Judicial candidate interviews

Lately, it just doesn't seem our state's legal and judicial community is having a lot of luck: rigged bar exam scores, Justice Toal's driving, as well as the million-and-one conspiracy theories regarding the recent election of Supreme Court Justice Beatty. Given all this bad publicity, we thought it might be a good time to open the curtains on the backroom and try to shine a little sunlight upon the process of selecting our state's judges.

Five of the ten most-read postings in the Blogland in December involved judicial races and legal reform, and the month's most-discussed posting was an interview with a judicial candidate. This says to us that our readers are interested in these issues. Seeing as how we're big fans of our fans, we think their concerns are important.

For the benefit of our readers, we emailed the candidates in the upcoming judicial votes, offering them opportunities to be interviewed in the Blogland. We wanted to introduce them to our readers and learn a little bit more about them.

It might not come as much of surprise to you that we're still waiting to hear from most of them.

There are two judicial candidates who did interview with the Blogland, and we appreciate their taking the time to let us know a little bit about them:
  • Kristi Harrington, a special prosecutor with the Berkeley County Solicitor's office who is seeking the vacant 9th Judicial Circuit Court seat,
  • Melissa Emery, a Myrtle Beach family law attorney who is seeking the vacant 15th Judicial Circuit Family Court seat.
We appreciate their doing so for our readers, and hope that future judicial races will become even more transparent. Rest assured that we'll do our best to make sure you get a little more honesty and transparency about our state government ... and if we hear from any other judicial candidates, we'll give them equal time to speak up.

Stay tuned.

Some holiday pictures

It took a few days to download these, but I thought I'd share them with you anyway ...

Here's Christmas afternoon, where I catch up with my mother's family. The water pics are from my aunt and uncle's place on Rantowles Creek, near Red Top.

A couple of days later, me and a car full of kids run the roads from here to South of the Border and back ... oh what fun that was.

They're back: The Blogland's 2008 legislative preview

If you live in Columbia, now is a good time to lock up your booze cabinets ... your daughters ... and one more thing - don't forget to hide the keys to your car. In case you hadn't heard, trouble's coming to town this week - with a vengeance.

No, it's not the boys from the Delta House ... the General Assembly reconvenes tomorrow, and before they get back in town, we at the Blogland wanted to give you a photo guide of some of who and what you might see in and around the State House:

House Majority Leader Jim Merrill discusses legislative strategy with an incoming freshman from the Midlands:

Here is a highly-classified photo of a meeting of Senate committee chairmen that we snuck out of the Senate Democratic Caucus office in what is sure to become known as Stolenphotogate:

Several bloggers plot a response to the legislative budget process:

The editor of the Blogland begs for mercy as he tries to sneak out of his bar tab:

We weren't sure who these two politicos are, but if any of you would like to guess who they are, feel free to share your suggestions:

Now, for those of you who came here looking for us to tell you what the important issues might be ... come on, this is Columbia. If they don't have issues, they'll find issues - they always do. They've got more issues than Britney Spears, just waiting to be pulled out and discussed in whatever ways will best help get them re-elected. When they figure out what those issues are, we'll be talking about them.

Inside Interview: Shannon Erickson

State Representative Shannon Erickson is about to make her debut in the State House, representing a big piece of northern Beaufort County. She won the seat which had been vacated by now-Senator Catherine Ceips when Ceips was elected to fill a vacant seat in the State Senate.

A good Southern Catholic, she grew up in Florence, graduated from USC-Beaufort. For over twenty years, Representative Erickson has called the Beaufort area home, along with her husband Kendall, her daughter Mariah and son Josh. A former public school teacher, she is now the director of Hobbitt Hill Preschools, which has three locations in the Beaufort area.

As we always do in the Blogland, we like to turn the mike over to our guests and see what Representative Erickson has to say …

Q - The House starts session in a couple of weeks, and you’ll be a part of it. How do you feel about this?

Wow, it is quickly approaching! I'm very excited to be part of our state government. I have already set up my office, rented an apartment in Columbia, and found my parking space. I've been working hard here in Beaufort to get feedback from constituents regarding issues that are important to them and in general to Beaufort. I ran my campaign on a platform of representing Beaufortonians in Columbia and of course, the mail, phone calls, emails, and face-to-face communications with members of our community are filling my calendar, but that's truthfully an enjoyment for me.

I do have to say that after two years of standing in the lobby of the State House waiting to speak with members of our General Assembly, it will be quite surreal to actually walk through the doors into the House chamber! I am certain that there will be many procedural nuances that I will need to take note of and I will work hard to learn them. Prayers are always welcome and appreciated.

Q - Which issues are priorities for you and your district?

There are some very heavy issues that weigh on us here in the Lowcountry. Basically, I believe that we need to look at how much of our tax dollars come back to Beaufort from Columbia. Specifically, economic development dollars, education funding, and transportation infrastructure come to mind, since the formulas for these look at property values and median income, this really skews the true picture of Beaufort County.

We are fortunate here to have some of the most valuable real estate in the state, but unfortunate in that our workers receive the lowest wages in South Carolina. We must also address the issue of annexation on a state level to assist our cities, towns and counties. One of our most valuable natural resources in Beaufort is Hunting Island State Park. That area requires constant attention and I will do whatever is necessary to protect this for our citizens and visitors.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not include illegal immigration. This issue affects us and our entire state. We must take action on the state level to force our federal government to enforce laws that already exist and we must make it better to be legal than illegal in South Carolina.

Q - What do you see as issues which aren’t being addressed, but should be?

The property tax issue needs to be watched carefully. A lot of hard work went into reducing taxation on primary residences with the property tax relief bill. Our responsibility is to make sure that it does what it was intended to do and not have unintentional adverse consequences to our municipalities and counties.

I would also like to look at laws regarding sexual molestation of children. These are heinous and horrific crimes which are not punished stringently enough!

Sustainable communities are very important down here too. I participated in a Congressional Quarterly/Governing Magazine/AARP summit on that just last month at the College of Charleston. We have to plan carefully to allow citizens to "age-in-place" and retain their connectivity to their community. It's a real issue of respect and one that ties well into others that we already have in place such as land banking, smart growth, and transportation and infrastructure planning.

Q - Did they ever find the money-spending drunken sailor or Shaniqua, who all those calls talked about? We heard they were last seen at some bar on St. Helena’s Island, and the sailor was spending mone
y, like … well a drunken sailor.

Earl, I don't know who "they" are, but I never did hear another word about any of it. Honestly, I was too busy connecting with the people of District 124 to give it much thought. I was saddened that someone thought that necessary to do. In the end, though, I did get a chuckle out of it, especially since those who know me...well, let's say I squeeze a penny! It was an interesting campaign, or three, to say the least!

Q - What are your thoughts about bloggers and other “new media” outlets?

You know I find these new communication venues interesting. They are a quick, easy way to spread information and get the "word out" if you will, but I have to admit that the opportunity for anonymity is a concern for me. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy reading other people's opinions and stories, but when they do not have any accountability for their "actions," the truth can get lost for the sake of a good story. I do use email quite a bit and have a website (www.electshannon.com) so use of technology for me is a large part of my day.

Q - What do you do in your "spare time" .... Just in case there is any, given the busy schedule you seem to lead.

I most enjoy spending time with family. I have an incredible husband, Kendall, and two wonderful children, Mariah (23) and Josh (21). We like to boat, travel, entertain, and cheer on college teams together. I'm a USC alum, Kendall's a Francis Marion alum, Mariah is a Clemson alum, and Josh is a senior at Ole Miss. We have some super sporting event opportunities! I also visit my parents in Florence as often as I can, and with that comes time with my niece, Emily, and her mom, Miriam (my sister) & her dad, Stephen. My brother, Norman, visits from Conway often too.

I also love my work family. I work with 56 of the most wonderful women in the world! Many of us have been together 10 years and some of us longer than that. We go to work everyday to provide excellent education and care for the 350 young children in our care, but we provide it to one another as well. I love being there every day!

Q - As you know, music is a big part of what we talk about in the Blogland. What’s your favorite album and/or artist?

Hummmmmm, I'd say that is driven by my mood or activities. Cooking is definitely time for some Starship, 38 Special, Sister Hazel, Charlie Daniels & U2. Relaxing on my back porch calls for James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet, Barry White, Nora Jones or Billy Joel. Cleaning house...well, Keith Urban, Rosie Ledet, Indigo Girls, Kool & the Gang or Foreigner. I'll have to develop a tune mix for my Columbia office & apartment, that's for sure!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's a couple of YouTube clips of videos from Jefferson Starship that we thought were pretty good hard-rockin' tunes...

Find your way back


Looking back at 2007

2007 was a busy year in the Blogland, and if y’all don’t mind, we’re gonna look back at the year that started out so quiet, but then got so crazy.

After getting my hopes up, getting a speeding ticket, and making a fool of myself, I ended the year no closer to getting remarried than when I’d started it.

While I’ve been unlucky at love, I did get something right, having completed my graduate school coursework. After eight years of undergrad and graduate studies at night, it feels strange not to have classes in my life, but it was time for the journey to end. My thesis work is underway, and graduation will be in May. Stay tuned for graduation party details – we’d love for all our readers to come join us.

So ... what exciting events took place this year in the life of the Blogland?

In January, I took my little one to her first concert - Fall Out Boy in Raleigh.

Then came February, which included my birthday. It was nothing special, except a great opportunity for the freaks and haters to infest my blog.

When March rolled around, Mike Reino was considered potential VP material.

… and a lead I broke in the then-ongoing State Senate special election in Beaufort County ended up making print space in a bunch of papers around the state.

In May, we covered the state GOP convention in one part and then a second part.

Barack Obama got caught with his hands smack-dab in a corporate welfare scheme that threatened to milk taxpayers for megabillions while polluting the environment. So much for all that reform horseshit he keeps spewing.

In spite of that, his campaign still attracts crybabies who are blooming idiots. Then again, one would have to be not to see through this shallow blowhard

When July rolled around, there were fireworks as ethics charges against state Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom were tossed out.

Later on in August, I found out I was an AK-47, of all things.

In September, we remembered 9/11 and defended our friend Wes Donehue.

When October rolled around, we celebrated ROCKtober, complete with reader prizes, including some hard-rockin’, head-bangin’ CDs and some great books

During ROCKtober, I caught Megadeth in concert. One of the best-ever shows I’ve been to.

But that month's appeal for funds for continued research fell short. So we decided to save money by firin

U.S. Group opened more highway projects in Bamberg, Newberry and Orangeburg counties.

It was a bad year for folks on both sides of the political aisle:

John McCain, who lost well over half of his early 2007 support, had a pretty crappy year, staggering to keep his second bid for the White House from collapsing.

In the wake of the departure of Tom Delay, “the Hammer”, in the wake of the GOP fall from power in Congress, Jim Clyburn became JC Hammer. Later on, it was rumored that due to a failure to get results, JC Hammer was replaced as Majority Whip by Devo.

Former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, whose stunning fall from grace was a prelude to the toughest challenge of his life, that of facing drug addiction. He goes forward with our thoughts and prayers for success.

Rick Beltram, the Spartanburg County GOP chair (who the Spartanburg Herald-Journal believes rides the short bus), whose straw poll was a joke, started threatening the jobs of bloggers for expressing their opinions, saying the authors were hidden and anonymous. Later, we found out he was lying about the whole thing.

In the wake of Thomas Ravenel’s resignation from the State Treasurer’s post, I made a reluctant entry into the race, encouraged by Blogland readers. I was shocked to find that I'd been endorsed by several political websites.

The sudden entry of Charleston County Council Chairman Tim Scott resulted in riots at the State House. Pork and Barrel became the first targets of the rioters, who then had great BBQ line items

In spite of the controversy, I did pass a self-administered field drug test, after taking two weeks to study for it.

In the end, I ended my candidacy and withdrew from the race, dogged by allegations that I’d been paid off to quit the race. I threw the support of the Blogland to my now-former State Representative Converse Chellis, who was seated by a landslide vote of the General Assembly.

There were so many moments along the way this year in the Blogland that made this year a memorable one, but none of that would have happened without ... YOU.

One more thing ... just as I mentioned at the end of last year, the world is still waiting for the mythical Guns n’ Roses Chinese Democracy album. Fat chance we’ll ever see that.

Stay tuned and make it a great year!

Inside Interview: Nathan Ballentine

State Representative Nathan Ballentine has represented a big piece of northwestern Richland County since 2006. A fellow blogger, he took his House seat by knocking out then-Majority Leader Rick Quinn in what was considered an unlikely upset.

A native of Richland County’s Dutch Fork area, he lives in his home turf with his wife Karen, along with three kids: Sarah Katherine (11), son Jonathan Carroll, Jr. (3), and daughter Emma Logan (2).

As we always do in the Blogland, we like to turn the mike over to our guests and see what he’s got to say for himself …

Q - The House starts session in a couple of weeks. What do you see as the big issues when they come back into session?

Personally, it’s Earmark Reform. Everyone who knows me, knows I’m a budget hawk and very tight with my money and our taxpayers money. (I even drive a 1995 car with a broken odometer at 195,000 miles in February last year. The transmission is shot and even some of my colleagues here know it takes a good 3 minute to get into drive before I can move). My constituents have known for years that I want more sunshine in government and less “pork”. We’ll pass something but I want it to have teeth and not be a “feel good” legislation that doesn’t accomplish what the intent is. Outside of fiscal issues, there’s the illegal-immigration issue to address. Although a federal issue, everyone locally wants to do something. To what extent? We each have our own thoughts on that.

Personally, I was alarmed to find a loophole that would allow illegal immigrants to receive scholarships/instate aid. I will file a bill to help tighten that loophole on Day One.

Of course, there’s always education too. Seems everyone is afraid of the “choice” word now. Used to just be one side against “private choice”, now it appears some “public choice” critics are out too. Let’s do SOMETHING and give it a chance. As I’ve said from the floor of the House, I was sent to do SOMETHING, not nothing!

Q - Which issues are priorities for you and your district?

In addition to the above, Earmark Reform (H4356) is a top priority. There’s some other local matters but nothing too earth-shattering.

Q - What do you see as issues which aren’t being addressed, but should be?

We need to do better with Economic Development and we need to do better with “education”. That word is very vague but in general, we need to look at funding (which we finally are), we need to look at testing, we need to look at getting the money to the classroom. We’re gonna continue to meet about these issues but we’re not “addressing” them.

In this election year, I don’t see too many bold stances being taken and certainly not enough time to have the House/Senate/Governor all agree on one approach. Sadly, it appears we’re more re-active than pro-active. Everytime we try to be progressive with some concept/idea to advance our state, the nay-sayers come out of the wordworks. “No” seems to be the default-answer from most officials.

Q - As a blogger yourself, what do you think “new media” brings to the world of politics?

Any elected official or political junkie who says they don’t read the blogs is only lying to himself. Personally, there’s no better way to keep up with the pulse of the entire state than to check the blogs. You do need to be aware of any bias that could exist in some but hey, there’s bias in the main stream media as well. I think blogs are one more way to let more sunshine in. Everyone knows who the writers are but I do wish some of the anonymous posters would be more accountable for what they write, etc. The replies are mostly opinions anyway so why not let yours be heard without hiding behind a screenname? That’s one thing I’d like to see changed.

Q - One of the best things about life in the Midlands is the BBQ. Tell us where you go for BBQ.

I’m not one for pork in our state budget but when it’s my dime paying, I’m ok with either Farm Boys (Chapin) or Hudson’s (Lexington). Now, closer to the State House, you have to admit Maurice Bessinger not only has great BBQ but some pretty good hush puppies too! Pork rinds….gotta mention those.

Q- As you know, music is a big part of what we talk about in the Blogland. What’s your favorite album and/or artist?

Without a doubt, my favorite band is Boston! Of course, their self-titled/debut album is a classic in anyone’s book. I gotta share how great my wife is. The day after we got married, Boston was playing in the Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta, GA. Not many new wives would sacrifice a week in the Caribbean for their husband’s favorite band but Karen did. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended!

Outside of that, I’m pretty much a child of the 80s. My friends laughed at me when a few years ago I had my “flashback summer” and saw Buffett, KISS, Def Leppard, and Poison. Who would think a conservative, Southern Baptist like me has that diverse a taste. Sure, I listen to country occasionally, but let’s be honest, most politicians (outside of Texas) who give that answer usually are just playing it safe.

One day, I’d like to get an ipod so I’d be ready for “the question” but I guess I’ll leave that up to my kids for now. Now that I think about it, the last concert I went to was The Wiggles….and I’ve seen them 3 times. That’s what having kids will do to you. It actually was fun seeing it through their eyes though. I passed on the concert T-shirt myself but JC had to have one.

Blogs explained

I found this YouTube video linked from Wes Donehue's website, which presents a very good discussion of what blogs are and how they work:

December 2007: The month in review

We'd like to welcome you, our reader, to 2008. We're glad you made it.

December, like the entire year of 2007, came and went, and fortunately most of our readers are still out there. In fact, it seems as if even more of you have begun tuning in, which is great with us.

The focus for our readers and our discussions began to turn towards what's coming up when the S.C. General Assembly returns in January, especially the upcoming judicial races. We've even met with and presented interviews from two judicial candidates here in the Blogland, a first for new or traditional media outlets, and have invited all the judicial candidates to be interviewed.

We're still waiting to hear from them. Maybe they don't think we need to know who is on the bench?

If so, then they're not going to hide from our readers. Five of the ten most-read postings involved judicial races and legal reform, and the month's most-discussed posting was an interview with a judicial candidate.

That means our readers want to know, and stay tuned, because we're gonna find out.

On the personal front, my graduate school studies entered the home stretch, with my last classes completed and my attention now fully focused upon the completion of my thesis. For those of you who'd like to attend my graduation or graduation party (or both), stay tuned for event details.

As always, thanks for tuning in to our ramblings at the Blogland, and watch for upcoming postings, as we look back at the Blogland's look back at 2007.

Which postings were the most read this month?

State judicial race watch
Too hot for NBC?
3) Snakes in the judicial races?
4) Insider dealing for state judicial races?
5) A lousy way to spend an evening
6) What's coming up in the State House?

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!

We at the Blogland want to thank our readers for making this year the biggest one yet ... our daily visitor averages have more than doubled, which means something.

Exactly WHAT it means ... we're still not sure. But we think it's good that there are at least that many people in South Carolina who can read - in spite of the best efforts of the South Carolina Department of Education.

In any event, we want all of you to have a safe and happy New Year, as well as your friends and family. Be sure not to drink and drive ... lest you end up like Brian McCarty or Mike Reino ... or worse yet, like this guy here:


Rick Beltram: The Blogland's Joker of the Year

In the game of life, one has to play the cards they're dealt. It may not always be fair, but that's the way life goes.

In the game of life, some of us are playing at least a few cards short of a deck (word has it we're not). Up at the top of that list in the Blogland is none other than Spartanburg County's GOP Chair, Rick Beltram.

Or as one of our readers has called him - Dick Belstrami. Whatever that means.

This is the kind of guy who can send out press releases which tell outright lies, threatens the jobs of those who question him, and no matter how many he sends ... still has the kind of bad grammar and misspelling you would usually associate with some old, angry raving lunatic who nobody listens to, but nobody has the balls to tell to shut up and go away. No wonder the Spartanburg Herald-Journal suggested he rode the short bus to school.

Usually such people are on the far outside fringes of their party's organization, but for some reason, he's been elected, and re-elected, Chairman of the Spartanburg County Republican Party.

We can't help but wonder what the hell they were thinking ... or smoking? Or did the Democrats sneak in and stuff the ballot box to help him win?

His lies, pathetic attempts to bully and intimidate others, failure to master the art of spin, and most of all ... piss-poor grammar and spelling ... have put him at the top of our list of most-watched public figures.

Hands-down, Rick Beltram, South Carolina's Trophy Mouth and most functionally- illiterate political party leader, is qualified above all others to be the Blogland's Joker of the Year.

We're sure that Spartanburg Republicans are proud of him. They must be since they keep him as their Chairman.

As a tribute to Rick, he's a video of the original Slick Rick ...

General Petraeus: The Blogland's Righteous Dude of the year

In choosing our Righteous Dude of the Year, the Blogland wanted to pick someone who took a calculated risk in a tough situation, and pulled off what was considered nearly impossible.

This year, more than any other major American figure,
General David Petraeus has done just that. Leading American efforts to learn and adapt to the changing threats faced in Iraq, he led a surge effort which was written off by many. By year's end, these efforts reversed a military quagmire in Iraq and a political one in Washington.

According to Mark Davis of the Dallas Morning News:

Gen. David Petraeus sent troops into Iraq's toughest regions - to live there. And he sent Iraqi security forces with them. This brought more stability to more square miles of Iraq and gave the Iraqi forces a boost toward the competence they must display to one day keep their own country safe.

In meeting their enormous challenge, Gen. Petraeus and those under his command have, in turn, created a huge obstacle not just for al-Qaeda, but for those who have hindered the war effort here at home.

Those who pilloried President Bush showed their total lack of military knowledge. The President commits forces, who are then responsible for confronting the enemy, learning his methods and weaknesses, and adapting their own methodologies to prevail. That's exactly what Petraeus and America's finest men and women did. They adapted, and judging by the shrinking number of military and civilian losses, their efforts worked, no thanks to those who claimed to "oppose the war, but support the troops".

Petraeus proved the anti-war crowd wrong twice: once by showing that Iraq was not hopeless, and again by enduring a wave of media attacks from MoveOn and other groups which proved their claims of "we support the troops, but not the war" were nothing but calculated lies to support their real agenda - an effort to politicize the war as a partisan weapon by which to attack President Bush.

Interestingly enough, the success of Petraeus' surge seems to not only have benefitted Bush, it may have played a role in the revival of John McCain's presidential fortunes. But we're sure political fortunes of Bush and McCain aren't among Petraeus' concerns, so much as giving Iraq's leaders time to securely root it's first-ever democratically-elected government, and ensuring that as many of those troops we send overseas return home safe and sound.

General David Petraeus has managed to do what was considered impossible: change the course of the military conflict in Iraq, as well as the political one back home. That makes him one righteous dude in our book.

The Pretenders' debut album

In what is sure to be a bit of a puzzling sidetrack from our usual fare of heavy metal album reviews, we're going to share one of our Christmas presents with you: the Rhino Records re-release of the 1980 debut self-titled album by The Pretenders.

This album featured the original, but short-lived, lineup of Chrissie Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott, Martin Chambers, and Pete Farndon. The video for Brass in Pocket received a lot of play in the early days of MTV, helping the band build a strong following in the United States, the homeland of lead singer Hynde.

The Pretenders, along with The Police and Elvis Costello, came up in the era of the British punk revolution. Like the punk bands, the Pretenders turned back the clock to the original blues and rockabilly influences of rock, but then went forward in a different direction than the UK punk bands.

Like the punk bands of their time, every song feels real and genuine, with a straight-on attitude. Unlike those bands, a lot of different directions are explored throughout the album, and one can easily pick out a wide range of influences, including punk, blues, 70s guitar rock, reggae, and rockabilly.

It's a solid piece of work, and if you're interested in slowing down a little bit, this is a CD well-worth buying. The re-release contains a second disc of outtakes, demos and live versions of cuts from the album, so spend a little more and get the whole enchilada.

Here are a couple of YouTube clips ...

Brass in Pocket

Tattooed Love Boys

Benazir Bhutto, Martyr for Democracy

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Pakistan, especially with the friends, family, and supporters of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Given the rash of bombings and attempted attacks, Bhutto had to know death stalked her every move since she returned to Pakistan, yet she never wavered or backed down. The rise of a free and democratic Pakistan, safe from both military coups and Islamic extremism, would be a fitting tribute by which to honor her legacy and her sacrifice

This savage act was intended to deter reformers and send a message of fear to silence those who worked to bring democracy to this region. We hope that the people of Pakistan will reject their threats and send an even stronger message to the terrorists by going to the polls in the upcoming elections.

2007 in review: New elected officials

This year, the Blogland welcomed a number of people to public office, including several new legislators to the General Assembly, who took office in a unusual rolling chain of special elections, including Senators Paul Campbell, Catherine Ceips, and Shane Massey, as well as Representatives Shannon Erickson and Heyward Hutson.

Converse Chellis, my now-former state Representative, was
chosen to serve as our new State Treasurer following Thomas Ravenel's resignation.

While Converse has been hard at work since transitioning in from Ken Wingate, who did a great job as the interim treasurer, the five new legislators will be taking office right after the first of the year with our best wishes for success!

Congressional Dems' broken promise on earmarks

The Manchester, NH Union Leader's editorial endorsement of John McCain shares some interesting facts about how the Democrats have failed to keep promises related to ending earmarking in the federal budget:

What wonderful projects did you pay for?

* The Andre Agassi prep school in Las Vegas -- $200,000.

* Olive fruit fly research in France -- $213,000.

* The Stark County, Ohio YMCA -- $500,000.

* A bike trail in Minnesota -- $700,000.

The police department in Bastrop, La., got $1.6 million, supposedly for bullet-proof vests. Even if you think Washington ought to fund local police, consider this comment from a Bastrop cop:

"There's no way we'd need that kind of money just to put all our people in vests," said Det. Curtis Stephenson.

Outraged yet?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged in March to cut the number of earmarks by half. Didn't happen. This budget contains more than 11,000 earmarks, the second-highest number in history.

We can already hear the gasps of surprise at such unbelievable news ... right?

It's been a common thing for the Democrats to blame their many legislature failures on President Bush and the congressional Republicans, but on this one, they could easily have ended this by voting party-line to exclude such items from the budget. But they didn't.

It'll be interesting to see how, or if, they spin this one.

2007 in review: Who we're thankful for

In going over this year's blog postings to see what we talked about, I wanted to remember to some good people who left us this year:

  • Dorchester County Deputy Mike Deese,
  • Berkeley County Deputy Dawn Tillman,
  • Boris Yeltsin,
  • Our friend Senator Bill Mescher,
  • Austin Whetsell,
  • Lady Bird Johnson,
  • Lillee Schuster,
  • Robert Scarborough, and
  • Kevin Dubrow

  • Please take a moment to say a prayer for them and their families in this holiday season. We are thankful for the gifts they gave us while on this earth, and they will be missed.