Patterico's Pontifications


Viral Photo Showing Maskless Students Crowded In School Hallway Leads To Student Suspension

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:20 pm

[guest post by Dana]

As students across the country return to in-person classes, you would think that the issue of social distancing protocols is at the forefront of administrators’ concerns. Keeping students safe while enforcing pandemic protocols would seem to be the top priority at these schools. However, one Georgia high school principal seems more concerned about optics rather than the troubling reality at his site:

A whistleblowing student at a Georgia high school was suspended after he posted a video of fellow students crammed into a hallway between classes, many of them without masks. After he was suspended, North Paulding County high school principal Gabe Carmona made an announcement over the school intercom, warning that “Anything that is going on on social media that is negative on our light… there will be consequences for both students or anyone who sends out those pictures, so please be careful.”

Here are the photos that got 15-year old Hannah Watters suspended:

Watters also posted a tally list of students wearing masks in her classes v. those not wearing masks:

Watters explained the reasoning behind her suspension:

I used my phone in the hallway without permission, used my phone for social media, and posting pictures of minors without consent.

Prior to schools reopening, the school district addressed questions about social distancing and mask-wearing in their Back to School 2020-2021 Supplemental Q & A sheet for parents and students, including informing parents that wearing a mask was a “personal choice” and the district would not mandate that students wear them. The district also said that social distancing efforts would be made when “feasible and practical”.



The district superintendent, addressing the publication of the photo, attempted to add context:

The district superintendent, Brian Otott, sent a message to parents in the wake of the photo. He offered “context” for the photograph: “Class changes that look like this may happen, especially at a high school with more than 2,000 students.” There was little the district could do, he said, beyond encouraging masks.


According to a person familiar with North Paulding High School, the plan shared with teachers said hallways were supposed to be one-way; the photograph was taken in one of the only two-laned hallways in the school. But the one-lane hallways had their own downsides, causing students to walk long routes between classes — spending more time in exposed common areas.

Already in Cherokee County, Georgia, at least four schools that started in-person classes on Monday, have had positive Covid-19 cases with contact tracing. And so now, just days after the schools reopened, all students and staff impacted by the outbreak are quarantining at home.

Dr. Fauci weighed in this week on the issue of reopening schools with in-person classes:

“I think to say every child has to go back to school is not really realizing the fact that we have such a diversity of viral activity. There may some sections of the country where the viral activity is so low you don’t have to do anything different, you can just send the children back to school,” Fauci said.

“Wearing a mask, if you don’t take the infection seriously, is a tough one to sell,” Fauci said.

He then offered two reasons why he believes students should return to in-person learning if it can be done safely:

First, school reopenings are important for “the psychological welfare of the children, the fact that many children rely on schools for nutrition, for breakfast, for healthy lunches,” he said.

Second, returning to in-person classes should be a national priority in order to avoid “the unintended downstream ripple effects on families,” he said, like parents needing to interrupt or stop work in order to take care of and homeschool their children.

That “creates a big issue,” he said.

“The ‘however,'” Fauci said, “is we must not compromise the health, the safety, and the welfare of the children, of the teachers and secondarily of their parents, who they may spread it to.”

Fauci discussed the exceptions to reopening schools:

In counties and cities with very low infection rates, for example, it may be possible to “go back to school with impunity and not worry about things,” he said.

In places with moderate infection rates, however, a modified approach — like bringing kids in only some days or parts of the day and implementing mask-wearing and physical distancing — may be safest.

Oh, and then there’s this little tidbit:

North Paulding High School, about an hour outside Atlanta, reopened Monday despite an outbreak among members of its high school football team, many of whom, a Facebook video shows, worked out together in a crowded indoor gym last week as part of a weightlifting fundraiser.

Within days of that workout, several North Paulding players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The school’s parents were notified just hours before the first day of class.

And multiple teachers at North Paulding say there are positive tests among school staff, including a staff member who came into contact with most teachers at the school while exhibiting symptoms last week. Teachers and staff said the school won’t confirm coronavirus infections among district employees, citing privacy reasons.

“That was exactly one week ago, so we are all waiting to see who gets sick next week,” a North Paulding teacher told BuzzFeed News of her exposure to the virus.

I have no idea how to get high schoolers to follow social distancing measures in narrow hallways, lunch periods, etc. That is an unenviable task. But I am convinced that mandating masks for everyone on campus, including students, is a pretty good place to start.

And sadly, just this week, a 7-year-old boy in Georgia with no underlying conditions became the youngest victim to die from COVID.


The Most 2020 Story Ever

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:19 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The New York Post does a great job of laying out the story, so I’m going to liberally quote from them:

An Arizona State University professor who posted on Twitter for years about social justice issues and recently detailed her fight with COVID-19 was said to have died last week — but she actually never existed.

BethAnn McLaughlin — who announced the made-up professor’s death on July 31 — admitted to The New York Times on Tuesday that she was behind the hoax.

Appointed to a tenure-track assistant professor position at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2005, Dr. McLaughlin applied for tenure nearly a decade later. Vandy, after initially seeming moderately supportive, spent two years evaluating her application. A portion of the delay was to conduct a disciplinary probe of Dr. McLaughlin, who was accused of anonymously libeling colleagues through Twitter, all in the aftermath of a sexual harassment charge brought by a graduate student against a professor in the department. Dr. McLaughlin had testified against the colleague on behalf of the student, but the professor was ultimately cleared of the charges by both the university and by a judge. Though the committee voted two to one to acquit Dr. McLaughlin in the disciplinary matter, she was ultimately denied tenure by the medical school faculty in November of 2017. Further details about the tenure decision are in the link above.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. McLaughlin filed a grievance against the university and began styling herself as a leading MeToo proponent in STEM education. She was active on her Twitter account, @McLNeuro, arguing for zero-tolerance policies for harassment and supporting the BelieveAllWomen movement. She also began sockpuppeting on the account of a fictional person. Picking up again from the Post’s story:

Since 2016, the anonymous account @Sciencing_Bi had posted frequently about sexual harassment and diversity in science, making connections with other academics online.

The account claimed to be an anthropology professor who had grown up in Alabama and “fled the south because of their oppression of queer folk,” according to the Times.

It also made pointed references to being Native American and began to identify as Hopi earlier this year.

And it was active in the career of McLaughlin, a neuroscientist, even promoting a petition for her to receive tenure Vanderbilt University [sic], which was ultimately unsuccessful.

Dr. McLaughlin’s hoax account sure checked all of the right boxes, didn’t it? BIPOC? Yep, we’ve got the “I” part accounted for! LBGTQIA+? Yep, the “B” and the “Q” are in the house! Third-person pronouns? You betcha! She even added the nice touch of the professor having grown up in a deeply red state among all of the mouth-breathing redneck KKK bigots who deny that man-made global climate change is a crisis and probably drive pick-up trucks sporting gun racks and Confederate flag mudflaps. So how do we make this fake Twitter user even more sympathetic? Let’s bring current events into play and ratchet the victim quotient up to 10:

In April, @Sciencing_Bi announced its [sic] coronavirus diagnosis and then documented the symptoms including a loss of language fluency, according to Buzzfeed News.

The account blamed ASU for her condition, tweeting in June that the school “forced me to teach 200 person lectures instead of closing” in April.

She also claimed the university cut her salary by 15 percent while she was in the hospital.

Then, a seemingly distraught McLaughlin wrote in a lengthy, mournful Twitter thread on Friday that the anonymous professor had died.

“Looking at her side of the bed and crying. Just a lot of crying. I literally can do nothing,” she wrote.

Cherry. On top of the icing. On top of the delicious multi-layer cake. Naturally, a certain subset of high-strung academics ate it up immediately:

The supposed death spurred outrage from others in academia, with a professor saying: “This person was a scientist who got Covid because they’d been forced to teach.”

“@Sciencing_Bi is a Native American anthropology professor who first contracted #COVID19 April 11, likely from her college forcing her to teach well after the virus had established itself at her college,” another person posted on Facebook.

There was one small problem: ASU would presumably know if one of their professors had died, especially if from COVID-19. And, unfortunately for Dr. McLaughlin, ASU immediately blew the whistle on the hoax. Twitter has now suspended Dr. McLaughlin’s account, as well as some other sockpuppet accounts they believe she used. And one would presume, though maybe erroneously, that at this point her appeal of Vanderbilt’s tenure decision is as every bit as dead as @Sciencing_Bi. It is fitting that this story comes to a close in the insipid year of 2020.

As you might have surmised, I am not a huge fan of professional activists. I don’t pretend to know what went on with Dr. McLaughlin at Vanderbilt and whether or not she was given a fair shake there, but clearly her behavior since losing her tenure battle suggests that she is dealing with issues which ought to be addressed through professional help, not through blindly accepting her claims without examination and turning her into the public face of MeTooSTEM as so many (including, alas, my own alma mater) eagerly did. Coupled with Trader Joe’s surprising reversal last week, perhaps social justice would be better served if more people stopped acquiescing to the auto-appointed avatars of activism.


A Misrepresentation of “Rightist” Thought

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:17 am

[guest post by Dana]

For your consideration: a little strawman from a Bloomberg opinion writer:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard anyone on the right say that it is IQ that determines productivity??

The writer is essentially and inaccurately positing that “rightists” believe that individuals with high IQs can’t be non-productive, deadweight layabouts and that individuals with low IQs can’t be productive even if they have a solid work ethic, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility, pride, and purpose.

And that’s just to start with…”rightists” claiming salary should be based on “productivity”??

Anyway, the tweet reminded me to give a shout-out to the No Limits Cafe, whose mission is to “EMPOWER adults with intellectual disabilities by providing jobs and job training to help them lead fulfilling lives within our community and to increase awareness of their potential.” Wut??? This is just crazy, am I right??!!!


Was It All a Lie? A Rant Deferred

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

This morning I was reflecting on a post by Allahpundit, in which he reacted to Rand Paul’s assertion that the GOP should apologize to Obama for pretending it cared about spending during his presidency. Allahpundit replied that pandemic spending is a necessity and that apologies are not owed to Obama. But …

But you know what I will take an apology for? I’ll accept one for running gigantic deficits during a sustained pre-pandemic economic boom with a Republican president in office, Republicans in control of the Senate, and, for two years, Republicans in charge of the House. That’s the spending binge that proved that the tea party was a fraud to its core, not the exorbitant emergency relief effort that Congress is now engaged in.

. . . .

. . .It’s opportunistic Trump-hugging cronies like Paul who think they’re one election away from relevance again.

Never Trumpers, in contrast, are the righties who are most thoroughly disillusioned about what they thought the GOP stood for. Trump’s presidency isn’t an interregnum between periods of Reaganism in their view, it’s an expose that busted the myth that Republican politicians or voters ever cared much about smaller government or “constitutional conservatism” or, you know, basic ethics. Stuart Stevens, a former GOP strategist and now a member of the Lincoln Project, has a book out this week about his own disillusionment with the party titled “It Was All a Lie.” You can’t do better than that as a summary of the Never Trump verdict on the pre-Trump GOP.

It was all a lie. Hose it down with kerosene and light a match.

I have never described myself as a “Never Trumper” (I’m not big on joining groups) but I feel the disillusion, and I made notes this morning for a long rant about my disappointment with various factions. Disappointment with judges who go wobbly on the real issues and wink at abuses of the rule of law done for cronyism. Disappointment with Senators who professed to care about the deficit, and the Constitution, and reining in an out of control executive, and fostering basic morality and decency … and then gave it all up due to fear that speaking out for what they believed in might cost them an election. Disappointment at commentators who ranted at the obvious deficiencies of Trump, and then traded that all for attaboys from strangers on the Internet. Disappointment at large swaths of the voting public for voting such a cretin into office.

But there is a part of me which questions whether I should write this rant at all.

Or at least, that part of me which suggests this as a compromise: that if I do write that rant, perhaps it should be tempered with the knowledge that my views of other people are often changed when I meet them in person. There are public figures I am more reluctant to criticize because they seem nice in person, and I think they actually are, and that niceness is mixed in with the nasty bits I see in public. And you know what? I think it’s true of everyone.

And the reverse is true of me. Whatever angelic image I might try to project onto an Internet screen, the truth is that when you know me in private you find I’m a deeply flawed human being who sins.

I still might write that rant. I’ll probably wait until after my daughter has left the house, because the time I would need to invest would detract from the little time we have with her before she returns to school. It is a silver lining of the pandemic that for a time, we have had a household resembling in many ways the one we used to have before she left for college: all four members of the family together, playing games, going on walks together … just like the old days. That’s going to change soon.

When it does, I may be back at the blog a little more. And maybe I’ll have time to write that rant. But for now, it’s like one of those letters Lincoln wrote in anger and put in his drawer — only I have described a little something about the contents of the letter to you. When days have passed I will open the drawer again, and maybe I will send the letter and maybe I’ll leave it in the drawer.

Or maybe it will become something more temperate. A letter that makes the same points, but less in anger.

We’ll see.


On Rioting: Two Different Voices, Two Different Perspectives

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:32 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Yesterday, Red Nation Rising posted a plea made on behalf of rioters everywhere:

While these nationwide rallies began as righteous and peaceful protests, the young person in the video concedes and confirms, however unwittingly, that devolution has occurred: riots, not mere protests. This, of course, leads to the obvious: if you don’t want to get arrested, don’t destroy public property or commit acts of violence. [Ed. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: this does not excuse the bad behavior by some law enforcement officers or relieve of accountability those whose abusive acts have been captured on video. It is possible to hold more than one thought in our heads at the same time: we can be concerned about the destruction and violence wrought by individuals in various cities, we can be concerned about the overreach of the federal government, and we can be concerned about the abuses of law enforcement on the ground. This post does seek to prioritize the concerns, just address one of them.]

With that, Portland’s Chuck Lovell makes, not so much a plea as a reaffirmation of committment to the people of Portland. As a black man who just happens to be the city’s Chief of Police, he sets the stage beginning with the killing of George Floyd to the eventual attack on the Justice Center:

After the horrendous killing of George Floyd, people in Portland, Ore., joined with thousands across the country in demonstrations to address police reform and widespread systemic racism. The leaders of the Portland Police Bureau denounced this tragic death, and we reiterated our willingness to engage in reforms.

But Portland has now faced weeks of extreme difficulties and drew intense national attention after federal officers were deployed here.

As police officers, our duty is to uphold the rights of anyone to assemble peacefully and engage in free speech. But over the months of protests, a concerning dynamic developed. People protested peacefully, while others engaged in dangerous activities that could have resulted in injury and even death.

After hours of largely peaceful demonstrations in Portland, Ore., following the killing of George Floyd, violence erupted on Friday, May 29.

The night of May 29 was a pivotal moment for our city. Hundreds of people, in a coordinated effort, attacked the Justice Center, which includes our Central Precinct station and the Multnomah County Detention Center. They broke into the building, destroyed the first-floor interior and lit fires. Afterward, there was looting and destruction downtown.

Yet in the following weeks, thousands of people demonstrated peacefully in an awesome expression of First Amendment rights. The Police Bureau had little to no interaction with members of this group, because they did not allow criminal activity to implode their message.

Lovell helps us understand his perspective, and what he has faced in the past few weeks:

As a Black man and a public servant, I have a unique perspective. I agree with a local pastor, E.D. Mondainé, who stated these “spectacles” are drowning out the voices that need to be heard to make positive change. This violence is doing nothing to further the Black Lives Matter movement.

On one night, for example, individuals screwed the doors of our North Precinct station shut, barricaded other entrances and lit the station on fire with people inside. Nearby businesses, owned by people of color, were damaged and looted. On other nights, there were multiple attempts to breach the Justice Center. Other law enforcement facilities were targeted, including the union building, which was broken into and had fires set within.

And as with everything life, if one does not have foresight, and consider the unintended consequences, the very people in immediate need are the ones who will inevitably be hurt:

The voices of victims are not heard as well. Because of the protests, officers have not been able to respond to 911 calls or have been delayed for hours. Investigators’ cases lie on their desks as they work nights to process arrests. We have seen an alarming increase in shootings and homicides. We need to redirect our focus to preventing and solving these crimes that are taking a hugely disproportionate number of minority lives.

In spite of everything that is going on, Lovell remains optimistic and as committed as ever to protecting Americans:

I have said frequently that the Portland Police Bureau is committed to reform. We are a progressive agency and have demonstrated our willingness to change over the past eight years. Working with the Department of Justice, we have made significant changes to our policies and training. The Portland Police Bureau’s policy on the use of deadly force is more restrictive than state and federal law.

We recently enhanced our Community Engagement Unit to help build trust and legitimacy with the communities we serve. We have also developed several advisory councils that help the Police Bureau make decisions with the benefit of a diverse set of inputs.

The Portland Police Bureau has had an equity and inclusion office for over five years. I recently changed the organizational structure to have it report directly to me, to ensure we are prioritizing its work.

I have confidence in our community and the people who have dedicated their lives to building relationships with police. They have stood up and said no more violence. I stand with them with a servant’s heart, committed to being leaders in police reform.

Some people believe you have to tear it all down in a long-overdue reckoning before you can build up an equitable structure giving testimony to real change. Some people believe you can use the existing foundation and build upon it a transformed, stable, and enduring structure. This is the fraught landscape of options upon which we find ourselves standing these days.


New Political Ads From Biden And Trump Camps

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:26 am

[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few recently released Trump campaign ads with a different line of attack on Joe Biden:

The 30-second TV ads – running in North Carolina, Arizona, Florida and Georgia in English and Spanish – don’t feature Trump at all, except for a brief photo at the end during the mandatory declaration that he approves the message. Instead, they feature the former vice president – who has had trouble exciting progressives in the Democratic Party – with such leftist figures as democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

The first ad is called “Takeover,” and it’s in the dramtaically-narrated style that the campaign seems to favor:

The second ad called “Cards” is unusually quiet for a Trump ad:

Clearly, the battleground states are expanding:

A CBS News/YouGov poll released Sunday shows Biden up by 4 percentage points in North Carolina – with 48% supporting Biden and 44% backing Trump – and a single point in long reliably-red Georgia, where Biden has the support of 46% of those polled compared to 45% for Trump. Because of the margin of error in polling, the two men are virtually tied in those states.

Trump is investing in those states in part because early voting and absentee voting starts in September or October.

“The countdown clock may show 91 days left in the race, but in reality the election starts a lot sooner than that,” Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement. “In many states, more than half of voters will cast their votes well before Election Day and we have adjusted our strategy to reflect that. Joe Biden is continuing to spend millions of dollars a week in states that won’t come online for two months and we encourage him to keep at it.”

Biden’s camp jumped on Trump’s insensitive comment regarding US deaths from Covid-19 made during his recent interview with Jonathan Swan. With an enormous ad buy, Team Biden is reportedly going to be shifting their focus of attack to the President’s handling of the pandemic. Biden tweeted “It Is What It Is”:

Another recent ad, “Donna,” features a grandma lamenting not being able to see her grandchildren in person because of virus risks and Trump’s ineffective response to the pandemic:

Joe Biden’s campaign says it has reserved $280 million in television and digital advertising that it plans to use largely to hammer President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The presumptive Democratic nominee’s ads will often run 60 seconds rather than the more typical 30-second commercials, and will frequently feature Biden speaking directly into a camera, campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a memo Wednesday. The ads will air in 15 states the campaign believes will be competitive in November’s election…

The reservations, which include $220 million for television and $60 million in digital ads, underscore Biden aides’ belief that this year’s election offers Democrats a wide playing field, with a large number of possible paths for Biden to reach 270 electoral votes.

The states in Biden’s advertising plan include 10 that Trump won in 2016. Three — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — are the “blue wall” that Trump toppled. Five more — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas — are growing southern and southwestern states with increasingly diverse populations. The remaining two are Iowa and Ohio, states that former President Barack Obama won twice, but that have shifted in Republicans’ favor in recent years, with Trump winning both in 2016.
Biden’s buy also includes five states Hillary Clinton won in 2016: Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia.

A sign of the times: Due to Covid-19 concerns, Biden is expected to accept his nomination with a speech delivered from his home in Delaware, and Trump has confirmed that he plans to deliver his nomination acceptance speech from the White House.

Only 90 days left until the election.

ADDED: Because this is apparently what we deserve:



My Little Aloha Sweetie for Vice-President

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:58 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Don’t pretend like you didn’t see this one coming.

With putative Democrat Presidential nominee Joe Biden zeroing in on his Vice-Presidential pick — and believe me, the leaked names under consideration are indeed a bunch of zeros — it’s time to make the argument for a bold, refreshing, unconventional pick that would establish Slow Joe as something other than a dinosaur who has spent a half-century mucking around Washington, DC and who is in complete thrall to the power players and elite opinion makers which sadly dominate his party. Various names have been bandied about over the past few months: Stacey Abrams, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Tammy Duckworth, and now Karen Bass. They each have something to offer the elderly white male Establishment figure around whom party pooh-bahs rallied during that harrowing point last winter when a nutty old socialist nearly stormed the gates and threw out everyone who wore a tailored suit.

But none of them offer the advantages that Mr. Biden stands to reap if he takes the bold step of naming the fourth-term Congresswoman from the islands of Hawai’i to his ticket. She matches and/or surpasses any of the strengths of the other potential candidates, and at worst her liabilities are no more troublesome than those of the rest of the field. Don’t believe me? Let’s consider:

Stacey Abrams
Pros: Almost managed to get herself elected governor of Georgia.
Cons: Garden variety leftist of the Sanders stripe. It’s hard to see her winning over voters in the Rust Belt.

Karen Bass
Pros: Apparently she and Biden get along well together, though Biden might have mistaken her for his nurse.
Cons: As late as 2016 still thought Fidel Castro had done a bang-up job in Cuba. Her only major accomplishment as Speaker of the California Assembly, a budget deal with Governor Schwarzenegger, was overwhelmingly rejected by the state’s voters, hardly an endorsement of her ability to sell her fellow Democrats on compromise.

Keisha Lance Bottoms
Pros: Executive experience in government, I suppose.
Cons: Atlanta has hardly been a model for how to deal with civic unrest, and her dithering ended up in the senseless death of a young girl.

Tammy Duckworth
Pros: Inspiring life story about her service to our country and how she overcame devastating war wounds. Her politics generally align with those of one of her seat’s previous occupants, Barack Obama.
Cons: I consider Sen. Duckworth, whose mother was Thai-Chinese, to be a person of color, but will African-Americans? The recent prominence of BPIOC (Black & Indigenous People of Color) in woke leftist usage seems particularly designed to omit Asians from the intersectionality grievance matrix.

Kamala Harris
Pros: I pass.
Cons: Mr. Biden would look weak by choosing a woman who relentlessly demagogued him at the first Democrat debate. Her accomplishments in offices she has held have been scant, but the controversies she has stirred up have been formidable and will at last get full airing should she be chosen.

Susan Rice
Pros: I don’t know; maybe having worked with her in the past there will be a flicker of recognition in Mr. Biden’s mind when she walks into a meeting room.
Cons: It makes more sense to pick an elected official who is notable for brazenly lying to us than an appointed official who is notable for brazenly lying to us. And I don’t think the Biden team wants to give strong hints that they will merely be reassembling the Obama squad.

Elizabeth Warren
Pros: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
Cons: Where do I begin? Let’s just leave it at the fact that a party which fetishizes youth and diversity would have 150 years’ worth of white folks on their ticket.

Here’s a helpful tool I created so that you can all see how My Little Aloha Sweetie stacks up against all of these mediocrities:

Dem VP chart

By naming Tulsi Gabbard to the Vice-Presidential slot, Joe Biden could improve his candidacy in several ways. First, he keeps his promise to appoint a woman, and he gets a woman of color to boot (though, like Sen. Duckworth, Rep. Gabbard would have her BPIOC credentials challenged). Second, he gets an ally of Bernard Sanders to join him, and one who is far more personable and charming than the cranky old Marxist bastard. Third, he flanks the Trump/Pence ticket by appointing a generation other than the Baby Boomers who have ruled the roost for the past twenty-eight years. (Fun note: Joe Biden would be the first representative of the Silent Generation to be elected President; Dick Cheney is the only one to serve as VP.) Fourth, in our heavily divisive times he would be choosing someone who doesn’t seem to have much interest in scoring cheap partisan points, and who generally treats her ideological opponents as serious people with whom she should discuss ideas rather than as irascible racists who need to be silenced. Her weaknesses — impractical economics, a tolerance of murderous dictators, lack of high-level leadership — aren’t any different than the weaknesses of any of the other candidates, or for that matter her potential boss. And we have seen the Warrior Princess on the debate stage and we know that she has a toughness and a resiliency that are quite admirable.

Joe Biden could do a whole hell of a lot worse. And he probably will.


Pandemic Or Not, Famed Motorcycle Rally Is A Go

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:18 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This just doesn’t seem like a good idea. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is on:

More than 250,000 people are expected to rumble through western South Dakota, seeking the freedom of cruising the boundless landscapes in a state that has skipped lockdowns. The Aug. 7 to 16 event, which could be the biggest anywhere so far during the pandemic, will offer businesses that depend on the rally a chance to make up for losses caused by the coronavirus. But for many in Sturgis, a city of about 7,000, the brimming bars and bacchanalia will not be welcome during a pandemic.

In non-pandemic years, the famed rally at Sturgis usually sees around 500,000 people. But while this year’s numbers are estimated to be half that amount, we’re still talking about a quarter of a million people coming from any number of places throughout the country and descending on a small city during a ten-day period in the midst of a pandemic. Apparently, while a majority of residents were against hosting the event this year, local business leaders pushed for it, pointing to the incredible amount of money that is spent by rallygoers – especially the affluent riders with loads of cash burning a hole in their pockets:

Rallygoers have spent about $800 million in past years, according to the state Department of Tourism…

The attorney for a tourism souvenir wholesaler in Rapid City wrote to the City Council reminding that a judge found the city does not solely own rights to the rally and threatening to sue if the city tried to postpone it. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Chip, which is the largest campground and concert venue that lies outside the bounds of the city, made clear that it would hold some version of the rally.

Rod Woodruff, who operates the Buffalo Chip, said he felt he had little choice but to proceed with the rally. He employs hundreds of people in August and a smaller full-time staff.

“We spend money for 355 days of the year without any return on it, hoping people show up for nine days,” he said. “We’re a nine-day business.”

Woodruff felt he could pull off a safe event, allowing people to keep their distance from one another at the outdoor concerts at his campground. He said he was emboldened by the July 3 fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore, where 7,500 people gathered without any reported outbreaks after the event, according to health officials.

(For comparison: the July 3 fireworks celebration was a single-day event which saw 242,500 fewer people than are expected during the 10-day Sturgis rally, which will include poker tournaments, drag races, concerts, rides, etc.)

In spite of the event being greenlit, there can be no doubt that the city recognizes that this year is like no other:

When the rally is over, every year the city weighs all the trash generated to estimate how many people showed up. This year, they will also conduct mass coronavirus testing to see if all those people brought the pandemic to Sturgis.

The City of Sturgis rally website provides attendees with instructions regarding travel restrictions on tribal lands due to Covid-19, as well providing instructions for temporary vendor and liquor license holders.

South Dakota’s current Covid-19 numbers can be found here.


The Trump Interview with Axios: Lies Corrected on the Fly

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

You can watch the Trump interview by Jonathan Swan of Axios below. Trump looks and sounds dumber than ever, and in part I think it’s because Swan makes an attempt to correct and/or put in context every false and misleading thing Trump says, as it happens. It leads to a constant stream of small interruptions that will annoy you if you like Trump, but which I find refreshing as someone who dislikes watching him vomit out 50 lies per minute and never get corrected on anything.

I have cut for you one of my favorite clips, with Trump talking about mail-in voting. Trump calls it a new phenomena [sic]; Swan says it’s been around since the Civil War. Trump says it’s expanding; Swan says that’s because of the pandemic. Trump says, over and over, that states are mailing out ballots; Swan says (almost as repeatedly) that they are sending out applications, which you could download off the Internet.

I don’t have time to transcribe it for you — I usually do — but it’s worth the 80 seconds it takes to watch it.

This is how you do it:

Once you have watched the clip you can back up the interview to the beginning if you like, by moving the time slider all the way to the left.

Buffoon. I cannot wait until he’s gone.


In The Air: Call To End Presidential Debates

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:32 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The idea is being promoted by members of the media and the political community. From Elizabeth Drew’s op-ed in the New York Times:

The debates have never made sense as a test for presidential leadership. In fact, one could argue that they reward precisely the opposite of what we want in a president. When we were serious about the presidency, we wanted intelligence, thoughtfulness, knowledge, empathy and, to be sure, likability. It should also go without saying, dignity.

Yet the debates play an outsize role in campaigns and weigh more heavily on the verdict than their true value deserves.

This, by the way, isn’t written out of any concern that Donald Trump will prevail over Joe Biden in the debates; Mr. Biden has done just fine in a long string of such contests. The point is that “winning” a debate, however assessed, should be irrelevant, as are the debates themselves.

Hm, if this call to end debates isn’t about concerns that Trump might possibly prevail over Biden during a debate, then why not make the case prior to the debate between Trump and Clinton, or Bush and Obama? I think that Ms. Drew’s timing is suspect:

Drew was a panelist for the first debate in the 1976 U.S. Presidential election, and moderated the debate between the Democratic candidates for the nomination in the 1984 race.

Which makes the question of ‘why now’ all the more relevant.

The New Republic suggests that political debates, like conventions, are relics of a bygone era:

This moment has forced us to reimagine much of our politics, and it’s perhaps the right time to consider whether these annual televised events have the same salience they had in the heyday of Jim Lehrer. The truth is that the debates have long since stopped serving the needs of voters and instead only exist to benefit television networks and cable news, in particular. Perhaps it’s time to consign them to the dustbin of history.

Every election cycle brings helpful souls out of the woodwork, pitching a new wave of ways to fix our broken presidential debates. There is a constant refrain: Dial down the pageantry and ratchet up the sobriety. It is a truth universally acknowledged that live audiences, more keen on hooting and hollering than listening, distract from the proceedings. This not only gives debates the atmosphere of an early-round NBA playoff game, but it also underlines the fact that what is happening is a spectacle, not anything of substance.

Whatever purpose these debates may have served at some point in the past has been overrun by media excess and politics’ cynical machinery. If they once functioned effectively as a showcase to contrast the essential differences between the candidates or to test their leadership and critical thinking skills, they now exist as a strange sort of political ritual that celebrates form over function and optics over authenticity. Really, they are just a thing we now do every election season, without fully understanding why we do it. What could we possibly learn from three debates between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, besides the fact that it’s time we did away with them entirely?

On a side note, Biden’s team is advising Biden not to participate in any scheduled debates, saying that it will just be an opportunity for a Trump publicity stunt:

Democratic strategists and supporters of Vice President Joe Biden are urging him not to debate President Donald Trump in the lead-up to Election Day, citing Trump’s publicity stunts and disregard for the rules in 2016…Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart joined several Democratic Party strategists in bluntly advising Biden, “whatever you do, don’t debate Trump.” Speaking on CNN Saturday, Lockhart said Trump shouldn’t be given another platform which will enable him to “repeat lies,” which he said occurred in the 2016 debates against Hillary Clinton.

“We saw in the debates in 2016 Hillary Clinton showed a mastery of the issues, every point she made was more honest and bested Trump,” Lockhart told CNN. “But Trump came out of the debates doing better I think because he just kept repeating the same old lies: ‘we’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it,’ ‘we’re going to keep all those Mexican rapists out of the country,’ and ‘we’re going to make great trade deals’ — none of these things have come to pass.”

“Giving him that national forum to continue to spout — get him to 21,000 or 22,000 lies — I think just isn’t worth it for the Democrats or for Biden,” Lockhart continued

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign wants not just more debates but wants them to be scheduled sooner. Note: The Commission on Presidential Debates has scheduled four debates so far: three between Trump and Biden and one between Vice President Pence and whoever emerges as Biden’s running mate.

Although I watch the presidential debates, it is with the understanding that they are little more than well-rehearsed performative acts designed to seduce voters with a tightly-tailored snapshot of the candidate. The events rarely reveal anything we don’t already know about the candidate, especially in this election. However, because there are occasions when a well-timed bit of snark or a foot-in-mouth gaffe provides an unexpected laugh, I must insist that the two old, rich white clowns whose mental acuity is in question stand behind their respective podiums and debate one another (audience not required). I simply will not be denied the cheap thrills of *this* presidential debate. And how sad is that?

On a serious note, who do you think fares better in a debate between Biden and Trump, and why?


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