We didn’t have people in Syria ALREADY?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dang, y’all, I wrote this Friday and thought I posted it. But I didn’t. So here it is…

Lindsey Graham, in his role as the hawk on the campaign trail, isn’t about to give POTUS credit for anything these days:


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement on the news President Obama is willing to send up to fifty Special Operations Forces to Syria.

“President Obama is putting fifty brave Americans at risk without a clear strategy of how to degrade and destroy ISIL.

“ISIL is not going to be intimidated by this move.  In fact, ISIL will see this as yet another sign of President Obama’s weakness.

“ISIL is all-in for their horrific agenda and demented view of the world.  Unfortunately, President Obama is not all in when it comes to degrading and destroying ISIL.  Today’s announcement again reinforces that view.”


If Obama doesn’t send troops, he’s soft on terror. If he does, then he’s doing it without thinking it through. POTUS can’t win.

But the senator does have kind of a point. Even though these are some of our toughest troops, 50 of them aren’t going to tip the balance. So, what is the plan? What’s it gonna be then, eh? Are we in or are we out.

Frankly, I would have hoped that we had at least that many snake-eaters here and there in the country already, on the QT — maintaining contacts with friendlies, advising, and most of all collecting intel for if and when we go in officially. We’re supposedly already doing some training and providing weapons — well, who’s doing that? OK, the CIA. But still — do they not wear boots? Do they not go armed? Perhaps not.

But I guess this represents some sort of departure from what we’ve been doing. Otherwise, there’d be no point in making an announcement about a troop movement this small. What would amount to half a company were they conventional troops. Which of course they’re not.

Bottom line, what’s the plan? What is the difference we intend for these 50 men to make?

Lott bypassed SLED to avoid appearance of conflict of interest


When I was paid and paid well to do actual journalism, I would never have done what I did in this earlier post: Raise a question and not bother to call the source and get the question answered before publishing.

But this is not my day job, and I find myself slacking off in ways I would never have done in my former life. Some days, I don’t even have the time to raise the question for discussion, much less answer it. And I never feel good about that — or about the typos that inevitably crop up because I don’t have an editor. I rationalize that I don’t pretend this is a news blog — I raise questions; I don’t do much in the way of reporting. But there’s some value in raising questions, right? Or so I tell myself.

So I was suitably embarrassed today when Sheriff Leon Lott called me to answer my question. On the other hand, I was gratified to see that the sheriff was keeping up with my blog. (Always look on the bright side.)

The question was, why did the sheriff go straight to the feds to ask for an independent investigation into the Spring Valley High School incident instead of going to the State Law Enforcement Division first?

And as it turns out, the sheriff had a pretty good answer.

To begin with, this incident was a nationwide scandal before the sheriff even knew about it. Given the severity of what the deputy had done, and the national attention, it was particularly important that there not be even the slightest appearance of a conflict of interest in the investigation.

And with SLED, there was the danger of such an appearance. To begin with, “My wife works there — she’s an agent.” I had not realized that.

Moreover, “many of the higher-ups” in the agency once worked at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and are good friends of his.

So while he fully respects SLED and did not mean to diss the agency in any way, he thought it best to avoid any appearance of cronyism.

Besides, he figured it would end up in federal hands eventually, anyway.

I thought that was a pretty good answer. You?

Anyway, the sheriff and I went on to have a pretty good discussion about an issue this incident raises. I’ll write about that tomorrow…

Another way for cops to deal with unruly kids

This happened in Washington Monday:

On Monday afternoon, D.C. police officers broke up two groups of fighting teenagers. A few minutes later, a female officer approached the lingering crowd and told the teens to disperse.

That’s when Aaliyah Taylor, a 17-year-old senior at Ballou High School, walked up to the officer and started playing “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” on her phone. Then she did the Nae Nae dance.

The officer, according to Taylor, laughed and said she had far better dance moves than that.

What happened from there on the 200 block of K Street SW was a rather impressive dance-off between the police officer and the teen, and an example of positive community policing at a time when national attention is focused on discriminatory and abusive police tactics. The onlooking teens caught the dance battle on their cell phones while a song by rapper Dlow played in the background….

Did Lindsey Graham steal the JV show last night?

That seems to be the consensus of what I’ve read about the undercard debate.

I wouldn’t know, of course, because CNBC wanted to charge me to watch, and the World Series was free, so guess what I watched? (This blog would have to pay a lot more than it does for me to buy cable just for blogging purposes.)

As for the big-table debate, from what I’ve gathered from various sources, the main points were:

  • Big night for Rubio and Cruz.
  • Bad night for Jeb Bush.
  • The candidates and other GOP types went on a Spiro Agnew media-bashing spree.
  • Trump and Carson were relatively quiet, except for Trump bashing Kasich.

Here’s a transcript if you want it. I don’t have time to read it right now.

Among those of you who saw it: Thoughts?

Why not ask SLED to investigate deputy’s actions?

UPDATE: Sheriff Lott called me this afternoon, and he has a pretty good explanation for why he went with the feds first. Later tonight, I’ll write a new post about it…

I said this in a comment earlier, but I think it’s worth a separate post…

So Sheriff Lott has fired the deputy involved in the Spring Valley incident.

But here’s something I want to know, and would have asked Leon had I been at the presser: Why go straight to the FBI? Why not invite SLED in? Or, I don’t know, the statewide grand jury.

Yeah, I know, even though he’s my twin and all, Leon may not be as enamored of subsidiarity as I am. But why immediately buy into the cliche that NO ONE in SC can be fair and objective about this; we have to bring in the feds?

As Harry Harris said in a comment yesterday: “SC seems to be the one state that has reacted to most of the police excessive force revelations in a sound manner – prosecuting and disciplining the officers involved.” Leon’s immediate firing of this deputy demonstrates that — unless it just demonstrates a Pilatesque desire to wash his hands, and I don’t think that’s the case.

I would have given the SC system a chance to work. If the feds wanted to do a civil rights investigation on a parallel track, nobody’s stopping them.

But I just don’t get why, in this case and previous ones, Leon doesn’t want to turn to SLED…

The most amazing thing about Trump is that his supporters think he can WIN next fall

You may have seen that Donald Trump’s support in South Carolina has now reached the dizzying height of 40 percent of respondents who identify themselves as likely GOP primary voters.

No, the bubble hasn’t popped yet, even though everything we’ve seen in past elections would suggest it would have happened a couple of months back.

Do you wonder why? I certain do. Well, here’s why:

The conventional wisdom among Donald Trump’s detractors is that his current surge in the polls won’t last because as we get closer to actual voting, Republicans excited by his political incorrectness will start factoring in “electability.” When GOP voters realize that he can’t beat Hillary Clinton, the theory goes, they will switch their support to other more electable candidates.

One problem with that theory: Right now, GOP voters believe Trump is the most electable candidate.

A new Post/ABC News poll asked GOP-leaning voters which candidate “has the best chance of getting elected president in November 2016?” The winner was Trump by a landslide. An incredible 43 percent of GOP voters say that Trump is the most electable GOP candidate. In a distant second place, Ben Carson trails Trump on electability by 27 points, while Jeb Bush — whose entire rationale for his campaign is electability — trails Trump on electability by 30 points. Since the same poll found Trump with 32 percent support, that means even GOP voters who do not support Trump still believe he is most likely to beat the Democrats in 2016. A new Associated Press-GfK pollconfirms this, finding that “Seven in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters say they think Trump could win in November 2016 if he were nominated; that’s the most of any Republican candidate.”…

That may be the single most amazing thing that I’ve read or heard about the continuing popularity of this guy.

I suppose there’s a sort of cognitive block that prevents Trump supporters from imagining how non-Trump supporters see things. So they imagine a majority will agree with them.

I suppose all of us are susceptible to such lacks of insight. I, for one, find it very difficult to understand how anyone could imagine Donald Trump winning the presidency next November. This is perhaps a defense mechanism on my part: If I could imagine it, I wouldn’t sleep nights…

Y’all, an endorsement involves CHOOSING…

And sometimes, the hardest choices are when you like everybody.

You saw the other day that Steve Benjamin endorsed Andy Smith to replace his erstwhile protege Cameron Runyan.

Well, SC Equality PAC set out to do endorsement interviews, and couldn’t choose between the two candidates they talked to:

SC Equality PAC’s Endorsement for the Columbia City Council At-Large Member Election

Columbia, SC.  The mission of the South Carolina Equality Political Action Committee (PAC) is to elect fair-minded people to public office who oppose all forms of discrimination but especially against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities.

We have had an opportunity to personally and rigorously interview two (2) candidates who are running to be the next at-large member of the City of Columbia City Council. We invited all persons who are running for this at-large seat to interview with us but only two candidates responded – Howard Duvall and Andy Smith.

We asked both Duvall and Smith their overall vision if elected, plans for campaigning, and how strongly, if at all, they support the rights of LGBT communities and citizens across a wide range of issues from marriage equality to transgender identity rights.

We were very pleasantly surprised that both candidates demonstrated a genuine, personal commitment to upholding and further advancing the rights of all LGBT citizens in the City of Columbia across various dimensions of quality of life and citizenship.  We also were quite pleased that both candidates articulated a strong vision of progress for the City of Columbia and the equal seat at the table that LGBT citizens must occupy as part of that progress.  They bring unique talents, experiences, and deep ties to Columbia communities and would be outstanding public servants.

Therefore, we are taking the unique step of endorsing both Andy Smith and Howard Duvall for this city council race; for they are both candidates who meet all of our criteria for endorsement and thus we urge the LGBT community and our many allies to see either of their candidacies as in the best interest of LGBT communities.

Andy Smith is well-known by many LGBT leaders in Columbia given his leadership as the Executive Director of the nationally-recognized Nickelodeon Theater on the city’s downtown Main Street.  Andy has experience in electoral politics for in 2006 he served as the campaign manager for Robert Barber’s run for SC Lieutenant Governor.  As a native of South Carolina, Andy has deep ties to this state and the City of Columbia.  He has a very progressive vision about serving the needs of LGBT citizens in Columbia including the city and its Police Department having an LGBT Ombudsman as modeled after the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.  Andy also wants to ensure that the city do all it can to expand ordinances that protect the rights of LGBT citizens while serving as a faithful ally while SC Equality and others lobby the General Assembly to enact Hate Crimes legislation among other measures.  Andy has both a deep and abiding commitment to the LGBT community and a love for the city of Columbia.  He wants Columbia to continue to advance as a not only a progressive city but as an attractive and affordable city where balanced job creation and economic development occur.  He has demonstrated his commitment to such via the Nickelodeon Theater.  In the past ten years, the Nickelodeon has grown from a several hundred thousand dollar operation to a now $5 million organization that has spurred economic development, commercial investment, and patronage in and around its mainstream corridor to the tune of about $1 million. It also has demonstrated that it is a good neighbor in many ways, including it’s media education program with C.A. Johnson High School, it’s outreach program to LGBT youth, and it’s working with local homeless shelters to create an inclusive downtown neighborhood.

Howard Duvall has been described by the Free Times newspaper as, “a candidate with a wealth of experience in dealing with municipal government.”  For 20 years, Duvall served as the Executive Director of the Municipal Association of South Carolina; the state’s premiere organization for advising and researching issues related to the best governance of cities and towns.  He also has direct experience serving in elected office for he has both served as a member of the City Council and as the Mayor of the Town of Cheraw.  But in our extensive interviews we also discovered that Howard has a deep commitment to fairness and equality for all citizens, most especially LGBT Citizens.  Along with the heartfelt story that Howard shared with us about seeing the unjust personal battles persons in his family had to wage because they were LGBT, he has worked within the Episcopalian Church to expand its welcoming of not only lesbian, gay, and bisexual parishioners but transgender persons as well.  He is genuinely committed to maintaining Columbia’s image as a progressive and inclusive city by upholding and further expanding city ordinances that protect LGBT employees and other citizens.  Howard wants to bring his wealth of insights about the best practices of municipal government to the Columbia City Council to ensure even-handed job creation and economic development; the further development of a progressive tax system; and creative ideas about updating the aging infrastructure of the city.

In the wake of the terrible storms and great floods of 2015, we join with both Andy and Howard to encourage persons to get involved to aid families and businesses who are in great need as well as to assist in efforts at recovery and rebuilding.

It is for all of these reasons that we take this unique opportunity to strongly endorse these two leaders who will be good for the LGBT community and good for the City of Columbia overall.

The mission of the South Carolina Equality Political Action Committee (PAC) is to elect fair-minded people to public office who oppose all forms of discrimination but especially against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. 


Come on, y’all! Belly up and choose! Sheesh. Amateurs…

The deputy and the student: That violent Spring Valley video

Again, South Carolina makes national news, and again, it’s in a bad way.

It’s early in the discernment process, and we lack any context (whatever the context may be), but the extremely brief video is a kick in the gut, especially the instant when the desk flips backward in a way that almost seems to defy physical laws. It’s amazing that the student wasn’t injured, a fact we can only chalk up to the resilience of youth.

Here, from The State, are the skimpy facts, which tell us next to nothing:

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an incident between a school resource officer and a female student at Spring Valley High School on Monday, after a video showing a confrontation was posted online.

The female student and a male student were arrested for disturbing the peace, said Richland County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Lt. Curtis Wilson. The resource officer, Senior Deputy Ben Fields, has been placed on administrative duties with pay pending the investigation’s results, according to Wilson.

While Fields will work at the Sheriff’s Department, he won’t be performing any duties at area schools. In a statement, the Richland 2 school district said it had “directed the school resource officer not return to any school in the district.”

The video shows Fields approach the female student seated in a desk. The resource officer proceeds to place his left hand on the female student’s left arm, before putting his right arm around her neck. Fields then flips the desk over, with the student still seated, before spinning it around and forcibly removing the student and trying to restrain her at the front of the classroom.

Wilson said no one was injured in the incident – neither the students nor Fields.

Wilson said prior to what is shown in the video, the female student was asked to leave the classroom and refused. Wilson said that was when the resource officer was called in….

The official response to the incident seems appropriately cautious so far. The sheriff is out of town. The mayor wants an independent investigation. The school district’s one response, saying it doesn’t want that officer back in the classroom, seems appropriate under the circumstances.

All we have now is a video that shocks the viewer as much as it seems to have shocked the bystanders, who react not at all — their stillness is almost eerie — except for the one who shot these 15 seconds.




It’s time to listen to the world’s most autumnal band


Which would be, of course, The, um… Band.

Yeah, I know, I know — according to Brad, every season is the right season to listen to The Band. That’s true, and evidently I’m not the only one to think so. See the banner image that you can find on Peter Hamby’s Twitter feed, season after season:


Well played, Mr. Hamby.

Back to my point, I ask you: Doesn’t that photo look like autumn? And doesn’t this one and this one and this one? And not just because they always look like that’s the season they’re dressed for — which I consider the ultimate cool look, possibly because fall is my favorite season. (Broke out my rumpled vaguely dusty-green corduroy jacket last week, because it’s finally the season to dress like you’re in The Band!)

It’s supremely fitting that their greatest item, the eponymous one, is brown, with black-and-white photos. When I listen to their music, I picture brown, gray, black, and muted orange. They are far more like an old, scuffed brown shoe than, say, George Harrison was.

Because it’s not just a look — it’s a sound. Starting with their most autumnal song of all…

ARRGGGHHH! The whole point of writing this post was to share this awesome video I found, and long ago favorited, of The Band playing “King Harvest” in the studio, a version I liked even better than the one on the album, and now when I click on it it says, “This video contains content from Eagle Rock. It is not available in your country,” and then adds, in much smaller type, “Sorry about that..”

Ya know, there’s just one thing I expect from the internet… OK, there are a lot of things that I expect from the internet, but this one is very near the top of this list… and it is that stuff doesn’t go away! It’s always there to look at whenever you want it. It’s handy! It’s convenient! It’s at your fingertips! Always!

So I really, really hate it when something like this happens.


OK, well, the album version will have to do.

Anyway, here are the top five most autumnal songs by the most autumnal of bands, to give you a nice, crunchy, brown, orange and black soundtrack for the season:

  1. King Harvest — Yeah, partly because of the title, but listen to it! “Dry summer, then comes fall/ Which I depend on most of all…” And not just the words, but the tone… If Richard Manuel doesn’t sound like a man who’s reached the autumn of his life, I don’t know who does. He’s a man defined by the seasons who is adjusting to new realities and trying to put the best face on it he can. And Garth Hudson on the Lowrey organ — doesn’t it sound like the perfect accompaniment to the words, “Scarecrow and a yellow moon/ And pretty soon a carnival on the edge of town?”
  2. The Unfaithful Servant — After that servant has said goodbye to that country home, the lady he has left looks out on a landscape that is dominated by a gray sky with low clouds. Most of the leaves are on the ground now and it’s recently rained, dampening the carpet of leaves that’s turning from brown to black as they decompose. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.
  3. Long Black Veil — OK, this one is late fall, bordering on winter, but still just barely autumn. Say, late November. I’m fairly certain there are few leaves on the trees as “she walks  these hills” and “the cold wind moans.”
  4. The Weight — I’ll admit this is less autumnal than the others. I picture it being sort of hot and dusty as our humble narrator pulls into Nazareth, feeling about half-past dead. But I wanted an excuse to link you to the great live version at Woodstock in 1969. At least that one hasn’t gone away… “Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog…”
  5. The Rumor — OK, the truth is, I could have picked almost any five songs by The Band and they would all have fit the category. I can’t even think of any reason to tell you why this one makes the list; it just does. It evokes fall for me. I listen to it, and it’s October.


I loved this music when I was 17, but now that I’m at a more autumnal age they’re an even better fit for how I’m likely to feel when I hear them.

I hope you enjoy them as well, if you click on the links.

Come hear ‘nun on the bus’ Simone Campbell Tuesday

Remember Sister Simone Campbell, the representative of the “Nuns on the Bus” who spoke so eloquently at the Democratic National Convention in 2012?

Well, tomorrow night — Tuesday, Oct. 27 — she will deliver this year’s Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Lecture at USC’s Capstone at 6 p.m.

The title of her speech is “Bridge the Divides, Transform Politics: A View from the Bus.” From the flyer:

Campbell flyer

Come on out and listen. I expect it to be inspiring.

Even Darth Stewie was more fiscally responsible than Richland County Council

OK, follow me here; I’m going to bounce around a little…

Remember how we were talking about the new Star Wars movie earlier this week? Well, Alexandra Petri was riffing on that a bit, or rather on the stupid campaign by some racists to get a boycott of the new film going (yeah, good luck with that, Jim Bob), and she noted facetiously that there were far more defensible reasons to object to the franchise, including this:

Death Stars are the ultimate wasteful government spending project. At best, the constant construction of Death Stars is Keynesian economics at its very worst, trying to keep people employed by pouring money into giant holes in space. Does the Imperial military even want these? Given their obvious defects, it seems unlikely. Probably what it wants are helmets you can see out of or armor that works, and the Empire has not given it that yet.

Ah, but Ms. Petri missed the one most wasteful thing about the Death Star, which was that it was designed to be doomed, as “Family Guy” pointed out so effectively:

You’ll note that in this version, the Death Star didn’t get the glaring flaw addressed in a timely fashion because Darth Stewie insisted on getting some cost estimates.

Well, good for him. Even though he’s supposed to be an embodiment of evil, he’s more fiscally responsible than Richland County Council:

Richland County Council voted this week to hold its annual retreat in downtown Charleston early next year, despite having multiple local options presented to them and without having cost estimates to judge their decision by.

The retreat, at which council members and staff discuss plans for major policy items for the coming year, will be held Jan. 27-29, 2016, at Embassy Suites on Meeting Street. Council voted 8-3 to hold the retreat in Charleston, with council members Julie-Ann Dixon, Bill Malinowski and Seth Rose dissenting.

Dixon, Malinowski and Rose voted to hold the retreat at the Richland County Administration Building in Columbia.

Embassy Suites in Columbia and the YMCA in Lexington were both offered as options for Jan. 27-29.

Malinowski said his rationale for holding the retreat locally was threefold: to save money, to spend the money within the community and to give citizens an easy opportunity to attend the meeting if they wish.

“I think the people should have easy access to the government, and we’re not doing that,” Malinowski said….

I told you I was going to jump around a bit. But I got there in the end, didn’t I?

This is why readers see media as negative

I couldn’t help reacting this way this morning:

Yeah, I know: The first American soldier killed in Iraq in four years is definitely news. But, of course, the reason no Americans have been killed is that we haven’t had Americans engaged in combat on the ground for four years. I can see how, if we had been conducting successful commando raids in Iraq every week, and this was the first time we’d lost a man, then yeah, that casualty would be the one fact you would choose for your headline if you could only fit in one.

To me, looking at the big picture here, it seems that the main news is that we sent men into ground combat in Iraq for the first time in four years. See it as good news or bad news, that’s the news. That, and the fact that the action was successful. The loss of a man is important, and terrible, but it is a result of the first thing, which is the big news…

And hey, you couldn’t work in that the raid succeeded in saving 70 people who were about to be killed and dumped into mass graves? No, they weren’t exactly the peshmerga fighters we went in to save, but apparently we still saved 70 people from the bad guys.

I honor Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler. He was a great soldier, as I know from the fact that he was with Delta Force. We — and those people he helped save — owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. I am in awe of what he did, and his sacrifice.

But I would not have mentioned his death as the only thing worth noting about that raid.

Let’s take ourselves out of our immediate, narrow, 2015 frame of reference and consider another example, from another time…

Lt. Den Brotheridge was the first Allied soldier killed on D-Day. He is known for that, and honored for it. He was charging a German position across the bridge now known as Pegasus Bridge just minutes after midnight, leading his glider-borne platoon that had just crash-landed a few yards away.

But what we remember is that his British unit, part of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, took that bridge, which was critically important to protecting the landings that would begin on the nearby beaches a few hours later.

We remember Lt. Brotheridge for the way he died. He is not forgotten. But we remember the deed, the feat of arms, and why it mattered, more. Stephen Ambrose’s book about that remarkable coup de main operation is named “Pegasus Bridge,” not “The Death of Den Brotheridge.”

But we don’t look at things that way any more, do we?

Everyone but me knows who Lauryn Hill is

Hill (2)

I’m up on the latest technology, even as I resist moving up to the larger, more unwieldy iPhone 6 (and yes, I know that the latest is 6s — I don’t want that, either).

I know all about the multitude of people running for president this year, even though I continue to get Kasich and Pataki confused. I think Kasich’s the one I kinda like. Or is it Pataki?…

I’m up-to-date on most of the hot shows in this new Golden Age of television (which occurs as Television As We Knew It passes away).

But recent pop music can escape me, largely because with only rare exceptions (Adele, LMFAO), none of it cuts through the clutter enough to impress me. I’m pretty current right up to the late MTV period, which is to say the early ’90s (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Green Day, Radiohead, etc.), which is pretty good considering that’s just before I turned 40. I really think that was the last sizable explosion of real creativity in pop — and really kind of the last gasp of rock.

So it was that when this news broke today

Lauryn Hill will headline Columbia’s Famously Hot New Year on Dec. 31, city officials announced Thursday….

… I went up and down the hall asking the other folks here at ADCO whether they knew who Lauryn Hill was. And they all did. I did not.

They said if I heard some of her hits, I’d know who she was.

I did not, at least initially. I DID recognize her cover of “Killing Me Softly,” and she did some good things with it, but that was always a good song, dating back to Roberta Flack. And she did that not as a solo act, but with the Fugees. And she did it in the mid-90s, at the end of what I refer to as the last creative period in pop music.

All the rest of her stuff hits me in a blank space. And none of it sounds as good, as soulful, as deep, as her version of “Killing Me Softly.”

Dang… If Championship Vinyl were a real place, and it was still in business, Barry, Rob and even the mild-mannered Dick would be giving me a really hard time now. I comfort myself that those snobs would know who she was, but probably not put her in the same league with, say, Solomon Burke or the Beta Band…

Looking ahead, without joy, to a Joe-less election

Our Joe huddled with the president, just before the fateful announcement.

Our Joe huddled with the president, just before the fateful announcement.

Mercifully, I was out on a golf course and oblivious when the terrible news came: My man Joe Biden would not seek the Democratic nomination for president.

This means several things, all bad:

  • Without that to talk about, we’ll likely go back to all-Trump, all the time. And I, for one, am not up for that.
  • If everybody starts to have heartburn about Hillary’s trustworthiness problem again — and remember, that’s the way things were very, very recently — we’ll have no viable options on the Democratic side. At least Joe’s Hamlet routine gave us hope.
  • Even though there’s a ridiculous number of people running for president this year, this leaves us without a single Joe of any sort. And an election without essential Joe-ness is an election hardly worth having.

You may think I’m being facetious on that last bullet point, but I’m not. Without Joe, there’s no viable candidate running on either side that I can truly, actively like. And we are poorer for it.


Really, Trey? THAT’s the look you’re going with?

gowdy_surfs_up  download (3) 596-trey-gowdy-610 FILE - This file June 28, 2013 file photo shows House Oversight Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday declared he’d schedule a vote to create a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, escalating a political battle that has raged since the final days of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. A senior Republican aide said Boehner was considering Gowdy to chair the select committee. The aide wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. It’s unclear when Boehner will schedule the vote.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

I was out of pocket yesterday playing in a charity golf tournament (to benefit Healthy Learners) out at Fort Jackson, which means I probably had a better time than you did. (How did I do? Well, the official score was 70, which sounds great until you learn that it was captain’s choice — which, for the uninitiated, means that we had four tries at every shot — and that was the team score. When I left, the leading team had come in with a 56, and we were tied for last place. But it was a beautiful day, and we had a good time.)

But while I didn’t blog exactly, I did mini-blog and bit, and this was my most popular Tweet of the day, garnering a number of reTweets and favorites:

You may have noticed that South Carolina’s own Rep. Gowdy has made almost as many attempts to do different things with his hair as Eric Clapton, only with less success. I am not the only one to compare the above look to Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penquin, on “Gotham:”

Others have mentioned Draco Malfoy, possibly after seeing this particular do.

You might be tempted to say that he’d look better if he just grew it out some, particularly on the sides. But then you would take that back upon seeing this. And let’s not even get started on this one

The most normal he has ever looked was when he went with the neoclassical Brutus cut, as they called it when it came into fashion in the early 19th century. Or perhaps we should call it the Cassius look, as in:

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.
He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.

Maybe that’s why he abandoned it. He didn’t want Kevin McCarthy talking about how “yond Trey hath dim’d the star of Hillary Macbeth…”

But when the big day came, what did he do? He whipped out the Butch Wax and went with the kewpie doll look:

Gowdy look

Open Thread for Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is the president seeking intelligent life? I notice the telescope is NOT aimed at the Capitol...

Is the president seeking intelligent life? I notice the telescope is NOT aimed at the Capitol…

A few topics:

  1. County may pay ex-Maj. Gen. Turner $194,000 for flood relief — Abraham Turner was an impressive general officer, who I suspect would have inspired confidence on a battlefield. But while it pales in comparison to what Steve Spurrier is pulling in, I fail to see how he qualifies for this sort of remuneration from a county in need. Richland County Council is apparently discussing this tonight. John Crangle says the proposed contract “doesn’t smell very good.” No kidding.
  2. Jim Webb drops out of 2016 Democratic primary — You know what this means, don’t you? It means he’ll have to wait even longer to be called on in the next Democratic debate. And he’s contemplating an independent bid, which I suppose means we may never hear of him again.
  3. Pierre Trudeau’s kid elected to run Canada — It’s morning again in Canada, as the new Liberal PM touts his “sonny ways.” I mean, “sunny ways.” Well, good luck, Justin. Oh, and Mick Jagger says to say “hi” to your mom. Me, I’ll just be sitting here thinking about our largest trading partner being run by someone who was born the year I graduated from high school.
  4. US and Russia sign deal to avoid Syria air incidents — Here’s hoping our forces stay separated by something more than a “red line.”


Will the new ‘Star Wars’ offer anything beyond the brief delight of seeing old friends again?

OK, I’ve seen the new trailer, and I’ve been delighted, again, to see Harrison Ford appear as Han Solo. And I’ve been disappointed to see no sign at all of Luke Skywalker. (But hey, Han was always more fun, right?) Which makes me wonder, is it that they’re saving him, or is it that his part is no more than a cameo?

And then, it occurs to me to reflect for a moment on the rest of what we see on the trailer…. storm troopers… the Millennium Falcon!… an apparent Darth Vader impersonator… various familiar small flying craft, X-wings and tie fighters… good guys distinguished by the fact that their uniforms are more casual and earth-toned than the bad guys’… a young woman, more conventionally pretty than Carrie Fisher but not as hot… a young black guy, proving that Lando Calrissian was not alone in that galaxy, who may, given the context and the voiceover and his various facial expressions of deep concern, be our protagonist…

And it dawns on me that I’m almost certainly going to be subjected to a bait-and-switch when I go to see this film, which I inevitably will do. I’m being teased with Han Solo and Princess Leia, and made to wonder about Luke Skywalker, but will the film really be about them at all?

Probably not. At most, at most, they will play a role like that of Obi Wan Kenobi — if we’re lucky. Sure, Obi Wan was hugely important, but was the film about him? No. He was important as a guide to the main characters, cluing them in to what had been and could be again. (And, as is the case in this situation, he was the only “name” actor in the production.)

No, the filmmakers’ likely goal is to use Han and Leia and Luke to get me interested in people I’ve never heard of, so that I’ll care enough about them to buy tickets to the two films to follow. The central conflicts and action and development will likely center around these young strangers.

Which makes me a little sad, and even sadder when I think how likely all this effort is to fail.

“Star Wars” — the original one, the true phenomenon, seems to me a one-time, magical thing. It had enough magic to keep us interested in the next two films, and even to, many years later, dupe people into going to see the decidedly unmagical “prequels.” The amazingly, stunningly unmagical prequels.

But no matter how much money is spent, no matter how dazzling the new technology may be, how can you duplicate the experience that we felt when we went into theaters in 1977 completely unaware of what we would see and hear and feel, and then were so delighted? There had been no way to predict it. If someone had told you the premise — essentially a cornball evocation of old movie serials from the 1930s brought to a new generation — it would have sounded no more promising than the completely bogus “Argo.” (I refer, of course, to the fake sci-fi film within the film, not to the Ben Affleck vehicle itself.)

But it worked. Lightning struck. And now, people are laboring to make it strike again, in the same way.

Is that possible? I don’t know, but I’m afraid it’s unlikely…

Larry David as Bernie Sanders

We’ve noted before how much Bernie Sanders sounds like Larry David — or at least, like Larry David doing George Steinbrenner.

So now, thanks to SNL, we’re able to see just how uncanny the similarity is.

David is definitely the star of this skit from the weekend. I think Kate McKinnon is hilarious, but as Hillary Clinton, she’s no Amy Poehler.

And Alec Baldwin’s Jim Webb was… passable.

About those contracts Mia and John Scott have with the city…

As you’ll recall, we all looked askance, and with good reason, when a private firm paid then-Rep. Nikki Haley $40k and then couldn’t explain what they were paying her for, beyond the fact that she was “very connected.”

So how should we react when we see two lawmakers getting paid potentially more than that each by the taxpayers of Columbia?

Columbia has hired two state lawmakers to do consulting work for the city, agreeing to pay their businesses up to $49,500 each.

City Manager Teresa Wilson said the city was not trying to buy influence in the Legislature by retaining state Rep. Mia McLeod, who is running for the state Senate, and state Sen. John Scott, both Richland Democrats.

Instead, Wilson said she hired McLeod and Scott for their expertise. Scott’s work, for example, includes advising the city on its application for transportation money from a state agency, she said.

In addition, Wilson also said she decided to hire McLeod and Scott because their businesses – McLeod Butler Communications and C&S Consulting Group – are owned by minority women. Scott’s wife is the president of C&S Consulting.

“This is to the benefit of the city when we can work with minority, women-owned businesses,” Wilson said. “It just so happens that they happen to be legislators.”…

OK, um, I can see why, as a matter of policy, a public entity might choose to do business with “minority, women-owned,” even if they fit that description only technically. But, you know, I kind of want it to be for something the city needs, and I want to know that the contractor can provide the service.

For instance, I think I might have wanted to have an extended public discussion before I hired the author of such missives as this to do public relations work.

But that’s me, and since I’m in that business now, I’m hardly a disinterested observer, am I? So what do y’all think?

Spurrier to get paid $900,000 ‘to empty his office?’

Just thought I’d take notice of this item from over the weekend:

The University of South Carolina will pay former football coach Steve Spurrier, who resigned Monday, through the end of 2015, Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner said Friday.

That means Spurrier will receive his full $4 million pay for the year. Based on his annual pay, the former Gamecocks coach is scheduled to collect more than $900,000 through the end of the year….

Spurrier, who left after the Gamecocks started the season with a 2-4 record, has said he plans to stay in the Columbia area. He said he would take the rest of the season to empty his office at Williams-Brice Stadium…

So basically, he’s going to make more money than I’m likely to make in the rest of my working life for cleaning out his office? What’s he going to do, take home one knickknack from his desk each day? Let’s see… with 54 weekdays left in the year, that’s $16,666.67 per knickknack.

OK, yeah, I know — USC probably didn’t have any choice in this. It’s not all that unusual with big-time college coaches to receive the rest of their contract when they leave, and so forth and so on.

I’m not saying any particular individual or institution should have done anything differently than they did in this case. I blame no one. I blame society and its values.

A country where this is normal is a country with its priorities seriously out of whack.