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Texas senator's big 'gotcha' moment in DOJ confirmation hearing made him a laughingstock

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President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. assistant attorney general began going through the very partisan vetting process of a Senate committee hearing Wednesday. Kristen Clarke will become the first woman of color to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in its 46-year existence. It’s an important position, highlighted by the recent national reporting on the continuing epidemic of Black citizen deaths at the hands of our country’s law enforcement apparatus. The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) has lauded the nomination, saying that “Ms. Clarke is precisely the person to restore the original spirit of the Civil Rights Division. She has dedicated her entire career to the enforcement and expansion of civil rights. Her extensive record of civil rights advocacy and enforcement, as well as her deep commitment to justice and professional integrity, makes us confident in her ability to excel as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.”

The right wing of the country, having very little to offer but fear when it comes to race and civil rights discourse, has decided that the best way to attack Kristen Clarke’s nomination is to create the impression that she “hates white people.” It’s the old reverse racism argument used by racists, while they stare into the mirror with horror and fear of retribution for their sins. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, famous for voting against all of the things he tells the electorate he secretly didn’t want to vote for, seems to have been under the impression that he had a real gotcha question and piece of evidence to unveil during the committee hearing. He didn’t. And he looked as pathetic as you might expect.

Sen. Cornyn began by passive aggressively saying, “Well maybe there’s a misprint, but I’m sure you can clear it up for me,” before bringing out evidence that when she was a young student at Harvard, she “argued that African Americans were genetically superior to ah [sic] Caucasians. is that correct?” (I left in the “ah,” because John Cornyn put it in there.) Without knowing what John Cornyn is talking about I can very confidently say that no, that is not correct. But let’s watch Ms. Clarke try not to laugh out loud while giving a serious answer to a clown of a senator.

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How people don’t just say “What the f!@#$ are you talking about?” all day long to people like Sen. John Cornyn is beyond me. You can read the article in question, written as a letter to The Harvard Crimson editors. Even if you are a slow reader, the “letter” takes only a couple of minutes to read. Sen. Cornyn and his staff are either too lazy (catastrophically incompetent in their laziness in this case) or they have decided to pretend it isn’t very clearly a baroquely pseudoscientific attack on the unbelievably pseudoscientific dreck written in Murray’s The Bell Curve. In fact, after reading the scientific bullet points laying out why Black people are superior to everyone according to the shiftless criteria of The Bell Curve, Clarke wrote this in her op-ed’s summation.

Attacks on Black people such as those in The Bell Curve are not unique. Black children face this abuse daily through television shows, jokes aired on the radio, textbooks with truncated history, etc. Liberal whites underestimate the damage which racism causes on the minds of Black children, and conservative whites know all too well how to enlarge that damage. No matter how rich or supportive a Black person’s home might be, by the time she is ready to take the SAT or apply to college, she has struggled far more extensively than any white person of the same social and economic background.

In the video it is clear that the hot air really evaporated from Cornyn’s sails. But later on Sen. Cornyn, forever disappointing the Founding Fathers who probably hoped for at least a particle of intelligence from elected leadership, defended his dead-end questioning on social media.

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What-about? The problem with Brett Kavanaugh’s pre-professional career was that it is marked with credible accusations of multiple sexual assaults and inappropriate behavior, none of it considered “satire” by anyone, and never has anyone claimed Kavanaugh’s actions to be “satire.” This is not an apple-and-oranges comparison: It is an apples-and-alleged alcoholic sexual assaulter comparison.

Notable reactions to the SCOTUS ACA Decision

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The nation heaved a huge sigh of relief today as the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The decision was a surprising 7-2, with Justices Alito and Gorsuch dissenting.

Here are some reactions from around the nation to this monumental decision –

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The tweet above has the the link to the SCOTUS opinion.

It’s a win for the American people. And yeah, it’s still a BFD!

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Thanks Obama 👏 

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The ACA is here to stay. Repeat after Schumer …

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Sen. Schumer announces on the Senate floor. One more time “The ACA is here to stay.”

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The ACA is one pillar in the House we built, along with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

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This is only the 3rd time, but SCOTUS is definitely moving in the right direction –

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Was it the individual mandate penalty of $0 that did it?

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We still have miles to go –

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The ACA is the law of the land and it will be defended.

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Yup, its been 11 years, 2 months, 24 days since Obamacare became the law of the land –

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The right decision indeed.

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Thanks again Georgia.

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Healthcare experts breathe again –

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ACA works.

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ACA protects millions.

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ACA makes healthcare affordable.

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Bernie has miles to go before he sleeps!

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Heh!

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Pass it on!

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Justice Breyer, well done. Are you ready to enjoy retirement yet?

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Yes, like Biden said, it’s a BFD.

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Is it over yet? It’s never over, the fight with the forces of fascism and anti-Americanism will continue. We have miles to go before we sleep. But it has been a good week for humanity so far and we have to keep marching to our destination of a more perfect Union.

Trump Thinks Donald Jr. Would Do Better in Prison Than Ivanka

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The walls are starting to close in on Donald Trump as he navigates through the sticky New York State and Manhattan legal cases and the news that an indictment of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg could be coming soon. Even though he’s enjoying almost daily rounds of golf, his post-White House life does have a different focus than most ex-presidents. That also means weighing out the possibility that some of his adult children, who have worked for the Trump Organization for years, might be facing jail time.

Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen dished out behind-the-scenes details to The Lincoln Project about Donald’s reported pecking order of which kid should go to jail first. The Disloyal author cited one instance when the former president understood that Donald Jr. and Ivanka could be indicted for some of their business dealings. Donald offered up his oldest son to take the fall and do the prison time because “he can handle it.” (Of course, he doesn’t want either of his children to go to prison if he can help it.)

More from SheKnows

This news shouldn’t shock anyone because Cohen has said many times before that Donald is willing to throw anyone under the bus to keep himself out of trouble. Just last month, he told MSNBC’s Joy Reid that he’s “going to flip on all of them,” including wife Melania Trump. “He’s going to turn on his accountant and point the finger,” Cohen predicted. “He’s going to say, ‘Don Jr. handled that, Ivanka handled that,” Cohen admitted. “Melania. Don’t take me. Take Melania.’ He’s going to tell them to take everyone except for himself. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”

Donald Jr. has remained close to his father after their move from Washington, D.C. to Florida (he was just at his 75th birthday party), but Ivanka has kept a lower profile in their post-political life. Nobody knows how these legal cases will shake out, but we wouldn’t be surprised if both of his kids lawyer up to protect themselves — just in case.

SheKnows reached out to a representative for Donal Trump for comment.

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/donald-trump-reportedly-thinks-donald-172941752.html

New Day Cafe- Cameroon

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In college, I knew a grad student from Cameroon — his government was paying for his Ph.D with the stipulation that he must return and use his education to help his country.

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The country’s name is derived from Rio dos Camarões (“River of Prawns”)—the name given to the Wouri River estuary by Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. Camarões was also used to designate the river’s neighbouring mountains.

www.britannica.com/…

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Cameroon is triangular in shape and is bordered by Nigeria to the northwest, Chad to the northeast, the Central African Republic to the east, the Republic of the Congo to the southeast, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the southwest.

www.britannica.com/

My friend invited us over for dinner one night. Because he’d had polio as a child, he’d been stuck at home with not much to do except follow his mother around the kitchen. Thus, he learned to cook. Wish I could remember the name of one dish he made for us — it involved kale, I think, and definitely ground chicken gizzards, and was delicious. His peanut butter soup was superb.

It has been many years since I tasted my friend’s peanut butter soup. And while this recipe is not specifically labeled Cameroonian, it looks like what I remember eating. The other videos I watched don’t. So… [5:57]:

Serve with rice & you’ve got dinner! (Caveat: I love hot but I’m pretty sure my friend didn’t use any habanero peppers in his soup — proceed with caution in that regard.)

🐔 🐔 🐔

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Each major ethnic group of the country has developed its own culture. The vigorous rhythms played on the drums by the people of the southern forest region contrast with the flute music of northern Cameroonians. In the Adamawa area, the Muslim Fulani produce elaborately worked leather goods and ornate calabashes (gourds used as containers), and the Kirdi and the Matakam of the western mountains produce distinctive types of pottery. The powerful masks of the Bali, which represent elephants’ heads, are used in ceremonies for the dead, and the statuettes of the Bamileke are carved in human and animal figures. The Tikar people are famous for beautifully decorated brass pipes, the Ngoutou people for two-faced masks, and the Bamum for smiling masks.

www.britannica.com/… 

Koki corn looks SO good, I want some right now — and btw, you can also find banana leaves in the freezer section of most Latinx groceries [12:48]:

🌽 🌽 🌽

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French Cameroon rejected the Vichy government in World War II and became an important African base for Charles de Gaulle’s Free French. In 1946 British and French rule in Cameroon was reaffirmed under U.N. trusteeships. In 1958 the French trusteeship was abolished, and the Republic of Cameroon became independent on Jan. 1, 1960.

www.nytimes.com/…

🌾 🌾 🌾

History records that this renowned dish [Jollof Rice] originated in the SeneGambia region of West Africa. In the Wollof/Jollof Empire during the 14th-16th century, the Portuguese created a coastal trade zone and introduced commodities including tomatoes to Senegal. At the time, rice and grain cultivation was prominent in Senegal and were used often in many dishes. Out of these two major ingredients, rice and tomatoes, came the Sengalese thieboudienne “Senegalese Jollof Rice.” … [T]hrough human migration, the jollof rice recipe crossed geographic borders into other West African countries where each country adopted their own variations of this dish.

www.kengskitchen.com/…

It’s a celebratory sort of dish, and this lady makes a terrific-looking version [22:07]:

🌾 🌾 🌾

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Mashed potatoes and beans… 😋

I’m talking about Pomme Pileés, Banso Tukuni, Pommes de Terre, or simply put mashed potatoes and beans. ✂️  Pommes Pileés is a staple dish originating from the West and Northwest Regions of Cameroon. It’s known to the Banso people of the Northwest Region as Tukuni and is a part of their traditional dishes.

In the West and Northwest Regions of Cameroon, potatoes and beans are some of the most frequently consumed crops. Pomme Pileé’s high macronutrient contents … [make] it not only a family favorite but a farmer’s favorite. It’s an energy packed dish that also doesn’t spoil easily (even under the hot African sun!).

www.kengskitchen.com/…

[3:06]

😋 😋 😋

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This one looks difficult: Achu Soup.

Traditionally prepared and consumed by the Ngemba people from the Northwest Region of Cameroon, achu soup consists of boiled and pounded cocoyams, canwa (lime stone), water, spices, and palm oil. The palm oil changes the color of the soup to yellow, which is the reason why achu soup is also known as yellow soup.

When served, it is typically paired with beef or fish, which can be boiled, fried, or smoked.

www.tasteatlas.com/…

[8:21]

🌻 🌻 🌻

Remember that bridge?

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The spelling changes depending on which site I go to, but these banana fritters made with cassava (yuca) look delicious. Many call them Accra Banana Fritters, so that’s what I’m going with, lol. [8:51]

🍌 🍌 🍌

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This was fun: the videographer goes to a remote village to see coffee being grown. There are some sound problems at times, but it’s a great little travelogue that’s definitely off the beaten path [13:57]:

☕️ ☕️ ☕️

So come on in & grab a cup of something nice…

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…and a nice nosh…

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…and join us!

New Day Cafe is an open thread. What’s on your mind today?

Ronny Jackson Backs Off Demand For Biden To Take Cognitive Test

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Reprint from moronmajority.com

After accusing Joe Biden of suffering from “mental impairment,” Donald Trump’s former personal doctor and current Texas congressman, Rep. Ronny Jackson, is no longer demanding the President take a test to measure his cognitive abilities.

It appears Biden has agreed to the request if Jackson consents to a sobriety test.

Photo | businessinsider.com

*moronmajority.com is a satirical site … seriously!

thedailynooze.com

Conflict in an awkward situation: I need ideas. Personal diary so please avoid if not your thing.

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PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PERSONAL DIARIES OR HEALTH RELATED ISSUES. I get very personal and try to handle the problem in the most delicate way I can, but…

 Most of you who read my diaries know over the years, I am in ill health, 52 years old, with multiple medical conditions. I am forced to live in a nursing home, and have to rely on nurses, nursing aids, and others for many activities.

My left leg is basically useless, when I stand on it, even with a walker, if I just stand, it ends up buckling after about 10 seconds. I can walk with a walker, but only about 15 feet before I have to sit down or I will fall down. My usual transport now is a wheelchair.

I never thought that I would end up where I am. 52 years old and in a wheel chair and in a nursing home.

I have written previously about my struggles in a nursing home, how some are better than others, but none are “good” as far as quality care goes.

The problem is, I am in bed basically 24/7 unless I have an MD appointment to go to, or I am having Physical or Occupational Therapy.

There is one nursing aid who I most often have to interact with. She works, unfortunately, 5 days a week, 12 hours a day. The problem? She is a horrible person.

First a bit about me. I was raised in a household in which people communicated by yelling. My parents loved me and were not abusive in any way, but there was much yelling and the like. I grew up afraid of loud voices and conflict. When it comes to times when I have to stand up for myself, I don’t. In my life I have let many people take advantage of me because I’d rather “give up” then argue or the like with people. 

When I tel people some issues I have had, they all say “Just tell the person X” where X is something about my disagreements, or would produce an argument. They do not understand that i cannot bring myself to do it. I would rather curl up in a ball and just not do anything.

The problem? The nursing aid I mentioned above. She is always short and argumentative. I will ask her a simple question and her response is to mistreat, or swear, or belittle. She walks around all day out in the hallway and other places swearing, literally swearing about other people, and the like. 

I have major stomach issues. I will leave that to your imagination. But I have IBS, Crohn’s, Diverticulitis, Pancreatitis, and Gastroparesis.

Also when I get nervous or anxious, which happens often, I manifest problems in my stomach. It leads to problems I will leave to your imagination since I do not want to be gross. The problem is, I am forced to wear clothes that assist in case of accidents. Often I have what they call “urgency” issues, and sometimes this happens 5 plus times a day. I have had to wait upwards of 6 to 11 hours to be changed, and this has led to some other conditions, like UTIs.

The problem is, with this CNA is she thinks and is sure I am making this whole thing up. She demands I call for a bedpan and wait until they bring me one. The problem is, either I cannot wait for the above issues, OR  they do not come when the call light is pressed for hours, so I run out of time when I have a warning.

She makes me feel like a 5 month old, argues with me, and tells me that she has come into my room too many times, she does not believe me, etc. 

I do not know what to do. I have talked to one person, a lady I really get along with here, and I see once a month. She is a doctor of therapy, she adds notes to files from actually sitting down and hearing how a person is doing. Of course they never act on what she writes, which is frustrating to both her and me. She suggested that I meet or email the admin about the problem. 

The thing is, though, that eventually she will have to hear about the complaint (How else would they try to “change” her behavior unless they mention the complaint?) and since I am the one who has this specific problem. I am worried she will know it is me and it will get even worse.

I have had friends on here offer to call where I live sometimes to check up on me, and to let them know people care enough to do so. I really, really appreciated the offer but because of the above reason I decided not to pursue the option.

So my question is this: How do I learn to be more confrontational, to stand up for my rights when I am such a push over. It is not so simple as telling me “Just tell her X and stand up for yourself” if I could do that I would not be writing this and having this problem. How do fellow Introverts deal with this kind of situation? What would you do?

Cartoon: Algorithm news redux

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In light of the attack on the Capitol and recent Congressional hearings looking into the tech giant’s role in the attack, I thought it would be helpful — and a little creepy — to look back at how I’ve cartooned Facebook over the past few years. I’m taking a few days off so will leave you with this “classic” Facebook cartoon, which offers a little insight into how we got to the January 6th insurrection. (Stay tuned for the second of two parts!)

Facebook recently announced a major shift in how it is going to treat news on the world’s largest social network. In a series of chipper statements and videos, Mark Zuckerberg and crew announced they were going to de-emphasize posts from news publishers. Instead, Facebook is going to concentrate on “bringing people closer together” (while pushing them farther away from news).

Translated from Utopian-speak, that means they are going to give higher ranking in their almighty algorithm to posts shared by friends and family while knocking news outlets down a few rungs. This comes after putting loads of effort into building up Facebook as the place where people get their news. (45% of adults in the United States say they get news from the social media site, and worldwide there are over two billion users.) It looks like Facebook’s struggle with fake news may have caused the algorithm wranglers to throw up their hands with all news, real or fake.

Facebook wasn’t the only one putting time and money into getting news onto their network, media outlets spent millions chasing after coveted eyeballs by tailoring content and publishing directly to the “news” feed. Now Facebook wants to return to its social media roots and be all about individuals talking with each other. Fortunately, it sounds like individual creators (like certain, ahem, cartoonists) may fare better, algorithmically-speaking, than big publishers.

Enjoy the cartoon, comment about it with your friends and family— and let’s hope Zuck’s algorithm looks kindly upon us. (And you can always cut to the chase and see my cartoons and plenty of other material here on my Patreon site.)

Texas’ 1836 Project is a big bag of BS, and we all know everything’s bigger in Texas

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The Republican Party’s war on democracy knows no bounds. With no policies and no meaningful solutions to the country’s problems to offer, conservatives have continued their efforts at retelling our white supremacist history in such a way as to deny not only the racism of white landowners in the construction of our country’s white supremacist system but also to deny the rights of all people who don’t own land, and all people who aren’t white citizens of our country. Part of this manipulation is to frame the discussion about history inside of a hysterics-producing culture war that argues against a more robust analysis of the history as it denies and whitewashes entire sections of how and why things happened the way they happened.

In an attempt to act like they are doing something proactive while also figuring out ways to hypocritically rewrite history, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas signed House Bill 2497. The bill is supposed to appeal to critical race theory ‘fraidy cats by promoting the “patriotic education” of Texans. Called “The 1836 Project,” the legislation will set up a commission to figure out what to write on pamphlets given to Texas constituents receiving their drivers’ licenses. 1836 marks the year that Texas received independence from Mexico. Of course, only certain Texans received “independence,” and the rest of those folks were Black and brown and Indigenous nations.

Here’s Abbott and a crew of sycophants selling Texas a slice of history devoid of context or … most of the history.

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This move comes at the same time that Abbott and Republican legislators are moving to restrict discussions of critical race theory throughout schools. The above bill also requires that the 1836 Project promote “the Christian heritage of this state.” Unless that “Christian heritage” simply means talking about the Texas Christian community’s use of Paul’s Epistle to Philemon and other such bastardizations of the Old and New Testaments to support slavery, I doubt this has anything to do with teaching history.

Texas’ fight to become independent from Mexico heightened right around the time that Mexico banned the import of slaves into the territory. In fact, Mexico and Anglo-Texan landowners were at odds over slavery from the moment Mexico concluded its own war of independence in 1821. After various restrictions on the expansion of slavery in their Texas territory, Mexico banned slavery in 1829, with then-president of the Republic of Mexico, Vincente Guerrero, declaring all enslaved people emancipated. Anglo-Texan landowners worked on loopholes that allowed them to continue holding slaves and importing them into the territory for years. 

Texians developed a scheme with which new settlers could evade Mexico’s ban on slavery. According to historical records, before leaving the United States and crossing into Mexican Texas, slave owners would meet with a notary public and draft a document in which slaves were given a specific value. The contract stipulated that though they would gain their freedom when they stepped on Texas soil, they would enter into a period of internment, in which they would work to pay off the debt of their value that they now owed to their previous master. Any costs for clothing or food or housing would be deducted from their “wages,” which were around $20 a year. Any sum not paid off by the time they died would be assumed by their children. Any of the former slaves’ children who were born after their parents passed into Texas would begin paying off their debts when they reached adulthood, presumably being considered property of the master until that point. Cheap labor from enslaved Black people was so central to the success of the early Texian colonies that settlers worked very hard to maintain it.

Texas gained its independence from Mexico in 1836. Texas subsequently applied for and became a state in our United States of America in 1845. At the time of the Texas Revolution in 1836 there were estimated to be around 5,000 slaves in Texas. By the time Texas was annexed into the United States there were an estimated 30,000 slaves in Texas, and by 1860 the census found 182,566 slaves—over 30% of the total population of the state.” I guess that’s just a coincidence?

Let’s go to the other video tape! Texas’ ”Declaration of causes: February 2, 1861: This is the Lone Star State’s “declaration of the causes which impel the State of Texas to secede from the Federal Union.”* Here are some highlights [Note: The “she” spoken of in the Declaration is Texas]:

  • She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery—the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits—a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. Her institutions and geographical position established the strongest ties between her and other slave-holding States of the confederacy.
  • The controlling majority of the Federal Government, under various pretences and disguises, has so administered the same as to exclude the citizens of the Southern States, unless under odious and unconstitutional restrictions, from all the immense territory owned in common by all the States on the Pacific Ocean, for the avowed purpose of acquiring sufficient power in the common government to use it as a means of destroying the institutions of Texas and her sister slave-holding States.”
  • ”In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon the unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of the equality of all men, irrespective of race or color—a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of the Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and the negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.”
  • That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding States.

It turns out that Texas isn’t exceptional. At all. In fact, Texas’ history of slavery, slavery dependence, Christian hypocrisy, and white supremacy is pretty predictable and sadly pedestrian in comparison to the rest of the United States. One of the more unique aspects of Texas’ history is how little Texans and white supremacists like Abbott understand it. Texas was such a “shit-hole” Republic that thousands of Black slaves fled the state for Mexico in the two-plus decades of independence the Lone Star State had before the Civil War. The only thing “exceptional” about Texas is that it was so behind the times, it took until June 19, 1865 for Texans to realize they had had their asses handed to them in the American Civil War, and had lost.

Abbott has one aspect of Texas history and heritage correct: white supremacist attempts to drag human progress backwards, using racism, in the interests of big business power and profits. The problem with the snowflake crews across our country is that they are unwilling to face reality: While our country was founded with a sense of independence from authoritarian forms of government, much of it was built on the backs of African slaves. In fact, white Anglo-Saxon dominance in the wealth of our country was built on the backs of new immigrants from all over the world, with dehumanizing practices of murder and torture and rape visited most frequently upon people who weren’t white Americans. Our railroads and gold mines and cotton fields were all built, dug, and tilled by cheap labor in the service of a white supremacist system.

Happy Juneteenth!

    *Fun Fact: There are 21 mentions of slavery in the 24 paragraphs of this bit of history—and about 10 of those paragraphs are single sentences!

    Biden Is Going to Make America Great

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    It’s 7:30 in the morning, or fifteen minutes after I’ve left the house, the absolute nadir of my morning commute. I’m stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic along the residential thoroughfare, my jaw flexing and hands squeezing the steering wheel, as there are too many parents endeavoring to drop their young children off at the neighborhood school. And all of this takes place before I merge onto interstate seventy, where the probability of another traffic jam is more than fifty percent. But at least there is constant forward momentum along the interstate, even if it is gradual and maddening. Residential traffic jams in school zones were particularly infuriating and disturbing, exercises that test the limits of my patience.

    “Ah!” I exclaimed one morning in September. “When did all of these freaking people move into the neighborhood and procreate. You’re all just getting in my way. I wish you would disappear from the road on August through May. Please make my life easier by just going away!”

    Five months later, my wish was granted.

    A novel coronavirus pandemic swept through the country, causing debilitating sickness, excruciating death, and misery. State and local municipalities were forced to shut down, bars and restaurants were shuttered, gyms were emptied, jobs were lost, grocery shelves were bare, and the schools were closed, making way for virtual learning at home. Many parents were forced to leave stable employment to care fulltime for their children. Other parents who worked from home occupied multiple roles; that of employee, teaching assistant, and stay-at-home parent.

    I was one of the lucky ones, as I was able to hold onto my job and maintain my physical and mental health. Plus, I’m single and childless, unencumbered by the responsibilities that came with caring for a child during the pandemic. Apart from donning a mask and washing my hands religiously before exiting the house in the morning, my routine did not change. I continued to drive the same path to work in the morning, but the roads were bare, unrecognizable emblems of the new world that we found ourselves in.

    I was dating an educator last May, about the time when America became ground zero in the fight against the advancing coronavirus pandemic. The teacher’s name was Sarah, a red-haired beauty who lived on the other side of my home town. We talked a lot about her experiences in the virtual classroom during our get-togethers, a mixture of virtual and in-person dates. After a particularly stressful day of teaching, she reached out to me via text message, sending a GIF of a frustrated red haired woman overturning a wooden desk. I threw my head back and laughed before dialing Sarah’s cell phone number.

    “Hello my love,” I said.

    “Hey,” Sarah said, her voice shaking. “How are you doing sweetness?”

    “I’m all right. How are you?” I said.

    Sarah sighed. “I had a day today.”

    “I know you did. I did get your text, and I have to admit that I did laugh , because the GIF you sent was really, really funny.”

    Sarah laughed and said, “Yeah. Comedy usually does come from anger.”

    “Yes it does. So that’s why I called you, knowing that you probably didn’t have the greatest time teaching today.”

    “I so didn’t.”

    “So did anything in particular happen?”

    “I can’t really point to one occurrence. There are just so many things that contributed to my loathing of the work day. I really don’t like this virtual teaching model, Eze!”

    “I know it must be hard for you right now, but you are still giving your all. You are a superhero, my great love. All of you teachers are freaking superheroes.”

    “Thank you for saying that. Oh my god! You seem to always to know what to say!”

    “You’re welcome. And I am not just saying it to flatter you. You guys are really doing some special work under extraordinary circumstances. I can’t imagine teaching right now.”

    “You were a great teacher, Eze. I’m sure you could have done it if you needed to.”

    “I don’t know, Sarah. I remember teaching being hard ten years ago.”

    “But you still made it though. You were renewed.”

    “Yeah.”

    “I just hope I’m not teaching virtually for the next few years!”

    “Well, that depends on who is president. If Trump is still president after the first of next year, then I don’t have any hope. We’re in this situation because of the damn fool. He’s so freaking clueless. He wants us to inject bleach into our arms, Sarah. Bleach. Injected. Into. Peoples’. Arms.”

    “I know,” said Sarah, sighing.

    “We got to get him out of office if we want our lives back.”

    “Let’s hope that we make the right decision next time.”

    “Yeah, let’s hope.”

    “I feel better now that I’ve talked to you.”

    “Awesome. You know that you always can talk to me.”

    Donald Trump was soundly defeated by Joe Biden last November, providing a balm for a broken heart — my relationship with Sarah had fallen apart a month before the election. Biden went right to work after being sworn into office, rescinding dozens of Trump’s executive orders, symbols of cruelty, malice, and historical incompetence. After wiping out the majority of Trump’s “legacy” with the stroke of his pen, Biden and the Democrats in congress enacted the American Rescue Plan, a nearly two trillion-dollar piece of legislation designed to keep people in their homes, cut child poverty in half, buttress the child income tax credit, and increase the efficiency and efficacy of our response to the Covid-19 disaster.

    Ah yes, the response to Covid-19, the barometer upon which the first year of Biden’s presidency would be judged. The American people were fed up with the Covid-19, the bane of our collective existence, and we looked to the new president for strength, competence, and guidance. Of course Joe Biden, derided as “sleepy” by his predecessor, was cognizant of the expectations of the American people in this regard. So, Biden took charge of the situation, utilizing the Defense Production Act to buy millions of vaccines, setting ambitious vaccination goals for the country, and trusting the science.

    Before long, the number of people receiving a Covid-19 vaccine increased exponentially, contributing to a drastic decrease in the number cases and deaths. As the weather became warmer in 2021, municipalities throughout the country eased restrictions, paving the way for struggling businesses to open their doors to the reemerging public. What about the viability of our teachers and educational institutions? Schools are going to be open for students in the fall of this year, prompting a flooding of cars onto the roads in September. Weary parents will be afforded their first rest break in more than a year. I’m looking forward to navigating the traffic jams in the coming months, as they will be a sign of how far we have come.

    Recently, Mr. Biden reasserted American leadership , announcing an impending donation of five hundred million Covid-19 vaccine doses to countries in need. Wind the clock back a year, to the previous month of June, when “President” Donald Trump and his maladroit administration were driving the response to the pandemic, and were finding new ways to mishandle the management of this crisis every single day. What if America has chosen to reelect Trump, thereby continuing the nightmare that had been foisted onto the entire world by the malicious and misguided? Selfish and venal Trump, promoter of a perverted form of nationalist pride, could not have recognized the inherent advantage that will come with donating these vaccine dosages; that of America being perceived as a generous actor and a vital member of the world community, able to leverage our resources to maintain our status as the leader of the free world. Perhaps Trump would have tried to exact payment before agreeing to ship vaccines to Africa and Asia, where many countries currently lack the necessary infrastructure to develop and administer a Covid-19 vaccine. Yeah, that’s exactly what he would have done, demand payment for a vaccine from desperate people while proclaiming “America first.”

    Donald Trump would have Made America Selfish again, a cynical and hateful country, one looked upon by the rest of the world as past its prime, a second banana to China and Russia — both of these countries began distributing vaccines to the rest of the world before the United States.

    Thank goodness for Joe Biden, a good man who is capable of growth and reflection. He is remaking the composition of our court system, nominating and confirming judges who reflect an increasingly diverse America; he is accurately representing America’s interest at the G7 summit; he is reestablishing alliances with European partners; he is protecting our right to vote; and he is negotiating an infrastructure plan and producing a national budget that will uplift traditionally disadvantaged Americans — the elderly, disabled, and the poor.

    Be patient. Joe Biden is going to make America great.

    Friends. Help me keep my status as a Top Writer on medium.com and give me as many claps as you can(look for the hands on the left side of the story and click, click, click). ep2ihenetu.medium.com/…

    What’s the ‘critical race theory’ uproar really about? The right-wing need to fabricate enemies

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    The modern American right is preoccupied with being viewed as heroic, in particular with its self-conception as savior of the republic. Heroes, of course, require enemies. So throughout postwar history, right-wing ideologues have specialized in concocting them, supposedly dire existential threats to the nation spun into whole cloth out of tidbits of half-fact: Communists, Satanic occultists, New World Order overlords, cultural Marxists, antifa, Black radicals, adrenochrome-harvesting pedophilia rings—all have had their turns as right-wing bogeymen.

    The latest is critical race theory (CRT), which seems to have appeared out of nowhere as the latest great threat to America. (On Fox News, as Matt Grossman notes, the issue was mentioned zero times in 2018; four times in 2019; 77 times in 2020; and so far in 2021, 626 times.) Despite the issue having received zero attention until this year, Republican-controlled state legislatures in places like Idaho, Tennessee, Texas, and Oklahoma have passed laws outlawing its use in their public classrooms, while school boards around the country have been besieged by right-wing ideologues demanding it be excised from their curricula.

    The whole campaign against CRT, in fact, appears to be primarily the work of a handful of astroturfing “dark money” right-wing organizations. And its central figure is named Christopher Rufo, a longtime right-wing think tank activist with a history of promoting various kinds of spurious enemy concoctions

    First, exactly what is critical race theory anyway? As Marisa Iati of The Washington Post explains, it’s an academic framework based on the idea—one well-grounded in factual history—that racial discrimination and inequality are built into the American systems of law and governance as well as its culture. Most of this framework emerged in the 1970s and afterwards, with the first academic workshop on it occurring in 1989. For the most part, this framework is considered something of an academic niche.

    But over the past year, thanks largely to the factually dubious rantings of a cadre of right-wing ideologues online and in the media, it has come to be synonymous with “cultural Marxism,” another far-right bogeyman concocted as an existential threat to Western civilization. So the term is on the tongues of the mob of Republicans propagandists appearing on right-wing media, and the legislators who then sponsor new laws prohibiting teachers from discussing CRT—none of whom in fact can actually describe what it is in real terms or provide factual examples.

    As Laura Clawson recently noted, one Republican lawmaker from Alabama named Chris Pringle was asked by a reporter to define the term. He said that CRT “basically teaches that certain children are inherently bad people because of the color of their skin, period.” Who was teaching that? “Yeah, uh, well—I can assure you—I’ll have to read a lot more.”

    Pringle insisted that the threat was real, apparently because he had seen a video with a conspiracy theory: “These people, when they were doing the training programs—and the government—if you didn’t buy into what they taught you a hundred percent, they sent you away to a reeducation camp.” Say again? “The white male executives are sent to a three-day re-education camp, where they were told that their white male culture wasn’t their—”

    In fact, Pringle appears to have been regurgitating something Chris Rufo described to Tucker Carlson on Fox News, even if he couldn’t quite get the story straight.

    What they all can tell you, though, is that CRT is some kind of attack on American capitalism and white people. One political action committee dedicated to backing anti-CRT school-board candidates, the 1776 Project PAC, claims that CRT advocates are trying to remake the United States to reject capitalism and the nation’s founding principles, and that CRT is “hostile to white people.”

    One Missouri legislator explained why they sponsored an anti-CRT billed there: “Over the past several years, there have been many attempts to fundamentally change our traditions and our rich history.”

    Another claimed: “I think CRT, and in particular the 1619 project, does in fact seek to make children feel guilt and even anguish, not because of anything they’ve done, but solely based on the color of their skin. I think that is a definite issue and a problem because I don’t think anyone should feel guilty about the way God made them.”

    One member of Utah’s state school board offered a long list of words that she said were euphemisms for critical race theory, including “social justice,” “culturally responsive,” and “critical self-reflection.”

    “Let me be clear, there’s no room in our classrooms for things like critical race theory,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a March news conference. “Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money.”

    Educators, at least, understand the score. The Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers noted in a late-May statement that anti-education rightists “want this to be a wedge issue” with the public: “The bill is part of a national movement by conservatives trying to sow a narrative of students being indoctrinated by teachers. Our members rightfully have expressed outrage against this insult of their professionalism to provide balanced conversations with students on controversial issues.”

    Even some of the participants are surprisingly upfront about the dynamic at work here: At the end of the day, it’s a way to whip up the voting base by hijacking their amygdalas, whipping the footsoldiers into line and into a froth—all for the sake of making a buck and a media rep.

    One lawyer for parents suing their child’s school district over alleged CRT-fueled discrimination was frank with NBC News: “Some people are treating it like a gold rush,” Jonathan O’Brien said. “This is a new area where people think they can either become famous or make money on the issue, and they’re probably right.”

    O’Brien, in fact, later joined a group of attorneys focused on CRT that was organized by Rufo, who is a senior fellow at the right-wing Manhattan Institute think tank. Rufo has a long and colorful history promoting a menu of right-wing causes du jour—especially wedge issues designed to undermine mainstream support for liberal politics.

    In a March Twitter exchange with another CRT-hysteria promoter, James Lindsay, Rufo explicitly outlined their cynical marketing strategy to make their concocted bogeyman the repository of all things the public dislikes:

    We have successfully frozen their brand—”critical race theory”—into the public conversation and are steadily driving up negative perceptions. We will eventually turn it toxic, as we put all of the various cultural insanities under that brand category.

    The goal is to have the public read something crazy in the newspaper and immediately think “critical race theory.” We have decodified the term and will recodify it to annex the entire range of cultural constructions that are unpopular with Americans.

    Rufo and Lindsay, in fact, have been explicit in connecting critical race theory with “cultural Marxism.” Lindsay has argued that while, yes, it’s true that the notion of “cultural Marxism” and its spread into the public discourse in fact was largely the concoction of antisemitic white nationalists who were fabricating another bogeyman for public consumption, the very same term could somehow be applied more broadly now to critical race theory and social justice theory with no extremist connotation whatever.

    Rufo spent a number of years in Seattle as a fellow at the Discovery Institute, a creationist organization that specializes in promoting “intelligent design” as an education wedge issue. It also has promoted the “cultural Marxism” nonsense, while Rufo’s disquisitions on Marxism there have helped build the new branded narrative around critical race theory.

    Rufo also was a prominent figure in the right-wing narrative that “Seattle is dying” that circulated in right-wing media from 2019 to 2020, particularly in his attacks on what he called the “politics of ruinous compassion” and the “homeless-industrial complex,” which he claims is a “billion-dollar industry.” Rufo also ran for Seattle city council, but performed poorly in local polling and dropped out, claiming he and his family had been subjected to threats. (Rufo later tried to substantiate the claim by producing an email from an interlocutor who told him to “get bent.”)

    But after drifting through a number of right-wing causes, Rufo—who moved out of Seattle to take up residence in rural Kitsap County, where he set up a studio for peddling his propaganda—the “critical race theory” brand has clearly caught on for him. Have Grift, Will Travel.

    At the New York Post, Rufo’s prose explaining the subject is both abstruse and inaccurate, but laden with the red-meat appeals to right-wing Trumpian sensibilities:

    During the 20th century, a number of regimes underwent Marxist-style revolutions, and each ended in disaster. Socialist governments in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Cuba and elsewhere racked up a body count of nearly 100 million people. They are remembered for gulags, show trials, executions and mass starvations. In practice, Marx’s ideas unleashed man’s darkest brutalities.

    … But rather than abandon their political project, Marxist scholars in the West simply adapted their revolutionary theory to the social and racial unrest of the 1960s. Abandoning Marx’s economic dialectic of capitalists and workers, they substituted race for class and sought to create a revolutionary coalition of the dispossessed based on racial and ethnic categories.

    … When I say that critical race theory is becoming the operating ideology of our public institutions, I am not exaggerating — from the universities to bureaucracies to K-12 school systems, critical race theory has permeated the collective intelligence and decision-making process of American government, with no sign of slowing down.

    The upshot of the rant, however, is to fabricate the bogeyman of a nefarious Communist cabal pulling the strings on American culture to ensure its destruction: “Identity is the means; Marxism is the end,” Rufo writes.

    As Alex Shephard observes at The New Republic:

    Rufo and his fellow travelers hold that sinister forces are at work whenever students are exposed to real American history. It may seem good to educate yourself about racial injustices and the institutional structures that have propped them up for centuries, but that’s just a cover for a more fanciful threat: the takeover of American institutions by a cabal of Marxist-Leninists and social justice warriors.

    He also correctly identifies the primary reason the controversy, such as it is, even exists—namely, because the American Right is desperate to create some kind of enemy, any kind of enemy, as long as they can make it sound plausible:

    Much like their recent obsessions with “lab leak theory,” conservatives’ fixation with critical race theory can best be understood as a useful proxy villain filling the vacuum left by their failure to uncover a more substantive way of attacking Joe Biden during the first six months of his term—a vacuum that mainly exists because of the Republican Party’s retreat from policy debates. The fact that critical race theory is always so hazily defined—and also so completely malevolent—makes it the perfect catch-all malefactor for a culture-war-obsessed right that’s desperate to end conversations around corrupt policing and structural racism. It is everywhere and nowhere at once; a spectral threat forever lurking in the shadows that’s just nonexistent enough to ensure that it can never be defeated.

    Of course, we should also never overlook their need to make a buck off their grift-loving voter base. That’s always at work too.