Shirley Hinson for the State Senate

The last couple of weeks have been tough, with the passing of my friend, Senator Bill Mescher. He certainly leaves some big shoes to fill in the State Senate.

The candidate best qualified for that job is Goose Creek Representative Shirley Hinson.

I haven’t always been a friend of Shirley’s. In 2000, I ran the campaign of her now-former husband, Jimmy Hinson, which ended in a close finish in a tough, high-profile GOP run-off. To her critics who are still holding the personal issues over her, I say it’s long past time to put that issue behind, get over it, and move forward. Regardless of what you think, it's long past and not relevant.

Over the last eleven years in the House, Shirley Hinson has learned the ropes in the General Assembly. She won’t start as a novice in the Senate, which will be critical in making sure Berkeley County’s primary Senate district is well-represented. To that end, her willingness to stand up and be heard on issues important to her county mean she will put that experience to work.

On the important issues of the day, Shirley is the right voice to bring to the table in the Senate. She is a fiscal conservative who played a leadership role in working to end “alternative” school district funding which unethically burdened taxpayers with the load of billions of dollars of school debt.

Shirley doesn’t just attack the problems at the legislative level. She came home and worked to unseat members of her county’s school board who were some of the biggest hogs at the alternative funding trough. This included campaigning for her ex-husband, who was her 2000 opponent. Having run the campaigns of the two candidates who ousted the county’s most atrocious alternative funding advocates, I found Shirley to be one of our best allies, fully committed to protecting the taxpayers.

Shirley has also worked to support continued efforts at restructuring. The Senate, long a dead-end for reform efforts, will find it a little harder to get away with “business as usual” with Shirley among them.

In Shirley Hinson, we find a legislator who is tough campaigner, thoughtful about the issues which affect her constituents, and outspoken when it counts. These qualities are crucial in serving in public office, and would serve her, and the people of Berkeley County, well in the Senate.

She has learned much in her career of public service, and has much to offer in the State Senate. The voters of her district would be wise to give her a much-deserved promotion in the upcoming special election.

Thomas Friedman: The Power of Green

In the Sunday edition of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, always the deep thinker, offers some counsel on how the United States can shift it's global leadership focus in a post-Iraq environment:

One day Iraq, our post-9/11 trauma and the divisiveness of the Bush years will all be behind us — and America will need, and want, to get its groove back. We will need to find a way to reknit America at home, reconnect America abroad and restore America to its natural place in the global order — as the beacon of progress, hope and inspiration. I have an idea how. It’s called “green.”

Well, I want to rename “green.” I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism.

There is a lot more to this, and well worth taking a look at, so go read what he has to say.

Jesse Jackson assails Don Imus while JC Hammer mumbles

In a press conference from Hymietown … um, New York City, Reverend Jesse Jackson, a long-time racial activist, assailed talk show hosts who used “hateful language, like that Don Imus joker”.

Joined by Al Sharpton and former U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford, who had been endorsed by Imus in his failed bid for a Tennessee Senate seat, Jackson warned:


In confronting the difficult issue of race, which we must have the courage to face, Don Imus stepped over the line. Those who say my past comments make me unfit to judge Mr. Imus must understand this: it does not matter what I say or do, it only matters that you say and do exactly as I say you should say or do.

Following the press conference in Hymietown … um, New York City, questions soon arose of where fellow Democrats, such as House Majority Whip J.C. Hammer, stood on the issue of Imus’ comments and his firing. However, Hammer (D-Too Legit to Quit) was busily working on his new efforts to introduce what he termed “selective appropriations”, in compliance with the Democratic Party’s “no earmarks” agenda. In a media release that did not directly address the issue of Imus' firing, Hammer said:


The extensive public discourse over this controversy has brought to light issues that remain unresolved within our society. I believe an open debate is a necessary and healthy process, and I hope we emerge from this event more enlightened and respectful of the diverse experiences and backgrounds of our fellow Americans.

According to one political analyst: "the only thing harder to find than clarity from politicos like Hammer are those Democrats Imus supported over the years. Maybe we could find them by fingerprinting the handles of all those knives that we found in Imus' back?"

Back to hell?

Written at 1.05 a.m. at the Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston, in the middle of an all-night study marathon while it's storming outside ... most rational people are in bed, safe and asleep ... but then again, I'm not very rational, so maybe it makes sense ...

Ya'll may remember a few months ago when I was in Graduate School Hell. Guess what? I'm back there again ... wish me luck ... and don't be surprised if the pace at the Blogland slows down a bit for the next few weeks while I struggle through some of this stuff - two papers to go ...


But rest assured, I planned ahead (kind of), so stay tuned for some really great hard rockin' album reviews that I've been working on, along with several Inside Interviews that should carry you, my ever-so-adorable readers, through the next couple of weeks.

400 Posts


Last night, the Blogland wanted to celebrate our 400th posting, but since we were cheap and tired from too many papers for graduate school, we decided to go home and have orange juice and crackers instead. Besides, with party animals like the ones shown above, we figured the world didn't need any more drunken idiots running around.

So we're going to say "Happy 400" and invite all of you to have your own parties to celebrate this occasion. Please be sure to invite us - we love a party ... at someone else's house ... when someone else is picking up the tab ... and someone will clean up after us. The only thing better than having freedom, is being able to have something for free.


So Happy 400 to one and all ... and as always, thanks for being part of the discussion. It wouldn't be anywhere near as much fun without all of you.
... coming up this week:
Inside Interview with Rep. Bill Cotty
Jesse Jackson, J.C. Hammer, and Don Imus

L.A. Guns' Tales from the Strip

For years, it seemed as if the few 80s metal bands that didn't implode after the deluge of grunge in the early 90s tended to put out albums that paled in comparision to what they recorded in their heyday.

But lately, some of what I'm hearing is making me reconsider that point of view. The most recent album from L.A. Guns, "Tales from the Strip", like a number of newer albums from 80s metal acts, shows a band that has gotten better with time. It's really a good solid album, and as good as anything they've ever recorded.

In listening to this album, with a collection of hard luck tales, one gets the sense that this is an older and wiser band - one that rocks, but has had time to reflect upon the double-edged sword that was the lifestyle of the LA metal scene of the 80s:

I been a vampire for 14 years
I been around the world
I heard it with my ears
Walking down the Sunset strip
Cast no shadow at The Whisky
At the Rainbow getting lit

-"Vampire"

All the songs are pretty solid hard-rockin' tracks, but my favorites would be "It Don't Mean Nothing", "Vampire", and "Shame".

This is definitely an album you want to get. But here's a video courtesy of You Tube performing "Hollywood's Burning", a track from the album, live:


Environmental Issues discussion

Tree hugging ... on my blog? Time to get out the drug test kit, right?

Recently, I've had some information come my way to present some compelling arguments of what may lie before us. Being the academic that I am, I haven't seen enough to be sure, but enough to want to explore ... and explore I shall. You can look forward to seeing some of those explorations make it onto this blog in the upcoming weeks and months.

We do have to admit that no research has shown that the use of fossil fuels has any positive or neutral effects upon the environment. The only difference we see in the ongoing debate is the extent of harm such fuels may be causing, as well as what can be done.

We also have to confront the reality that our fossil fuel dependency places our nation's economic security in the hands of many nations whose standards of governance and cultural values are appalling. From Chavez' assualts upon democratic values in Latin America to Islamic dictatorships in the Middle East, when we put fuel in our cars, we also fuel oppression and many of those who hate our nation the most. As a parent of daughters, doing anything which can further empower Islamic mullahs to oppress women is a chilling thought indeed.

In the Second World War, the United States mounted a massive mobilization and crusade to destroy our enemies before they destroyed us. The outcome of these efforts changed the course of human events, and laid the foundation for a radically-changed world. If indeed our world is again at stake, then I believe the United States can again lead yet another global transformation effort.

Whether the impacts of what is taking place are minor or major, we must better understand what we face, and act accordingly, just as was done by my grandparents' generation. What we choose to, or not, to do could affect our future as much as it did theirs.

In the next few weeks and months, I plan to explore and discuss issues affecting our environment here at the Blogland. These are issues which also affect our economy, national security, and our future, and as such, they deserve our full attention, so be sure to stay tuned ...

Google Earth and Darfur

Please take a moment to check this site out:


The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has joined with Google in an unprecedented online mapping initiative. Crisis in Darfur enables more than 200 million Google Earth users worldwide to visualize and better understand the genocide currently unfolding in Darfur, Sudan. The Museum has assembled content—photographs, data, and eyewitness testimony—from a number of sources that are brought together for the first time in Google Earth.

Crisis in Darfur is the first project of the Museum’s Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative that will over time include information on potential genocides allowing citizens, governments, and institutions to access information on atrocities in their nascent stages and respond.

Feminists for Colbert?

Recently, I put up a comment on the blogsite for Feminists for Colbert that I thought was harmless, and intended as a compliment, but apparently they disagreed. Well, I'm big enough to respect different points of view ... and to show I'm a good sport, I've added them to my blogroll.

So you might wonder ... "who are Feminists for Colbert?" Well, they're students involved with the Center for Women's and Gender Studies at my beloved College of Charleston (which makes them cooler than any other such students at any college in the entire universe).

They've got some cool "Full Frontal Feminism" T-shirts that I'd order one of, but shoot, they don't have a 2X size. I think the shirts are cool, so go buy one or two ... or even six.

In any event, they're on my blogroll, because I'm betting we'll see some serious discussion of new media vs. traditional print-and-broadcast media. Also, because as a parent of daughters, I think it's great to see bold and assertive women who are willing to stand up for themselves and take charge of their lives.

Take a few minutes to check them out.

Bill Mescher: The American Dream

This morning I got one of the biggest shocks of my life when an email let me know Senator Bill Mescher passed. I'm sure I didn't know Bill as well as his closest friends and family, I feel like I know him better than at least a few of those who knew him.

Not that it's ever good, but I had just been exchanging emails with him earlier this week, including doing an interview for my blog. As always, in spite of his age, Bill was in good health, and very much the same way he had been for years.

Bill Mescher was a lot of things for a lot of people, but he also meant a lot to me. Perhaps it is fitting that on a day like Easter that I can reflect upon those gifts that he shared with me, and with others.

On more than one occasion, Bill was there - be it signing scholarship application letters, being accessible when I needed to talk about an issue, making speaking appearances, and even sending a card and small check for my CofC graduation. That's the kind of person Bill was - always there for people when they needed him. After all he'd done for me, running his last campaign was one of the biggest honors of my life.

But there's a lot more to him than what I knew. Most amazing to me was his life's story. Someone who grew up poor, the first one in his family to get through high school ... then used the GI Bill to go to college ... and then became a major executive in the utility industry. As I struggled to get through college at night, and then graduate school, Bill's life was an inspiration to me, as I know it was to many others.

The American Dream isn't special just because of what one can accomplish. Its true meaning is in how it reaches out, inspires, and gives others hope for what they can accomplish. That was Bill's dream, and his gift to us. We would be wise to look at the example he set, and hope to see it in ourselves, and those around us.

In the days ahead, his wife Kitty and his daughter Barbara deserve our support, our prayers, and our gratitude, as well as many others who were close to Bill. Kitty and Barbara, above all else, were loyal to Bill, proud of him, and inspired him to reach as far as he did.

Bill Mescher left us this morning, but in what he was able to give and inspire in others, he will always be with us. For what he was to me and so many others, I am truly grateful.

Visitation and funeral plans are as follows ...

Visitation on Tuesday, April 10th from 6-8pm at the Russell Funeral Home in Moncks Corner, 107 West Main Street, Moncks Corner. Phone: (843) 761-8050

Memorial Service Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 11:00am Moncks Corner United Methodist Church 200 N. Live Oak Drive 843-761-8547

You can send memorials to Mrs. William C. “Bill” Mescher P.O. Box 1, Pinopolis, SC 29469

In the news media:

Columbia City Paper

Mescher was a straight talker who always stood up for what he thought was right—even if it flew in the face of some colleagues in his own political party— and he took on changing laws that even he said were a little “out there” if it meant that it would help those he represented. He got ferrets legalized in South Carolina. Like your new tattoo? You have Senator Mescher to thank for getting tatooing legalized here. Even as recently as late last year he was trying to get South Carolina to legalize marijuana for medical use, something he thought was the right thing to do after watching his wife suffer a painful death over 20 years ago.

Greenville News

An engineer by training, Mescher was a former chief executive of the state-owned utility and was recognized for modernizing Santee Cooper. The native of Belknap, Ill., also learned how to buck the good ol' boy system in his 14 years in the Statehouse.

In May 2000, Mescher was criticized during a re-election campaign for butting heads with other senators. In an interview with The (Charleston) Post and Courier, he said, "I don't think I've been controversial. I'm just nobody's puppy dog ... I don't like some kingfish of the county to say, 'OK, Mescher, this is what we're going to do.' I don't jump in line."

Mescher moved to South Carolina in 1976 to become president and chief executive officer of Santee Cooper. He retired in 1989 and worked as a consultant before running for his Senate seat. He was the first Republican elected to the seat since Reconstruction.

But Mescher's issues weren't always in synch with other conservatives. For 10 years, he pushed to get tattooing legalized in South Carolina. He said he was driven by the unsanitary conditions of the illegal parlors and wanted to regulate the industry to clean it up.

Charleston Post and Courier

Mescher, who lived in Pinopolis with his wife, Kitty, is recognized for modernizing the state-owned utility. He also earned a reputation as a straight shooter who shook up the good ol' boy system in Berkeley County and the state Senate, where he served since 1993.

"He found out you 'got to play along to get along' and he wasn't going to do it," said Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau. "He had a strong sense of what was right and what was wrong, and he voted that way," Grooms said.

"You knew exactly where he stood on an issue, whether you agreed with him or not. He was professional enough to know how to disagree and do it agreeably," said Rep. Shirley Hinson, R-Goose Creek.

Change your light bulbs?

Is the Blogland going commie? Not really, but I recently converted most of the light outlets in my house to energy-saving CFL bulbs. These will likely carry the house until the next generation of lighting - probably LED-powered light bulbs - come along.

What are CFL bulbs - the ones that look like tubes or coils. As they are more efficient, they use less electricity and generate less heat. Come this summer, the double-barrel savings will be a nice thing. The bulbs cost a little more, but given that they last five years, it's worth the price.

I'm not a "all humans should die" sort of luddite about environmentalism, but I do think we need to be responsible for what we do. Saving a little bit of juice is a good thing.

Would you like fries with that?

After several weeks of posting a lot of serious stuff, I really need to stop thinking so much of myself (... note to self - act a little more like a human, and less like a political hack).

For those of you with nothing more meaningful to do than wonder about who I am, let's take a look at my office for my day job. My wall where my Bachelor's diploma is, along with three key awards I earned during that time.

Yes, that sticker really is hung on the frame.



That'll be 6.47, please drive around (which is more than I've made on ad revenue on my blogsite this month).

Does anyone know where seals can be found in Lancaster? I hear they are to die for ...

Inside Interview: Wallace Scarborough

For our first “Inside Interview”, the Blogland interviewed State Representative Wallace Scarborough. As I am a James Island native, Scarborough’s House District (115) is the roots of the Blogland, and to some extent, the community is still "home" for me.

I had been planning to do this interview series, but his phone call prompted me to get the ball rolling. I was pleasantly surprised when he volunteered to be the first participant. I held back no punches with my questions, in the usual Blogland style, and to his credit, he took each of them on. I appreciate his willingness to participate and give the Blogland a fair shake.

About Wallace Scarborough:

Scarborough’s legislative career began 2000, when he ousted incumbent Rep. Lynn Seithel in the GOP primary. However, his record of community service goes back much farther as a Citadel alum, former Exchange Club president and long-time face of the Coastal Carolina Fair. While his 2006 campaign was a close scrape with Democrat Eugene Platt, he seems determined to move on and move forward.

As is the usual Blogland procedure, we’re going to set the stage with some information and/or opinion, and then step aside and let our readers (Wallace is one of them) speak up for themselves. He is what he had to say …

What do you think have been your biggest accomplishments?

I am proud of many accomplishments but I would point out the following:

  • I am proud of the improvements of Folly Road: Creating the turn lane at Folly and Battery Island drive, adding bike lanes along Folly Road and improvements at Camp and Folly soon to come.
  • My support of the Schools on James Island; both James Island Middle and helping James Island Charter High School get its charter and now keep its charter.
  • When it looked as though Morris Island Light house was going to lose its first $500,000 I was able to step in and help save the funding. I have also personally secured over $1,000,000 for the light house; not to mention the Morris Island license plate which was created by my legislation and brings in over $30,000 a year in recurring funds which help support the lighthouse.
  • Helping to Protecting Long Island from development along with other small islands.
  • Enabling the creation of the Town of James Island while also serving the people of Charleston and Folly Beach
Your last race was a close call. What do you think contributed to that, and what do you think you’ve learned from this?

The prior election was marked by some very important dynamics. First, Robert Barber, who once held seat 115, was running for Lt Governor. Second, the national Republican Party was having less success than expected at energizing voters. Third, I had more bad press and more personal stresses in the course of a year than most elected officials will see in a career. Despite these difficult circumstances, the voters returned me to office. It is important to note that the voters in my house race gave only two Republicans a majority of their votes, Mark Sanford and Wallace Scarborough. In the races for Lt. Gov, Secretary of Education, Treasurer and Comptroller General, the Republican candidate was defeated in my house districts precincts.
The number one thing I learned is that loyally representing your voters and taking care of your district carries you through elections in the toughest of times.

What do you see as your priority issues in your ongoing term in the House?

  • I must continue to look out for and help our schools. I have found that there are a lot of people jealous of our success and I have recently had to defend James Island’s Charter Schools from attacks by Democrats who want them folded back into the failing bureaucracy.
  • I need to help protect the environment along our coast and water ways as God is not making any more and we need not destroy that which he has given us.
  • Keep working on improving our road system. We in the house have passed major SCDOT reform this year. I believe that if it passed the Senate and the Governor signs the bill we will see improved roads and a more responsive SCDOT to the needs of all South Carolina
What would you see as issues which aren’t being addressed, but need to be?
  • There are several bills concerning insurance reform. I would like to see us concentrate on the Home Owner Insurance problems as well as Workers Compensation reform.
  • The funding formulas for the SC Public School System needs a major overhaul both the EFA and EIA should be revamped or just plain thrown out.
  • Government restructuring
You’ve been the target of plenty of bad publicity in the last couple of years, and we’d like to see what you have to say about …

… your divorce, in which a number of allegations of adultery and misconduct were made against you:


I am very sad about my divorce. Anyone who has gone through a divorce knows how hard it is. Sometimes things come between married people that make it impossible to continue together. I think it is a shame that something so personal became so public. We had problems for years and we both worked to try to overcome those problems, unfortunately we were not successful. Mostly I am sorry and apologize to my children who were really the innocent bystanders caught in the fire of opposing divorce attorneys allegations that made a good election story in the media. It is important to know as a “rest of the story”. My wife and I were divorced based on a year separation, and irreconcilable differences nothing else. The public allegations that were made against me were false and were made to discredit me in the eyes of the public and place doubt in the minds of the voting population. It has been very unfortunate and difficult couple years for my family but now things are getting back in order and moving ahead.

… your arrest for discharging a pistol near some SCE&G utility workers:

Your question is about my confrontation with two men who jumped the six foot high fence into my parents’ back yard in the dark of night and were shining flashlights into the windows of the house. I armed myself and confronted the prowlers. They claimed to be power company employees but refused to show proper identification or return to their truck (which was nowhere to be seen). Then claimed to be checking on my power outage yet the power was clearly on in the house. When they refused to leave or show ID I retreated toward the house to summon the authorities, tripped in the dark, and discharged my pistol into the ground. For this defense of my family property, I was rewarded with a night in the jail and a front page news story. Ultimately, I was completely exonerated, charges were dropped and my record was expunged. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Ralph Hoisington said “Wallace Scarborough's conduct did not amount to assault with intent to kill”. I was merely protecting my property, as all South Carolinians are allowed to do. And to those who think I got special treatment I can promise you I did not. I have a fifteen hour ordeal as the eighth person placed in a two person cell to prove it.

    Do you have any thoughts about bloggers and other “non-traditional” media outlets, such as websites or alternative papers?

    It is interesting the way news is now reported. The evolving electronic media is challenging the traditional media. We need to remember that in every case people write the news. We are in an age where you have to know who is delivering the news to you and always remember to read the byline before giving credibility to the story. Those bloggers who write comments anonymously should be given as much credibility as they give which is none. If a person will not give their name, how can what they write be trusted?

    Where does Wallace Scarborough go from here as a citizen, neighbor, parent, etc.?

    • I am still interested in public service. I have volunteered all my life. I plan to serve until I am not effective or the people chose to give their seat to someone else.
    • I love James Island; it was where I was born and where I will stay.
    • I have joint custody of my two sons and I look forward to watching them become productive members of society.
    • As for my Parents that is a very private matter concerning a horrible sickness. I would welcome privacy in this matter as well as prayers.
    What are your plans for 2008?

    I plan to file for reelection, raise my boys, run my business and serve the people.

    ... again, we thank Wallace for his willingness to participate. Look for more Inside Interviews, coming soon.

    Progress in Iraq? The McCaffrey Report

    A report by retired General Barry McCaffrey, following a trip to Iraq in March, takes an honest look at the situation on the ground in Iraq, offering some assessments as to where things stand and what lies ahead. The report is honest about what is being faced, and suggest that while there is still much to be done, there are optimistic signs that our military forces are indeed making progress.

    Anti-war activists who attack President Bush should consider that while he is the Commander-in-Chief, acting with the support of Congressional resoutions authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, the soldiers they claim to support are just as responsible for the decisions related to the ongoing military effort. Our soldiers are not robots, run by remote control, and this report indicates they are doing well at adapting and innovating to help the Iraqi Security Forces confront these threats. They can either criticize both, or support both, but criticism of one and not the other is intellectually dishonest.


    I've excerpted McCaffrey's report, but you can click here to read it in full.

    The Present Crisis:

    We are at the "knee of the curve." Two million+ troops of the smallest active Army force since WWII have served in the war zone. Some active units have served three, four, or even five combat deployments. We are now routinely extending nearly all combat units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These combat units are being returned to action in some cases with only 7-12 months of stateside time to re-train and re-equip. The current deployment requirement of 20+ brigades to Iraq and 2+ brigades in Afghanistan is not sustainable.

    Iraq’s neighbors are a problem--- not part of the solution (with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). They provide little positive political or economic support to the Maliki government.

    Our allies are leaving to include the courageous and well equipped Brit’s—by January 2008 we will be largely on our own.

    In summary, the US Armed Forces are in a position of strategic peril. A disaster in Iraq will in all likelihood result in awidened regional struggle which will endanger America’s strategic interests (oil) in the Mid-east for a generation. We will also produce another generation of soldiers who lack confidence in their American politicians, the media, and theirown senior military leadership.

    Promising Developments:

    Since the arrival of General David Petraeus in command of Multi-National Force Iraq--- the situation on the ground has clearly and measurably improved.

    1st: The Maliki government has given the green light to prune out elements of the renegade Sadr organization in Baghdad. More than 600+ rogue leaders have been harvested by US and Iraqi special operations forces with the explicit or tacit consent of the government.

    2nd: The US and Iraqi Forces have now dramatically changed their operational scheme ... The pre-operation planning and rehearsals were superb ... The Iraqi people are encouraged ---life is almost immediately springing back in many parts of the city. The murder rate has plummeted. IED attacks on US forces during their formerly vulnerable daily transits from huge US bases on the periphery of Baghdad are down.

    3rd: The Iraqis have finally committed credible numbers of integrated Police and Army units to the battle of Baghdad ... The ISF formations are showing increased willingness to aggressively operate against insurgent/militia forces.

    4th: There is a real and growing ground swell of Sunni tribal opposition to the Al Qaeda-in-Iraq terror formations. (90% Iraqi.) This counter-Al Qaeda movement in Anbar Province was fostered by brilliant US Marine leadership. There is now unmistakable evidence that the western Sunni tribes are increasingly convinced that they blundered badly by sitting out the political process.

    5th: The equipment and resources for the Iraqi Security Forces has increased dramatically. The ISF has planned 2007 expenditures of more than $7.3 billion.

    6th: There is a very sophisticated and carefully integrated approach by the Iraqi government and Coalition actors to defuse the armed violence from internal enemies and bring people into the political process. There are encouraging signs that the peace and participation message does resonate with many of the more moderate Sunni and Shia warring factions.

    7th: US Combat forces are simply superb ... The joint integration of combat power is extremely effective ... These Marine and Army combat units rapidly employ synchronized air and ground combat power, use enormous fire discipline, are compassionate with vulnerable civilians, and move with explosive energy and courage when they pin a target.

    8th: The US Tier One special operations capability is simply magic ... Some of these assault elements have done 200-300 takedown operations at platoon level ... We need to rethink how we view these forces. They are a national strategic system akin to a B1 bomber.

    9th: The US Armed Forces logistic system is successfully providing 100% of required supplies, services, maintenance, medical support, and material for battle. Never in the history of warfare has a military force been more generously and effectively supported than in Iraq.

    "The Way Ahead":

    In my judgment, we can still achieve our objective of: a stable Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, not producing weapons of mass destruction, and fully committed to a law-based government. The courage and strength of the US Armed Forces still gives us latitude and time to build the economic and political conditions that might defuse the ongoing civil war. Our central purpose is to allow the nation to re-establish governance based on some loose federal consensus among the three major ethnic-factional actors. (Shia, Sunni, Kurd.)
    We have very little time left. This President will have the remainder of his months in office beleaguered by his political opponents to the war. The democratic control of Congress and its vocal opposition can actually provide a helpful framework within which our brilliant new Ambassador Ryan Crocker can maneuver the Maliki administration to understand their diminishing options. It is very unlikely that the US political opposition can constitutionally force the President into retreat. However, our next President will only have 12 months or less to get Iraq straight before he/she is forced to pull the plug. Therefore, our planning horizons should assume that there are less than 36 months remaining of substantial US troop presence in Iraq.

    March 2007, the month in review

    Another busy month at the blogland, thanks in part to your taking the time to tune in, read, and share the occasional thought or two. I appreciate those of you who tune in to read, but I especially appreciate those of you who comment, even when I don't agree.

    Especially flattering this month was getting my profile featured in the National Journal, and having the Beaufort Gazette and The State run with my lead in the Beaufort State Senate race. I appreciate the NJ and Ian Leslie from the Beaufort Gazette taking the time to tune in.

    There was plenty of agreein' this month, and a lot of dis-agreein' too, mostly over political discussions - unlike last month, where ya'll got turned on by all sorts of subject. Here's the postings that got ya'll talking in March:

    3/2: What do straw polls prove?
    3/5: Me in the National Journal
    3/6: Rudy's "Party of Freedom"
    3/8: Time for some office fun
    Expect to see a little less of me this month, as I push my next to last semester of grad school courses to the finish line ... seven classes down, two more (and a thesis) to go!

    Thanks for tuning in, and keep on coming back!

    From the Blogland: Ceips news story

    My blog posting on Ceips' support from women voters made the Beaufort Gazette. Looks like it has both sides scratching their heads:

    "While it is essential that women in the legislature support each other, it is more important in my opinion to support colleagues whose political ideologies are aligned with yours and the people you represent," said Beverly Dore, chairwoman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party. "When it comes down to supporting someone you should look at what they believe, not gender."


    Dore's Republican counterpart, Doug Robertson, said he was "very surprised" to see the Democratic support for Ceips and was unwilling to comment further.

    Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a real partisan Democrat who doesn't forget whose side she is on, refused to join the herd supporting Ceips:

    Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said she was approached by Ceips and decided not to support the fundraiser.

    "Rep. Ceips does not support or has not supported most of the issues that are important to me," she said, "and I didn't believe in perpetuating hypocrisy by allowing my name to be used."

    You've gotta give the Representative from Orangeburg credit for being who she is, and never forgetting that.

    Once I tipped him off, Ian Leslie did a good job running with the invitation and seeing where it led, even though it would've been nice to have gotten credit for providing the lead. Ian's a good guy who I've had a good working relationship with in my day job, so I'm sure it's nothing personal, as opposed to other media outlets who scoop bloggers and then knife 'em in the back (I'm sure we all can think of some of those ...).

    In any event, I'm sure the Ceips campaign is having a little heartburn right about now.

    Update: Looks like The State ran with the story as well.