The blog Joe. My. God. has an interesting bit related to a Washington Post story about Tea Party activists flocking to Colonial Williamsburg. Included is an exchange between one blockhead and an actor portraying George Washington, with the former asking the latter, in essence, at what point is it okay to take up arms against the federal government.
“General, when is it appropriate to resort to arms to fight for our liberty?” asked a tourist on a recent weekday during “A Conversation with George Washington,” a hugely popular dialogue between actor and audience in the shaded backyard of Charlton’s Coffeehouse. Standing on a simple wooden stage before a crowd of about 100, the man portraying Washington replied: “Only when all peaceful remedies have been exhausted. Or if we are forced to do so in our own self-defense.” The tourist, a self-described conservative activist named Ismael Nieves from Elmer, N.J., nodded thoughtfully.
Not surprisingly, Nieves went heavy on the rhetoric.
There’s something distinctly off-putting about political candidates who wear their military service on their sleeves.
With each day, hundreds of World War II veterans die and it’s rather remarkable to read over and over about how so many of these brave men returned home after having survived tremendous combat, after having seen myriad friends and comrades killed, after having turned back the forces of fascism and imperialism, and did their best to get on with their lives.
They didn’t stand on the street corner and trumpet what they’d done to the world, they just went back to work, raised families and did what they could to better their communities and the nation.
I suppose that’s because real heroes don’t brag about their heroism. Real heroes don’t have to constantly remind everyone how heroic they are; they accept their heroism and move on with their lives. They certainly don’t go around using the men they led as political pawns.
The bravest men I’ve read about and had the good fortune to meet were also the most humble.
Almost without fail, they said it was not they who were the heroes, but their comrades who gave their lives for their country. They never boasted of their exploits.
John Finn, the nation’s oldest-living Medal of Honor recipient, died recently at age 100. Finn was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Pearl Harbor.
He was assigned to Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on Dec. 7, 1941, when he found himself firing at Japanese planes from an exposed position for more than two hours despite being hit 21 times by bomb and bullet fragments.
“I know this sounds corny, but on December 7, I was just doing my duty and what I had been trained and paid to do since I was 17 years old,” he said in an interview more than 40 years later.
That’s it. He was doing his duty – nothing more.
Contrast that with those running for office who constantly talk up their military duty while on the campaign trail, who Twitter about what they’ve done for their country, who decorate their websites with military images and the awards they’ve received.
Real heroes don’t brag because they don’t need to. They’re secure in who they are and what they’ve done for their country. Anyone who feels the need to hold himself out as a hero probably isn’t.
South Carolina political debate has a reputation for being particularly venomous. One need only read the back-and-forth banter on some of the better-known blogs to realize that there is a small but vitriolic cadre of political minions there ready to squelch any and all potentially negative views related to the candidate of their choice.
Take the recent endorsement of the Lieutenant Governor’s race by FITSNews. Probably the best-known and best-read political blog in South Carolina, FITS recently endorsed Columbia lawyer Bill Connor for lite governor.
After just a handful of comments from individuals who believed other candidates were better suited than Connor for Lieutenant Governor (two supported former state insurance director Eleanor Kitzman and one supported Lowcountry attorney Larry Richter), out came the long knives.
Hence, we got the following:
- “Very nice call Fits. Bill Connor is certainly the guy to take on the status quo and several times has AFFIRMED his commitment to do so. Pay no attention to the naysayers (Ken Ard and Larry Richter staff), you made the right call.”
- “It’s really an easy choice. Bill Connor has more qualifications for leading this state that any of the gubernatorial candidates and is light years ahead of Larry Richter and Ken Ard. It looks as though Ken Ard’s staff has already started on ya Fits. Give ‘em hell.”
- “It’s a shame when a candidate such as Bill Connor stands on his platform and outperforms his opponents like Ken Ard they resort to negative attacks to try and steal an election. … When is Ken Ard going to answer to the fact that the tax raise he pushed so hard for actually benefits him personally because he owns land that will have to be purchased with this tax money? STOP with the negative attacks Ken Ard staff Katie Baham and Robert Cahaly. You’re insulting the process for electing candidates to office.”
- “alwaysknocktwice, how’s it feel to be so desperate cuz your boy Ken Ard is so far behind you have to spread lies and rumors to try to win? More lies from Ken Ard, Robert Cahaly and Katie Baham. You better start trying to elect Ken Ard back to county council in Florence. Looks like that will be tougher than you thought.”
- “You’ve taken a few rumors from people that despise Bill Connor because he supports tort reform and information generated by the Robert Cahaly sleaze machine and publicly slandering the next Lt Governor of South Carolina. Figured you for more common sense than that. … Give it a break. For over a year now Ken Ard and Robert Cahaly have been doing their best to slander Bill Connor and try to steal this election. They’ve offered no proof of anything nor has anyone come forward as an eyewitness.”
- “Your attempt to make him look bad is nothing but sour grapes over Ken Ard losing this election. You idiots have slandered and verbally assaulted Bill Connor for over a year and it’s brought you nothing but shame in the eyes of the voters. The people of South Carolina are sick and tired of those like you, Robert Cahaly and Ken Ard who try to win elections by making their opponents look bad instead of the joke of convincing the voting public that Ken Ard is the best person for the job. Judging from Ken Ard’s track record, he would be nothing more than a corrupt RINO tax and spender like several we have now. Ken Ard needs to start running as a democrat instead of trying to mislead the voters.”
Of course, as nearly all the comments about Connor - pro and con - are anonymous, it’s difficult to tell just who’s supporting him and who isn’t. But it’s telling that when an anti-Connor comment goes up on the South Carolina blogosphere, Connor and his camp are quick to point the finger at a rival rather than refute arguments, as though no one else could possible have an issue with him. (Sometimes someone on Connor’s side even throws in an anonymous threat or two, as well.)
But bring up the fact, as one individual did, that real soldiers don’t need to wear their military service on their sleeves through such actions as displaying their bronze star on their political website and using their uniform as an advertising gimmick, as Connor seems to, or that Connor drops names like a freshman coed at a sorority function, and it must be the work of a nefarious opponent, probably in league with the devil himself.
Question whether a candidate like Connor has ever met a payroll or even what his overseas military experience consisted of, and you’re all but lumped in with al-Qaeda.
So this is what passes for political discourse in South Carolina these days, at least on the Republican side: Concoct a message heavy on God, country and arch-Conservatism (much of which have nothing to do with the actual job of being Lieutenant Governor), and slam anyone who sees things differently, or, heaven forbid, calls you on your qualifications.
Even in a state with a penchant for Cro-Magnon-like political machinations, one would hope for better than thinly veiled threats against penny-ante bloggers.
It would appear my Tuesday post ridiculing Lt. Governor candidate Bill Connor’s sky-is-falling act regarding the hacking of his website by purported cronies of Osama bin Laden (no, really) ruffled a few feathers.
Shortly after I called out the Connor campaign for insulting the intelligence of South Carolinians with the suggestion that Islamic extremists might be targeting Connor because he served in the Army in Afghanistan, I received the following comment:
It’s really dangerous for someone with your position to continue this personal vendetta. Your posts on this blog and fits are inappropriate for you, especially from your work computer. There are a number of people in Cola that would be shocked at this and make appropriate moves.
The missive, from an individual who identified themselves as only “W,” was sent from a hidden Internet Protocol address, of course.
Now, seeing how my total readership is so small that they could all fit in the backseat of Yugo, it’s always nice to get feedback. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a few moments to respond to my new-found friend.
First, I’m not sure how highlighting the antics of someone running for elected office (such as here, here, here, here and here) constitutes a “personal vendetta,” but even if it did, I’m even less clear why it would be “really dangerous for someone with your position.”
Dangerous to whom? The candidate? Unless someone’s got some truly horrific skeletons in their closet or are pretending to be something they’re not, I can’t see how the ramblings of a single blogger carry much weight.
Oh, wait. Perhaps my new buddy meant that it would be dangerous for me to continue writing about Mr. Connor. Yes, I suppose there is a very real danger that by continuing to pay attention to Mr. Connor’s bellicose buffoonery my already-suspect IQ could be irreparably harmed.
As to the remark that my posts on this blog and FITSnews are inappropriate, “especially from your work computer,” I will concede that as I do often work from home at night, I suppose one could say I did indeed write the offending post from my work computer.
As to why they’re inappropriate, though, I’m a bit hazy. We do have libel laws, however, so if someone connected to the Connor Camp feels a wrong has been perpetrated, then by all means seek legal redress.
But my new pal saved the best for last: “There are a number of people in Cola that would be shocked at this and make appropriate moves.” First, the smattering of people in “Cola” who know me would hardly be shocked that I wrote something antagonistic about a self-important clown who thinks he can whip up support by fabricating a tale about Middle Eastern extremists targeting him because of his views on the War on Terror.
I’ve taken shots at a number of individuals, companies and entities who have crossed the line into the absurd, inane or shady, including Mack Whittle, Collexis Holdings, Anderson 3 School District, the Greenville News, the Green Movement and Bob Coble, to name a few.
As to what my new amigo meant when they said that there were a number of people who would “make appropriate moves” if I continued, one can only guess. But I’d like to make a few suggestions:
- Buy me a Thesaurus. After just a year of running this blog, I recognize that my writing can get repetitive and even pedantic. Perhaps a copy of Roget’s latest edition would spice things up a little.
- Buy me a new laptop. Maybe if I had a better setup I wouldn’t be such a grouch and feel the need to point out the myriad foibles of individuals such as Mr. Connor.
- Buy me a ticket for a nice vacation, preferably somewhere warm with good fishing. Perhaps a week or two away would lift my spirits enough that I would be better able to overlook the insipid claptrap from candidates such as Bill Connor. Probably not, but let’s give it a try and see what happens.
Radical Islam represents a far greater threat to America than most of us realize. Why, just this week Osama bin Laden’s minions apparently hacked into the campaign website of South Carolina Lt. Governor candidate Bill Connor.
A screenshot of Connor’s website Tuesday morning showed the following: “This is hacked & owned … by Dr. Hiad” in the green, red and white colors used on the flags of several Middle Eastern countries, according to WIS.
Ah, yes, “hacked & owned” - a rallying cry of Muslims since the days of Saladin.
“We are investigating the breach,” Connor campaign spokesman Joshua Gross told FITSnews. “Obviously it’s Islamic in nature so we’re assuming it’s related to his service in Afghanistan.”
Yes, obviously Islamic, and obviously extremely crafty and nefarious, to boot.
Conner, a Columbia attorney and Lt. Colonel who served in Afghanistan, took the opportunity to set up and knock down a veritable army of Islamic straw men.
“From Garmsir to Fort Hood, we face in radical Islam an enemy whose attacks range from petty web hacks to mass murder,” Connor said. “What was done to our campaign website is nothing compared to the real damage that Islamists can do to kill our citizens and undermine our laws and Constitution. We have seen that in attacks against US soldiers and civilians alike around the globe.”
However, a computer expert contacted by The Associated Press who studied the site says the alterations are similar to those made about 4,500 times elsewhere on the Web.
Ray Dickenson of the technology security firm Authentium also says the alterations do not appear to have any political content in them.
But then again, The Associated Press, Ray Dickenson and technology security firm Authentium are all probably fawning lickspittles of bin Laden and other Middle Eastern extremists, willing to do whatever it takes to bring down budding political giant Bill Connor.
Seriously, can anyone running for statewide office really be so stupid as to believe that Islamic extremists give a hoot about the South Carolina Lt. Governor’s race, whether or not one of the candidates served overseas?
Better yet: Can anyone running for statewide office really think they can fool South Carolinians into believing radical Muslims give a hoot about the S.C. Lt. Governor’s race?
This is the kind of inanity that would derail the average person’s bid to win election to something as mundane as the local water and soil conservation board, never mind the second-highest elected office in the state.
Back in April, Columbia attorney Bill Connor issued a press release in which he welcomed Rock Hill developer Ralph Norman into the SC lieutenant governor’s race and said he looked “forward to running a hard but clean campaign.”
Apparently, Connor either has a short memory or a serious misunderstanding about what constitutes “clean.”
Over the past few months, he or his campaign have tried unsuccessfully to get covert competitive intelligence on a fellow candidate from a politically connected nonprofit, attempted to block a potential competitor from speaking at at least one county convention and attempted to smear other candidates by calling bloggers to let them know who hadn’t filed campaign disclosures.
Regarding the latter, blogger Earl Capps explains the antics of one Connor staffer:
While he was trying to convince me I should diss (Ken Ard and Ralph Norman ) for not getting their disclosures in, convincing me I should be a “campaign finance watchdog,” he forgot some disclosure of his own when he didn’t mention who he was working for, but since I knew who he was working for, his motives weren’t difficult to figure out.
I wasn’t really bothered by the lack of disclosure. Since it’s so early in the campaign, the candidates have spent little money. I doubted that they’re hiding a whole lot at this stage in the game.
However, I was trying to figure out what he was doing calling me at my office. NOBODY calls me at my work, nor have I invited anyone to call me there, and I certainly don’t need – or want – to drag politics into my workplace.
When I recently asked the candidate about this, he didn’t seem concerned that his campaign took the first negative shot of the campaign, nor that they tried to play me for a fool. In fact, he didn’t seem to understand why I would have a problem with what was done.
Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of things to come in the race for Lieutenant Governor, but if the mud is already being thrown a year out over things this petty, who knows what’s next?
With the primary still nearly a year away, one has to wonder what Connor is so worried about that he’s already reaching into his bag of dirty tricks? Is it that he realizes his campaign is built on a foundation of sand, or is he instead hiding some deep, dark secret? Perhaps it’s both.
A good rule of thumb around election time is beware of candidates who insist on portraying themselves as “political outsiders,” even while they’re busy employing every insider trick they can find.
Case in point: Bill Connor, the Columbia attorney who is running for South Carolina lieutenant governor.
Last week, when former SC House member Ralph Norman confirmed his candidacy for the same position, Connor issued a press release ostensibly welcoming Norman to the race. In reality, it was nothing more than Connor using the occasion as an excuse to do something he’s very good at – patting himself on the back.
The first line of the release began “Bill Connor released the following statement today… ,” helpful for anyone who somehow missed the giant bold-faced, all-caps headline “BILL CONNOR WELCOMES RALPH NORMAN TO LT. GOV. RACE.”
After a paragraph in which Connor talked about his desire to “keep personal attacks out of the race entirely” (how big of him), he concluded with a nearly 100-word paragraph about himself, touching on his military rank, including his service overseas and decoration, his job as a corporate defense attorney in Columbia, his position as chairman of private Christian school in Orangeburg, his graduation from The Citadel and USC Law School, the fact he’s been married for 18 years, the names of his three children, and the name of the church they attend in Columbia.
One shudders to think at how long the press release would have been if Connor had actually had some genuine non-military accomplishments to brag about.
Granted, South Carolina has had some real dogs run for lieutenant governor over the years.
Earle Morris, who served as second in command in the early 1970s, is currently behind bars for his role in the Carolina Investors scandal.
Cole Blease, one of the state’s most virulent racists, lost his bid for the Democratic nod for lieutenant governor to James Tillman in the 1900 primary.
And Tillman, of course, went on to infamy when, as lieutenant governor, he gunned down NG Gonzales, the editor of The State newspaper, at the corner of Main and Gervais streets, in downtown Columbia in 1903.
So it’s probably accurate to say that Bill Connor isn’t the least-qualified individual in state history to ever throw his hat in the ring for the position.
But that certainly doesn’t mean he’s the right person for the job.
Connor apparently believes the secret to securing SC’s second-highest elected position is touting his military service (along with that of his father and grandfather), tossing out a few red-meat sound bites to inflame rabid conservatives (“government is not the answer; freedom is the answer”) and repeat ad nauseam his belief in God, country and family.
All that’s nice, but it’s unclear what direction he has in mind for South Carolina because if one goes to his website, www.voteconnor.com, all one finds is information on how to donate to Connor’s campaign and how to contact the campaign.
There’s nothing on Connor’s platform; nothing on what, if anything, he thinks about education, job creation, improving government efficiency, tax reform or issues facing senior citizens.
In other words, it’s all about what South Carolina can do for Bill Connor, not what Bill Connor can do for South Carolina.
One might have thought that an individual who spends so much time and energy boasting about his time in the military would have understood the importance of advance planning before declaring his candidacy.
Between the name dropping, patriotic references and unabashed self-aggrandizing evident at Bill Connor’s press conference last month, one would have thought scientists had somehow managed to clone George Washington, Oliver Wendell Holmes and George Patton, then rolled them into a single omnipotent being.
Connor, a Columbia lawyer, did everything but proclaim himself the right-wing messiah as he announced from the steps of the Statehouse his plans to run for SC lieutenant governor. In just a few minutes, he managed to:
- Mention not only his own military service, but that of his father and grandfather;
- Impart the phrase “traditional values of our Founding Fathers;”
- Drop the name of Ronald Reagan;
- Blurt out such tired sound bites as “government is not the answer; freedom is the answer;”
- Vow to rule “all tax increases out of order every time.”
What he failed to do was lay out any sort of plan that shows he has what it takes to actually serve in elected office.
Any well-dressed, well-funded individual can line up his family and supporters behind him and spout off the tried and true conservative maxims about smaller government and lower taxes, but if it’s nothing more than window dressing and empty platitudes, it won’t move South Carolina forward.
Of course, such posturing does help move Mr. Connor along, provided he can snow enough people with his years-in-the-making political candidacy.
Among his more inane statements was this, taken from the press release announcing his candidacy, purporting to embody his reaction upon his recent return from military service in the Middle East:
“When I returned home, I was shocked to find that my country had started to abandon the principles we went overseas to protect. I’m running for Lt. Gov. to work to bring back those traditional values that our Founding Fathers wrote into our Declaration of Independence.”
First off, to which values does Mr. Connor refer when he said he “was shocked to find that my country had started to abandon those principles we went overseas to protect?”
The stated purpose of US involvement in Afghanistan, where Mr. Connor was stationed, was to capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al-Qaeda and remove the Taliban regime which had provided support and safe harbor to al-Qaeda. Upon his return, did Mr. Connor discover al-Qaeda operatives whooping it up at a Motel 6 in Orangeburg while his fellow South Carolinians looked away in disinterest?
Other reasons the US ostensibly went into Afghanistan were to lay the groundwork for such principles of democracy as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly.
Did Mr. Connor return to the Palmetto State and witness minority religions being persecuted or women being prohibited from attending school or being forced to dress in burkas? If so, the media must have been asleep at the switch while this shocking transition had taken place.
No, if instead what Mr. Connor meant was that upon his return from the Middle East he was dismayed to discover that our nation had begun to abandon the values our Founding Fathers held dear during the early days of our republic, then it would appear he either has a poor grasp of American history or simply wasn’t paying attention before it was politically expedient for him to do so.
The fact is, it’s unlikely that any of our Founding Fathers would recognize the Leviathan-like state of today’s Federal government.
In the words of economist and author Robert Higgs, “Americans currently are suffocating under the weight of a vast hodgepodge of statutes, regulations, court rulings, official bureaus, police and military organizations, and assorted authoritative busybodies.”
And this is a trend that has been underway not for months or years, as Mr. Connor seems to believe, but for decades.
That Mr. Connor appears to have only just become aware of this disturbing fact doesn’t speak well for his powers of perception, or his ability to handle the reins of South Carolina’s second-highest elected position.
The problem with self promotion is that it can make you look like a self-centered jackass. Case in point: Columbia, SC, attorney Bill Connor.
Connor, an associate with the Murphy-Grantland law firm, has spent much of the past year promoting himself and his recent tour of duty in Afghanistan, which included, as he’ll tell most anyone who’ll listen, a brush with Prince Harry.
Not only did Connor manage to get himself profiled in a variety of publications such as the Orangeburg Times & Democrat and The State, he was the subject of an outdoor advertising campaign and even wrote a book, titled “Articles from War.”
“Articles from War,” which includes the ego-affirming subtitle “The Writings of Lt. Col. Bill Connor, J.D.,” is both Connor’s homage to himself and, one suspects, the groundwork for his future political aspirations.
And if it wasn’t enough to pen a vanity press publication and drop the names of US Rep. Joe Wilson, Lt. Gen. John Le Moyne and Brig. Gen. Mitchell Zais, Connor appears to have taken it upon himself to serve as his own press agent, as well.
Here’s online retailing giant Amazon.com’s description of the book:
“Articles from War is the unique war memoir, written through articles back home, of a lawyer called to war as an American Infantry officer who fought alongside British royalty.”
The blurb about Connor not only reiterates his military service, including the much ballyhooed brush with Prince Harry, but also details about his education, family and church:
“Bill Connor is a Citadel graduate, Lawyer, Reserve Infantry Lt. Colonel and former Regular Army Infantry Officer, with three tours in the Middle East. He volunteered to serve with South Carolina’s 218th Infantry Brigade and commanded the US advisory efforts in Helmand Province, Afghanistan where he served in combat with Prince Harry. He is a graduate of Law School at University of South Carolina and attorney with Murphy-Grantland law firm in Columbia, SC. He and wife, Susan, have three children: Peyton, Brenna, and Will, and are members of Christ s Church of The Carolinas.”
Perhaps most revealing is the single review of the work:
“This is a compelling book. The stories of Prince Harry in the war zone (particularly from an American) make this book a “one of a kind”. The combat action and description of life for US Advisors in Afghanistan is exciting and eye-opening. The idea of telling the story through articles from Afghanistan is quite unique. It makes it easy for the reader to digest this book one article at a time and quickly pick up where he left off. Overall, excellent.”
And the author of this review? Amazon.com lists it as “W. Connor V.” That would most likely be William M. Connor, V, the name Bill Connor is listed under on his law firm’s website. Not surprisingly, “W. Connor V” gave Bill Connor’s “Articles from War” 5 stars, calling it a great memoir.
Alas, “W. Connor V” appears to be one of the few fans of “Articles from War.” The book is ranked No. 1,619,618 in sales by Amazon.com, as of Jan. 23, 2009. By comparison, “Atlanta Nights” by Travis Tea, a work described by some as the worst book ever written, comes in at 307,649.
And there’s even a Bill Connor website for those who can’t get enough of ol’ Bill through his book, newspaper articles or billboard advertisements.
Part of the problem with the political process and society as a whole today is that while the truly accomplished have the good manners not to toot their own horns, grasping opportunists are all too happy to fill the void and all but break their arms patting themselves on their backs.
Hundreds of thousands of brave American men and women have served overseas not to further their professional and political careers, but because it was their jobs and they believed it the right thing to do.
They didn’t return to the US to begin a self-serving public relations blitz directed at informing the world about how wonderful and important they were. They came back, kept their mouths shut and got on with their lives.
Indeed, it would appear Mr. Connor could learn a thing or two from Matthew 6:5-6, which reads:
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees you in secret will repay you.”