Nettie Britts update

For much of the last week, a lot of our readers have been focused on the Sanford mess, which has made it difficult to make much headway with organizing an event. But we're back on track with the first progress update on the event planning.

At last report, she's making progress towards recovery, but it's going to be a long road for her. A show of support, as well as a successful fundraiser, can help keep her and her family focused on the important work ahead, knowing that they're not alone and have the support of a lot of people who care.

An initial round of calls and emails got positive responses from a number of statewide candidates, GOP leaders and concerned citizens. From that, we've got tentative offers from three bands interested in performing, and a couple of leads on locations, but nothing confirmed as of yet - which is where we need the help of the Blogland readers.

If you know a location in the Midlands with ample parking, a stage and sound system, and is set up for such an event, please inquire with the owners to see if they would be willing to host a concert benefit. If they're willing to consider host the event, even if it requires a little money up front, we may be willing to discuss this with them. While ideal locations would include downtown or a waterfront location, we're willing to consider anything.

We'll also need lots of hands to help work such an event, and door prizes for a raffle would be appreciated as well.

Please email me at if you have any location leads or want to be kept in the loop on this event.

Mudslinging starts early in the Lt. Gov race

With almost a full year to go before the GOP primary, the race for Lieutenant Governor saw it's first round of mudslinging. A recent petty shot tossed out by the Bill Connor campaign makes this blogger wonder what is to come next.

A couple of weeks ago, a Connor staffer attempted to convince me that I needed to do a story on the fact that two candidates for Lt. Governor had not filed campaign disclosures (Ken Ard and Ralph Norman). While he was trying to convince me I should diss them for not getting their disclosures in, convincing me I should be a "campaign finance watchdog", he forgot a some disclosure of his own when he didn't mention who he was working for, but since I knew who he was working for, his motives weren't difficult to figure out.

I wasn't really bothered by the lack of disclosure. Since it's so early in the campaign, the candidates have spent little money. I doubted that they're hiding a whole lot at this stage in the game.

However, I was trying to figure out what he was doing calling me at my office. NOBODY calls me at my work, nor have I invited anyone to call me there, and I certainly don't need - or want - to drag politics into my workplace.

When I recently asked the candidate about this, he didn't seem concerned that his campaign took the first negative shot of the campaign, nor that they tried to play me for a fool. In fact, he didn't seem to understand why I would have a problem with what was done.

Hopefully, this isn't a sign of things to come in the race for Lieutenant Governor, but if the mud is already being thrown a year out over things this petty, who knows what's next?

Blame it on the mystery car

When Charleston City Council member Deb Morinelli runs off the road and gets charged with DUI - after leaving an AA meeting - it's not her drinking that was to blame.

While some blame such incidents on deer jumping out in front of them, she'd have us believe all would have been fine with her drinking and driving, if it wasn't for some unknown second car that caused the wreck ... and conveniently left the scene. According to Schuyler Kropf at the Post and Courier:

Morinelli, 54, was released from the county jail on a personal recognizance bond Saturday. The two-term councilwoman, who represents parts of the city's West Ashley suburbs, was charged following a single-vehicle traffic accident Friday afternoon on S.C. Highway 61, according to a report. No one was injured.

At 1:30 p.m., the vehicle she was driving left the road and ran into a ditch. Police arrived to find her seated on the ground, the incident report states. She "kept falling over on her back," the report states.

When asked by police if she'd been drinking, she answered: "I had two bottles of wine."

More wine was found in the car, according to the report. On Saturday during a brief phone conversation with The Post and Courier, Morinelli described them as minibottles.

Morinelli said Saturday a car in the middle of the two-lane road caused the wreck. She said she didn't want the story "blown out of proportion."

Driving while falling down drunk, but it was really someone else's fault. Sounds like a slightly more pathetic version of OJ Simpson's "real killer".

Strangely enough, Mayor Joe Riley, who was all over former Council member Kwadjo Campbell's illegal conduct, thinks she's a "great member of City Council" who has "obviously earned the chance to take some time off".

'Tis the season for lame excuses by public officials ...

Little-noticed loudmouth to exploit race issue in York County

We were puzzled by news of a press conference and "rally" to be held by the D.I.P.S.H.I.T. who leads some group which calls itself "T.H.U.G." in Rock Hill. Some guy from Charlotte, with nothing to do in his own city and state, has decided to stick his nose into a closed case where officers were forced to act in self-defense, killing a 15 year-old robber who pointed what appeared to be a pistol at them.

The intended goal of this press conference and the Saturday event is to:

"address issues that exist in Rock Hill, S.C. and abroad" and to "find ways to bridge the gap between the police & the community and to receive complaints from the community about discrimination"

The way we see it, the problem isn't a gap between police and the community, but rather a lack of understanding that if you commit violent crimes and point weapons at cops (or armed citizens acting in self-defense), you can expect to get shot. For the benefit of those who haven't figured out that violent crime comes with these kinds of occupational hazards, we hope the D.I.P.S.H.I.T. will take a few minutes to point this out while he's in town.

But since he's there to get attention, not solve problems, we're betting he won't.

We don't know if there will be any prayers of sympathy offered for the officers who shot the 15 year-old, who are likely going through a lot of hurt, or the families of cops who are slain in the line of duty or those who have been killed in robberies. In any event, we greatly resent this effort to exploit a tragedy and fuel racial animosity by the event's organizer and hope that he ... finds his way back to Charlotte as soon as possible.

We continue to support Kevin Brackett, the Solicitor for York County, who made the decision that the shooting by the officers was indeed justified, as well as the officers who were forced to make a tough, but necessary, decision to protect their lives, as well as their community.

Stop exploiting Sanford's personal misfortune

Days of speculation over Governor Sanford's sudden disappearning act ended this afternoon with a painful and embarassing confession as to the real purpose for his disappearance. This revelation has quickly become the fodder for many political speculators, especially for his critics.

It's no secret that the Blogland has been a source of regular criticism of Governor Sanford and his policies for some time now. Not surprisingly, I've received several phone calls and emails which have asked why this blog has not spoken out on this issue. The answer is simple - the Blogland will not exploit Sanford's stupidity by discussing what he has admitted to, much less judging his actions. There are three reasons why:

1) If he is truly remorseful, then he is tearing himself up far worse than his critics ever could,
2) If he is not remorseful, then no amount of criticism from this source, or any other, can accomplish anything, and
3) He has a family who will be forced to endure this in the spotlight of both traditional and new media outlets.

Given the bricks thrown at me by the Governor's crowd over the years, most would understand if I joined the lynch mob. But I've said time and time again that this state has seen enough of the kind of "gotcha" politics which have been a prominent tactic of the Sanford crowd.

Perhaps the best way to make that point is to show restraint in a time that delivering payback would seem like such an obvious course of action.

Out of consideration for his family, as well as a desire not to further muddy this state's political arena with more personal sleaze, this blog will not add to the the ongoing circus, and it's hoped others will consider the same course of action.

SC Illegal Immigration Reform Act compliance - Not that difficult

If you're a business that hires employees and does business in the Palmetto State, you'll want to be very aware of the new requirements for verifying that new hires are eligible to work in the U.S. According to the Charleston Post and Courier:

The law, aimed at curbing illegal immigration, kicks in July 1. It requires private companies with more than 100 employees to verify the legal status of new employees by requiring proof of either a South Carolina driver's license or identification card or a license from another state with equally strict eligibility requirements. Companies also can use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's online E-verify system.

The requirements are part of the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act, which the General Assembly passed last year. The first phase of the act went into effect Jan. 1 and required public employers and government contractors to begin verifying the legal status of new hires.

Companies face fines of up to $1,000 for each offense, and suspension or loss of their business licenses for repeat offenses. The law will be enforced through random auditing by the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

According to the SC LLR website, businesses that opt not to use the federally-provided E-Verify system must require new employees to present valid state-issued IDs from South Carolina or any of the other following states, which are considered to be pretty hard to fake:

AK, AZ, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, ME (credentials issued after 11/15/08), MA, MI, NH, NJ, PA, RI, TX and VA.

This means licenses from states not listed above, as well as the bogus "International Driver's License", are not valid for identification for the purpose of complying with the S.C. IIRA.

Whether you use E-Verify or opt to accept an ID from one of the above states, you are still required to follow the federal I-9 form process. As someone who does hiring, I'll tell you that complying with these requirements is so simple, that there's no excuse for not abiding by the terms of this new state law.

I use the E-Verify system as part of the HR work I do for my company. It takes minutes to authorize US citizens for employment, and it took less that 48 hours to flag someone who may have been using fradulent work visa documents (that employee opted to quit). While there are some concerns about the requirement that employers who use E-Verify must open their personnel files to inspection by the feds, my company has been using E-Verify for over a year now and we haven't had any problems.

E-Verify is an easy way to comply and take the guesswork out of hiring, especially if your HR staff doesn't know what a driver's license from Arizona or Maine looks like. If you have any questions about using E-Verify,
email me at and I'll be glad to discuss the my experience with that verification system.

In the next posting, I'll discuss the fallacy of the "International Driver's License". Trusting these documents can result in a company hiring an illegal alien and create the potential considerable financial liability. If you're one of my readers who actually works in the private sector and is responsible for human resources, you'll want to read this.

Nettie Britts concert benefit update

An intial email outreach appealing for support for a benefit event has been well-received and calls and emails continue coming in. It's amazing to hear from so many people who are concerned and want to get involved - as details become available, we'll definitely be letting everyone know!

Several statewide campaigns and candidates have already reached out to offer help and support for this event.

We've probably got one band and maybe a second, but our biggest challenge is a location in the Midlands. If anyone can help secure a bar, restaurant or event hall for a Saturday afternoon event, please email me at

Efforts to help Nettie Britts underway

In the last 24 hours, Republicans statewide have begun to rally to show their support for fellow Republican Nettie Britts, the Chair of the Richland County YRs, who is recovering from extensive injuries suffered in an attack at her home last week.

Sheri Few and Mike Green have gone online with the Helping Nettie Britts website ( to help update those following the situation, as well as serve as a conduit for cards and contributions to help with medical costs, which we presume will be significant.

Plans are being put together for a benefit concert in Columbia and/or Florence and details will be announced as they become available. If you'd like to get involved, please email me at

Blogland activity will be put on hold for a few days while we keep our readers informed about what is going on. We can't say enough to encourage our readers to help Nettie and get involved in the various efforts to let her know we're there for her.

State YRs activist attacked, in serious condition

This afternoon (thanks to FITS), we learned one of the Blogland's regular readers, Nettie Britts, a prominent figure in the state Federation of Young Republicans, as well as the Chair of the Richland County YRs chapter, was viciously attacked last Wednesday night.

She's also a student at USC, majoring in Technology Support and Training Management with a couple of blogs: Nettie gets Techy and Nettie Gets Techier.

She's currently in serious, but improving, condition in a Midlands hospital and has our prayers and best wishes for her recovery. We've checked in to offer our best wishes and any help that we can provide. We ask our readers to keep her and her family in their prayers and be ready for any help she might need in the days and weeks ahead.

Stay tuned for updates as we get them ...

(6/22, 8 a.m.) The WIS TV website has a report of the incident. We're going to link this, but caution that this information is preliminary and that the investigation is ongoing.

Reader appreciation contest: Identify these guys and win 2 free hotel nights!

While a lot of bloggers are doing it for the money, the Blogland is quite the opposite. Here the only people who get paid off are our wonderful readers.

Our latest effort to give a little love back to those who give the Blogland so much love is two free hotel nights to the reader who can best identify who these guys are. Anyone who can identify what is significant about this group of individuals will be entered into a pool from which one lucky winner will be picked.

You don't have to be able to name the individuals, but you're welcome to take a few guesses as to their identity as well.

You can post your guess here or email it to me at if you wish to remain anonymous to my readers. All emailed entries will be kept confidential, except if the winner wishes to be identified. If you post anonymously, be sure to email me as well so I can keep track of who you are.

The contest will be left open for a few days and I hope to have a winner named next Friday. Until then, make your best guess and have a great weekend!

Iran election protestors at the World Cup

Revolution in the modern era is a very different thing. Today's most potent weapons aren't AK-47s and homemade bombs, but rather the Internet and global media. In Iran, efforts to shut down both have failed to stifle the voices of those who believe the current regime stole the recent Presidential election.

These photos taken at a recent World Cup qualifying match between Iraq and North Korea show the extent to which the jilted opposition is willing to have their voices heard. We thought they were worth sharing with our readers.

The GOP and the race thing

Over the last few days, we've learned that Republicans can say some bone-headed things. Some of those things can sound about as racist as a number of speeches and other utterances by two prominent Democratic "Reverends" - Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright.

FITSNews posted comments from Mike Green and Rusty DePass, two veteran GOP politicos who I have a lot of respect for:

While one can argue these comments weren't too smart, knowing these guys, you could never convince me they were said out of hate, or that Mike or Rusty were racist in the last.

Racism is something I know all too well. As my first wife was of Sub-Saharan African descent (which meant she wasn't white), I've had more than a little racism directed at me over the years - as well at my ex-wife and my daughter.

You want to know how it feels? It hurts and it's infuriating - and it's something you'll never really understand unless you experience it.

From these experiences, I have come to learn a lot about what racism is - the more overt kind in which insults are used to hurt and degrade, and the less overt kind in which comments are made in jest, with no malice, by people who simply do not understand how these words can hurt.

Will Folks is onto something when he points out:

The point is this - at a time when Republicans need to be playing the game of addition, these stupid sophomoric comments are making it harder for their “outreach” efforts to succeed.

But again, therein lies our point …

As we’ve said in the past, “outreach” can’t be some pathetically transparent attempt to insert a few token blacks into leadership positions, it has to be a fundamental recasting of the party’s mindset - which, incidentally, has to be accompanied by a restoration of individual liberty and economic prosperity as the party’s two defining (and decidedly colorblind) values.

After all, we remain firmly convinced that black South Carolinians are being sold out by most of their Democratic leaders - and are waiting for a party to articulate what they believe in for a change.

To a point, he's dead on with his argument - but there's more that he didn't touch upon. Republicans can talk a lot about how they're on the right side of many black voters on the issues, but such issue-oriented alignments won't happen if these voters don't TRUST Republicans.

It's hard to earn that trust when these kinds of comments are posted online.

It's hard to earn that trust when your party leaders are members of an all-white country club.

It's hard to earn that trust when good-meaning black community leaders have to turn to Democratic leaders for help for their communities, opportunities to be appointed to boards and commissions, etc.

It's hard to earn that trust when you ask GOP voters on a primary ballot if they support keeping the Confederate flag over the state capitol, and an overwhelming majority of them support it.

Maybe these things were not intended with malice, but maybe it would help to consider that other people see things in a very different light and try to show a little respect for their points of view.

In the absence of a strong and clear effort to earn the trust and respect of black voters, these kinds of actions speak volumes about how little Republicans understand and respect them. If the GOP wants to ever win the support of any significant number of black voters, it's going to have to do much better than that.

Events bring GOP campaign 2010 to Summerville

While the GOP primaries are a full twelve months away, the gubernatorial race was in full swing around Summerville this weekend.

Friday night, it was a packed house at Bud Knight’s barn, where several hundred Republicans gathered for the annual Dorchester County GOP fundraiser. Five of the six GOP candidates for Governor were there and addressed the crowd. Just as importantly, the event featured an open bar, great BBQ and catfish stew. The stew was courtesy of the father of State Rep. Jenny Horne, with help from her husband. What a team effort.

Twelve hours later, more BBQ and politics (kind of) as Republicans packed Kelly’s BBQ for the monthly meeting of the Lowcountry GOP breakfast club. Featuring a legislative review with State Senator Paul Campbell and State Rep. Nikki Haley, 2010 politics were evident as three statewide GOP candidates were there – gubernatorial hopefuls Larry Grooms and Nikki Haley, as well as Adjutant General candidate Dean Allen of Greenville.

Much of the discussion revolved around restructuring, reining in state spending, power plant construction and the red-hot issues of port expansion and ports board restructuring.

Those who missed these events missed a real good time, but more weekends like this are bound to be coming soon.

Great Capitol Hill constituent service from Jim DeMint and Henry Brown

One of the most important things in making sure the Blogland can continue to produce content free of bias by political special interests is the all-important paycheck from a private-sector employer. For this, I have the support and patience of my company's upper management, including Greg Cook, Vice President.

This week, Greg is taking the family on a trip to Washington DC and New York. As part of this, they're visitign the Capitol, including a visit to the offices of Senator Jim DeMint for a personal visit with the Senator.

Special Blogland thanks go out to Angela and Rebecca in DeMint's office for helping set my boss and his family up for their Capitol Hill visit. Luke Byars in DeMint's Columbia office and Sharon Axson in Henry Brown's Charleston office also get props helping fill up the Cook family's Capitol Hill drop-in.

So to Angela, Luke, Rebecca and Sharon ... a big hearty THANK YOU from the Blogland for great constituent service!

Solicitor Kevin Brackett stands firm under fire

In recent days, Rock Hill has been rocked by the shooting of a teenage robber by Rock Hill police. It's not often a 15 year old gets shot by the cops, but then again, it's not every day a 15 year old holds up a store and then draws on the cops.

Kevin Brackett, the 16th Circuit Solicitor,
held a press conference to declare the shooting as justifiable and presented photos and video to support his determination:

Rock Hill police were justified in the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Yvette Williams, who pointed a realistic looking BB gun at them before she was shot, said Solicitor Kevin Brackett in a news conference today.

Video and photos shown to the media show Williams raised her gun at officers first and didn’t surrender.

She was holding a dark BB gun that looked like a .9mm pistol, according to the videos and photos.

“They responded to a highly charged, emotional life-and-death situation,” Brackett said. “A police officer’s job is not back down.”

The State Law Enforcement Division’s investigation is still ongoing, but nearly complete. The solicitor’s ruling is part of the investigation.

It's a tough call, but it's better to make a decision than to wait around or let politics interfere in the decision-making process. Just as important, Brackett presented the kind of evidence that can bolster his credibility, as well as convince others it was an unfortunate case of a teenager who made a regrettable decision, and not an instance of excessive police force.

We've already reached out to him to show our support for his willingness to make this tough call.
We're asking our readers to show their support as well.

Richard Eckstrom is right (as usual)

Leave it to South Carolina's very own "Top Gun", State Comptroller Richard Eckstrom, to call it like he sees it - and for such advice to be rather wise indeed. In reporting drastic declines in state tax revenues, Eckstrom warns:

This extraordinary situation forcefully underscores the need for spending caps, lower debt, and higher reserves to better cushion us during times like these. Unfortunately, we’re seeing very few signs that the current economic downturn is easing.

It's a position which has been taken by the Blogland on more than one occasion. In fact four times in the last nine months:

Eckstrom's findings regarding state revenue declines are, to say the very least, a shocking wake up call:

Individual income tax receipts showed the largest declines. They were 48.4% ($175 million) lower for May 2009 than for May 2008. This followed a 38.9% ($129 million) decline for April 2009 over April 2008. On a fiscal year-to-date basis (July through May), individual income tax receipts are 16.1% ($476 million) below the prior year.

Corporate income tax receipts were down 40.7% for May, following a decline of 35.4% for April, resulting in a year-to-date decline of 17.3 % ($44 million).
Sales and use tax collections fell 15.7% ($33 million) last month and 8.7% ($177 million) so far this year.

Revenues from all sources fell 35.5% ($226 million) in May following declines of 24.5% ($149 million) in April. Through May 2009, total revenues have plunged 12.8% ($756 million) for the year.

For those who haven't done their math, $756 million represents about one-quarter of the $3 billion in surplus revenue the state blew in recent years. If half the state's recent surplus revenues had been banked away, it would've taken care of this year and last year's shortfalls.

The Blogland has said it before, but since Eckstrom is saying the same thing, we'd like to join him in calling for more responsible management of state revenues in good years so the next downturn won't result in such a political train wreck.

Since the state's elected officials have a responsibility to serve the people of the state, it seems as if a little fiscal responsibility isn't too much to ask.

Florence GOP's "Tech Summit"

On Saturday afternoon, yours truly had a chance to speak to Florence area Republicans at a "Tech Summit" which was convened by the new party leadership. Over thirty Pee Dee Republicans were in attendance, where they spent the day discussing specific IT tools, as well as getting a general overview of new media and politics, as well as discussion of strategic applications. Those who attended learned both the practical hands-on aspect of new media and internet communication, as well as broader tactical and strategic implications.

Even if you don't Twitter, have a Facebook page, or blog, understanding the growing influence of these and other emerging technologies, as well as voters who heavily rely upon them, is crucial in being able to keep up with the rapidly-evolving political environment.

My lecture, which was the closing presentation, was a look at the proverbial forest, discussing this stuff from a broader perspective. Throwing out terms like "gatekeepers" and "agenda setting", as well as the examining the rapid evolution of new media may have served to entertain the audience, but it put my daughter, who was sitting in the back, sound asleep in minutes. Mike Reino has more discussion of this on his blog - SC6.

This lecture - "Contemporary Political Communication and New Media" - has been presented in college classrooms and to GOP organizations in both Carolinas over the last couple of years. This lecture is one of the building blocks for a full-fledged course that I should be rolling out at CofC next January.

The tech summit was very cutting edge for a GOP organization in this state and certainly very timely. It's a great testament to the forward-thinking mindsets of the new Florence GOP leadership.

I've already spoken with other GOP leaders who like this concept and are looking at doing this in their own areas. If this is something you want to do in your own backyard, then you'll want to give Ron McGill, Jamie Rogers, Dana Moody Shriver and Celia Urquhart with the Florence GOP a call or email soon!

Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony and Joe Satriani release new CD as "Chickenfoot" today

We're not exactly sure what the name means, but four of the best known veterans of rock music have teamed up under the name "Chickenfoot": Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony from Van Halen, guitar legend Joe Satriani and Chad White from the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

It's a silly name for a band -- and album -- that kicks a donkey's ass six ways to Sunday and back again. Maybe that's because long before the four men who comprise Chickenfoot came together they already filled the pages of rock history with enough individual mind-blowing chapters to boggle the mind.

First, let's consider the stellar line-up. There's Joe Satriani, he of guitar god status, a dream born on the fateful day of September 18, 1970. It was the day Jimi Hendrix died, and it was the same day that Satriani, upon hearing the news, quit his high school football team and decided, at age 14, to devote his life to the electric guitar.

So what about that singer? Well, that would be another guy who needs no introduction; Sammy Hagar, the original "Red Rocker", a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee for his tenure with Van Halen, who made his professional debut as the singer for the much-revered group Montrose during the early 70's. As a replacement for the iconic David Lee Roth, Hagar faced what many would have viewed as an unenviable, if not impossible task, but as Hagar sees it, "I decided I wasn't going to get criticized for being the second singer in the band -- I was going to be the only singer in the band."

A great band is nothing without a great rhythm section, and Chickenfoot has one of the best in the two-man team of bassist Michael Anthony and drummer Chad Smith.

As a founding member (and fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer) of Van Halen, Anthony laid the bedrock for which guitar genius Eddie Van Halen could fly. More than that, he provided a signature style of background vocal that became an intrinsic part of that band. "A total fluke," the good-natured bassist humbly asserts. "I was just doing what came naturally."

Aiding Anthony in holding down the fort is Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have, since Smith joined the group in the late Eighties, gone from cult faves to a worldwide force. Heretofore thought of as a "funk/alternative" drummer, Smith gets to rock hard with Chickenfoot, and the percussion explosion he creates might come as a surprise to those who only know of his work from tracks like Under The Bridge.

Their album hits the streets today. While it only makes sense to trust a lineup like this, those of you with little faith can preview tracks from the album.

Christianity and Western Civilization - Faith and Human Liberty

Jurgen Habermas is a well-noted scholar in the field of communication and the last of the philosophers of the renowned Frankfurt School in Germany. Joseph Ratzinger, also a noted German philosopher, formerly the head theologian of the Roman Catholic Church, is presently employed as the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rome. But most know him as Pope Benedict.

"The Dialectics of Secularization: On Reason and Religion", these two scholars present parallel essays which discuss the roles of reason and faith in contemporary Western democratic societies.

In the last two centuries, philosophers have been eager to proclaim that God is dead and that He has no role in contemporary society. Not surprisingly, this has gone hand-in-an attack on the belief in natural law - the guiding principles of democratic reforms which argue that rights are God-given and that governments exist to serve people, not to control and distribute power and money. Eager radicals such as Hitler and Lenin rushed in to fill the void with totalitarian societies in which the killing of millions in their quests for what they saw as the ideal. It was interesting to see even Habermas, a self-described "methodical atheist", who argued that "philosophy has good reasons to be willing to learn from religious traditions", admit that the trend of secularization reversing course:

There is an increasing consensus that certain phases of the "modernization of the public consciousness" involve the assimilation and the reflexive transformation of both religious and secular mentalities.

While Habermas recognized that Christian philosophical outlooks have a valuable role in contemporary society, he failed to explain how the guarantees of human liberty which are central to the beliefs of natural law can be replaced with equally-effective secular safeguards.

In response, Benedict's essay makes a number of points, beginning by pointing out that a free society had room for those without faith, but that a free society could not exist without faith and the philosophical foundations of natural law. In other words, Christians may not need athetists, but atheists need Christians.

The book is under 100 pages so it's something you can easily cover over a weekend, but packed with some very deep thinking that can make for some profound reading. It's well worth a read.

Should the GOP "run against the center"?

Michael Barone's latest column offers some advice to the GOP to challenge the current status quo:

Some will argue that it's irresponsible to run against this new political center. Extraordinary steps were needed, they say, to deal with an extraordinary financial crisis, and anyway they were supported by a Republican administration. But it tells us something that the original TARP package was passed largely with the votes of those in both parties with safe seats and not in political peril, and that everyone is assuming that Congress won't vote any more TARP money anytime soon. It tells us that the voting public doesn't like this stuff.

It's arguably good policy as well as good politics to run against this over-powerful center. Bailout favoritism and crony capitalism not only misallocate economic resources, they also sap faith in the fairness of our institutions. After World War II, Democrats wanted to retain wartime high taxes, pro-union labor laws, and wage and price controls -- all manipulatable for political benefit by political insiders. Republicans ran in 1946 on the theme of "Had enough?" and won big enough majorities to lower taxes, revise labor laws and abolish controls.