Today's Joke: Gilmore for President?

In the closing days of Election 2006, while his friend and fellow Virginia Republican George Allen was struggling to prevent losing his Senate seat and prevent a Democratic takeover of the US Senate, Jim Gilmore, former VA Governor and RNC Chairman, thought long and hard about where he could make the biggest difference.

Then he headed down to South Carolina to make a series of campaign appearances ... ?

It looks like Gilmore believed advancing his personal ambitions for 2008 mattered more than his team did in 2006. Now, he's looking to build upon his record of "leadership", by offering to do for national Republicans what he did for Virginia Republicans:

Former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III has decided to form a committee to examine running for president in 2008, casting himself as a fiscal conservative with executive experience and national security credentials.

In an interview yesterday, Gilmore said his candidacy would fill a void among Republican presidential hopefuls, who he believes are not dedicated enough to important conservative principles.

Now, after he helped to deliver control of the Senate to the Democrats, Gilmore would now like to make a difference in the Presidential race.

I'm sure the Democrats can't wait ...

Will Nukes save Iran?

Some very interesting thinking from Mike Burleson's blog, about the efforts of Iran and other nations to construct nuclear arsenals to draw attention away from internal dissent and provide breathing room from the West, while they seek to short up domestic instabilities:

While the insurgents dominate the headlines with suicide bombers, car bombs, and IEDs, an equally hopeful President George W. Bush is winning the war of ideas. He has been hotly ctisized, especially after his Axis of Evil speech of January 2002, which was strangely reminiscent of Reagan’s speech 20 years earlier, both in its truthfulness and the amount of sarcasm it has received. By challenging the tyrants and terrorists to mend their ways, or face the wrath of the people, he has placed their backward ideology on notice.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad and other demagogues may shore up their defenses, expand their nuclear arsenals, and seal their borders, yet the truth will always filter through. While they console themselves in the strength of their suicidal converts, and with the sympathy of Western elites, the very extremeness of their constant rhetoric reveals an increasing dread that their time is short.

"Nukes won't save Iran" (12/11/2006)

As the world watches Iran, hosting a conference denying the Holocaust, while Iranian students protest against their President, one does have to wonder if the hand of the tyrants is a strong one, or a weak and desperate one ...

Person of the Year 2006

As I struggle to get a computer up and running so my kids can use it for some projects that are due in school this week, I notice that Time Magainze just announced their Person of the Year.

After carefully examining the events of the past year, and those who made them, Time Magazine's Person of the Year is ...

Here's some of what Time had to say about their choice:

To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

... interesting idea.

Anthrax's Sound of White Noise

Anthrax is one of the most-enduring and better known bands in the metal scene, and still going strong. Without a doubt, these guys are the real deal.

The band's Sound of White Noise album, released in 1993, came at a pivotal point in their career. After the success of the band's recent partnership with Chuck D of Public Enemy in the groundbreaking fusion of rap and metal in the song "Bring the Noise", lead singer Joey Belladonna (who is back with the band) was replaced with John Bush, former lead singer for the band Armored Saint (who is back with that band now).

The first product of the new lineup was their hard-rockin' Sound of White Noise album. This was considered by many, including myself, to have been their best album.

Unfortunately, as it was shortly after the 80s metal scene collapsed, taking all bands from that time down with them, whether or not they deserved it, so it didn't get the exposure it deserved - AND IT DESERVED A LOT!!!

My favorite songs on the album? Potter's Field, Room for One More, and Hy Pro Glo.

What are you waiting for? Go check the album out!

Peach Road interchange opens (Exit 32, I-77)

I got photos back from my company's latest highway project completion: the Peach Road interchange at Mile 32 on Interstate 77 in Fairfield County, and thought I'd share them with ya'll.

There I am, standing off to the side, trying to keep warm in the 40 degree weather, watching a rather well-organized event roll right along ... but the best part was the barbeque lunch provided by Po Pig's from West Columbia (go check that place out, ya'll! ... and Ross, thanks for the lead!)

With just a week's notice and quite a bit of help from the following people, the opening event, which I was asked to coordinate, went rather well:
  • Jeremiah Bradley, SCDOT Resident Construction Engineer
  • Cheryl Brown, Clerk of Fairfield County Council
  • Tiffany Harrsion, Fairfield County Economic Development
  • Tina Hembree, SCDOT Governmental and Public Affairs

    ... but especially Tiffany!
The project took an existing road which crossed over I-77 and upgraded it to a full interchange, providing a direct connection to the county's industrial park. The event turnout included management from my company and subcontractors, the local and state levels of SCDOT (including two commissioners), county officials, Congressman John Spratt's office, as well as management from the companies in the adjacent Walter Brown Industrial Park.
Ribbon cutting

Of course, the signs for the interchange arrived just as we were getting ready to have the ribbon-cutting event. Talk about perfect timing!

With 200-300 acres of undeveloped land, with water, sewer, and roads in place, between Charlotte and Columbia, improving access to this park might be the catalyst for development in a fairly poor rural county that needs good paying jobs and tax revenue.

Also, I have to thank the local officials who invited me to attend the tree-lighting in Winnsboro the night before, after I looked over the event location. I didn't have much time to check it out, considering how tired I was between two events in a week, finals in grad school and a pretty bad cold, but it was definitely worth making the side trip.

Winnsboro is a nice little town, and one that hopefully will be a little better off for my company having done our part.

Some of my co-workers

McMaster stars in video on online predators - what's the big deal?

According to The State, Attorney Generalissimo Henry “Ferris Bueller” McMaster has garnered some free publicity for himself and provided a small peek inside his office’s efforts to snag online predators via an online video on Hitachi’s website.

The video focuses on his office’s online task force, discussing their work, and how they use Hitachi computing products in their work. The aim of the company’s program is to show some unconventional uses of their products, no doubt to convince potential buyers to give them a try.

In return, Henry and his staff get some free publicity. In the worlds of PR and political communication, “earned media” is never a bad thing. I call it a fair trade.

The story also raised questions that there may be an unfair advantage in that Henry received free advertising, which to me seemed to be fishing for a deeper story. They even put up an online poll asking readers if they felt that it was appropriate for Henry to appear in the video (I said yes).

Having just been re-elected unopposed, and with no discussion of any next political move, I don’t see the point of throwing that issue on the table. If he was gearing up for a Senate bid in two years, there might be something to discuss here.

But he’s not, so that dog ain't hunting.

If anything, since his election four years ago, we’ve probably seen the least overtly political behavior from Henry since before he first got into politics in the mid-1980.

Congrats to Henry on getting free publicity for its efforts to get on the cutting edge in the war on crime, and shame on Ben Werner at The State for trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

If you'd like to know more about Henry's video, click here, and you can click here to see The State's copy of the video.
As some of ya'll alredy know, my father has been doing this same kind of work in the Lowcountry for years ...

Grad School - Halfway there

At long last, the halfway point to my Master's Degree has been reached. Five classes down, four more to go (two in the spring), and of course, my thesis project. So far, I'm on track to be among the first to receive the new Master's Degree in Communication in the spring of 2008.

Then, with no doctoral program nearby, I'll be confronted with the toughest challenge I've ever faced - getting a life.

Having completed the required core courses in the Master's program, I'll receive my Graduate Certificate in Corporate and Organizational Communication after the first of the year, which will be the next framed thing on the wall.

Next spring, a course in Risk Communication and one in Rhetoric Theory, where I'll continue to dig deep and inflict pain, suffering and sleeplessness upon myself.

But for now, I get to try out a very wierd and different experience - being able to get home by 6 or 7 in the evening on weeknights and get a good night's sleep for a change.

Congrats to Charleston Law School

It's an early Christmas for the folks at the Charleston School of Law, where they received their accreditation from the American Bar Association. Those who took the leap of faith by enrolling in the school while it was a start-up will be rewarded with the opportunity to take the Bar exam and pursue careers in the legal profession.

This venture was supported by a large cast in the community, and will do much to help increase the quality and prestige of higher education offerings in the Lowcountry. The region will also benefit by their emphasis on public service, which requires students to perform pro bono work in the community as part of their work towards their degrees.

This is a win-win for the Lowcountry.

As the Vice-Chair of the Alumni Council for the College of Charleston's Department of Communication, whose new Masters program is hosted entirely at another major resource for graduate education - the growing Lowcountry Graduate Center - I know how important it is that the Lowcountry offer more graduate education opportunities.

To the team behind Charleston Law's success: Congratulations for a job well done, and thank you for your committment to making the Lowcountry a better place.

Branton's End: The price of negative campaigning in Dorchester County

For today's lesson in what unethical campaign "dirty tricks" can get you, we present the example of former State Senator Bill Branton of Dorchester County, who has gone to ground to duck a series of fines and judgments over his past campaigns.

Last spring, the Post and Courier was assured that he would address his mounting fines for not filing campaign disclosures from his 2002 campaign for Governor (which he lost). With nearly $40,000 in fines still due, it's obvious he hasn't settled the matter after all.

If you think not filing forms or paying fines is bad enough ... it pales in comparison to the mess he made this spring, in his attempt to make a comeback from his stunning 2004 landslide ouster from his State Senate seat, where Randy Scott defeated him by 63-37%:

Mr. Branton now faces a judgment for an attempt to send out a mailing from an anonymous group, making false claims about the County Council incumbent he sought to defeat.

The damages continue to mount from a negative flier that Dorchester County Council Chairman Skip Elliott says cost him a re-election bid this summer.

A judge will tell former Sen. Bill Branton how much money he owes Elliott next month. Elliott sued Branton for libel, and Branton failed to respond to the complaint. Elliott is seeking actual and punitive damages.

Meanwhile, two companies that helped print and mail the flier have been left holding the bag for the bill.

The flier arrived in Summerville mailboxes a few days before the Republican primary in June. It implied that Elliott had voted for his own property deals on council.

Actually, Elliott's father conducted the deals, and Elliott recused himself when council voted on them. The mailing urged people to "vote for anybody but Walter 'Skip' Elliott."

The flier was labeled as paid for by Citizens for Change, an unregistered name for which nobody claimed responsibility. Branton denied knowing anything about it, as did Elliott's other opponent, Jamie Feltner.

- Charleston Post and Courier (12/9/2006)

For all his trouble, he finished third and didn't even make it into the runoff. Then he tried running for the school board in the fall ... and then quit the race.

In any event, Bill's blustering and ranting on the campaign about "backroom deals" and "my daughters won't even move back here" can be put into a more informed perspective with the lies and sleazy games that have come to light about his own campaign conduct. If he doesn't run for office again, the people of Dorchester County will be better off for it ... and he won't be missed.

Cultivation update #3: The analysis

For those of you who are interested ... here is the conclusion of my research into Cultivation Theory and its potential applications to understanding the persuasive power of political television advertising ...

Hypothesis 1, which predicted those who watch more television would have a higher level of willingness to rely on television advertising in making voting decisions, was not supported by these findings. As the highest hourly mean score (2.423) was for those who watched an average of two hours of television daily, increased exposure to television did not increase the overall willingness to rely on political television advertising.

Hypothesis 2, which predicted that the willingness to believe positive claims about candidates made in political television advertising would generally increase along with viewing time, was supported. As the highest mean score (3.122) was for those who watched five hours of television daily, there was a general upward trend in the willingness of respondents to believe these advertisements.

Hypothesis 3, which predicted that the willingness to believe negative claims about candidates made in political television advertising would generally increase along with viewing time, was not supported. As with Hypothesis 1, the highest mean score was for two-hour viewers (2.08), followed by an overall decline in believability. Therefore, the willingness to believe negative political advertising did not increase with viewing time.

Overall, the research findings presented here did not show a significant cultivation effect to be present with regard to political advertising. However, as there is much research which shows that television programming, including advertising, can have cultivation effects upon viewers, these findings alone cannot be assumed to deny that such an effect exists.

There are a number of factors which were not examined in the course of this research that could affect willingness of voters to consider the claims made in political television advertising. These factors include personal viewing interests and motives, as well as the amount of political advertising in programming that viewers watched. For example, a voter who views television for purely entertainment motives may largely disregard political advertising (as well as other forms of advertising), while one who watches news programming regularly might pay closer attention to such advertising.

Another point worth considering is that while voters may claim to have a low level of willingness to rely upon political advertising, research indicated that there may be subliminal processes at work which allow messages to be processed and stored in the minds of viewers without conscious thought (Posner & Snyder, 1975; Jamieson, 1992). Further research into what takes place in the minds of television viewers who are exposed to political television advertising can help determine if these findings are an aberration, or an indication of the shortcomings of cultivation theory in this area.

There exists considerable research which shows that political advertising has a significant influence upon voters who are exposed to it, even if such effects may not be fully understood. While this alone presents sufficient justification for further research, the knowledge that campaign tactics used in American political campaigns may later be used in political campaigns in other nations should serve as caution that these methods of political communication can have effects on a global scale. Given the potential global reach of these effects, the need to better understand this form of political communication presents a challenge which should not be taken lightly.

With many of the survey participants having indicated a willingness to participate in future research, as well as the number of questions which my research raised, this project may well end up becoming the subject of my thesis project, to begin next summer.

As always, your thoughts on this subject are welcome ...

Rebels Immediately Regret Seizing Power In Zambia

Rebels Immediately Regret Seizing Power In Zambia

The Onion

Rebels Immediately Regret Seizing Power In Zambia

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA—"None of the blood that filled our streets nor the carnage that choked our citied could have prepared us for these pathetic annual GDP figures," said former rebel and new head of state Uwimana Kowry.

"After months of combat, the United Deliverance Front has this morning taken command of one of Africa's most beleaguered nations, installing itself as the supreme ruler over 11 million desperate, ailing, and angry citizens. Dear Jesus, what the hell were we thinking?"

The mood among UDF soldiers quickly worsened when they realized it was up to them to pick up the pieces after a very recent and destructive uprising.

"And to think we were so proud to catch government forces in [the city of] Harbel by surprise," UDF General Gahiji Boshoso said. "Those lucky bastards were probably just as relieved as they were shocked that anyone would want to be in charge of such a nightmarish wasteland. Even parts of Nigeria are better than this, and that's one of the worst countries on earth."

"Would it have killed us to take over Estonia instead—you know, a country with running water?"

... click link above for the full story.

My own "24"

The clock ticks to the end of my fall semester, the toughest one yet. In the next 24 hours, I will try to put in six hours of study time, work a full day, chair a midday work meeting, drive to Columbia for a presentation and make it to class by 6pm for the final in my last class of the semester.

Somehow, I think the poor guy on 24 had it easier than I will in the next 24 hours ...

Enough already ... agreed

Sunny Phillips over at the Crunchy Republican has tired of her blog comment section becoming fertile grounds for anonymous cowards with petty agendas, dishonest motives, or just plain mental issues, and is cracking the whip in her "Enough Already" posting.

Like her, I'm tired of trying to have an intelligent and thoughful discussion and have these losers ruin a good thing. I support her, and will make more of an effort to only allow postings which ...

1) Allow people to express thoughts related to the subject, or
2) Postings so ridiculous that approving them provides a degree of entertainment value.

As some of ya'll know, dissenting opinions, so long as they're respectful, are allowed and even encouraged. That part of this blog will, as always, continue.

Congratulations to Mary Pearson

This morning, Governor Mark Sanford appointed Mary Pearson as the first Republican Treasurer of Dorchester County. She will serve the remainder of the current term of office and stand for election to a full term in 2008.

Thanks go out to those of you across South Carolina who voiced your support for the appointment of this dedicated public servant following the previous blog posting on the subject. Mary will be a strong voice for the taxpayers of Dorchester County.

Special thanks to fellow bloggers Mike Reino at SC 6 and Brian McCarty at Voting under the Influence, who joined in this effort - more proof of the effect of coordinated efforts by S.C. bloggers to present issues and advocate action.

I died and went to Hell (graduate school)

This is the final two weeks of the semester in graduate school ...

Last Monday, I turned in a 22 page paper.

Last Wednesday, a 25 pager, with a 15 minute discussion of my research.

Tomorrow, a 14 page group paper, with a discussion of our analysis.

On Wednesday, a cumulative final ... and then it's over ... until January ...

Some wait until they die to go to Hell, but some of us who go to graduate school may already be there ... click here if you want to hear my current state of mind.

U.S. 521: Now 4 lanes from Sumter to Manning

On Wednesday, the first day my voice returned, I drove up to Manning for our lane-opening event to mark the end of one of my company's largest highway construction contracts - the widening of U.S. 521 from Manning to I-95, which included the replacement of eight consecutive bridges over the Pocataligo River.

Little did I know that not only was I going up there to make sure the event set-up was done, as the event organizer, but I also ended up as the "MC" for the event.

Notables in attendance included State Senator John Land, Clarendon County Council Chairman Dwight Stewart, several people with the SCDOT, as well as several of the crews who had been involved in much of the project.

Barbeque was served by D&H Barbeque of Manning. When in town, ya'll have got to go check them out!

A project that ran pretty smoothly, overcame hurdles with little difficulty, and most importantly, no serious injuries or fatalities among anyone who worked on the project. What more could one ask for?

With our work complete, the town of Manning now has a four-lane connection to the interior of the state, which will improve travel times, increase safety, and serve as an economic development magnet for the area. No doubt a fine Christmas present to the people of Clarendon County.

In both pictures, Senator Land is on the left, and I'm on the right, with ...

In the center (above) is Dwight Stewart, Clarendon County Council Chairman.

In the center (above) is Jim Porth, the District 7 SCDOT Resident Construction Engineer.