogs and websites showing up. What are some websites and blogs you enjoy?

I have a friend in New Orleans who has one of the oldest law related blogs (as well as one of the most respected) called ernietheattorney.net. He covers much more than law, and often writes about computers, photography, philosophy, yoga, food and his mistress - the City of New Orleans. He is commercial law litigator who frequently lectures around the country on law and computers. He is partially responsible for my converting to Apple computers a few years ago, and he operates a truly paperless office out of his home. A cool guy to hang out with.

Until it recently shut down, I thought FakeSteveJobs, a blog satire about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, was pure genius. You helped to be an Apple fan to really appreciate it, but it was fabulous satire, and anyone who follows the computer industry could appreciate it. I hope it comes back.

I listen to some podcasts daily while I walk since I'm not much of a music fan. A couple are, again, Apple related, but I also enjoy Dennis Miller's re-broadcast of his radio show. By now you've figured out I'm a big Apple computer fan, and love having an Apple store in Charleston. I also am grateful that SC Public Radio podcasts Walter Edgar's Journal. I'd never be able to listen to it otherwise. Those broadcasts are wonderful for those that love to learn about this state, and Walter shares my love of all things barbeque.

7) What is it about be a judge that most people would not understand?

First, judges do a lot more than sit on the bench and listen to trials. In fact, when you are serving a year as Chief Administrative Judge like I currently am, it is probably less than half of what I do most days. There is a never-ending mound of paperwork as CAJ.

I suppose most people would be surprised at how difficult it can be to sentence people, or perhaps I should state more correctly, fashion an appropriate sentence. Every person is different, and the vast majority of people are not evil, horrible people. If you stop and think about it, the relative rarity of brutal, violent crimes is why they are newsworthy when they happen. Instead, most of the people who come before the courts have wrecked their lives with drugs and alcohol, and we are dealing with crime which is either directly or indirectly associated with it. You can toss them in jail and throw away the key - and sometimes you have to do that - but most of them are eventually going to get out of prison, and as a society it is in our best interest to figure out some way to turn them into productive citizens as opposed to hardened criminals. I don't have the answer. I just deal with the problem.

Sentencing young people really is heartbreaking. Young people make so many mistakes, and every time I see one infront of me I envision one of my children. I can only imagine how their parents must feel. A sad fact of life is that far too many young people don't even have a family member that comes to courts with them. It takes no imagination to guess how they got there. Sadly, they are often parents themselves, and have no skills or education by which they are reasonably going to get a decent paying job or become a responsible parent. You wonder what chance their children have to succeed. It's a cycle that seems to have no end.

Wow ... great interview!

Dee Compton for Senate District Ten: The right choice in a tough race

Ask most people where the real election action is around the state. While you’ll get different answers, most will tell you one of three locations: along the coast, Midlands, or the Upstate. While few people will say the region in and around Greenwood is a key electoral battleground, strategists from both sides of the party line will tell you it will be a key focal point for their efforts this fall.

When Senator John Drummond, whose service in the Senate stretched across much of the 20th Century, decided to retire from the chamber, both sides have worked to recruit strong candidates. The Democrats recruited Floyd Nicholson, the current Mayor of Greenwood, to defend their hold on the seat, while the GOP hopes to gain the seat with Greenwood County Council Vice Chair Dee Compton, who emerged from a five-candidate pack to win the GOP nomination by a crushing margin in the June run-off.

In 2000, Drummond’s GOP challenger, Hunter Eddy, surprised political observers when his underfunded candidacy racked up 41 percent of the vote in what had been considered a strong district for the Democrats. Since then, a lot has changed in and around District Ten, and in the favor of the GOP: the GOP has moved into the political lead in Greenwood County, taking a majority on County Council and it’s State House delegation, as well as winning several courthouse offices, and has begun running and winning races in Abbeville and Laurens Counties, which comprise about a quarter of the Senate district.

Building on a broad base of support, which includes many of the district's State Representatives, as well as county officials, Compton has built a strong team and a formidable campaign both during and after the GOP primary race. Combined with the growing lean towards the GOP in much of the district, there is much to suggest this could be the State Senate seat most likely to shift to the GOP column this fall.

With a record of fiscal conservatism backed by no less than S.C. Association of Taxpayers President Don Weaver, Compton has consistently voted against raising County residential property taxes. Not only that, he worked to find ways to consolidate departments, implementing hiring freezes, and privatize those county services which could be done more for less by the private sector. In a rural area in which attracting new industry and jobs is a challenge and money can be tight in many households, this kind of fiscal responsibility is exactly what the District needs.

John Drummond’s leadership set a very high standard for District Ten residents, and they should expect their next Senator to have the potential to continue Drummond’s legacy. Compton brings a record of leadership in both Greenwood City and County, and his hard-working candidacy enjoys the support and respect of regional and statewide leaders. While the Democratic candidate has been a good citizen with a commendable record of service to the people of Greenwood, Compton's record and broad base of support from both citizens and community and political leaders makes the difference in this race.

In November, we’re asking the residents of District Ten to trust Compton to be their next outstanding Senator. We believe he is best-qualified to get results for them in Columbia.

BBQ of the South

Supreme Court ruling on the death penalty

Here's breaking news regarding a major Supreme Court ruling today on the death penalty.

We tried to reach our resident judicial expert, Ninth Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington, to get her take on this ruling, but she was unavailable for comment.

A major international standoff?

While much of the world's attention is focused upon the showdown between Russia and Georgia, there's another standoff involving another nuclear power that we wanted to bring to the attention of our readers:

Volatile India-Pakistan Standoff Enters 11,680th Day

Congratulations to Sabrina Gast, York County's Coroner

We in the Blogland want to thank Governor Sanford for re-appointing York County's interim Coroner Sabrina Gast to permanently take over the office tomorrow when the current Coroner's resignation becomes effective.

We also want to thank the many people who expressed their support for Gast's permanent appointment. Her qualifications are outstanding, and include:

  • Qualified as an expert witness in York County as a Nurse, Forensic Nurse, and as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.
  • Reduced the 2007 budget for the coroner's office.
  • Participate in the "Alive at 25" education program through the SC National Safety Council.
  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing.
  • Masters Degree in Forensic Nursing from Duquesne University.
  • Certified by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators (ABMDI)
  • Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
  • Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE-A)
  • Certified Forensic Nurse (CFN)

Between her qualifications and time spent as the county's interim Coroner, we know she'll be a real asset to York County government and a qualified and compassionate public servant. We were proud to endorse her re-appointment and believe the people of York County will be well served with her on the job.

Her term in office will be short, as she will be standing for election for a full four-year term on the November ballot. Her campaign website is online at http://www.gastforcoroner.com/.

In November, we hope the voters of York County will realize what an outstanding public servant she's been and ask them to give her the honor of serving as their full-fledged elected Coroner.

July 2008: the Month in Review

If you're reading this, it means you survived the month of July - congratulations!

It also means you didn't have anything else better to do. But if you're here now, join us for a look back at July 2008 in the Blogland:

July was a challenging month in the Blogland with the passing of a close personal friend -
Stan Spears, Jr.

We recognized two outstanding freshmen legislators: Rep. Shannon Erickson and Sen. Shane Massey, as well as two retiring legislators: Rep. Bill Cotty and Sen. John Drummond. On the other side, we dissed Barack Obama (again) for being a hypocrite on environmental issues - but our readers didn't seem very surprised.

There was good news for some. State Rep. Annette Young essentially got re-elected early when her opponent dropped out, five printed and bound copies of the Master's thesis arrived, and Secretary of State Mark Hammond began kicking butt and taking names, Dirty Harry style.

As always, we like to see what mattered most to our readers, who could be doing almost anything else in the world, but instead choose to spend some of their time with us.

So which postings did YOU read the most this month?

Remembering Stan Spears, Jr.
An early win for Rep. Annette Young?
Is Mark Hammond South Carolina's Dirty Harry?
“She knows exactly what she is doing”: Shannon Erickson, Outstanding Freshman Representative
“He is so much more”: Bill Cotty, Distinguished Outgoing Representative
South Carolina blogger pushing for Hawaii 5-0 remake
Appoint Sabrina Gast Coroner of York County
Is Barack Obama a corporate sell-out on environmental issues
Rep. Erickson hosts event for Bronze Star recipient
1st Blogland legislative awards

... and which postings did you discuss the most?

“She knows exactly what she is doing”: Shannon Erickson, Outstanding Freshman Representative
Video poker inspired by Sanford's ethical retreat?
My thesis, in print
Is Mark Hammond South Carolina's Dirty Harry?
Appoint Sabrina Gast Coroner of York County
“He is so much more”: Bill Cotty, Distinguished Outgoing Representative
“A new level of enthusiasm”: Shane Massey, Outstanding Freshman Senator
The Blogland’s Summer Painkiller Contest
A little "Rock and Roll"
South Carolina blogger pushing for Hawaii 5-0 remake

As always, we appreciate your readership. Be sure to stay tuned as we make August a fun month for one and all!

Massey to push for roll call voting in Senate

What a difference a week can make.

On the heels of the S.C. Policy Council's report on the widespread use of voice voting in both houses of the General Assembly, Senator Shane Massey has officially jumped on the roll call voting bandwagon:

Last year I introduced the Appropriations Bill Earmark Disclosure Act, a bill that will bring greater transparency to the budgeting process by requiring legislators to put their names on requests for funds going to local projects. Unfortunately the bill died because too many big spending politicians want to fund their pet projects in secret.

I support Senator Glenn McConnell’s effort to push a commonsense conservative plan through the General Assembly. The people of South Carolina should be able to hold legislators accountable for the decisions they make at the State House, and roll call votes bring instant accountability. To bring more transparency to state government, I will ask for a roll call vote in the South Carolina Senate on any bill that requires a significant expenditure of state funds.

South Carolina faces extraordinary challenges in education, healthcare, and energy. We will never be able to solve those problems if state government keeps wasting taxpayer dollars. I was elected on a commitment that I would do whatever I could to shake things up in Columbia and tackle the tough problems facing our state. I intend to make good on that commitment even if it means ruffling a few feathers along the way.

We certainly support Massey's willingness to take up this cause in the Senate, and hope others in the Senate will join him in this valuable reform effort.

Is there a Headbanger in the (Virginia) House?

We wanted to share some pics we took while at the recent Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Motorhead concert. One of the pictures taken in the parking lot was of a Virgina state legislator, a House member with the tag number "22". As you can see, this person either a Republican or supports a lot of them.

Virgina House seat #22 is currently held by Republican Kathy Bryon of the Lynchburg area, but lots of chambers don't assign tag numbers based upon district numbers, so it may or may not be her.

If anyone knows who this person is, we're all ears. Whoever he or she is, we're certainly interested in his opinion of the show.

John Edwards news

With all the ongoing hoopla over John Edwards, we wanted to stay completely out of things and not discuss the guy at all. But it's as hard for us to miss a story as it was for Edwards to sit still whenever he would hear the sound of an ambulance siren.

Here's a video we'd like to share with y'all:

Black Sabbath and Judas Priest ROCK in Bristow

Last Thursday night, when Sabbath and the Priest took the stage in Bristow, the mob ruled - and the Blogland was there (and got some killer t-shirts).

To use the words “kick ass” to describe the Black Sabbath and Judas Priest performances would be gross understatements. This was clearly the best show we've seen in two or three years!!!

When Ronnie James Dio and the rest of the reunited “second generation” of Black Sabbath, touring as “Heaven and Hell”, took the stage, the crowd was eager for a show. From opening with the classic “Mob Rules” to closing with “Neon Knights”, Dio’s voice and energy and Tommy Iommi’s guitar mastery rocked the crowd non-stop for the hour-long set.

While many of those in attendance would never have seen this lineup on stage some three decades ago, these guys performed so flawlessly, it sounded like they hadn’t aged a day. Their extended performance of Heaven and Hell included a lot of special lighting effects and showcased Dio’s theatrical talents, just as other moments in the show allowed other band members to stand out in their performances.

Judas Priest has long had a reputation for putting on strong shows. Anyone (like us) who’ve been to dates on their 2005 Angel of Retribution tour would know that the return of Halford didn’t change a thing. But a five-star performance wasn’t enough for these guys, and anyone who saw the show we saw would agree.

The first of many changes in their shows was in opening with “Dawn of Creation” from their new Nostradamus CD set, instead of the Hellion/Electric Eye which they’d opened shows with since the Screaming for Vengeance album. A number of songs that hadn’t been played in their more recent tours were thrown in for good measure, including Deceiver, Eat Me Alive, Rock Hard Ride Free and Devil's Child.

If you caught them on the last tour and thought "this feels good", you ain’t felt nothing yet. The band’s playing was tight, and Halford’s siren vocals were much stronger and louder than the last tour. It was as if the last tour was just practice for this one.

This certainly was a show to be a part of. If you can catch them on the road anywhere in North America, you do not want to miss either of these bands, much less both of them on the same stage.

Chinese flag UPSIDE DOWN at Olympics opening ceremony

Lin Hao, a nine year-old survivor of the recent Chinese earthquake, had a position of honor during the Olympic opening ceremony, walking alongside basketball star Yao Ming at the head of the Chinese delegation of Olympic athletes.

We were surprised - and amused - when we saw he was carrying a flag that was made upside down. Normally that's an international sign of distress, but we figure it was more likely a case of a flag being made by the same people who make American flags for Wal-Mart. Lousy quality control and someone who was either too busy to stop the kid and switch the flag - or someone who wanted to use the kid to make a political statement.

Even more amusing was the fact that Ming took media interviews, carrying Lin Hao, STILL CARRYING THE UPSIDE DOWN FLAG!

The photo, in our humble opinion, is reflective of the nation's tyrannical society and iron-fisted one-party rule - upside down. They can run protestors over with tanks, but they can't double-check the flag carried by one of their stars?!?

One of the commenters called the event an artistic statement about China - we couldn't agree more. Upside down.

Here's a video we found of the occasion:

Kid Carries Chinese Flag Upside Down

Rep. Nikki Haley & legislative voice voting reform

Just when state politics gets stale and boring, leave it to our friends at the Policy Council to shake things up a bit.

Their most recent effort was a solid piece of quantitative analysis of legislative voting practices in the South Carolina General Assembly. According to their research, when a General Bill or Joint Resolution came up before either chamber, only eight percent of the time would the House have a roll-call vote, and only one percent of the time would the Senate choose that option.

Overall, their research indicated 95 percent of votes are cast by voice, meaning the public would never know who voted in support or opposition to a particular bill. This practice is contrasted against the following examples from other Southern states:

  • Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi mandate roll call voting on final passage of all bills,
  • Tennessee requires roll call voting on every bill including bills making appropriations of public dollars, and
  • North Carolina mandates roll call votes on second and third reading of revenue bills.
We understand that in some cases, a bill going before a chamber is essentially uncontested. In such cases, a voice vote is the most expedient means of passage and a roll call vote can slow things down, especially in the last couple of weeks of session. While the Policy Council report does not attempt to make such distinctions, which might have been helpful, we know there are plenty of occasions which a voice vote is not used simply to fast-track legislation with overwhelming support. These are the times which the Policy Council is concerned about, and we believe those concerns are legitimate.

On important issues, we believe the people have a right to know where their legislators stand on important issues, as well as what they are, or aren’t, doing about those issues. It’s a point of view the Policy Council shares, as well as Representative Nikki Haley - so we decided to get her take on this breaking issue.

First question – what have you been doing on this issue, and how much support have these efforts had?

Last session, I introduced House Bill 5019, the 2008 Spending Accountability Act, because I believe legislation that in a time when a gallon of milk and a gallon of gas are roughly the same price we owe it to the public to show them how their hard-earned dollars are being spent.

Second question – we know sometimes a voice vote is the most expedient means to pass a bill, and it’s not intended to cover up anyone’s position on an issue. In your estimation, what percentage of voice votes are simply to speed up a bill, as opposed to being done to provide cover to legislators on politically-volatile legislation?

Whether it’s ten percent or eighty percent, I firmly believe it is sound policy to go on the record. In the business world no one hands over a checkbook and says spend this money wisely. All expenses are recorded and individuals are held accountable for how they spend. The same should be true in state government.

Third question – how do you feel this recent publicity has affected support for these efforts?

I think the recent report by the SC Policy Council validates the need for this type of legislation. While individuals may differ on their conclusions, I think we can all agree that there is clearly a need for more accountability in government, and that’s the chief aim of my legislation.

For the last question, while we can pretty much guess this, but we still have to ask – do you plan to re-introduce legislation on this issue?

Over the past few months, I have been working closely with Senator McConnell on this legislation. We plan to pre-file a comprehensive bill in both the House and the Senate later this year.

Rep. Ballentine asks "How much for your child?"

Here in the Blogland, we've always questioned the line of thinking that argues that the more you spend on education, the better results you'll get.

While we won't doubt there are legitimate needs out there, we would suggest that the present system gets looked at, and funding diverted from programs that don't improve test scores and allocated to those programs which work.

It's what they do every day in the private sector to keep businesses competitive ... and isn't that what our schools are supposed to be doing - making South Carolina more competitive?

Of course that's not what they're supposed to be doing - our schools are supposed to provide job security for educrats and guaranteed revenue for highly-paid consultants.

In his discussion of the need to address equitable and responsible education funding in South Carolina, fellow blogger State Rep. Nathan Ballentine asks the usual, inconvenient questions:

Do we really need FIFTEEN different classifications? In doing research, some states have only three…..1, 1.5, and 2.0? And aren’t these numbers arbitrary really?

Apparently we acknowledge a different “cost” (weight) for each “type” of student. However, one notable exception to me is the “Poor Kid”. (Is that politically correct to say?) My question is this: Wouldn’t most of us consider it more expensive to educate someone in a “poorer district”? Most would admit that in a “perfect world” it should cost the same to educate every child but if we already have a system of weights, shouldn’t we explore this concept?

I’m not saying we need to throw more money at the problem but (here goes the politically damaging part), shouldn’t we agree there should be some weight given to “rich” and “poor” kids? This would most likely mean that folks like me (representing “rich” districts) will have to give up some of “our money” to the “poor” districts. Because if we actually address this disparity, districts with a “poor kid” classication will receive more money than those with less students in that category.

Now, now, Nathan - asking a fair question isn't always fair. In fact, some would argue it makes you a Racistbigotsexistdiscriminatoryevilrichconservativecorporaterepublican.

But that's what we get called too, so keep up the good work.

His involvement in the process of examining how education funding is allocated is certainly appreciated and deserves public input. To read more, click here.

SCHotline boycotting the Blogland?

Lately, SCHotline hasn't been linking to our content, while most other blogs have been doing just fine. We're trying to figure out who we ticked off ... or if our links ended up getting nailed by their spam filter.

Even the one about Will Folks and the Hawaii Five-O remake.

If anyone has any suggestions as to what's up, we're all ears. We hate being left out of the new media community that Hotline is the central portal for, especially with all the content we've been generating as of late.

Rod Shealy faces cancer - Cancer begs for mercy

Those of us who started out in the 80s, as the GOP began its rise from a phone booth club to a majority party here in South Carolina, remember well the difficult journey of our own Lee Atwater, who struggled with brain cancer, as well as the knowledge that even kingmakers are mortal.

Having this as one of my early formative political experiences, it's hard to forget, and painful to see another one of our own facing it.

Yesterday morning, Rod Shealy had this to say on his blog:

As a political consultant and a newspaper publisher, I’m familiar with “spin”... but there’s not really much way to spin this:

A few days ago, tests revealed I have a cancerous brain tumor.

There's a lot people can say, and have said, about Rod - some good, some bad. But there's one thing we're sure of - if cancer was looking for an easy victim, it sure picked the wrong guy.

I learned a lot about politics from the guy, so I'm not surprised to hear that he already has a game plan for what will be his toughest fight yet:

I don’t know how other people would react to such news. But in the days since, I have been completely overcome with one central thought: I truly feel like the luckiest man in the world! I can’t even begin to count my blessings.

While this sounds like sound advice, we're sure he won't mind if we in the Blogland say a few prayers for him and his family. Please join us.

The Birthday Score: Bonnie 10, Blogland 3

Today, we celebrate two birthdays: Bonnie and the Blogland. She turns ten today and we turn three.

We were trying to look back at the year that's passed, and here are some thoughts which occured to us:

  • Bonnie is going to be in the fifth grade, we just act like it.
  • Bonnie is happy her dad isn't in college anymore, so is the college.
  • Bonnie has a cool collection of CofC and Winthrop (her mother is a Winthrop alum) stuff, but we're the ones who play with them.
  • Bonnie needed her diapers changed when she was little, but we're the ones who were full of ... well, you know.
What do y'all think?

In looking back at the last year, we've come a long way, for which we can only thank our readers. Y'all are the greatest - thanks for sticking with us.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, RIP

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a rare voice in the Cold War. Decorated for service during WWII, Solzhenitsyn's criticms of Stalinist tyranny saw him quickly exiled to Siberia, then abroad. His novel, "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", which was based upon his own experiences in a Siberian gulag, as well as the movie based upon the book, presented a bleak, tragic world in which the humanity of prisoners was slowly suffocated.

This work, as well as others by Solzhenitsyn, showed a chilling vision of what could be expected if the West fell to Soviet conquest, and thus helped motivate many to stand up to fight communist expansion.

During many of those days in which he spoke, the outcome of the Cold War was far from certain. In that time, Solznenitsyn's bold words and gripping tales challenged Soviet empire, as well as challenged the West by asking if it had the will to survive:

If I were today addressing an audience in my country, in my examination of the overall pattern of the world's rifts I would have concentrated on the calamities of the East. But since my forced exile in the West has now lasted four years and since my audience is a Western one, I think it may be of greater interest to concentrate on certain aspects of the contemporary West, such as I see them.

A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life.

Political and intellectual functionaries exhibit this depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in their self-serving rationales as to how realistic, reasonable, and intellectually and even morally justified it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And the decline in courage, at times attaining what could be termed a lack of manhood, is ironically emphasized by occasional outbursts and inflexibility on the part of those same functionaries when dealing with weak governments and with countries that lack support, or with doomed currents which clearly cannot offer resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end?

-1978 commencement address, OrthodoxyToday.org

Those words seem as relevant today as they were thirty years ago. The challenge he presented to the West then is the same question we face now - does the West have the will to challenge those forces which seek its downfall. Or have we lost the courage to survive, and in doing so, made that first terrible mistake that will lead to the fall of the West?

Those who ask if the West needs to fight for its survival should read some of his works, to see what kind of existence they can look forward to. Perhaps if they see the dark, cold, and soulless alternative that lies in store, then they will find the courage to resist the encroaching forces of darkness.

Solzhenitsyn had the courage and the wisdom to challenge both East and West. We can best honor his life and his sacrifices by having the courage to ask the same questions of ourselves.

Spratt blasts self, Democratic Congress for role in budget shortfall

In a press conference in Washington, D.C., Democratic congressman John Spratt, the Chair of the House Budget Committee, attacked himself over his role in increasing the national debt:

Section 7 of Article One of our Constitution is very clear on this point, when it says "All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives". More specifically, when it comes to the Budget Committee, which I chair, "the primary responsibility of the Budget Committee is the drafting and preparation of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget, usually called the 'budget resolution.' This resolution sets the aggregate levels of spending and revenue that is expected to occur in a given fiscal year.*"

You do the math: the Democrats run the House, the House originates budget legislation, and the Committee I chair puts the budget resolution together. While I can blame the President and the Republicans for the size of the deficit, let's face it - me and my fellow Democrats deserve plenty of the blame as well. It's time for Democrats to have the courage to live up to Harry Truman's old saying of the "buck stops here".

Spratt then held up a mirror and was looking at it as he spoke, calling it "my own accountability tool for finding who is responsible for the deficit". According to a unidentified source, Congressional staffers would begin issuing them to Democratic House members, the current House majority party. While some feared the mirror sent to Nancy Pelosi's office might undergo stress, the unidentified source said "it's a good thing Cynthia McKinney isn't around these days. A mirror wouldn't survive five minutes with her in the room."

* Wikipedia excerpt

Al Gore Places Infant Son In Rocket To Escape Dying Planet

This story on The Onion was just too good to not share with our readers:

EARTH—Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.

"I tried to warn them, but the Elders of this planet would not listen," said Gore, who in 2000 was nearly banished to a featureless realm of nonexistence for promoting his unpopular message. "They called me foolish and laughed at my predictions. Yet even now, the Midwest is flooded, the ice caps are melting, and the cities are rocked with tremors, just as I foretold. Fools! Why didn't they heed me before it was too late?"

Al Gore—or, as he is known in his own language, Gore-Al—placed his son, Kal-Al, gently in the one-passenger rocket ship, his brow furrowed by the great weight he carried in preserving the sole survivor of humanity's hubristic folly.

"There is nothing left now but to ensure that my infant son does not meet the same fate as the rest of my doomed race," Gore said. "I will send him to a new planet, where he will, I hope, be raised by simple but kindly country folk and grow up to be a hero and protector to his adopted home."

Inside Interview: Erin Gaddy

As part of the Blogland’s ongoing efforts to expose our readers to the wide range of movers and shakers in South Carolina through our Inside Interview series, we wanted to introduce our readers to the Midland’s own Erin Gaddy. She’s a career prosecutor who is currently working with the National District Attorneys Association, focusing on issues related to the abuse of the elderly and disabled. Prior to that, she spent four years as an Assistant Solicitor in the Midlands.

Erin is a Midlands native, born in Columbia, and after having lived in several states over the years, she’s back home. Her 91-year-old grandfather lives a couple of miles from her, her mother, sister, and brother-in-law live in northeast Columbia, and her dad’s on James Island. A member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Columbia, she loves to spend time with her family, both here and out of state, since she also loves to travel (that’s her in Hawaii).

In a state like South Carolina, with large populations of retirees flocking to its lakefronts and ocean shores, as well as the vigorous efforts being made in recent years by Lt. Governor Andre Bauer to raise awareness of these issues, her background in elder abuse issues caught our eye.

As we always do, we’ll throw some questions at her and see what she throws back at us.

1) Of all the options you had after law school, how did you end up in criminal prosecution?

I instantly liked criminal law (although it was probably my lowest grade in school), and tried both prosecution and defense. Social justice is a very important concept in the Catholic church, and my mother really emphasized it in our lives. I thought I might wind up a public defender, but it was quickly apparent that the people with the power to do the most justice were on the prosecution side. I believe we need great attorneys on both sides of the criminal courtroom, and have always felt like my place was on the side of the State.

2) For attorneys, a career in prosecution isn’t always the best-paying route, so we’ll assume you don’t do it for the money. What do you personally find to be the biggest rewards associated with your work?

When I was working in the courtroom, every night I could lay my head on my pillow with a clean conscience. I knew that I had done something good for someone every day, even when I’d just pushed paper on my desk or answered hone calls. That’s a pretty great reason to go to work every morning. I’d love it if both prosecutors and public defenders were paid better, in order to keep more of them in the profession long-term.

3) Tell us a little bit about what kind of work you do in your current position.

I’m involved with a Federally-funded project through the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). There are three prongs of the training currently (for law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors), and training for victim advocates and adult protective services workers is coming soon. I work with an incredible faculty from all over the nation to put on the OVW training for prosecutors on elder abuse and neglect. I’m not generally at the front of the room, but in the background, making sure the curriculum is running as it should. I have a lot of help, but ultimately I‘m responsible for the education these prosecutors receive.

We use a multi-disciplinary faculty consisting of prosecutors, medical doctors, mental health specialists, adult protective services workers, and victim advocates. Law enforcement experts on elder abuse were also involved in the development of the project. I also run a listserv for the trainees and faculty, plus offer technical assistance to prosecutors on elder abuse.

4) Since a lot of your work in recent years has focused upon protecting those, such as the elderly, who can’t protect themselves, what do you see as the most important trends out there?

It’s an incredibly vibrant time for the prosecution and prevention of elder abuse, so I’d prefer to focus on some positive trends. Because of increased awareness, we’re seeing much more reporting of elder abuse by community members and family members of victims, as well as more victims being willing to report for themselves.

It’s important to remember that in many states, 55-60 is “elderly,” which most people who have reached that age wouldn’t call themselves. Our elders are active community members who are demanding fair and equal treatment under the law. We talk about elder abuse being in a similar place as domestic violence was 30 years ago, where people are really interested in stopping it, but not entirely sure what they can do.

I’ve been very impressed with efforts from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, as you mentioned. The more we can do to enforce the laws that are already on the books, the better off our elders will be. If each of our legislators simply thought about how they’d like their parents, grandparents, or themselves to be treated, I think we’d likely be in very good shape with our laws. There are great model laws out of Wisconsin and California, which of course is on the forefront of this issue. Florida and New York are also states to look to for instruction.

5) You're a Midlands native. For those who doubt that claim, we'll ask you to prove it by naming at least two good places to go for BBQ.

Doc's on Shop Road and Little Pigs up on Alpine Road.

6) As our final question – the Blogland loves to talk about music, so we’re going to ask you to name your favorite album(s) and/or artist(s).

For recent music, I’m a little obsessed with Corinne Bailey Rae’s debut album, but the classics still draw me: Joni Mitchell’s Wild Things Run Fast, and pretty much anything by CSNY or James Taylor.