Open Thread for Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Here’s something to be thankful for.

Just a quick one to toss some possible discussions out there:

  1. What are you doing for Thanksgiving? — I’ve been asking this of people I speak to about unrelated things. Mostly, there is some concession to the resurgence of the plague, and the danger the holidays pose — but it varies greatly, from families gathering on screened porches to not gathering at all. Everyone in our fam is dining in their own home pods — except my two single kids who live in town, who will eat with us, but spread out in the house. Then, if weather permits, we might all go have dessert out in my parents’ spacious back yard. We’ll see.
  2. Biden’s national security team — Talk about something for which to be thankful — tomorrow, and every day for the foreseeable future. This is exactly what I wanted. As the Post’s editorial board put it, this group “ought to encourage anyone who values experience, expertise, integrity and fundamental competence in U.S. government leaders.” Amen. This is such a wonderful change from what we have unfortunately grown used to. For a slightly more fun approach to the same point, I recommend Dana Milbank’s column, headlined “Biden’s win brings new hope for peace deals with Denmark and Canada.”
  3. Ex-SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh pleading guilty to fraud charges — To start things off, I’ll cite the reaction of one of the most illustrious members of our little blog community. In reaction to the news that Marsh “is facing prison time and fines worth more than $5M after pleading guilty to defrauding S.C. ratepayers who paid billions for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear power plant,” our own Lynn Teague tweeted two words: “Richly deserved.”

You know what? That’s enough for now, just to get things started. I need to get back to some work, and then go bake a cake…

104 thoughts on “Open Thread for Wednesday, November 25, 2020

  1. Barry

    We are staying at home for Thanksgiving and doing our traditional dinner here.

    My dad who lives several hours away actually told us it would probably be better for us to stay at home and my in-laws are having a small gathering of family members but several of them are in their mid – late 70s and 80s so we felt it best not to go to their house. We might actually drive by in the afternoon to visit out in the front yard for a few minutes.

    It’s really not that big of a sacrifice because I have a backyard movie set up at my house and they came over a few weeks ago and we watched a movie and a football game outside in my backyard so we see them regularly where we can spread out and keep plenty of distance.

    Ever since my coworker and friend passed away several weeks back we’ve been even more cautious.

    Regarding the Biden cabinet announcement one person on Twitter described it as a “dull and boring.” I think they meant that as a negative but my response was to shout “ hallelujah“

    That is exactly what I wanted- dull and boring

  2. jim Catoe

    I read with much interest the article in today’s State regarding Kevin Marsh. I have kept a treasured copy of Cindy Ross Scoppe’s piece in The State headlined “Here’s who voted to give SCE&G a blank Check”. We must not forget the degree of complicity that our honorable legislature had in the SCANA debacle. Only six members of the House opposed the Base Load Review Act while the Senate approved it with a non-recorded vote after several amendments.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      When I was thinking sort of hypothetically about working on James Smith’s campaign — I think this was over lunch one day about a month or two before he asked me to do it — I was thinking about things that could be problems, and asked him, “How did you vote on the Base Load Review Act?”

      He said, “I didn’t. I was in Afghanistan.”

      It was, I thought, a good answer…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        By the way, working on that campaign was MY idea, long before it was James’. I’d always wanted to experience actually DOING what I had written so much about, and I figured I’d never again have a better opportunity to work for a candidate I really believed in.

        There are only a few people in politics who fit that description, and most of them aren’t in politics any more. James is one. Joe Riley is another. So was John McCain, back in the day.

        And of course, Joe Biden is.

        Anyway, I first broached the subject with James late summer or early spring of 2015, over breakfast at Lizard’s Thicket, before he had announced. This was long before he would have hired anyone like me. At that point, he had one staffer — Scott Harrington, his “body man,” who recently served as state political director for Joe’s hugely successful primary in SC.

        I brought it up occasionally with him over the coming months. Then one day right after the primary, he called me and asked me to meet him at Mandy’s House office, and the rest is, you know

  3. Lynn Teague

    I will never forget sitting in the PSC hearing room listening to the breathtaking arrogance of Kevin Marsh when he announced the V. C. Summer shutdown and his intention that ratepayers cover every cent that it cost. No shame, just a Lamborghini or two and some other vehicles for variety. I doubt he can take those with him.

  4. James Edward Cross

    Stayed at home and had a traditional turkey dinner. Will be staying in this weekend as much as possible to avoid the shopping madness as much as the unmasked fools who think COVID-19 is some sort of myth. Talked to my Mom over the phone.

    Biden’s national security picks look solid so far. I have three concerns though. While having a unified foreign policy is a good thing, too much unanimity can lead to groupthink. Some ability to look beyond the current situation can be useful and lead to innovative solutions to problems. Not to mention that you can miss things if you don’t broaden your outlook (think Bush II’s Cold war focus and 9/11).

    Another is that, while protesting that the Biden presidency isn’t Obama II, the choices make it look like … Obama II. Finally, while I’m all for experienced nominees who will make the Republicans look like fools when they try to block them, Biden needs to choose the people *he* wants and not worry so much about who will pass Republican muster. Not saying he should pick someone he knows the Republicans won’t accept but he shouldn’t shy away from someone just because the Republicans will have a hissy fit.

    Don’t deal with SCANA (Duke Energy instead, lucky me) but I’m pleased to hear that at least one corporate rip-off artist is actually getting punished by the justice system.

  5. Ken

    Science went before the Supreme Court this week … and lost. Marking the debut of the new conservative majority on the court.

    1. Doug Ross

      10 people allowed in a church but not 11 is not science. It’s bureaucracy. Selective enforcement of “science” is idiocy. But who would expect anything less of the city that handled COVID worse than any other place in the country? Cuomo and DeBlasio make Trump look like a genius. DeBlasio shutdown the schools to appease teachers unions and ignored the recommendations of scientists and Fauci. They got what they deserved from the supreme Court… An embarrassing ass kicking.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      The state has no evidence that worship services when following proper social-distancing protocols and disinfecting regimes present any more risk than the businesses that the state allows to operate with lesser or no restrictions. That means it’s discriminatory and arbitrary as well as unconstitutional.

      1. Ken

        No evidence? Stop spreading garbage. It has long been established by virologists and other infectious disease experts that indoor gatherings of large groups of people over an extended period of time are a significant source of infectious spread. And there have been numerous cases of viral clustering originating from church services. As Justice Sotomayor notes, “JUSTICE GORSUCH does not even try to square his examples with the conditions medical experts tell us facilitate the spread of COVID–19: large groups of people gathering, speaking, and singing in close proximity indoors for extended periods of time.” She continues: “Justices of this Court play a deadly game in second guessing the expert judgment of health officials about the environments in which a contagious virus, now infecting a million Americans each week, spreads most easily.” The district court in this case also found that New York’s regulations were “crafted based on science and for epidemiological purposes.” And as Justice Breyer points out, the court has “previously recognized that courts must grant elected officials ‘broad’ discretion when they ‘undertake to act in areas fraught with medical and scientific uncertainties.’” Lastly, church services can be conducted online without any diminution of their content or function.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          The restrictions of 10 or 25 people apply even to the largest cathedrals and synagogues, which ordinarily hold hundreds. The restrictions apply no matter the precautions taken, including social distancing, wearing masks, leaving doors and windows open, forgoing singing, and disinfecting spaces between services.

          1. Ken

            Restricting the number of people gathering indoors is PART of a GROUP of mutually reinforcing precautions. You don’t get to opt out of one just because you enforce another. They work together.

            1. Barry

              If only the folks attending were the ones paying the price, I’d be ok with it .

              But of course they go spread COVID to innocent people.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          “No evidence? Stop spreading garbage.”

          I’ll put you down as respectfully dissenting.

          “Lastly, church services can be conducted online without any diminution of their content or function.”

          That is a personal theological opinion, not a legal argument.

        3. Bryan Caskey

          “Lastly, church services can be conducted online without any diminution of their content or function.”

          As the Dude would say, “That’s just like…your opinion, man.”

          If only 10 people are admitted to each service, the great majority of those who wish to attend Mass on Sunday or services in a synagogue on Shabbat will be barred. And while those who are shut out may in some instances be able to watch services on television, such remote viewing is not the same as personal attendance. Catholics who watch a Mass at home cannot receive communion, and there are important religious traditions in the Orthodox Jewish faith that require personal attendance.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Well, it’s not ideal, but I think I’m doing OK streaming Mass. Except for occasional technical difficulties, which I can usually overcome by going back and watching an earlier, recorded Mass…

            I didn’t want to get involved in this discussion, because I think it’s all rather absurd. It’s very “how many angels on the head of a pin.” But I thought I’d step in and ask, has anyone made the most obvious argument, that the Constitution is not a suicide pact? I ask because, I confess, I haven’t read all the comments…

      2. Scout

        I’ve not been following the details. Were they asking something different of churches than other businesses? My impression was that that was not the case, but like I said I haven’t been following it closely. If gatherings of 10 or more were banned across the board no matter the organization/business etc. – I would think that would not be discriminatory.

        I do totally acknowledge that meeting online may very well not meet the same theological need to some people as in person gatherings do – but I don’t necessarily think that means they should get a pass when there is a public health risk either.

        1. Ken

          No, banning equally across the board would not make sense either. People don’t congregate for long periods of time in liquor stores like they do in churches. So there’s no reason to treat them the same.

          1. Barry

            Come on Ken

            I thought all churches had choir practice at the local liquor liquor store….

            Gorsuch comparing these two places at all is dishonest

      3. Barry

        There is quite a bit of evidence, including a CDC study about churches being prone to higher rates of COVID spread.

        I’ve posted the links twice but for some reason it won’t post on the blog.

        I know it probably doesn’t matter to you because public health officials can’t do anything to keep church people from meeting together but there is actual evidence

          1. Barry

            “Churches and places of worship are particularly conducive to coronavirus spread, and a new study from Johns Hopkins researchers quantifies just how much that’s the case.”

            If the justice is going to stick their heads in the sand that’s perfectly fine but at least they should admit it and not pretend otherwise

  6. bud

    Science is now held in low esteem by the Trump deplorables, especially those on the Supreme Court. And the death toll climbs. In the US there will be as many COVID deaths as WW 2 combat deaths by the end off next week.

    1. Barry

      I read a bit of Gorsuch’s opinion.

      Does he really think a liquor store and a church are similar? Maybe he does and that explains a lot.

      1. Lynn Teague

        Well, some of these folks think unlimited billionaire funds buying our government won’t diminish citizen faith in our government (Citizens United) and that racist voter suppression is no longer an issue (Shelby v Holder). It seems they can believe any outlandish thing whatsoever, so long as it gets them where they want to go — government small enough to drown in a bathtub, unable to counterbalance corporations big enough to drown us all.

        1. Bryan Caskey

          That’s a gross mischaracterization of those two opinions, and I’m a bit surprised that someone as smart as you would do that.

          It’s fine to fairly disagree, but come on.

      2. Bryan Caskey

        The Governor of NY classified both as “essential”, and then placed an arbitrary cap on churches regardless of size and other protocols.

        Also, if you’re going to insult a Supreme Court Justice, try to at least make it funny. That joke would have worked better with Kavanaugh.

        1. Barry

          The restrictions were not even in place.

          I don’t know about anyone else’s church but I am unaware of many churches that mimic “liquor stores and bike stores” in the way they conduct their business.

          As my own pastor told me months ago, after this is over a lot of folks are probably not coming back to church because of the way lot of churches have acted.

          I’m in that boat.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “The restrictions were not even in place.”

            Even though the unconstitutional restrictions were removed by the Governor of NY just days before the Court issued its opinion, it doesn’t matter. The Governor of NY continues to assert the power to tighten them again anytime. So if the Court dismissed this case, nothing would prevent the Governor from reinstating the challenged restrictions tomorrow. And by the time a new challenge might work its way back to the Court, he could just change them again.

            “I don’t know about anyone else’s church but I am unaware of many churches that mimic “liquor stores and bike stores” in the way they conduct their business.”

            The entire point of the comparison to the liquor store and the bike store is not in how they “conduct their business” whatever that means. It’s in how the state of NY was treating them neither a liquor store nor a bike store was required to impose hard caps of 10 or 25 irrespective of the size of the space and all other social distancing and mitigation taking place – but houses of worship were. It’s more harsh and disparate treatment.

            1. Scout

              Would it not be relevant that the very nature of the business/organization involves large gatherings in the one case and not in the others?

              Is it discrimination to not require life jackets in automobiles but require them in boats? Or does the fact that they are different in that one takes place on water and one does not make this difference ok?

              Last I checked bike shops and liquor stores do not by their very nature have an advertised time where they expect and ask for large groups of people to specifically gather.

              1. Barry

                Great job Scout. It’s common sense but as we know……

                Many churches that I know are still having choirs, with people singing while standing next to each other. This is irresponsible.

                That’s why Government rules are necessary in public health emergencies.

            2. Barry

              I am not aware of any liquor stores or bike shops that have 10 to 25 people standing around singing songs together.

              maybe it happens but it’s not in the normal expected day-to-day business operations of a bike shop or a liquor store to have numerous people hugging each other, praying for each other in close quarters, singing while standing next to each other for extended periods of time.

              So yes, it’s relevant,

            3. Barry

              Churches and places of worship are particularly conducive to coronavirus spread, and a new study from Johns Hopkins researchers quantifies just how much that’s the case.”

              Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are Confronting Coronavirus Cases.
              “ High transmission rates of SARS-CoV-2 have been reported from hospitals (7), long-term care facilities (8), family gatherings (9), a choir practice (10), and, in this report, church events. Faith-based organizations that are operating or planning to resume in-person operations, including regular services, funerals, or other events, should be aware of the potential for high rates of transmission of SARS-CoV-2”

              Churches Emerge as a Major Source of Coronavirus


              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Hey, Barry — I just noticed this comment of yours that was held for moderation.

                That happened because of all the links. Sometimes WordPress sees them, and suspects spam.

                Sorry I didn’t notice it earlier…

          1. Barry

            A friend of mine just returned from New York. He said many such stores like liquor stores there require you to wear a mask, make your purchase, and immediately leave.

            Yet another reason the opinion of someone like gorsuch was ignorant.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                You realize, of course, that you have invited all sorts of facetious responses. But assuming that you would not be diverted by any of them, I’ll just say that while they are not in any strict sense or ordinary meaning “essential,” they are unquestionably popular.

                Especially, from what I’ve seen, Green’s.

                You ever ring a Salvation Army bell outside Green’s this time of year? I have. Very popular…

                1. Barry

                  Not really wanting to get into a religious discussion but one thing I’ve been struck by during COVID is the insistence, by some, of their “rights” over seemingly every other responsibility one could have with their fellow human beings.

                  When I read my bible, I don’t typically come away with a “my rights, to heck with everyone else” inspiration from the verses that I read. From my understanding, that doesn’t appear to have been the message of Jesus. Maybe I’m wrong.

                  I’ve seen this demonstrated on social media from some very faithful members of my own church (not my pastor). The almost obsessive focus on what their “rights” are, etc.

                  We had a missionary visit our church a few years ago. It was actually probably more like 5-7 years ago. One thing she said to the small amount of us that attended her talk was that, after living in another country for so long, she stated something that caught some of us by surprise.

                  She stated that she believed a lot of Christians in America had a very “American” version of Christianity that many Christians in other countries wouldn’t recognize as Christianity. I have to be honest in that It sort of shocked me at the time. I had never thought about such a thing but it did explain some things.

                  She didn’t really elaborate very much but mentioned that the reputation that many Christians from America had was one that was very much focused on “rights.” She admitted that this came from what many Christians in other countries see from tv and social media. That version of Christianity was not something most of the people she worked with wanted -and she had to work with them to overcome it because many of those same people looked up to anything coming from America.

                  Let me add that that this very dear lady said this in a very gentle way. She wasn’t attacking anyone specific. She was simply answering some questions from our group. It was obviously a concern of hers- and looking back now I think she was 100% right.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, I know you’re a lawyer and all, but you can’t fool me: I’m almost sure there’s nothing in the Constitution protecting liquor stores. Or dram shops…

                3. Bryan Caskey

                  Not that there’s anything wrong with a dram shop. On a nice cold evening such as this, a dram would do quite nicely. The bottle stands beside you, sir…

                4. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I’ve gone ashore to Walmart for supplies, and can report that it’s getting a mite parky outside. I’m in the pharmacy department. No sign of the doctor’s leaves he asked for, nor the tincture of laudanum.

                5. Barry


                  News items and posts I’ve seen tonight on social media from South Carolina Trump supporters. These are real posts from real people who actually are spreading this stuff to other people in their circle of friends here in South Carolina, many who clearly believe it.

                  1) Make sure you have your medications and food and stay inside your homes. Trump is ordering the military to action later this week to clean up and kill “Antifa” members in the streets.

                  2). Did you know CIA Director Gina Haspel was arrested in Germany earlier this month and kicked out of the country when she personally led an effort to “secure the servers” that stole the election from Trump?

                  3 Joe Biden is in a walking boot not because he broke his foot playing with his dog but because a “patriot” trump supporter attacked him rightfully and hurt him, but the media doesn’t want everyone to know.

                6. Barry

                  A trump lawyer, today, said in an interview on Newsmax Television, a right wing conspiracy promoting channel, that Chris Krebs, the former Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency who was fired by trump for daring to say this was the most secure election in our history should be executed.

                  “That guy is a class-A moron,” diGenova said. “He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

                  The lawyer was former US Attorney Joseph DiGenova and is a member of Trump’s legal team.

                  Does anyone think Trump will fire or admonish DiGenova for threatening a former administration official?

                  Krebs is a Republican.

                  Krebs said on 60 minutes that he spent a lot of time briefing cabinet officials, and the trump team about election security as well as many state officials and no one pushed back on any of their advice or explanations.

              2. Barry

                I don’t consider anything outside of a hospital and grocery store essential.

                But why are you hung up on the word “essential?” If that’s the issue, then let’s just eliminate that word.

                There is a PROFOUND DIFFERENCE in a liquor store that is open for a quick sale for a small amount of people or even one or two people at a time – and a church service with dozens or hundreds of participants who are attending services for periods of time up to and in excess of an hour.

                Let’s not pretend they are the same and they do the same things. I don’t visit liquor stores. I’ve never bought a beer or a bottle of wine or liquor in my life as I don’t drink alcohol. So I don’t care if such a store is in business or not.

                But I also know such a store isn’t the same as a church and any such comparison is made by someone trying to make a political or religious point.

                1. Lynn Teague

                  The dear lady’s comments parallel aspects of recent thoughts from the Pope. And they are both right.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  You might even say they were both infallible, at least in this case.

                  I have a couple of reflections on what the lady said.

                  The first is the way it takes me back to one of my two favorite courses in college. They were both called “U.S. Social and Intellectual History…,” only with one before and the other after 1865.

                  The “before 1865” was mostly about the development of religion in this country, both before and after it was a country. So much of our intellectual life, from writing about ideas to the formation of universities, was about religion. (The “after 1865” course was much more secular.)

                  A lot could be (and in the context of the course, was) said about it, but I’ll just toss out one basic idea I got from the course: As much as differing movements within Christianity had developed and changed in the centuries since Martin Luther, things kept moving at a fast (if not even faster) clip once folks got over here.

                  In this new place, people were building a new society, and it was very, shall we say, market-oriented. So was religion. I’m reminded of what Ford Prefect had written in the Guide about San Francisco in So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: “Starting a new religion for you is just their way of saying ‘hi.’

                  In a way, America was sort of like that. And while in a sense the whole Reformation was kind of like that (Unhappy in the Established Church? Start a new one!), this aspect was sort of turbocharged in America. Instead of a Pope who was always right, the customer was always right. As our politics got more and more democratized, so did religion. And if you wanted the butts in the pews, you had to please the congregation. I’ve heard of churches where people decide how much to give when the plate goes around on the basis of whether they were pleased by the sermon. That sort of thing, writ large.

                  The second reflection depends to a great extent on the first.

                  In America, whether it’s religion or hamburgers, you expect to get what you want. Same with politics. Americans too often don’t want straight-talking leaders; they want people who will tell them what they want to hear.

                  In other words, when people get involved in politics from a “religious” perspective, it’s more cultural. It’s more about what people think they’re entitled to.

                  It’s cultural. Just as so many supposedly religious conflicts around the world are about culture and politics, not about this or that religious beliefs. Which is where a lot of the critiques from atheists and secularists about “look at all the people who’ve died because of religion” are often mistaken. The Catholics and Protestants in Ireland weren’t fighting over fine points of doctrine, they were fighting because they belonged to this or that faction which was separated by many cultural, economic, political and historical factors, and it just so happened that one team was Papist and the other was not.

                  Ditto with the Sunnis and Shia, near as I can tell. Sure, religion provides a dividing like, but there are a LOT of other factors involved.

                  What am I trying to say? Well, this, I think: Churchgoers who support Trump, and churchgoers who do not, are people who arrive at the church with a certain amount of political baggage. The politics will affect this or that church, by the assumptions that various people bring to the church with them.

                  But I’m rambling now. My point is, Jesus didn’t make them this way. They showed up with a lot of assumptions that were always with them. And when you get a church full of people who came with certain assumptions, the whole community takes on that coloring.

                  This isn’t just and American thing. It’s human nature. It’s just that in America, we’re likely to go farther in giving people exactly what they want…

                3. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Oh, and I’ll add that as much as I may have wandered on that comment, all that stuff has something to do with why I became a Catholic — I wanted to go for a faith that at least had a 2,000-year track record of trying to get in touch with eternal verities, rather than telling people what they wanted to hear in the here and now.

                  My professor in that course, in classifying churches and religious movements, used to talk a lot about “up-from-below” vs. “down-from-above.” I found myself attracted to “down-from-above.”

                  Which is why it appalls me to see about half of Catholics voting for a grossly unqualified, boorish, selfish, astoundingly immoral populist hedonist. It’s one thing for evangelicals to do that — they’re “up-from-below” people. We’re not. And it’s particularly horrifying when the “up” people — clergy, and even some in the hierarchy — actually encourage such behavior.

                  So, you know, thank God for the Pope. He gets it…

                4. Bryan Caskey

                  I didn’t classify liquor stores as essential. The Governor of NY did. Take it up with him.

                  In any event, there’s no science that supports a hard cap of 10 or 25 people to a place without taking the size of the space into account.

                  That’s where the NY law fails.

                5. Barry

                  “ 10 or 25 people”

                  Limiting people from congregating in small to large groups is the goal, not limiting or stopping people from whatever religion they supposedly want to practice.

                  I haven’t been to my local “church building” in 8 months. I’m not going back anytime soon. But my family and I have had plenty of “church.”

                6. Ken

                  If there’s to be no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, then I should be free to enter Covid wards and preach the Gospel! It’s my Constitutional right, dammit!

                7. Bryan Caskey

                  No, that’s not correct at all. At a bare minimum, the First Amendment prohibits government officials from treating religious exercises worse than comparable secular activities, unless they are pursuing a compelling interest and using the least restrictive means available.

                  If a hospital is banning all people from entering a COVID-19 ward (other than the patients themselves and the medical staff) then that’s treating everyone the same. It’s also pursuing a compelling governmental interest using the least restrictive means available. You’re free to go preach elsewhere, just not in the hospital.

                  Again, the arbitrary 10 and 25 person cap is why the NY law fails. In the record before the Court it was without contradiction that the houses of worship had complied with all public health guidance, had implemented additional precautionary measures, and had operated at 25% or 33% capacity for months without a single outbreak.

                  Is this really that hard for y’all to understand?

                8. Bob Amundson

                  “WInd Up” was on my playlist nearly 50 years ago and still resonates:

                  “When I was young and they packed me off to school
                  And taught me how not to play the game
                  I didn’t mind if they groomed me for success
                  Or if they said that I was just a fool
                  So I left there in the morning
                  With their God tucked underneath my arm
                  Their half-assed smiles and the book of rules
                  And I asked this God a question
                  And by way of firm reply
                  He said “I’m not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays”
                  So to my old headmaster and to anyone who cares
                  Before I’m through I’d like to say my prayers
                  I don’t believe you
                  You had the whole damn thing all wrong
                  He’s not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
                  Well, you can excommunicate me on my way to Sunday school
                  And have all the bishops harmonize these lines …”

                9. Ken

                  SOME people apparently just don’t get reductio ad absurdum mockery. Those folks are such zealots they promptly run to the barricades and claim they’re defending freedom. They’re not. They’re defending “freedumb,” making fools of themselves and this country in the eyes of the world.

                10. Bryan Caskey

                  “SOME people apparently just don’t get reductio ad absurdum mockery.”

                  LOL. Sure I do. :)

                  Except the issue here doesn’t have a reducito ad absurdum endpoint. You can only have such an endpoint when there’s no limiting principle. In this case, there is, in fact, a limiting principle. So it’s not mockery, it’s just being incorrect.

                  We see this analysis all the time in court. Judges ask lawyers all the time, “What’s the limiting principle, counselor? What stops this from leading to an absurd result in a certain hypothetical?”

                  It’s just that the hypothetical of someone wanting to evangelize in a COVID ward isn’t a good hypothetical to use as a defense of the NY law because it is easily distinguishable.

                11. Doug Ross

                  It’s simple. Show scientific evidence that 11 people in a church is demonstrably much more unsafe than 10. Let the science win the debate.

                  You can’t. This is pure bureaucratic fantasy… picking random numbers and calling it “based on science” is an aphrodisiac to liberals and big government sheep.

                  The Macy’s Day parade was far more dangerous than 11 people sitting in a church.

                12. Bob Amundson

                  Brad: “My favorite from that album. Way better than the one about the weird old guy who eyed little girls with bad intent…”

                  The title cut became very problematic when I began my career in child protection. The contrast between Aqualung and the storyteller (Anderson) is stark, to say the least.

                13. Ken

                  When will I be granted the magical superpower to insert comments wherever I like, the way Caskey and Warthen can?

                  As to the substance: The law can be used for good or ill. All I ask is that it not be poorly applied to bad ends, as the Supreme Court majority did in the NYC case.

                14. Bryan Caskey

                  All I ask is the law be fairly applied. You can’t be results-oriented. If you are a judge who likes all of your decisions, then you’re not being a good judge. You have to let the law be applied fairly, and without an eye to the end result. Let the process and rules be the guide.

                15. Doug Ross

                  Brad – I saw Al Roker, currently undergoing treatment for prostate cancer, on the streets interviewing people, sometimes with a mask on, sometimes without.

                  I saw the FDNY bagpipers, maskless, in a group far larger than ten, marching down the street literally blowing their aerosolized breath into the air surrounding the group.

                  But I’ll go back to the simple question: 10 or 11? What’s the scientific difference in transmission of COVID? Who decided on 10 as the magic number? Probably the same people who thought it was a great idea to send elderly COVID patients to nursing homes and literally killed thousands of people. That Cuomo gets a pass on that from some people is mind boggling. It was the worst decision made by any politician since this began.

                16. Ken

                  Foolishness combined with incoherence wrapped in warped legalisms does not make for wise counsel, counselor.

                  The NY regulations were reasonable and were applied fairly. Sorry you can’t or don’t want to see that. But I didn’t expect otherwise.

                17. Bryan Caskey

                  “The NY regulations were reasonable and were applied fairly. Sorry you can’t or don’t want to see that. But I didn’t expect otherwise.”

                  Six Supreme Court Justices disagree. One voted not to issue the injunction because the NY Governor voluntarily canceled the challenged regulations on the eve of the Court’s decision.

                18. Barry

                  “Six Supreme Court Justices disagree.”

                  The SCOTUS gets things wrong all the time. Nothing new about it.

                19. Brad Warthen Post author

                  But having six SCOTUS judges agree means it’s not something wacky. It’s not a Qanon conspiracy, or one of Trump’s absurd claims about the election being fraudulent. It’s a proposition worth considering.

                  Folks, can’t we all just agree that it’s a difficult subject, and proceed accordingly? Shutting down anything is something a reasonable person is reluctant to do, but might do if deemed necessary.

                  For instance — having a total lockdown, with all sorts of businesses closed, is something we might conceivably have to do again. But we’re going to be more wary of it than we were eight months ago, because we don’t want to throw all those people out of work again. I mean, we didn’t want to do it THEN, but now we’re even more reluctant.

                  Similarly, but for even more powerful reasons than economic ones, we don’t want to curtail any sort of activity protected by the First Amendment, whether we’re talking church services or some other form of peaceable assembly. Not unless we have to, on the previously mentioned grounds that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

                  To deal with such knotty problems, we need to approach them in a rational manner, rather than resorting to the kind of yelling at each other that is dictated by our present state of polarization. That stuff is positively obscene in the face of a deadly pandemic.

                  So the left needs to stop acting like conservatives are being ridiculous to be concerned about closing religious services. And the right has to stop all this stuff about the left hating religion, and acting like that’s why liberals want to take these actions.

                  And to begin with, we need to make sure that our rhetoric in discussing these matters doesn’t seem to confirm such prejudices…

                20. Ken

                  “To deal with such knotty problems, we need to approach them in a rational manner, rather than resorting to the kind of yelling at each other that is dictated by our present state of polarization.”

                  I haven’t heard any yelling.

                  New York approached the problem in a rational manner … following the science, as the saying goes. The Supreme Court majority didn’t.

                  Those who turn the First Amendment into an enemy of good government and public health do the First Amendment no favors.

                21. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, I can’t hear the volume at which y’all are typing.

                  How about this? Instead of “resorting to the kind of yelling at each other that is dictated by our present state of polarization,” how about it I say, “resorting to the kind of reflexive dismissiveness that is dictated by our present state of polarization…”?

                  By which I refer to such things as “Sorry you can’t or don’t want to see that. But I didn’t expect otherwise.”

                  You have taken me to task, with some justice, in the past for suggesting you have failed or refused to understand something I have written. So I’m somewhat taken aback when you do the same to someone else — particularly when it’s someone as thoughtful (although occasionally facetious) as Bryan…

                22. Barry

                  “But having six SCOTUS judges agree means it’s not something wacky”

                  under the current make up of the court, I don’t agree.

                23. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Sorry to hear that. I don’t consider any of them the be wacky.

                  Except maybe Clarence Thomas, with the “Long Dong Silver” talk. And that was a long time ago…

                24. Barry

                  “ Sorry to hear that. I don’t consider any of them the be wacky.”

                  Maybe your naive.

                  I once had a professor at USC that wore a suit and tie every day. Very esteemed looking. A good teacher. I once chose a book about the country of Colombia just because I assumed that he didn’t know much about it because he never talked about South America. I assumed that it might be easier to write about a subject when your professor was it an expert on that country. As you can imagine and made a big mistake he knew a lot more about South America than he ever talked about in our class.

                  Nice guy too. But, if you met him in his office and had a discussion, you learned quick he also was a conspiracy theory promoter.

                  People can be wacky in different ways. Reading a recent Samuel Alito speech, you would think that Christians in America are the most persecuted group in the history of the world. He’s very, very wacky.

  7. bud

    I’ve come up with a new political classification groupings. Left/right and liberal/moderate/conservative just don’t work anymore. If they ever did. Anyway, here’s a first draft:

    Deplorables. These are the diehard Trump faithful. They have little interest in policy but rather believe absolutely in the infallibility of their leader. Mostly these people just want to return to some (fictional) better past. A past before interacial and gay marriage and where smoking was chic.

    Neocons. This group is avidly never-Trumper. They miss the good old days of extreme foreign intervention and huge military budgets. They really have little interest in domestic policy believing instead that brown skinned people in third world countries are a bigger threat than global warming or out of control population growth. They also are fine with extreme income inequality. Nor are they overly concerned with health care for all. Their mania for bombs and bombing is what drives them.

    Reactionaries. This group will pay lip service to things like health care and the environment but offers few effective policies to deal with them. They are not as zealous as the neocons when it comes to overseas intervention but they nevertheless see the US roll in world affairs as paramount. They hold on to the past in an unhealthy way that renders progress difficult.

    Contrarians. Much like the deplorables this group has little positive to offer in terms of policy. They are largely wedded to the teachings of Ayn Rand. But mostly this group just wants to be critical of government institutions.

    Plutocrats. In the past the plutocrats were a major faction in the GOP. But they have largely been ostracized as elitists in the age of Trump. Their reason for existence is to make a few wealthy people powerful politically in order to concentrate ever more wealth into a small clique of entitled rich. No amount of income inequality is ever enough. They gain power by scaring working class people with visions of socialist boogeymen attempting a Marxist takeover.

    Pragmatists. This group recognizes the very real threats of climate change, income inequality, lack of affordable health care and the military industrial complex. They see Scandinavian style democratic socialism as the pragmatic way forward. They view big military measures both counterproductive and dangerous. While recognizing the important first steps taken by the founding fathers they also understand the limitations of 18th century ideals. The pragmatists recognize the way forward involves bold approaches not limited measures from a bygone era.

    1. Barry

      “ Deplorables. These are the diehard Trump faithful. They have little interest in policy but rather believe absolutely in the infallibility of their leader. Mostly these people just want to return to some (fictional) better past. A past before interacial and gay marriage and where smoking was chic.”

      I’m glad they are proud of the “deplorable” name because that fits them perfectly- and a lot of people are in this category.

      These are the people that I have extinguished from my social circle. I have ZERO interest in being involved with these people in any aspect of life.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Boy, that’s a pretty depressing bunch of categories. Especially since the ONE group, and one only, that bud seems to regard as good guys is “pragmatists,” and he has indicated before that by his definition, AOC belongs to that group.

      Although I wasn’t crazy about it at the time, I’m sort of glad Pew created that “Faith and Family Left” group to put me in awhile back. You know, the group that, except for me, largely consists of black church-goers.

      Which reminds me — where are the rest of the people in bud’s system? Where, for instance, are all those people who elected Joe Biden? (You know, the majority of the country.) Few of those would fit into a group that includes AOC (although the votes of the neo-socialists were essential, as were those of other relatively small groups that would vote for anyone but Trump). Most especially, where is the overwhelming majority of Democrats in South Carolina, who saved Joe’s candidacy — and in doing so saved the country from another four years of Trump — on Feb. 29? A great number of whom, by the way, probably fit in Pew’s “Faith and Family Left”…

      1. Mark Stewart

        The clincher was the contingent of nominal Republican voters who voted against the madness; sadly, a majority of GOP voters held to “me-first” narratives, including a shocking number of Republican women voters. That I really don’t understand; for me it is a cognitive dissonance thing.

        1. Barry

          “ a shocking number of Republican women voters. That I really don’t understand; for me it is a cognitive dissonance thing.”

          These are the same people who, in the 1990s, were railing against people that supported Bill Clinton because “how could a decent person support someone so immoral.”

          In other words, hypocrites.

          (I didn’t vote for Clinton)

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I dunno if you can compare something someone said 28 years ago to what they say or do now and call them “hypocrites.” I think given the time span, we can allow for people changing, or at least think in situational ethics terms, given the very different times and so forth.

            But hey, I did vote for Clinton that first time — just not the second. Of course, if Bush had won in 1992, I’d have been just as happy. I liked 41. We used to have elections like that, you know — ones in which I’d be happy either way.

            The last one like that was 2008…

            1. Bryan Caskey

              (Rod Serling voiceover)
              Submitted for your approval:

              People bought into Joe Biden to stop the insanity in the White House. They did not suddenly become Democrats.

              1. Barry

                This will shock you, but there are tens of millions of proud democrats that are quite happy to have democrat policies in place- especially

                Especially considering the alternative of republicans policies.

                1. Bryan Caskey

                  No, it doesn’t. I’m certainly aware there are lots of proud democratic voters. You need to go back and re-read what I wrote.

                2. Barry

                  “ The cases span four different counties with significant community spread, and health officials said that the majority of cases are in people who did not visit the church. An outbreak at a nearby nursing home, Madison Saints Paradise South Senior Living, has been traced back to the church. Two nursing home residents have died due to the outbreak and 19 others have tested positive for COVID-19.
                  “Most of our cases are secondary transmission at this point,” said Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris

                  People from all over the U.S. — including California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina — attended the church events, and the county health department has warned their counterparts in those states to prepare for possible cases from United House of Prayer.

                  Harris initially shut down all in-person gatherings at United House of Prayer in response to the outbreak, but later adjusted their restrictions after the church agreed to regular health inspections and to limit the amount of people allowed inside.

            2. Barry

              “ I dunno if you can compare something someone said 28 years ago to what they say or do now and call them “hypocrites.”

              Sure I can call them hypocrites, and I did so (I also do it in person face to face, not just online)

              See, I remember all those self righteous sermons from conservatives in the 1990s.

              Then I witnessed those hypocrites take the opposite approach and say morals didn’t really matter.

              1. Doug Ross

                “Sure I can call them hypocrites, and I did so (I also do it in person face to face, not just online)”

                You seem like a fun guy. Losing friends, calling people hypocrites. Now that you can wear a mask, it’s almost like your online troll personality.

                1. Barry

                  My goal is not to be a “fun guy.” That would be worthless and ridiculous.

                  I call people hypocrites that are hypocrites, like the obvious example above.

                  I realize some want to ignore what the entire conservative establishment said in the 90s about Bill Clinton compared to how they reacted to trump’s sexual antics

                  But that doesn’t make it go away.

  8. Scout

    We did not have our usual family gathering this year – which involves my parents and my sister’s and my brother’s families and my husband and I gathering somewhere. We all live in town so it does not necessarily involve travel though some years we have rented a house at the beach or in the mountains. We have been seeing my parents every week or so – we eat breakfast on Saturdays on our screened back porch with distance between the tables, and masks anytime we aren’t eating. So we had a meal with just my parents like this this week too. But not the whole family together at the same time – no gatherings that we haven’t been doing already. Today my sister and my neice and nephew went on a family history tour – in separate cars we took my neice and nephew to see the graves of various great great grand people and tell them about the family history. In Chester and Prosperity we have 3 sets of immigrant ancestor graves from Ireland in the 1700s. So we were outside and distanced but together. We also went by the fishdam built by indians on the Broad river (I did not know about this until I was googling things in the area we were going that might be interesting to see). When the water is low you can see it. It is made of stones and just below the water and would funnel fish into a trap. There was a revolutionary war battle with Thomas Sumter here as well called the battle of fishdam ford. It was a really good and interesting day.

    1. Barry

      I stayed at home with my wife and 3 children and we were happy to do it.

      My daughter and I fixed several desserts Wednesday night. We had our special thanksgiving eve dessert night while listening to Christmas music.


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