Thursday, February 28, 2008

SC meets SC in celebrity/animal controversy

Southern California is a region of the country in which stupid human stars are allowed to breed and reproduce. Some like Micheal Jackson hold their offspring over upstairs balconies, or make their offspring wear surgical masks in public. Others, like Brittany Spears simply act as if they have no offspring and constantly seek out a mate by showing the goods in public. Then there are those, like Michelle Phillips and Brian Wilson, who had offspring combine to make a cheesy pop music group and one even start up one of those dreaded afternoon talk shows.

So, when I saw a headline that read, "Los Angeles makes spaying and neutering a law," my first thoughts were the constitutional rights of those celebrities. I went on to read that it was a requirement for dogs and cats in the area.

Michael Jackson and Brittany and their ilk won't be facing the surgeon's knife. But, other Southern California celebs might not be so lucky. Fan favorites like Droopy, Scooby Doo and Huckleberry Hound could all face the surgeon's knife.

Rumors in the Southern California celebrity gossip circle have swirled about Droopy's depression. Losing his manhood could only make it worse. Then there is Scooby and his rumored pot problem. He always has the munchies. Scooby will probably turn more to his drug of choice, which could sadly result in another celebrity tragedy. Sources say Huckleberry Hound, long retired from the celebrity scene, might leave the Los Angeles area altogether. Celebrity insiders say that the legendary Hound is trying not the hit the bottle again, and losing his manhood, even when he is older than Bob Barker, might drive Hound back to his old friend Jack Daniels.

Hopefully, Huckleberry won't move to South Carolina, where a high ranking official in the Agriculture Department got arrested and charged with abusing horses and kidnapping. The kidnapping charge involves allegations a celebrity would understand. Allegedly, the official got pretty hostile with someone taking pictures of his property. The horse abuse charges allege despicable conduct.

Too bad the high ranking official does not reside in Southern California where he could appeal to the understanding of celebrities. Getting hostile with someone taking pictures? The Hilton family would stand by him. Treating some horses badly but not taking their manhood? That is something perhaps Droopy and company would say they could live with. Bob Barker, on the other hand, might come around with scissors in hand.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Muslim Americans for Obama Website

Cybernet News Network is reporting that Muslim Americans for Obama 08 and other pages related to the Obama campaign's website are stirring some controversy. You can read the article at

The websites appear to be encouraged by the Obama campaign. They seem integrated well with the main Obama website. I don't know whether or not the website is truly pro Obama or is ran by his opponents who took advantage of the Obama website's features.

The website that gave me some pause was Muslim Americans for Obama 08. Among the issues that they contend should and will be addressed under Barak Obama's presidency reads as follows:

QUESTION: What are issues and recommendations for solutions that are unique to Muslim Americans?

1. A Law against harrassment of a Muslim women wearing Hijab at the Airport, DMV and other public arenas.
2. Institute a Law to allow Muslim Employees to take a hours off from work for Friday Jummah Prayer.
3. Make the 2 Eid's, recognized National Holidays on Calendars with days off from work.
4. Optional Halal meals in federal buildiings, public schools and colleges.
5. Provide prayer areas suitable for Salah and Jummah, in public and private facilities. (i.e. Malls, Airports, Universities and government buildings.)
6. Organize a Muslim American group to assist in recommendations for US foreign policy affecting majority Muslim countries.

If the above issues are being contended by sincere advocates for Obama then we have a good idea of the direction the United States culture will be headed under an Obama presidency. There will be strong contentions by Muslim American supporters of Obama for his administration to circumvent the constitution to enact changes in United States law and culture.

If you doubt that, take the time to take a look what is going on in western Europe. An example that stands out is found in the case of Fortis Bank, which serves the Netherlands and Belgium. Fortis Bank is stopping its policy of giving a mascot piggy bank to children, supposedly out of not wanting to offend Muslims. Throughout Europe, the once free and open cultures face increasing pressures to censor art, political commentaries, and shift cultural norms in order to not offend Muslims.

Is the road the United States will head down in the next four years?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Republican Civil War in Anderson County

The Anderson County Council meeting Tuesday night was interesting. Thinly veiled accusations about the use of the one of the county's credit cards by Bill McAbee and one of his political appointees were made by members of the public that tend to be Cindy Wilson supporters.

Those public comments were made after Council Chairman Michael Thompson read a prepared statement that defined the comments rules, making clear that the council meeting was not a town hall meeting and would be governed by rules of order. I found it a bit odd. Since Anderson County Council does not have town hall meetings, the citizens comments time is only time citizens can put public comments to council members face to face. Such a handling of citizen's comments might be the legal manner to handle them, but it is not politically astute. It also denies the use of the "safety valve release " of free speech Justice Holmes wrote about. To Chairman Thompson's credit, he did not enforce the rules with a heavy hand.

Bill McAbee fired back at Cindy Wilson and her supporters with both of his political guns via a presentation that was meant to lead one to believe that Ms. Wilson used her quest for county government information to help her family negotiate for higher prices from the county for a sewer line easement.

I do not know if that is true or not. No one knows another's heart. But, the statistics were impressive. More money per acre was paid out to Wilson's family members than others. Now, that could be because of the information Ms.Wilson obtained or it could be Ms. Wilson's family are just sharper at negotiating.

Two things did stand out to me about the presentation. First, it is clear that Wilson's family, for all Wilson's concerns about the taxpayer, got more money per acre from the taxpayers than others. To be fair, Ms. Wilson can not control her family. However, one can be assured that if Mr. McAbee, or Ms. Floyd, or any other member of the council had such a thing happen in regards to their family, Ms. Wilson would grab the nearest microphone and shout out about her concern for the taxpayers.

The second thing that stood out about the presentation was the lack of outrage and indignation from Ms. Wilson. When it came her time to speak, I expected the anger that comes when someone is wrongly accused. Instead Ms. Wilson stumbled over her remarks at first, rambling on about how she could not get information from County Administrator Joey Preston. She basically ended up saying something like she would be willing to be investigated if everyone else would be investigated. It reminded me of Nick Theodore's gaffe in the 1994 Gubernatorial debate when you told David Beasley, "I'll stop lying about you, buddy, when you stop lying about me."

Contrast Ms. Wilson's remarks to that of Ron Wilson. (Yes, longtime readers, that Ron Wilson.) Mr. Wilson angrily responded to an accusation about a meal on a county credit card he attended in Alabama when Mr. Wilson was working to recruit the SCV convention to Anderson. Mr. Wilson promptly said he was paying for the meal and is going to write a check to the county for it. Then, he dropped what might be the public bombshell of the night. Mr. Wilson contended there is a legal fund that assists Ms. Wilson in her cases against the county. He noted that he once contributed $1000 to it, and asked whether there was full disclosure on who gave to that fund. Ms. Wilson again sat without expression.

While it is very likely Mr. Thompson would not have allowed Ms. Wilson to continue, she at least could have shown some sort of outrage at the suggestion that she was being unduly influenced. Indeed, people and members of council showed much more indignation about what the city of Anderson water system charges non city residents in the county than Ms. Wilson did to attacks upon her honor and dedication to the taxpayers.

Mr. McAbee's presentation and Mr. Wilson's assertion will likely be challenged and they will likely face a similar presentation. Larry Greer's voiced hope about the council, six to one Republican, stopping biting themselves is not likely to happen any time soon.

A Republican civil war was declared Tuesday night in Anderson County. I am not sure I would have made that call. It has been under the surface for years, but Tuesday night, one side went politically nuclear. As with any war, a political war is a dangerous thing, there is no telling what will happen next.

I am disappointed to find my home county in such a state. I take comfort, though, that at least no one pulled out their knives, like a member of the Allendale County school board allegedly did twelve years ago. But, just in case, I understand metal detectors at the meeting are on the way.

Monday, February 18, 2008

President's Day Salute to President Polk

In honor of President's Day, I offer a look at the Presidency of one of our lessor known Presidents who had a profound mark upon the direction of the United States.

The name James K. Polk is not on the tip of every history teacher's tongue as Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, and Reagan, but Jame K. Polk helped to define America.

Polk was an experienced politician who had served as a Congressman from Tennessee and a Governor of Tennessee when he won the nomination of the Democratic Party in a brokered convention in 1844. Polk won primarily on the idea that we would push for expansion of the territory of the United States. He won the Presidency on the same issue.

As President, Polk went to work quickly to carry out his campaign promise of expansion. President Polk contended for the acquisition of California, Oregon and New Mexico. Such a push was not easy. Northern and Southern factions in the Congress disputed the policy based upon the dreaded slavery issue. President Polk also faced the then very real possiblity of war with both Great Britain and Mexico.

Negotiations over Oregon with the British worked out. However, the California situation would prove to be more problematic. It resulted in the Mexican-American War. The war was successful for the United States, and as a result of the war, the United States gained California and New Mexico for a lower price than it offered Mexico at first.

The war, however, took its toll on the political and personal health of President Polk. President Polk was censured by the House of Representatives and that political act, combined with his failing health led him to not seek re-election in 1848. President Polk also contended he did what he said he would and thus he was done in office and it was time to go home.

President Polk's time at home would be short. in June of 1849, barely three months after he left the Presidency on March 4th, 1849, James K. Polk died at the plantation home he bought to enjoy retirement upon.

History teachers around the nation will not mention President Polk in their lesson plans today. However, his will to make the United States go from coast to coast was instrumental in created the nation we live in today. Polk endured the pressures of the times to forge a nation what ruled from coast to coast, thus preventing the United States from becoming like the fractured republics of South America.

Polk's actions also gave the United States the territorial resources needed to survive the Civil War that would occur less than twenty years later.

Perhaps no one term President of the United States had the long term impact on the future of the nation as James K. Polk did. President Polk ought to be remembered and honored more. He was a master statesman, winning through both negotiation and war the bedrock of the future of he United States. So here's to you James K. Polk.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Can you feel the love?

There is nothing like Valentine's Day to get people feeling the love.

No place was the love more clearly felt than in the hearing room of U.S. House of Representative's Government and Oversight Committee on Wednesday. There legendary baseball pitcher Roger Clemens found himself being contradicted by two old friends. One friend, trainer Brian McNamee said he gave steriods in the form of human growth hormones to Clemens and his pitching friend Andy Pettitte. Pettitte basically admitted his use of steriods and, via written statement, took sort of a "Roger did it as well," approach. The looks on McNamee and Clemen's faces in the photo from Reuters summed up the love in the room.

I have about the same amount of love for the committee of the House that convened the hearing. The economy is ailing, there is a war going on, there are problems with the healthcare system, energy costs have soared, and this committee takes time to worry about who got juiced playing baseball.

Don't misunderstand me. I love the game of baseball. But, one of the reasons I love it is because it is an escape from the world of politics. Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, and I can root for the Cubs to win the world series. That is probably about all we would agree on.

I want the game cleaned up, and I think it is Major League Baseball's duty to show to us fans and consumers of their product they are giving us an honest show that we can have kids proud of.

However, politics would not allow Major League Baseball to clean up its own act and let the market decide. Instead, Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of California, the Chairman of the House committee that held the hearing Wednesday, had to score his own poltiical runs. Waxman's aggressive nature towards Clemens showed that Waxman was a man on a political mission.

That mission was to make sure a great white player got the same steriod taint as Barry Bonds.
With considerable poltiical pressure on the left in regards to Bond's prosecution and situation, Waxman did his base's bidding. Other committee members were skeptical of all of the witnesses due to the contrary testimony, but it was clear Waxman had an agenda and carried it out. (Perhaps Clemens did use steroids, but the truth of the matter did not appear to be what Waxman was after.)

Not to be outdone by Democrat Waxman, Republican Pennsyvania Senator Arlen Specter lobbed charges Wednesday that New England Patriots football coach Bill Belichik was illegally taping other teams since he took over as coach of the Patriots.

The reason for that? Simple. It is an election year. Pennsylvania's has to NFL teams. The Steelers fans hate the Patriots for all those playoff defeats. The Eagles fans hate the Patriots for the beating the Eagles in the Super Bowl a few years ago.
Since the Panthers lost to the Patriots in a Super Bowl as well, it would not surprise me if Lindsey Graham joined Specter in going after Belichik.

Politicians and their operatives have invaded the sports world because their old way of getting through to voters has changed. No longer can a politician buy some ad time through the local broadcast stations and hope to get through. So, they put their fingers in every aspect of life that they can.

The late old great Democrat Tip O'Neil once said that he never had his presence announced at sporting events he attended because people would boo. He contended the reason for their booing would be that people do not want to think about serious things like politics when they are watching a game.

To me, Tip's remarks are right. Sports is an escape. Yes, it teaches valuable lessons at times, but most of the time, for me, and for millions of others, it is so called "brain candy." I guess that is why I am feeling the love for the politicians who want to make sure we know about them and their issues in every aspect of our lives. By making sure they get into the sports world, the politicians, like Glen Close in Fatal Attraction, are screaming out to us, "I will not be ignored."
Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Vacation over this week

The crack staff of Voting under the Influence took the past week off. Things like making a living and living a life interfered with our ranting. The staff is now well rested, and arrangements have been made for this blog to a more daily posting routine, starting this week.

Some of the things being worked on will be funny. Some will be good old fashioned hard hitting journalism the newspaper crowd in this area of the state seems to not want to do. Some will be just our dadgummed opinion.

Regardless, our motto here is the one Barry Goldwater used to have: "Politics and sex are a lot of like. You don't have to be good at either of them to enjoy them."

Thanks for reading and commenting. I am looking forward to the fun.