Both Sides Now
“You’re not a real Texan until you’ve been kicked out of every decent state in America.” - Joe Bob Briggs
I suppose when you start making it an important part of your state’s educational culture to deny racism and slavery’s negative effects, the next logical development is to suggest that the holocaust was not real. That’s pretty much what Gina Peddy did, the executive director of Southlake Carroll High School’s curriculum, when she told teachers at a training session that if they had a book in their classroom about the Jewish Holocaust that they needed to also have a text with an “opposing” perspective.
Not sure what an opposing perspective might be? Hitler was just wildly misunderstood. The “Final Solution” was really intended to be the name of a peace treaty? Six million people were not systematically executed? They just transmigrated to other countries when the world wasn’t looking?
This nonsense has generated horrible national publicity for Texas, which the state already has in abundance. The recommendation by Ms. Peddy came out of a secretly recorded training session that was leaked to reporters and ended up on network newscasts and made headlines across the web and in publications from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunny shores of California. One such national report is below from NBC Nightly News.
The mayor of Southlake, John Huffman, blamed the entire crisis on “out of town journalists,” as if they somehow had made the administrator talk about balancing out perspectives on the holocaust. According to hizzoner, reporters from the TV network are only interested in “tearing down the hardworking, generous, and wonderful families” of Southlake. About 80 percent of the 32,000 plus residents of his city are White, 5000 plus are Asian, 2000 or so Hispanic, and there are 550 Blacks. Southlake is also, quite literally, the richest city in America according to the 2020 census and has a median household income of over $240,000.
Draw your own conclusions about what might be possible in Southlake.
But teachers are also accusing the affluent school district administration of banning various books. When they were told Southlake Carroll officials denied those claims, the teachers called it “a flat out lie.” Southlake seems to be with the legislature’s game plan, though, and has already reprimanded a teacher who had an anti-racist book in her classroom. A “rubric” has been helpfully provided to educators to assist them in judging the utility of books for Southlake’s students, and whether they are qualified to be read by the delicate minds of the upscale families.
This latest bit of institutionalized idiocy is a product of the hive mind of a Republican majority in the Texas legislature. Those lawmakers don’t want children taught about race because it might make them uncomfortable, or prompt them to think, which is never good for Republicans. None of them, of course, contemplated how uncomfortable it must be to be discriminated against because of your skin tone. The Texas Tribune reported that Southlake is asking teachers to vet every book in classroom libraries and that one teacher put up police tape in front of the book shelves, whether as a joke or a restrictive measure is unknown.
But there is nothing funny about any of this. Il Duce Abbott and his band of merry madmen are trying to force their political and historical perspective on the people of Texas, beginning with school children. Conservative parents have gotten excited about the possibility their children might learn about lynch mobs and the institutionalized racism that prevented opportunity for generations of Black, Latino, and Asian Americans, and how genocide and slavery were essential to the founding of the U.S. No such thing apparently ever occurred in the whitewashed history of this country, which is preferred by the right fuhrers.
If, in the unlikely event you prefer to read and learn and think for yourself, the GOPricks are still coming after your politics. They demand, in fact, that you be patriotic. Il Duce signed a law that Texas sports teams that get tax subsidies from government MUST play the national anthem. What kind of patriotism is it that is required by law? That’s not patriotism at all; it’s a fascist order from a twisted government and ignorant officeholders.
What is it about Texans that they are allowing their state to become a petri dish for political experiment and create an extremism that might leak out of the laboratory? Republicans consistently rant about government messing in our lives and businesses and then they introduce the most intrusive laws they can imagine that regulate everything from pre-game music to whether a woman can make decisions about her own body. But power often leads to overreach and Abbott and company are getting blowback from the business community, which has long polished and oiled his chair for him with their fealty and money.
The governor, trying even harder to fire up the anti-vaxxers at the expense of people wanting to end the pandemic, wrote in his latest manifesto that no entity in Texas can mandate vaccines, including private employers, and that he expected the legislature to pass such a regulation in one of his multiplying special sessions, which are busily editing rights out of the US Constitution. Companies, however, don’t care for such nonsense and issued a group statement saying that “We believe strongly that legislation of this kind represents an unprecedented intrusion into the rights of employers to operate their businesses as they see fit,” and that the laws being considered by the GOP majority “place employers in an impossible position between state and federal mandates.”
Many of the state’s largest employers signed onto the document, which probably represents the greatest resistance to Abbott by the business community since he became governor. The governor only issued the order to confront the Biden administration for its executive rule that all businesses with more than 100 employees must require vaccinations or stringent testing. Two major air carriers in Texas, Southwest, and American Airlines, announced they would ignore Abbott’s requirements and adhere to the new regulations from Washington because federal law supersedes states.
While I am certainly not an advocate of breaking the law, I think it is axiomatic that when laws are bad good people will break them. I don’t understand why there has been any compliance with Abbott’s mask ban mandates or why anyone would bend a knee to his demand there be no vaccine requirements by any government or private entity. Where is his power of enforcement? Frankly, he has none, unless he musters up his own SS or Gestapo (guess I shouldn’t give him ideas) and sends them around to bust small business operators trying to avoid catching the virus and prevent their customers from spreading it. Abbott has been acting capriciously under the cover of a Covid disaster declaration but his power to impose law is limited, enforcing it even more challenging. He continues to act as a tin pot dictator trying to find new ways to make the crazies in the radical right vote for him.
Instead of an even greater hypocrite and idiot like Allen West.
West, a former Florida congressman and brief head of the Texas GOP, contracted Covid and was hospitalized with pneumonia. He was not vaccinated, and even as he got sick, he continued to grouse about vaccines. There must be some polling somewhere that shows no matter what kills or hurts them that GOP candidates must be against the idea of vaccines from the government; especially any requirements they be administered. West’s ignorance of the disease and vaccines and his misinformation were not helpful. He blamed big pharma for pushing the jabs and suggested that it was smarter and less costly to rely on monoclonal antibody treatments, which he did while being treated in the hospital.
West, who will be on the GOP primary ballot in the race against Abbott, seemed to think the better choice was to risk getting sick and then be treated with the antibodies from the Regeneron Corporation. For reasons only he understands, West considers that as science but not the vaccines. He also suffers from the delusion that the antibodies are cheaper than the vaccination shots, which is patently wrong. Regeneron is $2100 per dose for the federal government to purchase and make available while each of the vaccinations cost only $20. The potential future governor of the late great state of Texas thinks one is science and the other is not.
“Instead of jabbing Americans with a dangerous shot that injects them with these spike proteins,” West said. “Guess what? I now have natural immunity and double the antibodies, and that’s science.”
Sure, dude, and developing messenger RNA in the form of a vaccine to kill spike proteins is not science. That’s just some money changers trying to get rich on sick people.
As stupid as the Abbott and GOP appear on matters of common sense they are, nonetheless, relatively accomplished in the arena of evil. I have suggested this before, but I think what is happening in Texas could be used as a template for keepers of Trump’s Big Lie and the uninformed who want a near dictatorial leader to suppress dissent. The Texas government and officials who ignored a busted electrical grid that enriched energy companies and killed Texans in the cold are spending billions trying to barricade the border and curtailing voting rights with legislation designed to reduce turnout. Undocumented immigrants are being rounded up like cattle and herded into an old state prison while being denied legal rights to a lawyer or even knowing what crimes they are accused of. If you look a certain way or walk in a certain place, be wary in Texas. We do evil here with the same competence we do nice.
Also, forget about equal representation under the law. The GOP majority is finalizing congressional and house redistricting maps that will make certain that Republicans have control of the state legislature for at least the next decade and that there will be not a single congressional district where minorities make up the majority of voters. This takes some creative cartography given that of the 4 million voters added to the state’s population in the last decade, 95 percent were people of color. There is no motivation for representation in drawing the lines with a Republican pen. Democracy is not the point. Retention of power is the goal, and it has been accomplished. The maps, as profoundly unfair as they are, will certainly end up being challenged in a federal court, but that usually ends with happy Republicans since they have usually appointed the judges expected to hear any case.
Smoke on the Water
I can’t go away this week without talking about U.S. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the man who seems intent on either destroying the president’s plans on infrastructure and the social safety net or making it a coal company investment strategy. Manchin is from coal country, and he and everyone in his state knows they are part of a dying industry as alternative sources of energy emerge. But they won’t go away without doing some final, maybe even permanent damage to the environment.
Manchin has apparently made it clear to President Biden that he is against the clean energy portion of his infrastructure bill. The $150 billion dollars allotted for the program would reward companies that transition to lower carbon emission fuels and would fund wind and solar programs. It was to be the biggest, most dramatic environmental piece of legislation in this country’s history.
And its fate is being controlled by a coal broker.
Manchin has his own coal brokerage company, which makes millions, and he has received more campaign cash from the coal, gas, and oil industry than any member of the Senate or the U.S. House. Manchin signed his company over to his son when he was elected to go to Washington but, according to the New York Times, he made over a half million dollars last year on stock dividends without working a minute.
Manchin ought to be the poster boy for a B movie about broken democracy. The U.S. was about to take a leadership role in reducing global carbon emissions over the next decade and a man who markets and sells coal, the crudest of carbon fuels, is empowered to stop it, in part, because coal industry money helps keep him elected. One senator with a vested interest is blowing up the aspirations of an entire country hoping to control climate change and breathe cleaner air.
Here’s the poor damned fool looking off the stern of his yacht, wrongly referred to as a houseboat by some media, as he condescends to some of his constituents who came to protest and reached him by kayak.
It’s Good News Week!
The former president, still operating under the delusion he ought to be the present president, made big news during a private speech to the Republican National Senatorial Committee. Who knows what prompted him to say it, but he wanted everyone in the audience to know that he didn’t like being peed on. That, you know, it just didn’t turn him on.
The Washington Post apparently obtained a recording of the former guy’s chat in which he explained.“I’m not into golden showers,” he said. “You know the great thing, our great first lady, ‘That one,’ she said, ‘I don’t believe that one.’” The inference to be drawn, of course, is that there are several others she does believe, like, you know, paid sex with Stormy Daniels while Melania was home pregnant, or that maybe he did hire a couple of prostitutes in Moscow to pee on a bed that had previously been slept in by Barack Obama. Who knows? Who cares?
But can we all sleep better now knowing that a man who was once a president of history’s greatest democracy felt the compulsive need to say in public that he wasn’t into golden showers?