Sunday, October 31, 2010

BTPC prognosticates for Tuesday

We are less than 48 hours from polls opening for the 2010 elections. So how's it gonna shape out? Is there really going to be a national wave that sweeps the nation and destroys anyone who thinks government should ever do a single thing? Is the "wave" just a product of hyper-aggressive FOXNews driving the political narrative because the rest of the media buys into some lame-ass, chickenshit, "we have to present two sides to everything, even if the other side is based on complete bullshit, because we've forgotten journalism means actually calling people to the carpet?" Did Stewart and Colbert frame the debate yesterday? Do we really have to choose between sanity or fear?

Who the hell knows. All we know is that midterm election cycle has been as ridiculously charged and spiteful a cycle as we can ever remember.

Personally, on a national scale, we think the conventional wisdom is right: Dems keep the Senate and lose the House. Several folks in the know have told us they believe it is a lot closer than people realize in the House, but historically, the Dems should lose it (the party in power always loses in midterms). In all reality, the bar has been set so low for the Dems (something we still can't believe the GOP allowed to happen), that even coming close to holding serve can be played as a huge win. We're scared to death at the prospect of having disingenuous idiots like Sharon Angle or Christine O'Donnell in position to affect the lives of millions of Americans. That shit is frightening. Hopefully Americans have more sense than that. Then again, there's a reason Jerry Springer's show was so damn popular.

Alas, we will focus our prognostication efforts on races that directly impact those of us here in the Pee Dee.

Governor = Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D), Rep. Nikki Haley (R), Morgan Bruce Reeves (G & UC)

First, let's deal with Reeves. Who? Exactly. Reeves is actually on the ballot under both the Green party and the United Citizens party. Apparently the Rent is Too Damn High party chose not to open a chapter in SC. No...this race comes down to Sheheen and Haley. We first talked about Sheheen way back in May of 2009, when he made his first campaign stop here in Florence. If memory serves us correct, back then, Sheheen was more than 20 points behind in the polls for the Democratic primary. By the end of January 2010, Sheheen was back in Florence for an oyster roast Meet & Greet that drew a very nice, diverse and bi-partisan crowd (250+). Last Friday, Sheheen (along with Congressman Clyburn) headlined the first ever Florence County Stump, an event that drew a crowd of over 1200 folks. In between those last two events, Sheheen won the Democratic primary outright, a race many expected a runoff in. The point is, Sheheen has worked Florence and the Pee Dee very hard and we have gotten to see his growth, not just in the polls, but as a candidate. He has proven he can overcome odds stacked against him and surprise the pundits.

Haley? She has been here a few times. In fact, she came through Florence the day after the Florence County Stump and spoke at a stump the local Tea Party hosted. We have heard the crowd for that event was less than a hundred. Haley is a lightweight. She's all sizzle, no steak. A friend reminded us this weekend of a great editorial The State ran comparing the actual records of these two candidates. It's pretty damn revealing.

"Haley has introduced 15 substantive bills, of which one has become law &
one has been adopted as a House rule. Sheheen has introduced 119 substantive
bills of which 18 have become statewide law & four have become local
law...What’s most striking about Sheheen’s list is its sweep & the extent to
w...hich it reflects initiatives that either know no partisan boundaries or that
easily cross them."
Quite simply, there is no comparison. All you have to do to see this is look at the campaigns they have run. During all the debates, Haley whined that "'ve used more than 80% of your ad budget negatively attacking me." But to Haley, a "negative" ad is simply an ad that has her saying one thing, then showing third party sources that prove she did another. Meanwhile, all of Haley's ads that mention Sheheen consist of ad-hominem attacks ("trial lawyer," "big spending liberal," and "Columbia insider") or pictures of President Obama. She can't run on any specific ways she is better than Sheheen, because Haley is not about specifics. Never has been. Her campaign has centered on anything other than South Carolina. She's had Palin and Romney in her to campaign for her. She's held fundraisers out of state. She's constantly bringing up Obama or Arizona's immigration law. She is a charlatan.

So...who's it gonna be? We have repeatedly said since August that all the polls that had Haley up were flawed. Why? Because we don't believe that voters who identify as Republican, always vote Republican, and plan on voting for every other Republican on the ballot are going to honestly admit to a pollster that they are gonna cross over and vote against their party's candidate. They know the people calling them make lists. You know how they know? Because they're calling them from one! They don't admit it, because they don't want to wind up on another list that says they did not vote Republican. But when they walk in that booth, it's gonna be another story.

We heard some poll numbers last week from another campaign that had polled on this race and they had this race at 45-41. There are many who believe it is a straight out coin flip. We think Sheheen takes it. Why? Besides the reasons listed above (ie., he just deserves to win more than she does), take a look around Florence. Have you ever seen so many signs of any Democrat prominently displayed in Republican neighborhoods? Have you eve seen so many Republicans attend a Democrats events as you've seen attend Sheheens? Hell...screw about hosting? It's gonna be close. We're gonna be up late into the night watching the results come in. But when they do, Vincent Sheheen is gonna be the Governor-elect for South Carolina.

BTPC predicts = Sheheen

Lt. Governor = Ken Ard (R), Ashley Cooper (D)

There is a popular conspiracy theory floating out there on the internets, that those darned GOP "Columbia Insiders" that Nikki Haley wants you to believe so desperately that she is not one of (despite her cush gigs she got with Wilbur Smith and Lexington Hospital) have a plan. They've got the goods on Nikki and her affairs. But they're waiting to unleash them until AFTER she has been elected. Then, they can impeach her or force her to resign, at which point Ard ascends to be Governor. (There's also an alternative theory that they don't actually have the goods, but that they've got an Indian porn actress who they will shoot in flagrante delicto on some grainy video footage and then leak that footage). We like Ard. He's a nice and decent guy who comes from a great family. But...please. With the problems this state is facing, we need someone with a little more weight and gravitas than the good old boy from Pamplico being our governor. Lt. Governor is one thing. Running the ship of state is another.

Cooper is incredibly sharp and has surprised us with just how good a candidate he has become, in this his first time on any ballot. Regardless of the outcome of this race, we expect to hear much more from Cooper in the future. We have heard that Cooper has actually gotten a great reception from the corporate world here in SC, which would make sense. Cooper's law practice deals with utilities, so it's no surprise that Cooper is comfortable in the corporate climate and that he has impressed those on that plain.

We think Cooper has worked incredibly hard and made this close than many thought it would be. But we think Ard is going to take it for two reasons. First, Ard had a very contested primary race that served to get his name out statewide. We think Cooper has been able to use his ties in the legal community and business world to help him make up some ground, but that kind of exposure is not quite the same as being part of a heated primary race. Second, and this is odd, we think the Sheheen crossover phenomenon may backfire a bit with Cooper. It's good in the sense that way more Republicans are going to refrain from pulling that straight party lever because they do not want to vote for Haley. But...because we think a lot of them are going to vote AGAINST the Republican Gubernatorial candidate, we think that is gonna make some of those same folks less likely to vote against the GOP's Lt. Governor candidate. Let's call it the balancing-it-out effect. That said, we think it's gonna be close and we certainly would not mind being wrong on this one.

BTPC predicts: Ard

Secretary of State: Mark Hammond (R), Marjorie L. Johnson (D)
BTPC predicts: Hammond

Attorney General: Leslie Minerd (G), Alan Wilson (R), Matthew Richardson (D)

This one is another interesting race. We have said it before and we will say it again: Alan Wilson is a nice guy. We like Alan Wilson. But being a nice guy and having prosecuted cases does not an Attorney General make. In fact, if one looks at the record of our current Attorney General, one could argue that things would have been a lot better had the AG NOT gotten involved in prosecuting several high profile cases (the Darlington Sex Dungeon case and the Craig's list fiasco to be specific). What concerns us most with our Attorney General's office is the politicalization of it. There was an interesting motion filed in Rep. Kris Crawford's case, moving for dismissal of the charges against Rep. Crawford because of prosecutorial misconduct. And what was that misconduct? It was Henry Mac, going out in public and comparing the charges against Crawford to Haley's tax problems. Technically speaking, Henry was right...but a prosecutor isn't supposed to be out there doing that shit in public. They have ethical duties, not just to society at large and to victims, but to those they are prosecuting as well. We recognized that motion because we toyed around with one very similar concerning the "no-drop" policies that McMaster imposed on his assistant AGs, policies Wilson has not disavowed (which is sad considering we know Wilson knows how stupid "no-drops" are...he used to have to prosecute crap cases because of it).

Richardson is against no-drop policies, which in and of itself tells you he respects the duty of a prosecutor and wants to get politics out of the way of the prosecutors who are going to be handling the cases. That in and of itself is worth your vote. Additionally, we think administration and the ability to handle complex civil litigation is much more important for the next AG of South Carolina. If that's the case, Richardson is the easy choice. How do we know? Because the law is our bailiwick and we can think of no situation in which if these two candidates were both at the same firm, Wilson would not be working under Richardson. Hey..that's not a knock on Wilson. If we were in the same firm as Richardson, we're sure we'd be an associate handling his grunt work was well. It's simply the reality of experience and the knowledge it carries. Richardson is the better lawyer and when you are voting for the person to be the State's lawyer, that should be the main qualifier.

Having said all that, Wilson should win this. His last name is, after all, Wilson. His daddy is Joe "You Lie!" Wilson and this is SC. Alan has been campaigning extremely hard for about two years, while Richardson got into the race late. Late it may have been, Richardson has dropped a TON of money into this race. His commercials are on the tube more than just about any other Democrat and releasing his fifth one Friday. He has connections all over the state, thanks in large part to his family's history here, his Grandfather was former Chief Judge of the SC Supreme Court, Bubba Ness. We heard some polling numbers last week that indicated this race was way closer than anyone thinks, closer in fact than Sheheen - Haley. That surprised us. It will be interesting to see how accurate those numbers were because if they are accurate, the Wilson and Richardson families are in for a long night (when conventional wisdom says Wilson should win pretty easily by 8-10 points). We still think Wilson takes it, but as in the Lt. Governor's race, we would not mind if we were wrong.

BTPC predicts: Wilson

Comptroller General: Robert Barber (D), Richard Eckstrom (R)

Hey...this race got ugly, huh? No one was really paying too much attention to this race and then...BAM...Barber unleashed that sex scandal ad, claiming Eckstrom used state funds to pay off a lady he had sexually harassed. Eckstrom's response? An ad about how you can't trust Barber because he was a lobbyist. And not just any lobbyist, but one that lobbied for...Cockfighting. Uh...not sure that's really gonna hurt Barber in this state, Dick. We do, afterall, have as the mascot of our state university, a Gamecock. Eckstrom may have actually increased Baber's appeal to the Bubba vote. We admit we know very little about this race. What does the Comptroller do?'s basically the person who writes the checks for SC. Most importantly, the Comptroller is a seat on the Budget and Control Board.

Barber is a well-respected former member of the General Assembly who has strong ties in the low-country (his family's restaurant, Bowen's Island, is a Charleston-area landmark) and the upstate (he is a graduate of Wofford, very active with their alumni organization and he serves as a Trustee for Lander University). Eckstrom hasn't exactly helped himself as his reputation as a ladies man has led to several embarrassing stories about his personal life going viral thanks to bloggers in the state. Earlier this year, The State ran stories about Eckstrom's relationship with GOP rising star and Dutch Fork teacher, Kelly Payne. Is it enough to tip the scales over to Barber? Doubtful. But we're going to go out on a limb and pick Barber for this one. Hey...what fun is there in going chalk? Plus, South Carolinians do love their oysters.

BTPC predicts: Barber

State Superintendent of Education: Doretha Bull (G), Mick Zais (R), Frank Holleman (D), Tim Moultrie (L), Tony Fayyazi (I)

This race is, of course, all about Holleman and Zais. Zais is a retired US Army Brigadier General who has run Newberry College for the past decade. During that time, the college has grown and prospered financially, while being in the news some over the role religion has played in administrative and board matters. Holleman has an incredibly impressive academic resume having graduated from Furman, Harvard Law School, and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was also picked by former Governor Dick Riley (long considered the "education governor" here in SC) to be his Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary of Education when Riley served as President Clinton's Secretary of Education. Holleman helped create one of the few SC successful education stories in the First Steps program and has strong ties in the traditionally uber-conservative upstate (then again, so did Bob Inglis). Usually, the sole statewide office a Democrat can be expected to carry in SC is Superintendent of Education. Will that hold true Tuesday? We think it will, but it's gonna be awfully close. (God...seems like we're saying that about every race, no?)

BTPC predicts: Holleman

Commisioner of Agriculture: Tom Elliot (D), Hugh Weathers (R)

Wanna know how stacked the deck is against Elliot? Not only is SC a republican state, but since being appointed interim Commissioner in 2004, Weathers has enjoyed the benefit of every single person in this state staring at his name as they pump their gas (that little sticker certifying the gas pump you use has Weathers' name on it. Don't tell us you've never noticed that. Your subconscious has).

BTPC predicts: Weathers

US Senate: Jim DeMint (R), Alvin Greene (D), Tom Clements (G)

It really is a shame the SC State Democratic party was so incompetent that they could not recruit a real candidate to challenge DeMint. It would have been fun. We could not bring ourselves to vote for Greene simply because he had that D beside his name and we damn sure weren't gonna vote for DeMint(ed). Mr. are our guy. That and $0.75 will get you a copy of the Florence Morning News, Monday through Saturday editions.

BTPC predicts: Jim DeMint

US House Representative District 5: John Spratt (D), Mick Mulvaney (R)

This one is the one every one is watching nationally (that and the race in District 2 between Rob Miller and Joe Wilson). A ton of outside money has been dumped in to SC by folks who smell blood in the water for Spratt, by both those who want to see him gone and those who don't. We love the fact that the attacks on Spratt are all about him being such a reckless spender. Will people forget it was John Spratt who led the way under President Clinton's administration that gave this country it's last balanced budget or that Spratt's leadership at the time helped create the largest budget surplus and biggest debt paydown in the Federal government's history?

We don't like Mulvaney. He's an opportunist. Ran for Statehouse in 2006, winning an ugly race at the time, then jumped just 2 years later into a vacated State Senate seat. Now two years after that, he wants to be voted into office while taking out a man that has served the state of SC honorably for 28 years, protecting Shaw Air Force base and giving America it's last look at actuall fiscal discipline before the George W. Bush administration took over and blew our budget like a drunken sailor on shore leave. Hell...even his name sounds like a dick: Mick Mulvaney. If you didn't see the Letter to the Editor in the Florence Morning News by the Indian Land council member, you should take a second to read it. It's not often an politician admits in public to being duped and used. When they do, it should matter.

We might very well be wrong here. If there is anyone the "wave" that is predicted should take out, it is probably John Spratt. But out of respect for all he has done for this state and this country (and out of sheer hope), we'll take Spratt.

BTPC predicts: Spratt

US House of Representatives District 6: Nammu Y. Muhammad (G), Jim Pratt (R), James Clyburn (D)

As Ochocinco would say, "Child please." The only thing Clyburn stands a shot at losing is his position as Majority Whip. The national "wave" may take that, but it ain't touching Clyburn here at home.

BTPC predicts: Clyburn

State Representative District 60: Phillip Lowe (R), Benny Webb (D)

Even without the questions about his residency, Benny Webb had a hard row to hoe. With them, damn near impossible. And that's a shame, because while Lowe is a nice guy, we a have a fundamental aversion to anyone who puts their mug on a sign.

BTPC predicts: Phillip Lowe

State Representative District 63: Kris Crawford (R), Shelia Gallagher (D & Working Families Party)

Crawford certainly has his troubles, what with being indicted and all. He also wears bowties (another aversion we have. Bowties should be restricted to those persons in the Nation of Islam, or those with no hair on their head (which basically restricts them to young children and old men). Gallegher has worked and campaigned hard after getting into the race right at the end of the filing period. We commend her on just not accepting the allowance of letting Crawford get a free pass. Will Crawford's troubles be enough allow Gallagher to slip in? Doubtful. Perhaps if more voters paid attention to the local news. We don't think they do.

BTPC predicts: Crawford

12th Circuit Solicitor: Ed Clements (D), Rose Mary Parham (R)

This has been one incredibly charged race. From allegations of targeted vandalism, lying and outright physical assault, it is troubling to see how irrational and emotional this race has become. Remember, our system of justice requires that whomever heads that office next year does so with reason and logic, not with emotion. It requires someone who administers justice, not someone to head up the lynch mob.

We have made our thoughts on this race pretty clear (see here, here and here). We believe Clement's office is the best solicitor's office in the State (an opinion conveniently supported by facts). Somehow, the fact that we practice criminal law is supposed to diminsh our opinion in the eyes of Mrs. Parham's supporters. That's stupid. Our opinion is based on the fact that we deal with Solicitor's offices from other circuits every day and we see the fair, honest and competent job our 12th Circuit staff performs in contast to those other circuits. In other words, we actually know what we are talking about.

The idea that defense attorneys simply support Clements because he cuts easy deals is retarded. Here is a cold, hard economic reality: a less resonable solicitor's office, which was "tougher" on crime (ie., wanted to take a hard line on pleas and go to trial) or who did not foster trust and faith from the defense side would only INCREASE the income of the local defense bar. That's is in the best interest of our pocketbooks to have such a solictor's office. Why? Because that means more Defendants would have to go to trial, which would mean more of them would be coming up with money to hire private attorneys. However, it is not in the best interest of the residents of the 12th circuit. Believe it or not, us criminal defense attorneys actually have morals. In fact, given our job, we've got a pretty heightened sense of them which leads us to often, in the course of our work, put the interests of others ahead of our own.'s a job requirement.

We would take the time to explain how holding the opinion that the Defense bar's support is proof that Clements should not be re-elected while Mrs. Parham should be elected becase she has "the support of law enforcement" further shows a person's ignorance of the criminal justice system because cops should be considered just as biased in the equation as any defense attorney, but let's face it...if you don't already understand that, why bother.

Mrs. Parham has a fine record as a prosecutor she can be proud of. But her plea of being simply a "prosecutor and not a poltician" is belied by the ease with which she has taken to the good and bad aspects of this race.

All we can tell you is this...either way this election comes out, there are going to be some people who are very upset. If you are going to be one of those people, check this out. It's politics...don't take it personally.

Historically, Clements should win this by about 10 points. Take issue with their tactics or not, no one can deny the Parham campaign has worked hard. That hard work plus some of that "wave" will help her get the race closer than is should be. Clements by about 6.

BTPC predicts: Clements

Florence County Council Seat 6: Elijah Jones (R), Russell Culberson (D)

We have absolutely no knowledge of this seat district or how the numbers look. Culberson has been in the seat quite a long time and has no doubt accrued favors and goodwill from many folks during his tenure. Jones is a newcomer trying to ride the tea party wave into office. If there is a wave, he could do it. But we think Culberson will be saved by all those years of markers and the fact that the upticket races are gonna cause a lot of Republicans to not vote straight party. That and the fact that Jones violates our keep-your-mug-off-your-signs rule.

BTPC predicts: Culberson

Florence City Council At-large seat: Glynn Willis (R), Sam Fryer (D)

Let's face it, Willis would have won last time had it not been for the historic coattails of Obama. Those coattails ain't around for Fryer. Both are nice, decent guys who seem to genuinely care about their community and want to serve to make it better. Willis has simply been here working in a public capacity longer and after running just as hard a race as he ran last time, we think the folks of Florence are gonna feel like it's Willis deserves to get it this time. We know this goes against our keep-your-mug-off-your-signs rule, but there's always an exception. We will give Glynn a pass since we assume he felt he had to do it so no one confused him Frank...

BTPC predicts: Willis

Well...that's it. Remember, just like with our weekly NFL picks, there's a money back guarantee on all these. Enjoy. And make sure to let your bosses know you'll be in late Wednesday. We have a feeling it is gonna be a long night watching some of these results come in.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jon Stewart is incredibly sane

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert held their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear today on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For those of you who are concerned about the level of crazy zeal in politics, you'll be glad to know that the crowd that turned out was huge (it filled the mall).

You should really check out Stewart's closing speech. It's a shame we have to have a comedian be the adult in the room, but tell us what Stewart is saying isn't 100% balls on accurate. (That's an industry term).

We can think of a lot of folks here in Florence who should listen to Stewart's message and heed it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Week 8 picks: Ask the Magic 8-Ball

Week 8 of the 2010 NFL Season. What better way to pick games this week, than to enlist the help of the greatest prognosticating device known to man: the Magic 8-Ball. Shall we begin?

Broncos (+2) v. Niners (in London) = The Broncos got lit up last week. The Niners are starting Troy Smith. We actually think Smith is Singletary's kind of they'd fire each other up. But the routine problems the Niners had at the beginning of the season (not able to get in plays) does not bode well for preparing and executing a successful trip across the pond. Can the 49ers pull that logistical nightmare off? Magic 8-ball says: My sources say no.

BTPC pick: Broncos getting 2.

Dolphins (+1.5) v. BENGALS

UPSET SPECIAL! The Phins are 3-3 with all 3 of their losses being to teams that are 5-1 and one of those losses being complete horseshit. How shitty has the ref'ing been for the Dolphins? Mid-week, the NFL came out and said the "interception" Henne threw on that last play was in fact an interception. Apparently, the league office decided they had not screwed the Dolphins enough by just giving Pittsburgh the win with the call on that endzone fumble, they also wanted to really pour paint thinner in the wound by not reversing that call (further screwing Henne's rating). So...Miami may have 3 losses, but their losses came to really good teams who are allowed to catch "interceptions" as long they only bounce once off the ground. Will Tony Sparano use this shit to fire up his team and pitch it as it's us against everybody, boys? Magic 8-ball says: You may rely on it.

BTPC pick: Dolphins getting 1.5

CHIEFS (-7.5) v. Bills

Are the Chiefs really going to win the AFC West? Magic 8-ball says: Ask again later.

BTPC pick: Bills getting 7.5

RAMS (-3) v. Panthers

Can the Panthers win two in a row? Magic 8-ball says: Don't count on it.

BTPC pick: Rams giving 3.

JETS (-6) v. Packers
Aaron Rogers led his Pack to a big win over the hated orange-croc-wearing-home-pornographer/sexter last week. The Jets had a bye. We would love to see the Pack light it up and make Sanchize have to do something. Will they? Magic 8-ball says: Reply hazy. Try again.

BTPC pick: Pack getting 6.

LIONS (-2.5) v. Redskins
The Lions are favored? Really? Magic 8-ball says: Yes.

BTPC pick: Redskins getting 2.5

Jaguars (+6.5) v. COWBOYS
Oh my that John Kitna music? Magic 8-ball says: Without a doubt.

BTPC pick: Jaguars getting 6.5

CHARGERS (-3.5) v. Titans
Who is Phillip Rivers gonna throw to? Magic 8-ball says: Cannot predict now.

BTPC pick: Titans getting 3.5

PATRIOTS (-4) v. Vikings
Is it possible that the whole Jen Sterger scandal will end the Favre-Childress marriage before the Favre-Favre marriage? Magic 8-ball says: Signs point to yes.

BTPC pick: Pats giving 4

RAIDERS (-2.5) v. Seahawks
When the Raiders started poorly this season, Jason Campbell publicly stated it may have been because they had gotten a little too cocky. The Raiders...cocky. Last week they hung a Fifty-burger on a shell shocked Denver team. Is it possible the Raiders won't know how to handle "success"? Magic 8-ball says: You may rely on it.

BTPC pick: Seahawks getting 2.5

CARDINALS (-3) v. Bucs
Are the Bucs really the best team in the NFC as their coach proclaimed? Magic 8-ball says: My reply is no.

BTPC pick: Bucs getting 3

Steelers (pick em) v. SAINTS
In a battle of the last two Champs, on Halloween, on television, after Breesus threw 4 picks and Big Ben showed how much he's "changed" by lying his ass off about how he really had possession of that football, will the football gods reward the team with the better person as a QB (who also happens to play in a town that dresses in costume all the time)? Magic 8-ball says: As I see it, yes

BTPC pick: Saints

COLTS (-5.5) v. Texans
Do the Colts remember that ass whupping the Texans gave them early this season, after all the trash talk over the offseason? Magic 8-ball says: It is certain

BTPC pick: Colts laying 5.5

Last Week: 8-5-1 Upset Special: 0-0-1
Season to date: 51-47-6 Upset specials 4-1-1
Career to date: 177-169-14

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who was really behind Arizona's Immigration Law?

NPR, yes that leftist propaganda machine that Jim DeMint thinks is destroying America, has a good piece (what?! those commies actual practice journalism?!) up about who was behind the push for Arizona's Immigration law. Who was it? Republicans? Tea Partiers? Militias? Nope. Try the private correctional industry.

NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.
The Arizona bill had 36 co-sponsors. Of those 36, 30 received contributions from prison corporations or prison lobbyists within 6 months and 2/3rds have ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council, basically a "smoke-filled backroom" 501(c)(3) whose sole purpose is to act as a "matchmaker," introducing corporate America to politicians (specifically state legislators). Oddly enough, these state legislators go home and introduce model legislation drafted by these corporations and...whaddya know...they get campaign contributions for the corporations. Now that's America!

NPR has been under attack by our own Sen. Jim DeMinted and the right. They want to pull public funding. We even had a debate with a friend who believes NPR should not get and govt funding, under the theory that what NPR offers in journalism, the free market would provide if NPR wasn't already there. But when you consider the facts of a story like this, that it's the same corporate America that would allegedly fund that alternative media source that is using money to influence and corrupt the political process, doesn't that make a strong case that we do need a government funded media outlet, free from that type of conflict of interest? We think so.

BTPC enthusiastically endorses Republican!

How could we not come out and throw our weight and power behind the re-election campaign of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, or as we like to call Steeley-yo: The Jelly of the Month Club? Why? Because, Clark...Steele's the gift that keeps on giving...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Innocence Lost: The Power of Actual Journalism

Right now, here in Florence, we have a hotly contested race for the 12th Circuit Solicitor's office. Lost in all the talk about cases loads, conviction rates and law enforcement support, is the fact that the field of criminal justice is just like any other field.

We are lucky to have some outstanding investigators and law enforcement officers here in the 12th. But just like any workplace, not every job gets done correctly.

People can take shortcuts and they can make mistakes. For most folks, seeing problems like that on the job just means they have to unfairly pick up the slack or that undeserving people sometimes are rewarded for the hard work of others. In the criminal justice system, that kind of stuff can result in people losing their liberty or possibly their lives.

Texas Monthly has an outstanding article up by Pamela Colloff, a 14,000 word behemoth that is rare in today's short blurb world. How outstanding was it? It's credited with influencing the State of Texas to drop their attempts to retry Anthony Graves and finally free him after 18 years in prison.

We find this article important to show how damaging the belief of true guilt can be to those in the criminal justice system. Prosecutors, jailers, Texas rangers and Deputy Sheriffs all did things that sent an innocent man to prison and had him in line to die. Maybe we're naive, but we like to assume that those who don the cloak of public service do so with honorable intentions. was once asked, Brutus and Cassius...are they not too honorable men?

In ordering a new trial for Graves, the Fifth District Federal Court of Appeals specifically took issue with the prosecutor of the case, Burleson Co. DA Charles Sebesta.

"The court reserved particular criticism for Sebesta for having prompted two witnesses to say on the stand that Carter had never wavered, other than in his grand jury testimony, in identifying Graves as the killer. (Sebesta had done this not only with Carter but with Ranger Coffman as well.) Wrote Davis, “Perhaps even more egregious than District Attorney Sebesta’s failure to disclose Carter’s most recent statement is his deliberate trial tactic of eliciting testimony from Carter and the chief investigating officer, Ranger Coffman, that the D.A. knew was false.”

Personally, Sebesta's proclamations of no wrongdoing would be a little more believable, if he didn't also pull that BS tactic of threatening to charge one of Graves' witnesses as a co-defendant right before she took the stand. (An allegation Sebesta admits in hindsight he does not believe).

Now, there are no doubt defense attorneys who have crossed over the line in representing their defendants, a practice we find as distasteful and wrong as when anyone else does it. But the law recognizes the enormous power a prosecutor has and places on them the special, and difficult burden, of seeking justice. That's a duty much higher than that which a defense attorney is tasked with, which is to zealously advocate on behalf of their clients.

We simply want to remind people that being a prosecutor is much more than conviction rates and tough talk. It's our hope that whomever is serving as our solicitor in the 12th Circuit after next Tuesday embraces that duty. If they do, we will hopefully never have to hear one of our residents of the 12th echoing the heartbreaking remarks of Graves below.

“I’ve missed so much,” Graves said. “My children are all grown. I have grandkids I’ve never touched.” His voice broke. “I’ve been alive for the past eighteen years, but I haven’t lived,” he said.

He had already told me that he was not a particularly religious person, so I asked what sustained him.

“Knowing I’m innocent,” he replied. “I’m not just going to lay down my life for something I didn’t do.”

Eventually I got to the question I had been wanting to ask. I was curious how he remembered the world that he had left behind when he was 26 years old. “If you ever get out of here—” I began.

“When I get out,” he interrupted. “When.”

“When you get out, what do you want to do first?” I ventured.

“Hug my mother and my children,” he said. “Take a bath. Eat some ribs off the barbecue pit, or a hamburger with real lettuce and tomatoes and onions.” He closed his eyes for a moment, as if savoring a memory he had secreted away. “Take my shoes off and touch the grass,” he said. “Or just open a door. Open a door so I can walk outside."
Hattip Savitz

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Celebrating the 'Pine: Best of BTPC from '08 through '09

Earlier this week, we did a post pointing out that the BTPC had made it to our 2 year birthday. It's seems so long ago that we decided to start venting ourselves via a blog. Mostly it was stress relief, but it also provided us with an excuse to write a little for fun, which we had missed terribly since entering "the real world."

Several months ago, we started going through the archives and pulled some of our favorite posts. There is no rhyme or reason for the posts we selected. They just represent thoughts, ideas or happenings that, in looking back on the past two years, made some kind of impression on us.

For those of you that have taken time out of your day to occasionally come over and peruse our site, thank you. We hope everyone who does check us out, reads this site in the spirit it is intended. Foolish wisecracking, sarcasm and commentary that really does not take itself seriously. Neither should you.

Thanks again.

First post =

1-Vote election =

NASA cribs Mr. Show:

Dirty women’s soccer player:

The Wire 100 quotes:


The Aughts:

BTPC man of the year:

Todd Willingham case:

SC we do crazy right:

Nothing sucks worse than GA:

Swayze dies:

Captain Lou dies:

Hader’s Carville impersonation:

Big USC win:

Rev. Lowrey’s Innaugural benediction:


Best campaign commercial evah:

First Blair video:


Reino hunts me down:

HCR coming:

Parnell rap:

Coal Plant:

80s Shawshank:

Dolphins from worst to first:

Post on Exec Orders on torture and benefits of law:

Norm and Al, Kramer Crazy video:

Steele in as chairman:

Obamas first address, live blog:

Jon Stewart pwns Cramer:

Stewart as Conkrite (birther):

Stewart on SC:

FLO CO GOP feuding:



Top Gun gay:

We lost Captain Chaos:

McCmaster. Busted.

CEB Day:

Carradine dead:

Revolution in Iran?:

Speeding tickets:

Slower keep right:

Madmen slogans:

McMahon, Michael and Farrah:

Media whoring for access:

RIP McCourt:

Live-blogging The Bachelorette:

Most interesting man in the world:

Teddy K:


Farrell and Grohl, Leather and Lace:

Everday Normal Guy rap:

DeadWood pancakes

Dead Wood Best of Al

The D – Squeezebox:

Kanye gay fish:

Taco Bell Folk Song Order:

Creepy Different Strokes:

Bert and Ernie gangsta:

Henson’s 11:

Lip Dub Flagpole sitta:

Ladies night:

Wheelbarrow race:

The Return of the Big Dog...

The Washington Post had a good piece on Bill Clinton's "rescue mission" for Democrats in the midterms. You read it and remember, whatever his flaws, Bill Clinton is DAMN good working a room.

Hattip KFloyd.

Week 7 picks

Quick picks

FALCONS -3.5 over Bengals

BEARS (-3) over Skins

TITANS(-3) over Philly

Steelers (-3) over DOLPHINS
(this one hurts...)

Browns (+13) over SAINTS
(dont't trust Saints to beat anyone that big anymore)

BUCS (-2.5) over Rams

RAVENS (-13) over Bills

CHIEFS (-9) over Jaguars

PANTHERS (+3) over Niners
(can Panthers score more than 7 at home?)

SEAHAWKS (-6.5) over Cardinals

Patriots (+3) over CHARGERS
UPSET SPECIAL (no Gates possible)

Raiders (+8.5) over BRONCOS

PACKERS(-2.5) over Vikings

COWBOYS (-2.5) over Giants

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Galivant's Ferry...Move aside and let the Florence County Stump come through

The first ever Florence County Stump was held last night and it wound up being a huge success. 1200 plus people showed up to hear Democratic candidates Congressman Jim Clyburn, Sen. Vincent Sheheen, Ashley Cooper, Matthew Richardson, Robert Barber, Tom Elliot, Frank Holleman and Marjorie L. Johnson. Great crowd and a great event.

Go ahead and start getting ready for the 2012 stump.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The next time you hear a Republican bashing the stimulus, you may wanna check their hypocrisy meter

We covered the shameful hypocrisy of Republican politicians publicly bashing the Stimulus then running home to pose for pics with the checks was back in February. But a friend just shared this piece by the Center for Public Integrity ( we need that) which is great, highlighting some of the bashing the politician took part in, then showing the about-face they presented when writing in to request stimulus funds.

We'd draw your attention to the function below. Look up your own "principled conservative" who stood steadfast against socialism (by sticking their snouts firmly in the through). Check out SC's "patriots." Come on, Joe...say it ain't so. You lie...

Hattip Molnar

Happy Birthday to us: The 'Pine turns 2...

We're a day late on this, but then again, we've always been procrastinators. Anyway, October 20, 2008 was the birth of this blog.

We started working on a best of post quite a while ago and will try to finish it up and get it out soon. For those who have been kind enough to stop by and peruse our insignificant, silly and random thoughts/rants the past two years, thank you.

Here's to many more...

A voters guide for the fellas in the SC Gubernatorial race

For the 'Pines male readers who are still struggling with who to vote for in the Haley-Sheheen race, we offer some advice that any male should be able to comprehend (courtesy of Buffy & HIMYM).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Breaking down the Tea Party...

Came across this post by Kevin Drum today and thought it was pretty much the most on point and succinct analysis we had heard on the subject:

The modern, tea party-inflected conservative movement is based on a few core principles. Global warming is a hoax. Income inequality hasn't been growing. Tax cuts don't increase the deficit. America has the best healthcare in the world. Evolution is a myth. The economy is weak because of regulatory uncertainty. Barack Obama is a socialist.

I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs. Not really coming up with any....
Pretty on the money, if you ask us...

Don't forget the Florence County Stump this Friday (Oct. 22)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Excuse me, St. Peter...but I speak jive. RIP Barbara Billingsley

The Beaver's television mom died yesterday at the age of 94.

Chump don't want da help, Chump don't get da help...

Rand Paul does not like wearing his shoes on the other foot...

The Kentucky US Senate race is getting ugly. Democratic nominee, Jack Conway, has drawn the ire of Republican (and Tea Partier) nominee Rand Paul for an ad that the Paul camp calls "despicable” and “desperate.”

Personally, we don't think a candidates religious beliefs should factor in to any political race. We subscribe to the notion that a person's spiritual beliefs are personal and should remain that way, that they have no business in the public arena whatsoever.

“Jack Conway stepped way over the line and released a shameful and despicable ad that questions Dr. Paul’s Christian faith,” the campaign said in a statement. “Personal attacks on Rand’s faith are way out of bounds.”

For the past two decades, the religious right in this country, mainly through the Republican party, have made religion an issue. Ever since the GOP started kissing up to groups like the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, etc., a standard tactic of the right has been to cast aspersions against the opposition's "values."

So, excuse of us if we fail to shed a tear for the Paul campaign. That shoe doesn't feel so well on the other foot, does it?