Wednesday’s Forum

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Scientific American: Nine Important Things We’ve Learned about the Coronavirus Pandemic So Far Some early public health messages about COVID-19 have been overturned

    1) Outbreaks of COVID-19 can happen anywhere.
    2) COVID-19 can sicken and kill anyone.
    3) Contaminated surfaces are not the main danger.
    4) It is in the air.
    5) Many people are infectious without being sick.
    6) Warm summer weather will not stop the virus.
    7) Masks work.
    8) Racism, not race, is a risk factor.
    9) Misinformation kills.

    21
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My granddaughter is in the Lindbergh school district, one whose board members have a decidedly rightward tilt. Months ago, they were proposing 3 ways for children to attend when schools reopen: Online only, in school attendance only, or a hybrid of the 2. Now they have eliminated the online and hybrid options because “not enough kids signed up for them.” (entirely possible in this trump enclave but so is blatantly lying about it because they just don’t want to spend the money)

    So my gd will be getting home schooled this year and about 2 weeks after Lindbergh schools open they will start closing again and the entire year will be fucked because the other options have been eliminated and I am betting any plan for what to do when the inevitable does happen are at best getting lip service only.

    I am not a fan of home schooling but in this situation, what other choice makes sense?

    11
  3. Bill says:

    The headline of the day-

    Officials say deadly Beirut explosion caused by 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate

    Now what would somebody need 2700 tons of explosives for?

    2
  4. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill: Ammonia Nitrite is fertilizer

    7
  5. Bill says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Ammonia Nitrite is fertilizer

    I know it is. It is also a form of explosives. Ask Texas City and Oklahoma City.

    2
  6. Jen says:

    What I don’t understand is why that much explosive material was being stored in a downtown area. Yes, that’s the port, sure, they have to bring it in and store it somewhere, but this just seems so out of bounds for normal health and safety standards that it’s unreal.

    The devastation is frightening.

    2
  7. wr says:

    @Jen: “but this just seems so out of bounds for normal health and safety standards that it’s unreal.”

    I know. I mean, sure we’d expect this kind of thing in Texas… but Beirut?

    12
  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill: My family lived in Texas City until just a couple months before the ship blew up. Family legend was one of the props landed near our old house.

    I read of a ship worker (sailor? longshoreman?) who saw smoke rising from one of the ship’s compartments and when he investigated and saw the smoke was coming from the fertilizer he realized right away what was going to happen. He abandoned ship post haste, screaming and yelling at everyone he past that it was gonna blow. Who knows how many lives he saved.

    4
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @wr: Well turned, sir. Very well turned.

    1
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Closing paragraph from the Guardian article:

    As night closed in, Beirut was darker than ever. The waning electricity that recently could barely keep the city going was barely needed, for once. The city was rapidly emptying. The lights were no longer on.

    1
  11. Jen says:

    @wr: Well, yes. With Beirut’s history, I would think that keeping large amounts of explosives relatively unsecured in populated areas would be considered. Places that get bombed frequently tend to be a little bit touchy about that sort of thing.

    1
  12. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I hear you. In our suburban San Antonio district (about 60K students, considered fairly well off but with wide range of socioeconomic means), administrations have opened schools and are working there, teachers come back next week, and students start online on the 17th. Three weeks online until after labor day, then parents choose either on campus or on line instruction. All teachers are on campus whether on line or in person.

    My wife, as a counselor, is already physically working at her elementary school. As someone who is fairly physically fit but is 66, slightly overweight, with typical old guy ailments as treated blood pressure and cholesterol, I admit I’m a little nervous. (A neighborhood friend is still recovering from COVID, was one step from hospitalization. Got it from church. A little too close to home.)

    As from online vs in-school, it is running about 50-50, which surprises me because her school is a Title I school which all kinds economic issues and both parents often work. On the other hand, there are a lot of grandparents involved so there is some family support. Today, she gets to go out, with the school family specialist to knock on doors because there are a lot of kids that haven’t been able to be contacted by phone or email. Just trying to get class rosters completed is a big deal.

    1
  13. Kathy says:

    @Bill:

    It’s not an explosive per se, but it can blow up, as it did in Beirut, when it burns.

    It’s kind of a fine, almost hairsplitting, distinction. But consider something familiar like gasoline. It’s not an explosive, it’s fuel. Yet a large tank with gas can blow up in a fire.

    Definitely ammonium nitrate is a very hazardous material and should be stored with all due precautions. For one thing, you shouldn’t keep so much of it in one place that it will blow up like it just did in Lebanon.

    5
  14. Bill says:

    @Kathy:

    It’s kind of a fine, almost hairsplitting, distinction. But consider something familiar like gasoline. It’s not an explosive, it’s fuel. Yet a large tank with gas can blow up in a fire.

    Thanks to my ebook writing I’ve learned a great deal about topics that your average 59-year-old can survivor should have no need of. Explosives and how they are used, the organization of Japanese yakuza, plus more mundane topics like how to convert to Judaism, dung beetles, triplet pregnancies, and figure skating.

    Ammonia nitrate has been used as an intentional explosive more than once as history has taught us.

    4
  15. Bill says:
  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: My granddaughter’s mother moved into this district because it’s one of the higher rated districts in the STL area, and as a doctor she could afford to. She and my son get along very well and work together on anything to do with GD. My son just had a 2nd daughter with his wife and with the money she is making they decided he would be a stay at home Dad at least until she enters school. #1 GD may well be living with my son during the week because he has the time to dedicate to home schooling and his wife loves GD #1 almost as much as GD #2, if not every bit as much.

    If anybody can make it work, these 3 will. This is not to say I think it will be as good as attending school, just that it is the best choice they can make for GD #1 right now.

    2
  17. wr says:
  18. Jen says:
  19. Moosebreath says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    We are in a similar situation in our district in the Philly suburbs. After a 4 hour Zoom meeting 2 weeks ago, the School Board passed a plan offering a choice of hybrid or totally remote. We elected remote for our 10th grader.

    Last night, we were notified they are holding an unscheduled meeting on Thursday night to consider making it all remote at least through November.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill: I was just pointing out that it might not be war or terrorism related. Might be, but also might not be.

    2
  21. Monala says:

    I shared this late yesterday but am repeating it because it’s horrifying. In a heartbreaking and infuriating case, Aurora, CO police detain a black family, cuffing the children (ages 6-17) and making them lay prone on the hot asphalt, based on looking for a stolen motorcycle with Montana plates. The Colorado family’s SUV had a similar plate number.

    The video, where the terrified children are crying, is very hard to watch. The police department has apologized.

    Stuff like this makes me support defunding and abolishing existing police departments, even if in calmer moments I don’t think that’s the best answer.

    Link

    6
  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Moosebreath: I am glad my sons are old enough that it’s not my problem. My youngest was “home schooled” for a year by his mother. I say that in scare quotes because I was not able to see him for 95% of that time and when the court finally enforced my visitation rights I managed to gain access to his on line course materials and… He had done next to none of the assignments. Almost got my ex educational neglect charges in addition to what she eventually went to prison for.

  23. Kathy says:

    @Bill:

    Ammonia nitrate has been used as an intentional explosive more than once as history has taught us.

    Yes, when mixed with fuel oil to make anfo.

    It’s not worth arguing over definitions. It’s interesting that abut like poison being a matter of dosage, explosives can be a matter of conditions. For instance, you can make hot water blow up if you mix it with liquid nitrogen. For that matter, things like flour can cause dust explosions. And speaking of water, steam explosions can be quite destructive, too.

    3
  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Monala: I love this:

    (Newly appointed Police Chief Vanessa) Wilson said she’s “heartbroken” that the girls were traumatized by the incident and offered to meet with them to help them understand they should not fear police.

    Ummmm, by now we have all seen a thousand different reasons for why they should fear police.

    Stuff like this makes me support defunding and abolishing existing police departments, even if in calmer moments I don’t think that’s the best answer.

    In light of all the failed “reforms”, I don’t blame anybody for thinking that abolishing is the solution, and I certainly think that banning certain police officers is. That includes not just the worst offenders but also those who cover up for them.

    3
  25. CSK says:

    @Monala:
    I repeat: They can’t tell the difference between a motorcycle and an SUV?

    5
  26. Jen says:

    @CSK: Yeah, that’s yet to be explained in a manner that is sufficient.

    I’ve seen a bunch of “the plate number triggered the stop” but still no explanation as to why, upon stopping, it wasn’t immediately recognized that a van is not a motorcycle. Even if you follow the somewhat BS line of plate-switching–which does happen–a motorcycle plate is not the same as a vehicle plate. They are different sizes–at least here in NH.

    3
  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: They were both black!

    ETA: @Jen: They are different sizes everywhere.

    3
  28. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    I believe 4″ x 7″ is standard in most states for motorcycle plates, and 6″ x 12″ is standard for 4 wheel vehicles.

    2
  29. CSK says:

    I haven’t checked exhaustively–I can’t stand the thought of it–but as far as I can see, not one of the pro-Trump websites has mentioned either his trainwreck of an Axios interview or his mispronunciation of “Yosemite.” It’s customary for them to ignore (or spin when they can) his multitudinous gaffes and vulgarisms, but I wonder if they’ll ever reach a point where they can no longer do so.

    2
  30. Bill says:

    @Monala:

    Aurora, CO police detain a black family, cuffing the children (ages 6-17) and making them lay prone on the hot asphalt, based on looking for a stolen motorcycle with Montana plates. The Colorado family’s SUV had a similar plate number.

    The Aurora Colorado police again. Such behavior as this shouldn’t be par for the course but it is for this law enforcement agency. I don’t forget this-

    Police in Aurora, Colo., searching for suspected bank robbers stopped every car at an intersection, handcuffed all the adults and searched the cars, one of which they believed was carrying the suspect.

    Police said they had received what they called a “reliable” tip that the culprit in an armed robbery at a Wells Fargo bank committed earlier was stopped at the red light.

    “We didn’t have a description, didn’t know race or gender or anything, so a split-second decision was made to stop all the cars at that intersection, and search for the armed robber,” Aurora police Officer Frank Fania told ABC News.

    Officers barricaded the area, halting 19 cars.

    “Cops came in from every direction and just threw their car in front of my car,” Sonya Romero, one of the drivers who was handcuffed, told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver.

    From there, the police went from car to car, removing the passengers and handcuffing the adults.

    James or Doug blogged about it at the time but I can’t find their post.

    Oops, I forgot to link to the 2012 News story. https://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/06/police-stop-handcuff-every-adult-at-intersection-in-search-for-bank-robber

  31. CSK says:

    Pete Hamill has died. He was 85.

    2
  32. Bill says:

    Here is a link to Dr. Taylor’s post on the 2012 Aurora Colorado police incident.

  33. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Let’s discuss the Beirut blast.
    Trump claimed his “Great General’s” told him it was an attack.
    It was not an attack…it was almost 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored, unsecured, in a warehouse for over 6 years.
    From CNN:

    Three US Defense Department officials told CNN that as of Tuesday night there was no indication that the massive explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday were an “attack,” contradicting an earlier claim from President Donald Trump.

    So we have a Commander in Chief who, already clearly suffering from decreased mental capacity, is making up his own stories about world events.
    Domestically we are currently in the midst of an epidemic, that Trump has been unable to respond to, in which 158,000 people have died…most of them needlessly.
    Imagine, for a moment, the damage this mentally ill and incompetent executive might do, in other unforeseeable circumstances.

    5
  34. sam says:
  35. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:
    @Bill:
    99 44/100’s sure it as an accident, due to negligence, and not an attack as Trump claimed it was.
    The back story is kinda interesting.
    And of course it involves shady Russians.
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/lebanon-security-blast-warehouse/update-1-initial-investigations-point-to-negligence-as-cause-of-beirut-blast-source-says-idUKL8N2F74PR

  36. sam says:
  37. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    How else does he make the media stop paying attention to the tragedy in Beirut and go back to covering him?

  38. Jen says:

    @Bill: Aurora CO is also where the Elijah McClain case is being investigated, isn’t it?

    I think maybe it’s well past time they get their act together there.

  39. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    I’m not Bill, but yes, it is.

  40. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    Point well made

  41. Fortunato says:

    @Bill:
    ANFO.
    As a summer job I used to work in an underground limestone mine. The explosive used in the mining process was called ANFO, which is simply a mixture of Ammonium Nitrate (fertilizer pellets) mixed with a little bit of diesel fuel. (the ANFO was blown into holes drilled into the rock face and detonated with an electrically wired/timed blasting cap).
    It’s the same material Timothy McVeigh used in the OKC bombing. He bought the Ammonium Nitrate at a local Co-Op and mixed in the diesel fuel himself.
    To this day I remain surprised (concerned?) at how simple, and easily attainable such a powerfully destructive product was/is.

  42. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jen:
    @Kathy:

    The NYT is reporting that the ammonium nitrate had been seized by the government 6 years ago. In a different report, yesterday, the seizure was from a Hezbollah aligned group. Now why the gov continued to store the amm nitrate there is an example of the ineptitude of the Lebanese gov.

    Reportedly a nearby fireworks factory exploded setting of the larger blast. Now why you would allow a fireworks factory in an urban area…

  43. CSK says:

    @sam:
    That was too funny. I wonder if someone has tried to tell him that the line of demarcation between where his bronzer leaves off and his natural skin tone (pasty) takes up is growing more and more obvious.

  44. gVOR08 says:

    A couple of people have mentioned Texas City. FYI the Texas City explosion in 1947 was the deadliest industrial accident in the US. 2300 tons of ammonium nitrate loaded on a ship apparently spontaneously combusted into fire and finally blew up killing several hundred people.

  45. CSK says:

    This is only notable if you know the place, but Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage in Harvard Square is up for sale. The asking price is $475,000, which seems cheap given the location.

  46. Sleeping Dog says:

    @CSK:

    If the Harvard Sq trend of the past 30 years continues, Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage will become Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage by McDonalds.

    2
  47. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Yeah. The son who’s doing the selling says he won’t sell it to anyone who doesn’t agree to keep the name, but we’ll see how long that resolution lasts. I don’t know how you can hold anyone to it.

    I wasn’t aware that Jacqueline Onassis had dined there. She seems to have broken bread everywhere.

    2
  48. Mister Bluster says:

    VETTING IS EVERYTHING

    Bass corrects explanation for appearing at Scientology event
    The VP finalist had said the church’s new headquarters was “in my district.” But a spokesman acknowledged Wednesday that it was not.

    Rep. Karen Bass on Wednesday corrected her explanation for why she appeared and spoke effusively at the opening of the Church of Scientology’s headquarters in Los Angeles a decade ago.
    The California Democrat had noted in a written statement over the weekend that the new building was in her state Assembly district. But the headquarters was well outside the boundaries of her district at the time, and Bass removed “in my district” from the statement after POLITICO contacted her office Tuesday about the discrepancy.
    “In drafting a tweet, I mistakenly described the event in Los Angeles as being in her district. I regret this error,” a spokesman told POLITICO.
    Bass’ justification for appearing at the massive building’s opening — that she represented the area — was included in news accounts as a primary reason why she would have attended. Bass’ spokesman did not respond to a question Wednesday about why she appeared and spoke glowingly about the church, which has been enmeshed in controversies for years.
    Politico

    VETTING IS EVERYTHING

    1
  49. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kathy: Yeah, I recall on the job one day when an operator opened a 350# process steam line. When the live steam hit a frozen water slug downstream, there was one h3ll of an explosion.

  50. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Now why the gov continued to store the amm nitrate there is an example of the ineptitude of the Lebanese gov.

    My guess? You store ammonium nitrate in a facility downtown, and make it a poorly-kept secret. There’s no way the Israelis would attempt even a surgical strike on Beirut’s ports if they knew that was there, for reasons we are now well aware. Hezbollah can move arms in and out and they knew Israel wouldn’t risk a strike.

    Or maybe I read too many novels.

  51. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    I suppose lying about the location was the best explanation they could come up with, but it wasn’t good enough. The Scientology connection is going to do her more damage than will the Castro one, and the Castro one was probably bad enough to knock her out of serious contention.

  52. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    Hey, great premise. You write well, so why not give it a shot? 😀

    2
  53. JohnMcC says:

    @Mister Bluster: Saw the headline; thanks for excerpting. Ms Bass’ connection with Scientology is as disqualifying in FL as her remarks related to Mr Castro. The city of Clearwater is essentially a Vatican City for those folks and the Tampa Bay Times has for years been a thorn in their side.

  54. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Lying about the location just makes it suspicious. It’s also easily checked.

    What’s wrong with a simple “In retrospect, it may have been poor judgement. I blame the thetans.”? Then we would all say “Now, that’s a VP for Biden!”

    2
  55. CSK says:

    @Gustopher:
    Okay, you made me laugh put loud with “I blame the Thetans.”

    2
  56. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jen:

    Lebanon’s borders are pretty porous and Hezbollah seems able to receive any weapons they desire from any direction, except from the south. Israel has avoided attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon to avoid a tit for tat cross border conflict that would require another Israeli incursion to end. Bibi has enough problems without a hot war that effects the Tel Aviv suburbs.

  57. Gustopher says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Lebanon’s borders are pretty porous and Hezbollah seems able to receive any weapons they desire from any direction, except from the south.

    Quite true. Most of the weapons they get from the south are rockets, and are unwelcome.

    1
  58. Scott says:

    Trump confirms he’s considering delivering convention speech from White House

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday confirmed reports that he is considering accepting the Republican Party’s 2020 presidential nomination in a nationally televised address delivered from the White House.

    “I’ll probably do mine live from the White House,” Trump told “Fox & Friends” of his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention later this month, adding that he had not officially settled on a location for the prime-time remarks.

    Who knows if this is legal or not?

    But…

    Biden will no longer deliver convention speech in Milwaukee

    The Democratic National Convention Committee on Wednesday announced that the party’s event will be completely virtual and that presumptive nominee Joe Biden will no longer travel to Milwaukee for his acceptance speech.

    Joe Biden should immediately demand that he deliver his nomination acceptance speech from the White House since it apparently is available for campaigns to use as props.

    1
  59. CSK says:

    @Scott:
    Actually, I think it would be funnier if Biden did it right outside the White House. He could end by pulling out an eviction notice and fastening it on the fence.

    6
  60. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..The Scientology connection is going to do her more damage than will the Castro one,..
    @JohnMcC:..Ms Bass’ connection with Scientology is as disqualifying in FL as her remarks related to Mr Castro.

    When I was attending Bloom Township Jr. College in Chicago Heights, IL (fall 1966-spring 1968) a guy came around to the student lounge telling anyone who would listen about his life in Scientology. This was the way to live! If you followed it’s teachings Success would be yours!
    I know he spouted off about L. Ron Hubbard and dianetics.
    I’m not sure if I was still looking for some religion/philosophy that would replace the Missouri Synod Lutheranism that I had abandoned. I was curious enough to do maybe 30 minutes research in the Library to discover that L Ron was formerly a science fiction writer who invented Scientology. I also remember that I turned up the whole e-meter business and how it would help to get you “clear”. I had two tin cans at home and I could make one for myself. That was enough for me.
    Not long after I got to Sleepytown U the Scientology crowd had a storefront on the main drag in town. They would stand out on the sidewalk and do everything but grab you by the arm to try to get you inside.
    I met a few of their former converts that complained about the extreme pressure they were subjected to when they decided to leave the group. The store front closed down after a few months.
    As far as Rep. Bass is concerned she can tout Scientology all she wants for all I care. I do hope that Biden and company realize what an albatross it will be if she is the VP candidate.

  61. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..I think it would be funnier if Biden did it right outside the White House.

    How about in front of Saint John’s Church holding up a copy of the Constitution for the United States of America…

    3
  62. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..For that matter, things like flour can cause dust explosions.

    The Lauhoff grain elevators that sit almost in the middle of Danville, Illinois have exploded several times over the years. Fortunately not while I lived there (1961-1964).
    Source

  63. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Better still. I was thinking of that and snickering at the image.

  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Homeschooling is as good as the participants in the process choose to make it. My experience with homeschooled kids runs the gamut from the kid who was homeschooled for 12 years who was the best student in his section of my English 101 class to the kid whose mom asked the district for the answer keys for the assignments he was doing because she was having trouble answering the questions.

    Even so, remember B.F. Skinner’s* Arthur C. Clark’s immortal words upon development of the teaching machine and the question of whether the machine would eventually replace teachers:

    any teacher who can be replaced by a machine should be.

    *–When I was in school to become a teacher, this quote had been attributed to Skinner by some of my professors. Just now I looked it up.

  65. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    When I was teaching at a New England college, I had a few home-schooled students. They were fine except for one thing: They didn’t often turn in assignments on time. Maybe whoever instructed them was a little lax about that requirement.

  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Now why you would allow a fireworks factory in an urban area…

    My guess would be because people who need work don’t have transportation in countries such as Lebanon.

  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: In my case, it was the students from the local school districts who had the time management problems. Home school kids were very punctual.

    They weren’t as big on attending class, though. And I had at least one home schooled student who had dropped his or her previous class because the teacher had told the student to drop or receive a failing grade for non-attendance–with a 95% score for the term. (In fairness to that teacher, both Washington State Administrative code and school policy state explicitly that students who do not attend 85% of class sessions for any course are at risk of not earning credit for their work.)

  68. sam says:

    Speaking of disasters, this happened in Boston.

    1
  69. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I would have suggested that she should just own what she’d done. If the truth don’t make you free, it’s because you don’t got no freedom comin’.

    Of course, she may have justified doing it for that reason even back in the day and believes it to be true, I suppose.

  70. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I assume she lied about the circumstance, or tacitly encouraged her spokeperson to lie, because she knows that Scientology is a dealbreaker for most people. Tom Cruise can get away with it for the moment, but no one really cares what actors do. If he decided to run for office, though, I don’t think he’d get very far.

  71. Sleeping Dog says:

    @sam:

    It was a slow moving disaster 🙂

  72. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I can see that attending class would be more of a problem for people who never had to do it, but oddly, it never arose for me.

  73. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Until I went to Korea, I always taught at 2-year colleges and in the Pacific Northwest. Work schedules create lots of conflicts for 2-year college students–especially since low wage employers decided to move predominantly to floating hour scheduling (you work according to my scheduling whims of the moment), and where I’ve lived, random school attendance has been sort of a thing in some segments of the population for as long as I can remember. Even when I was in high school over 50 years ago, families pulled their children out of school fairly routinely for fishing/hunting trips, family vacations, dad/mom is going on a business trip to an exotic locale and taking the whole family. Truancy has also been big in Washington–it gotten as high as 15% in some districts at times.

  74. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I certainly agree that Scientology is going to be a deal breaker for sane voters–how many of them there are anymore is another question. Still, it’s not like you’re going to be able to keep this under wraps, and being the second one to speak puts you behind the curve. A lame-o excuse that is verifiably inaccurate on top of it won’t be useful.

    I’ve always felt that “I smoked, but I didn’t inhale” damaged Clinton’s credibility among those who weren’t died-in-the-wool Clintonistas way more than “smoked? Who didn’t?” would have. But I also think that quite a few people who go into politics do so out of a need to reinforce their own self-worth, so not being willing to risk alienating anyone makes some sense.

  75. Jen says:

    Al Jazeera has a very detailed write up of the arrival and storage of the ammonium nitrate.

    Sounds like your classic bureaucratic bungling that led to a massive disaster.

  76. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    It may be less a question of sane voters here than religious voters. I don’t think too many evangelicals/fundamentalists or, for that matter, anyone who observed a more mainstream faith, would vote for someone who professed a love for Scientology. Those people, along with the sane secular voters, would constitute a pretty formidable bloc.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    If I understand you correctly, that wouldn’t be the same thing as missing class on a regular basis.

  77. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK:

    If I understand you correctly, that wouldn’t be the same thing as missing class on a regular basis.

    While I was teaching, the AGs office came to the determination that a course syllabus was a contract. Phrases such as “missing class on a regular basis,” “not working to ability,” were determined to be imprecise and subjective for the purpose of justifying student success and/or failure. BUT, Administrative Code also acknowledges that the teachers have the final word on what policies and standards are necessary for successful completion of a course. The compromise that evolved was that teachers could decline to grant credit to students who didn’t attend class, but that what constituted not attending class had to be quantified.

    How 85% came to be policy at my school was that the Administrative Code seems to have stated that the Office of Public Instruction can order that credit not be granted for classes for which the teacher held class sessions for fewer than 85% of the total calendar days the class met. Why this rule is what it is, I have no idea, but I do remember taking “unstructured” classes in grad school where the teacher and I had to document 9 class meetings per credit granted for the class (we were on a quarter schedule with 10 weeks per term, exclusive of final exam days).

    Hope that clears up your understanding. TL/DR: It isn’t the same, but it is in some ways.

    On evangelicals/fundamentalists and Scientology, political support for a Scientologist would depend on who the opponent was. At least I think so. Latter-Day Saints were beyond the pale for fundies until abortion became an issue and some Mormon leaders joined with Falwell and all in the Moral Majority. If the Church of Scientology wanted to endow… say… a chair for pulp fiction studies and sci fi and fantasy writing at Liberty University for example, I expect that fundy/evangelicals would suddenly find that Scientology has a lot of good understanding of human nature and wisdom in it. 😉

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  78. JohnMcC says:

    @sam: I see that 21 people died in that Molasses so not a humorous event but I admit to being reminded of the Smothers Brothers musical skit ‘Chocolate’.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSmgYSVVpTM

    Well, screwed up the link. You know what to do.

  79. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    At my high school, you were allowed a number of absences per class. If you exceeded them, you failed the class for that semester.

    In theory the allowed absences were meant to be used in case you got sick and had to miss school, or for some other legitimate reason. In practice, a teacher could agree to not record an absence if you could justify it, but they were not required to do so.

  80. Liberal Capitalistbb says:

    If you have subscription to NYT, this is a GREAT story / video:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/05/opinion/2020-election-prediction-allan-lichtman.html

    In short: Biden wins, because reasons.

  81. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Moderation, please.

  82. inhumans99 says:

    Has anyone mentioned a couple of news stories that seem like big deals, first Los Angeles is considering cutting off water/power to folks who host large gatherings and New York is setting up quarantine check points…shirt just got real again.

    Almost forgot to mention a rare case where Facebook pulled a story from their site where President Trump claims children are practically immune to Covid (and it is just beyond irresponsible to make such a claim). Since Zuck has fought hard to allow all sorts of propaganda type junk stories/posts to remain on Facebook it is newsworthy when he censors a story.

    I guess information that could be harmful to children was a bridge too far even for the guy who feels that he would be doing more harm than good by picking/choosing what stories/posts are allowed to remain on Facebook.

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  83. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I had my good ones, and I had my bad ones but overall I believe in teachers. They know what they are doing.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Even when I was in high school over 50 years ago, families pulled their children out of school fairly routinely for fishing/hunting trips, family vacations, dad/mom is going on a business trip to an exotic locale and taking the whole family.

    I have some friends who are big international travelers and back when US citizens weren’t thought of in the same terms as Typhoid Mary, they would take their kids out of school once a year for some major expedition to an exotic locale, everything from a road trip in Iceland to “researching” organic farming in the mountains of Nicaragua. I feel like that was every bit as much an education as anything they would receive in school.

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