Sunday, June 26, 2011

Letters to the reader

Dear guard dog,

You’ve got to pull yourself together around the vacuum cleaner, boy. That’s all there is to it. Please understand, this is coming from a place of constructive criticism. But, I chose your particular breed in the hopes that I’d have a wingman in the event of a bear attack or Armageddon situation. Like Mad Max and Dog. Hell, to scare away panhandlers at the very least! “Just don’t,” I’d said to myself, “invest in a breed that’s ever been dyed pink or dressed up in a little tuxedo.” But, frankly, if you’re going to panic every time I flip on the Dust Buster, I might be better off with a poodle! Do we understand each other? Pull yourself together, man!

Columbia City Paper

Dear Columbia drivers,

This is a friendly public service announcement reminding you not to sext and drive. Take it from me. The deliciously lewd FOX News coverage of the Anthony Weiner scandal got me in a lather on my way to a liberal discussion group one afternoon. Speeding down Gervais, I decided to send a quick sext to an old flame I’d been stalking. To properly set up the shot, I displayed myself on the lower rung of the steering wheel, arching my hips up to get everything in the sunlight for a clearer photo. Using one hand to set up the angle on my iPad and the other to apply glitter (all while steering with one knee), I lost control of the car, careened toward the State House, and, in a moment of tragic irony, nearly plowed into a group of MADD protesters on the sidewalk.

Don’t risk it, Columbia. “Fly closed, eyes open.”

Columbia City Paper

Dear fellow dudes,

We should revisit the official dude rule against carrying umbrellas. Generally, the choice between getting wet and looking like a 65-year-old woman has been easy. But, shouldn’t logic, gentlemen, eventually prevail? Most farm animals come in from the rain. Or, will it be too difficult to warm up to umbrellas considering most of us don’t even own raincoats? Hell, some of us can’t even get past the dude rule against putting up the hood on raincoats. (Honestly, though, what kind of sissy would actually do that? Where are your pink galoshes, pal? Man, you couldn’t pay me!)

Know what? Forget it. For now let’s just stick to jogging, macho-like, through the rain and forget about the umbrellas. Let our kids’ generation deal with it.

Columbia City Paper

Dear area hippies,

Your Quaker-like frigidity, asexuality, and self-righteousness had always rubbed me the wrong way until I got a whiff of an Asheville cafe. Thank Dass you have at least rejected the notion that reeking like a Russian bum’s ass is somehow making a sociopolitical statement. You guys smell like roses in comparison to your mountain brethren and I applaud you for that. Considering the oppressive heat around here, life in local coffee shops and open mic nights could be so much worse. Thank you, area hippies.

Columbia City Paper

The Warmonger’s Fruit of the Spirit

by Laurence M. Vance

It seems sensible and logical that followers of someone called the Prince of Peace would not act like they are following Mars, the Roman god of war.

As I have maintained whenever I speak about Christianity and war, if there is any group of people that should be opposed to war, empire, militarism, the warfare state, an imperial presidency, blind nationalism, government war propaganda, and an aggressive foreign policy it is Christians, and especially conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians who claim to strictly follow the dictates of Scripture and worship the Prince of Peace.

I have also maintained throughout these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, even though it is Christianity above all religions that should be opposed to the evils of war and militarism, in the Church will be found some of the greatest supporters of the military and the current wars.

The "criminality of war," as Howard Malcom, president of Georgetown College, wrote in 1845, is not "that tyrants should lead men into wars of pride and conquest," but that "the people, in governments comparatively free, should so readily lend themselves to a business in which they bear all the sufferings, can gain nothing, and may lose all." That people would act this way, Malcom says, is an "astonishment indeed." "But," he continues, "the chief wonder is that Christians, followers of the Prince of Peace, should have concurred in this mad idolatry of strife, and thus been inconsistent not only with themselves, but with the very genius of their system."

I have heard and read many Christians criticize Obama – and rightly so – for his horrendous policies, but I have heard and read little or nothing from Christians of how Obama has continued the war in Iraq, escalated the war in Afghanistan, and expanded the bogus war on terror to other countries.

The above sign from a church in Maryland can unfortunately be seen almost anywhere in the United States. Although some Christians have begun to criticize Obama and the Democrats for the things that only a short time ago they were silent about when perpetrated by Bush and the Republicans, support for the military among Christians – no matter where it goes, why it goes, what it does, how much it costs, how long it stays, and how many foreigners it kills – is so entrenched, so sacrosanct, that I am at the same time bewildered and embarrassed, angered and ashamed.

The result of this mindset is a perversion of the very Scriptures that Christians claim to believe and follow. So, just as Christian warmongers would, if they were honest, recite The Warmonger’s Psalm (Psalm 23), assent to The Warmonger’s Beatitudes(Matthew 5:3-12), and pray The President’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), so they would acknowledge that they manifest The Warmonger’s Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

In contrast to the works of the flesh (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, and revellings), the Apostle Paul in theBook of Galatians mentions the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.

But in place of these virtues, warmongers have substituted pride, indifference, vengeance, ignorance, malice, arrogance, lust, foolishness, and blasphemy.

Christian warmongers have pride in the U.S. military – the greatest cause of terrorism and instability in the world. They are indifferent to the tremendous suffering of foreigners who get in the way of the U.S. military. They want vengeance for 9/11 now matter how many innocent Muslims have to die. They have a tremendous and willful ignorance of the true nature of U.S. foreign policy. They have malice toward foreigners who never harmed Americans until the U.S. military starting bombing them. They have an arrogant "USA, USA" patriotism that supports an interventionist and militaristic foreign policy. They lust for the blood of foreigners by supporting bombing, drone attacks, torture, and indiscriminate killing. They make foolish statements like the military is defending our freedoms by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. They blaspheme God by asking him to bless and protect U.S. soldiers.

I realize that I am making some serious accusations, but the truth is simply that most Christian warmongers don’t care whether there are Predator drone attacks against Afghan and Pakistani peasants as long as a Republican-controlled government gets to conduct the attacks.

June 23, 2011

Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking the Good War. His latest book is The Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his website.


Journalist’s Story Highlights Patchwork of Immigration Laws

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="An illegal immigrant is processed by sheriff's deputies working in Maricopa County, Ariz., on July 29, 2010. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)"][/caption]

by Marian Wang ProPublica,

In a first-person story [1] in the New York Times Magazine this week, journalist Jose Antonio Vargas confessed his status as an undocumented immigrant, bringing renewed attention to the ever-simmering, never-solved issue of immigration reform. The account is garnering plenty of attention—and scrutiny [2]—for Vargas.

But less noticed amid the chatter is how the piece highlights the United States' hodgepodge of immigration laws.

For instance, Vargas named a number of close mentors who helped him in matters related to his legal status. Under recent immigration laws passed in Arizona, Georgia [3] and Alabama [4], the provision of such help—specifically, harboring or shielding undocumented immigrants—has been criminalized. (Key parts of Arizona’s law were blocked by a federal judge [5], though this particular section wasn’t one of them.)

A number of states also recently passed laws expanding the use of E-Verify—a mostly voluntary [6] Homeland Security program that lets companies check the eligibility of prospective employees.

In his account, Vargas writes that he had concerns about being identified through E-Verify, but that he always managed to land on payroll anyway. It’s unclear whether any of his employers ever ran him through the system, but it’s also not guaranteed that he would have been detected if they had.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the program “accurately detects the status of unauthorized workers almost half of the time [7].” Immigration advocates have opposed the use of E-Verify, arguing that it’s ineffective at identifying undocumented workers and that mistakes could cause U.S. citizens and legal workers to be denied employment.

Most states don’t require employers use E-Verify. But a number of states have made checks mandatory—sometimes with surprising results.

Georgia’s recently passed law requiring businesses to run employees through E-Verify hasn’t even gone into effect yet, but has already left the state’s agricultural industry in a lurch—with a sudden shortage of workers and millions of dollars’ worth of rotting crops [8]. Here’s what AFP reported [9] today:

But as the full cost of the immigration reform emerges in the form of an estimated millions of dollars worth of crops rotting in fields, it could alarm other states that have passed or are considering similar strict measures.

Georgia labor officials estimate a shortage of some 11,000 workers in the agriculture sector, and the state has enacted a program where people on probation, who often have difficulty finding jobs, are sent into the fields.

Whatever the problems with the program, more states are signing on. South Carolina’s governor is on the verge [10] of signing a bill that requires businesses to run employees through E-Verify and penalizes them for knowingly employing undocumented workers. Arizona’s law requiring E-Verify was upheld by the Supreme Court [11] last month. North Carolina has an E-Verify bill in the works that exempts agriculture companies [12].

The immigration bill-writing bonanza by the states could still run into trouble in federal courts. Judges in Indiana and Georgia still have to rule [10] on whether those states’ new immigration laws can take effect next month.

Another federal judge in Utah has to decide whether a law passed last month in Utah—which was temporarily blocked [13] because of its resemblance to Arizona’s—should be permanently blocked.

President Obama has said that immigration system needs reform but that he won’t accept “a patchwork of 50 states [14]” acting on their own to address the issue. As we noted last year, the Obama administration has deported illegal immigrants in record numbers [15] even while immigration courts across the country—which face record backlogs—have been dismissing more deportation cases.

Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton released a memo authorizing the agency to exercise “prosecutorial discretion [16]” [PDF] in the enforcement of immigration laws and prioritize the types of individuals it should take action against. “The agency is confronted with more administrative violations than its resources can address,” Morton wrote.

According to the memo, ICE officers, agents, and attorneys should consider an individual’s manner of entry and age of entry, pursuit of education, military service, criminal history, family relationships and other factors when making enforcement decisions.

At the moment, it’s unclear what authorities will do about Vargas, a prominent figure whose admission that he violated the laws of a broken immigration system will no doubt provoke strong feelings on both sides of the debate. Since giving his account, Vargas has publicly pushed [17] for passage of the federal DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who seek to go to college or serve in the military, or who had been brought to the United States at a young age. His attorneys have said that he knows “there are no guarantees [18] about what comes next.”


Bank Errors Continue to Cause Wrongful Foreclosures

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)"][/caption]

Four years into the foreclosure crisis, banks say they've made major improvements in how they handle struggling homeowners. They've promised, for example, not to foreclose on homeowners who are being considered for mortgage modifications. But that's still happening.

Consider the cases of Laurie Pinkerton and Lisa Peterson. The two women, both Californians and Bank of America customers, had been assured by the bank that they wouldn't lose their homes before they'd been evaluated for a possible modification. Both had their homes sold last month.

Such cases are particularly senseless, because simply modifying the mortgage by reducing the monthly payment might be in the interest not only of the homeowner, but also of the investor who owns the mortgage. Both Pinkerton and Peterson said their homes were sold after foreclosure for far less than they're worth.

Regulators have done little to stop the practice, and the "problem appears to be getting worse," said Kevin Stein, associate director of the nonprofit California Reinvestment Coalition [1].

Last month, the coalition surveyed 55 foreclosure-avoidance counselors throughout the state. Collectively they serve thousands of borrowers every month. Almost all of the counselors, 94 percent, reported having worked with clients who'd lost their homes while under review for a modification. About half of the counselors reported this happened "often." This year's totals, which are due to be publicly released next week, are higher than those in the group's survey last year [2].

Regulators have acknowledged the problem but have so far stopped short of solving it, say borrower advocates. More than a year ago, ProPublica reported extensively on how the banks' inadequate systems were causing wrongful foreclosures [3].

This past April, the federal banking regulators released "consent orders" with 14 of the largest banks [4] requiring various improvements in their handling of mortgages and foreclosures. Prior to the orders, the regulators had not had clear rules on how the banks should handle modification applications. Among the new requirements, banks will now be forbidden from actually selling a home before a final decision is made on a modification. Also, if a homeowner is approved for a modification, the foreclosure process is supposed to stop. The new requirements will go into effect later this summer.

While those are necessary requirements, regulators took a "huge step backward" by not explicitly forbidding banks from pursuing foreclosure at all until a final decision has been made on a mortgage modification application, said Alys Cohen of the National Consumer Law Center.

The administration's mortgage modification program, which offers incentives to encourage modifications, has that requirement [3]. But that program is voluntary for the banks and has been hobbled by lax oversight [5]. What's more, over two-thirds of modifications occur outside of the program.

Federal regulators have the power to require all banks to make a decision on a modification application before moving to foreclose, but they've simply chosen not to.

Allowing the banks to pursue foreclosure while the modification process plays out hurts homeowners in multiple ways. First and foremost, there's the hazard of actually losing the home to foreclosure because of bank error. The two homeowners featured in this story show that this continues to be a real danger, especially in states like California where the bank doesn't need to go to court to foreclose. It's also just confusing and unnecessarily stressful for homeowners. Finally, in a foreclosure homeowners actually get billed for bank costs, such as paying for a bank's lawyers.

Instead of outright forbidding banks from pursuing foreclosure while they're considering homeowners for a modification, regulators have asked the banks to explore whether it's a problem. The orders ask the banks [6] to "conduct a review to determine whether processes involving past due mortgage loans or foreclosures overlap in such a way that they may impair or impede a borrower's efforts to effectively pursue a loan modification."

The primary regulator for the biggest banks is the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which has been much criticized for failing to crack down [4] on banks' foreclosure failures. Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the OCC, said that the orders addressed the "situations that were most confusing to the borrower" and that the issue would be revisited at a later time when regulators draft new, comprehensive standards for the industry [7]. When asked whether regulators were deferring to the banks on the issue, he said they were not deferring, because regulators would have to approve whatever conclusion the banks came to.

Two homeowners' tales

Although Pinkerton and Peterson live about 450 miles apart, they've had strikingly similar experiences with Bank of America.

Both contacted the bank before even missing a payment to see what steps to take, because they'd taken a hit to their income. Both say Bank of America employees told them they'd have to fall at least three months behind to be considered for a modification (advice that is both inaccurate and frequently given [8]). Reluctantly, both did so.

As a result of missing payments, both soon found themselves facing foreclosure. But at least the modification process had begun, too.

Of course, it went slowly. Like millions of other homeowners [8], they waited months and months for an answer on their modification applications and sent in the same documents over and over again. Despite sending in those documents, both were told at one point that they'd been denied because they hadn't sent in the required documents (another extremely common problem [9]).

Finally, last month, both had their homes sold at a foreclosure auction, despite the assurances of Bank of America employees that that wouldn't happen until they'd received a final answer on their application for a modification.

"The next thing I know, a guy is knocking on my door saying his boss is at the courthouse buying our house," said Peterson.

What makes foreclosure particularly unnecessary in both cases is that Pinkerton and Peterson had made a point of telling the bank they had the means to bring the loan current even if they didn't get a modification. And unlike many Californians [10], both had the option of selling the home to pay off the mortgage because their homes are worth more than they owe on their mortgage.

"I never received any letter saying you're denied," said Pinkerton. "If that would have been the case, I would have borrowed the money and went and paid it current." Her family had offered to help, she said.

Both errors are particularly hard to undo because Bank of America can't simply give the houses back: The bank sold both homes to others. In order to get the homes back, the bank would have to essentially convince the new owner to sell the home back. In a case we reported on last year, JPMorgan Chase paid about $20,000 [11] above the purchase price to the buyer of a property the bank had mistakenly sold.

At this point in the two stories, the homeowners' paths diverge.

After complaining to everyone she could think of, Pinkerton was contacted by a Bank of America employee who said he worked in the bank's office of the president. He told her he'd work to get the sale reversed. Regardless, Pinkerton was evicted from her home last week.

"I've spent thousands of dollars moving that I didn't have," she said.

As recently as Wednesday, the Bank of America employee told her he's still working on her case.

Bank of America spokesman Rick Simon said the bank was researching whether a mistake had been made. "To the extent it is determined that mistakes in the process contributed to the mortgage reaching foreclosure, the bank will work with Ms. Pinkerton to explore viable and appropriate considerations, which may include rescission."

Simon also noted that Pinkerton had been sent letters in March and April saying that she'd canceled her application for a modification.

Pinkerton said she'd never asked to cancel her application, and when she called Bank of America to ask about the letters, she was told to disregard them. She did once reject a modification offer, but that was because it would have significantly raised her monthly payments. She says a Bank of America employee told her to appeal the offer because it had erroneously calculated her income at twice its actual level.

Peterson has been more successful. After the foreclosure sale, she made a number of frantic calls and finally got a bank employee to admit there'd been a mistake, she says. But nothing could be done about it, she was told.

After being contacted by various employees who said they'd been assigned to help resolve the matter, but who then couldn't be reached, she eventually hired an attorney.

Earlier this month, Bank of America rescinded the sale and returned the title to Peterson.

It's unclear whether the bank paid a premium to the buyer of Peterson's property in order to get it back. Bank of America's Simon said, "We continue to work on resolution of remaining third-party issues."

In general, Simon said such mistaken foreclosures "have been relatively rare, compared to the volume of defaults and foreclosure activity in today's economy." Across the country, about 4 million mortgages are currently more than three months delinquent.

"Any problem in this regard is of tremendous concern, and we have put additional checks and practices in place to further limit the possibilities," he added.

To Peterson, the lesson from her experience is clear. "This system is broken," she said. "You can't trust what the bank tells you."



By Fr. Jones

Cults first turned heads earlier this year with the release of their Go Outside 7”. Hailing from Brooklyn, the band seemed to disappear into anonymity for several months before announcing their self-titled first album would be streaming on NPR before it’s physical release June 7. The result is a collection of hard-edged sweetness punctuated by the echoey, Siren-esque vocals of Madeline Follin to go with Brian Oblivion’s fuzzy guitar hooks- as well as a xylophone cameo and the usual Pep Rally percussion. It can be easy for the sounds of Post-Homage to get cheeky in a hurry. Just ask The Raveonettes- whose potential seems currently stunted by the lo-fi distorted self-awareness that followed their successful debut- 2008’s Lust Lust Lust. Cults, however, is an exercise in wistful innocence with nary a wink or nudge.

An addictive blend of indifferent brood/rock laced with powdered sugar, Cults’ self-titled debut album feels as if it was recorded in a haunted drive-in theater. It reinvents the wide-eyed harmonies of 1960s Midwestern Americana by eerily adhering to ancient principles within a modern era- the results are as toe-tappingly wonderful as they are sinister. The listener anticipates a casual 21st century self-referential irony with this type of genre exercise. Yet the band refuses to break the fourth wall. Instead they indulge the darkness beneath the seamless facade- all the while with a straight-faced effervescence. Cults is an album that rewards those who listen closely (eg -the origin of the album samples preceding “Go Outside”, the vague sense of restless edginess which sneaks it’s way into Follin’s vocals). This is substance over style- only the substance is a fierce commitment to style, leaving the listener with a ghostly vision of meta-nostalgia. And if that sounds convoluted for an album full of sockhop ditties, it’s okay- because Cults have sugarcoated their ambition in accessibility. With a tone so faultlessly Malt Shoppe/The Archies that it becomes almost Lynchian, Dirty Beaches’ Badlands would be an ideal double feature.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Vocal Booth hip hop review

By KingPin

Welcome to the Vocal Booth.  Hope all is well with you guys out there as the weather is heating up.  As a DJ (Live/Mix tape/Radio), music/concert promoter, former employee of the varied record stores in town, and still a vast collector of audible treats (with over 5000 albums at my disposal); the Vocal Booth & CCP aim to inform you of all things existing and entertaining. Music is such an integral part of our lives and it deserves proper placement amongst things we hold dear.  Since it is summertime and the family outings are kicking off, here is the perfect summertime play list to upload to your Ipod or burn to a CD.  A huge ‘SALUTE’ to Columbia City Paper for the continued opportunities; this paper is definitely the standard.  Let’s get it!!!!



1) DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime (Code Red)

2) Isley Bros.—Summer Breeze and/or Caravan Of Love (Greatest Hits)

3) Kid Rock—All Summer Long (Rock & Roll Jesus)

4) MAZE—Before I let go (Greatest Hits)

5) Biz Markie – Spring Again (The Biz Never Sleeps)

6) Fat Boys & Beach Boys- Wipe Out (Greatest Hits)

7) Sly & The Family Stone – Hot Fun The Summertime (Greatest Hits)

8) Bill Withers & Grover Washington – Lovely Day (The Best of)

9) Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg—Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang (The Chronic)

10) Marcia Griffiths – The Electric Slide /Cha Cha Slide/Cupid Shuffle/Wobble (Various)

11) Ice Cube – It Was A Good Day (The Predator)

12) Outkast—So Fresh, So Clean (Stankonia)

13) Mariah Carey & Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Fantasy (Day Dream)

14) Tag Team – Whoop There It Is (Greatest Hits)

15) Roy Ayers- Everybody Loves The Sunshine (The Best of)



Fight The Power: Hip Hop Film Series featuring 9th Wonder (formerly of Little Brother) taking place JULY 1ST, 2011 @ The Columbia Museum of Art P.O. Box 2068 Columbia, SC 29202/ 1515 Main Street (803) 799.2810



Enjoy all that you can out there…Be safe!!! DJ Kingpin


Live music dates

06/16/11 :: Thursday

Cafe Strudel

Haley & Kristen - Fiddle Jam


El Burrito

The Packway Handle Band


The House 5 Points

Gimme Hendrix

New Brookland Tavern


Your Chance To Die

Thrown To Belial





Open Mic w Brett Mello


The White Mule

Phil Yates w/ Philip Hamrick, & Rev. Freakchild


Friday June 17


Cafe Strudel

Big Dixie


New Brookland Tavern

5:30Lost In The Middle

Broken Innocence

Solar Tide

9pm Velvet Jonez

Grand Prize Winners From Last Year


Chad L.


Tin Roof

Heavy Sole



Jellyroll & Delicious Dish



Saturday June 18


Art Bar

Gritz, Pan, Tor Johnson


Cafe Strudel

Juice Box


New Brookland Tavern

Columbia Quad Squad’s

Rockabilly Derby Prom

w/ the Capital City Playboys


The White Mule

Delnora Reed (early show) w/ tba


Sunday June 19


House in Five Points

DB Bryant & Friends


Monday June 20


New Brookland Taverm

Acoustic Showcase


Tuesday June 21



Open Blues Jam w Vic Scaricamazza


The White Mule

Ingram Hill w/ Justin Trawick


Wednesday June 22


The White Mule

Composer John Lane and John Cage


6/23/11 :: Thursday


Cafe Strudel

Charles Walker Band


Keith Urban

Colonial Life Arena


New Brookland Tavern

Sun-Dried Vibes

Tyler Boone


Ned Derrett & the Kindly Gents



Thursday, June 23, 2011


The White Mule

The Honeycutters


Friday June 24


Cafe Strudel

Ten Cent Poetry


New Brookland Tavern






Mike Mahoney& Doug Pritchett


06/25/11 :: Saturday


Art Bar

Today The Moon, Tomorrow The Sun

Mean Wiener

Cooter Scooters

The Dirty Lowdown

New York Disco Villains


The House 5 Points

The Supervillains

Lefty at the Washout






The White Mule

Taylor Moore w/ TBA


Monday June 27


New Brookland Tavern

Acoustic Showcase


Tuesday June 28



Open Blues Jam w Vic Scaricamazza


Wednesday June 29


Cafe Strudel

Traye Horne - Full Band





Thursday June 30



Open Mic w Marv Ward


Friday July 1

Washed Out

Coma Cinema

New Masses



John Scollon & Bitteroot


07/13/11 :: Wednesday


The Farewell Drifters

The White Mule


07/17/11 :: Sunday


Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit

Jonny Corndawg

The House 5 Points


08/20/11 :: Saturday


Rush of Fools

Colonial Life Arena




What Exactly Is the War Powers Act and Is Obama Really Violating It?

by Marian Wang, ProPublica

President Obama is facing a swell of bipartisan criticism [1] for continuing military engagement in Libya without congressional approval. Even supporters of the Libya intervention have complained [2] that the administration is flouting the law.

So, is it?

Well, the president is certainly sidestepping the controversial law known as the War Powers Act, but in doing so he’s following a well-worn path.

The Vietnam-era law requires the president to seek approval from Congress after 60 days of military engagement. The law was passed in 1973 after the United States fought the Korean and Vietnam wars without actual declarations of war. But it’s always been controversial. (President Nixon actually vetoed the law, but Congress overrode him.)

According to a 2004 Congressional Research Service report, “every President since the enactment of the War Powers Resolution has taken the position that it is an unconstitutional infringement [3] on the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief.”

President Obama, in defending the legitimacy of the Libyan operation, hasn’t actually made that argument. On Wednesday, he submitted a report to Congress [4] arguing that his administration isn’t in violation of the act at all, despite the fact that the 60-day deadline for congressional approval of Libya operations came and went in May.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has argued that the United States’ “constrained and limited operations” in Libya “do not amount to hostilities [5]” because the United States doesn’t have or intend to place soldiers on the ground and has not sustained the casualties typical of such hostilities.

The United States in April pulled its cruise missiles and attack planes out of combat in the NATO-led Libyan mission [6], though it still has them on standby. It’s currently providing support such as aerial refueling, surveillance and reconnaissance, according to the AP.

Speaker of the House John Boehner has said the White House’s stance “doesn’t pass the straight-face test [7].”

President Obama is far from alone in finding creative ways around the War Powers Act. As the New York Times has noted [8], the Clinton administration continued the bombing campaign in Kosovo past the 60-day deadline, arguing that Congress had implicitly approved the mission when it approved funding for it. (The Act specifically says that funding doesn’t constitute authorization, the Times notes. And Obama wouldn’t be able to use that reasoning anyway—the administration is using existing funds for the Libya mission.)

Clinton’s successor, President George W. Bush, did request—and receive—a resolution of support from Congress for the Iraq war, but Bush also made clear that his compliance with the War Powers Act didn’t mean he agreed with the act’s constitutionality. Here’s what he said [9] [PDF], as quoted in a Congressional Research Service report:

As I made clear to congressional leaders at the outset, my request for congressional support did not, and my signing this resolution does not, constitute any change in the long-standing positions of the executive branch on either the President’s constitutional authority to use the Armed Forces to defend vital U.S. interests or the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution.

While presidents have long inveighed against the act, lawmakers have just as frequently invoked it, often as a political weapon.

This week, a bipartisan group of 10 House members—a combination of Republicans and antiwar Democrats—sued the Obama administration this week over the War Powers Act. But the move may be little more than symbolic. As NPR notes, lawmakers have never successfully used [10] the War Powers Act to end any military mission, and in 2000, the Supreme Court refused to touch the issue when lawmakers complained about Kosovo.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that many of Obama’s critics seem a bit conflicted about the legitimacy of the act. As Politico has reported, Boehner—who sent a confrontational letter [11] to the president this week—actually voted to repeal the law in 1995 [12]. In 1999, he called it “constitutionally suspect [12].” Boehner’s spokesman said the speaker has an obligation to honor existing law “regardless of his personal views.”

But Boehner’s also been unclear about whether Obama is even violating the act. Two weeks ago, Boehner said that “technically,” he wasn’t [13]: “Legally, they’ve met their requirements [14] [under] the War Powers Act,” he said of the administration.

(On Libya, Boehner has said that the United States “has a moral obligation [15] to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression and self-government for their people” and called Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi’s actions “unacceptable and outrageous.”)

As the House ups the ante on the War Powers Act, Sens. John Kerry and John McCain are advancing a bipartisan resolution to support the U.S. role in Libya. (McCain, a Republican, has criticized Obama administration’s reasoning as “a confusing breach of common sense [16].”)

As we’ve noted, the Obama administration has sought to downplay [17] its role in the Libya conflict since it began in March—though there’s been some mission creep [18]: The Obama administration originally said that the goal of the intervention was not regime change in Libya, but it has since suggested that its measure for success will be Qaddafi’s departure [19].




Tradition over Education

By Will Moredock

Mick Zais plays one to the grand stands

The Palmetto State Pathology has many symptoms: poor public education, low personal income, high rates of poverty, crime, divorce, infant mortality, violence toward women and children, among other things. But all of these symptoms have one origin: a world view among the majority white population focused on past resentments and indignities, incapable of facing the world as it is, rather than the way it was or might have been.

We saw a stunning example of this old thinking recently when State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais took South Carolina out of the competition for up to $50 million in federal grant money for public schools. That $50 million is part of a $200 million pot of money the U.S. Department of Education is handing out to help reform some of the lowest-performing state school systems in the country. South Carolina certainly qualifies.

The money is allocated under a federal education program called Race to the Top. The state applied for one of the Race to the Top grants under previous state superintendent Jim Rex, a Democrat. Zais, a Republican, campaigned last year against South Carolina's participation in the Race to the Top program. The white people of the state elected him and Zais made good on his word. He walked away from millions of dollars that might have supported teachers, schools and students in this woebegone  state.

People outside South Carolina probably have a hard time understanding this decision, but I suspect it is popular enough among Zais' supporters. It hearkens back to the day two years ago when then-Gov. Mark Sanford tried to reject federal stimulus money, even as the state floundered in 10-percent unemployment.

Zais justified his decision, saying that taking federal education money was tantamount to taking “pieces of silver in exchange for strings attached to Washington.” This is strange logic, indeed, coming from a retired Army general who spent his career taking orders from Washington.  Zais' career also includes a stint as president of tiny Newberry College in the Upstate. His resume does not reflect any experience in public education.

By contrast, his Democratic opponent in last fall's election was Frank Holleman, a Greenville attorney who served as the deputy U.S. secretary of education helped found the state's First Steps to School Readiness program.

Also at the national level, he worked in the Government Accountability Office's Expert Panel for K-12 Education, and was a member of the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. Holleman understood the value of good connections in Wasshington.

Holleman has called Greenville his home for more than 30 years. He and his wife are graduates of Furman University. His children are products of S.C. public schools. Yet, during the fall campaign his opponents turned his experience against him. In true South Carolina form, they cited to his his “years in Washington,” as a point of suspicion. (Years of experience in Washington never seem to diminish the appeal of Republican  politicians. See: Thurmond, Strom.)

What Zais did with the Race to the Top funds was cynical beyond words, yet it is what white politicians have done in this state for generations. When it is convenient, they will readily disparage federal money as corrupt and manipulative. It is a charade that dates back at least to the New Deal and it elicits strains of pride among whites, who still revere the idea of secession and belligerence toward Washington.

I call it a charade because the same politicians who spend their careers denouncing and denigrating everything that emanates from the national capital would dance of their Confederate granddaddy's grave for the opportunity to go to Congress. And white voters who support those politicians who spurn federal stimulus and education money will reelect another politician who “brings home the bacon” to build a popular road, airport or bridge (See: Ravenel, Arthur)

And Zais' cynicism has an even darker side. Sure, many white voters will support him for turning down that evil federal money, but the money was intended to help children and children don't vote.  Zais pulled a grandstand play with little down side and I am sure he will remind his white supporters of it at the next election.

What were the federal “strings” that were so onerous that they made tens of millions of dollars unpalatable to the superintendent of education? He didn't specify, but it is hard to believe that running schools the Washington way could be any worse than they way we have been doing it for the last 140 years.

As Andy Brack wrote Statehouse Report: “Maybe we need these so-called government strings. Why? Because what’s been happening so far with us at the bottom of education lists hasn’t been working out that well.”

But that's tradition and in the Palmetto State, tradition trumps all.

Mr. Meaner's Crime Watch

Subjects are innocent until proven guilty, this is not a court of law.


A young woman popped but just couldn’t stop and was caught trying to smuggle two containers of Pringles out of Wal-Mart. The juvenile was stopped and detained by store security after exiting the shop with the contraband chips. The items were returned to the store and the juvenile was later released to her aunt, who was a little ruffled. (5/31/2011) 110015948


A police officer noticed a man walking in the middle of the road even though there was a perfectly good sidewalk for him to walk on. The officer gave the man a citation and found some marijuana on him and booked him on possession. What does he think this is a free country? (5/27/2011) 110015566


Ever heard of drive thru rage? A woman became furious after two young ladies took too long in a McDonalds drive thru, walked up to their vehicle and began a “verbal altercation.” When they asked her to return to her car, she tried to hit them through the windows. She then got a shovel out of her car and threw it at their bumper. When the ladies left the drive thru, they claimed the woman was still following them. We’d hate to see what she does if she doesn’t get a toy in her happy meal. (5/27/2011) 110015518


A man called police claiming there were black men on his porch wielding guns. When the cops arrived, the man confessed to hitting his wife several times, though his wife said she got some good shots in too. Considering she outweighed him by about 50 pounds, we believe her. Another man appeared and said, “Why’d you hit my sister? I’m going to kick your fucking ass.” When the officers tried to arrest him for fighting words, he ran into the couple’s house while his hefty sister barricaded herself in the doorway, allowing the man to escape out of the back of the house. Both the man and the woman were arrested, but here’s to hoping those crazy kids stay together. (5/26/2011) 110015392


A man was lying in bed when someone started shooting at his home. He was struck in the forehead by something, bullet or otherwise, and was transported to Richland Memorial Hospital. A witness said he saw a red compact car with the passenger side taped up fleeing towards Gervais Street after the shots were fired. So if you see a car like this, don’t lie down because they really hate that. Guns don’t kill people, it is the great access to bullets in America. (5/26/2011) 11001546


The custodian of Jehovah Baptist Church on Frye Road noticed that someone had stolen three air conditioning units worth $7,000 each and two copper lids worth $25 each from the side of a building owned by the church and called police. Looks like sinners won’t be the only ones burning up this week. (5/27/2011) 110015663

29205 A woman has accused a maintenance man of stealing her laptop, throwing the top of her blender on the floor and messing up her blinds while he was in her apartment painting over a patch in the wall. The woman noticed the misplaced blender top and blinds when she entered her apartment but did not notice anything missing and left. She returned later in the evening, noticed her laptop was missing and called the police.  We aren’t detectives, but don’t maintence men just use the front door when they steal shit?  (5/27/2011) 110015637

29205 A man started harassing a woman after she told him his ex-girlfriend wasn’t around. The woman told an officer that the man called her yelling and cursing after she told him the bad news, and kept calling even when she told him to stop. This asshole sounds like a real catch, wonder why they broke up. (5/27/2011) 110015603


The Taming of the Shrew

Glenn McConnell shows Nikki Haley who's boss

To bandy word for word and frown for frown;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.

William Shakespeare, “The Taming of the Shrew”

By Will Moredock

Say what you will about Nikki Haley – she has chutzpah. A year ago she was a backbench, second-term state representative, rarely heard of outside her Lexington County district. But something whispered in her ear that she could be governor, so she threw her proverbial hat into the ring, defeated three overwhelmingly favored political veterans in the GOP primary and went on to defeat an appealing and much more qualified Democrat in the general election.

Now Gov. Nikki Haley has outdone herself.

At the end of the legislative session two weeks ago, the senators and representatives headed for the doors, but the governor said, in effect, “Not so fast, boys.” She called them back into session, sparking a firestorm of politics and personalities not seen since Gov. Mark Sanford brought a couple of pigs into the Statehouse in 2005 to make a point about pork barrel legislation.

To be sure, the General Assembly left a lot of unfinished business, most importantly her government reform plan that would either reduce or eliminate the state Budget and Control Board, depending on which bill gets to her desk. In its place would be the new Department of Administration, which would be placed in the governor's cabinet.

The BCB is an archaic and unaccountable vestige of another day, a unique institution among the 50 states. Part legislative and part executive function, the CBC handles much of the day-to-day business of running the state. It should be put out of its misery and its functions turned over to the chief executive.

The Legislature was scheduled to reconvene later in June to wrap up the $6 billion budget and other bits of business, but in calling them back to Columbia the week after the end of the session, the brash new governor seems to have hit a nerve.

To be sure, she also had some admirers and supporters. House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) said he would bring his chamber back to session. Over in the Senate, things were not so simple. Haley's order flew in the face of the most powerful man in state government, the speaker pro tem of the Senate, the writer of tax law, the protector of the Confederate submarine, the champion of secession, the re-enactor of past glories and defeats. I speak, of course, of that inimitable Charlestonian and Republican, Glenn McConnell.

So incensed was McConnell at the governor's assertion of executive authority that he took the extraordinary step of filing suit in the state Supreme Court, challenging her power to convene the General Assembly. While House members prepared to return to Columbia and Republican activists publicly asked their senators to do the same, while newspapers editorialized that the Legislature should follow Haley's admonition and finish the work in front of it, while state Attorney General Alan Wilson affirmed that Haley did in fact have the authority to convene the Legislature, McConnell moved ahead in his effort to have the Supremes issue a summary judgment against the governor.

To the surprise of many, including your humble correspondent, he succeeded. The Supreme Court came back on June 7 with the decision McConnell sought. The question for many of us is why McConnell was so single-minded in his determination to block Haley. He demonstrated no such belligerence and intransigence when Gov. Jim Hodges called the Legislature back into session in 1999. And Hodges was a Democrat! If he was merely upholding a principle of the state constitution, get him to explain how he bent said constitution like a pretzel to procure the millions of dollars for the preservation of that damned Confederate submarine.

No, I think this was about something much more subtle than politics or even personalities. This was about the king of the good old boys defending his power and prerogatives against the encroachment of a woman who didn't know her place. McConnell would have challenged her eventually on some issue. But what could be more visceral or straightforward than the question of who has the authority to call the Legislature into session?

This is not necessarily to defend Nikki Haley. With the removal of Darla Moore from the University of South Carolina board of trustees, she demonstrated a reckless use of power in her own right. Indeed, one observer has called the Haley-McConnell contratemps an example of dueling arrogance.

And at the end of the day neither Haley nor McConnell had addressed our decrepit, inadequate tax code, our failed and underfunded school system, our collapsing infrastructure and a hundred other problems that plague this state. But at least we know who has the biggest cajones in Columbia.


Following a master plan

Opinion by Paul Blake

Developers Ron Swinson and Stan Harpe have finally found a master plan that works. The City of Columbia settled a lawsuit with the developers of Five Points South for $350,000. The developers sued after the city lowered the amount they were willing to pay for a parking garage, which would have been part of a six-story retail and condo project.

H.R. Developers, owned by Harpe and Swinson, has been in high level talks with city officials since at least 2007, with the idea to build a multi-level shopping, parking, and residential structure in Five Points at the corner of Blossom and Saluda Streets. The City of Columbia, under its original plan, would have put up $1 million to finance a public parking garage in the structure. The Five Points Association (FPA) petitioned the city to create a new zoning classification specifically for large scale, mixed residential/retail development –the project’s MX-1 zoning category didn’t exist until the FPA began pushing for it in 2005 (it was approved by unanimous vote in 2008). The city eventually backed out of the public parking portion and neighborhood associations balked at the height of the structure. After sinking a few years and millions of dollars into the project, Swinson and Harpe decided to build a one story structure that now houses a Walgreens.

H.R. Developers bought the former Kenny’s Auto site on April 10, 2007. Nearly two years to the day later, it appeared they intentionally delayed a zoning hearing to await the ousting of an opposing zoning official. After investing all that time, money and effort, Stan Harpe happened to be out of town on April 14, 2009 when it came time for an important zoning board vote.

The week following the April 14 Board of Zoning Appeals deferral, representatives of the FPA quietly met with H.R. Developers. (Strangely, the developers were in town and cleared their schedules for that meeting.) The association then conducted a board member vote endorsing the Walgreen’s project, despite the structure being 40 percent larger than the guidelines they set forth in the original master plan, despite an unassuming Rite Aid a few blocks from the proposed site and despite the fact that an oversized corporate drug mart is anything but “local,” “funky,” or “eclectic.” Former FPA president and Future Five development mastermind, Dennis Hiltner, and former city councilwoman, Anne Sinclair, also attended the closed-door board meeting.

Why did H.R. wait until the week of April 20 – the week after their April 14 zoning hearing – to schedule a summit meeting and vote with the FPA to shore up support? Wouldn’t they have wanted that cheerleading section at the original hearing? Unless they had planned to miss the April 14, 2009 meeting all along.

In lieu of the original master plan, perhaps their Plan B was to sue and settle with the City of Columbia at a later date. Oddly, H.R. didn’t have a written contract with the city, so there was no reason for the city to settle this case.

The developers were upset with the public outcry over the project and it seemed they didn’t care what took its place.  There was pure arrogance from the Five Points Association with an attitude of, “Since you complained, now you get a Walgreens!”

Meanwhile, they didn’t even warn Walgreens that their new store would be ankle deep in water every time it rained.

Considering the state of the condo market and the various new condo projects in Columbia that remain empty, the concerned citizens did them a favor by blocking the project. But it looks as though Harpe and company had a plan to make their money.

As I wrote in 2009, “It’s a shame that zoning officials can’t be elected. Instead, they’re hand-picked by development friendly city council members –one of whom, Daniel Rickenmann, received campaign donations from a fundraising party Stan Harpe’s wife hosted in his honor and whose real estate dealings with H.R. Developers and the former owner of Kenny’s Auto raised eyebrows during the last municipal election.”

Once again Columbia, such observations fall on deaf ears and the same modus operandi will continue.


Regional Briefs

By Todd Morehead


Jail nurse in hot water for hummer

A nurse at the Charleston County jail is facing charges stemming from allegations that she gave out more than prescription medication to an inmate awaiting trial for murder.

According to sheriff’s investigators, a nurse named Angela Marie Smith, 33, asked to use a room to talk privately to a few inmates. However, one particular inmate was in the room longer than the others, an incident report states. When Detention Officer Danielle Francis opened the door to check on Smith, she told investigators that the inmate was exposed and he quickly covered up. Smith, Francis alleged, was “possibly performing oral sex.”

Smith has been charged with first-degree sexual misconduct with an inmate and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted. So far, the inmate has not been charged.


Baked toddler narrowly avoided

A Clover woman is facing possible prison time after she allegedly left a 1-year-old child unattended in a car with no ventilation while she went grocery shopping.

According to the Rock Hill Herald, Mary Jolley Brown, 35, left her toddler girl strapped into her car seat in the back of a Suzuki while she shopped for groceries at Food Lion.

The doors and windows were closed, the vehicle was not running, and outside temperatures were 87 degrees, according to the report. Witnesses flagged down police who were able to remove the toddler. Brown faces charges of unlawful conduct toward a child.

Brown told police she simply forgot her child was in the car.


Beach construction could harm marine science area

A beach restoration plan set forth by wealthy seaside landowners and recently approved by DHEC could hurt research at a marine science laboratory, critics of the plan say.

Gov. Nikki Haley has said that she wants to cut DHEC red tape for businesses and appointed a brand new DHEC board when she took office. In its first major environmental decision, the board voted unanimously to let property owners in the affluent, gated Debordieu community build metal walls in the ocean to trap sand for their private beaches.

The walls are supposed to protect around $20 million worth of oceanfront property while likely increasing erosion downstream at the North Inlet estuarine research reserve.


Man in giant ice cream cone suit attacked by teen

A 16-year-old will face charges in York County Family Court following an alleged attack on a mascot for an area ice cream shop.

A Marble Slab employee dressed as the store’s giant ice cream cone mascot, “Slabbie,” was reportedly waving to passersby in front of a nearby Dick’s Sporting Goods store when the teen pulled up in an SUV, tackled the giant cone to the ground, and then sped away.

The person inside the suit reported no major injuries.


Craiglist deal ends in vehicular assault


A 44-year-old man contacted police after a man who agreed to buy his iPhone 4 on Craigslist got a little squirrely when they met in person.

According to the Rock Hill Herald, the men met at a pizza restaurant to make the transaction. A man wearing all black met the seller and handed over an envelope containing what appeared to be money. While the seller tried to inspect money, which later turned out to be fake, the buyer hopped into a Mitsubishi Montero and attempted to flee the scene. When the buyer tried to stop the vehicle, the suspects drove off and hit him.

The police report stated that the envelope contained five fake $100 bills. So far no arrest has been made.


Naked man arrested for haranguing Irish pub

Spartanburg police arrested a North Carolina man for running naked through a restaurant district.

According to the Spartanburg Herald Journal Kenneth Burke, of Bladenboro, N.C. was charged with indecent exposure after police were dispatched to the scene. Burke had allegedly been streaking near Delaney’s Irish Pub on West Main Street. Responding officers witnessed Burke race over to a pick-up truck and climb in. Police dragged him from the truck, arrested him and clothed him before hauling him to jail.


Future: YALL

Review by Fr. Jones

Future: YALL is a compilation concept album produced out of Columbia, South Carolina with the goal of unifying talent to create one, distinct voice. Combining themes of post-modern innovation and Dystopian rebellion, it features sixteen different up-and-coming musical artists from the southeastern region- including Pan, Cassangles, Coma Cinema, Forces of a Street, Death Becomes Even the Maiden, The Dirty Lowdown, and more. Tune into the Columbia Beet Friday, June 17th for an exclusive interview and performance from Forces of a Street where they will discuss their role in the development of Future: YALL and the first of hopefully many Future: YALL shows beginning this Saturday at Art Bar featuring Pan and Tor Johnson. Both digital downloads and physical copies are currently available. You can hear the entire album and learn more about the contributing artists at All tracks are available via pay-what-you-want download at  The future is now, Columbia.  Embrace it.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Battles Gloss Drop

Review by Fr. Jones

When it comes to Battles, the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not losing their innovative frontman, Tyondai Braxton, to a solo career will have an irreparably damaging effect. It’s been four long years since the release of their 2007 epic debutMirrored- and any hype Gloss Dropcarries with it has been built primarily on the undeniable strength of this album and how the band will respond sans Braxton. An audacious hybrid of explosive post-rock and sonic texture,Mirrored was a daring, exciting experiment, largely successful due to their frontman’s role as central tether.

The good news is that Gloss Drop is it’s own dynamic affair with several tracks far superior to anything on Mirrored. Beginning with “Africastle”, the listener is in familiar territory. All of Battles’ signifiers are well-represented- the tight, driving rhythms, the foreboding atmosphere, the playful time signatures. The first half of the album is highlighted by “Futura”; a relentless force of a track that insists upon itself in the best possible way for over six minutes. Gloss Drop is endlessly provocative in the ambitious sense- yet it also retains the user-friendly comfort that Battles fans will relish.

It is admittedly an odd combination that the band pulls off quite well. The bad news, however, and it’s only slightly bad, is that Braxton’s absence can be sorely felt in sporadic places- most notably, the album’s second half. As the various guest vocalists pile up (and they are remarkably varied- Gary Numan, Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, Boredom’s Yamantaka Eye among others), there are moments where it seems Gloss Drop may have worked better as an EP. Subtle hints- especially on the albums midsection- indicate the band is scrambling to bulk up the material. But if Battles occasionally spins their wheels, they regroup with album closer “Sundome”- a roundhouse kick of a tune that infuses calypso influence and tribal sounds with the customarily dynamic percussion and chord progression all garnished with a tasteful, electronic flourish. It is one of the best songs they have ever done and a powerful reminder that, while Braxton may be irreplaceable, so is the entity that is Battles.

Order it now.

Atari Teenage Riot and Is This Hyperreal?

By Fr. Jones

Returning to an established artistic medium after a lengthy absence has always been a dicey move. Look no further than the Guns n’ Roses Chinese Democracy disaster or the cinematic stain known as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Time both heals and nurtures collective opinion- but it facilitates expectations as well. This is why these audience reengagements tend to fall flat on their face. It’s hard to discern what an audience wants from what an audience thinks it wants. Memory is tricky that way.

Take Rage Against the Machine, for example. I’ll never forget that feeling of unstoppable exhilaration I experienced when first listening toBattle of Los Angeles. I was excited, I was angry, I was fiery, I was sixteen. Years later, when Rage comes on the radio, I do not so much listen to the music as I recall the feeling. For five minutes, I wax nostalgic- not even processing the aural explosion of “Bulls on Parade”. For all intents and purpose, the music is dead to me and technically, that feeling of unabashed youthful initiative is dead too- but the memory of that feeling lives on.

This is no longer art that is- it is art that was in every way the past tense can be applied. We live in an age of rapid cultural acceleration. The best forms of iconography travel with you through life, periodically dropping in at various personal touchstones- offering a new, fresh perspective while still maintaining that familiar warmth; but, honestly, this doesn’t happen often. This is the main reason why lengthy absences are such a gamble. The art needs to keep the consumer at arm’s length as much as possible. If the consumer is allowed too much autonomy with personal recollection, the artist is facing the insurmountable obstacle known as relative memory.

We need to miss our music or films while still resting assured that they will return in a timely fashion. The problem with iconic comebacks is that the rebooted product usually ends up a half-baked collection of ideas. Iconic influence can approach mythical status in the ability to marinate over time. However, removed from its generational context, a once-forceful piece of art can suddenly seem dated and quaint. And when the artist in question attempts to rehash this material, it becomes quickly irrelevant. The next thing you know, people begin asking each other,“Why did we even like this in the first place?” Walking the tightrope between nostalgia and pertinence usually ends with the artist providing a lot of everything but not much of anything.

Which brings me to Atari Teenage Riot and Is This Hyperreal?- their first album in more than a decade. When I first listened to Atari Teenage Riot years and years ago, I was puzzled at the addictive nature of this unintelligible noise. 1997’s The Future of War was an auditory cyberpunk assault of distorted electronic loops, driving bass lines, and painful screams of political protest.

This was a signature sound so unique, fresh, and unapologetically 90s that it was near impossible to determine whether or not you actually liked it- for fear of any negative remarks merely being the result of “not getting it”. Unfortunately, the band sounds exactly the same fourteen years later on Is This Hyperreal?.

All of the well-worn elements are present in attendance (except of course Carl Crack who died of a drug overdose in 2001)- but what was once hypnotic in its audacity has now become boring and dare I say, irrelevant. Additionally, acts such as The Knife and Crystal Castles have wonderfully refined this genre of kitschy digitalism- a natural development that Riot opts to ignore. With such a huge gap in their catalogue- 1999’s 60 Second Wipeout was the last studio release- Atari Teenage Riot was afforded the luxury of an entire new cultural zeitgeist to cultivate for ideas and influence.

However, Riot blatantly disregards this zeitgeist en route to a full-bodied embrace of dated social expressions. The whole affair is completely interchangeable with any of their other material from the mid-to-late 90s. The only problem is that the world has taken giant cognitive leaps in self-awareness since 1999. We have been a Pre-9/11 world, a Post-9/11 world, and are now venturing into the beginning stages of a Post-post 9/11 perspective where individual privacy is ultimately phased out under the guise of self-choice. America’s mindset, in particular, has gone from fearing the enemy who hides within to fearing the enemy from afar to basically fearing the unknown in just twelve years.


I don’t think we could have given Atari Teenage Riot more material for a comeback album if we tried. With this taken into account, the whole exercise feels fairly insignificant- and more than a little frustrating. Furthermore, by reverting back to their outdated tricks, the band all but forces the listener to indulge in nostalgia if they wish to actually enjoy the album. However, if there was one era that is not ready for the ironic, wistful, nostalgic treatment, it is the self-satisfied, VR-obsessed, hacker culture of the mid-90s and it’s neon visions of cyberparanoia prophesied in films like Hackers and Virtuosity.

Perhaps Riot’s fanbase will applaud the band for refusing to abandon their roots and ideals- and I suppose there is some merit to that. But it’s hard to take Riot’s anger and resentment seriously when one stops to realize that all the Clinton-era, post-Punk, fist-shaking became passé once those planes hit the towers. In hindsight, the fury of the unaware seems quaint. In the present, it’s pretty ridiculous.

Super 8 Review

In 1977, director Steven Spielberg made a film called “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” which explored the mystery of extra-terrestrial beings. Now almost 35 years later, Mr. Spielberg teams up with director J. J. Abrams to give us the world of “Super 8”. Combing the love of making a movie, the paranoia of the 1970s, and aliens, we get a wonderful little film that far exceeds expectations.

The plot of the movie surrounds a small town in suburban Ohio during the summer of 1979. Here, we center on a group of kids who are making their own little zombie flick so that they can enter a local film festival. On particular night of filming, the group witnesses an account of a train exploding right before their very eyes. Soon, the local army comes in and tries to make everything look like as if nothing had happened. The kids, however, try to discover the mystery behind this unusual train crash that leads to a being from another world.

“Super 8” is an amazing movie that needs to be seen. The reason behind this is because of how good the production values are. For one thing, the cast is perfect, making the actors and actresses be believable and the performances outstanding. The direction from J. J. Abrams results in some of the best tense moments to ever be put on film. Yet what really makes this movie shine is the setting of the entire production. The location that all the action takes place in really captures the atmosphere of the 1970s. Speaking of the 70s, the film captures the paranoia that was happening of the time, mostly having the United States come out of Vietnam, and letting people be aware that some terrible force of evil is coming. This movie provides a lot of great moments including young filmmakers who want to make it to the big league with their student film. Everything stands out very well here, making this film a perfect movie to enjoy.

The only negative aspects that I can say for “Super 8” are the build-up leading to the main sections of the film and the alien that is revealed. The amount of time we get to where the main action takes place happens nearly 10 to 15 minutes into the movie, and that kind of turned me off as I was hoping for the action to have a slower start. The other thing that I can criticize the movie for is the way the monster is detailed. I’m not going to spoil anything right now, but let’s just say that the creature effects could have had a better design to them.

Overall, “Super 8” is a great movie that puts you back to a time when movies were actually creative. This film has it all, great cast, great direction, and most of all perfect location for a science fiction movie. I recommend this to anyone who loves sci-fi films and the chance to be creative with something.

Written by


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Movie times for weekend of June 17

Movie Times for weekend of Friday June 17.

Nickelodeon Theatre

937 Main Street, Columbia, SC 29210


Hollywood comedy director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) gets contemplative in this documentary, which finds him conversing with prominent philosophers and spiritual leaders about what ails our world and how we can improve it. Traveling the globe to conduct his in-depth interviews, Shadyac finds insights and inspiration from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, historian Howard Zinn, philosopher Noam Chomsky and other luminaries.

JUNE 17-23, Friday-Thursday

Friday, June 17 - 3:00, 6:00 and 8:00

Saturday, June 18 - 3:00, 6:00 and 8:00

Sunday, June 19 - 3:00, 6:00 and 8:00

Mnday, June 20 - 6:00 and 8:00

Tuesday, June 21 - 5:30** and 8:30

Wednesday, June 22 - 3:00, 6:00 and 8:00

Thursday, June 23 - 6:00 and 8:00

Regal Clumbia Cinema 7

3400 Frest Drive Suite 3000, Clumbia, SC 29204

Green Lantern new! (PG-13, N Passes)

12:10 2:45 5:20 7:55 10:30

Green Lantern 3D new! (PG-13, N Passes)

11:40am 2:15 4:50 7:25 10:00

Mr. Ppper’s Penguins new! (PG)

11:30am 2:00 4:30 7:00 9:30

The Hangver Part II (R)

11:50am 2:30 5:00 7:35 10:10

Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG)

12:30 2:40 5:05 7:40 9:50

Kung Fu Panda 2 3D (PG)

12:00 2:10 4:35 7:10 9:20

Bridesmaids (R)

1:50 4:40 7:30 10:15

AMC Dutch Square 14

800 Bush River Rd., Clumbia, SC 29210


Carmike Wynnsng 10

5320 Frest Drive, Clumbia, SC 29206

Judy Mdy and the Nt Bummer Summer new! (PG)

12:35 4:05 6:30 9:00

Super 8 new! (PG-13)

12:45 1:30 3:40 4:25 6:40 7:25 9:25 10:10

X-Men: First Class (PG-13)

12:30 1:00 1:30 3:30 4:00 4:30 6:30 7:00 8:00 9:30 10:00

Pirates f the Caribbean: n Stranger Tides (PG-13)

1:45 5:15 9:00

Pirates f the Caribbean: n

Stranger Tides 3D (PG-13)

Disney Digital 3D

1:15 4:45 8:30

Jumping the Brm (PG-13)

1:10 4:10 7:10

Something Brrwed (PG-13)

12:45 4:10

Thor (PG-13)


Fast Five (PG-13)6:50 9:50

Regal Clumbiana Grande Stadium 14

1250 Bwer Pkwy, Clumbia, SC 29212

nt available

Carmike 14

122 Afton Court, Clumbia, SC 29212

Green Lantern new! (PG-13)

12:30 1:30 3:30 4:30 6:30 7:30 9:20 10:15

Green Lantern 3D new! (PG-13)

Digital 3D

12:00 1:00 3:00 4:00 7:00 10:00

Mr. Popper’s Penguins new! (PG)

12:15 1:15 2:35 3:45 4:55 6:10 7:15 8:45 9:30

The Hangover Part II (R)

12:10 12:45 1:40 2:50 3:45 4:45 6:20 7:20 8:30 9:10 10:10

Bridesmaids (R)

1:05 4:05 6:50 9:45

Jumping the Brm (PG-13)

1:35 4:40 7:25 9:05

Water for Elephants (PG-13)

1:10 4:10 7:05 9:50

Sul Surfer (PG)

1:20 4:20 6:45 9:15

The Lincln Lawyer (R)

1:25 4:10 6:55 9:40

Regal Pastime Pavilin 8 929 Nrth Lake Drive, Lexingtn, SC 29072

Green Lantern new! (PG-13)

2:30 7:30

Green Lantern 3D new! (PG-13)

12:00 5:00 10:00

Mr. Popper’s Penguins new! (PG)

12:10 2:20 4:40 7:00 9:20

Judy Mody and the Nt Bummer Summer new! (PG)

12:40 2:50 5:10 7:20 9:40

Super 8 new! (PG-13)

12:20 2:45 5:15 7:50 10:25

X-Men: First Class (PG-13)

1:00 4:30 7:40 10:20

The Hangover Part II (R)

12:50 3:00 5:20 7:45 10:05

Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG)

2:40 7:10

Kung Fu Panda 2 3D (PG)

12:30 4:50 9:30

Pirates of the Caribbean: n Stranger Tides (PG-13)

1:10 7:15

Pirates of the Caribbean: n Stranger Tides 3D (PG-13)

4:20 10:10

Regal Sandhill Stadium 16

450 Twn Center Place, Clumbia, SC 29229

Green Lantern new! (PG-13)

12:00 1:40 2:40 5:20 6:40 7:10 8:10 9:30 11:00

Green Lantern 3D new! (PG-13)

11:30am 2:10 4:20 4:50 7:40 10:00 10:30 11:30

Mr. Ppper’s Penguins new! (PG)

11:20am 11:50am 1:50 2:20 4:30 5:00 7:00 7:30 9:20 9:50

Judy Mdy and the Nt Bummer Summer new! (PG)

12:05 2:25 4:45 7:05 9:35

Super 8 new! (PG-13)

11:25am 11:55am 1:30 2:00 2:30 4:10 4:40 5:10 6:50 7:20 7:50 9:40 10:10 10:40

X-Men: First Class (PG-13)

1:15 4:15 7:15 10:15

The Hangver Part II (R)

12:10 2:45 5:15 8:00 10:45

Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG)

DP (Digital Prjectin)

1:55 6:55

Kung Fu Panda 2 3D (PG)

11:40am 4:35 9:15

Midnight in Paris (PG-13)

11:45am 2:05 4:55 7:35 10:05

Pirates of the Caribbean: n Stranger Tides (PG-13)

1:25 7:25

Pirates of the Caribbean: n Stranger Tides 3D (PG-13)

4:25 10:25

Bridesmaids (R)

11:35am 2:15 5:05 7:45 10:35

Thr (PG-13)

1:10 3:50