Happy New Year - It's Beef Jerky time!

Today's Birthday Triple: Graham, Lisella and Martin

Sometimes, good things come in threes and there aren't many occasions better suited for good things and great times than New Years' Eve. In that spirit, the Blogland wants to wish a very Happy Birthday and an early Happy New Year's to three well-known and accomplished South Carolina politicos who are celebrating their birthdays today:

Moye Graham, the Chair of the Clarendon County Republican Party, a well-traveled international man of mystery and one of the legendary Four Horsemen of the Political Apocalypse. He's on a roll these days, having led Clarendon County Republicans in a unprecedented special election stunner, getting 48 percent of the vote in a spring State House special election race in a heavily-Democratic district.

Mark Lisella, a Lowcountry native who has become a well-known national Republican political strategist and direct mail guru. He's been on a long winning streak over the last two election cycles, especially in North Carolina races, and is hard at work gearing up for 2012 races.

Shane Martin, a Spartanburg County State Senator and automotive R&D engineering consultant who is gearing up for election to a second term in the Senate. His first race was a stunning landslide upset of the incumbent Senator by roughly two-to-one in the 2008 GOP run-off. He'll certainly be a formidable candidate for anyone who wants to take him on next year, but we haven't heard any names surfacing yet so maybe he'll get a free ride.

EPA rules threaten closure of SC power plants

Santee Cooper's Conway
coal-fired power plant
Several dozen mostly coal-fired power plants in a dozen states will be forced to shut down with several dozen more facing possible closure because of new federal air pollution regulations, according to an Associated Press survey. These changes may force Santee-Cooper, which relies upon coal-powered generation plants to generate three-quarters of its electric output, to close at least two of its coal-powered generator plants, reducing it's generating capacity by at least ten percent.

The immediate impact will cost several dozen jobs at the Conway plant, but considering the importance of the company's electric supply to several major industrial plants in the region, more jobs could be lost. Santee Cooper supplies Alcoa and Nucor Steel, along with other manufacturing plants in the region. It seems hard to imagine that reducing the utility's ability to generate power would be good for its customers. Alcoa, which operates an aluminum plant in Goose Creek, is already considering leaving, with electric rates being a key concern.

It's possible the new rules could also impact South Carolina Electric and Gas, the state's other major electricity supplier, which operates coal-fired plants in South Carolina to generate about half of its total electricity output. Presently, it's still uncertain how the new regulations will impact its capacity, but if plants were to close, it would reduce the state's capacity for some time to come - at least until the ongoing expansion of their V.C. Summer nuclear plant in Fairfield County is complete, which is several years away.

Stay tuned folks, but keep the flashlights close at hand, just in case ...

Getting punked, Bachmann style

Having recently drawn fire for playing sore loser in the chase for the TEA Party vote, the Michele Bachmann campaign stepped on yet another political landmine in South Carolina earlier today. Their poor attempt to one-up the struggling campaign of Rick Santorum, a RINO pandering to social conservatives, only succeeded in getting them punked by none other than Tyler Jones, one of the state's foremost Democratic campaign operatives.

It started earlier today when the Bachmann campaign issued a news release:

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann today announced the team of grassroots leaders who will propel her campaign to victory in South Carolina. This announcement leaves little doubt that the Bachmann campaign has the most organized ground game in the Palmetto State.

A list so organized that it included the Jones' name as one of the campaign's leaders in Charleston County, where Jones resides. Jones admitted to responding to an email solicitation of support from the Bachmann campaign, which led to his being included in the list of "grassroots supporters", prior to a retraction issued by the Bachmann campaign later in the day.

But the story grows more interesting, so keep reading.

South Carolina mulling options to challenge Justice on Voter ID

Taking a break from arming Mexican gangs, Eric Holder's Justice Department declared that it would not give preclearance to South Carolina's Voter ID law, which would require voters to present photo identification when casting ballots. This decision came earlier today in spite of revelations earlier this week about problems with state voter registration data which might facilitate voting by those ineligible to cast ballots:

For instance, the DMV found that the Election Commission had “several instances of seemingly incongruous, illogical or nonconforming data” that included what appeared be a 130-year-old voter, 25 voters registered at a Sumter County jail and 19 registered at a Myrtle Beach Post Office. The commission “even told us that they knowingly changed Social Security numbers by a single digit when they moved from one county to another because their computers were incapable of acknowledging the same number as part of the transfer process from one county to another,” Shwedo wrote.

Attorney General Alan Wilson responded several hours later, tweeting: "I will file a Declaratory Judgement action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia as soon as possible." This course of action is consistent with a promise made earlier this year in a Blogland interview with State Rep. Alan Clemmons, who chairs the House subcommittee on election law. Clemmons believed:

The chief benefit of having such important issues heard by the court is that they will be considered more on legal merit and less through the political sieve of the Obama Administration.

Declaratory Judgement is a process allowed for in Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, which allows cities, counties and states who are required to submit election laws and changes to the Justice Department to bypass Justice and seek approval from a three-judge panel in the Washington D.C. District Federal Court.

Guest Cartoon: Jamie Walton - Santa and the North Pole

Thursday: Talking politics in the Pee Dee

We're honored to be the featured guest on the new political webcast by Bill Pickle, the Florence County GOP Chair. The show - "The Pickle Barrel" - is streamed live from Bean Groovy, 848 Woody Jones Blvd., Florence, SC. The hour-long show starts at 6:30PM.

We look forward to having a fun conversation with Bill about the year in state politics, as well as the ongoing campaigns for the Seventh District and for President, where we've seen lots of fireworks taking place (including here in the Blogland).

You can bet we'll do our part to keep the show lively, including some fun surprises that will keep you in stitches the whole time.

If you're in the region, drop by and watch the show. Otherwise, tune in by visiting his website: www.inthepicklebarrel.com/p/barrel-live-stream.html

Chanukah message: Resistance in a time of darkness

Today, Jews begin to observe the eight days of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. While this holiday’s importance among Jews has varied, it is often more celebrated in the United States as it is usually observed around the same time as Christmas.

Chanukah (more commonly known outside the Jewish community as Hanukkah) is recognized by many for the lighting of candles on menorahs in Jewish homes, bringing light to the longest and darkest days of the Northern Hemisphere. But it also commemorates the time when Jews rallied against long odds to bring light to their homeland in a dark time in Jewish history.

House Republicans seek to rein in FCC

Congressional Republicans have had enough of the Federal Communications Commission (FFC) acting in an arbitrary and less-than-transparent manner, so they're pushing efforts to rein the agency in.

Keep in mind that one of the four sitting commission members is Mignon Clyburn, a South Carolina native whose father is Congressman Jim "JC Hammer" Clyburn.

Gingrich's campaign team troubles

When the Des Moines Register listed the hurdles which could trip up Newt Gingrich's surging candidacy, it identified his weak campaign organization as his first vulnerability:
Gingrich’s relative lack of organization handicaps him. He didn’t open an Iowa headquarters until last weekend, just 34 days before the caucuses. (Organizing took a long hiatus after his entire Iowa staff quit in early June, citing the candidate’s lackadaisical fundraising and campaigning.)

The late start has revealed itself in a spate of growing pains and errors in recent days.
This might help explain why he's losing a lead he held in Iowa for the last few weeks, and it’s not the only news story which has noted this problem with his campaign. Reportedly, he is having similar problems in Virginia and his campaign may be facing a similar problem in South Carolina.

Guest op-ed: Allen Olson - Negative campaigning threatens TEA Party movement

his op-ed was published in The State earlier today and was also submitted to the Blogland. Guest op-eds and cartoons are considered for publication via email to earl@earlcapps.org.

The strength of the TEA Party is also it's weakness. The beauty of the TEA Party movement is that it is decentralized, made up of many local organizations with a loose affiliation to one another and have no one person who speaks for all of us. The reason that is a strength is that any one organization can be co-opted or corrupted, yet the movement will still be carried on by others. Since the start we have accomplished much, and as long as we stay focused on the overall goal, I believe we will accomplish much more.

The weakness of a decentralized movement is that you have many in local leadership roles who will try and steer the direction of the TEA Party movement as a whole, to their own personal agenda. That includes tearing down fellow TEA Party members to accomplish their goal.

Tim Scott brings Romney to Charleston for a Town Hall event

Even though it was first thing on a Saturday morning in the middle of holiday shopping season, it didn’t stop the crowd from filling the Memminger Auditorium in downtown Charleston for the latest in First District Congressman Tim Scott’s Presidential Town Hall series of candidate forums. Today’s guest: Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Introducing Romney was his wife, Ann, and Governor Nikki Haley, who endorsed his candidacy yesterday. Haley explained her endorsement as being driven by their experiences as Governors, saying “we have to get things done” and calling for a “fresh start” in the White House with a President who wasn’t already in Washington. She also pointed out the Democratic Party attacks on Romney as a sign of Romney’s viability as a candidate, saying “if Obama’s scared, that’s a good thing”.

Romney opened with a stump speech that focused on the need for greater fiscal restraint and maintaining a strong defense posture, warning of an Air Force which had been cut to its smallest size since its founding in 1947 and a Navy fleet too small to meet its projected needs.

Blogland in Front Page Magazine: "South Carolina Fight Against the NLRB Continues"

This article was originally written for the Front Page Magazine, which published it earlier this week.

While the recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to drop its lawsuit against Boeing’s new South Carolina plant may have signaled the end of its battle with Boeing, there are numerous signs that South Carolina’s battles with the agency will continue. Instead of resting on their laurels, many in South Carolina are continuing to battle the agency on a number of fronts, as well as continuing to work protect workers’ rights from labor union interference.

Pimpin' the Tea Party

Earlier this week, FITS News called out the Gingrich campaign for seeking to win the Tea Party vote by hiring certain individuals who presented themselves as connected. This issue flared up after a comment by Wesley Donehue, a South Carolina politico working for the Michele Bachmann campaign, that "Bachmann is trying to grow an organic base of supporters, and Newt Gingrich is trying to buy off tea party groups" was brought up by John King of CNN.

Bachmann herself hasn’t gone so far as to directly accuse Gingrich of purchasing Tea Party support, although she did say this week that she has “been hearing this all across the country, that money is changing hands.”

Gingrich’s campaign didn’t directly deny the allegation – choosing instead to slam Bachmann for attacking the “character” of Tea Party leaders.

The FITS story singled out Gerri McDaniels, a paid employee of the Newt Gingrich for President campaign, who recently played a key role in ramming through an endorsement vote by the Myrtle Beach Tea Party which, not surprisingly, endorsed her employer. When asked what she thought about this connection, McDaniels engaged in denial and diversion, tactics characteristic of her short time of involvement in state politics:

Midlands Neo-Nazi leader sentenced for fraud

It's been a while since the Blogland has talked about August Kreis, a Midlands resident and noted white supremacist, but it seems he's been busy these days, having been sentenced today in federal court for charges of fraud.

A one-time leader in the Aryan Nations white supremacist group has been sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to fraud.

A judge on Wednesday sentenced August Kreis (krys) to time served as he awaited sentencing after pleading guilty to taking nearly $193,000 in a need based military pension that prosecutors said he wasn't entirely eligible to collect.

His organization embraces what they call "Ethical National-Socialism", which they claim is: "a progressive continuation of National-Socialism as practiced by the F├╝hrer in the days of the Third Reich. It is how he viewed the Aryan race and other ethical cultures."

After we discussed his 2006 Aryan Nations conference, he thought so much of us as to write a nice, but short, note:

Small town strangeness, Part Two: Bonneau has balls

For today's second tale of small town strangeness in the Palmetto State, we take you to Bonneau.

Bonneau is a small town in rural Berkeley County, so small that it's losing it's Post Office, but the town is showing that it's big in other ways, issuing a ticket to a motorist whose rear bumper sported a pair of dangling fake testicles:

Virginia Tice was given a $445 ticket on July 5 that accuses her of violating the state's obscene bumper sticker law. And other than a hefty fine, the ticket is causing a huge controversy that extends far past the Bonneau city limits.

Small town strangeness, Part One: Foolishness in Wellford

For today's first tale of small town strangeness in South Carolina, we take you to Wellford, a small town in Spartanburg County which drew national attention a couple of years ago when their then-Mayor, Sallie Peake, directed that the town's police follow a "no chase" policy.

But it wasn't just what she said that drew attention, but how she said it that make this tale interesting. A TV interview of her rambling and disorganized attempt to defend the policy to a reporter she tried to dodge showcased just about everything wrong in speaking to an audience.

Now, the former Mayor, who railed in the video about wasting money, calling police chases "foolishness", was arrested, accused of engaging in another kind of foolishness involving taxpayer money:

Legislative parking trivia

With the holiday season upon us, the Blogland wants to give some gifts to our readers - but since nothing in life is free, we're going to make you earn them.

To win our “Legislative Parking Trivia” contest, look at these photos which were taken over the summer somewhere in South Carolina and answer two questions:

1) What is the lane in front of restaurants generally reserved for, and
2) Name the legislator who owns this vehicle.

The winners will receive prizes, which will come from these following gift items:

  • A Canadian flag mug, representing the birthplace of more Myrtle Beach residents than Myrtle Beach itself, and
  • Some cool circular “41” and “43” stickers, great for remembering the two Bush presidencies.
  • Cool metal CDs.
The first five readers who respond with the correct answers via email to earl@earlcapps.org will win the prize. All contest entries will be kept confidential, as well as the identity of the contestant who submits the winning answer (unless publication is requested). This way you can win the prizes without worry, fear or guilt.

The winning answers will be published – anonymously – shortly before New Years.

Remember, you can’t win if you don’t play, so take your best guess soon!

Run like Sheri Few (we didn't say win)

South Carolina's world of political strategists grows as another politico advertises her services as a campaign consultant.

After botching several State House bids in the Midlands, Sheri Few wants to share her election campaign magic, offering her services via her new website Electing Conservatives:

Guest cartoon: Walton aims at the "Rats of Chester County"

Jamie Walton, the Blogland's contributing cartoonist who lives in northern Chester County, not terribly far from Rock Hill, sounds off on recent purchases by Chester County in the name of economic development.

Redistricting to divide state's towering landmarks?

Twenty years ago, South Carolina underwent the first significant reshuffling of its Congressional districts in almost a century when the Pee Dee region, which had long been unified in a single Congressional district, was divided between three of the state’s then-six districts: the First, Fifth and Sixth Districts.

However, it was the first time the state placed its two towering Interstate landmarks - Gaffney’s Peachoid and the Sombrero tower of South of the Border - within the same Congressional District. Since then, the state’s two towering freeway landmarks have been represented by the same member of Congress – first John Spratt and now Mick Mulvaney.

Unfortunately, this relationship appears headed for a break-up as both of the competing redistricting plans threaten to overlook this community of interest. The Congressional maps which were passed would separate these two landmarks, leaving the Peachoid in the Fifth District, while moving the Sombrero into the Seventh, and Pee Dee Republicans are of mixed opinions as to what the potential impact of this move will be, as well as who is to blame.

Staff quits Viers congressional campaign?

Seventh Congressional District Thad Viers' congressional campaign seems to be suffering yet another setback after a weak initial fundraising effort.

The Blogland has learned from several sources that Viers has lost his two campaign staffers, including Jill Kelso, who was hired to be his campaign manager. Kelso, who had listed Viers as her employer on her Facebook profile, recently removed employment information from that profile. The Blogland has attempted to contact Kelso to confirm these reports, but has received no response (but not responding or wanting to go on the record is the norm for the Viers camp).

This might help explain why the almost-daily email flow from the Viers campaign dried up last week.

Columbia's got the blues

It may be a great day in South Carolina, but not for everyone - especially if you live in Columbia. According to Men's Health magazine, Columbia is among the 100 saddest cities in America.

They calculated suicide rates from the CDC and unemployment rates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (June 2011) and obtained data from the SimplyMap geographic information website to obtain information about the percentage of households that use antidepressants as well as the number of people who reported "feeling the blues all or most of the time". The only city in South Carolina surveyed - Columbia - ranked 77th place in the survey. It seems like a lot of people there have the blues, but we're not sure why.

The least down of the 100 cities surveyed were Honolulu, HI and Manchester, NH, while Detroit and St. Petersburg, FL came in at the other end. Most other cities in the region which where studied didn't fare well in the survey:

Blogland in Front Page Magazine: "Newt Rising"

The 2012 primary has featured a large pack of candidates with lots of wild swings in support among them. South Carolina has not been left out of these rapidly-changing currents. Michele Bachmann​, Herman Cain​, Mike Huckabee​ and Rick Perry​ all generated considerable waves of early enthusiasm with state GOP activists, only to lose ground later on. The newest candidate to surge in the Palmetto State is Gingrich.

Bolstering polls that show growing voter support for Gingrich, GOP activists in the Palmetto State have begun taking increased interest in his candidacy. Growing turnout at campaign events is one promising for the former House speaker’s prospects in South Carolina. A case in point is a recent question-and-answer session hosted by Charleston Congressman Tim Scott and the College of Charleston, which attracted national news media and filled the venue’s seven hundred seats a full half hour before the event, forcing college officials to turn away many more. This was one of the largest turnouts for any Presidential campaign event in South Carolina so far in this cycle.

Lowcountry Republicans to protest Rocky D program cancellation

Earlier today, well-known conservative local talk radio host Rocky D, who had broadcast an afternoon talk show on WTMA 1250am, was abruptly fired and his show replaced with a nationally-syndicated show. This comes shortly after his radio station changed ownership.

Charleston-area Republicans have responded quickly to this move, setting up a Facebook page and organizing to try to pressure the station into reinstating Rocky's program.

Tomorrow (Friday) at 3pm, local fans of Rocky D are going to rally in front of the station to call for the reinstatement of Rocky's radio program. The Blogland will definitely be there - as he's been there for so many for so long, it seems like the only right thing to do.

The station is located at 4230 Faber Place Drive, which is right off Leeds Avenue, between Interstate 526 and the Cummins manufacturing complex. If coming from I-26, turn right at the end of the ramp and then left off Leeds shortly after that.

Fort Lawn event cancelled

We were just notified that the planned GOP Presidential campaign forum planned for this Saturday in Fort Lawn, SC has been cancelled and will be rescheduled. Please update your calendars accordingly.