Thursday, May 29, 2008

Prayers and sympathies to the Gagnon family

Longtime Abbeville County Republican Party Chairman Craig Gagnon, lost his wife, Terri Gagnon, to cancer last night.

Please take time to pray for Craig Gagnon, and his daughters, Anna and Leah, as they deal with this loss.

The prayers and sympathies of the Voting under the Influence team go out to them. May God grant them comfort in this trying time.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

SCRG and school prayer

South Carolinians for Responsible Government has made themselves the self proclaimed watchdog of the conservative movement in South Carolina. The group and its various offspring, allies, and operatives are engaged in telling South Carolina voters who is a conservative and who is not.

Yet, it is unclear where the group stands on one of the bedrocks of South Carolina conservatism: school prayer. Their website, which espouses an agenda being spread nationwide, seems to leave the issue untouched.

Perhaps there is a reason. The current communications director, Neil Mellen, is an award winning fighter against prayer in public schools. Just five years ago, the communications guy won an award from Freedom from Religion Foundation for his work against the mess hall prayer at the Virginia Military Institute. The link to the award can be found at:,

Now, Mr. Mellen certainly had a right to support his point of view. No one contends that. However, the fact that he is working for a group that now supports so called school choice and appeals to people’s religious beliefs in doing so is notable. Are parents who want assistance in getting their children religious school education really getting what they think they are from SCRG? As stated in an earlier post, there is the possibility that SCRG’s position, if it came to fruition, could result in quasi-public schools, such as with higher education. Would they fight to ban mess hall and other prayers then if public money was involved?

Again, this is nothing personal against SCRG or its communications director. However, if the group is to be what it aspires to be, the arbitrator of who is conservative and who is not, it ought to make clear its stand on school prayer. For many South Carolina Republican voters can live with their children in public schools if their kids were free to bow their heads in prayer or a moment of silence. But, those same voters will be outraged if a system is created where lawsuits create an atmosphere that even in private schools getting public money, their children could not bow their heads.

You won’t read the above in a slick, clever mail out, but it is something to think about before you let SCRG be the decision maker for you at the polls.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

American Soldier- Toby Keith (tribute)

I have honored those fallen. This video and post goes to men like my "little brother" Chief Marty Moore. They stand at the gates and get the job done, and lose their brothers in the cause. Remember those guys and gals too. They are what keeps us free. Enjoy your bbq and the great races. But, remember the folks who make it all possible.

Trace Adkins - Arlington

I think of the boys of Saluda, whose names are on the that little stone at the county courthouse. My great uncle, Ira J. McCarty has his name there. Others have joined him. While you are enjoying the races, the bbq and the fun this holiday weekend, take time to rememeber those who made it all possible. For Sgt. Ira J. McCarty and for Capt. Eric Bergstrom (USAF). May we never forget the thanks we owe you for the things we have and the lives we live. We are in awe forever to your sacrafice for our freedom.

Their wives and sweethearts never had the happy homecoming. They gave the full measure of devotion for us and this country we live in.

This and every Memorial Day, we are in awe of their full measure of devotion to our nation.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

School Choice: The Legal elephant in the room

The major problem that those advocating vouchers/tax credits for private education ignores is what happened to higher education. On the state and federal levels, political leaders found a way to issue tuition grants and other assistance to students who attended private higher education institutions.

It sounds good, right? Well, take a look at what happened. Once government dollars were sent flowing to private colleges, clever lawyers found a way through lawsuits to make sure that those private colleges met certain government standards in order to get the money. In other words, once truly private institutions became quasi public institutions in that they had to dance to the government tune, so to speak, to get the money.

Now, we have very powerful political forces at work in South Carolina telling us to that our government needs to advocate school choice and a voucher or tax credit plan. Again it seems good. But, with the legal precedent set by the situation with private colleges, it is clear the situation could not end up as planned.

If the government, at any level, gives you money to send your kid to a private institution for K through 12 education, you can rest assured some clever lawyers will find a way to tie that to the situation to private colleges and make the private school you send your kid to dance to their tune for the money. Private schools who once called the way they educated children will have to answer to the government to get the money. That will defeat the purpose.

So, while those children in the areas of South Carolina who are really behind on the various measures of achievement are left trapped in the public schools of their area because there are no real private school choices for them, those parents in other areas of the state who do have private school options will find their children in schools subject to the government's regulations.

The school choice crowd's position is not well thought out, to say the least. If they prevail, the courts show it will be a false victory. It is better for them to use their energy and resources to reform public education as we know it and to call for real substantive changes in how things are done in public education. Making now truly private schools semi public ones just seems to be a waste of resources.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bobby Jindal revisted

Back on March 12th, Voting under the Influence introduced voters to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as a possible Vice Presidential pick by John McCain.

To update that post, it is widely reported in the press that Governor Jindal will be among a handful of politicians who will be the guests of Senator McCain over the this holiday weekend. It is suspected to be job interviews in a nice setting.

I believe McCain should pick Jindal for the following reasons.

First, Indian American businessmen will back the ticket strongly. That will make a dent in the money deficit the GOP faces. The GOP will have its first non-white pick on a ticket ever.

Jindal is young, charismatic and believes in hope. Heard that one before? Even if McCain/Jindal loses, McCain can affect the future of the party and help stop its decline with an energetic running mate.

The guy is sharp as a tack. He is not fluff. He is Ivy League educated, a Rhodes Scholar and a known policy wonk. Recent prominent national leaders such as Reagan and Bill Clinton not only were charismatic, they knew the issues of their respective times well. Jindal knows health care better than any other young politician in either party. Jindal also is an ethics champion.

Of course, some will say he is too young and lacks experience. However, Jindal has more years in DC than the Democratic nominee to be. It will be hard for Democrats to say" look how inexperienced your Vice Presidential nominee is," when their Presidential nominee has comparable experience.

Of course, picking a first generation Indian American who was born Hindu, (but now is Catholic) is a wild card pick. But, when you are behind in the money and you are up against a sensational candidate, you have to "roll the dice" so to speak.

Bobby Jindal will shore up social conservatives, dispel some myths about the Republican party and race, and give the nation a look at a new, optimistic and youthful Republican party in the future, win or lose this election. The Governor also might give the McCain campaign an injection of enthusiasm needed to win in November.
What do you think. Who are your picks for VP?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Barack Obama is naive

In remarks to campaign supporters in Pendleton Oregon on Sunday, Senator Barack Obama compared the current threats to national security to the threats the USSR posed to the United States. To paraphrase Obama, he said that the United States faced a greater threat with the USSR than with the rogue states and terrorists, yet negotiated. Thus, the United States should negotiate with it enemies now.

On the surface, Obama makes sense. It even feels good to say “yeah.” Scratch a bit below that surface, and a man who appears to be on track to be President of the United States is incredibly naïve.

The Soviet Union was run by a group of thugs hellbent on party dictatorship and power. There is no doubt about that. However, as disturbing as it might be to some, the Soviets were more like us than the current religious fanatics and egomaniacs we face.

The first way the Soviets were more like us was their will to survive. The official Communist Party doctrine on the hereafter was there was no hereafter. Thus, when faced with a power, such as the United States, that could wipe them out, the Soviet leaders, despite their bombastic remarks publicly, could become quite pragmatic in private talks with the United States. Simple put, they wanted to live and survive.

Take the Cuban Missile Crisis for example. Senator Obama noted how President Kennedy dealt with the Soviets. When the world was on the brink of nuclear war over Cuba, the Soviets, understanding that their death would be end of them, were open to a private deal with Kennedy because Kennedy offered the policy of M.A.D., mutually assured destruction.

That is not true of some of the enemies we face today. They are religious fanatics. Instead of no hereafter, they are promised a glorious trip to heaven if they die killing us. When the policy of M.A.D. was applied in the Cold War, the Soviets saw no way to win in such a scenario, and were open to negotiation. The religious extremists, such as the group running Iran, see it differently. If the entire world is destroyed, they believe they will be in heaven dealing with a large number of virgins. It is hard to deal with people who believe their version of paradise is waiting on them if they die killing you.

There is another manner in which the Soviets, especially at the leadership level, were different than the enemies we face today. The Soviet leadership was not alien to the American culture. Women in the Soviet Union were educated, and some even to the point of playing critical roles in advising the leadership, such as Mrs. Gorbachev. Leaders like Leonid Brezhnev liked material things such as American automobiles, and then President Nixon would present Brezhnev with one every time they met. Mr. Gorbachev loved stories of the American west, and Ronald Reagan would present him with his gifted story telling about the west, horses, and the like.

The Soviets embraced science, and tried to show, failing of course, that they could keep lead the world in modern scientific advancement. Their system of control was doomed to failure, but their goals were not as radically different than American goals than the goals of our enemies today.

That is simply not the case with Iran or like enemies we face. They see women as little more than property and fight to keep them from being educated or productive. Even our friends in the culture eschew the idea of one man one wife for polygamy. They scorn modern advancements and material things as the work of Satan. They embrace throwing the world back to the Dark Ages. They seek science as a means to that end, not to make humanity or their system more advanced.

There is little doubt that the Soviet Union’s leaders were cold, calculating, deceitful and ruthless. They were one brand of evil in the world in their time.

Now we are dealing with another brand of evil. That brand is cold, calculating, deceitful, ruthless, and believes no matter what they do or what happens to them, they will live in paradise.

It is bothersome that Barack Obama does not seem to understand the simple truth that with the Soviets brand of evil one could appeal to their instinct to survive on this Earth to bring them to negotiation, and with the brand of evil we face now, checking out of Earth just gets you closer to paradise. Those we face today will use negotiations to take time to strengthen their ability to destroy. Barack Obama is incredibly naïve.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mississippi Congressional race is troubling for GOP

Mississippi's First Congressional District is a lot like South Carolina's Third Congressional District. It is rural, Southern to the core, and has been held by a Republican for the past 14 years.

That changed Tuesday night. In a special election to fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Rep. Roger Wicker to the United States Senate, Democrat Travis Childers defeated Republican Greg Davis. The difference in the special election was 53.7% for the Democrat and 46.3% for the Republican. The two will face off again in November.

What is troubling for Republicans is that the Mississippi First is the third special election lost in the House of Representatives, and the second in deep South "safe" Republican seats. The mood of discontentment with President Bush seems to have effect even in the heart of once thought of as safe GOP country.

It illustrates the problem that John McCain and other Republican candidates now have in the fall. They must distinguish their campaigns and agendas from the sitting Republican President in a way that wins over the dissatisfied voters while not alienating the traditional GOP base.

While I am not predicting the return to power of Southern Democrats to be widespread, this year is their best opportunity in years to gain ground. With the combination of Obama on the ticket and such anger at President Bush, the South could, for the first time in 14 years, be a real battleground.

Pitchfork violence is a sticky issue

Though it is not reflected in the comments section of the previous post, I did get a couple of emails and a phone call to gently remind me that there were odd things all over the state in local politics, not just Anderson County. I had to look no further than the Anderson Independent Mail to find that is the case.

In an article dated May 13th, written by Pearce Adams, the AIM reports that Carl Ables allegedly attacked his brother, Oconee County Council member Hugh Frank Ables, Jr, with a pitchfork. The AIM further reports that Carl Ables is being charged with assault and battery with attempt to kill. One line stands out in the article:

According to a police report, Carl Ables attacked Frank Ables with a pitchfork around 2:30 a.m. on May 8.

Read the AIM article at

Wow. That's more than just poking a little fun at one's brother. Like the mainstream media, I can not just let this article go by without talking about the dangers of pitchforks at the home.

First, there can not be anything good done with a pitchfork at 2:30 AM on a weeknight. We all know the dangers of having a pitchfork lying around and how that could lead to an unfortunate incident. Could we have done something about rural based video games that glorify pitchfork violence? How many rural families have to be harmed before the government does something about people who leave their pitchforks lying around for the next set of angry hands to pick up?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Anderson County politics is just nuts

The GOP candidates for Anderson County Council debated last night and nothing new was learned for the most part. The county party is divided between what can be dubbed the Wilson/Waldrep faction a.k.a. CAVE people by their opponents, and the pro Administrator Preston faction. To the outside world, the division in the local Anderson GOP might seem silly or even trivial, but on the ground in Anderson County, it is a serious thing.

Just ask any passionate member of either faction. In hushed conversation and on internet blogs, both sides readily hurl criminal accusations, personal accusations, and about anything else they can think of to attack one another. You will hear everything from marital infidelity to stealing money from the public to bribery to even mafia involvement. No insult or accusation seems too far for either faction as they battle it out in Anderson County. The factions use the courts as well, with a legal battle currently being considered by the SC Supreme Court.

For the handful of us who see the wrong and right in both sides and urge some of sort of compromise and civility, we are insulted even worse. I was told point blank on another blog that I had to choose one side or the other.

I choose neither. I am embarrassed by them both. It is far past time for people to grow up and leave behind their sophomoric ego rants. The cost for my independent or rational thinking has been to be sniped at by both sides.

Anderson County competes in a global economy. We are competing with the world for jobs, and we need to at least have leaders that get along civilly and professionally at the most basic of levels to put the county’s best face forward. We can not hope to compete when we have outsiders come in looking to invest only to be met with rhetoric like, “Don’t believe what this person says.” Those leaders likely think, “uh, okay, when is the next flight out of this place, thank you very much.”

The divide affects other political offices as well. Incumbent Solicitor Chrissy Adams is facing a tougher than expected fight in part because both factions have members upset that she did not find some way to prosecute their opponents.

Indeed, most politicians in the area tread lightly in Anderson County. Anderson County is now a place where the clash of personalities has replaced the clash of ideas. It is as if running for county office has taken on the nature of running for freshman class president in high school. It is one clique versus another. The difference is we expect 14 year olds to act in such ways, but we expect, and deserve, grown people to at least be able to work with one another when they can and debate their ideas civilly when they can not. The thousands of people who call Anderson County home, work hard, pay their taxes and raise their families, deserve better from their leaders than what they are getting. What we are getting now is just nuts.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Illinois Senator Barak Obama seems to have all any political warrior would want. He is well funded, he has charisma, his message is tailored to people who have been disenchanted with the policy of President George W. Bush. As such Senator Obama should walk away with the Democratic Presidential nomination and be a heavy favorite to win the White House in November.

However, Senator Obama, like the great warrior Achilles of old, has a weakness. Achilles's weakness sprung from his heels, which were supposedly held by his mother as she dipped him in the supposed holy sea water to be protected. Obama’s weakness is his personal pastor. Achilles seemed invincible, but a shot to his heel brought him down in the heat of battle. Obama is now remindeful of that historic and literary event.

For twenty years Barak Obama sat in the pews, or at least kept up membership in the church led by Rev. Jeremiah Wright. In that pulpit, Rev. Wright spewed more political rhetoric than religious teachings. The youtube generation is on to it. One of the best summations of Rev. Wright and Obama can be seen at

Rev. Wright went on to speak out at the National Press Club recently, daring to compare the criticism of his remarks to the Black Church led by the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His was remarks were both shameful and shameless in their nature. Martin Luther King never said the GD word from the pulpit.

Senator Obama did the right thing and condemned the remarks of his personal pastor. But, there are questions to be answered. Why did it take Barak Obama 20 years to learn his pastor spewed out such speech? Indeed, NBC news reported that Oprah Winfrey, a big Obama supporter, left Rev. Wright’s flock some years ago. Why didn’t the Senator do the same?

Democrats have a hard enough time trying to woo middle of the road white voters to their cause without the likes of Rev. Wright as a factor. Rev. Wright can likely not help Senator Obama win the White House, but his continued rhetoric can keep Obama from the White House. That begs another question, just what is Rev. Wright really after? Does he want to undermine the campaign of one his flock who has now disowned him? Like the old Greek king of old, Rev. Wright seems all too ready to sacrifice one his own out of jealousy and spite. It is almost as if he is telling people to aim for the ankle.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The race in House 117 shows what politics is all about

The supposed feud between consultant and political guru Rod Shealy and the Club for Growth/Sanford/SCRG crowd has been played up in blogs and the media since 2006. It appears the two factions are not that far apart after all. Both deal with money and money leads people to vote under the influence of it.

Tim Scott, a tax raising county councilman from Charleston County running for House District 117’s Republican nomination filed a telling disclosure. In that April 10th disclosure, it showed Scott taking money from the Club for Growth in the amount of $1,0000 and from other like minded supporters. Scott also paid out a $2500 consulting fee to Rod Shealy, once thought of as the go to guy to fight the Club for Growth/Sanford/SCRG crowd in GOP primaries.

While Shealy’s operation claims to loathe the Sanford crowd in other races, including working for Sanford’s primary opponent in 2006, it seems to have no problem taking that crowd’s money in a state house race a couple hours away from its midlands base.

I can not fault the Sanford crowd for coming up with money to back their guy or Shealy for making a buck. That is now the American way. But, it needs to be known that while both sides cry out foul about the other in races around the state, they seem able to work with one another when the money flows.

Don’t believe for one minute either side’s claim of principles and the like. When it suits them, they will raise the money, make the money and work together. The GOP primary in House District 117 is a stunning example of that. Politics usually comes down to money, and money is the influence we all tend to vote under.