Rev. Barber on Gov. Northam: “Scapegoating politicians who are caught in the act of interpersonal racism will not address the fundamental issue of systemic racism.”

If Northam, or any politician who has worn blackface, used the n-word or voted for the agenda of white supremacy, wants to repent, the first question they must ask is “How are the people who have been harmed by my actions asking to change the policies and practices of our society?” In political life, this means committing to expand voting rights, stand with immigrant neighbors, and provide health care and living wages for all people. In Virginia, it means stopping the environmental racism of the pipeline and natural gas compressor station Dominion Energy intends to build in Union Hill, a neighborhood founded by emancipated slaves and other free African Americans.

Scapegoating politicians who are caught in the act of interpersonal racism will not address the fundamental issue of systemic racism. We have to talk about policy. But we also have to talk about trust and power. If white people in political leadership are truly repentant, they will listen to black and other marginalized people in our society. They will confess that they have sinned and demonstrate their willingness to listen and learn by following and supporting the leadership of others. To confess past mistakes while continuing to insist that you are still best suited to lead because of your experience is itself a subtle form of white supremacy.

At the same time, we cannot allow political enemies of Virginia’s governor to call for his resignation over a photo when they continue themselves to vote for the policies of white supremacy. If anyone wants to call for the governor’s resignation, they should also call for the resignation of anyone who has supported racist voter suppression or policies that have a disparate impact on communities of color.


Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy. If all this news from that state surprises you, you’ve never really thought about what that meant.

The Civil War wasn’t that long ago. In fact, it’s so recent that the daughter of a freed slave was alive to vote for Barack Obama in 2008. It only feels like ancient history because we learned as a nation to tell ourselves its ancient history. It isn’t.

And massive resistance? The whole “we would rather shut down our public school systems for years and found private segregationist academies than send our children to school with THEM” thing? That was just over half a human lifetime ago in that state.

It’s not ancient history because it’s barely even old enough to be history.

For the Record: Only 95 of the 229 Annual Messages/State of the Union Addresses Have Been Delivered In Person.

In case you do not know the full history, some facts, courtesy of your United States House of Representatives:

Origins and Authorization

The formal basis for the State of the Union Address is from the U.S. Constitution:

  • The President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.

The constitutionally mandated presidential address has gone through a few name changes:

  • It was formally known as the Annual Message from 1790 to 1946.
  • It began to be informally called the “state of the Union” message/address from 1942 to 1946.
  • Since 1947 it has officially been known as the State of the Union Address.

Earlier Annual Messages of the President included agency budget requests and general reports on the health of the economy. During the 20th century, Congress required more-specialized reports on these two aspects, separate from the Annual Message.

  • Budget Message, required by the National Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (42 Stat. 20) to be delivered to Congress no more than two weeks after Congress convenes in January.
  • Economic Report, required by the Employment Act of 1946 (60 Stat. 23), with a flexible delivery date.

Over time, as the message content changed, the focus of the State of the Union also changed:

  • In the 19th century, the annual message was both a lengthy administrative report on the various departments of the executive branch and a budget and economic message.
  • After 1913, when Woodrow Wilson revived the practice of presenting the message to Congress in person, it became a platform for the President to rally support for his agenda.
  • Technological changes—radio, television, and the Internet—further developed the State of the Union into a forum for the President to speak directly to the American people.

Technological Change


Also see: Hoyer: ‘The State Of The Union Is Off’ Until Government Reopens – Talking Points Memo

WSJ: “We cannot recall a more absurd misstatement of history by an American President.”

I mean…they’re not wrong, except perhaps for a half dozen other thing Trump has said. Still though, for my entire adult life, conservative foreign policy experts have insisted that the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and our subsequent intervention on behalf of the anti-Soviet forces there was one of the key drivers in the collapse of what Saint Ronnie called “the Evil Empire.” So for Trump to suddenly and it of nowhere parrot the community party lie that the invasion was a smart move aimed at preventing domestic terrorism….I mean…yeah, that IS pretty absurd.

150 Years Ago, a President Could Be Impeached for Improperly Firing a Cabinet Member

Once upon a time, the Republican Party impeached one of their own for improperly firing a cabinet official. These things do happen from time to time!

It resulted in an increasingly absurd spiral of one upmanship that culminated in a rare presidential veto, an even rarer congressional override, a sensational impeachment trial that was so well-attended that Congress had to raffle off tickets, and an ongoing conflict over executive power.— Read on

(Yes, AJ was only nominally “one of their own,” but that makes the comparison more interesting, not less)

Disjunction Junction!

Nothing says second half of a Disjunctive first term better than a signature policy victory that the other side of the aisle is more excited about than the president’s own party. Carter deregulated trucking and airlines, and Trump passed criminal justice reform. It’s textbook Disjunctive.

Democrats need to go big in 2020. And young. And new. This is that moment.

Disjunction Junction

Disjunctive presidents wake up after the midterms to discover they desperately need the establishment for their survival, only to discover that they’ve spent so much time pissing the establishment off with their style of rhetoric and governance that the establishment no longer wants or needs to protect them.

About that:

The paradox of American politics

This speaks to a paradox of American politics: It often feels most stable when it is least just, and it often feels least stable when progress is being made.
— Read on

That, right there, is everything. To those in power and those in positions of privilege, the injustices that brought stability were often wholly or even entirely invisible.

You grow up in the 1950s as a white kid in one of those newly developed suburban homes paid for with government assistance only available to whites, for example, and you don’t know what you don’t know, even if you do know everything is great. Then along come the 1960s and all these “others” demanding changes to your “way of life” and you’re thinking, “what did I do to deserve this? Why are they trying to take away what my parents and I worked for hard for?” You don’t see what their plight has to do with yours because you don’t see just how many of the benefits you had growing up came either at their expense or via opportunities engineered to be available to you but not to them.

It’s understandable, even if it’s a mistake. And it helps explain why the politics of backlash that is ways unleashed contains as one of it’s central elements what I call the “don’t kneel silently, stand! Don’t stand and yell, sit and speak quietly! Don’t sit and speak quietly, kneel silently!” dynamic. When the visibility of the disadvantage begins to feels like a threat to your forms of unexamined privilege, all protest by the disadvantaged becomes a threat. You begin longing to go back to the “good old days” when “those people” weren’t causing so many problems, when things were good for you and they were invisible and you didn’t know what you didn’t know and didn’t care to find out.

It’s a longing to return to the mythical past of your youth, one in which the problems of the world were invisible to you and yours. Andrew Sullivan seems to think this is Christian, but I’ve gotta say, I can’t imagine anything more antithetical to theofe of Jesus of Nazareth than the idea that things were better and less disruptive to civil society when we all agreed to just look the other way.

John Dingell: How to Fix Government – The Atlantic

John Dingell spent six decades in Congress, so there’s no one alive who knows more about how and why it works and doesn’t than him. In fact, I’d go so far as to say there’s almost no one in our entire history who had as much firsthand knowledge as him. He knows of what he speaks. Listen up!

As a young man, I served in the Army during World War II. My father was a member of Congress. I learned from him and, later, from my own experience that history always repeats itself unless we remember it with clarity and conscience.Now I am an old man. My age bears with it a responsibility to share what I’ve witnessed so that future generations avoid making the same mistakes. My advice always begins with the truth, which is why would-be despots and demagogues try so hard to discredit it. They hate it like the devil hates holy water.The conduct and outcome of the 2016 presidential election have put the future of our country in mortal peril. After a lifetime spent in public service, I never believed that day would come. Yet it has. And we now find ourselves on the precipice of a great cliff. Our next step is either into the abyss or toward a higher moral ground. Since before the Civil War, we’ve been told that “Providence watches over fools, drunkards, and the United States.” Yet the good Lord also granted us free will. The direction we choose to follow is ours alone to make. We ask only that he guide our choice with his wisdom and his grace.It’s up to you, my dear friends.

Source: John Dingell: How to Fix Government – The Atlantic