The Morning Jolt

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Thuggery Comes to Portland

(Mark Graves/The Oregonian/via AP)

Making the click-through worthwhile: The Antifa thugs take over the streets of Portland again, a disturbing report that the Trump administration is considering accepting the North Korean nuclear program, and the lesser-known Democratic candidates start feeling the pressure.

Thuggery Comes to Portland in the Form of Antifa

How frightened are Portland institutions of Antifa, the most fascist bunch of self-proclaimed anti-fascists you’ll ever see? This morning, the Oregonian, the biggest and most important newspaper in the state, describes an assault on Andy Ngo at one of their rallies: “Oregonian/OregonLive reporter caught the attack on video, though the video doesn’t show what precipitated the attack.” The implication, of course, is that somehow Andy Ngo provoked the crowd of angry masked men into punching him, kicking him, throwing objects at him, and dousing him with some sort of liquid. This is a parody of journalistic objectivity: “We don’t want to take sides between the person who’s being punched and kicked and the group of people doing the punching and kicking.”

There’s a sad, fearful, defensive undercurrent to the the Oregonian’s coverage. In the second paragraph, Kale Williams emphasizes that the criticism of the Oregon police and Mayor Ted Wheeler is coming from “conservative circles.” In the fifth paragraph, we get to the key point:

Police were lined up along the perimeter of the park before the attack, but no one intervened to break up the fight. Late Saturday, police reported that three people had been arrested, including one for assault, but it was unclear if that person had anything to do with the attack on Ngo.

The Oregonian chose the headline, “Portland mayor, police come under fire after right-wing writer attacked at protest” — a classic of the “conservatives pounce” genre. But the story they’re reporting is “gang of masked assailants beat man in park as police watch.” Or perhaps that sort of thing is starting to happen so often in Portland that it no longer qualifies as news.

Deeper in the story, we’re treated to the “It could have been worse” paragraph:

While the demonstrations on Saturday did feature a few isolated flashes of intense violence — aside from Ngo’s attack, a number of protesters engaged in a bloody street brawl later in the day and police declared a civil disturbance before protesters dispersed — the event was still more peaceful than the riots that plagued downtown Portland last summer.

Ted Cruz and Richard Grenell are calling upon federal law enforcement to step in, contending that the mayor and Portland police refuse to enforce the law. The Oregonian report insists there’s no evidence of this, but there’s a repeated pattern of gangs at the Antifa rallies getting violent and no one getting arrested.

In December, our Kevin Williamson wrote a cover story about how the black-masked violent thugs of Antifa periodically take over the streets of Portland:

“All cops are bastards!”

And these absolutely are their streets, as the two neutered Portland cops following them dutifully around make clear. The goons and thugs occasionally take a moment to amuse themselves by messing with the cops, screaming obscenities at them or committing flagrant but relatively minor violations of the law in front of them, daring them to do anything about it. The cops trudge and trundle on, calm as monks, pretending not to notice as the hoodlums pound on passing cars, block intersections, and menace bystanders. At the most public of public spaces in Portland, Pioneer Courthouse Square — “Portland’s living room,” they call it — the goons encounter a little bit of counterprotest, not from sad incel Proud Boys or the Klan or simply from other pissant neo-fascists wearing slightly different-color shirts — but from a young black man who intuits, not inaccurately, that this is mainly a bunch of rich-white-kid play-acting by little runts who make pretty good thugs when confronted with people in wheelchairs or little old ladies — more on that in a second — but who are basically chickensh** poseurs who are Down for the Cause only to the extent that it doesn’t stand between them and a soy latte and an MFA. He says as much, at higher volume than probably is really necessary — and the weaselly little munchkin blackshirts who had just a second before insisted that all cops are bastards! and boasted of their control of the streets turn immediately to the police for help. And the police, damn their eyes, help: They evict an actual peaceable protester, if a loud one, from the public square — in order to make room for mask-wearing, law-breaking, little-old-lady-assaulting hooligans.

A police vehicle cruises down the street a respectful distance behind the mob. The purported lawmen inside announce over the loudspeakers that they are there to assure this rabble of miscreants that they are there to help the mob “exercise your First Amendment rights safely,” so please stay on the sidewalk and obey the traffic laws. Naturally, the mob responds to this by immediately stepping off the sidewalk and violating the traffic laws. Not that there’s any need to — they just want to remind themselves, and the police, that they can.

Whose streets? That’s pretty clear.

In Portlandia, the mayor of Portland is played by Kyle MacLachlan (of Twin Peaks) as a goofy and generally earnest middle-aged municipal careerist trying to be cool. In real life, Portland’s mayor is Ted Wheeler, a sniveling little runt of a bureaucrat who professes to be “appalled” at the political violence that is now commonplace on the streets of Portland but complains that he is effectively unable to do anything about it. When Antifa thugs attacked a march held by Patriot Prayer, a local right-wing group, police reported seeing people brandishing guns, clubs, knives, and pepper spray. They made no arrests.

Kevin observed after that article:

The thing about places like Portland and San Francisco is that they aren’t nice. They have a reputation for being wooly and hippieish and silly, but they are in fact very angry places, full of very angry people. They are also highly segregated places in ways that the South and Southwest really aren’t. Angry white people with money make the world go ’round, apparently.

Jay Nordlinger points out that the world has a good reason to be wary of any movement that embraces wearing masks.

Is the Administration Preparing to ‘Tacitly Accept North Korea as a Nuclear Power’?

I have no doubt that if this Trump administration proposal comes to fruition . . .

But for weeks before the meeting, which started as a Twitter offer by the president for Mr. Kim to drop by at the Demilitarized Zone and “say hello,” a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations.

The concept would amount to a nuclear freeze, one that essentially enshrines the status quo, and tacitly accepts the North as a nuclear power, something administration officials have often said they would never stand for.

. . . that numerous Trump fans will insist this represents some strategic genius, the best possible option for the United States, and that anyone who disagrees or criticizes an agreement like this is a crazed warmonger.

This is exactly what the Obama administration did with Iran, and these are exactly the arguments that Barack Obama, John Kerry, Ben Rhodes and the rest used to defend the Iran deal — which amounted to a nuclear freeze, essentially enshrined the status quo, and tacitly accepted Iran as a nuclear power.

This morning, John Bolton tweets:

I read this NYT story with curiosity. Neither the [National Security Council] staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to “settle for a nuclear freeze by [North Korea].” This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. There should be consequences.

Save Your Favorite No-Hope Democratic Candidate Today!

With the first debate complete, the asterisks in the Democratic presidential-primary field are starting to feel real pressure:

Of the 20 candidates who qualified for the first round of debates in June and July, just six are sure to appear in the September-October round, when the Democratic National Committee requires participants to hit 2% in multiple polls and 130,000 individual donors.

Currently, the only locks for the fall debates are former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is likely to qualify, but after an underwhelming debate performance last week, even he is not guaranteed to make the polling threshold. Only polls taken between June 28 and Aug. 28 will count.

Republicans are doing their part to help out Marianne Williamson.

Marianne Williamson’s closing statement in the debate:

Donald Trump is not going to be beaten just by insider politics talk. He’s not going to be beaten just somebody who has plans. He’s going to be beaten by somebody who has an idea what this man has done. This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he has harnessed fear for political purposes. So, Mr. President, if you’re listening, I want you to hear me, please. You have harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. So I, sir, I have a feeling you know what you’re doing. I’m going to harness love for political purposes. I will meet you on that field. And, sir, love will win.

“Fear and love open the doors.” – Major Garland Briggs, Twin Peaks, season two, episode 21.

ADDENDUM: The reviews on Amazon for Between Two Scorpions continue to come in; we’re up to 35 now! If you have read it and enjoyed it, share your thoughts! If you read it and didn’t enjoy it, keep those thoughts to yourself — no, wait, I actually do want to hear what worked and what didn’t work in this story.

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