Friday, July 31, 2020


Notes Wikipedia:

The Nymphalidae are the largest family of butterflies, with more than 6,000 species distributed throughout most of the world. Belonging to the superfamily Papilionoidea, they are usually medium-sized to large butterflies. Most species have a reduced pair of forelegs and many hold their colourful wings flat when resting. They are also called brush-footed butterflies or four-footed butterflies, because they are known to stand on only four legs while the other two are curled up; in some species, these forelegs have a brush-like set of hairs, which gives this family its other common name. Many species are brightly coloured and include popular species such as the emperors, monarch butterfly, admirals, tortoiseshells, and fritillaries. However, the under wings are, in contrast, often dull and in some species look remarkably like dead leaves, or are much paler, producing a cryptic effect that helps the butterflies blend into their surroundings.

Papilio polyxenes, the (eastern) black swallowtail, American swallowtail or parsnip swallowtail, is a butterfly found throughout much of North America. It is the state butterfly of Oklahoma and New Jersey. The species is named after the figure in Greek mythology, Polyxena, who was the youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
O Breath of Summer
Photo of the Day – July 20, 2020
In Summer Light
Summer Blooms
Mystics of Wonder, Agents of Change
Something to Think About – September 6, 2013

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Happy Birthday, Kate!

One of my all-time favorite recording artists, British singer-songwriter Kate Bush, celebrates her 62nd birthday today. Happy Birthday, Kate!

Right: Kate performing in her “Before The Dawn” show in 2014. The 22-night concert residency, held at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, sold out within 15 minutes online, 35 years after Kate’s last tour.

Over at the website Complex, Brianna Holt has an insightful piece that celebrates Kate's music and her influence on other artists "across genres and borders." Following, with added images and links, is an excerpt.

For the last three decades, Kate Bush has been crowned the queen of art-pop without ever winning a Grammy or touring after the releases of new albums. You won’t catch her in the audience at an award show or giving lengthy interviews on a talk show. In fact, it isn’t even certain where she is spending her time, but many fans assume she’s tucked away somewhere in South Devon. With her pioneering legacy of experimental sound, masterful storytelling, and unconventional lyrics and structure, Bush’s influence in the music industry has stretched across genres and borders.

In 1978, at the age of 19, Bush began breaking barriers for women in pop. Topping the UK Singles Chart for four weeks with her debut single “Wuthering Heights,” Bush became the first female artist to reach number one in the UK with a self-written song. Additionally, and equally impressive, she was the first British solo female artist to ever top the UK album charts and the first female artist to enter the album chart at No. 1 [with Never for Ever in 1980]. By her fourth studio album [1982's The Dreaming], Bush gained artistic independence in album production, an uncommon circumstance for women in the music industry during the ‘80s. “The big thing for me, and it has been from quite early on, is to retain creative control over what I’m doing. If you have creative control, it’s personal,” she told Independent in 2016. Her ability to work on her own agenda and release atypical work influenced many younger artists to do the same. . . . Bush is credited for her early-on, revolutionary use of the Fairlight synthesizer, the headset microphone onstage, and exploring controversial themes wrapped into an ultramodern sound.

After Bush’s seventh album in 1993, The Red Shoes, she took a 12-year hiatus. The break can be attributed to the birth of her son in 1998, which was even kept a secret until two years later when it was revealed by Peter Gabriel during an interview. A nine-year hiatus followed that, pushing the idea that Bush had become a recluse and was nearing her final years in music. Whether that be true or not, her eclectic music style has yet to go out of fashion. Even modern film has made space for the work of Bush. The iconic sex scene in Love and Basketball wouldn’t be nearly as steamy or moving without Maxwell’s cover of “This Woman’s Work.” More recently, “Running Up That Hill” was coined as a symbol of Angel and Stan’s relationship in Pose. Even “Cloudbusting” and Bush’s original “This Woman’s Work” helped set the tone in The Handmaid’s Tale.

If you haven’t been as lucky to come across Kate Bush’s music in a film or through the recommendation of a friend, there's a chance you’ve unknowingly grown accustomed to the sounds she pioneered. From FKA TwigsMagdalene to Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, Bush’s influence — whether direct or not — exists in so many modern pop projects today. Hints of her dramatic vocals carry on through Florence Welch’s delivery and her experimental, futuristic production provided a blueprint for artists like Charli XCX to push pop forward. Her mime-like dance moves coupled with intimate orchestration is echoed in Lorde’s performances. Sinead O’ Connor’s penetrating lyrics in “Troy” and Sia’s roaring vocals in “Chandelier” both conjure the spirit of Kate Bush. Her heirs include other greats like Tori Amos, Björk and Enya. Even electronic artists like Grimes and rock artists like Stevie Nicks have been compared to the UK artist.

. . . Very little is known about Bush’s day-to-day life, and social media doesn’t provide a stance on her political views or evolving taste and perspective. It isn’t even certain when and if another Kate Bush album will ever come, leaving fans with no choice but to be patient with her timeline and dive deeper into music that already exists. Luckily, powerful art coupled with a mystifying personality has left a lot to explore since the release of her debut album in 1978. Maybe that is why Bush has continued to persist over time. After all, an artist who is not yet fully understood can often be the most compelling.

– Brianna Holt
Excerpted from "Kate Bush Has Disappeared,
But Her Influence Is Everywhere
July 30, 2020

Notes Wikipedia about “The Man With the Child In His Eyes”:

[It] is the fifth track on [Kate Bush's] debut album The Kick Inside and was released as her second single, on the EMI label, in 1978.

Bush wrote the song when she was 13 and recorded it at the age of 16. It was recorded at AIR Studios, London, in June 1975 under the guidance of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. She has said that recording with a large orchestra at that age terrified her. The song was Bush's second chart single in the United Kingdom where it reached number six in the summer of 1978. In the United States the single was released in December of the same year. It became her first single to reach the Billboard pop singles chart, peaking at number 85 early in 1979. Bush performed this song in her one appearance on Saturday Night Live, singing on a piano being played by Paul Shaffer.

The single version slightly differs from the album version. On the single, the song opens with the phrase “He’s here!” echoing, an effect added after the album was released. . . . The song received the Ivor Novello Award for "Outstanding British Lyric" in 1979.

Related Off-site Links:
Big Boi Suggests a Kate Bush Collaboration May Be On the Way – Jack Whatley (Far Out, July 27, 2020).
Ranking All of Kate Bush’s Studio Albums – Jack Whatley (Far Out, July 30, 2020).

For more of Kate Bush at The Wild Reed, see:
Quote of the Day – July 20, 2018
Celebrating the Unique and Influential Kate Bush
"A Dark Timelessness and Stillness Surrounds Her Wild Abandonment"
"Can You See the Lark Ascending?"
Quote of the Day – August 17, 2014
Scaling the Heights
"Oh, Yeah!"
Celebrating Bloomsday in St. Paul (and with Kate Bush)
"Rosabelle, Believe . . ."
Just in Time for Winter
"Call Upon Those You Love"
A Song of Summer
"There's Light in Love, You See"

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Language of the Oppressor

Related Off-site Links:
How Violent Are the Portland Protests? – Kate Conger and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs (The New York Times, July 28, 2020).
Leaked Documents Show Police Knew Far-Right Was Threat At Protests, Not “Antifa” – Jake Thomas (The Intellectualist, July 28, 2020).
Portland Protest Calls for “Nonviolent” Resistance Against Police Brutality – Molly Harbarger, Ted Sickinger, and Celina Tebor (The Oregonian, June 5, 2020).
In Portland’s So-Called War Zone, It’s the Troops Who Provide the Menace – Nicholas Kristof (The New York Times, July 25, 2020).
Videos Show How Federal Officers Escalated Violence in Portland – Ainara Tiefenthäler, Evan Hill, Drew Jordan, Malachy Browne, and David Botti (The New York Times, July 24, 2020).
Local Police Unions Are Colluding With Trump’s Secret Police Force – and Not Telling Elected City Officials – Travis Gettys (Raw Story via The New Civil Rights Movement, July 26, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“Fascism Is Upon Us”
“An Abolitionist Demand”: Progressive Perspectives on Transforming Policing in the U.S.
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
Helpful Rebuttals
Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
Something to Think About – July 21, 2020

Image: Photographer unknown.

Monday, July 27, 2020

“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy

This past Saturday, former 2020 presidential candidate and A Politics of Love author Marianne Williamson joined Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman for an exclusive interview to discuss reparations, the 2020 presidential race, and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's proposals for the economy.

As usual, Marianne took matters to a deeper level and made a number of critically important and insightful points, including the following.

We aren't living in normal times. And so the normal conversation between what's on the left and what's on the right is not the dichotomy, not the contest, not the struggle that matters the most today. We're living at a time where the sort of golden mean of American politics, the kind of yin and yang between what's on the right and what's on the left, is not the deeper polarity.

The deeper polarity is between forces of real democracy and forces of commitment to the traditions of American democracy versus an authoritarian takeover of sorts. So I think people of principle, whether they're on the left or on the right, know that there is an issue underlying all the social, economic, and political things that we normally associate with the issues. The deeper issue is breaking the freefall of American democracy.

And that's why I believe a lot of people recognize in Joe Biden – look, he's not a conservative's dream candidate. And he's not a progressive's dream candidate. We all get that. But he is someone that I think the majority of Americans realize represents a certain level of decency and democratic norm for this country that we most desperately need.

I hope that Joe Biden realizes that the majority of Americans want Medicare for All. What too many corporate Democrats call this far-left mentality is actually the center of where Americans are. You know, in the segments that I've seen on your show in the last half-an-hour, we're talking about desperate times for a majority of Americans.

We're talking about seven million Americans who are on the verge of an eviction crisis. We're talking about a lack of direct cash relief to people who desperately need it. We talk about rolling the dice with the safety of America's children in order to serve an economic paradigm that is becoming increasingly obsolete and unsustainable.

So the idea of whether or not [Biden]'s going to the left or going to the right, whether he's having John Kasich [speak at the Democratic convention] – you know, as someone who is on the left of the political spectrum, I'll tell you this: the fact that the Democratic party, including Joe Biden, has drifted further to the right than I would wish and that many of us would wish, is like two broken arms and two broken legs. The presidential agenda of Donald Trump, however, is like a bullet near the heart.

So I'm very clear, and many Republicans and many Democrats are very clear that we have to take care of first things first. Once Biden is inaugurated, we can duke all of these things out. But right now, we have an emergency on our hands. And that is breaking the freefall of our democratic freedoms.

– Marianne Williamson
July 25, 2020

Following is Zuck Guzman's full interview with Marianne Williamson.

NEXT: The “Freefall” Continues

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Fascism Is Upon Us
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020
Marianne Williamson: “This Is a Time of Transformation”
Deep Gratitude
Marianne Williamson: In the Midst of This “Heartbreaking” Pandemic, It's Okay to Be Heartbroken
Marianne Williamson on the Contest Being Played Out by Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders
“It's Time to Take a Stand”: Marianne Williamson Endorses Bernie Sanders for President
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – December 14, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – November 5, 2018

For The Wild Reed's coverage of Marianne Williamson's 2020 presidential campaign, see the following chronologically-ordered posts:
Talkin’ ’Bout An Evolution: Marianne Williamson’s Presidential Bid
Why Marianne Williamson Is a Serious and Credible Presidential Candidate
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – April 24, 2019
Marianne Williamson: Reaching for Higher Ground
“A Lefty With Soul”: Why Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Deserves Some Serious Attention
Sometimes You Just Have to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Marianne Williamson Plans on Sharing Some “Big Truths” on Tonight's Debate Stage
Friar André Maria: Quote of the Day – June 28, 2019
Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: “We’re Living at a Critical Moment in Our Democracy”
Caitlin Johnstone: “Status Quo Politicians Are Infinitely ‘Weirder’ Than Marianne Williamson”
Marianne Williamson On What It Will Take to Defeat Donald Trump
“This Woman Is Going to Win the Nomination”: Matt Taibbi on Marianne Williamson in Iowa
Something to Think About (and Embody!)
The Relevance and Vitality of Marianne Williamson’s 2020 Presidential Campaign
Quote of the Day – November 4, 2019
Quote of the Day – November 11, 2019
Marianne Williamson: “Anything That Will Help People Thrive, I’m Interested In”
Marianne Williamson and the Power of Politicized Love
Quote of the Day – December 14, 2019
Marianne Williamson: “I Am Not Suspending My Candidacy”
Marianne Williamson on New Day with Christi Paul – 01/04/20
“A Beautiful Message, So Full of Greatness”
A Thank You Letter to Marianne Williamson
“I Learned So Much From the Experience”: Marianne Williamson on Her Presidential Bid

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Something to Think About . . .

Humanity's weakest souls will always cling to the words, “I was just following orders.” They cower behind those words, making a virtue of their own weakness, lionising brutality over nobility.

– Fred Bowens
via Facebook
July 24, 2020

Image: Nathan Howard / Getty Images.

Related Off-site Links:
Trump’s Paramilitary Units Trained at the Border for the Assaults on Portland Moms – Linus Chan and Carrie L. Rosenbaum (Slate, July 22, 2020).
From the Administration That Brought You Kids-in-Cages, It’s Tear-Gassed-Moms – Tim Dickinson (Rolling Stone, July 22, 2020).
Moms, Tear Gas, and Flash Bangs – Just Another Night in Portland – Justin Grinnell (PSU Vanguard, July 21, 2020).
In Pictures: “Wall of Moms” Joins Portland's Anti-racism ProtestsBBC News (July 22, 2020).
In Portland’s So-Called War Zone, It’s the Troops Who Provide the Menace – Nicholas Kristof (The New York Times, July 25, 2020).
Paramilitary-Style Tactics in Portland Mirror Decades of U.S. Violence on the Border and AbroadDemocracy Now! (July 23, 2020).
MSNBC Analyst: Trump Sending Feds To Portland As “Trial Run” to “Steal” Election – Jake Thomas (The Intellectualist, July 23, 2020).
Do Americans Get That Trump Is Instituting Martial Law? – Umair Haque (Medium, July 23, 2020).
Trump Is Using Federal Agents as His “Goon Squad,” Says ICE's Ex-Acting Head – Daniel Strauss (The Guardian, July 24, 2020).
“Wall of Veterans” Arrives in Portland to Protect Black Lives Matter Protesters from Trump’s DHS Troops – Colin Kalmbacher (Law and Crime, July 25, 2020).
Imperial Wars Always Come Home – Patrick Wyman (, July 23, 2020).
American Catastrophe Through German Eyes – Roger Cohen (The New York Times, July 24, 2020).
A Photographer Says He's Traumatized By What He's Captured in Portland – Amber Jamieson and Gabriel H. Sanchez (BuzzFeed, July 21, 2020).
Videos Show How Federal Officers Escalated Violence in Portland – Ainara Tiefenthäler, Evan Hill, Drew Jordan, Malachy Browne, and David Botti (The New York Times, July 24, 2020).
Local Police Unions Are Colluding With Trump’s Secret Police Force – and Not Telling Elected City Officials – Travis Gettys (Raw Story via The New Civil Rights Movement, July 26, 2020).
The Ugly Terror of a Fascist Abyss Lurks in the Background of This Pandemic – Henry A. Giroux (TruthOut, July 25, 2020).
Understanding Trump’s Game Plan in Portland Could Be the Key to Preventing a Coup in November – George Lakey (, July 25, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“Fascism Is Upon Us”
Trump's Playbook
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump's Fascism
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
Global Condemnation for Trump's Latest Ignorant and Racist Comments
Quotes of Note Regarding the Impeachment of President Trump
Quotes of Note Regarding the Senate’s Impeachment Trial of President Trump
Progressive Perspectives on Corruption in U.S. Politics
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020

Saturday, July 25, 2020

In Uptown and Beyond, Murals Honor George Floyd and Call for an End to Systemic Racism

This time last week I was in the Uptown neighborhood of south Minneapolis where I marveled at the many beautiful and powerful murals painted on the boarded-up windows of numerous shops and stores. These colorful works of public art not only pay tribute to George Floyd and other victims of police brutality but also call all to consciousness and action around the issue of systemic racism and police violence against people of color, black men in particular.

The boarded-up businesses are remnants of the riots that erupted in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police on May 25. This killing took place at the intersection of Lake St. and 38th Ave. in south Minneapolis, midway between Uptown and my home in the Seward neighborhood. In the days and weeks that have followed, Minneapolis has become the epicenter of a global uprising, one that embodies the realization that George Floyd's murder serves as a catalyst for much-needed and long-overdue systemic change.

The blossoming of artwork around Minneapolis (and indeed the world) is just one manifestation of this uprising, about which Liv Martin writes:

Colorful works of art have popped up throughout the Twin Cities to honor the memory of George Floyd, who was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25. Using boarded-up buildings, city walls, and sidewalks as their canvasses, many artists have shown solidarity through their own unique art styles.

[A]rtists, like those of the cohort of Studio 400, have painted murals around the Twin Cities. . . . One mural painted at the Seward Community Co-op on 38th Street reads, “Performative allyship will not suffice. Demand justice.” Another mural at that location by Studio 400 member Maiya Lea Hartman features a child in the foreground, holding a sign that reads “We are the future they fought for,” and wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, with two elders in the background.

Following are some of the photos that I took of the murals honoring George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in Uptown, Minneapolis on Saturday, July 18, 2020.

Related Off-site Links:
Minneapolis Artists Memorialize George Floyd in Murals – Norah Kleven (Minnesota Daily, June 1, 2020).
George Floyd Murals Put Systemic Racism on Display Worldwide – Katerina Papathanasiou (The Vale Magazine, June 26, 2020).
George Floyd Murals Are Popping Up All Over the World – Austin Steele and Kyle Almond (CNN, June 26, 2020).
The Righteous Power of the George Floyd Mural – Giulia L. Heyward (New Republic via, June 15, 2020).
Murals Honor George Floyd and Black Lives Matter Movement USA Today (July 20, 2020).
What Should Happen to the Murals and Other Street Art Honoring George Floyd? – Phil Picardi (MPR News, June 18, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“I Can't Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd
He Called Mama. He Has Called Up Great Power
Something to Think About – May 28, 2020
Honoring George Floyd
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Mayor Melvin Carter: “The Anger Is Real, and I Share It With You”
“An Abolitionist Demand”: Progressive Perspectives on Transforming Policing in the U.S.
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020
Trevor Noah on the “Dominoes of Racial Injustice”
Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
Helpful Rebuttals for Racist Talking Points
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
“Say Her Name” Solidarity Action
“We Are All One” – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
Nancy A. Heitzeg: Quote of the Day – March 31, 2016
“This Doesn't Happen to White People”
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Something to Think About – March 25, 2016
God's Good Gift
Photo of the Day, 5/3/2015: “Black Is Sacred”
“And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015 (Part I)
“And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015 (Part II)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

“Fascism Is Upon Us”

Anyone interested in democracy ought to be
paying attention to what’s happening in Portland right now.
There have been moments recently where not only did I not
recognize Portland, I didn’t recognize the United States.

– Beth B. Nakamura
via Facebook
July 17, 2020

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I’m deeply troubled by recent events in Portland, Oregon. Here's how Gillian Flaccus of the Associated Press describes what’s happening and its profound implications.

Federal law enforcement officers’ actions at protests in Oregon’s largest city, done without local authorities’ consent, are raising the prospect of a constitutional crisis – one that could escalate as weeks of demonstrations find renewed focus in clashes with camouflaged, unidentified agents outside Portland’s U.S. courthouse.

State and local authorities, who did not ask for federal help, are awaiting a ruling in a federal lawsuit filed late last week by state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. She said in court papers that masked federal officers have arrested people off the street, far from the courthouse, with no probable cause – and whisked them away in unmarked cars.

Constitutional law experts said Monday the federal officers’ actions are a “red flag” in what could become a test case of states’ rights as the Trump administration expands its federal policing into other cities.

Another commentator has put it more succinctly: “Fascism is upon us.”

Following is a compilation of informed perspectives on the rising tide of authoritarianism in the United States. These writings also provide reasons for why the authoritarianism that's been present since Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, is surging at this particular moment in his presidency.


A remarkable and nightmarish scene playing out in Portland should terrify anyone who cares about the US constitution: unmarked vans full of camouflaged and unidentified federal agents are pulling up next to protesters on street corners, then snatching and arresting them with no explanation.

If this were happening in Venezuela or Iran, the US government would be threatening international sanctions. Since it’s happening in the US, Trump’s acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary [Chad Wolf] is defending the decision and even promising more.

The stories from witnesses and those who have been picked up by the unmarked vans – apparently being operated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is under DHS’s control – are downright terrifying. One victim told The New York Times: “One of the officers said, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,’ and just grabbed me and threw me into the van. Another officer pulled my beanie down, so I couldn’t see.”

The same person told The Washington Post: “I was terrified. It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K. Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.” Still another told Portland’s Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB): “I see guys in camo. Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, ‘Oh shit. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.’”

The incidents being described sound eerily reminiscent of the CIA’s post-9/11 rendition program under George W. Bush, where intelligence agents would roll up in unmarked vans in foreign countries, blindfold terrorism suspects (many of whom turned to be innocent) and kidnap them without explanation. Only instead of occurring on the streets of Italy or the Middle East, it’s happening in downtown Portland.

Donald Trump’s war on protesters is escalating, with reports emerging out of Portland, Ore., that federal law enforcement officers, wearing camouflage but without any other visible insignia, have been rounding up American citizens. On Thursday, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reported that “federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.”

. . . On the face of it, what these federal officers are doing is illegal and unconstitutional. It’s possible that they are acting under the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by Barack Obama, which legalized the detention of Americans suspected of being terrorists. If so, then the War on Terrorism has truly come home.

The Trump administration used unidentified federal officers to patrol Washington, D.C., in early June when the scale of the protests forced Trump to go into the White House bunker. Those officers turned out to be guards from the US Bureau of Prisons who had been repurposed as ad hoc praetorian guards.

Protests have been roiling Portland for over six weeks. Even prior to these protests, Portland was a site of a long-running battle between right-wing groups like the Proud Boys and left-wing activists who are usually lumped together under the antifa label. It’s possible that the antifa connection made Portland a spot of particular interest to the Trump administration, which has used the loosely organized anti-fascist groups as a scapegoat for social upheavals in the wake of police brutality.

The deployment of unidentified federal officers is particularly dangerous in a situation like that in Portland and elsewhere in America, because it could easily lead to right-wing militias’ impersonating legal authorities and kidnapping citizens. As former CIA counterintelligence analyst Aki Peritz notes, “All it takes is one of these similar-kitted out militiamen groups to start grabbing folks off the street as well, but then having their way with them, for there to be huge, possibly violent pushback for these tactics. This hurts the police, and the citizenry.”

– Jeet Heer
Excerpted from “Trump Unleashes His Secret Police in Portland
The Nation
July 17, 2020

Above: Writes Tommie Sunshine: “This is 26-year-old Donavan La Bella. He was shot in the face last week by the rogue Department of Homeland Security troops occupying Portland while standing still in peaceful, non-violent protest. His face and skull were fractured and he underwent facial reconstructive surgery in the hours after the assault. He had a tube in his skull to drain blood and is left with vision problems in one eye. Ignore this at your peril. Fascism is upon us and most people are looking the other way. I’d suggest you look at this until you get what’s going on.”

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.

According to a lawsuit filed by Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, on Friday, federal agents “have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland, detain protesters, and place them into the officers’ unmarked vehicles” since at least last Tuesday. The protesters are neither arrested nor told why they’re being held.

There’s no way to know the affiliation of all the agents – they’ve been wearing military fatigues with patches that just say “Police” – but The Times reported that some of them are part of a specialized Border Patrol group “that normally is tasked with investigating drug smuggling organizations.”

The Trump administration has announced that it intends to send a similar force to other cities; on Monday, The Chicago Tribune reported on plans to deploy about 150 federal agents to Chicago. “I don’t need invitations by the state,” Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said on Fox News Monday, adding, “We’re going to do that whether they like us there or not.”

. . . 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.”

– Michelle Goldberg
Excerpted from “Trump’s Occupation of American Cities Has Begun
The New York Times
July 20, 2020

As protests in Portland over police brutality and racial inequity near the end of a second month, [Trump's] heavily camouflaged, helmeted, and anonymous agents have routinely fired tear gas – even though courts have mostly banned local police from deploying it – and projectiles at protesters near a federal building in Oregon’s largest city. And – as captured in video or described by victims – these agents even snatched peaceful protesters off Portland sidewalks, shoved them into unmarked vans, and took them for questioning without identifying themselves or their agency.

These are the kind of Kafkaesque, police-state tactics that most civilized folks hoped had gone the way of Chile’s late authoritarian (and U.S.-installed) 20th-century dictator Augusto Pinochet, only to return for the increasingly desperate and dangerous final days of Trump’s disastrous presidency, and America’s descent into madness and chaos.

These hazy, tear-gas-soaked nights in the Pacific Northwest have been five years in the making — the inevitable climax of a storyline that began on a morning in June 2015, when Trump descended a gilded escalator to start building a movement of right-wing rabble with hate speech against Mexicans. You were warned in the early days of his presidency, when Trump made good on his promise to the white supremacist unions of cops and federal border and immigration agents to “take the shackles off,” cheering on police brutality while setting the stage for agents to show up at schools and courthouses and disappear undocumented immigrants with deep roots in their communities. Those who said nothing or uttered toothless platitudes at these tactics, or the agents ripping toddlers from the arms of their parents at the Mexican border, shouldn’t be shocked by now seeing Gestapo tactics in the streets of Portland.

Indeed, Trump’s inexorable frog-in-boiling-water push toward full-on authoritarianism has been so successful that almost no attention was paid on July 1, when the government announced a program with the Orwellian name of Protecting American Communities Task Force, or PACT (apparently the “F” is silent), which had the stated goal of protecting statues and monuments. But PACT’s real open-ended and ill-defined mission seems to be escalating conflict in a handful of cities, like Portland, with the most-active far-left communities.

[Trump’s] renegade Homeland Security army is tragic vindication for those of who’ve been warning since the early 2000s that the extensive security apparatus that America created after 9/11 – from that ominous too-1930s-Germanic sounding moniker of “Homeland Security” to the level of militarized policing unavoidable seen since George Floyd’s murder – would be turned against U.S. citizens, especially if America ever elected a president with an authoritarian streak.

For now, though, Trump’s 21st-century fascism is mostly a political performance. Unable to run on his leadership or his record, with a mounting coronavirus death toll that just passed 140,000, and an 11% unemployment that may get worse again before it gets better, the president is hoping to save his presidency with fear. But his desperate and misguided efforts to recreate Richard Nixon’s 1968 “law and order” campaign and somehow scare voters about Joe Biden won’t work unless he can bring nightly scenes of disorder and chaos into your living room.

Portland – home to folks on both the far-right and the far-left, in a state with a white supremacist past that contrasts with its reputation for hipster liberalism – has been in many ways the perfect laboratory. Until the last couple of days, the national media – with few, if any, reporters based in the region’s second-largest city – had been slow to grasp what was happening, yet pro-Trump Fox News was right on top of it, leading its newscasts with tear gas rather than coronavirus bumbling.

It’s a strategy that won’t work, as evidenced by a slew of recent polls showing Trump trailing Biden by anywhere from 11 to 15 percentage points. Far too many Americans have lost someone or watched friends and family members get sick from COVID-19, or experienced job losses, to get really worked up about graffiti on a federal courthouse.

– Will Bunch
Excerpted from “Trump’s Made-for-TV Fascism in Portland
Won’t Get Him Reelected. It May Get Someone Killed

The Philadelphia Inquirer
July 19, 2020

Above: Protesters hold their hands in the air during a Black Lives Matter protest in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center on July 20, 2020, in Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Nathan Howard / Getty Images)

Trump is shifting his reelection pitch, and it has frightening implications for the country.

Over the weekend, the federal crackdown in Portland, Oregon continued, with people in unmarked camouflage uniforms arresting peaceful protesters and taking them away in unmarked vehicles. And then, they appeared – for now – to let them go. The administration appears to be constructing a scene of violence and disorder for the news media to show to viewers.

It seems clear that the Trump campaign – which got a new director last Wednesday – is going to make its case for reelection on the idea that there is violence in America’s cities that must be addressed with federal force, and that only Trump is willing to do so.

This is an apparent attempt to overshadow the increasingly alarming news about the coronavirus, which is now burning across the country with renewed vigor. Even as Republican governors are backtracking and asking people to wear masks, Trump continues to insist—falsely – that our spiking numbers are because of increased testing and that the virus will eventually disappear.

. . . The footage from Portland shows what looks like a war zone, but the Department of Homeland Security’s own list of the actions of the “violent anarchists” in the city consists of graffiti, torn down fences, and fireworks, all situations the local police insist they can handle. The mayor, both senators, and the governor of Oregon have all asked for the federal troops to be removed, but the administration refuses. Yesterday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the protests were winding down before the federal troops came in and escalated the situation.

– Heather Cox Richardson
via Facebook
July 19, 2020

In comments from the Oval Office on Monday, President Donald Trump intensified rising fears that his administration will deploy federal agents to Democrat-led cities across the country to replicate a widely condemned crackdown in Portland, Oregon that critics charge is not only authoritarian but part of the president's effort to win a second term by stoking division and chaos.

Trump told reporters that in cities which have seen Black Lives Matter protests since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd in late May, police are “restricted from doing anything” and “weak” local politicians are “afraid” of demonstrators, whom he described as “anarchists” who “hate our country.”

“I'm gonna do something, that I can tell you,” the president said before naming New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, and Oakland as potential targets, echoing his remarks from the weekend. “We're not gonna let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats.”

Asked by a reporter whether he will send federal law enforcement to some of these cities, Trump said that “we'll have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you. In Portland, they've done a fantastic job . . . in a very short period of time. No problem.”

. . . “Get ready, New York. We can't allow these fascist tactics in our city,” Democratic New York State Sen. Mike Gianaris wrote on Twitter. He was far from alone in denouncing the administration's approach as fascist.

“Fascism coming to a city near you,” tweeted writer Thor Benson. Alex Kotch, an investigative reporter at the Center for Media and Democracy, similarly said: “Watch Fascism™ spread in real time!”

Brave New Films blasted Trump as “an authoritarian wanna-be dictator.”

. . . Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib – who represents Michigan's 13th Congressional District, which includes portions of Detroit – declared in a tweet that “they'll have to arrest me first if they think they're going to illegally lay their hands on my residents.”

Charles Booker, who narrowly lost a Democratic primary race in Kentucky last month to take on Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, delivered a similar response on Twitter. He mentioned Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death in March by Louisville police officers while she was asleep in her home.

“We are standing against out of control government because of our love,” Booker wrote. “We love Breonna, we love our home, we love our families, and we love ourselves. Trump and Mitch can spew hate all they want. We won't back down. If they set foot in Kentucky, they'll have to arrest me first.”

– Jessica Corbett
Excerpted from “'Fascism Coming to a City Near You': Trump
Pledges to Deploy Secret Police Units to Major US Cities

Common Dreams
July 20, 2020

Above: Federal police stand guard after pushing protesters away from the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland, Ore. (Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

[I]t now appears clear that part of [Trump's reelection] strategy is to send Federal agents dressed like Iraq War troops to Democratic-run cities, on the pretext of protecting Federal property, and then for them to attack and provoke Black Lives Matter and Defund the Police protesters, causing violence to escalate and using it . . . to scare the suburbs. The exercise also has the advantage for Trump of entrenching a new form of secret police and of turning Federal agents into instruments of his authoritarianism. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has confirmed the plan to send the Feds into those cities.

Provoking social conflict so as to polarize society was part of the Russian hacker playbook in 2016. It is the preferred tactic of terrorist groups such as ISIL and the Neo-Nazis, since a polarized society is much easier to scare into submission.

– Juan Cole
Excerpted from “Trump's Cynical and Deeply Dangerous
Reelection Ploy: Sow Chaos in US Cities

Common Dreams
July 20, 2020

The administration’s unprecedented development of a federal police force reflects that the U.S. military has refused to support Trump’s power grab. That refusal was in the news again on Friday, when even as the administration was defending Confederate statues, the Pentagon officially banned all displays of the Confederate flag on U.S. military property, including barracks and common areas. “Flags are powerful symbols, particularly in the military community for whom flags embody common mission, common histories, and the special, timeless bond of warriors,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper wrote in the memo. “The flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols.”

The administration’s attacks on Black protesters have actually gained power for the movement. Tonight the official account of Major League Baseball tweeted a photo of members of the San Francisco Giants kneeling during the national anthem along with the hashtag BlackLivesMatter. When users complained about their stance, the account user responded in a defense of the tactics that brought football quarterback Colin Kaepernick such anger from Trump and Pence. The administrator wrote: “It has never been about the military or the flag. The players and coaches are using their platforms to peacefully protest.”

Trump’s attempts to downplay the coronavirus are not getting the traction he wishes, either. The Washington Nationals baseball team has invited “Nats super-fan,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day, Thursday, July 23. “Dr. Fauci has been a true champion for our country during the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout his distinguished career, so it is only fitting that we honor him as we kick off the 2020 season and defend our World Series Championship title.” Fauci donned a Nationals face mask when he testified before a House Committee on the coronavirus.

Trump’s attempt to divert attention from the coronavirus and protests against police violence against Black Americans is not working. He is attempting to portray those who oppose him as violent criminals, and promises to bring back LAW & ORDER, as he repeatedly tweets. But it is not working. Only 33% of Americans approve of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and only 31% approve of his handling of race relations. And as for law and order: most people also trust Biden, rather than Trump, on that issue, too, by a margin of 49% to 42%.

And the federal intrusion into the cities appears to be backfiring. The crowds in Portland are increasing dramatically. Tonight the Wall of Moms waved their hands above their heads as they softly sang a new lullaby: “Hands up, please don’t shoot me.”

– Heather Cox Richardson
via Facebook
July 20, 2020

I am so proud of the city of Portland, and particularly the Wall of Moms. I’ve often talked about how in every advanced mammalian species, a common characteristic is the fierce behavior of the adult female when she senses a threat to her cubs. They can make fun of the Divine Feminine all they want, but she is rising up powerfully right now.

The Wall of Moms phenomenon occurring in Portland is making a huge difference, and it will spread to any city [Trump] sends his troops to. The love that will save the world is not just a love for our own children, it is a love for all children. Black women in America have been worried for so many years every time their sons left the house; so many have told me so. Such stress and fear must be unbelievable. But Americans are awakening, as usual somewhat late but with power and glory once we get there. All injustices are connected to every other. What started with Black Lives Matter has opened our eyes to so many things. Portland is the new Concord. Fascism will not be tolerated in America. This is where we must draw the line.

Related Off-site Links:
Federal Officers Respond to Portland Protests With Gas and Munitions Amid Growing Attention from Trump Administration – Piper McDaniel (The Oregonian, July 17, 2020).
Anyone Can Buy the Same Military-style Gear Worn by Federal Officers Making Secretive Arrests in Portland – David Choi (Business Insider, July 17, 2020).
Oregon Will Sue Federal Police Agencies and Open Criminal Investigation Into Use of Force – K. Rambo (The Oregonian, July 17, 2020).
To End “Unconstitutional Nightmare,” ACLU Sues Trump Administration Over Use of Secret Police in Portland – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, July 18, 2020).
Trump Plans to Expand the Federal Invasion of American Cities – Dan Friedman (Mother Jones, July 19, 2020).
Trump's Suburban Outreach Follows the Nixon and Wallace Racist Playbook – Alex Henderson (Salon, July 19, 2020).
“Existential Threat to Our Democracy”: Trump Refuses to Commit to Accepting 2020 Election Results – Jake Johnson (Common Dreams, July 19, 2020).
Feds and Right-wing Media Paint Portland as ‘City Under Siege.’ A Tour of Town Shows Otherwise – Eder Campuzano (The Oregonian, July 20, 2020).
A Navy Veteran Had a Question for the Feds in Portland. They Beat Him in Response – John Ismay (The New York Times, July 20, 2020).
‘Trump’s Thugs”: GOP Group’s Powerful Ad Warns Paramilitary Assault in Portland ‘Is How Freedom Dies” – Dara Brewton (Front Page News, July 20, 2020).
Defense Secretary Mark Esper Concerned Over Federal Agents Dressed Like Military Troops in U.S. Cities – Lara Seligman (Politico, July 20, 2020).
Facing Federal Agents, Portland Protests Find New Momentum – Gillian Flaccus (Associated Press, July 21, 2020).
Portland’s Wall of Moms Joined by Dads With Leaf Blowers Against Trump’s Police – Chris Walker (TruthOut, July 21, 2020).
Trump Administration Poised to Deploy Feds to More US Cities as Tensions in Portland Boil Over – Igor Derysh (Salon, July 20, 2020).
Nothing Can Justify the Attack on Portland – Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes (The Atlantic, July 21, 2020).
Moms, Tear Gas, and Flash Bangs – Just Another Monday Night in Portland – Justin Grinnell (PSU Vanguard, July 21, 2020).
Chicago Won't See “Portland-style Deployment” of Federal Agents, Mayor Lori Lightfoot Says – Grace Hauck (USA Today, July 21, 2020).
Will Trump’s Secret Police Succeed in Provoking Riots in Your City? – Thom Hartmann (Common Dreams, July 21, 2020).

UPDATES: Portland’s Mayor Tear-gassed by US Agents as Protest Rages – Gillian Flaccus (Associated Press, July 23, 2020).
Paramilitary-Style Tactics in Portland Mirror Decades of U.S. Violence on the Border & AbroadDemocracy Now! (July 23, 2020).
Judge in Portland Bars Federal Officers From Arresting or Using Force Against Journalists and Legal Observers – David Shortell (CNN, July 23, 2020).
MSNBC Analyst: Trump Sending Feds To Portland As “Trial Run” to “Steal” Election – Jake Thomas (The Intellectualist, July 23, 2020).
Do Americans Get That Trump Is Instituting Martial Law? – Umair Haque (Medium, July 23, 2020).
Trump Is Using Federal Agents as His “Goon Squad,” Says ICE's Ex-Acting Head – Daniel Strauss (The Guardian, July 24, 2020).
In Portland, Questions Swirl Around Local Police's Coordination With Federal Officers – Arun Gupta (The Intercept, July 24, 2020).
“Wall of Veterans” Arrives in Portland to Protect Black Lives Matter Protesters from Trump’s DHS Troops – Colin Kalmbacher (Law and Crime, July 25, 2020).
In Portland’s So-Called War Zone, It’s the Troops Who Provide the Menace – Nicholas Kristof (The New York Times, July 25, 2020).
Oregon Governor and Federal Authorities Reach Agreement to Begin Withdrawing Agents from Portland – Grace Hauck, Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen (USA Today via MSN News, July 30, 2020).
Trump’s “Law-and-Order” Approach Falls Flat: Poll – Susan Milligan (U.S. News and World Report via MSN News, July 31, 2020).
Portland Sees Peaceful Night of Protests Following Withdrawal of Federal Agents – Chris McGreal (The Guardian, July 31, 2020).
Portland Suffers Serious Street Violence as Far Right Return “Prepared to Fight” – Jason Wilson (The Guardian, August 31, 2020).
“Fascism at Our Door”: Asked to Condemn White Supremacist Groups, Trump Tells Them to “Stand By” Instead – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, September 29, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Trump's Playbook
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President of the United States
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
Global Condemnation for Trump's Latest Ignorant and Racist Comments
Quotes of Note Regarding the Impeachment of President Trump
Quotes of Note Regarding the Senate’s Impeachment Trial of President Trump
Progressive Perspectives on Corruption in U.S. Politics
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020

Opening image: President Donald Trump as depicted on the cover of the June 6, 2020 issue of Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine and the largest-circulation newsweekly in Europe. Writes Simon Dumenco: “[The magazine's] cover story decries President Donald Trump’s incendiary approach to governing. The cover illustration depicts a hubristic Trump holding a match in the Oval Office, while outside, as seen through the window behind him, Washington, D.C. burns. The cover headline, 'Der Feuerteufel,' translates literally as 'the fire devil' but is used to mean firestarter or firebug, while the subhead, 'Ein Präsident setzt sein Land in Brand,' translates to 'A president sets fire to his country.'”