Meeting the IT Kids

Located deep in the rolling hills of South Carolina's Dutch Fork Country, which was originally settled by hard-working German farmers and loggers, is the well-known Den of Payne - into which many an unsuspecting politician has been lured (and legend has it that some have never been seen again).

In the last couple of years, Kelly Payne has made her civics class at Dutch Fork High School into a must-do speaking appearance for South Carolina politicos of all ranks and from both parties. Yesterday, I was the latest guest speaker, where I talked about a number of subjects, including blogging, new media, the evolution of news media, 80s culture, a little bit about my faith ... and of course, the College of Charleston. These kids aren't afraid to throw out some tough questions, which included:

  • What would you say is your biggest objective as a blogger -- fairly reporting news, influencing public opinion on issues, or outing people (like most bloggers seem to do)?
  • Some people have said there should be a “Code of Ethics” for bloggers -- to encourage their stuff to be honest and civil. How do you feel about whether that’s necessary? Would that stifle the free speech of bloggers?
  • How often do you make mistakes in what you report in Blogland? How embarrassing is it when you do? What’s been your most embarrassing mistake?
  • You work in PR for a big company. Explain whether your job is a bigger help to your blogging or whether your blogging is a bigger help to your job?
  • Your faith seems to be big in your life -- it shows in some of your blogs (like last Friday with that beautiful Bible passage about loving people). Lots of people seem more afraid than you to talk out loud about their faith. Why is your faith so important to you -- and what’s made you so bold in expressing it?
  • Do you make money blogging? Could a person make enough money blogging to live on?

If you're not prepared to take a tough question or two, avoid this bunch. But if you believe in what you're doing and can take the heat, then you'll be glad you meet this bunch of students - and they'll be glad to meet you as well.

Thanks again to Kelly and her students for their hospitality ... and some straightforward questions.

Blogger transparency

As many of my readers know, I'm helping teach a graduate course for George Washington University. The course deals in ethics for public relations and public affairs, and is part of their Political and PR management Master's programs.

Among this week's readings is a news story from Business Week,
"Wal-Mart vs. the Blogosphere", which looked at how a blog supposed written by a couple which was a fan of the retail chain ended up being unmasked as a corporate public relations tactic:

It all started last month, when a folksy blog called Wal-Marting Across America was set up. The site featured the musings of a couple known only as Jim and Laura as they drove cross country in an RV, and included regular interviews with Wal-Mart workers, who were dependably happy about the company and their working conditions. wrote the first exposé about the blog. The story shot down speculation that Jim and Laura weren't real people, identifying the woman as Laura St. Claire, a freelance writer and an employee at the U.S. Treasury department. But it also disclosed that Wal-Mart was paying plenty for the couple's support, including money for renting the RV, gas, and fees for writing the blog (see, 10/9/06, "Wal-Mart's Jim and Laura: The Real Story").

This certainly touched on a point often faced in the South Carolina political blogosphere, where a number of bloggers also are also employed in the political field:

  • Adam Fogle, who writes The Palmetto Scoop, is employed by Richard Quinn and Associates. That might explain his regular praise of Henry McMaster as well his being the only person in the state willing to say good things about Senator Lindsay Graham. Both Graham and McMaster are Quinn clients. Fogle also enjoys dishing out shots at a competing consulting firm via The Scoop.
  • Wes Donehue, who doesn't blog as much, works with the Senate Republican Caucus, Senator Jim DeMint, and is a partner in Under The Power Lines, a political netroots consulting firm. It's no secret that he praises both, but he's also got a lot of useful insights about the net and politics on his personal blog as well.
  • Will Folks, who runs what is probably the state's most-influential site, FITSNews, has worked with candidates, including Governor Sanford (as well as worked on Sanford's staff), but nobody seems to know how his bills are paid these days.
Unlike the two implicated in the Wal-Mart advocacy blogging scheme, you know where these guys are coming from, so you can apply the necessary grain(s) of salt when you read their sites.

In the interests of full disclosure, I've been involved in politics for over two decades across the state, in campaign and Republican Party roles from grassroots to managerial. When I speak via this blog, it's as an interested citizen and veteran activist. Not only that, but the process of exploring issues and individuals has taught me a lot and allowed me to make a lot of new friends - from ordinary citizens who've read my blog to veteran politicos - and that's all the reward I need to keep writing.

My paycheck comes from a construction company where I am the Corporate Communication manager, and am also involved in human resources, safety and governmental relations. Much of my company's bread and butter is in highway construction these days, which is publicly funded. I've opted to keep such subject material off my blog, to avoid the appearance that I'm blogging for hire.

By knowing what I do for a living, you get the assurance that I'm not an insider trying to promote a client, but being on the outside means I don't always get the big story leads that those who work in the field might, so there's a trade-off.

As long as you know what our angle is up front, you can make your own decisions about what you're reading. That's the kind of transparency and disclosure you deserve to have from those who are trying to inform and influence in the blogosphere.

By the way - thank you for reading.

Richland County YRs to meet on Wednesday

They will be meeting in downtown Columbia at the Rooftop Bar, 1400 Main, for drinks and appetizers this Wednesday evening. If you're in the Midlands, don't miss this meeting!

If you've got any questions, email them at

Mark your calendar: Berkeley GOP breakfast to feature Lt. Gov candidates

Here's something you'll definitely want to put on your calendar for this Saturday - a Lowcountry forum of the Republican Candidates for Lt. Governor, featuring all four of the candidates running for the right to wear the purple robe and play Whack-A-Mole in front of the Senate all day:

  • Ken Ard, a Florence County Councilman from Johnsonville
  • Bill Connor, an attorney from Orangeburg
  • Ted Pitts, a State Representative from Lexington
  • Tim Scott, a State Representative from North Charleston
Seriously, this is a rare occasion that you won't get very often, so please don't miss it.

The Breakfast is held at American Legion Post 166, 116 Howe Hall Rd, Goose Creek. A great $5 breakfast is served at 9:00 am with the program and an open Question-and-Answer to follow.

The public is welcome to attend and no membership is required. For more information contact Charles Schuster at 509-6027 or Nancy Corbin at 688-4975.

Mark your calendar: Oct. 26 - Greenville/Spartanburg GOP Golf Tournament

It looks like Republicans in the Upstate are pimping out politicians to help raise money for next year's races, via a golf tournament:

The Spartanburg and Greenville Republican Parties are joining forces to conduct a GOP Golf Tournament, Monday, Oct. 26, at River Falls Plantation with registration at 8 a.m. and a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The Captains Choice format provides you the opportunity to pair up with a politician.


A three-person team can pay for the politician. A drawing will be held just before the shotgun start.

You are buying one legally and you’ll have his ear for more than four hours.

Cost per four man team is $1,300 including two Mulligans and one Red Tee per player. The tournament includes an awards luncheon including special awards, prizes for longest drive, closest to the pin and four par-three hole-in-one prizes.

If you have any questions, please contact team chair:

We were informed that Mr. Ponder may look like that guy in Caddyshack, but we also have it on good authority that this event is one you don't want to miss.

Remember - if you'd like to sign up for the event, go to

With a month to go before the event, now seems like a good time to get signed up.

Tumpy Campbell has something "major", so please send photographers

In breaking what is the state's worst-kept political secret, Tumpy Campbell is making a "major" announcement tomorrow and wants people to send reporters AND photographers. Apparently he thinks he's someone people want to see in the paper.

"Major announcement" as opposed to ... ?

If you miss it (and in spite of being in Mount Pleasant tomorrow, I won't be there), he says he'll find you wherever you live and re-deliver it.

It's interesting to note that the guy who recently said he was a political outsider is now billing himself as a "Republican Leader". I'm not exactly sure what he's been doing to establish his credentials within the GOP, aside from doing a few speaking appearances for his brother's abortion of a candidacy for Lt. Governor back in 2006.

Either he's really that self-absorbed that he thinks so highly of himself and everything he says, or he's getting some bad advice. In any event, he might want to find one message and theme and try sticking with it - there's only eight months to go, so it shouldn't be that hard.

Henry Brown isn't the most impressive guy in the world, but the more I see of the alternative, the non-impressiveness gap between Brown and Campbell is narrowing quickly.

ATTN: Reporters and Photographers
*** ADVISORY Reminder ***

Carroll Campbell to Make Major Announcement Tomorrow

WHO: Enterpreneur, Small Businessman, Community Volunteer, and SC Republican Leader: Carroll Campbell, III.

WHAT: Major Announcement Speech

WHERE: Mount Pleasant Pier
Located at the foot of the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge on the Charleston Harbor, part of the Memorial Waterfront Park complex

Governor press conference tour visits the Blogland

Governor Sanford continued to lash out at his political opponents with a stop in Summerville, where he held a press conference across the street from the office of Earl Capps, the publisher of the Blogland.

Forced off the sidewalk by a group of joggers, Sanford was forced to stand in a boggy strip alongside the busy road, where his comments were difficult to hear over daytime traffic.

Can you hear me? I'm really sorry you're getting all wet standing in the mud over here, but I think it's important to make myself clear on these issues.

Thank you for coming today. Can you hear me? Thank you for coming today. Please remember I don't work for you.

I wanted to respond to the charges made by Earl Capps on his blog. Can you hear me?

Let's make one thing perfectly clear. Can you hear me? He is out to get me. Ummmm everyone is out to get me. It is all because of my efforts to reform this state. I can prove it. This note written on the back of a bar tab from a now-closed Columbia strip joint from twenty-eight years ago proves they were out to get from even before I'd gotten out of college.

Can you hear me?

Sanford's comments were cut short when he realized that none of the local media outlets were present, just his staffers and all three of his supporters.

Reportedly, Sanford's tour will now travel to Honea Path, where Sanford will lambast Republican blogger Brian McCarty from the parking lot of the funeral home across the street from McCarty's home. Reportedly McCarty dismissed it as a "cheap publicity stunt", claiming that "Sanford's agenda is as dead on arrival as are most people who arrive at that funeral home".

Remembering the night of Hurricane Hugo

Twenty years ago, I was one of many who opted to ride out the night of Hurricane Hugo in the Lowcountry.

Expecting the storm to only be a Category 2 or 3 and aiming for Savannah ... and then Myrtle Beach, sticking around seemed like the thing to do. But as the evening wore on, the storm strengthened and its course shifted, put it coming ashore just north of the Charleston area, aiming the brunt of its force right at those of us who stayed.

It was a hell of a ride that night, and words really don't describe the sights we saw the next morning, as we emerged to see a city which had been blasted and ripped apart by the midnight visitor. Devastation was everywhere: trees stripped bare or snapped at about 30' above the ground, debris everywhere, cars and houses ripped by fallen trees, and everyone milling about, not quite sure where to begin in untangling such a horrific mess.

My night was bad, but it could have been worse - such as the last police and fire personnel to leave Sullivan's Island, crossing the Ben Sawyer bridge just moments before it toppled in the wind, or my father and many other police officers who rode the night out at the downtown police station which had become an island, or the people in McClellanville who climbed into attics, ceilings, and roofs to escape the storm surge wave which swamped the town.

The experiences were memorable, and many of them not pleasant - including weeks without power, city water which smelled like pine trees, seeing the "Goat Island Yacht Club" - the jumbled pile of boats from the Wild Dunes Marina which had been swept into the trees of the island across the Intracoastal Waterway, and seeing the homes of friends which had been wrecked by wind, falling trees or flooding.

Oddly enough, my oldest daughter, just a few months old, slept through the entire storm.

The Lowcountry has faced dozens of disasters before this one - hurricanes, fires, plagues, and wars - and survived. Those shared experiences have much to do with forging the identities of true Lowcountry people. If you meet someone who has grown up here, you'll hear about Hugo, as well as Hurricanes David, Hazel and Gracie from years past, or of life during World War II, where German subs occasionally prowled off-shore. Being long-time Lowcountry, my family has those stories too.

But next time a major hurricane comes this way, I'm heading inland. One major hurricane is enough for me.

E-Verify usage now mandatory for all federal contractors and subcontractors

The E-Verify federal contractor rule, which became effective on September 8, requires federal contractors and subcontractors to use the E-Verify system to confirm that all new employees performing work under federal contracts are authorized to work in the United States. Federal contracts awarded and solicitations issued after September 8, 2009 must include a clause committing federal contractors to use E-Verify. The same clause will also be required in subcontracts over $3,000 for services or construction.

While E-Verify was originally intended solely to screen new hires, federal contractors will now be required to screen current employees who are working on that company's federal contracts. Those contractors will also be allowed to use E-Verify to screen all current employees, even those who may not be assigned to that project.

With new rules and regulations like this adding to the pressure to use E-Verify to screen employees, if you're not using it, you might as well go ahead and start, so compliance won't be so difficult later on.

Please email me if you have questions.

Why defending Rita Allison might be a bad idea

This fall, I'm helping teach a political ethics course for a distance ed graduate program for George Washington University. Last week, we discussed the ethics of negative advertising, reviewing some news articles, videos, fact checks and articles written by political consultants. One article, "Attack Ads: Rethinking The Rules", penned by Democratic consultant David Doak offers some wise counsel:

Any analysis of new trends in negative advertising must start with the basics. Three rules govern negative or, more precisely, comparative advertising.

  • The statement of fact about your opponent must be accurate.
  • The allegation must be a fair representation of the factual occurrences.
  • The allegation must be about the public record of your opponent.

If you are thinking about deviating from these general principles, you should think long and hard. The more you deviate, the more you expose yourself and your client to counter attacks.

It's also important to challenge an ill-conceived general rule that has gained widespread acceptance since the Dukakis for President campaign. That so-called rule is that you must answer every attack.

That's wrong. If a negative ad isn't doing your client any damage, then it is a waste of your resources to answer it. Second, if the ad attacking your client has no "good" answer, then a weak response on your part that does not fully refute the charges will only help confirm that your client is guilty of the allegation. More importantly, a bad response spot that does not fully defuse the charge may only contribute to the momentum of the allegation made by your opponent.

This brings us to the issue of a recent anonymous mailing sent out to residents of State Rep Rita Allison's district, which alleged she may have traded sexual favors for a cushy state job. While it's not clear if Allison's constituents took the letter seriously, it seems to have been taken quite seriously by state GOP leaders, who filed a lawsuit against the still-unknown perpetrators of the mailing.

You can read a
copy of the filing, including a copy of the two-page letter, here.

From this corner of the blogosphere, this move seemed to be a rather bad idea, for several reasons:
  • This approach ensured the mailing and its allegations got a statewide audience, generating far more publicity than the mailers could afford, or were willing to pay for.
  • Celebrities who portrayed falsely in tabloids choose not to sue, usually because such trials allow the defendants to conduct fishing expeditions from the stand. Likewise, if Allison has any past issues that would reflect poorly upon her, being put under oath and requiring her to answer questions in a courtroom may be exactly what her opponents want.
  • Legal actions consume thousands upon thousands of dollars, while this mailing was rather cheaply produced. Political parties have often engaged in "tar baby" tactics, where small sums invested in attacks against well-supported incumbents result in costly responses which waste dollars which would be better spent much closer to election day.
  • An essential rule of negative campaigning is that if it's over the top, it's ineffective. If Allison is well-known in her district, then a single ranting letter won't do much to shift their perceptions of her. If she's not, or people already hold negative perceptions of her, then she's got problems that lawyers can't fix.
Personal attacks against politicos are certainly unfair and low class, which is one reason why the Blogland generally steers clear of such material. But they do happen, and it's unlikely that any legal defense fund will do much to deter the politically desperate or personally deranged from using such tactics.

The only thing that can be effective is to not let such tactics goad politicos into launching wasteful or counter-productive responses, and to consider that sometimes, the best course of action is to ignore such low-dollar attacks and avoid giving them the public forum which they are so desperately seeking.

Megadeth's "Endgame" CD released today - it ROCKS!

Today, Blogland readers are given a simple, but important mission:

Get online or go to a music store and buy one of this year's best heavy metal releases: Megadeth's new album Endgame, which was released yesterday.

This is album is definitely one of their best albums yet, continuing the great performances in their last two albums: The System has Failed and United Abominations. While there's a lot of good stuff on this album, the song that most impressed me was
44 minutes, which told the story of the infamous 1997 Bank of America robbery and shootout in North Hollywood, California.

The band will be on Jimmy Fallon's show Thursday night, so go catch them rocking out with some of their new material.

The video for the song Headcrusher is inspired by the
Arnold Schwarezenegger movie The Running Man. The video brings up a growing concern (including with yours truly) about how so-called "reality" television programming has helped fuel a mindset similar to the days of Roman gladiators, where spectators' desire to be entertained trumped any ethical or moral considerations about the privacy or human rights of the participants:

Jim Rex & Your Tax Dollars at Work

Current State Education Superintendent and gubernatorial aspirant Democrat Jim Rex gave us a great example of our tax dollars at work when he announced his candidacy - using his state email account:

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Rex []
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 11:07 PM
Subject: My decision

Dear Colleagues:

Just a few moments ago in an interview on WIS-TV Nightcast in Columbia, I announced my plans to run for Governor. Tomorrow, I will embark on a statewide tour to officially announce my candidacy. As employees at the SC Department of Education, I want you to be among the first to know about my decision and why I have made it.

The rest of the email was deleted to save our readers the effort of wading through his rather long-winded message, as well as not disclose the identities of the hundreds of state employees who this email was sent to. But it's not the first time the State Department of Ed has been using staff and other resources for political purposes during Rex's tenure. Since Rex' employee and 2006 campaign manager Zeke Stokes got busted for broadcasting emails to state employees, we're not surprised to see Rex following his advisor's unethical practices.

Ok, Jim - we know about your decision and why you made it. So tell us why you had to use state resources to tell us about it?

Sister of Clarendon GOP chair dies in car wreck

Gloria Wingate of Greeleyville, the sister of Moye Graham, Clarendon GOP Chairman and a regular Blogland reader, died this morning as a result of injuries from a car wreck last night. In addition to Moye and several other family members, she leaves behind a husband and children.

They will certainly be in our thoughts and prayers and hope they'll be in yours as well.

More information to be announced as details become available.

Republicans to meet for breakfast in Spartanburg on Saturday

The Piedmont Republican Club announced today that the September 19th meeting will feature Sen. David Thomas (R-Greenville) as the speaker.

The meeting will be held at the Spartanburg Golden Corral at 9AM.

The Saturday format has allowed folks who are engaged during the week to be able to participate in an hour long educational program. The group meets the 3rd Saturday of each month. The meetings are to the General Public.

For more information, please call Rick Beltram (864-590-7723) or email

Captain Daniel O'Callaghan - a hero of 9/11

Eight years ago, the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 probably seemed like just the beginning of another day for Captain Daniel O'Callaghan of the New York City Fire Department. With eighteen years' service as a firefighter, and three as a NYPD officer, perhaps it was his committment to his job that led him to be at the station on his day off.

True to their fire station's slogan "The Pride of Manhattan - Never Missed a Performance", the fifteen firefighters of Ladder Unit 4, led by O'Callaghan, which normally answered calls in a service area that included much of Broadway, rushed to take part in what would become the greatest performance of their lives.

None of them would return alive.

When other firefighters arrived at the station, they found cups of coffee still warm, and O'Callghan's shaving cream and clothes still in the bathroom from where he was changing and rushed out to respond to the call.

His committment to his faith was as certain to his committment to his duty on that day. When his body was recovered,
he was found to be still holding his Rosary, presumably in prayer for protection and courage in doing his duty on that terrible day.

True to their station's motto, O'Callaghan and his men never missed a performance. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Captain Daniel O'Callaghan and the men of Ladder Four became more than just the Pride of Manhattan - they became the pride of us all.

Please also remember his wife Rhonda, and his two children, Rhiannon and Connor, who were among many who lost a friend and loved one that day.

May the memories of O'Callaghan and the firefighers of Ladder Four be eternal.

Music inspired by 9/11

Who did not sign the Sanford resignation letter - and why

Yesterday's release of a letter from 61 State House Republicans calling upon Governor Sanford to resign generated a lot of attention, including upon the eleven House GOP caucus members who did not sign the letter:

Kris Crawford, Shannon Erickson, Nikki Haley,
Jim Merrill, Joey Millwood, Wendy Nanney,
Ted Pitts, Murrell Smith, Jim Stewart,
David Umphlett, Thad Viers

These two comments which showed up some blogsites, sound a lot like a lot of feedback we've heard and seen on the web which have made it clear that a lot of folks were not pleased with those who did not sign the letter:

#1) All of the above referenced so called South Carolinans should be defeated if they run for re-election. They are traitors to the people of this state and should be shown no loyality or mercy.

#2) I have no idea why he would not include his name on that list. At least Keith Kelly saw the writing on the wall, and put his name on the list. It’ll sure be hard (impossible) to pull the handle for Millwood from now on…. And poor Nikki Haley, if she only knew how close she actually came to having a true shot at being the governor. I can’t believe she would blindly follow Sanford, and let him destroy her career as well. Oh well, those 12 names sure need to be remembered come next year.

While it would be easy to assume a "with us or with him" divide exists, and then assume all who did not sign the letter, but we decided to actually talk with some of those who did not sign the letter. Here's what we found out:

Rep. Shannon Erickson made it clear she was not defending Sanford, nor intending to protect him from possible impeachment:

I don't condone what the Governor has done, and he has created a lot of problems. But from the beginning, I said I would act when the facts are in, and I'm sticking to my word. When we have the Ethics Commission report in hand, then we should act accordingly, and not a minute sooner. If information contained in the report is bad enough, then the House should vote for impeachment. But in that case, I would hope the Governor would do the right thing and resign first, and would encourage him to do just that.

When we talked with Ted Pitts this morning, he shared Erickson's point of view on the matter:

I have personally talked to the Governor, and have written him privately before this. What I told him to do if I was in his situation that I would be quiet, and stop playing the victim. I understand why they wrote the letter and respect why they wanted to go on record on this. We need to see what the Ethics report says, and if there are impeachable offenses, I'll vote to impeach.

Murrell Smith had the same sentiments as Erickson and Pitts:

I think we need a complete investigation before we make determinations about Governor Sanford’s future as Governor. All we have now is the information obtained from the press. We need to be fully informed before we make this very important decision concerning the future direction of the State.

We also spoke with Greenville Representative Wendy Nanney, who held much the same view as the other three:

I'm waiting for the Ethics report, but I want to see the facts before we act. If there's something impeachable in the report, then let's move forward with impeachment then."

These points of view contrast from the media response of Rep. Nikki Haley, one of the other non-signers, which dismissed the intents behind the House GOP letter as futile:

We can put the names of all 170 Members of the General Assembly on a list requesting the governor resign, but at the end of the day there is only one person who will make that decision, and Sanford has made it clear that he will not step down. So any further pressure in that direction is nothing more than political posturing, and that’s not what we as elected officials ought to be doing.

Over the last couple of months, the whole Sanford saga has amazed and bewildered political observers. We won't ask our readers to assume everyone who didn't sign had similar motives as the four we spoke with, but given the amount of strange things which ARE true which surround this mess, avoiding rash generalizations with regard to this letter, as well as other actions which have been - or have yet to be - taken, seems a wise course indeed.

From one Republican Governor to another ...

The Sanford saga has proven to be a bottomless pit of revelations and confrontations. This week saw Governor Sanford losing even more ground with his party, starting with a letter from House Speaker Bobby Harrell calling for his resignation, followed by a nearly-unanimous statement from House Republicans which has called for him to resign.

We've been told that in the morning, the SCGOP Executive Committee will hold a teleconference to discuss issuing their own call for Sanford to leave.

At this point, we don't think there's anyone left in this state who thinks Sanford should stick around. If there is, we'd love to know who they are.

In the best interests of the state, we'd encourage the Governor to consider some advice from a fellow Republican governor:

Lowcountry Republicans to remember 9/11 on Saturday


WHEN: Saturday, September 12 at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: Kelly’s BBQ restaurant, US 78, Summervile
CONTACT: Ron Turner, Chairman (843) 814-1805

This Saturday, Lowcountry Republicans will gather at Kelly’s BBQ at 9 a.m. to remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks, paying tribute to those lost that day, as well as those who have sacrificed since in the global war on terrorism. This event, part of its annual 9/11 memorial, will include a panel discussion which will discuss the current state of Homeland Security efforts in the Lowcountry and South Carolina.

The panel discussion, which will be moderated by Terry Boatwright, Public Safety Director for Folly Beach, will feature:

  • Lt. Tom Huey, of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Huey serves as the agency’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and is a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
  • Michael Haas, FBI Senior Resident Agent for the Charleston area. Agent Haas was the FBI’s Case Agent for the Jakarta, Indonesia Marriott hotel bombing in 2003, and has served in the Counterterrorism Division, International Operations Section, Extraterritorial Investigations Unit at the FBI’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
After the panel speakers have made their presentations, a moderated Question and Answer session will allow those in the audience to present questions to the speakers.

For the last seven years, this organization has featured monthly meetings which have featured candidates, policy experts and grass-roots Republican party activists who have promoted candidacies and discussed current issues. Combined with “open mike” question-and-answer sessions, the general public has been able to learn about important issues and express their concerns on these issues, as well as grill candidates for public office.

Past speakers have included each of the current GOP statewide office holders, including Governor Sanford, Congressman Henry Brown, Senator Jim DeMint, as well as many regional legislators and representatives from grassroots and policy advocacy organizations such as Gun Owners of America, Fair Tax, and the South Carolina Policy Council.

Breakfast is served for $6.50 per attendee, and the general public is cordially invited to attend, regardless of political affiliation.

Public speaking insights

As many readers of the Blogland know, yours truly is a college professor. Most of the classes I teach are public speaking. Over time, I have gotten pretty good at teaching the subject. Add in years 0f working in corporate and political communication, I've learned more than a few things about what makes for good and bad speech.

When I was given my first teaching assignment, a public speaking class, by my department chair, I was ok with it, knowing that even a lot of tenure-track PhD holders started out teaching that class. I had - and still do - some ideas for more advanced courses, but figured that it would be some time before I could get a shot at teaching classes at a level usually reserved for those with PhDs.

After about a month in the classroom, what I hadn't realized after years in human resources and dealing with communication in the workplace finally dawned upon me: the ability to speak to an audience - from a work group or project team to a classroom to a national audience of millions - is a crucial career skill.

After that, I began to approach teaching the class with a lot more interest and enthusiasm, sharing insights from the workplace and trying to impress upon students that public speaking and their career will begin when they walk in for their second job interview, meet the HR and department management staff in the room. Their goal: pitch a presentation good enough to land them their first job. While I still hope to be able to teach at a more advanced level one day, I wouldn't want to give up teaching this subject as well.

So having said all of this, I'm going to start sharing some of these insights with my Blogland readers and invite you to join the discussion as well. Watch for some of Professor Capps' public speaking insights real soon.

They came to the fairgrounds

The best lunch to be found yesterday in Columbia was down at the state fairgrounds, where a crowd of Midlands and state business and political figures came to celebrate the completion of my company's Fairgrounds parking area project.

Headlining the event was Henry McMaster, who shared a few stories about state fairs and USC games from years past and congratulated my company for a job well done. Also speaking were Bill Cantey, Chairman of the board for the State Fair, and Embree Griner, my company's President.

Also in attendance was Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, Ag Commissoner Hugh Weathers, State Rep Nathan Ballentine, RNC Committeeman Glenn McCall, and Richland County Councilman Bill Malinowski. Staff from the offices of Andre Bauer and Joe Wilson were there, as well as all the top staff from the Adjutant General's office.

There was a lot of praise for the on-time completion of the project, just in time for Gamecocks football, as well as this fall's State Fair. Doc's BBQ did a great job feeding everyone.

A big line-up, a great lunch, and a well-done project - thanks to all who showed up! What a great way to end the week and kick off Labor Day weekend!

Rock Hill Republican goes national on GOP's minority development challenge

Last year, Rock Hill Republican Marvin Rogers was the first-ever Republican to run for House District 49, a majority-black Democratic district. While he didn't win the race, he won props for his ability to attract a diverse base of supporters which included many vocal Obama supporters from Rock Hill's predominantly-black southside neighborhoods and forcing now-Representative John King to backpedal several times in closing weeks.

Since then, the Blogland has talked with him regularly about the challenge of minority recruitment for the GOP. We share a lot of thoughts on the subject, including:

  • The GOP needs to be willing to make outreach a long-term effort that begins before, and lasts beyond, election years,
  • The GOP needs to be willing to go to the mat to address concerns in minority communities and empower and support those willing to challenge the Democratic politicos in those communities, and
  • Republicans need to understand that politics in minority communities is often about how a message is presented, and work to consider how GOP messages can be reframed to better connect with minority voters.
Rogers' willingness to speak out and stand up for greater inclusion in the GOP has gotten him attention from a lot of people, including nationally-syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, who featured him in a column which ran nationwide this week:

The way for Republicans to attract black voters is pretty simple, says Rogers: Show up and solve problems.

When he moved to Rock Hill, where he currently lives, Rogers made his home in the inner city rather than the suburbs. When a local basketball team needed money for jerseys, Rogers helped them. Thus, when this inner-city team hit the court, their jerseys said, “York County GOP.”

“People don’t care what (political affiliation) comes after your name,” says Rogers. “They just want the jersey.”

With Rogers on the hustings, Democrats have cause for concern. Among other things, he’s telling African-Americans that they have rendered themselves politically impotent by voting monolithically. “If one party can count on our vote, then they can take us for granted. Predictability is suicidal.”

Good work Marvin. Now let's see if the GOP is serious - or if they'd rather keep being the minority party, allowing Obama and the Democrats to shove their agenda through.

RINO Ralph Norman uses political office for personal gain

Ralph Norman, after losing a poorly-run Congressional challenge to Fifth District Democrat John Spratt, is looking to return to the State House in an upcoming special election in York County.

During his one-term stint in the House, Norman earned his RINO status with self-serving stunts like
using his position to have state tax dollars spent for personal gain:

The state Transportation Department and Rock Hill planned to spend $1.5 million landscaping an interchange at Interstate 77 and Dave Lyle Boulevard.

But state Representative Ralph Norman of Rock Hill says he wants the money redirected to other interchanges in his House district. Norman said last week he would lobby to have the work abandoned unless Rock Hill leaders change how they plan to spend the money.

Norman has said he opposes the city's landscaping plan because it would leave about a quarter of the trees there standing. He says more trees should be cut so drivers and potential shoppers can get a clearer view of businesses as they drive by. That includes property his developed and 15 acres of prime property near the intersection.

Norman says there is no conflict of interest and he is standing up for taxpayers.

But his involvement has Rock Hill leaders questioning if Norman is using his political influence in a way that would affect a decision involving his development company.

Well-known for standing by fellow self-serving RINO Mark Sanford, Norman's brief tenure in the State House showed how committed he was to representing his own interests, just as his quick hop to Congress showed how he viewed House District 48 as little more than a political stepping stone.

Now he wants a second chance to enrich his business and ditch his former constituents. The questions that we have to ask are:

1) How soon will RINO Ralph return to using his position to bully his way for personal gain?
2) How long will it be before he ditches District 48 for his next political move?

Those are questions that seem to be on the minds of District 48 voters as polling indicates the candidacy of Republican Roger Costner may be a little tougher to beat than expected.

Who is Kristin Maguire, and why do we not care?

Recently, the Blogland learned something that, if true, presented information deemed as relatively trival, non-essential, and most importantly - harmless and irrelevant.

It would see as if one believes what was presented, then perhaps Kristin Maguire, the now-former State Board of Education Chair, might be a bit of a freak. Or since nothing attributed to her was more than emails posted under what was a pen name and statements attributed to unnamed sources, maybe she's not.

The Blogland's official response: "Either way, who the hell cares, and what does any of this have to do with the role she played in state government?"

Perhaps Maguire is a hypocrite who preached virtues which she did not live by - lots of evangelical Christians turn out that way - but unless you can show me where what she did was criminal, and not just obnoxious, what she may or may not have posted on the web is not my concern. Besides, if she is a self-righteous hypocrite, I've learned that such types often do themselves in. The smart people know that instead of trying to push them overboard, it's easier to sit back, watch and chuckle as they do themselves in.

Even my theologically-oriented postings stray away from issues related to lifestyles. Perhaps this admission will get me in a little trouble with my priest, but I believe that if you can live with what you're doing, then far be it from me to tell you what is right or wrong.

Another reason why I don't get into Bible-thumping about personal lives is because the subject is a very slippery slope, and one upon which I don't have the best footing. As someone who is twice divorced and been single for six years (in spite of my efforts to try to change that), my life is hardly a role model for others. No matter how virtous one might proclaim themselves to be, there's always someone who is - or at least seems - "better" than we are. As such, it seems prudent to not engage in a losing game.

Of all the things that have been discussed here in the Blogland, personal lifestyle issues such as sexual orientation and marital matters are generally off limits, following the biblical counsel which goes along the lines of "he who is without sin, cast the first stone".

Even if so many others seem quite content to grab stones and throw them.

Even if those who are often are throwing them from within glass houses.

To some extent, we're all standing in glass houses, so perhaps our state's political discourse is best served by us putting the stones down and focusing on the issues which matter, instead of who's more virtuous and who's the real freak.

Besides, there are some things I just don't want to know about people. So unless it's criminal, I'd rather keep the whips and chains in the bedroom and out of the state's political discourse.