TPM Cafe: Opinion

One hundred fifty years ago today, the U.S. Army took possession of Galveston Island, a barrier island just off the Texas coast that guards the entrance to Galveston Bay, and began a late-arriving, long-lasting war against slavery in Texas. This little-known battle would endure for months after the end of what we normally think of as the Civil War. This struggle, pitting Texas freedpeople and loyalists and the U.S. Army against stubborn defenders of slavery, would become the basis for the increasingly popular celebrations of Juneteenth, a predominantly African-American holiday celebrating emancipation on or about June 19th every year.

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Last night, a white man (suspected to be 21-year-old Dylann Roof) entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, sat through an hour-long meeting, and then opened fire on those in attendance. Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a state senator, was among nine individuals who were killed. Many are shocked at not only the grisly nature of the shooting, but also its location.

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From Jon Stewart’s gleeful celebration on The Daily Show to Stephen Colbert’s pitch-perfect parody, Donald Trump’s announcement of his campaign for the presidency has been met with the mockery it seems to deserve. Judging by the “content” of his announcement speech, Trump plans to continue playing the role of the extremist right-wing id that he perfected for a time during the 2012 campaign (during which he flirted with but never actually declared a run). At that time he mostly focused on voicing birther conspiracy narratives about President Obama; this year’s announcement included xenophobic assaults on Mexican immigrants and paranoid pronouncements about ISIS and China.

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Back when the first planning meetings for Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign were likely being held, in late 2013 or early 2014, an analysis of rivals to his nomination probably looked pretty sunny.

There were a bunch of retreads from 2012, with the most threatening being the actual nominee, Mitt Romney, who occupied a position on the ideological spectrum and in the esteem of party elites uncomfortably similar to Jeb’s. There was the 2008 redux Mike Huckabee. There were the governors—Scott Walker, John Kasich and Rick Snyder—who had to get through reelection battles of varying difficulty.

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As pretty much everyone knows by now, it's been revealed that Rachel Dolezal is a white woman who not only has been passing as African American, but is also claiming her adopted brothers are her sons. The story is a complicated mess that brings up issues of race as biology or social construct and authenticity. Social media almost broke itself with memes, but just as quickly, people began questioning the mental health of Dolezal.

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Texas wants its gold back.

On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that will create a state-run gold depository in the Lone Star State – one that will attempt to rival those operated by the U.S. government inside Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s vault in lower Manhattan. “The Texas Bullion Depository,” Abbott said in a statement, “will become the first state-level facility of its kind in the nation, increasing the security and stability of our gold reserves and keeping taxpayer funds from leaving Texas to pay for fees to store gold in facilities outside our state.” Soon, Abbott’s office said, the state “will repatriate $1 billion of gold bullion from the Federal Reserve in New York to Texas.” In other words, when it comes preparing for the currency collapse and financial armeggedon, Abbott's office really seems to think Texas is a whole 'nother country.

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What led to McKinney, Texas, Police Corporal Eric Casebolt’s unnecessarily aggressive approach to breaking up a crowd of predominantly black teens at a pool party last week? As I wrote previously, police training that emphasizes a Warrior mentality likely contributed, and implicit racial bias may also have played a role. But there was perhaps another factor, one that’s too often overlooked: stress.

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Welcome to the future. A time when you can use technology to edit anything about yourself—your location, occupation, status, style, face and even your race. While some people grow accustomed to the sights and sounds of diversity and the ideal of equality, others experience “wrong skin,” significant discontent with the racial identities they’ve been assigned at birth and the stereotypical roles associated with those racial identities. NAACP spokesperson and Africana Studies professor Rachel Dolezal may be among the latter group. If that’s true, her story has much to teach us about how race looks and feels in our techno-driven world.

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When former Rhode Island governor and senator Lincoln Davenport “Linc” Chafee declared he was running for president earlier last week, he opened yet another stanza in a distinctly American poem about two dynastic Republican political families—the Bushes and the Chafees—that diverged in a New England wood. One road led to the South and Right, a path blazed by George Herbert Walker Bush and continued by his even more conservative (and authentically “Southern”) sons. The other led, well, right back where it began in Southern New England. But the Republican Party lurched so far to the right that the Chafee brand first became RINO, then Independent, and now to a presidential run as a Democrat in many ways to the left of Hillary Clinton.

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I can’t say it surprises me to see that Jerry Seinfeld, whose “observational” comedy felt dated when he was at the height of his popularity, has drifted right into cranky old man territory with a string of broadsides about how he and his are oppressed by the kids these days and their “political correctness.” Earlier this week, Seinfeld, on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd”, complained that colleges are too politically correct for comedians of his generation to play. His evidence of this was an anecdote about his 14-year-old daughter.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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