Friday, April 25, 2008

Senate 23: a race to watch


The Republican primary race in State Senate District 23 is shaping up to be one for the ages. Incumbent State Senator Jake Knotts’s defense of his seat against Katrina Shealy, the former Chairman of the Lexington County Republican Party is a series of contrasts that make for one helluva a political contest.
First, there are the Joe Sixpacks in the small towns and rural areas versus the soccer moms and dads of the suburbs. District 23 is almost an equal mix of Columbia suburban voters versus small town and rural Lexington county voters. The folks who like their gun rights, their religion and public schools are pitted against suburban folks who do not own a gun, but buy into the Sanford/Club for Growth/SCRG plan for giving them money to help keep their kids out of public schools. It is a classic contrast between the working class Republicans and the professionals who sort of look down not only on their rural neighbors, but down on Senator Knotts.
That brings up the second conflict, a conflict that is being found around the state. That conflict is between populist Republicans and the new breed of Sanford/Club for Growth/SCRG Republicans. Neither side likes big government or taxes. But, they part ways on public education. They also part ways on cultural matters. While the populist Republicans are worried about gun rights and gay marriage, the other side sort of takes a more urbane approach on such matters. As long as they can get their taxes reduced and some help to send their kids to private school, they frown upon what some of them see as the “redneck” social views of the populist Republicans.
There is yet another classic conflict. That conflict involves the politics of Lexington County. Senator Knotts is a Joe Wilson loyalist. Joe Wilson’s name is golden in Lexington County politics. However, the name Shealy is also well respected. Indeed, Katrina Shealy’s last name will mean more than the Governor’s endorsement on Election Day. (If you remember, Governor Sanford LOST Lexington County in his GOP primary bid against Dr. Oscar Lovelace in 2006.) Ironically, there will be a Shealy involved in helping Knotts get re-elected. It is a true political civil war.
The last, but not least important conflict is that of the lifelong public servant versus the upstart who is embraced by idealists. Jake Knotts spent his life serving the public, as a law enforcement officer, a member of the SC House and a member of the SC Senate. Agree with Knotts or not, he always seems to be honestly doing what he thinks the people want him to do. Knotts is colorful and sometimes just flat wrong, but he’s honest and not packaged. Contrast that with Shealy, a polished political upstart with a strong family name, financial backing from two very influential groups and the Governor of South Carolina. Shealy is the well packaged, colorless candidate.
That well packaging and lack of color normally makes a candidate ideal in a Republican primary. However, the makeup of District 23 and Jake Knott’s lifetime of service and knowing people makes this race one of the most interesting of 2008. There are so many potential factors in this race to watch for. For example, will Joe Wilson endorse Knotts to counter the Governor’s endorsement? Who will win the Lexington civil war? What a race to watch.
(Oh, as a side note, I do acknowledge some other guy filed as well, but in all honesty, this thing is between Knotts and Shealy.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The sexiest driver in racing wins!

As a racing fan, both NASCAR and IRL, it is a pleaure to announce that the hottest driver in racing won the IRL event in Japan this weekend.

Patrick and her team used strategy to pull off the win, the first one ever by a woman driver in any major racing series.

Congrads, Danica Patrick.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Expelled to hit theaters this weekend

Ben Stein is hitting the theaters as a documentary host and producer with his documentary entitled "Expelled."

Regardless of what side of the great questions of humanity you stand upon, the essence of the documentary shows the disturbing movement in our so called free academic communities.

Those who contend that there is the hand of God in the universe now find themselves outcasts in their academic communities.

Let me be clear. Whatever your point of view on the issue, there are people with higher intelligence who disagree with your point of view. That is why freedom to express theories without fear of retribution should be allowed in our pursuit of the ultimate truth.

I do have my own theory. I will admit I see a Divine hand in things. Ironically, I see that Divine hand through things so many liberals embrace. I see it in the great classical music compositions. I see it in poetry and literature. I see it in art. I see it in diversity of species in nature. I see it in the how our very fragile existence beats the odds in an extraordinary way. There is something bigger than we understand at work.

Until we understand just what that something bigger really is, it is illogical for science or philosophy to dismiss out of hand with disdain any theories on how we came to be who we are.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Clyde's Chapel

Sunday services will be held as normal on Sunday, April 13th, at Clyde’s Chapel Southern Methodist Church between Batesburg-Leesville and Saluda. As the church works towards a new worship area, the members will move forward after an attack by vandals.

Why does the service at Clyde’s Chapel concern me? It is simple. My roots run deep at that little country church. My great uncle Pete, who was killed in World War II in Germany, is buried there. My grandparents on my father’s side will be buried there. My mother and father were married in that church. Both my father and grandfather served in that church in leadership capacities.

Last weekend, Clyde’s Chapel became the latest of Southern churches, both black and white dominated, to become a victim in the shift of culture that has occurred. It was once thought unthinkable to attack or vandalize a church. Even the rough men who met along the side of the Saluda River to drink and play cards obeyed a simple code. They did not mess with anyone’s mother and they did not mess with a church. There was a time when even the roughest and the meanest among us left mama and the church alone.

Not anymore. It started in the 1990s, when some folks decided to mess with various churches, mostly predominantly black. It continues to this day. There is simply no respect in the younger culture for the churches and no fear of retribution. Two young men are suspected of vandalizing rural Clyde’s Chapel. The pastor and congregation offer forgiveness, and perhaps we all should.

But, we can not ignore what such an act shows about how our culture has shifted. Here, in the heart of the South, where even the hardest of sinners once held some reverence for a church and for mama, so to speak, churches have become fair game for young people to act out in. It is a sign of how honor has lost it is place in our times. It is a shame, not only for the young people who vandalized Clyde’s Chapel, but for all of us. We were once better people, even the worst among us.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

This stuff can kill you


The New York Times reports in its April 6th edition that "writers blog till they drop." The article concentrates on bloggers who are paid to blog and how that stress gets to them. You can read the article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/technology/06sweat.html?ei=5065&en=1c3f36a3531123cb&ex=1208059200&adxnnl=1&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print&adxnnlx=1207455049-aLsR+eC/Gvad7hVkNvNTrA.

While the crack staff of Voting under the Influence are devoted volunteers who do not do this for the money, the article did get me to thinking. Perhaps too much information, coming from all directions can cause a physical overload, leaving us, as my grandfather says, "educated beyond our intelligence."

We live in an amazing time. Information can be shared so easily and so quickly. Perhaps we forget the time needed to analyze that information. Perhaps we also forget that the Internet, wonderful as it is, is not the entire world. Sitting on one's behind staring a computer screen all day and all night will have its price. First, you lose your general health. Walking up stairs becomes difficult. Then, you start to lose your mobility as joints and muscles not used deteriorate. Then, after your 83rd comment posting on why Brittany Spears shaved her head, you slump over in a coma at your desk.

It is the world we now live in. Politicians and activists pay people to post comments and blog about events to try to shape opinion. Businesses do the same. What is lost is perspective. It does not matter if one more comment about whether George W. Bush is really Alfred Newman of Mad Magazine is made. No one really cares about fifty percent of the stuff on the Internet.

The Internet is just a tool. As a tool, it is be used, not to be enslaved to. Use the Internet to comment and stay informed. But, also take the time to be a human being as human beings should be. Go for a walk. Try actually meeting up with friends in person instead of online. Go to a political meeting instead of just commenting online. Do it in person. Use those muscles God gave you from time to time.

If you do so, you will be okay. But, if you sit around all day and night and worry about what to post next on the net, well, this stuff will kill you.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Anderson County local government: the dead end

The South Carolina football team recently lost a rather infamous distinction. When former head coach Sparky Woods accepted the head coaching position at VMI, he became the first ex SC head coach to get another head coaching job since Billy Laval in the 1940s.

South Carolina had earned the nickname among detractors as "the graveyard of coaches." The names were great that fell to my Alma mater's curse. They included names like national champion coaches Paul Dietzel and Lou Holtz, along with proven coaches like Jim Carlen and promising young coaches like Brad Scott.

The same can be said for Anderson County Council. Rarely does any member ever obtain higher office. Bob Waldrep did, but now he is back on the county council after a stint in the state senate. People, regardless of what side of the Anderson saga they are on, think of Waldrep's stands on the saga now, not the years he spent in Columbia.

Indeed, the open bitterness and pettiness in local politics in Anderson County local government prevents it from being the place it was once was. Anderson County once produced political legends. For example former Clerk of Court John C. Taylor went on to become a US Congressman and respected candidate for Governor.

Can you imagine anyone on council or in other county offices having a real shot at rising above the great saga and getting elected to higher office? Opponents from outside the county would tear those local officials to political pieces in a larger scale race. Everything from credit card usage to frivolous legal battles could be thrown at a local Anderson county official seeking higher office.

Take for example Bill McAbee. When McAbee was elected to Anderson County council, he had a wealth of local, regional and statewide goodwill. It was thought that McAbee, after a term or two on council, could pull off a Jim Miles like ascension from county office to statewide office. Four years later, McAbee has a fight for re-election to county council to worry about. McAbee entered council as a man trying to be a statesman, with too much dignity from his political past to get in the great saga that is Anderson county politics. Now, McAbee, like Bob Waldrep, enter their respective re-elections races upon their respective sides of the Preston versus Wilson saga. Their once larger roles are now diminished to a local political street fight. Even if both win re-election, they have lost.

It's a sad and painful thing to watch develop. Other counties use offices like county council and city council as their political benches for the future. In Anderson County, local and county offices seem to be the dead ends of otherwise promising careers.