Al Queda crackup in the works?

Ray Robison argues that the recent German bombing plot was an act of desperation by Al Queda terrorists and that these signs of trouble for Al Queda may not be the only problems they're facing.

Read what he's thinking over at the American Thinker:


By way of correlation, you may remember that the German government recently arrested Islamic terrorists planning an attack on US targets. It turns out that those men were trained and controlled by Uzbek terror camps in Pakistan -- this time meaning actual Uzbeks. The stated purpose of the attack was to force the German military to cease operations at an Uzbekistan base which is supporting operations in Afghanistan. The German terrorists were part of the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) which is an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Other recent reports have noted that the order to the terrorists to start the attacks stated it was crucial for them to "go now" and attack within days during early September.

So let's put this together. The Uzbeks of the IMU/IJU, a major portion of al Qaeda in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region were driven out by an impending US assault on their camps. They were at war with the local Taliban and had nowhere to go but Afghanistan. They were lured into Tora Bora and surrounded then attacked suffering brutal losses. They then activated a terror cell in Germany and urged them to attack now. Why?

To cause the German public to demand an end to operations in Afghanistan just as the Madrid train bombings caused the Spaniards to demand an end to that government's involvement in the war on terror. Since the Germans are the only western forces allowed to operate in Uzbekistan this would help al Qaeda forces trapped in Tora Bora.

Interesting thinking ...

Weekend in the Blogland: Florence Greekfest and South of the Border

It's another wild weekend in the Blogland ... not hardly.

Well, the phone didn't ring with any offers of wine, women, and song, and since an offer to help someone got blown off without so much as a phone call, me and the little one went on what turned out to be a bit of an adventure. These days, she seems to be the best and most tolerant female company I can find.

The first stop was one of my favorite BBQ joints - D&H in Manning. It is always good eating, as well as a nice relaxing country ride to get there. I hadn't made it up that way in a couple of months, so it was long past due for me to visit and chow down.

Then a tip that the Greek Orthodox parish in Florence was having it's 25th annual Greek Festival ... so away we went, 30 minutes up I-95 to check it out. Not a bad event. Certainly not as big as the ones I've been to in Charleston and Greenville, but I'm sure that has plenty to do with the size of their congregations, as well as the communities as a whole. A lot fewer Greeks in Florence and certainly a lot fewer potential attendees.

In any event, if you could have made it there, but didn't, you missed a good time. Don't miss it next year.

... and finally, another 40 minutes north up I-95 ... our annual pilgrimage to Pedro, the God of Interstate Cheese, who resides in his domain at South of the Border. If you've been there, then there's nothing else to say. If you haven't, then there's nothing that I really can say to explain the place.

Please note that Bonnie, my little one, was rehearsing for her role at infiltrating our nation's illegal Hispanic immigrant population. Excellent disguise, don't y'all think?

Now, to get some sleep, so I can spend about ten hours of my Sunday studying for another fun-filled week of graduate school, as well as getting the finishing touches on US Group's corporate website so we can go online in the next few weeks.

In any event, we hope you're having a great weekend, whereever you are, whatever you're doing!

Bloggers work on U.S. image in the Middle East

The New York Times discusses how the State Department is using bloggers to improve the image of the United States and promote discussion of democratic values among Arabs in the Middle East:

WASHINGTON — Walid Jawad was tired of all the chatter on Middle Eastern blogs and Internet forums in praise of gory attacks carried out by the “noble resistance” in Iraq.

A page from the Web site Arabs Gate, one of the sites where a State Department blog team has contributed to the debate.

So Mr. Jawad, one of two Arabic-speaking members of what the State Department called its Digital Outreach Team, posted his own question: Why was it that many in the Arab world quickly condemned civilian Palestinian deaths but were mute about the endless killing of women and children by suicide bombers in Iraq?

Among those who responded was a man named Radad, evidently a Sunni Muslim, who wrote that many of the dead in Iraq were just Shiites and describing them in derogatory terms. But others who answered Mr. Jawad said that they, too, wondered why only Palestinian dead were “martyrs.”

The discussion tacked back and forth for four days, one of many such conversations prompted by scores of postings the State Department has made on about 70 Web sites since it put its two Arab-American Web monitors to work last November.

The postings, are an effort to take a more casual, varied approach to improving America’s image in the Muslim world.


- "At State Dept., Blog Team Joins Muslim Debate", New York Times (9/22/07)

This is certainly an interesting approach, and hopefully one that will bear fruit.

Blogland set to kick off "ROCKtober"


Blogland readers can look forward to a wild October, including a reader/listener appreciation prize contest with CDs and books, concert and album reviews galore and all the loud, obnoxious opinionating that you've come to expect and more.

As usual, we're taking no prisoners, but we're taking you, our loyal fans, along with us for the ride!

So bookmark us in, ditch all those easy listening/reading blogsites, and let's get ready to rock with the one South Carolina blogsite that doesn't just TALK politics - we ROCK politics.

Stay tuned for details ... coming soon ...

Huntin' Hixon - RINO accusations in Senate special election

Someone forwarded this political mail piece to us and we thought we'd share it with our readers.

This piece was sent out by SCRG to help form voter opinions in the very-heated GOP nomination contest for Senate District 25. Clearly the piece is intended to paint Hixon, a long-time backer of Tommy Moore, a long-time Democratic State Senator and current predatory lending hustler, as a RINO extraordinaire:





OUCH!!!

No doubt the Governor's backers want to make this a referendum on the direction of the GOP, as well as get a final slap at Moore, who challenged Sanford last year, and punish Hixon for being a leading Moore backer.

What is interesting is how they even put an email address on the mailing. While they're hoping those who receive the mail will contact them for details. If so, that's a heckuva a way to stir the pot.

The focus on Hixon's past background with Democrats and his opposition to the Governor is really the first time we've seen this as a central issue in any of the five legislative special election contests that have taken place this year. We'll certainly be interested to see how the issue resonates with voters.

This race prove to be one to watch, all the way down to the last vote is counted next Tuesday, bet on it.

... in the meantime, if you're watching this race and have any more good ones like this come your way, send it along. We might even present it for discussion.

Jim DeMint: Budget fighter

Crisis has turned into opportunity for Jim Demint, as he's helping the post-2006 crusade in the Senate to fight pork spending:

At a time when the conservative base is lamenting its choice of presidential candidates as well as the priorities of the Oval Office's current occupant, the two (Demint and Coburn) are the leaders of a small group of Republican hard-liners working overtime against Democrats and Republicans alike to make a firm stand against what they view as out-of-control spending.

- The Senate's GOP bomb throwers, Time Magazine (9/19/07)

This sort of leadership is essential for Republicans seeking to reconnect their party's politics with the fiscally-conservative principles of its party faithful.

Perhaps if the Jim Demints of the world had their way a couple of years back, the Senate would still be in GOP hands right now. If his fellow Republican Senators want to return to power, they would be wise to follow his lead.

Orangeburg County: Not the poorest in America (but darn close to it)

Last Sunday's Post and Courier included an excellent article from James Scott, which discusses the dismal situation faced by Orangeburg County, ranked as the tenth-poorest county in the United States:

Robinson's struggle is mirrored by nearly one out of every three people who call Orangeburg County home. An hour west of Charleston's mushrooming suburbs, the county of 90,000 is 10th in the nation for the percentage of people living in poverty, based on the latest U.S. Census figures for counties 65,000 and larger. Poverty is defined as a family of four having an income of $20,614 or less or individuals making $10,294 or less a year.

Compounding Orangeburg's struggle is a lack of an educated work force — only one out of 7 people have at least a bachelor's degree — and a soaring unemployment rate of 10 percent, a figure higher than Argentina's rate.

... and it's also fueled, even if nobody will admit it, by community leadership which is far more concerned about their own enrichment than serving their community, as indicated by the staggering number of government figures who have been indicted and convicted in recent years, including:
  • Two members of County Council, including their last Chairman,
  • the last Sheriff,
  • a municipal Treasurer for Orangeburg, and
  • a Police Chief and Town Clerk in Santee.
That's a lot of political jailbirds from just one county.

It can't be easy to recruit good-paying jobs to a county whose last County Council Chairman pled guilty to offering a no-bid opportunity to buy the county hospital.

All the federal pork money intended to "prime the pump" won't help a community that doesn't want to clean up it's act first, and who has a number of key public officials that are out for their own benefit, instead of that of their community. We shouldn't be surprised to find that public corruption and governmental incompetence is far more prevalent in many impoverished communities.

While there are many problems confronting poor rural areas like Orangeburg County, few of them can be addressed as easily as public corruption. Working to stomp out corruption and help make sure their public servants are looking to put public service ahead of personal enrichment is a good first step.

Taking that first step is, in part a responsibility of watchful state and federal officials, who have done an admirable and patient job weeding the county of its crooked officials. But it's also the responsibility of the people of the county, who largely give incumbents a free pass at the polls in one of the state's most one-party counties (which hasn't elected a Republican to any office since 1992).

While this is not to say one party has a monopoly on virtue (we know that's not the case), the lack of effective political competition, both inside and between political parties, isn't healthy for any community. In the case of Orangeburg County, the willingness of voters to accept the status quo been a recipe for disaster.

John Drummond, a great South Carolinian

We'd like to thank Senator John Drummond for his years of service to his state and country and wish him well in his retirement.

Drummond, in spite of being a Democrat, brought a healthy sense of reality with him to the political process, influenced by his service during the Second World War, where he spent ten months in a German POW camp and was heavily decorated:

“I guess that prison camp was the best thing to ever happen to me. I saw a lot of young men die, and none of them died a Democrat or a Republican.”

While partisanship and sticking to one's principles is important, that kind of perspective should give us something to think about. But even more importantly, Drummond's dedicated service to his Palmetto State should set a standard that, regardless of partisan identity, we should all aspire to.

On many occasions, Drummond crossed party lines to work with Republicans and even supported Senator Strom Thurmond. His party was important to him in his legislative service, but so was the best interests of his native state. It's a refreshing outlook on politics that we could use more of these days.

Anyone who spends time in Greenwood would hear stories of John Drummond. Not of legislative accomplishments or even some of the comical stories one may hear about other legislators, but rather of from his service in World War II, especially when he was the senior American officer in his POW camp, defying Nazi officials seeking to intimidate him and his fellow Americans.

Like many of his generation, he went forward to defy unspeaking evil and returned home to continue to serve his state and his country. It's an example that we need to see more of these days.

Senator Drummond, we thank you and wish you the best of luck in whatever lies ahead.

Hixon's Fiction: Misleading claims in State Senate race

In the race to replace Democratic State Senator Tommy Moore, a recent “rebuttal” letter sent out by State Senate candidate Bill Hixon, attacked fellow candidate Shane Massey, accusing “ makes a number of misleading claims that we thought we’d check out and clarify for our readers, especially those who may be voting in that upcoming special GOP runoff election.

We'd like to examine some of those claims made in Hixon's letter:


CLAIM #1: ATTACKS BY OUT OF STATE GROUPS?

It has also been brought to my attention, Mr. Massey, that you have been in communication and/or cooperation with the out-of-state funded PAC that has mailed voters false and misleading information about me in an attempt to aid your campaign against me.


THE TRUTH? As shown, the mail pieces in question cited numerous sources for their information. SCRG PAC, as identified on the mail pieces, is headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina. This complies with the requirements of state law regarding campaign conduct, as defined in Section 8-13-1354.

THE TRUTH? There were six candidates in the Republican primary, not just Massey. Any damage done to Hixon could have benefitted any of the five other candidates, and no proof is presented to substantiate the claim that Massey benefitted from the mailings. In reviewing the two mail pieces in question, we saw nothing which indicated who voters should support in that race. These pieces simply discussed Hixon.

CLAIM #2: CONSULTANT MISCONDUCT?

Perhaps not coincidentally, the political consulting firm you have paid to manage your campaign has a history of using anonymous Websites to smear fellow Republicans, and just last week, national news reports revealed that your consulting firm was responsible for the anonymous site created to personally attack and spread untrue, hurtful information about Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson.


THE TRUTH? Does Mr. Hixon really want to compare the professional ethics of various campaign consultants, including his own? A lot of them have pulled some really bone-headed stunts in the past, and we're going to simply say "he who is without sin, cast the first stone," and let bygones be bygones for all concerned.

CLAIM #3: ACCUSATIONS OF COLLUSION?

So here is my proposal: Will you promise the voters that all negative attacks against Bill Hixon will cease? Will you instruct those PACs and websites which are supporting you to end their negative attacks on your behalf?

Mr. Massey, when you’re willing to add those two conditions to your pledge — thereby making it meaningful — I will gladly join you in a symbolic affirmation of my continued commitment to run a positive campaign.


THE TRUTH? Again, Hixon makes claims of collusion, but offers no proof to back those claims up, even though such collusion would be illegal and could do severe damage to a candidate’s credibility, if proven.

THE TRUTH? Contacting a political organization making independent expenditures, much less giving instructions, would be illegal collusion (Sec 8-13-1310 & 1314). To ask voters to judge Massey for that which he cannot control is highly misleading.

Further, would voters believe the claims of, much less want to elect, a candidate who acts to suppress the First Amendment freedom of speech of those who wish to examine politician's record?

BREAK THE LAW OR ANYTHING GOES?

Hixon’s vaguely worded offer of “symbolic affirmation” is a loaded phrase which lacks any sort of explicit promise or pledge as to how he’ll conduct his campaign. Instead of using vague language, he should state clearly if he's willing to sign a clean campaign pledge or not.

Hixon, who had previously refused to sign a clean campaign pledge, now offers to do so, but only if Massey consents to conditions that are legally impossible for him to do. What if Massey doesn’t break the law to meet Hixon’s challenge? Will Hixon consider that carte-blance to wage an “anything goes” campaign?

While nobody likes mud-slinging campaign tactics, some of which have been criticized on this blogsite
1 2, it’s disappointing that Hixon would make such an unfair challenge to Massey. We hope that he'll realize that ethical choices have to be made on an individual basis and choose to take the high road in his campaign, regardless of what others may do.

Shane Massey
has a detailed “Clean Campaign Pledge” to clarify his intended campaign approach on his website and take responsibility for the conduct of his campaign, to the extent that the law allows. The voters should judge Massey’s campaign by this standard, and hold him accountable for those promises, instead of being misled by the claims made in Hixon’s letter.

Risk Communication: Understanding the difference between Hazard and Outrage

An excerpt from a risk communication paper I wrote. Lundgren and McMakin's findings about Hazard and Outrage are considered key fundamental points in this field of research:

One of the challenges faced by risk communication is in how risks are perceived by target audiences. The perception of risk plays a major role in how well, or how poorly, messages which communicate risks and hazards are received by those the messages are intended for. This perception process can produce a wide range of outcomes from risk communication efforts, some of which may not have been intended by those who craft and disseminate those messages.

According to Lundgren and McMakin (2004), one approach to risk communication, known as the Hazard plus Outrage Approach, considers how messages related to risk are perceived. This process defined two separate measures of how risks are perceived and communicated:
Hazard, a technical and objective measure of risk which examined the possibility of the occurrence of a potential hazard, the potential consequences should it occur, how to manage the risk, as well as how to respond to an incident. This measure is primarily determined by experts who are knowledgeable about risks, and
Outrage, a subjective measure of risk which looks at how risks are perceived by those who are, or could be, exposed to them. While this method of assessment can involve factual information which has been presented by risk communicators, it is also influenced by more subjective measures, such as informal communication processes, social networks, and personal and cultural values.

Lundgren and McMakin (2004) believed the consideration of both was key in the effective transmission of messages related to risk communication, and that the larger the difference between hazards being communicated and outrage by the recipients of those messages, the greater the potential for controversy and ineffective communication.

One example of the disconnect between Hazard and Outrage, and its potential consequences, can be found in the examination of a fire-fighting department in the south-western United States by Scott and Tretheway (2005). They found that the perception of risk sometimes nullifies efforts to communicate objective information about the degree of risks faced by firefighters:


As might be expected of an organization situated in a high risk occupation, members often acted on attenuated notions of risk that minimized the dangers of hazards. In their attempts to resolve insecurities, members produced attenuated risk appraisals that were counterproductive to the extent that they enabled modes of risk management that ultimately heightened risks to self (p.19).


WORKS CITED

  • Lundgren, R., & McMakin, A. (2004). Understanding Risk Communication. In Risk Communication: A Handbook for Communicating Environmental Safety, and Health Risks (pp. 13-28). Columbus, OH: Batelle Press.
  • Scott, C., &. Trethewey, A. (2005, October). The Discursive Organization of Risk and Safety: How Firefighters Define and Appraise Occupational Hazards. Presented at the Carolinas Communication Association, University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Who is to blame for phone attacks in Beaufort House race?

The last week or so of the GOP runoff for the Beaufort County House seat saw some pretty unusual stuff, with regard to a number of reports we recevied from various sources about telephone attack campaigns being waged against newly-elected Representative Erickson.

The number of these reports, and the credibility of some our sources convinces us that yes, some of this stuff, as strange as it sounded, really did happen.

Yes, we did hear about someone offering to be a drunken sailor (in a town with lots of drunken Marines, who would notice?) ...

... and we heard of the welfare queen, Shaniqua or whoever she said she was ...

... and the pro-life caller defending Bates ...

... and the email by Erickson supporters challening the calls too.

While we're sure these calling campaigns may have been intended to accomplish a certain outcome, we had to ask ourselves "what the hell was someone thinking?" Which is why we think Rod Shealy shouldn't be blamed for this attack campaign.

Sometimes telephone campaigns can be effective campaign tools. But a basic rule of campaigns cautions that if an attack doesn't seem to fit reality, it is not going to work. The calls against Erickson were too far out to left field for anyone to believe. In fact, the ears we have to the ground in that area suggested they backfired and helped Erickson rally enough voters to the polls to pull off her victory.

On the other side of the coin, they're so potentially manipulative, by motivating voters, that a campaign seeking to use them to scare their own base out would be playing with fire. If revealed, their credibility would be terribly damaged.

Races as close as that one are often decided by the one who screws up last. Deliberately waging such a phone campaign, and getting caught, would be that last, fatal mistake. Considering that, we can't see any political operative with half a brain or more, especially one with Shealy's background, orchestrating something so stupid. In fact, we at the Blogland will gladly drug test anyone (and you know we have drug test kits) we find to have been behind these efforts, because they had to be on some really good s ... tuff to think of something like this.

While crying "conspiracy" would be so tempting, we suspect those calling campaigns were the stuff of over-zealous supporters and nothing more. It certainly wouldn't be the first time we've seen a campaign blown out of the water by its own loose cannons, and it won't be the last.

However, if any of our readers have any alternative theories as to who might have been behind the calls, we're all ears ...

Congratulations, Representative Erickson

To say the very least, the race to fill Beaufort County's House Distrct 124 has been full of ... interesting moments. Last night, that race end, and the seat vacated by now-Senator Catherine Ceips will be filled by Beaufort County Republican Shannon Ericskon.

Final reports have her winning over Randy Bates by an eight-point margin. Congratulations!!!

District 124 sprawls across some of the best of the Lowcountry, starting along both sides of the Beaufort River, then running across Ladys and St. Helena Islands, down to Hunting and Fripp Islands. It's a really great place, and looks like their new Representative will be a really great lady.

We at the Blogland wish her the best of luck in the House, but before that, we'd recommend a little vacation. She's certainly earned it.

FITS gets (it right)

On the heels of pissing off a bunch of you when I defended Wesley Donehue, I'm probably going to piss off the rest of you when I say something nice about Sic Willie. But I'm going to do it anyway ... after all, I'm not on anyone's ballot tomorrow in the special elections in Aiken and Beaufort.

A couple of postings in the last couple of days on Sic Willie's blogsite hit the nail on the head about the GOP's loss of fiscal fortitude:


That’s why we were surprised to hear that the former Treasurer for Moore’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Bill Hixon, is running as a Republican in tomorrow’s special election to fill Moore’s vacated Senate seat.

In case any fiscal conservatives out there are wondering why their GOP-controlled government is spending money twice as fast as the rest of the country, appointing Democrats to the Supreme Court and the powerful State Budget & Control Board and presiding over the nation’s worst education system and most antiquated state government, well, here’s your answer.

This isn’t rocket science, people.

If S.C. Republicans keep electing Democrats in their GOP primaries, they shouldn’t be surprised when those Democrats turn around once they’re in office and start spending money like it’s going out of style.


- Wake Up, SCGOP

... and another:

Greenspan says he urged the Bush administration to veto wasteful spending bills passed by a GOP-controlled Congress, but got no love. Wonder what Greenspan would say about Republicans here in the Palmetto State, who have jacked state spending by 41% over the last three years? Republican legislators writing budgets for the so-called “most Republican state in the nation” have behaved ten times as badly as their Democratic predecessors, as state spending in South Carolina has doubled the national average over the last three years.

- "Alan Greenspan gets it"

Converse Chellis: The Real Killer?

Those who thought the General Assembly’s vote to appoint Converse Chellis to the Treasurer’s office meant the end of a series of criticisms and accusations were proven wrong as startling new accusations were leveled against Chellis by OJ Simpson.

In a Columbia press conference, Simpson accused Chellis of being the “real killer” who had been the focus of over a decade of what Simpson described an “intensive global search effort”. According to Simpson, this effort had taken him to “hundreds of golf courses, topless resorts, and upscale night-clubs around the world”.

Simpson appeared relieved at the press conference. “Now they can leave me alone,” he said. “But make no mistake about it, you b****es better shut up, because you know I’m not afraid to put a woman in the morg … uh, I meant her place … no, uh … dammit, forget I even said that. I’m just glad to find someone that some people love to pick on, so they might spend less time running my name into the dirt.”

Chellis’ response was brief: “Sorry I can’t talk right now, but I’m kind of busy doing my job.”

According to one legislator: “Gee, we’d like to say we’re real sorry about electing the guy, but you know, we were in a hurry to find some money for another green bean museum about that time. It’s hard to think about who you’re electing when you’re trying to buy your own re-election.”

“This is exciting news,” said one Chellis critic. “With Simpson getting into the game, it means I don’t have to spend so much time criticizing Chellis.”

Meanwhile, other unsubstantiated reports were being investigated into Chellis being the Antichrist.

Wild Weekend at the Blogland

It's another wild weekend in the Blogland, with a house full of girls here for an overnighter, while I try to get in the obligatory 8-10 hours of study time for school. We're likely going to see more amazing creations like the evil tooth fairy come out of tonight.

Yep, a single professional on Saturday night with a bunch of kids ... more proof that while I've got a million and one things to say about everything under the sun, I really don't have a darn clue ... and proof that some of my ranting anonymous critics might be more right about me being a jerk with women than they think.

In any event, whether you're doing better at love than I am, hitting the books, working on your car or yard, or just drinking 'til you drop, be good at what you're doing and make it a great weekend out there ... or else the evil tooth fairy might come see you too.

Power Phrases: Take ownership & avoid generalizations

As a professional communicator, I rely on resources to help improve what I do, as well as share with co-workers to help give them some food for thought. Today, I share some insights as to what to say, and what not to say, from Meryl Runion's SpeakStrong email newsletter:

PowerPhrase of the Week :

We have a policy of putting our patients first. I didn't follow my policy that day. Jay was frustrated when her doctor had his assistant call her rather than return her call himself. When
Jay complained to the assistant, the assistant was defensive and indignant.

Jay was on the phone with me, telling me she was ready to change doctors when call waiting signaled. It was the doctor, who said, We have a policy of putting our patients first. By having my assistant call you, I didn’t follow my policy that day. She was blaming and shaming to you, and I apologize for that. I will get you in if you’d still like to see me.

Jay is his patient for life now.


Bonus PowerPhrase:

I want a widget that lists for five pesos.

It's about how an abstract communicator made her point with a concrete one. Read it here:

Poison Phrase of the Week:

Kids can be so loud and obnoxious. Patty doesn’t like kids. That’s fine, but when most of your friends have them, there’s no point in constantly reminding everyone who has them when you get the families together.

Patty’s husband was tickling seven-year-old Daniel in the back seat of the car, and Daniel was laughing loudly. That’s when Patty said, Kids can be so loud and obnoxious.

It’s one thing to bring up an issue you want addressed. It’s another to complain about behavior that comes with the territory using a blanket condemnation.