Virtual Front Page, Monday, July 26, 2010

Here’s what we have at this hour:

  1. Leaks Add to Pressure on White House Over Strategy (NYT) — Pentagon Papers Redux.
  2. Pentagon Eyes Accused Analyst Over WikiLeaks Data (WSJ) — Well, he’s certainly an unlikely-looking spy. He looks like Howdy Doody at age 12.
  3. EU tightens sanctions over Iran nuclear programme (BBC) — Meanwhile, outside of the inward-looking US of A…
  4. Chief executive of BP expected to step down (WashPost) — At which point, finally, he’ll get his life back.
  5. A Futurist 40 Years Later: Possibilities, Not Predictions (NPR) — Remember Alvin Toffler? He should have mentioned, “And in the future, I will get really old-looking…”
  6. Early bar closing inching closer to approval (The State) — Just to get something local on the page. What do y’all think of this? I’m for it. But you know I would be, right? My critics would call it a function of the Nanny State. I call it the Daddy State. It reflects my viewpoint as a longtime Dad. These kids don’t need to be out so frickin’ late.

52 thoughts on “Virtual Front Page, Monday, July 26, 2010

  1. Mark Stewart

    If you believe that bars should close at 2 am, would you support repealing the blue laws? I used to occassionally enjoy a predawn sky, but now I would just like to be able to buy simple things like razor blades and pet food on a Sunday morning.

    Somehow closing bars early AND continuing the blue laws is a bit much. I think everyone just needs to chill out. What happened to the New South?

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    A leaker isn’t a spy. He’s a whistleblower.

    –and of course I’m for a 2 AM closing–if not earlier. Like everybody’s mama said, “Nothing good happens after midnight.” There was a shooting after 2 AM in Five Points. The shooter fled to our neighborhood.If you can’t get enough to drink before 2 AM, you need to be thinking about becoming a Friend of Bill.

  3. Herbie

    Brad, I’m not a kid. But I like my place open after 2 on Friday. I usually don’t stay that late, but I think it’s totally fine if I do.

    Plus think of the people who work late shifts. Can’t they have a few drinks after work?

  4. bud

    So now bar owners will face a fine if they stay open a bit past the government sanctioned closing time? And they call this a free country? It’s only free provided you do what the state sanctioned rules allow. Buy a bottle of Scotch on Sunday – NO. Buy Starbucks on Sunday – YES. What a bunch of crap.

    On a related topic I needed to do some laundry Sunday morning to have clothes for somewhere I needed to be @ 2:00. As it turned out we were completely out of laundry detergent. Since I reside in Lexington County I was not sure whether or not laundry detergent is on the “do not sell before 1:30” list. I headed off to Walmart to find out.

    I went to the one furthest from the house just in case they couldn’t sell it since that one is in the direction of the somewhat more sane Richland County. If not I would head across the Congaree River to the more sensible confines of Richland County.

    Turns out you can buy laundry soap so I was spared any additional driving. But if I had needed some underwear or a tie I would have been out of luck.

    Why should we continue to sacrifice our freedoms in the name of “social order” as determined by some beauracrat? It’s offensive to me to have to deal with this ongoing nonsense.

  5. Brad

    Yes, I did, but Robert asked me not to tell until the paper had a chance to announce it. Definitely good news.

    I’m puzzled by Mark and Bud reacting to curfews by mentioning Blue Laws. Seems to me the two subjects are entirely different — except that maybe they’re the same to y’all because of the libertarian impulse against anyone EVER telling you what you can and can’t do. Which would apply just as rationally to driving through red lights.

    As for whistleblowers vs. spies. Technically you may be correct, although the person who provided the info to Wikileaks did the exact same things that a spy does.

    Or was your objection not technical? Did you mean to suggest there was a moral element, in that it’s somehow BETTER to be a whistleblower than a spy? I suppose it depends on context as to whether you have a point or not.

    Personally, I find the people at Wikileaks to be contemptible. But then, I often find whistleblowers to be pretty off-putting people as well. While spies often accomplish good things. It depends on context.

  6. Kathryn Fenner

    Wikileaks is about sunshine–transparency is the actual sense, not the “I talk one way but don’t release my emails” way.

    We have been taught not to be tattletales, but why? The Betty Draper School of Child-rearing? It’s sort of the same problem with blackmail–if the blackmailer is selling his silence w/r/t a crime, the issue really isn’t extortion, it’s failing to report a crime, which is a lot like accessory after the fact…

    Sure, folks “need” a couple of drinks when they get off work–so those who work until bars close @ 4 AM also “need” drinks, so then….somebody has to work the last shift, unless bars are open 24/7….

  7. bud

    Really Brad you really are reaching here. Blue Laws and bar closing times are very comparable. They both relate to time restrictions on what you can purchase. The red light example is a total non-sequetor that has zero to do with the bar closing example. We have red lights as a necessary function of roadway safety and traffic flow. We don’t restrict what time a red light is to be obeyed.

    I say we get rid of ANY laws that govern what times a business can operate. If it’s legal to be open at 1:00pm on Monday it should be just as legal to be open at 1:00am on Sunday. That would apply to Walmart, bars and liquor stores.

  8. bud

    What’s contemptible about the Wikileaks guys? Seems like they just reported information that the public has a right to know. These secret wars are what’s contemptible.

  9. bud

    Is Congress too busy to honor Gamecocks?


    Congress has long bickered over war, taxes, energy and the deficit.

    Now, Gamecock baseball can be added to that list.

    U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is steamed that a resolution he introduced June 30 praising the University of South Carolina for capturing the 2010 College World Series is stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    This was the “Top Story” on The State website today. Huh? That’s more important that the big storm that caused fires, flooding and the loss of power to thousands of homes? What’s going on over there?

  10. Doug Ross

    “Which would apply just as rationally to driving through red lights.”

    Uh, no. Driving through a red light creates a risk that can impact another person. It is a risky act no matter when it happens.

    Banning the sale of a product on Sunday morning that can be sold any other day of the week implies there is no risk only an arbitrary rule.

    Blue laws are government imposed morality. Traffic laws are government imposed safety issues.

    It’s pure silliness to say that a beer sold at 1:55 a.m. is less of a risk than one sold at 2:05 a.m. There are laws regarding selling alcohol to people who are inebriated. There are laws against driving while intoxicated. There are laws against doing stupid things when drunk. That covers the government’s requirement to protect the people. Setting time limits on certain behaviors is just the work of a holier-than-thou bureaucrat.

  11. Doug Ross

    As for wikileaks, whatever is released that is truthful is worthwhile. The government wants to present a specific version of the “truth” that rarely reflects reality. The fact that this information CAN get out should hopefully keep them in line from doing things that are illegal and immoral. It won’t, but it should.

    Read a book about the Pat Tillman case. That will show you what honest Americans are up against when it comes to the war.

  12. Brad

    No, Bud, you’re reaching and I’m making note of it. But thanks for explaining to me that it’s about time of day for you. An odd philosophical objection, it seems to me, but at least I understand where you’re coming from.

    Actually, my red light analogy works there, too. There are many places — in cities with far greater traffic than ours — where lanes actually reverse, depending on time of day and the prevailing traffic patterns at that time of day. And even in downtown Columbia, you’ll find places where you can turn left or not depending on the time of day — again, based on conditions that tend to be be present at that time of day. There are other areas where it is sometimes permissible to park; other times not.

    All very rational and pragmatic.

    And the same applies with this bar-closing idea. If one finds that there is a greater tendency for shootings to occur in connection with public drinking after 2 a.m., it makes all the sense in the world to close the bars earlier.

  13. David

    I couldn’t stay awake past midnight anyway and mama says nothing good happens after midnight so I support the earlier closing time for bars.

    I’m in church until the afternoon anyway and everybody else should be in church too so I support blue laws. Yer dog ain’t gonna starve if you don’t git yer dog food and he shouldn’t be eating anyway cuz he should be a-praisin Jesus.

    I’m white and a decendant of a Confederate soldier and therefore since the flag doesn’t symbolize racism against me it must not symbolize racism against others — why can’t they see the heritage — so I say fly it.

    I grew up in a middle class home that valued education and I went to college and have a stable job and others should be like me and if they aren’t, it’s probably because they’re lazy so lets get rid of that “generational welfare”.

    Maybe I don’t have a good reason why things are the way they are and why some laws are laws and why we do the things we do around here. But that’s the way we’ve always done them — that’s the way I grew up and my mama and my daddy grew up and their mamas and daddies grew up — and is it really that big of a hassle to buy your alcohol on one of the other days of the week? Is it really a hassle to wait until 1:30 to buy stuff? Does a piece of nylon cloth flying on the State House grounds really affect your life?

    These are my values and they should be your values too and if they are not then your values are wrong.

    /Typical South Carolinian reasoning

  14. Doug Ross


    Bingo. You nailed it.

    Brad wants us all to be his little children waiting for Big Daddy to tell us what’s right and good.

    Unfortunately, I was able to think for myself somewhere around the age of 17 so I’ve lost the privilege to let someone else do my thinking for me.

  15. bud

    Brad’s traffic law analogy continues to make no sense at all. The only relevant point is that the red light in all the examples he provides still must be obeyed regardless of when it’s red.

    Freedom is far too precious to willy nilly throw it away because it feels good at the moment. Has anyone even provided evidence that the bar closing time will do what it’s proponents claim it will? Let’s stop this bar closing bill now before we have a whole new wave of freedoms lost.

  16. Mark Stewart

    I can’t believe I am on the same side as Bud and Doug. I’ll hold my ground on this one, however. These are feel good laws that don’t really solve anything for anyone. The crime issue is a red Herring itself.

    The real issue could be noise. Or it could just be that some people are killjoys. Clearly crime has nothing to do with bars hours. People shoot each other at Waffle House all the time. And they will keep behaving badly regardless of these curfews. Just look at all the Lexington County scafflaws who drive to Richland County on Sunday mornings to lead there lives as they choose.

  17. bud

    Mark, I’ve always been a strong advocate of personal freedom. We’ve had many discussion like this on Brad’s blog. This came up a while back regarding the drinking age, currently 21. Several commenters wanted to lower it to 18. I demurred but eventually agreed with Brad and others that we should retain the current 21 limit.

    I made an exception here because there is considerable evidence that traffic deaths, especially for kids UNDER 18 dropped sharply after the age limit was increased. But I recognized that this type of exception to trade freedom for safety had risks. Still it was a tough call. The risk is that the general assembly will pass additional legislation to deny us our freedom in the name of safety.

    So here we are in 2010 debating a bill to mandate closing of bars at 2am. The power hungry folks in the general assembly cannot satisfy their lust for passing laws. So even when a law looks good and sensible there is the risk of riding that slippery slope down. The bar closing law seems like a good place to make a stand.

  18. SusanG

    bud, one minor point — I think those power-hungry folks you’re talking about are the ones on City and County Council, not the general assembly….
    I agree with the freedom-lovers on this one. Isn’t the crime it’s supposed to decrease crime against those folks who choose to be out after 3 am? Aren’t these people generally adults, sitting in these bars because they want to be there? And Brad, what does this have to do with public drinking? I’d think public drinking (as in drinking on the street) would be more likely when the bars are closed, not open.

    I do see the link between the red light argument and this — but we are always making tradeoffs between freedom and security, and each of these tradeoffs must be judged on its own merits. Requiring someone else to give up their freedom to drive any way they want so that I can safely get from one place to another seems reasonable to me. Making them give up their freedom to sit in a bar after 2 am so that they might not be mugged or shot seems a call I’d rather give each individual the freedom to make for themselves. What’s the harm to the common good here?

  19. Doug Ross


    Right. If 2:00 is good then someone later will say “hey, why not 1:00” and then later we’ll have politicians saying “why don’t we cut the alcohol content in drinks to a maximum of 3.2%?”…

    There are laws that deal with people who do bad stuff. Just enforce those laws. Stop trying to nanny-state us to death.

  20. Brad

    Yep, Doug, I’m Big Daddy. It’s what my grandchildren call me. Really. So don’t wear it out.

    And one thing that Big Daddy knows, and has learned over and over through the years that I’ve earned these gray hairs, is that the mature judgment of a 17-year-old is NOT something a person wants to rely upon.

    And that is probably the greatest divide between me and libertarians. I know that 17-year-olds — or people who are emotionally 17, whatever their age — do not need to be making decisions upon which the public safety relies.

    I DO tend to think of the people who want to be out drinking after 2 a.m. as children. In fact, they quite literally ARE my children in many instances, since my five kids range in age from 21 to 33. And Big Daddy’s kids never get so big that he doesn’t still want to protect them.

  21. Brad

    And SusanG — thanks for understanding that “we are always making tradeoffs between freedom and security.” My point exactly.

    And David, as to your point about “mama says nothing good happens after midnight” — indeed. As we know, that’s when sex happens. Sex with ladies

  22. David

    Brad, that explains a lot for me. What with my inability to stay up past midnight and all. 🙂

  23. Kathryn Fenner

    @ susan G–would that it were confined to the drunks in the “hospitality districts”–the armed shooter from the recent Five Points event ran into my neighborhood. I could have been coming back from picking up my husband from Amtrak….

    @ Mark Stewart–shootings do not happen “all the time” at Waffle House. Shootings do not happen all the time in Five Points or in front of City Hall. They happen in the wee hours….

  24. Mark Stewart

    Kathryn – but shootings never (well never enough to leave me feeling safe) happen at legitimate establishments. If you are thinking closing all bars will cut violent crime I would like to offer you a bridge for sale. I can, however, predict that private clubs will become even larger magnates for problems with a 2 pm curfew.

    My point about waffle house was not to single them out but to point out that crime happens everywhere. Crack down on the criminals – and drug addicts – if one wants to see an improvement in quality of life crimes.

    But more importantly, trash the blue laws!

  25. scout

    I recall in the past McConnell and Sanford opposing such things as primary seat-belt laws and child safety seat regulations on what I think were libertarian grounds, so I don’t think Brad’s libertarian red light analogy is far fetched at all. Seems to me that libertarians often don’t seem too concerned about the consequences of their all important freedoms.
    In case it is not obvious, I’m not a libertarian.

    If there truly is evidence to suggest a correlation between late night drinking and late night shootings, then I think this law makes sense. If there are clear reasons for imposing timing restrictions that are directly related to public safety, then it’s not an arbitrary restriction (like the blue laws).

  26. Doug Ross


    Good point about the private clubs. There are always unintended consequences that result from the government trying to implement more restrictions than the public wants.

  27. Herbie

    North main street area has a lot of crime but no bars. So how does that fit in with the crime happens if bars stay open after 2 am? And I live up north main.

  28. David

    Ok, I’m starting to come around. The highest number of fatalities (per drivers on the road at the time) comes between the hours of midnight and 4am. I think if we just close up the road at midnight and open them again at 4am, problem solved. And I’m not ever out on the road after midnight anyway so I don’t see why we shouldn’t. Of course the libertarians will disagree, but they are traffic-light-running, animal-buggering mental 17-year-olds anyway. In fact, the greatest difference between me and those who think that we should allow drivers on the road after midnight is that I’ve never had sex with animals.

  29. bud

    Scout, let’s see the evidence. To impose a law that restricts one of our freedoms in the absence of any evidence that supports the purpose behind the law is a reckless disregard for the sanctity of the values of liberty that we cherish in this country. Just because it sounds good or feels right doesn’t represent evidence.

  30. Brad

    Glad you’re coming around, David. But Big Brother and I are still keeping a close watch to make sure you don’t backslide.

    And Bud: “Sanctity”? You use “sanctity” to talk about the “right” to keep the party going past 2 a.m. Really? Am I supposed to hear the fife playing in the background and picture the Spirit of ’76 as you say this?

    Just a bit of advice from a word guy: Save “sanctity” for something like the freedom of conscience enshrined in the First Amendment. Don’t waste it on the unlimited Right to Party.

    Have some perspective here, people! That’s the trouble with libertarians. No perspective. They get all worked up about the “persecution” of people who just can’t quite get liquored up enough by 2 a.m. Then when something comes along that would actually be in infringement upon the human conscience, such as “hate crimes,” they’re out of ammunition. And credibility.

    Not every rule and regulation is cause for manning the ramparts. Seriously, people.

  31. scout

    Bud, I agree. I don’t know if there is compelling evidence – I was just saying that IF there is evidence, then such a law would seem reasonable and not arbitrary to me. I would hope that the bodies in charge and/or their constituents would insist on such evidence before enacting said law.

  32. Brad

    And now Scout agrees. Sheesh.

    Atticus would be disappointed. He’d say, “Scout, remember what happened last time you were out roaming around after dark? Mr. Arthur Radley might not be there to rescue you next time…”

    Atticus was concerned about REAL infringements upon basic human rights. Closing bars at 2 a.m. doesn’t kill a mockingbird; it doesn’t even ruffle its feathers.

  33. bud

    Not every rule and regulation is cause for manning the ramparts. Seriously, people.

    I strongly disagree. Freedom is freedom and must absolutely be defended unless a compelling reason suggests otherwise.

    But I will at least keep an open mind on this one. If scout or someone else DOES provide verified evidence that early bar closings help keep people from getting killed I’ll at least consider support for such a bill. Until then this is a very easy issue.

  34. Doug Ross


    It’s not the right to party. It’s the right to do what you want to do, when you want to do it as long as you are not causing any harm to anyone else.

    There are laws against driving drunk, public intoxication, etc. Just enforce those laws.

    What is the difference between a beer at 1:55 and one at 2:05? If you can’t assign a specific additional measurable risk to the 2:05 beer, then you’re just trying to play Big Daddy when nobody asked you to.

    And I could use your same argument back at you – why would you waste resources trying to enforce a 2:00 closing time when there are far more serious criminal activities going on that could be addressed? How can we take you seriously on issues like gang activity, drug dealing, robbery if you’re busy trying to keep someone from having a Yuengling at 2:02 a.m.?

  35. Mark Stewart

    Brad, it’s the arbitrariness of it that gets me.

    Not everyone lives in an 8 to 5 world. Yes, more crime occurs at night. But where is the correlation between feel-good rule making and reality? And bar hours?

    Laws should address specific problems. I don’t see that here.

  36. scout

    Oh dear, I hate to dissapoint Atticus. The thing is I personally honestly wouldn’t have a problem with 2:00 am bar closings – it makes common sense to me and if I was in charge, I would like evidence but it probably wouldn’t take a lot to convince me personally. A few incidents like the guy running into Kathryn’s neighborhood might be enough for me. But it’s not just about me. Everybody gets a say and I can understand Bud’s point though I’m not near as extreme as he is. But since it’s not just about me, I was trying to meet in the middle, thus I agreed provided there is evidence. Sorry, Atticus.

    It is hard to type on a droid and I am supposed to be mowing the lawn so I will have to check my grammar on that other post later.

  37. Brad

    Well, that’s where we differ. You don’t see it. I see it clearly. It is clearly and unquestionably about addressing a glaringly obvious problem (and certainly not about “feeling good” — I don’t even see where that comes into it).

    To a great extent, the divide between you and Bud and Doug and me is a cognitive one.

  38. Mark Stewart

    What I see here is a Town and Gown dissonance more than a cognitive one between people who aren’t really impacted one way or the other. If the problem is Five Points then deal with the issues there. I just am not seeing the point of such a time based crackdown. An that’s fine. To each his own when it comes to opinions.

  39. Doug Ross


    See what clearly? What do you see at 2:00 a.m. that indicates that is the hour when bars need to close? I won’t bother asking for data. Just what you clearly see. Have you been out at the bars at 2:30 and said “Wow, this is a bad scene. It’s really worse than it was 30 minutes ago. If we could only send all these people home at 2:00 to sleep in their own beds, society would be SOOOO much better.”

    One man’s cognition is another’s “making stuff up”.

  40. David

    Brad, are you meaning to tell me you don’t look forward to telling your great-grandchildren about how we overcame the great human rights issue of the day — the right to party all night?

    But seriously —

    As has been pointed out, this is quite obviously a trade off issue between safety and letting people do what they want. As scout points out, if closing bars at 2am won’t make a difference in crime, then the law really is pointless. But otherwise we do have a tough decision on our hands. We all value safety and we all value personal freedom — no, the right to party isn’t a great human rights struggle, but neither are most things. I have enjoyed lampooning the you-darn-kids-with-your-loud-music-and-drinking-and-carrying-on crowd, but they have a point worth considering.

    From the Freakonomics blog:

    “Studies have backed this observation up. I have not seen numbers on whether limiting the hours alcohol can be served would decrease drunk driving per se, but Sergio Duailibi and colleagues found that when the Brazilian city of Diadema enforced a cutoff in alcohol sales at 11pm (most bars had been open 24 hours), there was a 29 percent drop in the murder rate.”

    Who knows what the effects of a 2am closing time in Columbia would really be? And even if we did know, whether or not it’s worth imposing restrictions on all people — most of whom are probably responsible enough — is still something we have to consider. I’ll probably still oppose the 2am rule but that’s just me and my opinions and values (which I reserve the right to change). And I won’t oppose the law with 100% certainty that my position is the best one to take. And I don’t think anyone should have that certainty on this issue.

  41. Kathryn Fenner

    The 2 AM time was selected as one that is the state-wide default and one upheld recently w/r/t Charleston. Charleston closes bars @ 2 AM and people still have plenty of time to “party.”

    I don’t see a Town/Gown divide, inasmuch as I am both. This isn’t just about Five Points, but also Two Notch Road, and Club Dreams across from City Hall.

    Sure North Main has a crime problem, but just because one thing is caused by something else doesn’t discount the separate causation for the hospitality districts.

    This won’t cure the problem, but it is a step in the right direction. The much-vaunted knowledge workers whom we court so assiduously want night life, but if they are in fact workers, they would not be able to stay out so late anyway! Students should get to bed and get some sleep so they don’t become part of the 50% who drop out with big loans to repay and no increase in income opportunities!

  42. Kathryn Fenner

    The Freakonomics piece is very persuasive, David, thanks! I admire the Freakonomics writings, but I do bear in mind that others more skilled in sociological analysis than I have argued that sometimes the premises are glibly assumed, for example.

  43. Mark Stewart

    What’s most interesting about this debate is not the topic itself but instead I see the larger ideas of everyones’ vision of Columbia and its future. I am all for public safety and order. I am also all for a true urbanism: that to me means multicultural, expansive, thoughtful, and accepting of individual expression.

    I see Charleston’s experience, however, as being somewhat different. There, nightlife is a tourism problem. Here, its a homegrown issue. The other missing piece is that the vaunted knowledge workers are not drawn to the late hours; they are drawn to places that support those who keep the late hours.

    If the city – and we all should aspire to that vision of ourselves I believe – is to thrive we must support the alternative without loosing the strong sense of civic order that everyone desires. Crime needs to be confronted head-on. But what do we want to be? What is COLUMBIA? To me that future does not lie in blue laws or in arbitrary shut down hours, but in things like good government, strong educational institutions, widespread artistic endeavors and a generally high quality of life. And we have a long way to go!

  44. Doug Ross

    I would hope that if the curfew is implemented, that bar owners would perform some minor acts of civil disobedience to express their displeasure.

    Or maybe they all band together and agree to stay open until 2:15. See what happens. Will the city expend resources to enforce the law if many choose not to comply? Is this the biggest problem facing Columbia today?

    Or maybe charge council members a “pol tax” for their drinks… that would probably nip this effort in the “Bud” right away.

  45. Kathryn Fenner

    @Mark Stewart–I do improv in Chucktown most every week with mostly younger people–30s and 20s, and they would say that they are major consumers of Charleston nightlife. There are plenty of residents who partake!

    I think individual expression is great, as long as it does not unduly impinge on my personal safety and the corresponding freedom to move about without fear. Get all the tattoos and piercings you want! Dye your hair any/all colors. Just keep a lid on it when it comes time to be a target or make a noisy, messy nuisance of yourself because you overimbibed.

  46. Mark Stewart

    Kathryn: I agree with all that you said but still don’t see the need to force everyone to play to the lowest common denominator. Society should penalize the lawbreakers, not arbitrarily restrict everyone.

    Still, I’m pretty sure that “Daddyism” will prevail in Cola – and that appreciably no difference in quality of life crimes will result. Not the way to promote personal responsibility in my view.

  47. Herbie

    Brad said: I DO tend to think of the people who want to be out drinking after 2 a.m. as children.

    I am NOT a fecking child.

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