Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

2-Two-Cats-and-a-Woman-Peter-Harskamp

Two Cats and a Woman, by Peter Harskamp

Today is Juneteenth, and for the first time it is being celebrated as a national holiday and in some states as a state holiday. While this is a victory for anti-racists, it’s obviously a symbolic and cosmetic one. It’s certainly significant that a large majority of Republicans in the house supported the bill. But at the same time Republicans are making a phony issue of an academic approach to systemic racism–“critical race theory.”

At The Atlantic, Kellie Carter Jackson, a Black historian at Wellesley College, writes: What the Push to Celebrate Juneteenth Conceals

When you are Black in America, how do you celebrate progress? How do you honor the history and memory of emancipation, liberation, and advancement? How do Black people mark a moment when a positive change transformed the trajectory of their lives, their nation? For many Black Americans that moment has been Juneteenth, or June 19, the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, received word that they were free, some two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. But when I think about Juneteenth, I am mostly stuck on that delay: the time it took for more than 250,000 enslaved Texans to experience what some 3 million other formerly enslaved Americans already had. Though Texan planters had long known the Civil War was over, they had hoped to get one more harvest out of their human property. In this country, hiding history has always been about maintaining control, denying concession, and delaying justice.

This spring, I have been perplexed by anniversaries meant to honor history. Memorial Day, a holiday created by Black people to honor Black veterans in Charleston, South Carolina, seemed this year to focus more on remembering George Floyd and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa massacre. This Juneteenth also feels different, as more non-Black Americans are now incorporating it into their summer celebrations and lawmakers have pushed to observe the holiday at a federal level. Yet it seems the memory of Juneteenth is being shaped by symbolic rather than substantive gains. Moreover, the proliferation of Juneteenth events is taking place at the same time as the banning of critical race theory and curricula focused on slavery’s lasting effects. It is impossible to celebrate Juneteenth and simultaneously deny the teaching of America’s foundational legacy….

Holidays, like memories, are chosen. They are collective social agreements employed to acknowledge an event or a person. Often composed of parades, barbecues, and corporate sponsorships, the observation of a holiday is relatively low-stakes and usually distanced from the full history that compelled it. Though Black folks have honored their ancestors in meaningful ways on Juneteenth for more than a century, to many non-Black citizens it marks a day off from work and little else. But holidays cannot be divorced from history. Americans cannot discuss freedom and the Fourth of July without invoking slavery. Americans cannot celebrate Memorial Day without paying homage to those who died in service of their country. Americans cannot recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day without confronting the violence of white supremacy. Choosing to remember palatable histories over painful histories serves no one—it merely fosters fantasy.

Critical race theory, an examination of the social, political, and economic impact of racism and white supremacy in America, counters that fantasy. This is the charge of historians and educators: to make sense of the past and grapple with its implications. 

Read more about the significance of critical race theory at the link. 

La robe Verte, Jean Metzinger

La robe Verte, Jean Metzinger

I have to admit, I had never heard of critical race theory until Republicans started obsessing about it. Here’s a brief definition from Education Week: 

Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others.

A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas.

This article at The Atlantic that explains the history and development of CRT: The GOP’s ‘Critical Race Theory’ Obsession.

The late harvard law professor Derrick Bell is credited as the father of critical race theory. He began conceptualizing the idea in the 1970s as a way to understand how race and American law interact, and developed a course on the subject. In 1980, Bell resigned his position at Harvard because of what he viewed as the institution’s discriminatory hiring practices, especially its failure to hire an Asian American woman he’d recommended.

Black students—including the future legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, who enrolled at Harvard Law in 1981—felt the void created by his departure. Bell had been the only Black law professor among the faculty, and in his absence, the school no longer offered a course explicitly addressing race. When students asked administrators what could be done, Crenshaw says they received a terse response. “What is it that is so special about race and law that you have to have a course that examines it?” Crenshaw has recalled administrators asking. The administration’s inability to see the importance of understanding race and the law, she says, “got us thinking about how do we articulate that this is important and that law schools should include” the subject in their curricula.

Crenshaw and her classmates asked 12 scholars of color to come to campus and lead discussions about Bell’s book Race, Racism, and American Law. With that, critical race theory began in earnest. The approach “is often disruptive because its commitment to anti-racism goes well beyond civil rights, integration, affirmative action, and other liberal measures,” Bell explained in 1995. The theory’s proponents argue that the nation’s sordid history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination is embedded in our laws, and continues to play a central role in preventing Black Americans and other marginalized groups from living lives untouched by racism.

Now Republicans have suddenly decided to attack this 40-year-old academic theory even though they likely have no idea what it is all about. The same Republicans who voted for the largely symbolic Juneteenth national holiday are spending lots of energy trying to prevent children from learning about America’s ugly history of slavery, Jim Crow, and systemic racism.

cat-behind-a-tree-1911-franz-marc

Cat Behind a Tree, by Franz Marc

The Washington Post: Republicans, spurred by an unlikely figure, see political promise in critical race theory.

President Donald Trump was watching Fox News one evening last summer when a young conservative from Seattle appeared with an alarming warning, and a call to action.

Christopher Rufo said critical race theory, a decades-old academic framework that most people had never heard of, had “pervaded every institution in the federal government.”

“Critical race theory,” Rufo said, “has become, in essence, the default ideology of the federal bureaucracy and is now being weaponized against the American people.”

Critical race theory holds that racism is systemic in the United States, not just a collection of individuals prejudices—an idea that feels obvious to some and offensive to others. Rufo alleged that efforts to inject awareness of systemic racism and White privilege, which grew more popular following the murder of George Floyd by police, posed a grave threat to the nation. It amounts, Rufo said, to a “cult indoctrination.”

Spurred by Rufo, this complaint has come to dominate conservative politics. Debates over critical race theory are raging on school boards and in state legislatures. Fox News has increased its coverage and commentary on the issue. And Republicans see the issue as a central element of the case they will make to voters in next year’s midterm elections, when control of Congress will be at stake.

It’s the latest cultural wedge issue, playing out largely but not exclusively in debate over schools. At its core, it pits progressives who believe White people should be pushed to confront systemic racism and White privilege in America against conservatives who see these initiatives as painting all White people as racist. 

Read more at the WaPo.

And then there are the U.S. Catholic bishops and their obsession with controlling women’s bodies. A few days ago, the Vatican warned Catholic bishops not to try to deny communion to President Biden and other Catholic politicians who support women’s right to choose. But the bishops have decided to defy the Pope’s order.

The New York Times: Targeting Biden, Catholic Bishops Advance Controversial Communion Plan.

The Roman Catholic bishops of the United States, flouting a warning from the Vatican, have overwhelmingly voted to draft guidance on the sacrament of the Eucharist, advancing a push by conservative bishops to deny President Biden communion because of his support of abortion rights.

Fernand Léger, Woman and CatThe decision, made public on Friday afternoon, is aimed at the nation’s second Catholic president, perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief since Jimmy Carter, and exposes bitter divisions in American Catholicism. It capped three days of contentious debate at a virtual June meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The measure was approved by a vote of 73 percent in favor and 24 percent opposed.

The Eucharist, or holy communion, is one of the most sacred rituals in Christianity, and bishops have grown worried in recent years about declining Mass attendance and misunderstanding of the importance of the sacrament to Catholic life.

But the move to target a president, who regularly attends Mass and has spent a lifetime steeped in Christian rituals and practices, is striking coming from leaders of the president’s own faith, particularly after many conservative Catholics turned a blind eye to the sexual improprieties of former President Donald J. Trump because they supported his political agenda. It reveals a uniquely American Catholicism increasingly at odds with Rome and Pope Francis….

The text of the proposal itself has not been written and would ultimately require approval by a two-thirds majority vote. The proposed outline, earlier reported by America Magazine, said it would “include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith.”

Some conservatives want to use such a statement as theological justification to deny communion to Mr. Biden and Catholic politicians like him who support abortion rights.

A bit more from The Washington Post:

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who leads D.C.’s archdiocese and has stated that his priests would not deny Communion to Biden, said a document on such a sensitive topic needed more time and discussion.

“The choice before us at this moment is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity or settle for a document that will not bring unity but will very well further damage it,” he said.

Part of the division on display stems from the focus on Biden, a lifelong Catholic who attends Mass regularly, and what some say was a failure to criticize President Donald Trump, who has had two divorces, three marriages and an extramarital affair, and whose administration separated families at the border and revived the federal death penalty.

8-Cat-and-Woman-Peter-Harskamp

Cat and Woman, by Peter Harskamp

Raw Story: ‘I dare you to deny me communion’: Dems rip bishops for move to punish Biden by ‘weaponizing’ eucharist.

Before their three-day meeting that culminated Friday with a vote to move toward denying America’s second Catholic President, Joe Biden, communion over his stance of supporting a woman’s right to choose an abortion, the Vatican told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to not politicize communion or other sacraments.

They did it anyway, and now powerful Democrats – and many others – are furious.

“Next time I go to Church, I dare you to deny me Communion,” U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu, a Democrat of California, and a Catholic, with a massive 1.6 million followers on Twitter, threatened the Bishops.

His comments were in response to Friday’s news of the USCCB’s politically-motivated decision, and in response to SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile, who asked if other Catholics will be denied communion over their “sins.” Signorile pointed to Newt Gingrich, whose history includes adultery, divorce, and re-marriage. Gingrich’s wife was President Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the Vatican.

A few more stories to check out:

Macy Gray at MarketWatch: Opinion: For Juneteenth, America needs a new flag that all of us can honor.

Buzzfeed News: The Delta Variant Could Create “Two Americas” Of COVID, Experts Warn.

The New York Times: How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections.

Jack Shafer at Politico Magazine: The Simple Remedy for Jan. 6 Trutherism. It’s old-fashioned, hard-nosed inquiry. And if Congress won’t do it, journalists must.

The Washington Post: The slow-building conservative effort to turn Ashli Babbitt into a martyr.

HuffPost: Trump Commerce Boss Wilbur Ross Hoovered Up $53 Million While In Public Office.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a great weekend everyone!!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Tea break Sylvie Vanlerberghe

Tea break, by Sylvie Vanlerberghe

Yesterday President Biden wrapped up his European trip by meeting with Vladimir Putin. It was a very different spectacle than the one in 2018 in Helsinki when the former guy humiliated himself and our country by rolling over for the Russian president.

The New York Times: A tale of two summits: Trump at Helsinki, and Biden at Geneva.

Helsinki, Finland, was where President Donald J. Trump had his own first face-to-face meeting with the Russian president, and the moment was highly anticipated, given the investigations then taking place into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its reported ties to Mr. Trump’s campaign.

The meeting offered the American president a ripe opportunity to denounce the Kremlin on a public stage. He did not.

Instead, standing by Mr. Putin’s side, Mr. Trump dismissed the conclusions by U.S. intelligence agencies about Russian meddling and said, in essence, that he believed the Russian president’s denials as much as he believed his own intelligence advisers.

“They said they think it’s Russia,” Mr. Trump said. “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.” For good measure, he said, “President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

Trump met alone with Russian president for 2 hours, and we still don’t know what happened between the two men. In contrast, Biden was open about his meeting with Putin.

“Where we have differences,” he said just moments into the news conference, “I wanted President Putin to understand why I say what I say, and why I do what I do, and how we’ll respond to specific kinds of actions that harm America’s interests.”

Mr. Biden said, “I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else. It’s for the American people.”

The japanese mask (1884), painted by Gustave Claude Etienne Courtois

The Japanese Mask (1884), painted by Gustave Claude Etienne Courtois

And he declared: “I also told him that no president of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have in our view. That’s just part of the DNA of our country.”

To that end, he cited the jailing of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, and the detentions of two Americans in Russia.

Mr. Biden also offered a warning on cyberattacks.

“I pointed out to him: We have significant cyber-capabilities — and he knows it,” the president said.

Edward Luce at The Financial Times: Biden politely reads riot act to Putin.

Summitry, contrary to a former British prime minister, is nothing like tennis. The outcome is rarely “game, set and match”. By the wide-eyed standards of Joe Biden’s last four predecessors, all of whom held ill-fated summits with Vladimir Putin, Biden went into this one with low expectations.

There were no illusions about his meeting of minds with the Russian leader, let alone souls. The modesty of Biden’s goal — to stabilise relations with America’s chief military adversary — conveyed a realism that eluded earlier presidents. 

All of which is far less exciting for the world media. Biden did not praise Putin’s ability to restore Russian freedom and prosperity, as Bill Clinton did in 2000 shortly after Putin was elected president. Nor did he get a sense of Putin’s soul, as George W Bush claimed in 2001, and trust what he saw. He did not aim for an ambitious “reset” of US-Russia relations, as Barack Obama fatefully did in 2009. Most notoriously Biden’s tone was a million miles from the one-man admiration society Donald Trump brought to Helsinki when he met Putin alone in 2018. 

After more than two decades in power, this Russian bear was unlikely to change its habits. Biden’s aim is to coax and cajole Putin into a moderately less dangerous stance. That goal is more difficult than it sounds. At home, Biden faces derision from Republican and some foreign policy specialists for even meeting Putin. The act of sharing a stage with America’s president is seen as an unearned reward for an adversary who sponsors regular cyber attacks on the US, not to mention waging information warfare on western democracy.

Read the rest at FT.

Woman with a book, Pablo Picasso

Woman with a book, Pablo Picasso

Max Boot at The Washington Post: Opinion: Biden wiped the smirk off Putin’s face.

Biden established an easy rapport with his fellow democratic leaders at meetings with the Group of Seven, the European Union and NATO. “I think it’s great to have the U.S. president part of the club and very willing to cooperate,” French President Emmanuel Macron said. As a congenial insider, Biden was able to accomplish far more than a testy outsider such as Donald Trump ever could. Biden got fellow leaders to agree on a 15 percent global corporate minimum tax, on sending 1 billion doses of covid-19 vaccines to the developing world (not enough, but a start), on speaking out about the challenge posed by China, and on settling a long-festering European-American trade dispute over aircraft subsidies….

The meetings with allies were, in some sense, merely a prelude for meeting with one of the United States’ most effective foes — Vladimir Putin. One cannot imagine a starker contrast between Biden and his predecessor than in their handling of the Russian strongman. At Helsinki in July 2018, then-President Trump simpered and cowered. In a low point of a presidency with more low points than Death Valley, Trump accepted at face value Putin’s “extremely strong and powerful” denials of complicity in the 2016 election attack. Putin emerged from that meeting smirking like the cat that swallowed the canary.

As the historian Michael Beschloss noted, there was no such grin on Putin’s lips when he did his solo press conference after meeting with Biden on Wednesday. While Putin engaged in his usual dishonesty and whataboutism — he compared his jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the prosecution of the Capitol rioters — his manner was subdued and far from triumphant. He attacked the United States but was careful not to insult Biden personally. He even compared the current president favorably to his predecessor: “President Biden is an experienced statesman. He is very different from President Trump.” (Ouch. That’s got to sting for Putin’s biggest fanboy in the United States.)

In his own remarks, Biden struck all the right notes. He made clear that he raised human-rights concerns with Putin. “How could I be the president of the United States of America and not speak out against the violation of human rights?” he asked. It is almost unimaginable — had we not just witnessed the Trump presidency. Biden said he told Putin that, if Navalny dies in a Russian prison, the consequences would be “devastating for Russia.” He said he also raised Russia’s complicity in cyberattacks, its interference with humanitarian aid in Syria, and its invasion of Ukraine (he expressed support for Ukraine’s “territorial integrity”), while holding out the hope of cooperation on the Iranian nuclear program, stability in Afghanistan, nuclear arms control and other issues.

Takehisa Yumeji, Woman reading a book on the sofa

Takehisa Yumeji, Woman reading a book on the sofa

Now that he’s back home, Biden will sign a bill to create a new national holiday. The Washington Post: Congress votes overwhelmingly to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The day commemorates the end of slavery in Texas in 1865.

Congress on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday, elevating the day marking the end of slavery in Texas to a national commemoration of emancipation amid a larger reckoning about America’s turbulent history with racism.

It is the first new federal holiday created by Congress since 1983, when lawmakers voted to establish Martin Luther King Jr. Day after a 15-year fight to commemorate the assassinated civil rights leader.

The vote was heralded by the bill’s supporters as a milestone in the effort to foster a greater recognition of the horrors of slavery in the United States and the long history of inequality that followed emancipation and continues to this day.

“It’s a long journey, but here we are,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), the lead proponent of the holiday in the House. “That racial divide has fallen out of the sky and we are crushing it to the earth. . . . This bill and this day is about freedom.”

The bipartisan support for the federal holiday comes at a time when Congress remains in a partisan deadlock on more substantive priorities for Black leaders, such as a push to federally guarantee voting access in the face of Republican-led state laws restricting it, as well as an effort to pass a federal policing overhaul to deter incidents of brutality and violence by law enforcement against racial minorities.

On the voting rights bill, Sen. Joe Manchin appears willing to make some concessions. The New York Times: Manchin presents his wish list for a voting rights and ethics bill.

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, showing some flexibility on major voting rights legislation, indicated on Wednesday that he opposed the blanket prohibition on all voter identification laws in the Senate Democrats’ current version and would not support public financing of elections.

But he expressed support for statutory expansions of early and mail-in voting that would turn back dozens of voting restriction laws that have passed or are nearing passage in Republican legislatures in key states like Georgia, Florida and Texas.

Woman reading a book by Enach Dumitru Bogdan (Romania)

Woman reading a book by Enach Dumitru Bogdan (Romania)

He also suggested privately this week that he was working to alleviate pressure to end the legislative filibuster — a move that he has publicly promised to oppose — even though not even his version of a voting rights measure could overcome a Republican blockade.

For weeks, fellow Democrats have complained that Mr. Manchin would not say precisely what he needed — or needed to jettison — to get his signature as the 50th co-sponsor of the voting legislation, also known as S1. Instead, he simply said that he wanted a Republican to back the bill, thus making it bipartisan.

On Wednesday, he responded to that criticism with an exhaustive list of provisions for a voting rights, ethics and campaign finance bill that he could support. For Democrats, there was much to like. Mr. Manchin said he wanted Election Day to be a public holiday. He wants at least 15 consecutive days of early voting, including two weekends; a ban on partisan gerrymandering and the use of computer models to tailor House districts to a candidate’s political party; and a requirement that states send mail-in absentee ballots to eligible voters if they are unable to vote in person, among several other provisions to expand ballot access.

His provision would scale back the For the People Act’s mandated “no excuse” absentee ballot access, but remains broad.

On ethics, he would maintain many of S1’s efforts to address the abuses of President Donald J. Trump, including the mandatory release of presidential and vice-presidential tax returns, and the divestiture of all presidential business and financial interests within 30 days of taking office.

At Slate, election law expert Richard L. Hasan writes: Democrats Should Leap at the Chance to Take Joe Manchin’s Deal.

Yes, Democrats should jump at the opportunity to pass such a bill, but it is also fair to acknowledge it is far from perfect. Many of the darlings in the For the People Act are not on Manchin’s list, such as felon reenfranchisement, public financing of congressional elections, restructuring the often-deadlocked Federal Election Commission, and limiting state voter purges. Not only would the Manchin proposal continue to allow states to engage in voter purges, it also will require some form of voter identification for voting in federal elections, though in a more relaxed form than some of the strict rules some states have enacted. It also would weaken some of the standards for restoring preclearance under the John Lewis bill, making it harder to get a jurisdiction covered by the requirement and easier for a jurisdiction to get out from under its coverage.

Again, this is a good deal being offered to Democrats, and Democrats should grab it. Voter identification is not necessarily bad, if it is implemented fairly, has ways for people lacking ID to still vote, and is funded fully by the government. Many of the items on the Democratic wish list not here are much less urgent than what is being offered and can be pursued another time.

'The Artist's Wife, Evelyn, Seated, Reading, Gerald Gardiner, 1935

The Artist’s Wife, Evelyn, Seated, Reading, Gerald Gardiner, 1935

Finally, a bit more good news, the Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Care Act again. CNN: Supreme Court dismisses challenge to Affordable Care Act leaving it in place.

The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday in a decision that will leave the law intact and save health care coverage for millions of Americans. The justices turned away a challenge from Republican-led states and the former Trump administration, which urged the justices to block the entire law.

The justices said that the challengers of the 2010 law did not have the legal right to bring the case.

Justice Stephen Breyer penned the decision that was 7-2. Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

The court’s ruling comes as President Joe Biden — a firm supporter of the law that was passed while he served as President Barack Obama’s vice president — has expressed strong support for the law.

The justices noted that there is no harm to opponents from the provisions that they are challenging because Congress has reduced the penalty for failing to buy health insurance to zero.

“For these reasons, we conclude that the plaintiffs in this suit failed to show a concrete, particularized injury fairly traceable to the defendants’ conduct in enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional,” Breyer wrote. “They have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision.”

More stories to check out today:

William Saletan at Slate: Trump Made the GOP More Friendly to Putin. It’s Sabotaging Biden.

The New Republic: Republicans Are on the Brink of Embracing the Capitol Rioters.

The Washington Post: GOP congressman refuses to shake hands with D.C. police officer who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Politico: GOP hands Dems a new line of attack: They’re for ‘Trump over the cops.’

Talking Points Memo: Inside Tom Cotton’s Insane World Of DNA Theft, Olympic Athletes, And Anti-China Conspiracies.

David R. Lurie at The Daily Beast: Liberals Need To Stop Whining About Merrick Garland Defending Trump.

Raw Story: ‘They have it’: Mueller prosecutor says if DA has documents and Trump’s comptroller — it’s over for Weisselberg.

That’s it for me today. I hope you all have a great Thursday!

 


Juneteenth Reads !!!

See the source image

Happy Juneteenth!

Yes.  This is a regular post here at Sky Dancing!  It’s not something we all just discovered.  I went back into our archives and searched for the Juneteenth tag and discovered that Mona, JJ, BB, and I had all written posts for the occasion.

That link goes to the one I wrote in 2017 and it includes pictures, history, and a link to Black Lives Matter plus a police brutality case in Seattle where police shot and killed a mother of four waving a knife around.  There is also a link to the outrage in the Twin Cities over the acquittal of officers involved with the death of Philando Castille plus bonus links on gerrymandering in Wisconsin and how difficult it is to climb out of poverty.  It’s like reading headlines today with different names and none of the Trump chaos and malfeasance.

This link has some exciting news for a history nerd like me. “An original ‘Juneteenth’ order found in the National Archives. The handwritten document informed the enslaved in Texas they were free on June 19, 1865.”  This is via WAPO.

The National Archives on Thursday located what appears to be an original handwritten “Juneteenth” military order informing thousands of people held in bondage in Texas they were free.

The decree, in the ornate handwriting of a general’s aide, was found in a formal order book stored in the Archives headquarters building in Washington. It is dated June 19, 1865, and signed by Maj. F.W. Emery, on behalf of Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger.

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, ‘all slaves are free,’ ” the order reads.

“This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

So, if only we did a better job living up to the promises our country made to every one.  Jamelle Bouie writes this for the NYT: ‘Why Juneteenth Matters. It was black Americans who delivered on Lincoln’s promise of “a new birth of freedom.’

Neither Abraham Lincoln nor the Republican Party freed the slaves. They helped set freedom in motion and eventually codified it into law with the 13th Amendment, but they were not themselves responsible for the end of slavery. They were not the ones who brought about its final destruction.

Who freed the slaves? The slaves freed the slaves.

“Slave resistance,” as the historian Manisha Sinha points out in “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition,” “lay at the heart of the abolition movement.”

“Prominent slave revolts marked the turn toward immediate abolition,” Sinha writes, and “fugitive slaves united all factions of the movement and led the abolitionists to justify revolutionary resistance to slavery.”

Juneteenth this year will have a different feel.  This is from the AP:

For many white Americans, recent protests over police brutality have driven their awareness of Juneteenth’s significance.

“This is one of the first times since the ’60s, where the global demand, the intergenerational demand, the multiracial demand is for systemic change,” said Cornell University professor Noliwe Rooks, a segregation expert. “There is some understanding and acknowledgment at this point that there’s something in the DNA of the country that has to be undone.”

Friday’s celebrations will be marked from coast to coast with marches and demonstrations of civil disobedience, along with expressions of black joy in spite of an especially traumatic time for the nation. And like the nationwide protests that followed the police involved deaths of black men and women in Minnesota, Kentucky and Georgia, Juneteenth celebrations are likely to be remarkably more multiracial.

And from WAPO:

This year, invigorated by weeks of protests that began after the police killing of George Floyd, more than 20 rallies, marches and events are scheduled for Friday in the District — with hundreds more in at least 45 states, according to the Movement for Black Lives.

Starting about 8 a.m., protesters will gather at symbolic landmarks, including the U.S. Education Department, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Freedom Plaza, the African American Civil War Memorial, Meridian Hill Park (also known as Malcolm X Park) and the White House. Other rallies, vigils and demonstrations in the Northern Virginia and Maryland suburbs also are planned.

Here’s some hopeful news:

Amy Walter / The Cook Political Report:  New 2020 Electoral College Ratings  —  With just under five months until the election, President Trump is a severe underdog for re-election.  Polls show that voters do not trust him to handle the two most pressing issues of the day — the coronavirus pandemic and race relations — which has helped drive his job approval to 41 percent.

Cat Zakrzewski / Washington Post:  Twitter labels Trump video tweet as manipulated media, continuing its crackdown on misinformation  —  The label marks the fourth time Twitter has added labels to the president’s tweets.  —  Twitter on Thursday evening took the rare step of appending a warning label to one of President Trump’s tweets …

So, the first reference I found to our Juneteenth blog celebration was from 2010 and Wonk wrote it.  She’s from Texas so she has a lot more familiarity with the holiday than most of us did but yet, we all found out about it way before Donald Trump and way before the sudden interest of white people in its celebration.  Today, I think about the number of black Americans dying at the hands of police, black women dying from  inadequate pregnancy care, black elders with comorbidities that should not exist in a country as rich as ours dying from COVID 19.

I think about all the systemic hurdles our country has placed in front of the black community. I think about the hope of the Emancipation and the Dream of MLK and the basic justice and equality built into the US Constitution that never quite becomes true for all of us at the same time.

See the source image

Perhaps, this is a Juneteenth that serves as a new Emancipation watermark. However, just looking back on the last 10 years I realize that it’s going to take a hell of a lot more legislative action to make any of those Promises and Dreams a reality.  Which brings me to Mitch McConnells’ reign of terror in the Senate. We could’ve done a lot more without him.

At a time when Confederate symbols are being removed from public places it’s time to think about what we can do to get rid of the NeoConferates in the Senate like Mitch (and Lindsey too). He’s taken cover behind Trumpist chaos to block all legislation except those huge horrid tax cuts and a few minor others.    He has worked tirelessly just to put unqualified judges with NeoConfederate ideology on federal benches in life time appointments.  None of the hard work of getting laws passed is going to get through him if he can help it.

We need to get rid of these old NeoConfederates in the Senate this year or it’s going to be another log slog down the road to freedom and justice.  The struggle continues.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 

 


Juneteenth Reads!!!

and yes, it’s Monday!

Today is Juneteenth.  Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in this country.

Every year on June 19, African Americans across the country gather to celebrate the end of slavery in the United States.

It was on June 19, 1865 that Union General Gordon Granger traveled to Galveston, Texas to force the state to free its slaves, over two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s issued his Emancipation Proclamation. The executive order, signed on Jan. 1, 1863, freed all slaves in the southern United States.

According to Juneteenth.com, Texas was one of the last states to follow the order due to a low number of Union troops in the area to enforce it.

Granger read the famed General Order Number 3 which stated, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

As freed slaves began to leave Texas, they took their celebrations of the day to other regions of the south. Cookouts, dancing and prayer services are just some of the celebrations taking place Monday.

Some have even pushed for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday. In 1980, Texas became the first state to officially recognize the day as a holiday, calling it “Emancipation Day.”

Today, we still experience our slavery history in the way our institutions treat Black Americans. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is perhaps the most noticeable movement resulting from this unequal institutional racism that still pervades our country.   ‘Seattle police fatally shoot black mother of four who they say confronted officers with a knife.’

Seattle police officers shot and killed a 30-year-old mother of four at her apartment Sunday morning in front of “several children” when the woman “confronted” them with a knife, according to a statement from authorities. The Seattle Times said she had called police to report a possible burglary.

At a vigil Sunday night, family identified the woman as Charleena Lyles, reported the Times, and said she had a history of mental health struggles. She was three months pregnant with her fifth child, her family said, and too “tiny” for officers to have felt threatened by her — even if she had a knife.

“Why couldn’t they have Tased her?” Lyles’s sister, Monika Williams, told the Seattle Times. “They could have taken her down. I could have taken her down.”

This follows a disheartening verdict in this police shooting case from the Twin cities. ‘Relief and outrage as a St. Anthony police officer is acquitted in Philando Castile’s shooting death’ three days ago.  Read more about Castile on Saturday’s thread by BB.

The highly anticipated trial unfolded over three weeks, with testimony lasting five days.

Yanez, among several who took the stand, testified, sometimes through tears, that he had no choice but to shoot Castile after he said he saw Castile gripping his pistol in his front right shorts pocket despite the officer’s orders for him not to reach for the gun.

“I was scared to death. I thought I was going to die,” Yanez told the jury from the witness stand. “My family was popping up in my head. My wife. My baby girl.”

The state argued Castile was trying to access his wallet to hand over the driver’s license Yanez had requested when the officer “jumped to conclusions” and needlessly shot him.

It made no sense that Castile — who was wearing a seat belt while traveling home with his girlfriend and her small child from the grocery store — would choose to grab his gun and shoot the officer after being stopped for a broken taillight, prosecutors said.

State law allows police officers to use deadly force when faced with a threat to themselves or someone else. The officer’s conduct must be in line with what another reasonable officer would do under the same circumstances.

Had Castile only listened to Yanez’s commands, two experts hired for the defense testified in court, Castile would still be alive. But when he went for his gun, they said Yanez was forced to shoot.

We’re still learning about the ways we’re divided in this country.  This is why voting is so important.  SCOTUS has accepted a case that looks at Gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

About an hour after the Court issued its order agreeing to hear this case, it issued a second order, on a 5-4 vote, granting a stay of the lower court order in this case. The four liberal Justices dissented. As I explained last night, 

Once the Court grants a hearing, the question will be whether the Court stays a lower court order requiring the WI legislature to redistrict by November so that there will be new districts ready for 2018. WI has asked for that lower court order to be put on hold until resolution of the case at the Supreme Court, and given the likely timing of things, granting the stay would almost certainly mean the old districts would have to be used for the 2018 elections no matter what the Supreme Court does, as there would be no chance to create new districts.

The granting or denial of a stay requires the Court to weigh many factors, but one of the biggest factors is likelihood of success on the merits. In other words, granting of a stay is a good (but not necessarily great) indication that the Supreme Court would be likely to reverse. That means the stay is a good indication the partisan gerrymander finding of the lower court would be reversed.

So this stay order raises a big question mark for those who think Court will use the case to rein in partisan gerrymandering.

Why did this order not come with the Court’s regular orders agreeing to hear the case? Perhaps not all the Justices had voted on the stay by the time the Court had finalized today’s order list.]

As expected, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Gill v. Whitford next term, with a decision expected by a year from June. (Technically the Court “postponed jurisdiction” pending a hearing on the merits, but this has to do with the nature of this coming up on appeal, rather than a cert. petition, and the open question about whether partisan gerrymandering claims are justiciable.]

We’re still trying to figure out what divides us and why the elections of 2016 went so terribly wrong.  Here’s Jonathan Chait writing for New York Magazine. 

The Democracy Fund Voter Study Group has a new survey of the electorate that explodes many of the myths that we believe about American politics. Lee Drutman has a fascinating report delving into the data. I want to highlight a few of the most interesting conclusions in the survey.

1. The Democratic Party is not really divided on economics.You think the Bernie Sanders movement was about socialism? Not really. Sanders voters have the same beliefs about economic equality and government intervention as Hillary Clinton supporters. On the importance of Social Security and Medicare, Sanders voters actually have more conservative views:

Here’s an interesting Guardian article on why Rural America hates its cities.  The 2016 vote was certainly an indication of deep divisions in the way cities vs the outback sees the world.

People living in rural communities across the US face difficult odds. American economic growth and recovery is concentrated in a small number of highly populated urban counties, such as LA County in California and Miami-Dade in Florida. The rural population is declining, from more than half of the US population in 1910 to just 20% in 2010. The abandoned main streets show the wear and tear of an economy that has shifted away from rural people, and of public policy that has forgotten to pay attention.

You could say that low-income neighbourhoods in our cities show similar scars. But there is no sense of common cause here. It is the cities that are home to the decision-makers who have brought on this mess, according to rural Wisconsin. This includes corporate CEOs, but more importantly, in their view, it includes government, and Democrats who say more government is the answer.

The same conditions that might lead you to believe people in such places would turn towards government are instead seemingly causing a desire to overhaul it – to “drain the swamp”.

Even in one left-leaning group, the “Brunch Bunch”, who meet in an artsy tourist enclave in the north-west corner of the state, I have heard women talk with resentment about the advantages that city people have, directly attributed to public policy.

The Brunch Bunch is made up of older white women who gather once a week (originally in a private room in an American-style restaurant, but now in a protestant church because the restaurant went out of business), and again represent a mix of political leanings. Some called themselves “Obama Girls”. Others openly support Republican governor Scott Walker.

But Democrat or Republican, they regularly wonder aloud about the unfairness of their location. Sally believes cities get too much public money. “The cost of the water and sewer here is outrageous compared to what they pay in Madison,” she said. “So here is big rich Madison, with all the good high-paying jobs, getting the cheapest water, and we have people up here who have three months of employment [because of the short tourist season], what are they paying? There should be more sharing – less taxes going to Madison.”

WAPO also has some analysis up on the Rural/City divide.  This focuses on cultural differences.

The political divide between rural and urban America is more cultural than it is economic, rooted in rural residents’ deep misgivings about the nation’s rapidly changing demographics, their sense that Christianity is under siege and their perception that the federal government caters most to the needs of people in big cities, according to a wide-ranging poll that examines cultural attitudes across the United States.

The Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey of nearly 1,700 Americans — including more than 1,000 adults living in rural areas and small towns — finds deep-seated kinship in rural America, coupled with a stark sense of estrangement from people who live in urban areas. Nearly 7 in 10 rural residents say their values differ from people who live in big cities, including about 4 in 10 who say their values are “very different.”

That divide is felt more extensively in rural America than in cities: About half of urban residents say their values differ from rural people, with about 20 percent of urbanites saying rural values are “very different.”

Here’s an amazing article from MIT Economist Peter Temin writing for The Atlantic. ‘Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years With Nearly Nothing Going Wrong’

A lot of factors have contributed to American inequality: slavery, economic policy, technological change, the power of lobbying, globalization, and so on. In their wake, what’s left?

That’s the question at the heart of a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, by Peter Temin, an economist from MIT. Temin argues that, following decades of growing inequality, America is now left with what is more or less a two-class system: One small, predominantly white upper class that wields a disproportionate share of money, power, and political influence and a much larger, minority-heavy (but still mostly white) lower class that is all too frequently subject to the first group’s whims.

Temin identifies two types of workers in what he calls “the dual economy.” The first are skilled, tech-savvy workers and managers with college degrees and high salaries who are concentrated heavily in fields such as finance, technology, and electronics—hence his labeling it the “FTE sector.” They make up about 20 percent of the roughly 320 million people who live in America. The other group is the low-skilled workers, which he simply calls the “low-wage sector.”

Another mass resignation has come from an advisory panel of experts on HIV/AIDS to protest the Trump Administration.  How many people have refused to deal with this administration now?

Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) resigned in protest of the Trump administration, which they allege “has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, explained in a Newsweek op-ed Friday that he and five colleagues decided to leave their posts on the council for a number of reasons.

But their largest expressed gripe was that the Trump administration has not sought input from the council when formulating HIV policy.

Schoettes, who is HIV positive, added that the White House is also pushing legislation that would harm people with HIV and “reverse gains made in the fight against the disease.”

I never have had a good understanding of why people feel so threatened by differences. We all came here differently but we’re all in it together now.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Indian Love Call…Open Thread

Cartoon by Tim Jackson - Juneteenth 2013

Good Evening

I didn’t know that it was Juneteenth, did you? I have heard of Freedom Day and Emancipation Day, but not Juneteenth before. Juneteenth from Wikipedia

Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, is a holiday in the United States that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865. Celebrated on June 19, the term is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth,[1] and is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in 42 of the United States.[2]

You can imagine which of those 8 states that don’t celebrate Juneteenth…

FireShot Screen Capture #468 - 'National Juneteenth Celebrations - View or register Juneteenth Celebrations across the USA' - www_juneteenth_us_events

Well, the music world lost a legendary icon today… Country singer Slim Whitman dies at age 90

Country singer Slim Whitman, the high-pitched yodeler who sold millions of records through ever-present TV ads in the 1980s and 1990s and whose song saved the world in the film comedy “Mars Attacks!,” died Wednesday at a Florida hospital. He was 90.

Whitman died of heart failure at Orange Park Medical Center, his son-in-law Roy Beagle said.

Whitman’s tenor falsetto and ebony mustache and sideburns became global trademarks — and an inspiration for countless jokes — thanks to the TV commercials that pitched his records.

But he was a serious musical influence on early rock, and in the British Isles, he was known as a pioneer of country music for popularizing the style there. Whitman also encouraged a teen Elvis Presley when he was the headliner on the bill and the young singer was making his professional debut.

Whitman recorded more than 65 albums and sold millions of records, including 4 million of “All My Best” that was marketed on TV.

His career spanned six decades, beginning in the late 1940s, but he achieved cult figure status in the 1980s. His visage as an ordinary guy singing romantic ballads struck a responsive chord with the public.

The one song that really sticks in my mind by Slim Whitman is Indian Love Call, here is two videos for you. The first is a clip of the film Mars Attacks, were the song was used to save the world….because the sound of Whitman’s yodeling made the aliens heads explode.

This second video is the full song:

Funny thing, when I first read about Whitman’s death this morning I saved the link to this youtube video above. At the time the video only had around 870 hits or so, and now it is over 150,000 thousand.

Just one more link for you tonight, it is something ironic, don’t you love how these pro-life groups can be so supportive of pro-death causes.

Ohio Anti-Abortion Group Fundraising With Assault Rifles

Conservative group Personhood Ohio is hard at work trying to get a “personhood” amendment on the state ballot that would define life as beginning at conception, effectively banning all abortions. Patrick Johnston, the group’s leader, recently penned an email blast with his newest fundraising effort, RH Reality Check reported:

“I’m selling some of my favorite things—some powerful rifles and ammo,” Johnston wrote.

“I’m a firm believer that the Second Amendment protects the future of freedom, but not as much as justice for the preborn,” Johnston’s email continued. “The shedding of innocent blood will bring God’s wrath on the land — and then you can wave freedom goodbye. So protecting Ohio’s children is more important than securing your right to keep and bear arms.”

Three of Johnston’s own firearms and 2,550 rounds of ammo are up for auction on Johnson’s Facebook page. Two of the guns include high capacity magazines and one has a drum that holds 100 rounds.

Plunderbound posted a photo of a person identified as Johnston wearing a shirt that says ‘Intolerance.’ The back of that shirt, according to the blog, reads: Homosexuality is a sin, Islam is a lie, abortion is murder.

This dude Johnston is scary, like…go on a shooting rampage to kill a bunch of pro-choice folks kind of scary…And with that, y’all have a pleasant evening.

This is an open thread.