Friday, March 30, 2012

Best Fantasy Baseball Team Names

It's time to get your fantasy baseball team cranked up again. Other than the draft and talking trash to your league-mates, one of the best part of your fantasy league is coming up with a team name. Here's some help.

My favorite: Grand Theft Votto

Joey Votto: No helmet required

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Important News from the World of Biscuits

Ok, enough politics...it's time for something serious and more tasteful. Biscuits.
David Tucker will open a new incarnation of the breakfast restaurant at the end of April. It is one of about a half-dozen outlets that are planned or already open. Best of all? Biscuits will be available all day. The restaurant will be open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. and also will serve lunch – unlike the original.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2012/03/29/2212861/biscuit-house-prepares-to-open.html#storylink=cpy
Biscuits served all day? Game just changed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Willful Congressional Ignorance

I wish I was making this up. Via Volokh, some of our elected officials in Congress were asked their opinion of the health care law and the constitutionality of the law. Their responses:
Rep. Conyers cited the “Good and Welfare Clause” as the source of Congress’s authority [there is no such clause].
Rep. Stark responded, “the federal government can do most anything in this country.” [Skip to 2:40 mark]
Rep. Clyburn  replied, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do. How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?”
Rep. Hare said “I don’t worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest [...] It doesn’t matter to me.” When asked, “Where in the Constitution does it give you the authority …?” He replied, “I don’t know.”
Sen. Akaka said he “not aware” of which Constitutional provision authorizes the healthcare bill.
Sen. Leahy added, “We have plenty of authority. Are you saying there’s no authority?”
Sen. Landrieu told a questioner, “I’ll leave that up to the constitutional lawyers on our staff.”
Holy crap, that's some scary stuff. Remember that everyone one of these people took an oath to "Preserve, protect, and defend, the Constitution of the United States". And then one guy says that it "doesn't matter" to him? That's galling. At least lie to me a little bro, You're a Congressman, so you should at least be able to do that, right? Just lie to me a little. Say you really really care about the Constitutionality of a law, and at least try to sound convincing.

This is just something to keep in mind when you hear arguments that the Supreme Court is being asked to defer to the constitutional wisdom of another co-equal branch. I'd love to know what our Supreme Court Justices think of the chuckle-heads in Congress.

In defense of our elected officials, YOU voted for these idiots.

Oral Arguments and What they Mean

I wanted to listen to the audio of the oral arguments before I commented. Having done that, I thought the news coverage of the case was extreme. Everyone from Toobin (who is a hack) to Wolf Blitzer (don’t you love his name?) to the folks all over MSNBC basically said some version of this:

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. should be grateful to the Supreme Court for refusing to allow cameras in the courtroom, because his defense of Obamacare on Tuesday may go down as one of the most spectacular flameouts in the history of the court.
                                                                                        (Full Article Here)

 I listened to the oral argument. Verrilli didn’t do that bad. Everyone these days is used to seeing lawyers in movies and on TV shows have these amazing closing arguments. Everyone expects you to be MatthewMcConaughey, in A Time to Kill.

I hate to kill your buzz, boys and girls, but the actual legal world isn’t like the movies. It’s kind of dry, it’s not dramatic, and it’s usually conducted in a run-down government building. Judges ask tough questions, and sometimes there isn’t a really good answer that it both profound and witty. Sometimes even the best lawyers lose their train of thought. Accordingly, everyone needs to kind of chill out about the "style-points" of the whole thing.

Also, any lawyer who does a fair amount of appellate work will tell you that oral argument doesn’t really win or lose the case. Sure, if you make the best oral argument in the history of the world (or the worst) it might influence a vote. However, the reality is that the Judges/Justices at the appellate/supreme level have already read your written briefs, thought about the question presented, had their law clerks research the issue, discussed it, and have probably formed their own opinion already.

Here’s my analogy for all you non-lawyers: An appellate case is like building a wooden fence. Your written work (the briefs), and the substantive law are the wood and the nails. You put the fence together with the wood and the nails. You try to make sure there aren’t any gaps in the fence, that each board is straight, and you nail it together tightly. Oral argument is deciding what color you’re going to paint the fence. If you accidentally spill all the paint, you still have a fence – it’s just not as pretty as you would like it to be.

Consequently, all this wailing and gnashing of teeth about how “bad” the solicitor general sounded during oral arguments is fluff and it's nonsense. However, the news media has to say something, so this is what they’ve decided to fixate on.

You don’t have to do any deep thinking about the merits of the law if your big takeaway is: That guy sounded like an idiot. But we all know that the news folks aren’t in the business of serious analysis. That would be too hard, bro.

They don’t want to talk about why the fence might have a bad foundation, the history of fence building, how the fence could be flawed, or what other kinds of fences built like this would mean for us. They just want to focus on: Wow, that’s an ugly looking fence.

Another possible angle is that all the defenders of the health-care law and the media (but I repeat myself) are looking for a potential scapegoat. If SCOTUS kills the law, the defenders can then point to Verrilli and say “Hey, the law is constitutional, we just had a moron argue it.”

In fact, if SCOTUS kills the law, I personally guarantee you that some news-person will put that theory out there. They’ll have no problem throwing him under the bus to preserve the idea that the law is valid.

The News: If you’re looking for substantive analysis – you’re looking in the wrong place.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Busy Day - Light Blogging - Music Post

Hey, ya'll. Got to work on work every now and again. You know, legal work... Until then, here's a nice little tune from a cool southern rock band to keep your toe tappin' on a Tuesday:



[H/T to the Chief Indian for turning me onto Green River Ordinance]

Monday, March 26, 2012

My First Whole-Hog BBQ: The Order of the Smoke Ring

Over the weekend, the Young Lawyers Division of the South Carolina Bar defeated the Student Bar Association of the USC Law School in a whole-hog BBQ cook off. The YLD team was led by renowned BBQ master (and feared litigator) Robert Goings.

Michael Wright, Charles Appleby, and yours truly rounded rounded out the remainder of the team. We were carefully chosen for our ability to follow Robert's instructions and our ability to drink beer, which is a very important part of competition BBQ.

I have done "small time" BBQ myself, for a few years, consisting of mostly ribs, butts, and chicken. However, this was my first time experiencing the world of whole-hog cooking. Having now participated in cooking a whole-hog, I can say that the difference between cooking a rack of ribs on the grill for several hours and cooking a 110 lb. hog is about the same difference between intramural flag football and SEC football. Another similarity between the two is that both SEC football and whole-hog cooking are taken very seriously, and both require lots of equipment.

The BBQ was scheduled to be served at approximately 6:00PM on Friday. Naturally, this meant that we started on Thursday. At approximately 7:30PM on Thursday, we set up BBQ headquarters (kind of a campsite/tailgate/kitchen) and began the preparations. Robert arrived with the pig in a giant cooler of ice, a pull-behind cooker, and had what amounted to a small kitchen in the back of his truck. Michael and I arrived with a few other odd and ends, including, but not limited to, a box of surgical gloves, assorted cutlery, tables and chairs. Appleby was deployed on "special assignment" to the UF/USC baseball game that night, so we were a man down.

In what proved to be an instant sign of good team chemistry, we had all (individually) brought enough beer for the group. After getting the headquarters established, the actual pig preparation began. If you've ever cooked ribs, you know that pulling the membrane off the ribs is both important and difficult. A 110 lb. hog has that same step on the hams and shoulders, but times four. While Michael were on membrane-removal detail, Robert separated the ribs and did other more complicated butchering.

That took us about an hour, but it went by quickly, as morale was high. The cleaned pig was looking good, but it was now time to get serious about the flavor.

The first step in adding flavor (and moisture) involved injecting the pig with a concoction of what I am told consisted primarily of cider vinegar and apple juice. According to Robert, the process was to "Inject it like crazy."

After approximately an hour or two of that, the pig looked like this:

Next, we liberally coated the entire surface of the pig with mustard. Robert explained that this wasn't really for taste; it was to provide a sticky surface for the rub to cling to. We applied the rub to the (now membrane free) to all surfaces. The surgical gloves were invaluable at this stage. As a piece of advice, you really cannot have too many disposable gloves. Also, if you can get the hospital-quality ones, do that.

Michael Wright laying the foundation for some winning Q.
We were cooking for a very large group, so we had some additional meat to cook. In addition to the pig, we prepared six butts, using the same process of injection and then getting a nice layer of dry rub on them. The butts were then put into a cooler to rest. After all that work we needed a little rest ourselves.

We knew that we wanted to be done with the cooking at about 5:00PM the next day, so we calculated 3:30AM as the time we should get the meat onto the cooker.

Here is what the final conglomeration of butts and pig looked like before any heat or smoke were applied.

Just about 150 lbs. of meat waiting for the magic of heat and smoke the night before.
Mike took the tough assignment of the night shift, and I got off fairly easy by pulling the daylight shift for the next day. With the prep work done, I departed, leaving the night-shift in place. I can't say exactly what happened that night, but I am told that it involved an ancient blessing of the pig conducted in Latin. In any event, when I returned, it was clear that we were on our way to some serious BBQ.

The cooker was running approximately 250 degrees, and after 13 hours it looked like this:


The butts had cooked faster than the whole-pig, so they were wrapped in foil to keep them from drying out. Finally, about 3:00PM, the entire team began the process of pulling/shredding all of the pork into serving containers for the crowd that was soon to appear. Our team leader was in charge of finding the best pieces of BBQ and setting them aside for the judges. After about two hours of painstaking, finger-burnin' work, we had turned all 150 lbs. of meat into the most delicious pulled pork I have ever tasted.

Goings, Appleby, and Wright: Doing the hard work of shredding the BBQ into bite-sized morsels of love.

The Finished Product: Only 16 hours of work, and this too can be yours.

After slightly under 24 hours (start to finish), the BBQ judges rendered an 8-0 decision that we had vanquished our competition. For all you lawgeeks out there, that would be a per curiam decision. I had more fun doing this than I had expected, and I was honored to be inducted into the Order of the Smoke Ring. Our competition worked valiantly, but they were no match for Team Bobby-Q. If you have ever wanted to try your hand a cooking a whole pig, I highly recommend it. Just be sure to budget enough time, and find some friends who don't mind getting their hands a little messy.

The YLD captures the inaugural "Golden Pig" Award
Legendary BBQ was made. Lives were changed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Explaining "Hunger Games"

When I first heard there was a move called Hunger Games, I thought it was a documentary about the Charlie Weiss years at Notre Dame. Or maybe something about Mangino. In any event, I recently learned that I was a little off.

Apparently, Hunger Games is a fantasy/futuristic world where kids fight to the death in a Gladiator-type deal. Also, it's all the fault of Big Government or something. Or maybe it's not. I just hope we get a Russell Crowe cameo.

Hunger Games: You're Entertained.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Northern Pipeline Bad; Southern Pipeline Good

Ok, you may recall that our President said "No" to the Keystone XL Pipeline. Apparently, the President gets to have a say whenever a pipeline crosses international borders.  Later, he personally lobbied Senators to vote against the pipeline. He got on the phone and told Senators to vote it down. Ok, fine. He's against the pipeline. I get it.

Apparently, despite our President trying to kill it twice, the folks in Canada who want to move the oil decided to build the Southern portion (Houston to Oklahoma). I guess they're gambling that Obama is going to change his mind or that maybe a new President will approve the Northern part. In any event, the Southern part of the pipeline is being built, and Obama has nothing to do with it. Since it doesn't cross any international borders, that makes sense. With me so far?

So today, our President shows up in Oklahoma, where they are building the pipeline that he has personally tried to kill twice. I'm thinking he going to really give those guys a piece of his mind and tell them that it's just not going to happen, and they need to get on board with clean energy. I'm thinking he's going to say "In your face! I stopped your pipeline!" However, this is what he said:
"Today, I am directing my administration to cut through red tape, break through bureaucratic hurdles and make this project a priority," Obama said amid applause.
Wait, what? Isn't he the "bureaucratic hurdle"? This makes no sense at all. Can one of my readers explain this to me?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trolling in the SEC (Trolling 101)

EDSBS has your introductory guide to trolling rival fan-bases in the SEC. My favorite:
Georgia: Dudes in golf shirts who'd rather be playing golf and complaining about their wives/girlfriends. Richt is their perfect coach because he doubles as pastor and chill father figure. (P.S. Georgians do not like to work too hard or consistently, much like Georgia football.) Base emotion: satisfied with whatever, but would not admit it ever. Their dog is dying RIGHT NOW. Mention it.
I think the LSU entry could have used the "corn-dog" reference, but other than that it's a good primer. Read the whole thing, and practice on your friends. It's spring practice season for you, too.

The Hungry Lady Reviews Senor O'Malley's

I've been wanting to Senor O'Malley's, as I am a fan of both Guinness and tacos. This review has increased my interest. If you're looking for a local Columbia foodie blog, check out The Hungry Lady.

Sig Sauer .380 Found at Columbia Metro Airport

Apparently, those little x-ray machines aren't totally for show.
"Passengers should look through bags thoroughly before coming to the airport to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items," said Jon Allen, TSA spokesman
Gee, you think?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Most Audacious Plan in 500 Years?

Our genius Vice-President just said this:
"You can go back 500 years. You cannot find a more audacious plan. Never knowing for certain. We never had more than a 48 percent probability that [bin Laden] was there," said Biden, in Morris Township, New Jersey, according to a White House pool report.
Wow. That's weapons-grade stupid. Don't take this as diminishing the fine work that our special operations folks do, but "not knowing for certain" whether your target is there doesn't exactly make the operation "audacious". Our special forces do stuff like this all the time.

Also, going back 500 years? What the hell is that all about? I'm not a historian, but here are just a few military operations from the last 500 years that qualify as more "audacious". These are just off the top of my head:
  1. Washington's Crossing of the Delaware: George Washington deciding to cross the Delaware in tiny boats in the dead of winter to ambush a superior force on Christmas and turn the tide of the war. By the way, Biden was only about 50 miles from this site when he decided to make his grand pronouncement.
  2.  The Battle of Cowpens: General Daniel Morgan's instructions to the militia to only fire two volleys and leaving his flanks exposed to invite a head on assault from the British.
  3. Bonhomme Richard vs. HMS Serapis: John Paul Jones took on a much larger, more heavily armed, more maneuverable, and more disciplined crew thousands of miles across the ocean and proved that the British could be beaten through sheer force of his own will.  For all you history buffs, this is the battle where Jones famously quipped, "I've not yet begun to fight." 
  4. Normandy Invasion by the Allies: Hi, ever heard of me? Just slightly under 7,000 vessels were used in this attack on Hitler's Fortress Europa. This could be broken down into smaller operations and the list could go on forever.
  5. The Doolittle Raiders: Using bombers off the deck of an aircraft carrier had never been done before, and they had to take off early, making it a virtual suicide mission. Audacious? You bet your ass.
  6. Pearl Harbor: Hey, the Japanese Navy came all the way across the Pacific in stealth mode to pull off one of the biggest surprise attacks in the history of warfare. Bad results for the USA, but it definitely qualifies as audacious.
  7. The Battle of the Bulge: Patton took his 3rd Army, pulled them off the front lines, made a 90-degree turn to the north in the dead of winter, and engaged the German Army, relieving the 101st Airborne, who's refusal to surrender Bastogne could probably make the list independently.
  8. The Battle of Chancellorsville: Robert E. Lee went against all prevailing military theory of the time by dividing his forces in the face of a numerically superior opponent (The Confederate forces were outnumbered more than 2:1 at the outset). Lee divides his forces and sends Jackson on a 12 mile flanking maneuver to come up behind the Union troops. Probably an example of Lee's most perfect battle. Audacity to spare, my friend.
I just came up with this list in 15 minutes. I know that VP Biden wants to brag about his accomplishments, but man...what a dopey thing to say.

Bless his heart, Joe Biden is a moron.

Awesome Photo of Jupiter and Venus

Check this out. More explanation here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I'm checking out for the weekend starting in about 3 hours, so here's a post to get you through to Monday. Have a safe weekend, you crazy kids.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Jenny Isgett and Robert Bolchoz Signs Vandalized

Ok, people...it's time for a little pow-wow.

The Columbia City Council elections are coming up soon, so the little yard signs are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain. That's just part of life. Politicians have put up signs since the beginning of time. I'm not 100% sure about this, but my guess is that the Roman Senators had little signs chiseled out of marble.

My law office is on Devine Street, so apparently, it's prime real estate for this little election. Most of the folks running for City Council asked to put signs in my office's front yard, and (against our natural inclination to not get involved) we said "Sure...we're not supporting anyone in particular, but if you want to put a little yard sign up, that's fine with us."

So, someone came by and put a few signs up. No big deal, right? I mean, who really cares about the City Council election other than the group of hard-core politicos? When I asked people about the signs, they didn't know anything about the election, or that there was even an election at all.

However, I know that some people take this all very seriously, and that's fine. In any event, there's no need to get destructive. As I was looking out my office's front window this morning over some coffee, I noticed this:


and this....


By way of background, this isn't the first time that signs in front of our office have been knocked down. When it happened the first time, I just chalked it up to an isolated incident. This was the second time.

If you look closely at the Isgett sign, you can tell that it is held in by wooden stakes. Those stakes were driven about two feet into the grass. There's no way it came out other than by someone affirmatively going up to and and really pushing hard to tear it up. You can tell it took the grass and soil up. The Bolchoz sign was pulled up, and was moved about fifteen feet.

I really don't care who ends up on  City Council that much. It's not really that big of a deal. I have strong feeling about the penny sales tax, on general principle, but it's not worth pulling up signs. Nothing is. It's just a sign.

Look people: I remember that this kind of stuff happened when someone would run for student class president in fifth grade. But seriously, we're all adults now - grow up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You Might Be A True Southerner If...

Native son, Stephen Colbert discusses what you need to do if you're a politician who wants to pander to Southerners.

Cheesy grits? Meh. I like my grits with butter, salt, and pepper. Don't try to get too cute with them.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jedi Training Academy In NYC

They sure do have some weird folks up in New York City. I like Star Wars as much as the next guy, but this is ridiculous.

On Wednesday night, walking down Prince Street, he grabbed a lightsaber from his loyal saber-smith, Jason Hoffman, and began leaping and spinning in the street and skillfully twirling the glowing rod, all the while dodging yellow cabs and attracting a crowd of passers-by. 
“It’s more than just dancing around with a glow stick,” he said. “Your mind has to be one with your body when you’re swinging these things.”
Oh really? Because that seems exactly like what you're doing, bro.

Nothing attracts the ladies like a lightsaber, he said, but caution is required. Several months ago, Mr. Michael was passing around his custom $700 saber in his local bar on Myrtle Avenue, and while he was ordering a drink, someone storm-trooped right out of the bar with it.
Nothing attracts them like a lightsaber, eh? I'm pretty sure that bringing your toy light-saber to a bar is the equivalent of telling a girl on your first date how awesome living in your mom's basement is, because she brings you Capri-Suns, and cuts the crust off your sandwiches.

Southern Food Bracket From Garden & Gun

If you want to vote, here's the link. Personally, I think that fried okra got the shaft by getting pulled pork in the first round.

My prediction for the Final Four:
  1. Pulled Pork (overall winner)
  2. Shrimp and Grits
  3. Crawfish Boil
  4. Fried Chicken
Who you got?

Sen. (Lt. Gov.) Glen McConnell Makes Us Proud

Too often, people see the decisions before them and take the easy way out because doing the right thing is too damn hard. They know what the right choice is, but they just can't bring themselves to make the sacrifice that it requires.

In accepting the Lt. Governor spot (which is about as useful as a crocheted condom) Senator McConnell leaves a position of true power. He's not happy about it, but it's the right thing to do. Take a good long look folks...a politician doesn't voluntarily give up power very often.

McConnell knows what the right thing decision is. He's not trying to come up with some clever scheme to dodge this bullet. He's not saying it depends on what the meaning of "is" is. He's being a stand up guy. I'm proud of him, and you should be, too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Must Not Have Been a Presbyterian Church

Someone found some shotgun shells in a cabinet at a church in Spartanburg, SC. For some reason unknown to me, the police were called. I don't think that finding ammunition in a cabinet qualifies as a reason to call the police, but that's not the point.

The point is that the police "destroyed the shells". That's just wasteful. I can guarantee you that my Presbyterian church would not have tolerated such waste.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Baseball is Back

It's that time of year again. Spring training is going full-bore, so start packing up your winter clothes and start thinking about dusting off that grill. Baseball is almost here.

Babe Ruth about to do what he did so well.

Monday, March 5, 2012

City of Columbia Backed Loans In Default

So, let's see if I can get this right. Risky companies get turned down for loans then come to the City of Columbia...who loans them money. 19% are in default. Maybe there's a reason that they couldn't get loans in the first place.

Not creditworthy enough for private banks to fund your risky business venture? No problem, the City of Columbia has all this extra taxpayer money just laying around!

Careful! Extreme Cuteness Ahead!

A few weeks ago, we had Kennerly Jordan take some photos of our five-month-old son, Henry. She did an amazing job. She has a good eye for backgrounds, poses, and is very easy-going. She did the entire shoot in about an hour, and her prices are very low for the quality of work that she does.

If you're in the Columbia area and are looking for a great photographer, I highly recommend her. You better book her now before she realizes that she could be charging more.

Friday, March 2, 2012

#TSAFail

Good article on the TSA from a former FBI special agent.

Columbia City Council District 3 and My Thoughts on Daniel Coble's Candidacy

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I had the beginning of a conversation going about my thoughts on Daniel Coble's candidacy for the District III seat on the Columbia City Council. My thoughts are more than 140 characters, so I'm here to ramble:

First of all, I've never met Daniel Coble. I don't know a thing about him other than what is on his campaign website. Accordingly, I come into this without any preconceived ideas about him. All my information about him comes from his website. Also, I don't live in District III, so who cares what I think anyway, right?

Experience: Daniel Coble is a third year law student at USC Law. He's scheduled to graduate this May. I assume he'll sit for the bar this summer. If he passes, he'll be sworn in and admitted to the South Carolina Bar in the fall.

Here's the bio on the website:
I grew up in Shandon, attended Rosewood Elementary, Hand Middle School, Dreher High School, Clemson University (Dean’s List; Student Government; SAE Fraternity) and USC Law School (Journal of Law and Education, Phi Delta Phi, William T. Howell Scholarship), Community Relations Council Board Member.  Clerked at Lewis & Babcock LLP and Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office; Law Clerk, SC House Judiciary Committee.  USC Law School graduation, May, 2012.
Ok. I think he's about 24 years old, so that means he went straight from Clemson to USC Law School. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, that's exactly what I did, what my wife did, and what hundreds of other practicing lawyers did. It's evidence that he clearly wants to be a lawyer, and that's great. I'm a lawyer. Nothing wrong with that.

He lists his clerkship at a very well-respected local law firm, the local solicitor's office, and clerking for the SC House Judiciary Committee. If he did that during law school (as most students usually do) I assume he split a summer along the line, because that's three clerkships in two summers. Again, nothing wrong with that. It's a great resume for a 3L. It is certainly better than mine was when I was a 3L.

However, he's running for City Council - not head of the Student Bar Association. He's not even a baby-lawyer yet because he won't be a baby-lawyer until after he passes the Bar and is admitted in the fall. He hasn't even commenced his legal practice yet. I'm sure he'll find a job because he's a smart guy who has a sterling resume. However, he doesn't appear to have an offer yet (or he's not disclosing it on his website). Again, all I have to go by is the website.

On a visceral level, I have an objection to a 3L running for City Council. In my opinion, that's presumptuous. He's not yet complete with his education. He has not practiced for one day. If you're in favor of Daniel Coble, you're conceding that having the life experience of being employed (any any occupation) in a full-time position is irrelevant to qualification for City Council. If you're ok with that, great. I'm not.

Why Is He Running: Ok, so we have a 3L running for City Council. Why? What does he want to do? Per his website:
My generation is skeptical about government but not about public service.  We know things must change.  The old ways of governing no longer work.  My approach to problems facing District 3 are based on having lived in the district all my life, knowing the neighborhoods and the people I want to serve and bringing fresh ideas to Columbia.”
Things must change? What things? The old ways of governing no longer work? What does that even mean? What is he talking about? His approach is based on living in the district "all my life"? You know, if I was only 24 and running for City Council, my main selling point wouldn't be Hey! I've lived here all my life! You know, since 1988!

Issues: (Public Safety) Hey! Coble is in favor of public safety. Me too. Is anyone in the race against public safety? If so, don't vote for them...unless you're a criminal. "Funding the police department is vital, but we must also remember that we live within realistic budgets." I agree with this 100%. Spending money is ok, but obviously, we don't have a bottomless pot of gold. So far, so good. What else?
Until we can expand the police budget over the long term, we have to focus on the short term and the resources we have at hand.  This means investing in three specific areas:
  • Parks- Our parks bring our communities neighbors together, which means that they have to be a friendly and safe place to be.  These parks must be properly patrolled at both day and night.  Signage should be up showing the park rules and hours and also no profanity if that is the rule.  I also want to make sure our park manager of each park is known in the community both by local leaders and local police officers.
  • Pedestrians- Everyone should feel comfortable in their neighborhoods, whether they are walking around the block or walking to their car.  I will work with local neighborhood leaders and police so that we know where the high crime areas are and will be able to focus our resources and energy in those areas.
  • PACE- None of these ideas will work without full funding and support of our Pro Active Community Enforcement Team.  The PACE Team fosters and grows community relationships between neighbors and community PACE officers.  Over time, I would like to see more officers put on this team so that our current ones are not stretched thin.
Having a safe environment is the strongest selling point of any city.  Chief Scott, along with many other officers, are turning the morale our department around and continuing to make our police force something to be proud of.
Wait, what? We're just starting from the assumption that were going to expand the police department budget over the long term? I'm not necessarily against that, but I don't like that we're assuming that as our first principle. In any event, yes...patrol parks, keep people safe, and arrest the bad guys. It would be more helpful if Coble would identify the problems, rather than just say: Let's patrol more! More signs! It makes me feel like he doesn't really know what the problems are.

CMRTA: In any event, whether he was 24 or 84, here's why I won't be supporting Mr. Coble:
As the capital of South Carolina, it is imperative that Columbia have a fully functioning and modern public transportation system. [Actually, no it's not. Columbia is a sprawling city where the parking is plentiful, the roads are wide, and everything is spread out. Columbia isn't Chicago, or Manhattan. And that's good.]  The CMRTA is essential to sustaining and growing our economy and making sure that Columbia is the leader of this state. [Essential? Hardly.]
It is essential that we have a long term funding source for the CMRTA, which is why I fully support the penny referendum. [We need to tax everyone more to pay for the bus system]  The penny sales tax will allow for Columbia and other regional partners to fully invest [every time he says invest, he means spend money] in this system and let everyone see that we care about all of our residents. [What is this crap about showing people that we "care"? I care about not funding a bus system that cannot cover its own costs because of inherent flaws in the bus system model.]  I will take a leadership position in pushing for this referendum  and travel our city expressing some of the ideas I would like to see:
  • Regional Cooperation- Our bus system will thrive as long as we continue to work together and share resources. [Share our resources? I think you mean spend more of our tax money.]  We will have to work with the local governments on both sides of the river to ensure that everyone is chipping in and paying their fair share. [Fair share? Where have I heard that before? What if the "other sides of the river" don't want to pay for the bus system? Lexington has already said they don't want it.]
  • Changing the Attitude- I want to see our bus system integrated with the University’s so that all of our citizens are sharing the same public transportation.  I believe that this will not only change the attitude and vision of CMRTA but will help grow and shape our economy by allowing students to travel all around the city. [This is a HORRIBLE idea. I mean really bad. USC students aren't going to want to ride the bus "all around the city", especially, when you make them ride with other non-USC students.]
  • Public Safety- Another way I believe we can change the view of our bus system is to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and safe when riding.  This means have lit and properly patrolled bus stops.  I would also like to invest in something similar to the “Yellow Shirts” that patrol the Main Street area.  These men and women do a great job of creating a comfortable atmosphere of reassurance. [People don't ride the bus in large numbers because it's not practical in Columbia. The problem is not a lack of yellow-shirted bus-captains.]
Passing this referendum will not be easy as we saw just a few years ago. [The people are against it, but I'll force it through, because I know what's best.] I will work with our County Council and well as the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce to express my support for this referendum and the benefits it can have for our city.  A viable public transit system is critical for our city, and I will work as hard as I can to ensure CMRTA has the funds it needs. [I won't hesitate to spend as much of your money to keep the failed bus-system around for as long as possible.]
After this, I won't fisk the rest of his "Issues", but they can be boiled down thusly:
  1. Spend money on "green energy".
  2. Spend more money to build walkways and paths along the river.
  3. Spend more money on the arts.
  4.  Be exceptional.
MY THOUGHTS: Here's what Columbia City Council needs to do: Fund the police, fire, water, and the other municipal departments...you know the basics. Fill in the potholes, arrest the criminals, put out the fires, and keep the peace. It's not sexy, but it works.

I don't want Columbia to be "The greatest city in the Southeast". I'm fine to be Columbia. I don't want this to be Austin, TX. Austin's slogan is "Austin: Keep it weird". I'm comfortable with Columbia; we don't need to try to be some other place. I kinda get the feeling he doesn't like Columbia the way it is.

Columbia: Keep it Columbia.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Andrew Breitbart Has Died

Regardless of what you thought of him, this is one of the best epitaphs that I have heard:
"You wish to honor the man? Very well then: take up his sword, and fight as he did."
                                                        -- Joshua TreviƱo
I hope that when I die, the same can be said of me.

Carolina/Clemson Baseball Series 2012 (AllSouth Scene Setter)

Need to get amped up for the Carolina/Clemson baseball series this weekend? Look no further. I'll be at the Saturday game in Columbia with the family. For more detailed coverage of Gamecock Athletics, go check out Life of a Gamecock.

Need a Cheap Car?

Tomorrow afternoon, the Richland County Sheriff's Department is holding an auction of vehicles that have been impounded. The list of vehicles and other details are here.