Federal Agents Using Strong-Arm Tactics in America’s Cities

Portland may be a preview of what's to come.

There have been murky reports in recent days about mysterious federal agents snatching peaceful protestors from the streets and disappearing them. Details are starting to emerge.

The best overall account I’ve seen comes, oddly, from USA Today (“Federal agents in unmarked cars, ‘wall of moms’: Here’s what’s happening in Portland“):

In Portland, a city where protests are not uncommon, demonstrators and police have clashed for weeks with protesters lighting fires and law enforcement firing tear gas and other munitions.

Heightening tensions during the protest is the presence of federal law enforcement agents. Video shared on social media from last week showed what appear to be federal officers in unmarked cars arresting people without explanation, prompting outcry and lawsuits.

[…]

Federal agents were first seen in Portland on June 27, according to the Oregonian.

The newspaper reported that after protesters tore down a statue of George Washington in June, the city came under President Donald Trump’s scrutiny. Trump mentioned the city at his Tulsa campaign rally, and the day after he signed an executive order on monuments, federal officers in camouflage were seen outside the federal courthouse, the Oregonian reported.

The presence of federal authorities in the city has ramped up ever since, and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf last Thursday during a visit to the city called the demonstrators “violent anarchists.”

The agents come from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and an elite U.S. Customs and Border Protection team based on the U.S.-Mexico border and have been deployed to protect federal property.

Last week, video also surfaced of the federal authorities using unmarked vehicles to detain people, seemingly without an explanation.

Conner O’Shea, 30, a Portland resident who’s been attending protests for almost two months, told USA TODAY that early Thursday morning he and a friend were walking back to their car after leaving a protest when they were pursued by men they believed to be federal agents.

O’Shea said after being warned by other protesters that federal agents were driving around in unmarked vans “snatching people,” a van pulled over to the side walk and “four of five dudes in camo jump out and start charging at us.”

O’Shea did not see any sort of identifying markers on their camouflage uniforms. He said he got away, but his friend, Mark Pettibone, 29, was arrested and booked by federal agents.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that it detained a protester but disputed accounts that it did so without reason. The agency, which did not name Pettibone, said agents had information about a person suspected of assaulting federal agents or destroying federal property. The statement did not address the use of unmarked vans.

[…]

Portland’s mayor and state officials have repeatedly blasted the presence of federal law enforcement in the city and taken legal action.

On Sunday, Mayor Ted Wheeler said federal officers “are not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”

“What we’re seeing is a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government,” Wheeler, a Democrat, said Sunday.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit Friday against several federal agencies alleging agents in unmarked vehicles grabbed people off Portland’s streets without a warrant.

The lawsuit says the agents violated the civil rights of Oregon residents by using unlawful tactics. It also asks the court to require federal agents to identify themselves and their agency before conducting an arrest and give an explanation to any person being detained for the arrest.

NPR (“‘They Just Started Waling On Me’: Violence In Portland As U.S. Agents Clamp Down“) adds:

“There’s absolutely no question that by having the presence of federal officers here, it’s simply like adding gasoline to a fire,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a weekend interview with NPR.

[…]

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Friday that federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles in downtown Portland to grab and detain protesters.

In an interview Sunday with NPR, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler blamed the federal government for making things worse in the city.

“We have an already heightened situation. It’s already tense,” Wheeler said. “But after nearly five weeks of demonstrations, we are starting to see that small handful of people who were engaged in criminal activity — it was dissipating. It was calming down. We believed a week ago it would be over by this weekend. But what happened instead is the feds stepped in with a very heavy-handed approach, and it blew the lid off the whole thing.”

“With the federal government, they won’t even identify who they are,” Wheeler said. “We don’t know why they’re here. We don’t know the circumstances under which they’re making arrests. We don’t know what their policies are or what accountability mechanisms there are, to the point where even the U.S. attorney here in the state of Oregon is calling for an investigation, wondering, where was the probable cause to pull these people off the streets into unmarked cars?”

Sending in federal agents to deal with protestors is odd in itself. While the President has authority to do so under the Insurrection Act, it’s usually reserved for much for serious situations than what’s going on in Portland.

To the extent that federal police are warranted, US Marshals make sense. Protecting federal courthouses is squarely in their remit. What possible business the Border Patrol—let alone a special tactics unit in Army-style camouflage—is doing there escapes me.

Similarly, the use of unmarked vehicles here makes no sense. Yes, every police department of any size has them. But they’re typically used for traffic enforcement and surveillance. In a riot control situation, one would think maximum visibility would be desired.

At the anecdotal level, it gets worse.

WaPo (“A Navy vet asked federal officers in Portland to remember their oaths. Then they broke his hand.“):

He came to the protest with a question. He left with two broken bones in a confrontation with federal officers that went viral.

Christopher David had watched in horror as videos surfaced of federal officers in camouflage throwing protesters into unmarked vans in Portland. The 53-year-old Portland resident had heard the stories: protesters injured, gassed, sprayed with chemicals that tugged at their nostrils and burned their eyes.

David, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and former member of the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps, said he wanted to know what the officers involved thought of the oath they had sworn to protect and defend the Constitution.

So, he said, on Saturday evening, he headed to downtown Portland to ask them.

[…]

Just as he was about to leave, David said, the federal officers emerged. They rushed a line of protesters nearby, knocking them to the ground. David walked toward a gap in the line, calling out to the officers.

“Why are you not honoring your oath?” he bellowed. “Why are you not honoring your oath to the Constitution?”

An officer trained his weapon on David’s chest as several agents pushed him, sending David stumbling backward. But he regained his center and tried again. Another agent raised his baton and began to beat David, who stood unwavering with his arms at his sides. Then another officer unloaded a canister of chemical irritant spray into David’s face.

His hand was broken in two places.

NYT columnist Michelle Goldberg (“Trump’s Occupation of American Cities Has Begun“):

The month after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Yale historian Timothy Snyder published the best-selling book “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century.” It was part of a small flood of titles meant to help Americans find their bearings as the new president laid siege to liberal democracy.

One of Snyder’s lessons was, “Be wary of paramilitaries.” He wrote, “When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.” In 2017, the idea of unidentified agents in camouflage snatching leftists off the streets without warrants might have seemed like a febrile Resistance fantasy. Now it’s happening.

[…]

There’s something particularly terrifying in the use of Border Patrol agents against American dissidents. After the attack on protesters near the White House last month, the military pushed back on Trump’s attempts to turn it against the citizenry. Police officers in many cities are willing to brutalize demonstrators, but they’re under local control. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, however, is under federal authority, has leadership that’s fanatically devoted to Trump and is saturated with far-right politics.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Donald Trump picked C.B.P. to be the ones to go over to Portland and do this,” Representative Joaquin Castro, Democrat of Texas, told me. “It has been a very problematic agency in terms of respecting human rights and in terms of respecting the law.”

It is true that C.B.P. is not an extragovernmental militia, and so might not fit precisely into Snyder’s “On Tyranny” schema. But when I spoke to Snyder on Monday, he suggested the distinction isn’t that significant. “The state is allowed to use force, but the state is allowed to use force according to rules,” he said. These agents, operating outside their normal roles, are by all appearances behaving lawlessly.

Snyder pointed out that the history of autocracy offers several examples of border agents being used against regime enemies.

“This is a classic way that violence happens in authoritarian regimes, whether it’s Franco’s Spain or whether it’s the Russian Empire,” said Snyder. “The people who are getting used to committing violence on the border are then brought in to commit violence against people in the interior.”

Castro worries that since the agents are unidentified, far-right groups could easily masquerade as them to go after their enemies on the left. “It becomes more likely the more that this tactic is used,” he said. “I think it’s unconstitutional and dangerous and heading towards fascism.”

On Friday, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, tweeted about what’s happening in Portland: “Trump and his storm troopers must be stopped.” She didn’t mention what Congress plans to do to stop them, but the House will soon vote on a homeland security appropriations bill. People outraged about the administration’s police-state tactics should demand, at a minimum, that Congress hold up the department’s funding until those tactics are halted.

Through the Trump years, there’s been a debate about whether the president’s authoritarianism is tempered by his incompetence. Those who think concern about fascism is overblown can cite several instances when the administration has been beaten back after overreaching. But all too often the White House has persevered, deforming American life until what once seemed like worst-case scenarios become the status quo.

This is all a wee bit histrionic. I’m old enough to remember when it was controversial when the NRA referred to federal agents as “jack booted thugs.”

Still, while I’m sympathetic with the President’s desire to quell the lawlessness that has been part and parcel of these protests, I fully agree with local officials that heavy-handed policing here is just making matters worse. (Indeed, the protests originated as a reaction to police violence.)

Chris David, who was commissioned the same year I was, should know better than to engage in screaming confrontations with riot control officers, who are naturally going to be on a hair trigger.* But he was well within his rights as a citizen to do so.

Granting Snyder’s incentives to overhype the situation, his explanation for why the Border Patrol is being used is all too plausible. They are, almost by design, the most thuggish of federal law enforcement.

And, while Castro is using hysterical language, the fact that the agents in question are wearing what looks to be standard-issue Army fatigues does indeed make it easy for those looking to go crack some heads to do so while plausibly seeming to do so under the color of authority.

Alas, Trump appears ready to escalate.

WaPo (“Trump threatens to deploy federal agents to Chicago and other U.S. cities led by Democrats“):

Homeland Security officials said Monday they are making preparations to deploy federal agents to Chicago, while President Trump threatened to send U.S. law enforcement personnel to other Democratic-led cities experiencing spates of crime.

Trump made the pronouncement as he defended his administration’s use of force in Portland, Ore., where agents have clashed nightly with protesters and made arrests from unmarked cars. Calling the unrest there “worse than Afghanistan,” Trump’s rhetoric escalated tensions with Democratic mayors and governors who have criticized the presence of federal agents on U.S. streets, telling reporters at the White House that he would send forces into jurisdictions with or without the cooperation of their elected leaders.

“We’re looking at Chicago, too. We’re looking at New York,” he said. “All run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by the radical left.”

“This is worse than anything anyone’s ever seen,” Trump continued. “And you know what? If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell.”

With his poll numbers sinking amid widespread frustration at his response to the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has cast himself as a law-and-order strongman who will pacify U.S. communities roiled in recent months by spreading disease, the economic crisis and large street protests for racial justice. Trump has wielded images of violent demonstrations, though the vast majority of racial justice protests have been peaceful.

Three Department of Homeland Security officials said Monday that the agency has been making preparations to deploy agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to Chicago, but the officials said operational details are not yet finalized.

Leaving aside that “cities led by Democrats” is damned near redundant (only 13 of the 50 largest cities and 29 of the 100 largest cities have Republican mayors, it’s a desperate show of force.

I don’t see fascism at work here so much as desperation. Trump is frustrated that these protests are making him look weak and hurting his chances for reelection. Still, it’s a dangerous turn of events.

*UPDATE: I’m referring here to the world as it is, not as it should be. See my previous postings on this subject, notably:

There are dozens of these in the archives but not everyone has been reading for 17-1/2 years.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Police
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. rachel says:

    Brilliant. This promises to make Boss Tweet look as good as the Lafayette Square debacle did.

    3
  2. Arm The Homeless says:

    One man’s desperation is another man’s Fascism, professor.

    The real problem we have is that major cities’ police forces are so frightened and rogue that they will support the Republican occupation of normal America in hopes they can keep being the thugs they’ve trained themselves to be.

    The sooner we do away with Qualified Immunity and start making police pensions subject to civil forfeiture when cops believe they’re above the laws, the sooner we can de-fang the enforcement of Republican’s fascist tendencies.

    18
  3. SKI says:

    I don’t see fascism at work here so much as desperation.

    Why are you positing these two as opposed?

    He is desperate and, given his predilections and oft-expressed admiration for strong-men dictators, is turning towards fascism.

    Chris David, who was commissioned the same year I was, should know better than to engage in screaming confrontations with riot control officers, who are naturally going to be on a hair trigger. But he was well within his rights as a citizen to do so.

    Cops, who are actually trained in dealing with protesting crowds, are supposed to have the exact opposite of a “hair trigger”. They very much have to not react at someone shouting. If they can’t, they shouldn’t be there.

    36
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I don’t see fascism at work here so much as desperation.

    How’s about both James? Fascism in service to desperation.

    And if one wants to see how effective these tactics are, here you go. From last night. (might have to scroll down a bit to get to last nights tweets)

    5
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @SKI: Cops, who are actually trained in dealing with protesting crowds, are supposed to have the exact opposite of a “hair trigger”. They very much have to not react at someone shouting. If they can’t, they shouldn’t be there.

    This, x 1,000.

    Also, cops who are in constant fear for their lives need to find something else to do.

    19
  6. Arm The Homeless says:

    @SKI:

    The passive voice that the professor has chosen to utilize here is very cute.

    I am glad that his sense of shame has kept him from a full-throated ‘both sides!’ argument, but the soft-pedaling of overt authoritarianism by a major American political party is still embarrassing

    6
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    while I’m sympathetic with the President’s desire to quell the lawlessness that has been part and parcel of these protests,

    Gee, remember when:

    “The task we’ve got ahead of us now is an awkward one … It’s untidy. And freedom’s untidy. And free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things. And that’s what’s going to happen here,”

    was a Republican talking point?

    6
  8. I don’t see fascism at work here so much as desperation. Trump is frustrated that these protests are making him look weak and hurting his chances for reelection. Still, it’s a dangerous turn of events.

    Dangerous, indeed, and frustration for sure. However, it certainly has more than a whiff of fascism to it, i.e., violence to force citizens to the bend to the will of the leader–especially with the unmarked vans and thuggish use of force.

    This isn’t even law enforcement, it is just an attempt to induce submission, but more than anything is an attempt to make Trump look good (at least in his own mind).

    It is also, yet again, Trump demonstrating a childlike approach to governing. A child thinks if you just send in the army men with their cool uniforms, guns, and equipment you can just beat the bad guys and everything is fixed!

    27
  9. James Joyner says:

    @Arm The Homeless: @Arm The Homeless: @OzarkHillbilly: I’m pretty much in agreement with Steven Taylor’s longish post on the subject from a few weeks back. These tactics have a whiff of fascism, especially in concert with Trump’s words and corresponding actions. But, per another post of Steven’s from years ago, Trump is far, far short of actual fascism in almost every other respect.

    @SKI: @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve written dozens, if not scores, of posts here over the years about the odiousness of the “respect my authoritay” police culture. It’s wrong. It’s unconstitutional. It’s outrageous. And yet, unless we do something to fix it, it’s a fact of life that we have to acknowledge.

    8
  10. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: You posted as I was typing up my previous response. Absolutely.

    There’s a magical thinking at work here. “If we put up a show of force, these people will go home and my ratings will go back up.”

    8
  11. mattbernius says:

    On the plus side, we’re about to discover how many Libertarians actually are concerned about civil liberties and how many are just embarrassed Republicans who just wanted “intellectual/philosophical” cover for being anti-tax, pro-gun, and are solely concerned about the applications of laws to them.

    (FWIW, Rand Paul, channeling Susan Collins, is very, very upset about this, but not enough to break with the President).

    19
  12. mattbernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    This isn’t even law enforcement, it is just an attempt to induce submission, but more than anything is an attempt to make Trump look good (at least in his own mind).

    True. Unfortunately the first half of that sentence, in particular, the “an attempt to induce submission” unfortunately describes the history of policing in the US (especially with its roots in Union/Protest busting in the North and Slave Patrols in the South).

    FWIW, that isn’t a uniquely American story either. The Modern British Police Force also traces its beginnings to Union/protest Busting.

    10
  13. JohnMcC says:

    After Mr Trump vowed to “dominate the streets” and proceeds to do just that — we get a double-helping of both-siderism? After Mr Barr took on the role of ‘Minister of the Interior’ in charge of security forces — we get surprise that Federal police forces are marshalled and used to assault protesters?

    Disappointing. I’m put in mind of the earliest days of the Pinochet take-over in Chile. I also refer everyone back to the discussion yesterday about Mr Trump not accepting an electoral defeat and point out that these are really just one subject.

    12
  14. SKI says:

    @James Joyner:

    There’s a magical thinking at work here. “If we put up a show of force, these people will go home and my ratings will go back up.”

    Not sure that is his thought. Thinking its more: if I use overwhelming force to beat up “those people”, I will be seen as a strong-man and that will energize my base of deplorables.

    He is explicitly trying to reprise Nixon’s ’68 campaign without processing the reality that (a) Nixon wasn’t President and (b) the country isn’t the same as then.

    6
  15. gVOR08 says:

    Still, while I’m sympathetic with the President’s desire to quell the lawlessness that has been part and parcel of these protests

    Do you really think Trump is acting from a normal desire to enforce the law? Trump plans to do a Nixon style “lawn order“ campaign and the protesters weren’t cooperating. Protests were tailing off and had dropped out of the news. Trump needs some riots to run against and he, or more likely Bill Barr, is trying to drive protests back into the news.

    9
  16. drj says:

    Chris David, who was commissioned the same year I was, should know better than to engage in screaming confrontations with riot control officers, who are naturally going to be on a hair trigger. But he was well within his rights as a citizen to do so.

    Because sensible people should stop exercising their constitutional right to protest the government the very minute said government starts pushing back using legally questionable methods?

    Do you even realize the implications of what you are saying?

    14
  17. Not the IT Dept. says:

    The federal agents are there because there wasn’t enough violence on the streets. The idea that Trump is trying to quell disturbance of any kind is ridiculous. The protests were winding down and the visuals of anarchy let loose weren’t there anymore. So Trump sent the Walmart Warriors into the streets.

    You know, a lot of people have noted that when things got tough, Trump responded with some random foreign bombing that detracted everyone’s attention; he’s figured out the domestic equivalent of that and we’re seeing the results.

    “A republic – if you can keep it.” – Benjamin Franklin, who would not be surprised at anything happening today and who would shake his head sadly but cynically and slam back another tankard of applejack.

    22
  18. Kathy says:

    Remember in the early days of the “war on terror” how people who engaged in combat not wearing identifying insignia of their side were defined?

    As unlawful enemy combatants.

    If a bunch of guys wearing camo fatigues without insignia come after you, how do you know they are federal agents acting lawfully, and not some kind of paramilitary group, thugs, criminals, etc? Self-defense in such situations is eminently warranted.

    24
  19. gVOR08 says:

    an elite U.S. Customs and Border Protection team based on the U.S.-Mexico border

    Why does the CBP need a paramilitary unit? What are their non-Portland responsibilities? When were they formed? Why?

    10
  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    This is all a wee bit histrionic.

    More than a wee bit. It’s intentionally over emotionalized in order to provoke an emotional response from the reader and convince him/her of something. That tends to shift it from the “objective journalism” column to the “subjective propaganda” column. Parsing CNN.com at the moment, one would get the impression that the Nazis just invaded Austria.

    2
  21. MarkedMan says:

    @mattbernius:

    Libertarians

    As near as I can tell, “Liberarianism” means whatever someone who calls themselves a Libertarian wants it to mean, and if that becomes inconvenient in this instant, it can be instantly changed with the old definition flushed down the memory hole.

    For a couple of years now I’ve been requesting self-identified Libertarians to explain what happened in Kansas, which spent 5-6 years implementing the most sweeping Libertarian reforms in the history of our country, to disastrous effect. Almost uniformly these requests are ignored, although one gentleman on this site did manage to trot out the “No True Scotsman” defense.

    7
  22. senyordave says:

    @drj: My first thought about ChristophercDavid was it sounded like a man with principles that he won’t compromise on. Kind of lik ethis guy:
    https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/05/world/tiananmen-square-tank-man-cnnphotos/

    Or the man in 1968 in Czechoslovakia who stood alone in front of a Russian tank.

    7
  23. Modulo Myself says:

    Trump is frustrated that these protests are making him look weak and hurting his chances for reelection.

    He’s making himself look weak because he and his fascist base are a bunch of weaklings. We’re talking about maybe a couple hundred people in Portland or Chicago throwing plastic bottles and acting slightly feisty towards inanimate beings formed of concrete. He keeps on going about riots and cities burning when it’s just anarchist graffiti on a cop car and a bloody nose or two (not counting the protesters who have been shot and beaten, of course). If any of these goons cared about violence–as in with guns–they would be talking about extending Federal unemployment.

    And by the way, wait until fall, when students and tea

    2
  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    This is highly likely to lead to same fatal incident, a Kent State moment. Which will re-ignite protests, thus achieving Trump’s goal, which is the opposite of his putative goal.

    But it won’t work. The American people will not rally to Trump. We’ll just have more protests.

    What Trump is accomplishing is the possible elimination of ICE. At very least ICE and the DHS will have a hell of a time getting their budgets through a Democratic Senate. Forced to choose Americans will take open borders over Trump’s brown shirts.

    15
  25. Arm The Homeless says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    This comment seems to avoid the messy bits of the Weimar’s fall on the streets of Berlin, before the shock troops set foot in other countries.

    If you’re going to play the cool-headed truth teller on the internet, perhaps you should play-act as a historian first

    16
  26. @mattbernius: Indeed.

    1
  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Libertarianism is the political expression of the eternal whinge of the spoiled child: I didn’t ask to be born!

    Physiologically libertarianism is proof that the male brain does not fully develop until the mid-twenties.

    6
  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    Not Anschluss, Reichstag fire.

    7
  29. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Arm The Homeless:

    As I am hostile both to your argument and my perception of your politics, you and I will both have to pretend that the other doesn’t exist. I have no interest in pretty much anything you might have to say.

    1
  30. @JohnMcC:

    I’m put in mind of the earliest days of the Pinochet take-over in Chile.

    It should be noted that Pinochet had full control of the military and bombed the presidential palace.

    This is what I mean about a sense of proportion. I am in no way defending what the Trump admin has done (I find it abhorrent and am still thinking it through), but this isn’t Pinochet in Chile for a long list of reasons.

    The thuggish use of hard to identify law enforcement in unmarked vehicles is actually more analogous to the behavior of authoritarian governments in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, etc. after the military took power.

    But again, the scale is not the same.

    3
  31. Arm The Homeless says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    “As I am hostile both to your argument and my perception of your politics…”

    Since this might be my last chance to get your esoteric wisdom, what exactly did you think this quote meant when you typed it?

    Are you hostile to your own perceptions? That’s some grade-A Dadaism

    6
  32. @gVOR08:

    Do you really think Trump is acting from a normal desire to enforce the law?

    Like I said above: in a childlike way, yes. I think he thinks that order is created by a display of force. After all, it works that way in TV and in the movies, doesn’t it?

    He isn’t sophisticated enough to understand that he is adding fuel to the fire.

    7
  33. de stijl says:

    @Arm The Homeless:

    Love your nym.

    4
  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Oh FFS he’s not even tangentially interested in law enforcement. He’s trying to create an incident sufficiently violent as to ignite wider protests and more crackdowns. He’s hoping for a rally-round effect. That is all.

    10
  35. Teve says:

    @radleybalko

    Who could have predicted a massive, incredibly powerful entity called the “Department of Homeland Security” would be used in such a creepy and authoritarian manner?

    16
  36. SKI says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’ve written dozens, if not scores, of posts here over the years about the odiousness of the “respect my authoritay” police culture. It’s wrong. It’s unconstitutional. It’s outrageous. And yet, unless we do something to fix it, it’s a fact of life that we have to acknowledge.

    Yet you state that Chris David “should know better” than to “do something to fix it”, i.e., engage in civil, legal protest against police brutality.

    With respect, James, your take on the situation seems cowardly and amoral to me: we have a problem with policing but the people who are injured by peacefully protesting against said courageousness “should have known better”. Who exactly do you think needs to “do something about it” and how do you propose that we get things changed?

    14
  37. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I think he thinks that order is created by a display of force.

    That isn’t necessarily untrue. It’s a factor of the degree of force applied. For example, this token display of force likely won’t resolve the problem, as there simply isn’t enough of it deployed.

    On the other hand, declare martial law and deploy the 82nd Airborne to Portland, and you’ll almost certainly have order.

    He isn’t sophisticated enough to understand that he is adding fuel to the fire.

    He doesn’t care. While it might seem not to be so from within the confines of a silo, there is a significant sized chunk of the population cheering these tactics. In fact, cheering for more of them. That makes it a political win for him. How this plays in San Francisco is not how it plays in Kansas. Or Alabama.

    1
  38. @Michael Reynolds:

    Oh FFS he’s not even tangentially interested in law enforcement. He’s trying to create an incident sufficiently violent as to ignite wider protests and more crackdowns. He’s hoping for a rally-round effect. That is all.

    Quite frankly, I find that calculation beyond his ability.

    He does want some rallying around him, sure. He thinks being tough accomplished that. Like I said, like a child.

    2
  39. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    He isn’t sophisticated enough to understand that he is adding fuel to the fire.

    He is unsophisticated enough to be deliberately adding fuel to the fire – as are the thugs and bigots he has chosen to surround himself with. He/they *want* the scenes of violence. It ties directly into the themes of the enemy and division he is comfortable campaigning on.

    5
  40. de stijl says:

    I wrote an incendiary thing then I thought better.

    Goddamn, James, questioning and criticizing Christopher David’s action was super uncool. (The original had a lot more f-bombs and was too personally directed.)

    The oath is to defend the constitution, not the sitting President.

    7
  41. SKI says:

    Something to remember: It really doesn’t matter how calculating or sophisticated or smart or stupid he is or what his motivations are. The reality is that we have to deal with the actuality of what he is doing.

    And what he is doing is wrong – no matter if we think it is deliberately moving down the path towards fascism or idiotic base thuggery or a desire for order. It doesn’t matter if his father abused him or coddled him. Or whether he is smart or stupid. What matters is the impact of what he is doing on people and how we are going to stop and remedy the damage being caused.

    9
  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We’ll just have to disagree. To be honest about it, the Nazi analogies have grown tiresome and threadbare. There is more than enough melodrama and histrionics being deployed about these events as it is. Simply allowing miscreants to engage in destruction and vandalism until they get bored enough with it to go home and then sticking the taxpayers with the bill for it – which lately seems to be the only play in the Democratic playbook – isn’t a realistic option.

    1
  43. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    He doesn’t care. While it might seem not to be so from within the confines of a silo, there is a significant sized chunk of the population cheering these tactics. In fact, cheering for more of them. That makes it a political win for him. How this plays in San Francisco is not how it plays in Kansas. Or Alabama.

    This is exactly his thinking, IMO.

    I question, however, whether it plays as well in Kansas as he thinks it does.

  44. @SKI:

    It really doesn’t matter how calculating or sophisticated or smart or stupid he is or what his motivations are. The reality is that we have to deal with the actuality of what he is doing.

    I agree.

    The main point I am making here and in the other thread is that jumping to this as proof of a coming overturned election or an analog of Pinochet/the Reichstag Fire are connected very much to motive and understanding.

    Pinochet did not bungle his way into one of the bloodiest coups in history.

    Hitler didn’t bungle his way to creating one of the most completely totalitarian regimes in human history.

    And one does not bungle their way to nullifying an election.

    I am not trying to minimize what is going on. I am just arguing for a proportional understanding. Hyperbole just makes it harder to see what is, and is not, going on.

    5
  45. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Simply allowing miscreants to engage in destruction and vandalism until they get bored enough with it to go home and then sticking the taxpayers with the bill for it – which lately seems to be the only play in the Democratic playbook – isn’t a realistic option.

    Good thing that what you are describing isn’t actually happening in reality.

    I get that you are self-positioning in opposition to what you perceive as “the liberals” but you keep being as histrionic in your descriptions as those you are opposing. c’mon…

    14
  46. Kari Q says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I never thought I’d say this to you of all people, but you give him too much credit. He doesn’t think beyond the immediate. He sees protests, he reacts. Protests continue, he reacts harder. There’s no evidence he has ever asked himself what will happen next.

    4
  47. EddieInCA says:

    Over a Dreher’s place, there is a post up where at least half a douzen actual Portland residents post about the reality on the ground before Trumps force hit the ground. They claim that the city was NOT under siege. Protests every night? Yes. Violence. Only sporadic. Dangerous? Not so much.

    That would track what the friends I have in Portland have told me.

    The actions by the administration are wholly unneeded.

    12
  48. Arm The Homeless says:

    @de stijl:

    RATM is always relevant and warranted.

    Is yours an homage to the art style or the White Stripes album?

  49. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Sure, but he’s trying desperately to prove that he’s tough.

  50. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: On this we agree. I think he *wants* to be a strong man dictator but is incompetent enough that the plausibility of that happening is minute and that we shouldn’t presume that these flailings are part of a well orchestrated scheme to grab power.

    That said, we absolutely have to take these actions seriously and it is not enough to roll our eyes and be complacent because he is incompetent and stupid. We have to make sure we put in the structural reforms necessary to prevent the next wanna-be fascist who may not be so stupid or incompetent.

    8
  51. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    I love Balko. Read him forever. Read his books. We are seeing how militarizing police forces is a really bad idea.

    He got his start at Reason, speaking of libertarianism.

    Dave Weigel, too. A guy a little too much into glam rock for my taste, but a total mensch and a hard-core reporter.

    Reason used to have a yearly fund raiser asking for donations. I mocked them so hard for that. I mean, you are Libertarians, right. I assume you have read Rand. Did you just blank out on her take on charity? You are defining hypocrisy. Your worth is judged by the market per your own standard. Hilarious.

    TL:DR at one point Reason had interesting writers – Balko and Weigel.

    4
  52. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @SKI:

    Good thing that what you are describing isn’t actually happening in reality.

    Really? There was absolutely zero damage to facilities and infrastructure in Portland?

    I get that you are self-positioning in opposition to what you perceive as “the liberals” but you keep being as histrionic in your descriptions as those you are opposing. c’mon…

    I wouldn’t say liberals as a blanket term. I’d say a specific subset of liberals. Miscreants is the term I’d use for them.

    And Minnesota has already attempted to stick taxpayers with the bill for exactly – tactics and outcome – that I described. Thankfully, they got turned away. Their mess, they can pay for it themselves.

    1
  53. @SKI:

    we absolutely have to take these actions seriously and it is not enough to roll our eyes and be complacent because he is incompetent and stupid. We have to make sure we put in the structural reforms necessary to prevent the next wanna-be fascist who may not be so stupid or incompetent.

    100%

    To be clear: I am not suggesting eye-rolling nor dismissing this in any way.

    1
  54. Arm The Homeless says:

    This argument that Trump is too ham-fisted and ignorant to be a successful authoritarian is cold comfort when you’ve got dorks like Hawley and Cotton waiting to leverage the Trump cultists for their own runs at power.

    Pushing back on the GOP’s probing of the fences doesn’t mean they’re going to stop being impotent Fascists; it just means the ones that are capable of adjusting tactics will establish a new normal when Trump is gone, but Trumpism sticks around.

    8
  55. Teve says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Over a Dreher’s place, there is a post up where at least half a douzen actual Portland residents post about the reality on the ground before Trumps force hit the ground. They claim that the city was NOT under siege. Protests every night? Yes. Violence. Only sporadic. Dangerous? Not so much.

    That would track what the friends I have in Portland have told me.

    The actions by the administration are wholly unneeded.

    I have three friends who live in downtown Portland, have been to protests, post lots of photos of the protests, and all three will tell you that the idea that the city is “in CHAOS” as Tucker said is an absolute lie. It’s a lie spread by the right wingers to justify whatever excessive actions they want to take. Secret unmarked police force abducting people off the streets? Sure that’s not great, but they had to save the city from antifa!

    The violence is coming from a small number of anarchists and white supremacists and much of it from police.

    13
  56. Joe says:

    I find all of this deeply disturbing. But I would note we have an administration that has proven itself incapable of running the federal government now deciding how it should run city governments.

    It certainly doesn’t help that the president has explicitly identified his reasoning as political in pointing out all the cities he intends to occupy are Democratic administrations.

    3
  57. de stijl says:

    @Arm The Homeless:

    Art. I adore Mondrian. It soothes my soul.

    I do like the White Stripes, though. Dude is a DIY genius.

    A bartender at a place I used to visit was a doppelganger for Meg. Never told her. It would have been rude.

    RATM fans have been falling out of the rafters lately. You, Kylopod, Kurtz. Love it.

  58. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @SKI:

    I question, however, whether it plays as well in Kansas as he thinks it does.

    I think you may be seriously underestimating how deeply entrenched the “law and order” mentality is within American society. While anecdotal, I’ve seen forum posts expressing opinions of these protestors and the things that should be done to them that would curdle your blood.

    I’d proffer that Trump’s motivating factors here are two-fold: the man genuinely does dislike disorder. I’ve spent enough time around him to be able to say that is a definitive truth. Beyond that, he’s trying to win an election, and this sort of response plays well with his supporters. I’d argue that it plays well with a bunch of folks in Suburbia as well, but attempting to characterize all of this as some sort of Machiavellian plot to implement fascism is ridiculous. It’s retail politics.

    4
  59. de stijl says:

    @Arm The Homeless:

    Stephen Miller is inner circle.

    2
  60. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    How this plays in San Francisco is not how it plays in Kansas. Or Alabama.

    One should be mindful of precedent.

    If a future Democratic president sends federal agents to seize guns, it won’t play the same way in Kansas as it does in San Francisco of Portland.

    6
  61. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Teve:

    The violence is coming from a small number of anarchists and white supremacists and much of it from police.

    One would think that, if this is so, the remainder of the protestors would be motivated to impede and/or detain those intent on causing mayhem and turn them over to the police. They clearly would outnumber the miscreants, so it seems a simple thing for them to prevent them from acting, and in doing so avoid police escalation.

    Why do they not do this? Does their failure to do so indicate implicit approval of the violent tactics while wishing to avoid personally engaging in them for fear of culpability?

    1
  62. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    My local Senator has been pushing anarchy in (the UK) Portland super hard in her ads. Good lord, I hate her so.

    This is a thing they are trying to run on. Wallace style law and order. Water hoses and bulldogs sicced on the uppity. History repeats.

    1
  63. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    If a future Democratic president sends federal agents to seize guns, it won’t play the same way in Kansas as it does in San Francisco of Portland.

    While the fear of gun seizures has been an amazingly effective political tool for Republicans, the likelihood of what you’re describing actually happening is about the same as me being crowned king of England. It’s useful hyperbole.

    2
  64. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Really? There was absolutely zero damage to facilities and infrastructure in Portland?

    Nice shift of the goal posts, HL.
    I never claimed no damage. You claimed that “the only play in the Democratic playbook” was “[s]imply allowing miscreants to engage in destruction and vandalism until they get bored enough with it to go home and then sticking the taxpayers with the bill for it.” That certainly doesn’t apply to the overwhelming majority of cities in this country – 70+% of which are governed by Democratic mayors.

    You were as over-dramatic and ridiculous as the posters you keep trying to skewer.

    15
  65. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Quite frankly, I find that calculation beyond his ability.

    I don’t find it beyond Bully Boy Barr’s ability. He knows he and his Unitary Executive wet dream are out on the street the afternoon of Jan 20 if he can’t find some way to reelect Trump.

    There is a whole administration full of sycophants and Republican apparatchiks pursuing their own agendas and looking for any opportunity to suck up to the President*. All it takes is a “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” and it’s off to crack skulls. Read comments at any of the RW sites. The base wants some hippy heads cracked. And if they get lucky, maybe somebody will torch another Reichstag police precinct.

    When this is over we need to dismantle the Imperial Presidency, starting with DHS.

    8
  66. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @SKI:

    That certainly doesn’t apply to the overwhelming majority of cities in this country – 70+% of which are governed by Democratic mayors.

    Really? Please detail for me these cities which experienced large protest events that didn’t also experience property damage, or for that matter large cities which effectively utilized force to prevent it from occurring. I’m willing to bet that you can’t name a single example I can’t eviscerate with a few searches of the Google.

    The news coverage, after all, has been rife with depictions of political leadership in these cities restraining police, and or having them pull back. Minneapolis? Chicago? Atlanta? Seattle? Los Angeles? Miami? New York? I mean hell, Minneapolis had the National Guard deployed and didn’t (note didn’t, not couldn’t) maintain order. Why was that?

    I get that we fundamentally disagree about this concept, but come on …

    2
  67. Teve says:

    @SKI: I practice some information intake hygiene, and when somebody’s comments are repeatedly just reactionary with a whiff of racism, I just decide to skip them.

    1
  68. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I think you may be seriously underestimating how deeply entrenched the “law and order” mentality is within American society. While anecdotal, I’ve seen forum posts expressing opinions of these protestors and the things that should be done to them that would curdle your blood.

    I’ve seen those anecdotes as well – and talked to red state friends and colleagues (mostly Alabama and Georgia).

    But the data indicates that those vocal individuals are an increasingly small group.

    4
  69. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “While anecdotal, I’ve seen forum posts expressing opinions of these protestors and the things that should be done to them that would curdle your blood.”

    You could just as easily find forum posts urging similar actions against blacks, gays, “illegal immigrants” (ie everyone who looks brown) and “feminazis.” Even the fact that one such poster decided his political views gave him the right to murder the son and husband of a federal judge doesn’t make these people a majority.

    I do find it interesting that your loathing of people who practice “disorder” seems to end with those you fancy to be “liberals.” I’d think you’d find armed masses of right-wing anti-government protesters equally distasteful, but instead you just lecture us on how these are the real Americans we must all respect or they’ll vote for Trump.

    11
  70. inhumans99 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Well…I do not know if it was you or someone else, but just a few days back when this story of unmarked individuals snatching people off the streets was brought up folks were quick to say lets chill because this story sounds bogus, well whadya know…it is 100% true.

    That should stress out lawyers like yourself even if it does not rise to the level of Nazis invading Austria. Anyway, I am late to the party and see that a million posters have already engaged with you so my post is more noise.

    At the end of the day we are all just folks on a blog having a spirited discussion so I wish you well Harvard and hope you have a good day.

    7
  71. gVOR08 says:

    As to whether Trump is a Fascist, I think Paul Campos at LGM has it right.

    Donald Trump is a fascist, full stop. That he couldn’t define the word himself is not irrelevant — it’s actually further evidence that this authoritarian imbecile is a classic representative of a historical movement that has always been both intellectually incoherent and fundamentally syncretic (that fascism in America doesn’t look exactly like fascism in Spain or Italy or Russia is exactly what we should expect):

    That one can find differences between Trump and Hitler or Mussolini does not make him not a Fascist. Does it matter that one can list detail differences between the CPB and the Brownshirts?

    8
  72. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Really? Please detail for me these cities which experienced large protest events that didn’t also experience property damage, or for that matter large cities which effectively utilized force to prevent it from occurring. I’m willing to bet that you can’t name a single example I can’t eviscerate with a few searches of the Google.

    How much damage is your threshold? None?> In which case I’ll be glad to concede that no one has prevented all property destruction. I’ll also point out that that isn’t a meaningful or relevant standard.

    You seem to be of the mindset that if there is any property damage or non-peaceful actions as part of a very large protest, the whole activity is wrong. I find that view childish and not-reality-based. I’m presuming that you are taking that position for effect, not because you actually think like that. You aren’t that stupid.

    Your statements indicate you would tar all the protesters, the overwhelming majority of who are peaceful with the actions of a few idiots. Would you also accept being tarred with the actions of the most racist fellow-travelers you have? or most crooked?

    15
  73. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    Someone on this thread is on my do not read, do not engage with list. Not worth the effort.

  74. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “I mean hell, Minneapolis had the National Guard deployed and didn’t (note didn’t, not couldn’t) maintain order. Why was that?”

    Because these Democrats are such weaklings they prefer to see some property damage that can then be fixed to mass violence and probable loss of life if they crack down in the way you seem to want.

    Yes, we all want the trains to run on time. Some of us, however, are willing to see the train delayed if a punctual arrival means plowing through a hundred people standing on the tracks… even if we don’t like these people or approve of their chosen method of protest.

    Some will even say out loud they believe that human lives are more important than preventing some broken windows and spray-painted walls.

    10
  75. gVOR08 says:

    @inhumans99:

    At the end of the day we are all just folks on a blog having a spirited discussion

    A thousand upvotes. Gawd I wish people would remember that.

    4
  76. JohnMcC says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “… the nazi analogies have grown threadbare…” Doggonnit, there was enough fiber to those analogies to send you to France, if I recall correctly. I think you were correct then, and wrong now. If you disagree, you disagree with yourself, my friend.

    6
  77. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @SKI:

    I have pretty well decided that polling is more or less useless. The inability to autodial cell phones combined with the abysmal response rate (it was barely 9% in 2012 and has declined since then). I suspect some of these polling companies may be resorting to recalling existing contacts who have demonstrated a willingness to respond just to be able to complete a poll at all.

    Beyond that, this poll doesn’t tell me where the people who were called live, it under-represents Republicans, it never asks the opinion of respondents with regard to protestor violence, and fundamentally, I just distrust the premise of having 1,006 people, who I don’t know where they live, being held up as a predictor of the attitudes of 320 million people.

  78. jpe says:

    The peaceful protesters are attempting to peacefully burn down the courthouses and are graffiting and attacking them every single night.

    How would you protect federal property? Send in social workers, perhaps?

    4
  79. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius:

    On the plus side, we’re about to discover how many Libertarians actually are concerned about civil liberties and how many are just embarrassed Republicans who just wanted “intellectual/philosophical” cover for being anti-tax, pro-gun, and are solely concerned about the applications of laws to them.

    The Reason gang did a podcast on this yesterday. They were very much in the former camp.

    2
  80. jpe says:

    To the extent that federal police are warranted, US Marshals make sense. Protecting federal courthouses is squarely in their remit. What possible business the Border Patrol—let alone a special tactics unit in Army-style camouflage—is doing there escapes me.

    FPS – who are expressly charged with protecting federal property – is doing the work. Because they don’t have the manpower necessary, they’ve cross-deputized other federal agents to assist.

    So…..that’s what they’re doing there. Protecting federal buildings and arresting people they believe committed crimes.

    1
  81. inhumans99 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I find it weird and distressing that the unmarked troops are not all that far removed from Noriega’s Dingbats…thugs who are authorized to (and enjoy) crack skulls, that there is much less than 6 degrees of separation between Noriega’s dingbats and Trumps unmarked Federal officials is surreal, sad, and crazy.

    This is America and scenes of folks snatching citizens into unmarked vehicles should only be something one sees in a movie not something being reported on by multiple credible news sources in print and on TV.

    8
  82. mattbernius says:

    @James Joyner:

    The Reason gang did a podcast on this yesterday. They were very much in the former camp.

    Yup. I forgot to credit that team on that. And honestly, a chunk of those folks have been on this for years–including having deep misgivings about the creation of DHS at the time.

    My critique is much more directed towards some of the self-identified libertarians (and libertarian-leaning folks) on the social mediaz.

    3
  83. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    That’s the only kind of calculation he is capable of. He’s an idiot, but he’s also a psychopath. He has all the instincts of a psychopath. Think of him as a shark – very little brain, really good at smelling blood.

    1
  84. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This is just escalation of the violence Trump has been fomenting since the very beginning.
    If you voted for Trump, this is the America you asked for…the America you want.
    There is nothing surprising here.

    3
  85. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Because these Democrats are such weaklings they prefer to see some property damage that can then be fixed to mass violence and probable loss of life if they crack down in the way you seem to want.

    Why should I be expected to pay for that property damage when it can be avoided? If you engage in property damage, you’ve already implicitly accepted whatever negative consequences arise.

    And please, spare me the lefty rebuttal. If it were your house being destroyed, you’d be no less opposed to the tactics, no less calling for police, anyone, to stop it by any means than I am. Your outrage is both situational and hypocritical.

    1
  86. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Yes, we all want the trains to run on time. Some of us, however, are willing to see the train delayed if a punctual arrival means plowing through a hundred people standing on the tracks… even if we don’t like these people or approve of their chosen method of protest.

    Easy enough to avoid. Just move the train forward slowly. If they’re too stupid to get out of the way of a train moving at 5mph, then …

    (note: you reached for the extreme example again … 🙂 )

    1
  87. James Joyner says:

    @mattbernius: Agreed. The Rand Paul types aren’t very libertarian at all. I find libertarianism too simplistic as an overall governing philosophy but lean that way on civil rights/liberty and policing issues. I hung around Balko, Weigel, and Gillespie a bit back in the day and still tend to agree with them much more often than not. I only discovered the Reason Roundtable podcast fairly recently, probably through Gillespie’s Facebook or Twitter feed, but Matt Welch and Katharine Mangu-Ward are also interesting (indeed, they followed Gillespie as editor-in-chief).

    3
  88. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    There’s a magical thinking at work here. “If we put up a show of force, these people will go home and my ratings will go back up.”

    It’s an effort to provoke a violent response, to justify a larger crackdown.

    And whether Trump is pushing for that or the people below him are pushing for that, this is absolutely what is going on. It’s an obviously predictable response.

    And, I assume that someone on the left is going to decide he needs to defend his country and his freedom against jackbooted thugs and so picks up a rifle and shoots one of these proto-fascist stormtroopers.

    2
  89. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    It’s an effort to provoke a violent response, to justify a larger crackdown.

    No differently than protestors screaming in face of police officers, mere inches away from them, is an attempt to provoke a response in order to validate allegations of police brutality.

    And, I assume that someone on the left is going to decide he needs to defend his country and his freedom against jackbooted thugs and so picks up a rifle and shoots one of these proto-fascist stormtroopers.

    I literally laughed out loud at that one. Which one of those effete individuals is going to do that? They’d be more likely to shoot themselves or a bystander. 🙄

    1
  90. mattbernius says:

    Hey, remember way back in 2015, when Conservative Media and a large chunk of Texas lost their fucking minds over “Operation Jade Helm” and FEMA camps?

    Man things have changed in just 5 years.

    12
  91. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    No differently than protestors screaming in face of police officers, mere inches away from them, is an attempt to provoke a response in order to validate allegations of police brutality.

    Actually, that’s very different. The police are supposed to be trained.

    I literally laughed out loud at that one. Which one of those effete individuals is going to do that? They’d be more likely to shoot themselves or a bystander.

    Well, we have that navy guy who walked up and took a beating. He didn’t seem particularly effete. With a large enough group, you will get a couple of individuals who differ.

    It’s not like the protests are ringed with signs that say “you must be this effete to enter” after all.

    11
  92. de stijl says:

    @mattbernius:

    But Obama was a colored man!

    Probably a Muslim or an atheist depending on what day of the week it is.

    Totally different.

    This actual state violence against citizens is far, far less than what Obama had planned for.

    The rationalizing escapes me.

    All I know is what is happening in Portland and what Trump promised for Chicago is so far beyond wrong I can barely speak about it.

    I am truly 100% beyond pissed off.

    This is disaster.

    1
  93. KM says:

    @inhumans99:

    This is America and scenes of folks snatching citizens into unmarked vehicles should only be something one sees in a movie not something being reported on by multiple credible news sources in print and on TV.

    THIS. We are literally seeing things we used to invade countries for being done on our streets and there’s a debate on whether this is fascism or not. It’s very simple – if this exact scenario was happening in China or Saudi Arabia or Germany, would we think it was fascism for citizens to be kidnapped by unknown individuals in broad daylight because they were defacing buildings?? If you saw this happening in a 3rd World nation, would go “hmm, just protecting federal assets from thugs” or would be thinking “human rights violation”?

    All that right-wing paranoia about black helicopters and Jade Helm? Well, here’s your test run, guys and you’re freaking pleased it’s happening. Because it’s liberals or protesters or people you don’t like, we now have a terrifying precedent for the next POTUS to use. I do not care what your political persuasion is or how you feel about the current situation – this is an extremely dangerous precedent to have American nabbed off the street miles away from the “protected area” for no visible reason by unknown “officers”. For gods sake, do you know how easily a homegrown terrorist group or serial killer could take advantage of something like this? Show up in unmarked cars and riot gear, just grab people and it gets blamed on the feds when the bodies start turning up or missing persons cases rise.

    There’s no reason for this other then pure authoritarian BS. This is how democracy dies – when people are OK with vanishings because it restores Law and Order.

    11
  94. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “Just move the train forward slowly. If they’re too stupid to get out of the way of a train moving at 5mph, then … (note: you reached for the extreme example again … )”

    And you… just confirmed everything I said. Thanks, I guess.

    7
  95. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    Well, we have that navy guy who walked up and took a beating. He didn’t seem particularly effete. With a large enough group, you will get a couple of individuals who differ.

    Sniping about the Navy aside (I won’t go there …), he didn’t fight back either, did he?

    It’s not like the protests are ringed with signs that say “you must be this effete to enter” after all.

    True. All one needs to validate the effete assertion is a pair of eyes …

    1
  96. jpe says:

    We are literally seeing things we used to invade countries for being done on our streets

    No, we haven’t invaded countries when they – lawfully, mind you – use unmarked cars to detain people.

    There’s no reason for this other then pure authoritarian BS.

    Protecting federal property from arson and destruction is a pretty good reason.

  97. de stijl says:

    Normalizing disappearances is not a good look.

    Voters might object.

    1
  98. KM says:

    @jpe:

    Protecting federal property from arson and destruction is a pretty good reason.

    Except they are grabbing people NOT DOING THAT. They’re grabbing people far away from federal property, minding their own business. They’re grabbing people off bicycle and beat up medics, people who are CLEARLY not committing arson or destruction or threats of any kind. They’re snatching people without telling them why they are being taken and by whom, something that’s illegal AF and anti-American to boot.

    Please tell me how breaking the hand of a veteran of this country who approached them to talk is preventing arson. Please tell me how close-lining a bicyclist riding down the street is stopping destruction of federal property. Then please tell me why you are OK with this and if you will still be OK when the next Democratic President sends unmarked cars to your neighborhood to gather up anti-mask protesters or MAGAts because some of them invade federal buildings while armed (a crime, dontcha know!). Gotta protect that federal property and saving it from expensive COVID sanitation and higher security to deal with armed nuts seems like a pretty good reason, don’t you think? Did you know there’s federal property everywhere, including near where you are? Why should we pay out of our tax dollars to deal with your crimes when you can just be tossed into the back of a van somewhere?

    Think very carefully, son. This kind of high-handed behavior and abusing legalities is how our Founders decided enough was enough. Think about what this would mean for you should it not be used on hippie Portland but rather deep-red small towns and counties. Much of the West is federal land…..

    11
  99. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @de stijl:

    Voters might object.

    And, then again, they just might … not …

    Rather a matter of who’s being disappeared, you know?

    1
  100. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    And you… just confirmed everything I said. Thanks, I guess.

    You’re welcome, I guess …

    1
  101. rachel says:

    @Kari Q:

    I never thought I’d say this to you of all people, but you give him too much credit. He doesn’t think beyond the immediate. He sees protests, he reacts. Protests continue, he reacts harder. There’s no evidence he has ever asked himself what will happen next.

    Yes to all of that, but also I think that in his mind he’s remembering a successful “Law and Order” candidate winning election at a chaotic and violent time. I don’t think it ever registered with him that Nixon was the challenger who some won votes because the incumbent party represented the poor guidance that had lead to this state of affairs. He hasn’t realized that he’s LBJ in this scenario.

    2
  102. Teve says:

    @wr: there was a Simpsons show where Bart used exactly that logic. Hey, all he was doing was innocently swinging his arm and walking forward slowly, if you didn’t get out of the way that’s your fault.

    2
  103. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Wasn’t talking to you. Deliberately.

  104. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @de stijl:

    I’m supposed to care about that?

  105. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    Reason used to have a yearly fund raiser asking for donations. I mocked them so hard for that. I mean, you are Libertarians, right. I assume you have read Rand. Did you just blank out on her take on charity? You are defining hypocrisy. Your worth is judged by the market per your own standard. Hilarious.

    They ask people to pay for the product once a year–in whatever amount the reader thinks the product is worth. And… they’re still in business–because their market has judged their worth and is freely paying for it.

    That not charity. That’s market forces.

  106. de stijl says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    No, but I do.

  107. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Have you read Rand’s take on charity?

  108. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Sniping about the Navy aside (I won’t go there …), he didn’t fight back either, did he?

    I’m going to assume that you haven’t seen the video. He took the beating, standing, unmoving, not reacting to the beating. An embodiment of strength and control.

    He didn’t get beaten — he took the beating. Active verb intended.

    If he is in the crowd, who else is? Perhaps someone a bit less willing to be hit, or someone who wants to make it count. Someone who will fight back with deadly force. Someone who either isn’t an embodiment of strength and control, or someone who focuses that a bit differently.

    6
  109. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    No differently than protestors screaming in face of police officers, mere inches away from them, is an attempt to provoke a response in order to validate allegations of police brutality.

    That Sebastian piece in WaPo that I pointed you toward earlier puts you a bit in a bind here. Here’s a quote.

    Certainly, nonviolence was a central theme in King’s rhetoric — and a kind of spiritual philosophy. The preacher was heavily influenced by Mohandas Gandhi, and he called nonviolence the only moral means for fighting oppression. But he learned that, as a tactic, nonviolence was useless without violence.

    That lesson came in Albany, Ga., where police chief Laurie Pritchett ordered his officers to arrest civil rights protesters peacefully, without bully clubs or fire hoses. As a result, Albany’s streets remained placid; the town produced no disturbing images to generate national attention and pressure its officials. After seven months of demonstrations, starting in late 1961, Albany remained as segregated as it was when activists arrived. “This is when he [King] became convinced that he . . . had to find a gut segregationist who would think nothing of clubbing black people on the head,” Gene Roberts, who covered the civil rights movement for the New York Times, recalled in a recorded interview by the Newseum.

    That’s when the movement moved to Alabama and confronted Bull Connor.

    Was my trust that you would read it misplaced?

    5
  110. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    What does Rand have to do with Reason.com? Everyone keeps insisting that Libertarians must worship her like some sort of deity–as if politics and society haven’t changed in the past 100 years.

    Do you, as a democrat, follow everything that LBJ said?

  111. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Let’s broaden the scope then.

    What do libertarians as a group think about those who rely on charity for day to day operating funds?

    For or against?

    If you can’t cut it in the marketplace, beg?

  112. James Joyner says:

    @Kurtz:

    “This is when he [King] became convinced that he . . . had to find a gut segregationist who would think nothing of clubbing black people on the head,”

    That has long been my understanding of why King’s movement was successful: the contrast of Black men and women (and their white allies) peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights in their Sunday finest being sicced by dogs and thuggish cops. But, had King’s movement had a substantial violent element, whites would’ve sympathized with the cops.

    2
  113. SKI says:

    @James Joyner: They *did* sympathize with the cops. Opinion polling at the time makes it clear.

    It was the combination of the “peaceful” protests with the simultaneous race riots that got Congress to act – neither worked alone.

    3
  114. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    That is the sanitized Disney take on the civil rights movement.

    That you think that is the truth…

    2
  115. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “But, had King’s movement had a substantial violent element, whites would’ve sympathized with the cops.”

    Wasn’t this the fundamental disagreement between King and Malcolm X?

    3
  116. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    Right. I was specifically responding to the provocation point made by HL.

    You and I are unlikely to ever agree on whether that approach truly could work at this point, for various reasons. But there does seem to be this idea that King was passive, when he was deliberately provacative. I think it’s important to point it out.

    4
  117. JKB says:

    mysterious federal agents snatching peaceful protestors from the streets and disappearing them.

    How are people being “disappeared” when the report states the person was detain, then arrested and booked? Hardly a “disappearing” when the individual is recorded in official jail records.

    Perhaps the issue here is that those lawyers and organizations supporting the protestors are finding it hard to run down to the federal courthouse for a writ of habeas corpus or injunction since the protestors have shutdown the federal courthouse.

    Now if the protestors moved away from federal property, then the actions of the federal agents would be less defendable. Yes, there is the Insurrection Act but that hasn’t been invoked, but preventing the courts from operating is very close to justification for martial law.

  118. mattbernius says:

    Man, it’s fun to watch when a “libertarian’s” anti-state-violence tendencies run smack into their hippy and minority-punching fantasies isn’t it.

    Who is particularly surprised about which side won?

    6
  119. Kurtz says:

    @wr:

    They also disagreed about The Children’s Crusade.

    @SKI:

    They *did* sympathize with the cops. Opinion polling at the time makes it clear.

    It was the combination of the “peaceful” protests with the simultaneous race riots that got Congress to act – neither worked alone.

    Sheldon Appleton’s work shows that quite clearly.

    I take that position about the combination of Malcolm and MLK was the key to the Civil Rights Movement as well. There were others who disagreed with both.

    The historiography of it–the whitewash–is designed to encourage social stability more than anything else.

    I get a little irritated when people invoke MLK as an attempted correction of BLM because if MLK still lived now, it’s hard to say what his current tactic would entail.

  120. de stijl says:

    It irritates me too.

    King was a radical.

  121. Kurtz says:

    @mattbernius:

    Man, it’s fun to watch when a “libertarian’s” anti-state-violence tendencies run smack into their hippy and minority-punching fantasies isn’t it.

    Who is particularly surprised about which side won?

    Haha. Was this in response specifically to @JKB? I mean, he was in a thread the other day quoting Art Carden:

    When we’re saying “the government should intervene,” we’re saying “an organization with guns should threaten to lock people in cages if they don’t comply with its dictates.”

    Today, he posts this:

    Now if the protestors moved away from federal property, then the actions of the federal agents would be less defendable. Yes, there is the Insurrection Act but that hasn’t been invoked, but preventing the courts from operating is very close to justification for martial law.

    Even Rand Paul is consistent on this one. Well, the most I can say is partially consistent, because he did say local law enforcement ought to be handling it.

    2
  122. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    What do libertarians as a group think about those who rely on charity for day to day operating funds?

    Dammit! You’ve found me out! You’ve deduced that I am the Keeper Of the Tome of All Things Libertarian.

    You (and so many others) keep thinking that [the party that I’m not in] is somehow monolithic and of a single mind. Democrats have Blue Dog Anthony Brindisi and Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    So… What do “democrats as a group” think about UBI?

    What do libertarians as a group think about those who rely on charity for day to day operating funds? For or against?

    Please define “charity”. I’m not being a smart-ass here, I honestly want to know how you define “charity”–because it sound to me like “anything without a clearly-defined price tag, and payment up-front”.

    If you can’t cut it in the marketplace, beg?

    I have a rule regarding buskers: If they sit and ask for money, they get nothing from me. If they do something and ask to be paid for it, they generally get my money.

    For a couple years in China, the company I worked for had their office in an open-air shopping mall. The center of which was a big food court. There were two beggars who walked around during the lunch hours, and I was a prime target (“white” = “rich”). I never gave them a mao.

    On the stairs of the #3 gate for the JingAn Temple station for the #2 line on Nanjing West Road, there was a blind man who would play the erhu. It was… not exactly Yoyo Ma. He got what ever change I had in my pocket–because he wasn’t begging; he was offering a product and trusting in the market to pay for it.

    Reason (like many other valued producers) provide a product for free, then ask the public to contribute what they feel that product is worth. They aren’t “begging”. They are quite explicitly trusting in the market.

    If you can’t cut it in the marketplace…

    But they can cut it in the marketplace. The DO cut it in the marketplace–as shown by the fact that individuals are paying a “fair market price” (whatever each individual considers that to be) for a product that they clearly support and want to consume more of.

    …beg?

    Reason producing a product which may or may not have value to the marketplace. It’s asking consumers to determine that product’s market value, and pay what they think it’s worth.

    How is that “begging” and not “trusting in market forces”?

    They’ve been going for 50+ years, so… I’m going to say that the market values their product.

    2
  123. de stijl says:

    Wow!

    I apparently really pissed you off. I was not trying to honest.

    Now I am.

    It was stupid funny when they stuck out their cap and said “Please, sir. I want more.”

    Libertarians in the figurative streets begging for alms and scraps amuses me. Not sorry if that offends you at all. You have made it clear upstream.

  124. Scott O says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “I have pretty well decided that polling is more or less useless.”

    Are you serious or are you just pounding the table? Unskewing the polls was moronic in 2012 and remains so.

    2
  125. Michael Cain says:

    …but not everyone has been reading for 17-1/2 years.

    What a cool thing to be able to say :^)

    1
  126. Monala says:

    @de stijl: I kind of see his point. My understanding of Libertarians isn’t that they oppose private charity, just government funding for stuff that’s not defense or property law. (I know Mu Yixiao isn’t defining Reason’s support drives as charity). I think the charge of hypocrisy is better leveled when they start accepting government funding.

    1
  127. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Scott O:

    Are you serious or are you just pounding the table? Unskewing the polls was moronic in 2012 and remains so.

    I’m serious. I said nothing about unskewing them. I said that I don’t consider them to be reliable indicators of public opinion, especially with regard to sensitive subjects (which people can and will lie about to a pollster) in this day and age.

  128. Tyrell says:

    @Arm The Homeless: If I own a home or business anywhere, I am going to want and expect some law enforcement to protect it from arsonists, terrorist, anarchists, or whatever. Who wouldn’t?
    Seems that in some of the cities the police have left or resigned. Seattle’s “occupied zone” became the “nightmare zone” with killings, assaults, and attacks on women.

    1
  129. An Interested Party says:

    This argument that Trump is too ham-fisted and ignorant to be a successful authoritarian is cold comfort when you’ve got dorks like Hawley and Cotton waiting to leverage the Trump cultists for their own runs at power.

    Speaking of said dork, did you know that the protestors in Portland are no different than Confederate traitors? The fascism is strong in this one…

    By the way, is it any surprise that things are happening as they are when this person is in charge of Homeland Security? Yikes…

  130. MarkedMan says:

    @Kurtz:

    Even Rand Paul is consistent on this one.

    Don’t go there. Rand Paul is a third rate sociopath. Using him as an example of how “X is to far for even Y” is like saying the reason some meth head didn’t punch his brother out and steal his car is because that would be going too far”, when all it means is that the alligator in the swimming pool scared him off.

    1
  131. Kurtz says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    You (and so many others) keep thinking that [the party that I’m not in] is somehow monolithic and of a single mind. Democrats have Blue Dog Anthony Brindisi and Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    A big tent political party and a narrow ideological movement are incomparable entities.

    I think when most commenters here discuss libertarianism, they mean something very specific. I’ve stopped doing it these days, but my posts that addressed the subject in the past flagged it as “American Libertarianism” to avoid that confusion.

  132. Kurtz says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Lol. When you described a former Ophthalmologist as a third rate sociopath, I pictured the needle scene from Audition.

  133. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    That is the sanitized Disney take on the civil rights movement.

    That you think that is the truth…

    It’s also the prevailing academic consensus. See Omar Wasow’s work, cited here a couple months back.

  134. Tyrell says:

    @An Interested Party: The Confederate and Union soldiers held frequent reunions after the war. There was no animosity or hatred from either side. Many of the Confederate officers returned to serve in the Army. Fitzhugh Lee served honorably in the Spanish-American War. Many served in the western campaigns in lonely, dusty, far-flung outposts: Fort Yuma, Fort Carson, Fort Crockett, Fort Stanton, Fort Apache.
    When I was a child, I remember people telling me about the Civil War veterans they knew and the stories they told: living history. There was no hatred.

    1
  135. al Ameda says:

    Trump is emotional and impulsive to the Nth degree, and it would not surprise me if what set him off to invade Portland was when ‘Black Lives Matter’ was painted on to the pavement in front of one of his (laundered-Russian-money financed) Trump Towers. Add to that his failed ‘clear the protesters hold-the-Bible photo-op, and Trump was probably seething to demonstrate that he can ‘dominate’ the streets and control liberal protesters.

    1
  136. SKI says:

    @Tyrell: They may have held reunions but if you think the Union veterans didn’t consider the Confederates traitors and villains, the public comments in 1903 regarding possibly honoring Lee at Gettysburg should be illuminating:

    Writing in 1903, Union veteran John Stewart had this to say about the idea of placing a statue of Robert E. Lee on the Gettysburg battlefield: “But what is to be gained by putting this statue of Lee on Gettysburg battlefield? If you want historical accuracy as your excuse, then place upon this field a statue of Lee holding in his hand the banner under which he fought, bearing the legend: ‘We wage this war against a government conceived in liberty and dedicated to humanity.’”

    Perhaps few objected as forcefully as Major William H. Lambert who remarked, also in 1903, “Individually, I am decidedly opposed to the proposition. I do not think we are far enough away from the time of the great struggle to erect monuments in memory of the men who tried to overthrow the Government. I have no doubt the Old Soldiers will heartily oppose it. I think we can safely wait until Virginia erects a statue to Abraham Lincoln or to General George Thomas.

    2
  137. Tyrell says:

    @SKI: I wonder what Generals Grant and Sherman would have thought.
    Thomas was a good general, Halleck not so much.
    Watch “Grant”.
    I still have not heard a rational explanation on why anyone would take down a statue of Grant, or Teddy Roosevelt. Probably is no rational explanation.

  138. Rick DeMent says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The thuggish use of hard to identify law enforcement in unmarked vehicles is actually more analogous to the behavior of authoritarian governments in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, etc. after the military took power.

    But again, the scale is not the same.

    No, but it’s still a a matter of degree. Do you honestly think that if Trump gets good feedback on this move, “the scale” might not just increase to where it becomes much more similar to the “hyperbole”?

  139. SKI says:

    @Tyrell:

    I wonder what Generals Grant and Sherman would have thought.

    Grant was pretty clear in his memoir. Writing of Appotomatox he said: “I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse“.

    And he saved Lee from a treason trial but not because he wasn’t guilty of treason but because of the explicit terms agreed at Appomattox.

    Sherman also wans’t a fan of the Confederacy: “To those who would submit to the rightful law and authority, all gentleness and forbearance; but to the petulant and persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy, and the quicker he or she is disposed of the better. Satan and the rebellious saints of Heaven were allowed a continuous existence in hell merely to swell their just punishment. To such as would rebel against a Government so mild and just as ours was in peace, a punishment equal would not be unjust.” and “ I attach more importance to these deep incisions into the enemy’s country, because this war differs from European wars in this particular: we are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war

    2
  140. mattbernius says:

    @Tyrell:

    I still have not heard a rational explanation on why anyone would take down a statue of Grant, or Teddy Roosevelt.

    Again, the people from the Museum have been exceptionally clear that the issue with Roosevelt Statue wasn’t Roosevelt, but with the Native Peoples that accompanied him and their depiction.

    “The Statue has long been controversial because of the hierarchical composition that places one figure on horseback and the others walking alongside, and many of us find its depictions of the Native American and African figures and their placement in the monument racist.”
    Ellen Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History
    https://www.amnh.org/about/press-center/amnh-requests-statue-removal

    Of course, if you want to say people (including people of Native American and African Descent) and members of the museum staff are “irrational” for finding the depictions racist, that tells us far more about you and your calibration on such topics than it does about them.

    For the record, a member of TR’s family agreed with the move, but hey, what do they know…

    Theodore Roosevelt IV, Museum Trustee and great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, said: “The world does not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice. The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to move the Statue and move forward.”

    source: ibid

    1
  141. @Rick DeMent:

    No, but it’s still a a matter of degree. Do you honestly think that if Trump gets good feedback on this move, “the scale” might not just increase to where it becomes much more similar to the “hyperbole”?

    To be clear, in the countries I mentioned people were dragged from their homes into unmarked cars and truly disappeared (as in never seen again). That is a wholly different scale.

    I am not defending any of this, I am just trying to keep a sense of proportion.

  142. @Tyrell:

    I still have not heard a rational explanation on why anyone would take down a statue of Grant, or Teddy Roosevelt. Probably is no rational explanation.

    To echo @mattbernius, I think you need to give that statue a look and note the obvious symbolism of a white man on a horse flanked by non-whites on foot.

    And note: the museum still have plenty of other ways it honors TR.

    2
  143. Rick DeMent says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    To be clear, in the countries I mentioned people were dragged from their homes into unmarked cars and truly disappeared (as in never seen again). That is a wholly different scale.

    I get it, I really do. But it’s still a matter of scale, not kind.