<em>The Comey Rule </em>Begins as Hagiography, but It Works Best as a Horror Movie

The two-part Showtime miniseries stars Jeff Daniels as an FBI director lost in the Sunken Place.
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Bieber lowers ERA to 1.63, Indians top White Sox 3-2
Shane Bieber lowered his ERA to 1.63 in his final regular-season start, the lowest in the American League since Luis Tiant’s 1.60 for Cleveland in 1968, and Jordan Luplow hit a game-ending home run that gave the Indians a 3-2 win over Chicago on Wednesday night.
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Bernie Sanders plans news conference on Trump's 'threats' to democracy
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During World War II, Americans sacrificed their food, their travel and much more. Today, many of us cannot even be bothered to wear a mask.
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The regent who abused his or her position to help get a friend's kid admitted to UC Berkeley should come forward.
Some students don’t have desks for virtual learning. These Maryland parents are stepping up to help.
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Endorsement: Yes on Proposition 18: Some 17-year-olds should be allowed to vote
Proposition 18 would let 17-year-olds vote in primaries and special elections if they will be 18 by a November general election. We urge a yes vote.
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President Trump and the GOP are fashioning a court that for decades will be viewed by most Americans with anxiety and derision rather than as a bulwark against government oppression.
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Democrats Are 'Defending Democracy' With Threats to Burn Down the System
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Telling the Truth Is Not ‘Indoctrination’
Last week, at the White House Conference on American History, President Donald Trump denounced the way “the left has warped, distorted, and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehoods, and lies,” attacking Howard Zinn, critical race theory, and The New York Times’ 1619 Project (to which I was a contributor). The president emphasized the need for “patriotic education” in our schools, and seemed to downplay the centrality of slavery, and perhaps any sort of oppression, to America’s founding.“Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character,” Trump said at the event. “We must clear away the twisted web of lies in our schools and classrooms, and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.”“Our histories tend to discuss American slavery so impartially,” W. E. B. Du Bois wrote in his 1935 book, Black Reconstruction in America, “that in the end nobody seems to have done wrong and everybody was right.”Listening to Trump, one would think that a rigorous examination of slavery and its implications was a central fixture of American classrooms. Recent surveys, however, show that young people in America have enormous gaps in what they understand about the history of slavery in this country. According to a 2018 report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, only 8 percent of high-school seniors surveyed were able to identify slavery as the central cause of the Civil War. Two-thirds of students did not know that a constitutional amendment was necessary to formally end slavery.What fascinated me most about Trump’s speech was his choice to frame it around “indoctrination.” It was strange to realize that providing a holistic account of what slavery was, and the horror it wrought, might be understood as indoctrination—especially if the only stories one has been told about America have been cloaked in the one-dimensional mythology of exceptionalism.“We have too often a deliberate attempt so to change the facts of history that the story will make pleasant reading for Americans,” Du Bois wrote in Black Reconstruction.[W. E. B. Du Bois: Strivings of the Negro people]Du Bois was writing during a moment when the narrative of slavery as a benevolent, amicable arrangement between the enslaver and the enslaved had come to dominate America’s collective memory of the that historical period Many Americans saw slavery as an arrangement in which Black people were happy to serve the white people who owned them, and in which those who owned them treated their laborers with a paternal and generous kindness. Such a narrative was propagated by the Columbia historian Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, whose 1918 book, American Negro Slavery, would shape how white Americans understood the institution. “On the whole,” Phillips wrote, “the plantations were the best schools yet invented for the mass training of that sort of inert and backward people which the bulk of American negroes represented.”As a graduate student, Phillips studied under the historian William A. Dunning, namesake of the Dunning School—which was not a physical institution, but a racist intellectual movement. The Dunning School’s legacy includes entrenching within American public consciousness the idea that, following the Civil War, Black people had proved themselves, through both elected office and suffrage, incapable of participating in democracy. As the historian Eric Foner has put it, “The traditional or Dunning School of Reconstruction was not just an interpretation of history. It was part of the edifice of the Jim Crow System.” At the core of Phillips’s scholarship was the idea that slavery was not in fact an inhuman institution predicated on physical and psychological torture, and that its role in the growth of the American economy was minimal.Teaching the actual history of slavery does not necessitate skewing, omitting, or lying about what happened in this country; it takes only an exploration of the primary source documents to give one a sense of what it was and the legacy that it has left.[Read: How to teach the Civil War in the deep South]All teachers need to do to help their students understand the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade is have them spend time with the writings of people who experienced it firsthand. “I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat,” wrote the formerly enslaved Olaudah Equiano in his 1789 autobiography. “The closeness of the place, and the heat of the climate, added to the number in the ship, which was so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself, almost suffocated us. This produced copious perspirations, so that the air soon became unfit for respiration, from a variety of loathsome smells, and brought on a sickness among the slaves, of which many died.”A teacher does not need to lie about the Confederacy being founded on the principles of intergenerational torture and human bondage when the Confederates said as much in their declarations of secession:“The people of the slave holding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery,” stated Louisiana.“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world,” stated Mississippi.“The election of Mr. Lincoln cannot be regarded otherwise than a solemn declaration, on the part of a great majority of the Northern people, of hostility to the South, her property and her institutions,” stated Alabama, “consigning her citizens to assassinations, and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans.”“The servitude of the African race, as existing in these States,” stated Texas, “is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator.”[Read: What kids are really learning about slavery]It wasn’t just the elected representatives of these states who felt this way. The historian James Oliver Horton found plenty of examples of Confederate soldiers saying the same. As he notes, one Southern prisoner of war told the Union soldiers standing watch, “You Yanks want us to marry our daughters to niggers.” An indigent white farmer from North Carolina said that he could not and would not stop fighting, because Lincoln’s government was “trying to force us to live as the colored race.” A Confederate artilleryman from Louisiana said that his army had to fight even against difficult odds because he would “never want to see the day when a Negro is put on an equality with a white person.”An educator doesn’t have to make up stories about what our Founding Fathers thought of Black people, when they said it clearly themselves.“Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in Notes on the State of Virginia. “I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”No teacher needs to lie about how enslavers were allowed to abuse their enslaved workers when the Virginia slave codes made clear that it was permissible under the law for a white person to murder an enslaved Black person: “WHEREAS the only law in force for the punishment of refreactory servants (a) resisting their master, mistris or overseer cannot be inflicted upon negroes, nor the obstinacy of many of them by other then violent meanes supprest, Be it enacted and declared by this grand assembly, if any slave resist his master (or othe by his masters order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be accompted ffelony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquit from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that prepensed malice (which alone makes murther ffelony) should induce any man to destroy his owne estate.” It is not necessary to dramatize or exaggerate the power imbalance between enslavers and enslaved people—and the violence through which such imbalance manifested itself between enslaved women and white men—when countless examples of slave narratives share stories of the sexual abuse Black women experienced at the hands of their owners. Take this 1937 account from the formerly enslaved W. L. Bost, taken as part of the WPA’s Federal Writers’ Project by a white interviewer, and transcribed in the sort of thick dialect that these writers often ascribed to their Black subjects: Plenty of the colored women have children by the white men. She know better than to not do what he say. Didn’t have much of that until the men from South Carolina come up here [to North Carolina] and settle and bring slaves. Then they take them very same children what have they own blood and make slaves out of them. If the Missus find out she raise revolution. But she hardly find out. The white men not going to tell and the nigger women were always afraid to. So they jes go on hopin’ that thing[s] won’t be that way always. Or this excerpt from Harriet Jacobs, in her 1861 book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: My master met me at every turn, reminding me that I belonged to him, and swearing by heaven and earth that he would compel me to submit to him. If I went out for a breath of fresh air after a day of unwearied toil, his footsteps dogged me. If I knelt by my mother’s grave, his dark shadow fell on me even there. The light heart which nature had given me became heavy with sad forebodings. To understand the impact and human toll of family separation, one need look no further than the ads placed in newspapers by enslaved people in the years and decades following the end of the Civil War and the formal abolition of slavery. Like this one from Philadelphia, taken out by Eliza Holmes in 1895: INFORMATION WANTED OF my husband and son. We parted at Richmond, Va., in 1860. My son's name was Jas. Monroe Holmes; my husband's name was Frank Holmes. My son was sold in Richmond, Va. I don't know where they carried him to. My husband was not sold; I left him in Richmond, Va. and I and five children, Henry, Gabriel, Charles, Dortha and Jacob were sold to a trader who lived in Texas. I am now old, and don’t think that I shall be here long and would like to see them before I die. Any information concerning them will be thankfully received by Eliza Holmes, Flatonia, Fayette Co., Texas. The intensity of the opposition that Trump and many others display to centering slavery, or even simply reorienting our country’s history so that slavery is no longer peripheral to the founding of the American project, stems from their understanding of the stakes of this debate. So much of the legitimacy of America’s social, economic, and political infrastructure is predicated on an ahistorical myth—one that embraces all that makes America exceptional without reckoning with the fact that so much of what created exceptional lives for some citizens was made possible by the intergenerational oppression of millions of others. The study of slavery aptly demonstrates these contradictions and entanglements. Trump and others aligned with his message know that once people understand slavery’s entanglement in every facet of U.S. history, the legitimacy of its systems unravels—and with it, the legitimacy of those occupying the spaces of power.If students don’t learn about the history of slavery, then they might believe that the Electoral College is a benign institution predicated on establishing democratic fairness for Americans across the country. They might grow up to believe that the enormous wealth gap between Black and white Americans is simply a result of one group working harder than another. They might think that our prison system looks the way it does because Black people are inherently more violent.[Read: How history classes helped create a ‘post-truth’ America]“No one can read that first thin autobiography of Frederick Douglass and have left many illusions about slavery,” Du Bois wrote in Black Reconstruction. “And if truth is our object, no amount of flowery romance and the personal reminiscences of its protected beneficiaries can keep the world from knowing that slavery was a cruel, dirty, costly and inexcusable anachronism, which nearly ruined the world’s greatest experiment in democracy.”This is what Trump is afraid students will find out. But the truth is that our country is not made worse by young people reckoning fully with the legacy of slavery. Such reckoning better prepares them to make sense of how our country has come to be, and how to build systems and institutions predicated on justice rather than oppression. Nothing is more patriotic than that.
What to Do When the Future Feels Hopeless
“How to Build a Life” is a biweekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness.You live in the future. So do I. We all do. It’s human nature. However, there are times—such as during a pandemic—when this nature makes us suffer.We are “prospective” creatures, according to the psychologists and philosophers Martin Seligman, Peter Railton, Roy Baumeister, and Chandra Sripada in their 2016 book Homo Prospectus. Indeed, as Seligman told me, on average we spend 30 to 50 percent of our self-generated thought—what we think about when we aren’t trying to concentrate—contemplating the distant future. No other creatures do this, with the small exception of some primates who store tools for future use.Living in the future is one reason meditation and practicing mindfulness are so hard. Meditators speak of the monkey mind: The monkey doesn’t want to sit still; he wants to swing off to the next tree and see what’s up there.The prospective monkey in our minds wants to see lots of tasty fruit, and have a way to get it; the best way to frustrate him is an empty tree, or one where the fruit is out of his reach. Since we spend so much time living in the future, it makes us happy to feel that the future is full of possibilities for improvement, and that we have some control over making those possibilities into realities. In contrast, a near-perfect cocktail for misery is pessimism and low personal control over our circumstances.[Read: America’s growing pessimism]Because of the pandemic, the future feels difficult and uncertain, and few of us have much control over it, beyond doing our best to keep ourselves and those around us safe. The result is a lot of unhappy monkeys. Gallup survey data show that pessimism about the future of the pandemic in the U.S. is rising. This is infecting our general outlook: “I wake up every day with nothing to look forward to,” a friend recently confessed to me. “I feel like staying in bed.”We make light of pessimism, even creating amusing pessimistic characters, such as Eeyore and Charlie Brown. But in real life, pessimism is no laughing matter. Research shows that it is highly correlated with suicide. Young adults who are pessimistic are disproportionately likely to suffer poor health in middle age. Similarly, scholars have shown that having a sense of low personal control links adverse economic circumstances to poor health and impaired emotional functioning. Low personal control in the workplace—called low decision latitude by psychologists—especially in combination with high pressure, was found to be a significant predictor of depression and low job satisfaction among workers in one 1990 study.[Read: What you’re feeling is plague dread]In short, bad things happen when your monkey is frustrated. Things get even worse when all our monkeys are in the same empty tree. Not only do many people feel pessimism about their personal futures right now, there’s also an overwhelming collective sense of powerlessness and negativity. It’s not just that my future feels bleak, so does ours. And since the pandemic is a collective phenomenon, there is little any of us can do to ignore it or avoid the constraints it imposes on our lives. There’s very little novelty to break up our days, few new faces, little movement, few fun events to look forward to. All we can do is wait—for a vaccine, for the election, for herd immunity, for something, anything, that might change our prospects.But we are not helpless. While there’s little we can do to change the harsh realities of the pandemic, we can change the mindset we use to face them. By doing two things, we can improve our ability to cope with this situation, as well as with negativity and feelings of powerlessness in the future.1. Channel your inner lawyer.Pessimism generally distorts reality. Seligman and others recommend that pessimists combat their tendency to expect the worst by employing what they call a disputing technique—verbalizing the negative assumptions we are making about the future, and disputing them with realistic facts.Here’s an example: I teach at a university, and something I love is spending time with students in the classroom. It gives me energy and joy. Due to the coronavirus, all classes are online; I record my lectures in advance in front of a camera in my makeshift video studio. The only real-time feedback I get is a message telling me I’ve run out of space on my hard drive.The other day I found myself darkly musing that I would likely never go back in person; that this would be my new normal, forever. This pessimism, fueled by news stories I’ve read with titles like “Will the Coronavirus Forever Alter the College Experience?,” is completely unwarranted in my school’s case. So I disputed it with the facts. We are, in fact, creating hybrid classes, and planning for an in-person future. There’s a good chance I’ll be back in the classroom within the next year. My odd work situation is tedious, but temporary.Most likely, your future is also brighter than what you may think at your darkest moments, so dispute your pessimism not with mindless optimism, but with facts. Build a solid case for something other than the worst-case scenario, and argue it to yourself like a lawyer. And while you’re at it, read fewer stories about the pandemic. You probably aren’t learning anything new, but, rather, just trying to get a bit more certainty about the future, which is impossible.2. Turn constraints into decisions.For a while in my 30s, I made my living performing military analysis for the Rand Corporation, a think tank in California. When I ran into trouble in my work, my boss used to say, “Turn constraints into decisions.” In other words, start an examination of every problem by listing the apparent limitations on your freedom, and instead of taking them as given, consider how you can change them.For example, in the case of the coronavirus lockdowns, the complaint about work I most often hear is that with the inability to work in a normal way, productivity is ruined. We can’t perform up to our own standards—whether because of competing child-care demands, being isolated from co-workers, or just Zoom fatigue—and it is maddening. Many people feel like they are stuck in a cycle of frustrating mediocrity.The answer is to change the definition of productivity. Many of us have a twisted notion of a productive life that revolves around pure work output. Some have little choice in the matter, but most Americans work more than they need to in order to meet their job responsibilities. In 2018, according to a survey from the U.S. Travel Association, 55 percent of American workers did not use all their paid vacation, amounting to 768 million unused days. And when they do take vacation, 54 percent say they feel guilty about it.If this describes you, you might use this period to reset your definition of productivity. True, many aspects of many jobs have been made more difficult by the pandemic. But other parts of a truly productive life are begging for your attention. You can set goals for exercise, work on acquiring new skills, spend quality time with loved ones, or learn to tame your monkey mind in meditation. This is the sort of productivity that will reward you in the long run and can help you establish a healthier, happier equilibrium when the pandemic is over.As I have often written in this column, the healthiest way to look at the pandemic—or any difficult period in our lives—is as an opportunity for improvement and personal growth, without pushing away the negative emotions that are a natural by-product of hard times. As we confront pessimism in the context of COVID-19, we will start to see and manage it more generally in our lives. If we are lucky, this is the most pessimistic and powerless period we will ever face. But even if harder times await, what our monkey learns today will help him later.
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Joe Biden endorsed, Trump excoriated by nearly 500 retired top military, national security officials
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