Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Mid-Morning Headlines Thread 9-29-14

It's been a long weekend 'round these parts. We had a birthday party for the (now) three-year-old son, watched the Gamecocks lose a heart-breaker, and generally enjoyed the wonderful cool weather that indicates summer is in full retreat.

Anyway, pour some coffee and get to it. It's Monday.

Here are some of the interesting stories I'm seeing this morning:

1. A Louisiana restaurant is giving 10% discount to concealed weapon carriers. I love it. Anti-gun folks are probably going nuts somewhere.

2. The Khorosan Group is actually al-Qaeda. So that's why no one had heard of them up until we were told they were the most dangerous group ever.

3.  Indicted House Speaker Bobby Harrell's bond has been set at $18,000 and he has to get permission from the Court if he wants to leave the State of South Carolina. However, "Harrell has been granted permission to attend USC's game this weekend in Lexington, Kentucky against the Wildcats." Priorities, right? He may be under indictment, but he'll be darned if he ain't going to the Carolina/Kentucky game.

4. Fans will be able to give input on the name of the minor league team that is coming to Columbia soon. I'm partial to the Columbia Corruption, myself, but there are lots of options here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Some Initial Thoughts on the SC Highway Patrolman Shooting in Columbia, SC

If you hadn't already seen this, on September 4, a South Carolina Highway Patrol officer shot a motorist during a traffic stop. They just released the dashboard cam video yesterday. Here's the video.

I've watched the video a few times, and it's clear that this was not a good traffic stop. Also, I'm going to say this up front: This shooting should not have happened. Nothing I am about to say should be construed to justify this shooting. OK? So save all the hate mail.

My initial impression is that things start to go a little sideways when the driver gets out of the car. Normally, you stay in your car at a traffic stop. Pretty much everyone knows that. I think law enforcement officers kind of get their "antenna up" when a driver immediately gets out of the car at a traffic stop.

Having said that, this officer certainly did not handle the situation appropriately. He did not control the environment well, and he did not interact with the driver appropriately. So, even though the driver did not do a good thing by getting out of the car, it's the officer's job to handle that situation.

It appears to me that the officer assumed that the driver was reaching into his car for a weapon. This was a bad assumption. Police officers should not shoot people based on assumptions.

Here are the factors that jump out at me that make this incident really bad;

Obviously, it's a white officer shooting a black driver. So of course, there's the element of race. Would this officer have reacted the same way if the driver had been an elderly white woman? I don't know. But this is the first factor that everyone sees. And it's important to recognize this factor.

The traffic stop seems to have occurred during the day. To me, this factor cuts against the officer. We're not talking about a 2:00AM traffic stop, here. For all the officer knows, this guy is on his way to work or something. The scene is well-lit, and there aren't any obstructions.

According to the WIS piece I linked above, the traffic stop was for a seat-belt violation. Now, it's fair game to stop someone for not wearing a seat-belt, but we're not talking about a felony here. Common sense tells you that stopping someone for a seat-belt violation is different than stopping someone for a serious charge. Again, this factor cuts against the officer. Not wearing your seat belt is a relatively minor violation.

Also, when did the officer draw his weapon? It's not clear from the video, but the first time you see the officer come into view, he already has his weapon drawn, extended, and pointed at the driver. To me, this indicates he already had it drawn. Again, that doesn't seem right.

Those are all bad things. Now for a couple of positives:

The driver is alive. That's the best news. No one is dead. Thank goodness.

Unlike Ferguson, there is a dashboard camera video, so we can all see what happened. We're not relying on eyewitness accounts from people inside the gas station. Remember how all the eyewitness accounts in Ferguson were dramatically different? At least with a video, there is a record of what happened.

The police officer was fired, and charged with a crime. This is probably the most important thing, so I probably should have mentioned it earlier. Law enforcement has to operate under the same laws as you and I do. Therefore, if you or I had shot this man in this situation, it's clear that we would have been arrested. Accordingly, I applaud the authorities for not trying to put the officer on "administrative leave" or some nonsense. You apply the same process to police officers as you do to citizens. This officer is now facing up to 20 years in prison for this incident. That's not inconsequential.

The video was released. This point dovetails into the lat one, but it's commendable that the video was released so we could all see for ourselves what actually occurred. There doesn't appear to be any attempt to sweep this under the rug. And that's very good.

Hopefully, the authorities will continue act in a responsible manner and other law enforcement officers will take this as a moment to really think about how they conduct traffic stops. They have a tough job, but they also have the responsibility to do it correctly. In this incident, the job was not handled correctly.

Anyone else have any other thoughts? There's lots to unpack here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"We Must Declare War Upon War"

Said President Obama at the UN, today. That's an actual quote. He actually said that. Really.

My reaction to declaring "war on war".

First of all, that's just a weird construction. War on war? Huh? That sounds like something out of Dr. Strangelove.

As to the substance, it's a naive and silly idea to try and declare war on war because you're never going to win the War on War.

There are always going to be aggressive nations/groups who ultimately decide to use force of arms against others. This will always be the case. To try and "end war" is like trying to "end sadness". It ain't gonna happen.

The problem is that in almost all things, President Obama sees the world as he wants to see it, and not how it actually is.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Speaking to General Jackson

Had a great time in Nashville over the weekend. At some point, I'll get around to doing a post on all the good food I had. Until then, I can sum it up as follows: Hot Chicken is awesome.

Also, President Andrew Jackson's home (the Hermitage) is located in Nashville. It reminds me of one of my favorite jokes/stories about Andrew Jackson:
A young boy, hearing that Andrew Jackson was coming to town, told his friends that he was going to see the General, and, moreover, was going to talk to him. Off he went, even though the jeers of his friends were ringing in his ears.

When they saw each other the next day, the friends taunted him, "Well, did you talk to General Jackson?"

"I sure did,"
the boy replied. "In fact, he spoke to me."

"What did he say?"
the kids asked.

Proudly, the boy puffed out his chest. "He told me to get the hell out of the way!"

Happy Tuesday.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Traveling Friday: Heading to Nashville

I'm hitting the road for Nashville, TN today to sample their fine food, consume their local brews, and hopefully watch the Gamecocks sink the Commodores on Saturday night.

Updates and general observations from this weekend's road trip will be via my twitter account, so if you're not already following me, you can do so now. Better late than never, right?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Look at me, Michael Barbaro

If you didn't already see this, Joe Biden used the word "shylock" in a speech the other day, which triggered a little backlash. I don't care about that. This isn't a piece about how Joe Biden is an idiot. You already know that. That would be like writing a blog post about the sun rising in the east. It ain't exactly breaking news.

However, the really intelligent people who report for the New York Times had this to say:

Ok, so maybe Mr. Barbaro doesn't have a passing familiarity with The Merchant of Venice. That's somewhat surprising, but fine. I guess they don't teach that kind of esoteric stuff at fancy ivy league colleges anymore.

I love that this reporter at the New York Times, who I'm sure, considers himself smarter and more worldly than us morons down in South Carolina doesn't know the word "shylock". I find that truly hilarious.

Here's the thing. I get that maybe Mr. Barbaro isn't up on his Billy Shakes, but how is that he hasn't seen the movie Get Shorty, either? That's just an unforgivable sin. There's no excuse for not seeing this movie that came out in the John Travolta renaissance. The entire movie is about...a shylock.

Here's a great scene:

If you haven't seen this movie, your homework assignment is to go watch it this weekend.

Look at me, Michael Barbaro. Look at me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scotland Saying Goodbye to the UK?

Apparently, Scotland might be voting to leave the United Kingdom soon. As far-fetched as that may sound to us Americans, the prospect has London worried to the extent that London has apparently offered some concessions of "extensive new powers" to Scotland if they stay.

I don't know if Scotland should leave or stay. I haven't really done any research other than to watch Braveheart. Apparently, the Scots and English don't really get along, so I guess that has something to do with it.

However, this talk of London offering Scotland new powers kind of reminded me of this line, from when the English King talks about bribing the Scottish nobles to betray Wallace:
I gave Mornay double his lands in Scotland and matching estates in England. Lochlan turned for...much less.
Anyone really have a strong opinion on Scotland staying or going? I can't really say that I do. Have the decided who will claim James Bond? This seems to be an important issue.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Why I Love College Football: Turn Down For What?

Happy Monday.

Saturday was wonderful. Games like this weekend's Georgia/South Carolina game are why people become football fans. I was standing in the rain, not caring, waving a sopping wet towel over my head, yelling at the top of my lungs with my friends, and watching my team upset a higher ranked opponent.

There was nowhere I would have rather been last Saturday evening.

Games like this are why you go to the games. It's what makes us keep coming back, even when our hearts get broken. Yes, it's sometimes a pain, it's expensive, and it's not the easiest thing in the world, but man...sometimes just watching a game on television doesn't give you the same experience as being there.

Williams-Brice was loud on Saturday evening. Not just on third downs, but with each big play, each hit, each turn of events, there was a huge roar from the crowd that you usually only associate with places like LSU and Tennessee.

Carolina is back in the thick of the SEC race. If we take care of business the next few weeks, the Auburn game is going to loom large. I don't think that both South Carolina and Georgia will both beat Auburn, so that common opponent could determine who goes to Atlanta and who stays home.

Buckle your seat-belts, campers. This team isn't for fair-weather fans.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

13th Anniversary of 9/11 - On the Cusp of War Again

Some iconic photos from that day.

On the thirteenth anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, we are now poised to go back to the middle-east to begin fighting a new enemy, but for the old reasons.

Let us pray that our civilian and military leaders have the courage and wisdom to do what is right, even if that means making hard decisions. Very often, the right decisions involve taking a more difficult path. Let us not be fooled into thinking that we can wage a bloodless war against a jihadist army.

War is hard. War is ugly. We should confront the reality of war squarely. I am afraid that many Americans are taking a view of this upcoming battle with ISIS like many Americans viewed the Civil War at its outset. I am worried that people are thinking this will all be over in a few months with minimal casualties.

History warns us otherwise. Yet we should not shrink from what is necessary.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lexington County Father to Be Charged With Murder of His Five Children

Lexington County, SC (WLTX) - Lexington County Sheriff Lewis McCarty says a father accused of killing his five children will face murder charges as soon as he's brought back to South Carolina.

McCarty updated the public Wednesday morning on the investigation into 32-year-old Timothy Ray Jones Jr., calling it unprecedented in his three plus decades in law enforcement.

"I've never seen a case like this," McCarty said. "We all see things in our career that have an impact on you. This case has impacted anyone...who's had anything to do with this."

Smith County, MS sheriff's officials say Jones waived his right to an extradition hearing, paving the way for him to be brought back to South Carolina late Wednesday.

The children's bodies have already been brought back home.
As a a human being...this is unthinkable. It's utterly unthinkable. I cannot comprehend or explain this in any way. I really have no words.

The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels today.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The NFL and the Nature of Large Organizations

By now, everyone has seen the horrible video footage of Ray Rice knocking his then fiancee (now wife) out cold in an elevator during an argument. It's an absolutely horrible thing to watch.

The big story now is not the domestic violence itself, but rather, how the NFL handled the issue. Originally, the NFL suspended Rice for two games. Now, after the release of this video, the Ravens have cut (fired) Rice, and his football career is all but over - permanently.

Of course, there are now all sorts of stories with the point of The NFL Knew About Ray Rice....And Did Nothing!

This morning, I was watching knuckle-head Joe Scarborough and company talk about how large organizations (like the NFL) always cover up bad things, and how horrible that is. You're going to see these stories everywhere. People are going to pile on the NFL and condemn the NFL for essentially sweeping this all under the rug, circling the wagons, and trying to cover up a horrible event. You're going to see stories about how private entities are only self-interested! Eleventy! For the most part, all that's true, but you know what?

The NFL covering up a player beating his fiancee pales in comparison to all of the things that the Obama Administration has done over the past six years and covered up...and no one gives a damn about it. Yeah, this is kind of politicizing sports, but who cares? I'm pointing out all the hypocrisies in our country.

Everyone is upset about Ray Rice. You know what I'm still upset about? Susan Rice going on national television and blaming a terror attack on a YouTube video. Do any of these people shrieking about the NFL give a damn about that? Nope. It's just laughable that so many people get worked up about the NFL, but they can't seem to muster any outrage when a government official comes on television and just lies to us like we're stupid little children. But that's what happens in politics. People just overlook things like that nowadays, because they don't want "their team" to look bad.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not sticking up for the NFL or Ray Rice. They both deserve shame, but you know who else does? Your President who covers up everything. How can you care about one and not the other? It's wildly inconsistent.

The IRS was used to target conservative organizations in an effort to squash one side of a political point of view, and then all the e-mails from everyone are just magically gone? Yeah, nothing to see there folks. Zero outrage. No big deal. People who get subpoenaed in a Congressional investigation just happen to delete all the evidence of their conspiracy and....crickets. The VA puts veterans on secret waiting lists and then covers up their own cheating? Eh, just give them some more money.

Once again, leftists see large private organizations like the NFL as self-interested and willing to cover up problems that should see the light of day. And they're not totally wrong. They're right to be skeptical. However, their distrust of skepticism of people's motives completely disappears when applied to government organizations, because apparently, everyone just magically becomes an angel with completely altruistic motives when they work for the government.


So before you tell me how large organizations like the NFL circle the wagons to avoid bad publicity, and before you tell me how horrible that is, tell me how upset you are about your own government doing the same damn thing.

Otherwise, you're a hypocrite and hack.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bernie Sanders: "You know what we need? We need to limit that pesky First Amendment."

Yes, that pesky First Amendment has been driving Democrats bonkers ever since the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions came down from the Supreme Court, basically holding that people can spend money on political advocacy and and give money to as many candidates as they want to.

So let's just limit the First Amendment.
One day before the U.S. Senate votes on a constitutional amendment to restore limits on big money in politics, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the drive to undo Supreme Court decisions that gutted campaign finance laws “the major issue of our time” and said Monday’s showdown vote is “a pivotal moment in American history.”
The Democrats like to poke fun at the GOP controlled House of Representatives taking meaningless and purely symbolic votes to repeal Obamacare. And that's fair. Those votes are fairly meaningless and symbolic because they won't pass the Senate, and they for danged sure aren't going to be signed by the President.

But lemme get this straight: The Democrats think they're going to get a two-thirds majority in the Senate and in the GOP House, and then they're going to get three-fourths of the State Legislatures to ratify an amendment to curtail the First Amendment?

Good luck!

While they're at it they should go ahead and propose an amendment to the Second Amendment, too.

NY Times Legal Analyst Writes Column to Make Democrats Feel Better About Things

That's basically all I can think of to say about her piece analyzing the Noel Canning case, because there's no other logical explanation.

Protip for all you non-legal scholars out there: When one side loses a case 9-0, it's not a victory.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Afternoon Cocktail Hour

You made it.

Enjoy your weekend.

News Roundup for September 5, 2014

Happy Friday. It's a great (Amazon humidity level) day in South Carolina.

In looking around the internet, I see that George Will has an interesting piece on why Putin and his ambitions to expand Russia are a greater problem than ISIS

In other news: This is why we should have the death penalty. I can't even tell you how much this upsets me.

To end on a lighter note, we here in South Carolina officially have the best State flag.

Y'all be good out there.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Remember how South Carolina was going to be the "Wild West" after guns were allowed in restaurants serving alcohol?

Yeah, apparently all that anti-gun hysteria was nonsense.
State law enforcement and restaurant officials say they know of no problems since the law went into effect seven months ago. The law allows permit holders to take guns into places that serve alcohol but allows businesses to prohibit guns and doesn't allow permit holders to consume alcohol.
No problems, huh? I guess everyone who thought that there would be saloon shootouts is going to admit they were wrong.

[via TTAG]

Obama Really Isn't Into Attacking ISIS

After another American was beheaded in what is basically a taunt to the United States, you might have thought that the President was going to come up with a St. Crispin's Day kind of speech and make the case for why we need to destroy ISIS. I mean, at some point, when your citizens are being beheaded, you have to kind of push-back on that.

"We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL's sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem," said Obama. (emphasis mine)

Excuse me?

I don't understand how you can say you're going to make people beheading Americans and conducting mass executions in the name of Islam a "manageable problem". These people have to be completely defeated, not made manageable.

I know that Obama campaigned on ending the war in Iraq. I know he doesn't want to go back and start a big fight over there. However, we're already in a fight. These people are killing Americans over there, and pretty soon, they're going to be killing Americans over here.

How is it that the President was all good with bombing in Syria and Libya, but he can't bring himself to do the same thing in Iraq?

History will not be kind to this man.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

27 Maps That Explain America

Happy Tuesday. Hope all y'all enjoyed the weekend.

Here are some interesting maps. The one that totally blows me away is this one: Half of America's population lives in the blue-shaded counties. Half.

The next time someone advocates for getting rid of the electoral college, show them this map.

Another map that is particularly nice for South Carolina is this one. Apparently, people are moving here. Not good news for New York and Illinois.