Open Thread for Wednesday, April 21, 2021


Since I’m dictating, not typing, I won’t have too much to say. but I thought I would give y’all a place to comment on the passing parade.

  1. Justice for George Floyd – The jury delivered the best verdict it could have done. Of course, they couldn’t REALLY provide justice to George Floyd. But they did what could be done. Meanwhile, Merrick Garland says the Justice Department will investigate Minneapolis.
  2. Second Amendment sanctuary community – Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? But apparently, Greenville County council spent a good bit of time discussing whether to become one of those.
  3. NASA flies a helicopter on Mars, the first time an aircraft has flown on another planet – Which is a pretty neat trick, huh? Unfortunately , unlike with the first flight on this planet, there was no human on board. But there are pictures. See above.
  4. Why Trump Is Still Their Guy – This is another lengthy thinkpiece by Thomas Edsall, well researched as always. But it never arrives at a satisfactory why. Nothing as good as my Rabbit Hole thesis, anyway. (Not really my thesis, but I have embraced it.) Interesting stuff, though. References to such things as “ontological insecurity” and “egocentric victimhood.” You might find it interesting.

Well, I said I wasn’t going to say much, and that took me awhile, so I’ll stop there. I’ll just mention that I went to the orthopedic surgeon today. She agreed that there doesn’t seem to be tender nerve damage. Movement is pretty limited , probably because of swelling. I got a new splint, and I go back next week.

74 thoughts on “Open Thread for Wednesday, April 21, 2021

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Speaking of the Chauvin verdict. Right after it was handed down, I saw somewhere on my phone a story about all the ugly right-wing tweets and such that were out there saying idiotic and offensive things. And of course, there were later stories about the guy on Fox News saying similar things. But you know, when I went back to try to find that story about all the tweets, I wasn’t successful right away, and what I found instead was lots of references to the fact that both Republican and Democratic elected officials generally praised the verdict.

    The thing that strikes me about this is that there have always been malevolent idiots in the world. They just used to be invisible because each of them did not have the power of a newspaper publisher – actually, power greater than that of a newspaper publisher – to instantly publish their fulminations around the world. Which brings us back to the Rabbit Hole thesis.

    The relatively few hateful idiots who were always out there used to call us at the newspaper and scream obscenities, anonymously of course. Or they sent hate mail, which was not signed. They continued to fester in their own dark little corners, and national media did not write stories about their effusions. Then came the Web.

    What social media have done is make these people feel like a multitude, enabling them to band with and speak to each other, and to call other people – who otherwise may not have become such extremely hateful people – out of the woodwork. And gradually they DID become a multitude. And eventually in 2016, they elected one of their own president of the United States.

    And one of our two major political parties remains enslaved by them.

  2. Mark Stewart

    It remains interesting that some people value their second amendment rights over the key idea of the Declaration of Independence that says “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Police gun play (deadly, specifically) is out of control. That is a fact we need to reckon with. If some say “well I don’t experience that,” well there you go, admission that there is a problem and it is racially based.

    Also, the Declaration is a clear sign that people in the 1700s did not adhere to the modern English language style guide. I am sure they would laugh out loud at “Originalists” who hang on every comma – and ignore the main thrust of the argument in the documents.

    1. Barry

      There are many among us that think the 2nd amendment overrides someone else’s ability to speak their opinion.

      I’ve been struck over the last few years, meeting people that think there should be no gun/weapon regulation of any kind. There are a number of those folks in the SC House.

      I’ve spent the last several weeks to a month looking at police videos online taken by citizens. I’ve been stunned at the amount of police abusing citizens, lying to citizens, and getting the law wrong.

      Yesterday, yet again, I saw an officer threatening a citizen with arrest if he used his phone to video the officer during a traffic stop. The citizen calmly explained the law to the officer. The officer lied and told the citizen he was wrong, and that he was getting ready to be arrested.

      Thankfully, the citizen knew enough to ask for a supervisor. The supervisor recognized the citizen- the citizen happened to be an attorney that worked at the local courthouse. Needless to say, he wasn’t arrested and the lying officer took the walk of shame and left the scene.

      1. Doug T

        Allendale is advertising on line for a full time police officer. $12-$14 per hour.

        And we expect what?

        1. Barry

          No doubt.

          In many of the videos I’ve watched online in the last few weeks, the citizen being stopped by the officer has to quote the law to the officer. (you better know the laws because it’s likely the police officer you are interacting with doesn’t).

          In one of the videos, the driver – a business owner from Canada – was pulled over in California because the officer said he ran a red light (his dash cam shows he didn’t) and the officer threatened to arrest him because he “didn’t have a California driver’s license.” (Buy yourself a Dash-cam and use it. I have one and use it every time I drive anywhere).

          The man showed the officer the California law that says he didn’t have to have one (he had been stopped before and threated by other officers over the same issue) – and the officer still wouldn’t accept it. The officer finally said ” well, I’m not going to give you a warning for it this time but if I see you again, I’ll give you a ticket.”

          The guy was so mad, he drove straight to the local police department and filed a written complaint against the officer and showed him the video. The supervisor taking the complaint agreed with the man that there was no such law.

          1. Bob Amundson

            The militarization of our policing system over the last 50 years created, creates, so many problems.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    Sanctuary Cities?

    Huh. I’ve heard of that before, but in regard to a different federal law. Are we all against cities negating federal law or just certain federal laws we don’t like?

    1. Barry

      a pretty big difference as I see it –

      The gun “sanctuary city ordinance” proposed by the guy in Greenville. specifically states that it would be illegal for a Greenville police officer to enforce not only federal gun laws- but any state gun laws.

      Of course that would give likely mean police officers would have to violate their job duties as SC Law enforcement officers.

      His proposed ordinance states that “all local, STATE, and federal acts, laws, orders, rules or regulations regarding firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition are a violation” of the Second Amendment.

      this could be a GIFT to the Biden Administration. If Greenville law enforcement can’t legally enforce gun laws, that’s a wonderful open door policy for the Biden Justice Department to drastically increase the number of federal law enforcement officers in Greenville County to enforce the law.

      In fact, if I was in the justice department in the Biden administration, I’d send a letter to Greenville now thanking them and promising “a drastic and exponential increase in the number of federal law enforcement officers focused specifically on guns” that will soon be headed to Greenville County”

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “The gun “sanctuary city ordinance” proposed by the guy in Greenville. specifically states that it would be illegal for a Greenville police officer to enforce not only federal gun laws- but any state gun laws.”

        I haven’t seen the text of the proposed ordinance, but if that’s the case, it would be facially invalid. State law preempts local municipalities on the issue of firearms. (See S.C. Code 23-31-510)

        1. Barry

          From the text of the Greenville Ordinance- Part G ”

          “Local governments have the legal authority to refuse to cooperate with STATE and federal firearm laws that violate those rights”

          The ordinance would also ban local officers from “participating in enforcement in any way” – meaning if local officers discovered a supply of bump stocks, which are illegal, they could be prosecuted for notifying federal law enforcement partners.”

          The law you listed above doesn’t appear to apply. The law you posted does not refer to local government officials passing laws specific to how law enforcement will ignore gun related laws.

          You wrote “Are we all against cities negating federal law or just certain federal laws we don’t like?

          you are referring to immigration enforcement- enforcement that is largely in the purview of the federal government- with federal government resources.

          The Greenville ordinance would penalize local police officers if they enforce gun laws- including local laws. (Local police officers don’t enforce federal gun laws anyway. They simply refer the cases to federal officials, which they are required to do as certified law enforcement officers. What the feds do is up to them).

          Councilmember Ennis Fant questioned the reasoning behind the proposal and seems to hit the nail on the head…

          “We just do something for the sake of doing it, and it has no teeth and that’s not enforceable, what does that accomplish other than stir up a segment of the community and get them excited for something that really has no true meaning?

  4. bud

    Brad posted a 2400 word screed that mostly just said Biden’s announced withdrawal from Afghanistan was unquestionably the top news story for that day. Many papers disagreed. I’m with the disagreers. Clearly that was a minor story. But today virtually all the papers nationwide agreed that the Chauvin verdict was the proper lede. Big implications. Perhaps in some technical ways papers are worse today, but I would maintain that for the intellectually curios it’s easier to stay well informed. After all the New York Times pushed this big lie about the hazard Iraq posed back in 2002. Perhaps today we could avoid.a similar catastrophe given the great number of outlets available today to counter the NYT nonsense. Are we going down a rabbit hole or for the intellectually curious are we enlightened? I say the later.

      1. bud

        Wow! What a preposterous example to cite. Qanon is the antithesis of intellectual curiosity. Apparently what Brad is arguing is that to seek out information outside the news outlets that pass some elitist litmus test is akin to going down a rabbit hole. But to slavishly rely on a narrow selection of sources that often get thing terribly wrong is to risk heading down a rat hole.

  5. Ken

    Maybe part of the problem in trying to deal with the problems of policing stems from our having some 16,000 law enforcement departments nationwide. Perhaps the idea of locally organized law enforcement has passed its expiration date. Maybe law enforcement should be selected, trained and overseen centrally, at the state level, We’re no longer a frontier society. Maybe it’s time we take note of that and change accordingly.

  6. Barry

    yep – lots of ugly conservative stuff online after the Chauvin verdict. Wow.

    Revealing indeed.

  7. Ken

    The Supreme Court, under the sway of it’s reactionary, Old Testament members, took a step back toward barbarity today by making it easier to sentence minors to life without parole.

    1. Barry

      Sotomayor’s dissent was brutal.

      She basically accused Kavanaugh of lying because he said he was abiding by precedent which of course he clearly didn’t.

      The kid in this instance was 15, evidence showed was severely abused, and has reportedly totally turned his life around. But he will be in prison for the next 60-70+ years.

      1. Ken

        Plus the wife of the man the then juvenile defendant murdered asked for leniency in his case.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          Ok, but that’s entirely irrelevant to the issue before the Court which is simply whether Miller v. Alabama required a specific finding of fact that the defendant was incapable of rehabilitation in a discretionary LWOP sentence. The Court found that no specific finding of fact was required, since the sentencer has discretion to consider all factors and that the defendant’s youth is required to be considered as a mitigating factor.

          If you’re that worked up about it, again, you should advocate for a simple change to the applicable state law and require the trial judge to make the finding. That’s the easy solution.

          It goes back to the old point: Not everything you want in a policy is mandated or prohibited by the Constitution. Sometimes you have to actually pass a law.

          1. Ken

            That’s right: mercy is entirely irrelevant to this Court.

            This is the problem with lawyers, they think justice is solely about statutes and procedures.

          2. Barry

            “you should advocate for a simple change to the applicable state law and require the trial judge to make the finding. That’s the easy solution.”

            I disagree. I don’t think an “easy solution” is for non-Alabama residents to advocate for Alabama to change their law.

            Plus, courts can find a law passed by the state unconstitutional. So passing a law doesn’t necessarily solve anything.

              1. Bob Amundson

                Being stuck in legal mires seems a fairly common occurrence. Not sure if that is good or bad; probably, as usual, it depends. Certainly gives an advantage to attorneys!

      2. Bryan Caskey

        From the majority opinion:

        “The Court’s decision today should not be construed as agreement or disagreement with Jones’s sentence. In addition, the Court’s decision does not preclude the States from imposing additional sentencing limits in cases involving murderers under 18. Nor does the Court’s decision prohibit Jones from presenting his moral and policy arguments against his life-without-parole sentence to the state officials who are authorized to act on those arguments.”

        If you’re concerned about the substantive issues, you should focus on state law-making, not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole through the Eighth Amendment after the defendant has been tried in state court, sentenced, appealed, then resentenced, then appealed again.

        Changing state law is where things are properly done for the dissenters on this issue.

        1. Ken

          “Changing state law is where things are properly done”

          I’m not a Republican, so I’m not a states righter.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Actually , through most of our history – until the last few decades, really – I think Democrats have usually been the most vocal and vehement advocates of states rights.

            Personally, I’m more of a federalist. So, yes. I believe that the federal government should do things that are properly its business, and states should do the things that are properly their business.

            Basically, it’s less about states rights, and more about proper state responsibilities…

            1. Ken

              Yep, I’m familiar with the history.
              I’m also familiar with the flip that the parties took in the matter, starting at the latest with the Goldwater candidacy and culminating during the 1980s, in particular under the Rehnquist Court.

          2. Bryan Caskey

            Hey, I was just letting you know how to resolve the issue since your position failed at Court.

            If you don’t want to fix the issue due to ideology, then I guess you just like to complain rather than fix things. Ok…

            1. Ken

              “My” position?

              I didn’t have a case before the Court. I was merely making an observation about the apparent judicial philosophy of the Court’s current majority members. And I’m not alone in my view of it.

            2. Barry

              There is no way to resolve it.

              Conservative legislatures are not going to agree to get rid of life sentences for juveniles.

              If they Somehow did, conservative members of the the Supreme Court could just as easily come up with a way to rule that unconstitutional. They can make it work as they see fit.

            3. Bob Amundson

              Checks and balances, mixed with human irrationality, make many legal “fixes” virtually impossible.

              1. Bryan Caskey

                Maybe in some instances. Not in this particular one. The issue is quite simple. The big argument the Court is having is after a minor is found guilty of murder and state law allows the possibility (it’s not allowed to be mandatory) of sentencing the minor to Life Without Parole (LWOP) whether the Judge should make a specific finding about the minor being incorrigible, or whether the Judge should have the same discretion, but not be required to make an explicit finding.

                That’s it.

                In some states, the legislature took the step of just requiring it, so it’s clear the Judge is required to make the finding. In other states, the legislature did not make any requirement of such a finding, and the Supreme Court (in my opinion) rightly found that the Eighth Amendment doesn’t require such a finding.

                1. Ken

                  The foolishness of allowing state courts to ignore the matter of incorrigibility is made plain in this case. As is the new Supreme Court majority’s willingness to ignore precedent when it gets in the way of their desired outcome.

                  Ruth Marcus comments:

                  “This is cruel and unnecessary: Requiring a judge to find that minors are ‘permanently incorrigible’ before putting them away for life would not hurt Mississippi’s ability to severely punish heinous crimes. If minors are deemed incorrigible, they can be denied any chance of parole. And if they don’t fall into that worst of the worst category, the state still doesn’t have to grant parole. It just has to hold out that hope.

                  In eliminating that possibility, Kavanaugh and his colleagues pretended that they were simply applying the court’s precedents — indeed, that they were forced by the previous decisions to reject Jones’s claim. The flimsiness of this claim was underscored by Justice Clarence Thomas. Concurring, Thomas said the majority had overruled its most recent precedent, ‘in substance but not in name,’ but simply wasn’t willing to own up to it.”

                  1. Bryan Caskey

                    “The foolishness of allowing state courts to ignore the matter of incorrigibility is made plain in this case.”

                    Six justices decided that the Eighth Amendment didn’t require it. Again, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to have such a finding of fact. Maybe it’s foolish not to require an explicit finding. In my opinion, it’s already implicitly considered by the Judge, so I don’t really care it there’s a requirement that the Judge make an explicit finding. It’s just that the Constitution doesn’t require it. There are lots of things that are required by state law that aren’t required by the Constitution. Happens all the time.

                    Just because something is a good idea doesn’t mean it’s in the Constitution.

                    1. Ken

                      Lemme reformulate that last bit:

                      The Constitution keeps us from pursuing good ideas.

                      Thanks for clarifying the view from the right.

                    2. Bryan Caskey

                      “The Constitution keeps us from pursuing good ideas.

                      Certainly not in this instance. Plenty of states already require this finding of fact.

                    3. Ken

                      There is no standard of decency that allows some states to not take this into consideration. It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to set a minimum standard in such matters. It failed to do so here and thereby tarnished its record by, as I said at the outset, taking one step backward toward barbarity.

                    4. Bryan Caskey

                      “There is no standard of decency that allows some states to not take this into consideration.”

                      The issue isn’t whether it [the age, maturity, and character of the offender] is taken into consideration. It’s taken into consideration in every instance because LWOP for a minor is never mandatory. LWOP for a minor is always discretional, so the court has to consider the totality of the circumstances at sentencing. The narrow issue is whether the court is required to make a specific, explicit finding, or alternatively, just issue a sentence.

                      “It is the responsibility of the Supreme Court to set a minimum standard in such matters.”

                      No. Even assuming there’s some minimum standard of “decency” (which isn’t at issue as I’ve explained above) it’s certainly not the Supreme Court’s job to set standards of decency. That’s a complete misunderstanding of what judges do. If constitutional adjudication consists primarily of making value judgments (as opposed to reading and studying text) then a free and intelligent people’s attitude towards the Supreme Court can be expected to be (ought to be) quite different. The people know that their value judgments are quite as good as those taught in any law school—maybe better.

                    5. Ken

                      Your comments show that you fall into that category of conservative who in the past found no Constitutional foundation for advances such as the Pure Food and Drug Act, the minimum wage, Social Security, the Civil Rights Act(s) or even child labor laws. Just leave it all to states to, eventually, maybe, one day come up to a standard. The federal govt should not

                    6. Bryan Caskey

                      There are some times when we are fifty states, and there are some times when we’re one big country. There’s some nuance to it. You and I just have a slight disagreement over where certain policies should properly emanate from, and why. But we probably agree on a lot.

          3. Barry

            Changing state law doesn’t guarantee anything.

            courts can find laws they don’t like unconstitutional.

        2. Barry

          Oddly enough- Sotamayor, in her dissent, agreed with Thomas on one item

          per the SCOTUS blog- written by Amy Howe (She has argued 2 cases at the Supreme Court, taught litigation at Stanford and Harvard, and served as an adjunct law professor at Vanderbilt).

          “Echoing Thomas’ opinion, Sotomayor stressed that the majority reaches its conclusion by “twisting precedent”: It treats Miller as a procedural rule, rather than a substantive one. But, she added, “any doubts the Court may harbor about the merits of these decisions do not justify overruling them.” Under the court’s normal practices, it departs from its prior precedent only when there is a “special justification” to do so- but the majority offered no such justification in this case. How low, she concluded, “this Court’s respect for stare decisis has sunk”

          Per the Blog..

          Thursday’s decision was significant in several ways. First, it may make it easier to sentence juvenile offenders to life without parole. Second, it shows how far to the right the court has shifted since the 5-4 ruling in Miller and its 6-3 ruling in Montgomery. Third, the opinions how that tensions may be running high behind the scenes when it comes to adhering to prior precedent.

      3. bud

        Recent precedents suggest sentencing children to harsh punishment is cruel and unusual. Sotomayor got it right. I find it rich that the justice who attempted to rape a girl when he was a young man wrote this odious opinion. But somehow irony is lost on conservatives.

        1. Barry

          It’s a conservative court.

          if you think you are going to get any sympathy from a conservative court, you are dreaming Bud.

          I’m not saying that sympathy is what the SCOTUS is charged with handing out. But you know as well as I do that they a conservative court is going to do whatever it takes to justify the harshest sentences possible.

          1. bud

            Hmm, not sure I expect sympathy from this conservative court. Conservatives ONLY show sympathy for unborn fetuses. The subject in this case is older than a fetus (barely) so it’s fine to basically end his life with a life behind bars.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      I don’t see how you can say the Court not specifically imposing an additional requirement makes something easier. It’s keeping the status quo.

      1. Ken

        “I don’t see how you can say the Court not specifically imposing an additional requirement makes something easier.”

        It makes it easier not to take relevant matters into consideration:

        “Thursday’s ruling will certainly make it more difficult for juvenile offenders like Jones to show judges they deserve another chance at freedom somewhere down the road, says Cardozo Law School’s Kathryn Miller. ‘It’s going to be much harder to convince judges’ that evidence of rehabilitation is relevant, she says.”

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Ken, I don’t know why you keep getting held for moderation. I keep looking at it and just can’t tell what is causing it. I’m trying to keep up with your comments to prevent delays in conversations, until I can figure this out…

          1. Ken

            Oh, I’ve almost grown accustomed to getting the second-class treatment.
            It’s par for this particular course.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          Kathryn is incorrect. In all cases for LWOP to minors, the court takes into account the youth of the offender as a mitigating factor.

          1. Ken

            Take it up with the Cardozo Law School. They must have poor selection criteria for their faculty.

      2. bud

        Bryan that’s what you argued in the Glossip case. The cruel and unusual language in the 8th amendment should have excluded the death by torture as performed by the state of Oklahoma. Yet you made the argument that in a different part of the constitution a reference is made regarding taking life without due process. Would that not impose an additional conflicting requirement not mentioned in the 8th amendment?

  8. Doug Ross

    Is there a more corrupt profession in the state than county Sheriff? 13 of them have been found guilty of crimes since 2010. And that doesn’t include the ones who had to resign due to bad behavior. It’s not a stretch to assume that attitude of being above the law permeates many departments.

    1. bud

      So you’re saying there is endemic corruption in the law enforcement profession? The evidence to support that contention is becoming overwhelming.

      1. Barry

        I’ve been watching videos online of officers in open carry states stopping people on public sidewalks to quiz them about why they are open carrying. Makes for some odd confrontations.

        we don’t have that in South Carolina quite yet but it’s coming and it’s going to be interesting

      2. Doug Ross

        a good start would be to legalize pot and to eliminate traffic stops for minor things like registration issues, taillights out, etc. Just take a photo and send a ticket in the mail. Also eliminate civil asset forfeiture so that they don’t have the incentive to take people’s property under questionable circumstances.

    2. Barry

      South Carolina law governing the conduct of sheriff offices is incredibly weak

      It’s a good thing our conservative legislature has been focused on what college classes our college students are taking.

      I would hate for them to focus on public corruption and putting restrictions and guidelines in place for the conduct of our law enforcement agencies

    3. Barry

      The answer is no. County sheriffs in South Carolina have proven to be corrupt numerous times.

  9. Barry

    Police lie all the time.

    Always record ANY interaction with police.

    The victim in this case sued the police department and officers. He was awarded almost $60,000. The police department backed up their corrupt officer and paid the price.

    Police investigating their own is the biggest scam going.

  10. Barry

    I was driving today on I-26 coming into Columbia about 1 – 1:30pm. A driver in an SUV came up behind me at a very fast speed and came right up within a foot or so of my tailgate. Made me very mad but I didn’t dare do anything. Easily the most wreckless driving I saw on my trip from Columbia to Greenville- and back.

    I got over as far to the right as fast I could after I passed the driver that I was trying to pass and the SUV driver sped up to go on down the road – easily approaching 90- maybe 95 mph. That’s my best guess since I was going between 70-75 as I pulled back into the right lane. (I had been going 75-77 while in the passing lane trying to pass the slower driver that had been in front of me in the right lane)

    He had a legislator tag – driving a while pearl looking Lincoln SUV. He was driving in a very dangerous manner. I caught it on my dash cam. I’m going to see when I get to my computer if I can read the tag number.

    I could not make out the driver- other than he was wearing a white dress shirt and tie, sunglasses- and looked to be in anywhere from 55-70 years old.

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