Voter Fraud? No, Voter Suppression: Part Three

Part three, because the current efforts at voter suppression are merely an extension of what Donald Trump and the Republican party have been engaged in since it became clear that the Southern Strategy was no longer going to allow them to keep winning elections as it had done in previous decades.

It was 2010 when a nationwide effort to gerrymander the state houses that Republicans controlled was rolled out:

The plan, which its architects dubbed REDMAP for Redistricting Majority Project, hinged on the fact that states redraw their electoral maps every 10 years according to new Census data. REDMAP targeted states where just a few statehouse seats could shift the balance to Republican control in the crucial Census year of 2010.

wbur.org

…so this crusade against accurate and democratically represented constituencies predates Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican party. But it has only gotten worse since he forced his way into office using voter suppression tactics handed to him by Russian operatives. Trump’s voter suppression task force lead by Kris Kobach spawned part one and part two of this series. That effort didn’t last very long, like most things that are Trump-inspired.

In the 2018 midterms it became clear that the precisely gerrymandered legislative districts were starting to turn more blueish that Republicans were comfortable with, and the shellacking that Republicans received in 2020 proved to them that they were going to have to keep certain classes of the population from voting if they wanted to retain national power in any real way. They have come out four-square in favor of keeping everyone who isn’t old, white and male from the voting booth, in as many ways as they can possibly arrange, in as many statehouses as they can force legislation through:

In 43 states across the country, Republican lawmakers have proposed at least 250 laws that would limit mail, early in-person and Election Day voting with such constraints as stricter ID requirements, limited hours or narrower eligibility to vote absentee, according to data compiled as of Feb. 19 by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Even more proposals have been introduced since then.

washingtonpost.com

This continued drive to keep people from participating in their government will not end well for those in power when the breaking point comes. This is a truth that has been illustrated time and again throughout history. When the people decide they don’t want to follow a leader any longer, and that leader will not surrender power, the leader doesn’t live very long.

Put bluntly; this issue of voter suppression is going to come to civil war if it isn’t solved with federally mandated voter guarantees. We don’t have two or four years to wait for these guarantees either. They have to be instituted now so that they will be solidly in force by the time the next election period rolls around. The Democrats in the Senate had better get their shit together and do that soon, or we are going to be spending blood and treasure killing our own people in the next election. An outcome that could have been avoided had two Senators had the balls to stand up to their own constituents in defense of the state that they claim to represent.

facebook

End the filibuster. It should never have been allowed in the first place and wouldn’t have been tolerated by the senators who removed the rule that kept it from happening. The arguments about allowing it are pointless. End it already and pass the For the People Act so that we don’t have to fight these damaging battles all across the nation in 43 different state Houses.

The set of bills that are up in Texas:

Following committee approval, HB6 by state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, now must be approved by the full House. The Republican-dominated Senate has already passed its own voter suppression bill, SB7. Together the bills would impose a slew of restrictions that would make voting harder especially in large, densely populated counties where many Texans of color live. The bills would bar many measures local leaders also promoted to make voting safe and secure during the pandemic, including curbside and drive-thru voting, mobile voting locations and 24-hour voting centers.

tfn.org

Texas freedom network is a nonpartisan watchdog group. I have followed them for years, for longer than I have been siding with Democrats politically. Even they understand the problem with what Texas Republicans are trying to force through the Texas legislature right now. I have a simple observation to make on this subject. Those who make it impossible to govern through social engagement with our neighbors, make the resultant change that much more violent. Make no mistake, Texas. Change is coming. Embrace it while you still can profit from it. If you don’t, it will simply be that much more expensive to clean up after the change is effected. The one constant in life is change. Depend on it.

If Democrats don’t end the filibuster and do the things that need doing including push back Republican power grabs and voter suppression laws, then they will fail and there will be no reason to hope for any better future in this country. It really is that simple. Do the work that needs to be done, or admit that the American experiment has failed. Pick one.

facebook

Republicans have stacked the deck in their favor for a long time and have come to rely on that unfair system, rather than policies that appeal to voters, to retain power. Now that Democrats are trying to level the playing field, they howl that the Democrats are cheating.

facebook/heathercoxrichardson

Clueless Texas GOP, Not just a Governor Issue

Here I was thinking that what Texas needed was a new governor, having had to apologize for his behavior over the last few years.  After reading about the new Texas GOP platform, I’m actually embarrassed that my voter ID says “Republican” on it.  Gong have to get a new card I guess, because what Texas needs is a new majority party.

In the news, Texas GOP Cuts Nose Off to Spite Face, Then Stupidly Looks Up in a Rainstorm and Drowns:

Remember when Texas State Board of Education member David Bradley criticized teachers and scholars who were crafting new language arts and reading curriculum standards for Texas schools back in 2008? Having students actually think about what they were reading didn’t seem like a good idea to Bradley:

“I’m sorry. This critical thinking stuff is gobbledygook.”

Well, Bradley’s fellow Republicans appear to agree. The 2012 Texas GOP platform adopted this month in Fort Worth includes the following gem:

“Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

So the Texas GOP worries that teaching kids to think is a threat to parental authority. Who knew?

TFN Insider

I’d like to explain what this stand by the Texas GOP means, but I’m afraid I’d look like an amateur next to the unequaled Stephen Colbert and his The Word segment:

THE COLBERT REPORT: THE WORD – ON THE STRAIGHT & NARROW-MINDED – SEASON 8 E 122 • 07/17/2012 (Comedy Central has broken embedding for this show. I’ll check back later to see if they fix it again. -ed.)

Apparently I’m just not narrow minded enough to fit in with the GOP anyway.

The Delusional Governor of our State of Texas

This may become a regular feature for me. I can’t seem to get away from this. Apologizing to the rest of the world (or at least the nation) for the paucity of intellect displayed by our sitting Governor; the longest sitting governor for the State of Texas (I’d be ashamed, but I’ve never cast a vote for the man. The rest of you, though…) Sometimes I wonder if this man ties his own shoes in the morning, or if he has to have someone else do it.

Case in point. I’m watching Hardball last night (as I do virtually every night) and I nearly fall out of my chair as the Governor tells a New Hampshire child on national television (!?) that we teach creationism alongside evolution in Texas.

APPerry: Evolution a ‘Theory That’s Out There’ – Aug 18, 2011 (h/t to TFN and NPR)

Now, I know that this has been his goal for about the last decade or so, it’s why he’s appointed a series of young-earth creationists to chair the SBOE; but apparently he hasn’t kept track of what his appointed cronies have been forced to accept recently. The entirety of intelligent design (aka, creationism) has been rejected by the SBOE in a unanimous vote. There will be no creationism taught in Texas schools. There cannot be, no matter how many times he appoints creationists to the SBOE, as it is a violation of the separation between church and state.

The Governor’s campaign for the White House is a train wreck, and an embarrassment to thinking Texans (and yes, we do exist) everywhere. The national political pundits are probably drooling at the chance to have a real circus to report on. It’s good for ratings. I can only imagine what the behind the cameras dialog was like when McCain ran against Obama or Dole ran against Clinton. “Where’s the drama? I’m supposed to attract viewers with this?”

The kind of divisive political piety that he displays (and is detailed here for those who haven’t been paying attention) Will play well in certain areas of the nation, but be alienating to the majority of voters. He’ll do great in the Midwest (and a good portion of the old South) he will not favor well anywhere in the Southwest outside of Texas, and won’t play at all in the North.

The outcome that the administration is hoping for is facing off against a Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann. That campaign they’ll be able to phone in since neither one of them is even acquainted with “Mainstream America”, and will be easy to trip up on the most basic of scientific inquiries (young earth creationists generally are) not to mention their willingness to gut all social programs, especially health care programs, in the name of fiscal responsibility. It will be the simplest of matters to rally the middle in lukewarm support of an Obama second term in the face of that kind of challenge.

The only thing Obama is terrified of is the jobs numbers not getting better; perversely, it’s the only thing the opposition has to hope for, since they can’t seem to find a candidate that will satisfy the crazies (Like Chris Christy points out in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?&v=y83z552NJaw) and be marketable to the rest of us.

Jon Huntsman knows where the center is,

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, another contender for the GOP presidential nomination, took to Twitter almost instantly, seeming to mock Perry for the creationism comment, as well as for his recent statements on climate change: “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

texastribune.org

…but I doubt that the Republicans will give him the time of day.

Discord Over Harmony Schools

This is an example of real harm resulting from the religious posing of Texas leaders. Harmony schools are charter schools in Texas. They are unquestionable successes in the realm of schooling. Two of their high schools were named in Newsweek as miracle schools representing the best of the best to be had in education in the entire United States, much less in Texas.

But that’s not good enough for those conspiracy theorists out there who see different as threatening and Muslim as terrorist. Almost since the day they opened their doors, Harmony Schools have been the target of hate groups throughout the state.

Led by the Texas Eagle Forum, a conservative pro-family organization, Harmony’s critics have issued a flurry of legislative alerts in recent weeks that said the state’s $25 billion endowment for “our children’s textbooks” was imperiled by “Turkish men, of whom we know very little other than most are not American citizens.”

They gathered enough momentum that earlier this week some conservative legislators cited the concerns when they voted against a key budget bill — and almost killed it.

But one conservative protector of the endowment, the Permanent School Fund, says the criticism of Harmony is unfounded.

“There is a lot of misinformation, a certain level of fear and a small helping of bigotry that needs to go away,” said State Board of Education member David Bradley, R-Beaumont.

Bradley said he would be the “first to sound the alarm” if there were anything to be alarmed about. But the board has not received substantive complaints from parents of the 16,000 children that attend any of the 33 Harmony campuses across the state, he said.

“The only thing these guys are guilty of are high scores and being Turkish,” Bradley said.

Austin-American Statesman

Love the way the article soft-pedals the Texas Eagle Forum. They are a hate group, and should be rightly labeled as such. I have yet to hear of anything they support that isn’t related in some fashion to the stupid people observation I made in the last post. Not content to simply make themselves look like idiots, these members of the Texas Eagle Forum, they want to incur unnecessary costs on the cash strapped school system, and the even more cash starved charter schools.

House General Investigating Committee Chairman Chuck Hopson, R-Jacksonville, said his committee has started a preliminary look-see into Harmony “and all the other charter school operators in the state.

“It’s nothing criminal. We just want to see whether they are spending our (state) money wisely,” he said. “There have been some concerns about (Harmony) building schools without competitive bidding, and about other issues, but we are going to looking at every one of the charters.”

Austin-American Statesman

Harmony schools are on record in that article as “welcoming the investigation” but I can’t imagine a group in their position daring to even suggest that the waste of time and money involved in investigating superior schools (for any other reason than to determine and duplicate their superior tactics) might not be welcome. Jack-booted fear mongers tend to not react well when their authority is questioned.

The Root of All Anti-Evolutionism

The title and this clip are from an article I had up on a Firefox tab for awhile now. the page format is ridiculously hard to read, but here’s the gist:

…for me the primary issue is literalism, the secondary issue is education. You take a stupid person and force them through college and they’ll buy into the mainstream system instead of dumb countercultures. You allow a smart person to remain outside of the system and even with their own native intelligence don’t expect them not to deviate into weird idea-space. This is obvious insofar as Isaac Newton was certainly smarter than anyone reading this weblog, but he was wrong when it came to all sorts of scientific questions and you are correct, because the system of science upon which we rely upon today maps more closely onto reality as it is than it did in ~1700. Isaac Newton may have been a Creationist in 1700, but if he was reborn today he would almost certainly not be, because most smart people put more credence in the cultural wisdom of the smart than that of the stupid.

Also, it looks like Creationists have attained such critical mass among movement conservatives that the political and the theological are hard to disentangle. There are many smart and well educated conservatives who are Creationist, because literalism has become common enough that the peer-group norms have shifted.

Discover Magazine

Several graphs in the article quantify data from the Religious Landscape Survey which show that it’s not religious people who reject evolution.

…it really is stupid people.

So it should come as no surprise that the SBOE is going to open up the question of teaching evolution in science classes, once again. Texas government suffers under a larger than average share if ignorance, idiocy and stupidity. This has been true (apparently) since Sam Houston left office with the statement “I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon her.” after Texas had voted to secede from the union. I had hopes that we had reversed this trend in recent years, but the sitting head of the SBOE is determined to continue it:

Cargill was elected to the board in 2004 and is up for re-election in 2012. Her tenure is already off to a rocky start with some of her fellow Republicans after her comments earlier this month that the board has only six “true” conservative Christians. There are 11 Republicans on the board.

“Right now, there are six true conservative Christians on the board, so we have to fight for two votes. In previous years, we had to fight for one vote to get a majority,” Cargill said during a July 7 meeting of the conservative group Texas Eagle Forum.

The Huffington Post

Her measure of True Conservative Christian? Young Earth Creationists. Stupid people.

Thankfully they have less than a majority of stupid people in the SBOE, and it appears that more level heads did prevail, this time:

Today the State Board of Education voted to adopt the Texas education commissioner’s recommended list of science instructional materials. Special interest groups and activists off the state board failed in their efforts to force publishers to change their instructional materials to include arguments against evolutionary science. In addition, the board voted unanimously to reject the adoption of instructional materials from a New Mexico-based vendor that promoted “intelligent design”/creationism.

TFN Insider

But, as the post goes on to note, next year brings a review of the health standards for education (can you say “abstinance only”? I knew that you could) in Texas, so don’t expect this fight to end anytime soon.

Perry’s Religious Road to the White House?

Before the rest of ya’ll learned to despise the man who served as the 43rd President of the U.S. (not to be mistaken with his father, a man of the same name) George W. Bush was a lauded Governor of Texas. I didn’t have much of an opinion of him, one way or the other. I’m not into sports, so W’s ownership of the Texas Rangers meant little to me, and that single fact (combined with his father’s having been President) seemed to gain him the governorship.

I thought Ann Richards a better governor at the time, although his wife was visible doing good things for education in Texas. I’m not sure what he did to be lauded as governor. I never saw him do much more than make feel good speeches and cut ribbons (kissed a few babies, too) There were rumors of his drinking and whatever use even then, but he seemed to be pretty harmless in the scheme of things (little did we know) willing to be the figurehead that is the sole job of a Texas governor.

His Lt. Governor was a little-known climber by the name of Rick Perry; a literal political chameleon who changed party to Republican when he saw that it would give him an ‘in’ as Governor of Texas when his predecessor moved up to the White House. Not only did he change parties but he became a devout, embracing religious right causes calculated to win favor amongst his supporters; a man that has wielded religion as a cudgel at every opportunity, to the detriment of the state. Instead of being the figurehead that governors are relegated to by the Texas constitution, He’s subverted the office by orchestrating the creation of a tollway commission which he controls, a foreign run for profit company that charges Texans to drive on roads that they pay to build with their own taxes.

I could go on painting this picture, but you probably get my point already. As much disdain as I have for W, I’ll take a coke-sniffing, drunken buffoon of a governor over an actual crook and hypocrite any day of the week. It should come as no surprise that the same Rick Perry that changed parties in order to secure the governorship, and that has found religion useful in holding the governor’s office in Texas for longer than any other governor in history, is intending to use religion as his vehicle to run for the White House:

New reports of closed-door meetings and conference calls indicate that religious-right kingmakers are coming together in support of a presidential bid by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. One of those closed-door confabs occurred two weeks ago, when Gov. Perry spoke before a virtual “who’s who” of religious-right leaders gathered in the North Texas city of Euless (just outside Dallas), EthicsDaily.com reports.

TFN Insider

Given that he’s consistently used religion to gain political favor during his several terms as governor, it should be no surprise to Texans that their governor is planning to use religion to attempt to gain the White house. The next step on this road appears to be a prayer meeting scheduled for August 6th (TFN has an open letter you can sign on to if you want to stand in opposition to this event) The no-holds-barred blurb for the event runs like this:

We believe that America is in a state of crisis. Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles.

According to the Bible, the answer to a nation in such crisis is to gather in humility and repentance and ask God to intervene. The Response will be a historic gathering of people from across the nation to pray and fast for America.

theresponseusa.com

Of course, when you rent a stadium, and plan on filling it with the devout on the pretense of praying for the future of America (that future America being lead by one President Rick Perry, no doubt) calling your event a prayer meeting sounds like pious bullshit.

What Governor Good Hair has failed to take into account is that there are laws against using religion this way in the US (one might be forgiven for not knowing this, considering how often religion is misused in this fashion) and has been sued over his event’s blatant mixing of church & state:

The federal lawsuit seeks to declare Perry’s participation in the prayer rally and his proclamation unconstitutional, to enjoin his further involvement, and to order corrective action. FFRF seeks to stop further publication of the proclamation, to declare the use of the official state seal of Texas unconstitutional, to order the governor to withdraw permission for the AFA to use his written and videotaped promotions (“Gov. Perry’s Invitation Video”) and radio recordings at their website, to remove links from the governor’s website, as well as enjoining Perry from issuing and disseminating further Day of Prayer proclamations or designations.

FFRF press release

Here’s hoping they have better luck with this one than they did with the National Day of Prayer lawsuit. Thankfully it won’t be up to the elected (and resultantly biased) courts of Texas. This is a federal issue, it will go to federal court. Yes, I imagine he’ll make hay over being told he can’t use religion to win the White House. Whatever it takes to shoot this pretender down, I’m all for.

Postscript

The case has been dismissed:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s lawsuit challenging Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s sponsorship of an Aug. 6 prayer event at Reliant Stadium in Houston was dismissed July 28 by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who ruled that the plaintiffs lack standing.

FFRF and five of its Houston members sued to block Perry from continued endorsement of the Christian event titled “The Response.” Miller (appointed in 2006 by President Bush) declined to grant a restraining order against the governor and dismissed the suit, saying that the plaintiffs had not been coerced into attending the rally. The judge did not address the merits of the case.

FFRF plans to appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or to reconfigure the case so that it may be heard again. FFRF maintains that coercion into a religious practice is not required in order to bring suit under the Establishment Clause.

“Government endorsement of one religious view that excludes other religions and nonbelievers is enough,” said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president.

ffrf.org

Suits brought against the government are routinely dismissed on standing these days. It has become nearly impossible to even bring a suit against the government and not have it dismissed on standing, much less win a case against the government.

…Which is why the Freedom From religion Foundation are planning a protest the day of the event at Reliant Stadium since Gov. Good Hair is still making noises like he’s planning on attending as the governor, not a private citizen, the basis for the dismissal on standing.

Sunset the SBOE. It’s the Only Viable Solution.

Textbooks from ten years ago are the subject of a current resolution; and even at that, erroneous conclusions from 10 year old textbooks. Why hasn’t the SBOE been sunset yet? Clearly, they don’t have enough real work to keep them busy:

This resolution is another example of state board members putting politics ahead of expertise and refusing to consider the advice of real scholars before doing something provocative and divisive. Indeed, the board has asked no scholars or other experts for public advice about the resolution. Moreoever, the resolution insists that the board has the authority to reject any proposed textbooks that do not deal with Christianity and Islam as board members desire. As a result, this measure represents and end-run around Texas law barring the board from editing or censoring textbooks.

TFN Insider: Attacking Religious Freedom: The Anti-Islam Resolution
Texas Freedom NetworkRandy Rives Fears “Pro-Islamic/Anti-Christian Bias” in Textbooks – Jul 29, 2010

Not a Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles

Make no mistake what the goals of the SBOE are:

Dunbar, in her 2008 book, One Nation Under God, argued that the Founders created “an emphatically Christian government” (page 18 of her book) and that government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test” (page 47). Even more damning, this State Board of Education member wrote that public education is a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion,” tyrannical and unconstitutional.

TFN Insider: Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles
Texas Freedom Network“a Christian land governed by Christian principles” – May 21, 2010

…and while these members have been handed their hats over this embarrassing situation they’ve created, they are bound and determined to force this farce into the next generation of Texas textbooks.

If you aren’t clear on why the US isn’t a Christian nation, Just look at the constitution. Notice the word ‘god’ is not present in the document. Check out this entry on the Bad Astronomy blog. Here, I’ll save you the time and just post the bus sign here. This pretty much says it all:

Texas SBOE Destroys Education

Just got done listening to Common Sense 172. I generally agree with Dan on a lot of things. This is one time I think there’s more threat here than he’s willing to admit to.

As an example, here’s a quote from show Number 8:

“I’m not an intelligent design guy, I’m just an open-minded guy. I don’t mind a whole bunch of theories being thrown out there. I think we’ve really forgotten in this whole evolution thing is that the name of this whole evolution thing is the theory of evolution.

I’m not suggesting that Dan is a creationist, or even a christian. What I am suggesting is that the arguments of the Religious Reich (and I’ve heard this exact phrase come out of ID defenders mouths before) have seeped into the common arguments presented by average people who don’t necessarily understand what scientists mean when they use the word theory. Gravitational theory is only a theory too. But I wouldn’t suggest you jump off a building and expect to float. There is every bit as much science backing evolution as there is gravitation. Perhaps more. Dan has gone on the attack against science in the past (episode 5 for those with the DVD) albeit attacking pop science. And yet the scientific method is the only method that has been shown to be capable of determining what truth is.

Science is under attack here in Texas, more than history is. The SBOE has specifically gone on the attack against the scientific method itself, attempting to undercut the basis for our technological society. The stories coming out about the history textbooks just highlight what kind of mental neanderthals are serving on the SBOE, and what their real goals are.

Here’s a quote from the story in the NY Times:

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.
Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.
“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

Excuse me if I don’t buy McLeroy’s arguments on the subject of the skewing of academia. His past support for inclusion of the teaching of creationism in science classrooms (which is distinctly NOT science) and his boards attempts to manipulate the definition of the scientific method so that Intelligent Design would meet the criteria, have shown that he is no friend of education, or our technologically based society either (which only exists because of the scientific method) which makes me question the justification for his chairing the board that dictates what Texas children will be taught in coming years.

The one thing I do agree with Dan on, on this subject, is the legitimacy of the existence of these types of boards in the first place. There isn’t any. They should all be disbanded, and the controls for what is taught should be handed back to the teachers and parents. The people directly involved in educating the children.

Because, trust me, education begins at home. No matter what school sets out to teach my children, they get an education in critical thinking from me.


I seem to have started an interesting thread over at the Common Sense forum. Still think Dan didn’t hit the SBOE hard enough. Jon Stewart did.

THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART – DON’T MESS WITH TEXTBOOKS – 3/17/2010

I’d like to put this in perspective. The rest of the nation is buying textbooks that meet standards set by a state whose students are not even close to the best performers in the nation.

Bureaucracy in action.

For those who might think I exaggerate the threat, here’s a list of the worst of the current changes proposed by the SBOE to the Social Studies curriculum, from the TFN website:

  • Religious conservatives on the board killed a proposed standard that would have required high school government students to “examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others.” That means the board rejected teaching students about the most fundamental constitutional protection for religious freedom in America. (3/11/10)
  • Even as board members continued to demand that students learn about “American exceptionalism,” they stripped Thomas Jefferson from a world history standard about the influence of Enlightenment thinkers on political revolutions from the 1700s to today. In Jefferson’s place, the board’s religious conservatives inserted Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. They also removed the reference to “Enlightenment ideas” from the standard, requiring that students simply learn about the “writings” of various thinkers (including Calvin and Aquinas). (3/11/10)
  • Board conservatives succeeded in censoring the word “capitalism” in the standards, requiring that the term for that economic system be called “free enterprise” throughout all social studies courses. Board members such as Terri Leo and Ken Mercer charged that “capitalism” is a negative term used by “liberal professors in academia.” (3/11/10)
  • The board removed the concepts of “justice” and “responsibility for the common good” from a list of characteristics of good citizenship for Grades 1-3. (The proposal to remove “equality” failed.) (1/14/10)
  • Social conservatives on the board removed Santa Barraza from a Grade 7 Texas history standard on Texans who have made contributions to the arts because they objected to one of her (many) paintings — one including a depiction of a woman’s exposed breasts. Yet some of Barraza’s works had been displayed in the Texas Governor’s Mansion during the gubernatorial administration of George W. Bush in the 1990s. (3/11/10)
  • The board stripped Dolores Huerta, cofounder of United Farm Workers of America, from a Grade 3 list of “historical and contemporary figures who have exemplified good citizenship.” Conservative board members said Huerta is not a good role model for third-graders because she’s a socialist. But they did not remove Hellen Keller from the same standard even though Keller was a staunch socialist. Don McLeroy, a conservative board member who voted to remove Huerta, had earlier added W.E.B. DuBois so the Grade 2 standards. McLeroy apparently didn’t know that DuBois had joined the Communist Party in the year before he died. (1/14/10)
  • In an absurd attempt to excuse Joseph McCarthy’s outrageous witchhunts in the 1950s, far-right board members succeeded in adding a requirement that students learn about “communist infiltration in U.S. government” during the Cold War. (Board member Don McLeroy has even claimed outright that Joseph McCarthy has been “vindicated,” a contention not supported by mainstream scholarship.) (1/15/10)
  • The board voted in January to remove children’s book author Bill Martin Jr. from a Grade 3 standard about significant writers and artists because members confused the author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? with another Bill Martin who had written a book about Marxism. An embarrassed board reinserted Martin into the Grade 3 standards in March. (3/11/10)
  • Board members added Friedrich von Hayek to a standard in the high school economics course even though some board members acknowledged that they had no idea who the Austrian-born economist even was. (3/11/10)
  • The board added a requirement that American history students learn about conservative heroes and icons such as Phyllis Schlafly, the Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority. The board included no similar standard requiring students to learn about individuals and organizations simply because they are liberal. (1/15/10)
  • Board conservatives passed a standard for the eighth-grade U.S. history class requiring students to learn about the ideas in Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address as president of the Confederacy during the Civil War. (1/14/10)
  • In a high school government standard about “the importance of the expression of different points of view in a democratic republic,” the board added a requirement that students learn about the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. (3/11/10)
  • The board’s bloc of social conservatives tried to water down instruction on the history of the civil rights movement. One board amendment, for example, would have required students to learn that the civil rights movement created “unreasonable expectations for equal outcomes.” That failed to pass. Other amendments passed in January minimized the decades of struggle by women and ethnic minorities to gain equal and civil rights. (Board member Don McLeroy even claimed that women and minorities owed thanks to men and “the majority” for their rights. Earlier in the revision process, a conservative appointed by McLeroy to a curriculum team had complained about an “over-representation of minorities” in the standards.) Under pressure from civil rights groups, the board partially reversed those earlier amendments. (3/11/10)
  • The board’s right-wing faction removed references to “democratic” (or “representative democracy”) when discussing the U.S. form of government. The board’s majority Republicans changed those references to “constitutional republic.” Board member Cynthia Dunbar also won approval for changing references to “democratic societies” to “societies with representative government.” (3/11/10)
  • Religious conservatives stripped from the high school sociology course a standard having students “differentiate between sex and gender as social constructs and determine how gender and socialization interact.” Board member Barbara Cargill argued that the standard would lead students to learn about “transexuals, transvestites and who knows what else.” She told board members she had conducted a “Google search” to support her argument. Board member Ken Mercer complained that the amendment was about “sex.” The board consulted no sociologists during the debate. (3/11/10)
  • Board member Barbara Cargill proposed a standard to the high school economics course requiring students to “analyze the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar since the inception of the Federal Reserve System since 1913.” After debate, the board passed a revised standard that requires students to “analyze the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar, including the abandonment of the gold standard.” References to 1913 and the Federal Reserve System were dropped. The board consulted no economists during the debate. (3/11/10)
  • The board approved a standard requiring students to learn about “any unintended consequences” of the Great Society, affirmative action and Title IX. (3/11/10)
  • In a high school U.S. history standard on musical genres that have been popular over time, the board’s bloc of social conservatives removed “hip hop,” equating this broad genre with “gangsta rap.” (3/11/10)
  • The board voted to use “BC” and “AD” rather than “BCE” and “CE” in references to dates in the history classes. That means students going off to college won’t be familiar with what has become an increasingly common standard for dates. (3/10/10)
  • The board removed Oscar Romero, a prominent Roman Catholic archbishop who was assassinated in 1980 (as he was celebrating Mass) by rightists in El Salvador, from a world history standard about leaders who led resistance to political oppression. Romero, they argued, wasn’t of the same stature as others listed in the standards: Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi. One board member argued that “he didn’t have his own movie like the others.” He quickly reversed himself — the film Romero, based on the archbishop’s life, was released in 1989 and starred actor Raul Julia in the title role. (3/10/10)
  • The board’s right-wing faction removed a reference to propaganda as a factor in U.S. entry into World War I. (The role of propaganda on behalf of both the Allies and Central Powers in swaying public opinion in the United States is well-documented. Republican Pat Hardy noted that her fellow board members were “rewriting history” with that and similar changes.) (1/15/10)
  • The board changed a “imperialism” to “expansionism” in a U.S. history course standard about American acquisition of overseas territories in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Board conservatives argued that what the United States did at the time was not the same as European imperialism. (1/15/10)

(source Texas Freedom Network TFN Insider: The List of Shame in Texas)

Some additional articles in the local paper:

Editor’s note

This is a compilation of my thoughts on the topic of the SBOE and the conversation with Dan Carlin’s forum community about this episode, cribbed from this and other threads preserved at Archive.org. Both episode 8 and episode 5 of Common Sense are no longer available from Dan Carlin’s merchandise page. I still have the DVD I bought from him back in the day. This article and the thread on the forum spawned the infamous Atheism is Not a Belief System thread and article.

FFrF Radio. First week of August

Podcast Link.
August 2, 2008Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics For Choice, Ryan Valentine of the Texas Freedom Network

Jon O’Brien was on in part because of the plight of Webster Cook (on Freethought Radio two weeks ago) and in part a response to William Donahue who has capitalized on events of late, gaining the spotlight by claiming victimhood for Catholics and christians in general. As President of Catholics for Choice, Jon O’Brien has a few pointed comments in response to Donahue’s appearances in the media.

Ryan Valentine (calling from Austin!) of the Texas Freedom Network was interviewed concerning the SBOE’s ill-advised decision last week to pass guidelines for Bible Courses in Texas (I sent my objections to the governor myself, with the suggestion that McLeroy should be sacked) litigation has already been filed, so additional state expenditures on this issue are guaranteed.

Texans interested in preserving the separation of church and state in Texas should Take Action at the TFN website.

It ain’t necessarily so.
The things that your liable to read in the bible,
it ain’t necessarily so.

George Gershwin, Porgy & Bess

2007 Archive episode.
August 4, 2007Special Guest: August Brunsman, director of the Secular Student Alliance

Theocracy Alert. Newspaper editor with more status than brains is set straight; at least on this program. She remained unapologetic in the face of several letters of protest.

August Brunsman of the Secular Student Alliance was on to discuss the advancing cause of freethought amongst the next generation, and the disturbing amount of money funneled into christian causes like Campus Crusade.

Dan Barker’s work on Yip Harburg‘s Rhymes for the Irreverent. Snippets from this song are frequently used as bumper music in later episodes of the show.

Pagan pulpit wraps up the episode. Tithing supported in the bible? Not the way you might think.

Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

2006 Archive episode.
August 5, 2006Agnostic Recalled from Office over Pledge Issue: Dave Habecker

Theocracy Alert. Reading from the Associated Baptist Press, a speech by Walter Sheridan, calling attention to recent disturbing trends in religion. The continuing saga of the Mt. Solidad Cross.

Dave Habecker was recalled from his trustees position in Estes Park, Colorado, for failing to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance (I’m betting my position on the pledge would send Estes Park into orbit) which does nothing less than establish a religious test for holding office.

Freethinkers Almanac features Rupert Brook and Percy Shelley.

I’m studiously ignoring the plug for Inconvenient Truth at the end of the episode, because it’s not convenient to rant about the environment right now. But then, there’s always Bullshit! to fall back on, when the previous rants fall short.