Vets for Freedom come to Columbia on Thursday

We received this and wanted to share it with our readers ...

Join the Vets for Freedom National Tour at
the Veterans Memorial in Columbia


Statehouse Grounds facing Assembly Street at the
Veterans Memorial Statehouse Grounds facing Assembly Street


on Thursday, April 3, 2008, 11:30 a.m.

with Special Guests House Speaker Bobby Harrell, Adjutant General Stan Spears, and

Major General James Livingston, Recipient of the Medal of Honor


The Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour is about going coast-to-coast to generate support for our troops, highlight their successes and rally the country to complete the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You will be able to meet and honor some real American heroes: David Bellavia, author of House to House, recipient of the Silver Star, and nominee for the Medal of Honor; Marcus Luttrell, recipient of the Navy Cross and author of the New York Times best-selling book Lone Survivor; and Steve Russell, recipient of the Bronze Star medal with Valor Device for his actions in Iraq, including leading the battalion responsible for the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Not only are we raising awareness and support for the mission during the National Heroes Tour, we want to say Thank You to the military community and their families.

Learn more about the tour at www.vetsforfreedom.org
or email SC VFF State Captain Ryan Murphy at rdmurph@hotmail.com

William Shatner redoes "Rocket Man"

Last week, we shared a video of William Shatner attempting to rap Julius Caesar, and one of our readers pointed out an even more interesting moment from Shatner's attempts at music.

This video is his rendition of Elton John's classic "Rocket Man". We've watched a few times, and we're still not sure what to think about it. If you've got any thoughts, feel free to share them.




Upset looming in Zimbabwe?

The MDC opposition party leadership is claiming victory in the Zimbabwe presidential race, based upon projections from preliminary counts as well as those posted at voting locations (before the ballot boxes can be stuffed).

Other news has reported that a number of President Mugabe's ministers and allies have been ousted in their parliamentary re-election bids. This includes a virtual clean-sweep of seats in the capital and other major cities by the opposition.

The "This is Zimbabwe" blog of election watchdogs is reporting a number of reports of speculation that the Mugage regime is preparing either for defeat or the mother of all rigged elections.

Whatever the truth is, we'll soon know. But increasingly it looks like the size of this wave may have been too great for even vote-rigging to turn back.

Thesis update: Do you trust your co-workers? Managers?

... as my all-consuming thesis project continues, I've been tabulating survey responses from work crews. The results have produced rather interesting data with regard to how much workers trust one another and management when it comes to priortizing safety in their jobs.

Safety or production: What's important?

The workers were asked to choose to assess the priority given to safety and production - they could say safety was more important, production, or they were roughly equal in priority:

  • Nearly 63% of workers said they priortized safety over production, 33% balanced it with productivity, and the remaining four percent prioritized productivity.

  • Just over half of them (53%) felt their co-workers prioritized safety, 13% put production first and 34% balanced the two.

  • Just over half of them (54%) felt management balanced the two interests, almost a third (29%) felt management prioritized production, and the remaining 17% believed management put safety over production.

Compliance with safe work practices

When asked how well to rate their own compliance with safe work practices as "good", "marginal" or "poor", workers again showed a higher level of confidence in themselves than others.

  • Roughly 50% of those surveyed believed they had a good level of compliance, and 46% assessed their level of compliance as marginal.

  • None of those surveyed assessed their co-workers had a good level of compliance, 83% believed they had a marginal level of compliance, and the remaining 17% believed their co-workers had a poor level of compliance.
Probably not the kind of stuff you political hacks would find interesting, but for those of you who work in "real" jobs which include hazardous environments, or have employees who work in hazardous conditions, it's certainly something to think about.

For those of y'all who don't know, my job includes HR and Safety administration, so my academic work has some very practical value for my day job.

What's at stake in Zimbabwe?

Many of us sit back and take things for granted when it comes to the freedoms we have. We trivialize our political process with intellectual cheap shots and petty personal attacks, and think we can afford to do so, because we're better than other nations.

That's why we try to stick to the high ground here in the Blogland. Just the issues - no divorce files, drug habit rumors, or any of that childish crap. We've stuck to the high ground, tried to be fair, and for the most part, so do most others ... but down in Zimbabwe, they're not so fortunate. For years, they've had rigged elections, intimidation of the opposition, and all sorts of sordid things from a government who can't offer results, so they cheat to get their way, and if they can't steal it, they'll take it by force.

Trade words for billy clubs, and you'll find that while this seems rather nasty, some of these thugs and their dirty deeds aren't so different from some people here. They're all out to steal and intimidate, to take what they can't earn, and to avoid accountability for their actions. Ethically speaking, they're about the same.

In Zimbabwe, the results of Mugabe's rule have been shocking and are well-documented, including this young victim of the destruction of that nation's economy, along with its once-prosperous agricultural system:


Shocking, isn't it? That's what's at stake in today's elections in Zimbabwe. You can find more pictures about the collapse of a nation online at http://zimbabwedemocracynow.com/toolkit/v/photographs.

In spite of the threats, the intimidation, and the probability that fraud will nullify their votes, the people of Zimbabwe are pouring out in droves today. We wish we could be there to stand with them. But we'll be sure to say a prayer for them - and thank God that while it's not perfect here, it could be worse.

Please join us in our prayers for Zimbabwe.

Metal Mark: Our fave metal blogsite

As many of you have no doubt figured out, music is part of the scene here in the Blogland. While we've got plenty of our own ideas, we like to look around to see what is new and good out there.

Our best source for what is new and great out there is Metal Mark's blog (
http://metalmark.blogspot.com).

Like myself, Mark survived the 80s at least somewhat intact, and now he's grown up, job, kids, etc. ... kind of like me. Only his music network is much better, so why don't y'all go check him out?

Fact checking in the Blogland

Here in the Blogland, we’re optimists. We believe that people can do the right thing and that campaigns should be positive, constructive, and honest. We also believe that the voters deserve better than what they’re getting and that if you don’t respect them enough to tell the truth as a candidate or an advocacy group, you have no right to be in the political process.

To help keep things on the high road, we plan to do more fact-checking whenever the opportunity arises, and encourage our readers to report any instance of misleading, deceptive and/or boneheaded campaign stunts to us.

Katon Dawson clears the air about Berkeley GOP breakfast club

One of the rumors to come out of Wade Arnette's failed coup attempt of the Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club was that somehow the state GOP leadership encouraged Arnette to take over the group.

When the Blogland caught up with Katon Dawson at the Sixth District GOP convention last Saturday, he took a moment to share with us his side of the story. We could have thanked him and let it go at that, but we are strong believers in giving people both sides of the story. Therefore, we wanted to let our readers know what was discussed, so that this rumor can finally be put to rest.

Katon said that in no way did the state party encourage or support Arnette's effort. He said that the first time they heard about the trouble was when news of Wade's stunt appeared on the Blogland. He also pointed out that it is their position that such groups are independent of the state party and the county party organizations that are part of the official South Carolina Republican Party, and as such are not subject to the authority or control of either their county or state party organizations.

In addition, he pointed out that the use of the word "Republican" in no way places an organization under the control of the official Republican Party at the local, state, or national level.

He even said that in front of others, so that sounds like the official word on the subject. As far as we're concerned, the rumors of state party involvement are untrue and Wade's coup attempt was what it was - the lashing-out by a small circle of those angry they can't control everything and everyone. From the American Legion hall in Goose Creek to the state GOP headquarters, apparently Wade Arnette has nobody willing to back him or take his side - pretty sad for a supposed county party chair.

We appreciate Dawson's time, as well as his willingness to affirm that groups like Schuster's Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club are free and independent of outside control by those who don't always like them having freedom of speech or autonomy of action.

Let's hope that Arnette will come to realize that if he wants to be a real Republican leader, he'll spend more time building bridges and less engaging in intimidation, trickery, and character assassination.

A few apologies and a little more respect would be a great way to start.

William Shatner raps Julius Caesar?

On a lighter note, we had something we wanted to share with our viewers.

Yesterday, in discussing our fact-checking of the Club for Growth's shot at Republican candidates in House District 117, we quoted from Mark Antony's address in Julius Caesar:

The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honorable men.

We wanted to share with you this video clip from the movie "Free Enterprise" where William Shatner re-created the speech as a rap performance:




Beware the Ides of March: Wheeler Tillman and that good ol’ mudslinging

It’s getting deep early in South Carolina politics as those who believe anything goes in the name of electing their candidates pull out all the stops to win. One such hare-brained effort backfired as those who hoped to oust Horry County Senator Luke Rankin actually helped secure his re-election when his challenger was so disgusted by their negative attacks that he withdrew from the race rather than be associated with mudslinging.

We’ve seen dirty campaign tricks backfire, but we’ve never seen them end a race before it even got started.

Yesterday, we touched on another race which seems headed down that same disgusting “anything goes” path, where a press release featuring loaded language in the race for House Seat 117 went a’flying, aimed squarely at the GOP primary opponents of Tim Scott:

Not to miss out on a good time (but really, our idea of a good time usually involves alcohol, women, and old Miami Vice or Reno 911 re-runs), and knowing one of the candidates in the race (Wheeler Tillman), we decided our first fact-checking target of the season would be their media release. We weren’t really surprised when they started acting proclaiming their innocence in a manner we haven’t seen since the O.J Simpson trial, calling their comments about Wheeler an “honest mistake”.

When all was said and done, they kept insisting it was a mistake, and we kept thinking we’d just been served a heapin’ helping of total bullshit. So much so that we were reminded from this part from Julius Caesar:


The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honorable men.

Yep, all honorable men. No doubt about it.

In my day job as a corporate communication and PR hack, I’ve NEVER made so many mistakes in a single press release. There’s no way that someone in my profession can screw up so bad without someone getting fired. While it's hard to understand how someone can blow it that bad, it's even harder to understand how someone could survive this without getting their proverbial tit in a wringer - unless it was sanctioned.


In any event, Wheeler sent us a response, and we felt that since we allowed them to post a response comment, that we should allow him to do the same, so here it is:

Some group in Columbia, SC has endorsed Tim Scott and are criticizing me for being a former Democrat. By implication, that Columbia group is also criticizing former Democrats Ronald Reagan, Strom Thurmond, Arthur Ravenel, John Graham Altman, and a host of others.

My first political contribution was a $25.00 donation to the Charleston County Republican Party in 1968 while serving in the Air Force in Vietnam. Since then, I have donated thousands of dollars to county and state parties.

In the 1970s, I served in the state House with Mendel Rivers, Jr, Bob Kohn and the late John Bradley. Without question these were my political allies on conservative values in the SC House and they became my very best friends. I voted so often with Republicans Bob Kohn and John Bradley that they regularly asked me to switch parties. It was 1990 when I finally took their advice.

When I left the House in 1980, I supported Republican Danny Winstead against his Democrat challenger Ira Beach. I gave Danny my voting data, lists and notes on the House District voters. That year, I also contributed to Glenn McConnell in his first campaign for the State Senate. Later, while in a law practice with Glenn, our office handled thousands of his Republican political calls, and I was glad to help with them.

When Mendel Rivers, Jr., also a former Democrat, ran in the 1994 Republican Primary for Congress, I was one of his surrogate speakers and contributed $1,000 to his campaign. Brenda, who is now my wife, also contributed $1,000 to his campaign.

In addition to all of this, I have been the Republican Executive Committeeman for my precinct for the past 16 years. If they don’t think this qualifies me as a good and loyal Republican, well-qualified to run under my party’s banner, I know many other Republicans who would strongly disagree with them. In the last day, I have heard from dozens of Republicans who have repudiated their comments and believe I am a good conservative Republican, loyal to my party and our shared conservative principles.

Perhaps they should have taken the time to meet with me, as they have with other candidates, before casting judgment.

We don’t know about you, but in our book, that statement says all that we need to hear about Wheeler Tillman’s qualifications.

If this is how the filing period is going, we’re not sure if we want to see how far downhill things are going to go between now and June 10.

Beware the ides of March.

Congrats to South Carolina's newest (and coolest) judge - Kristi Harrington


Last night, the Blogland was one of many guests at the swearing-in ceremony for Wonder Woman ... uh ... we meant to say Ninth Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington.

When the baliff walked in and called "all rise for the Honorable Judge Kristi Harrington", we've never seen a courtroom audience jump to their feet so quickly.

Sworn in by her predecessor, Judge Danny Pieper of the Court of Appeals, she was flanked by her son Grayson. Thanking a large cast of supporters and associates, including court staff, the staff of the Berkeley Solicitor's office, legislative supporters, leaders of the state Federation of Republican Women, local politicos ... and even yours truly ... the remarks were brief, humble, and gracious.

We've been around state politics for a while, but we don't see such a diverse gathering of supporters for such an occasion, nor do we see such a high level of respect and admiration shown for the person in question. That should say a lot about her.

Harrington's election stands out as one of the most "outside" judicial races in South Carolina history due to the volume of discussion prompted by the state's new media outlets. As our readers know, a lot of that discussion took place here, or was prompted by the discussion that took place in the Blogland.

Clearly Judge Harrington has a unique following among the state's new media types. While some of their discussion of her candidacy is somewhat light-hearted, the respectful undertones are obvious. As to how this level of exposure will define her tenure on the bench, or affect the state's judiciary as a whole, only time will tell.

It is our hope that other judges and judicial candidates will follow her lead in making the system a little more transparent (and in doing so, we believe a little more accountable) through new media outlets such as the Blogland. Our door is always open to them, and as always, we promise them a fair and respectful opportunity to talk with us and our readers. Other blogs and news sites offer them much the same kind of reception - when they're ready for that discussion to take place.

We believe this isn't the last chapter in her career of public service, and we look forward to keeping up with her ... if indeed it is possible to keep up with someone so high energy.

For her friendship, courtesy, and cooperation in opening up a part of state government which is usually kept out of the public eye, Judge Harrington has our appreciation and our respect - we're proud to call her "Your Honor".

For her drive, commitment, and willingness to persevere as a person, an attorney, an underdog judicial candidate and now as a judge, she has our admiration, as well as our prayers and best wishes for a successful career on the bench.

Good luck, Your Honor.

Fact-checking Club for Growth & House 117: Are they lying or just uninformed?

You can tell the 2008 primary season is starting out red-hot, and it looks like the lies and distortions are already starting.

This spring, the first entity we call out for flat-out misrepresenting the facts is the Club for Growth in their effort to support their endorsee, Tim Scott, in the race to fill the vacant House 117 seat in the Goose Creek area.

The target of their misrepresentations is Tim's fellow GOP candidate Wheeler Tillman, falsely criticized in a media release which they put out yesterday:

Tim’s opponents for the open seat, Wheeler Tillman and Bill Crosby, both present causes for concern. Tillman served for four years in the House during the 70’s as a Democrat, ran again for public office as a Democrat in the 1980’s and only switched parties earlier this decade.

Let's talk about the good, bad, and ugly behind this press release ...

HALF-TRUTH: Wheeler Tillman served in the House for six years in the 1970s.
OUTRIGHT LIE: Wheeler Tillman switched to the GOP in the early 1990s, and has been involved in the Republican Party since then.
UNSUPPORTED CLAIM: We're not sure what "present causes for concern" could possibly mean, but given Tillman's record, it seems he could be as much a fiscal conservative as Tim Scott. Tillman ran against Dantzler on a fiscally-conservative platform in 2002 in the GOP primary, and when a member of the House, sponsored legislation that ended the sales tax on prescription medicine.

As we know a lot of these groups are free-lancing this year, we won't pin this on Tim, but we certainly hope he'll make it clear that such a statement is false, misinformed, and regrettable.

We're disappointed that the Club for Growth would attempt to present such poorly-researched claims so early in the cycle. We hope this shoddy attempt at selective truth-telling will be retracted and they'll do a better job in the future.

British election predictor - pretty neat stuff!

Great Britain, where party influence upon voters is stronger than here in the US, has been able to fine tune the process of predicting the outcome of parliamentary elections.

Right now, polls are pointing to a major slump in support for the Labour Party, after ten years of rule, and a potential switch of control to the Conservative Party.

An interesting effect is how the overall polling lead will have much to do with how much a district will sway from one way to the other. For example, nine point shift in voter support nationwide would result in about the same percentage of voters switching their electoral allegiances in each constituency, or district. So a seat that might have gone for Labor by a four point majority in the last election may be picked up by the 2nd place party in that district by about the same margin (usually Conservatives, but sometimes Liberal Democrats or the Welsh or Scottish local parties).

Projections are that, should elections be called in the near future, the sixty-something seat majority for the Labourites might be slashed drastically or lost to the Conservatives, who would lead with either a narrow majority or be the largest party in a minority government.

This neat tool
gives you the means to plug in polling data or test findings from recently-published polling. Check it out.

Berkeley GOP leadership short on ... leadership?

On Saturday, when the Blogland went to Orangeburg to visit the 6th District Republican convention, we couldn't help but notice the glaring emptiness that was the section of seating for Berkeley County delegates.

Nancy Corbin eventually showed up, but nobody else did, leaving Berkeley County with virtually no voice at the convention. Which helps to explain why the 6th District officers, national convention delegates and alternate lists include names from almost every county in the 6th District ... except Berkeley County.

It's like they say - when you snooze, you lose.

With their current chairman, Wade Arnette, more interested in hijacking non-affiliated groups, threatening newspapers with libel suits, and making insulting and false accusations against his critics, than trying to get people involved in the Republican Party, we're not surprised at such poor turnout.

The appointment of the new First Vice-Chairman, Michelle Combs, whose most recent political leadership experience seems to have consisted of helping her jihadist mother pack the national Christian Coalition offices when they moved from Washington, D.C. to North Charleston, didn't seem to help things either.

Maybe they were busy helping their buddy Drew McKissick work on his new guide for Ethics in Politics?

We're not sure ... but what we are pretty sure that Wade's response to these questions will be to call more people to say bad things about us, and try to get us investigated (again). Perhaps if persecuting his enemies is so important, he should resign his chairmanship so he'll have more free time for his petty and vindictive witch hunts.

CORRECTION: Nancy reported that she arrived early. As she's someone we trust, we believe her. It's just too bad that other Berkeley Republicans didn't come along with her.

Blogland forces seize 6th District GOP in morning coup

With little warning, forces from the Blogland took virtually total control of the Sixth Congressional District’s Republican Party, seizing a number of strategic offices throughout the organization. Staggered by a barrage of material, stunned observers could do little but watch the events unfold.

Mike Reino, the author of the SC 6 blog and regular Blogland commentator from Florence, was elected Vice-Chairman without opposition, while Moye Graham, another Blogland ally from Clarendon County, was elected Secretary/Treasurer, as well as to one of the three national delegate slots. The other two national delegate slots went to Lt. Governor Andre Bauer and Dr. Joe Flowers.

According to Earl Capps, who planned the Blogland’s morning attack, “things couldn’t have gone better. Our people are in key positions throughout the party and we have three delegates going to the national convention who will all do their part to see to it that John McCain is elected President.”

Concerns that Bauer and Flowers weren’t part of the Blogland plot were dismissed by Joe Schmoe, a political analyst who escaped during the final armored assault: “The Blogland endorsed both of these guys in the last election. You can’t tell me there’s not a connection.”

Having completed their takeover, reports circulated that another offensive would be made to attempt to seat Earl Capps in the Treasurer’s office, which he had attempted last fall. However, these rumors were dismissed by Blogland officials on the basis that “he went to South Carolina schools, therefore he can’t count.”

Cultivation Theory and Political TV advertising

If you're really, really bored on Friday, April 4, come on down to Savannah, where I'll be presenting on a panel at the Southern States Communication Association's annual conference, discussing my research into cultivation theory:

ANALYZING THE POLITICAL COMMUNICATION PROCESS
10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m., Percival Room

“News Media Bias: A Review of Sources and Type”
Robert E. Denton, Jr., Virginia Tech

“Cultivation Effects of Political Television Advertising in Influencing and Persuading Voters”
W. Earl Capps, College of Charleston,
Douglas A. Ferguson, College of Charleston

“An Analysis of Politeness Theory: Instances in Political Debates”
Lance Latham, Creshema Murray, University of Alabama
Carly Timmons-McKenzie, University of Alabama

“Determining Dialogic Spirit and Dialogic Practice: A Communication Perspective on Symbolic Non-violent Action”
Sarah T. McGhee, University of South Florida

RESPONDENT: BARRY P. SMITH, MISSISSIPPI UNIVERSITY FOR WOMEN

"Operation Chaos" taking toll on Democratic Prez race?

In the past, all you needed to fight the forces of Kaos were Agents 86 and 99. One call on the shoe phone, and your problems would be solved by the end of the hour.

This time, the forces of Chaos are on the loose, and the Agents 86 (Hillary Clinton) and 99 (Barack Obama) seem hard-pressed to stop their latest conspiracy - to help the Democrats nominate the most-vulnerable candidate for President.

Reportedly a growing wave of GOP crossover voting in Democratic Presidential primaries is being egged on by conservative talk show hosts hoping to see the weakest Democrat win the nomination. This effort has jokingly been dubbed "Operation Chaos" by Rush Limbaugh:

As if Democrats didn't have enough problems deciding upon their presidential nominee this year, now they must contend with the possibility that Republicans are deliberately crossing party lines to prolong the bitterly contested race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In recent weeks, conservative talk radio stars Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham have urged loyal listeners to vote for the much-despised Clinton in open Democratic primaries so as to prevent Obama from sealing the nomination, and there are some indications that their calls have already been heeded in states like Texas and Mississippi.

According to this story on the Time website...

The first clue that Republicans might be making this kind of mischief came in the crucial Texas primary on March 4, a contest that most observers claimed Clinton had to win - along with Ohio - to keep alive her hopes for the nomination. Dave Mann, a political writer for the progressive Texas Observer, was driving to Fort Worth on that primary day when he heard various callers to the Laura Ingraham radio show claiming they had followed her and Limbaugh's call. One even admitted he would now have to go to confession and repent his sins.

In both Ohio and Texas, Republicans and independents were a higher percentage of the votes than in other states ... in Texas and Ohio the two Democrats split the Republican/independent vote. "The Hillary Republicans cost Obama Texas," Mann said. The Mississippi results a week later confirmed the trend. "There was a complete reversal," Mann said, and Obama was now losing Republicans and independents two to one to Clinton.


We're not sure how much of an impact these crossover efforts are having, but if Barack Obama's post-Wright polling plunge continues, a lot of Republicans might have to start switching their support from Clinton to Obama. If these efforts are real and widespread, today's Republicans might make Pennsylvania as costly and bloody a fight for today's Democrats as a past generation of Republicans made it for Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy.

In any event, it's an interesting theory to mull over. At least if you're a Republican. If you're a Democrat, the ramifications may not be very funny at all.

Conspiracy or not a conspiracy? That is the question that we present to you, our Blogland readers this evening ... so sound off and let us know what YOU think.

Barack Obama: A question of candor, not of race

It’s no secret that my first wife was black. From that, I’ve become keenly aware of issues related to race. I’ve become hyper-sensitive to people’s attitudes regarding race, both through what they say and how they behave. But I’ve also seen how much progress we’ve made on those issues.

For some time, I’ve picked up on the coded language used by the Barack Obama campaign that has sought to drag the issue of race back into our political discourse, to use it as a tool to divide, with the hopes of conquering. The race-baiting that is very much a part of the tactics and messages of the Obama campaign hit me when an Obama supporter challenged me with “I know your Republican friends can’t stand the idea of a black President”.

I don’t know what shocked me more: the way she casually wielded the lie that Republicans are racists, or her poor attempt to insinuate that I would, as the parent of a daughter whose mother is black, swallow my pride and condescend to keep company with bigots who would hate my daughter.

The feeling was the same sort of disgusted and sickened feeling as I’ve felt when someone would ask me “how could you go to bed with one of those …” after seeing my oldest daughter or learning that my first wife’s ancestors came from Africa.

As shocking as that statement was, it wasn’t the last time I’ve heard it from an Obama supporter. Others have heard it too. That’s scary.

When I hear people making comments which are, in Senator Obama’s words, “divisive, wrong, and distorted”, I distance myself from them and anything they’re involved with – and quickly. I do this out of respect for my daughter, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, and for myself. I do this because if we want to root out intolerance in our society, we can have no tolerance for those who express hate and divisiveness.

This week, we’ve heard much about Barack Obama’s pastor – a man we’ve come to know as Reverend Wright. We’ve become all too familiar with the hatred, the anger, and the divisiveness that he embraces and shares with those who look to him for moral and spiritual guidance. We’ve also become aware that Barack Obama can and will tolerate and respect such points of view.

If my pastor said those sorts of things, you can bet I’d walk out, and not come back. Most of you, regardless of color, creed and political affiliation, would do the same.

But not Barack Obama.

Instead of issuing an explanation, or better yet an apology for tolerating such views, we are given a speech about the problem of racism in America. In this speech, Obama’s rhetorical tactics are the same as always – create a problem, drive a wedge, stir up animosities, and then proclaim that only his snake oil can cure what ails us – while denying the very real problems that he has failed to address. If we are willing to buy into his view of a society that is divided into rich and poor, black and white, elite and all the rest – views which are espoused by both Obama and the good Reverend Wright – only then does Obama’s campaign rhetoric make sense.

But if we look beyond the soaring words and see his blatant record of partisanship in the Senate, his shallow political resume, and yes, who he keeps close company with, we are presented with many unanswered questions about who Barack Obama really is, and what he really has to offer.

That we should be left with so many crucial questions and so few answers about someone so close to the Presidency should be troubling.

Seeing Obama refuse to disown the beliefs expressed by his pastor, while embracing the man who expressed them and the church which serves as a platform for such divisive language, suggests either a lack of honesty and candor, or worse yet, a lack of courage.

Whether you find him dishonest or cowardly in how he has handled Reverend Wright, such a man is not fit to be President of the United States.

Don't tell me words don't matter

NHale Video has an interesting take on Barack Obama, in his words and those of his wife and pastor. We think this video pretty much speaks for itself, so we're just going to present it without additional commentary.





Well ... ok ... dammit. Ever since we heard Obama's pastor spit out the "ridin' dirty" remark, the song "Dirty Weapons" by the Killer Dwarves has been stuck in our freakin' heads:





Aahhhhhh ... much better now.

The thugs of Tibet

Two generations ago, China's revolutionary goons stormed into Tibet and took it over, ironically renaming it an "autonomous region". Back in 1989, Chinese thugs swarmed into Tianenmen Square to crush democratic protests.

With the Beijing Olympics soon to begin in their nation, the Chinese government is trying to put on a kinder, gentler facade for the world to see, hoping the world will forget their past record. But those pesky troublemakers in Tibet had to rise up and start protesting. When pushed by the government, who declared a "People's War" against the protestors, they started rioting.

We support restoring independence to Tibet, so of course, we support those standing up to the government thugs who've taken over their nation.

Fight the power. We're with you all the way.

Tornadoes in the Lowcountry

Taking an evening off with the little one to chase BBQ, we ended up chasing something very different - tornadoes.

After getting BBQ in Moncks Corner and waiting the storms out, we decided to head back towards Goose Creek down the old Highway 52. The weather news broadcasts had warned that the worst of the storm line had just moved across Berkeley County, and they were right.

As we reached the railroad overpass in the Strawberry area, several trees were in the road. Donning reflective safety gear and putting on flashers and strobes, I left the little one in the car as I worked to get most of the trees out of the road, and wrapped the one I couldn't in bright yellow Caution tape so it would stand out better for oncoming traffic.

While standing there on the embankment, it was easy to see the effects of the tornado which had crossed through the Strawberry trailer park. Several trailers were clearly destroyed, and emergency vehicles were scattered throughout the park.

While pulling down the trees, county Coroner Glenn Rhoad passed through, already on the scene to help if needed. A quick call to Senator Paul Campbell to apprise him of what we'd seen was met with promises to help out however he could.

These two were definitely Johnnies-on-the-Spot for the people of Berkeley County, and so were a lot of rescue and emergency personnel. Such people were the silver lining to tonight's dark clouds, and they deserve the thanks of the people of Berkeley County.

Moye Graham for 6th District GOP delegate

Those of you who are planning to attend the upcoming 6th Congressional District GOP convention have something important to do: Vote for Moye Graham.

Moye is running for the National Convention Delegate seat from the 6th District, and we’re proud to support him.

Moye is a Blogland favorite. In his traveling work assignments, we can always count on him to visit the Blogland and add his thoughts and wits to the latest postings, no matter what continent he may be on.

He’s a Pee Dee native from Greeleyville in Williamsburg County, and he’s presently the 1st Vice-Chairman of the Clarendon County GOP. Moye has been a hard-core GOP trooper in a region where there are few Republicans, and even fewer GOP victories. But win or lose, Moye is the kind of trooper who will, come hell or high water, be there to fight the good fight. All the way down to putting up signs and walking precincts.

This is a guy you can always count on. In choosing a delegate, such reliability and loyalty is indispensible.

“I’m not in it for me,” he told us. “It’s often a cliché, but I mean it. I want to make sure we put our best possible foot forward this year and lay a foundation for my grandchildren.”

The Blogland is only as good as our audience, and Moye is one of the most outstanding members of that audience. In fact, we consider him, like all of our fans, family. If you enjoy reading what you see here, we recommend you “shop our advertisers”, so to speak.

Your vote for Moye Graham at the 6th District GOP convention is a great way to do it.

What would YOU do with $4300?

While we may not always know who the Governor of New York was sleeping with, we're willing to bet that after spending $4300 on a female other than his wife, he's probably sleeping in the doghouse these days.

We in the Blogland have to ask ourselves a couple of questions, such as ... "was it worth it?" ... and "I know what I can probably get for $50 or $100, but wow, what does four THOUSAND dollars get me?!?".

Since it's a good enough question for us to ponder, we figure it might be a good one to share with our readers. So we're going to ask our readers to put themselves in Elliot Spitzer's place (ok, well ... but not in his bed, even if he's paying those who get in it rather well) ... and answer today's Blogland Reader Quiz:

"What would YOU do

with $4,300?"


... because we'd rather not want to know what you'd do FOR the money!



"What you do for money honey" - AC/DC

My last exam


Today (Wednesday) is my final exam of graduate school - a two-hour oral comprehensive exam, with just me and three professors. No study guide, no review notes ... nothing but me, my scrambled wits and my big mouth.

Y'all wish me luck and say a prayer for me.

Ten years and four months (Re-elect Larry Grooms)

In the fall of 1997, we first met Larry Grooms when we were shuttling back and forth to Walterboro, spending several weeks to help him campaign in a special election against then-incumbent Democrat Dewitt Williams.

In a district that had a 42% black population, Larry proved everyone wrong when he toppled Williams.

Three years later, it was a hell of a ride when he decided to run for re-election in a Democratic district. The Senate, which had a two-vote Democratic majority, was headed for a GOP takeover, with Danny Verdin polling ahead to take a Democratic seat in Laurens County. That is if Larry could hold on.


By 10 p.m on Election Night, all but Larry’s seat had been called, and we were waiting. It was almost 2 am when the final votes were in, and Larry had won by 800 votes. Combined with GOP Lt. Governor Bob Peeler, six generations of Democratic rule was over.

Again, in the toughest of districts, Larry walked away tired, bruised, in debt in the worst way, but still a winner. Even more importantly – the man who put the GOP in charge in the Senate. Four years later, when Bush got 50% in Larry’s district, he got 64%. He later became Chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee.

Ten years and four months later, Larry Grooms has done quite well in the Senate.

In talking with him the other day, he seemed ready for a fight:

“I’ve got the best district ever, with ten or more new subdivisions since my last election. For the first time ever, I’ve got a positive balance in my campaign account, with over a $100,000 on hand.”

When Larry’s opponents had all the advantages, they couldn’t beat him. Now, it's hard to imagine how they can beat him.

Ten years and four months later, he’s still our best friend in the Senate. We hope his voters look back on how far he’s come, as well as how much he’s accomplished, and give him a well-deserved fourth term in office.

He’s earned it.

Inside Interview: Nikki Haley

With grad school in its final six weeks, and the big oral comprehensive exam coming up on Wednesday, it's probably a good idea to step back a bit and focus on trying to get graduated.

Today's contribution to the Blogland is our Inside Interview with Lexington County State Rep. Nikki Haley.

Her political career got started in the most unusual of ways when she toppled former Rep. Larry Koon, who was then the longest-serving member of the State House with over thirty years' service. Nowadays, she is considered by many to be a rising star and one of the more outspoken conservatives in the House, where she is wrapping up her second term.

According to her bio on her website:

Born in Bamberg, S.C., Nikki graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. degree in accounting. She currently serves as Chief Financial Officer for her family’s clothing company, Exotica International, Inc. Nikki also currently serves on the board of directors for the Lexington Medical Foundation, Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church Medmission, and the Lexington County Meth Taskforce. She is a member of the Lexington County Chamber of Commerce, Lexington Rotary Club, National Association of Women Business Owners, West Metro Republican Women, Lexington County Republican Party and the NRA.

Not only that, but she's also a regular Blogland reader, which means she's pretty cool in our book.

Recently, she decided to sit down and take a few questions from us ... so let's see what she had to say for herself ...


Q - What have been your biggest accomplishments as a legislator?

1. My hope is that I have given a stronger voice to small businesses and working people across this state. I believe in the value of a dollar and consistently work to fight against wasteful spending in Columbia. We should stretch tax-dollars as much as we can. We live by a budget in our home, and it’s time we started doing the same in the State House. I have been a consistent voice on that front for the past three years.

2. Small business owners are unsung heroes in this state that we should appreciate for all that they contribute to our economy. I worked towards true workers comp reform in this state last year to level the playing field by allowing for more accountability and fairness in the system. The workers comp reform we passed lifts an unfair burden from small business owners and helps them create new jobs for our families.

3. We heard the cries from the coast as we watched families losing their homes due to the rising costs of insurance. I worked on coastal insurance reform. We were able to maintain a healthy market while allowing relief to coastal residents to protect their homes and their wallets.

I continue to believe those three issues alone helped improve the quality of life for residents across the state, and I was proud to participate on those fronts.

Q - Your first race was considered a long-shot against a long-time incumbent, but you prevailed anyway. To what would you attribute your win? What did you learn from that race?

That race will always serve as a reminder to me of the goodness of people. The residents of District 87 respected and appreciated the service of the incumbent who had been in office for thirty years; however they allowed me the opportunity to talk about what I would bring to the table that would be different. It was a long and hard race.

More than anything it taught me that even when races go negative, people are smart enough to see through that. My promise to the people of District 87 was that the work ethic that they saw from me in the 2004 race would be the same that I would show if given the opportunity to represent them at the Statehouse. I have worked to keep that promise, and hope that I have made them proud.

Q - Which issues are priorities for you and/or your District?

Priorities in spending and tax relief will always be important to me. Road funding is becoming more crucial given that our roads and bridges are among the worst in the country. Growing districts like mine struggle with traffic needs and maintaining the growth of the area without sacrificing quality of life.

Small business health care reform is also important. We need to work harder to allow business owners to offer employee benefits so that they can maintain their competitiveness with larger corporations.

Education reform is also important so that all children across this state have the same opportunities as the children who live in Lexington District 1.

Q - What do you see as issues which aren’t being addressed, but should be?

I don't think that enough emphasis is being put on our tax structure in this state. It has been piece-mealed for years and we are starting to pay the price. Tax reform on all levels will continue to be an issue I care about and work on. Small business issues are key to the economic strength of South Carolina. Whether it is allowing them to be competitive in benefits, to workers comp reform, to tax relief I think that government continues to take for granted small businesses that work so hard to be productive and contribute to our state's economy.

Q - Do you have any thoughts about bloggers and other “new media” outlets?

I think that bloggers have become an interesting dynamic in the world of politics. They have the ability to be unfiltered in a way that the mainstream media can't. Dialogue in a way that allows people to get involved and express themselves is a great way to encourage people to realize their voice as it pertains to government. I think the most valuable part of the blogosphere is the fact that they are showing people the power of their voice and how they can influence those that represent them in government.

Q - What are your plans for 2008?

My hope each year is to be a better person. I want to be a better wife, mom, daughter, friend, business person and legislator. I try to learn from my mistakes and make each year better than the one before it. I have a need to feel that I am contributing to the quality of life of those around me in some way. My goal continues to be to let the people of South Carolina know that I am here for them and that hopefully I can make their lives a little better for it through my service.

Q - As you know, music is a big part of what we talk about in the Blogland. What’s your favorite album and/or artist?

My musical tastes are all across the board. Music is an outlet for me so I am always listening to something different. Currently in my disc changer I have cds by John Mayer, the Killers, Snow Patrol, Hinder, Plain White T's and Lenny Kravitz. I love the 80s and will listen to an 80s station every chance I get. I can't say that I have a favorite at the moment. My music reflects my mood, so often it depends on the day!

... wonder what we might get on a bad day? Black Sabbath?

Seriously folks, this is a great interview and we appreciate Nikki taking the time to share it with us.

Going to Rock Hill?


If you're going to Rock Hill or York from Columbia, you probably use State Route 901 after exiting from Interstate 77. If so, look for U.S. Group to begin work on it's first York County project: the widening of 901 from Interstate 77 to Heckle Boulevard.

This project, funded by York County's Pennies for Progress program, will complete a long-overdue full four-lane southern bypass around Rock Hill, allowing travelers heading to York and points west of Rock Hill without having to fight city traffic or two-lane roads.

If you'd like to keep up with this project's progress ... yep, I'm running the project website at www.901Construction.com.

February 2008: The Month in Review

Here in the Blogland, February 2008 will be remembered as the month we had order in the courtroom and feudin' over breakfast.

We congratulated our state's newest judges, including three who were endorsed by the Blogland, and then stood by fellow Republicans in Berkeley County who resisted an attempt by that county's Party chair to take the club over and muzzle his critics.

The Chairman in question later hinted at a libel lawsuit, complaining that the Blogland was "putting this out all over the state", once he found we were pumping out steady updates on the situation. But that's the amazing thing about new media - it can reach far and wide ... and fast too.

We'll be waiting to hear from his attorneys.

On February 5th, we celebrated turning 37 (and worked an 11 hour day), but for the Presidential candidates, it was Stupor Tuesday. John McCain got the best present anyone could have asked for that day - all but wrapping up his bid for the GOP Presidential nomination. All Obama and Hillary got to open that day was cans of whoop-ass - and they've been opening them up on each other ever since.

With Lent approaching, we talked a little religion and told the story of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and our priest decided to speak up as well. But to be balanced, we had to give an old Rush album a plug as well.

As the month came to a close, it was off to Washington, D.C. for the annual National Association of Workforce Boards conference. We met Newt Gingrich there, and did a little bit of sightseeing as well.

State Representative Phil Shoopman decided to run for the Senate and Rep. Carl Gullick was our first endorsee of the 2008 election cycle.

All in all, it was a busy month. In fact, it was our busiest, as the first month with 40 postings. I guess we had a lot to say, but no matter what - if y'all weren't out there making the news, we wouldn't be here talking about it.

But now, let's talk about the most important people in the Blogland: OUR READERS.

Which postings got you talking the most?
1) Chicago '68 or Goose Creek '08?
2) Arnette's search for "Mo Money" finds just pocket change
3) Just desserts for the "Mount Pleasant Ten"
4) Berkeley GOP chair a sore loser?
5) Another attempt to hijack breakfast club?
6) Obama Comedown Syndrome
7) RSVP: Earl's Graduation Party & Roast
8) It's my birthday
9) Berkeley coup attempt fails
10) Congrats to our newest state judges

Which postings did you read the most?
1) We deliver the shocking truth about Carl Gullick
2) Congrats to our newest state judges
3) Just desserts for the "Mount Pleasant Ten"
4) Berkeley coup attempt fails
5) Chicago '68 or Goose Creek '08?
6) Parole Alert: Brian Nelson
7) Sometimes they don't get away with it
8) Arnette's search for "Mo Money" finds just pocket change
9)
It's my birthday
10) Stupor Tuesday is over

... another interesting month gone by. Let's see how much fun March is gonna be around here!

Stupor Tuesday 2: Homey don't play that

The first Stupor Tuesday came and went. What did we get? A prolonged Democratic Presidential race.

A month later comes Stupor Tuesday 2 ... and we don't have a Democratic nominee. Once again, Clinton pulled a last-minute reversal and stalled Obama's momentum, giving us yet another continuance on the Democratic race.

That's what happened last night, when Clinton finally found her footing, turned to fight and locked her claws into Obama's mushy, substance-free candidacy, winning Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas, leaving the first-term Senator with just one insignificant win in just the bluest-of-the-blue state of Vermont.


Obama's latest setbacks have much to do with the fact that Hillary and the news media finally realized that Obama's candidacy, chock full of hype and bumper-sticker feel-good quotes that had hidden his lack of a political record, was long overdue for some critical examination. So they decided to ask some tough questions, and in doing so, caught Obama's campaign off-guard in the last few days before the primaries, just as it was making critical headway in both Ohio and Texas.

In addition to polling which had shown that Obama's momentum had stalled in the final week, exit polling of Ohio voters has indicated that late-deciders, those who make up their minds in the closing days of a race, broke for Clinton with a 20 point lead, while those who had been decided for a week or more only gave her a 10 point lead.

While Clinton's eleventh-hour stand allowed her to live to fight another day, we've seen these last minute reversals before, both in New Hampshire and in the mixed showings of Stupor Tuesday 1. In neither situation did her campaign take advantage of those moments to reverse the momentum of the overall race. So far, we've seen nothing to suggest that what happened last night was any different.

The results from her wins on Stupor Tuesday 2, not counting the outcome of the Texas caucuses, gave Clinton a net gain of about 36 delegates, making Obama's razor-thin lead of several dozen delegates even smaller.

With Indiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania left as the only sizable Democratic primaries, it is hard to see how either Clinton or Obama can win the overwhelming share of the remaining delegates needed to win a majority of delegates. Therefore, the race may well continue to devolve into an expensive, bloody, and divisive slugfest that may not be settled until the Democratic convention ... or until the last lawsuit over Florida and Michigan delegates is settled. Whichever comes last.

The lesson to be learned from Stupor Tuesday 2 is this: There are still some voters who won't be fooled with some slick song-and-dance routines ... just like our friend Homey the Clown. Homey don't play that, and on Stupor Tuesday 2, neither did a lot of Democratic voters in Ohio, Rhode Island, and Texas.



Which brings us to today's question: "Is Michelle Obama still proud of her country?" ... or will she not love us any more after her husband got his tail kicked?

Conflicts of interest?

Recently, we've seen some discussion about bloggers who cross their work with their blogging.

Rest assured, it's not the first time some blogger has accused another of mixing blogging as a form of news media with blogging as a form of paid advertising. Inevitably, such situations risk creating the appearance of conflicts of interest ... but even worse, they confuse the heck out of people, making them wonder who is backing who, who is paying who, and what is the real agenda of a given blogsite.

All we want to know about Columbia is who will pick up our bar tab when we're in town?

Seriously, folks ... it's one thing to have an opinion, support a candidate or an issue and use your blogsite to express that support. It's another to use your blog as paid advertising for candidates and issues. But either way, it's a free country, and we figure most people are smart enough to take what they read with a grain of salt.

Either way, as long as people know where the bottom line is, there's no harm done.


To help cut down on potential conflicts, we made it an early point to avoid discussion of SCDOT-related issues. Why? Because our employer is a construction general contractor who does a lot of business with the state. We could share our opinions about issues related to the SCDOT, or even local sales tax referenda over county-funded road programs, but we're pretty sure what we said would come across as biased and insincere.

In the case of issues such as requiring that bituminous curbing be used under guardrails on elevated shoulders or the benefits of using cement stabilization with full-depth reclamation of rural dirt roads ... such discussion would come across as biased, insincere ... as well as really darned boring.

We understand that some political bloggers also work in the political realm for a living, and as such, may have a vested interest in speaking out in favor of issues and candidates. While we disagree with those who believe their employment disqualifies them from being able to speak (and blog), we do believe that it's fair that you know who we are and where we're coming from.

This should go for those who work in politics and government, as well as those (like the Blogland) who are private citizens who enjoy sounding off about those subjects.

Remembering #161253

Number 161253 was the number given to Pincus Kolender when he was in Auschwitz. It was the number he carried with him for the rest of his life, tattooed on his arm.

Tomorrow, he will be buried with that number. His funeral will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. (Sunday) in Brith Sholom Beth Israel's Maryville cemetery.

When World War II came to Poland, Pincus Kolender was a teenager. He watched his mother shot by German soliders and survived captivity in Auschwitz. When the war ended, his entire family - parents and siblings - were dead, victims of Nazi atrocities.

Having escaped while en route to another death camp, he escaped and was liberated by American soldiers. Five years later, as an American citizen, he was in uniform as a solider serving in the United States Army.

While many survivors were content to put the past behind and attempt to resume some degree of normalcy, Kolender spoke about his experiences whenever he could around the Lowcountry.

Thanks to Pincus Kolender, thousands bore personal witness to the reality of the Holocaust. The light of his life, which he shared with us, shone far brighter than the darkness of the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

We are forever grateful that he had the courage to bear witness of what he endured, to remind us of the evil that men can do. Let us hope that these lessons are not forgotten.

Witherspoon, 9th Circuit Solicitor candidates visit Berkeley GOP breakfast club

Today's meeting of the Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club was far more quiet than last month's meeting.

In spite of reports that Berkeley GOP Chairman Wade Arnette might come to apologize for his attempted takeover, as well as false allegations of financial mishandling by the breakfast club's chair, Arnette did not show up at the meeting. Other Arnette close allies who had been breakfast club regulars, including Wayland Moody, Bill Fennell and Bob Ashby, were not at the meeting.

Even without their presence, the turnout was one of the group's largest in years, with over 100 attendees turning out for a heapin' helping of grits, eggs, and political rhetoric.

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Buddy Witherspoon addressed the audience, calling the incumbent Republican Senator "too liberal for South Carolina".

Republican Solicitor candidates
Blair Jennings and Scarlett Wilson addressed the audience. Jennings discussed the record of the Berkeley County Solicitor's Office, where he reduced the backlog of cases to much lower than Charleston County, which Wilson managed before being appointed Solicitor by Governor Sanford.

Many of their answers to other questions produced little tension and considerable agreement between the candidates, including the handling of the "Mount Pleasant Ten" and the recent firing of an assistant solicitor accused with waving a gun at a motorists.

There was brief discussion from the three GOP candidates running for House District 117, being vacated by Rep. Thomas Dantzler - Bill Crosby, Tim Scott, and Wheeler Tillman, as well as long-time GOP activist Zonda Powell, who announced her candidacy for the Berkeley County School Board.