Governor Sanford endorses Tim Scott, incites a riot

Chanting "no games, more cooperation", supporters of State Treasurer candidates Earl Capps and Converse Chellis set aside their differences to storm the Governor's office in an effort to "clean house".

After Sanford called upon legislators to appoint Charleston County Council Chairman Tim Scott (R-North Charleston) to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, supporters of Capps and Chellis seemed puzzled and silent, until a denim and leather clad supporter of Capps yelled "rock and roll". After that, the suddenly enraged crowd charged Sanford's office.

While the Governor and most of his staff escaped unharmed, two budget staffers, Pork and Barrel, were not so fortunate. Barrel was captured and served up to the crowd on a hastily-constructed BBQ pit, and Pork was reported missing.

While several political commentators at the scene could not agree on the reason for the Governor's endorsement, they all agreed that Barrel was a tasty line item and hoped that Pork would soon be found.

Capps announces bid for State Treasurer

In a press conference today, Earl Capps, a Summerville resident, confirmed that he would be willing to serve as the next State Treasurer, if chosen by the General Assembly on Friday.

Capps, 36, is the publisher of the Blogland of Earl Capps, a well-read South Carolina blog covering politics, hard rock, religion and research in the field of communication. Recently, during an informal poll of his readers as to who should be the next State Treasurer, he led the candidates, prompting discussion of a possible candidacy for the office.

Following the overwhelming wave of support from his readers, Capps said he decided to try his luck at winning the appointment. "If the people want me to give up a real job for this, I promise they'll get exactly what they deserve," he said. Speculation about what that might be grew after he was seen yelling into his cell phone "next week, it's free beer and hookers".

Columbia political observers responded quickly. "What the f***?", asked House member Carl Gullick (R-York), while Brian McCarty, a well-known political commentator cautioned "if he's appointed, oh s***, watch out for what happens next".

Representative Converse Chellis (R-Summerville), who represents Capps' neighborhood in the State House, was not concerned. "We think someone put him up to this," he said. "Even he'll admit he's not qualified for the job."

Fellow blogger Mike Reino defended his candidacy: "the guy is serious. He's got endorsements, and he's even got a Dirty Harry quote for a cool campaign slogan. Step aside and let him lead our state to ... well, he'll take it somewhere."

Stand by for Pain: Dee Snider ROCKS with Widowmaker

Ok, time for a break from the serious stuff with another hard rockin' album review ... and a Happy Monday to one and all ...

In the 1990s, Dee Snider, frontman for Twisted Sister, formed the band Widowmaker. In 1994, they released their second album, a kick-ass piece of work entitled
"Stand by for Pain".

Unlike Twisted Sister, Widowmaker is stripped down, raw, and much harder and louder. While Twisted Sister was radio-friendly, Widowmaker isn't for the faint of heart, but is best played at full blast. If you can find this CD out there, I recommend it highly.

My favorite tracks from the album are Killing Time, Protect and Serve, Ready to Fall and the title track.

For the obligatory YouTube eye candy, here's a clip of Dee and his band performing the title track live:

2007 Tour de France - what a wild ride!

Congratulations to the new star of cycling, Alberto Contador, of the Discovery Channel team, for winning the 2007 Tour de France!

The last day couldn't have been more set for a photo finish with Discovery's first-place racer, Spaniard
Alberto Contador, only 23 seconds behind Australian Cadel Evans and 31 seconds behind his American teammate, Levi Leipheimer.

In past years, racers have (but rarely) closed such gaps to pull off last-day upsets, but today, they ended up the way they started the day. The final finish of the Tour hadn't been this close since 1989, when Greg LeMond won it by eight seconds, and was the second-closest finish in Tour history.

Two things which stood out in this year's Tour that will likely impact the race, as well as the entire sport of cycling, for years to come:

1) Drugs: In recent Tours, problems with performance boosting drugs and tricks have grown rapidly. With two front-runners thrown out of this year's Tour and entire teams pulling out, the sport must confront this problem, and quickly.

2) The rise of the Americans: In the past, individual Americans have stood out, such as Greg LeMond, Andy Hampsten, and Lance Armstrong. But this year, a number of American racers participated in the Tour and all of them finished well, including Leipheimer, as well as
George Hincapie, from Greenville (24th place), Christopher Horner (15th place), and Christian Vandevelde (25th place). Not only that, but this year, the US-based Discovery team fielded several top finishers, both American and from other nations, such as Contador. This is a long way from the days when there would only be one or two stand-out American riders, and American teams, such as the old 7-11 and Motorola teams, would be far behind in the team rankings.

While the drug problems with cycling put a dark cloud over this year's Tour, we should be proud that Americans are taking a lead role in the Tour, and hope this will be a sign of good things to come.

The rise of Cantador and these strong American riders point to a Tour that should be very competitive and exciting to watch for years to come.

Thank You, Robert Scarborough

As a James Island native, it's not hard to know the name Scarborough. The family has long roots on the island and has been very active in the community since its earliest days as a suburban community.

Robert Scarborough was a name one knew growing up on the island - the James Island Expressway bridge, his long legislative service, as well as on the old Highway Commission, and other efforts on behalf of his community. His record of service to his community was lengthy and - deservingly so - was well-recognized. James Island was fortunate to have such a passionate citizen and advocate, and he will be missed.

Yesterday, Robert Scarborough passed on, but left his community well-taken care of. For which this Island native says "Thank you".

Eloquence in an Electronic Age: Understanding what makes good political speeches work

In my graduate speechwriting course, one of the books we had to read was Eloquence in an Electronic Age, a work by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, my favorite researcher in the field of political communication. I’ve talked about one of her books previously, and one can find a whole slew of works that she’s authored or co-authored.

Eloquence looks at the evolution of political speechmaking in the twentieth-century. While the twentieth-century’s two greatest Presidents - Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan – receive much of the attention of her research, we find her work looking at many moments in American political oratory, including Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, Gary Hart, and Joseph Welch, whose live broadcast challenge of Joe McCarthy’s ruthlessness did considerable damage to McCarthy’s credibility.

In her book, she looks at various tactics used by American political speakers to convey their messages, including the use of “effeminate” styles, storytelling, symbolism, and self-revelation by speakers. She also notes the shrinking role of public speechmaking and its transformation through the medium of television. In this, she notes how Reagan’s use of symbolism was often ready-made for the visual medium and therefore well-received by television audiences.

There is much about this book worth your time, and these days, you can get copies off Amazon for a couple of bucks, so if you want to understand what makes one a great speaker, as well as improve your own speaking skills, it’s a smart investment that we recommend highly. But to date, she's never written anything that I didn't find insightful and eye-opening.

Who could be - or should be - South Carolina's next Treasurer? You decide!

Next week, the politicians will meet to pick a new state Treasurer. But this week, while the office is still vacant, we at the Blogland have decided to have some fun by holding our own non-binding election for this office.

While we can't offer the job to the winner of this contest, we promise to send the winner a bunch of change from one of the change jars laying around my house, so they can play Treasurer in their spare time.

So, who do you, the readers of the Blogland, think could be, or should be, our state's next Treasurer? Speak up and let's hear what you have to say!

Blogger credibility?

A pretty good story by Taylor Bright in the Charlotte Observer raises a fair question about the credibility of bloggers:

The day after John McCain announced this month that his top two campaign men were leaving, an S.C. political blog, The Shot, ran the headline, "McCain Going Down, Top Staffers Jumping Ship."

Next to the headline was a picture of an orange life preserver.

The combination of news and analysis with a hint of wit wouldn't be remarkable -- that's what blogs have thrived on -- if the blog weren't run by members of a firm employed by the Mitt Romney campaign.

What used to be the exclusive territory of enthusiastic amateurs has been invaded by political professionals. Some of the most popular political blogs in South Carolina, a crucial state for the primary elections, are run by consultants who are working with the presidential campaigns of 2008.

I'll admit they raise a good point here. Much of what goes on here is presented by those who are not impartial, but in most cases, our readers are smart enough to know to take what they see on the web with a grain of salt.

The people behind these sites do take sides, after all, it's how a lot of them pay their bills. Sometimes, these loyalties may bias what they present, but the more credible ones don't entirely exclude other points of view, block discussion, or make false or misleading attacks from their sites. But it's not like many of these sites proclaim themselves as fair and impartial, and I think most readers are smart enough to know this.

As to concerns about the involvement of those who are involved in political campaigns ... well, I can't think of a time when political discussion online was ever the province of those who were totally neutral. But by having their insights and "inside information", readers can often learn more than they otherwise would have, especially when going to several sources to "balance" what they see on any given site.

Sure, this inside knowledge has helped to strip some of the influence of traditional media political reporters, who once were the sole outlets of political information. With information leaking out and being discussed from people who work in the field, the general public no longer has to rely on a small circle of a half-dozen reporters to tell us what they think we need to know.

Now, we can find out directly, and if one site doesn't tell us, or explain it in a clear enough manner, we can go elsewhere. Democracy thrives in an enviroment of greater openness and competition.

So long as we don't claim false neutrality, make false or personal attacks, or stifle discussions we don't agree with, I believe those of us who take part in South Carolina's online political culture play an important role in making the process of government and politics more open and inclusive, not less.

For the most part, that's what we're doing, and those doors to the shady backrooms are being opened more than ever. Those of us who want a South Carolina that is run by "we the people", and not the good ol' boys, see this as a good thing - and it is.

So ... what do the rest of you think?

Goodbye Thomas

Three years ago, the South Carolina political world had just absorbed the reality of the upset of David Beasley's high-powered political comeback in the GOP runoff for the U.S. Senate. The key to that upset was Thomas Ravenel, whose late-starting Senate campaign surged to a strong third-place finish, and then shifted that momentum into DeMint's hands by his endorsement.

Two years later, Thomas' bid for Treasurer upset two veteran politicos in the GOP primary, and took out Grady Patterson, the longest-lasting constitutional officer and an American hero considered by many to be unbeatable.

Now, Thomas Ravenel's three-year rocket ride from a little-known real estate developer ended with a whimper, not a bang with his resignation.

In a state which has been rocked by a number of recent criminal scandals among it's political insiders, including Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Sharpe and former Governor Hodges' Chief of Staff Kevin Geddings, not to mention a string of indictments and convictions in Orangeburg County, Ravenel's resignation was yet another sad moment.

As a friend and reader of the Blogland, we're sorry this day had to come for Thomas, but we're also sorry for the people of this state, which must endure the embarassment of another criminal investigation amongst its highest-ranking public officials. We'll not comment to the continuing criminal case, except to say that we will trust the justice system to consider the facts at hand and reach a fair and reasonable verdict.

The humiliation of a fall from political stardom, along with the loss of millions spent on his campaigns was tough enough, but it will likely pale in comparison to the challenge of facing his addiction. As one who has seen friends struggle with addictions, visited friends in prison, and even lost friends to drug violence, we know the pain that he has gone through, and the pain, loneliness and struggle that lies ahead.

Now that his public life has come to an end, Thomas Ravenel has our best wishes and our prayers for his personal recovery.

Somewhere different: Lake Olathe

Today, instead of boring you with political babble, we thought we'd pick out somewhere at random that seems rather relaxing and freshing.

Of course, we could just bore you to death with more of the usual, since it IS Tuesday, but why not give our readers a break? Especially after the hooplah around the big Democratic Presidential candidate debate.

According to the satellite imagery from our friends at Google Earth, Lake Olathe seems like a nice place to take a dip. Apparently, a favorite stop for the locals, it even comes with a neat map of the facilities adjacent to the lake. Gotta give someone a pat on the back for doing that.

Naturually, it seems like a really nice place to go cool off with friends and loved ones, instead of roasting in the Lowcountry or sitting cooped up in this office. On a day like this, it wouldn't take much to make me come a'runnin'.

Doing fun things ... or doing Tuesday, what would YOU rather be doing? So don't go calling me nuts.

Experts say it's going to be a long, long way to Friday, so all of you kick back and relax a little today. It's gonna be a long week ...

My company's I-20 project in the news

Our project to rebuild the I-20 rest areas in Kershaw County is nearly done, replacing the run-down, overloaded facilities with state-of-the-art facilities, including more picnic areas, family bathrooms, and air-conditioning. For some reason, our friends at The State thought the occasion was worth a news story:

After two years, more than 30,328 man hours and $14 million, new Interstate 20 east- and westbound rest areas in Kershaw County should be completed by mid-September.

But to clarify, our project manager's name is Bob PRICE. He's a pretty cool dude, and some say he might be running for President.

More on those rumors later ...

500th posting: Origin of the "Blogland"

500 postings - Hooray for me!

For the 500th posting, I'll share a little bit of Blogland trivia about the origin of the "Blogland" title.

In case any of you haven't guessed it already, the name of the Blogland of Earl Capps was inspired, in part, by the classic Jimi Hendrix album entitled "Electric Ladyland".

I had been listening to that album when I was trying to think of a name, and it just seemed to make sense. Later on, I found out that the word "blogland" is a lesser-used word for "blogosphere". So much for originality.

No, I wasn't thinking my blog would be a cool place with psychadelic guitar music and lots of ladies hanging on my every word. How can I run any sort of harem when I can't even get my teenage daughter to take out the trash?

Thanks to all of you for staying tuned and sharing your thoughts - via comments, emails, phone calls or in-person encounters. Even the "f*** you" stuff - it's flattering that my big mouth can inspire people and yes, sometimes aggravate the hell out of them.

... and yes, for those of you who are wondering, I will be doing an review of this classic rock album. Look for it soon - I promise.

What is relief? A normal day Everywhere. Have fun and make it a great day out there. As always, many many thanks for tuning in.

Hey Homer!

With all the hoopla about the new Simpsons movie, we'd like to tip our hats to our own lovable Homer Simpsons - our readers from the VC Sumner nuclear power station in Fairfield County.

According to our traffic tracking reports, employees from that power plant are our 61st largest contingent of readers. As always, our readership is always appreciated, no matter where they're tuning in from, or what they should be doing when they're checking us out.

So to the guys who are responsible for keeping the Midlands well-lit at night, and whose watchful eyes keep a good part of Fairfield and Newberry Counties from glowing in the dark, here's to you.

So tonight, when you're at work reading the Blogland, kick back, relax and have a nice cold case of Duff's beer. Don't let the flashing red lights or alarms bother you ... after all, you've earned a break, and we think you deserve it.

Richard Eckstrom exonerated - YES!!!

State Comptroller Richard Eckstrom, a regular Blogland reader who we support, apparently will be fully cleared with regard to Ethics allegations over his use of a state vehicle:

The Commission finds that the State Vehicle Management Act, as construed by the agency charged with administering it, does not prohibit personal use of state assigned vehicles by statewide elected officials and that Respondent acted in accordance with that understanding. Therefore, Respondent did not violate S.C. Code Ann 8-13-700(A). Accordingly, the Commission grants Respondent’s motion for summary judgment and dismisses the complaint.

You can read the rest of the Ethics Commission's findings HERE.

The whole situation was rather bone-headed. Sure, we at the Blogland probably wouldn't have used a state vehicle in a similar situation, but his childish Democratic opposition tried to build the Appalachian Mountains from a molehill to help Drew Theodore defeat him last fall.

It didn't work with the voters, nor did it work with the Ethics Commission. Maybe now, they'll go away and find a more positive outlet for their energies.

Drew Theodore, as you recall, criticized Eckstrom's efforts to remove lethal asbestos from state offices and in doing so, earned the endorsement of the Grim Reaper, which we reported here first.

We're certainly glad this whole experience has ended, and while we hope Richard comes out of this smarter, we hope the biggest lesson of all was learned by the political hacks who shamelessly raised and distorted the issue purely for their political gain.

Parenting and Silence do NOT go together

Hats off to my friend Jennifer for a really good posting yesterday on her blog. So good that I wanted to share this excerpt with my readers:

As a parent, I often crave quiet. Particularly when I am trying to get something done and the 3 kids that can talk are all screaming. "Mom! She touched me!" "Mommy, she looked at me." "Mommy, she said she hates me!" "Mom, she's breathing the same air as me!" And so on. Oh, and the baby is crying.

[For anyone who is wondering, the correct responses to the above screams are: "Quick! Go take a bath before the germs multiply." (As you can see, this response has two-fold value. One, it distracts. And two, it teaches hygiene.) "She didn't see you, though, 'cause you're invisible." (Once again, distraction value: I'm invisible? Really? Cool!) "Tell her you hate her back, but don't use the word 'hate,' I don't like that word, try 'loathe' or 'despise.'" (Here, we are increasing our little ones' vocabularies.) "So stop breathing." (Okay, that may be uncalled for, but by this point, I've frickin' HAD IT!)]

If you like that ... go check out the rest of the story.

South Carolina's Interstate 73 (one of these days ...)

For those who keep up with such things, the intended route of South Carolina's northern leg of Interstate 73 was announced yesterday. This will be the route the freeway will take from its terminus near Myrtle Beach to where it ties into the section that is presently being built from North Carolina.

North Carolina has embraced I-73 eagerly, but this was easy for them, since they have an extensive network of non-Interstate freeways which they could re-shield at I-73 with very little need for additional improvements to meet interstate specifications. Now, South Carolina and Virginia are playing catch-up.

While North Carolina's section, from I-77 at the Virginia line to South Carolina, may be done in the next few years, South Carolina's section will likely just be getting underway at such time. The completion of this route may provide some economic development opportunities for the region, it will certainly help fuel the growth of tourism to the Grand Strand, as well as provide a much needed evacuation route for the region.

While the Carolinas are moving this new Interstate forward, Ohio and Michigan, where the route is intended to go, have far less enthusiasm for the project, having dropped environmental studies for the freeway.

If you want to know more about the progress of I-73 in South Carolina, there's a website:

Stay tuned ...