Friday, July 31, 2020




A MONTH IN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC



Welcome, blog reader. Today is Friday, July 31, 2020. This is an appropriate moment to look back over the month of July and try to get some perspective on what is happening in our collective lives. Perhaps this will help us make some sense of the many dramatic changes swirling all about us. We are in a difficult period of history, to say the least. What are we to make of it all? 


Let us begin by dividing the crises into categories although the are inter-related and overlapping. It will still help us to separate them. I see four crises for all Americans: pandemic, economic, social, and political. For people in lower South Carolina, there is a fifth crisis to be endured, that of the Episcopal Church schism and its aftermath. Let's look at what has happened in each of these five areas in the month of July taking one at a time. 



PANDEMIC. According to this morning's data from Worldometers.com, reported cases of COVID-19 in the world increased from 10,613,037 on July 1 to 17,511,607 on July 31. This is an increase of 6,898,570, or 65%. In other words, the pandemic has spread by two-thirds in the month of July 2020. Reported deaths in the world also increased from 514,615 to 677,540 in the month. This is a rise of 162,925, or 32%. Thus, deaths increased by a third in the month of July. 


America continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic in the world. The U.S. has by far the most cases and the most deaths of any country in the world. Reported cases rose from 2,727,996 to 4,635,226, an increase of 69%, or, more than two-thirds in the last 31 days. Numbers of deaths in the U.S. also climbed, from 130,123 to 155,306, an increase of 25,183, or 19%. This means that nearly 1,000 Americans died every day in July from the virus. 


The numbers for South Carolina are worse than those of the nation. Reported cases in SC jumped from 36,399 on July 1 to 87,572 on July 31. This is a rise of 51,173, or 140%. This means there were about two and a half times as many cases at the end of the month than at the beginning. Reported deaths in SC jumped from 739 to 1,667 in July, an increase of 928, or 125%. Clearly, the covid plague is running rampant in SC with no sign of relief. Charleston County continues to be the epicenter of the plague in SC. In the last two weeks reported cases there have jumped from 8,966 to 11,245. The state health department estimates the actual cases in the county as 80,321, or 20% of the population. Alabama is nearly as bad. Reported cases there in July jumped from 38,045 to 85,762, and deaths from 950 to 1,565. As in SC, the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in AL with no sign of slowing down. To be sure, the figures for SC and AL are minor compared to the astronomical numbers coming from south Florida which has become the world's hottest spot of the disease. 


What is the outlook for the pandemic? It will continue to spread exponentially until a vaccine appears and that, by all accounts, will not be before the start of next year. We have at least five months to go. After school resumes and fall arrives, we can expect the rates of spread and of death to increase. That was the pattern of the last great pandemic, Spanish flu, in 1918. By far the worse of it was in the last few months of the year. 



ECONOMY. The American economy is in its most precarious state since the Great Depression of the 1930's. Last quarter's figures, just released yesterday, showed the economy falling off a cliff, dropping by 34% at an annual rate, the worst decline since record keeping began in 1947. Twenty-one million Americans are unemployed now, another record since the Depression. The federal $600 supplement to unemployment benefits expires today. The rental eviction moratorium is also expiring. Thousands of businesses have closed, many permanently. Millions of ordinary Americans are about to be out of work, out of housing, and out of food. 



SOCIAL. Since the killing of George Floyd on May 25, America has seen massive public protests and demonstrations everywhere calling for racial justice and equality. Although these street actions have tapered off in recent weeks, there are still places of clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement officers. 



POLITICAL. President Trump and his administration have shown themselves to be incompetent at handling the various crises facing America. Indeed, there are ways in which the administration has worsened them. Trump's approach to the virus was, and still is, to treat it as a public relations issue. He first denied its existence, then minimized it for far too long. After recognizing it, he failed to produce a coherent, unified national response. Many of his followers also denied its existence, or seriousness, even to absurd lengths, e.g., the governor of GA filing a personal lawsuit against the mayor of Atlanta and city councilpersons for mandating the wearing of masks in public. 


Meanwhile, Trump has done virtually nothing on his own to help the collapsing economy. He did sign the emergency relief packages passed by Congress, with overwhelming votes, in March and April. We are now waiting on the Senate Republicans to support a new emergency measure. 


As for the social crisis, Trump is attempting to turn this into a reelection issue. He is using armed but unidentified federal forces against demonstrators in major cities, particularly Portland OR, under the guise of "Law and Order." This smacks of fascist use of secret police against the citizens. 


All of this adds up to a coming landslide defeat for Trump in the national election on November 3. It is his mishandling of the multiple crises in 2020 that is leading to his defeat. At the start of the year, the bookies in Las Vegas were giving big odds that Trump would be reelected. No more. Today, the bookies are wagering 60.9 for Biden and 36.9 for Trump. This would be a landslide defeat for Trump of historic proportions. The bookies of Vegas are not always right, but they usually are given that they deal in many millions of dollars. 


Seeing his coming overwhelming rejection by the American people, Trump is acting in panic mode. Just yesterday he floated the idea of "postponing" (cancelling) the Nov. 3 election. Even the Republican leaders, who typically fall in line, immediately shot down that notion. Trump is also carrying on a major campaign to de-legitimize the election results under the guise of mail-in ballot fraud. He has even appointed a close crony as head of the U.S. Postal Service who has installed a "slow-down" of mail delivery. This could invalidate countless ballots in November. There is a rising fear among his critics that his use of his secret police in Portland is rehearsal for November when he could use hundreds of thousands of federalized forces, not to mention calling out his civilian followers, who are not shy about brandishing assault weapons in public (as at the Michigan state capitol). If Trump employs any measure to try to cancel or overturn the election of Nov. 3, it will start a civil emergency the likes of which the U.S. has not seen since the Civil War, 155 years ago. 


So, here is my take on all of this. it is helpful to go back to the big picture. What we are seeing now is a natural disaster (pandemic) added on top of a clash between forces of democratic revolution and anti-democratic counter-revolution in America. This clash began in earnest in the 1960's when the nation started institutionalizing dramatic and sweeping reforms for the liberty, equality, and justice of social elements historically marginalized, especially African Americans, women, and homosexuals. Tremendous political, social, and cultural changes began to occur and are still occurring (as marriage equality in 2015). However, the old power structure, namely white men, was thrown off by these changes. Elements that felt most threatened coalesced to oppose the democratic revolution, particularly southern whites, white working men, and evangelical Christians. These moved into the Republican party which became the political base of the counter-revolution. This movement reached its height in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. His campaign was blatantly racist and reactionary. The threatened elements flocked to Trump as their saviour in the culture war that they knew they were losing. 


The problem is that Trump was a self-serving demagogue who only played on public fears to attain the highest office in the land. He had no political program behind the power other than allowing conservatives to roll back certain democratic reforms. From the start, he saw the presidency as a way of promoting his personal interests. This became glaring clear right away. The Mueller investigation indicated his dark ties with the Russians. Trump's supporters managed to elude that and cast aside the investigation (the Russian Hoax). Then came the impeachment on charges of attempted extortion of political rewards from Ukraine. Trump's Republican enablers in the Senate got him off on that one too. But then, on the heels of Trump's escape in the Senate, a virus of incredibly small dimensions appeared. Trump and his train tried to handle it the same way, as something to be controlled by public relations. This failed spectacularly and exposed Trump for what he was all along, an incompetent president. Not only did the Trump administration not provide a national policy, in ways it actually made matters worse. Sometimes this went off into truly bizarre and self-destructive ways, as injecting oneself with disinfectants and touting doctors who claimed that discredited drugs would cure COVID-19. As Trump's anti-science campaign spread, so did the virus. For months now, the U.S. has been the world's epicenter of the pandemic. This is a national tragedy. It appears to me that most Americans are now standing in judgment on Trump for his mis-handling of the coronavirus. They see him as not just incompetent, but an actual danger to the country. This is why he is about to see a huge rejection in November and is in a panic about it. He could not be brought down by Mueller, or impeachment. He is about to be brought down by a miniscule germ. Who would have imagined such a strange scenario? 


In South Carolina, there remains the aftermath of the Episcopal Church schism of 2012. In federal court, the schismatics are appealing to the court of appeals. I feel confident the court will uphold Judge Gergel. In state court, both sides have asked the SC supreme court to take the appeal of Judge Dickson's outrageous order of June 19 in which Dickson overturned the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 and substituted his own ruling in reverse. I cannot imagine the state supreme court not defending its own integrity. Common sense says the justices will reject Dickson's decision and will enforce the original SCSC order which recognized 29 parishes and the Camp as Episcopal property. Unfortunately, we all have to wait on tenterhooks, probably for months to come. Since everyone has already waited seven and a half years, what is a few more months? In my view, odds are strong that the Episcopal Church will wind up finally with both the old diocese and the bulk of the local properties. Why has all of this happened? It is part of the big picture---the reaction of anti-democratic forces against the great democratic revolution of the late Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. The schismatics in South Carolina refused to allow homosexuals and women to have equality and inclusion in the life of the church. They have already lost the war. What we are seeing now is rear-guard skirmishes. Human rights will win in South Carolina, just as in the rest of America. 


The great democratic revolution will prevail in South Carolina and the rest of America in the end. In fact, I think we are seeing the collapse of the anti-democratic reaction. America is rejecting Donald Trump and his kind of destructive politics. All signs indicate now that Trump will be crushed in a massive landslide in November. The Democrats stand to sweep the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. If this turns out to be true, it will be the "Gettysburg" of the clash between the democratic and the anti-democratic forces in America. I do not think it hyperbolic to emphasize the significance of this. We are approaching the great, perhaps final, showdown between the tectonic plates of American society that have been clashing for a half century. To say the least, it is interesting to see that Donald Trump will make this come about. However, no one expects him to go quietly. God only knows what else he will do as the election approaches and after it occurs. The big question is whether the people who have abetted and enabled his actions will continue to do so when the great moment of crisis appears, as it is almost certain to happen. 


Early in his presidency, historians and political scientists debated who was the worst American president. They worked it down to three, Andrew Johnson (for opposition to Reconstruction), James Buchanan (for failing to prevent the Civil War), and Donald Trump. The experts are no longer in disagreement. 


In conclusion, we are in a dark hour. We are enduring crisis on crisis. We are being put to the test. Our patriotism to America, our faith in Christianity are on the line. 


Through all this awful night, remember we are here for the living of this hour. This is our moment. As the late John Lewis would tell us, we must keep up the good fight, we must love one another. With this, we will reach a better world.

______________________________________



Peony Althea (Hibiscus syriacus 'Paeony Flora'). I planted this shrub eight years ago. It refused to bloom. Year after year, no flowers. All of a sudden, this summer it is loaded with dozens of the most beautiful blossoms. I have no idea why. The moral of the story is---do not give up. Nature, and God, move on their own time, for their own reasons, but ultimately to our benefit. Peace.    


Wednesday, July 29, 2020





ALARM IN CHARLESTON
with updates:
 July 9
July 10
July 11
July 12
July 13
July 18
July 19
July 29



July 8, 2020:
It is Wednesday, 8 July 2020, and time for our weekly review of the COVID-19 pandemic. To put it bluntly, it is time to ring the alarm in Charleston. Let's look at the data in our usual source, Worldometers.

Cases in the world continue to spread. In the last week (July 1-8), 1,367,223 new cases were reported for a total of nearly 12,000,000. This is a rising rate of 13%, the same as the last few weeks. There is no abatement of the spread in the world. However, this is very uneven as some countries are seeing declines and some the opposite. The United States continues to be the exploding epicenter in the world with twice as many cases as the next country, Brazil. On the other hand, most European countries have gained control over their cases. Since the U.S. has virtually no national policy on combating the plague, it is running rampant in America. There is no end in sight.

As for deaths in the world, there were 32,706 in the last week, a 6% rate, and down slightly over the last few weeks. Still, over half a million people have died of the disease in the world. The U.S. has by far the highest number of deaths. Remember all of this has happened in the last six months.

The figures for the U.S. show a rapid spread of the disease, at least in the southern and western parts of the country. Overall, the U.S. counted 369,542 new cases in the last week (July 1-8), for a rising rate of 14%. Both the numbers of new cases and the rate of increase are rising. (June 17-24, +216,007, +10%; June 24-July 1, +303,503, +13%).

While cases are spreading in America out of control, the death rate is actually falling. Last week there were 3,868 deaths, for a rate of 3%. This is a sharp decline from the previous week (June 24-July 1) of 6,647, 5%. The average numbers of deaths during the last week was about 500 per day. This is a significant drop from the height of deaths of 2,000/day several weeks ago. Speculation holds that the rise in new cases and decline in deaths comes perhaps from the spread among young people who are less likely to die of the disease.

Now we arrive at South Carolina. The plague is clearly out of control in the state, particularly in Charleston County. The state added 10,953 new cases last week (July 1-8) for a rising rate of 30%. Note this is more than twice the national rate. SC now lists 47,352 cases. At the first of June, a bit more than a month ago, SC had 12,000 cases. This is a four-fold increase in just over a month. In the last two weeks, the numbers have nearly doubled. Deaths in SC are also spiking. In the last week, the state reported 107 deaths for a total of 846. This is by far the worst week of the pandemic in the state. 

Charleston County is now the hottest spot of the plague in South Carolina. It did not start out that way. The first hot spot was Richland County, until it was overtaken by Greenville Co. No more. Charleston Co. is now listing the most cases in the state: 6,073. To put this in perspective, the leading hot spot in Alabama is Jefferson County (Birmingham). It has a population of 659,000 and 5,461 cases. Charleston Co. has about half the population (350,000) and 6,073 cases. This means COVID-19 has spread twice as fast in Charleston as in the hottest spot in Alabama, a dubious distinction.

For more details on the disease in SC, see the Post and Courier here .

What are the local officials in South Carolina and Charleston doing about the health emergency rapidly unfolding there? If they are doing anything at all, it is not apparent, and certainly not known to me. In fact, looking at the pictures from the Fourth of July weekend, nothing is being done to stop the spread of the disease. If no measures are taken to stop the spread, we can expect COVID-19 to continue to spread quickly across the state, and particularly the lowcountry. It is time to sound the alarm in SC. It is urgent.

Alabama is also seeing rapid spread of the disease. There were 7,740 new cases last week, for a total of 45,785. This is a rising rate of 20%. This is also cause for alarm. In the last month, the number of cases has more than doubled. There is also a high death rate. Last week, 83 people died in AL of the virus, for a total of 1,033. This is a steady rate of the last few weeks. As in SC, nothing is being done in AL to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease. In fact, both states are opening up more and more public places and planning to reopen schools next month.

The bottom line of the day is that COVID-19 is out of control in the United States, particularly in South Carolina and Alabama, indeed in all the lower south and the west. Yet, virtually nothing is being done by the authorities to stop the spread of the disease. While most of the rest of the world has gotten a handle on the COVID, the U.S. and the local states have apparently given up on any attempt to stop the disease. This is a national shame and disgrace. We the people of the United States should not accept this state of affairs. We should expect, and demand, more of our leadership. There is no time to waste.

I wish I had some good new to offer today, but I have not. As I see it, this is the time to sound the alarm. A few more weeks of this and we will see vastly worse conditions in our communities. Now is the time to act. For instance, now is the time to prepare the schools to return children but under the utmost of protection.

There are some things that we as individuals can do to protect ourselves. Anyone over the age of 60 and/or with underlying immune deficiencies should stay at home as much as possible. I am in that category. I go out in public only for necessities. When I took a trip recently to visit family in MS, I splurged for a private room on the train. The people in my household go to the grocery store once a week and other public places only by necessity. We always wear mask and gloves when in public. When help comes into our house, we require mask and gloves. The Episcopal churches of Alabama are still closed. We are awaiting word from the bishop on what to do after July 15 [News flash---Bp Sloan just announced churches will remain closed until at least 1 August.]. All of this is not easy. We miss our friends and our freedom greatly.

Finally, remember we are here for the living of this hour, as frightening and worrisome as it is. We are here for a reason. Let us honor it. Peace.


UPDATE. July 9, 2020:

As of the data early today, South Carolina added 1,557 cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. The total of cases in SC is now 48,909. Also, in the one day, 37 people died of the disease in the state bringing the mortality up to 884. Charleston County continues to surge. It added 264 new cases in one day to lead the state, with 6,337 cases. These figures show that the disease is continuing to spread more rapidly in SC, particularly in Charleston than in most parts of the U.S. At the present rate of spread, SC will see twice as many cases in a month.


UPDATE. July 10, 2020:

In the last 24 hours, SC added 1,782 new cases of COVID-19, for a total this morning of 50,691 in the state. Number of deaths is now 905. Charleston County continues to spike, and to lead the state in the infection rate. There were 362 new cases in the last day, for a total now of 6,699 in the county. Clearly, the disease is spreading quickly in South Carolina, particularly in the Charleston area (Jl 8=6,077; Jl 9=6,337; Jl 10=6,699). If the local authorities are doing anything about this, it is unknown to me.

SC now has the fourth worst outbreak of COVID-19 per-capita  of any place in the world. See this article for a sobering view of the pandemic in SC.


UPDATE. July 11, 2020:

In the last 24 hours, SC added 1,728 new cases of COVID-19, for a total this morning of 52,419. The number of deaths in SC is now 929. Charleston County continues to spiral upwards, adding 262 new cases in the last day, bringing the total of cases in the county to 6,961. In the last four days, the county has seen a 15% rise in reported cases (the state rise was 11%). At this rate, the number of cases in Charleston Co. will double in the next two weeks. The true number of cases is probably much higher. The state department of health estimates the actual case number in the county as 42,754. See their web site here for details on SC counties and ZIP codes. 

SC has one of the fastest moving rates of infections in the country, indeed in the world. The disease is out of control in the state. The worst of this is in the lowcountry. This situation is only going to get worse. National and local responses to this crisis are chaotic and obviously completely ineffective. Nothing is being done to stop the spread of this highly infectious and deadly disease. We are on our own. As for me, I wear face mask and gloves when I have to go out in public and I stay as far away from other people as possible. What else can we do? Our official institutions are failing us. This is a national humiliation.


UPDATE. July 12, 2020:

In the last 24 hours, SC reported 2,280 new cases of COVID-19, for a total this morning of 54,699. The number of deaths in the state is now 951, adding 22 in the last day. Charleston County continues to spiral upwards, adding 308 cases in the last day, bringing the total of cases in the county to 7,269. In the last five days, the county has seen a 20% rise in reported cases (the state rise was 16%). The state department of health estimates the actual number of cases in the county as 44,652. At the present rate of infection, cases of COVID-19 will double in Charleston Co. within the next 30 days.

South Carolina continues to be an epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. and the world as it has been for the past couple of weeks. Meanwhile, virtually nothing is being done by the authorities to stop the spread of this disease in the state.


UPDATE. July 13, 2020:

In the last 24 hours, SC reported 1,949 new cases of COVID-19, for a total this morning of 56,648. The number of deaths in the state is now 961, adding 10 in the last day. Charleston County added 283 new cases in the last day, bringing the total of cases in the county to 7,552. The state health department estimates the actual number of cases in the county as 46,395.

Today's numbers show a slight improvement in the spread of the disease in the state and Charleston County. However, these places remain unusually active for the spread of the disease.


UPDATE. July 18, 2020:

As of this morning, SC is reporting 65,857 cases of COVID-19. In the five days since July 13, this is an increase of 9,209 cases, +16%. The state continues to hit daily highs for both new cases and deaths. See the statistics in the Post and Courier here . Charleston County added 1,414 new cases in the last five days, bringing its total case count to 8,966. This is a 19% increase. Charleston Co. continues to be the epicenter of the disease in the state although Horry County is not far behind at 6,501 cases.

The White House coronavirus task force has declared SC to be in the "Red Zone" for the fastest spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. SC is one of 11 states with the highest per capita numbers of the disease. The task force recommended the Red Zone states roll back re-openings. 

Meanwhile, the SC governor called for the full reopening of schools in a few weeks. In response, bishops of six major denominations in SC have publicly opposed this. One was Bishop Andrew Waldo, of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper SC. Find an article about this here . This is important not just for the subject of the schools but also for community leaders to show some leadership in this time of crisis. The political officials have abdicated their responsibility to provide for the welfare of the citizens. They are doing almost nothing to stop the spread of this highly contagious disease. In fact, some of them (as gov. of GA) have politicized the virus response and are actively opposing other officials who are trying to show leadership. Therefore, it is necessary for non-political officers to fill the vacuum for the sake of society as a whole. Let's hope we hear more from the bishops of SC.

Bottom line---COVID-19 is out of control in SC and there is no sign of this changing in the foreseeable future.


Let us not give in to the darkness of despair in this unique time of fear and foreboding. Let us look for the light of God's presence all around us. We are here for a reason. We are here for the living of this hour. Peace.


UPDATE. July 19, 2020.

The pandemic numbers continue to spiral upwards. As of this morning, and according to Worldometers, the United States is reporting 3,833,715 cases and 142,881 deaths. South Carolina is now listing 65,857, a rise of 1,755 in one day. On the first day of this month, SC reported 47,352 cases. In the two and a half weeks since July 1, there were 18,505 new cases, a rise of 39%. SC is now reporting 1,135 deaths, up from 846 on July 1. The most alarming news of all is that SCDHEC, the state health department, is officially estimating the actual number of cases in SC at 481,421, or about 10% of the population of the state. If so, one in ten South Carolinians today has the coronavirus.

Charleston County continues to climb although not as fast. This morning Charleston Co. is reporting 9,093 cases and 86 deaths. This is an increase of 127 cases in one day. The SC health department estimates the actual number of cases in the county to be 64,950. With a population of 411,406, this means 16% of the people of Charleston Co. have the virus. The state is 10%, the county is 16%. Cases in Horry County also continue to rise, now at 6,563.

Of course, SC is not alone in the "Red Zone" of the pandemic. Florida is off the charts and in public health emergency mode, particularly in Miami-Dade. There are 337,569 reported cases in FL. Miami-Dade County is reporting 77,867 cases. Numbers in Georgia are nearly as bad. Alabama, another Red Zone state is now reporting 65,160 cases. On the first day of this month, AL listed 45,785 cases. In two and a half weeks,  cases increased by nearly 20,000, or 42% (SC was 39%). Clearly the southeastern states are experiencing a pandemic out of control.

These numbers are hard to take, but it is important that we know the truth. We individual citizens are really on our own in the face of this highly contagious and rapidly spreading deadly disease. Our political leadership is missing in action, in my opinion incompetent (they cannot even decide if we should wear face coverings!). In fact, some of the measures they are taking are actually making matters worse. It is a national humiliation that the richest and most powerful nation-state on the face of the earth is helpless in the face of a germ so small it is barely discernible. Many other nations have brought this virus under control, but not ours. We Americans, particularly we southerners, are in for a rough next few months at the very least.


UPDATE. July 29, 2020.

The coronavirus continues to spread although there are indications the rate is lessening in South Carolina. 

According to Worldometers, there are now 16,924,479 reported cases in the world, and 664,226 deaths. The United States is now listing 4,498,687 cases and 152,358 deaths. This is an increase of 664,972 cases in America, or +17% in the last ten days (July 19-29). U.S. deaths increased from 142,881 to 152,358 in the last ten days, a rise of 9,477 or +7%. This is a mortality rate of app. 1,000/day. At this rate, 200,000 Americans will be dead of COVID-19 within the next two months.

As for South Carolina, the state listed 48,909 cases twenty days ago (July 9), and 65,857 cases ten days ago (July 19). As of this morning it is reporting 84,109 cases, a rise of 72% in 20 days and a rise of 28% in 10 days. In death figures, SC jumped from 884 on July 9 to 1,135 on July 19 and 1,565 on July 29. This is a 77% increase in 20 days and 38% in 10 days. Clearly, the plague is spreading quickly in SC although the rate of increase is declining.

This is also true of Charleston County. Cases there jumped from 6,337 twenty days ago, to 9,093 ten days ago, to 10,906 today. This is 72% rise in the last 20 days and 20% in the last 10 days. The raw numbers are increasing but the rate of increase is falling. If there is a glimmer of "good news," in Charleston, this is it. However, the state health department estimates the likely number of cases in the county at 77,900, or 19% of the population. If this is true, app. one in five residents of Charleston County has the coronavirus. This is the "bad news" of the day.

Horry County is now the third "hottest spot" in SC, with 7,678 cases (or estimated 54,843) and 112 deaths. Numbers there continue to soar.

Alabama continues along the same general trajectory as SC. The state is now reporting 82,366 known cases, a rise of 17,206 in the last 10 days, or 26%. AL is now listing 1,491 dead, 356 more than 10 days ago, or 31%.

The official response to the pandemic continues to be a national humiliation. The virus is spreading like wildfire as people are dying by the thousands all around us, yet our federal and local authorities are unable or unwilling to meet the crisis. Many other countries of the world have gained control over this disease. Not the U.S. So, we Americans are really on our own in the face of this national health emergency. 

This is a hard time. We have crisis on crisis: the pandemic, economic, political, and social. This is a dark moment in American history, arguably the darkest since the Second World War. Anxiety, fear, and depression abound in our lives. We are at least five months off before a vaccine appears. Matters are going to get worse, much worse, as the days turn into weeks and months evolve in the year 2020. 

In this terrible time, it is easy to fall into despair and lose hope. We should not do that. I am a historian and a Christian, thus, by definition, on both counts, an optimist, although a realist about how difficult times can be. History does not move in a straight line. It moves in wild swings and the down periods can be terribly destructive and challenging. We are in a down period. This means history will swing into an up period. It is just a matter of time. That is the problem. We do not know the future. This is not given to humans. We do know faith, we do know history. Both tell us to soldier on faithfully and confidently into the future regardless of what it may bring our way. There will be a better day.   

Tuesday, July 28, 2020




EPISCOPAL CHURCH APPEALS

TO SOUTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT





On yesterday, July 27, 2020, the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal diocese filed an appeal of Judge Dickson's June 19 order with the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Church lawyers had earlier filed an appeal with the South Carolina Court of Appeals and a motion to transfer the appeal to the SCSC:


"Appellants [TEC, TECSC] previously filed a Notice of Appeal from these Orders with the South Carolina Court of Appeals...In addition, Appellants simultaneously filed a Motion to Transfer the appeal to this Court; that motion remains pending."
 
The Church lawyers pointed out in the paper yesterday that the other side had complained in their opposition to TEC's motion for a stay pending appeal that "any complaint about the Orders [Dickson's Order of June 19] would need to be appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, not the South Carolina Court of Appeals."
 
Since both sides want the appeal to go straight to the SCSC, it seems just a matter of time before the SC Court of Appeals agrees to the transfer.


It appears that this case is going back to the state supreme court. Is it possible that we will finally, at long last, get closure to all of this legal mess? 

Sunday, July 26, 2020





VIDEO OF THE DAY, JULY 26, 2020



On Thursday, 23 July, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave a speech for the ages on the floor of the House of Representatives. This has to be our video of the day. This 30-year-old rising star of progressive politics took her stand against mysogeny and abuse, for herself and for every other woman in America, in an eloquent retort to a colleague who reportedly called her a f****** b**** on the steps of the Capitol. He later made an "apology" on the floor of the House that only made matters worse. AOC has had enough of that kind of attitude and resolved not to take it any more. She called out her fellow Congressperson, Rep. Ted Yoho, on the floor of the House. No one recently has stood up for the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect better than AOC did this week. She spoke for all of us who strive for human rights, for liberty and equality. If you have not seen AOC's speech, I recommend it:




Wednesday, July 22, 2020





UPDATE ON FEDERAL COURT,
JULY 22, 2020



Today, July 22, 2010, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, submitted to the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, its response brief, in reply to the Episcopal Church's brief of July 1. This should end the filings in this appeal. Here is my summary of the papers in this case:


September 19, 2019. Judge Richard Gergel, of the United States District Court, in Charleston, issued a decision in the case of vonRosenberg v. Lawrence. This case had been filed in March of 2013. In it, the Episcopal Church bishop charged that the schismatic bishop was in violation of the federal Lanham Act that protects federally registered trademarks. In short, the breakaway diocese was claiming to be the Episcopal diocese even though it was not associated with the Episcopal Church.

Gergel issued a 73-page judgment heavily documented with supporting court decisions. The main points:

1-The Episcopal Church diocese is the heir of the historic diocese of South Carolina. This was settled by majority vote of the South Carolina Supreme Court (Pleicones, Hearn, Beatty) "and therefore is precluded from relitigation." As the heir of the historic diocese, the Episcopal Church diocese also owns the state registrations of the trademarks.

2-The South Carolina Supreme Court decision of Aug. 2, 2017 speaks for itself: "The Court therefore is bound by the Justices' actual holding on the ultimate issues..."

3-The Episcopal Church is hierarchical. Therefore, the court must abide by the decisions of the hierarchical church:  "this Court is mandated to accept as binding the decision of the highest ecclesiastical body in a hierarchical religious organization."

4-"The Episcopal Church" is a federally registered trademark and is not generic.

5-An Injunction against the disassociated diocese:  "the Court issues an injunction against further trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and false advertising."


Although the disassociated party, that now styled itself the "Anglican Diocese of South Carolina," did remove some titles from some places, particularly the Internet, they continued to refer to themselves as the historic diocese in clear violation of the Injunction. Therefore, the Episcopal diocese went to court asking for enforcement of the Injunction.


December 18, 2019. Judge Gergel issued a new order denying the ADSC's petition for a stay pending appeal. In the same order, he found numerous examples in which the disassociated party had violated the Sept. 19 Injunction and found them in contempt of court:  "the Court will enforce its findings of civil contempt at this time through an order enjoining the noncompliant acts described above." Gegrel concluded by enumerating a detailed list of terms, phrases, and actions that were banned under the Injunction.

ADSC did clean up a lot, but not all, of their infractions of the Injunction. Even so, I have found three examples recently in which the disassociated diocese still claims to be the historic, Episcopal diocese:  1-the Anglican church on Edisto Island claims to be "Trinity Episcopal Church," www.trinityedisto.com , find it here ;  2-the Anglican Diocese still claims to be "the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina" in an online pledge report of 2017-18, www.adosc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/17-18_pledge_report.pdf , find it here ;  3-Kendall Harmon, an officer of the ADSC, posted on his blog on July 14, 2020:  "Brand new TEC in SC Diocese's Motion for reconsideration in Lawsuit with Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is denied,"  www.kendallharmon.net/?p=94829 , find it here . Judge Gergel has already found ADSC in contempt of court one time.  


April 30, 2020. ADSC filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in its appeal of Judge Gergel's Sept. 19, 2019 decision. In this, the ADSC lawyers argued the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 did not mean what it said. They made three main points:

1-the disassociated diocese was the historic diocese and had legally left TEC intact; this meant they kept the rights such as state marks; 

2-"episcopal church" is a generic term and as such is not subject to trademark;  

3-ADSC did nothing in violation of the Injunction and should not have been held in contempt of court. 

These were points that had already been litigated. The lawyers offered only weak evidence to support them. 


July 1, 2020. EDSC filed a reply brief to ADSC's brief of April 30. This was really an elaboration of Gergel's original order that spoke powerfully for itself. The EDSC lawyers did not need to add anything new since the ADSC arguments were so weak and unconvincing.


July 22, 2020. ADSC lawyers submitted their reply brief to EDSC's reply of July 1. These were the main points they made:

1-the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 did not mean what it said. The correct reading of this decision left the All Saints decision as the standard, and that found in favor of the disassociated diocese;  

2-TEC is not hierarchical; and neutral principles must apply; 

3-"episcopal church" is a generic term;  

4-the disassociated diocese was not in contempt of court because it had followed the explicit instructions on marks.

 Along the way, the ADSC lawyers threw in all sorts of supporting material whether it was relevant or not:  its own interpretation of the SCSC decision, Judge Dickson's interpretation of the SCSC decision, the Diocese of Quincy case, and the Fort Worth case. In this layman's opinion, the ADSC case against Judge Gergel's decision is conspicuously weak and unimpressive. I did not see anything here that would lead the appeals judges to change Gergel's work at all.


Now, apparently this ends the preparations for the appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals. ADSC filed a brief. EDSC filed a counter-brief. ADSC filed a reply. After this, in all probability, a panel of three judges will proceed with the case. Since Judge Motz, Judge Wynn and Chief Judge Gregory signed the denial of a stay on January 14, 2020, I would assume they will be the three to decide this appeal.

As I understand it, the judges can do one of two things at this point: proceed to a decision or call a hearing. If they have a hearing, it will probably be online and will certainly be open to the public. If they hold a hearing, they would issue a written statement some time afterwards. Historically, this appeals court moves rather expeditiously. If there is a hearing, we could expect a decision within several months.

It seems undoubtful to me that the appeals court will uphold Gergel's decision. There are several reasons for this:  common sense understanding of what has already happened (the majority orders in the SCSC are plain for anyone to see); Judge Gergel's decision is masterful and is heavily documented with prior rulings of the Fourth Circuit itself; Gergel's decision is virtually appeal-proof; the ADSC arguments on appeal are thin, sometimes irrelevant, and do not convincingly refute anything Gergel said. Besides, the appeals court (Motz, Wynn, Gregory) have already ruled in this matter twice, both times in favor of the Episcopal Church side.

In an appeal, the burden is on the party making the appeal to prove its case. That has not happened here.

[My usual disclaimer: I am not a lawyer or legal expert, and what I offer here is only a layman's opinion.] 




NOTES --- JULY 22, 2020



Greetings, blog reader, on this Wednesday, July 22, 2020. The overriding news of the day is the continuing rapid spread of the coronavirus, particularly in South Carolina, now one of the hottest spots in the United States which is the world's epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rise of numbers in July is alarming. On July 1, three weeks ago, South Carolina listed 36,399 reported cases and 739 deaths. As of this morning, SC is listing 73,337 cases and 1,221 deaths. So, in just the last three weeks, the reported cases in SC have doubled while deaths have climbed 65%. The state health department is estimating the actual number of cases in SC at 522,150. This translates to 11% of the state's population. Clearly, the virus is surging out of control in SC.

Charleston County continues to be the epicenter of the disease in the state. In just the last two weeks, reported cases there have increased from 6,073 to 9,778, a 61% rise. However, the state health department is now estimating the actual case count in Charleston Co. at 69,843, or more than ten times the reported number. It is clear, the disease is spreading rapidly in the Charleston area, and quicker than in the rest of the state.

Of course, SC is not alone in this health emergency. Florida is now reportedly the hottest spot in the entire world. The disease is hopelessly out of control in south Florida where there are more cases and deaths in Miami-Dade than in most countries. In fact, all of the southeastern states, plus Texas, Arizona, and California are showing alarming increases in COVID-19. This month, Alabama jumped from 45,785 cases to 70,255, a 53% increase while death numbers climbed from 1,033 to 1,301.

The data show us that the pandemic is rapidly worsening, particularly in the southern tier of America. What are the national and local political authorities doing about this? Their response fluctuates between nothing and chaos. There is no national leadership. Much of our local leadership is equally incompetent. Even something as simple as a mask has become politicized. Something more complicated, as schools, is nothing but anarchy. It is clear that the pandemic will only worsen until we get a vaccine, and that will probably not appear before next year. We have at least six months to go. You can do your own figuring to see where this is heading and how things will look at Christmas.

Meanwhile, we Americans are facing an upcoming national election in just three and a half months. President Trump is up for reelection. He is the subject of the day, whether to give him four more years or remove him. The polls today are predicting a landslide defeat for Trump and his party. My theory is that times have changed and most Americans are rejecting Trump's peculiar form of divide and conquer politics. What worked four years ago will not work today. Four years ago there was no common enemy to force a diverse America together. Trump very cleverly exploited the divisions in American society, particularly racial, to bring out enough resentful voters to give him success in the Electoral College. Now, the mood of the country is different. The virus is the national enemy now and is forcing the country to unite in its deadly face. The country longs for strong leadership through this unique health crisis. 

Trump has provided none. In fact, he is resorting to the only approach he knows. He is doubling down on his politics of division, especially of race. The country is rejecting this, as reflected in the polls. His reaction is to take even more extreme measures. He is employing secret police, without identification and marked vehicles, to take control of well-known Democratically-controlled cities. This is shocking, not to mention unconstitutional. He has also said very publicly that he may not accept the results of the election. This means he is contemplating an attempt to void the election by use of power and remain in the White House. If this happens, the U.S. will enter its worst crisis since the Civil War. Trump's many critics see him, and not the virus, as the greatest danger to the nation.

We are in a dark hour. Let us not try to pretend otherwise. It is best to know the truth even if it hurts because truth leads to wisdom. In this awful night of darkness, we must not stumble into despair. In the darkest of times, there is always the hope, and expectation, of a better day. This is what our faith tells us. We need look no farther than the example of the late John Lewis for a life based entirely on the belief in a better day. I can assure you Alabama is a vastly different, and improved, place than it was eight decades ago when he was born to a sharecropper in the backwoods of southeastern Alabama.  

Sunday, July 19, 2020






THE STATUS OF THE LITIGATION,
JULY 19, 2020



Some important events in the litigation between the two dioceses are likely to occur this week or in the near future. This is an opportune moment to review the status of the legal war between the Episcopal Church and the historic Diocese of South Carolina (EDSC) on one side and the new Anglican Diocese of South Carolina (ADSC) on the other. After seven and a half years of litigation, it is easy to get lost in the trees and lose our way. 

There are three issues immediately at hand. One is whether Judge Dickson will issue a stay of his orders in his decision of June 19. The second is whether the Episcopal Church side's appeal of Dickson's Order of June 19 will go to the South Carolina Court of Appeals or to the South Carolina Supreme Court. The third is the response of ADSC to the EDSC side in the United States Court of Appeals. Let's take them one at a time.


STAY

In his decision of 19 June, Judge Dickson ordered that all 36 parishes owned their properties without trust control, that the Episcopal Church had no interest in the properties, and that a copy of the judge's order be filed in the courthouse of each county. The Church side asked the judge to reconsider his decision, but he refused (13 June). Immediately afterwards, on the June 13, EDSC filed an appeal with the SC Court of Appeals, and also filed a motion with Judge Dickson for a stay of his June 19 Order pending the appeal.

The EDSC lawyers made two main points in their request for a stay. One was that the SC Code of Laws called for a stay:

(Rule 241(a)): As a general rule, the service of a notice of appeal in a civil matter acts to automatically stay matters decided in the order, judgment, decree or decision on appeal, and to automatically stay the relief ordered in the appealed order, judgment, or decree or decision.

The other was timeliness, that the Anglican side could transfer, sell, or otherwise alienate the properties absent a stay.

Two days later, on June 15, the Anglican lawyers filed their response to EDSC's request for a stay. Their main argument was that the EDSC had improperly filed a notice of appeal with the SC Court of Appeals and that any complaint about the Orders would need to be appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, not the South Carolina Court of Appeals. 

Then, the ADSC lawyers made a curious point that they had no intention of transferring title of property at least at the moment. At first glance, this sounds as if EDSC does not need a stay because ADSC is not changing the property ownership. Actually, there is less here than meets the eye. The deed ownership was never the issue. From day one, the Episcopal Church said the parish held the deed of the property, but under conditions of the Dennis Canon. The Canon said the parish owned the property as long as the congregation remained in the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church and its local diocese were the beneficiaries in the trust imposed by the Canon on the property. If the congregation left the Episcopal Church, the ownership of the parish property would move to the Episcopal Church and its diocese. The issue was not the ownership of the deed but whether there was trust control on the property. The Episcopal Church said there was a trust. The breakaways said there was no trust in effect. 

Judge Dickson's Order of June 19 did not alter the deed ownership that remained with the parish. What it did say was that the Episcopal Church had no right to the properties and that a copy of the court order would be filed in every county where the properties in question were located. This is what the Church side wants to be stayed. They want to stop the judge's order from being registered in the courthouses. In their paper of June 15, the ADSC lawyers did not say whether they had filed the judge's order in the courthouses or if not, whether they would do so. They avoided the issue behind the smoke screen of no intention of transferring title of property, really an irrelevant point.

The next day, June 16, the Episcopal Church side filed a reply to ADSC's paper of the day before. They said they filed for appeal with the SC Court of Appeals because that is what the state code of laws required. However, they said:

Defendants [TEC/EDSC] filed a Motion to Certify which asks the Supreme Court to accept transfer of the appeal pursuant to Rule 204.

Rule 240 states:  "In any case which is pending before the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court may, in its discretion, on motion of any party to the case, on request by the Court of Appeals, or on its own motion, certify the case for review by the Supreme Court before it has been determined by the Court of Appeals."

So, I read the TEC/EDSC response of June 16 to say the Church side has asked the state supreme court to take the appeal directly.

At any rate, we are awaiting a decision from Judge Dickson on issuance of a stay. A stay would suspend the orders found in Dickson's June 19 decision for the duration of the appeal. Considering the judge's actions all along in the two and a half years he has had this case, it is doubtful that he will grant a stay. Every decision he has made from day one has been in favor of the Anglican diocese. I see no reason to expect anything different now.


STATE APPEAL

So, the question is whether the appeal will be taken up by the state Court of Appeals or the state Supreme Court. The Anglican side definitely wants it to go directly to the the SCSC. From their paper of June 16, it sounds as if the EDSC lawyers want the same. 

I can see why the ADSC wants to go to the SCSC. It is not the same court as the one, nearly three years ago, that issued its landmark Aug. 2, 2017 ruling largely in favor of the Episcopal Church. Two justices have retired (Toal, Pleicones). Two new justices have replaced them. One justice (Hearn) has recused herself. Since all judges and justices in SC are elected by the state legislature for terms, it is safe to assume the two new justices are relatively conservative minded although we would have to study their records of decisions to know for sure their attitudes. It is hard to imagine anyone not rather conservative successfully running the gauntlet in the state house that is controlled by large Republican majorities. And, everyone knows the fundamental issue between the two dioceses is social, specifically, whether homosexuals should have equality and inclusion in the life of the church. Let's not try to pretend otherwise. The fundamental issue at stake here is social conservatism versus social liberalism. 

If the matter goes back to the SCSC, four justices will sit in judgment. Only one of the four (Beatty) was on the Church side three years ago. 

Still, we have to keep going back to the big issue at hand. The state supreme court ruled that the Episcopal Church owned the 28 (29) parishes and the Camp. It sent a Remittitur to the circuit court for this. The circuit judge refused the Remittitur, directly contradicted the SCSC decision and said the parishes owned their properties outright and the breakaway diocese owned the Camp. Thus, the supreme court justices have before them diametrically opposed orders. Which one takes precedence, supreme court or circuit court? It is unimaginable that the supreme court justices would not sustain their own court's work. If they allow a circuit court judge to discard and replace a state supreme court decision they will undermine the authority of the supreme court forever. It is unbelievable they would do this.

So, what we are awaiting is whether the appeal will go to the state Court of Appeals or to the state Supreme Court. We should know soon.


FEDERAL COURT


On Wednesday, July 22, the ADSC is scheduled to file its response brief in the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit. It sits in Richmond VA. 

On September 19, 2019, Judge Richard Gergel issued a landmark decision recognizing the Episcopal Church diocese as the heir of the historic diocese and owner of the names, marks and emblems. Along with this, he established two major points. One was that the Episcopal Church was hierarchical. The other was to issue a permanent injunction banning the breakaway faction from pretending in any way to be the historic diocese. He declared the secessionists to be a newly formed entity as a product of the schism of 2012. When the breakaways ignored his injunction, Gergel issued a second order enforcing it. 

The ADSC appealed Gergel's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals. They asked Gergel for a stay pending the appeal. He denied a stay. Then they asked the Court of Appeals for a stay. They, likewise, denied the request. On April 30, 2020, the ADSC submitted to the Appeals Court its brief of arguments against Gergel's decision. On July 2, the EDSC filed its response brief with the Court of Appeals. Now, on this Wednesday, we should get ADSC's response to EDSC's July 2 paper.

Once the Court of Appeals gets the response, they will probably decide whether to have a hearing or to go directly to a decision. Typically, a panel of three judges handles an appeal. If they schedule a hearing, the lawyers of the two sides will present their oral arguments to the panel who will ask questions. Lately, courts have gone to online hearings, for the sake of social distancing, so we should probably expect the same, that is, if the justices decide to hold a hearing. It would be open to the public. The panel would issue a written decision some time later, typically several months. 

In my view, there is little to no chance the appeals court will alter or overturn Judge Gergel's landmark decision. His Sept. 19 order was a masterpiece of jurisprudence, deeply reasoned, meticulously documented, and well-written. He added so many supporting items from the Fourth Circuit itself, that his work is virtually appeal proof. Besides, in any appeal, the onus is on the appealing party to demonstrate convincingly that the original order was erroneous. The ADSC has not done that, far from it. Their brief of Apr. 30 was amazingly thin and weak. I see no reason to think their reply brief of this week will be any different.

Bottom line---chances are very good that the appeals court will uphold Gergel.  

Meanwhile, since there is no stay in the federal case, I wonder why the Episcopal diocese cannot effectuate Gergel's decision. If the Church diocese is the historic diocese, why cannot they get possession of the property and all assets of the old diocese? I do not know the answer. What sticks in my craw the most is that the bishop who led this ill-fated experiment is still living virtually rent free ($1/yr.) in the multi-million dollar residence of the Episcopal bishop, owned by the Episcopal diocese of South Carolina. Why cannot the Church evict him from this Church-owned property? What about charging rent for his seven and a half years of occupation? I figure the rent on the bishop's residence on Smith Street would be $10,000/mo. For the 90 months since the schism, that would amount to $900,000. That's a fair bill to present to the occupant, don't you think? 

So, to quote feisty Bette Davis, fasten your seat belts. We are going to be in for a bumpy ride in the next few months. Of course, we should be used to this by now. We have been on a Mr. Toad's wild ride for seven and a half years. Do not get exhausted. Do not lose hope. Too, do not lose sight of the forest. Legal matters are moving along. Remember, the big issues have been settled. The Episcopal Church retained the historic diocese. The Episcopal diocese retained the bulk of the local properties. 

Looking back, I must confess that I underestimated the animosity of the breakaways for the Episcopal Church and the depth of their resolve to oppose their mother church. They will not go down easily in this war. They have fought tooth and nail for what they believed to be the singular right. They have spent a fortune along the way. Remember, their communicants are paying two sets of lawyers, for diocese and parish. God only knows how much money has been spent (wasted) on this foolish and needless pursuit. In the last few years, ADSC had admitted to app. $1m/yr. just for the legal costs to the diocese. If the two sides have spent $1m/yr each for seven years, that would amount to $14,000,000 in legal fees. That is probably a conservative figure. What a waste. What a shame. What a scandal. Mediation failed, twice. An offer of compromise settlement failed. This unfortunate war can only be settled in the courts. It will be, in time. All of this will come to an end one day and years from now people will shake their heads in dismay. 

Remember this war is over human rights. The Episcopal Church wants all people to have equal rights and inclusion in the life of the church. The rebels are fighting against that. They want to bar open homosexuals and the transgendered from the life of the church and to keep women in submissive roles. So, the legal war in South Carolina is just one aspect of a bigger picture. The side of human rights will win in the end because it is the right thing to do even if the end does not come easily or quickly. 

[My usual disclaimer. I am not a lawyer or legal expert. What I offer here is a layman's opinion.] 

Friday, July 17, 2020





NOTES --- 17 JULY 2020



Greetings blog reader. I have been away from my computer for a few days, so today it is catch-up time on several issues of interest and importance at the moment.


LITIGATION

As expected, Judge Edgar Dickson denied the Diocese of South Carolina's request for a reconsideration, following Dickson's June 19 Order in which he ordered the reversal of the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision of Aug. 2, 2017. EDSC filed a motion for reconsideration on June 29. On July 13, 2020, Dickson issued an "Order" of a few sentences rejecting EDSC's Motion. 

Curious to note that Dickson's rejection came quickly, just two weeks after EDSC's filed its motion. Curious too that in the meantime apparently the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina's lawyers did not file a reply brief to EDSC's motion. Why they did not file and why Dickson responded so quickly and curtly leaves one wondering what is going on in the circuit court.

See the EDSC's news release of this here .

The EDSC lawyers immediately filed "Notice of Appeal" of Dickson's Order of June 19 with the South Carolina Court of Appeals. At the same time, they filed a request for a stay with Judge Dickson, "Defendants' Motion to Confirm Stay, or in the Alternative, for Supersedeas." However, the news release also indicated that the EDSC lead lawyer, Thomas Tisdale, believed the case may go straight to the state supreme court instead of stopping in the state appeals court. At any rate, the issue would be an appeal of Dickson's Order, not a re-litigation of the original case that is now closed.

We now have two diametrically opposed judicial opinions on the church case. The SC supreme court ruled that 28 parishes were property of the Episcopal Church and that Camp St. Christopher was owned by the Church diocese's trustees. On the other hand, Dickson ruled that the 28 parishes owned their own property, and not the Episcopal Church, while the Anglican diocese's trustees own the Camp, not the Episcopal diocese's trustees. Dickson's decision is now on appeal. 

Even though I am not a lawyer, I cannot see any scenario in which a state supreme court decision, that became final law, could be permanently overturned by a lower court. If the upper court(s) should uphold Dickson, it would upend the entire judicial system of the state. This would undermine the authority of the state supreme court and mean that every one of its decisions in the future would be subject to rejection and replacement by lower courts. The effect of such would be to make the high court irrelevant. Surely, the supreme court justices would not want to destroy the authority of their very own court. It is unimaginable. The justices must defend the established court system.



COVID-19

The coronavirus continues to run rampant in South Carolina, particularly in Charleston County. 

As for the state, when we last checked (July 13), it listed 56,648 reported cases. As of this morning (July 17), it listed 64,083 cases. In four days, cases increased by 7,435, +13%. In the last week, (Jl 10-17), cases increased by 13,392, +26%. At this rate, infections in South Carolina will double within a month. 

Death numbers in the state are also increasing quickly. The total now is 1,070. Yesterday (Jl 16) the state broke the record for the most deaths in one day, 72.

In the U.S., South Carolina is now one of the dozen states with the highest rates of increases in infection and death.

The White House coronavirus task force just today listed SC and AL as among the 11 states with the fastest increases in cases and recommended these states roll back their re-openings of public places. See an article about this here .

Charleston County continues to be the epicenter of the plague in SC. In the last week (Jl 10-17), reported infections in the county climbed from 6,699 to 8,677, an increase of 1,978, +30%. At this rate, the disease will double in the country within about the next three weeks. It is spreading faster in Charleston Co. than in the state as a whole. The death number in the county stands at 81.

Horry County is also rapidly developing as a center of the pandemic in the state. It is not far behind Charleston County.

With no national or local leadership to curb the spread of this pandemic, it will only worsen. We are still many months off before a vaccine appears. No doubt, we will see the worst of this pandemic in the fall of this year.


TRUMP DESTROYS SESSIONS

Jeff Sessions used to be an institution in Alabama. Today he is a ruined man, at least poltically speaking,  thanks to President Trump. 

Sessions became the most powerful politician in the state when he was overwhelmingly elected to the U.S. Senate in 1997. He became highly popular in the state. In his last election to the Senate he did not even have an opponent. In 2016, he was actively courted by candidate Donald Trump. Sessions became the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump. The two were especially compatible on opposition to immigration, particularly that from Mexico. As a reward for his support, Trump named Sessions Attorney General. So far, so good. Then, Sessions, a man of integrity, recused himself from the Mueller investigation. Trump exploded and began a relentless campaign to denigrate Sessions for his supposed disloyalty (in not squashing the investigation). It finally worked. Sessions was driven into total humiliation. In 2018, Trump demanded, and Sessions delivered, his resignation as AG. Sessions was replaced by a die-hard Trump loyalist, William Barr. Sessions returned to AL to run for his old seat in the Senate held by Democrat Doug Jones.

Even after Trump had driven Sessions from the office of AG, his vindictiveness continued unabated. He continued to denounce Session in scathing terms and actively campaigned against him eventually endorsing Tommy Tuberville, a man who had never held political office and whose only claim to fame was having coached the Auburn University football team for a few years. In the run-off election last Tuesday, Tuberville, with strong backing from Trump, won a landslide to became the Republican candidate to oppose Jones in November. Sessions' final destruction and humiliation was complete. Once the most powerful politician in the state, he had been ruined by his experience with Donald Trump.

There are two take-aways from this incident. One is that Trump remains highly popular in the lower south, especially in Alabama. He is certain to win a landslide in these states in the November general election. The other is that Trump will apparently destroy anyone whom he deems to be disloyal. Sessions had been one of Trump's earliest and strongest supporters. He is now politically dead.


Remember friend, we are here for the living of this hour, as tumultuous and frightening as it may be. Peace.