Just FYI, SC’s Ralph Norman is one of the main clowns in the speaker-election circus

I don’t have a lot of time for commenting on it, but I wanted to make sure you knew this — because until today, I did not.

That’s because my main source of South Carolina news, and SC angles on national news, is The State. And while you can go thestate.com looking for the information and find it, I still look at the paper through the lens of the print edition. No, I don’t read the dead-tree version literally — I dropped that years ago. I read all the newspapers to which I subscribe on my iPad. But some apps are better organized than others, and while I find the NYT‘s very helpful, I’m not pleased with the way The State‘s is organized. So I look at the e-edition each morning, before moving on to NYT and The Washington Post and the Boston Globe for national and international news and commentary.

And as near as I can tell, the fact that Ralph Norman is one of the 20 or so GOP crazies repeatedly sabotaging Kevin McCarthy’s bid for U.S. House speaker has not appeared in those reproductions of the print edition. (Maybe it’s been in those “Extra” pages that the app provides, but I don’t read those pages, because I read other papers for more timely news on those topics.)

I learned that this morning from The New York Times. You might always want to peruse this item, which breaks down every vote in the nine ballots.

By the way, in case you wondered, he’s the ONLY member of the SC delegation doing this. The other Republicans are dutifully lining up behind the guy who they think will win. Which doesn’t make them profiles in courage or anything, but it does make Norman alone.

Now, let’s get something straight: I’m no fan of Kevin McCarthy. I not only don’t want him to be speaker, I am embarrassed that such a person is in position to be seriously considered.

He is unsuitable for the position, to say the least.

But these Republicans who keep voting against him are doing so because they don’t think he’s unsuitable enough. So I wanted to make sure you knew Ralph Norman was one of them.

I suppose I should enjoy the situation. As David Frum wrote in The Atlantic (in a piece headlined “No Tears for Kevin McCarthy“):

Because the people attempting to inflict that defeat upon McCarthy include some of the most nihilistic and destructive characters in U.S. politics, McCarthy is collecting misplaced sympathy from people who want a more responsible Congress. But the House will function better under another speaker than it would under McCarthy—even if that other speaker is much more of an ideological extremist than McCarthy himself.

The defeat of Kevin McCarthy in his bid for the speakership of the House would be good for Congress. The defeat of Kevin McCarthy would be good for the United States. It might even be good for his own Republican Party.

McCarthy is not in political trouble for the reasons he deserves to be in political trouble. Justice is seldom served so exactly. But he does deserve to be in trouble, so justice must be satisfied with the trouble that he’s in….

We could talk about this back and forth all day, but I just wanted to make sure that as we watch this, my fellow South Carolinians know that Ralph Norman is one of those “most nihilistic and destructive characters in U.S. politics”…




52 thoughts on “Just FYI, SC’s Ralph Norman is one of the main clowns in the speaker-election circus

  1. Doug T

    In a storage room in my garage is an old “John Spratt for Congress” yard sign. …sigh…

    Our county has since been moved to Tom Rice’s old district. …sigh….

    …and not to leave out the Mick Mulvaney era. …sigh….

  2. bud

    I knew this about Norman since well before the first vote. He’s every bit as crazy as Marjorie Taylor Greene. But really isn’t the entire Republican caucus completely nuts? This would be hysterically funny except that it means we have no legislative branch of government. At some point they’ll need to raise the debt ceiling and other critical national security functions. I’m sure this gets resolved soon. And thankfully we’ll investigate Hunter Biden’s laptop, a very important government function. (Hopefully everyone gets my sarcasm). Surely by now it should be crystal clear that we only have one real party option when it comes time to vote.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I know it’s wrong to judge people by their looks, but that expression on his face in the picture — which I took from his Twitter feed, which one assumes was there because he’s proud of it — I have to wonder what formed the character who composes his face that way? And we frequently see that expression on him.

      Does anyone see what I’m talking about, or am I imagining something?

  3. Ken

    I could ask the residents of the 5th congressional district why they keep sending such a politically, morally and perhaps intellectually unfit person like Ralph Norman to Congress again and again. But, really, I think I have a good idea why. Because I live in the 3rd congressional district, represented by Jeff Duncan, who, though he may not have taken the extra step, as Norman did, of calling on the White House to declare martial law in order to “stop the steal,” Duncan, like 146 other Republicans, did nevertheless vote not to certify the election. Which makes them all fellow conspirators in an attempt to overthrow a duly elected government. They are all extremists and insurrectionists.

  4. Ken

    Meanwhile, there are at least a few clear thinking individuals left in the state, such as the 3 on the State Supreme Court who found that, yes folks, there is indeed a constitutional right to privacy – even in this state. And, therefore, a six-week abortion ban is unconstitutional. Thank goodness for small favors – especially in this state.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Next time I run into a member of the court, I’ll ask them to show me where that unmistakable right appears in the Constitution. Maybe they need to turn up the lights; I just can’t see it there in the penumbra.

      Wanting it to be, wishing it with all your might, doesn’t insert it…

      I just asked the question of Google, and this headline from the ACLU looked promising: “Students: Your Right to Privacy | American Civil Liberties Union.” I mean, that sounds pretty definite, right — even children will be able to understand.

      Here’s the part of the text that Google highlighted for me: “The right to privacy is not mentioned in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court has said that several of the amendments create this right.”

      So it’s not there, but the court says it’s there, so…

      That’s followed by the usual, sadly unconvincing, reference to the Fourth Amendment — which addresses what it was meant to address, something much on the minds of the Framers — but doesn’t get you to a right of privacy so clear and absolute that it empowers individuals to kill in its name.

      And yes, I understand the basics of court interpretation and precedent, and how it relates to other forms of our legal system, such as actual legislation. In our system, you follow the court, because until a statute is passed or the Constitution is amended, you have no higher standard. It’s what we do, and what we must do under the rule of law. And keep doing it until the court says something else.

      You want there to be a right to privacy, one so clear and irrefutable that it actually supports and defends abortion, one so rock-solid that you don’t have to maintain a court majority that is amenable to saying, “No, it’s not there, but it is?” Pass a constitutional amendment, under the rules the Framers set out. If the issue is as clear as Roe and Griswold defenders believe, you should have no trouble doing that…

      1. Ken

        SECTION 10 of the Constitution for the State of SC. Searches and seizures; invasions of privacy.
        The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and unreasonable invasions of privacy shall not be violated….

        As for the US Constitution, if you had preferred it run to some 100 pages, like the SC Constitution does, then you should’ve recommended that to the Framers. Otherwise, be prepared to allow room for interpretation. Or embrace dysfunction.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Perhaps we might as well embrace dysfunction, since we are buried in it, and it doesn’t seem likely to go away.

          But no, I would not advocate a 100-page constitution. I like the U.S. version, which sticks to bedrock issues, and leaves the lesser details to the legislative body.

          Did we need the Bill of Rights? I think so, although I examine the arguments advanced at that time and see merit in both sides. Some of the detractors said by stating rights, you limited them. In any case, that’s what we elected to do, and limited it to rights that we saw as inviolable.

          Chief among them, of course, is those clearly stated (I say “clearly,” although its startling to see how differently they are so often interpreted) in the First Amendment. The address various core values, but in the end they’re all basically about a central liberal idea: the inviolability of human conscience.

          Then, in the Second, we sort of take a nosedive. Punctuated as it is, it’s practically unintelligible. But don’t tell that to either side in the gun debate.

          But whatever they meant, the Framers thought it was important enough to include, and put it as clearly as their 18th-century notions of English usage allowed them to do.

          And they’d have done the same with a “right to privacy” if they had seen it as being as core, as irrefutable, as central as its advocates today believe it to be.

          We Americans — and to some extent we humans, but particularly Americans — have a strong liking for privacy. We value it. You do, and I do. None of us want people peeping into their windows at night (well, most of us don’t; I was sort of forgetting about the exhibitionists), or wasting our time with spam phone calls.

          But it has never risen to the point of being a right enshrined in our fundamental law. If it were as core as many advocates believe, that would have happened….

          1. Ken

            A right to privacy is implied by the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 9th and even 14th Amendments to the US Constitution. The latter, for example, was recognized by the Supreme Court in 1923 (when the body was hardly in the control of radicals), which stated that the liberty rights contained in the 14th Amendment guarantee a broad range of privacy rights with regard to procreation, child-rearing, marriage and medical treatment. In other words, privacy is fundamental to liberty, only privacy gives real meaning and substance to the real-world practice of liberty. That’s a lot of very basic constitutional history and reasoning to ignore as capriciously as you do.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              What case was that? The 1923 one, which you regard as “very basic constitutional history”?

              And what, in anything I have said, is even slightly “capricious?” I assure you I am seriously endeavoring to discern what is true. I’m not playing around here. That should be obvious from my statements…

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                In fact, I worry that I’ve spent far too much time seriously exploring issues on which people cannot be persuaded. If I’m going to have a blog, I need to find ways to quickly address a brought range of issues that can lead to some kind of convivial discussion, not keep diving down into these that simply drive us apart.

                On the editorial board, I avoided abortion because we had so many other issues to deal with, and abortion would have prevented us from dealing with them — and prevented half of society from paying attention to anything we said about them.

                I only departed from that policy because a blog is about personal expression, not the work of an editorial board…

                1. Ken

                  “If I’m going to have a blog, I need to find ways to quickly address a brought range of issues that can lead to some kind of convivial discussion, not keep diving down into these that simply drive us apart.”

                  Cute cat videos.

                2. Barry

                  If individuals don’t have a right to privacy, nothing else matters.

                  This seems basic to me. But clearly not some others.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Clearly not.

                    But it’s nice that you and Bud can agree with each other.

                    Privacy is an important thing, up to a point. It’s an element in living a civilized life — some time and space in which to think, for instance. This is particularly true to introverts like me.

                    But it’s not the MOST important thing in life. And that’s what I hear when you say that without it, nothing else matters…

              2. Ken

                You would do well to instruct yourself rather than simply chew the cud of your own ill-informed preconceptions.

                Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923)

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  You know, I would hate to insult you the way you keep endeavoring to insult me, so I hope you don’t mind if I say that you may be the most pedantic person I’ve ever encountered.

                  Or perhaps the word is “didactic.” I don’t know. But you cause me to picture a schoolmaster from the late 18th or early 19th century, wielding a cane for chastisement and peering sharply and disapprovingly over your old-timey spectacles at your reprobate students.

                  Picture that person, and I think you can easily imagine him saying, “You would do well to instruct yourself rather than simply chew the cud of your own ill-informed preconceptions…”

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      To change the subject…

                      Something about what I just said there reminds me of something Cromwell (Thomas, not Oliver) said when I was rewatching “Wolf Hall.”

                      Lady Rochford seems to be trying yet again to form a sort of alliance with Cromwell in her own unappealing way. Looking upon a nearby young man she despises (which is hardly a distinction; she seems to despise everyone), she says, “He’s a jumped-up nobody, taking his chance because the times are disordered.”

                      Cromwell replies, “Well, I suppose you could say the same thing about me, Lady Rochford, and I’m sure you do.”

                      And he walks away…

                      Mark Rylance gets to deliver a lot of lines like that one…

                    2. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Before I leave this digression…

                      Rewatching “Wolf Hall” caused me to go back and find the episode of “Upstart Crow” that makes fun of Rylance’s performance in that.

                      Here’s “the actor Wolf Hall” doing his signature move, mocking Rylance’s penetrating stare.

                      OK, it’s not the best impersonation I’ve ever seen, but it was still funny…

            2. Barry

              Thankfully, Brad is wrong and we do have a right to privacy.

              It’s so goofy hearing people proclaim, proudly, people have no right to privacy.

              Those folks are #1 on the list to avoid in your personal lives.

  5. Doug Ross

    It’s too bad all the Republicans can’t just forget about their own constituents and beliefs and just line up behind the most politically corrupt person selected by the party… that’s what Democrats did… all of the phony Squad and Bernie Bros became docile sheep when it came time to put corrupt insider trader Pelosi in charge. Remember all their hot air on progressive issues that they’d fight to the death for? Ooops… once the lobbyist money started flowing and the pork was available to send back home, the mission changed.

    I hope this lasts for months. The longer Congress does nothing — including sending BILLIONS to Ukraine to support the defense industry lobby — the better.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You just see everything upside-down and backwards, don’t you? Over these last few years, I’ve looked at those Bernie Bros and the silly “Squad,” and thought, “Thank God Nancy Pelosi is speaker.” Because she dealt with them, as McCarthy is utterly incapable of dealing with his own loonies.

      I didn’t think that way about her the first time she was Speaker. I seem to recall having a vaguely negative impression. But seeing her stand up as she did to people of whom I have a far clearer, more definite negative impression turned me right around.

      And yet to you, someone who does that, who has the guts and intellect and ability to lead a body toward some fairly remarkable legislative achievements — on a level we hadn’t seen since the 60s — is… “corrupt.”

      At the same time, you believe these people should loudly, destructively advocate foolishness in order to avoid the terrible sin of forgetting “about their own constituents and beliefs.” You think one should be true to beliefs that are idiotic, and constituents who embrace such beliefs.

      On the contrary, when one is elected to a position of leadership, one is profoundly morally obligated to lead wisely, not affirm idiocy.

      McCarthy has demonstrated that he can’t, or won’t, or both, do that. His great sin is that he has spent the last few years kowtowing to the idiots who’ve been voting against him all week. Therefore he should not be speaker. And yet, the rumblings today are that he probably will be…

    2. Barry

      Nancy did an amazing job as Speaker this time around and has a long list of accomplishments.

      Of course I don’t agree with her on everything, but she was very successful. Even her worst (fair-minded) critics have admitted that.

      The discipline she led with was not predicted. In fact, right wingers like Fox News and talk radio mouth breathers predicted doom for her repeatedly and said she’d likely not be able to get anything done.

      It was, in fact, the opposite. She was able to get a lot done for Biden to sign into law.

  6. bud

    The penumbra reasoning seems ver clear and convincing. Of course we have a right to privacy. None of the other rights we have as American citizens make any sense without a right to privacy.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Really? Perhaps you could elaborate on that. How do the guarantees of the First Amendment, for instance, lack value without this separate right that the Framers didn’t bother to state?

      This brings us back to the arguments at the time on whether to specifically delineate the rights the Constitution would set out.

      Perhaps you believe, as I think some did at that time, that the really super-important rights don’t need to be spelled out, because they go without saying. They’re just understood.

      Seems a bit shaky to me, but let’s assume that’s the case with regard to privacy. If so, then why spell out the right to one, limited, very specific sort of privacy? I mean the 3rd Amendment: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

      The theme is enlarged upon in the Fourth, making sure people are “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Of course, a judge can override that sort of privacy, with a warrant — as long as the warrant is specific.

      Why spell out these specific kinds of privacy protection, with quite definite, stated limitations, if everyone has a general and unlimited right to privacy, even to the extent of empowering an individual to decide whether another individual will live or die, without recourse to due process or appeal?

      How can that be? It simply doesn’t add up.

      This brings me to another important point, worth mentioning since we were earlier talking about the former pope, and the Church in general: My friends who defend the wild assumptions of Roe like to call opposition to abortion in terms of some people trying to impose their religion on other people. This is a powerful argument because so many people — including me — would see that as illegitimate. (Of course, they think it’s even more illegitimate than I do, because of the common misconception that the First Amendment erected a “wall” between church and state. It didn’t — it simply barred Congress from establishing a church, or interfering with anyone’s practice of their brand of religion. But it’s a politically and emotionally effective argument, which is why you hear it so often.)

      This is utterly absurd, from my perspective. My opposition to Roe is that it is so extremely opposed to basic assumptions in our secular American form of the rule of law. Say you’re called as a potential juror. You are questioned to make sure you don’t have an interest in the case, which in our system — which values disinterested judgment — would make you a biased juror. You’re not supposed to be the best friend of the victim, or worst enemy of the accused. Even knowing them, or having engaged in business with them, may make you suspect.

      But Roe, based on a “right” that is not stated, but assumed to override all other considerations, sweeps that aside, and empowers a single individual — not a judge, or a jury, or some impartial expert panel — to decide singlehandedly whether another individual will live.

      Not only that, but the individual so empowered is the MOST interested person on the planet, someone profoundly affected by the decision. And yet so many people think this gives the individual tremendous moral force, even though the presumption slaps our whole cultural assumption that such live-and-death decisions should take place only within a special environment that is free of any sort of personal, emotional leanings.

      You don’t have to be Catholic or an evangelical Protestant to see these things. They’re outside the realm of theology. It seems to me that any atheist with a strong respect for the American form of rule of law would see it the same way…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        By the way, you may rebut the second portion of my comments by saying loads of people on BOTH sides of the abortion issue think this is a holy war. And you’d be right. Plenty of Catholics view it that way, and see themselves as involved in a crusade. And just as crusaders thought themselves justified by faith in doing unspeakable things to Saracens, millions of Catholics will make a deal with a creature such as Trump, who has zero respect for the pro-life ethic, because he has in mercenary fashion promised them to give them what they want on this one point. That’s a “victory” they think is worth destroying the country to achieve.

        But you see, they’re wrong.

        As I’ve pointed out many times, the Consistent Ethic of Life demands that you care about many things beyond abortion. And you don’t make a deal with a man who spits on all those other things just to get your way on one aspect of one element of the ethic….

    2. Ken

      Brad, like other strict constructionists, apparently does not believe in implied rights in the US Constitution – which, given the brevity of our Constitution, is a key component of our approach to governing. As is the case with biblical literalists, strict construction leads to a dumbing down of the text. And, potentially, to dysfunction, since by so limiting constitutional interpretation, adaptation to change (such as the increased threats to privacy the Framers never could have imagined) then becomes the sole responsibility of the legislative branch. In a perfect world, that might be a reasonable approach. But we do not live in a perfect world – as we keep seeing demonstrated by one of the supposedly “governing” parties.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I don’t think I’m necessarily a “strict constructionist.” But perhaps I am. It’s a slippery concept. The Constitution itself contains the means for amendment and enlargement. So if you believe in the original document strictly, you believe in its ability to change over time — according to the proper procedures, of course.

        What I DON’T believe in is WISHING things into the Constitution. And that’s what the privacy argument constitutes. If your argument is sufficiently compelling, you can amend the document.

        Many point to the failure to confront slavery as a flaw in the original document. (I wouldn’t call it a flaw, exactly. If the Framers had tried to deal at that moment with the issues, there would have been no Constitution. And we needed a Constitution. Among other things, its establishment enabled the country to eliminate slavery altogether via the 13th Amendment. Thank God.

        Note that abolitionists didn’t wish away slavery by insisting the Constitution already banned it. They passed the Amendment. The document, and the system it creates, worked.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, and while I find the term “strict constructionist” slippery, I can say quite definitely that I’m not a biblical literalist.

          Note the difference in the two things, however. The Constitution is a document meant to be amended, as needed. The Bible is not. While it contains many literary forms, and some stories are obviously not meant to be taken as literal, stenographic history (say, the Garden of Eden), the truths it communicates through these different forms are unchanging…

      2. bud

        Ken, to your point I view this privacy issue as much more than a mere debate about the technical meaning of the verbiage in a document written by long dead flawed individuals. Rather I view it as a fundamental part of who we are as a people. A lack of privacy in ANY of our affairs as people renders our country no better than a totalitarian state where the rulers can infringe on our activities at will. Griswold addressed this in a way that makes it clear that we are a people who hold privacy sacrosanct. This is just a fundamental part of who we are. We shouldn’t need a constitutional amendment to establish this any more than an amendment granting equal rights to women. Yet given the recent poorly reasoned Dobbs decision this may be something to pursue.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Have at it. You want it in there, then put it in there.

          But don’t try to turn off your telescreen so we can’t watch you. Only we Inner Party members can do that… 🙂

          1. Ken

            Unenumerated rights do not vanish simply because Brad Warthen says they do not exist, like a child putting his hands in front of his eyes to make things “disappear.” They exist without the need of magical thinking, let alone Orwellian newthink. The suggestion otherwise is an insult to those who actually take the time and make the effort to educate themselves in constitutional history and interpretation.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              “rights do not vanish simply because Brad Warthen says they do not exist…”

              I’m completely with you there. Are you with me on this?

              “Rights not set out in a document do not appear there as a result of the aforementioned magical thinking…”

              Once again, we come back to that original argument, back in the late 1780s, over whether to have a Bill of Rights or not. Such an enumeration is inherently limiting — it says these are your rights, and not those (“those” being any not included in the document).

              But once you have one, if you consider a certain right to be absolutely essential — something without which the rest of your assumptions regarding rights make no sense, to put it the way Bud does — you need to go ahead and put it in there.

              If you somehow forgot to do so on the front end, you’re in luck, because this particular document provides procedures for amendment…

              1. Ken

                Your constitutional interpretation is wholly shattered by the Ninth Amendment — the foundation of the unenumerated rights you claim do not exist. Again, I can only encourage you to study more and (re-)cogitate your preconceptions less.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  If my “constitutional interpretation is wholly shattered by the Ninth Amendment.”

                  And yes, Master Ken, I’ll endeavor to study harder. Me be smart like you one day…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Isn’t that sort of redundant? Not exactly redundant, but isn’t a listing of one’s rights essentially a listing of specific liberties? Not precisely, of course, but to a great extent?

  7. bud

    Brad by citing the third and fourth amendments you’re well on your way to proving the penumbra theory.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      To the contrary, I raise them to demonstrate the obvious. These are the kinds of privacy the Framers meant to protect. They were operating not from a general, abstract reverence for privacy, but from an opposition to being the unwilling hosts to British soldiers, and to basic unfairness in legal proceedings…

  8. bud

    About speech or religion. These are essentially about freedom of thought. Without privacy to think there can be no establishment of a process to speak. So a privacy right buttresses the underlying process which leads to speech.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      As I said before, there is a concept that underlies the First Amendment: the inviolability of human conscience.

      You call it “freedom of thought,” and that’s another good way to put it.

      I don’t see how that leads to an overriding right to privacy.

      I see how you can make the argument, but I find it unconvincing.

      Thoughts may be private. My own seldom are, but they can be, for people who keep their own counsel. In any case, the Constitution deals with public expressions of thought — speech, the press, religious expression, with whom we choose to associate.

      You could say some privacy is needed to think clearly and at length. I’d agree, to a great extent. It is also necessary that no one in your vicinity is using a leaf blower. At least, that’s a condition I need. Unfortunately, the Constitution doesn’t ban leaf blowers. I wish it did…

  9. Barry

    Ralph Normal broke South Carolina a South Carolina gun law several years back and faced no repercussions for it- even though he did it in public.

    He pulled out a loaded gun at a restaurant and placed it on a table in full view of many people.

    That was a violation of the CWP law in South Carolina.

    That would get the average citizen in trouble, and possibly get your CWP license revoked or at least examined by authorities

    Ralph didn’t face any problems. Some special people get to break the law and avoid punishment.

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