The Demise of Dylann Roof

Bravo, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel and the South Carolina jury, for giving Dylann Roof an appropriate sentence for his crime.  Roof, who identifies himself as a white supremacist, was on a mission to start a race war by killing nine innocent people who were quietly praying.

Dylann Roof was convicted in December on 33 counts by the federal government. Today, he was sentenced to death and the families could give impact statements. Roof apparently stared straight ahead, refusing to look them in the eye. Perhaps that shows some kind of decency, but at first blush, it sounds very cowardly.


Everyone knows the story, but here goes: Roof showed up at AME Emmanuel Baptist church in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine strangers, including some senior citizens, were kind enough to invite him to join them. He sat with them for an hour. When they rose to pray, he opened fire with his .45-caliber Glock and killed:

  • Rev. Clementa Pinckney
  • Rev. Daniel Simmons
  • Susie Jackson
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
  • Depayne Middleton-Doctor
  • Cynthia Hurd
  • Myra Thompson
  • Ethel Lance
  • Tywanza Sanders

Nobody ever imagined that Roof could be innocent. He freely admitted his guilt and said his motive was to spark a race war. What he could ever have gained from that is unclear, but he has shown no regret over his actions.

A journal he kept after being arrested reads, “I am not sorry.”


Let me throw out an unconventional idea. Many crimes are senseless and cruel but I am not completely satisfied with the “race war” explanation. It does not ring true. No one is ever going to look at this crime and say, “I see where he’s coming from.” No, this is a crime that unites black and white people in sorrow and revulsion. Dylann Roof may not be too sharp, but he probably isn’t that stupid. What I’ve been wondering – I’m being sincere – is whether he might be possessed by some demon or malignant spirit.

I still remember those families coming forward and forgiving him. I’ve never seen anything like it. I respect them enormously but Can’t imagine that kind of forgiveness.

I worried that Roof, the 22-year-old mass murderer, would be shown some kind of extra consideration because of his young age. But the judge and jury wisely agreed to condemn the defendant.

I do feel bad for Dylann Roof’s family, who are also victims, as they will lose their son/brother/nephew. They will still be able to see him as he sits on death row though, and they can take some time to come to terms with his demise. That’s more than these victims and their families got. Nevertheless, they said they love him but are bewildered by his cruelty “which caused so much pain to so many good people.”

The families of criminals are invisible to us, but sometimes they are good people who are horrified and ashamed by what has taken place. Some, like Roof’s family, will (eventually) lose their loved one, too. Because of their association, it’s hard to muster sympathy and there is sometimes a degree of anger directed at them, too. But they are suffering, too.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott commended the jury and wished “closure” for the surviving victims and the families. It’s a kind thought, but let’s be real. What could help these people move on? A murder conviction? A death sentence? After all, as Melvin Graham said today, “My sister is still gone.”

No, we will do what we can to bring justice, but it isn’t fair to ask these people to ever move past this moment.


What in the World is the Obama Administration Doing?

Soon-to-be-former President Barack Obama has been busy. He sprints through the final days of his term like a bargain basement, determined to have something significant Trump can’t undo. To that end, the president has devoted last week to bridge-burning with our allies.

It began when a UN resolution was passed that condemned Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The U.S. historically vetoed anti-Israeli bills like these but they didn’t this time. No explanation for the about-face on U.S. policy was given to the public, but Secretary of State John Kerry gave Israel a patronizing lecture that contained a few clues. “You can be Democratic or you can be Jewish, but you cannot be both,” he said. Note: This is the only documented instance of John Kerry saying anything interesting on record. Who cares if it’s nonsense?

Planned talks for a 2-state solution collapsed two years ago, and it didn’t trouble Obama until last week. His refusal to stand by Israel is more likely a byproduct of his icy relationship with Netanyahu.


No bromance here

Trump sent a tweet calling Kerry a traitor and inexplicably referring to him as “the worst import from Vietnam”. He appeared with Don King for a mini-press conference (because why not?), and the boxing promoter waved small U.S. and Israeli flags. Trump said relatively little about Kerry except his speech “spoke for itself.”

The Israeli government responded quickly: “We have ironclad information that the Obama administration really helped push this resolution and helped craft it.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Secretary Kerry of supporting terrorism, which was unfairly harsh. Kerry doesn’t originate ideas or map out strategies. His only skill is reading in grave, statesman-like tones; he probably thinks the West Bank settlement is a condo community in Georgetown. 

Seriously, I don't know anything. But I look just like Andrew Jackson, right?

Seriously, I don’t know anything, but I look a lot like Andrew Jackson.

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The Origins of Barack Obama’s Madness

In the twilight of President Obama’s term, I’ve been vaguely worried he might have a surprise or two up his sleeve. Not so much flowers and tax relief. More like one last black eye from your soon-to-be-ex. A parting gift, if you will. I’m sorry to be proven right. I’m even sorrier I underestimated the extent of his hijinx.

With the final weeks of this president’s term winding down, each frigid day is punctuated with a string of ill-advised statements and poorly-thought-out actions, courtesy of the Obama administration. I want to share a key point about Barack Obama first, to give you an idea of what is driving him. It doesn’t make his actions any wiser but it’s good to know:

As the US and our allies watch uneasily, the outgoing president has stepped up his already infamous use of executive actions, to take increasingly serious steps, some with global consequences, without the advice or consent of anyone. Who needs other perspectives? The official term for this phenomena is midnight regulations, or laws created unilaterally by an outgoing president. Maybe these regulations are called “midnight” because the concept won’t bear close inspection. Too much examination would be sure to outlaw them.

Nostalgia has set in, and Obama can’t resist returning to his favorite character: the finger-wagging moralist lecturing the masses on ‘the right thing to do’. Midnight regulations are the perfect complement to executive actions, lest any skeptical person think they are at liberty to determine for themselves what the right thing to do is.


The president is stretching these regulations far beyond their limits. Why? The GOP leadership created a lot of unnecessary hostility between themselves and the president; they treated Obama shabbily, swearing to vote down anything the Democrats advanced, which is just ridiculous.

You can’t blame him for feeling angry at this unfair treatment but when they went low, Obama went even lower. He didn’t make an extra effort to gain allies in Congress as every other president has. Instead, Obama simply cut Congress out of the process, using executive action to pass whatever he wanted and saying bluntly, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

Because of the friction with Congress, the majority of President Obama’s important actions, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), i.e., Obamacare, were passed through executive action. Note: a small piece of the ACA did go to Congress, but the majority was passed via executive action, under a very broad umbrella of budgeting legislation. Because stuff costs money, right? Trillions, in this case.

The Heart of the Issue

The founders were very clear about the separation of powers, and passing law through Congress, as prescribed in the Constitution. To safeguard the country against a president ruling like a king through executive orders (much as the president has done), there is a clause: anything passed by executive action can be repealed by executive action.

Everything important Obama did as president was via executive action. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal all of Obama’s executive orders.

It's me again!

It’s me again!

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