Yep, that’s exactly how a republic is supposed to work

The Caskey boys, spotted together at an event in 2017. No, I don't know exactly how they're related...

The Caskey boys, spotted together at an event in 2017. No, I don’t know exactly how they’re related…

Bryan posted this about his kinsman and my representative, Micah Caskey:

Yep, that’s exactly the way our representative democracy is supposed to work. Elected representatives are not your agents whom you send to do your bidding. They’re people you delegate to go do what, in a complex modern economy, most people don’t have time to do: Go to the capital and study and debate complex issues until they understand them better than they otherwise would — and then act accordingly.

A lot of Americans, maybe most of them, don’t understand that. They expect the following from elected officials:

  1. That they make very specific promises when running for office.
  2. That those promises appeal directly to what they, the voters, want to hear.
  3. That, once elected, the representatives do exactly what they promised, without amendment or deviation.

I don’t expect those things at all. With me, it’s more like:

  1. I don’t care to hear specific campaign promises, because I don’t want that person, once elected, to have his or her hands tied.
  2. To the extent that such promises are made, it’s not necessary that they align with what I think should be done. Sure, if the candidate is promising a lot of stupid stuff I’m dead-set against, I’ll oppose him or her (in part for the simple fact of making pandering promises, whatever their content). But I don’t expect agreement across the board. Since I don’t buy the prepackaged sets of values the left and right sell, there’s never been a candidate with whom I agreed on everything.
  3. Once elected, I expect the representative to buckle down and study, and debate matters with people with different views, and learn, and become wiser about the issues than he or she was during the campaign. And if that means breaking a stupid promise that was made when the candidate was less wise, then I hope my representative has the courage and integrity to do so — like George H.W. Bush ditching the “read my lips” thing.

But as I said, too many people have the first set of expectations, and that misunderstanding has led to many of the ills our country is suffering today. The Tea Party and Trumpism were both outgrowths of the frustration of people who were mad because the people they had elected had not followed through on stupid promises they had made.

The danger in that, of course, is that you can arrive at a point at which people who will actually follow through on stupid promises get elected.

Which is where we are today…

Which is why a fine representative like Micah is good to find. Which in turn is why, once I met him and saw how bright, serious and thoughtful he was, I gave up my crazy thoughts of running for the office myself. I didn’t see how I would do a better job than he would. I don’t remember any of his positions in particular; I just remember that the way he approached issues made me trust him to address them wisely in the future.

And that, boys and girls, is how our system is supposed to work. And yes, this will all be on the final exam…

Open Thread for Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Note the weirdness of the seven identical microphones. In a free society, an important person might be seen with multiple microphones, but they would be different, placed there by an array of news organizations. This is Kim trying to look important without the freedom part...

Note the weirdness of the seven identical microphones. In a free society, an important person might be seen with multiple microphones, but they would be different, placed there by an array of news organizations. This is Kim trying to look important without the freedom part…

Happy New Year! Here’s what we’ve got at this hour:

  1. South Korea welcomes Kim Jong Un’s offer of talks — This could be a big deal — and could drive a wedge between South Korea and the U.S. First you-know-who pulls us out of TPP, now this. Stand on the Pacific Rim, and watch American influence disappearing over the horizon. A smooth move by Kim. So far in 2018, that’s one point for Little Rocket Man, zero for the Dotard…
  2. Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham call out Iran. Here’s what they said — I won’t make you click to find out that they were supportive of protesters, critical of the regime. The Iranian regime, that is. Graham was sucking up to the Trump regime (“As to President Trump and all those who love freedom…”).
  3. Leaving a car idling so that it’s warm when you get in is illegal in SC. Here’s why — Um, is it because that makes you a total jerk who hates the Earth? No, that’s not it. But if you need another reason, that one’s lying around available. I would also accept, “Because it makes you look like a total wuss who can’t handle a little weather…”
  4. In 347 days, Trump has made 1,950 false and misleading claims — In case you were wondering whether someone is keeping score, the answer is yes — the Post‘s Fact Checker is. Of course, this won’t impress Trump supporters, because they believe “They all do it.” Well, they don’t all do this. The White House has never been held by someone with such complete disregard for reality. Ever.
  5. New SC laws go into effect on New Year’s Day 2018 — I share this purely as an illustration of how slow news is: This story is four days old, and is still leading thestate.com. Seriously…

What’s the most deserted mall in South Carolina?

space

The other day I mentioned walking at Dutch Square mall, a place that would hardly be standing any more if not for the movie theater and Burlington Coat Factory.

I can remember when it was new, that one semester I was a student at USC, in the fall of 1971. I never actually visited it then — neither I nor any of my friends had a car (now try to imagine that, boys and girls), so what little shopping I did was limited to Five Points and the Main Street area — but I heard reports that it was really something. And when we moved home to South Carolina in 1987, it was still going strong.

Today, not so much. There’s the two businesses mentioned above, some athletic shoe stores, a fitness emporium, some clothing stores with such names as “Urban Fashion,” a nail salon and some places that deal in gold. And a lot of dead space between some of them.

But it’s hardly alone in that regard. A couple of nights later, we decided to take a walk around Richland Mall, after my wife exchanged something at Belk. Wow. First, some of the mall seems to be inaccessible, at least from the end where we were walking — the occupied part that includes Belk, Barnes & Noble, a LensCrafters and a barber shop. There didn’t seem to be a way to get to the part on the other side of Belk, at least from inside. After a couple of circuits around the part we could get to, we quit walking. It was depressing.

My wife raised a question that hadn’t occurred to me: How do they afford to keep the lights on, and climate control operating? I don’t know. That bill has to be huge, even with parts of the mall closed off.

But for sheer emptiness, I’m not sure even Richland can compete with Inlet Square Mall in Murrells Inlet. That was a fairly hopping place just a few years ago, and now it’s like something that’s begging to be used as a movie set. You ever see Logan’s Run, about an entirely underground society? They could have shot that in Inlet Square, probably with room to spare.

The tipping point for that mall was, near as I can tell, the closing of the K-Mart that anchored one end, followed by the disappearance of Steinmart. The amazing thing is that this mall still has a Belk, and yet seems much more deserted than Dutch Square.

This is our brave new world, with Amazon taking the place of all these public spaces. (I wonder — if I asked Alexa the way to a mall, would she know? Would she tell me?) Over the course of December I made a couple of trips to Columbiana. It’s still thriving — that is to say, it’s still active and busy. But I sense a certain fraying around the edges. Filling the former Sears with the men’s department of Belk was a master stroke of hiding the damage, but how long will it be before this place is largely deserted, too?

Yeah, I know one form of economic activity is being replaced by another that’s just brimming with vitality, but there is something about these deserted spaces that were once so filled with life that gives the impression of a dead or dying civilization. It’s like the Roman Forum after the Visigoths were done with it, or the Acropolis, or some Mayan city overtaken by the jungle. All that infrastructure, so recently vibrant and glittering, left to crumble.

Can anyone think of any other mall in South Carolina that is more deserted than the above, yet still standing and open to the public? If so, I might like to try walking there of a cold evening…

A bit of confusion in the purchasing department?

Trojans

What with the cold weather, my wife and I went to complete our walking for the day at Dutch Square Mall, a place where you can move at a pretty good pace without people underfoot, especially since the departure of Belk.

To lengthen the walk, we included a full circuit of the attached Burlington Coat Factory.

Looks like somebody in the purchasing department got a tad confused as to which USC interests people in South Carolina.

But whoever was in charge of putting out the stock was unfazed: They sent it, we might as well put it out!

Open Thread for Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Harry Obama

Been busy. Eating a lot. Training the Echo Dot I got for Christmas (or perhaps Alexa is training me). And I got Call of Duty WWII for my PC, and I’ve been having a lot of trouble with this one German in the fifth bunker on Normandy Beach.

But here’s an Open Thread:

  1. Obama tells Prince Harry: leaders must stop corroding civil discourse — Meanwhile, the former president is still the most admired man in America. But Hillary is the most admired woman, so take that with a large amount of salt. This is basically a name-recognition test. And guess what? Nikki Haley’s in the top 10.
  2. I.R.S. Warns That Prepaying Property Taxes Is a Risk — What I want to know is this: Who has the cash to run out and pay their property tax for the whole next year just sitting around? If I had that, the last thing I’d be worrying about is saving a few bucks on my income taxes. Don’t people have other things to think about? Interesting things?
  3. Ryan’s ‘pro-white’ primary foe denounced by Breitbart after his anti-Semitic tweets — So apparently you can go too far for Steve Bannon. Good to know…
  4. The real greatest threat to democracy this year — It’s indifference. E. J. Dionne offers a prayer for our democracy. It can use one.

You know what? That’s it. I’m just not finding any news tonight. Y’all have any?

sh-overview

WWII — the video game, not the real thing — has been occupying a good bit of my time today…

There is something truly unAmerican in the way Pence prostrated himself before Trump

I’d been hearing about the way the veep prostrated himself before Trump in the Cabinet meeting Wednesday, lavishing treacly praise upon him, slathering it shamelessly.

I just watched it, and I’m sorry I did. It’s bad enough having this man who demeans our country every moment that he holds the presidency. It’s even more depressing to see the man who would replace him, if we could rid ourselves of him, abase himself in such a orgy of sycophancy.

He lowers himself so, I hear overtones of something that doesn’t belong in America, or anywhere else in the West. I hear an Eastern potentate being addressed as the “Flower of Courtesy, Nutmeg of Consolation, Rose of Delight,” by a 19th-century supplicant begging forgiveness for imposing his miserable self upon the time of such a glorious personage.

Not to cast aspersions on other cultures or anything, but we just don’t talk to anyone this way in this country. At least, not before now.

The fact that we can’t see Pence’s face offers me a sliver of hope: Perhaps his eyes are blinking Morse Code: “T-O-R-T-U-R-E”…

toady

Check out my son Matt’s new video

There’s a lot of talent in my family (which probably makes people wonder whatever happened to me).

My son Matt certainly has his share. He’s always been involved with music, both on the stage and at the soundboard in the studio. He was a leading creative force with the legendary local revival-punk band, the Megameants. (Those of you who used to mosh at the fabled club 2758 on Rosewood will remember them; others probably won’t.)

His newer work is a good bit more sedate than the punk stuff, with more of a folky, acoustic feel.

And then there are his video creations. You may recall the one he did about the flag rally a couple of years back, for which I provided narration.

I thought I’d share with you what he posted on Facebook this week. I got a kick out of it. He wasn’t entirely satisfied with it. He says there’s something wrong with the sound, but I can’t hear it.

And no, he’s not twins….

And Nikki had been doing so WELL lately…

DRcRO0YVQAAWQxB

First, Nikki Haley was doing pretty well as a backbench S.C. House member, to the extent that we endorsed her twice. She had a lot to learn, but she seemed fairly bright and we felt her intentions were good.

Then, she ran for governor, for which she was shockingly unprepared. All I could say at the time was, “Don’t do it, Nikki!” But she did it. And for much of the past four years, she demonstrated how unprepared she was.

But toward the end, she showed some signs of growing in office. I wasn’t the only one who noticed. One of her own political appointees put it to me in just those words. I didn’t report that at the time because the next thing he said was, “And if you write that I’ll come to your house and kill you.” It didn’t seem worth it.

Then she got re-elected, and then in 2015 she did probably the finest thing she will do in her life, and I praised her to the skies and urged others to do so. Finally, I thought, she is a governor.

And then, owing Henry McMaster a major favor, you-know-who named her U.S. ambassador to the U.N. This was shocking, of course, because she had no known experience or understanding of geopolitics, either in a real-world or academic sense. So I braced myself.

But she has done surprisingly well. Not perfectly well, but amazingly so for someone entirely lacking in credentials.

I attribute this to one of her most remarkable innate attributes: She makes a good impression. Not just a good first impression, or a good second one — the effect continues through the 10th, the 20th and so on. Sometime after that, you might have creeping doubts, if you’re inclined that way. But it takes awhile.

And a talent like that can go a long, long way in diplomatic circles. Consequently, people started talking of her as a replacement for Rex Tillerson, who has no discernible diplomatic talents, and has been dismantling the State Department. She even gets mentioned as a possible future successor to you-know-who, but let’s not get into that.

The point is, she’s been doing well.

But sometimes old habits rise up, as in this Tweet:

Hey, at least she didn’t say that other thing people say they’re going to do in tandem with taking names.

You know what that reminds me of? When she presumed to “grade” legislators according to whether they had done her bidding. This was in 2011, long before she started showing signs of growing into the office of governor.

And this is disappointing. Here’s hoping Diplomatic Nikki makes a return, and soon…

Meanwhile, the bluster didn’t work:

United Nations Rebukes U.S. Over Jerusalem in 128-to-9 Vote

How fast can she write? That’s a lot of names to take in a short period of time…

I just realized I have a mental block on ONE word…

words

About a month or so ago, my wife was riding with me in my pickup truck, and for whatever reason started writing down words that can be derived from “petroleum.” When we got to where we were going, she clipped the pen to the folded sheet of paper she’d been writing on, and left them on the floor of the truck, right behind the manual gearshift.

Periodically, as I’ve gotten into or out of the car, I’ve glanced down at the paper, and thought of another word, and taken a second to add it to the list. The column on the right-hand side are my additions.

I hadn’t added any new ones for a couple of weeks, and then yesterday, it suddenly hit me: I was missing a biggie — a nice, fat, five-letter word that for some time has been more on our minds than a sane person would want it to be.

I guess I’ve just had a sort of mental block, an urge to will that word away.

Can you see what it is?

Here’s why I applaud the ‘bump stock’ ordinance

I said this in a comment back on this thread, but I think it’s work elevating to a separate post. When our elected representatives do a good thing, however small, and do it in a way that is prompt, mature and respectful, that is worth a bit of applause, however much some of my friends here may scoff.

It’s easy to have contempt for the minimalist action action taken by Columbia City Council Tuesday regarding bump stocks. After all, what possible practical effect can it have? If someone uses a bump stock in a mass murder in Columbia, what will happen as a result of this ordinance? He’ll get a ticket?

But it’s hardly fair when you realize how little a municipality can do, and that other levels of government are doing nothing. I think you should consider the following:

  • There was widespread, bipartisan sentiment for banning bump stocks right after Las Vegas. It was remarkable, because all calls for limiting anything having to do with firearms on the federal level generally lead to nothing but a liberalizing of gun laws. Still, nothing happened this time, either.
  • Between the 2nd Amendment and a Legislature determined to keep local governments from making decisions for themselves, a municipal government’s power to act is extremely limited.
  • Within those extreme limits, Benjamin and the council decided to do what they could, in contrast to the paralysis in Washington.
  • They didn’t make an entirely empty gesture. They took an action, to the limits of their power, without trying to overstep that power.
  • They did so in an orderly, mature, deliberate manner, exhibiting reason and restraint that too many of us no longer expect from government. They did it without finger-pointing, name-calling, or bloviating. In other words, they set an example for how other levels of government should function. By doing so, they made a case for a good cause — subsidiarity. They suggest by their mature, restrained actions that maybe MORE decisions should be made on the local level. (Note this headline: “<a href=”https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2017/12/columbia-south-carolina-passes-a-bump-stock-ban-since-congress-wont-pass-even-minimal-gun-control.html” rel=”nofollow”>Columbia, South Carolina, Bans Bump Stocks, Since Congress Won’t</a>.”)

In this degraded, hostile, dysfunctional political atmosphere in which nothing good happens but a lot of ill-will is created along the way, I think the way this was handled was admirable.

Bud and Doug will scoff: Form instead of function! Mere words! But this is the stuff of civilization, without which we descend to the level of deranged beasts. And I think that makes it worth giving the mayor an attaboy.

A shorter version of the above:

The council has said, “We can’t do much, but we’re going to do what we can, and we’re going to act like grownups doing it.” These days, that’s progress…

Republicans in Washington actually do something

Today, Washington Republicans, nearly a year after capturing total control of both political branches, actually did something they had said they would do.

They passed a huge, complicated tax package that no one has made a convincing case the nation needs, that is startlingly unpopular (“24 percent of Americans say that the Trump-backed tax plan is a good idea, versus 41 percent who believe it’s a bad idea“), and that the experts predict will significantly increase the national debt.

Whatever it does to the country, the bill has made one man very, very happy...

Whatever it does to the country, the bill has made one man very, very happy…

But hey, they did something, whether it was a good idea or not, and they’ve wanted to do something for so long, so they’re excited about it. So, congrats, guys. I guess…

Paul Ryan can die happy now, his heart’s desire having been achieved. They say he’s been working toward this since 1993. Which tells you a lot about Paul Ryan.

I am not excited, partly because it is about money. And I just find it hard to get interested in money, even my money, during those anomalous periods of my life when I have some. Needless to say, I have not tried to decipher any of those stories out there that would tell me how I would fare under this boondoggle. Just don’t tell me, OK?

Anyway, that would not be the criterion I’d go by in judging whether this is a good move or not. The point is whether it’s good for the country. And I just can’t begin to tell you whether it’s a bad idea, or a worse idea. (Yes, hypothetically it could be a good idea, but I’ve been watching this come together, and that seems fairly unlikely. Perhaps I’ll be surprised.)

But perhaps some of y’all have passionate opinions on the subject, or even salient observations to make.

So here’s your chance…

Mayor Benjamin on Columbia’s new ‘bump stock’ ordinance

As you may or may not know by now, yesterday Columbia became one of the first, if not the first, city in the country to ban the use of “bump stocks.”

Yes, city council went ahead with it, blithely risking the wrath of Catherine Templeton, who had threatened… well, it’s a little unclear, but she seems to have threatened to run for mayor, or something. Anyway, her protest was wildly irrelevant and disregarded, but I’m sure her mission was accomplished — somewhere, a Bannonite thought better of her for her tough, though vague, talk. Those folks tend to be about attitude more than results.

Image from website of Slide Fire, which sells bump stocks.

Image from website of Slide Fire, which sells bump stocks.

Back to the real world: In light of council’s action yesterday, Mayor Steve Benjamin was interviewed on NPR this morning. Hear the interview here.

And his interview belongs in a different rhetorical universe from Templeton, Bannon and Roy Moore. Which means to say, his words were measured, helpful, and respectful of all views. In a world in which too many speak to the extremes on both sides of the gun debate, this was refreshing.

Note that I said the city has banned the use of bump stocks (and trigger cranks), not the devices themselves. You can still own and sell them in Columbia. You just can’t attach them to a firearms and/or use them, unless you leave town. Violation of the ordinance would be a misdemeanor.

“It was important for us to make sure that we crafted an ordinance that was both constitutionally and statutorily sound,” said the mayor, who proposed the ordinance earlier this month. He was careful to fully respect what he called the clear intent of the 2nd Amendment, as well as state statutes on the subject.Benjamin

“We are preempted from regulating firearms or ammunition or even component parts,” he said. “This is not a component part; it is a $30 attachment that someone can add to a gun that changes the nature of it.”

He said the council “feel pretty good” that the new rule in on firm legal ground and he feels “fully prepared to defend it.”

He said the response he has received to the action has been overwhelming positive.

“On our city council there are a whole lots of good guys who have guns,” he said, and they felt this was no time for more of the usual polarization. His thought was that “people who are strong supporters of the 2nd Amendment, but also strong supporters of downright good common sense, should step up and do something.

“And we thought that Columbia, South Carolina, might be a great place to start.”

Why would anyone EVER want to cover this song?

This morning, I felt a disturbance in the force as the opening bars of what could only be Paul McCartney’s great shame, “Wonderful Christmastime.”

You know, “Sim…ply… hav…ing…” and so forth.

Unable to escape for a moment — let’s be honest, it caught me in the men’s room — I heard enough to realize, “That’s not Paul McCartney.”

I had to know who would commit the crime of re-recording the one great musical crime of a beloved pop genius.

SoundHound told me: It was The Shins, whom I had only encountered previously on the soundtrack of “Garden State,” years and years ago.

I don’t know why they did this. I thought we had all agreed that this wretched ditty was at the top of everyone’s Top Five Worst Christmas Songs list. Or at least at the top of mine, which is what counts. No, I tell a lie — it’s second on the list. “The Little Drummer Boy” is first.

So what in the name of Kris Kringle are these Shin people doing committing this copycat crime?

It’s insupportable…

The Shins: Be On the LookOut for these individuals; they may strike again...

The Shins: Be On the LookOut for these individuals. I think this photo was taken in their shadowy criminal “lair.”

Duke Twitter flap: But was it ‘racial’?

blur

I’m musing over terminology after reading about the sportswriter who got himself into hot water at a Duke roundball game on Dec. 2.

Here’s what happened, as I understand it:

  • College Insider reporter John Stansberry made some cracks on Twitter about some students who were right behind him at the game.
  • One of the students took offense, I’m assuming because of his reference to her and her friends as “Asian chicks.” But the student’s explanation of her anger on Facebook wasn’t specific. It may have been the Cheap Trick thing.
  • Duke revoked his credentials for the rest of the season.
  • He became an Unperson. His Twitter account is gone, and apparently College Insider (or someone) has erased traces of his existence. (I base this on the fact that, if I Google “John Stansberry College Insider,” I get a bunch of links that say, “CollegeInsider.com: John Stansberry’s College Basketball Notebook.” But I get a “Not Found” error if I click on them. Down the memory hole, I guess. Like Garrison Keillor.)

All of which seems fairly straightforward in a day when we’re used to people being more or less disappeared for stepping over lines.

But I’m confused by news stories that refer to the incident as “racial” or “racist.”

“Racial” maybe, in the sense that a reference to race was made. But that doesn’t seem to be a primary concern of the young woman who complained. She made a passing reference to herself as a member of the set “Asian women,” but didn’t indicate that that was what bothered her about what the wiseguy did. She seemed mostly bothered about being discussed before the world when all she was doing was watching a basketball game.

But “racist?” I ask because the college paper mentioned this among several instances in a story headlined “‘We were just kind of shocked’: Asian American students report racist comments in recent weeks.”

Yeah, the “Cheap Trick” seems to be kind of snide, presumably a reference to this. But racist? And if this guy is actually part Asian, as the reference to “my Korean mother” would indicate, can it be racist? I don’t know.

I don’t know. The whole thing kind of hovers on the edge of a number of hot-button issues that are in vogue — privacy in a social media age, safe spaces in academia, sexism, racism(?), and so forth — that I thought I’d offer it for discussion.

I do know one thing: If he’d been doing his phony-baloney job and paying attention to the game, we wouldn’t have all of this. But that’s the editor in me….

And I didn’t mean to go on about it this long. But whenever I can come up with anything even vaguely sports-related for you, my dear readers, I try to oblige…

CheapTrick_Live_atBudokan

Scrap restructuring process; shut out legislators and parties

Gerrymandering goes before SCOTUS next week...

Gerrymandering goes before SCOTUS next week…

In response to this Tweet today from Andy Shain:

… I had this response:

  1. Scrap the system. It has made a mockery of our system of representative democracy. The real election should be in the fall, not in the primary. Parties should not own districts.
  2. Take it away from lawmakers. For too long, we’ve let legislators pick their voters rather than the other way around. Courts have allowed incumbents to protect themselves this way.
  3. Shut both parties out of the process. Set up a truly independent commission to draw the lines — political scientists, demographers and the like. Don’t allow anyone who has run for office under the banner of either major party to be on the commission.

OK, that last qualification may be tough, but it still leaves the third of us with no party affiliations, and that’s plenty of people to choose from. And here’s my first nomination for the commission: Bubba Cromer, who served honorably in the House after being elected and re-elected as an independent. (Once, then-Speaker David Wilkins pointed to Bubba crossing the street and said, “There goes the chairman of your caucus.” I agreed.)

But I’ll admit it’ll be tough to find unaffiliated people who know what they’re doing. So I might have to back off on that one requirement. Fortunately, there are honorable Democrats and Republicans out there.

The biggest problem, though, is figuring out a good way to choose the commissioners. Who will elect or appoint them? I can’t see going the popular election route or letting lawmakers pick them. So how do we get a good group of line-drawers? Ideas?

Don't let anyone currently elected to serve in this building onto the commission.

Don’t let anyone currently elected to serve in this building onto the commission.

Maybe we need to start putting something in the water

Potassium nitrate -- saltpetre, the stuff of many a rumor in the Army

Potassium nitrate — saltpetre, the stuff of many a rumor in the Army

Saltpetre, perhaps?

All these celebrity sexual harassment cases are one thing.

But we also have all these other cases not involving celebrities. Some of them close to home, such as:

SC preacher accused of leading a cult arrested on sexual misconduct allegations

A South Carolina man who has been previously accused of sexual misconduct and of leading a cult in Colleton County was arrested Monday.

Ralph Gordon Stair, 84, was arrested on eight warrants the Colleton County Sheriff’s Department and the State Law Enforcement Division, according to Live 5 News. ABC News 4 has reported he is facing charges of assault with intent to commit first-degree criminal sexual conduct, third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, kidnapping, first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary and three counts of criminal sexual conduct….

And then there’s this really horrible one:

Midlands man accused of sexually assaulting 6-year-old

Words fail me.

Everywhere we turn, there are men who have not only lost control, but whose impulses have become twisted in bizarre and sometimes horrific ways.

And yeah, I know saltpeter doesn’t really work as rumored. I just mention that because it’s the first alleged anaphrodisiac we think of. And no, I don’t want to chemically neuter the good guys who wouldn’t think of doing any of these things.

I’m just thinking how much of this stuff there is going on out there, often right under our noses. And how do you stop all the assaults by aggressors we don’t even know about?

That’s why I threw out the Swiftian proposal of putting something in the water. No, I wasn’t serious. But I wish I could think of something that would put an end to this stuff — without, you know, putting an end to the species…

Open Thread for Saturday, December 16, 2017

about-photo2

Yes, a weekend Open Thread. To make up for giving you nothing new the last two days:

  1. ‘Chicken Man’s art trailer stolen — You know, some crooks out there don’t respect anything. That goes for the lowlifes who took Ernest Lee’s trailer, for sure…
  2. On their heads be it — Congressional Republicans seem poised to pass, as their signature (let’s face it, their only) accomplishment of 2017, a completely unnecessary tax plan that is only favored by a third of the electorate. Democrats must be hugging themselves at this point, with visions of 2018 dancing in their heads.
  3. How Doug Jones Destroyed Roy Moore’s Whole Shtick with One Well-Chosen Verb — Kind of an interesting piece on the use of words in politics. The most damaging word Jones used in his takedown was “prancing.” Interesting choice of weapon for a Democrat these days.
  4. Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program — The stuff of science fiction movies revealed, at last. Where does the funding come from? “You don’t actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?”
  5. Palmetto State Armory’s Xmas billboards making a stir again — You know, like the “Silent Night” one showing a semiautomatic pistol with a noise suppressor?

 

 

 

Rick Quinn quits, pleads guilty; charges dropped on his dad

A very big day on the State House corruption probe front:

South Carolina Rep. Rick Quinn could be sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to misconduct in office in the criminal conspiracy case against him and his father, longtime GOP powerbroker Richard Quinn.

Rick Quinn in happier times.

Rick Quinn in happier times.

Rep. Quinn, R-Lexington, agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count, knowing prosecutors were still seeking prison time. Quinn, 52, resigned his seat ahead of the hearing at the Richland County courthouse, ending 22 years in the House. That makes him the second legislator to resign this year in the Statehouse corruption probe that has focused on the Quinns.

Judge Carmen Mullen accepted the plea deal but delayed sentencing. Quinn also faces a $1,000 fine.

The plea deal dropped charges against his 73-year-old father….

Here are some of the questions these developments raise:

  • Why is Pascoe seeking the maximum penalty against Quinn fils while letting Quinn père get off? Actually, that’s two questions. Let’s take the first: Pascoe is demanding the judge give Rick “every day of that year.” It appears Pascoe is really ticked that Rick refused to cooperate in any way, unlike previous pleaders. (Personally, prison time seems excessive — but then, I think prison should be reserved for violent offenders. Also, I remain confused about exactly Rick is pleading guilty to doing. Maybe it will be clearer in tomorrow’s stories.)
  • Now, the second: If Pascoe’s so bound and determined to nail the son’s hide to the wall, why let the dad off in the same plea deal? Well, unlike Rick, Richard is expected to testify before the grand jury.
  • Uninformed speculation from a couple of attorneys I’ve been chatting with tonight, one of whom was in the courtroom, is that Quinn’s going to help Pascoe bring in a really big fish. Who? Well, considering that some of the biggest Republicans in the state were Richard’s clients, the sky is sort of the limit.
  • John Monk’s story tonight hints that the big fish could be A.G. Alan Wilson — you know, the guy who appointed Pascoe before trying unsuccessfully to fire him. If so, it would be possibly the wildest development I’ve seen in 30 years of following S.C. politics. Think about it: It would be the final round in the biggest grudge match in recent years. Ahab and the whale. Smiley and Karla (if you’re into le Carre). Wile E. Coyote getting the Roadrunner. So much bad blood there that it seems Pascoe should in turn recuse himself and have someone (but who? who would have the authority in such a case?) appoint yet another prosecutor. It sort of boggles the mind….
  • Why does the Charleston paper’s headline say, “Rep. Rick Quinn pleads guilty in S.C. corruption case in deal that drops charges for kingpin father?” (OK, only other journalists will care about this one, I admit.) “Kingpin” is more something you call someone who’s been convicted. Weird to peg someone who just had his charges dropped with such a sensational sobriquet. Maybe there’s something I’m missing here…

This is definitely not over. I think…

 

No, Democrats: Alabama doesn’t mean you’re on a roll…

And congrats to the winner. We don't have to look at the #fakecowboy any more...

And congrats to the winner. We don’t have to look at the #fakecowboy any more…

An old colleague who now works in Washington, John O’Connor, reported this this morning:

I couldn’t help replying, “Well, yeah… if the other guy is a child molester…”

John followed that up with:

And here’s what I had to say to that…

Yeah, but we’re extrapolating from a sample of two, and the circumstances of the two are miles apart. Show me a few more Virginias, and you have a trend…

Democrats like Schumer are desperate for good news. They want the augurs to tell them that they’re going to win big in 2018. This grasping at hope can be seen in SC as well:

And while Democrats are looking to win, the rest of us — independents, and rational, normal Republicans — are hoping to see the national nightmare of Trump come to an end.

So there’s satisfaction, relief, in the Alabama results. But cause for celebration? No. The nation dodged a bullet. A terrible thing did not happen.

But just barely. Good Lord, look at what lost: Trump’s man was an absolute nightmare of a candidate, regardless of your political implications. We have good reason to believe he’s a child molester. He wants to do away with every amendment after the 10th, which means (and he knows this is what it means — he’s a lawyer, and a former judge, as incredible as it may be that he ever passed a course in law school) doing away with the amendments that freed the slaves and guaranteed equal treatment before the law. He seems incapable of opening his mouth without saying something shockingly idiotic.

In a sane world, he should have been creamed; he shouldn’t have received 10 percent of the vote. But he almost got 50.

It’s a bit early to say Trumpism is dead. Yes, we should all be happy that a horrible candidate lost. And to be a little more upbeat, we can even take comfort from the fact that a decent guy seems to have won (I liked that Joe Biden chose to focus on the positive, without making too much of it.)

But the country’s not out of the woods. All we’re seeing is flickers of light through the trees…