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Report claims police did not clear Lafayette Park for Trump photo op, despite your eyes and ears

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The inspector general’s report hinges on a finding that the U.S. Park Police (USPP) were already making plans to clear the park to install new fencing before commanders knew of Trump’s intended plan. This is consistent with previous claims. Since the Park Police were already intending to clear the park, the report argues, it cannot be said that it was done for Trump’s photo op.

“[T]he evidence established that relevant USPP officials had made those decisions and had begun implementing the operational plan several hours before they knew of a potential Presidential visit to the park, which occurred later that day. As such, we determined that the evidence did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park on June 1, 2020, so that then President Trump could enter the park,” writes Greenblatt.

The problem is that everything else in the report, as in previous press reports and television coverage of the day, clearly demonstrates that while the plan to alter fencing in the park was already in the works before law enforcement knew Trump planned to walk through the area, the operation was sped up to hastily accommodate the Trump plan.

“Are these people still going to be here when POTUS comes out,” William Barr had asked on-scene commanders after arriving at the White House. “The commander said that he [had] known until then that Trump would be coming out of the White House and into Lafayette Park,” notes NBC News.

What happened next was broadcast nationally. U.S. Park Police, augmented with Bureau of Prisons officers and other federal officers under the control of William Barr, fired off tear gas as cable television channels tuned in live to await an announced Donald Trump speech. Federal forces violently cleared the square without, as the report notes, even giving the crowd due notice that they must disperse.

During that operation, Trump appeared in front of the cameras to deliver a pointedly aggressive speech.

“I am also taking swift and decisive action to protect our great capital, Washington, D.C. What happened in this city last night was a total disgrace. As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property,” he said.

At the conclusion of the speech, he then announced the walk:

“Thank you very much. And now I’m going to pay my respects to a very, very special place.”

So we know, for a fact, several things:

• We know that Trump was intending to walk to the church when he walked out to give his speech.

• We know that William Barr knew he would be doing it, and informed a commander in advance.

• We know that federal forces then began to violently clear the square precisely at the time designated for Trump’s speech and walk.

It is self-evident that whatever plans the Park Police had previously made, those plans were changed specifically to clear the park for Trump’s planned walk. Pretending that they were not is something very close to gaslighting. It’s implausible.

If the square had been cleared prior to Trump’s walk, it would be reasonable to say that Trump’s walk had nothing to do with it. If the square had not been cleared, and Trump was obliged to either walk through the peaceful but booing crowd or to cancel the stunt, there would have been no scandal.

But it’s simply impossible to argue that the square was not cleared more aggressively than it would have been if the sitting president of the United States had not intended to saunter through the area mere minutes afterward. It’s ridiculous.

Why the inspector general’s office is trying so very hard to immunize all of government from an act that was very clearly spurred by presidential actions is not clear, but this particular justification of events is not plausible. It does not square with Barr’s actions. It doesn’t square with the videotape we have of the day. It’s simply not plausible.


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Juneteenth is a new holiday for many Americans. For my family, it’s always been personal

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I’ve covered some of my research successes in other stories, like 2020’s “Juneteenth: We’re still on the road to freedom and justice,” but I have not shared many of my thoughts about Texas.

Texas has a strange history when it comes to Black folks and enslavement, as documented here in the “Free Blacks” entry in the Handbook of Texas, from the Texas State Historical Association.

As of 1792 the Black and mulatto population constituted 15 percent of the 2,992 people living in Spanish Texas. Within the Spanish empire, the legal status of free Blacks resembled that of the Indian population. The law required free Blacks to pay tribute, forbade them to carry firearms, and restricted their freedom of movement. In practice Spanish officials ignored such restrictions, often encouraging the manumission of slaves. The small number of Spanish subjects in Texas and the vast distances between settlements also brought about the intermarriage of Whites, Blacks, and Indians. While most free Blacks in Texas before 1800 were born there, thereafter an increased emigration to Texas of free Blacks and some escaped slaves from the southern United States began to take place. After the Mexican War of Independence (1821), the Mexican government offered free Blacks full rights of citizenship, allowing land ownership and other privileges. Mexico accepted free Blacks as equals to White colonists. Favorable conditions for free Blacks in Texas in the 1830s led one noted abolitionist, Benjamin Lundy, to seek authorization for the establishment of a Black colony from the United States. While the Mexican government expressed interest in the idea, opposition from Whites in Texas and the United States precluded its implementation. Free Blacks, as did other frontiersmen, continued to emigrate to Texas seeking an opportunity for advancement and a better life. […]

The Constitution of the Republic of Texas designated people of one-eighth African blood as a separate and distinct group, took away citizenship, sought to restrict property rights, and forbade the permanent residence of free Blacks without the approval of the Congress of the Republic of Texas. Interracial marriages were also legally prohibited. Ironically, local communities and legislators that favored the new provisions often did not want them enforced within their districts. Documents show that prominent Whites were known to intercede on behalf of free Blacks in danger of being prosecuted by the new regulations. A stricter law passed in 1840, which gave free Blacks two years to leave Texas or risk being sold into slavery, was effectively postponed by President Sam Houston. […]

After annexation, the legislature passed stricter laws governing the lives of free Blacks. These new laws called for harsh punishments usually reserved only for slaves, including branding, whipping, and forced labor on public works. In 1858 the legislature even passed a law that encouraged free Blacks to reenter slavery voluntarily by allowing them to choose their own masters. The increased restrictions and the rise in White hostility resulted in a virtual halt to additional free Black immigration to Texas and may have caused a reduction in the Texas population of free Blacks. The United States census reported 397 free Blacks in Texas in 1850 and 355 in 1860, though there may have been an equal number of free Blacks not counted.

That timeline became particularly relevant when my search for my first cousin’s Texan family hit that brick wall. They do not appear in any listing of free Blacks, therefore, they must have been enslaved. I knew that Anna Gibson was listed in the Freedman’s Bank Records as born in Texas around 1823. Her daughter Idella was listed as born in 1861, also in Texas. My uncle Louis—Idella’s grandson—said she was born in Galveston. That’s all I know. My family is luckier than most Black folks, as we have a picture of Idella when she was an adult.

Idella Gibson

What is clear from that photograph is that Idella has white ancestry. What does that mean for Anna, the enslaved woman who was Idella’s mother?

We may never know. But we do know that many children were born into slavery and kept enslaved, in spite of having white fathers. We also know that enslaved Black women were raped and bred for profit. Further, we know that in parts of the South, mixed-race Black women were often kept as concubines.

Anna got out of Texas as soon as she could and moved to Maryland, where she opened a sewing school. She was listed in the 1870 census there.

Now comes the hard part: Imagining her life under the yoke of enslavement. None of it is pretty. None of it fits the fairy tales offered to white children about “happy darkies” on the plantation lazing their days away. Nowhere in those fabrications are those “massa’s offspring” mentioned.

As some of you may know, the Black community has problems with “colorism,” an artificially developed hierarchy based on light-skin and European hair texture. On the other hand, and less discussed, is the ugly underbelly to which those fair complexions point; realities which often don’t get openly talked about in families, or are tales only shared in whispers among the elders. This unspoken “downside” of being light-skinned continues to this day. I have a friend who was much fairer than her parents. She was dubbed “trick baby” in the school yard, the other kids sneeringly insinuating that her mama had been a sex worker impregnated by a white “trick.”

There are thousands upon thousands of Black families with ancestors who were light-skinned with European-textured hair. Most have long opted to claim Native American heritage to explain away that great-grandma whose “hair was so long she could sit on it.” In most of those cases, DNA testing disproved those family legends. Think of the “why” for these narratives: Few people want to loudly proclaim that their great-grandma was repeatedly raped and brutalized by her owner (or the overseer), which is why Grandma looked like she did.

In a quick check of the 1880 census (using my Ancestry.com database) I find 1,017,015 people listed as “mulatto,” and 5,572,280 listed as Black; the 1870 census listed 629,806 “mulatto” people, and 4,140,145 people as Black. Census takers weren’t “race” scientists, of course; they weren’t offering DNA tests to prove ancestry. Instead, they simply eyeballed a person and determined whether they were or were not a “full-blooded” Black person, based solely on their skin color, facial features, and hair texture. 

In 2014, I wrote the following in “The ‘other’ U.S. slave trade”:

I once wrote about myself that “I am the product of a bicentennial of breeding farms.” Some of my enslaved ancestors looked whiter than many “white” people, like my great-grandfather Dennis Williams.

My great grandfather - Loudoun County VA - born to enslaved Hannah Carter, father - white man
My great grandfather, Dennis Williams, who was born to an enslaved mother, Hannah Carter, and freed

They were not descendants of Irish indentured women who had children with Black indentured men. They were born out of the rape of their mothers by overseers and/or owners.

In Slave Breeding: Sex, Violence, and Memory in African American History, Gregory Smithers takes on the naysayers:

For over two centuries, the topic of slave breeding has occupied a controversial place in the master narrative of American history. From nineteenth-century abolitionists to twentieth-century filmmakers and artists, Americans have debated whether slave owners deliberately and coercively manipulated the sexual practices and marital status of enslaved African Americans to reproduce new generations of slaves for profit.

In this bold and provocative book, historian Gregory Smithers investigates how African Americans have narrated, remembered, and represented slave-breeding practices. He argues that while social and economic historians have downplayed the significance of slave breeding, African Americans have refused to forget the violence and sexual coercion associated with the plantation South. By placing African American histories and memories of slave breeding within the larger context of America’s history of racial and gender discrimination, Smithers sheds much-needed light on African American collective memory, racialized perceptions of fragile black families, and the long history of racially motivated violence against men, women, and children of color.

This is an ugly history we cannot ignore. So today, though I’ll celebrate Juneteenth, I’ll continue to think about Anna from Galveston. Maybe one day I’ll luck out and find someone who also has her in their family tree, and find out not just more of her story, but more of my kin.

The nightmare of enslavement finally ended on this day in 1865, but those of us descended from those who were freed back then have not all had a happy ending. In fact, the persecution faced by Black Americans has not ended at all.

We are simply in another chapter of a book that is not yet finished. We will, however, get to see the impact of Juneteenth being made a federal holiday; it passed the Senate via unanimous consent on June 15, passed in the House on the 16th with a vote of 415 to 14, and President Biden signed it into law on the 17th.

It’s been a long haul to get to this point in the road, and we still have farther to go. This victory along the way should lift our spirits and move us forward.


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Voting Rights Roundup: In major about face, Manchin lays out path for compromise on election reforms

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Manchin’s new memo identified several key aspects of H.R. 1 that he supports either in whole or in modified form, including provisions that would:

  • Mandate 15 consecutive days of early voting, including two weekends;
  • Ban partisan gerrymandering and “use computer models,” the latter of which isn’t further specified;
  • Establish automatic voter registration through state driver’s licensing agencies;
  • Require states to promote registration for groups such as people with disabilities;
  • Ban false statements intended to discourage voting;
  • Improve federal funding for training election officials;
  • Require that states notify voters of polling place changes at least a week before Election Day;
  • Adopt prepaid postage for absentee ballots;
  • Allow voters to vote if they show up at the wrong precinct but in the right jurisdiction for races that they are eligible to vote on; and
  • Require disclosure for “dark money” campaign donations and ads.

Manchin’s position on no-excuse absentee voting was more opaque, with his memo stating that the bill should “[r]equire states to send absentee by mail ballots to eligible voters before an election if voter is not able to vote in person during early voting or election day due to eligible circumstance and allow civil penalty for failure.” Separate reports, however, indicated he opposes mandating that all states that still demand an excuse (now just a small minority) remove that requirement for absentee voting.

Campaign Action

Although Manchin’s exclusion of existing provisions from the For the People Act in his memo doesn’t necessarily indicate he opposes them, he did specifically express opposition to the bill’s provisions that would set up a system of public financing for campaigns, which has been one of the main focuses of Republican attacks.

Perhaps most controversially, he urged a national voter ID requirement. While the voter ID bills passed by Republican-run states have enraged progressives due to their undisguised aim of suppressing turnout among communities of color, the suppressive effect of such a requirement could be greatly reduced if the federal government were to create a free and widely available national ID card. Democrats may understandably not be keen to include such a compromise, but it may be well worth the cost if it means securing a much more important ban on congressional gerrymandering and major expansion of other voting access measures like automatic registration.

Finally, Manchin also addressed the content of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would revive the invalidated “preclearance” regime of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court’s conservatives struck down on pretextual grounds in 2013.

Manchin has long said he wants to see this legislation passed and has proposed imposing a nationwide preclearance system that would require all jurisdictions seeking to change their voting procedures to first obtain approval from the Justice Department or a federal court to ensure they don’t discriminate along racial or ethnic lines. Manchin’s new memo, however, called for additional changes that could undermine the efficacy of the bill, such as reducing the attorney general’s power to deem a jurisdiction’s “actions as a voting rights violation without a judicial finding of discrimination,” which could potentially mean bogging down disputes in court for years.

While Manchin’s latest demands are likely to disappoint Democrats and democracy reformers who have called for as wide-ranging a bill as possible, Democrats hold little leverage over the West Virginia senator, whose vote is essential to overcome both GOP procedural obstruction and opposition to reform on the underlying merits. Manchin’s move to detail changes that could win his vote is a key first step toward reaching some sort of compromise that could one day pass Congress, though many more hurdles remain. One of those hurdles is quickly approaching after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Democratic senators this week that a procedural vote to advance voting legislation will take place on Tuesday.

Redistricting

Louisiana: Democrats have blocked the Republican majority in Louisiana’s state House from passing a constitutional amendment that had won bipartisan support in the state Senate to add two seats to Louisiana’s Supreme Court and redraw the malapportioned districts for the first time in decades, with a requirement to redraw the districts after every decennial census thereafter.

With a two-thirds supermajority needed in order to advance, Democrats had supported the amendment in the upper chamber because expanding the court would have made it easier to draw an additional district where Black voters could elect their chosen candidates. House Democrats, however, balked after Republicans stripped out a provision to require mapmakers to consider race when drawing the districts.

Only one district of the seven used to elect justices to Louisiana’s Supreme Court allows Black voters to elect their preferred candidates, even though Louisiana’s population is one-third Black and it would be eminently feasible to draw a second Black-preference district. Though Democrats had supported expanding the court in order to ensure a second Black district, that still would have left the court with fewer such districts (two of nine) than the Black share of the state’s population (three of nine).

Republicans, meanwhile, were likely interested in passing this amendment in order to moot an ongoing federal lawsuit that is seeking to compel the drawing of a second Black district under the Voting Rights Act.

North Carolina: North Carolina’s Republican-run state legislature has passed a bill with some bipartisan support to allow dozens of local governments to postpone this fall’s local elections for offices that are elected using districts in order to allow more time for redistricting thanks to the delayed release of key census data. Instead, those localities would move their elections to coincide with the March 2022 primary by extending the terms of some officials.

While the proposed change is a one-off measure intended to address census delays, the bill also permanently moves elections in the state capital of Raleigh to November of even-numbered years, starting in 2022, and extends the terms of current incumbents by a year. This provision’s inclusion has proved divisive for Democrats: Every Democrat in the state House backed the bill, but all of Raleigh’s Democratic senators shortly thereafter opposed it, arguing that city officials had violated requirements to obtain public input.

If Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signs the bill into law, combining these election dates with federal races could lead to higher turnout and will likely save money on election administration. However, the provision switching the dates of Raleigh’s elections also eliminates runoffs, allowing a winner to prevail with only a plurality.

Voting Access Expansions

California: State Senate Democrats have passed a bill intended to strengthen California’s automatic voter registration law by changing the way in which prospective voters are given the chance to opt out of registration. Currently, eligible voters who do business with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles are automatically registered unless they choose to opt out at the time of the transaction, known as a “front-end” system. This latest bill would instead shift that opt-out opportunity to a subsequent mailed notification, a “back-end” system that proponents hope will encourage more new voters to remain opted in.

Connecticut: Democratic legislators have returned for a special session and passed a spending bill that includes several voting expansion provisions that had failed to pass as a separate bill during this year’s regular session. Those provisions include:

  • Automatic voter registration at multiple state agencies;
  • Ending the disenfranchisement of anyone with a felony conviction who is not in prison by restoring the rights of people on parole;
  • Requiring employers to give their workers two hours of unpaid time off to vote.
  • Allowing online applications for absentee ballots; and
  • Making absentee drop boxes permanent after their temporary adoption last year during the pandemic.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont for his expected signature.

Delaware: State House Republicans have blocked Democrats from passing a constitutional amendment to remove Delaware’s excuse requirement for absentee voting, with Republican opposition denying Democrats the two-thirds supermajority needed for it to pass. The Democratic-run legislature had previously passed this amendment prior to the 2020 elections, the first of two times required for it to become law, and many of the same Republicans who voted against it this month had supported the measure when the House passed it in 2019.

Democrats are two seats shy of the necessary supermajority in the state House, and while this latest vote dims hopes of passing the amendment, it isn’t completely dead just yet. Two Republican members didn’t vote either for or against the measure, and since Democratic Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst also voted against it in order to allow her party to bring up the amendment again at a later date, it’s possible that those two Republicans could provide the votes needed for passage.

However, legislators are scheduled to adjourn this year’s session at the end of June, and if those Republicans don’t come on board either later this year or by next year’s session, Democrats will have to hope they can gain a two-thirds supermajority in a future election. That would entail pushing back the earliest date the amendment could take effect, since constitutional amendments in Delaware must pass in identical form in two consecutive legislative sessions with an election taking place in between.

District of Columbia: A majority of members on the Democratic-run Washington, D.C. Council are sponsoring a newly introduced bill that would give voting rights in local elections to non-citizens with permanent resident legal status, best known as green card holders.

A few smaller jurisdictions around the U.S. in recent years have granted voting rights in local elections to non-citizens, and San Francisco, California, has let non-citizens vote in school board elections, but no jurisdiction as large as D.C. has yet done so in local government races. Noncitizen voting was widespread in the U.S. during the 19th century but largely ended by around 1920 during an era that saw lawmakers pass major restrictions on immigration based on race and nationality.

Louisiana: Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has signed a bill passed by Louisiana’s GOP-run legislature with widespread bipartisan support to extend the early voting period in presidential elections from seven to 11 days.

Nevada: Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed multiple bills passed by Democratic legislators that aim to expand access to voting in Nevada, including measures that:

Abolishing the presidential caucus in favor of a primary will both make it easier to vote and let Nevada’s diverse electorate weigh in before heavily white Iowa and New Hampshire, the traditional first states. However, officials in those other states will almost certainly take action in retaliation that could involve moving up their own elections, which risks the national party committees imposing sanctions on states if they violate party rules governing election timing.

The enactment of these new laws follows on Sisolak’s earlier signing of another new law that will permanently adopt universal mail voting after its temporary adoption last fall due to the pandemic.

New York: Shortly before adjourning this year’s regular legislative session, New York’s Democratic-run legislature passed multiple bills to improve voting, including measures that would let voters request absentee ballots online and “cure” supposed problems with their provisional ballots, known in New York as affidavit ballots; currently this latter process is only available for absentee ballots. However, Assembly Democrats failed to approve a Senate-passed bill that would have made absentee ballot drop boxes permanent after they were temporarily introduced last year due to the pandemic.

In addition to the above measures, Democratic lawmakers also passed two other election-related bills recently. The first would let voters track the status of their absentee ballots and applications, while the second would require election officials to begin processing absentee ballots shortly after they receive them rather than waiting several days after Election Day to begin doing so. All four bills now need Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature before they can become law.

Voter Suppression

Florida: Voting advocates have filed what is now the fourth federal lawsuit challenging Republicans’ new voting restriction law, which among other things adds new limits on absentee ballots and drop boxes along with banning giving food or water to voters waiting in line. We’ve previously detailed the other three lawsuits here.

This latest lawsuit takes aim at part of the law that adds restrictions on third-party voter registration efforts. The plaintiffs claim that the law requires them to include warnings on registration forms that misleadingly tell potential registrants that the organization might not meet the deadline for delivering the forms, even though there’s no evidence that such groups have regularly failed to comply with relevant deadlines.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Republicans just unveiled a major new voting restriction bill, which they’ve already passed out of a state House committee. The legislation would roll back many of the voting access expansions that GOP lawmakers approved in a bipartisan deal in 2019. Among other things, the bill would:

  • Implement a voter ID requirement (voters who lack ID could sign a sworn statement that they’re eligible to vote under penalty of perjury);
  • Eliminate the state’s permanent absentee voting list;
  • Move the voter registration deadline back to 30 days before Election Day—the maximum allowed under federal law—from the 2019 law’s 15 days;
  • Require signature verification for absentee ballots; and
  • Ban private grants for election administration.

The bill also contains some policies that would strengthen voting access and election procedures, including measures that would:

  • Create six days of in-person early voting, but not beginning until 2025;
  • Let counties begin processing mail ballots five days before Election Day instead of waiting until Election Day, which caused delays in 2020 that helped fuel Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories;
  • Allow absentee ballot drop boxes for a week before Election Day;
  • Let voters fix problems with absentee ballots that are missing a signature;
  • Enable counties to open satellite elections offices where voters could cast an in-person absentee ballot, akin to regular early voting;
  • Require counties to obtain electronic poll books, which would help facilitate the adoption of early voting and eventually same-day voter registration (a policy Democrats support but Republicans generally oppose).

Republicans hold gerrymandered majorities that they could use to pass this bill over any Democratic opposition. However, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf sounded very skeptical toward the proposal and unless some of the voting restrictions are removed, he’d likely veto it, a move the GOP lacks the votes to override.

Republicans, though, have another plan to try to get around Wolf’s veto pen by passing these changes as constitutional amendments. Such amendments require legislative approval in two consecutive legislative sessions with an election taking place in between, followed by a voter referendum. Crucially for the GOP, the governor has no role in the amendment process.

To that end, Republicans in a state Senate committee have passed a constitutional amendment that would require voter ID, which could potentially go before voters as soon as 2023 and take effect ahead of the 2024 elections. Republicans previously enacted a strict voter ID statute in 2012 but a court struck it down.

Texas: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that would ban the use of post office boxes for voter registration, which could prevent homeless people or voters living in remote rural areas with limited mail service from registering. In response, Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias, whose firm has been involved in a prolific amount of litigation in recent years, indicated he would sue over this latest law.

Ballot Measures

South Dakota: A federal court has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a Republican-backed law that required paid signature collectors to register with the state, indicating that it likely violated the First Amendment. The plaintiffs had argued that posting petition circulators’ information online could open them up to harassment.

South Dakota is one of many states where Republicans have tried to restrict the ballot initiative process to thwart progressive policies and democracy reforms in recent years, including upcoming efforts to put Medicaid expansion and an independent redistricting commission on the 2022 ballot. Republican legislators have already placed their own constitutional amendment on the ballot during next year’s primary that would raise the voter threshold needed for passage from a simple majority to 60% for any initiative that would tax or spend more than $10 million during a five-year period, which could affect measures such as Medicaid expansion.


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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Joe Manchin, Juneteenth and the ongoing insurrection

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Ian Millhiser/Vox:

Joe Manchin’s sweeping new voting rights proposal, explained

The pivotal senator has released a potentially transformative plan to promote fair elections.

No voting rights bill will become law without Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) approval, at least in the current Congress. The conservative Democrat is the median vote in the Senate, and he’s a frequent source of frustration for other members of his party. Earlier this month, Manchin came out against the For the People Act, a comprehensive voting rights bill backed by Democratic leadership, effectively killing any hope that the bill could become law during the current Congress.

But on Wednesday, Manchin did something unexpected: He released a long list of voting reforms that he does support, potentially scrambling the congressional debate over voting rights as the Senate prepares to vote on Democratic leaders’ proposal.

Manchin’s list includes many reforms drawn from the For the People Act as well as from a companion voting rights bill known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Significantly, Manchin endorsed banning partisan gerrymandering — a high priority for both small-d democrats and large-D Democrats, who want to prevent the GOP from seizing control of the House of Representatives with rigged congressional maps.

Not everything on Manchin’s list will delight his fellow Democrats.

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You read that right.

Colin McEnroe/myjournalcourier:

No need to worry about people using marijuana – they already do

Ladies and gentlemen, start your gummies.

Connecticut has legalized the production, sale and adult use of recreational marijuana, which is a big step because I’m pretty sure nobody in marijuana has tried Connecticut before. Wait. I wrote that wrong. Am I high already? Just because the law changed? …

But anyone familiar with the workings of the legislature over the last several decades knows that they were blotto when they passed lotto and they were hammered whenever they retooled the state budget and they were toasted whenever they asked us to part with more of our bread. There were wine nights and beer nights, and often the libations were provided by lobbying firms or regulated industries.

So how do you drink that much and then tell a 21-year-old he has to watch Marie Kondo on Netflix without the aid of marijuana? I’m a little sensitive on this subject because I went to college from 1972-76 and did not get high. Marijuana must have been legal at the time because everybody seemed to have it.

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Janell Ross/TIME:

Juneteenth Isn’t Just a Celebration of the End of Slavery. We Also Honor the Black Americans Who Helped Create Their Own Freedom

If you ask Black people born and raised on the island, Juneteenth marks the day Black soldiers in blue uniforms came with their guns to Galveston. That is the story they have told for generations, about the moment some of their ancestors knew freedom had finally arrived in Texas, the westernmost Confederate breakaway state.

That’s the truth as it’s widely understood by Black people in Galveston, even if the common story of that day often focuses on a single white man: General Gordon Granger, who led Union troops to the harbor there on June 17, 1865. Two days later, records in the National Archives tell us, he issued what’s known as General Order No. 3.

A reminder of the importance of oral history.

Eleanor Janega/Going Medieval:

I assure you, the Black Death was actually bad

But in case we need an English example (can’t imagine why I think my man here might not considered other people’s accounts worthwhile) how about the chronicle from Meaux Abbey in Yorkshire:

“The pestilence held such sway in England at the time that there were hardly enough people left alive to bury the dead, or enough burial grounds to hold them. During that time two closes or crofts were consecrated for the burial of the dead in London, and two monasteries were afterwards founded in them….The pestilence grew so strong that men and women dropped dead while walking in the streets, and in innumerable households and in many villages not one person was left alive.  … The shortage of labourers and of workers in every kind of craft and occupation was then so acute that more than a third of the land throughout the whole kingdom remained uncultivated…”[3]

Andy Slavitt/USA Today:

Trump’s Supreme defeat: Will Republicans finally stop trying to cancel people’s health care?

The Supreme Court has handed Republicans the perfect opportunity to lay down their weapons. Attacking this health care law is both cruel and futile.

An interesting question is why. Why did Trump and Republicans fight so hard to do something so  plainly unpopular and harmful to millions of Americans? Especially because, as the ruling yesterday showed, the plaintiffs in this case didn’t even have standing to bring the case – in other words, they were not being harmed by the law. So why try to eliminate a law that helps some in such a deeply personal way, particularly if it causes no harm (and is budget neutral)? The Republican politics of health care and the politics of Trump are the politics of cruel indifference.

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Philip Bump/WaPo:

The far right rushes to embrace Tucker Carlson’s FBI-Capitol riot conspiracy theory

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) rose to speak on the floor of the House on Thursday, a sheaf of news articles in his hand and the spirit of a Breitbart commenter in his heart.

He began by defending his recent question to a Forest Service official asking if that agency might be able to shift the Earth’s orbit. Then, a riff on a Washington Times article about criminal activity in Mexico, a country that enjoyed a “fantastic location.” Then, in conclusion, Gohmert shifted to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, an event that he has in the past dismissed as “people without any firearms coming into a building.”

“There’s been so much appropriate concern about January 6,” Gohmert said. “What happened that day. Unfortunately, we don’t know all that happened that day. There are some major, major questions that need to be answered.”

Perhaps we need a bipartisan commission to look at what happened, then?

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