Happy Birthday In Heaven

My GrandparentsPoppa and Nana

Dear Grandpa,

I write you this letter on your birthday. I hope you’re enjoying it up in heaven. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss you. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about you and miss you.

I miss hearing your voice on the other end of the phone when you and Nana would call on my birthday. I miss hearing you say “how are you doing squirt?” or when I would come to visit with my family you saying “where’s my squirt? Come give me a hug.” I especially miss you saying “did you get me anything,” when Nana and I would go out grocery shopping knowing full well we always did.

I miss walking into your house and the first thing we would see is you rising out of your chair to see who came through the door. You sitting in your chair was my fondest memory. You also yelling at the Yankees as if you were their coach when they made a bad play or didn’t do something right.

Holidays just aren’t the same without you and Nana making the rounds to visit all of us. Those were the days I could tell how much you loved all of us, how much– family meant to you. Your face would always light up every time you looked at your family. I could tell that you were so proud of the family you raised. You’d joke with everyone, and make everyone feel like they were the center of attention, you would give each of us your undivided attention and that meant so much to me.

The annual family camping trip just isn’t the same without you and Nana driving up around mid morning with fresh bread and oysters for our big cookout that afternoon that would usually go until 10 or 11 o’clock at night.

Most of all I miss the sleepovers and the stories of the old Troy days, I miss your perfect bear hugs, that were tight but not too tight, so warm, and perfect… I could seriously go for a few right now. I seriously miss sitting on your lap because I knew I had the best seat in the house.

There are so many things I wish you were still here for, like my brother’s upcoming wedding. My wedding (whenever that may be) I had planned to have a dance with you as well as my dad because you both have raised the bar so high for any man who comes along. I wish you were here to meet my kids (whenever I have them).

Even now that we are approaching the two year anniversary of your passing it is still hard to believe you are gone just like that. But someday I will proudly tell my children all about how amazing their great-grandpa is, and was.

You were so kind, caring, loving, and supportive. You were also so gentle. You were a giant teddy bear.

Every single day I wish I could call you and hear your voice call me squirt, or get one more bear hug from you but I know that will never be enough, I wish I could tell you about what has been going on in my life, but I know that you are looking down on all of us and you already know what is going on and keeping us safe. You are and were one of the strongest and toughest men I knew, because you fought all the way to the end. The love you had for Nana and the rest of the family was awe-inspiring. I hope to one day have a family of my own, filled with the love you had for Nana.

Thank your for being such an amazing grandpa. I can and will never replace you or forget the memories we have shared, or the stories you have told, I will treasure them forever. Thank you for being such an amazing role model. I love you and miss you every day, my guardian angel.

Love you always,

Your Squirt

Suddenly Mitch McConnell is Concerned About Dark Money?

Of all the people operating within federal politics today, few — arguably none — have been as nefarious or effective throughout their career than GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell. Over the course of decades he has succeeded in achieving some of the devastating core goals of the elite, and the country has felt the effects. Perhaps one of the stealthiest and consequential avenues McConnell has used to achieve the goals of the donor class was through packing the courts, which in turn allowed for their victories in cases like Citizens United now over a decade ago.

Citizens United, which was arguably the nail in the coffin when it came to protections from dark money infiltrating the American political system, has only fueled deep seeded divisions and the feelings of hopelessness that accompany a political system where lawmakers are responsive to high dollar donors as opposed to their actual constituents.

All that being considered, when it comes to his reasonings for not supporting Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, McConnell’s comments were interesting to say the least.

Brendan Fletcher with NBC news writes:

“On the day President Joe Biden announced Jackson’s nomination, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared she “was the favored choice of far-left dark-money groups.” During the first day of Jackson’s confirmation hearings, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, feigned concern about the “troubling role of far-left dark money groups” in the judicial selection process.”

At this point, sickening doesn’t even begin to describe this level of dishonesty and hypocrisy.

It goes deeper than that, though.

Doesn’t this serve as a clear indication of how acutely aware the GOP is of the disdain the American people have for the clear corruption within our political system? It takes a level of manipulation and frankly sociopathy for the people most responsible to take that anger, and flip it on its head. The unmitigated nerve of Mitch McConnell of all people to feign concern about dark money influencing politics is incredible.

Of course, as obvious as it might be it feels necessary to point out the fact that there are absolutely no “far left” dark money groups, let alone any that are powerful enough to hold sway over Democratic lawmakers. Mitch McConnell is merely doing what the GOP does best: feeding into the fears of their base because they have absolutely nothing else to offer. McConnell knows that sending these dog whistles will appear to his base’s vehement hatred of “antifa”, and their misguided belief that the Democratic party is somehow beholden to them.

If discussions of “far left” dark money groups gets the base distracted from the fact that it’s right wing elite like Charles Koch who have bought and purchased the GOP, then of course McConnell will feed into it.

Again, what else does he have to offer the average voter?

Putin’s Next Moves In Ukraine

Welp, it’s on, folks — the Russia-Ukraine crisis is keeping scary close to the trajectory I’ve been expecting.

Putin appears to be putting elements of all eight stages I outline below into effect at once. Strikes are falling across the breadth of Ukraine and an airborne attack has secured a major airport outside of Kyiv.

It’s always difficult to assess what’s happening on the ground through public media sources, but it appears Russia is hitting Ukraine from all points of the compass yet less intensively than a shock and awe campaign designed to obliterate the entire Ukraine military in one blow would fall.

My suspicion is that the attacks on Odessa and Kyiv are meant to distract from the focus of the Russian attack in the east. By launching probing strikes from any angles Russia can tie down Ukrainian forces everywhere. Firepower can be directed at major points of resistance.

Russian forces could try a massive full-scale invasion on all fronts, but this would be much riskier than threatening an all-out thrust while picking apart Ukraine’s forces which have to deploy to meet all these attacks, leaving cover and becoming vulnerable.

All that can be said with absolute certainty now is that the Russian attacks will eventually run out of steam. But whether any of Ukraine is free after is an open question.

Biden and the West have failed utterly. The Postwar and post Cold War orders are dead and done. America has failed to deter Russia, and is no longer a superpower. Europe stands alone.

But it, once American influence is put in its proper place, can still win

Vladimir Putin’s aggressive speech more or less denying Ukraine’s right to exist has codified Russia’s policy towards both Ukraine and NATO for the foreseeable future.

As I feared, Putin aims to destroy Ukraine utterly, if he can, though an all-out invasion remains less likely than a slower, more brutal process.

And the so-called “West” is letting him get away with it.

Sanctions — pah. They never work.

All that craven Anglo-American politicians like Joe Biden and Boris Johnson are after now is a way through the crisis that won’t further harm their already dismal political futures.

Deterrence is their favorite slogan, but this has clearly failed. Russia is willing to pay whatever costs for acting as it likes that the West tries to impose through sanctions. Putin knows that absent real military aid to Ukraine the Russian Armed Forces can pick apart Ukraine piece by piece.

Ukraine’s military is simply outmatched thanks to the failure of America or NATO to offer meaningful support. Stingers and Javelins, cool as they might be, are no match for the weight of firepower Russia has positioned around Ukraine right now.

Iskander tactical ballistic missiles, hundreds of capable combat aircraft, and around two thirds of Russia’s ground forces are just too much for Ukraine’s smaller, less sophisticated military to withstand with short-range missiles, however effective. Ukrainian soldiers and half-trained civilians are being told it’s up to them to shield the West from the Russian horde, but a blood sacrifice to the old gods will achieve nothing but send good people to Valhalla and Folkvangr.

Putin and his people have planned this crisis all too well. The recognition of the Donetsk and Lukhansk republics as independent was done to provide Russia a pseudo-legal justification to intervene.

America’s leaders have been insisting that Putin is about 48 hours from an all-out invasion for weeks now. This has aided Russia’s efforts immensely, damaging Ukraine’s economy and distracting the world from the fact an assault on Kyiv is probably the very last stage of Putin’s plan.

He has a much better way to take it without direct use of force after forcing Ukraine to crumble. And the so-called West will let him, happy to have an enemy to distract us from climate change and Covid and inflation.

As ever in power politics, millions of lives are in jeopardy because the elites who run most countries have different interests than the rest of us. NATO and America are desperately trying to maintain relevant in a world that has moved on, while Putin stays in power by play-acting the role of Russia’s Big Papa, a paternalistic national father figure.

Nobody in the English-speaking world wants to admit this out loud, but Russia has always been and will always be part of the so-called West.

Western Civilization is a euphemism for Christian Europe and the places it conquered. It is an inherently bigoted concept that has always been designed to separate a mythical East from the rest of humanity to justify military actions and social repression.

Russia is an Orthodox Christian country — part of the reason why American Evangelical Christians tend to like Putin is the fact his power derives from replacing Communism with Christianity.

That’s why Russia hates the idea of LGBTQ+ rights and suppresses Muslim minorities —these similarities are why American Evangelicals use much the same rhetoric as he does anymore, and many actively seek to make America the same kind of country as the one he’s built out of post-Soviet Russia.

It also explains why he’s so obsessed with Ukraine, as Kyiv is seen as the birthplace of modern Russia and a semi-holy place in Russian Orthodox Christianity. What Putin’s Russia-centric view of history — no less inherently bigoted than America’s own self-narratives — fails to admit is the inconvenient fact that Russia is an artificial construct too.

All countries are to some extent, and the bigger they get the more imperialist they tend to become. Russia and Ukraine’s deep origins lie in the same Indo-European migrations that defined all of Europe, and their more recent past was defined by the interaction between Vikings from Scandinavia and the Slavic peoples who emerged in Eastern Europe.

Rus was a tribe led by Viking chieftains, and Kyiv as a city started out as a kind of way station for Norse traders utilizing the rivers of Eastern Europe to reach the Middle East. The city-states of Novgorod and Kyiv later merged to form what Putin recognizes as early Russia, but then as now Russia and Ukraine have always been more like composite city-states than defined monolithic cultures with clear national boundaries.

Russia never used to have borders reaching the Pacific — this was purely a product of Russian imperialism. Nothing east of the Ural Mountains was historically Russian — Russia’s Far East became Moscow’s mirror of the American West, which some Russian explorers even reached back in the heyday of Russian expansion across Asia and into North America.

Putin play-acts the role of the Orthodox Christian emperor of Russia, a stern father figure who protects his nation — the people in it loyal to him, anyway — and defines its history and values. Paternalism at a national level of the sort Republicans in Texas dream of, so long as they are interfering with womens bodies and not gun ownership.

The irony is that Russians and Ukrainians aren’t that different — or at least, they weren’t until Putin made them that way through eight years of invasion and threats.

But he is investing in this conflict because it’s one that Russia can control and therefore win. By doing so he humiliates NATO, threatens the European Union, and takes advantage of America’s foreign policy myopia and Joe Biden’s comically inept leadership.

Russia’s new close ally China is cool with this because it distracts Washington D.C. from its racist pivot to Asia obsession while proving how little America can actually do to protect Taiwan in the face of modern military weaponry. American fossil fuel executives are cool with the situation because they are drooling at the thought of selling dirty fracked natural gas to Germany at exorbitant rates, as are America’s arms dealers, dreaming of a new burst of NATO military spending.

So the stage is set for continued escalations and a drawn-out conflict that kills tens of thousands of people so leaders can keep acting tough while the world burns. The same stupid scam that has afflicted humanity for its entire history and is in fact far more likely to destroy us in the end than climate change.

Americans are trained to think war consists of a series of big battles won or lost by the skill of the commanders involved, but the strange truth is that war is nothing more than politics carried on through violent means.

American politicians and pundits hate this fact, much preferring to pretend morality matters in politics, but cry all they like the simple fact is that the powerful eventually do whatever they can get away with. And they often can’t be deterred from acting, because they don’t perceive the costs and benefits the same way less powerful people do.

Power is the primary evil in human affairs. Power disparities self-generate new conflicts no matter how moral, ethical, or right a powerful party claims to be.

Putin is teaching the world a cruel lesson in hard power right now. He’s deliberately shredding the entire artifice of the liberal international system tenured PhDs at major universities — like Berkeley, where I earned my first degree focusing on International Relations — have spent decades teaching as the only global system imaginable.

This doesn’t mean he’s unpredictable — the opposite is true. Real military operations are always exercises in creating asymmetries that your forces can exploit in order to win a fight with few or no casualties. Grey warfare, hybrid warfare — it’s all the same.

Logistics and terrain control the conduct of military operations because they are the bones and sinews of the military effort, which is ultimately policy made real, given life. Armies have a physical presence on a landscape, they must occupy space and so are vulnerable to detection and destruction once spotted.

Ukraine’s military forces are indeed stronger than they were eight years ago — but so are Russia’s. It has adopted small independent tactical formationsequipped with drones and information technology, linking ground units to massed artillery and air support.

Russia has, like Germany did after the First World War, learned how to fight using modern arms after watching America’s military mishaps around the world and testing key lessons in Syria.

As a result the Ukraine-Russia military matchup resembles the one between Iraq and America in 2003. Russia has superior intelligence-gathering abilities, GPS satellites, and precision guided stand-off weapons that make it almost impossible for Ukrainian soldiers armed with short-range missiles to even fight back.

There remains a narrow window where a conflict could be averted, but at this point it appears nothing less than Ukraine giving up Donbas will stop a bloody fight.

Long term Putin would like to control all of Ukraine, but a direct invasion that seizes Kyiv is incredibly risky. So much could go wrong that this option makes the most sense held in Putin’s pocket as an ultimate threat, a bluff that could easily transform into something more in the right circumstances.

But Ukraine stands alone in all the ways that matter, and Putin has effectively declared war on the very idea of Ukraine. So he’d definitely like the country under Russian control, and his military power allows him to set the pace of any attack, moving faster or slower depending on Ukraine’s reactions.

I see this playing out in a series of stages, each serving as a decision point where Putin can evaluate his gains and press on or declare victory. What he decides will likely be most strongly influenced not by Biden’s threats, but by whether he meets any surprises as he proceeds.

Stage 1 is underway now — a movement of Russian forces positioned around Rostov into separatist controlled Donbas at the same time major forces deploy along the Ukrainian defenders’ flanks. This brings Russian personnel right up to the edge of the bombardments and lets them pick out targets and plan further moves.

Stage 2 will likely begin after any Russian military casualties, as was the case in Georgia in 2008. That will likely be the trigger for a focused shock and awe style bombardment of Ukrainian military positions in the separatist territories, but probably not the rest of the country — at least at first.

Stage 3 I expect to be a major flanking assault by forces deployed along the Russia-Ukraine border near Kharkiv. These might encircle that city or, as I suspect, flow just to the east to come down hard on the Ukrainian Army’s left flank. Russian air and missile strikes will expand in scope to isolate Ukraine’s east from Kyiv, but shouldn’t heavily target the capitol region.

Stage 4 is the breakout from Crimea to the Dnieper River accompanied by focused naval landings on the Azov coast. These will have to be accompanied by massive bombardments to cover the vulnerable helicopters and landing ships, and the port of Odessa will likely come under some degree of blockade though it being assaulted directly at this stage is unlikely.

Stage 5 will see Russian forces push to surround and annihilate Ukraine’s army in the east, comprising about half of its forces — and its best trained. This could mark the culmination of the first phase of the war, with Russian forces pausing to resupply and allow for renewed diplomacy. Or Putin’s efforts could proceed apace, with air strikes hitting the entire country, skipping past Stage 6.

Stage 6 under the baseline scenario would see the conflict turn inward as Russia consolidates gains and more or less dares the West to do something meaningful about it. A major military defeat could put Zelensky’s government in danger of a coup, and Putin will likely foment as much internal strife as he can before considering further actions in hopes Ukraine will collapse of its own accord.

Stage 7 would be the feared march to Kyiv from multiple lines of advance. It is doubtful that Putin would commit forces to seizing the city itself, but by splitting Ukraine’s major cities apart in an all-out invasion after Ukraine was badly weakened he could effectively break the country up into chunks, demonstrating the Zelensky government’s inability to rule and keeping open options for bringing regions into Russian control by force.

Stage 8 is the hardest to define, as it depends on how quickly and completely the prior stages are accomplished. If Zelensky’s government falls to a coup or decamps to Lviv near the Polish border, whatever regime rises in Kyiv will request that Russian “peacekeepers” proceed west. If an actual guerilla struggle begins, it will likely turn into a Syria-like situation develop where Russian forces conquer and pacify one portion of Ukraine at a time, inflicting horrific casualties.

My belief is that a settlement will be reached or Ukraine will collapse long before, but rational calculations have a way of going horribly wrong at this level of detail.

What I know for sure is this: America and NATO have all but set Ukraine up to be destroyed.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d be hard pressed to avoid drawing the conclusion this whole conflict was drawn up by America and Russia to re-start the Cold War. A bit of theater designed to shore up Washington and Moscow, both of whom have handled Covid poorly.

But sadly, this moment, I fear, marks a great turning of the wheel.

America’s unipolar moment, such as it was, is over. There will be no true Cold War, as this is the multipolar moment back in my undergrad days I predicted was coming sooner or later.

Ukraine’s fate now stands at a knife’s edge. Moscow has brutalized the region time and again through history, and in a world where countries are mostly fragmenting, not growing, Ukraine’s persistence is inevitable: there is now, thanks to Putin, a Ukrainian identity that will never fade.

The best course for the Zelensky government now is to recognize the hard truth: Ukraine stands alone, and the east cannot be defended.

There is no point in sacrificing thousands of lives on the principle of borders being fixed and permanent. Ukraine stands no chance of holding Donbas and it would be absolutely criminal to expect Ukrainian soldiers to hold the line there, outflanked and far from Kyiv as they are.

Successfully defending against a Russian attack depends on avoiding the initial blow by retreating to a new defensive line. Ukraine must not allow its army to be outflanked, surrounded, and battered to pieces. Russian forces will stand off at range, perhaps using separatists as cannon fodder to draw fire so that Ukrainian positions, infantry and artillery, can be picked off one at a time.

Kyiv must be ready to conduct a fighting retreat to a more defensible line, wrong-footing the Russian attack and letting its weight fall on abandoned ground. The Dnieper in the south and a defensive line stretching from Kharkiv to Dnipro should be possible to defend unless or until Russian forces attack from the north. At that point they have to pull back behind the Dnieper and hold what they can.

That, sadly, is all that can be done to avoid the worst of what’s coming. If Ukraine is successful, Putin will be forced to recalculate.

This might buy time for a settlement. If the east is taken by Russia the full spectrum of sanctions will likely fall. Ukraine can count on more direct military aid — possibly the kind that might matter, like truly effective anti-aircraft defenses.

Then begins the long fight to prepare Europe for what comes next. Ukraine isEurope’s bulwark, and we have to assume that Putin won’t stop with Ukraine if his plan succeeds.

Not now. Not after Biden has shown his belly so often Putin knows a few years of constant pressure will split Europe from America and break NATO apart.

Cracks are already apparent, if you know where to look. NATO has offered lots of big talk, but little action — and this is unlikely to change.

And by 2024 America will be so focused on its domestic collapse Putin will have a free hand to support his ally Trump by further demonstrating America’s weakness. Estonia, Lithuania, or Latvia can expect low-level provocations because Ukraine, as important as it is to Putin, is only a pawn in his broader fight against NATO.

And once America is completely broken, Europe will stand alone.

The important thing now is to recognize where this is all heading and start taking the necessary actions to maintain Europe’s security. Ukraine must avoid its army being annihilated, and the European Union has to begin building a dedicated defense force with Ukraine as an integral partner.

Soon enough, Europeans are set to have to defend Europe on their own.

And once they do, a path to freeing Russians from Putin and his elite cronies will open. His power relies on having America and NATO remain persistent threats.

Remove them from the board, and a pillar of his power is removed.

The time to prepare for the hard future ahead, Europe, is now.

And to the Australians, Canadians, Scots, Welsh, and New Zealanders out there, take note — America isn’t really your friend either, any more than England has become after Brexit.

It’s you guys, Europe, the middle countries of the world, and the fragments of fading America still willing to commit to the ideals of freedom and democracy against the rest, until China comes around.

You’ve been warned.

Congress Needs Term Limits, or At Least, Age Limits

There are currently 14 octogenarians in the U.S. Congress. That’s a little over 3% of Congressmen. Of those 14, however, are some of the most powerful names in both the U.S. House and Senate.

  • Nancy Pelosi, the current Speaker of the House, is 81-years-old
  • Mitch McConnell, the current Senate Minority Leader, is 80-years-old.

There are even a few pushing 90, including:

  • Chuck Grassley (age 88)
  • Dianne Feinstein (age 88)

Ol’ Chuck even plans to run for reelection, where if he wins and serves out his term, he’ll be 94.

Dianne is in the middle of a term that will take her to age 92 by the time she finishes.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect and revere elder statesmen. The wisdom they can impart and the experiences they can draw from are unmatched in the population.

But governing requires energy and fresh perspectives. It also demands freedom from conflicts of interest, which I’m not confident someone has after 40+ years in government.

People should rarely if not even be driving in their late 80s let alone governing.


Age Limits

In a country of ~330 million, the United States has a deep pool of potential candidates. Yet the same people stay in Washington D.C. forever.

This current Congress is one of the oldest on record. Half of the U.S. Senate is 65 years or older. The House is not much younger.

Age of Congress

We have maximum age limits in many other parts of society, so this should not be controversial. Here are some examples:

  • Pilots — they have to give up their wings at age 65
  • Military — age 28 (Marines) to 39 depending on branch

Certain U.S. states even impose maximum age limits for judges and politicians (generally set at age 70).

Other countries have similar limits for judges and politicians, including:

  • Australia — age 70 for judges on federal courts
  • Brazil — age 70 for all public servant
  • Canada — age 70 or 75 for judges (depending on court) and 75 for federal senators

So while I do not profess to know the exact age limit for Congressmen, I know there needs to be one. Chuck, Dianne, and others should be enjoying their glory years and giving someone else a turn at captaining the ship.


Term Limits

Not only is Chuck Grassley 88-years-old, but he’s worked in Congress since 1975. As of 2022, that’s 47 years in Washington D.C. It’s time, Chuck.

The same can be said about President Joe Biden who has worked in Washington D.C. since 1973.

Regardless of political ideology, after decades spent in Washington even the most morally sound person can get too entwined in the district lifestyle of lobbyists and special interest groups.

Which is why term limits are necessary.

Incumbents have major advantages over any challengers, so relying on the standard democratic process is insufficient. Their financial advantages, in particular, give them a significant leg up over any other candidates.

Reasonable term limits would level the playing field and encourage fresh perspectives after a certain period of time.

Democracy runs on the fuel of bold ideas. It is hard to incentivize boldness in Congressmen who know their jobs are all but guaranteed. Fresh takes and challenges would only serve to strengthen America’s flailing democracy.

It might also encourage more Congressmen to put country over party.


Cleaning Up Congress

Term and age limits are not going to clean up Congress completely. There are rampant financial conflicts that should be easy to address, although it’s admittedly hard to get Congressmen to regulate themselves.

But term and age limits would mitigate conflicts and reasonably ensure new blood. No elected official should get too comfortable on their taxpayer-funded salary.

And octogenarians should be enjoying their lives, not engaging in the polarized battle that has become U.S. politics. Maybe a fresh group of candidates — actually willing to work with one another — is just what the country needs.

Ted Cruz is a Racist Hack

His questions to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson reveal his contempt for Black people and the intelligence of us all

At the risk of sounding like a broken record — after all, what I’m going to say about Ted Cruz is something I said recently about Tucker Carlson — sometimes repetition has its virtues.

This is especially true when referring to birds of a feather who together drop their shit from telephone wires on the unsuspecting who walk beneath them.

And so, let it be proclaimed loudly and clearly: Ted Cruz is a racist asshole.

We know this because he treats Black people as interchangeable pieces on a racial chessboard who should be expected to answer for others of their group, in a way he would never expect of whites.

Cruz is also a hack, by which I mean a fraud who deliberately distorts reality for political purposes using out-of-context quotes from those with whom he disagrees to smear them and those he views as adjacent to them.

We know all of this because of how he comported himself yesterday in the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Cruz (who thirstily searched for himself on Twitter once his performance was done) demonstrated both the racism and the hackery during his allotted time to question Jackson.

Cruz’s attack on The 1619 Project was a racist and dishonest smear job

First, he quizzed the nominee about The 1619 Project because of a speech she had given in which she praised Nikole Hannah-Jones, who orchestrated the New York Times series by that name.

Cruz, noting that several historians have criticized the series, implied that Jackson’s favorable mention of it suggested she agreed with all of its contents. Presumably, this would include Hannah-Jones’s own essay for the Project, in which she argued that one reason for the American Revolution was the desire of white colonists to preserve the system of slavery.

Cruz, who thirstily searched for himself on Twitter as soon as his performance was done, demonstrated both the racism and the hackery during his allotted time to question Jackson.

Before addressing Cruz’s attack here, I want to point out that this view, though controversial, is not as outrageous as some might believe. Gerald Horne presents evidence for it in The Counterrevolution of 1776, as do Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen in their volume, Slave Nation.

I have no doubt Cruz has said favorable things about Thomas Jefferson. And yet, no one would presume that he agrees with Jefferson’s documented raping of his human property, his ownership of hundreds of Black people, or his comments about how, regarding whites and Blacks, “the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.”

Although Jefferson’s racism and rapism are infinitely more offensive than even the most uncharitable reading of Hannah-Jones, no one would seek to hold Cruz responsible for the former just because he has opined as to the greatness of the Declaration of Independence.

Yet Cruz expects this of Jackson concerning Hannah-Jones, simply because she said some kind words about the 1619 Project.

Likewise, it is inconceivable that anyone would quiz a white nominee about some speech in which they had praised the Constitution by asking how they felt about many of the framers owning other human beings and virtually all holding racist views.

Yet, in this case, Cruz has asked Jackson to justify her praise of the 1619 Project, based on one part of Hannah-Jones’s writing, which itself is only one small part of the larger work. Why, other than the two women’s shared race, would Jackson be expected to do such a thing?

The difference, driven home by Cruz this week, is clear — it’s racism.

White people can say and do racist things, and other white people don’t have to answer for them, even if those secondary white people have praised the first group.

But if Black people write things that merely offend your historical perspective, any Black person who has said something nice about the offending writer can be called on the carpet for it and interrogated like a common criminal.

Got it, racist, thanks.

Cruz’s attack on Ibram X. Kendi’s books was equally dishonest (and racist)

Cruz then did the same thing — seeking to hold one Black person accountable for another — in his discussion of Ibram X. Kendi’s work in the children’s books Antiracist Baby and Stamped (for Kids).

The link between Jackson and Kendi? None really, except that Jackson sits on the Board of Trustees for Georgetown Day School, a progressive private school in DC, and Kendi’s books are among several that GDS either uses in class or has referenced in recent years in some of their racial equity initiatives.

(Apparently) if Black people write things that offend your historical perspective, any Black person who has said something nice about the offending writer can be called on the carpet for it and interrogated like a common criminal

For Cruz, whose own daughters attend a private school in Houston that also recommends and uses Kendi’s work, this was enough of a link to grill Jackson about her views of it, or at least his dishonest caricature of that material.

Cruz notes that according to Antiracist Baby, children are either “taught racism or antiracism, there is no neutrality.” To Cruz, this suggests that kids are natural-born racists, and he asked Jackson her view about that, even though that isn’t what Kendi is arguing — quite the opposite.

As per the research on this matter, he insists that racism is taught. By not deliberately instilling antiracist thinking in young people, they will grow up to participate actively or passively in racism.

While one might find that hard to hear, it’s undeniable. Historically, that’s precisely what has happened.

Most white Americans, for instance, were not enslavers, owners of segregated businesses, or terrorists who attacked sit-in protesters. But most white people sat by and never actively fought against enslavement or segregation either. Most went along. Kendi’s point is that this is not neutrality. It is passive but real and meaningful participation in evil.

Cruz may not like the sound of it. But that doesn’t make it untrue.

And the fact that one Black person said it in a book on a reading list at a school on whose board Jackson serves doesn’t mean she should have to address it at all. Likewise, she also shouldn’t be expected to weigh in on Hemingway’s alcoholism and propensity for violence if the school teaches A Farewell to Arms.

So too, when Cruz turned to Kendi’s book for teens, Stamped (for Kids) — a version of his award-winning volume Stamped from the Beginning — he distorted its contents while expecting Jackson to weigh in on them.

For instance, Cruz notes, with much indignation, that Stamped (for Kids), which Kendi co-authored with Jason Reynolds, includes the line, “Can we send white people back to Europe?”

Of course, he ignores the context of this sentence, which, if read correctly, would change the author’s meaning from what Cruz implies (that Kendi is an anti-white bigot) to what he intended.

And what is that? By reading the entire passage, it’s obvious: namely, to tell people of color to “go back” where they came from — something they hear often — is absurd because they are as much a part of America as white folks.

Kendi and Reynolds were trying to make that point by asking how white people would feel if, for instance, Indigenous persons asked, “can we send white people back to Europe?”

It wasn’t meant to endorse European repatriation. It was meant to demonstrate the absurdity of racism.

And Ted Cruz knows that.

Cruz’s claims of Judge Jackson’s link to Critical Race Theory is peak bullshit

Likewise, Cruz knows Judge Brown doesn’t use Critical Race Theory in sentencing decisions. But he suggested as much when he displayed a poster board with a snippet of a sentence from one of her speeches, in which she noted how criminal sentencing policy raises all kinds of issues, including those posed by Critical Race Theory.

It is obvious to any honest observer that Jackson was talking about how sentencing policy raises the kinds of questions about racial injustice that CRT has long addressed.

And that’s true.

The history of sentencing policy obviously raises these issues.

From how rape and sexual assault were treated when committed by Black men as opposed to white men to modern-day differences in sentencing for powder instead of crack cocaine, such issues have been raised.

Critical Race Theory has long pointed out the consistency of such disparities to suggest that racism in the law has functioned more as a feature than a system glitch.

Jackson was reflecting on that inarguable point, which emanates from CRT but is understood by most anyone who has observed criminal sentencing in America.

However, to Cruz, Jackson was suggesting she used CRT when handing down sentences in court. As if she would listen to the trial, then sneak off to chambers, open up a book by Derrick Bell or get on the phone with Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, or Mari Matsuda and seek advice on what to do with the defendant in front of her.

Again, as with his distortions of Hannah-Jones’s work and Kendi’s, this is a ridiculous reading of Judge Jackson’s comment, and Ted Cruz knows it. Since he has no doubt read the full text of the various quotes he snipped and blew up onto poster boards for the hearing, his representation of those statements cannot be seen as anything other than deceptive.

In short, Ted Cruz is fully aware of precisely how full of shit Ted Cruz is.

Which, by now, is possibly the one thing he has in common with most of America, regardless of political party.