Open Thread for Thursday, July 16, 2020

This may be my thinnest excuse for a picture ever: This post mentions Marian Wright Edelman, and this is the library named for her in Bennettsville. I took it during the campaign. It works, don't you think?

This may be my thinnest excuse for a picture ever: This post mentions Marian Wright Edelman, and this is the library named for her in Bennettsville. I took it during the campaign. It works, don’t you think?

Some possible topics:

  1. SC parents torn over sending children to school this fall amid coronavirus pandemic — Yes, they are torn, and for good reasons. Pediatricians back up the idea that school is good for kids, but how on Earth do we send them back safely? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had elected leaders we could actually trust to provide wise guidance on this, people we’d trust to care more about the kids than their own political position?
  2. Georgia’s Governor Issues Order Rescinding Local Mask Mandates — OK, so a lot of us are kind of frustrated with Henry these days (see, for instance, previous item), but at least he’s not as bad as this idiot. Not yet, anyway. Check out the picture on that link, showing this doofus meeting with his hero, Donaeld the Unready. He has a mask dangling from his ear, but has apparently taken it off his face in deference to his master. Wow. I’m really, really hoping Henry won’t stoop this low, especially since Alan Wilson has given him some cover on the issue.
  3. 15 women accuse then-Redskins employees of sexual harassment — Hey, these guys just can’t seem to catch a break, can they? I mean, they change the name after refusing to all those years, and before people are done patting them on the back (and before they even think of a new name), there’s this. Not that I’m saying they deserve a break. I’d have to care more about what football teams do before taking a stance like that. I’m just saying they can’t seem to stay out of trouble. And I’m holding myself back from suggesting that hey, maybe this has something to do with the NFL being what it is.
  4. Coronavirus trace found in Charleston County dog, Clemson reports — The dog was euthanized, but don’t tell Trump — he might think that could be another miracle “cure.”
  5. We Interrupt This Gloom to Offer … Hope — I offer this mainly for the headline. It’s a Nicholas Kristof column. Also, it quotes Marian Wright Edelman. She’s from Bennettsville, so you know she’s smart. So, be hopeful…

94 thoughts on “Open Thread for Thursday, July 16, 2020

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I just had another one of those word things — the first one in weeks, I think.

      I wanted to say I was trying to suggest something subliminally. That’s not a hard word. Everybody knows “subliminal,” right?

      But I couldn’t think of it, so I said maybe I was trying “to suggest again, on a subconscious level.”

      I had to search for it several different ways to get the word. The combination that finally worked was, “ad that subconsciously suggests,” and immediately this popped up.

      Formulas that didn’t work on Google:
      “word for suggesting something subconsciously”
      “subconscious suggestion”

      But finally I remembered that the word gets used a lot in connection with advertising…

  1. Scout

    I am very much wishing James Smith had won right now too. Of course, I’ve wished that all along, but I’m really feeling it now. Henry is being really extraordinarily unhelpful right now. What he recommends is dangerous, unrealistic, and against the guidance of health professionals and science. Of course, I know he’s only doing this to try and get points with Trump, but it’s really annoying that he waited until 2 days before the deadline for districts to submit the plans they have been working on exhaustively with all kinds of informed input for two months to completely pull the rug out of from under them and ask them to plan for something dangerous that nobody recommends.

    And so now it is a standoff between Molly and Henry. Henry tells districts to submit plans that contain an option for starting school no later than Sept 8 with kids attending 5 days a week safely. (Safely means with social distancing which you can’t do with all kids in the building at the same time, which is what happens if kids come 5 days a week). Henry also tells Molly to not approve any district’s plan that doesn’t include this option. Molly refuses to go to his press conference and instead announces that she will approve no plan that is not safe. CDC and DHEC say that with our level of disease spread, no in person school is safe.

    So does anybody know – Can Henry overrule Molly on this? Or does the fact that she is a directly elected public official herself make her independent.

    It was also a bit galling to see the parade of republicans being so concerned about all the vulnerable children all of a sudden when they routinely turn a deaf ear to the pleas of teachers for these children and defund or underfund the programs designed to help them. I know the concerns are real for these children right now and I’m very concerned about them, but the data says it is not safe to go back 5 days a week right now.

    1. Scout

      Oh look, right after I posted this, I see your retweet of Mandy Powers Norrell saying “the decision power rests with @Molly Spearman”. This is good.

  2. Bob Amundson

    “I often hear Americans say that our country has never been so divided. That doesn’t ring true. Far more than today, households in the 1960s were riven by civil warfare, with children denouncing parents as murderers for supporting the Vietnam War and parents despairing of their offspring as immoral, impractical good-for-nothings who lived in sin, smoked pot and threatened the nation’s future. If we survived the chasms of the ’60s, we can get through this.”
    “History does not unfold smoothly; policies do not ‘evolve’ gradually. Rather, they develop, like animal species, through what evolutionary biologists call ‘punctuated equilibrium’ — long periods of stasis and short bouts of intense variation. The change is often driven by traumas, like the American Revolution or the Great Depression.”

    These quotes aptly summarize what I’ve been “preaching” since the 2016 election. Great job Mr. Kristof!

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        It began talking about the wonderful quiet of our first day without Trump:

        The first thing you’ll notice is the quiet. If Joe Biden wins this thing, there will be no disgraceful presidential tweets and no furious cable segments reacting to them on Inauguration Day.

        Donald Trump himself may fume, but hated and alone. The opportunists who make up his administration will abandon him. Republicans will pretend they never heard his name. Republican politicians are not going to hang around a guy they privately hate and who publicly destroyed their majority.

        But there will be a larger quiet, too….

        Yes, there will be. I sort of wish the rest of Brooks’ column had been about that — the enormous peace of having a normal person in the White House, so we can all relax and stop worrying about “what’s the idiot up to now?”…

  3. Mark Huguley

    Thanks for sharing the editorial on hope. It’s sorely needed. One of the most discouraging aspects of the current circumstances is so many have been willing to support Trump no matter what he does and simply accept the loss of national honor without blinking. Who are these people really? They are physically recognizable but are beyond understanding. The author states, “Skeptics worry that Trump has permanently damaged American institutions and norms, in ways that will impair future progress.” Amen. Perhaps the most encouraging words in the editorial are Jimmy Carter’s, “I know we will see a better future,” and also the discussion of historical perspective on past divides in the nation is reassuring. Even so, it’s a heavy life to ignore leaders, acquaintances, and friends unwilling to stand against amoral, immoral, and unpatriotic behavior. This must change if we are to pursue our most fundamental myth. The ideal of “out of many, one” will never be possible under Trump. Never reality, the myth nonetheless should be pursued as a universal American goal. Without, how will there be ever be a national unity of purpose?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Absolutely, Mark.

      And Trump will always, always do everything he can to tear us apart. Which is one of the reasons, a very important one, why it’s so critical to take the bully pulpit away from him…

      1. Barry

        I never thought a president would make me hate him, but Trump achieved that distinction..

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Well, I don’t know if I hate him. I despise him, but do I hate him?

          I do hate what’s happened to my country. But that’s not just him, isn’t it? He wouldn’t be a problem except for all the people who voted for him and look forward to doing so again. Like those people who participated in the boat parade at Lake Murray on July 5. They’re for him, and they’re apparently not ashamed of the fact.

          And if you hate him, do you hate them?

          1. Barry

            I hate him.

            I detest many of his supporters, yes.

            I’ve lost a number of friends (Including basically my best friend) since the 2016 election because of their devotion to all things Trump.

            I was sad for awhile about it but I am ok with it now. Just found out our values and the way we see and value other people are completely different.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    I have two kids who will be in first and third grade this fall at a Richland District 1 school. I don’t think we’re even going to have the option of five days per week in person education given that Superintendent Witherspoon stated (yesterday) that Richland One wasn’t even contemplating that at this point.

    Other districts may offer choices, but I don’t think I will be offered a choice. I think we’re going to be told it will be “distance” learning a/k/a my wife and I moonlight as teachers while also working full time.

    Now, my wife and I are very, very lucky that we have jobs that allow this. There are A LOT of parents who do not have the luxury to work from home even a little. I don’t know what they’ll do, since it’s an impossible choice. You can’t leave a child at home, and you have to go to work.

    There are a great many negative consequences of not having children in school that have nothing to do with COVID-19. The working parent problem is only one of those. Others are:

    1. Kids who have the highest needs (parents don’t highly value education) are going to fall further and further behind since they won’t be getting the direct help from a teacher in the classroom.
    2. Kids who are at risk of abuse and neglect will slip through, as schools are a common source of reporting abuse and neglect when they see a kid show up with marks, etc.
    3. Kids will just not do the distance learning for one reason or another and lose contact. One report showed that 16,000 children did exactly that last spring in SC when the schools shut their doors. 16k kids were just never heard from.
    4. It’s not a stimulating. I can attest to this from firsthand experience seeing my kids. They love school. They love going. They DO NOT like doing zoom meetings for “class” one hour a day.

    I understand that COVID-19 cases are spiking. I get that. However, the analysis can’t be based on that element alone. Making the decision to close the doors has a ripple effect in many other areas of life.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, it does. All of those things are problems, and you didn’t even mention the kids who don’t have high-speed internet at home.

      But you made me think of something else.

      I mentioned on another thread having listened to this week’s episode of the podcast, The Argument. It was an extended interview with Tammy Duckworth.

      At one point, she was talking about the dilemma of whether kids should go back to school, and she said she knew her kids’ education was suffering because she was the one doing all the at-home instruction, and she’s not a trained teacher.

      Quick, which of these three interviewers POUNCED on the point, exhibiting alarm and indignation that a U.S. senator who happens to be a mom was the parent who had to deal with that alone?

      1. Frank Bruni
      2. Ross Douthat
      3. Michelle Goldberg
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          The cultural conservative in the trio, Ross Douthat, defended the husband by suggesting that maybe he does all the dishes.

          So there!

    2. Scout

      I assure you absolutely no educator disagrees with you about the negative consequences of not having kids in school. Every educator wants to be there and in person school is definitely the goal. But here is something else that should be part of the analysis. We already have a teacher shortage. Reportedly 40% of teachers are at higher risk for bad effects from this disease. If 5 days a week full occupancy school with this level of infection happens, many will retire or not return. Many will come back anyway and may get sick. They will take it home to their families. Our hospitals are already nearing capacity. We should not be adding additional stresses to that system right now. We should not be jeopardizing our already threatened teacher supply. We have to find a way through this really bad moment with really bad choices that at least allows us to have teachers and kids around when we get to the other side to begin rebuilding.

      The problem here is that our infection rate is so exorbitantly high. This is not a forever situation. This is not a problem that was caused by schools or that can be solved by schools. Yet it may be inadvertently exacerbated by schools. Can we not come together as a community to do the things that we know lower the rate of community spread, so that we can go back to school safely. Why isn’t that the focus instead of trying to force schools to do something that is unsafe for children and teachers and the community?

      I realize that what you saw of distance learning was not at all dynamic or fun. We absolutely can do distance learning better. What you saw was an emergency situation that was pulled together in like an afternoon. Distance learning will never be the top choice, but it may be what we have to do a little longer and we can do it better than we did. We have learned alot in a short time.

      Lets just get the infection rate down. That is the best answer to this problem.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Yes, it’s the ultimate answer, Scout.

        And once we DO get the infection rate down, we should ALL go back to school — including me!

        I still have those dreams about it being the end of the semester and time to take the exam and I don’t know how to get to the class because I’ve never been to it even once, and I’m too embarrassed to ask anyone…

        And whenever I wake up from one of those, I think, You know, if I could do college again, I bet I’d do better than that…

        This time…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Two problems with that:

            1. I like the part about it being free, just like when my parents paid for it. But can I quit working and do nothing but go to college? Nooo…

            2. If I’m auditing, it doesn’t MATTER whether I show up for the exam. And if I don’t have to show up for that, I don’t need to go before that so I’ll know where it is.

            See, I want the full college experience, where I’m only responsible for going to class and getting, theoretically, a good grade. I can’t believe I wasn’t better at that at the time. It doesn’t seem hard in retrospect. I really think I could do better at age 66…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Because see, in those dreams, the context is that this is what matters! Going to school is your job! It’s not just for fun, the way auditing a history class or whatever would be…

      2. Norm Ivey

        There is a solution that should meet most people’s concerns. Mandate and enforce masks statewide, postpone the opening of school until the infection rate is manageable (September 8, maybe?) and extend the school year in June.

  5. bud

    Rather than 2 camps maybe we’re divided into 5:

    1. The true Trump believers. Perhaps 35% of the country. Inexplicably these people care nothing about policy, truth or the state of the country. They just want a messiah. They can offer a faux explanation for anything that doesn’t fit their version of the truth.
    2. The Republican establishment. This is a rapidly shrinking group that may be down to perhaps 10% of voters. Their leader is Mitch McConnell. They still believe in the pillars of conservative orthodoxy – tax cuts for the wealthy and ultra conservative judges. They really don’t like Trump but are mostly willing to tolerate him as long as they get their pet policies through. Many folks have abandoned this group and moved into either group 1 or …
    3. The Never Trumpers. Members include George Will and Bill Kristol. This is the most obnoxious of all the groups. They hate Trump but had no problem with Dubya’s WMD lies. This is not a big group, perhaps only 5% of the electorate, but they are highly vocal. But they could provide the decisive voting block in November.
    4. The Democratic establishment. This a large group of voters, 40% of the electorate. Most in this group support Biden but without any great enthusiasm. Many would have preferred another candidate but passionately detest Trump. That passion of hate is misunderstood by Republicans who see high passion for Trump among his voters yet low passion for Biden as cause for hope. But it is not. These low passion voters are solid for Biden.
    5. The Bernie Bro’s. About 10% of the electorate. Unlike group 4 these voters really dislike Joe Biden. In 2016 enough of them voted for Trump to put him over the top. But this time around the bros hate Trump with a passion and few will vote Trump. Most will vote third party but enough may hate Trump so much that they will hold their nose and vote Biden.

    I doubt there is more than a tiny sliver of actual undecided voters who could vote for either Trump or Biden. I would suggest as few as 2% are pondering that choice. This really is a turnout election, not one of persuasion.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I feel kind of left out by those categories. Where do you put someone who LIKES the group you regard as “most obnoxious” (Never Trumpers) who, unlike the Democrats, is passionately pro-Biden?

      1. bud

        You are absolutely a Never Trumper. I regard myself as a Bernie Bro, a group you regularly scorn. That is kind of my point. Our camps view the other camps in low regard. And I’m not sure how we move past this.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author


            Of all opponents of Trump, those are the ones who are most important. Their motivations and rationales need to be propagated. If we could turn the GOP against Trump, the end of our nightmare would be in sight…

            But of course, the real cause of our nightmare is the problem. It’s not Trump himself; it’s all those people in his base that the Republicans are scared of…

    2. bud

      There’s actually a 6th tribe – the hardcore Liberations. This tribe combines the fanatical tax cut mania of the Republican mainstream with the military pacifism of the Bernie Bros. Rand Paul is this tribes chief.

  6. Mark

    The led today was the DHS activity in Portland as egged on by acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf last night. Police in camo gear with no badges kidnapping people off the streets and into unmarked rental minivans; just let that sink in. SC conservatives should be up in arms. But no, they will just swallow the pap that its socialist Antifa “terrorists” and ignore it.

    Don’t let the hypocrisy get ya down…

    This should be a wake up call that we would be best to de-consolidate DHS. They have already proven that they are politically pliable and willing to target American citizens, what other example do we need?

    1. Barry

      Conservatives have revealed their hypocrisy hundreds of times since trump was elected. Hypocrites all.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Totally apart from all this, I always thought DHS was a weird conglomeration of agencies — putting INS, the Customs Service, the Secret Service and all those other entities together. Granted, some of them were in strange places to start with (Secret Service in Treasury), but they had formed there sort of organically, not as part of some grand scheme.

      After 9/11, I understood the motivation. Or I think I did. The idea was that everyone was upset about lack of information sharing between FBI, CIA and all about the terrorists before the attack: there were some people in government who knew these people were terrorists but didn’t know they were in the country, and other people who knew they were in the country but didn’t know they were dangerous, and so forth.

      But of course, we didn’t merge CIA and FBI (which really would have freaked out civil liberties folks, and could have been a threat to the compartmentalization that’s important in intelligence work), so… did we really address the perceived “problem?”

      So… what did we accomplish? I mean, maybe there were some efficiencies; I just haven’t heard all that much about the….

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Secret Service, Customs, and Coast Guard should go back under control of the Treasury.
        Border Patrol, and INS go back under control of the Justice Dept.
        TSA goes back to the Transportation Dept.

          1. Mark

            But they aren’t because they are “law enforcement” service; though they were originally revenue cutters, ships to stop untaxed smuggling. Putting the Coast Guard under the Dept of the Navy would create all sorts of international implications. Treasury is a historic, vs current, fit and otherwise it seems hard to know where to put the CG; DOJ doesn’t really work either as domestically the CG is mostly an aid to shipping (and boating).

            The more I see of this cluster in Portland (coming soon to a city near you), the more I know the United States does not need a DHS; it’s just too tempting to use politically for malevolent actors.

            And TSA needs to be in the Dept. of Transportation. From the goon behavior I seen in PDX it makes me wonder whether untrained , and now under-utilized, TSA staff are being rotated into these federal “agencies,” that’s what it looks like anyway.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Yes, I was joking.

                Of course, having it under the Admiralty only works if Melville is still First Lord. Anyone else, and I’m concerned about the point Mark raises, that “it’s just too tempting to use politically for malevolent actors.”

                I mean, what if some froward Whig were in charge, or someone else with no appreciation of the immemorial custom of the Service?

                1. Mark

                  I’ve read the entire series twice through – good stuff. I follow your riffs and refs even though I don’t pile on with the Jack Aubrey stuff.

                  I think the coast guard has always been a bit of an “Admiralty” misfit because it was exactly that – meant as a potential deterrent to some sort of naval revolt; a seagoing version of a militia on land.

                  That said, my focus remains on Portland and the federal provocations using basically paramilitary entities who are “police” in name only. We have a reckoning going on there that has great import for all Americans.

                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    “That said, my focus remains on Portland and the federal provocations using basically paramilitary entities who are “police” in name only. We have a reckoning going on there that has great import for all Americans.”

                    There’s certainly a lot going on with that. For starters, you have the issue of the federal government, through its various agents (US Marshal’s Service, FPS, etc.) needing to protect federal buildings and federal property. Most prominently, that would be federal courthouses. I believe the protests/riots/violence/whatever are centered around the federal courthouse in Portland. Obviously, the federal government has a vested interest in protecting federal property, buildings, and personnel from harm, regardless of what local and state law enforcement are doing (or not doing).

                    To me, it looks like the law enforcement in Portland is not effectively controlling the violence, and to the extent the violence affects the federal properties and personnel, you can certainly understand federal agents arresting and charging people with federal crimes.

                    However, that’s basically the extent of what the federal government should do, or realistically, can do. There just isn’t the manpower to effect massive control over thousands of people by the federal agencies, as their role is to protect the limited federal properties and personnel. To use an analogy, I think you can view these federal buildings and the federal agents who secure them the same way we view US embassies in foreign countries. For example, the US has an embassy in Saudi Arabia. We have US Marines attached to that embassy to secure it and the people there. However, the US Marines naturally aren’t there to generally police Saudi Arabia, or even the city where the embassy is. That’s not their job, nor are they able to do such a job. Accordingly, the US Embassy relies on Saudi Arabia to provide general civil security as a general backdrop. If the Saudi government isn’t able to do that, and thousands of Saudis surround the US Embassy with intent to do harm, the US can either stand and fight like it’s the Alamo or, more likely, bug out.

                    In the same way, the federal government relies on states and cities to provide the general civil security. Take Columbia for example. The federal district courthouse on Richland Street is federal property. If you go up there and throw a brick at the front door (don’t try this, by the way) you’re going to have a bad day, because regardless of the Columbia Police Department not acting, the federal boys are going to detain you, and it’s not going to be fun and games.

                    Accordingly, I don’t have any problem with the federal government protecting its buildings and personnel even if they aren’t “welcome” by the state and local authorities. Beyond that, no, they shouldn’t be out there policing when it doesn’t directly deal with federal buildings or personnel.

                    As to the issue of the federal agents not being readily identifiable by third parties as they arrest people…eh. I’m not sure there’s much requirement for that, and who really cares? Once you’re arrested, I’m sure the federal agents are informing the person that he’s now in the custody of that agency, and he’s being arrested for a federal crime. After that, the federal justice system will handle it.

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Actually, Bryan, from what I’ve heard, the usual stuff hasn’t really been happening — informing the person of a charge, for instance.

                      It will probably irritate Bud for me to again quote a Never Trumper, but I liked what Bret Stephens had to say today to Gail Collins in their weekly feature called “The Conversation:”

                      That said, the way in which the feds are handling the Portland protesters is one of the uglier spectacles in recent U.S. history. And I say this as someone who, obviously, isn’t politically sympathetic to the more extreme protesters, much less to the vandalism and violence some of them have perpetrated. That said, the civil rights of some obnoxious people mean a lot more to the Constitution of liberty than whether a federal building gets spray-painted.

                    2. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Oh, but wait! What he said before that was more fun:

                      Bret Stephens: Hi Gail. Have I ever mentioned the fact that I’m a big fan of the film “Gladiator?” It has so much that’s relevant to the Trump era: a mad emperor; his terrified female companion; a cowed Senate; bread and circuses and blood sport; and an eerie resemblance between the Proximo character (the great Oliver Reed) and Steve Bannon.

                      Lately, I’ve been reminded of another terrific line in the movie, this one uttered by the hero, Maximus, as he’s about to fight in the Colosseum: “Marcus Aurelius had a dream that was Rome, Proximo. This is not it. This is not it!” That pretty much sums up my feelings about unidentified federal agents in military camo seizing protesters in Portland and throwing them into unmarked vans….

                      Honestly, I didn’t really see the resemblance between Proximo and Steve Bannon, but other than that, I enjoyed the analogy…

                    3. Bryan Caskey

                      Nowhere in the article you link does it say people are not being informed of the charge within the lawful time required to do so. Obviously, that would be a violation of their due process rights, and no one would support that. Are you asserting people are not being timely informed of the charges against them as required by law? If so, I would be concerned to see that.

                    4. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Bryan, I wasn’t being clear.

                      Here’s the timeline on my limited knowledge of what happened…

                      A day or two ago, I heard a couple of things on the radio. First, I heard an account of a guy being arrested by unidentifiable, militarized cops, being taken to a police station some distance away, and held for an hour or two. At one point, supposedly, he overheard one of the cops talking, apparently about him, and saying something like “We’ve got a whole lot of nothing here.” Some time later he was released. He said he never learned why he was being held.

                      I didn’t think much of it, at first. Sounded like a guy had been arrested but probably shouldn’t have been, and senior cops could see that right away, so they let him go. And it sounded like somebody was maybe being a little overdramatic about it, but I didn’t get worked up about it one way or the other.

                      Then I heard a statement given by some higher-up in the DHS explaining what his people were doing there, and it mostly sounded pretty reasonable, and along the way he described an incident in which a guy was arrested and released, and he was asked if it had been the same guy, and he said he didn’t know names.

                      It was a little weird, but not huge. I went away worrying a little about it, since I seem to recall similar reports of mysterious federal cops in Washington before the Lafayette Square incident, and I got to thinking what I usually think: I trust the federal cops, but not their boss.

                      Anyway, I didn’t think much more about it until I read the Stephens-Collins piece, and noted how Stephens was way more concerned about it than I had been, and I got to thinking maybe I should have been more concerned than I was.

                      So that’s why I linked to that piece when I addressed this earlier. I didn’t mean to suggest that that was an inclusive account of all I knew about it — although admittedly I hadn’t read all that much on the subject…

                    5. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Oh, as for whether “people are not being informed of the charge within the lawful time required to do so,” I dunno. That mysterious incident I had heard about on NPR sounded like one in which the guy was NEVER told, but was probably released before the “lawful time” had passed.

                      Anyway, I don’t think I was “falling into the trap of having a story reinforce what you WANT to believe.” I’m not sure I could tell you what I wanted to believe….

                    6. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Finally, I think this is the guy I heard about being arrested earlier. Guy named “Pettibone.”

                      In fact, I know that’s the guy. He’s quoted here as saying,

                      “I am basically tossed into the van,” Pettibone said. “And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head.”

                      That same quote was in the NPR story I’d heard. How could I forget?

                      I was like, “beanie?” What, are they busting Jughead now?

                      Seriously, who wears a “beanie?” Is something that was an unbelievably unhip thing people joked about when I was young — something squares in earlier generations had been forced to wear when they pledged fraternities or something — now fashionable?

                      Apparently so.

                      Man, these kids are uncool today…

                    7. Bryan Caskey

                      If someone was detained and then released, I’m confused on what the problem is. In a riot at night with people throwing bricks, explosives, etc. what are you hoping that law enforcement does? Are we to just to let the people of Portland burn the city center to the ground? I mean, if they want to do that, it’s not my city. Maybe that’s what we should let them do.

                    8. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Bryan, the thing about that Pettibone guy, and apparently others (I’ve seen references to this being something that’s happened multiple times, but he’s the only person I’ve seen named) is that he wasn’t throwing anything or burning anything or even protesting. He was walking home from a protest, and he was grabbed off a quiet street.

                      I don’t know whether that was because he fit a description the feds had, or whether this was a broader intelligence-gathering operation — something akin to send out patrols on the front line to grab a few enemy prisoners and interrogating them to see what you get. It sort of sounds like the latter. Which of course is disturbing because, you know, it’s not a war and protesters (as much as I may not like the practice) are not the “enemy.”

                      Although maybe there was somebody in a beanie who had blown something up earlier. I don’t know…

                    9. Bryan Caskey

                      “I don’t know whether that was because he fit a description the feds had, or whether this was a broader intelligence-gathering operation — something akin to send out patrols on the front line to grab a few enemy prisoners and interrogating them to see what you get. It sort of sounds like the latter. Which of course is disturbing because, you know, it’s not a war and protesters (as much as I may not like the practice) are not the “enemy.””

                      In general, when there’s a choice between attributing something to either incompetence or intentional opposition, I play the percentages and go with incompetence.

                      However, I’m also guided by a quote from Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger of “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.”

                    10. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Well, that Bond quote is why I’d like to know more about the other incidents I’ve heard about — is it a tactic being regularly used by the feds? Was that Pettibone guy part of a wider roundup?

                    11. Bryan Caskey

                      “That said, the civil rights of some obnoxious people mean a lot more to the Constitution of liberty than whether a federal building gets spray-painted.”

                      Sure, a violation of someone’s civil rights is more egregious of an offense than spray painting a federal building. That’s not very profound. However, I don’t yet accept the premise than anyone’s civil rights have been violated, but I’m open to some facts. Whose rights were violated? How? Don’t just rely on Bret Stephens saying it’s “ugly”. Sure, the whole thing is “ugly”. Ain’t nothing pretty about it.

                      Y’all are all falling into the trap of having a story reinforce what you WANT to believe.

                2. Barry

                  “ Once you’re arrested, I’m sure the federal agents are informing the person that he’s now in the custody of that agency, and he’s being arrested for a federal crime. ”

                  Oh, you are sure? Well that sure is convincing that you are sure. LOL


                  I wonder how sure you’d be if a President HIllary Clinton or President Stacey Abrams one day is sending federal agents to grab folks off the street.


                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    Are you suggesting federal authorities are not Mirandizing people they arrest?

                    Are you suggesting federal authorities are not properly processing people they arrest?

                    Are you suggesting federal authorities are holding people for longer than lawful without charging them with a crime?

                3. Barry

                  Oh please…. what a load..,

                  I am not ASSUMING or taking this current crop’s word for anything. That’s not happening, ever. I’m going to be consistent even if you aren’t.

                  And if another president was in office, you wouldn’t be assuming it either.

                  I’m certainly not blindly accepting the word of agents that are driving up to someone and tossing them in a van.

                  Or break’s a Navy Vet’s hands

                  “ The Navy veteran stands passively in Portland, Ore., amid swirling tear gas. One of the militarized federal agents deployed by President Trump swings a baton at him with full force. With both hands. Five times.
                  Under the assault, 53-year-old Christopher David seems like a redwood tree — impervious to the blows.


                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    I’m very much against the militarization of the police. I’m against anyone beating this guy with a baton or spraying him in the face with pepper spray when he’s standing there doing nothing. That’s an abuse of their power. They should be held accountable for that. The federal agent who did that should be fired and sued. I think we should get rid of qualified immunity. Where’s that bill in Congress?

                4. Barry

                  There are multiple ones in the House and Senate.

                  Many Republicans, including Tim Scott, have said they don’t support ending it. Your guy Trump has said it’s a “non-starter”

                  Your welcome.




                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    First, he’s not my “guy”. I didn’t vote for him. I disagree with that position.

                    Second, I’m aware Senator Scott doesn’t support this position. I said that his position was disappointing when he announced it. It’s a common law doctrine that Congress never intended. However, Congress doesn’t pass laws anymore, so we’re basically stuck with it.

                  2. Bryan Caskey

                    I’d like to see Tim Scott, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris get together and come up with their own police reform bill, then dare McConnell not to bring it up for a vote. Broad points I’d like to see on a federal and state level:

                    1. Eliminate QI
                    2. Break the Police Unions
                    3. Eliminate the militarization of the police force.

                5. Barry

                  In the current case, we are stuck with it because Republicans won’t support it, and Trump won’t even consider it.

                  Tim Scott might actually support those efforts, but he’s not going to dare go against Trump or the party. It’s not his style to stand out. He’s not alone in that, so it’s pretty pathetic when he goes on Fox to play victim about his own bill not getting anywhere given his entrenched stance for any compromise on qualified immunity.

                  He’s also the guy when asked about some of trump’s more incendiary language retreats to “I have counseled the president in private that his tweet wasn’t helpful” but has no issue getting fired up over something a Democrat said 14 years ago.

                  The hypocrisy is deep.

                6. Mark

                  So, Bryan, here is my take. I am originally from Portland, so I have taken an unusual amount of interest in this protesting.

                  Portland has certainly become a bit of a fringy left wing (and coincidently or not also a thick streak of alt right white supremesists, too) place. t least that’s it’s reputation. Mostly it’s a lot of bicycle riders. There has also been a very long record of borderline riots occurring around the few federal building in town. This began with the eco-terrorists of the mid 1980s, before that word went on to become one about not just burning logging equipment but to intending to inflict mass human casualties. These protests have through the years had a cyclical riot-lite component to them. It’s just a thing in Portland that everyone would ignore and deal with. Sort of like the way the city’s benign neglect of the homeless crisis has become a serious issue there.

                  The Portland cops have a lot of experience with both these anarchists and the white supremisists. They can handle these events, even though initially some private property is damaged/destroyed in the immediate area. As I said, it’s not right or good, but it is a tolerated thing in Portland. Freedom of political speech they would call it.

                  What I perceive having happened is that the Trump administration saw this “antifa” action that fit their narrative and they had DHS deploy paramilitary forces from various agencies. Non of these seem to be trained for the task of protecting property during a protest. These paramilitary types are trained to take-down bad guys, quickly and with a minimum of fuss and the niceties of legal requirements. Chad Wolf, the acting DHS director then went out to Portland and fired up the federal troops – coincidently just a day after Mary Trump’s book came out btw – and changed the posture from one of protecting the buildings to a plan to confront the protesters. At the same time, it sounds like these paramiltary forces have been undertaking roving snatch and search activities of suspected antifa types, looking for evidence of a plan to riot or the equipment to show off as dangerous to the feds. Something to publicize. But they didn’t expect to get caught conducting the operations on the streets blocks away from the federal buildings. Or of having these videoed; drug smugglers and such don’t usually do that as these forces approach. But citizens do. I understand that if these picked up people were mirandized it was only at the federal courthouse when the “suspects” were brought in for questioning. Hence the snatch and grab accusations.

                  The Naval Academy grad being beaten for just standing in the street is what happens when that kind of paramilitary culture is incorrectly deployed. As it was here in Portland for Trump’s political theater games. It is absolutely an outrageous attack on Constitutional rights and every American ought to be appalled and up in arms about this federal activity. Up in arms I use in a figurative sense.


                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Mark, you — and others taking a particular interest in Portland — might also want to read this new post, in which I express some concerns about what’s happening there.

                    It also has Greek mythology in it. And sex, but only passingly…

                  2. Bryan Caskey

                    At this point, there have been protests/riots/whatever everyday for two months. I can understand that Portland prides itself on its tradition of protest, but people are getting out of control. They’re trying to burn down the courthouse, and the whole thing is just an unending mess.

                    I have a simple proposal to solve everything, though. Just relocate the federal courthouse. It doesn’t have to be in Portland. The federal government should say:

                    “Hey. It appears we aren’t welcome in Portland, and our courthouse there appears to be the site of a lot of problems. Rather than our federal agents continuing to fight it out with the citizens of Portland, we’re just going to leave. Y’all can do whatever you like with the former courthouse building. If you need to transact any business in federal court, we’ll have it located in the far southeast corner of Oregon, so you’ll want to plan your travel accordingly.”

                    Problem solved.

                7. Barry

                  “ What I perceive having happened is that the Trump administration saw this “antifa” action that fit their narrative”

                  Fox News has been leading off every hour that I’ve seen today with this story about the lawlessness in Portland. Not COVID that is impacting everyone 8n the country but Portland Oregon News.

                  This is perfect for them. They can scare their older white audience to death and drum up fear so they get those mail in ballots they hate so much into the mail for trump.

                  The same crowd that hates federal intervention (except in a woman’s uterus or a bedroom) will rally behind federal intervention at all costs.

                  Fox is of course blaming Joe Biden, a candidate, not an officeholder, while they ignore that all of this unrest is happening on Trump’s watch.

                  It’s the same agenda as the border being overrun by “those people” in 2018 leading up to the midterms. It didn’t work then even though it did scare those same older white folks to death.

                  Hypocrites, all.

                8. Mark

                  Barry, you are right, I also don’t ever watch Fox; I’m not interested in being brain-washed to support our deeply disturbed current president.

                  Talk radio for me ends at NPR as well.

                  I’m sure that bothers some people, whatever.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    NPR is the only broadcast entity of any kind that I follow. It’s an awkward medium for presenting news and ideas — at least it seems to be when others do it — but they have mastered it.

                    Other than that, I read.

  7. James Edward Cross

    Trump has now come out for masks, calling them “patriotic.” Will our governor now do a 180?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        In building his strategy on Trump, Henry has yet to master one of Trump’s main devices — taking multiple positions on issues, assuming the base won’t remember what he said five minutes earlier (and will say again five minutes in the future).

        Henry just sticks doggedly to the main thrust, sticking with the message Trumps evinces MOST of the time…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I want to say that makes Henry a better person than Trump. Which I’ve always thought he is.

          But then I stop myself when I recall that Henry was the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse Trump; that he ran for governor showing zero interest in South Carolina issues, counting on being a Trump Republican as his whole strategy; that he’ll ignore any evidence if it contradicts the Trumpian approach.

          I can’t congratulate that, even for a moment…

  8. bud

    Hmm. I would suggest the 53 year old, unarmed navy veteran who was standing perfectly still and getting whacked repeatedly by a billie club wielding brown shirt would reasonably feel his civil rights were violated. Those brown shirt non insignia ‘police’ were nothing but thugs.

    1. Barry

      Can you imagine the anger from so called conservatives if a veteran had been abused like that guy was under a democratic president? Their heads would explode.


        1. Barry

          Depends. Real world significant? Not sure. Talk radio conservative world? Guy got what he deserved for not obeying the federal agents (even though he was simply standing there asking questions) . You know, the conservative talk radio world is well known for their Deep devotion, respect, and adherence to federal agency policies (only when a Republican is in office of course)

          I know Fox News didn’t Mention it today in the 2 interviews I saw where their on air hosts interviewed the Homeland Security Director.

          You think fox and conservatives would let the breaking of a Navy Veteran’s hands slide if they had interviewed Jeh Johnson instead?

          Hypocrites, all.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Couldn’t say. I don’t listen to talk radio or watch Fox News. I actually don’t even get Fox News. We have Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Disney Plus. All my news comes from the written word, albeit in a digital format. (Which is the best way to actually get news.)

            1. bud

              Disagree. I mostly get my information from tv news shows. Just can’t appreciate current events without seeing it. Words alone are insufficient.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Oh, and as much as I like having people click on my links, I should probably tell you guys that that one does NOT link to pictures. It just goes to written words. I don’t want you to wear out your clickers or anything…

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              “Couldn’t say. I don’t listen to talk radio or watch Fox News. I actually don’t even get Fox News. We have Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Disney Plus. All my news comes from the written word, albeit in a digital format. (Which is the best way to actually get news.)”

              I could have written that entire comment….

              1. Barry

                I can’t relate to someone discussing politics that doesn’t at least take a glance at Fox given the current GOP’s devotion to a cable entertainment network.

                Fox and Fox program hosts actually drive conservative politics and Trump policy. Since he is the POTUS, that matters and sticking a head in the sand doesn’t work.

                Fox hosts not only talk to the cult watching, but many of them give and or asked for advice off the air by Trump, and he often takes it when it goes against advice for his own handpicked advisors.

                So you can ignore it or simply not watch. Ignoring the house fire doesn’t mean it’s not there.

                1. bud

                  Yep, it’s painful but important to monitor Fox and talk radio to appreciate the thinking of the hard right. It’s like they’re covering a different planet. Watching Tucker Carlson accuse Tammy Duckworth of being a coward really does speak volumes.

            3. Barry

              You don’t get news from Fox? And you are supposedly a conservative? Well, you are a member of a tiny, tiny club.

              Whether you acknowledge it or not, conservative politicians and the POTUS take marching orders from Fox News and talk radio talking heads like LImbaugh, Hannity and Beck.

              Ignoring what they are pushing is akin to ignoring the roof missing in a downpour.

              At least I can understand your lack of knowledge on some of the stuff they (Trump, GOP, etc) are pushing

                1. bud

                  I guess it depends on the meaning of ‘real’ . Regardless, Trump=GOP. Let’s stop pretending Trump is some sort of interloper and once his time as POTUS is over the Republican Party will return to the party of George H W Bush. That ship has sailed.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    I’m not talking about political parties. I’m talking about the word “conservative.” It’s about conserving. A true conservative values and wants to protect a society’s core institutions, not undermine and tear them down. Voting for Trump in 2016, from a desire to blow things up and see what happens (the only motive I’ve heard that seems to fit the facts) is the least conservative thing I’ve ever seen in our politics…

                2. Barry

                  I don’t know what “real conservative” means anymore. None exist except on paper.

                  Sounds like something people say when they don’t want people to think they love trump.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Two points about that:

                    This is a battle I’ve been fighting for a lot of years before Trump came along, in defense of the language. “Conservative” is a word with meaning. I don’t believe we should use the word except with real respect for meaning. I particularly started fighting the battle around the start of this century, when the government-haters took over completely. But it had been a problem long before. Just look at the famous Reagan quote: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.” A conservative respects the core institutions of society, including the government. With Trump, you have a new ingredient: The nihilistic impulse to just blow everything up by electing a gross incompetent with respect for nothing to run the country. Conservatives don’t do things like that.

                    Second, every established, “name” conservative writer in the country, more or less, is a Never Trumper. George Will, Bill Kristol, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, Max Boot, Bret Stephens, Ross Douthat, David Brooks. If he or she was a well-known, conservative writer BEFORE Trump, that person is opposed to him. There are probably exceptions, but I can’t think of any at the moment. This put editorial pages across the country — but especially in red states — in a bind. ALL of the established conservatives were anti-Trump, making it impossible to represent the views that predominated in their readership areas. So you saw a weird thing — suddenly, people you’d never heard of started getting published in papers across the country on a regular basis. Why? Because these nobodies would defend Trump. The quality of discourse on editorial pages across the country suddenly dropped considerably, just so the Trumpian could be reflected to some degree on the pages. The questions were no longer, “Are you a conservative and are you good at presenting that position?” The much lower bar of “Will you stand up for Trump?” went into effect.

                    Anyway, those are the kinds of things I’m talking about here.

                    Yeah, I know people who back Trump like to call themselves “conservatives.” But to a great extent, that’s because they aren’t very good with words…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Oh, I could get on my soapbox about the abuse of the word “liberal,” too. But “conservative” has taken more of a beating over the years.

                      Personally, I hold both liberal and conservative views, and they aren’t in conflict. To me, the idea that they are mutually exclusive is probably the biggest abuse of the language of all. They are not opposite concepts. They aren’t like “up and down” or left and right, or tall and short….

      1. Barry

        We will see if conservative messiah Barr pursues civil rights abuse charges against those federal agents.

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