Your Virtual Front Page, Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Silence was so pleased to get a Virtual Front Page yesterday, I thought I’d be extra generous and give y’all another today. Particularly since I’ve been light on blog posts the last few days:

  1. Suspect in Boston Bombing Pleads Not Guilty (NYT) — Oh. OK. So I guess he didn’t do it. You know… I’m totally on-board with our innocent-until-guilty value. It’s critical to who we are, and I wouldn’t want to switch to the Napoleonic Code or anything. But do you ever feel like there’s a certain absurdist quality to proceedings such as this one.
  2. SC to stop separating HIV-positive inmates (AP) — No reaction yet from the NON-HIV-positive inmates…
  3. As Zimmerman Trial Nears End, Race ‘Permeates The Case’ (NPR) — Does this mean I won’t have to hear any more about it, starting soon? Please say so. Because I’ve felt a lot of heat, but seen very little light, in the ongoing national “debate” about this. It’s wearisome.
  4. Egypt orders Brotherhood head arrest (BBC) — And the kettle continues to boil over…
  5. Navy lands a drone on aircraft carrier for first time (WashPost) — From our gee-whiz department. I’m put in mind of Tom Wolfe’s riveting description of just what a mind-numbingly death-defying, insanely brave feat it is for a human to land a hurtling jet aircraft on such a tiny surface, with his throttle pushed to Full Military Power, just in case he misses… All to be consigned to history. And yet, we still don’t have flying cars…
  6. Rain, if anything, to intensify in Midlands ( — In a related development, Columbia City Council scraps the Bull Street plan passed yesterday, and decides to spend the money on an ark instead. No, that’s a joke.

44 thoughts on “Your Virtual Front Page, Wednesday, July 10, 2013

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Notice how disciplined and restrained I was in not putting this headline on my front: “Sumter suspect shouts ‘y’all stole my Batman knife,’ tries to break into home with sword.”

    That’s a direct quote from Personally, I would have thrown an “allegedly” in there, but that’s me. I’m Old School.

    The Sumter Daily Item, from which the story originated, was more cautious: “Sword-wielding man reportedly tries to break into home.”

  2. Norm Ivey

    #6: Look on the bright side. The rain is keeping the temps down, and there should be an incredible SC corn crop this year. For the first time since 2009 the entire state is drought-free.

  3. Norm Ivey

    On the Zimmerman trial–I suspect that these two guys got into a pissing contest, and neither had the courage to back off. The whole thing probably could have been resolved calmly if the two men had taken the time to actually talk to each other instead of harboring suspicions and and making accusations. Such a waste of both lives. I expect Zimmerman to be acquitted (or maybe get a manslaughter conviction as the NPR article suggests), but being legally in the right doesn’t make him morally in the right.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Zimmerman was and is a coward. There is no other way to state it. Whatever the law, he was a stalker and the instigator. We all know that. Race probably played a role, but bottom line is Zimmerman was a man-boy looking for a fight. Drawing a gun in those circumstances was criminal. End of story.

      1. Bart

        Well, that’s one way to look at it from your point of view. Yet, there are other ways that are just as reasonable and based more on facts and eye witness testimony than opinion. And no, “We “don’t” all know that.” and no; it is not the “End of story”.

        Trayvon Martin was walking in the rain in a gated community where it was a proven fact that several break-ins by young black males had occurred over the past two years. Trayvon Martin did not live in the community but was visiting his father who did live there; therefore he would not be recognized as a resident. George Zimmerman was a member of the neighborhood patrol because of the rash of break-ins and had counseled people who were victims of the break-ins. George Zimmerman radioed the police dispatcher and told her about a suspicious person wearing a black hoodie walking around in the rain. Zimmerman never once mentioned race until asked by the dispatcher about the color of the suspicious person which Zimmerman responded, “looks black”. The use of the word “punks” by Zimmerman does not indicate race or racism unless one wants to make the connection for whatever reason. If anything, Zimmerman had been a tutor for young black children during his time as a resident of the community. His personal history had no indication or evidence of any racial bias in his character or behavior.

        Trayvon disappeared from sight and when Zimmerman got out of his vehicle to try to find him, Trayvon was waiting on him when he walked around the corner. According to eye witnesses, in the ensuing confrontation, Trayvon had Zimmerman pinned to the ground, using the “Ground and Pound” technique used by UFC fighters. Records and testimony have shown and proven that Zimmerman most likely had a broken nose and several cuts and abrasions on the back of his head. Apparently it is expected by some that the one receiving the blows to the head and face and having one’s head slammed into a concrete sidewalk should simply lay back and enjoy the beating that could result in serious injury or possible death. Now, that would be closer to the definition of someone being a coward if they wouldn’t fight back with whatever was at hand if they believed their life or health to be in imminent danger. If Zimmerman had drawn his gun while Trayvon was several feet away and shot him in cold blood that would have been criminal; drawing his gun while lying on the ground getting the crap beat out of you is self-defense. (Please tell me you would have just laid back and accepted the beat-down Mark.)

        Based on the police records of past break-ins at the gated community, it is reasonable that Trayvon’s father and wife knew about them and would have relayed the information to Trayvon and fair or not, cautioned him. When Zimmerman started to follow Trayvon, it is also reasonable to expect that Trayvon could have kept on walking to his father’s home and went inside or when he acknowledged to his girlfriend on the phone that Zimmerman was following him, he could have stopped and asked Zimmerman why he was following him and then explained that he was visiting his father and on his way home. Trayvon Martin had a choice in the matter as much as Zimmerman did and based on the testimony of his girlfriend, it was Trayvon’s decision and choice to confront Zimmerman.

        But, that simply would not fit the narrative so many choose to believe, would it?

        1. Mark Stewart

          That isn’t believable; and is certainly not a credible retelling of events as they have been reported. I am surprised you would take such an unsupportable position, Bart. Nobody really knows how that altercation came to it’s end; but we all know how it started.

          Guns and bibles too often lead people to assume powers of judgement which they do not have. Mine is an opinion of Zimmerman’s actions. That is far different than what that guy presumed he had the right to do. He presumed another was less worthy than himself. And he acted on that with malice.

          1. Bart

            What is not credible in my account?

            Guns and bibles affecting my powers of judgement, really? Is that what you think of me? If so, ……………, fill in the blanks.

          2. Mark Stewart

            My reference to the inflatable powers of guns and bibles on the psyches of the feeble minded was both general and historical. There was nothing personal about you or your perspective in that statement.

            The gun was what enabled Zimmerman to get out of his truck in the dark, cold rain and give chase to one he imagined to be lesser than himself, despite the 911 operator telling him not to do so. His gun was a fantasy prop. It imbued him with righteous powers. And so was born, again, this type of aggressor.

            That said, I did not find your slant on the Martin/Zimmerman meeting to be either credible or well reasoned. I thought your defense of Zimmerman’s actions to be a narrow, ideological construction that was at odds with your more typically expansive view on the world and of human nature.

          3. Bart


            First of all, I will apologize for my terse response but I will admit that your first comment and reply did hit a nerve prompting my comments.

            We all have different life experiences and while I do not feel it is incumbent upon me to offer the reasons behind my comments, in order to refute your charge of not being credible, indulge me by reading the following.

            Years ago my wife worked outside the home and her job allowed her to leave at 2:30 and she normally arrived home around 3:00. As a matter of habit, when she turns into our driveway which is about 150 feet from the road, she surveys the surroundings for obvious reasons since we live in a community that is very mixed, racially and socio-economically. Across the road are high end homes and behind us are a trailer park and a mixture of dwelling types. There is a wide cross-section of people out where we live. Blacks, whites, Hispanics, gays, singles, retired couples, working families, etc.

            Upon arriving home one afternoon several years ago, my wife didn’t notice anything unusual until she drove into the carport. Then she noticed that the window in the side entrance door was broken out so immediately she left, went to the local convenience store and called the sheriff’s department. Worried about our pet dog, after waiting for several minutes for the authorities to arrive, she unadvisedly drove back to the entrance to the driveway to wait. When she arrived at the driveway, the first thing she noticed was that the front door was open. When she arrived home the first time, it was not open. The thieves were in the house when she arrived home the first time and there is no way to predict what harm could or would have been inflicted on her if she had walked in the house while they were still inside.

            She called me at work and I came home immediately. The sheriff’s deputies were on the scene and asking the usual questions. The thieves had taken televisions, VCRs, tape decks, small jewelry items, and some loose bills and coins lying on the dresser. They had also broken several valuable pieces of antique furniture while breaking in and in their escape. The irony is that the investigators did almost as much damage investigating as the thieves did. We were advised by the investigators that it would be almost impossible to find our stolen property, file an insurance claim, and check with them periodically. There had been a rash of break-ins in the neighborhood and they had no clues about who it could be.

            I am not one to stand idly by and accept being a victim without fighting back. As the last deputy left the driveway, I started making phone calls. On the third call, our stolen property was located at a pawn shop. The disturbing fact is that most of the items had been pawned that morning at 11:00 am, not later in the day after 3:00 pm. The thieves had returned to finish the job but were interrupted when my wife came home. I called the sheriff’s department before the first deputy had returned to the station and reported what I had discovered. It took the sheriff’s department almost a week before they did anything about it.

            The only one charged was a young black male who lives in a small town close to us. He was a college student at the local university. His father was the mayor of the small town, a very successful business owner, and well respected. The young man would not give the names of his accomplices but after his arrest, the rash of break-ins and burglaries suddenly stopped. Eventually his father came to see us about agreeing to his son entering into a program that allowed him to do community service, pay restitution, be on probation for a year, and then has his record expunged. Being a father and knowing that a criminal record could stop the young man from having a successful future, we agreed. But, when the father and I were alone, I did tell him that if his son or any of his friends were to try to rob us again and if I was home, he would be taken away feet first, no questions asked.

            The loss of property, stolen or damaged can be replaced. What cannot be replaced is the sense of safety and security once enjoyed in our home. The feeling of being violated by someone invading the sanctity of your home is not easily dispelled or forgotten. Before the robbery, all we needed was a deadbolt lock and keeping the windows locked. Afterwards, we installed a surveillance system and a monitored alarm system. We are members of the local crime watch and if there is suspicious activity, we call the authorities but if necessary, we will check the situation to see if there is any real danger to our neighbors.

            These are safeguards to protect property. However, the one thing that is of the greatest value to me is my wife and the very real potential that she could have been harmed or killed by the damn thieves remains with me. The anger is real and I make no excuses to anyone for my emotions. And for the record, the color of the young man’s skin has no bearing on the incident at all.

            Once your home is violated in the manner ours was, unless you simply don’t care about such things, the awareness of what can happen never goes away. Yet, if someone needs a helping hand, needs to use the phone, our home is still open along with our financial assistance if needed and our neighbors know that about us.

            I took a much broader view of the Zimmerman-Martin situation and read every account I could no matter which publication or news outlet provided the information. I understood why Zimmerman did what he thought was the right thing to do based on the history of break-ins and the necessity of establishing a neighborhood watch or patrol. Maybe he was overzealous but at the same time, Trayvon Martin could have avoided the confrontation as well by simply going into his father’s apartment and closing the door. But, as more and more information comes out about Trayvon Martin, it is becoming more and more apparent that he made a conscious decision to confront Zimmerman. His cellphone according to reports from various accounts contains over 600 messages that refer to his street fighting ability and willingness to engage in it. His own brother wanted to know when he was going to teach him how to street fight.

            Now you have my real life experience that relates to the Zimmerman-Martin situation in the fact that my wife and I were victims of a break-in and the consequences of it on a personal level. If you have never experienced an invasion of your home, all it takes is one time.

            Don’t question my credibility on this until you have walked a mile in my shoes.

  4. Silence

    At least with an Ark we’d have something useful. When we get the new minor league stadium at Bull Street I hope they name it “The Asylum” and name the team the “Columbia Crazies”. Of course that’s insensitive, so I’m open to alternative suggestions. The catch? They must be alliterative.

    Other team name suggestions:
    Capital City Convicts
    Hughes Hounds
    Midlands Maniacs
    Midlands Murderers
    Richland Robbers
    Benjamin’s Bombers
    Carolina Cooters
    Downtown Danger

    1. Bryan Caskey

      On the merits, anyone who wants to put a baseball stadium on the Bull Street property should be IN Bull Street. As a fun exercise, here are some other names for a team.

      In no particular order:

      Midlands Madmen
      Screwy Sandlappers
      Schizoid Sandlappers
      The Columbia Crackers (bonus points for also being racially offensive)
      The Columbia Crazed
      Midlands Mad Hatters
      Midlands Mental Patients
      Benjamin’s Bedlamites
      Benjamin’s Balmy (a little British flair, here)
      The Downtown Daffy
      The Downtown Demented

      My personal favorite is the “Midlands Madmen”.

    2. Doug Ross

      How about the Benjamin Benjamins – because we know all these deals are about public servants making bank off other people’s money.

          1. Silence

            We should bottle up some Quid Pro Cola and sell it at the Soda City Farmer’s Market.
            Initially Quid Pro Cola has a pleasing fresh flavor, but it has a greasy, porcine aftertaste.

      1. Doug Ross

        Columbia Cuckoo’s playing in the Cuckoo’s Nest… one promotion can be handing out smothering pillows.

  5. David(2)

    Is your point with this comment that you are more civilized than “the blacks?” And kudos to you for never burning down a neighborhood in a riot.

  6. Silence

    That’s the spirit, you guys are getting into it!
    Columbia Black Sox (cause of the sell-out nature of this deal. Could also be racially construed)
    Columbia Crabs
    Columbia BJ’s (If we get a Blue Jays farm team)
    The Boys of Slummer
    Columbia Killers
    Columbia Crush (Could get sponsored by Club Crush)
    Columbia Chickens
    South Carolina Stooges

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I saw ex-Mayor Bob today over at the convention center. He was introducing Vincent Sheheen at the Clean Energy Summit.

        Also saw, for the first time in public, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch. She was chatting with Vincent after his speech.

        I almost went up and spoke with her, but then I thought how complicated it would be to introduce myself — “Hey, I used to be the editorial page editor at The State, which is how Vincent knows me, but now I work at ADCO, but the reason I want to talk you you is because of my blog…”

        That wasn’t worth doing just to ask her some trite question such as, “Do you have any future political plans?” And nothing better was coming to me…

  7. Kathryn Fenner

    Nothing about how the SC Supremes stopped a murder trial wherein the defendant admitted to breaking into the vic’s home and shooting him, but claims Stand Your Ground on the grounds that the vic looked like he might be gonna draw a gun on him?
    The SC is doing so on a procedural technicality, but if Stand Your Ground applies here, you could have a situation where the co-robber can be legitimately prosecuted for felony murder, but the actual shooter gets off!

    1. Silence

      I thought that was strange. I read the SC law § 16-11-440 and it specifically doesn’t apply if the person who uses deadly force is engaged in unlawful activity (like a home invasion) so I’m not sure what the exact reason Toal stopped the trial was. The State’s coverage is no help at all.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        From what I read in The State, it has something to do with the time or manner in which the hearing to determine the applicability of the defense is held.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Actually, no it isn’t, Silence. Sorry Libb.

        FYI, ADCO developed “Famously Hot.” They did it before my time, but I’ve been around to see how well it’s been accepted.

        It was never intended necessarily to appeal to local audiences — it was for use in campaigns trying to get meeting planners from elsewhere to schedule events here.

        But one really gratifying thing for ADCO — and for the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism, which was our client in this case — has been the way it has been accepted and embraced locally. It crops up in the names of events, in everyday speech. It’s sufficiently a part of our language now that people have fun with plays on it, which indicates a particularly deep level of engagement with the meme. One of my favorite examples of that was a Free Times cover story awhile back, about drinking in Columbia, headlined “Famously Drunk.”

        Compare it to previous efforts — “Where Friendliness Flows,” for instance. Then look around you and listen, and what you’ll see and hear is a fairly remarkable acceptance for “Famously Hot.”

        Or, just walk outside and feel it.

        1. Silence

          Brad, I’m sure you feel obliged to defend “Famously Hot” since it’s an ADCO product, but speaking as a representative of the taxpaying public, most everyone I know thought it was a riduclous slogan and a waste of money when it was announced. I grant you that it’s WAY better than “Where Friendliness Flows”. It’s also WAY better than all of this “One Columbia” crap-ola that’s going around lately.
          I offer a summer 2013 amendment to ADCO’s slogan: “Columbia – Famously Hot and Wet!”

  8. Brad Warthen Post author

    Thank you for saying so, Bryan.

    I think a lot of people do. Even Silence acknowledges it’s the best Columbia has had, even though he uses the “it’s the worst, except for all the others” circumlocution.

    1. Silence

      Didn’t we have some slogans prior to “Where Fiendishness Flows”? I would really hate to acknowledge that “Famously Hot” was our BEST effort. “It’s Happening Now” is awful too. I’m glad council had the good sense not to adopt “Now this is living” which is a recycled “Weight Watchers” slogan I think. “New Southern Spirit” and “The Big Friendly” are also pretty rotten.

      It can’t be that hard to write good slogan copy.

      Camden’s new one is good “Grab Life by the Reins”.

      1. Mark Stewart

        Camden may be the best part of the Midlands; after Lake Murray any day but a summer Saturday.

  9. Silence

    You’ll have at least one good headline for today’s VFP:
    “South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Executive Director Arrested”

  10. Kathryn Fenner

    I like Famously hot, and it lends itself to parody uses, which strengthen it….try doing something with “It’s Happening Now”– Columbia Dyn-o-mite?

  11. Kathryn Fenner

    I am very sorry you and your wife had to experience such a thing. I know how shaken and reluctant to get back behind the wheel I have been after minor fender benders!
    I do think, however, that if you were a young minority male, or had been one, you might be less quick to say Trayvon should have stayed home. As a woman, I have rarely been somewhere I could reasonably safely walk in the evening. Even in places with low crime rates, there are always sickos who prey on women especially. It is not fair. It may be reality, but it is not fair.
    How many burglars work on foot, anyway? Limits the take, doesn’t it? I understand the most likely scenario for a burglary in a gated community is an official-service-provider-seeming vehicle during business hours, when most people are away.

    1. Bart


      I am not saying Trayvon should have stayed at home, I am trying to convey a simple fact that if he had CHOSEN to go inside his father’s home instead of waiting to face Zimmerman, the ensuing fight and his death could have been avoided. We are advised to use common sense or take a pragmatic approach in volatile situations, not running headlong into one without thinking. This is no different and when all is said and done, both sides had a choice and if either had taken the path of non-confrontation, Trayvon Martin would be alive today. Zimmerman did not have to follow Trayvon and Trayvon did not have to confront Zimmerman.

      As for the burglaries in the gated community where the indicent took place, all of the break-ins were by young males who were not in vehicles, in fact, some were residents of the community. All of this was well reported by the media and confirmed by the Sanford police department. I do understand and take your point about burglars and vehicles. The thieves who broke into our home certainly used a vehicle to transport their booty to a pawn shop several miles away.

      To make another point, before our home was broken into, we would have never paid any attention to anyone walking on the dirt road beside our home that leads to the trailer park and other residents further down the road. Now, when we see anyone walking we don’t recognize, it heightens our awareness no matter if the person is white, black, or Hispanic.

      It saddens me that as a woman, you cannot take a walk alone in the evening and feel safe. And that is the point so many fail to understand. What does it say about our society when it is necessary for neighborhood watches and patrols to be formed in order to offer some modicum of protection against crimes in your own neighborhood.

      My natural instinct is to be protective of my family, friends, and neighbors and to go to their defense if necessary. If the crime watch in our community were to ask me to be one of the members to do a patrol in my vehicle on occasion, I would do so. I do not carry a gun and do not have a carry permit because I have no compelling reason to do so but if it becomes a necessity to defend my wife, children, or home, I will use one and without hesitation. If that makes me a bad person, so be it, I could care less of what others may think of me under those conditions.

      1. Scout

        I respect your experiences, Bart, but respectfully, this is not the same situation. The intruders in your scenario had actually intruded; Martin had not. Your wife drove away; Zimmerman got out of the car and approached.

        You seem more hung up on Martin’s choice to confront than Zimmerman’s choice to follow. It was the following that was the intrusive act that initiated the interaction. A person choosing to confront someone following them when they are doing nothing wrong does not seem like an unreasonable response.

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