Vets for Freedom come to Columbia on Thursday

We received this and wanted to share it with our readers ...

Join the Vets for Freedom National Tour at
the Veterans Memorial in Columbia


Statehouse Grounds facing Assembly Street at the
Veterans Memorial Statehouse Grounds facing Assembly Street


on Thursday, April 3, 2008, 11:30 a.m.

with Special Guests House Speaker Bobby Harrell, Adjutant General Stan Spears, and

Major General James Livingston, Recipient of the Medal of Honor


The Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour is about going coast-to-coast to generate support for our troops, highlight their successes and rally the country to complete the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

You will be able to meet and honor some real American heroes: David Bellavia, author of House to House, recipient of the Silver Star, and nominee for the Medal of Honor; Marcus Luttrell, recipient of the Navy Cross and author of the New York Times best-selling book Lone Survivor; and Steve Russell, recipient of the Bronze Star medal with Valor Device for his actions in Iraq, including leading the battalion responsible for the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Not only are we raising awareness and support for the mission during the National Heroes Tour, we want to say Thank You to the military community and their families.

Learn more about the tour at www.vetsforfreedom.org
or email SC VFF State Captain Ryan Murphy at rdmurph@hotmail.com

William Shatner redoes "Rocket Man"

Last week, we shared a video of William Shatner attempting to rap Julius Caesar, and one of our readers pointed out an even more interesting moment from Shatner's attempts at music.

This video is his rendition of Elton John's classic "Rocket Man". We've watched a few times, and we're still not sure what to think about it. If you've got any thoughts, feel free to share them.




Upset looming in Zimbabwe?

The MDC opposition party leadership is claiming victory in the Zimbabwe presidential race, based upon projections from preliminary counts as well as those posted at voting locations (before the ballot boxes can be stuffed).

Other news has reported that a number of President Mugabe's ministers and allies have been ousted in their parliamentary re-election bids. This includes a virtual clean-sweep of seats in the capital and other major cities by the opposition.

The "This is Zimbabwe" blog of election watchdogs is reporting a number of reports of speculation that the Mugage regime is preparing either for defeat or the mother of all rigged elections.

Whatever the truth is, we'll soon know. But increasingly it looks like the size of this wave may have been too great for even vote-rigging to turn back.

Thesis update: Do you trust your co-workers? Managers?

... as my all-consuming thesis project continues, I've been tabulating survey responses from work crews. The results have produced rather interesting data with regard to how much workers trust one another and management when it comes to priortizing safety in their jobs.

Safety or production: What's important?

The workers were asked to choose to assess the priority given to safety and production - they could say safety was more important, production, or they were roughly equal in priority:

  • Nearly 63% of workers said they priortized safety over production, 33% balanced it with productivity, and the remaining four percent prioritized productivity.

  • Just over half of them (53%) felt their co-workers prioritized safety, 13% put production first and 34% balanced the two.

  • Just over half of them (54%) felt management balanced the two interests, almost a third (29%) felt management prioritized production, and the remaining 17% believed management put safety over production.

Compliance with safe work practices

When asked how well to rate their own compliance with safe work practices as "good", "marginal" or "poor", workers again showed a higher level of confidence in themselves than others.

  • Roughly 50% of those surveyed believed they had a good level of compliance, and 46% assessed their level of compliance as marginal.

  • None of those surveyed assessed their co-workers had a good level of compliance, 83% believed they had a marginal level of compliance, and the remaining 17% believed their co-workers had a poor level of compliance.
Probably not the kind of stuff you political hacks would find interesting, but for those of you who work in "real" jobs which include hazardous environments, or have employees who work in hazardous conditions, it's certainly something to think about.

For those of y'all who don't know, my job includes HR and Safety administration, so my academic work has some very practical value for my day job.

What's at stake in Zimbabwe?

Many of us sit back and take things for granted when it comes to the freedoms we have. We trivialize our political process with intellectual cheap shots and petty personal attacks, and think we can afford to do so, because we're better than other nations.

That's why we try to stick to the high ground here in the Blogland. Just the issues - no divorce files, drug habit rumors, or any of that childish crap. We've stuck to the high ground, tried to be fair, and for the most part, so do most others ... but down in Zimbabwe, they're not so fortunate. For years, they've had rigged elections, intimidation of the opposition, and all sorts of sordid things from a government who can't offer results, so they cheat to get their way, and if they can't steal it, they'll take it by force.

Trade words for billy clubs, and you'll find that while this seems rather nasty, some of these thugs and their dirty deeds aren't so different from some people here. They're all out to steal and intimidate, to take what they can't earn, and to avoid accountability for their actions. Ethically speaking, they're about the same.

In Zimbabwe, the results of Mugabe's rule have been shocking and are well-documented, including this young victim of the destruction of that nation's economy, along with its once-prosperous agricultural system:


Shocking, isn't it? That's what's at stake in today's elections in Zimbabwe. You can find more pictures about the collapse of a nation online at http://zimbabwedemocracynow.com/toolkit/v/photographs.

In spite of the threats, the intimidation, and the probability that fraud will nullify their votes, the people of Zimbabwe are pouring out in droves today. We wish we could be there to stand with them. But we'll be sure to say a prayer for them - and thank God that while it's not perfect here, it could be worse.

Please join us in our prayers for Zimbabwe.

Metal Mark: Our fave metal blogsite

As many of you have no doubt figured out, music is part of the scene here in the Blogland. While we've got plenty of our own ideas, we like to look around to see what is new and good out there.

Our best source for what is new and great out there is Metal Mark's blog (
http://metalmark.blogspot.com).

Like myself, Mark survived the 80s at least somewhat intact, and now he's grown up, job, kids, etc. ... kind of like me. Only his music network is much better, so why don't y'all go check him out?

Fact checking in the Blogland

Here in the Blogland, we’re optimists. We believe that people can do the right thing and that campaigns should be positive, constructive, and honest. We also believe that the voters deserve better than what they’re getting and that if you don’t respect them enough to tell the truth as a candidate or an advocacy group, you have no right to be in the political process.

To help keep things on the high road, we plan to do more fact-checking whenever the opportunity arises, and encourage our readers to report any instance of misleading, deceptive and/or boneheaded campaign stunts to us.

Katon Dawson clears the air about Berkeley GOP breakfast club

One of the rumors to come out of Wade Arnette's failed coup attempt of the Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club was that somehow the state GOP leadership encouraged Arnette to take over the group.

When the Blogland caught up with Katon Dawson at the Sixth District GOP convention last Saturday, he took a moment to share with us his side of the story. We could have thanked him and let it go at that, but we are strong believers in giving people both sides of the story. Therefore, we wanted to let our readers know what was discussed, so that this rumor can finally be put to rest.

Katon said that in no way did the state party encourage or support Arnette's effort. He said that the first time they heard about the trouble was when news of Wade's stunt appeared on the Blogland. He also pointed out that it is their position that such groups are independent of the state party and the county party organizations that are part of the official South Carolina Republican Party, and as such are not subject to the authority or control of either their county or state party organizations.

In addition, he pointed out that the use of the word "Republican" in no way places an organization under the control of the official Republican Party at the local, state, or national level.

He even said that in front of others, so that sounds like the official word on the subject. As far as we're concerned, the rumors of state party involvement are untrue and Wade's coup attempt was what it was - the lashing-out by a small circle of those angry they can't control everything and everyone. From the American Legion hall in Goose Creek to the state GOP headquarters, apparently Wade Arnette has nobody willing to back him or take his side - pretty sad for a supposed county party chair.

We appreciate Dawson's time, as well as his willingness to affirm that groups like Schuster's Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club are free and independent of outside control by those who don't always like them having freedom of speech or autonomy of action.

Let's hope that Arnette will come to realize that if he wants to be a real Republican leader, he'll spend more time building bridges and less engaging in intimidation, trickery, and character assassination.

A few apologies and a little more respect would be a great way to start.

William Shatner raps Julius Caesar?

On a lighter note, we had something we wanted to share with our viewers.

Yesterday, in discussing our fact-checking of the Club for Growth's shot at Republican candidates in House District 117, we quoted from Mark Antony's address in Julius Caesar:

The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honorable men.

We wanted to share with you this video clip from the movie "Free Enterprise" where William Shatner re-created the speech as a rap performance:




Beware the Ides of March: Wheeler Tillman and that good ol’ mudslinging

It’s getting deep early in South Carolina politics as those who believe anything goes in the name of electing their candidates pull out all the stops to win. One such hare-brained effort backfired as those who hoped to oust Horry County Senator Luke Rankin actually helped secure his re-election when his challenger was so disgusted by their negative attacks that he withdrew from the race rather than be associated with mudslinging.

We’ve seen dirty campaign tricks backfire, but we’ve never seen them end a race before it even got started.

Yesterday, we touched on another race which seems headed down that same disgusting “anything goes” path, where a press release featuring loaded language in the race for House Seat 117 went a’flying, aimed squarely at the GOP primary opponents of Tim Scott:

Not to miss out on a good time (but really, our idea of a good time usually involves alcohol, women, and old Miami Vice or Reno 911 re-runs), and knowing one of the candidates in the race (Wheeler Tillman), we decided our first fact-checking target of the season would be their media release. We weren’t really surprised when they started acting proclaiming their innocence in a manner we haven’t seen since the O.J Simpson trial, calling their comments about Wheeler an “honest mistake”.

When all was said and done, they kept insisting it was a mistake, and we kept thinking we’d just been served a heapin’ helping of total bullshit. So much so that we were reminded from this part from Julius Caesar:


The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honorable men.

Yep, all honorable men. No doubt about it.

In my day job as a corporate communication and PR hack, I’ve NEVER made so many mistakes in a single press release. There’s no way that someone in my profession can screw up so bad without someone getting fired. While it's hard to understand how someone can blow it that bad, it's even harder to understand how someone could survive this without getting their proverbial tit in a wringer - unless it was sanctioned.


In any event, Wheeler sent us a response, and we felt that since we allowed them to post a response comment, that we should allow him to do the same, so here it is:

Some group in Columbia, SC has endorsed Tim Scott and are criticizing me for being a former Democrat. By implication, that Columbia group is also criticizing former Democrats Ronald Reagan, Strom Thurmond, Arthur Ravenel, John Graham Altman, and a host of others.

My first political contribution was a $25.00 donation to the Charleston County Republican Party in 1968 while serving in the Air Force in Vietnam. Since then, I have donated thousands of dollars to county and state parties.

In the 1970s, I served in the state House with Mendel Rivers, Jr, Bob Kohn and the late John Bradley. Without question these were my political allies on conservative values in the SC House and they became my very best friends. I voted so often with Republicans Bob Kohn and John Bradley that they regularly asked me to switch parties. It was 1990 when I finally took their advice.

When I left the House in 1980, I supported Republican Danny Winstead against his Democrat challenger Ira Beach. I gave Danny my voting data, lists and notes on the House District voters. That year, I also contributed to Glenn McConnell in his first campaign for the State Senate. Later, while in a law practice with Glenn, our office handled thousands of his Republican political calls, and I was glad to help with them.

When Mendel Rivers, Jr., also a former Democrat, ran in the 1994 Republican Primary for Congress, I was one of his surrogate speakers and contributed $1,000 to his campaign. Brenda, who is now my wife, also contributed $1,000 to his campaign.

In addition to all of this, I have been the Republican Executive Committeeman for my precinct for the past 16 years. If they don’t think this qualifies me as a good and loyal Republican, well-qualified to run under my party’s banner, I know many other Republicans who would strongly disagree with them. In the last day, I have heard from dozens of Republicans who have repudiated their comments and believe I am a good conservative Republican, loyal to my party and our shared conservative principles.

Perhaps they should have taken the time to meet with me, as they have with other candidates, before casting judgment.

We don’t know about you, but in our book, that statement says all that we need to hear about Wheeler Tillman’s qualifications.

If this is how the filing period is going, we’re not sure if we want to see how far downhill things are going to go between now and June 10.

Beware the ides of March.

Congrats to South Carolina's newest (and coolest) judge - Kristi Harrington


Last night, the Blogland was one of many guests at the swearing-in ceremony for Wonder Woman ... uh ... we meant to say Ninth Circuit Judge Kristi Harrington.

When the baliff walked in and called "all rise for the Honorable Judge Kristi Harrington", we've never seen a courtroom audience jump to their feet so quickly.

Sworn in by her predecessor, Judge Danny Pieper of the Court of Appeals, she was flanked by her son Grayson. Thanking a large cast of supporters and associates, including court staff, the staff of the Berkeley Solicitor's office, legislative supporters, leaders of the state Federation of Republican Women, local politicos ... and even yours truly ... the remarks were brief, humble, and gracious.

We've been around state politics for a while, but we don't see such a diverse gathering of supporters for such an occasion, nor do we see such a high level of respect and admiration shown for the person in question. That should say a lot about her.

Harrington's election stands out as one of the most "outside" judicial races in South Carolina history due to the volume of discussion prompted by the state's new media outlets. As our readers know, a lot of that discussion took place here, or was prompted by the discussion that took place in the Blogland.

Clearly Judge Harrington has a unique following among the state's new media types. While some of their discussion of her candidacy is somewhat light-hearted, the respectful undertones are obvious. As to how this level of exposure will define her tenure on the bench, or affect the state's judiciary as a whole, only time will tell.

It is our hope that other judges and judicial candidates will follow her lead in making the system a little more transparent (and in doing so, we believe a little more accountable) through new media outlets such as the Blogland. Our door is always open to them, and as always, we promise them a fair and respectful opportunity to talk with us and our readers. Other blogs and news sites offer them much the same kind of reception - when they're ready for that discussion to take place.

We believe this isn't the last chapter in her career of public service, and we look forward to keeping up with her ... if indeed it is possible to keep up with someone so high energy.

For her friendship, courtesy, and cooperation in opening up a part of state government which is usually kept out of the public eye, Judge Harrington has our appreciation and our respect - we're proud to call her "Your Honor".

For her drive, commitment, and willingness to persevere as a person, an attorney, an underdog judicial candidate and now as a judge, she has our admiration, as well as our prayers and best wishes for a successful career on the bench.

Good luck, Your Honor.

Fact-checking Club for Growth & House 117: Are they lying or just uninformed?

You can tell the 2008 primary season is starting out red-hot, and it looks like the lies and distortions are already starting.

This spring, the first entity we call out for flat-out misrepresenting the facts is the Club for Growth in their effort to support their endorsee, Tim Scott, in the race to fill the vacant House 117 seat in the Goose Creek area.

The target of their misrepresentations is Tim's fellow GOP candidate Wheeler Tillman, falsely criticized in a media release which they put out yesterday:

Tim’s opponents for the open seat, Wheeler Tillman and Bill Crosby, both present causes for concern. Tillman served for four years in the House during the 70’s as a Democrat, ran again for public office as a Democrat in the 1980’s and only switched parties earlier this decade.

Let's talk about the good, bad, and ugly behind this press release ...

HALF-TRUTH: Wheeler Tillman served in the House for six years in the 1970s.
OUTRIGHT LIE: Wheeler Tillman switched to the GOP in the early 1990s, and has been involved in the Republican Party since then.
UNSUPPORTED CLAIM: We're not sure what "present causes for concern" could possibly mean, but given Tillman's record, it seems he could be as much a fiscal conservative as Tim Scott. Tillman ran against Dantzler on a fiscally-conservative platform in 2002 in the GOP primary, and when a member of the House, sponsored legislation that ended the sales tax on prescription medicine.

As we know a lot of these groups are free-lancing this year, we won't pin this on Tim, but we certainly hope he'll make it clear that such a statement is false, misinformed, and regrettable.

We're disappointed that the Club for Growth would attempt to present such poorly-researched claims so early in the cycle. We hope this shoddy attempt at selective truth-telling will be retracted and they'll do a better job in the future.

British election predictor - pretty neat stuff!

Great Britain, where party influence upon voters is stronger than here in the US, has been able to fine tune the process of predicting the outcome of parliamentary elections.

Right now, polls are pointing to a major slump in support for the Labour Party, after ten years of rule, and a potential switch of control to the Conservative Party.

An interesting effect is how the overall polling lead will have much to do with how much a district will sway from one way to the other. For example, nine point shift in voter support nationwide would result in about the same percentage of voters switching their electoral allegiances in each constituency, or district. So a seat that might have gone for Labor by a four point majority in the last election may be picked up by the 2nd place party in that district by about the same margin (usually Conservatives, but sometimes Liberal Democrats or the Welsh or Scottish local parties).

Projections are that, should elections be called in the near future, the sixty-something seat majority for the Labourites might be slashed drastically or lost to the Conservatives, who would lead with either a narrow majority or be the largest party in a minority government.

This neat tool
gives you the means to plug in polling data or test findings from recently-published polling. Check it out.

Berkeley GOP leadership short on ... leadership?

On Saturday, when the Blogland went to Orangeburg to visit the 6th District Republican convention, we couldn't help but notice the glaring emptiness that was the section of seating for Berkeley County delegates.

Nancy Corbin eventually showed up, but nobody else did, leaving Berkeley County with virtually no voice at the convention. Which helps to explain why the 6th District officers, national convention delegates and alternate lists include names from almost every county in the 6th District ... except Berkeley County.

It's like they say - when you snooze, you lose.

With their current chairman, Wade Arnette, more interested in hijacking non-affiliated groups, threatening newspapers with libel suits, and making insulting and false accusations against his critics, than trying to get people involved in the Republican Party, we're not surprised at such poor turnout.

The appointment of the new First Vice-Chairman, Michelle Combs, whose most recent political leadership experience seems to have consisted of helping her jihadist mother pack the national Christian Coalition offices when they moved from Washington, D.C. to North Charleston, didn't seem to help things either.

Maybe they were busy helping their buddy Drew McKissick work on his new guide for Ethics in Politics?

We're not sure ... but what we are pretty sure that Wade's response to these questions will be to call more people to say bad things about us, and try to get us investigated (again). Perhaps if persecuting his enemies is so important, he should resign his chairmanship so he'll have more free time for his petty and vindictive witch hunts.

CORRECTION: Nancy reported that she arrived early. As she's someone we trust, we believe her. It's just too bad that other Berkeley Republicans didn't come along with her.

Blogland forces seize 6th District GOP in morning coup

With little warning, forces from the Blogland took virtually total control of the Sixth Congressional District’s Republican Party, seizing a number of strategic offices throughout the organization. Staggered by a barrage of material, stunned observers could do little but watch the events unfold.

Mike Reino, the author of the SC 6 blog and regular Blogland commentator from Florence, was elected Vice-Chairman without opposition, while Moye Graham, another Blogland ally from Clarendon County, was elected Secretary/Treasurer, as well as to one of the three national delegate slots. The other two national delegate slots went to Lt. Governor Andre Bauer and Dr. Joe Flowers.

According to Earl Capps, who planned the Blogland’s morning attack, “things couldn’t have gone better. Our people are in key positions throughout the party and we have three delegates going to the national convention who will all do their part to see to it that John McCain is elected President.”

Concerns that Bauer and Flowers weren’t part of the Blogland plot were dismissed by Joe Schmoe, a political analyst who escaped during the final armored assault: “The Blogland endorsed both of these guys in the last election. You can’t tell me there’s not a connection.”

Having completed their takeover, reports circulated that another offensive would be made to attempt to seat Earl Capps in the Treasurer’s office, which he had attempted last fall. However, these rumors were dismissed by Blogland officials on the basis that “he went to South Carolina schools, therefore he can’t count.”

Cultivation Theory and Political TV advertising

If you're really, really bored on Friday, April 4, come on down to Savannah, where I'll be presenting on a panel at the Southern States Communication Association's annual conference, discussing my research into cultivation theory:

ANALYZING THE POLITICAL COMMUNICATION PROCESS
10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m., Percival Room

“News Media Bias: A Review of Sources and Type”
Robert E. Denton, Jr., Virginia Tech

“Cultivation Effects of Political Television Advertising in Influencing and Persuading Voters”
W. Earl Capps, College of Charleston,
Douglas A. Ferguson, College of Charleston

“An Analysis of Politeness Theory: Instances in Political Debates”
Lance Latham, Creshema Murray, University of Alabama
Carly Timmons-McKenzie, University of Alabama

“Determining Dialogic Spirit and Dialogic Practice: A Communication Perspective on Symbolic Non-violent Action”
Sarah T. McGhee, University of South Florida

RESPONDENT: BARRY P. SMITH, MISSISSIPPI UNIVERSITY FOR WOMEN