Friday, October 31, 2008

I learned about the Democrats early in life

As I am in a nostalgic mood about old Halloweens, I thought I would share how I learned at a very early age how the Democrats operated.

In 1976, my parents, as a lot of South Carolinians, were excited about the campaign of Jimmy Carter for President. As a result, as a little kid I got to hear Jimmy Carter speak. One of his promises stuck in my young head. Carter said, if elected, he would see that every man, woman and child in America got $50. As an adult, I realize it was probably just one of those excited things a candidate says when wound up on the campaign trail. But, as a kid, I believed Jimmy Carter.

My parents remember it better than I do, but I do remember looking forward to my $50. I apparently made plans about what I was going to do with the money. I admit I do not remember those plans, but I do remember how let down I was when I never got that $50 from Jimmy Carter. Four years later, I made a poster for Ronald Reagan for my social studies class. I have been a Republican ever since.

My parents often rib me about how I hate to be fooled by someone. I guess it was something I was born with. As a child, I loathed magicians and magic shows. Recently, when retelling the Carter story to me, my mother reminded me how I hated magicians when I was a kid. She reminded me that when I was a child, if a magic show was on tv, I got quickly disgusted. I still do not like magic shows. I can not get why people pay to be tricked. Forgive me David Copperfield and Chris Angel. You can blame Jimmy Carter.

I learned at an early age that Democrats will say and promise anything to get you to support them. However, in the end, they just want to trick you to gain power. Perhaps the only thing more disgusting to me as an adult is how the modern day Republican Party seems unable to communicate to people how most conservative ideals actually make life better for all the people. Both sides now seem to be putting on their own magic shows for some reason.

Obama's magic show might be the biggest of all. Never before have so many people seemed so eager to be fooled. I am not buying it. I am still waiting on my $50 from Jimmy Carter.

Old fashioned halloweens are missed

Just about thirty or so years ago, when I was a little kid, Halloween was something special. I can remember trick or treating in the late seventies and the early eighties and coming back with sacks full of candy and other goodies. My father usually took me and a friend or two trick or treating. We would hit all neighborhoods in town, and come back with huge amounts of treats. My favorite stop was the Pruitt Funeral Home in Honea Path, which at the time was located in a spooky old house. Mrs. Pruitt would have a bag of candy and some sort of trinket to hand out. One trinket that stands out in my memory is a back scratcher shaped like a skeleton arm with Pruitt Funeral Home stamped on it. Trick or treating rivaled Santa and the Easter Bunny. People back then were often kind and eager to put a smile on a child's face with a bit of candy.

A lot has changed over the decades since my childhood. Halloween has become a controversial night. Some adults have handed out tainted candy, something unheard of just 30 years ago. Religious groups have attacked the holiday and some churches urge their members to not allow trick or treating by their children. Others are more relaxed, and simply urge children to dress as biblical figures. Businesses have gotten into the day and offer their own treats to children, of course while promoting their wares to the parents.

Also, since my childhood, those dreaded Halloween horror movies came out. I have always thought those movies were silly and more than once found myself laughing out loud at them. However, those movies, and other changes in the culture shifted Halloween from a fun night for kids into a dark, sinister day on the calender.

It is all so different than my childhood. Now, adults see the day as a night to "party" or to go see some slasher movie. Parents carefully target where they kids trick or treat, not trusting the folks in the community any longer. Some parents even fear the day as it might bring "the devil" into their children's' lives.

I feel sorry for little kids today. Most of them don't know the fun it is to have your dad drop you and friends off at one end of the street and meet you at the other end as you and your friends "trick or treat" people who often were kind and eager to participate in the fun of the night. As fear and mistrust seems to now dominate us more than ever, those days are lost.

I think about that little second grader in his Mr.Spock costume that was me way back when.That little science nerd would live to see advancements that make Star Trek look prophetic, such as a mobile phones and the Internet. However,those advancements came with people having an unspoken mistrust of their neighbors. Instead of mama simply checking the candy and warning you not to eat too much of it, mamas today are afraid that letting their children trick or treat unknown people could lead to disaster.

Those fears are with good reason. The pedophiles, the sickos, the religious freaks,they all seem to now use Halloween to try to get what they want. Forgive my melancholy for a national sense of innocence lost. I just miss those old fashioned Halloweens.

Happy Halloween. Have fun people.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forty four years ago, it was just as bad

For those who think this year's ads are harsh, let me take you back to Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 run. Johnson's direct mail and targeted campaign in 1948 changed US Senate politics. Then, in 1964, Johnson went one step farther than Eisenhower's simple cartoon ads on tv with some of the first and still strongest attack ads. Watch and learn, folks, things have been as bad as you think they are now.

Vote No to Anderson County sales tax increase

If one listens to the proponents of the penny sales tax increase for so called capital projects in Anderson County, one would think the the Lord Jesus himself would be for such a thing. However, like most things in Anderson County politics, the hype covers up how inept the program is.

First, the penny sales tax is an effort to raise money to borrow money. Supposedly, $165 million will be raised with the tax to be able to borrow and spend $800 million on capital projects. It is really wise to raise money to borrow money in these troubled economic times? It is really wise to raise that money to borrow money on the backs of working folks who pay the sales tax?

Then there is the list of projects. Some are roads that need repairing. Other roads do not really need any work done, but they are included anyway for political and business purposes. Add to that millions for gyms, parks and municipal building upgrades.

In other words, Anderson County taxpayers are being told, "if you want to get some money to fix some problems, you better pay up to pay off the politicians who want this and that pet project done."

The Anderson County tax scheme dubs itself as "good cents." Well, frankly, I think that campaign believes the people have "no sense." It is far past time for people to rise up against leaders who hold needed funds for needed projects hostage to get pet projects done. It is a damn outrage!

Voters should vote "NO" in Anderson County to the pork laden tax increase project. Anderson County Council should come back with a trimmed down version that includes only essential road and bridge projects with a pay as you go method.

Like any good citizen, I will gladly pay more sales tax to make sure bridges are safe and roads are safe. But, I refuse to pay one penny for pet pork projects. People in Anderson County should be outraged at what is before them with the so called good cents program. We are essentially being told that if we want a bridge fixed, we have to give money for a community center some town politician and his brother in law contractor want.

It is a despicable practice our local leaders are engaging in. It is a practice that is against the dignity and honor of the good people of Anderson County. Vote No to the penny sales tax increase and vote no more to being pushed around by the politicians.

McCain's Carolina trouble

For weeks it has been known that McCain had trouble in North Carolina. However, when and others placed South Carolina in the "McCain leaning" column instead of "McCain solid," people scratched their heads about what was going on.

Frankly, the situation is not that puzzling. John McCain has never been an overwhelming favorite in South Carolina. Further, there are intangibles in play that add to the situation.

First, let's address John McCain and South Carolina. John McCain won the Republican primary in January with about 33% of the Republican vote. His numbers were actually weaker than his primary loss to George W. Bush in 2000. That means 67% of Republican voters in South Carolina preferred someone other than McCain. Then, consider that Barack Obama got more votes in the Democratic primary than the all the Republicans combined. I know that the fact there was snow in the upstate was a factor. However, the numbers are the numbers.

Among those voters who preferred someone other than McCain are a number of voters who loathe John McCain. Those voters would rather caste a vote for the Libertarian or Constitution party candidates than for McCain. They cite McCain's stance on illegal immigration. While they do not make up large numbers, those voters' disgust for McCain helps to set a tone that dampens excitement for his campaign among Republicans. Even stalwart Republicans I know, who have voted Republican there entire lives, are more excited to vote for Vice President than President. That is not a good thing.

As a result, McCain has hovered around the fifty percent mark in various general election polls. For an incumbent or a well known Presidential candidate in a traditionally Republican state, that is a weak showing.

Then come the intangibles, things John McCain has little to do with.

First, there is Governor Mark Sanford and his brand in South Carolina. As written about earlier on this blog, Sanford and his cronies have blown up the old Campbell Republican coalition with their narrow agenda. It has made more people comfortable with voting for a Democrat.

Then there is the race factor. No one talks about this for fear of being called politically incorrect or worse. But, let's be frank. African Americans are excited about Barack Obama and they will turn out and vote for him. The excitement is understandable. If an Irish American with a name starting with Mc was in position to be President, I would probably be inclined to ignore the issues and vote my heritage. There is a relatively large African American population in the Carolinas, and that population is excited and eager to vote more than ever.

Third, there is the huge number of new voters. It is a wild card. Are those voters made up of people who are scared to death of Obama and want to vote against him or are those voters people who embrace Obama and can't wait to caste their votes for him? Frankly, there is no way of knowing. The new voters are not on any polling lists by the traditional means. However, if history gives us any indication, if such a large amount of new voters turn out to vote, they will make the difference in South Carolina, one way or the other.

The next factor of why McCain has Carolina trouble is money. Being outspent nearly 10 to 1 by Obama, McCain had to take South Carolina, and even his home state of Arizona for granted, to have a chance at competing in the traditional swing states. Obama's huge war chest gave him the chance to blanket markets that shared South Carolina and North Carolina voters with ads.

I know that some will cry out that Obama broke his word by not accepting federal financing and limits as he promised. Well, he did break his word. It is sort of like the fact he sat in a church for 15 years but did not know what his pastor said. Like any politician, Obama finds a way to change what his word and honor means.

That brings us to the last factor in Obama's surprising rise in the Carolinas. Simply put, Obama has redefined Presidential campaigns. While I believe, that like Nixon, Obama will face problems with how he conducted his campaign, one can not ignore just how good at the ground game and at fund raising the Obama campaign is. There is something about Obama that makes his supporters go to the next level. McCain, though I support him, does not have that. Even, if by some electoral miracle, McCain wins on Tuesday, nothing changes the fact that Obama conducted a Presidential campaign that might forever reshape how such campaigns are carried out.

It is perhaps that last factor that has McCain playing defense in the Carolinas. Obama's approach, like Eisenhower's use of the television media in 1952, and LBJ's use of the helicopter and targeted voters in his 1948 senate race in Texas, has changed how people from now on will play the game.

Everyone needs to take a deep breath

South Carolina is abuzz with political rumors. The press has widely reported the South Carolina NAACP's concerns about possible voter intimidation, citing rumors about arrests being made at the polls, wrong polling dates and the like. What is not widely reported is the rumors being spread in Republican circles to deter Republican voters.

One rumor that I have heard from several different sources is the the Obama campaign plans on busing in voters around 4:30 PM on election day, so to clog the polling places. As the rumor goes, when people who work for a living get off work and stop by to vote, the long lines will deter them from voting, presumably for McCain, as they have to pick up the kids from daycare, and go on with their lives.

Another rumor is that postal service employees supporting Obama are returning military absentee ballots to the sender without attempting to deliver. Again, more than one person has relayed this rumor to me and lamented about a service member whose ballot was returned to his county election commission.

Yet another rumor is how if Obama does not win, African Americans will go on strike around the country and try to bring businesses to a halt. I call this the "hey, white guy, vote for Obama or else," rumor.

The above rumors start as any rumors do, by someone who appears credible telling it to someone respected by others. That respected person, out of sincere concern, tells the rumor to help people he cares about. Then, the rumors take off. The passions are brought to a boil.

I encourage everyone, on both sides, to take a deep breath. First, there is absolutely no indication that law enforcement will be arresting people at the polls for just showing up. Further, and perhaps more interesting, there is no indication that Republicans started that rumor. Second, the Obama campaign seems to be hellbent on getting its voters to vote early via the absentee ballot, not show up at the last minute to intimidate potential McCain voters. Third, I can not believe, just for a handful of votes, that postal service employees on a wide scale would risk their jobs and possible criminal charges by fiddling with the mail.

There is one more rumor to note that has some Republican voters worried. There are over 300,000 new voters in South Carolina this year. Rumors are flying that all of those voters will punch the strait ticket democrat button. If they do, of course, it is over for McCain. No Republican has won South Carolina by that margin since Richard Nixon versus George McGovern in 1972. However, registered voters do not result in votes. The number who show up the polls or who are legally able to vote might be much smaller. The doom and gloom rumor seems geared to make Republican voters discouraged and keep them home.

That said, there are some problems McCain has in South Carolina and there are some things Obama has done in this election overall that might forever change how Presidential elections are carried out.

I will address McCain's problems and Obama's game changing campaign in another post. However, again, take a deep breath. Regardless what happens next Tuesday, you will still have to get up and go to work, pay your bills, and go to your kids games or recitals. You will still have to live with and work with your neighbors who might vote differently than you do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Mess Sanford created in the GOP

South Carolina's Republican Party was on the road to complete dominance of the political scene in South Carolina a few years ago. The tactics of Carroll Campbell created a party that brought together people who agreed most of the time. The Campbell approach ignored the views on this or that issue of a Republican member of the General Assembly in order to make sure a member was present who would agree most of the time. The model shifted South Carolina politics from a dominant Democratic state to a solid Republican state.

Enter Mark Sanford and his cronies in 2002. From the start, Governor Sanford and his cronies applied litmus tests to Republican candidates to determine if the candidates were really "true Republicans" or a "RINO" or "Republican in name only." The litmus test most prominent is whether or not a Republican embraced the tuition tax credit scheme for private schools endorsed by the Governor and his benefactor, New York billionaire Howard Rich. It is understandable that Sanford and his have to dance to the tune that that their benefactor plays. However, it is creating a mess.

First, by going all out to take out fellow Republicans in the primaries and ignore them in the general election if they do not pass the litmus test, Sanford and his created a poisonous atmosphere in the General Assembly in which even the good ideas of the Governor can not prevail. Simply put, if graded on accomplishments instead of rhetoric, the Sanford tenure is a complete failure.

Sanford's acts also created some tough races for Republican incumbents where there should not be one. Take for example the closer than expected race the GOP faces in House District 6 in Anderson County. Don Bowen, the Republican candidate, is hook, line and sinker for the Sanford agenda. Bowen upset former Rep. Becky Martin in the 2006 primary, and faced no opposition that fall worth noting. This year, however, Bowen faces Tom Dobbins, who is making his candidacy more relevant than it should be in the district by calling for public education reform and attacking the private school tuition plan. In other words, it is the Governor's litmus test that is making what should be a non-race a race.

Such things are happening all around the state. While I do not believe that the Democrats will take over the General Assembly, they can make some inroads that would otherwise be unavailable due to the Governor's litmus test and his cronies' behavior.

There are a number of "Republican" districts in the General Assembly that are not as solid as they seem. In those districts, people are for tax cuts, gun rights, and against gay marriage and for public education. Those seats have often been held by a respected community member who is socially conservative. Rarely were there any openings for the Democrats to attack. That has changed.

With the Governor and his so hellbent on their litmus tests, the Republicans are left with candidates in those districts who are open to attack on education or who do not have the support of the Governor. Often the latter gets sniping from the Governor's pet bloggers.

It is crystal clear that Governor Sanford and his cronies do not buy into the late Lee Atwater's "big tent" approach to the Republican Party. Sanford and his want true believers on all issues. That's their right. However, perhaps Sanford and his cronies should note that the modern day Libertarians and the Whigs of the mid 1800s had the same approach.

Dos and Don'ts at the polls

Next week, most of you will cast your ballot on election day. Here are some dos and don'ts for you on that day.

First, don't wear your Obama-Biden or McCain-Palin t-shirt or any other political t-shirt to the polls. Don't wear a campaign button or sport a political tattoo. That is considered campaigning, and that can not be done at the ballot box.

Second, do bring one of three forms of identification: a valid South Carolina Driver's License, a valid South Carolina Identification card, or a valid voter registration card.

Third, don't show up at the polls trying to vote for someone else. If your Uncle Joe or Aunt Mary is in the hospital and told you to go vote for them and gave you a registration card, too bad. You can not caste a vote for someone else. If you want to make sure your Uncle Joe's voice is heard at the polls, have him get an absentee ballot and send it in by next Monday.

Fourth, do be cordial and patient with the poll managers. The people who work as poll managers do a thankless job making sure the rules are enforced. They are people who you might run into at work, the high school football game, church, or the grocery store. Do not embarrass yourself by showing out if your vote is challenged. If it is challenged, simply caste the provisional ballot and contact your party or candidate so they can make your case when the local election commission decides on whether or not to accept your ballot.

Fifth, do not let yourself be tricked, intimidated or harassed. You do not have to talk to anyone at a polling place except for a poll manager. They will be easily identified. If someone approaches you in line and wants your personal information, don't give them anything. You don't have to. If you feel intimidated by anyone in line, contact law enforcement or the poll managers. For examples, if some guy comes up and tells you "you better vote for Obama because I know where you live," or " you better vote for McCain because I know who you work for," do not be intimidated. Ignore them, caste your ballot and let the poll managers know what is going on in line. Further, if someone comes up to you and says that you can vote the next day, ignore them. You can't.

Sixth, do be aware of what is going on. If you see things that just seem wrong, like a poll manager urging people who to vote for or other obvious rule breaking, step up for democracy and contact the local election commission with your complaint. You have that right. Do not let some campaign's attorney or poll watcher or even a poll manager deter you from properly and calmly issuing a complaint.

Seventh, do go vote.

Why is playing by the rules intimidating?

If one follows politics at all, one knows there are real concerns about voter registration fraud. However, those on the left have been quick to attack simple things like verifying a new registrants address or asking for a form of identification at the polls as "intimidating."

Those liberal pundits contend that certain voters, who often vote for Democratic candidates, can be deterred from casting their votes if they are asked to play by the rules. It is insulting to the voters in question and to the election system.

Competition at any level, be it sports, business or politics, can be fierce. A civilized society agrees upon rules to compete by. The rules prevent chaos and even violence.

As illustrated by my various postings, I am a big fan of football, basketball, and more recently, marching band competitions. In those endeavors, competitors compete by the rules agreed upon. While a coach might argue a call by an official here or there, there is never any call for throwing the rules aside for one competitor. if we can apply such standards to sporting events, why can't we apply them to elections?

Since it is football season, I will offer a football analogy. Suppose Obama and McCain were names of two football teams about to square off. The Obama team, backed by a booster club war chest ten times that of McCain, would have its coaches call for a suspension of some rules for its players because some the Obama players just were not used to playing football by the rules. It would be unfair and intimidating to the Obama players to be made to play by the rules. A couple of Obama's players would make a press appearance stating that they would just not show up to play if they could not hold or block in the back. The Obama coaches would demand that the McCain team be held accountable for every penalty.

When the McCain team's coaches respond by speaking about protecting the integrity of the game, sports writers would be quick to label the McCain staff as insensitive or racist. The sports writers would bemoan how those poor Obama players were not used to rules and how unfair it would be make them play by the rules.

What would result, as any sports fan knows. is chaos and ill will. If the officials decided to make both teams play by the rules, win or lose the Obama team's fans would be irate. If the rules were suspended for some Obama players, the McCain team would be irate. Regardless who won the game, by however many points, there would be be a contingent of fans who claimed the winner cheated. The achievement on the field would be tainted. That punishes everyone involved.

If such a football game occurred in the above circumstances, even at the small time level, there would be calls to investigate for the integrity of the game. It is ironic that we as a people demand more integrity from our sporting events than we do the elections that shape our lives for years to come.

There have been times when breaking the rules caught up with a candidate. Richard Nixon is the most well known example. His landslide victory in 1972 had been tainted by a hint of rules breaking with the Watergate scandal. Less than two years later, Nixon, at one time one of the most popular Presidents of the United States in history, was forced to resign.

However, Nixon is the exception that proves the rule in modern American politics. Candidates on both sides skirt fund raising laws, push election laws to the brink of breaking and then wonder why so many people are turned off by politics. Add to that the nonsense on the Left this year that it is intimidating for people to vote by the rules, and you quickly see why the world views democracy in America with such a skeptical eye, regardless who wins at the polls.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Beware the voter educator

It is that time of year again. Time when some really creepy people come out and try to scare you to death. No, I am not talking about Halloween. I am talking about so called "voter educators."

As the days before an election wind down, the voter educators show themselves strongly. Often little more than smart alack new college graduates, the voter educators commit themselves to voter education projects meant on twisting voters point of views in favor of their candidates.

It takes a lot of arrogance. Those running so called voter education efforts come in and urge people to ignore their lifetime of experience in making choices at the polls and instead buy into propaganda. Some of the efforts will be made to make you think a candidate is downright evil. Other efforts, especially this year, dwell on a string of cliches that mean nothing, such as saying. "join us in making a change that is different," or "move forward to the future."

Well, first, change is different. There is no change that is not different, or it would not be change. Further, one can not move forward to anything but the future. It is simply impossible to move forward into the past. It is sort of like saying, "if the suns comes up, it is a new day." Who can argue with such? But, does it say anything of substance that matters? No.

Voter education efforts are geared at getting otherwise rational people to check their reason at the voting booth to act irrational and upon emotion. The smart alack politicos running such voter education efforts arrogantly believe that people are stupid and can be easily manipulated into to voting for one candidate or another based upon some pseudo education effort that is nothing more than mass propaganda.

However, people fall for the political propaganda more than they do in any other aspect of life. Suppose a used car salesman pitched the following to someone. "Sure, the car I want you buy has an engine that does not run. However, think of the change you will be making for the future in that you will own a car that does not use fuel and does not add to pollution. You will be part of the hopeful change we need in that you will have a car that does not use fuel." Chance are, if one was rational, one would tell that salesman where to place that car without a working engine.

However, in politics, people seem to eagerly embrace such nonsense. If the car sales business were ran like politics, people would answer the salesman with "Of course I will buy the car without the working engine, because I hope for the change we need, and the change I can make with this car will give me hope. "

It is frankly amazing to me how stupid a good many voters get come election time. It is amazing how easily they are manipulated by propaganda from both sides. So called voter education projects just seem to dumb down the voters even more. As a result, it seems the candidates who say things that mean nothing well end up winning elections. And, then we as a people wonder why those we elect seem inept in addressing problems.

Perhaps we, the people, are the problem. We need to be leery of so called "voter educators" and empty words that sound good from candidates. We need to use our own brains and life experiences to make rational choices at the polls. Why shouldn't we at the least apply the same reasoning capabilities to our leaders who govern over us and take a chunk of our incomes that we do the guy trying to sell us a car?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama has always been for redistribution of wealth

Listen to this interview with Obama back in 2001. He uses code words for socialism as he expresses his disappointment with how our constitution constrains so called economic justice.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Congratulations to the Dutch Fork Silver Spirit Band

Congratulations to the Dutch Fork High school Silver Spirit band for winning the overall championship of the Warrior Invitational held Saturday at West-Oak High School in Westminster, South Carolina.

The invitational was a good one, with some talented bands. South Mecklenburg's band gave a great show.

However, the evening belonged to Dutch Fork. Congratulations to the Silver Foxes and best of luck with the state competition next Saturday in Orangeburg.

For those of you who have never attended a high school marching band competition, find time one day to do so. It is great, family friendly entertainment. At such events, you will find talented young musicians who work hard and compete with the zeal of athletes.

High School Friday Nights: Southside Christian at Ware Shoals

First, I want to thank Ware Shoals head football coach Jeff Murdock for allowing Voting under the Influence pre game locker room access and sideline access during the game. While most media sources pay attention to the big schools and the football that they play, which is admittedly outstanding in South Carolina, there is plenty of action and talent at the small school level. Further, the games often seem more interesting at the A or AA level because communities identify so much with the coaches and players on the field.

Ware Shoals is a perfect example of that identification of the community with the players and coaches. On a damp, dreary, chilly night, the home crowd turnout was not bad for a game against a weaker opponent. Those fans were not disappointed.

Before the game in the locker room, Coach Murdock warned his team against looking ahead to the next game instead of concentrating on Southside Christian. The hornets then took the field with one the more interesting entrances in all of high school football. (A side note, one of the lines posted in the locker/weight room is "I can't is not spoken here." )

The simple weight room/locker room of Ware Shoals is on the second floor of an old rough stone building facing Tommy Davis Field. The building has a second floor balcony that wraps around it to the stairs leading to the field. With music playing, the players exit the rear door to the balcony and walk the length of the balcony around to the stairs as a smoke machine does its job. I had the chance to make the walk behind the team as they walked around the balcony. The Ware Shoals entrance has that element of motivation, such as with Clemson's hill, that comes with looking down on your opponent as you prepare to meet them. It is one of those gems of tradition that often can be found at small high schools.

Once Ware Shoals took the field, Coach Murdock and his staff did not have to worry long about whether or not the Hornets were worried about their next game. The Hornets had Southside Christian on their minds. The Hornets defense dominated the Sabres offense as the Hornets raced to a 28-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Two of the touchdowns scored by the Hornets were runs of 52 and 54 yards by Lance Richardson. The Hornets went up 35-0 about a minute or so into the second quarter, essentially ending the competitive game. From that point forward, the Hornets played their reserves and the game became a teaching experience for the coaches. The end result was 48-7. To Ware Shoals's credit, they made an effort to not embarrass the Southside Christian kids.

Southside Christian went to 0-9 on the season, but to the credit of their coaches and players, they played motivated even while completely out of the game. Some of their fans have to be noted as well. It seems some of them found a way to get a tailgating tent into the game and place it in the visitors stands to stay dry under. In my years of covering high school football back in the 1990s and during this year's VUI coverage, I have never seen anything like that.

Let's take a look at the overall picture. As they were on the road, the Ware Shoals fans are well behaved. You can take your kids to a game without worry. The concession stand is good, with hot dogs that rival Dixie's and real bottled soft drinks, not flat drinks poured over melting ice in paper cups. The parking is not bad, but if it is a big game and you show up just before kickoff, be prepared to walk a bit as the stadium sits behind Ware Shoals High School. Also be prepared to walk down two flights of stairs to the stadium. Those of you, who like me, have a bum knee, need to wear your knee brace or support bandage.

Once you get into the stadium, you will see a group of competitive and motivated young people led by a seemingly no-nonsense coaching staff dedicated to executing the old school wing-t offense to perfection and coupling it with a strong defense. In other words, you will get your $6 worth if you are looking for old fashioned football played in a small town setting.

Next week, VUI will be back in Ware Shoals for a Halloween night match up between Ware Shoals and Ninety Six for the conference championship. The next week, November 7th, VUI plans to be at Irmo for the AAAA traditional rivalry match up against Dutch Fork.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Welcome to lying college kid politics

Emotions this political year are running high, perhaps too high. It seems some are willing to take their politics the level of "gangsta." To Obama's credit, his campaign condemned this act and wished the young girl well. However, if you fan the flames and encourage the high emotions, this is what you get.


Absentee ballots are up, but are they all legal?

Various news reports are indicating that absentee voting in South Carolina is going to be at record levels. New voter registration was at record levels as well. On the surface, that might sound good for democracy in the Palmetto State.

However, there are things going on that are worrisome. Many of the new registrations were filed in a window in which elections commissions will not have enough time to verify their legality. Most counties simply do not have the resources to verify the voters in time. Absentee ballots cast only add to the verification problem.

Some might scoff at that notion, others might not care. But, let us be clear. Each and every illegal vote cast is a wanton violation of the civil rights of legal voters. The massive amount of money and voter registration fraud introduced into our system this year is nothing to celebrate or be hopeful about. Indeed, it cheapens our nation and gives us a Third World feel. Regardless who wins at the polls, we should all, left and right, commit ourselves to make sure those who violated our election and campaign financing laws are prosecuted for their crimes against the civil rights of law abiding citizens.

The other big miss by the media: Palin's troopergate

Much ado is being made about the "investigation" made by the factions who loathe Governor Sarah Palin's reforms in Alaska into her role in firing the state's Public Safety director. At the heart of the matter is a story that the media misses, I suppose, due to their Obama blindness, or perhaps again, soft sexism.

The trooper at the heart of the questions was Palin's ex brother in law. Of course, that does make one skeptical. However, when you look at the serious nature of the allegations against that trooper from different sources: abuse of a child, abuse of a spouse, drinking in a patrol car, shooting an animal out of season with a state owned firearm, etc, it seems any Governor or any reporter worth two bits would ask questions. Frankly, isn't it against the very espoused values of the "progressive" media that they go after the Governor who asked the questions and not the operation that kept such a trooper in place?

One can wager that if Virginia Governor Tim Kaine asked similar questions about a trooper with similar allegations, the Democratic Governor would be hailed as a reformer and a hero by the "progressive" media.

Frankly, a Governor of either party should be lauded for finding out why on the edge cops are kept on the job. It is for the good of us all. I don't know about all you "progressive" readers out there, but as for as I am concerned, I really don't want to deal with a state trooper who has been drinking and has anger issues at a traffic stop. I just can not see what is so wrong with any Governor asking questions about any state trooper with such allegations against him.

Normally, the "progessive" media would not either. But, they have sold their souls to attack Governor Palin anyway that they can, even at the cost of defending someone they would normally go after. It is a big miss by the media by their traditional standards, and it has them defending an allegedly rogue cop.

I bet Mark Furhman wishes he had worked in Alaska and been married to Sarah Palin's sister at some point in his life.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Media's treatment of Palin and Clinton show women still are stereotyped

Today's media leaders seem to beam with pride at how progressive they are in standing up and reporting more positively on a mixed race candidate, Barack Obama, then a white candidate, John McCain. However the treatment of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton show that the media in the United States has a long way to go when to comes to true fairness.

It started with the media's fixation on Hillary Clinton's pantsuits. At the height of the Democratic Primary, Clinton's outfits and hairstyle actually made mainstream media news stories. No one wrote a story about Obama's choice of ties.

Now in the fall election, the media and the pundit and even comedian groups seem to dwell on Palin's looks and her clothes. At first, there were a few remarks and articles about how Palin's clothes come from J.C. Penney's. (As if something was wrong with that.) Now, that the Republican Party funded a clothing overhaul for the Governor and her family, that dominates the news about her campaign. Can you imagine someone asking Obama or Biden where they got their suits from and who paid for them or picked them out? How about the fact Jay Leno wears suits given to him for promotional purposes?

If the question was asked about the clothing a male public figure wears, most people go "who cares?" including members of the media. So, why do they care so much about what a woman wears?

The election season shows us that on some level, prejudice based upon race is on its way out of the mainstream culture for good. However, there is a soft sexism still present, especially with those who tout themselves as "progressive." Indeed, when a smart, conservative, attractive woman comes along on the national scene, it seems all the "progressives" can do is dwell on how good she looks and what she is wearing. Of course, they have to allude to her being a bubble head as well for good measure.

It is truly ironic that the very "progressives" who would cry havoc if they learned a woman applying for a job was subjected to a potential employer who emphasized the woman's looks and outfits and mocked her intellect, do the same with Sarah Palin. Of course, they did the same with Hillary Clinton on lesser scale, so no one should be surprised.

American women still have a long way to go before they will be taken seriously by the progressive media. The treatment of the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin make that clear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Questions about Preston need to be settled

Once again, Anderson County Council had Joey Preston be one of its biggest news makers of its meeting. At issue was the letter mentioned before on this website and in the Independent Mail newspaper. The people of Anderson County have endured the saga for years. Pro-Preston people clash with anti-Preston people on issues that do not really matter to the people who live and work and make their lives in Anderson County.

A very new county council is coming in January, one in which it appears that Mr. Preston is not eager to work with. So be it. Those type of situations occur often in business and government. Just recently, Clemson University had a similar situation. Former football coach Tommy Bowden had created a real divide in the Clemson community. While I will shed no tears for Mr. Bowden, Clemson did do the right thing by just paying the man and sending him on his way. It is difficult to find another way out of such a situation for any organization that has such a divisive and prominent figure in its midst.

That is what Anderson County government is facing now. Joey Preston did some good things for Anderson County. However, along the way, Preston had some major problems. Those problems formed a real divide in the county.

With a fresh council coming in come January, now is the time to settle the Preston question. For the public good, no great amounts of money should be spent trying to"get" Preston and the like. Indeed, not one hour or minute of the new council's time should be spent on Joey Preston. Instead, it is time for the county to work on a settlement of Preston's contract, work out a payment schedule, and send the man on his way. While it is certainly time for a change in the Adminstrator's office, Anderson County elected a council that made a deal with Preston. It is the right and honorable thing to settle and compensate the man upon an exit from his duties prior to the contract's expiration.

Contrary to what some in the extreme anti-Preston crowd might contend, I do not call for such a settlement because I support Preston's policies or like him. Frankly, I am definitely no fan of Joey Preston. However, I am a big fan of the people of Anderson County. The people of Anderson County deserve the chance to settle the Preston question and move on. The best way, and the most professional way to do that is to work out an exit deal with Preston so the Anderson County Council can get to the business of the people of Anderson County. Further, working out an exit deal with Preston will show others who contract with Anderson County that Anderson County has the honor of sensibly brokering a deal if a contract does not work out before its expiration.

I realize that emotions run high on both sides of the Preston question. After living away from Anderson County for 14 years, I will also admit my frank surprise at how emotions, not logic, not idealism, seem to rule county government politics. It is time for that emotion to be checked. It is time for both sides of the question to broker an honorable exit for Mr. Preston. It is the right thing for Anderson County. It is the right thing for Cindy Wilson and her crowd. It is the right thing for Joey Preston. The new question is, of course, will the factions have the courage and honor to do what is right for the people of Anderson County?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New CQ ratings have Democrats abuzz

The Congressional Quarterly recently published its revised analysis of United States House of Representative races. If their analysis is accurate, it could be a long night for Republicans around the nation.

South Carolina saw two races shift. Henry Brown in District One found his "Republican favored" status downgraded to "leaning Republican." Joe Wilson found his "solid Republican" status downgraded to "Republican favored."

Such shifts have South Carolina Democrats abuzz. However, how excited should the Democrats be and how worried should the Republicans be? Let's break it down.

First, this is a good year for the Democrats. The financial crisis, and the pork laden bailout plan has given the Democrats new found ammunition against Republican incumbents. There is little doubt about that. Add to that the excitement and expected high voter turnout in the African American community for Obama and things are a bit troublling or exciting, depending upon your point of view. However, is that enough to knock off Brown and Wilson?

Let's start with Joe Wilson in the Second. Wilson is running against a respectable opponent, his first in a General Election. Rob Miller is a Iraq veteran who comes from the opposite base of the district than Wilson. Further, Miller has raised enough money in which ignoring him would be dangerous.

Miller's problem is Wilson is not ignoring him. Wilson is campaigning hard and has a nice financial war chest in which to do so. Further, having worked for Wilson years ago, I can attest to the fact that Wilson has the constituent service touch that is often the difference for a Republican incumbent in a Democratic year. Having learned from the late Floyd Spence, who held the seat prior to Wilson, Wilson hits every festival, parade and the like. Wilson shakes every hand in the cafe he has lunch in, makes sure constituent calls are returned and knows the details of ground campaigning better than any other major Republican official in South Carolina today. Wilson does not seem to have ambitions for the statewide office. He seems content and dedicated to serving as the Congressman from the Second Congressional District. That sort of content and dedication often comes through to voters. As a result voters will often vote for an incumbent that might disagree on a good many issues with. In South Carolina, I call it the "Fritz Hollings factor." And, that factor is hard to beat. Look for Wilson to win, though likely by the closest margin he has won the district by so far.

Henry Brown's situation in the First is bit more troubling for Republicans. Brown has not worked his district to the extent that Wilson has worked his. Further, I believe the Brown forces were caught a bit off guard by the unexpectedly strong campaign of Linda Ketner. Ketner was first dismissed by Republican consultants and bloggers alike as a liberal gay rights activist. However, she has run a surprisingly strong campaign.

There are things to hit Ketner hard about, such as a her out of state fund raising, her support from Emily's list and her far left social points of view. However, the out of state money issue is harder to stick because of all the hubbub about Howard Rich and his friends from New York and Florida funding Republican candidates in South Carolina. Add to that Brown's run ins with the Bush Administration regarding matters pertaining to Brown's personal property.

The demographics of the First also need to be considered. A good many voters in the district are transplants from other parts of the country. Those transplants seem to be more independent in their election decisions. More of then than any other group in South Carolina are apt to vote for McCain and Ketner.

Henry Brown does have an ace in the hole, so to speak, named Rod Shealy. While some might want to count Shealy and his operation out due to Shealy's recent health problems, I do not. Shealy is another one of those old soldiers who likes to wait in the tall grass and pounce when it counts the most. In the next couple of weeks, watch for that. That will likely be the difference and deliver Brown a fifth term. Hopefully, Brown will win and this will be a wakeup call to his people. The situation as it is should never have happened, even with the Obama factor in a Democratic year. If Ketner somehow wins, it will be a signal that the South Carolina Republican Party has taken a big step backwards.

In short, Wilson will win. Brown should win. We Republicans can no longer take anything for granted in South Carolina.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

General Powell

It was a mild surpise to people when former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President. There are certainly a number of Republicans who are angry at Powell's move. The anger is understandable. It was Republican President Ronald Reagan who made Powell his National Security Adviser. It was Republican President George H.W. Bush who plucked Powell from an obscure command to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to Powell's own book, it was Democrat Bill Clinton and his staff that made Powell eager to retire his post. It was President George W. Bush who made Powell Secretary of State.

That said, I will not be joining those Republicans who blast Powell for his endorsement. I am disappointed, but I understand. It is a prime example of what has went wrong in the Republican Party in recent years and how it forgot the basic lessons of how to treat people.

Throughout history, including our own American Revolution, personal insults and mistreatment have led to big events as much as policy differences. I believe that is the case with Powell.

General Powell is one of the great geopolitical minds of our time. He helped engineer the closing of Reagan's Cold War victory over the Soviets and was the mastermind behind the success of Desert Storm. Men such as General Powell do not deal well with people who use them for their credibility while all but ignoring their input on policy.

The Bush Administration did just that to Powell. As Secretary of State, Powell's credibility and name were used as it was needed, but his input was ignored. Foreign policy was ran around him at the end of his tenure. Though I might not agree with some conclusions made by General Powell, one can not expect to use a great man's name, all but ignore his input, and then expect him to remain an ally. Men and women of any substance simply won't be led around like that.

It is the stark failure of many of today's Republican operatives. They don't seem to realize that how one treats people in politics matters just as much as uniformed conformity to ideology and campaign contributions.

As a result, an old soldier waited in the tall grass for the right time to pounce. He pounced this morning, doing the most damage politically he could do without directly insulting George H.W. Bush, one of the men Powell admires the most.

It is a big lesson for the current GOP operation. Perhaps we as Republicans should, while not compromising our core principles, spend more time reading books on how to win friends and influence people, instead of patronizing memos from some poly sci grad telling us how to "get" this or that person.

I realize that is not what Republicans want to hear, but it is, as George Jones once sang, "The Cold Hard Truth."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Should the SC GOP be worried

Ten years ago, the video poker machine industry created a political fire storm that swept the state of South Carolina, giving Democrats unexpected victories. Big gambling money created at huge get out the vote effort for South Carolina Democrats and as such, South Carolina Democrats enjoyed their best election year in the past 20 years.

Should we expect the same in 2008? Frankly, the jury is still out on that question, but one thing is for sure, Republican candidates had better have their own get out the vote efforts in high gear.

Voter registration has substantially increased. Further, absentee voting has reportedly substantially increased. Though Obama forces are not concentrating on South Carolina, activists still registered a large number of voters. Such a large number that is unlikely that the validity of those voters can be verified before the election. Further, even in South Carolina, there is an angst against the Republican Party that might translate into votes for the Democrats.

So, yes, the SC GOP and its candidates should be worried and take nothing for granted. Not since the video poker mess of ten years ago has the climate seemed so favorable for the Democrats. GOP candidates have to not only be sure to get out their voters, but they had better be prepared to make sure the rules of election day are followed.

Between now and Election Day the crackerjack staff of Voting under the Influence will outline the rules and make sure everyone knows how to vote legally and how to legally challenge an improper vote.

Preston's October Surprise

Anderson County Administrator Joey Preston is again the hot topic of local Anderson County politics. While we at VUI have openly disagreed with the policies of Mr. Preston and the involvement of his supporters in the political process, we have defended his family against personal attacks. Frankly, there is probably not one administrator at the city or county level in the Southeast who gets as much attention as Joey Preston.

Just as his name was out of the news for a while, Preston issues his own version of an October surprise. His attorneys wrote a letter to the council, a letter that can be found on the Anderson Independent Mail's website at

People in Anderson County are scratching their heads over what the letter means. Did Preston resign? Did he say the county council is responsible for the rest of his contract? Is he going to sue the county? Will the county sue him? Who knows?

One thing that strikes me about the Preston letter is how it refers to how future acts by politicians not even officially elected yet will hamper his duties. While Preston allies did take a political beating in the June primaries, it is hardly automatic that the new council will act against him so. Just four years ago, Micheal Thompson and Bill McAbee went on to county council as skeptics of Preston's leadership. However, they ended up as allies of his. It is simply not logical to suppose that someone who has yet to be legally elected will act in one way or another, especially if you are a government official doing a solid job you can prove your worth about.

There is also another way the Preston letter comes across. Suppose some Bush appointee wrote a letter that stated that since it appears Obama will win the White House, come January 20th, 2009, that Bush appointee will not be able to do his job. To the public it would seem silly.

However, the Preston letter is not about the public or common sense. It is a legal maneuver. One that might be premature. But, it smacks as an opening salvo of a legal battle.

That said, there is another legal and ethical issue. The memo to the council was marked confidential. Further, all county personnel matters are supposed to be confidential. At least one council member leaked this memo to the press. Unless Preston or his legal team leaked the memo, (which I highly doubt), some member of council could face problems of his or her own.

As we at VUI have poked at Preston over his policies and the like, we defended his family, and on this very narrow point, we defend his right to privacy in his personnel dealings. Since the memo was made very public by the newspaper, we offered our take on what it meant. However, the memo should have never been made public at this point.

Since it has been made public, the chances of a quiet, sensible agreement to resolve the matter are far less likely. Par for the course in Anderson politics.

Friday, October 17, 2008

For the record: we will still be here

I know that there are rumors about how so many blogs will be gone come election day. This one will not be one of those blogs. The crackerjack staff of Voting under the Influence will remain and will even offer things like tee shirts promoting the site between now and Christmas. We at VUI are here for the long haul. Our crackerjack staff members are already working on posts about life in SC without politics and about the 2010 state elections. Things like the VUI church sign project will be kicked in to a higher gear after election day, along with our Friday night high school football reports, which will hit high gear after the election as the state playoffs take form.

In other words, we are here to stay. Sure, some bloggers are paid to blog. Other bloggers have an narrow agenda tied to a campaign. We don't. We are here giving our views on life and politics in South Carolina for the long haul. And, yes, that includes being around after Mark Sanford leaves office in January of 2011. Tis the beauty of being broke and honest. It is incredible how honest one can be when he is not getting paid to comment by a political faction. The crackerjack staff of Voting under the Influence all realize that really scares and/or irritates some people. We lie awake at night worried sick over how upset those people are that we call it like we see it, with no money being paid to us. :)

Thanks for reading and commenting, we ain't going nowhere, as the old saying goes.

The lost issue of this year's campaign

With the media's focus on the economic crisis, one huge factor of American life has been left out of the debate. That factor is the war on terrorism we are in engaged in. While Obama and the Democrats, and frankly even McCain, pounce upon the record of the President of the United States, I offer this scene from seven years ago, when President Bush stood tall in the saddle. I also note, like him or not, there has not been a terrorist attack on American soil since President Bush made war on terror. It is the issue no one seems to want to talk about. It is politically incorrect to give Bush credit. But, to be honest, Bush did what he said he would do in regards to terror and one day it will be noted to his credit.

Dramatically cut or eliminate capital gains and small business taxes and save the economy

During the past few weeks as the conversation in America focused on the financial crisis hitting Wall Street, news reports would show some guy on the street saying, “who cares about those (pick your favorite word: fat cats, rich bums, sorry bastards, ) on Wall Street, what does that have to do with us on Main Street?”

Now, we in South Carolina are finding out. BMW, one the strongest economic engines in South Carolina, announced plans to layoff 733 temporary workers. BMW cites a nearly 30 percent drop in sales recently. When credit dries up from one bank to another, credit dries up from the bank to the potential auto buyer. Without credit, the car does not get purchased and the people who would normally make the car are laid off. Then, those laid off have limited money and almost certainly can not get credit. They do not buy things, which leads to more people being laid off and not buying things. Eventually, the economy hits a deep recession or depression.

It is not just businesses that are hurting, state government is hurting. While I know for some that might be a thrill to hear, it is a sign of how bad things are. An estimated $210 million of cuts need to be made to the state budget to balance it mid-year. The money simply is not coming in.

I, like many of you, get upset with wasteful spending and I think the bulk of the Department of Commerce’s budget, for example, is just a waste. But, even if the Department of Commerce was eliminated, it would not make a big dent in the $210 million shortfall. A good many of the dreaded earmarks would not add up to a big dent.

A chunk of education money comes directly from sales tax revenue. The General Assembly does to get to determine that amount of money. It goes directly to education. That said that revenue has been tens of millions of dollars lower than expected. In other words, education has taken a big cut already, and that is one of the reasons the General Assembly seems determined not to cut it more.

The Department of Transportation gets the bulk of its funding from the gasoline tax. The gasoline tax is at 13 cents per gallon, regardless the price of the gasoline. Demand for gallons of gasoline is down, and we went through about a month with supplies extraordinarily low. That resulted in far less per gallon sales and gasoline tax revenues. With some of the most dangerous roads and bridges needing attention, the DOT has taken a hit before the General Assembly passes on more cuts. Further, spending less on projects means less jobs created in the state.

It is the perfect economic storm playing out. One that has would be borrowers such as the University of South Carolina unable to borrow money to build new dorms at its Spartanburg campus. That, of course, results in upstate jobs building those dorms not being created.

How do we get out of this mess? It will not be easy. The State of South Carolina can not print money like the federal government, and that would be a mistake at any rate, resulting in an indirect tax via inflation. What can be done immediately by Congress and the various state legislatures around the nation is the elimination of the capital gains tax. At the very least the capital gains tax should be lower than the lowest income tax rate. That will give people with money an incentive to invest money. Further, business taxes on small businesses should be dramatically cut or eliminated.

I realize some readers will scream out loud that those measures would cut government revenues. Perhaps it would in the very short term. However, if major corporations got a boost of capital from people eager to invest tax free and small businesses were allowed to hang on to their capital instead of giving it to the governments they are under, then payrolls could be met. Those met payrolls would result in people making money and spending the money, thus increasing the income tax and consumption tax revenues. As people made and spent more, more jobs would be created, resulting in more income and spending and more revenues coming in to the governments.

I realize my prescription for the economy is not politically sexy. It will not make anyone swoon at a rally. It is not all that needs to be done. But, it would be a good start. There are 733 people in South Carolina who can tell you doing the things to get the American economic engine back up and running are needed by Main Street.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain tells the truth, but Obama scores

The debate on Wednesday night was finally a debate. John McCain turned in his most inspired performance of the year, but it might not matter. John McCain was more factual and in the old debate scoring of a college debate, the clear winner. However, that will not matter.

Obama got to the majority of Americans who are desperate for a democratic victory or who get caught up in charisma. I know that is harsh and will be criticized by some. But, let's be honest. A country that loves following the trials and tribulations of the likes of Brittany Spears and watches American Idol just will not listen to the old guy who reminds them of their father or grandfather telling them life truths. Instead, they will flock to the good looking, smooth talking young guy who can speak for minutes on end and say nothing.

Never mind that McCain is a war hero. Never mind that he speaks the truth. McCain is not cool. Obama is. To modern day America, that is what matters. And, we wonder why we are in trouble at home and abroad. McCain is from the era of Gary Cooper and John Wayne. Obama is from the Brittany Spears era. In that latter, you can say nothing, but if you say it well, you win.

McCain missed some chances to hit Obama even harder on the ACORN scandal and how it tramples the rights of legal voters. But, that really does not matter in the big scheme of things. It is hip to be for Obama. The cliche intellectuals and those who aspire to join them in the pop culture don't care about the facts. They are too busy falling all over themselves swooning over Obama and his charisma about nothing.

It has to be frustrating for McCain. For, like Gary Cooper in High Noon, he showed up at the showdown and fired his bullets of truth. The difference is today that the majority of Americans seemed not to care how those bullets landed. That is the stark reality of this election and the state of the American nation. We are on the precipice of socialism and the Republican party has no clear and "hip" vision to counter it.

Simply put, John McCain showed himself Wednesday night as the straight talking hero he is. The problem is it appears that the majority of Americans don't care either about straight talkers or heroes. At one point, I actually hoped John McCain would have walked off the stage and said, " You can not debate a man who makes up things as he goes." That is about the only way to combat the smooth, say anything approach of the the Chicago street hustler turned President-elect in waiting.

Chances are, Obama will be the next President of the United States. Reality is reality. The numbers are the numbers. But, such tells us where our nation is headed. When a glib guy who makes it up as he goes along, and says nothing is rewarded and a proven hero to the country who tells it like it is is shown the door politically, it tells us where we are as a country. We seem to be choosing the next American idol, not a President.

As such, we will likely end up reaping the seeds we are sowing with our ignorance and pop culture mentality. During the next four years, we will likely have a President who says and thinks nothing, but says nothing well. Perhaps the European press is correct, this could be the beginning of the end of American power. How interesting that the son of a third world diplomat will usher in the waning days of American influence and power.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A bizarre twist to the ACORN mess

A television station reporter in Ohio found himself flashed by a transvestite. It seems a man named Darnell Nash registered also as Santina Gibbs. Watch the video and see the nuttiness of these people.

The video also gives more insight to the mess ACORN has made out of our system of voting. After the election, I believe the media will pounce on Obama over stories like this.

Here is the link

Obama's road to a damaged Presidency

As much as I was involved in South Carolina political campaigns during the 1990s, it was not until I met with an individual along the coast in 2004 that I really understood some of the things going on with our elections. It was a couple of weeks from Election Day, and after our business concluded, the conversation shifted to the weather and the election. I was told point blank the words, “I have already mailed in my absentee ballots for Kerry both here in South Carolina and my home state of Ohio.” There was no hint of guilt or joking. It was a matter of fact statement.

Since then, I have thought often about how easy it is for someone to vote in more than one state for President. Some states, such as North Carolina, have the insane idea of registering and voting on the same day in the days before an election. Other states simply have lax requirements for voters when it comes to absentee ballots. Such low standards for voting are in place in order to make it easy for people to vote. That is a noble idea. However, what appears to happening at an alarming rate is that the noble idea of making voting easy is being exploited by those wishing to commit voter fraud.

Indeed, voter eligibility is the ugly part of politics. There is credible evidence that Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris of Florida purged too many names from the voter rolls in the months leading to the 2000 election. Now, in states such as Ohio, it appears that Democratic officials charged with elections are all but ignoring the apparent massive voter fraud in favor of their candidate.

The United States Court of Appeals, however, is trying to bring some sense of honesty to the process in Ohio, by ordering Ohio’s Secretary of State to provide a mechanism for verifying those who vote in Ohio are qualified to vote in Ohio.

What puzzles me is that so called champions of freedoms, such as the liberal activist group ACORN, are livid about such verification. What is it that drives such people, who otherwise love rules and laws, to want to throw rules and laws out when it comes to voting? Why are they so eager to ignore how illegal voters trample the rights of legal voters?

Add to the voting problem the amount of small donations Obama gets that have a hard time being verified and you get a situation in which Obama, if elected, will have the legitimacy of his Presidency questioned. By being so stubborn in not condemning election shenanigans, Obama is endangering his ability to be an effective President if elected.

Have doubts about that? Remember Richard Nixon? Richard Nixon was re-elected by a huge landslide in 1972. A few news stories were written about some election related incidents with his Committee to Re-elect the President. You might remember one of those stories; it was about a break-in at the Watergate Hotel. Not even six months into his second term, Richard Nixon’s presidency was crippled.

Obama, like Nixon, is not the darling of his own party. If the various news accounts about potential voter fraud and fund raising fraud come to fruition, Obama will see members of his on party turn on him along with the Republicans.

I realize some believe that the media would never allow that. However, keep in mind the media is not as biased as it is interested in a good story. A President of the United States who cheated to win is a good story. But, America will lose with yet another scandal ridden administration.

Of course, John McCain can change all of this by defying the odds yet again and winning the election. Then, I predict, CNN will have live coverage of the birth of Sarah Palin’s grandchild.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No Tears for Tommy Bowden

I received an interesting email since the resignation of Clemson football coach Tommy Bowden. The gist of the email encouraged me to not support Clemson football. I have no problem with that. As a South Carolina and Georgia Tech fan, supporting Clemson football is not one of my problems.

However, I do have a problem with how the Bowden situation was handled. After all, Clemson is a public university. As such it should be held accountable.

At the end of last season, one which my Clemson friends say was a disappointing one to them; Clemson University officials inked a contract extension with Bowden that basically rewarded him for not going to Arkansas to coach football. (What is it with Arkansas wanting former Clemson coaches?) Part of that insane extension was a multi-million dollar buyout in the first couple of years of the contract.

Indeed, according to Clemson’s Athletics Director at his Monday press conference, Tommy Bowden will be paid as head coach until November 30th. Then, Bowden will be paid $3.5 million over the next six years. Instead of welfare, call it coachfare.

My Clemson friends have griped all season along about how Bowden appeared to not really care or be upset on the sidelines as his team was not performing well. Frankly, why should he? Frankly, what motivation did Bowden have financially to work hard and do well? Think how crazy it is. Imagine if your employer told you, “ look, we like you and we want to have you here, but if you mess up your job and we have to part ways, we will give you a few years salary.” If a report does not go well, or your machines are not working up to par, or you lose a customer or two, you really don’t care. You are taken care of.

What gripes me is that the vast majority of us in the real world do not have such a deal. Further, Clemson students do not get that deal. With the state budget in a crunch, plans are on the table at Clemson and at other state colleges and universities to raise tuition on its students. It is a striking statement of Clemson’s and our values. Clemson, not unlike any other major public university, can find a way to raise millions to pay a football coach not to work, but can not find money, except from its students and the taxpayers, to fund its core mission.

So, forgive me if I do not cry for Tommy Bowden. The man is going to be paid more not to work than most people are paid their entire lives of working. As much as I love college sports, the Bowden situation at Clemson is another example of how college sports are out of control.

I will end with an ironic side note. The football coach who has won more major college games than any other works for one of the lowest salaries in the game and without a contract. That coach is Penn State’s Joe Paterno. His team is undefeated and ranked # 3 in the land. Of course, at 81, Paterno is one of those coaches from the time that the game was golden. Bear Bryant would not have taken a dime if he could not get the job done. Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd would not have taken a dime not to work. Vince Dooley gave a huge portion of the money he made back to University of Georgia. The list could go on.

But, alas, those old coaches, like their old business counterparts, who placed more value in getting the job done than making a quick buck, are gone. If you are going to shed tears, shed them not for Bowden, but shed them for what a once noble game that once was about shaping character and promoting values has become.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

SC House District 124: Help the Sergeant at Arms save money

The South Carolina House of Representatives Sergeant at Arms might need more money in the upcoming state budget if he has to deal Mr. Jim Brown, the Democratic candidate for the South Carolina House District 124 seat. According to published reports in the Beaufort Gazetee, found here, it appears that the Democratic nominee for House district 124 is quite the hell raiser at public institutions.

Part of me says "hooray" for Mr. Brown. However, with the state in the midst of a budget crisis, the last thing the House of Representatives needs is a hothead that has to be controlled. Indeed, if one reads the various media reports about Mr. Brown, it is clear that the South Carolina House of Representatives' Sergeant at Arms might look to increase his budget to just insure order with Mr. Brown present.

In these trying times we as a state face, we do not need hotheads with inflated egos. We need leadership. Here is hoping that the people of South Carolina House district 124 feel that way and keep the rest of us from having to come up with more money for the Sergeant at Arms.

RIP, Mayor Rubye Devore

Honea Path's first and only woman mayor, Rubye Devore, passed away recently in a nursing home in Mauldin at age 94.

Ms. Devore served Honea Path for over twenty years as its town clerk before being elected to two terms as Mayor in the 1980s.

The entire crackerjack staff of Voting under the Influence pauses to appreciate the work of Mayor Devore and say a prayer for her and her family.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Where's Bobby?

The Charleston Post and Courier ran an article on Thursday that stated how South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell was enjoying life campaigning with the McCain-Palin ticket in Ohio. Insider rumors have Harrell continuing his campaigning for McCain outside of South Carolina.

Normally, I would say, "good for the Speaker." However, we in South Carolina are not in normal times. The Governor and the General Assembly face a budget crisis. According to state economists, the state is going to have a revenue shortfall of over $500 million. That shortfall means real cuts in state government to keep the budget balanced.

While lawmakers and agency heads are scrambling quietly behind the scenes to find a way to deal with the budget crisis, the leader of the South Carolina House is off in some other state campaigning. With all due respect to the Speaker, and to the South Carolina House of Representatives, how many undecided voters in Ohio say to themselves, "Hey here's the Speaker of the South Carolina House, I will vote McCain?"

It is time for the Speaker to stop playing like he is important and come home and be important. Now, doing so might result in making some hard choices and exhibiting real leadership. Perhaps that is too much to ask. Perhaps that is why so many in the know are asking, "where's Bobby?"

High School Friday Nights: Ware Shoals at Dixie

The crackerjack staff of Voting under the Influence returned to Oates Stadium in Due West to watch a Region 1-A contest between the host Dixie Green Hornets and the visiting Ware Shoals Hornets, (who sport purple and gold).

The contest between hornets was no contest as Coach Jeff Murdock's Ware Shoals team ran the old fashioned Wing T to perfection, amassing 308 rushing yards in the first half in route to a 38-11 over Dixie. Ware Shoals running back Lance Richardson should be noted for his 204 yards of rushing in the first half and three touchdowns in the second quarter.

Coach Murdock and his Ware Shoals team should be commended for outstanding execution on offense and playing solid defense. A chunk of high schools today go with the standard spread offense. Murdock's adherence to the Wing T makes the Hornets a challenge to defend. Murdock and his players made that challenge even more difficult Friday night with nearly flawless execution. Even when Dixie had 10 men in "the box," Ware Shoals found the success that comes with simple things like good blocking and misdirection. Do not be surprised if this Ware Shoals team makes some noise come playoff time.

Dixie fell flat. Though down 31-3 at the half, the Green Hornets had a complete breakdown by turning over the ball the first three times they possessed it in the second half. Those kids were rattled, and it is understandable. However, they are just 0-1 in region play and can still find a way to the playoffs.

As for the atmosphere, Oates Stadium is a family friendly place. The hot dogs are really good for a high school game. The concession prices are reasonable. Visitor seating is very limited, so be prepared to stand up if you are coming in from another school.

There is also one thing that Russ did not mention when he wrote about Dixie a few weeks ago: parking. Dixie High is adjacent to the campus of Erskine College. There are also several churches nearby. Take the time to park at the college or at a church and walk. If you park along the street, you risk getting a parking ticket. While I do not know the particulars of Due West city parking laws, I did see a Due West police officer walking down the street issuing tickets.

One last note about something that seemed a bit strange. When Dixie's homecoming court was driven around the field, the stadium speakers blasted ACDC's "She Shook All Night Long." Now, while that might get some readers to go "Hell yeah," I would be pretty ticked if my teenage daughter rode around to that playing for her.

All and all a good evening of high school football. Watch Murdock and Ware Shoals. They are good.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Trampling voters' rights

In one of the most disappointing developments of this election year, the political activist group ACORN has been accused or investigated for voter registration fraud in fifteen states. What is deeply disappointing is that the Obama campaign paid $800,000 to a subsidiary of ACORN. ACORN endorsed Senator Obama in February, but maintains on its website it is a nonpartisan organization.

The allegations around ACORN are serious. Voting officials in several states are finding people registered to vote in multiple locations, driver's licence numbers that are invalid, social security numbers that are invalid, and even the names of celebrities and sports stars attached to questionable applications.

I realize some will attribute such to sloppy oversight. However, there is something more sacred at stake. It is the right of every registered voter to have his or her vote count equally. That right is violated with even just one instance of a person voting in more than one place, or voting under a false identification. It is hateful that any group supposedly dedicated to justice would allow such a sloppy operation to go on. It is hateful and unjust to every single voter who is registered legally.

Further, some of the stories about how activists harass people to register to vote are disgusting to anyone who believes in democracy. The New York Post ran a story you can check out on their website about a man who was constantly harassed to register vote to again and again. A woman claims in various news reports to be bothered at her bus stop. Elections officials claim that their offices were flooded with applications at the last minute, thus making it difficult to sift out the illegal voters by election day.

While I will admit that everyone has their own definition of what harasses them, I think most rational people will agree that political activists cross the line when they demand that their point of view be heard by the average person instead of merely making that point of view available to be heard. As strongly as I believe in the right to speak freely and campaign, I believe in one's right to ignore the speaker or the campaigner and be left alone if one makes it clear he or she is not interested.

Throughout American history, there have been groups who claimed that they were such champions of the rights of the people, that they were entitled to violate some of those rights from time to time. Often people who are in those type of groups care as much about your real rights and life as high pressure timeshare salesmen at a vacation spot. Political machines such as the Boss Tweed machine in New York and the ole hard school of the Daley machine in Chicago come to mind. Those guys had the idea, "hey, some laws are bent some rights are bothered, eh, who cares, its for the good of the people." Of course, the good of the people usually ended up in their wallets.

Once again, our rights are threatened. Even if some claim the best of intentions, the rights are still threatened. Some things in our ever growing tolerant society can not be tolerated. Perhaps the most sacred thing that can not be tolerated is having the right that a legally registered voter has to have his or her vote count equally violated.

I call on the Obama campaign, the McCain Campaign, the South Carolina Democratic Party and the South Carolina Republican Party to join me in denouncing the tactics of those groups whose actions violate voting rights. As for those of us who are legally registered voters, I believe we have a duty to make sure we vote.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Remember those lost to Domestic Violence

South Carolina ought be embarrassed at the high number of women we have killed as a result of domestic violence. For that matter, we should remember the men who lost their lives as well. In the past year, four men and 28 women lost their lives to domestic violence. While there are some bloggers on the SC political scene who belittle domestic violence, for whatever reason, including self interests, we at Voting under the Influence remember those listed below with the commitment to stand against domestic violence, and to make it unacceptable to South Carolina's culture. We should not rest until those who act in such a way are outcasts to our mainstream culture and not accepted to be voices about anything worthwhile.


Anderson County

Talia Ashley (16 years old) Ms. Ashley was killed due to blunt force trauma to the head on April 23,2007. Police reports indicate that Ms. Ashley was struck and killed in her home with a large rock wielded by her boyfriend, Stanley Dehart III. Mr. Dehart then set Ms. Ashley’s residence on fire. Mr. Dehart is charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial.

Josephine Estrich (34 years old) Ms. Estrich was stabbed and killed on January 22, 2007. According to reports, Ms. Estrich’s boyfriend, Shawn Williams, stabbed her in the chest. Ms. Estrich was approximately 5 weeks pregnant at the time. Mr. Williams has been charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Estrich is survived by a daughter.

Denise Lucas (36 years old) Ms. Lucas was shot and killed on June 2, 2007. Ms. Lucas was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head by her ex-husband, Luther Lucas II. Afterwards, Mr. Lucas committed suicide. According to reports, Mr. Lucas had prior criminal domestic violence charges, and Mrs. Lucas had obtained an order of protection. Ms. Lucas is survived by a son.

Beaufort County

Catherine Herrera (43 years old) Mrs. Herrera was shot and killed on September 16, 2007. Mrs. Herrera was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head by her husband, Jose Herrera. Witnesses established that Mr. and Mrs. Herrera had been engaged in an argument throughout the afternoon. Mr. Herrera has been charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. Mrs. Herrera is survived by a daughter and son.

Berkeley County

Thomas Hoffman (42 years old) Mr. Hoffman was shot and killed on September 21, 2007. Mr. Hoffman was shot three times in the back of the head by his wife, Marjorie Hoffman. According to police reports, Mrs. Hoffman had a history of drug abuse that led to financial and domestic problems between her and her husband. She attempted to cover up Mr. Hoffman’s murder by burying his body behind their privacy fence in the woods. Mrs. Hoffman is charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial.

Charleston County

Michelle Edwards (38 years old) Mrs. Edwards was shot and killed on February 3, 2007. According to reports, Mrs. Edwards’ husband, James Edwards, shot his wife in the parking lot at her workplace. Mr. Edwards then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. The couple was separated at the time of the shooting. Mrs. Edwards is survived by two daughters.

Elaine Humbert (62 years old) Mrs. Humbert was stabbed to death on September 24, 2007. Mrs. Humbert died as a result of multiple stab wounds to her upper chest by her boyfriend, John Igneri. Mr. Igneri is currently awaiting trial. Mrs. Humbert is survived by a son and daughter.

James Kelly (57 years old Mr. Kelly was shot and killed on October 20, 2007. Mr. Kelly and his wife, Joyce Kelly, were in a hotel when Mrs. Kelly shot and killed him. Afterwards, she turned the gun on herself and committed suicide. Mr. Kelly is survived by a son.

Leslie McCravy (25 years old) Ms. McCravy was shot and killed on July 14, 2007. Police reports indicate that Ms. McCravy died as the result of a gunshot wound inflicted by her boyfriend, Deshawn Wright. Mr. Wright then committed suicide.

Latoya Pendergrass (24 years old) Ms. Pendergrass was shot and killed on July 8, 2007. Ms. Pendergrass died as the result of a gunshot wound to the head from her ex-boyfriend, Jake Wilson. Ms. Pendergrass’s two young children were in the apartment at the time of the shooting. According to police reports, the couple had a history of arguments and police had been called to the residence numerous times. Mr. Wilson is currently awaiting trial for murder. Ms. Pendergrass is survived by a son and daughter.

Chesterfield County

Maria Hernandez (41 years old) Mrs. Hernandez was stabbed and killed on July 6, 2007. Mrs. Hernandez died due to multiple stab wounds inflicted by her estranged husband, Rafael Sanchez. The police had responded to several calls involving the couple prior to Mrs. Hernandez’s death, and reports indicate Mr. Sanchez had assaulted and intimidated his wife while they were separated. Mrs. Hernandez had also obtained an order of protection. Mr. Sanchez pled guilty to her murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Mrs. Hernandez is survived by her son.

Clarendon County

Theresa Johnson (19 years old) Ms. Johnson was shot and killed on November 29, 2007. Police reports indicate that Ms. Johnson’s ex-boyfriend, Charles Junious, came to her house and refused to leave. After forcing entry through the front door, Mr. Junious argued with Ms. Johnson’s mother, Barbara Johnson, and then shot and killed both Theresa and her mother. Ms. Theresa Johnson’s child was also in the residence at the time of the shooting. Mr. Junious was charged with two counts of murder and is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Johnson is survived by her daughter.

Dorchester County

Cary Malphrus, III (37 years old) Mr. Malphrus was shot and killed on November 26, 2007. According to reports, Mr. Malphrus was shot by his wife, Carolyn Malphrus. Mrs. Malphrus is awaiting trial for murder. Mr. Malphrus is survived by two sons.

Edgefield County

Alecia Arangilan (34 years old) Ms. Arangilan was shot and killed on October 30, 2007. Ms. Arangilan died as the result of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and chest by her husband, Robert Herring. Mr. Herring also shot and killed Ms. Arangilan’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Jade. Mr. Herring then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. Ms. Arangilan is survived by two children.

Georgetown County

Kelly Taylor (26 years old) Ms. Taylor was strangled to death on May 12, 2007. Ms. Taylor was killed by her boyfriend, Brian Gilliard. Mr. Gilliard pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Ms. Taylor is survived by two sons.

Greenville County

Judith Barth (64 years old) Ms. Barth was stabbed to death on March 27, 2007. Reports indicated that Ms. Barth died as the result of multiple knife wounds to the neck by her commonlaw husband, Gary Cunningham. Mr. Cunningham is currently awaiting trial for murder. Ms. Barth is survived by her daughter.

Lisa Schad-Baldwin (41 years old) Ms. Schad-Baldwin was shot and killed on May 25, 2007. Police reports indicate that Ms. Schad-Baldwin died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head by her commonlaw husband, William Palmer II. Mr. Palmer is currently awaiting trial for murder. Ms. Schad-Baldwin is survived by a daughter and son.

Vanessa Vance (31 years old) Ms. Vance was killed by blunt force trauma to her head and chest on April 8, 2007. Ms. Vance was killed in a car accident caused by her ex-boyfriend, Elder Potlow, after he rammed his car into hers. Mr. Potlow had also been shooting at the car as he pursued it. One other passenger was also killed in the accident. Ms. Vance was three months pregnant. Mr. Potlow has been charged with two counts of murder, two counts of assault and battery with intent to kill, and the death of a child in utero. He is currently awaiting trial.

Greenwood County

Susan Edens (40 years old) Ms. Edens was strangled to death on August 16, 2007. Ms. Edens was beaten and strangled by her boyfriend, Derek Anderson. He then hid her body under a porch at a deserted house in his neighborhood. According to reports, Ms. Edens and Mr. Anderson had a prior history of domestic abuse. Mr. Anderson is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Edens is survived by her three sons.

Terry Hawes (30 years old) Mrs. Hawes was shot and killed on April 4, 2007. Mrs. Hawes and her estranged husband, Alonzo Hawes, were having an argument when Mr. Hawes shot Mrs. Hawes several times. The couple’s three children witnessed the shooting. Reports indicate that Mrs. Hawes had obtained both an order of protection and a restraining order against Mr. Hawes. Mr. Hawes is charged with murder and is awaiting trial. Mrs. Hawes is survived by two daughters and a son.

Horry County

Jill Dean (39 years old) Mrs. Dean was stabbed to death on October 16, 2007. According to reports, Mrs. Dean’s husband, Charles Dean, returned to the home and killed her just hours after he ran away when she called 911 to report that he had hit her. The Deans’ minor daughter was present when the stabbing occurred and tried to come to the defense of her mother. Mr. Dean is charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. Mrs. Dean is survived by her son and daughter.

Lancaster County

Aretha Cunningham (35 years old) Ms. Cunningham was strangled to death on June 8, 2007. Ms. Cunningham and her boyfriend, Calvin Gaddy, were having an argument when Mr. Gaddy strangled Ms.Cunningham to death. Mr. Gaddy pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Ms. Cunningham is survived by her son.

Laurens County

Catherine Tollison (47 years old) Ms. Tollison was strangled to death on October 15, 2007. Ms. Tollison and her boyfriend, Michael Higgins, were having an argument when Mr. Higgins strangled Ms. Tollison to death. According to police reports, Mr. Higgins had a history of violence against Ms. Tollison. Mr. Higgins is charged with her murder and is awaiting trial. Ms. Tollison is survived by her son and daughter.

Lee County

Kenneth Wilson (30 years old) Mr. Wilson was shot and killed on December 25, 2007. Mr. Wilson was killed in his home by his girlfriend, Tippy Retana. Police reports indicate that Ms. Retana tried to make it look like an unknown suspect had forced entry into the house and shot Mr. Wilson. Ms. Retana was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole. Mr. Wilson is survived by his son.

Lexington County

Vikki Marcus (50 years old) Ms. Marcus was shot and killed on October 8, 2007. Ms. Marcus was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Roger Cochran III. According to reports, Mr. Cochran came to Ms. Marcus’s house and argued with her and her new boyfriend. When asked to leave, he pulled out a gun and shot and killed both Ms. Marcus and her boyfriend. Mr. Cochran is charged with two counts of murder and is awaiting trial. Ms. Marcus is survived by two sons and a daughter.

Newberry County

Sharon Harris (55 years old) Mrs. Harris was shot and killed on January 8, 2007. Mrs. Harris was shot by her husband, Daniel Harris. Reports indicate that Mrs. Harris had filed for and received an order of protection. Mr. Harris is charged with her murder and is currently awaiting trial. Mrs. Harris is survived by a son and two daughters.

Orangeburg County

Ruby Thompson (31 years old) Ms. Thompson was shot and killed on February 6, 2007. Ms. Thompson was shot by her boyfriend, Oscar McDowell. According to reports, Mr. McDowell killed Ms. Thompson and then set her body on fire. Mr. McDowell is a registered sex offender. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Ms. Thompson is survived by her son.

Richland County

Lucy Branham (45 years old) Ms. Branham was severely beaten on September 15, 2007 and died five days later from her injuries. Ms. Branham and her boyfriend, Chris Arant, were having an argument when Mr. Arant beat her unconscious. According to reports, Mr. Arant hit Ms. Branham multiple times with his fists and rammed her head through the window of a truck. A neighbor found Ms. Branham later that morning. Mr. Arant was charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. Ms. Branham is survived by her son.

Spartanburg County

Chamaiporn Chongpatana (27 years old) Ms. Chongpatana was shot and stabbed to death on September 10, 2007. Ms. Chongpatana was shot and stabbed by her husband, Xao Vang. Afterwards, Mr. Vang turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. Reports indicate that Ms. Chongpatana had obtained an order of protection prior to the incident. Ms. Chongpatana is survived by two sons.

Erika Horton (26 years old) Mrs. Horton was killed on January 2, 2007.

According to reports, Mrs. Horton’s throat was slashed by her husband, Larry Horton. Mr. Horton was found guilty of her murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Mrs. Horton is survived by her two daughters.

Kimberly Murphy (20 years old) Ms. Murphy was stabbed to death on September 7, 2007. Reports indicated that Ms. Murphy and her boyfriend, Larry Casey, were having an argument when Mr. Casey stabbed Ms. Murphy with an ice pick. He then buried her body in the woods. Mr. Casey is charged with murder and is awaiting trial.

Sumter County

Quanna Cooper (23 years old) Ms. Cooper was shot and killed on March 16, 2007. Reports indicate that Ms. Cooper was shot several times with an assault rifle by her boyfriend, Derrick Harriott. He is charged with her murder and is currently awaiting trial.