Opinion: Critical Race Theory

Opinion: Critical Race Theory

By George Smith  — June 19, 2021

Critical race theory (CRT). I thought I knew what it meant. I didn’t.

Is “critical race theory” a way of understanding how American racism has shaped public policy, or a divisive discourse that pits people of color against white people? Liberals and conservatives are in sharp disagreement. (What else is new?)

The topic has exploded in the public arena this spring—especially in K-12, where numerous state legislatures are debating bills seeking to ban its use in the classroom, in effect, banning episodes in history that may be unpleasant.

In truth, the divides are not nearly as neat as they may seem. The events of the last decade have increased public awareness about things like housing segregation, the impacts of criminal justice policy in the 1990s, and the legacy of enslavement on black Americans. But there is much less consensus on what the government’s role should be in righting these past wrongs. Add children and schooling into the mix and the debate becomes especially volatile.

School boards, superintendents, even principals and teachers are already facing questions about critical race theory, and there are significant disagreements even among experts about its precise definition as well as how its tenets should inform K-12 policy and practice. This explainer is meant only as a starting point to help educators grasp core aspects of the current debate.

Just what is critical race theory anyway?

“Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies,” according to Wikipedia.

The basic tenets of CR emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others.

A good example is when, in the 1930s, government officials literally drew lines around areas deemed poor financial risks, often explicitly due to the racial composition of inhabitants. Banks subsequently refused to offer mortgages to Black people in those areas.

(Note: The older I get, the more I read, the more research I do to help explain things.)

Growing up in Avery, an all-white East Texas enclave of about 300 souls, I was fortunate to have teachers that “taught” history as it should be taught, as a series of events that formed our present. They taught the good, the bad and the ugly.

I learned the name of the first black man to set foot on Texas soil (Estavancio,),  was a slave to Spanish explorers;  I was taught how Texas independence fighters wrested the future state from Mexico in a massive land grab; and  how settlers mistreated Native Americans in a series of illegal land acquisitions and broken treaties.

You know, history, real history, not the sanitized version being taught mostly back then…and still today.

History is history, it is truth. Truth: George Armstrong Custer was no gallant prairie warrior defending “real” Americans from savages; Abraham Lincoln had human flaws, including a plan to relocate tens of thousands of former slaves to a Caribbean island; and, when the Constitution was written, “All men are created equal…” did not mean what it said.

To teach the flaws in our development of this country is important to enlighten citizens to past mistakes so we do not repeat them.

That’s the beauty of looking at the past objectively, so we can learn from past mistakes and, thus, create a path to a brighter future.

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The Bible

The Bible

By George Smith

We all know that the Bible can be used to inspire, excite, motivate, punish and/or shame. Subjective  scripture-pulling is as old as the scriptures; just because it’s a common practice doesn’t make it right.

Controversial topics — from capital punishment to immigration to homosexuality — have pro and con arguments supposedly linked to scriptures in the Old and New testaments or lack thereof.

Some folks love beating gay rights activists with Old Testament scripture, ignoring the fact Jesus was on Earth 33 years and never once addressed the issue. They are afraid to mention the earliest drafts of certain books of the Bible which mentioned same-sex relationships, condemning only sex between adults  and children, never consensual adults. (Check it out. I did.)

These are the same folks who use the Second Amendment to advocate for the right to carry any weapon anywhere, but conveniently forget the key phrase “well-regulated militia” is part of that  amendment.

The Bible is an inspirational book, no doubt. But there are parts of it that have been altered/rewritten numerous times and human prejudices and biases are evident .

Some parts of the Bible are simply ignored.  When’s the  last time you heard a sermon about Sarah and her arranging a sexual encounter between a servant and her husband? Or King David had an affair with a married woman, impregnated her and sent her husband to his death in battle?

The Bible has numerous scriptures that would be supermarket tabloid headlines  if the events happened today.

The Hunter Biden and Matt Gaetz stories would not even be in the first 6-7 pages of The Globe or National Enquirer if in competition with Bible scandals.

In other words, folks believe what they want to believe and ignore truths (or twist the facts) to suit their personal argument.

Ignorance is no excuse when your stance on an issue  infringes on the rights of others. And it makes no difference where your beliefs come from, including political philosophies or pundits, charismatic politician figures or the Bible.

Like the edict of doctors, all folks with opinions should, first, take an oath to “do no harm”.

George S. Smith

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Texas First District Rep. Louis Gohmert

 Texas First District Rep. Louis Gohmert

By George Smith

Listen up, supporters of Texas First District Rep. Louis Gohmert! 

I am not saying this man is stupid. No, not stupid. He is a lawyer, former judge and street-smart enough to convince voters that he has their best interests at heart AND that he is a force to be reckoned with in the unhallowed halls of Congress.

Truth time: He is an ignorant, slobber-

jawed, lie-spouter who is an embarrassment to himself and everybody who votes for him.

But he’s not stupid. What he is is gullible, inane, short-sighted, pointless, insensate, irrelevant, nonsensical, puerile, laughable, naive and obtuse.

And, indiscreet, moronic, trivial, imbecilic, deficient, unthinking, witless, doltish, stolid, mush-headed, dense and dopey.

Oh, but his supporters say, he is in touch with his constituents and looks after their best interests.

To that, I say, set your expectations higher that having a congressional representative that is ridiculed as one of the Capitol’s Top 3 Dumbest Elected Officials.

Voters, it’s not enough for you that your representative is still playing Follow the Leader with Ex-Twice Impeached President Trump, right? Or that he is not interested in supporting a congressional investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol?

How ridiculous is Gohmert? Here’s a manly quote from him about the Jan. 6 insurrection attempt:

“The overwhelming number of people caught up in this ‘unprecedented’ investigation … they’re actually nonviolent, peaceful Americans,” Gohmert said. “Their only crime was supporting Donald Trump and concern about the fraud Democrats have been telling us about in elections for many years.”

Or this quote after the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting by James Holmes:

Gohmert wasn’t concerned about, say, mental health issues, or some form of social trigger — but, rather, that he didn’t have the appropriate fear of a vengeful, unforgiving God: “You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place. … We’ve threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.”

And don’t forget about his unhinged hangup on “anchor babies”.

Gohmert is convinced, all evidence otherwise, that there are terrorist organizations — somewhere, somehow — concocting schemes to send their pregnant Black Widows to our American shores, spawning natural-born terrorists, and then using them and their US Citizenship Cards, decades on, to decimate the land we call home: “[The children] could be raised and coddled as future terrorists [and] twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.

Gohmert is a fungus that is creating an untenable perception about the voters of Texas First District. A vote for Gohmert is a vote for legalized lunacy.

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The Two Worst Signature Brand Names

The Two Worst Signature Brand Names

By George Smith

The two worst signature brand names in human history are so bad….

How bad are they?

Branding has always been around.

Always.

Neanderthals branded: “Ikol strong!”

Seafaring Vikings branded; “Hold fast!”Crusaders branded: “For God and Country!”

Company’s brand: “Ford tough!”; “Mom, apple pie and Chevrolet”; “Folger’s—Good to the last drop”.

High schools, mom and pop businesses, sports teams, colleges…they all brand their individual entities.

But two brands stand out as the worst of the worst brands EVER: “Global warming” and “Defund the police”.

“Global warming”, as a term, is technically correct; the planet IS getting warmer. However, that heating trend is triggering unstable weather conditions and patterns,resulting in record abhorrent weather conditions: Record  droughts, extreme snowfalls, rising  temperatures, more hurricanes… the list goes on.

“Defund the police” is a knee-jerk moniker that emerged as a chant phrase for participants in protests and riots stemming from incidents of police shootings or brutality, mainly on minorities.

Neither term is correct in the arena of public information consumption and gives certain groups a clear shot at minimizing or even ridiculing the issues.

Global warming” should be referred to as “climate change”. That’s what it is and with that term one doesn’t have to explain  20-inch powder snowfall and record low temperatures in South Arkansas.

A much more appropriate term for “Defund the Police” would be “Police Reform” or “Police Reorganization.”

Few sane people want no law enforcement; the protesters and activists simply want positive change.

Branding. Terms that are supposed to describe cataclysmic events need a concerted effort to make sure the phrases selected accurately describe the event or issue. Brands and catchy phrases should not give negative ammunition to those that oppose the movements or simple demands for change.

Creating a movement for societal change is never easy. The movement’s brand should be positive, accurate in its intent and message and should not create a roadblock to a successful conclusion.

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Is it a possibility that

Is it a possibility that

By George Smith

Hmmmm.

Would it even be in the realm of possibility that Ex-President Donald J. Trump executed a fistful of pocket pardons for himself, family members and    a couple of the wretched faithful like Rudy Guiliani?

Is that ever possible?

Newsweek headline:

“Michael Cohen Thinks Donald Trump Issued Secret Pardons for Himself, His Children and Giuliani”

Story:

Former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen on Sunday expressed his belief that the ex-president had issued pardons for himself, his children and Rudy Giuliani before leaving office.

Trump granted last-minute pardons to 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70, including Steve Bannon and rapper Kodak Black. But his list did not include preemptive pardons for himself, his family or Giuliani.

Cohen told MSNBC host Alex Witt that he started to ponder why the former president didn’t issue pardons for himself, his children or Giuliani after “knowing Donald Trump for well over a decade.”

“I started thinking to myself it doesn’t really make sense because it’s not like Donald Trump, so what am I missing?” he said.

Cohen concluded that Trump could have already pardoned himself, his children and Giuliani in secret, in what he referred to as “pocket pardons.”

Definition:

A “pocket pardon” is also known as a “secret pardon”.

When Presidents issue pardons, there are no explicit instructions in the Constitution stating that they need to publicize the names of the people that they are pardoning.

So, in theory, a President could issue “secret pardons” that would only surface if:

1) The person that is pardoned is charged with a federal crime in the future

2) The President, or a future President, decides to make the pardons public

So, in theory, a President could issue a “pocket pardon” to anybody, including himself.

This has never been done before (that anybody knows of), and scholars have been debating the legality of the “pocket pardon”.

Hmmmm.

Never been done before? That has “Trump” written all over it.

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Witch Hunt

Witch Hunt

By George Smith

You’ve heard those words scores of times…in tweets, pass-along Facebook posts, from uninformed, misguided and/or delusional Trump supporters, and from the former president himself.

The term “witch hunt”, In this case, now, today, is officially a “witch hunt”.

Which? Civil or criminal investigation?

Which? State or federal?

Which? Who or what is the investigation target?

Donald Trump is not the original “Teflon Don”; that title rests solely on

the shoulders of the late mafia honcho John Gotta of New York. Gotta dodged numerous state and federal investigations toward the end of his crime boss career until he was sentenced to a life term for a variety of crimes including murder in 1992.

Trump, while not a true mafioso, ran a series of scams and tax dodges in New York for decades. He was considered immune from major investigations until his ego overloaded his street sense and he ran for president. The target on his back increased exponentially in size with his election and catch-me-if-you-can demeanor.

His sheer arrogance, thumbing his nose at conventional behavior and outrageous lies that could be dispelled through a single Google search, are reasons he is now under investigation for alleged civil AND criminal activities in multiple states.

Like Gotti, Trump surrounded himself with yes-men and buttocks-hugging sycophants. Now, also like in Gotti’s  case, Trump underlings are turning on him to save themselves.

Trump’s con games are not new news. Remember the lawsuit which shuttered Trump University and resulted in a multi-million-dollar settlement with disgruntled “students”? And it’s worth noting the Trump Foundation was orders closed by the State of New York after the foundation was discovered to be a personal piggy bank for the Trump clan.

Now, however, the stakes have risen dramatically for Trump and his hangers-on.

The New York attorney general has announced two important developments: 1) The civil probe of the former president has moved into the criminal arena; and 2) The AG is working with the Manhattan district attorney which helps connect dots between the investigating agencies and puts more feet, hands and brains into the case.

The question still unclear is whether the criminal investigation is against the Trump Organization as a corporate entity or is focusing on individuals, i.e., Trump, family members, other organization officials?

Stay tuned. The ride on the Trump Inquiry Train has been long and bumpy.

And that is not expected to change in the foreseeable future.

For Trump, there does not seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s just a tunnel….a long, dark, isolated tunnel.

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Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming

Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming

By George Smith

Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming.

Representative.

Third ranking Republican in the House.

97 percent conservative voting rating.

98 percent of her votes backed President Donald Trump’s agenda.

Her party is turning on her for two “sins”:  She voted to impeach President Trump for inciting the Capitol insurrection AND she has stated publicly the 2020 election was not stolen, that Joe Biden won fair and square, time to move on.

Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, is showing her party a path — a wide, beautiful path — out of the suffocating quicksand that was the Trump’s presidency; her party leaders and party members are ignoring her gracious overtures and are prepared to toss her bodily into any handy briar patch B just to shut her up, to diminish her pulpit power.

Instead of saying “Thank God for Liz and her dose of common sense,” the party leaders and lead talkers, all irregulars in the Department of Truth, are treating her like Hester Prynne in the “Scarlet Letter.”.

In a word, this conservative woman who deeply believes in old-times Republican values and has followed the party line to the edge of her personal ethical abyss, is declared  “unclean” by her peers.

Cheney, Mitt Romney and a few other Republican House members, are putting their political futures on the line by simply telling the truth about The Big Lie of a “stolen election” that was not stolen.

This handful of Republicans clearly see three things: 1. Following the ideological whims of a disgraced, twice-impeached president is doing irreparable harm to the Republican Party and its brand; 2. Claiming the Jan. 6 insurrection was no big deal, that Russian influence in the 2016 election was a hoax and that The 2020 election was stolen is folly and party officials should move on and focus on more tangible issues; and, 3. History will paint the Trump era as a Cult of Personality and those that partook of his poisonous bare-assed charisma will forever be portrayed as mere mice following a felonious pied piper into the political wilderness.

If you are a Trumpster today, and you do not see the nakedness of your “emperor” in light of current events and judicial rulings, what outcome can you expect by sticking with a disgraced  charlatan and felonious, politician Neanderthal?

Your history and life-tags are being written as you read this: Willing victim or Stockholm Syndrome survivor: easily led patsy; duped rube; one-issue follower sand believer.

Regardless of tag you collect, you are on the wrong side of history and complicit in the unraveling of the core thread of decency that IS the United States.

Trump promised you a better America. What you got — what we all received —

was a divided nation of haves and have-nots, a racially split country in which civil rights took a huge step backwards and a nation in which winning became more important than being right or honest or ethical.

The Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney approach to saving the integrity, the very soul, of the GOP is the path out of the political wilderness that is Trump’s legacy.

How many party members will see that Cheney snd Romneybare right and that continuing to admire the manuacal misadventures of a displaced, tin-pot, woukd-be dictator, is sheer folly and guaranteed to relegate the party to the dust bin of history.

Bullmoose Party? Know Nothing? Whigs”? Federalists? Constitutional Union?

Et tu, Republican Party?

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WOKENESS

WOKENESS

“WOKENESS”  noun [ U ] mainly US informal

US/ˈwoʊk.nəs/ UK  /ˈwəʊk.nəs/

“a state of being aware, especially of social problems such as racism and inequality”

I finally looked up this stupid word that people are throwing around like a warmup ball at a baseball game; I thought I knew what it meant, but wanted the clinical definition.

Sen. Ted Cruz lambasted the proponents of “wokeness” on a weekend interview, saying it was a condition foisted upon the nation by professors in liberal colleges and universities.

No, cease and desist, that’s not right. That was Democrat consultant and self-promotimg, anything-GOP-is-bad manta spewmaster James Carville who made that pronouncement; Cruz urged folks to stand up to “wokeness” in corporate America.

To further stir the pot full of “woken”, socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders said Carville opined Carville had ceased to be relevant on any issue of national importance.

Wake up on the woke issue! Why in Dick’s hat band woujd anyone be AGAINST more folks becoming aware of the extent of apparent meat-fisted societal ills like inequality and racism?

Both exist in this country, in our individual communities: That is a fact.

Every single American should be cognizant of that fact and pledge as individuals to work to bring segments of the country together rather than spout balderdashisn BS that only serve to further divide us.

The only element wrong with “wokeness”?  It is those officials and their minions who do not want the nation’s  growing abyss between political power players and their followers to shrink. An expanding division between parties, between people, positively impacts their personal  political power so they use their opposition to “wokeness” as a rallying cry and stump-speech bludgeon.

“… one nation…with liberty and justice for all.”€

Wake up to the potential of “wokeness”.

The definition of the word says it all. Tune out those that use the word as a negative cudgel to further their personal political agenda.

€ if you are wondering why I omitted “under God” from the phrase above, the nation’s founders made it clear that “separation of church snd state” was a key component to the freedoms they thought paramount in this new nation. And “under God” was only added to the pledge of allegiance in 1954.

Just another “woke” issue.

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Not a Stump-screaming, Mesmerizing Speaker. But

By George Smith

Joe Biden is not a stump-screaming, mesmerizing speaker. But Wednesday night, his message was clear: The crap we’ve been doing in the past is not going to be the path to the future.

Early observation: Only a handclapful of Republicans applauded his promise to move millions of children out of poverty. 

That’s heartless, like saying newborn kittens are ugly. 

Republicans, as a political entity and a national party, not as individuals, believe in the theory of the “unwashed masses”, a grouping of folks living in poverty that want a handout, rather than a hand up.

This rather disparaging term was coined by the Victorian novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He used it in his 1830 novel “Paul Clifford”. But the phrase is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, who never, apparently used those words in any published document or speech.

Lincoln was quoted as saying, iterations include this quote: “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves. – Abraham Lincoln” 

He never uttered those words, at least that have never been recorded.

In as early as 1967, the misattribution was explained in a congressional record. The text from the document explains that a list of ten points attributed to Lincoln “sprang from the imagination of Rev. William J. H. Boetcher, who copyrighted and printed them in 1916.”  

The report blames the Committee for Constitutional Government for having started the misattribution by selling and circulating “the spurious quotations and, thus, earned the dubious honor of having first associated Lincoln with the maxims.” 

This might explain why: The committee was a lobby created in 1937 against Franklin D. Roosevelts’ court-packing plan, part of his New Deal programs to respond to the Great Depression.

For decades, in columns and editorials, I used the “unwashed masses” phrase and attributed it to Lincoln. It’s amazing how research and reading can change personal reality.

I am hopeful today that our elected leaders can get past petty partisan politics and work together on programs desperately needed to fix the country’s ills.

Working together, in harmony, any chore becomes easier. The nation needs healing in so many ways. Now’s the time to reach across the political aisle and do what’s in the best interests of the country, not any one political party.

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You wanna talk health care?

You wanna talk health care?

By George Smith

If I didn’t have Medicare Part D, my out-of-pocket monthly expense would be about $960; Eliquis alone, without Medicare, would be $450 a month. My personal cost is about $80 a month with almost 40 percent of that amount for Eliquis alone.

Big Pharma gets away with their pricing because members of Congress are bought and paid for via campaign contributions.

Ask yourself: Why are identical drugs exponentially cheaper in other counties?

Why is a drug that costs $10 a day in Canada cost 10 times that amount in the U.S.? On average, Canadian patients pay 40 percent less than Americans.

The U.S. allows market competition to control medication pricing. This has led to higher medication prices in the U.S. than in other countries. The government in many other countries directly or indirectly manages drug costs.

The U.S. competitive marketing system, allows pharmaceutical companies to make significant profits. Manufacturers counter this complaint stating a need for profits to incentivize high-risk research.

In order for a manufacturer to get a product to market, they must pass many layers of government approval.

Between 2011 and 2015, Medicare recipients saw a 62 percent increase for brand-name drugs. The salary and pension income for those over the age of 65, however, did not meet this 62 percent rise. Thus, the steep rise in medication prices makes it very difficult for people to keep up.

Are medications really cheaper in Canada?

PharmacyChecker reports that many brand-name prescription medicines are less expensive in Canada. Yet, the U.S. Generic medications are often cheaper in the U.S. than in Canada.

Research on 20 popular brand-name drugs found a possible average savings of 70 percent when purchased in Canada. Some examples of 90-day supplies in October 2018 include:

Premarin 0.625 mg costs $623.70 in U.S. vs. $76.61 in Canada

Januvia 100 mg costs $1,593.90 in the U.S. vs. $269.94 in Canada

Crestor 10 mg costs $969.30 in the U.S. vs. $204.02 in Canada

Advair Diskus 250/50 mcg costs $1,437.99 in the U.S. vs $383.74 in Canada

Nexium 40 mg costs $863.10 in the U.S. vs. $149.94 in Canada

The U.S. government could create laws to set lower prices. Here, however, money talks and Big Pharma’s lobby

lobbyists talk BIG and LOUD!

Nothing will change until we — you, me, us, them — scream BIG and just as LOUDLY!

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