Idiot to actor: Lead us, oh wise one!

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. 

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Humility comes first for real heroes

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.

Who dares question Pitchfork Bill Connor?

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.

Trifle with Bill Connor at your own peril

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:

KD

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.

Just who’s trying to ‘hack & own’ whom?

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.

Bill Connor: Do as I say, not as I do

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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.

Bill Connor is all about … Bill Connor

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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.