At the Network for Public Education conference in Philadelphia on May 1, I moderated a panel to discuss attacks on public schools and the groups behind those attacks. Peter Greene identified a long list of groups that claim to be protecting “parents rights.” Peter described groups such as “Moms for America,” “Moms for Liberty,” “For Kids and Country,” “Parents Defending Education,” and the “National Parents Union,” which seem to be led by women with close ties to Trumpism and funded by the usual rightwing crowd. They asserted ”parent rights” to oppose teaching about race and sex. They insisted that parents have the right to control their children.
They say they are fighting for parental rights, yet they have said nothing about the legislation in several states that sever the rights of the parents of transgender youth.
The modern Republican Party rose to power in 1980 promising to slash government intervention in the economy. But that was never a terribly popular stance, and in order to win elections, party leaders wedded themselves to the religious right. For decades, party leaders managed to deliver economic liberties to business leaders by tossing increasingly extreme rhetoric and occasional victories to the religious right. Now, though…
Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law has two ostensible purposes. One is to bring national attention to Governor Ron DeSantis as the heir to Donald Trump’s MAGA base. The other is to humiliate gay people, who are collateral damage in DeSantis’ pursuit of the 2024 Republican nomination. Since teachers in K-3 in Florida do not teach sex education, the law is no more than a symbolic insult.
Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law is described as a “parental rights” law. Among other things, House Bill 1557 bans any instruction about sexuality and gender identity in grades K-3, and requires that any such instruction in grades 4-12 must be age appropriate. The law allows parents to sue the district if they believe the law has been violated, and the district must pay the cost of the lawsuit.
What’s it really about? This bill is rightly understood to be a condemnation of homosexuality across…
The title of this post was taken from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in Paris, on Nov. 13. 1787. He sent that letter to William Smith. Those words do not appear in the Declaration of Independence. Those words do not appear in the U.S. Constitution.
In fact, Jefferson “wanted the new Constitution to be accompanied by a written ‘bill of rights’ to guarantee personal liberties, such as freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from standing armies, trial by jury, and habeas corpus.” — THE FIRST AMENDMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA
When Jefferson was sworn in to become the third president of the United States (1801—1809), he took the same oath that is enshrined in the US. Constitution. Every president has taken that oath, an oath that defines what the Founding Fathers thought a patriot should be
There are many in the United States today that think they are patriots, but, because of that Constitutional Oath, some so-called patriots are wrong. They are not patriots. They are anarchists, loyalists (to Trump or another authoritarian), and traitors.
Patriotism is not defined as blind loyalty to an individual, the flag, a religion, or a militia. For instance: The Oath Keepers or The Three Percenters, et al. To these violent militias, nothing matters but defending what they blindly think is their country against anyone they see as a threat, and that means anyone that doesn’t think like them. If we disagree with what they think, they often reply with something like, “Go home. Go back to Russia, or Africa, or China…. Get out of my country.”
Imagine what it must be like to be blindly loyal to someone like Donald Trump and/or the U.S. flag with little or no knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. For those ignorant, misguided Americans, the concept of patriotism tied to the U.S. Constitution would seem alien because not every American takes the Constitutional Oath of Office, and many Americans don’t know what the U.S. Constitution says beyond the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and many also get the meaning of those two amendments wrong.
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re free to say whatever you want. For some liars, we have libel and slander laws. And writing for the Supreme Court in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States, Justice Holmes argued, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”
Just one year after Schenck, United States Attorney General Mitchell Palmer, in congressional testimony, claimed, “A man may say what he will, as has often been said; but if he cries ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, with the intent to injure the people there assembled, certainly his right of free speech does not protect him against the punishment that is his just desert [sic].”
So, deliberately making a false statement that might harm someone, may not fall under the protections offered by the 1st Amendment. Still, the individual making such a false statement is innocent until proven guilty.
“The founders (including Jefferson) required an oath for federal and state officials—absent a religious test—in the Constitution, but the specifics—such as the wording of the oath—were left to the First Congress (1789–1791). In its first act, Congress specified the wording: “I, ______, do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” This oath was used for all federal officials except the President, whose oath was prescribed specifically in the Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 8).”
Today, who is required to take the oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against both foreign and domestic enemies?
1. Every President of the United States
2. Every member of Congress
3. Every member of the state legislatures and all executive and judicial officers, the United States and the states. (Again, think of all the Republicans in charge of state elections that defied President Donald Trump’s attempts to find votes that would make him the winner.)
4. Every judge (Think of the dozens of judges that ruled against Donald Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election, even judges appointed by Trump.)
5. FBI agents and other federal law enforcement officers
6. Federal employees, including postal workers
7. Both officers and enlisted servicemembers swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, but in the Oath of Enlistment, service members swear they will “obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over [them], according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” However, officers do not include the president in their Oath of Office.
That may not be the complete list.
Most Americans who take that oath also live by that oath, and it doesn’t matter if they are Democrats, Republicans, or independent voters. To millions of Americans, regardless of their political and religious beliefs, their loyalty is to the U.S. Constitution, not to an individual, religion, or private militia. Still, some that have taken the oath never intended to defend the U.S. Constitution. Case in point: On January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump told his supporters at a rally near the capital to “fight like hell.” He also told them to march on the capital, and they did. Then they attempted to pull off a violent coup and install Trump as president for life.
I have no doubts that most if not all of that violent mob that attacked the US capital on January 6, 2021, thanks to Donald Trump urging them to “fight like hell” saw themselves as patriots following the flags they carried. But which flag: that mob carried US flags, Confederate flags, and too many flags to count with only TRUMP’s name on them?
The real patriots on January 6, were the capital police, risking their lives to save and preserve the U.S. Constitution they took an oath to defend, not Trump’s mob of loyalists, anarchists, and alleged fascists.
Conservative activists are banning books (they are also taking away other freedoms) in what’s supposed to be a country (the United States) where people have the freedom to read what they want. What can the rest of us do to stop those extremists on the right? Well, we can start by reading this re-blogged post from Diane Ravitch’s site.
Whitney Kimball Coe, director of national programs for the Center for Rural Strategies, advises those who are outraged about the removal of MAUS from the eighth grade curriculum by the McMinn County School Board to support those in the South and rural areas who agree with them, instead of showering them with contempt and condescension. She was invited to appear on CNN to talk about the decision, and she had a sleepless night trying to find the right way to condemn the decision without condemning her neighbors.
Do they think we’re not outraged, too, here in East Tennessee? Do they think we can’t speak up and respond for ourselves? Because let me tell you, I lay awake the night before the CNN interview indulging my own outrage and constructing a commentary that would eviscerate all book ban supporters and signal to the rest of the world that I, too, am…
The New York Times recently wrote about Twitter’s suspension of the personal (not the official) account of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene. Twitter applied its rule of “five strikes and you’re out” because she posted misinformation about COVID and vaccines that could cause harm to others. Among other things, she had posted on Twitter that COVID was not dangerous and that vaccines should not be mandated; that the vaccines were “failing”; and that many people who got the vaccines had died.
The Center surveyed major social media platforms and found that 12 people were the source of 2/3 of the lies about COVID and the vaccines. The only name familiar to me was that of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
A reader who identifies as Quickwrit posted the following comment about the filibuster. For most of our history, debates in the Senate could be used to delay consideration of a bill, even to kill it. But the filibuster was not written into law until 1917.
Our Founding Fathers would agree that “contemptible” aptly describes Manchin, Sinema, and each of the other Democrats who oppose ending the filibuster because our Founding Fathers during the 1787 Constitutional Convention flatly rejected the idea of allowing a minority to block the will of the majority by filibustering — that’s because our well-read Founding Fathers knew how the practice of the filibuster in the Roman Senate had eventually brought down the Roman Republic by allowing a minority of reactionary senators to block the will of the majority of Romans in a process that ultimately led to one-person rule by dictatorial emperors.
Peter Greene explains how the Koch machine is creating new brands to hide its identity from the unsuspecting. The billionaires Charles and his late brother David were infamous for funneling Dark Money through front groups whose names sounded innocuous or inspiring. Now Charles Koch is reaching out to a new generation, attempting to pour his rancid wine into new bottles. One of the most insidious aspects of “reform” is the way it steals sweet-sounding names and attaches them to its odious goal of privatization. To understand the sham of “reform,” you need to understand that the words usually mean the opposite. “Reform” has nothing to do with reform; it is a cover for disruption and privatization.
A movie of our times. If you are a climate change denier, and/or an antivaxxer, and/or an anti-masker, and/or a Traitor Trump fascist MAGA loyalist, learning something isn’t for you, so just ignore this post. This movie is for people that still have open minds with critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect reviews the Netflix movie Don’t Look Up!
“Appreciate the brilliance of the season’s most profound, category-busting movie.”
Don’t Look Up is described as a parody of Trumpism and climate denial. It is elegantly that. But more importantly, the movie is a dead-on satire of the interconnected debasement of America’s politics, pop culture, conventional media, social media, spectacle, tech and corporate elite—and of how the corruption of each element corrupts the other, feeding the general cynicism and the craving for a fascist savior, political or corporate.
Credit goes to the director, writers, and producers: Adam McKay, David Sirota, Kevin Messick, and Ron Suskind. The public seems to grasp what this movie is about more than many critics.
Don’t Look Up is the top Netflix hit, so no spoiler alert is needed: A graduate student (Jennifer Lawrence) discovers that a comet is headed directly for Earth…