Sunday, December 30, 2007

Huckabee for President

Voting under the Influence is proud to endorse Mike Huckabee for President of the United States. Now more than ever, the United States of America needs a President who is sincere in his convictions and can bring about the real change needed in government.

For far too long, politicians on both the right and left seem to be bought and paid for by big money, not big ideas. Mike Huckabee is a man with big ideas. His biggest idea is embracing the Fair Tax, a national consumption tax that would replace the federal income tax. Voting under the Influence will dedicate an entire posting to the Fair Tax in the coming days.

A brief summary of the benefits of the Fair Tax will be offered in this post. First, the Fair Tax would collect money from everyone in our economy, including the illegal aliens who work and live in the United States put pay no taxes. Second, it would eliminate special interest tax loopholes that are essentially written by lobbyists for special interest groups. Third, it would provide a provision for lower income folk to get vouchers to offset their consumption tax. Fourth, it would give people a better idea of just how much government costs when they are in the checkout line and inspire limited government. Last, but not least, the Fair Tax would give Amercian businesses a fighting chance to compete against businesses from other nations that have cheap labor and manipulate their currencies.

The Fair Tax is not the only reason to consider Mike Huckabee. There is his experience in life and in public office. He was a minister for years before entering public office, and that experience gave him the right mix of conservative values with compassion for others. Huckabee was an effective Republican Governor in a Democratic state, bringing about tax reform, education reform and government reform. Huckabee has been a consistent voice for gun rights, conservative values and reform.

Do not be misled by some of the attack ads against Huckabee stating he is a tax raiser. While is true some taxes were raised under Huckabee's time as Governor, what is left unsaid is how other taxes were lowered in a reform effort to make taxes fairer and government smaller.

There is also a very personal reason I support Mike Huckabee. It is his personal will and discipline to overcome Type II Diabetes. Several years ago Huckabee was diagnosed with the disease. He chose to fight it by changing his diet and excercising. Huckabee's efforts paid off with him losing substantial weight and getting his blood sugar levels under control. For the first time ever publicly, I state that I share the same battle. As I have worked to lose weight and control my blood sugar, I have come to appreciate the personal discipline of Mike Huckabee and the compassion one suddenly feels for others when you find yourself fighting a chronic disease. It makes one understand he is not superman and that God controls a whole lot more than we think.

So, there we have it . A humble, disciplined man, tested in politics and in personal health standing to be President. No amount of foreign travel or big money or time in the media spotlight can equal the experience of a man who has been tested in the ministry, in government, and his own personal life. America's best Presidents have always been men tested by some adversity of sorts that led them to be comfortable with who they were and what they believed.

Mike Huckabee is that kind of man. Mike Huckabee will make a great President.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Big Political Stories of 2007

One word can sum up 2007 in political, cultural and sports worlds: unpredictable.

In the sports world, all kind of crazy things happened. First, my beloved Gamecocks went 6-1 and were ranked #6 in the country, only to lose five in a row and not be invited to a bowl game. Lowly Appalachian State beat Michigan at Michigan! Major League Baseball crowned a new home run king in Barry Bonds, only to see Bonds indicted for lying to a federal grand jury investigation steroids. After years of fans having a love-hate relationship with Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden, the coach and the school inked a multi-million dollar deal that will likely keep Bowden in Clemson for years to come, just weeks after fans were calling for his coaching head.

Politics took a lesson from sports. The big stories have been unpredictable, even to the most learned of political observers.

First, there was the Thomas Ravenel story. Who would have believed that the rising star in the Republican party and newly elected State Treasurer would resign in disgrace over a cocaine scandal? Outside of a few hardcore Grady Patterson fans, only those with intimidate knowledge of Ravenel saw anything close coming.

Then there is the Governor of South Carolina. Who would have thought that the man who portrays himself as the ultimate clean politician would get caught directing mixed state and private funds for the Governor’s Conference in Charleston to his private political movement organization? I have been a critic of the Governor, but even I could not foresee something so brazen and/or politically stupid.

Add to that the bar exam scoring controversy. With one apparently political tone deaf act, the South Carolina Supreme Court has the legislature talking about talking away the court’s exclusive control over lawyers. While I have contended that I do not believe that the court acted in an unethical manner whatsoever, it has to be noted that in the first time in our state’s history, a movement to redefine how lawyers are regulated is politically viable. Perhaps their very own non political nature got the best of the Court in his regard. It proves that even if a court acts judicially without regard to politics, politics can come back to undermine the court.

In the South Carolina House, with key retirements in 2006, Speaker Bobby Harrell solidified his power. Also, the Speaker began appearing in several “public service” announcements which look an awful like early gubernatorial campaign ads to get his name out statewide. The Speaker also had his own television show appearance on ETV when the legislature was in session.

Some political stories have been predictable, just to prove the unpredictable rule of 2007. The ongoing saga in Anderson County between County Council member Cindy Wilson and County Administrator Joey Preston took the usual twists and turns and as I covered this story more, I could all but write the sides each would take and how each would act. The same is true for the Governor versus the General Assembly. The Governor does not like them. The General Assembly in general does not like him. Yawn. We got it a couple of years ago.

Other stories, like some of the ones mentioned above have been more unpredictable and help define this year. Who would think that a hefty number of real property tax payers would see their tax bills stay roughly the same or even go up after the legislature added a penny sales tax to shift money for education from the local property tax to the state sales tax?

Who would have thought the Republican Presidential Primary would be so wild? While I admit I knew who Mike Huckabee was and especially liked his Fair Tax plan this time last year, I did not believe he would be the leader in the polls in South Carolina at Christmas this year.

John McCain faltered from front runner status to also-ran only to rebound a bit as the year closed. Rudy had surprising political staying power, only to fade a bit as the year closed out. Fred Thompson, who seemed like the Savior of the GOP right in the Spring, ended up being a political bomb of sorts so far. Thompson is fighting for his political life in Iowa as you read this.

The one that was easy to foresee in the Presidential race was something I stated earlier this year. Romney got nasty. He has the money and the people around him to get nasty and go positive at the same time. He did so not only in South Carolina but around the nation.

The last, and perhaps most significant unpredictable political story of the year is the subtle rise of the influence of President George W. Bush. The troop surge he pushed in Iraq appears to be working. The Democratically controlled Congress has approval ratings that hover in the low to mid twenties, a full ten to fifteen points below the President’s. As a result, the President, who was dubbed a lame duck and caretaker this time last year, has become a real player in the budget process this year. Regardless of whether it was something the President and his people done this year, or things like the hundreds of thousands of dollars Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent on flowers, one thing is certain, the President has a heck of a lot more influence than any pundit could imagine as 2008 begins. I still believe Bush will be all but politically radioactive on the campaign trail in most of the country this year, but his strong close of this year gives him a real seat at the table on governing issues.

I could go on with more political stories, like the resignation of Tommy Moore, the election of Converse Chellis as State Treasurer, and on an on. But, I have already been pretty longwinded. Let me know what you think the big political stories were in 2007. Between now and the end of the year I and the crack staff of Voting under the Influence will give our bold predictions of the political scene for 2008 Stay safe out there as you enjoy the holiday season and thanks always for reading and commenting.

Monday, December 24, 2007



Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Humble Birth of Christ

The Christmas story is one that has always fascinated me. While, I, like everyone else, enjoy Santa, fun songs, and getting together with family and friends, it is the humble beginnings of Jesus Christ that make me humbly reflect upon myself and the time we live in.

Imagine what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary. The government was forcing them to travel to their hometown, where they no longer had a residence, for a census. They were poor people and such a trip was not an easy one. Further, they had absolutely no social status. Mary had become pregnant before marrying Joseph. Now we look upon her as the Blessed Virgin. However, with human nature as it is, one knows that that name was probably not the one Mary was called by some around her. Indeed, if you doubt the low status of Joseph and Mary, remember that a pregnant woman far along in her pregnancy could not even get a room in a simple inn for the night. She and Joseph were put in a barn. We call it a manger, and romanticize it today, but it was a barn, with animals, animal smells, and just a bit of hay to sleep upon.

It was about the humblest place anyone could enter this Earth. Yet, that is where God chose to have his only begotten Son born. A star did appear upon Jesus's birth and wise men did travel to give him gifts that signified royalty. Yet, that does not strike me nearly as much as the humble start.

Two humble people, poor and without power, were chosen by God to raise His Son. Great scholars were not chosen. Kings and Queens were not chosen. What we would consider the least among us were.

I suppose if Jesus were born into today's world instead of the time he was in, it might happen to a faithful couple who worked at a farm, in a factory or in a Wal-Mart and lived in a single wide trailer home. I know that will make some people uncomfortable. But, the birth of Christ is supposed to.

It needs to make us uncomfortable in how we judge one another so easily. Even the most pious of us write off the prisoner, the "redneck," the guy riding the trash truck, or the immigrant picking fruit and so on. Yet, if those people are faithful, in God's eyes they are equal to us, if not our betters if we do not have their faith.

The concepts God teaches us through the life of his Son are hard to accept easily. It goes against human nature. It is so easy for us to judge the man or woman who are broke, or made a mistake, or who don't have the things and success some of us do. But, if one takes the time to think on the humility of the Christmas story, and indeed the humility of the life of Christ, it becomes clear that God wants us to have compassion and understanding for one another, even if our instincts seem to makes us more inclined to judge instead of love.

Sometimes I actually have some pity for the innkeeper. Had the innkeeper knew who was about to be born, he surely would have given up the finest room he had in the inn. But, he did not, and acted out of human nature. The innkeeper is an example of how many of us act, myself included, toward people when our human nature takes over. However, like the innkeeper, we really have no idea of just who we are dealing with when we issue a slight, deny forgiveness, deny mercy or judge.

The Christmas story has been dubbed the greatest story ever told. And, it is. In one simple story, God reveals to us He has love for all of us, regardless our station or past, and what we all should think of one another.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sorry, Governor Romney

Sorry Governor Romney, a picture is worth a thousand words. Ex- Governor Mitt Romney's pro-life stance took a blow recently when a Boston newspaper released a photo of him attending a Planned Parenthood fundraising event in 1994. Romney's wife also cut a check to the group at the event.

The Governor had this to say from the Boston Globe:

"I attend a lot of events when I run for office. I don’t recall the specific event," the former Massachusetts governor said as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination. "I think I’ve made it very clear. I was pro-choice, or effectively pro-choice, when I ran in 1994. As governor I’m pro-life and I have a record of being pro-life and I’m firmly pro-life today."

So, lets get it straight. When Romney was running for Senator from and Governor of Massachusetts, he was pro abortion, to appeal to the voters. Now Romney is running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, he is pro-life, again to appeal to the voters he faces in the primary.

I am not judging the man on his stand on abortion. It is his right to choose to be on one side or the other. What bothers me is that appears to be a man who will appeal to whatever base he faces, without principles. That just adds to his slickness.

Add that to the half truths he is using to attack former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and well, it seems Romney will use any words at his disposal to try to become President. The picture of him at the Planned Parenthood fundraiser is worth a thousand words. Two of the words that come to mind for me are "slick opportunist."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Calhoun Falls school closings show that old mill towns are going the way of railroad stop towns

There is quite a measure of controversy in Abbeville County today. The Abbeville County school board voted to close Calhoun Falls High School and Calhoun Falls Middle School this week. The vote was so controversial that the two members of the Abbeville County School Board from the Calhoun Falls area promptly resigned their seats.

Everything from educrat envy to a Louis Farrakhan group buying land in the region has been cited as a reason for the move by those who know Abbeville County politics. I personally wonder how the logistical nightmare of busing students from the Calhoun Falls area to Abbeville and Due West schools will play out. There will be kids next year who will be on a school bus for hours before and after school.

That said, I see something else at work other than the cries of jealousy and racism. I see the situation in Abbeville as a prime example of an upstate mill town going the way of the old railroad stop towns.

Not only in the upstate, but throughout South Carolina, little towns were created because they were fueling stops for railroads. You can note which towns fit in that category now by seeing that the towns are one sided, so to speak, with all old town buildings on one side of street facing the old railroad. One can also note that in the vast majority of those old railroad stop towns, the economic engine is dead.

An example of such a railroad town can be found in Abbeville County in Donalds. Donalds was once a rather thriving little area. There was a town built facing the railroad stop. When the train had to stop to refuel with water, coal, wood, whatever, the little town thrived. When the trains no longer had to stop, Donalds began to shrink away. Though it even kept a policeman on duty until the 1980s, the little town is now a shell town. There is a gas station, and branch of bank that prides itself on rural services, an antique shop and a small collection of houses. Donalds still has a post office, but it is not what can be considered a real town.

On the other side of Abbeville County sits Calhoun Falls. Calhoun Falls saw its heyday during the textile mill era. As the mills needed workers, the workers moved to the town, lived there and spent money there. As textiles moved out, the town’s population and money dwindled.

Now, Calhoun Falls is dealt the ultimate death blow to any small town’s identification: the loss of its public schools. In South Carolina, small towns rally around their local high schools especially. They take pride in their sports teams and the like. Losing that sense of pride is often the beginning of the end of any small town.

Thus, Calhoun Falls’s loss of its schools is a stark example of the textile town now going the way of the railroad stop town. Other former textile towns such as Ware Shoals, Belton, and my home Honea Path had better take note. Either such towns should take immediate action to bring in economic development and keep its people and money, or lose itself forever.

If you doubt that, not only note Donalds, but think of the town of Chappells, South Carolina. This little dot on the road map was once a full blown town. The essence of the town is now in ruins, off of Highway 39, rotting in the woods. While there is a little post office still, the old town itself fades away in the leaves of each autumn.

The question that should concern us in South Carolina about the Calhoun Falls school situation is not who did what when in Abbeville County local politics. We should instead ask ourselves what can be done to the old textile towns to keep them from rotting away in the leaves of future autumns.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fiddling while Rome burns in Anderson County

Emperor Nero of Rome supposedly was so out of touch with reality that he fiddled while the great fire of Rome was going on. After reading various news accounts of the ongoing saga of Anderson County Council Member Cindy Wilson versus Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston, I am beginning to wonder if Ms. Wilson, Mr. Preston and the local newspaper did not take music lessons from Nero.

Ms. Wilson has had several years on Anderson County Council, and Mr. Preston has had several years as Administrator. Who is right or who is wrong in their saga seems to have gripped the actions of county government and county political discourse.

Through her intense efforts, Ms. Wilson got some credit card receipts from cards held by the county. From them, she released to the media that the cards had been used to get fast food and food at Hooter’s, among other minor instances. That stands as Cindy Wilson’s crowning accomplishment after years of service on council.

To Wilson and her supporters, such a find is proof that the end of the world will certainly come if Mr. Preston is not burned at the stake. For Mr. Preston and his supporters, Ms. Wilson is a nutcase that has committed an illegal act.

To those of us who live in Anderson County and have the sense to see some of the problems around that we face, we are tired of this political game.

Anderson County is a unique place in that it has two very different economies. First, there is the growth that springs from being in close proximity of Greenville. There are serious growth issues to be dealt with in those areas. Second, there are the old textile towns in the southern part of the county, which face going the way of the old railroad fuel stop towns if something is not done to improve infrastructure, bring in economic development, and work to find ways to do some environmental cleanup at the old mills. The EPA had to step in in nearby Ware Shoals after a huge fire. Belton, Honea Path and Iva should have county leaders that act before such a thing happens.

There are bridges in the county fire engines can not drive over. There are secondary roads in desperate need of repair, especially in Wilson’s district.

Yet, Wilson fiddles away about who went to Hooter’s. Just once, as one of her constituents, I would like to see her use the obvious gifts of determination, tenacity and stubbornness she has to fight for the people of her district the way she fights Mr. Preston.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Braggin' on Grandma

My grandmother, Nettie McCarty was one of the four nominees for Greenwood County Neighbor of the Year. The award is presented by the Chamber of Commerce.

From an article in the Index Journal on December 9th:

" McCarty is the founder of the 96 Mill Village Neighborhood Association. She was nominated by Regina Berry, the association president. McCarty has lived and worked in Ninety Six for more than 40 years.

She began her own clown ministry, entertaining and ministering to her community. Although she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, McCarty still contributes and supports her community through numerous volunteer projects. After having her grandson committed to a drug and alcohol rehab facility, McCarty put together a committee to establish a “March Against Drug and Crime,” that more than 200 people participated in. Through McCarty’s inspiration the 96 Mill Village Association has been able to turn their neighborhood around and begin to make a difference in the community, Berry said.

“Netty McCarty proved the theory of the Power of One,” Berry said. “(She) made a huge difference in the lives of many and deserves recognition for her efforts.” "

What the article does not say is my grandmother's Parkinson's is advanced. She struggles with it each and every day, yet she finds the strength within to be active in her community.

She an outstanding example for all of us.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Day that will live in Infamy

December 7th, 1941 started out like any other Sunday on the islands of Hawaii. Military men off duty awoke hung over from their night before. Those on duty got up with a laid back attitude. It was a sort of an off day. A good many senior officers were on shore leave. Those men left to man the ships and the base were thinking of drinking some coffee, going to chapel and getting in a fairly easy day of duty.

What they got at 7:55 AM was the ultimate wakeup call. The Japanese Navy attacked Wheeler Air Field and Pearl Harbor naval base with furiousness. The attack would leave thousands dead. Not until September 11th, 2001, would the United States face such a direct assault on its soil.

While it would be easy to go on about the heroes of that day, and there were some real heroes, I will talk about politics. (One hero that comes to mind is the one the now late Jim Cooley told me about. He saw a man who kept firing his machine gun at the planes as they came over Wheeler. The man fired until the water cooled machine gun, without water to cool it, burned the man’s arm.)

Those in the major media and in the Republican Party would have you believe that the Democrats going after President Bush and his team over September 11th are unprecedented in their criticism of a sitting Commander in Chief. They are wrong.

Politics has always been present. In the almost immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Republicans in Congress were hinting that President Roosevelt knew of the attack in advance and let it happen to get the United States into war. Indeed, there is now documented evidence that suggests that Roosevelt’s 1944 Republican opponent for the Presidency was set to make Roosevelt’s knowledge of the attack a campaign issue before being talked out of it by General George Marshall, who did not want the Japanese to know the United States knew their code.

There was a heated Congressional investigation in 1946 into the Pearl Harbor attack. The investigation broke down on strict party lines. The Republicans screamed to the high heavens. The Democrats defended the then late President Roosevelt.

Roosevelt now ranks among the people and professional historians as one of our greatest Presidents. But, in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, his political opponents went after him full throttled. The debate continues today. Just search “Pearl Harbor Roosevelt” and you will get a slew of websites and blogs dedicated to the idea Roosevelt knew about the attack in advance and did nothing.

That is not much different than what President Bush faces today. Just switch the party labels and you get pretty much the same thing: blame being readily laid at the doorstep of the President of the United States of the opposite party.

Things are not nearly as strange politically as some would have you believe. Politics has always been a tough game.

Another thing that has not changed is the heroes in the midst of tragedy. Who knows what President knew what when. But, one thing is clear on December 7th, 1941, like September 11th, 2001, a lot of good people died serving their country and communities. It is for them, those brave people who died that day 66 years ago we should never forget Pearl Harbor.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

British teacher’s plight in Sudan tells us the lunacy we are up against

On a regular basis, the media tells us how we in the United States must be more tolerant of Islam and even Islamic extremists. Those voices seem to contend that if we just tolerate their views, we will have peace.

A case developing in the Sudan shows otherwise. Gillian Gibbons, a 54 year old British teacher who went to Sudan to help, is now imprisoned over what some would call a downright silly thing. Gibbons decided to name a teddy bear in her class room “Muhammad” after the class she taught decided that the teddy bear should be named after one of their more popular classmates. There are various news reports on the subject, but the link found at gives a clear picture about what is going on.

Islamic extremists are rallying by the thousands to call for the death of Gillian Gibbons for insulting their prophet. It is noted that Islamic leaders in the United Kingdom seem to oppose this and are working for her release. I commend them for that. However, the very notion that the simple naming of a teddy bear would lead people to call for one’s death shows us the difference in the cultures we now face.

Think about it for a moment. Suppose someone named their teddy bear “Moses.” Sure, some Jews might be offended. However, it is inconceivable that those offended Jews would call for the death of the person who named the teddy bear. Suppose someone named a teddy bear “Jesus.” Perhaps a handful of fanatics would be upset, but again, I can not see them calling for someone’s death.

A more likely example for Christians would come in South America, where a good many children are named Jesus. It is not conceivable that devout South American Catholics would demand the death of a teacher who allowed her students to name a teddy bear in the classroom “Jesus” after a popular school mate.

One can not also see Buddhists calling for the death of some teacher who named a teddy bear Buddha.

Some pundits call the Islamic extremists evil. Others call them insane. Take your pick. There is something wrong with any religion that demands the death or even the imprisonment of a human being over something as simple as the name of a teddy bear chosen by children. What compounds this wrong is that the woman who is at the center of this pure hate is a woman who went to Sudan to help.

The calls for her death are outrageous and hateful. They are based upon the evil or insane manipulation of the ignorant by a handful of power hungry monsters that seem to care more about showing their power than communing with and understanding God. It is a clear example of the hate and lunacy we in the western world are up against.

Yet, we are asked by some among us to tolerate those who hate us so and who would kill innocent people for insane reasons. Christ did tell us to pray for our enemies, but he did not tell us to let them dictate to us how to live or what is civilized.

The treatment of teacher Gillian Gibbons should be called for what it is: flat wrong on all accounts, civil, religious and moral. It should also be a wakeup call for those of us who think that extreme Islam just wants to live in peace with us. They do not. They want to kill us over the least of things.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Here comes Huckabee

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is now the rising star of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination. Huckabee is showing strong poll numbers in Iowa and nationwide. The former Governor also enjoyed the wide acclaim of politicos and media alike for his performance in the recent Florida presidential debate. Like somehow knowing the end of an episode of Texas Ranger or a Ric Flair match, politicos are sensing that Huckabee is going to make some real noise in he presidential race, and at worst, might secure the second spot on the ticket.

Why is Huckabee suddenly so powerful on the scene? First, he is an authentic conservative. He is not only a former governor, but a former Baptist minister who has a proven record on conservative social issues. That is appealing to a large part of the Republican base.

Add to that Huckabee’s populist approach. There are a large number of social conservatives who are uneasy with the big money in Republican politics today. When Huckabee sings their song on social issues and then hits a tone on things like tax reform, big business, health care and education, he is hitting Bubba Sixpack right in the political face. A good many Republican voters out there do not care for gay marriage or abortion or gun control. Those same Republican voters also are sick and tired of big business and big government. Those same Republican voters face rising health care costs and worry about their kids’ education. Those voters are more Republican populist in their views, and Huckabee has found a base with them. Those are the folks who are conservative in nature, but compassionate about the plight of their neighbors.

Then there is Huckabee’s sense of humor and charisma. Tip O’Neil that old Democrat, knew a lot about politics in general. Like him or not, O’Neil knew how to judge the people. He once stated that a politician who could “get the people to laugh with him would nearly always win.” He also stated that a politician who had the people laughing at him would likely lose. With the over-serious types like Romney, Rudy and Fred Thompson, Huckabee comes out as the funny guy, the guy that can put us at ease. Reagan had that quality.

All of the above stated, Huckabee still faces an uphill battle. Rudy and Romney have the money. Huckabee is still yet the face the media attack machine. Who knows what it will turn up on him when it goes full forced on him if he wins Iowa.

A hint of what might be coming came from the Fred Thompson attack ad on Huckabee about immigration.

But, one thing is for sure, as Huckabee supporter Ric Flair would say, “like it or not, he’s the biggest thing going today.”

Huckabee is on the rise. Huckabee is proving he will have to be dealt with. No one knows how all this will play out. However, it seems Huckabee, especially if Rudy wins the nomination, is in a good spot for the ticket, and has eclipsed Fred Thompson as the true conservative alternative. As ole Ric would say, “Whooo! Like it or not, you better learn to deal with it, because here comes Huckabee!”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

2nd Annual Thanksgiving Political Awards

It is that time of year again. It is time for turkey, football and family. It is time for Voting under the Influence’s Second Annual Thanksgiving Political Awards. The past year has been a tough one politically for conservatives, and frankly, for everyone involved in politics. With the Presidential candidates stooping into to South Carolina, it did give me more potential award nominees. This year we at Voting under the Influence not only looked at state politicians, but presidential candidates and political activists around us. I hope you will enjoy our picks and get both the insight and humor of our crack staff’s hard work.

We begin with the Cornbread Dressing Award for career achievement. That award goes to outgoing SLED chief Robert Stewart. Stewart oversaw the reform of the once very political SLED and led South Carolina law enforcement though one of its most stressful days in Abbeville a couple of years ago. Stewart led SLED with integrity and honor and he will be missed.

Next, there is the Cranberry Sauce Award for local or county government. Last years winner, my dear friend Anderson County Councilman Bill McAbee, disappointed me by voting to raise taxes when he thought he had to. With this years winner Voting under the Influence’s crack staff came up might be a surprise to the readers of this blog. The award goes to Mayor Joe Riley of Charleston. Forget who has a D or R beside their name, sometimes local government is about owning up to things and answering hard questions. After the tragedy in Charleston regarding the lost fire fighters over the summer, Riley stood tall in the saddle, so to speak, answered the questions and acted to make his city government cooperate with state and federal investigators. Voters in the Holy City rewarded him for his efforts with an overwhelming re-election.

We now come to the Holiday Ham award. This award is for the politician or activist who seems the best at self promotion. This year’s winner is Will Folks, owner of the FITS news blog. From the pictures of scantily clad women he posts to the defense of the Governor he used to work for he pretends to loathe, no blogger or political activist in South Carolina has promoted himself better. Folks has rehabilitated himself from scandal ridden Sanford staffer into a bona fide voice in state politics better than Jimmy Carter rehabilitated himself from failed President to respected elder statesman.

Next, there is the Fruitcake Award. The name of the award is self explanatory. There were a couple of people to consider, but Congressman Dennis Kucinich comes out the hands down winner. The man talks about seeing UFOs as well as having some kooky ideas about how to run the government. How he ended up with a hot wife nearly two decades his junior frustrates the Voting under the Influence staff.

Now, we move on to the good stuff. The next two awards are the big ones. The first is the Golden Drum Stick award for political achievement. This award goes to the individual or group who had outstanding political achievement.

The nominees are:

1)Attorney General Henry McMaster. McMaster is an open supporter of Johh McCain, yet retains political viability through his solid performance as Attorney General. He might have a style that, allegedly, grates some staffers, but McMaster hits a note with the voters going after internet predators, financial con artists and the like. No one seems to have a better politically tone sensitive ear than Henry McMaster for the job he has.

2)Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Yes, I know he is not from South Carolina. But, not Presidential candidate has performed better in debates here in South Carolina than Huckabee. If Huckabee had money, he would be a force to be reckoned with. As it stands, do not be shocked if he is the VP nominee.

3)State Senator Shane Massey. Massey came virtually out of nowhere to win the seat held by long time senator and Democrat Tommy Moore. Massey beat an old veteran Democrat in a district that still demographically favors Democrats.

4)State Rep. Dan Cooper. Cooper quietly led his forces in the House to get what he wanted politically, with the Governor and the Governor’s well funded groups breathing down his back. Agree or disagree with Mr. Cooper, Mr. Cooper knew how to get his way in the end in the House and the Budget and Control Board.

5)Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. How any Presidential candidate, much less one in the Republican primary, can stay in the top two when having a record of supporting gay rights, gun control and abortion rights, is beyond me. It is a true act of political legerdemain. Rudy has some political gifts that seem to be shaking up the traditional view of South Carolina politics.

The winner is…..State Senator Shane Massey. Our crack staff and I can not say enough about his victory and how it will reshape state politics. Watch the young senator from Aiken County, he will prove to be a force to be reckoned with.

That brings us to our final, and least coveted, but perhaps most covered award: Political Turkey of the Year. Voting under the Influence’s nominees for Political Turkey of the Year are:

1)Senator John McCain. No candidate for President dropped as far and as quickly as John McCain did when he voiced support for the illegal alien amnesty bill. South Carolina voters already are dealing with more and more “authentic” Mexican foods being put on their grocer’s shelves and standing in line behind people who rattle things off in Spanish. Then there is the case of the illegal Hispanic alien in Newberry who molested a little girl but can not be found because he has so many alias names. There is simply no way anyone can win an election in South Carolina being soft on illegal immigration.

2)Anderson County Council. Yes, I include the entire lot, though some are more to blame than others. While serious business has to be done, it seems over the past year, the elected leaders of Anderson County prefer to make personal digs. They are laughed about at local establishments and ridiculed. Yet, my guess is most of them will be re-elected the next go around. But, they still can not get along like adults should.

3)Governor Mark Sanford. Re-elected by a big majority, he still lacked the basic people skills to get anything meaningful done through the General Assembly. Add to that this so called reformer’s move to give left over state grant money to one of his political operations, and well, his political powers just keep dwindling. While Sanford did give the money back to the state, it just shows that this so called “non politician” practices politics as usual. Sanford’s chances of getting some the reforms he proposes, some of which are sorely needed, through the General Assembly are nil.

4)Former State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel. Ravenel had it all: money, charisma, and political clout. He gave it all away to personal demons. The charges of him distributing cocaine to friends forced him to resign his office in disgrace and enter rehab. Perhaps no South Carolina political figure in modern times had more potential and lost it so quickly.

5)State Rep. Jim Harrison. Fair or unfair, the fact that his daughter was one of the folks who benefited for the SC Supreme Court throwing out a section of the bar exam will come back to haunt Harrison politically. I do not know the particulars of the exam. I also assume the Court acted with the utmost integrity. However, in politics, perception is reality, and some pol out there is ready to make the most of the perception that Harrison is just another good ole boy.

The winner of the Poltical Turkey of the Year award goes to…hands down…overwhelmingly…Thomas Ravenel. Can you believe what the guy threw away? While I feel sorry for him to some degree, I still shake my head.

Well, that is it. The Voting under the Influence’s Second Annual Thanksgiving Political Awards post is now in the can. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. Remember to be thankful to God for the things you have and for our troops who keep us in freedom. Also, remember the line from ole great grandpa. “During the holidays, there are two kinds of turkey. One is for eating. The other is for drinkin’ so you can put with your relatives.”

Stay safe and be thankful. Let me know what you think. I am thankful you read this blog.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Say it ain't so Barry

About 90 years ago Major League Baseball suffered its first blow to the integrity of the game. Rumors flew that the 1919 World Series between the Cincinnati Red Stockings (now called the Reds) and the Chicago White Sox was fixed. The allegations made their way to court, where the White Sox players were cleared legally of charges of throwing the World Series. However, Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis decided to ban the players in question for life for the integrity of the game. Those players were forever known as the "Black Sox" because of the dark shadow they cast over what was at the time America's overwhelming past time.
Among those players banned was "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, a natural talent at the game from Greenville, SC. Though Jackson could not read or write, his affable manner and outstanding play on the field made him a popular figure in Chicago. When the scandal broke, a Chicago paper headline blared the words of a little boy who appealed to Jackson, "Say it ain't so, Joe. "
Baseball historians have debated for decades whether or not Jackson had a role in the scandal or if his affable nature and illiteracy got him caught up in a scandal he really had nothing to do with. Regardless of the truth of the matter, Jackson was banned and spent the remaining years of his life playing minor league and textile league baseball under false names and then ran a liquor store.
Nearly 90 years later, baseball faces another crisis of integrity. Barry Bonds, the newly crowned all time home run champion, was indicted this past week for allegedly lying under oath and obstructing justice in the federal investigation of steroids in baseball. The essence of the issue is whether or not Bonds used illegal steroids to enhance his physical prowess and his performance on the baseball field.
Some argue, "so what?" Those who argue that contend that baseball is a competition, and if a competitor wants to sell out his future health to gain an edge, so be it.
I see it differently. I love the game of baseball, though I admit I never played it well. It is the all American sport. The history, the past acts by professional baseball to insure fairness in competition and just the joy of spending an afternoon at the ballpark to me symbolize what America is all about.
That is why I am so disturbed by the indictment of Barry Bonds. The men he passed in his home run championship run were men who competed fairly and were true American characters.
Let's start with the now number four man on the home run list, Barry Bond's godfather, Willie Mays. Mays was a cocky player who completed clean, and according to several baseball historians, was the best player that ever played the game. He fought through the racism still present in his playing days to be a national hero. It is a credit to Mays's character, and not a defense of Bonds, that Mays, with grace, presented Bonds with a gift when Bonds surpassed him on the list.
Then there is the now number three man on the home run list, Babe Ruth. Ruth was the true American character of his time. Ruth partied hard with the best of them his entire career, drinking more than what we would now call a case of beer a day. Ruth loved the women and eating hot dogs as well. He lived life to the fullest. There was nothing artificial about him. With all his personal vices, he still hit 714 home runs and was an outstanding pitcher as well in the early part of his career, winning a total of 94 games.
Another true American character is the man now second on the home run list, Hank Aaron. Aaron personified the American working man. He was quite, lived clean, and got the job done day in day out. He did so even when faced with the racist threats that dogged him the year he eclipsed Ruth. Aaron was and is a true American hero. He worked hard and quietly, and achieved his goals, even when those who hated him for no reason tried to intimidate him. I can think of no better role model in baseball and life than Hank Aaron.
That brings us to Barry Bonds. Whether or not he used performance enhancing illegal substances will be determined by the courts. He was a very talented baseball player. He is also a symbol for the state of American culture today. Bonds is rude. Bonds has always seemed selfish to fans and even his own teammates. Bonds is controversial. His supporters seem to almost relish his indictment as some sort of award. Critics of baseball point to Bonds and say, "this is what is wrong with baseball today."
I see something bigger. The fact that baseball does not shun him and that there is an element that celebrates an alleged cheater, who is rude to fans and teammates, illustrates not only the state of baseball, but the state of American culture. Babe Ruth might have drank like a fish, womanized and ate like a glutton, but he always was nice to the fans, and it would not have crossed his mind to cheat. To Ruth, that would have cheapened his victories. Hank Aaron would never put himself in a place where he could shame the game he loved so and the people who loved it with him.
Ruth and Aaron, though, were men of a different time. One an all out party guy, the other a workhorse, they both shared some values of decency and fairness. I wish the game of baseball I love so much could offer the same today. That is why the little boy in me, who could never play the game all that well, is screaming out, "Say it ain't so, Barry. Say it ain't so!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

An apology to Councilman Bill McAbee, etc.

When I started this blog I wanted it to be a free for all in the exchange of ideas. For that reason I offered no comment moderation. I wanted people go at it and let the words fly.
I was naive. When political discussions started to degrade a few months ago regarding posts involving Anderson County Councilman Bill McAbee and an business associate of his, I started comment moderation, as much I hated it.
A recent chance meeting in Anderson made me make the effort to take down all comments related to Mr. McAbee and his business associate, who will not be named. The people talking had no idea who I was, but they were happy that I was their tool to hurt my friend Bill McAbee.
Until I got up here in Anderson County, my home, I had no idea the degree of the flat made up poison that passes for political discourse from some elements. I let this blog be their tool for the politics of personal destruction months ago. I regret that, and it will never happen again. I suppose I worked too much in statewide politics and issues and had no idea how petty and mean county politics are.
While I do believe that anonymous comments on a small time blog like this one can not be all that harmful, I truly regret that the least of harm might have been inflicted upon my friend for many years, Bill McAbee and his business associate because this blog became a tool of those with spiteful motives and unproven rumors.
So that those in that element who read this blog understand me, let me clear. I do disagree with Bill McAbee on some issues of the day. But, Bill McAbee is my friend. I believe he is loyal to his wife and son and that the spiteful and untrue things said about him by those who despise the fact that they can not control him politically are what is wrong with politics today. It also shows the true character of those people. They really do not care that much for issues, just their egos.
For that reason, Voting under the Influence apologizes to Bill McAbee and his business associate. Also, this blog will not be a tool of the politics of personal destruction in any fashion, and instead will, from time to time, shine a light on those people.
Now, back to the issues.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Childhood pranks are ending up in court

As reported in the Charleston Post an Courier (the link can be found
at, more and more school discipline issues are ending up in law enforcement's hands and getting into the family courts.

Some blame the growing big state views of the education elites. Some educators blame lawyers and lawsuits. Some blame the culture of the times we live in. But, one thing is certain: life in school has changed.

I think of my own childhood. I have only been out of public schools for twenty years. I grew up in a small town, and I had a habit, instilled in me by my father and grandfather of toting a pocket knife at all times, including when I was at school. I never thought to cut someone with it.

However, there are times when a knife, and especially the blunt "screwdriver" end of one of the blades, can come in handy. The can opener blade is pretty useful as well.

God and the public defender be with me I were a student and got caught with a pocket knife today. Years ago I would "show off" my new pocket knife I got for Christmas to some of my classmates and even one of male teachers. Now if a student did such, he would be suspended, arrested, and DSS would be knocking at his parents' door.

If you doubt that, think on the case in West Columbia a couple of years ago. A little girl was suspended and her family faced investigation because the little girl's mother packed a butter knife in the little girls lunch box to cut an apple with. The school officials stated their position of "zero tolerance" of weapons on campus.

Then, and now, so called zero tolerance makes zero sense. There was a time if two young men got into a scuffle, they would get a stern lecture from the principal and some cleanup duty or some laps ran around the football field. Now, those same young men get arrested and have criminal records.

I am not a teacher. But, I did coach youth basketball for five years. Young people, especially those in their early to mid teens, tend to be unsure of themselves. They sometimes act out in stupid ways. They also tend to live up or down to the expectations placed upon them by the adults in their lives. My uncle was a youth coach for years as well, and he taught me the valuable lesson of never telling my youngsters not to make mistakes. He told me that because, "if you tell them not to turn the ball over, they will, they will think about turning the ball over."

If we as a society have an educational system that makes the kid who pulls a prank, gets in a scuffle, or dares to carry a pocket knife feel like a criminal in his most formative years, should we be surprised when he does not achieve in life? Further, if we create a generation of mindless sheep, afraid even to do something such as pull a prank, how can we expect them to compete with the rest of the world who does not live by our wimpy standards?

I know some will say I just don't get it. And, perhaps I don't. You see I went to a high school where students could smoke at lunch in a smoking area if their parents consented. I grew up in a time when moms and dads would be less concerned about Junior if he was caught behind the barn drinking one of dad's beers then if he was caught behind the barn hugging on his buddy Jack.

Forgive me, but there is something wrong with this country when teachers can not break up scuffles and deal with pranks without calling in the cops. Our educational leadership is filled with mind numb people who have went to seminars in which they tell each other how much smarter they are than everyone else and how parents and children must be controlled, even if at a law officer's gunpoint.

And, then we wonder what is wrong with our young people today. I am not saying give youngsters who mess up a pass. When young people mess up, punish them, but don't give them marks on their record that last for life such as arrests. If earlier generations did that, half of the business and political leaders of nation's history would have never made into a college or their first job. This power hungry thing education elites are doing toying with the future of young people's lives just sickens me. To know we are all paying for them to do so sickens me more.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank a Veteran

The first man I will mention is now in his eighties. He moves a bit slower than he did just a few years ago. He shares a nearly sixty year marriage with a woman who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Back in 1945, he got one of his few leaves from service in the United States Navy to attend the funeral of his older brother who had been killed in action in Germany. The man then came home and spent years in the fields and cotton mills and raised a family with his now ailing bride. That first man I mention is my grandfather, a proud World War II vet who lost his dear brother to that conflict, yet went on to work hard, raise a family and live the typical American life.
My grandfather was not alone in his generation. He had two other brothers who served with honor in Korea. He had a brother in law who lived with the pain of the Battle of the Bulge for his entire life.
My mother’s uncle, my great uncle, Charles, was in the Green Berets and retired out of the military.
Then there is my mother’s brother, and my uncle, who served as a Vietnam era marine. Family members say he was never the same after his service. I did not know him before, but I do know he lives a life now that George Jones could write a song about.
I also think about three of my old friends. There are a few others, but I will limit myself to mentioning three. The first is Pete, who ironically has the same name as my grandfather’s brother. Pete is a committed family man now. Pete did his bit for our country in places like Korea, Bosnia and Haiti. He retired out only to be brought back into service in Afghanistan. He went without complaint and served our country well. Pete did so leaving his wife and children behind to worry and wait. Pete did come home.
The other old friend is Marty, who is finishing up his training as a helicopter pilot after a rather long stint in the National Guard. Marty will be one of the oldest people to complete such training, and in all frankness, I do believe he will see some action again. I grew up beside Marty and think of him as another little brother.
The last is Steven, a friend of mine with a young wife and daughter. Steven served some time in the mid east while his young bride to be waited for him at home. He is now going forward with his life and trying to raise a family and make a living, just like my grandfather.
Steven and Pete are the men trying to go on with life after military service. Marty still stands guard at the gates. They all deserve our thanks.
As we approach this Veteran’s Day, we seem to forget what it is about. The men and women who served our country by protecting the freedoms we have deserve our respect. Just this Saturday night, I anguished over my beloved Gamecocks losing yet another game. But without Grandpa, Uncle Charles, Uncle Pete, Uncle Floyd, Uncle Junior, Uncle Doug, my friends Pete, Marty and Steven, and so many like them, I would not have the luxury of watching a football game, much less caring about the outcome.
Perhaps the elderly man that lives down the street from you deserves a thank you. Perhaps it is the middle aged guy who still serves in the National Guard. Perhaps it is the young man or woman down the street who just got home from Iraq or Afghanistan.
Regardless, I urge you to put your political feelings aside and say thank you to a veteran. They are the reason we are able to live the lives we do. They come from walks of life. They come from every type of community. They deserve the full measure of our respect and gratitude.
To the men and women who have served in the military, I say with pride, respect and gratitude, “THANK YOU!”

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My impressions of Anderson County Council meeting

I attended my first Anderson County Council meeting as a resident of Anderson County on Tuesday night. Several things crossed my mind as I soaked it all in.

First, my council representative, Cindy Wilson, seems to be a sincere person who is woefully over her head in some ways. There was a discussion about the county adopting a particular radio system for command and control and communication with other agencies during an emergency. Ms. Wilson first seemed to not grasp that the current system would remain intact and be supplemented by the new system. Then she droned on and on about some standard “boiler plate” language within the contract proposed with the telecommunications company. I wanted to jump up ask her if she had a mobile phone, and if she did, had she read the contract. Ms. Wilson also seemed to have some real personal issues with Joey Preston, the county administrator. New to the scene again up here, I am not used to seeing such open pettiness on display. Ms. Wilson is charming and has a disarming way about her that makes it hard to really get angry with her. I believe she is sincere in her beliefs. I appreciated her voicing that Honea Path should get its fair share of accommodations tax revenue.

I move on to Council Chairman Bob Waldrep. Waldrep is a man with a stellar resume and a life of service to the state and Anderson County. I hesitate to criticize a man like him. However, I will offer this; he seemed to play too much the ham to the crowd in the room and drug things out a bit. It reminded me of a book I have been reading recently about Winston Churchill’s last year in his second stint as Prime Minister chairing cabinet meetings that went on for the sake of just going on. But, like Churchill, Waldrep is one helluva man with a lifetime of achievement, so you just give him a pass and realize that he offers nuggets of real wisdom still. Waldrep’s nugget came at the end of the council meeting, when he refused a membership in the Chiquola Club that was apparently offered to him as a county council member. Like any great old politician, Waldrep saved his best moment of the night for last when he plopped down the card offered to him and stressed he wanted to go on record rejecting the offer. Hooray for Mr. Waldrep on that one.

Then there is Michael Thompson, my friend Bill McAbee and Larry Greer. I have respect for all three men, especially my friend. However, I must, in all fairness, note there were a couple of times when Mr. Greer and Bill got a bet testy. In defense of my friend, I will say that he did have moments when he appeared the smartest man in the room.

The biggest surprise of the night came from Ron Wilson. You remember the big controversy Mr. Wilson and I had with one another in the spring. During the first recess of the meeting, Mr. Wilson came directly over to me and extended his hand. We shook hands and both shared a laugh about how two men who had never met before caused such a firestorm. I am not saying I am fan of Mr. Wilson. But, I do respect his courtesy and feel obligated to note it.

I regret that Council Member Gracie Floyd was unable to attend. My mother is a friend of hers and I would have enjoyed chatting with Ms. Floyd.

I did note some other things. There seems to be some sort of issue brewing between the legally incorporated Anderson County Taxpayers Association and the unofficial, self proclaimed “real” Anderson County Taxpayers Association headed by defeated House candidate Dan Harvell. There seems to be a good bit of bitterness there.

There also seems to be a good bit of bitterness on council. Things got a bit testy between some of the members. At least they did not pull out a knife like a member of the Allendale County school board did some years ago.

Overall, I was struck by the sincerity of the council members and public commentators. While there is some bitterness that seems to go beyond politics present, I believe by and large, the differences are sincere. I saw decent people who honestly disagree on how some things should be done. If only those people who disagree could admit the other side, while wrong in their eyes, were decent and sincere, then perhaps some of the tension could be removed from Anderson County government.

But, I admit I am now the new guy again. All I am going to do up here in local government is just watch and listen.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Live from Honea Path

After a frustrating move with all sorts of twists and turns, I am finally live from Honea Path, a town where I spent the formative years of my youth. While I have maintained ties from age 9 to Honea Path and the surrounding area through my parents, my brother and friends, it has been over 18 years since I have lived here full time.

I am looking forward to the small town life after 13 years or so in Columbia. Further, I can not wait get back to commenting on this blog again, this time, live from Honea Path, finally. What fun it is going to be.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Where would Ole Tom stand today?

It is hard for me to believe that it has been almost 17 years since my hero and mentor, Tom Moore left this world. For those of you who did not know ole Tom, he was a hero. He was stricken by polio but that did not stop him from going on in life. He raised a family and had a stellar career for Torrington Industries. Ole Tom taught me how to shoot basketball, how to bait a fishing hook, and how to play football without being what he called a “washwoman” Ole Tom taught me to love NASCAR and I imagine he and Dale Earnhardt have had some interesting conversations.

Ole Tom was a Democrat. He was skeptical of big government and big business. He believed the little man should get a break on health insurance and the like. Ole Tom would have cringed, if not threw up, at the idea of gay marriage. Ole Tom would have never supported anyone who undermined the sitting President in a time of war for political purposes.

You see, Tom Moore was a helluva man. He took the side of the little guy, but had solid values. I have often thought of how ole Tom would be lost in today’s political world.

For we live in times in which the Republicans champion the values of family but lack when it comes to standing up for the little man. The Democrats might claim to stand for the little man, but by and large, they are more worried about the gay man more than the little man. It is a world ole Tom would not understand, and one I have a hard time understanding.

On one hand, ole Tom would be damn proud, as I am of his grandson, and my friend, Marty, for serving his country. On the other hand, ole Tom would have a hard time understanding why basic healthcare costs so much. Ole Tom would never understand why we in America took in so many tainted goods from China.

In short, ole Tom would never understand the political world we live in. It is one in which our Governor wishes our state legislature was a terrorist target. (Yes, I know the Governor tried to mitigate his remark in a column in the State, but it is what is is.) It is one in which both sides seem to be bought and paid for and the little man has to choose between his interests and his core values. There simply no longer is a place for the little man who believes in limited government and limited influence by big business.

I often wonder who among today’s top candidates for President Ole Tom would back. Ole Tom would like the brutal truth told by Ron Paul and the hard stand of Rudy. I think he would dismiss Fred Thompson as some actor. Ole Tom would probably like Mike Huckabee and his stand for a new kind of tax system. On the Democratic side, I could see Tom liking John Edwards as an old mill hill boy like himself, but never, ever, backing Hillary Clinton.

The gay rights issues would leave ole Tom in the lurch. But, I could see him saying that Bush and Cheney dealt with Iraq “like a washwoman would.” I can hear that old man with a limp saying as he threw a football, ”Don’t be a washwoman!” As we go deeper into the issues that confront us, I think of that old man in a backyard so many years ago. Right or wrong, I will not be a washwoman or a piss ant about the issues of the day. I will call them like I see them. But, part of me is thankful ole Tom did not live to see his party become what is today. My hero would be lost in today’s politics.

Yet, he is still my hero. He dealt with adversity most of us will never see, and overcame it. Ole Tom did so without complaint. He raised his family and did his job, and somehow along the way taught his neighbors’ son how to fish, how to shoot the basketball and how to hold on to the football when hit. Ole Tom also taught me how to die with dignity.

What Ole Tom did not teach me was how to live and thrive in a political world so upside down as the one we live in. The honor and the courage Ole Tom spoke of is lost on today’s political operatives in both parties. Now things are about gamesmanship and money, not doing what one thinks is right. Every voice, right or left, seems to be bought and paid for.

That is why it is with pride that I comment without compensation. I might die broke, but I will die telling it like I see it without someone paying me for what I write. Ole Tom’s widow told me once that she has seen some of the things I put out on the internet and that Ole Tom would be proud. That is payment enough for me.

I am going to call them like I see them. You see, I don’t want to walk into the Pearly Gates with some old guy standing there calling me a piss ant or washwoman. Tom, thank you. You still keep me from being a piss ant.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The storm around Rush Limbaugh is disturbing.

Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate take time to condemn comments made by a private citizen on a radio show. The wife of one of the contenders for President of the United States takes time to question the draft deferment and health problems of that same private citizen. The words the private citizen supposedly said are in debate.

But, that does not really matter. Let me repeat it again. Members of the United States House of Representative and the United States Senate take time to condemn the comments of a private citizen. Let that sink in. If anyone wants to know why this Congress has a 22% approval rating and perhaps why the President is in the low 30s, it is because of nonsense like the above.

Regardless of what Limbaugh said or did not say on his radio broadcast, can you imagine the great legislative giants of history in both parties, men such as Clay, Webster, Rayburn, Johnson, Goldwater, Humphrey or Dole wasting their time to attack a private citizen from the floor of their legislative bodies? Why was that time not spent on discussing the war, health care, education, the mortgage industry, and tax reform, anything pertinent to actually governing the nation?

It is disturbing enough that elected officials would actually attack a private commentator and try to stifle his first amendment rights to express himself through backdoor means. It is even more disturbing to think they would waste the people’s time, in this time with so many daunting issues before us, to do so.

The reason why is simple. The Democrats face a dilemma, much as the Republicans did back in the 1990s. The Democratic base wants blood and they want an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. The Democrats in leadership are educated enough in realpolitik to know that is not a real short term possibility. The money flowing into the Democratic Party wants a scalp. So, the Democrats are offering up private citizen Limbaugh, a man with no real political power.

That probably seems like a good idea to some highly paid Democratic consultant who thinks he has convinced his party’s elders how to walk the tightrope. However, such an act is bad for democracy. It is just downright un-American for sitting Congressional leaders to go after a private citizen for his comments. I would think the same if Republican leaders went after Maureen Dowd or Al Franken in a similar way.

Indeed, if you ever read some of my old stuff way back when, I was not a big fan of the Clinton Impeachment. It was also a creation of this new politics of pandering to money and spending a lot of time and public money over much of nothing. At least it can be noted that President Clinton was someone with real power.

This nonsense needs to stop. When sitting public officials and those seeking public office attack private citizens who commentate on matters it should give us all pause. You, like me, might not be a big fan of Rush Limbaugh. But, if public officials use their public power and public time to shut up Mr. Limbaugh, who will they shut up next? Will the Republicans try to shut up Maureen Dowd or Al Franken? Or will some public official try to shut you up when you voice your opinion?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Feeling a little queasy about the Jena 6 protests

By now nearly everyone in the country knows about the six young black men charged with criminal acts surrounding the beating of a white classmate in Jena, Louisiana. A protest against the charges was held in Columbia on Wednesday and a large protest in Jena will be held on Thursday.

I have read countless media reports about the situation. There is no question that there were situations leading up the alleged beating that increased racial tensions in that small Louisiana town. But, I am hard pressed to find any so called “good guys” in the story. I also find it unfortunate that so many civil rights leaders are championing the cause of young men who allegedly acted so violently.

The young white man beaten was beaten until he was unconscious by the alleged attackers. The fight was allegedly six on one. Nothing, and I mean nothing, including the use of the N word justifies that sort of violence. People, including young people, who act so violently, should be held accountable. There is no justification for six young men beating another young man unconscious.

That is what is disturbing about the Jena 6 protests. Perhaps the young men are in a town that has some racism issues. But not one leader of the protests has condemned the violence the young men allegedly used.

One woman on WIS TV stated that “:it could have been” her son among the six accused. If her son was among the accused, she should be ashamed. I would be. No words, and I mean not any words, justify six guys beating a guy unconscious. To protest and suggest otherwise is harmful to young people and reinforces stereotypes about African Americans that racists have.

There is a legal system. If the young black men in question were racially harassed, they should have sought some sort of legal recourse, not violence. Their alleged choice to be violent should not be celebrated or defended.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got more done for civil rights in this country than perhaps any other person. He modeled his acts on the non violent means of Gandhi. There is something to be said for that. When one is not violent, but simply stands up for his rights he has more credibility.

Further, lets reverse the situation. Supposed six white students beat a black student unconscious. The white students would probably not only be charged for their crimes of beating the student, but with hate crimes and lynching.

Equal justice means equal justice. If the young men accused acted with racial hate, charge them with racial hate crimes. I do not know about the lynching laws in Louisiana, but they would come darned near close to them in South Carolina.

But, most importantly, I will state again, there are no words, and I mean no words spoken that justify a horrible beating. Until we as a community and a society as a whole embrace that idea, we will continue to have divisions that are just down right silly and highly paid activists that whip us to false frenzies and lead good intentioned people into defending thugs of any race.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


As the debate about the war in Iraq and against terror wages on, I thought I would take a moment to remember those who gave the supreme sacrifice for our country. In memory of Capt. Eric Bergstrom, USAF, whose funeral taught me how special Arlington is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering the NYFD

May God Rest the souls of the brave firefighters and paramedics and comfort their families. Let us never forget their heroism on that horrible day.

To see the list of those lost go to:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fred Thompson is no Ronald Reagan

First, let me be clear, I like the actor Fred Thompson. I ejoyed the movies he played in and Law and Order television series. Fred Thomspon could end up with the Republican nomination. He could end up President of the United States.

However, Fred Thompson is no Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan, as the flow of documents in his own hand show us, was a political thinker who happened to have a career as an actor. Reagan used his skills as an actor to promote his passion for limited government and to fight communism. It never occurred to Reagan to go back to acting after his speech endorsing Barry Goldwater in 1964. Instead, Reagan hit the speaking tour circuit, served two terms as Governor and hit the circuit again by speaking, writing colunmns, and making radio commentaries. Reagan did not spend his last days as Governor shooting scences for a television series, as Thompson spent his last days in the Senate.

Reagan also did not sit and calculate when the field was weak and he could have a shot. Reagan took on two sitting Presidents, losing to Ford in 1976 for the Republican nomination and beating Carter in 1980 for the White House.

To become anything close to Ronald Reagan in 1980, Fred Thompson appears to have to cram 16 years of thinking and commenting on the issues of the day into a few months. Perhaps he can do it. But, the way I see it, Fred Thompson will either catch fire in the next few weeks, or end up a winner of a few Southern primaries who positions himself nicely for the Vice Presidential nod.

But, his supporters ought to put aside the comparison to Reagan if they want Thompson to become our canidate instead of just theirs. Fred Thompson has to show the ability to lift up people's spirits like Reagan on the stump and show a clear idea of where he wants to go before he can even wish to hold himself in comparison to the gipper.

And, this Thompson fans, comes from a guy thinking about voting for him.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sanford is going to China and other things

The big news out of the Governor's office officially is that the Governor is going to China. The Governor is heading a delegation of South Carolinians going to China to try to win some economic development for the state. The list of those going are the who's who of Sanford supporters, from the business sector and the General Assembly.

I do not have anything against the Governor to China. Indeed, I wish him well. However, his stewardship over the Department of Commerce has become a joke among those in the know. Just ask the people of Greenville County how well Sanford works for economic development as they struggle to keep about a 1000 jobs at the Donaldson Center.

One upstate elected official made it clear to me. "I have never seen a Department of Commerce so political and so against economic development. It is unbelievable how inept they are under Sanford."

Putting that aside, fellow blogger and former Sanford staffer Will Folks on his blog, FITS News, made clear that in 2008 Sanford is going to openly go after General Assembly members who disagree with the Governor. Folks makes like this is some sort of revelation. I hate to break it to him, but politicos in the know are not stupid. The Governor's allies went hard after folks in the General Assembly in 2006 via South Carolinians for Responsible Government. They had mixed results. But, there was more out of state money in the General Assembly races than ever before. And, all of those out of state donors were Sanford allies in that they support his causes or gave to him.

So, to claim that Sanford has never gotten involved in legislative races is down right silly. We ain't stupid, Slic Willie.

Back to the trip to China. The list of travelers tells me what I already know. This Governor and his people are more about scoring political points than getting things done. Getting a good trip for his supporters seems more important than getting some real jobs for South Carolina.

If that was not the case, the Governor would stay home and straighten out the mess that is his Department of Commerce and not get into pissing contests with the House Speaker over making sure Greenville County keeps a big number of high paying jobs.