Friday, September 22, 2006

T-Rav Sighting

I had the opportunity to see in infamous T-Rav in person on Thursday night after conducting some business up in the Anderson area. Ravenel was at the home of Councilman Bill McAbee. The Councilman and his wife, Mary McAbee, hosted the event. It was a pretty good crowd.

I have to say Ravenel has the gift of charisma in politics.

Trav Roberts better be giving Grady a triple dose of geritol, because, the Rainey saga aside, Ravenel is for real. After watching Ravenel work a room in person, I understand why they are ducking the guy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Caution: This blog might be offensive to Islam

I don't know about you, but I am getting pretty sick and tired at what is offensive to Islam these days.

I am not Catholic, but I have a lot of respect for the Pope. When he mentioned some medieval reference to Islam in a speech about tolerance, I thought, ho hum. But, I am not Islamic. Muslims around the world condemned the Pope's remarks, and to prove that they are not evil, Muslims set fire to several churches and killed a nun. All in the name of being good, I suppose. Further, Al Qaida got involved, saying that it would "break the cross and spill the wine. Accept Islam or death. "

Well, that is tolerant. What is it with these people? We who claim the Christian faith have had decades upon decades of people deriding us for our beliefs, and you don't see us killing folks. And, there are the Jews, if anyone has a beef in this world it is the Jews after what happened to them in Hitler's Europe. You don't see Jews threatened to blow up the local bus and kill the local clergy.

While everyone from President Bush to Hillary Clinton tell us that the real Islam is not being practiced by those extremists who call for violence, the silence of the so called "real" Muslims is deafening. Where are those moderate Muslim voices condemning those who call for the death of the Pope over mere words? Where are those moderate Muslim voices in condemning attacks on Christians. Where?

They are hard to find. What we find instead are people telling us that the our culture should apologize. And, I don't know for what. Should we apologize for not killing people over their religious beliefs? Should we apologize for tolerating different views and freedom? Should we apologize for allowing women to become educated and seen as equal parts of our society and culture?

I am offended at the acts of Muslims in the wake of the Pope's remarks. I am offended that churches were burned. I am offended that a nun lost her life. I am offended that the Pope is threatened for mere words. I am offended that some group of thugs in Iraq dares to say they will break the symbol of my religious belief.

From cartoons to remarks distorted, I am sick and tired of the world being on its tip toes to cater to those morons who act like violent robots at the drop of a hat.

Is it Islam that makes those ignorant masses act as they do? Probably not. I own a copy of the Koran, and nowhere does it say, "that shall be a violent stupid being. " But, the failure of moderate Muslims to condemn the distorted view of Islam is disturbing. By their silence, and the liberal world view of tolerance, the world is quickly becoming a place where a handful of extremists decide what can be said, what can be drawn, and what can be commented upon.

And, that offends the Hell out of me.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Governor Sanford not in trouble

Governor Sanford not in trouble

The Greenville News ran an article recently that suggested that since Governor Sanford was campaigning up in the upstate, he was in some sort of political trouble this fall.

The article emphasized the disagreements with the State House of Representatives the Governor has had, quoting Ways and Means Chairman Dan Cooper of the upstate.

While there might be some level of discontent among the members of the House and Senate in the upstate, and even some partisans in the upstate, the Governor is not in trouble.

The Governor is not in trouble because the upstate is no longer the kingmaker in Republican politics. More people live and vote along the coastal areas of South Carolina. And, woe to you those in the upstate, which I am a native of, the Governor has the juice upon the coast and frankly a few dissenters in the upstate just does not matter the way it once did.

I personally wish the Governor was better at getting along with the legislature than he is. However, look for the Governor’s campaign to paint the legislature as odd and out of step with progress. That type of campaign will play well to the voters along the coast. Those voters are mainly made of up of folks who have not spent their entire lives in South Carolina and see our state as backwards by reflex. It is those voters, the new South Carolinians along the coast, who are now the kingmakers in South Carolina politics.

If the under funded Tommy Moore can somehow make a dent in the coastal vote, the state senator from rural Aiken county might have a chance at victory. However, it is my guess he won’t, and that the Governor will win easily, no matter what folks in the upstate do.

Politics in South Carolina just ain’t the way it used to be. Upstate activists no longer hold all the cards, so to speak. That is how Mark Sanford won his nomination and election four years ago. Governor Sanford will win re-election despite the upstate.

It will be four more years of the same “get hardly anything done” agenda from the Governor. That is where the power of the upstate legislators and activists is really felt. But, they can not and will not make the under funded Tommy Moore Governor. Sanford will win in a walk, and he will do so by rolling up big numbers on the coast.

And, the folks have reasons to vote for Sanford. He stands for tax cuts and more responsive government. The Governor stands up against the wasteful Clyburn Bridge project, a project those on the right and left in the Midlands oppose. The Governor stands up against the state legislature, which polls show many of us think inept, (unless you are talking about our own state representative or state senator.)

Add it all up, and that is why Sanford will win, but more of the same will be delivered to the state and its voters. We voters will return the Governor who stands up against the legislators we individually elect. A few griping voices from the upstate will not keep the Governor from being returned his role as griper in chief.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Grady Patterson campaign is almost too painful to watch

Grady Patterson is an honorable man. His longtime service to South Carolina should be respected and Patterson deserves our thanks for that service.

However, the election this year is not about the past thirty-plus years, it is about the next four years. At age 82, Patterson is seeking to serve as Treasurer until age 86. I do not contend that Patterson can not serve the next four years. However, one way to prove that he can would be to debate Thomas Ravenel.

Ravenel is long on sound bites and short on substance. I think he tries too hard to be Ronald Reagan, when there can only be one Ronald Reagan. That said, there is little doubt that he has the health and ability to serve out a full term. Now that Ravenel has made clear he will not abandon the post to run for United States Senate, we can be assured he will at least serve a full term if elected.

An 82 year old candidate faces a different situation. Voters need to be reassured that he can do the job. The best way to reassure the voters is to debate Ravenel and make other public appearances.

The excuses for not debating coming out of Treasurer’s spokesman’s Trav Robertson’s office are almost comedic.

Also, the assertion by some Democrats that Senator Thurmond did not debate Elliot Close in 1996 and that is comparable, is wrongheaded. It shows marked ignorance of Mr. Thurmond. Thurmond did not debate anyone after his bitter campaign with Olin D. Johnston in 1950. Their debate in Newberry almost came to blows. Though I do not know what thoughts Thurmond had about such things, I believe it can be assumed that he recognized his temper and saw it best to conduct campaigns without debates. It should also be noted that Thurmond’s 1996 campaign was vigorous. He went around the state making public appearances and speaking. I know that because I was part of that campaign and saw firsthand Thurmond in action. The Senator did not hide behind spokesmen or the like. He spoke to party and community club meetings and made the rounds, so to speak.

Indeed, I did not have the same feelings about Thurmond in 1996 that I have now about Patterson. I am sad to watch this unfold. Grady Patterson is a man I admire and respect, without apology to any of my fellow Republicans who might criticize me for such. I hate to see this last campaign of his unfold as it is. Patterson’s name and reputation still might carry the day in November, but even if it does, this campaign appears to be one too many.

As a basketball fan, I offer an analogy from the NBA. Most people, even casual fans, know of Michael Jordan. Jordan left his then team, the Chicago Bulls, in the perfect manner, hitting the winning shot for the championship. Then, Jordan played one season too many with the Washington Wizards. Watching Jordan try to do what his body could not longer allow him to do was painful for a fan of his.

What boggles my mind is why the Democrats in South Carolina, who surely must be bigger fans of Mr. Patterson than I am, don’t have the same pain watching Patterson go one campaign season too many. Indeed, why did they talk Patterson into this last ride, when he had nothing to prove and could have gone out on top, so to speak?

Maybe Mr. Patterson will debate Ravenel and clean his clock in the debate and make me look like a fool. But, I doubt it. It is my guess that for someone who respects Mr. Patterson, this campaign will be almost too painful to watch.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The firefighters lost on September 11th

This is my second post recently about September 11th, 2001. While so many lost their lives, and each life was a story that deserves hearing, I am going to concentrate in this post on the firefighters lost. My reason for doing so is selfish. My only brother, Matthew, is a firefighter. I cringed a few months ago when I followed him to a call and watched him go full steam into a burning house.

My brother and the men who serve with him on his small town fire department got me to thinking about those brave firefighters on September 11th, 2001. The Islamic fascists attacked the World Trade Center in New York. People were screaming, leaping to their deaths from stories up. The brave firefighters of the New York Fire Department were making their way up the stairs to try to help those in trouble.

Those brave firefighters showed all that was right with humanity in the wake of the Islamic fascist attack that showed what is wrong with humanity. I get choked up when I think about those brave firefighters doing their duty and dying doing so.

I am not a particular fan of the New York Times, but the Times did have a story about those firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty on September 11th, 2001. The link to that story is: http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/091101rescuers.html.

That sad day five years ago, 343 firefighters were lost in New York. Liberals are quick to quote the number of men and women we have lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want you to remember the simple number 343. Three hundred and forty three firefighters died doing their job on our soil because of Islamic fascism.

Five years after the fact, Americans seem to have forgotten. Politics as usual is back in force. Democrats and other liberals criticize the President of the United States for doing his best to protect the people of the United States. They seem to forget that we lost thousands on September 11th, 2001 to Islamic fascism. Among those thousands were 343 of the best among us. Three hundred and forty three firefighters gave their lives in the line of duty. They had no political agenda. They had no military agenda. They were just trying to save lives, and lost their lives doing so.

The monsters, who attacked us, and those who today still support their horrible act, are the enemy of us all. They believe that if we do not share their religious beliefs, we must die. Liberals seem to forget that.

We lost thousands on September 11th, 2001 to those monsters. Keep that and the number 343 in mind anytime a liberal throws up the number killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Remind those liberals that the Islamic fascists took thousands of lives on our soil, and among them were 343 of the best of us.

God Bless those firefighters and their families. God be with us all as we continue to fight for freedom against Islamic fascism and its barbaric ways.

Suddenly, Sanford’s restructuring ideas look pretty good

This year’s slate of statewide candidates is pretty weak.
Let’s start with the Treasurer’s race. We have a man, in Treasurer Grady Patterson, who is to be commended for his long service to the state. But, the frank and rude fact is he is far too old to be seeking four more years in such an important position. His opponent, the now dubbed “T-Rav”, Thomas Ravenel, is politician long on sound bites and short on substance. T-Rav also has the appearance of being a jerk to some degree in how he approaches Mr. Patterson. Mr. Patterson has the appearance of a man whose time has past. Neither would be the top choice for Treasurer if it were an executive hire.

Then, there is the race of Education Superintendent. Karen Floyd, the Republican, speaks to only one issue, school choice. It seems to be beyond her that school choice and/or tuition tax credits is just one part of a what is needed to fix South Carolina’s public schools. She and her folks seem to miss the fact that the real problem areas in South Carolina that drag down state test scores have three factors that tax credits can not fix. The first is there are no quality private school alternatives for parents to choose in the counties that bring South Carolina down. Second, the amounts of the tuition tax credits proposed so far do not cover the full cost of private education. It is simply a myth that some poor family in Allendale can opt to send their child to a private school with the tuition tax credits. They can not. Third, there is the cultural problem. There is a culture in the failure belt of counties of South Carolina in which far too many parents just do not encourage their children to do well in school. Those parents will not make the effort to use any school choice plan, and their children will still bring our performance down, and live lives of limited success. Karen Floyd just does not get the fact at how complicated public education issues are. And, she also has a past that shows she might have a problem with commitment.

Floyd’s opponent, Jim Rex, offers merely the status quo. He mentions an idea about public school choice, but he rallies around the education establishment types. It is hard to believe that Rex would call for real public school reform if elected. He has spent his life as part of the system that has failed so many South Carolinians. We can only expect more of the same educrat nonsense from him if elected.

In other words, both Floyd and Rex are lightweights. And, like with the Treasurer’s race, neither candidate would be at the top of the list of a chief executive picking a cabinet department head.

The above two races have made me reconsider my earlier stands against Governor Sanford’s idea of restructuring. Looking at those candidates, I can now say, Governor Sanford is right about the need to change things, and I was wrong to oppose him. Governor Sanford, or any other Governor, Republican or Democrat, could not do worse in choosing such officials then the voters in the respective primaries have.

The reality of politics will keep Governor Sanford and his people from saying such. Indeed, the Governor ironically will likely campaign with Floyd and Ravenel. But, the choices the voters have for those offices only emphasize how badly the Governor’s restructuring plans are needed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Football and gangs again

It just seems that one of my passions, football, can not escape the gang problem here in the Midlands of South Carolina. First, there were metal detectors at high school football games. Now, the gang problem around football games has moved up to the college level.

Last Saturday, Columbia's Williams-Brice stadium played host to the Palmetto Capital City Classic between Benedict College and Savannah State University. The stadium has been the site of several such classics over the past few years. These games typically pit two traditionally African American colleges against one another on the gridiron and are as well known for the tailgating as the football. I attended one of those classics a couple of years ago, and I enjoyed the game and the tailgating.

The good fun of football and tailgating came to an end last Saturday night after the game. Three young people were shot outside the stadium. According to the State, three arrests have been made. Those arrested are allegedly members of the Folk Nation Gang, whatever that is. Two of the shooting victims are allegedly members of the Bloods gang. You can see the article for yourself at
http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/breaking_news/15444111.htm.

The start of this football season is making clear that we have a real gang problem in South Carolina, especially in the Midlands. Politicians of both parties seem to bury their heads in the sand, so to speak about the problem. Those on the left tend to find ways to apologize for gang activity. Those on the right seem to just not care, afterall it is not in their backyard. (One of the most disappointing acts of Governor Sanford to me was a year or so ago when he refused to attend a meeting of community leaders about the gang problem.)

But, it is in their backyard. Last weekend, metal detecting wands were present at the Dutch Fork-Irmo football game. Dutch Fork and Irmo high schools are the flagships of Lexington Richland School District Five, the best performing school district in the state. Their test scores rank high in the South and in the nation. But, in the affluent suburbs of Columbia, security is tight.

Further, Williams Brice Stadium is home of the Gamecocks. Granted, the Gamecocks were not playing last Saturday night. However, since the police made clear that the people involved with last Saturday night's shooting had no ties to the two colleges playing, who is to say the gangs won't find their way to a Gamecock game?

When a parent has to think twice about taking his kid to a football game, be it the Palmetto Capital City Classic, a high school game, or a Gamecocks home game, because he is worried about the element around the stadium, we have a real problem.

It is time our poltical leaders, right and left, Republican and Democrat, at least acknowledge we have a real problem and try to work on running these gangs out of South Carolina.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Moore about to commit political suicide

Mark Sanford reminds me politically alot of the boxer Muhhamed Ali. Ali, the former champion, was a master at not only propaganda, but at taking everything his opponent could throw at him and then, when his opponent was exhausted, deliver the knockout blow. Ali called the stategy "rope a dope." Well, in 2002 Mark Sanford showed that he was quite the rope a doper himself. Sanford took all primary opponent Bob Peeler and general election opponent Jim Hodges cold dish out, and then knocked them out.

Also, the Uncle Remus character, Brer Rabbit also comes to mind. Those of you who grew up, like me, before political correctness, might recall Brer Rabbit begging not to be thrown into the briar patch he could easily master.

The Moore campaign, through its spokesperson, Karen Gutmann made clear in a recent Greenville News article that the Moore campaign was about to go on the attack.

"We're going to go after his record," Moore campaign spokeswoman Karen Gutmann said.

To that, I suppose Governor Sanford is saying, "please don't throw me into that briar patch."

Sanford has things that are ripe to attack. He has taken eccentric positions on some issues. The Governor seems unable to work with his fellow Republicans in the legislature. However, the Governor and his people are the masters at beating negative campaigns against him.

Just ask former political heavyweights like Bob Peeler and Jim Hodges how good Sanford is taking on attacks.

The reason Sanford is so good at fighting attacks is because he and his people do not answer the attacks directly. They can't in all frankness. But, what they do is genius. They run a campaign against negative campaigning. Thus, even if an attack is valid, it has no value because it is negative, per say.

When Moore launches his attacks, look for Governor Sanford to answer with an ad that goes something like this, "There they go again, running attack ads while we are trying to find real solutions to the problems that face us. " The overall affect of the ads from the Governor will be to portray him as a leader trying to push things forward, and his critics as people who are holding us up from going forward. The validity of the attacks will never be addressed.

The result will be the general public out there will say to themselves, "hey, look, this Sanford guy his doing his best, and all this Moore guy can do is snipe at him."

It is a genius political trap made all the more appealing to the soon to be trapped by the Governor's mistakes and miscues.

It appears that Moore is about to get snared in that trap. The only way, and I repeat the only way that a candidate can compete against Mark Sanford is to do what he and his folks have not prepared for. That would be a campaign that virtually ignored his record and set forth an agenda and let the people decide upon their own the merits of Mark Sanford.

Anything else is political suicide. Mark Sanford conveys earnesty in his approach. A head on attack campaign just will not work against him.

It appears Moore's people are unable or unwilling to see and accept that fact. Thus, when the negative ads start this fall, Tommy Moore will be committing political suicide and a Governor many thought was in trouble a few months ago will take a commanding lead in the polls and on Election Day.