Monday, January 28, 2008

Three Big Days in February!

February is here!!! It’s everybody’s favorite month of the year, of all the months with fewer than 30 days.

Most females love February because of Valentines Day. Guys, I think just sort of get roped into it.

Government employees like February because of that extra holiday – Presidents Day – a day invented by merging the real birthdays of George Washington and Abe Lincoln into a fictitious annual joint birthday, which curiously always falls on a Monday, extending the celebration into a holiday weekend, and no doubt boosting our economy with Presidents Day sales and holiday travel. Long after their demise, two of our most important presidents – Washington and Lincoln—are sacrificing their individual birthdays to boost our national economy. Great Americans, both. (As the brilliant minds in Congress are currently debating how to stimulate our sagging economy, let me put in my recommendation for a few extra holiday weekends. Government can take a day off, which is always good news. And those employees would take some of their tax-funded salaries they’ve been pocketing, and use them to go shopping or traveling. It’s genius!)

This year is a particularly special February. First of all, we get that extra day, which only occurs every four years. All those people who were born on February 29th have an actual birthday… which is a rarity. Most years, our smallest minority – statistically one in every 1,461 people – don’t have a birthday! For example, any of those Feb. 29th guys who happen to turn 40 this year will get to celebrate only their 10th birthday!

In addition to being a leap year, we have Three Big Days approaching early in the month, each of which may carry a very special significance. Two of the days are so big, we’ve actually named them Super Days: First the Big “Super Bowl” Full-Contact Professional Football Game; and second, the Big “Super Tuesday” Full-Contact Presidential Primary Election Day.

On these two days, separated by only a well-placed catch-our-breath Monday, the nation will participate in some of the most important decisions of the year – not necessarily in order of importance -- a) The 2008 NFL Champs; b) The Next President of the United States and Leader of the Free World; and, c) Which is the Best Super-Bowl TV Ad, which, this year will cost a cool $2.7million for a 30 second spot.

Super Bowl and Super Tuesday are Super-Special this year.

The New England Patriots are undefeated and can set a new record and a new standard of perfection with a victory… AND, in the process, crown quarterback Tom Brady as the new All-American, clean-cut, good-guy hero for the national news media to eventually strip of his luster and crush like a bug in the dirt.

Super Tuesday may well be the most important single election day in modern history. For the first time since Eisenhower in the 1950’s, there is no incumbent President or Vice-President seeking the office, so it’s a truly open election. And, for the first time, there is a real likelihood that either a female or an African-American will secure a major party’s nomination and may become President. On Super Tuesday, 22 states will hold contests to help choose the first new American president in the post-9/11 era. It’s a big day. The only thing I can think of which could make it more exciting would be if an incumbent Vice President HAD decided to seek the office. (I’d love to see Cheney in the middle of this. To help keep the campaigns civil, he could volunteer to take ’em all hunting!)

Super Bowl Sunday and Super Tuesday will be big, fun, exciting days… if we ever get to them. First, though, we have to make it past the biggest annual blow-out of them all: Ground Hog Day!

As I’ve cautioned you before: always be sure to wear comfortable clothes on Ground Hog Day, just in case the movie comes true. I’m planning on going even further this year. I’m going to spend Feb. 2nd doing everything I can think of that I like doing, just in case I get stuck living that day over and over and over. That would mean, of course, that I’d never actually get to see the Super Bowl or Super Tuesday… but at least I’d be frozen in time doing the things I like to do… starting with a big breakfast -- waffles, syrup, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, etc. for breakfast – after sleeping really, really late, then taking a shower so long the hot water runs out, then dressing in my most comfortable clothes (really old clothes that happen to have a few holes in them… but they’re real comfortable). Just in case.

Since the Super Bowl and Super Tuesday are so Super-Special this year, this could also be the year Ground Hog Day actually gets stuck on re-runs!

Three big days in less than a week. February 2nd, 3rd, and 5th.
No wonder it’s everybody’s favorite short month.


You’re always welcome to let me know you agree, disagree, can’t make sense of, or simply don’t care about anything I’ve written here… or about any other topic that happens to be on your mind. You can email me directly at:
And, if reading it once just wasn’t enough for you, read it again online – along with previous columns -- at my modern-technology Electronic Internet blog:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Table of Contents

It was just about a year ago that I announced one of my 2007 New Year’s Resolutions to write a column every week. Seeing as how I’m the Publisher and all, and we’re pumping out five different weekly community newspapers – that’s roughly 50,000 papers each week -- I figured that I really ought to buckle down and offer our readers the benefit of my vast storehouse of wisdom each week.

Well, I made it a whole, entire year… writing a column every single week -- although, after the first month or so, it became apparent that my vast storehouse was more like a tiny little closet – perhaps even the bottom shelf in the closet… and the “wisdom” was actually more the like the mindless, frequently unintelligible babbling of someone who probably played too much football without a helmet.

Also, I didn’t actually write a totally new column every week. There were a couple of weeks when I dusted off and freshened up articles I had written 10 or 15 years earlier… plus one or two weeks when, 15 minutes before deadline, I basically grabbed anything I could find from the Internet, changed a few words, and called it a column.

But the point is, I succeeded in occupying this space every week for a whole, entire, total, complete, full year, which is quite an accomplishment, given my tendencies for chronic procrastination and perpetual forgetfulness. Mission accomplished… which is quite an accomplishment, given my tendencies for chronic procrastination and perpetual forgetfulness. I did it!!! A whole year!!! … which is quite an accomplishment, given my tendencies for chronic procrastination and perpetual forgetfulness.

So I’ve decided to keep going.

I’m gonna keep writing a column every week… so I’m giving you fair warning.

And this year, there’s a chance I will actually IMPROVE my writing skills and produce articles, which frankly, aren’t such a gigantic waste of your time. (There’s also a chance Florida will fall into the ocean this year.) There’s always a chance, but I wouldn’t bet on it. As a matter of fact, I’m 99% sure it won’t happen. I’m almost positive I’ll keep pumping out the same menu of mostly useless prattle that I’ve been key-punching out for the last 52 weeks, with virtually no literary, educational, informational, or entertainment value at all… but at least, this year, I’m letting you know in advance.

And, out of my innate sense of fair play and fair warning, I’m providing you with a Table of Contents of sorts, listing what to expect for the rest of the year. Here’s what, with luck, you’ll be missing when you don’t read this column during the coming year:

-- Ground Hog Day. A column in which I explore the possibility that the movie comes true, and the same thing keeps happening over and over… which could actually happen anyway, given my tendencies for chronic procrastination and perpetual forgetfulness. I’ll probably offer the advice to always wear comfortable clothes on Ground Hog Day, just in case the movie comes true.

-- April Fools Day. No way I’m going to let it pass without at least a “Hey, your shoe’s untied!”, or a “Look, your fly’s open!”, or “Oh, there’s a bug on your shoulder!”, or “Beware, interplanetary life-forms are inhabiting this solar system and consuming our cranial contents.” So be on the look out for a good gag… although I’m very unlikely to top last year’s AFD headline: “Publisher Shealy Makes Best Dressed List”.

-- My wrap-up of this year’s South Carolina Presidential Primaries, with my own personal observations and commentary… although there’s a chance I’ll combine this with my April Fools column.

-- TV Scripts. If the writers stay on strike, I think I’m going to include some sit-com scripts in some of my columns. That way I’m killing two birds with one stone… a column, and a TV show. Unfortunately, most of the shows I like have been off the air for about a decade or two… but maybe they’ll make a comeback. If they’re going to stay on strike, we’ll being Mayberry back.

-- Rod-Boy’s Beginners Guide to the Internet. I’ve been promising this column since last spring, but I haven’t produced it yet. I plan to write this column soon, although it may or may not happen, given my tendencies for chronic procrastination and perpetual forgetfulness.

-- Rod-Boy’s Insiders Guide to the National Republican Convention. Back in the 1980’s, I twice served as a delegate to the quadrennial Presidential Nominating Convention, and since it looks as if this year’s convention could be a doozy, I’ll probably piece together some old war tales into a column. On the other hand, if it turns out NOT to be a doozy, I’ll probably skip watching it like everybody else, and watch re-runs of Andy instead.

-- Rod-Boy’s Insider Guide to the Olympics. “Insider” may be a stretch, unless they quickly make “belching” an Olympic sport… in which case, I’m bringing home the Gold for my country!!! If not, I’ll probably write about the Olympics anyway, mainly because how often do you get to use the word “quadrennial”?

-- Rob-Boy’s Lead Up to the Olympics. This column will be my opportunity to once again tell my favorite story about the time I water-skiied 162 miles down the river from Columbia to Charleston, along with my brother Shawn and my good friend, Joe Agnew. After all, why isn’t water-skiing in the Olympics? If it were, I’m pretty sure America would pick up a lot of extra Golds, Silvers, and Bronzes, because I can’t see those pesky Scandinavians doing so well if you replace mountains and snow with a motor-boat. Also, what about NASCAR? Where’s the fairness? They let those geek-walkers have their own event… why not NASCAR?

-- Summer Re-Runs. Be on the lookout. I’m pretty sure there will be some summer re-runs this year, because I really do need a vacation.

-- Rob-Boy’s “Guide” to Proofing… and, Punctuation!!! This one’s going to be tough on me… because – as you prolly know – I’m a “Punctuation-Maniac”, and a “Prooffinggg Mad-Man”!!!

That’s it. I’m fresh out of ideas. I’ll be happy to borrow your ideas. Send them to me via electric email: Or, for the Internet savvy, just post’em to my internet blog:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rod's Quote of the Day

"After watching Sanford's videos in his State of the State Address, the audience was left longing for the good-ole days of Ross Perot and his charts."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Hillary, Obama, Sanford and the Politics of Race

Two major events occurred last week which were reported by the news media as having racial implications.

First, on the national level, Barack Obama lost the New Hampshire Primary after leading in the polls, leading reporters to speculate that some New Hampshire voters had voted against him for racial reasons.

Second, here in our state, Governor Mark Sanford appointed an African-American to South Carolina’s top law enforcement post: Chief of the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

The national media acted surprised to learn that race might play a part in anyone’s decision-making process, as politically incorrect as it might be. Interestingly, this year’s presidential contest might be an exercise in political incorrectness, as race, religion and gender are all center-stage.

Ironically, if this were a job interview instead of an election, it would be illegal to use race, religion or gender as the basis for any hiring decision. But, I assure you, millions of Americans are letting those three items factor into their individual decisions to vote for or against certain candidates.

I have spelled out in this column, over the last couple of weeks, solid reasons to vote for each of the leading contenders, because I happen to believe they each deserve consideration from the voters based on their individual strengths and attributes.

As for race and ethnicity, I’m sure that neither Mr. Obama nor Bill Richardson have been surprised to discover that various voters have used those factors in making decisions, rightly or wrongly, during this process. Like most others actively involved in politics, I have long understood that race, religion and gender frequently enter into the process. I probably learned it at an earlier age than most. I was exactly two years old in 1956 when my father, the late Ryan Shealy, then a candidate for re-election to the S.C. House, became perhaps the first Deep South elected official to publicly denounce the Ku Klux Klan (see newspaper headline at And it was nearly a quarter-century ago that I first worked to try to elect an African-American to State Senate, the late Earl Middleton, about whom I wrote here a few weeks ago.

The reality, I believe, is that it’s okay to acknowledge that race plays a part. Voting tendencies based on race, gender, ethnicity, or religion do exist, and no one should be condemned merely for acknowledging these facts.

The problem, I believe, occurs when race (or religion or gender) is intentionally used to divide or polarize the population. To their credit, neither Hillary nor Obama have been guilty of this thus far, as far as I know.

Our own Governor, however, may be a different story.

Mark Sanford, it turns out, is a master of PR. If he knows anything, it’s how to make himself look good to the public.

Last week, he employed a master stroke of PR when he chose an African-American, Reggie Lloyd, as the new Chief of SLED. Sanford, of course, knew that by doing so, he would be widely credited with helping to bridge the racial divide in our state. It would make him look very good -- even courageous -- to the public (and very progressive at a time when he might possibly be considered for the Veep slot on somebody’s Presidential ticket.)

Were it not for Sanford’s recently revealed history of hypocrisy, we might have bought it. But we are all too familiar with his “say-one-thing, but-do-another” track record: he has made political hay out of beating up on the legislature – always a popular way to get votes – but has not lifted a finger to work cooperatively with them to actually try to make an impact; he blasted the legislature for their competitive grant program, which he called “pork”, but never mentioned that he had privately helped himself to a $150,000 grant for his own piece of pork… and diverted the leftover funds to his friends, instead of giving it back to the taxpayers; and, for years, he lashed out against special interest “bobtailed” legislation, but seems to forget that he himself, in his final hours as a Congressman, attached such an amendment to force a $1 million, taxpayer financed bail-out of his politically-connected friends.

Let’s analyze Sanford’s SLED appointment. He leapfrogged many, many well-qualified, long-serving law enforcement professionals, in order to make a non-law enforcement attorney, who was already our state’s first African-American federal prosecutor, our state’s first African-American chief law enforcement officer. Who really benefits most from this courageous act? Is it Lloyd? Is it our state’s African-American community? Is it law enforcement?

Nope! It’s Mark Sanford, the master of PR, who put another PR feather in his cap. Like the rest of us, he understands that race does play a role in politics, and he’s taking advantage of it to promote himself. And, as we’ve already stated, no one should be condemned for merely acknowledging the role of race in politics.

But questions lurk. Has Mark Sanford also gone beyond this PR tactic to use race to intentionally polarize or divide? You be the judge…

-- Last year, a number of political groups who follow Sanford’s lead mounted the most aggressive campaign in history to try to block the election of an African-American, Judge Don Beatty, to the S.C. Supreme Court. Never before in history had a TV ad campaign been launched against a Supreme Court candidate. The TV ad, of course, showed clearly that Beatty was African-American. Virtually every Sanford ally was united in their efforts to stop Beatty, using political threats and intimidation to try to influence votes. In the end, Beatty was successful.

-- In the last month, a political group supporting Sanford’s efforts to defeat Republican legislators was discovered using negative push polls which suggested that voters should oppose an incumbent merely because he had supported Beatty.

-- Last year, as a part of Sanford’s effort to defeat Republican legislators, one of Sanford’s closest allies attempted to spread an untrue rumor against a Midlands State Senator that the Senator had fathered a black child. The rumor was posted on a political website with close connections to Sanford.

-- Last summer, when the state legislature was required to hold an election to fill a vacancy in the office of State Treasurer, Sanford approached a number of African-Americans about seeking the post, widely regarded as an attempt by Sanford to divide the legislature along racial lines. Sanford ultimately endorsed an African-American for the post who failed to receive a nomination, or get even a single vote… not even from Sanford’s small group of legislative allies. Sanford, however, “played the race card” and publicly criticized the legislature for failing to choose an African-American… even though he had also given a secondary endorsement to another ally -- a white State Senator who also lost.

-- Last summer, in a legislative election in Sanford’s hometown of Beaufort, an internet rumor was spread suggesting that Sanford opponents had made fake phone calls from a “black-sounding voice identifying herself as Shaniqua”. Although the rumor was widely circulated -- after ironically being first published on that same Sanford-connected website in Columbia -- no one ever in Beaufort ever reported actually receiving the calls. The rumor, it turned out, seems to have originated from Sanford’s own relatives! (His sister is married to the current Mayor of Beaufort!)

Reggie Lloyd is a highly-regarded and respected individual who will make a fine Chief of SLED, and his nomination should be confirmed by the Senate. But the people of South Carolina should keep a wary eye on our Governor and his allies, who have already proven that they are not above racial divisiveness in the name of promoting Mark Sanford.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And now... the Democrats!

The 2008 Presidential election is underway. The Iowa caucuses are now history, and by the time you read this, the New Hampshire primaries will also have run their course. The pivotal South Carolina primaries are now only days away.

In this column last week, you may recall, I offered good, solid reasons to vote for each of the Republican candidates for President, with the promise to cover the Democrats this week. (You can read it online at:

I believe choosing a president is a complex process. If, as Waffle House claims, there are over 70,778,880 ways to order a hamburger, how many different factors must go into choosing a President. As I wrote last week, there's not a right answer to the question, "Who's the best choice for President?" Nor is there a wrong answer.

Like many of my friends and acquaintances, I still have no idea which candidate I will choose when I go to the polls.

And, although the debate during the days leading up to the early contests always seems to drift toward the negative, I see a lot of positive. The national news media, of course, tends to focus on the negative. TV ads produced by campaigns frequently focus on the negatives of their major opponents. By the time Election Day arrives, as a result, many voters are left to choose between what they now believe to be "the lesser of two evils".

But, knowing that there are no perfect people, I'm trying to look beyond the negative hype, to focus on what's good about the candidates. And, frankly, I see good, solid attributes in virtually every major candidate… Republican and Democrat alike.

So, last week, I offered what I consider to be a good reason to vote for each of the Republican candidates - John McCain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, and Duncan Hunter -- and this week, I'm doing the same for the four major Democrats: Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama appears to be a very nice guy who is smart, capable and likeable. At a time that most Americans appear to be ready for a major change in their government, Obama represents that attitude - not only because he speaks of change, but also because his election as the first African-American president would embody the most significant change in many, many decades. Obama is perhaps uniquely qualified to be the individual who pioneers this final frontier toward unifying a nation divided by race since its inception.

John Edwards talks of his passion for giving voice to the average, working Americans who often fall victim to the rich and powerful. Elements of his personal history - rising up from the humble beginnings of a family of mill workers in Upstate South Carolina; the tragic loss of his son to a traffic accident; even the cancer being faced by his wife Elizabeth - have given Edwards an empathy for the common man that other candidates cannot likely match. Democrat voters should note that Edwards has embraced traditional liberal Democratic philosophies without the luxury of representing a Blue-State constituency, suggesting that his political views come from the heart.

Bill Richardson has the best resume of any candidate, Democrat or Republican. If experience counts, Richardson's record of service - which includes stints as a Congressman, Secretary of Energy, U.N Ambassador, and Governor of New Mexico - make him the most prepared candidate to be President. His election would also mark a milestone for our nation: the first Hispanic President, which could prove useful in dealing with the national crisis of illegal immigration we currently face. Richardson is known as a capable and respected leader.

Hillary Clinton is proven. Her eight-years as a very public First Lady clearly demonstrated her ability to handle the pressure associated with the office. As America seeks to elect the next leader of the free world, we should keep first and foremost in our minds that we must choose someone with the nerves of steel needed to face off against the global threat of terrorists willing to die for their cause. No other candidate has demonstrated more inner-brass than Hillary. Through the many trials and tribulations of the Clinton years, we've never seen her sweat. As President, I believe she will be willing to "do whatever it takes"… a necessary trait of our next President. Additionally, we know she has the ability to work in a bi-partisan fashion, as her joint efforts with our own Senator Lindsey Graham will attest. As a bonus, her election would certainly signal gender-equality in America.

So there you have it: Solid reasons to vote FOR the four Democratic candidates for President… as promised last week when I offered the same type of positive comments about each of the Republicans.

I hope you'll find your own good reasons to vote for one of these dozen or so top-quality men and women who are offering their service. They're each truly impressive in their own ways. And, I can promise you - despite what you might read and hear in the weeks ahead -- not a single one of them is running for President because they DON'T love our country.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

70,778,880 ways to choose a President

By the time you read this, the 2008 Presidential Election will be officially underway with the January 3rd Iowa caucuses, the traditional first chance anyone has the opportunity to actually cast a vote for the next president. The South Carolina primary will be only a couple of weeks away.

So, its time for us to start thinking seriously about our choice to be the next leader of the free world.

Choosing a president is a complex process. Even deciding what qualities are most important can be difficult.

I was in Waffle House a few days ago and I noticed on their menu where they claim there are over 70,778,880 ways to order a hamburger.

If there are that many combinations of ingredients for a hamburger, how many different combinations of ingredients must there be in the make up of a president? And, in addition to all these variables, we should also factor in that there are now over 300 million citizens, each of whom have a slightly different set of personal values.

So do the math: What’s roughly 70 million times roughly 300 million? Whatever it comes to, that’s my estimate of how many variables go into choosing a president.

What all that high math means, I think, is this: There’s not a right answer to the question, “Who’s the best choice for President?” Nor is there a wrong answer. There are just millions and millions of individual decisions, based on lots and lots of different factors.

And we here in South Carolina have about two weeks to sort through that massive jigsaw puzzle.

The campaigns of the 20 or so candidates running for President understand the complexity of the choices to be made. Consequently, they focus most of their advertising, not on offering REASONS to choose their candidate, but instead to making voters FEEL GOOD about their candidate. They also, of course, spend a lot of effort trying to make voters FEEL BAD about their opponents.

As I write this, I have absolutely no idea which candidate I will choose when I go to the polls on January 19th for the Republican Primary (or January 26th for the Democratic Primary, which is unlikely… but never say never.) A lot of my friends and acquaintances tell me they feel the same way.

So, what I’d like to do here is this: I want to offer what I consider to be a good reason to vote for each of the candidates, because frankly, I can see good, solid attributes in virtually all of them… Republican and Democrat alike. This week, we’ll run through the Republicans, and next week, I’ll cover the Democrats.

We’ll start with John McCain. I believe John McCain is a good and decent man, proven in the service of his country as a POW during the Vietnam War. He has solid and successful experience in government, and has shown himself to be a consensus builder. He’s battle-tested, and we probably know everything there is to know about him, so we’re unlikely to run into any surprises. McCain would be a solid President during a time of war, and one who truly understands the sacrifices faced by our military families.

Mitt Romney is probably our best choice of a President if we’re looking for a CEO. He has a proven-track record at successfully operating both businesses and government. He probably understands the role of a Chief Executive Officer better than any other candidate, and understands how to surround himself with top quality people to whom he can delegate responsibility. He also seems to be a man of faith with solid family values.

Rudy Giuliani has a solid record as a fearless leader. The world watched him hold his city together – and possibly our nation – in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Long before that, however, Giuliani had proven himself as the U.S. District Attorney who declared war on the Mafia and, to a great extent, succeeded in shutting them down. As Mayor of NYC, he presided over a massive turn-around of his city.

Fred Thompson may be our best shot at electing another Ronald Reagan. Reagan proved that being an actor has its advantages. Like Reagan, Thompson possesses the oratorical skills to motivate the masses. Also like Reagan, he seems to be a no-nonsense, straight talker, and an unflinching conservative. His tough persona would serve America well during the decade ahead, when our terrorist foes will continue their war against the world.

Mike Huckabee is a nice guy. He’s a friendly, likeable fellow, who is down to earth. He’s one of the people. He has the experience of having run a state without the insider taint of Washington, DC. America likes to elect ex-Governors who haven’t served in Congress (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush in the last three decades.) He, too, seems to be a decent man with solid family values.

Ron Paul is a purist. He is THE straight-talker of the group. You can count on him to say exactly what he thinks, without regard to political expediency. And he is a true reformer. More than any other candidate, Ron Paul walks the walk. He would truly be a breath of fresh air for our nation, and a change of direction. He is fearless in standing up for his principles.

Duncan Hunter has solid experience in Congress, and served as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, which possibly gives him more insight than any other candidate into our nation’s actual ongoing military operations. Although sometimes dismissed as a front-runner, he may be my personal favorite. I had an opportunity to speak personally with him on the phone about a year ago (as I did with several candidates during the early stages of their campaigns).

But my chat with Hunter gave me good insight that he was a truly nice guy. As it happened, we talked for over half-an-hour on New Year’s Eve night, 2006. He was taking time off from Congress and campaigning, and was with his family. I could hear the grandkids in the background. He was as genuine as any candidate I’ve ever talked to, concerned for the future of our nation, and wanting to offer himself to do his part. I hope voters give him the same consideration they give the other candidates.

There you have it: Good, solid reasons to vote for each of seven Republican candidates for President.

Next week, I’ll offer equally sound reasons to vote for most of the Democrats.