Hey, kids. There's a new fad sweeping the nation. It's called smoking Smarties. Here's how it works: You take a roll of Smarties, grind the little tablets down while they're still in the plastic, open one end of the roll, suck the dust into your mouth, exhale, and watch with amazement as a smoke-looking substance drifts out of your mouth.
Sounds fun, right? But it's also .... deadly. Fortunately, the mainstream media is looking out for you and, more importantly, your kids. Which is why everybody from CBS to CNN to The Wall Street Journal has recently run reports on the dangers of smoking Smarties.
As for what those dangers are, well, it's pretty simple: smoking Smarties is a gateway candy to cigarette smoking. Oh, and according to the WSJ, you may end up with maggots in your head, which either means that there are fly eggs on Smarties or that Italian physician Francesco Redi was incorrect when he disproved the theory of spontaneous generation.
Fortunately, now you know about this threat. The downside, of course, is your kids do too, thanks to the rash of reports. But that's just one of the unintended consequences of getting the word out.
Speaking of unintended consequences, South Carolina state Sen. Ray Cleary released a video last week detailing the problem with what he calls "gotcha votes."
To better explain what a gotcha vote is, Cleary brings up an example from last session when the Senate was considering a bill that would put the Ten Commandments, along with the Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Mayflower Compact, and MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech, on display in public schools. Similar bills in other states had survived court challenges, so there was seemingly no separation of church and state issues. But someone at the Statehouse wanted to see the bill defeated.
According to Cleary, one "very intelligent senator" introduced an amendment that would add the Lord's Prayer to the display, and he wanted a recorded vote. "What that means to us is that we either have to go on the line saying that we are for the Lord's Prayer as one of the documents or not," the Lowcountry senator explains.
The problem: Cleary and his comrades knew that adding the Lord's Prayer would make the bill unconstitutional. "If you were really in favor of the bill, you might want to vote no against the Lord's Prayer," Cleary says. "At the same time, you didn't really want to be put on record of voting against the Lord's Prayer." The amendment passed.
Months later, Cleary tells us, a fellow senator who voted against adding the Lord's Prayer to the bill was called out for doing the right thing. Cleary doesn't mention whether or not this senator lost his reelection campaign, but at the very least, we can assume that this vote didn't help.
Later in the video, Cleary provides another example of a gotcha vote in action, this one involving a bill that would increase the fines Clemson University charges for inspecting fertilizer. And while the bill doubled the price of fees, Cleary says, "The farmers wanted it, Clemson wanted it, because they knew that it was important to make sure the quality was taken care of. And what was more interesting is they had been charging those fees for the last two years; they just wanted to make it into permanent law or regulation."
Once again, someone called for a recorded vote. That's when the trouble began. "Everybody was for it, but they understood that on a recorded vote they could come back later and say, 'Did you know that Sen. Cleary wanted to double the fees that farmers were paying for their agricultural service?'" Cleary says. "That's a gotcha vote. It's a vote that might make sense, but it only makes sense in context, and when you take it out of context, they quote gotcha."
As for why Cleary released this video, well, he thought it might be interesting if voters could see "just a little bit of how we work together in the Senate and how sometimes what appears to be on the surface is one thing, quite honestly is something different."
And that's true. But sometimes appearances aren't deceiving, and videos like this have unintended consequences. In this case, Cleary more or less admits that he and his fellow senators are more worried about getting reelected than doing the right thing.
Methinks somebody needs to lay off the Smarties before the maggots eat the rest of his brain.