We Need Better History Classes

Most NCians think the Civil War was about states’ rights + top GOP senator backs medical weed + another lawsuit for Gerald Baker + Biden goes for guns + the world is going to hell, says U.S. intel

Fri., April 9, 2021

TGIF, y’all. The weekend beckons.

Quick note: A few days ago, when I mentioned Gender Dysphoria Expert™ Ralph Hise’s kick-transgender-kids-in-the-face bill, I somehow skipped the absolute best/worst part. Ready?

  • “If a government agent has knowledge that a minor under its care or supervision has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor’s sex, the government agent or entity with knowledge of that circumstance shall immediately notify, in writing, each of the minor's parents, guardians, or custodians. The notice shall describe all of the relevant circumstances with reasonable specificity.”

  • The law does not provide definitions for what constitutes “nonconformity” or “a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with the minor’s sex,” which, of course, means we’re dealing with the eye of the beholder. You see where this is headed, right?

  • Is Johnny wearing a … pink shirt today?

  • Weather: Clouds in the afternoon, maybe showers, too. High around 83.

Today’s Number: 1.1%

Average two-day announcement returns for “buy” recommendations on Reddit’s WallStreetBets, according to a new economics paper.

  • “Collectively, our evidence suggests that 1) WSB [due diligence] posters have skill and 2) retail investors may have some ability to discern report quality. Our evidence is in sharp contrast to the conventional view that WSB only attracts uninformed investors and to regulators’ fears that following the advice of user reports on WSB results in significantly less informative retail trading.”

  • Tl;dr: WSB does not equal “dumb money.”

Subscribing is not dumb money, either


1. Most NC Residents Say the Civil War Was About States’ Rights. Yes, Really.

Remember yesterday, when I said I’d be fine with having fewer, better voters so long as I chose who the better voters were? They would definitely not include the 51.1% of North Carolina adults who believe the Civil War was “mainly about states’ right,” according to a new Elon University poll.

  • To be fair, the Civil War was about one specific state right—owning human beings as property. But since the poll’s other option was “Mainly about slavery,” we won’t grade on a scale.

  • I mean, my god, are we still doing this? Read a book, people.

  • Hell, just read the words of the vice president of the Confederate States of America, who was not subtle: “Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition.”

  • And Mark Robinson thinks history classes are too woke?

Anyway—no surprise here—most people in this poll (58.4%) think we should keep Confederate monuments where they are, because most people in this poll have objectively demonstrated that they’ve been swindled by Lost Cause mythology and/or are just idiots.

  • Upside: The number is down slightly from 2019.

  • Downside: 33% don’t think the legacy of slavery still affects Black people, I can’t even.

Related to almost nothing: While looking for an image to attach to the newsletter—for when you share it on Twitter, which you can do (see the orange thingy below)—I found this guy in UNC’s Civil War digital collection and went down a little-bitty history wormhole. His name was Henry Speck Harris. The collection says he died in 1863. According to this not-creepy-at-all website, however, Harris—born in Bahama on February 12, 1837, and enlisted on May 1, 1861, soon after the war broke out—died at the Battle of Seven Pines in Virginia on May 20, 1862. Oddly, though, the Battle of Seven Pines didn’t start until May 31.

  • The battle was a bloody, pointless draw, with about 1,800 deaths on both sides. Its most historically significant contribution was that it led to the appointment of Robert E. Lee as head of the Confederate army.

  • Anyway, Hank here probably had no problem with abolition or Black civil rights. He just had very strong feelings about the role of states vis-a-vis the national government in a federal system.


2. A Weed Bill Even a Republican Could Love

In yesterday’s newsletter, I also predicted that a medical marijuana bill introduced by Democrats had zero chance of passing. That’s probably true. But SB 711—introduced by a leading Republican—might have a better shot at primetime.

“Brunswick County Sen. Bill Rabon, chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, introduced a bill Wednesday to legalize marijuana for medical use. Senate Bill 711 wouldn’t make pot fully legal—it would still be against the law for most people to use it. But it would recognize marijuana as having medical potential, and authorize doctors to prescribe it to patients in certain cases.” (N&O)

  • There would be limits on who qualifies: “Debilitating medical condition. Includes cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as, or comparable to, those enumerated in this subdivision, and for which a physician provides a written certification.”

  • People with previous convictions for most major felonies would not be allowed to own or be employed by dispensaries. This is pretty standard. All states have some restrictions on felons owning or working in dispensaries.

  • However, the language is strikingly progressive: “The Commission shall not issue a license authorized by this section to … a person who has served a sentence for any of the following felonies in the five years immediately preceding the date of license application …; a person (or, with respect to a person who is not an individual, an owner, director, or employee of the person) who at any time has been convicted of a felony violation for manufacturing, selling, delivering, or possessing with intent to manufacture, sell, deliver, or possess a Schedule I or II controlled substance.”

  • In North Carolina, marijuana is a schedule VI drug. In other words, if I’m reading this correctly, people convicted of selling weed will be able to work and own dispensaries, provided there’s nothing else in their criminal history to get in the way.

3. Ex-Deputies Sue Wake Sheriff, Allege Retaliation

This story’s been boiling for a while, but now it’s in federal court. Two former Wake County deputies, Steven Williamson and Alvis Speight, have alleged that Sheriff Gerald Baker fired them right after he took office because they informed supervisors that Lt. Teddy Patrick was a giant homophobe and had bigoted remarks at a training session a year earlier.

  • “Patrick, who is Black, also said, ‘if white people keep killing themselves, we Black people will be the majority, instead of the minority’ and told deputies present he felt uncomfortable around Muslims on airplanes, according to the lawsuit.”

  • Williamson told a captain, then-Chief of Operations Richard Johnson, and then-Sheriff Donnie Harrison, who demoted Patrick.

  • But Patrick was Baker’s pal, the lawsuit says. So soon after Baker won in 2018, he canned Williamson and Speight and refused to swear in Johnson, who has also sued. He’s promoted Baker twice since.

  • Baker has said he never retaliated against anyone. (N&O)

4. Biden (Meekly) Goes After Guns

You could call it a coincidence if one of these things didn’t happen every third day or so: The night before President Biden gave a press conference outlining a series of executive orders on gun control, a former NFL player apparently shot up his therapist’s house, killing five people—including two kids—and eventually shooting himself.

You could consider this story’s timing a perverse form of luck for Biden, too, if the NRA didn’t consistently demonstrate its sociopathic avarice: Wayne LaPierre “admitted Wednesday that he did not disclose free trips he took on a luxury yacht and acknowledged that some top NRA officials were not informed in advance of his plan to seek bankruptcy protection for the group.”

But we fetishize guns. So people kill people with guns. And sleazy people get rich off of people who kill people with guns. Que sera sera.

Yesterday, Biden announced another attempt to check our gun culture. Nothing that goes through Congress—NRA dollars and Joe Manchin’s ego have seen to that. But a series of executive actions that the next Republican president can cast aside on day one.

  • “With little reason for optimism about congressional action on gun control, Biden is moving ahead with actions he can take on his own. Among them is the announcement that he is nominating David Chipman to serve as the director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, an agency that has not had a confirmed director since 2015.”

  • “The Justice Department also announced rules intended to stop the proliferation of untraceable ‘ghost guns,’ which can be assembled from kits within a half-hour and lack the serial number that allows law enforcement to trace them.”

  • “The President announced more support for community violence interventions in urban communities amid a historic spike in homicides. And he directed the Justice Department to issue an annual report on firearms trafficking in the hopes that data can better guide legislative solutions.”

  • “Biden also asked the Justice Department to place new restrictions on devices marketed as a stabilizing brace that allow a pistol to be transformed into a short-barreled rifle. … The President also asked the Justice Department to devise model ‘red flag’ legislation that can be passed by state legislatures, which would allow family members or law enforcement officers to ask the court to bar a person in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.” (CNN)

  • 19 states have red flag laws. North Carolina isn’t one of them—and whatever model legislation Justice drafts, it will probably stay that way. (N&O)


President Biden has extended the federal eviction moratorium through June, but already three judges have ruled that the moratorium is unconstitutional—another three have said otherwise—putting pressure on Biden to figure out a solution for the 10 million or so people behind on their rent.

  • “Treasury Department officials have been armed with nearly $50 billion in emergency aid for renters who have fallen behind and are racing to distribute it through hundreds of state, local and tribal housing agencies, some of which have not created programs yet. The idea is to get the money to renters before courts nationwidebegin processing evictions again.” (WaPo)

  • Meanwhile, HUD plans to use $5 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act to address “rental assistance, the development of affordable housing and other services to help people experiencing or on the verge of homelessness.” (WaPo)

5. U.S. Intel Sees Post-COVID Dystopia Filled with European Green Parties

Let’s hit the weekend on a high note. In a new report, the National Intelligence Council says everything’s going to go to shit.


  • “In coming years and decades, the world will face more intense and cascading global challenges ranging from disease to climate change to the disruptions from new technologies and financial crises. These challenges will repeatedly test the resilience and adaptability of communities, states, and the international system, often exceeding the capacity of existing systems and models. This looming disequilibrium between existing and future challenges and the ability of institutions and systems to respond is likely to grow and produce greater contestation at every level.”

  • “In this more contested world, communities are increasingly fractured as people seek security with like-minded groups based on established and newly prominent identities; states of all types and in all regions are struggling to meet the needs and expectations of more connected, more urban, and more empowered populations; and the international system is more competitive—shaped in part by challenges from a rising China—and at greater risk of conflict as states and nonstate actors exploit new sources of power and erode longstanding norms and institutions that have provided some stability in past decades.”

But maybe not.

  • “These dynamics are not fixed in perpetuity, however, and we envision a variety of plausible scenarios for the world of 2040—from a democratic renaissance to a transformation in global cooperation spurred by shared tragedy—depending on how these dynamics interact and human choices along the way.”

  • Human choices. Terrific.

Here’s WaPo’s rundown:

  • “The authors of the report, which does not represent official U.S. policy, describe the pandemic as a preview of crises to come. It has been a globally destabilizing event—the council called it ‘the most significant, singular global disruption since World War II’—that ‘has reminded the world of its fragility’ and ‘shaken long-held assumptions’ about how well governments and institutions could respond to a catastrophe.”

  • “At the same time, the pandemic accelerated and exacerbated social and economic fissures that had already emerged. And it underscored the risks from ‘more and cascading global challenges, ranging from disease to climate change to the disruptions from new technologies and financial crises,’ the authors write.”

  • “Within societies, fragmentation is increasing—political, cultural, economic—and ‘large segments of the global population are becoming wary of institutions and governments that they see as unwilling or unable to address their needs,’ the report says.”

  • “On the rosiest end [of its five scenarios], a ‘Renaissance of democracies’ ushers in a new era of U.S. global leadership, in which economic growth and technological achievements offer solutions to the world’s biggest problems and Russia and China are largely left in the dust, authoritarian vestiges whose brightest scientists and entrepreneurs have fled to the United States and Europe.”

  • “At the dark end of the future is ‘tragedy and mobilization,’ when the United States is no longer the dominant player, and a global environmental catastrophe prompts food shortages and a ‘bottom-up’ revolution, with younger people, scarred by their leaders’ failures during the coronavirus pandemic, embracing policies to repair the climate and tackle long-standing social inequality. In this scenario, a European Union dominated by green parties works with the United Nations to expand international aid and focus on sustainability, and China joins the effort in part to quell domestic unrest in its cities affected by famine.”

  • Environmental catastrophe is bad and all, but it’s mildly amusing that the rise of green parties goes in the worst-case scenario.


  • I think Matt Gaetz’s goose is cooked. He Venmo’d his sex trafficker pal Joel Greenberg—who is about to plead guilty to sex trafficking charges—with instructions to “hit up” a teenager who had just turned 18 six months before, and Greenberg then Venmo’d three young women money, including said teenager. (Daily Beast)

  • Greenberg’s lawyer at a press conference yesterday on his client’s likely plea deal: “I'm sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today.”