Starbucks encourages its baristas to chat with customers about race relations

Hi, welcome to Starbucks! Would you like your coffee black, or privileged?

Beginning on Monday, Starbucks baristas will have the option as they serve customers to hand cups on which they’ve handwritten the words “Race Together” and start a discussion about race.

You’ve got to be kidding me. People don’t come to Starbucks to chat it up with the person making them coffee. They come to…wait for it…get coffee. That’s it. These people have become masters of the absurd. Do they realize how utterly ridiculous they appear to normal people?

Just serve the coffee.

Brad went to a bridge

You may have heard of it in a movie. Here are some of Brad’s photos.

And here is our intrepid explorer:

Unfortunately, Alec Guinness was not available for any photos.

Sale of Palmetto Compress Warehouse to Close this Week

To quote John “Hannibal” Smith from “The A-Team”, I love it when a plan comes together.

Columbia businesswoman Rosie Craig is partnering with deep-pocketed Philadelphia developer Ron Caplan to purchase the historic Palmetto Compress Warehouse building from the city of Columbia.

The developers plan to convert the 320,000-square-foot structure into apartments, retail and possibly a hotel, sources close to the project said.

The purchase, expected to close this week, is for approximately $6 million.

“We, as a company, are very excited about the project,” said Dan Rothschild, of Caplan’s PMC Property Group.

You can count me as one of the people who were against the City of Columbia buying this building. As a fundamental rule, I don’t like the City government being in the real estate business. However, it looks like they didn’t mess this up. I’m looking forward to seeing this development take shape.

Lindsey Graham: Testing the Waters

I came across this piece in the Washington Examiner chronicling Sen. Graham’s recent trip to Iowa where he was testing the Presidential waters:

There is widespread speculation that Graham is running for president to make a point — and indeed, he is making them. Graham sees a world flirting with disaster. If the president accepts a bad deal with Iran over nuclear proliferation, “we’re on the road to Armageddon,” Graham said. If lawmakers do not reform entitlements programs to cut spending, “we will blow America up ourselves,” he says.

But Graham doesn’t think steering the debate and winning need be mutually exclusive. Quaint as it might sound — and to political cynics, perhaps it will — he thinks the right credentials and message at the right time could win votes.

“Stand by,” Graham’s wingman and best friend Sen. John McCain told the Washington Examiner.“A lot of people are going to be surprised.”

By all accounts, Graham is smart and strategic, and he is not blindly ambitious. If he weren’t a politician, one South Carolina Republican operative mused, Graham might be an operative himself. He doesn’t embark on fools’ errands, and to date, he has not run a race he did not win.

If Sen. Graham starts to get traction, he’ll surprise a lot of people, and I’ll be one of them. I just have a hard time seeing him winning a GOP Primary against the current field of candidates. He’d make an interesting Secretary of Defense, though.

Experts Give Advice on How to “Fix” SC State Problems

Good thing we’ve got some “experts” on the S.C. State case, because it seems they’ve figured out the solution:

They say South Carolina’s only state-funded historically black public college needs:

•  Well-connected leaders capable of stabilizing the Orangeburg school

•  More financial support from alumni and the state, especially to escape its $17 million deficit

•  To find its financial bottom

•  To identify academic niches that create a demand among students

•  To be transparent about what it is doing

Oh, is that it? Just hire good leaders, raise more money, figure out how big the financial problem is, create more demand for students, and be open in business dealings. No problem. Good thing we’ve got these experts to help us out.
Yeah, S.C. State is doomed.

Gamecock Sports Roundup

My apologies for a late Monday post, I had Court this morning.

Since bud liked the inclusion of athletic endeavors on Friday’s VFP, I’ll give everyone an extra helping of sports this Monday.

In Gamecock baseball news, we swept Kentucky in a dramatic third game on Sunday. It took a home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie it up, and then another home run in the bottom of the tenth to clinch it. The Gamecocks looked very good yesterday, displaying that never give up spirit that has a hallmark of the 2010 and 2011 teams. The embedded Tweet has the radio call of both home runs. I love a good home run call.

In women’s basketball news, the lady Gamecocks have an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and now have an opportunity to host NCAA Games at the Colonial Life Arena. That’s a great honor that this team has worked hard to earn. Go support them!

In Gamecock football news, Spring Practice starts this week. The practices are open to the public, so these are really great for taking little kids out to see the team in a cost-effective way.

I’ll have something political for y’all to argue over later. Enjoy your Monday.

 

 

Virtual Front Page for Friday, March 13, 2015

Happy Friday the Thirteenth, everyone. By the way, I was reading a bedtime story to my son last night. The story was about pirates, and don’t all three year old boys like pirates?

Anyway, there was a little section at the end that was essentially “Fun Trivia About Pirates”. One interesting one was that pirates considered black cats to be good luck. Interesting, no? Just thought that might be something of note on this unlucky day. Anyway, I digress. Here’s your Virtual Front Page for today:

1. Despite Internal Dissent, ISIS Is Still on the Attack: Eventually, somebody is going to have to deal with those people. Also, they’ve joined forces with Boko Haram, or something. It’s like they’re trying to be the Axis of Barbarity.

2. The St. Pat’s Celebration in Five Points is Tomorrow: I haven’t been to this in eight years, and I’m not planning on going this year. I’m too old for all that nonsense.

3. Gov. Haley “calls out” Sen. Leatherman: Honestly, I haven’t been following this, so I’m not real sure what this is all about. Maybe someone can drop some knowledge here.

4. We’re about to hit the “Debt Ceiling” Again: This thing again? I feel like we do this couple of months. It’s like Groundhog Day, but Phil never gets any better.

5. South Carolina Gamecocks Baseball hosts Kentucky this weekend: Should be a good series if they can get the games in.

Enjoy the weekend.

ACLU: Hey, um, you guys? The OU SAE expulsions actually aren’t constitutional.

So, the ACLU is finally getting around to doing their job, here.

As a state-run institution of higher education, the University of Oklahoma must also respect First Amendment principles that are central to the mission of every university. Any sanction imposed on students for their speech must therefore be consistent with the First Amendment and not merely a punishment for vile and reprehensible speech; courts have consistently and rightly ruled as such. Absent information that is not at our disposal, it is difficult to imagine a situation in which a court would side with the university on this matter.  We are closely monitoring the situation and will appropriately respond to new details as they emerge. In the meantime, we stand in solid support of the brave and thoughtful students whose public dialogue on race and the rights of all minority students in response to the incident have embodied the spirit of the First Amendment.

Now, before you get all upset and put some crazy comment here, stop and take a breath. I’m not condoning the bird-brained students who said the things they said. They were dopey, hateful, and base. Now that I think of it, I actually kind of like my insult of “bird-brained” there. That may be my new insult for people these days. Anyway, I digress…

Did you stop and take a breath? Ok.

Despite saying bird-brained things, these students clearly can’t be punished in this summary form, and the ACLU is finally coming around to saying the correct position. Before you jump all over me for “siding” with these morons, let me clarify: I am not siding with these idiotsI am siding with the rule of law. Unfortunately, defending free speech necessarily requires defending disagreeable, foul, unpopular, and yes, bird-brained speech. That’s kind of the point.

If you only support free speech that you agree with, you’re not a free speech advocate – you’re a hack.

Disney is going to make a sequel to “Frozen”

This is Olaf. He’s kind of a big deal around my house.

This is big news for anyone with children under 12.

“Frozen” made nearly $1.3 billion at the box office and inspired masses of toys, clothing and other merchandise as well as a devoted following of young girls.

Even boys are kind of into Frozen. My son is three, and he really likes singing the songs. Mostly he likes the snowman, Olaf.

To paraphrase some litigators enjoy who ending their letters with a certain line: If you have young children, govern yourselves accordingly.

Brad’s Travel Update

Happy Friday, everyone; we made it. Brad sent me some video of his trip deep into the jungles of Thailand.

Wait, that may not be the right video.

All kidding aside, for those of y’all who aren’t into Twitter, here are a few photographs from Brad’s trip across Thailand. Most importantly, it seems he was able to replenish his supplies at a local 7-Eleven.

 

Also, do you remember the picture of Brad in the airport with his infamous vest? Well, I now have a photographic inventory of all the different items that Brad keeps stocked inside all of those pockets.

Looks like Brad is carrying on in high spirits now that he has replenished his supplies. Just remember, never get off the boat unless you’re prepared to go all the way.

Thursday Night Palate Cleanser

Enough of the political back and forth for one day, eh? How’s about we get a drink, put our feet up, and listen to Aretha Franklin and Duane Allman jam out.

 

Consider this your politics-free open thread.

Petition to have GOP Senators jailed now has over 241,000 signatures

As of now, over 241,000 people have signed a petition on the White House website to have 47 GOP Senators put in jail. Here’s the entire petition.

On March 9th, 2015, forty-seven United States Senators committed a treasonous offense when they decided to violate the Logan Act, a 1799 law which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.

At a time when the United States government is attempting to reach a potential nuclear agreement with the Iranian government, 47 Senators saw fit to instead issue a condescending letter to the Iranian government stating that any agreement brokered by our President would not be upheld once the president leaves office.

This is a clear violation of federal law. In attempting to undermine our own nation, these 47 senators have committed treason.

So, it’s come to this. I’m so old, I remember when it was absolutely shocking and beyond the pale to say that President didn’t love his country. Now, we’re cool with saying that 47 Senators have committed treason?

Gotcha. Interesting times we live in.

Are You Tired of Hearing about Ethics Reform?

A guest-column from Lynn S. Teague

“Brad suggested that I lead a discussion on ethics reform, since I’ve been working on it for three years now. Are you ready to tune this out because you’ve been hearing about it for three years? I am. I’d love to see the General Assembly pass strong reform, so I could sit back and rely on a sensible effective system of ethics requirements and enforcement and devote more of my time to other issues. Alas, so far it hasn’t happened. So I go on at the State House, on behalf of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina. However, as usual in my comments here on Brad’s blog, this post is not an official statement of League positions, but a personal comment.

On-line discussions of ethics reform, whether in mainstream newspaper responses or other media, can usually be counted on to produce comments to the effect that our public officials are all rotten and it is hopeless to try to do anything about it. I wouldn’t have spent the past three years working on this if I agreed. What are we after? We want more information about where our officials get their personal income so that we can evaluate the extent to which it might influence their thinking on public issues. We want more information (any information would be more) about those who donate money to “third party” groups that actively oppose or support candidates. We want the members of the General Assembly to play by the same rules that members of the executive branch and local governments do by integrating them into a system of independent investigation of possible violations by a restructured Ethics Commission. To that some add a whistleblower protection provision, which I would agree is very important and should be passed, although I don’t think it is essential that it happen in the context of a big ethics reform bill.

There are actually many decent honest people in public service in South Carolina, and specifically in our legislature. Many members of the General Assembly have been willing to sit down and talk with reform advocates to find common ground, something we can all live with. There has been a lot of success, embodied in H.3722, sponsored by more than a hundred members of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Jay Lucas, and in S.1, with primary sponsor Senator Larry Martin. Neither proposed bill is my personal ideal, but both are realistic approaches to a far better system of ethics law in South Carolina. S. 1 has failed second reading in the Senate (although it could be reconsidered) but H.3722 has been passed the House and has been passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee as a reworked version of  S.1, only two senators dissenting.

There are two obstacles to reform. Some legislators oppose efforts to require disclosure of donors to third party groups, claiming it is an infringement of free speech. It is not. The language in both S.1 and H.3722 has passed federal court scrutiny and additional protections of advocacy organizations has been added.

Others oppose the bill because, as passed by Senate Judiciary, it includes a system of independent investigation of possible violations by members of the General Assembly in which no legislators are involved in investigation of their colleagues. Legislators still get to make the final decisions about civil punishments of their colleagues, but that stage is preceded by investigation and evaluation by a reconstituted Ethics Commission. Some senators object and say that the system will be too politicized and legislators could be subjected to frivolous attacks. They argue that only sitting legislators understand what their situation is and can inform the process.

This raises some obvious questions. In what way is the legal standard for ethical behavior different for legislators and other officials? (My answer – It is not.) How would keeping ethics investigation within the most politicized institution in South Carolina, the General Assembly, lead to less political influence on investigations than moving it to the Ethics Commission? (My answer – It wouldn’t, quite the contrary.) Does the current Ethics Commission have a history of partisan witch-hunts that would justify this concern? (My answer – No.) Do the citizens of South Carolina deserve a system of investigation and enforcement that they can trust? (My answer – Yes, they do.) Do the many honest people who serve South Carolina deserve a system that can credibly clear their names of false charges? (My answer – Yes, of course they do.)

So, that is how I see the situation as we move toward Senate debate on H.3722 next week. If you’d like to call your senator and tell him or her that you support the Judiciary Committee version of H.3722, that would be a very good thing. If you’d like to pay close attention to how your senator votes and hold him or her accountable for that vote, that also would be a very good thing.”

Secret Service March Madness

Every March, college basketball fans across the country start looking at brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament and try to select which team will come out on top. As you can see, even our President gets in on the action. It’s a wonderful competition, where the options are “survive and advance” or “lose and go home”.

Accordingly, the Secret Service has decided to take part in this annual event by having their own friendly intramural competition  to see which agent (or team of agents) can commit the dumbest, most outrageous stunt that brings shame on the Secret Service. We’ll be breaking down the top seeds here:

Team Hookers and Blow: The first entry came in strong. They are the Secret Service agents who were partying with whores in Colombia. They showed good teamwork in organizing the party, demonstrated lack of foresight with possibly compromising classified information, and have strong lack of character. They were looking good.

Team No Defense: That is, Team Hookers and Blow were looking good until the entry from Team No Defense came in – allowing a guy to jump the fence at the White House and score an easy layup in the East Room. You really have to give this top-seed consideration, here. Not only did this team display lack of home court advantage, their perimeter defense was penetrated on a dribble-drive to the East Room, where the big men down low just watched the guy go right by them. There are some questions about their inability to have character problems, but they make up for it with their lack of professionalism. These guys looked like the top seed until this week.

How do you top the entry that allowed a security breach at the White House? Well, obviously, you try to breach security yourself, rather than letting someone else do all the work. I mean, if you’re gonna do something egregiously stupid, you’ve got to do it yourself.

Team Alcohol Fueled Car Crash: Just this week, with a late entry into the tournament, two secret service agents decided that instead of simply allowing some one else to breach security, they got drunk and crashed their car into one of the barricades at the White House. If you’re gonna have someone breach security, you might as well do it yourself, right? They get points for having an up-tempo offense, involving drinking and driving, and using their siren/lights as they came down to the White House barricade. Their teammates demonstrated wonderful unity in letting the drunk officers go without any questions, so we’ve got a strong spirit of corruption here.

How is your bracket looking?

This is your Free Period

Since Brad’s away, and (just between us) we all know I’m the cool teacher, we don’t have to be serious all the time. So consider this post your “free period”.

I’m not sure if any of y’all have heard of Shorpy, but if you’re interested in old, vintage photos, you’ll be able to spend hours there killing time. It’s all safe for work, as long as you’re allowed to waste time at work, that is. It’s free to browse, and one nice feature is that It’s searchable, so you can search for locations, topics, or whatever.

I didn’t directly embed any of the photos here because of some legal stuff, but just to get you started, here’s a cool photo of some girls and guns that came up when I searched for “rifles”. Here’s one from Aiken, SC in 1905, and here’s one of King Street, Charleston in 1910.

In any event, lots of neat photos. Anyone else have an interesting website they’d like to share with the rest of the class?

A second bank has been robbed on Two Notch Road

I didn’t really pay much attention to the fact that someone robbed a Wells Fargo on Two Notch Road yesterday. I did see the headline, and I remember thinking something like A bank robbery, huh? Don’t really see much of those anymore these days.

But now, there’s been another bank robbery, and again it’s on Two Notch, and again, the bank robber is at large.

What’s going on here?

“I’m tired of states’ rights”

“The thought had occurred to him on the day that he took it, that this would make a lovely burying ground for the Union soldiers who had fallen, or were still to fall in the battles hereabout, and almost before the smoke of his involuntary assault on Missionary Ridge had cleared, he had a detail at work on the project.

When a chaplain, who was to be in charge of the project, inquired if the dead should be buried in plots assigned to the states they represented, as was being done at Gettysburg, where Lincoln has spoken a couple of weeks ago, the Virginian lowered his head in thought and then shook it decisively, and made a tumbling gesture with his hands. “No, no. Mix ‘em up, mix ‘em up,” he said. “I’m tired of states’ rights”.

That’s from the second volume of The Civil War. I’m currently listening to it on Audible, and that passage appealed to me. The Virginian General is Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas. Here’s what the place looked like in 1895.

Not exactly Paul Bunyan, but pretty good for me

In addition to lawyering, shooting things, and running Brad’s blog while he’s off gallivanting, I try to do a little manual labor every once in awhile. Sitting at a desk all day is not good for me, and I enjoy work that produces a tangible product at the end of the task. Lawyering, while a noble profession does not produce tangible work product in the sense of something you can sit back and say “I did that”.

A few months ago, our own Kathryn Fenner was kind enough to provide me with the scrap wood from a massive oak tree that she had to take down. Since she didn’t need the wood, she was kind enough to let me have it. Accordingly, a giant dump truck dropped off the wood in my driveway and drove off – leaving a lot of wood. I mean just look at it:

Logs

Accordingly, I donned the protective gear (eye protection, ear protection, and protective clothing) fired up my chainsaw, and cut the logs into appropriate sized rounds for splitting, which look like this:

Rounds

At this point, I could carry the rounds (or roll the heavy ones) in to my backyard were I could really go to work on them. For the actual splitting, the sole tool used was my trusty eight-pound splitting maul, which is pictured in the foreground of the picture below. The resulting firewood makes a lovely background, I think.

Firewood

What you’re looking at is roughly three feet wide (it’s two pieces of wood deep) by about four feet high, by about twenty feet long. That will season up nicely over the summer and by next winter, it will be nice and dry for use in my wood-burning fireplace.

It’s also had an unexpected rebirth- as a bird feeder. The reason that Kathryn had to take down the tree (I think) is because it was starting to rot a little bit, so there were some creepy crawlies inside some of the more rotten pieces. Splitting the pieces open exposed all the bugs to the world, and the birds in my backyard have been feasting all over and around the woodpile. There was even a time when they would be fairly close to me while splitting, just waiting for me to toss the wood on the pile…kind of like how you see seagulls trailing shrimp boats, just not to that extent.

In any event, thanks to Kathryn for her generosity in allowing me to recycle her tree into a bird-feeder, allow me to get some exercise, and eventually heat my home for a long time to come.

Unable to Implement Actual Gun Control Legislation; Executive Branch Decides to, Get This, Start Making Things Up

I’ll preface this with the disclaimer that if Brad were running this blog, you wouldn’t see this story. He’s not a gun person (and chances are that you aren’t either) so this story wouldn’t really even be on his radar. However, Brad’s not home. So I’m going to talk about the ATF’s illegal ban on M855 ammo. But let’s start at the beginning. What is M855 ammo, you ask?

M855 ammunition is a 5.56 x 45mm cartridge, which is the round originally chambered in the M-16, and the civilian variant – the ubiquitous AR-15.

When the M-16 was originally designed, the 5.56 ammo for it was all-lead, or what is commonly referred to as “ball” ammunition. After the Vietnam war, soldiers reported some issues with the all-lead design, and wanted a round that would have more energy at longer ranges. Essentially, they wanted a heavier round.

In response, the M855 round was developed. The difference in the M855 round is that it has a steel-core, just at the tip. The steel doesn’t deform as much as the lead, so there’s better accuracy over long distances, and better stability when the round hits clothing or glass. Now, this cartridge isn’t designed to be “armor piercing”. It’s just a more effective rifle round at range than an all-lead round.

Nowadays, the US Army has since moved on to a newer round, but there’s a ton of surplus M855 ammo that is popular with target shooters because it’s accurate over long distances compared to “ball” ammo…and it’s relatively cheap because it’s military surplus.

So, along comes the ATF and now they say that because this round has “armor piercing” capability, it can be banned under the existing law. The New York Times, loves the idea. Except, get this, the New York Times doesn’t know anything at all about the M855 round. They just know that they don’t like guns or the things that go inside guns. And they really don’t like the scary looking guns.

The fact is, almost all rifle cartridges can pierce standard body armor. Even the original all-lead 5.56x45mm cartridge easily penetrates standard body armor. That’s because standard body armor isn’t intended to stop shots from rifles – it’s intended to handgun rounds, which are comparatively lower powered. To take the ATF’s reasoning to it’s logical conclusion, you’d have to ban most center-fire rifle ammo. The ATF knows this, but it’s doing it anyway, using the helpful idiots at the New York Times to promote this myth of police officers needing this ban for safety. There’s only one factual little problem with this reason: the Fraternal Order of Police says that an M855 cartridge ban is not necessary to protect police officers.

To say that the M855 round should be banned because it’s “armor piercing” is dumb, because almost all the other rifle rounds out there, available at every Wal-Mart are also “armor piercing” under this silly definition. Banning M855 ammo would do next to nothing to lower crime rates or police fatalities, because it’s hardly ever used in crimes.

But hey, actual facts don’t matter to gun control advocates, the ATF or this White House. They want to use every excuse possible to get what they want, and when they got stopped with the legislative path, they just decided to use administrative action to accomplish their policy objectives – and stretching beyond the bounds of the law to do it.

See, I told you Brad wouldn’t have posted this. :)