I-40 closed near Tennessee line

Since the Blogland thinks highways are neat things (working on them pays the bills around here), it seemed like a good idea to share news of a major closure of I-40 near the North Carolina/Tenneessee state line. This is the result of a major rockslide that may take several months to clean up and stabilize.

Given the volume of rock that came down, it's no small miracle that a major tragedy was avoided.

Motorists are advised to detour the region by taking I-26 through Asheville to I-81 near the Virgina state line. Plan for another two hours to make a trip through the mountains follow this detour route, which is highlighted in yellow:

Department of Transportation officials say that motorists traveling west to Tennessee should take Interstate 40 West to Interstate 240 West in Asheville to Interstate 26 West. Follow Interstate 26 West from Asheville to Interstate 81 South in Tennessee and back to Interstate 40. Eastbound motorists will follow the reverse directions.

A Christian defense of Halloween

Those who know me well know that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Before life got busy with graduate school and teaching, my house was well-known as being "that house" in my neighborhood, with fog machines, props and lots of special effects which scared the beejeezus out of kids.

One thing I never understood was the religious zealots who think Halloween promotes satantic or occult activities. I mean there is only several decades of evidence which shows that celebrating Halloween has not turned millions of American children into hordes of devil-worshippers.

In spite of overwhelming evidence, there still are plenty of people who refuse to accept the obvious when it proves them wrong with regard to Halloween. Call me a Knight In Service of Satan if you will, but I just don't see a problem with an occasion in which I give out a ton of free candy to kids and get to meet my neighbors.

Special thanks to the Rev. Drew Collins - a Blogland reader - who shared a link which addresses the
unjustifiable paranoia of those who are afraid of Halloween from a theological perspective:

This is a good place to note that many articles in books, magazines, and encyclopedias are written by secular humanists or even the pop-pagans of the so-called "New Age" movement. (An example is the article by Wynn Parks cited above.) These people actively suppress the Christian associations of historic customs, and try to magnify the pagan associations. They do this to try and make paganism acceptable and to downplay Christianity. Thus, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc., are said to have pagan origins. Not true.

Oddly, some fundamentalists have been influenced by these slanted views of history. These fundamentalists do not accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of Western history, American history, and science, but sometimes they do accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of the origins of Halloween and Christmas, the Christmas tree, etc. We can hope that in time these brethren will reexamine these matters as well. We ought not to let the pagans do our thinking for us.

Is the Office of Lt. Governor relevant?

Recent news that Bill Connor, a GOP candidate for Lt. Governor, signed the S.C. Association for Taxpayers' "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", didn't really come as a surprise in the race. Generally Republican office-seekers put their names on these pledges to help boost their appeal to the fiscally-conservative voters who make up a large part of the GOP primary electorate.

It's certainly commendable that Connor would pledge loyalty to fiscally-conservative positions - an act that will probably be duplicated by the other two GOP candidates for the office - but considering the fairly limited powers of the Lieutenant Governor, how much real importance does signing such a pledge have?

In recent years, the power of this office has been reduced considerably. After former Lt. Governor Nick Theodore left office, the Senate removed a number of duties and powers, including the ability to appoint conference committee members. Recent restructuring proposals have sought to make this office co-elected with the Governor and some of those proposals even called for the Lt. Governor to be removed from serving in the Senate at all.

There are two schools of thought with regard to the future of this office:

  • One school argues that the office should be removed from the ballot, possibly even from serving in the Senate entirely. This would reduce the office to a "spare tire" to fill a gubernatorial vacancy.

  • The other school argues that in the Senate, where members represent single-member districts, thus serving localized interests, having a presiding officer who is elected statewide serves to help moderate those influences, further enhancing the chamber's intended mission as the more deliberative body. Many who hold this position would like to see the office retained on the ballot and given more legislative powers.

The Blogland endorses the latter point of view. As none of the three GOP candidates for the office have advocated it's removal from the ballot, as well as argued for the office to be more pro-active in a number of roles, it can be inferred the candidates would, to some degree, agree with this position.

Connor's signing of the SCAT pledge has raised an issue worth asking about the future of this office. It will be interesting to see how much those who want to win this office are willing to talk about it.

Richard Eckstrom to speak to my CofC students on Wednesday

Special thanks to Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, who will be coming to the College of Charleston tomorrow evening as the next participant in this semester's roster of guest speakers to my evening Public Speaking classes:

South Carolina's Comptroller General, Richard Eckstrom, CPA, will speak at the College of Charleston in F. Mitchell Johnson Physical Education Center Beatty Center on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 6:00 p.m.

Eckstrom will address an audience of students on the importance of public speaking in his career.

Eckstrom was invited to campus by Earl Capps, an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Communication and the teacher for multiple sections of the basic public speaking course.

“We thank Richard Eckstrom for taking the time to discuss the importance of public speaking with our students,” said Brian McGee, chair of the Department of Communication. “We are grateful for his willingness to speak with students who are taking this course, which is so critical to the future success of college students,” said McGee.

With one of the largest undergraduate majors at the College of Charleston, the Department of Communication enrolls more than 800 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. Students in the department study such topics as political communication, interpersonal communication, journalism, and public relations. The department is housed in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The Cheese War is on: Meet Beatallica

Recently, the Blogland editorial staff convened an emergency meeting at our secret lair, which is in an undisclosed location hidden where nobody can find it.

The reason for this meeting - how the Blogland to respond to a
recent cheese attack from the Voting Under the Influence blog. After considering a list of options which ranged from doing nothing to going out drinking to telling our moms, we decided that nothing short of a forceful response was in order - a response which would send a message that the price for future attacks is simply unthinkable.

So to our cheese foes at Voting Under The Influence, here's yours:

Thanks to the guys from the Classic Metal Show podcast for news of this band.

Upstate Firefighter needs your help

Firefighter Bryan Clark is a good citizen in Greenville County who could use some help from our readers:

Wade Hampton Fire Chief Randy Edwards announced that the district established a trust fund for firefighter Bryan Clark who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

According to Edwards, surgery removed the mass and most of the cancer, but Bryan Clark's recovery will include additional treatments that incorporate additional testing, scans, chemotherapy and/or radiation.

"You can imagine how difficult this time has been for Bryan and his family, and they still face a long road over the weeks and months ahead," Edwards said.

He added, "Bryan is not just a member of this department. He's our friend. He’s a 42 year old husband and father of two. He's a dedicated 22 year member of the fire service who served 17 of those years here at Wade Hampton."

Because of the anticipated cost of Bryan's treatment, his friends and fellow firefighters established a trust fund to assist with expenses during his treatment through the Duke University Health System.

Donations are tax deductible and can be presented at any Palmetto Bank branch or at Wade Hampton Fire & Sewer District's headquarters located at 4211 East North Street, Greenville, SC 29615.

Checks may be made payable to "Wade Hampton Fire Department -- Bryan Clark Trust Fund."

Chief Edwards said that people shouldn't feel they need to give a specific amount or that their donations aren't enough and that any amount will be appreciated.

"We hope that as people hear about Bryan and his story, they'll think about him, his wife, and their children and be moved to contribute," Edwards said.

About the Wade Hampton Fire Department:
Established in 1958 with boundaries that encompass much of Greenville (SC) County's Eastside, the Wade Hampton Fire Department provides an array of programs to protect the lives and property of residents and businesses the throughout the special purpose district.

For further information about the Wade Hampton Fire Department, visit www.WHFD.org.

For media inquiries regarding this release, please contact Taft Matney by phone (864/505-8866), by fax (864/297-3871), or by e-mail (taft@taftmatney.com).

Going to Beaufort

For those Blogland readers who are going to Beaufort this weekend for the state Federation of Republican Women convention, be sure to stop by and say hello. LaDonna Ryggs, the Spartanburg GOP Chair, and I will be teaching a communication skills class at the convention.

If you want to learn about how to sharpen your spoken or online communication skills, don't miss these classes - or just stop by to say hello.

Of course anyone who wants to pick up my bar tab ... I won't discourage you from doing that either.

Upstate GOP breakfast club to feature Spartanburg city and school board candidates

The Piedmont Republican Club will host a forum for all Spartanburg County School Board candidates and Spartanburg City Municipal candidates.

The forum will be from 10AM-11AM on Saturday October 17th at The Beacon Drive-In (Panther Room). All candidates will speak and have an opportunity to have answer questions from the audience. This event is open to the general public and is FREE.

The Club stresses the importance of these "off-year" elections. These elections are non-partisan and the forum will offer voter awareness to the issues of the various campaigns.

For more information, please call Rick Beltram (864-582-1717).

Joe Daning's re-election fundraiser packs the house

Special thanks go out to the team effort shown by friends, family and other supporters of Goose Creek State Representative Joe Daning for what was a solid show of support for his fundraising reception for next year's re-election campaign.

With a majority of Lowcountry GOP representatives present for the occasion, the crowd numbered upwards of 100, with a line out the door at several times during the evening. While we weren't opening the envelopes, there were more than a few being dropped in the bowl by attendees. That's never bad for an off-year fundraiser by a freshman legislator.

Joe's two decades of public service to the Lowcountry, as well as hospitality, was greatly appreciated by yours truly. Let's hope this guy gets another well-deserved term in Columbia.

This is what happens when you do the job the cops can't

My father, a retired City of Charleston police officer, was involved in the efforts to find a missing Charleston woman whose body was found last week. Apparently the City of Charleston PD didn't appreciate someone else doing what they were unable to do, namely break the case and find her body:

The weekend discovery of Katherine Waring’s remains on Wadmalaw Island has ignited a legal squabble between police investigators and private detectives working the case for the victim’s family.

A private investigator hired by attorney Andy Savage, a Waring family friend, found the missing woman’s remains Saturday, ending a four-month search. At the request of Charleston police, county sheriff’s deputies seized and searched the investigator’s vehicle for evidence, authorities said.

Savage filed a lawsuit today against Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen, and their respective departments, and seeking unspecified damages and the return of photographs, notes and other items taken from private investigator William Capps. Savage also is seeking a temporary restraining order preventing authorities from viewing, using or sharing the seized items.

Court documents state that the items seized from Capps contain sensitive, confidential “work product” from the Waring investigation and other cases, and that their release would violate attorney-client privilege.

He got his vehicle back yesterday. That's a hell of a way to treat a former colleague.

Remembering Cheron Gunn's life of service

The Blogland wants our readers to remember the life of SMSN Cherone L. Gunn. The brother of Blogland reader and Midlands Representatie Anton Gunn, Cherone was killed by Al-Qaeda aboard the USS Cole nine years ago today.

Committed to serving his country and protecting his fellow Americans, he was serving in the Navy with plans to enter a career in law enforcement. His willingness to live a life of courageous service sets an example worth remembering and honoring.

Our thoughts are with Anton and his family on this day, and we hope that yours are as well.

Happy Birthday to June Brailsford

June Brailsford is a big fan of the Blogland and a long-time GOP leader in Clarendon County. She is the current Treasurer of the Clarendon County Republican Party and always a smiling face when yours truly is in town.

It's also important to note that her son is responsible for feeding the one addiction of yours truly, as the owner of
my favorite BBQ place - D&H BBQ in Manning.

Today, we have it on good authority that June turned 39 again and we wanted to wish her a Happy Birthday today. Please join us in extending best birthday wishes to June.

Recent county courthouse financial abuses call for greater transparency

This year, two County Clerks of Court have resigned from office following allegations of financial impropriety. In the spring, Beaufort's clerk was removed and charged with embezzlment. Last week, Union County's clerk resigned after child support checks began bouncing, "seeking forgiveness from God for (his) shortcomings".

Last year, the Anderson County Clerk of Court was
arrested for six counts of failure to collect taxes, account for taxes or pay over taxes to a government agency. Berkeley County clerk Mary Brown drug out an audit of her office, which looked into issues which included personal use of office credit cards, for nearly four years. Problems with mismanagement of the Dorchester County Clerk of Court have been discussed here previously as well.

But these kinds of problems are nothing new. In years past, Probate Judges in Darlington and Dorchester Counties were removed from office, accused of spending of money in trust accounts, and a former Clerk of Court in York County was removed in the early 1990s.

As South Carolina's Clerks of Court and Judges of Probate are elected offices, they enjoy considerable autonomy in the administration of considerable amounts of money which are held in court-related bank accounts. While many functions of county governments are under the oversight of both hired or elected executives and elected Council members, there is little that can be done to look over the shoulders of these courthouse officials, until the problems grow the point of criminal investigations and lawsuits.

Most of these officals are honest and hardworking, and there's no reason a few bad apples should be allowed to spoil the bunch. But as the accounts overseen by Clerks of Court and Probate Judges are often related to child support payments to families and financial trust accounts, protecting these funds is important to many families around the state.

Recently, efforts at greater transparency in local and state government have made considerable headway. Perhaps legislators should consider extending the ongoing transparency efforts to providing some outside oversight over these offices as well.

Career advice

The latest on Nettie Britts

Some have been following the Nettie Britts story. For those who haven't, Nettie was savagely beaten in her home and left for dead ... but they underestimated her. She doesn't know how to give up, as evidenced by this interview which aired on WIS news in Columbia last night:

Lemmy Kilminster of Motorhead once gave some sound advice that we'd like to share with Nettie:

We scare'em shitless just by showin' up alive
Why don't you tell'em to shove it
They might as well love it
Give you runaround
Don't let'em grind ya down

We here in the Blogland are DARN PROUD of you Nettie!

Lowcountry county GOP leaders meet at breakfast forum this Saturday in Summerville

WHEN: Saturday, October 10 at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: Kelly’s BBQ restaurant, US 78, Summervile
CONTACT: Ron Turner, Chairman
(843) 814-1805 ron@ronturnerhomes.com

Lowcountry Republicans will gather at Kelly’s BBQ at 9 a.m. this Saturday, October 10. The October meeting will feature a moderating panel discussion with following Lowcountry GOP leaders:

  • Lin Bennett, Chair of the Charleston County Republican Party
  • Tim Callanan, Chair of the Berkeley County Republican Party and member of Berkeley County Council
  • Mac McBride, South Carolina Republican Executive Committee representative from Berkeley County
  • Carroll Duncan, Chair of the Dorchester County Republican Party

After the panel speakers have made their presentations, a moderated Question and Answer session will allow those in the audience to present questions to the speakers.

For the last seven years, this organization has featured monthly meetings which have featured candidates, policy experts and grass-roots Republican party activists who have promoted candidacies and discussed current issues. Combined with “open mike” question-and-answer sessions, the general public has been able to learn about important issues and express their concerns on these issues, as well as grill candidates for public office.

Breakfast is served for $6.50 per attendee, and the general public is cordially invited to attend, regardless of political affiliation.

This week's "Public speaking and my career" guest speakers

As part of my ongoing series of guest speakers in my public speaking classes who are talking about public speaking and their careers, this week's guest speakers are:

  • Wednesday night - Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers
  • Thursday night - S.C. State Rep. Anton Gunn
For those of you who may be interested in watching these speakers, we'll be in Room 320 at the Beatty Center, which is at the College of Charleston's downtown campus on Liberty Street, starting at 6:00 p.m. both nights.

Employment roundtable missing the point

Governor Sanford has finally caught up with what he missed during his Argentinian vacation ... his European vacation ... his "apology tour" ... and realized there's a problem with unemployment in South Carolina. To show how much he's not about "politics as usual", he's going to do something about it.

According to the friendly folks at FITS, he's going to hold a roundtable discussion (which is a great way to get taxpayers to pony up for a free lunch and do nothing):

S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford will host an “unemployment roundtable (sic)” later this month, according to a press release issued Friday from his office.

Aside from the fact that “round” and “table” are two separate words (grrrrr!), what exactly is Sanford hoping to accomplish with this latest distraction? It’s even worse when you consider that the seats at Sanford’s table (which damn well better be round) are going to be filled by the same lazy asses that have been holding this state back for decades on the economic development front.

“Members of the General Assembly, key leaders from the business community, relevant officials from across state government, members of the media and interested citizens” are being invited to attend the round table, Sanford’s office says.

A story which hit the AP wire today can give you a little insight as to why unemployment is so difficult to address - without a roundtable discussion:

Economists say the main problem is a mismatch between available work and people qualified to do it. Millions of jobs with attractive pay and benefits that once drew legions of workers to the auto industry, construction, Wall Street and other sectors are gone, probably for good. And those who lost those jobs generally lack the right experience for new positions popping up in health care, energy and engineering.

Many of these specialized jobs were hard to fill even before the recession. But during downturns, recruiters tend to become even choosier, less willing to take financial risks on untested workers.

The mismatch between job opening and job seeker is likely to persist even as the economy strengthens and begins to add jobs. It also will make it harder for the unemployment rate, now at 9.8 percent, to drop down to a healthier level.

As someone who does hiring for a real business, this story hits the nail on the head about a problem companies face. As unskilled jobs become automated and outsourced, a process which accelerates during downturns when companies are forced to make tough decisions about cutting costs and realigning workforces and operation, other jobs become more complex and require skills and education levels which are hard to find in today's workforce. This means unemployment will lag behind an economic recovery because those who filled bottom-rung jobs before a recession will find a lot fewer jobs for people those skill levels when the economy recovers.

I tried to make some of the same points earlier this year, back when the Governor was trying to score political points in kicking around the ESC (which had been warning about their funding problems for years now):

If I run an ad for a part-time administrative position or an unskilled laborer, I'll get deluged with calls and applications - usually upwards of 100 applications will be filed for any of those positions. But if I run an ad for a skilled position, I'm lucky to get more than a dozen applications, and if I run an ad for a foreman or equipment mechanic, I'll get even fewer applicants.

In spite of a wide and growing range of adult ed, vocational and technical programs designed to help retrain workers who don't have the skills to compete in today's job market, there are far fewer people entering these programs than the number of people whose low-skilled jobs were eliminated.

So we end up with a lot of people who aren't qualified for the jobs that are available - and don't seem interested in advancing themselves - and employers who are forced to scale back operations, move to where there is a good workforce, or not come to South Carolina at all.

The fact of the matter is the biggest impediments to workforce and economic development aren't politicians, taxes, or the lack of school choice, but rather those who choose to not pursue the education necessary to compete for the more-skilled jobs which are out there.

It's hard to see how the Governor's much-delayed response, via a roundtable discussion, is going to help address that problem.

GOP Lt. Governor candidates stump in Berkeley

Grits, eggs and politics were served up a'plenty in Goose Creek this morning when three of the four Republicans seeking the Lt. Governor's office visited the Berkeley County Republican Breakfast Club - Ken Ard, Bill Connor, and Tim Scott. This group, like many other GOP events and groups, has been seeing rapidly-increasing turnout this year, and the American Legion was close to standing-room only.

To make sure I behaved today, my priest, Father Titus, came along (who really doesn't get paid enough for his work in keeping me out of trouble).

All three candidates gave robust and polished stump speeches and spent much of their time taking questions from the audience- no stumbling, rambling, or running over time (they'd all have gotten good marks in one of my public speaking classes). Several months on the campaign trail has clearly refined their speaking abilities and focused their messages.

Economic development was the biggest issue for all three candidates. Tim Scott promised to work towards making South Carolina "Motor City South", building on the state's successes in attracting BMW, ICAR, and various automotive suppliers, as well as his involvement with regional economic recrutiment events. Ken Ard talked about how per capita income growth in Florence County has continued in spite of the economic downturn and Florence County had become known as one of the most business-friendly counties in the country. While Bill Connor's comments were vague, due to his stated lack of experience, he hit on an essential truth - government does NOT create jobs and government spending takes money that would otherwise have created jobs from individuals and businesses.

Seniors were also an issue. While Connor continued to push his costly "rich seniors bring jobs" proposal, his promise to end the tax burden upon military veterans and retirees shares a cause taken up here in the Blogland. Scott warned that Democratic health care proposals threatened funding for senior health care, and promised to use the Lt. Governor's Office on Aging to become a strong advocate for seniors issues.

Taxes and spending were discussed plenty. Ard talked about the "ripple effect" caused by taxes and government regulations, pointing out the absurdity of going into debt to spend our way out of a recession caused by excessive borrowing and spending. Scott pointed to a record of budgets without tax increases, while Connor reiterated his support for the Fair Tax folks, who were there in large numbers.

All in all, the candidates held their own, stayed upbeat and positive and gave the crowd a pretty good show. Thanks also goes to Charles Schuster and Nancy Corbin, who did the usual good job of running the show today.

The Speaker was in the the House

In teaching public speaking to college students, one of the most important things they need to know is that it is a vital career skill. The ability to speak to an audience to inform, persuade, entertain, or all of the above, will have a major impact upon the ability of my college students to succeed in life.

To help get that point across, I invite speakers to my classes to talk about their careers and how public speaking relates to what they do for a living. These speakers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including teachers, sales consultants, teachers, judges, attorneys, and others.

Yesterday, the guest speaker was none other than The Speaker himself - Bobby Harrell - who came to share some experiences with the students to help impress upon them the importance of developing their ability to present themselves to their audiences.

His appearance was greatly appreciated and enjoyed by those in attendance: students, faculty, administration, and of course by yours truly.

Jim Rex RINO running for Education Superintendent again

Looks like Elizabeth Moffly, who endorsed Jim Rex after getting less than five percent of the GOP primary vote for Education Superintendent in 2006, is running for the office again with all sorts of odd ideas, such as:
  • Requiring students to complete fewer classes to receive a high school diploma,
  • Giving students college credit for high school classes, and
  • Last, but not least, thinking one could support Jim Rex and still be considered a Republican
As Moffly reportedly home-schools her kids, with ideas like this, one has to wonder what kind of education they're getting - and if she's been taking her meds lately.

Chicken ... salad in the Governor's race

One of the best times to see political mudslinging start is those moments when some campaigns and their supporters have reason to fear they may be losing ground. Since yesterday was the last day of the fundraising quarter, it's certainly possible that for some candidate or one of their supporters, yesterday was the day they decided it was time for something drastic.

If so, that could explain why we got an anonymous email from someone by the handle of "News Comet", which attacked a gubernatorial candidate. A response email asking for the identity of the sender received no response.

While the Blogland always respects the confidentiality of those who identify themselves and request anonymity, it is standard policy that anonymous attacks will not be published here. Campaigns are dirty enough without rogues and cowards muddying the waters up even more.

Here in the Blogland, we're no dummies, which is why we're not going to be the waterboy for people too cowardly to put their name on their emails. After all, if you can't trust us with your identity, why should we trust the information you sent?

SC Bar releases judicial candidate assessments

As candidates begin lining up to compete for judicial seats, the folks at the S.C. Bar have done their homework, checked it twice, and published a list of assessments of the prospective judicial candidates.

We've investigated about how these assessments are done. From what we've seen, the process seems pretty fair, with lots of safeguards to ensure the process is fair and the input received is truly representative of those who have dealt with that candidate.

Usually several candidates have been found not to be qualified in past rounds of judicial elections (the Bar's assessments, while fairly informed and influential, are not binding upon legislators), this time each candidate was rated either "qualified" or "well qualified". Either they're getting better, or they're better at lobbying to keep bad assessments covered up. In any event, it would be nice to see the entire assessments, instead of just summaries.

We've heard from several candidates and their supporters about doing interviews with the Blogland. As we have found these interviews help legislators learn more about the candidates, as well as helps shed light on what has been long considered a very non-transparent process, we are very interested in talking with any and every interested judicial candidate.

If you want to find out more about these assessments, you can read the full summary of candidate assessments at

Meeting the IT Kids

Located deep in the rolling hills of South Carolina's Dutch Fork Country, which was originally settled by hard-working German farmers and loggers, is the well-known Den of Payne - into which many an unsuspecting politician has been lured (and legend has it that some have never been seen again).

In the last couple of years, Kelly Payne has made her civics class at Dutch Fork High School into a must-do speaking appearance for South Carolina politicos of all ranks and from both parties. Yesterday, I was the latest guest speaker, where I talked about a number of subjects, including blogging, new media, the evolution of news media, 80s culture, a little bit about my faith ... and of course, the College of Charleston. These kids aren't afraid to throw out some tough questions, which included:

  • What would you say is your biggest objective as a blogger -- fairly reporting news, influencing public opinion on issues, or outing people (like most bloggers seem to do)?
  • Some people have said there should be a “Code of Ethics” for bloggers -- to encourage their stuff to be honest and civil. How do you feel about whether that’s necessary? Would that stifle the free speech of bloggers?
  • How often do you make mistakes in what you report in Blogland? How embarrassing is it when you do? What’s been your most embarrassing mistake?
  • You work in PR for a big company. Explain whether your job is a bigger help to your blogging or whether your blogging is a bigger help to your job?
  • Your faith seems to be big in your life -- it shows in some of your blogs (like last Friday with that beautiful Bible passage about loving people). Lots of people seem more afraid than you to talk out loud about their faith. Why is your faith so important to you -- and what’s made you so bold in expressing it?
  • Do you make money blogging? Could a person make enough money blogging to live on?

If you're not prepared to take a tough question or two, avoid this bunch. But if you believe in what you're doing and can take the heat, then you'll be glad you meet this bunch of students - and they'll be glad to meet you as well.

Thanks again to Kelly and her students for their hospitality ... and some straightforward questions.

Blogger transparency

As many of my readers know, I'm helping teach a graduate course for George Washington University. The course deals in ethics for public relations and public affairs, and is part of their Political and PR management Master's programs.

Among this week's readings is a news story from Business Week,
"Wal-Mart vs. the Blogosphere", which looked at how a blog supposed written by a couple which was a fan of the retail chain ended up being unmasked as a corporate public relations tactic:

It all started last month, when a folksy blog called Wal-Marting Across America was set up. The site featured the musings of a couple known only as Jim and Laura as they drove cross country in an RV, and included regular interviews with Wal-Mart workers, who were dependably happy about the company and their working conditions. BusinessWeek.com wrote the first exposé about the blog. The story shot down speculation that Jim and Laura weren't real people, identifying the woman as Laura St. Claire, a freelance writer and an employee at the U.S. Treasury department. But it also disclosed that Wal-Mart was paying plenty for the couple's support, including money for renting the RV, gas, and fees for writing the blog (see BusinessWeek.com, 10/9/06, "Wal-Mart's Jim and Laura: The Real Story").

This certainly touched on a point often faced in the South Carolina political blogosphere, where a number of bloggers also are also employed in the political field:

  • Adam Fogle, who writes The Palmetto Scoop, is employed by Richard Quinn and Associates. That might explain his regular praise of Henry McMaster as well his being the only person in the state willing to say good things about Senator Lindsay Graham. Both Graham and McMaster are Quinn clients. Fogle also enjoys dishing out shots at a competing consulting firm via The Scoop.
  • Wes Donehue, who doesn't blog as much, works with the Senate Republican Caucus, Senator Jim DeMint, and is a partner in Under The Power Lines, a political netroots consulting firm. It's no secret that he praises both, but he's also got a lot of useful insights about the net and politics on his personal blog as well.
  • Will Folks, who runs what is probably the state's most-influential site, FITSNews, has worked with candidates, including Governor Sanford (as well as worked on Sanford's staff), but nobody seems to know how his bills are paid these days.
Unlike the two implicated in the Wal-Mart advocacy blogging scheme, you know where these guys are coming from, so you can apply the necessary grain(s) of salt when you read their sites.

In the interests of full disclosure, I've been involved in politics for over two decades across the state, in campaign and Republican Party roles from grassroots to managerial. When I speak via this blog, it's as an interested citizen and veteran activist. Not only that, but the process of exploring issues and individuals has taught me a lot and allowed me to make a lot of new friends - from ordinary citizens who've read my blog to veteran politicos - and that's all the reward I need to keep writing.

My paycheck comes from a construction company where I am the Corporate Communication manager, and am also involved in human resources, safety and governmental relations. Much of my company's bread and butter is in highway construction these days, which is publicly funded. I've opted to keep such subject material off my blog, to avoid the appearance that I'm blogging for hire.

By knowing what I do for a living, you get the assurance that I'm not an insider trying to promote a client, but being on the outside means I don't always get the big story leads that those who work in the field might, so there's a trade-off.

As long as you know what our angle is up front, you can make your own decisions about what you're reading. That's the kind of transparency and disclosure you deserve to have from those who are trying to inform and influence in the blogosphere.

By the way - thank you for reading.

Richland County YRs to meet on Wednesday

They will be meeting in downtown Columbia at the Rooftop Bar, 1400 Main, for drinks and appetizers this Wednesday evening. If you're in the Midlands, don't miss this meeting!

If you've got any questions, email them at rcyr.sc@gmail.com.

Mark your calendar: Berkeley GOP breakfast to feature Lt. Gov candidates

Here's something you'll definitely want to put on your calendar for this Saturday - a Lowcountry forum of the Republican Candidates for Lt. Governor, featuring all four of the candidates running for the right to wear the purple robe and play Whack-A-Mole in front of the Senate all day:

  • Ken Ard, a Florence County Councilman from Johnsonville
  • Bill Connor, an attorney from Orangeburg
  • Ted Pitts, a State Representative from Lexington
  • Tim Scott, a State Representative from North Charleston
Seriously, this is a rare occasion that you won't get very often, so please don't miss it.

The Breakfast is held at American Legion Post 166, 116 Howe Hall Rd, Goose Creek. A great $5 breakfast is served at 9:00 am with the program and an open Question-and-Answer to follow.

The public is welcome to attend and no membership is required. For more information contact Charles Schuster at 509-6027 or Nancy Corbin at 688-4975.

Mark your calendar: Oct. 26 - Greenville/Spartanburg GOP Golf Tournament

It looks like Republicans in the Upstate are pimping out politicians to help raise money for next year's races, via a golf tournament:

The Spartanburg and Greenville Republican Parties are joining forces to conduct a GOP Golf Tournament, Monday, Oct. 26, at River Falls Plantation with registration at 8 a.m. and a 9 a.m. shotgun start. The Captains Choice format provides you the opportunity to pair up with a politician.


A three-person team can pay for the politician. A drawing will be held just before the shotgun start.

You are buying one legally and you’ll have his ear for more than four hours.

Cost per four man team is $1,300 including two Mulligans and one Red Tee per player. The tournament includes an awards luncheon including special awards, prizes for longest drive, closest to the pin and four par-three hole-in-one prizes.

If you have any questions, please contact team chair: berryponder@bellsouth.net.

We were informed that Mr. Ponder may look like that guy in Caddyshack, but we also have it on good authority that this event is one you don't want to miss.

Remember - if you'd like to sign up for the event, go to http://www.gopupstategolftournament.com/

With a month to go before the event, now seems like a good time to get signed up.

Tumpy Campbell has something "major", so please send photographers

In breaking what is the state's worst-kept political secret, Tumpy Campbell is making a "major" announcement tomorrow and wants people to send reporters AND photographers. Apparently he thinks he's someone people want to see in the paper.

"Major announcement" as opposed to ... ?

If you miss it (and in spite of being in Mount Pleasant tomorrow, I won't be there), he says he'll find you wherever you live and re-deliver it.

It's interesting to note that the guy who recently said he was a political outsider is now billing himself as a "Republican Leader". I'm not exactly sure what he's been doing to establish his credentials within the GOP, aside from doing a few speaking appearances for his brother's abortion of a candidacy for Lt. Governor back in 2006.

Either he's really that self-absorbed that he thinks so highly of himself and everything he says, or he's getting some bad advice. In any event, he might want to find one message and theme and try sticking with it - there's only eight months to go, so it shouldn't be that hard.

Henry Brown isn't the most impressive guy in the world, but the more I see of the alternative, the non-impressiveness gap between Brown and Campbell is narrowing quickly.

ATTN: Reporters and Photographers
*** ADVISORY Reminder ***

Carroll Campbell to Make Major Announcement Tomorrow

WHO: Enterpreneur, Small Businessman, Community Volunteer, and SC Republican Leader: Carroll Campbell, III.

WHAT: Major Announcement Speech

WHERE: Mount Pleasant Pier
Located at the foot of the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge on the Charleston Harbor, part of the Memorial Waterfront Park complex

Governor press conference tour visits the Blogland

Governor Sanford continued to lash out at his political opponents with a stop in Summerville, where he held a press conference across the street from the office of Earl Capps, the publisher of the Blogland.

Forced off the sidewalk by a group of joggers, Sanford was forced to stand in a boggy strip alongside the busy road, where his comments were difficult to hear over daytime traffic.

Can you hear me? I'm really sorry you're getting all wet standing in the mud over here, but I think it's important to make myself clear on these issues.

Thank you for coming today. Can you hear me? Thank you for coming today. Please remember I don't work for you.

I wanted to respond to the charges made by Earl Capps on his blog. Can you hear me?

Let's make one thing perfectly clear. Can you hear me? He is out to get me. Ummmm everyone is out to get me. It is all because of my efforts to reform this state. I can prove it. This note written on the back of a bar tab from a now-closed Columbia strip joint from twenty-eight years ago proves they were out to get from even before I'd gotten out of college.

Can you hear me?

Sanford's comments were cut short when he realized that none of the local media outlets were present, just his staffers and all three of his supporters.

Reportedly, Sanford's tour will now travel to Honea Path, where Sanford will lambast Republican blogger Brian McCarty from the parking lot of the funeral home across the street from McCarty's home. Reportedly McCarty dismissed it as a "cheap publicity stunt", claiming that "Sanford's agenda is as dead on arrival as are most people who arrive at that funeral home".

Remembering the night of Hurricane Hugo

Twenty years ago, I was one of many who opted to ride out the night of Hurricane Hugo in the Lowcountry.

Expecting the storm to only be a Category 2 or 3 and aiming for Savannah ... and then Myrtle Beach, sticking around seemed like the thing to do. But as the evening wore on, the storm strengthened and its course shifted, put it coming ashore just north of the Charleston area, aiming the brunt of its force right at those of us who stayed.

It was a hell of a ride that night, and words really don't describe the sights we saw the next morning, as we emerged to see a city which had been blasted and ripped apart by the midnight visitor. Devastation was everywhere: trees stripped bare or snapped at about 30' above the ground, debris everywhere, cars and houses ripped by fallen trees, and everyone milling about, not quite sure where to begin in untangling such a horrific mess.

My night was bad, but it could have been worse - such as the last police and fire personnel to leave Sullivan's Island, crossing the Ben Sawyer bridge just moments before it toppled in the wind, or my father and many other police officers who rode the night out at the downtown police station which had become an island, or the people in McClellanville who climbed into attics, ceilings, and roofs to escape the storm surge wave which swamped the town.

The experiences were memorable, and many of them not pleasant - including weeks without power, city water which smelled like pine trees, seeing the "Goat Island Yacht Club" - the jumbled pile of boats from the Wild Dunes Marina which had been swept into the trees of the island across the Intracoastal Waterway, and seeing the homes of friends which had been wrecked by wind, falling trees or flooding.

Oddly enough, my oldest daughter, just a few months old, slept through the entire storm.

The Lowcountry has faced dozens of disasters before this one - hurricanes, fires, plagues, and wars - and survived. Those shared experiences have much to do with forging the identities of true Lowcountry people. If you meet someone who has grown up here, you'll hear about Hugo, as well as Hurricanes David, Hazel and Gracie from years past, or of life during World War II, where German subs occasionally prowled off-shore. Being long-time Lowcountry, my family has those stories too.

But next time a major hurricane comes this way, I'm heading inland. One major hurricane is enough for me.

E-Verify usage now mandatory for all federal contractors and subcontractors

The E-Verify federal contractor rule, which became effective on September 8, requires federal contractors and subcontractors to use the E-Verify system to confirm that all new employees performing work under federal contracts are authorized to work in the United States. Federal contracts awarded and solicitations issued after September 8, 2009 must include a clause committing federal contractors to use E-Verify. The same clause will also be required in subcontracts over $3,000 for services or construction.

While E-Verify was originally intended solely to screen new hires, federal contractors will now be required to screen current employees who are working on that company's federal contracts. Those contractors will also be allowed to use E-Verify to screen all current employees, even those who may not be assigned to that project.

With new rules and regulations like this adding to the pressure to use E-Verify to screen employees, if you're not using it, you might as well go ahead and start, so compliance won't be so difficult later on.

Please email me if you have questions.

Why defending Rita Allison might be a bad idea

This fall, I'm helping teach a political ethics course for a distance ed graduate program for George Washington University. Last week, we discussed the ethics of negative advertising, reviewing some news articles, videos, fact checks and articles written by political consultants. One article, "Attack Ads: Rethinking The Rules", penned by Democratic consultant David Doak offers some wise counsel:

Any analysis of new trends in negative advertising must start with the basics. Three rules govern negative or, more precisely, comparative advertising.

  • The statement of fact about your opponent must be accurate.
  • The allegation must be a fair representation of the factual occurrences.
  • The allegation must be about the public record of your opponent.

If you are thinking about deviating from these general principles, you should think long and hard. The more you deviate, the more you expose yourself and your client to counter attacks.

It's also important to challenge an ill-conceived general rule that has gained widespread acceptance since the Dukakis for President campaign. That so-called rule is that you must answer every attack.

That's wrong. If a negative ad isn't doing your client any damage, then it is a waste of your resources to answer it. Second, if the ad attacking your client has no "good" answer, then a weak response on your part that does not fully refute the charges will only help confirm that your client is guilty of the allegation. More importantly, a bad response spot that does not fully defuse the charge may only contribute to the momentum of the allegation made by your opponent.

This brings us to the issue of a recent anonymous mailing sent out to residents of State Rep Rita Allison's district, which alleged she may have traded sexual favors for a cushy state job. While it's not clear if Allison's constituents took the letter seriously, it seems to have been taken quite seriously by state GOP leaders, who filed a lawsuit against the still-unknown perpetrators of the mailing.

You can read a
copy of the filing, including a copy of the two-page letter, here.

From this corner of the blogosphere, this move seemed to be a rather bad idea, for several reasons:
  • This approach ensured the mailing and its allegations got a statewide audience, generating far more publicity than the mailers could afford, or were willing to pay for.
  • Celebrities who portrayed falsely in tabloids choose not to sue, usually because such trials allow the defendants to conduct fishing expeditions from the stand. Likewise, if Allison has any past issues that would reflect poorly upon her, being put under oath and requiring her to answer questions in a courtroom may be exactly what her opponents want.
  • Legal actions consume thousands upon thousands of dollars, while this mailing was rather cheaply produced. Political parties have often engaged in "tar baby" tactics, where small sums invested in attacks against well-supported incumbents result in costly responses which waste dollars which would be better spent much closer to election day.
  • An essential rule of negative campaigning is that if it's over the top, it's ineffective. If Allison is well-known in her district, then a single ranting letter won't do much to shift their perceptions of her. If she's not, or people already hold negative perceptions of her, then she's got problems that lawyers can't fix.
Personal attacks against politicos are certainly unfair and low class, which is one reason why the Blogland generally steers clear of such material. But they do happen, and it's unlikely that any legal defense fund will do much to deter the politically desperate or personally deranged from using such tactics.

The only thing that can be effective is to not let such tactics goad politicos into launching wasteful or counter-productive responses, and to consider that sometimes, the best course of action is to ignore such low-dollar attacks and avoid giving them the public forum which they are so desperately seeking.

Megadeth's "Endgame" CD released today - it ROCKS!

Today, Blogland readers are given a simple, but important mission:

Get online or go to a music store and buy one of this year's best heavy metal releases: Megadeth's new album Endgame, which was released yesterday.

This is album is definitely one of their best albums yet, continuing the great performances in their last two albums: The System has Failed and United Abominations. While there's a lot of good stuff on this album, the song that most impressed me was
44 minutes, which told the story of the infamous 1997 Bank of America robbery and shootout in North Hollywood, California.

The band will be on Jimmy Fallon's show Thursday night, so go catch them rocking out with some of their new material.

The video for the song Headcrusher is inspired by the
Arnold Schwarezenegger movie The Running Man. The video brings up a growing concern (including with yours truly) about how so-called "reality" television programming has helped fuel a mindset similar to the days of Roman gladiators, where spectators' desire to be entertained trumped any ethical or moral considerations about the privacy or human rights of the participants:

Jim Rex & Your Tax Dollars at Work

Current State Education Superintendent and gubernatorial aspirant Democrat Jim Rex gave us a great example of our tax dollars at work when he announced his candidacy - using his state email account:

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Rex [mailto:JRex@ed.sc.gov]
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2009 11:07 PM
Subject: My decision

Dear Colleagues:

Just a few moments ago in an interview on WIS-TV Nightcast in Columbia, I announced my plans to run for Governor. Tomorrow, I will embark on a statewide tour to officially announce my candidacy. As employees at the SC Department of Education, I want you to be among the first to know about my decision and why I have made it.

The rest of the email was deleted to save our readers the effort of wading through his rather long-winded message, as well as not disclose the identities of the hundreds of state employees who this email was sent to. But it's not the first time the State Department of Ed has been using staff and other resources for political purposes during Rex's tenure. Since Rex' employee and 2006 campaign manager Zeke Stokes got busted for broadcasting emails to state employees, we're not surprised to see Rex following his advisor's unethical practices.

Ok, Jim - we know about your decision and why you made it. So tell us why you had to use state resources to tell us about it?

Sister of Clarendon GOP chair dies in car wreck

Gloria Wingate of Greeleyville, the sister of Moye Graham, Clarendon GOP Chairman and a regular Blogland reader, died this morning as a result of injuries from a car wreck last night. In addition to Moye and several other family members, she leaves behind a husband and children.

They will certainly be in our thoughts and prayers and hope they'll be in yours as well.

More information to be announced as details become available.

Republicans to meet for breakfast in Spartanburg on Saturday

The Piedmont Republican Club announced today that the September 19th meeting will feature Sen. David Thomas (R-Greenville) as the speaker.

The meeting will be held at the Spartanburg Golden Corral at 9AM.

The Saturday format has allowed folks who are engaged during the week to be able to participate in an hour long educational program. The group meets the 3rd Saturday of each month. The meetings are to the General Public.

For more information, please call Rick Beltram (864-590-7723) or email rickbeltram@charter.net.

Captain Daniel O'Callaghan - a hero of 9/11

Eight years ago, the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 probably seemed like just the beginning of another day for Captain Daniel O'Callaghan of the New York City Fire Department. With eighteen years' service as a firefighter, and three as a NYPD officer, perhaps it was his committment to his job that led him to be at the station on his day off.

True to their fire station's slogan "The Pride of Manhattan - Never Missed a Performance", the fifteen firefighters of Ladder Unit 4, led by O'Callaghan, which normally answered calls in a service area that included much of Broadway, rushed to take part in what would become the greatest performance of their lives.

None of them would return alive.

When other firefighters arrived at the station, they found cups of coffee still warm, and O'Callghan's shaving cream and clothes still in the bathroom from where he was changing and rushed out to respond to the call.

His committment to his faith was as certain to his committment to his duty on that day. When his body was recovered,
he was found to be still holding his Rosary, presumably in prayer for protection and courage in doing his duty on that terrible day.

True to their station's motto, O'Callaghan and his men never missed a performance. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Captain Daniel O'Callaghan and the men of Ladder Four became more than just the Pride of Manhattan - they became the pride of us all.

Please also remember his wife Rhonda, and his two children, Rhiannon and Connor, who were among many who lost a friend and loved one that day.

May the memories of O'Callaghan and the firefighers of Ladder Four be eternal.

Music inspired by 9/11

Who did not sign the Sanford resignation letter - and why

Yesterday's release of a letter from 61 State House Republicans calling upon Governor Sanford to resign generated a lot of attention, including upon the eleven House GOP caucus members who did not sign the letter:

Kris Crawford, Shannon Erickson, Nikki Haley,
Jim Merrill, Joey Millwood, Wendy Nanney,
Ted Pitts, Murrell Smith, Jim Stewart,
David Umphlett, Thad Viers

These two comments which showed up some blogsites, sound a lot like a lot of feedback we've heard and seen on the web which have made it clear that a lot of folks were not pleased with those who did not sign the letter:

#1) All of the above referenced so called South Carolinans should be defeated if they run for re-election. They are traitors to the people of this state and should be shown no loyality or mercy.

#2) I have no idea why he would not include his name on that list. At least Keith Kelly saw the writing on the wall, and put his name on the list. It’ll sure be hard (impossible) to pull the handle for Millwood from now on…. And poor Nikki Haley, if she only knew how close she actually came to having a true shot at being the governor. I can’t believe she would blindly follow Sanford, and let him destroy her career as well. Oh well, those 12 names sure need to be remembered come next year.

While it would be easy to assume a "with us or with him" divide exists, and then assume all who did not sign the letter, but we decided to actually talk with some of those who did not sign the letter. Here's what we found out:

Rep. Shannon Erickson made it clear she was not defending Sanford, nor intending to protect him from possible impeachment:

I don't condone what the Governor has done, and he has created a lot of problems. But from the beginning, I said I would act when the facts are in, and I'm sticking to my word. When we have the Ethics Commission report in hand, then we should act accordingly, and not a minute sooner. If information contained in the report is bad enough, then the House should vote for impeachment. But in that case, I would hope the Governor would do the right thing and resign first, and would encourage him to do just that.

When we talked with Ted Pitts this morning, he shared Erickson's point of view on the matter:

I have personally talked to the Governor, and have written him privately before this. What I told him to do if I was in his situation that I would be quiet, and stop playing the victim. I understand why they wrote the letter and respect why they wanted to go on record on this. We need to see what the Ethics report says, and if there are impeachable offenses, I'll vote to impeach.

Murrell Smith had the same sentiments as Erickson and Pitts:

I think we need a complete investigation before we make determinations about Governor Sanford’s future as Governor. All we have now is the information obtained from the press. We need to be fully informed before we make this very important decision concerning the future direction of the State.

We also spoke with Greenville Representative Wendy Nanney, who held much the same view as the other three:

I'm waiting for the Ethics report, but I want to see the facts before we act. If there's something impeachable in the report, then let's move forward with impeachment then."

These points of view contrast from the media response of Rep. Nikki Haley, one of the other non-signers, which dismissed the intents behind the House GOP letter as futile:

We can put the names of all 170 Members of the General Assembly on a list requesting the governor resign, but at the end of the day there is only one person who will make that decision, and Sanford has made it clear that he will not step down. So any further pressure in that direction is nothing more than political posturing, and that’s not what we as elected officials ought to be doing.

Over the last couple of months, the whole Sanford saga has amazed and bewildered political observers. We won't ask our readers to assume everyone who didn't sign had similar motives as the four we spoke with, but given the amount of strange things which ARE true which surround this mess, avoiding rash generalizations with regard to this letter, as well as other actions which have been - or have yet to be - taken, seems a wise course indeed.

From one Republican Governor to another ...

The Sanford saga has proven to be a bottomless pit of revelations and confrontations. This week saw Governor Sanford losing even more ground with his party, starting with a letter from House Speaker Bobby Harrell calling for his resignation, followed by a nearly-unanimous statement from House Republicans which has called for him to resign.

We've been told that in the morning, the SCGOP Executive Committee will hold a teleconference to discuss issuing their own call for Sanford to leave.

At this point, we don't think there's anyone left in this state who thinks Sanford should stick around. If there is, we'd love to know who they are.

In the best interests of the state, we'd encourage the Governor to consider some advice from a fellow Republican governor:

Lowcountry Republicans to remember 9/11 on Saturday


WHEN: Saturday, September 12 at 9:00 a.m.
WHERE: Kelly’s BBQ restaurant, US 78, Summervile
CONTACT: Ron Turner, Chairman (843) 814-1805 ron@ronturnerhomes.com

This Saturday, Lowcountry Republicans will gather at Kelly’s BBQ at 9 a.m. to remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks, paying tribute to those lost that day, as well as those who have sacrificed since in the global war on terrorism. This event, part of its annual 9/11 memorial, will include a panel discussion which will discuss the current state of Homeland Security efforts in the Lowcountry and South Carolina.

The panel discussion, which will be moderated by Terry Boatwright, Public Safety Director for Folly Beach, will feature:

  • Lt. Tom Huey, of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office. Lt. Huey serves as the agency’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and is a member of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
  • Michael Haas, FBI Senior Resident Agent for the Charleston area. Agent Haas was the FBI’s Case Agent for the Jakarta, Indonesia Marriott hotel bombing in 2003, and has served in the Counterterrorism Division, International Operations Section, Extraterritorial Investigations Unit at the FBI’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
After the panel speakers have made their presentations, a moderated Question and Answer session will allow those in the audience to present questions to the speakers.

For the last seven years, this organization has featured monthly meetings which have featured candidates, policy experts and grass-roots Republican party activists who have promoted candidacies and discussed current issues. Combined with “open mike” question-and-answer sessions, the general public has been able to learn about important issues and express their concerns on these issues, as well as grill candidates for public office.

Past speakers have included each of the current GOP statewide office holders, including Governor Sanford, Congressman Henry Brown, Senator Jim DeMint, as well as many regional legislators and representatives from grassroots and policy advocacy organizations such as Gun Owners of America, Fair Tax, and the South Carolina Policy Council.

Breakfast is served for $6.50 per attendee, and the general public is cordially invited to attend, regardless of political affiliation.

Public speaking insights

As many readers of the Blogland know, yours truly is a college professor. Most of the classes I teach are public speaking. Over time, I have gotten pretty good at teaching the subject. Add in years 0f working in corporate and political communication, I've learned more than a few things about what makes for good and bad speech.

When I was given my first teaching assignment, a public speaking class, by my department chair, I was ok with it, knowing that even a lot of tenure-track PhD holders started out teaching that class. I had - and still do - some ideas for more advanced courses, but figured that it would be some time before I could get a shot at teaching classes at a level usually reserved for those with PhDs.

After about a month in the classroom, what I hadn't realized after years in human resources and dealing with communication in the workplace finally dawned upon me: the ability to speak to an audience - from a work group or project team to a classroom to a national audience of millions - is a crucial career skill.

After that, I began to approach teaching the class with a lot more interest and enthusiasm, sharing insights from the workplace and trying to impress upon students that public speaking and their career will begin when they walk in for their second job interview, meet the HR and department management staff in the room. Their goal: pitch a presentation good enough to land them their first job. While I still hope to be able to teach at a more advanced level one day, I wouldn't want to give up teaching this subject as well.

So having said all of this, I'm going to start sharing some of these insights with my Blogland readers and invite you to join the discussion as well. Watch for some of Professor Capps' public speaking insights real soon.

They came to the fairgrounds

The best lunch to be found yesterday in Columbia was down at the state fairgrounds, where a crowd of Midlands and state business and political figures came to celebrate the completion of my company's Fairgrounds parking area project.

Headlining the event was Henry McMaster, who shared a few stories about state fairs and USC games from years past and congratulated my company for a job well done. Also speaking were Bill Cantey, Chairman of the board for the State Fair, and Embree Griner, my company's President.

Also in attendance was Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom, Ag Commissoner Hugh Weathers, State Rep Nathan Ballentine, RNC Committeeman Glenn McCall, and Richland County Councilman Bill Malinowski. Staff from the offices of Andre Bauer and Joe Wilson were there, as well as all the top staff from the Adjutant General's office.

There was a lot of praise for the on-time completion of the project, just in time for Gamecocks football, as well as this fall's State Fair. Doc's BBQ did a great job feeding everyone.

A big line-up, a great lunch, and a well-done project - thanks to all who showed up! What a great way to end the week and kick off Labor Day weekend!

Rock Hill Republican goes national on GOP's minority development challenge

Last year, Rock Hill Republican Marvin Rogers was the first-ever Republican to run for House District 49, a majority-black Democratic district. While he didn't win the race, he won props for his ability to attract a diverse base of supporters which included many vocal Obama supporters from Rock Hill's predominantly-black southside neighborhoods and forcing now-Representative John King to backpedal several times in closing weeks.

Since then, the Blogland has talked with him regularly about the challenge of minority recruitment for the GOP. We share a lot of thoughts on the subject, including:

  • The GOP needs to be willing to make outreach a long-term effort that begins before, and lasts beyond, election years,
  • The GOP needs to be willing to go to the mat to address concerns in minority communities and empower and support those willing to challenge the Democratic politicos in those communities, and
  • Republicans need to understand that politics in minority communities is often about how a message is presented, and work to consider how GOP messages can be reframed to better connect with minority voters.
Rogers' willingness to speak out and stand up for greater inclusion in the GOP has gotten him attention from a lot of people, including nationally-syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker, who featured him in a column which ran nationwide this week:

The way for Republicans to attract black voters is pretty simple, says Rogers: Show up and solve problems.

When he moved to Rock Hill, where he currently lives, Rogers made his home in the inner city rather than the suburbs. When a local basketball team needed money for jerseys, Rogers helped them. Thus, when this inner-city team hit the court, their jerseys said, “York County GOP.”

“People don’t care what (political affiliation) comes after your name,” says Rogers. “They just want the jersey.”

With Rogers on the hustings, Democrats have cause for concern. Among other things, he’s telling African-Americans that they have rendered themselves politically impotent by voting monolithically. “If one party can count on our vote, then they can take us for granted. Predictability is suicidal.”

Good work Marvin. Now let's see if the GOP is serious - or if they'd rather keep being the minority party, allowing Obama and the Democrats to shove their agenda through.

RINO Ralph Norman uses political office for personal gain

Ralph Norman, after losing a poorly-run Congressional challenge to Fifth District Democrat John Spratt, is looking to return to the State House in an upcoming special election in York County.

During his one-term stint in the House, Norman earned his RINO status with self-serving stunts like
using his position to have state tax dollars spent for personal gain:

The state Transportation Department and Rock Hill planned to spend $1.5 million landscaping an interchange at Interstate 77 and Dave Lyle Boulevard.

But state Representative Ralph Norman of Rock Hill says he wants the money redirected to other interchanges in his House district. Norman said last week he would lobby to have the work abandoned unless Rock Hill leaders change how they plan to spend the money.

Norman has said he opposes the city's landscaping plan because it would leave about a quarter of the trees there standing. He says more trees should be cut so drivers and potential shoppers can get a clearer view of businesses as they drive by. That includes property his developed and 15 acres of prime property near the intersection.

Norman says there is no conflict of interest and he is standing up for taxpayers.

But his involvement has Rock Hill leaders questioning if Norman is using his political influence in a way that would affect a decision involving his development company.

Well-known for standing by fellow self-serving RINO Mark Sanford, Norman's brief tenure in the State House showed how committed he was to representing his own interests, just as his quick hop to Congress showed how he viewed House District 48 as little more than a political stepping stone.

Now he wants a second chance to enrich his business and ditch his former constituents. The questions that we have to ask are:

1) How soon will RINO Ralph return to using his position to bully his way for personal gain?
2) How long will it be before he ditches District 48 for his next political move?

Those are questions that seem to be on the minds of District 48 voters as polling indicates the candidacy of Republican Roger Costner may be a little tougher to beat than expected.