News Roundup: Textbooks, Buehler, and More

Your Monday morning news update

Moses and Manifest Destiny, Justice Ginsburg checks her work, and HB 2 defender Vincent Rue resurfaces. All the news that fits on Monday morning.

Manifest Destiny flies west on angel wings ("American Progress" (1872) by John Gast)

Revising the Revisionists: While several errors remain in Texas’ troubled history textbooks, publishers have taken steps to rid the books of (at least) some of their glaring factual inaccuracies, according to education watchdog Texas Freedom Network. In September, a TFN-selected group of academic scholars discovered numerous politically motivated distortions on topics ranging from religion and democracy to the free enterprise system and affirmative action in books reviewed by appointees selected by the largely right-wing State Board of Education. Changes by publishers include improving coverage of world religions and making clear that slavery was the major cause of the U.S. Civil War. Textbook publishers have also shunned demands from right-wing groups hoping to inject negative stereotypes about Islam. However, some errors persist, such as passages that overemphasize the influence Christianity had on the nation’s founding. “These textbooks make Moses the original founding father and credit him for virtually every distinctive feature of American government,” said Kathleen Wellman, Southern Methodist University history professor. “I believe students will believe Moses was the first American.” The SBOE will vote on the books – which are expected to be used in schools next year – at its meeting in November.

• Twenty hours of deliberations weren’t enough to determine the outcome of last week’s high-profile trial of Peaceful Streets Project co-founder Antonio Buehler, charged with the class C misdemeanor of disobeying a lawful order. Buehler’s been accused of not adhering to Officer Patrick Oborski’s Jan. 1, 2012, demand to put his hands behind his back during an altercation at a Lamar Boulevard 7-11, but the trial’s encompassed so much more than that isolated incident – as proceedings Thursday and Friday showed. The defense trotted out six witnesses (Buehler included) and the state called three more (as well as a brief recalling of one of the officers, Robert Snider). Both sides questioned each witness with a string of countless questions. By 5:30pm Friday, Judge Mitch Solomon had called a recess for the weekend. Deliberations conclude, hopefully with a verdict, Monday morning at 9:30am: Austin Municipal Courtroom, 2A if you’re thinking of playing hooky this morning.

He’s at it again: Vincent Rue, the widely discredited anti-abortion advocate who coached witness testimony in the case against Texas anti-abortion law House Bill 2, continues to prop up anti-choice bills nationwide, despite his lack of credibility. But federal judges are catching on to Rue’s antics – U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson slammed the state for inviting Rue to help defend a law (similar to part of HB 2) that would require abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, according to Mother Jones. When James Anderson, a Virginia emergency room physician (who also testified for HB 2 in Texas’ trial) said he didn’t know other courts had “disregarded Rue’s testimony,” Thompson shot back: "You say you don't know his employment or any organizations that he belongs to. Why do you trust him?" In his ruling, Thompson sought to provide a reason: "Either [Anderson] has extremely impaired judgment; he lied to the court as to his familiarity with Rue; or he is so biased against abortion that he would endorse any opinion that supports increased regulation on abortion providers. Any of these explanations severely undermines Anderson's credibility as an expert witness."

• Talk about a bad hire: David Dewhurst's former campaign adviser Kenneth "Buddy" Barfield pled guilty to embezzling $1.8 million from the lieutenant governor's failed 2012 U.S. Senate campaign, according to the Statesman. He now faces up to a combined 28 years in prison for three charges: wire fraud, falsified tax returns and federal campaign fund theft. Sounds like Dewhurst lost a buddy.

• Local computer-savvy Austinites are making it easier to get your vote on. Volunteers at Open Austin, a grassroots group that promotes open government, have created an updated version of their Vote ATX application, which helps voters find their closest polling place via an online map. Check it out here before you head to the polls.

Ethical RBG: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg corrected a mistake in her recent dissent from the order upholding Texas’ Voter ID Law. Initially listing a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs photo as an “unacceptable” form of ID, Ginsburg later rectified the blunder after a University of California-Irvine law professor blogged that Texas does, in fact, accept Veterans Affairs IDs. The admission of error marks the first time that a justice has called attention to his/her own mistake with a public announcement, according to NPR. Read the revised dissent here.

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More State Board of Education
SBOE Passes Mexican-American Studies, but Whitewashes the Name
SBOE Passes Mexican-American Studies, but Whitewashes the Name
Right-wing board member objects to “hyphenated Americanism”

Mary Tuma, April 13, 2018

State Board of Education Rejects Racist Mexican-American Textbook
SBOE Rejects Racist Book
Board votes unanimously to dump controversial, error-riddled book

Mary Tuma, Nov. 16, 2016

More Antonio Buehler
Buehler's Civil Case Dismissed, for Now
Buehler's Civil Case Dismissed, for Now
Cop watch activist plans to appeal

Chase Hoffberger, Feb. 23, 2015

Final Charges Dropped for Buehler
Final Charges Dropped for Buehler
Activist's slate all clear before civil trial on March 2

Chase Hoffberger, Feb. 19, 2015

More by the News Staff
What Land Use Code Do We Need to Build the City We Want?
What Land Use Code Do We Need to Build the City We Want?
Planning a way forward after CodeNEXT

April 12, 2019

Central Texas Lawmakers Speak Out About the 86th Legislative Session
Central Texas Lawmakers Speak Out About the 86th Legislative Session
Interviews with the team representing 2.1 million Austin metro residents

Jan. 4, 2019


State Board of Education, Antonio Buehler, HB 2, Voter ID, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kenneth Barfield, David Dewhurst, Peaceful Streets Project

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