Here’s where you can stuff your ‘civics training course.'
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed another terrible bill into law Friday, this time with less fanfare than the state GOP's draconian abortion ban and voter suppression law. This one combats the imaginary scourge of "critical race theory," which has become a rightwing umbrella term for any discussion of racism in American schools.
Educators and advocacy groups opposed this new law but Abbott doesn't listen to medical experts about COVID-19 so why should he listen to a history teacher about history?
The crap law prohibits teaching "certain concepts about race," presumably that racism existed and still exists as an institutionalized part of American society and its criminal justice system. Yeah, that's just crazy talk. The law develops a "civics training course" for educators, so they'll have the skills necessary to, we guess, teach students how to bark the Pledge of Allegiance on command like gifted and talented seals. Schools are mostly barred from giving credit to students for any advocacy work. Here's the kicker: The law "urges educators to teach only that slavery and racism are 'deviations' from the founding principles of the United States."
At this rate, Texas schoolchildren will wonder why Martin Luther King was dreaming at all. He should have just formed a singing group with John Lewis.
Ever since the New York Times published Nikole Hannah-Jones's 1619 Project, conservatives have been even more desperate to whitewash American history. The result has been obvious propaganda like the Trump administration's 1776 Commission Report and First Amendment-shredding bills like this one in Texas that force educators to teach a fabricated version of history better suited for 1950s cinema than a 21st Century classroom.
I'll probably have to keep saying this until whiteness officially kills me, but how are slavery and racism “deviations" from the founding principles of the United States when slavery existed during the founding, the majority of the men signing the Declaration of Independence owned people, and slavery was recognized in the Constitution? The Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision were major “deviations" that arguably weren't deviations at all but reflective of a white supremacist society. Countries rarely fight bloody civil wars over “deviations" from their founding principles.
Slavery wasn't a mere deviation from Texas's founding but the literal catalyst. The Texas economy was dependent on cotton, which was only profitable when enslaved people picked it for free. When Vicente Guerrero, then president of the Republic of Mexico, declared that all enslaved people were emancipated, the Anglo settlers decided to fight for their freedom to keep other humans in bondage.
Landowner and politician John Durst declared: "We are ruined forever should this measure be adopted," and the supposed “father of (white) Texas" Stephen F. Austin whined, "I am the owner of one slave only, an old decrepit woman, not worth much, but in this matter I should feel that my constitutional rights as a Mexican were just as much infringed, as they would be if I had a thousand."
Sixty years after Texas gained its “independence" from Mexico and more than three decades after slavery ended, the Supreme Court upheld racial segregation with the 1896 decision Plessy vs. Ferguson. This wasn't a five to four liberal vs. conservative throw down with a swing justice surprise. Seven out of the then eight justices gave the legal high-five to Jim Crow.
Justice Henry Brown wrote: "If the civil and political rights of both races be equal, one cannot be inferior to the other civilly or politically. If one race be inferior to the other socially, the Constitution of the United States cannot put them upon the same plane."
The twisted irony was that Black people weren't considered equal civilly or politically because this decision reinforced the belief that they were socially inferior. You can't teach American history without acknowledging racism, but Texas sure as hell is going to try.
The Central York School District in Pennsylvania recently banned the children's book “I Am Rosa Parks," which even Fox News host Brian Kilmeade considered overreach, but that's because conservatives include Parks on a list of “approved Black figures from history." However, there's actually no way to do justice to Parks's story without discussing institutional racism.
The 2018 Doctor Who episode “Rosa" did a good job showing how 1950s Alabama was actually more dangerous and overtly hostile to the Doctor's Black companion, Ryan, than the alien planet they'd visited in the previous episode. Rosa Parks didn't bravely resist a “deviation" from American principles of equality. She was arrested because she broke a racist law, which the vast majority of white Americans either fully endorsed or at least tolerated.
That's not just American history. It's also America's present, and Republicans would prefer today's children are unaware of both realities.
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Tampa Officials Shocked To Learn Evicting Black People For Basically No Reason Miiiiight Be Considered Racist
Amazing what happens when journalists do their jobs.
So it turns out the Tampa, Florida, police department has been encouraging landlords to evict their [usually Black] tenants, in the name of "crime prevention."
Because, as we all know, making people homeless is a great way to reduce crime.
Oh wait, it's not? We, in fact, live in a country with a huge homeless to jail pipeline? And homelessness leads to people being cited and arrested for minor offenses while just trying to live their lives? Was the city of Tampa just ruining people's lives for funsies, in the names of racism and gentrification? You know, ALLEGEDLY?
Shocked. I am shocked. Not allegedly.
Last week, the Tampa Bay Times published a detailed exposé about how the Tampa Police Department was intentionally making people homeless. It is shocking, and Wonkette is not often shocked.
In 2013, Tampa police created what they call the "Crime-Free Multi Housing Program." As part of the program, the Tampa Police Department sent notices to participating landlords when their tenants were arrested. Many of these tenants and their families were subsequently evicted or forced to move.
Very dangerous and serious crimes cops decided to inform people's landlords about included shoplifting and driving with a suspended license. An entire family was evicted after a teenager was accused of stealing $4.44 in change from parked cars. One man had a notice sent to his landlords after being arrested for panhandling (which, it should be noted, is an activity protected by the First Amendment).
Ninety percent of the 1,100 people narc-ed on to their landlords were Black. Three-quarters of the apartment complexes in question were majority Black — the largest of which was the Tampa Bay Housing Authority, where some of the city's most at-risk residents live.
Police reported more than 100 people arrested for misdemeanors. In dozens of cases, the people in question had the charges against them dropped. That's right — people were evicted because of alleged "crimes" that were never even prosecuted. Although the program was supposed to be about crime happening at the residences, at least 140 people were reported for alleged crimes that happened nowhere near their residences. And, incredibly, it gets worse, as some people were reported to their landlords for things that didn't even result in an arrest.
Jasmine Backer, a single mother who suffers from anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. Police sent her landlord a "Tenant Criminal Violation" and she was evicted. She was homeless and her kids had to stay with relatives for more than a year. At one point, she slept on a park bench while five months pregnant.
Entirely unsurprisingly, most of the reports and evictions have been at Robles Park Village, an area the city and developers are working to gentrify.
The eviction program didn't just operate as a nice, easy way to attack Black people, it also helped pave the way for the city and developers to gentrify Robles Park. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that rent in the Tampa Bay area is rising faster than in any other metro area in the country.
According to the Tampa Housing Authority's descriptions of the plans for Robles Park Village, "85 percent of the new development will be 'affordable rental housing,' while the remaining 15 percent is set to be at market-rate or higher with 77 luxury townhouses lining the property." Local residents say they have been told essentially nothing about what's going to happen to them. One resident says she thinks the entire project is "designed to push us out as far as possible," with the next closest Section 8 development a half-hour drive away.
Evicting low-income people of color to make way for rich white people is nothing new. Last year, a former Atlanta PD officer wrote about how he left the force after realizing he was being told to aggressively police a specific Midtown Atlanta area just to make room for a new development.
Isn't this fucking illegal???
Yes. Yes it is.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing, including actions that have a disproportionate impact against a group based on protected categories like race. As the notices the Tampa PD sent were about Black people a whopping 90 percent of the time, we would say that prooooooobably qualifies.
The day after the Tampa Bay Times report came out, a bunch of civil rights groups, including the NAACP, ACLU, ACLU of Florida, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and NYU Law Civil Rights Clinic sent a letter to Castor and the city council demanding the city end the program. City council member Orlando Gudes, a former police officer who represents an area largely impacted by the program, sent a letter to Castor, asking her to suspend the program.
The ACLU has filed lawsuits challenging similar programs in other cities around the country.
Something good already happened in response to the Tampa Bay Times investigation!
On Saturday, Castor announced that the city's program is being reformed. Under the new requirements, the police will only tell landlords about "certain serious drug and violent felonies" that occur on their properties. A police captain will have to sign off on all notices sent.
That's great! But it's not enough. The Tampa PD is still going to report people for arrests, not convictions, which ipso facto means they will still be targeting people who are legally presumed to be innocent.
Like Yvette Lewis, the Hillsborough County NAACP president said, "This program needs to be stopped. You're treating housing as though it's a privilege."
Follw Jamie on Twitter, she has cute cats and kittens.
Democrats can only lose, unless they win, in which case they’ve lost even more.
The California recall election was a good, old-fashioned ass whooping. Democrats came out in droves to deliver a decisive two-to-one victory for Governor Gavin Newsom, and Democrats aren't always great about turning out in elections that aren't branded “hope and change" or set to the tune of Fleetwood Mac.
Republicans were hoping for their own Alabama upset: In the 2017 Senate special election, Democrat Doug Jones defeated Donald Trump-endorsed Roy Moore in a state Trump had carried by 28 points just a year earlier. (You may remember, Roy Moore had some girl-shaped issues.) That didn't happen, and it's flummoxed the mainstream media, which normally covers politics from the perspective of "Heads Republicans win; tails Democrats lose." However, Newsom's triumph has upset their game of Calvinball.
Not long after the race was called, Kasie Hunt, whom CNN pays to discuss politics, explained to us amateurs why the seemingly positive results actually spelled doom for the Democratic Party. She tweeted:
Obviously California is a Special Place —
Wait ... hold up ... why is she monologuing like Carrie Bradshaw when she went to Los Angeles during an episode of "Sex and the City"?
but the fact that a Democratic national star in waiting *faced* a recall and then had to fight hard for it midway through the campaign does say a lot about the potential challenges Democrats face across the map (4/)
California's recall process is banana pants. It's basically a do-over for sore losers. All that's required is signatures from at least 12 percent of voters in the last election for the office. That's an incredibly low bar that could easily trigger a recall for any governor, no matter how relatively popular. All you need is enough money to fund the signature collection.
The GOP narrative that Hunt kindly parroted is that California voters were appalled to discover Newsom enjoying a fancy dinner while they were stuck in their homes under his COVID-19 restrictions: "CA GOV BIG PICTURE: One of the top Democrats in the country got caught living like an elite while everyone else suffered. Elites vs. the rest is the driving force in our politics right now and Democrats have a tough needle to thread both in California & nationwide."
There's zero evidence that Newsom's French Laundry foray cost him a single vote in the recall. Republicans wanted him out because he's a Democrat and they believed this was their shot. Trump lived it up at his private resort during the pandemic, so it's journalistic malpractice to push the line that Democrats are any more “elite" than Republicans, who regularly fly down to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the mad king's ring.
Hunt argued that Democrats are in big trouble if “President Biden can't demonstrate he's capable of getting the resurgent pandemic under control, has another competence crisis a la Afghanistan, can't get his budget plan through Congress, etc." Yes, if Biden fails utterly, that won't speak well for Democrats' chances next year. This is the inverse of the media's magical thinking about Trump: “If he just shows human empathy and a shred of humility, that'll be the day he truly becomes president!"
She also claimed that Democrats must "prove they can govern for EVERYBODY, and if you look at California — it's not necessarily the best test case for national Democrats." That's some racist bullshit. California, a diverse state with a population of almost 40 million, is more reflective of EVERYBODY in America than the predominately white states where Republicans thrive. Does Hunt think Republicans from Nebraska, Iowa, and Montana need to prove they can govern for EVERYBODY? (You'll note that the media rarely casts Senator Joe Manchin as “out of touch," especially on voting rights, because he represents a state that's 93 percent white.)
Dave Wasserman at Cook Political Report cautioned us to take this ass-whooping in the proper pro-Republican context.
I can't overstate the need to put these off-year races in context. If Newsom survives by 25% (?) and [Terry] McAuliffe were to win [in Virginia] by 5%, they'd be spun as big Dem wins.
These results weren't rims on a Jeep. There's no spinning. Newsom won in a landslide when he was the only game in town.
But that same ~5 pt swing right from the 2020 Biden/Trump margin would easily win Rs the House & Senate in 2022.
Wasserman, however, didn't assume the 30 percent shift in Democrats' favor in the 2017 Alabama special election meant a similar Democratic swing nationwide.
Naturally, CNN's Chris Cillizza delivered the most absurd take on the matter. He actually tweeted these words: "Tuesday night was, weirdly, a very good night for Larry Elder's political future."
He thinks he can make his statement less bonkers by randomly inserting the word "weirdly." Chris Cillizza, weirdly, is an insightful political analyst. See? It doesn't work. Newsom took out Elder like Foreman took down Frazier in '73. This wasn't Rocky where Elder deserves credit for going the distance. If Republicans are fool enough to back more candidates like Elder, who likely helped turn out the Democratic vote with his more extreme, tap-dancing Trump routine, that's — not so weirdly — very good news for Democrats.
MSNBC host Chris Hayes was right when he tweeted: "I'm sorry but the recall was a complete and unmitigated disaster for Republicans and the forces pushing it. They got destroyed and in some ways it's the first concrete piece of evidence that Trumpism has enduring political costs."
This is such a self-evident observation, replying to an entire media ecosystem worth of "good news for John McCain" bullshit, that Tucker Carlson's BFF Glenn Greenwald snarkily responded, "There's a reason it's called MSDNC." That reminds me of when Republicans back in the 1990s called CNN the “Commie News Network." Greenwald's material is just as stale.
Look, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver might've claimed last month that there was a “pretty decent chance Newsom gets recalled," based apparently on the prediction model where every Democrat in California suddenly vanished, but at least he had the sense to avoid Twitter today.
All I'm saying is the media should consider finding new ways to humiliate themselves.
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At least a million people without power in Lousiania.
Hurricane Ida whomped the northern Gulf Coast Sunday, and the extent of the damage is undetermined, as parts of Louisiana remain flooded and unreachable. Although Ida was downgraded today to a tropical storm, it's left its mark as one of the most ferocious hurricanes to hit the mainland, and this includes Katrina in 2005.
From the New York Times:
"It's never been as bad as it is this time," said Jesse Touro, 62, who was rescued from Jean Lafitte after riding out storms in town for the past 12 years. He sounded exhausted as he rode a parish bus to find some sort of shelter. "None of them like this one," he repeated.
According to the Times, New Orleans was “bruised but not beaten" by Ida: "In the French Quarter, the streets seemed to have been washed almost clean," which sounds like the reporter was channeling Travis Bickle. The French Quarter was also originally built on land just slightly above sea level, as settlers understood the value of the high ground. However, New Orleans as a whole is steadily sinking, but that's not the biggest problem the city's facing right now. More than a million people are without power in Louisiana — at least 787,000 just in New Orleans alone.
Midnight @cnni call on what’s going on in Nola and nearby below ⬇️ #lalege https://t.co/VtX3ZVMW4M— Mandie Landry (@Mandie Landry) 1630327437.0
This is more than just inconvenient. Louisiana House Rep. Mandie Landry, who serves District 91 in New Orleans, explained on CNN Monday night that residents can't even see the scope of the damage.
LANDRY: We had several hours of intense, terrifying wind today, branches flying around. Outside furniture flying around that people didn't tie down. That's over for now, but what's also scary is that we can't quite see the damage because it's so dark. I wish I could join you by video but as you said, there's literally no electricity in the entire city. We're all sitting here in the dark just hoping for the best tomorrow.
Unfortunately, a better tomorrow is perhaps weeks away, according to officials. Ida knocked out all eight transmission lines that deliver power to New Orleans, in a cruelly ironic commemoration of Katrina's 16th anniversary. Jazz Fest was postponed because of COVID-19, but it looks like Ida would've cancelled the party anyway.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards' office described the damage to the power grid as “catastrophic," and hospitals — already pushed to the brink thanks to the recent COVID-19 surge — must rely on generators, as will any businesses that try to remain open. Individuals now face temperatures expected to reach 90 degrees without air conditioning or refrigeration.
Why did the power grid fail so spectacularly? The utility company Entergy opened a new natural gas power plant in New Orleans last year that was supposed to keep the power on in an emergency. Maybe the city should've given the contract to a company named “Energy." Entergy sounds like an off-brand product like Dr. Perky or Fruity Hoops.
[Entergy] was one of two natural gas plants commissioned in recent years in the New Orleans area, the other one hailed by Gov. John Bel Edwards last year as a "source of clean energy that gives our state a competitive advantage and helps our communities grow."
Entergy pledged that it would “help keep the lights on — even during hot summer days and big storms." This promise was sadly unkept.
Former New Orleans City Council member Susan Guidry had voted against the Entergy plant, and while she's not dropping “I told you sos," she did reveal that she worried Entergy couldn't cope with a storm like Ida, and she advised the city to consider other options, but her fellow Council members and Entergy ignored her warnings.
"They said that they had dealt with that problem," Ms. Guidry said. "The bottom line is they should have instead been upgrading their transmission and investing in renewable energy."
Storms like Ida will only occur more frequently because of climate change, which too many politicians and their donors want to ignore. Meanwhile, the only people currently with power in the affected areas are those who had the foresight and the funds (mostly the latter) to invest in personal generators and solar panels. This is why investments are needed across-the-board in rooftop solar, batteries, and microgrids, so private residences and commercial buildings can have power even if the larger grid fails. Infrastructure Week can't come quickly enough.
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