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For Joe Biden, being called to account for his positions on busing in the 1970s must feel like being called to account for his fashion decisions in that era. Yes, he might admit, he made some bad choices, but at the time, it was hard to make good ones.

Nearly half a century on, the controversy may seem a simple matter of choosing whether to support racial integration. But simple is one thing the issue was not.

Let me be clear: School segregation was a hideous blight and a grievous injustice. There were many people who opposed busing out of ugly motives, and its supporters had the best of intentions.

Biden may have been guilty of deferring and even pandering to white constituents. But any politician who lasts as long as he has in public life has to take some positions that are unsavory at the time and regrettable in hindsight.

The basic dilemma was that we had no good remedies for entrenched public school segregation. Mandatory busing was a defensible policy, not an unassailable one. It had flaws that made it unpopular among African Americans as well as whites.

I speak from experience. Growing up in Midland and Austin, Texas, I attended all-white public schools until I reached A.N. McCallum High School for 10th grade. It had some 2,000 students, only two or three of them black. But in 1971, the fall of my senior year, things changed.

After years of litigation, a desegregation plan closed L.C. Anderson High School, which was virtually all African American, and bused its students to other schools. Overnight, McCallum was integrated.

Not everyone was happy about it. Black students resented losing their neighborhood school, being separated from their friends and being forced to endure bus rides. Some McCallum parents and students were hostile. When the first bus arrived, the Anderson kids were greeted by a group of whites brandishing chains and sticks and hurling insults, a ritual repeated each morning for a week or so.

Cleo Moore, a senior classmate who was bused, recalled all this in conversations we’ve had. One day, the black students arrived to find that someone had chalked a racial slur on the street. That day, with emotions boiling over, a racial brawl erupted in the cafeteria.

Police arrived in force and remained on campus for days. A student human relations committee was formed (a black girl and I were co-chairs), and the climate calmed. Moore, who was also on the committee, recalls the “riot” as the turning point: The bullying whites found that their victims would fight back. “We learned to coexist in the same space,” she says.

The experience was invaluable for whites who had almost no previous interaction with black peers. I learned things about our divergent experiences and perceptions that stayed with me.

But was it a net benefit for the African American students? That’s not so clear. The neighborhood around Anderson High School suffered from the loss of businesses and a long-standing community anchor.

The effects didn’t end there. Some white students transferred to private academies. Some families moved out of the Austin school district. The tiny nearby town of Round Rock grew from 2,811 people in 1970 to 12,740 in 1980.

That was the practical flaw in busing to integrate schools: Many whites resisted, and they found ways to escape. Today, whites make up 75% of Austin’s residents but only 28% of public school enrollment.

White flight proved to be an intractable response elsewhere. A 2013 study in the American Sociological Review found that in recent decades, “minority students have become increasingly isolated and less exposed to whites.”

Biden may be faulted for indulging the resistance of white constituents. But in our democracy, they had a vote, and perhaps a majority. Harris can legitimately claim that being bused gave her a better education. But not all African Americans got the same benefit.

In hindsight, supporters of racial equity might have done better with other remedies: redrawing school boundaries to integrate schools with less disruption, establishing attractive magnet schools, and pouring money into mostly black schools to improve educational outcomes.

Humility is in order on all sides. This is one of those issues that fit what the jurist Learned Hand wrote: “The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right.” Maybe Biden didn’t have the correct answers then. But the correct answers weren’t easy to identify then. They still aren’t.

Steve Chapman blogs at Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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Mark Meadows

Donald Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wanted a presidential pardon. He had facilitated key stages of Trump’s attempted 2020 coup, linking the insurrectionists to the highest reaches of the White House and Congress.

But ultimately, Meadows failed to deliver what Trump most wanted, which was convincing others in government to overturn the 2020 election. And then his subordinates, White House security staff, thwarted Trump’s plan to march with a mob into the Capitol.

Meadows’ role has become clearer with each January 6 hearing. Earlier hearings traced how his attempted Justice Department takeover failed. The fake Electoral College slates that Meadows had pushed were not accepted by Congress. The calls by Trump to state officials that he had orchestrated to “find votes” did not work. Nor could Meadows convince Vice-President Mike Pence to ignore the official Electoral College results and count pro-Trump forgeries.

And as January 6 approached and the insurrection began, new and riveting details emerged about Meadow’s pivotal role at the eye of this storm, according to testimony on Tuesday by his top White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson.

Meadows had been repeatedly told that threats of violence were real. Yet he repeatedly ignored calls from the Secret Service, Capitol police, White House lawyers and military chiefs to protect the Capitol, Hutchinson told the committee under oath. And then Meadows, or, at least White House staff under him, failed Trump a final time – although in a surprising way.

After Trump told supporters at a January 6 rally that he would walk with them to the Capitol, Meadows’ staff, which oversaw Trump’s transportation, refused to drive him there. Trump was furious. He grabbed at the limousine’s steering wheel. He assaulted the Secret Service deputy, who was in the car, and had told Trump that it was not safe to go, Hutchinson testified.

“He said, ‘I’m the f-ing president. Take me up to the Capitol now,’” she said, describing what was told to her a short while later by those in the limousine. And Trump blamed Meadows.

“Later in the day, it had been relayed to me via Mark that the president wasn’t happy that Bobby [Engel, the driver] didn’t pull it off for him, and that Mark didn’t work hard enough to get the movement on the books [Trump’s schedule].”

Hutchinson’s testimony was the latest revelations to emerge from hearings that have traced in great detail how Trump and his allies plotted and intended to overturn the election. Her eye-witness account provided an unprecedented view of a raging president.

Hutchinson’s testimony was compared to John Dean, the star witness of the Watergate hearings a half-century ago that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon for his aides’ efforts to spy on and smear Democrats during the 1972 presidential campaign.

“She IS the John Dean of the hearings,” tweeted the Brooking Institution’s Norman Eisen, who has written legal analyses on prosecuting Trump. “Trump fighting with his security, throwing plates at the wall, but above all the WH knowing that violence was coming on 1/6. The plates & the fighting are not crimes, but they will color the prosecution devastatingly.”

Meadows’ presence has hovered over the coup plot and insurrection. Though he has refused to testify before the January 6 committee, his pivotal role increasingly has come into view.

Under oath, Hutchinson described links between Meadows and communication channels to the armed mob that had assembled. She was backstage at the Trump’s midday January 6 rally and described Trump’s anger that the crowd was not big enough. The Secret Service told him that many people were armed and did not want to go through security and give up their weapons.

Trump, she recounted, said “something to the effect of, ‘I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the mags [metal detectors] away. Let the people in. They can march to the Capitol from here.

As the day progressed and the Capitol was breached, Hutchison described the scene at the White House from her cubicle outside the Oval Office. She repeatedly went into Meadows’ office, where he had isolated himself. When Secret Service officials urged her to get Meadows to urge Trump to tell his supporters to stand down and leave, he sat listless.

“He [Meadows] needs to snap out of it,” she said that she told others who pressed her to get Meadows to act. Later, she heard Meadows repeatedly tell other White House officials that Trump “doesn’t think they [insurrectionists] are doing anything wrong.” Trump said Pence deserved to be hung as a traitor, she said.

Immediately after January 6, Hutchinson said that Trump’s cabinet discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove a sitting president but did not do so. She also said that Meadows sought a pardon for his January 6-related actions.

Today, Meadows is championing many of the same election falsehoods that he pushed for Trump as a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), a right-wing think tank whose 2021 annual report boasts of “changing the way conservatives fight.”

His colleagues include Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer who pushed for Trump to use every means to overturn the election and leads CPI’s “election integrity network,” and other Republicans who have been attacking elections as illegitimate where their candidates lose.

Hutchinson’s testimony may impede Meadows’ future political role, as it exposes him to possible criminal prosecution. But the election-denying movement that he nurtured has not gone away. CPI said it is targeting elections in national battleground states for 2022’s midterms, including Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Trump did not give Meadows a pardon. But in July 2021, Trump’s “Save America” PAC gave CPI $1 million.

Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.

Tina Peters

YouTube Screenshot

A right-wing conspiracy theorist who was indicted in March on criminal charges of tampering with voting machines to try to prove former President Donald Trump's lies of a stolen 2020 presidential election on Tuesday lost the Republican primary to run for secretary of state of Colorado, the person who oversees its elections.

With 95 percent of the vote counted, Tina Peters, the clerk and recorder of Mesa County, Colorado, was in third place, trailing the winner, fellow Republican Pam Anderson, 43.2 percent to 28.3 percent.

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