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Schrodinger's Cat and the Color Line

Here's a really interesting piece in the Times, by a professor of legal history at Vanderbilt, on how Rachel Dolezal and whites passing as blacks is not as unprecedented in our history as we might think. Certainly not as common as light skinned African-Americans passing as white - but it has its own history.

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Dave Chappelle: “The thing that the media’s gotta be real careful about, that they’re kind of overlooking, is the emotional context of what [Dolezal] means. There’s something that’s very nuanced where she’s highlighting the difference between personal feeling and what’s construct as far as racism is concerned. I don’t know what her agenda is, but there’s an emotional context for black people when they see her and white people when they see her. There’s a lot of feelings that are going to come out behind what’s happening with this lady. And she’s just a person, no matter how we feel about her.”

Si Se Puede

I go offline for the afternoon and return to see that the Rachel Dolezal story has managed to get a lot weirder in my absence. First, she resigned from the presidency of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, which can probably be put down as a predictable turn of events. Less predictable is the news that when she was white in 2002, Dolezal sued Howard University for racial discrimination (Howard is a historically black university) for denying her graduate support, a scholarship because she was white. Then there's news that Dolezal is currently supporting the alleged victim in a child sex assault case against her biological older brother, Joshua Dolezal.

With the news Jeb Bush had formally entered the presidential race I thought the GOP might be angling to top Obama with Bush/Dolezal black/brown fusion ticket. Si se puede!

The Sorrow and the Pity and the Derp

As you can see, we've now had a watershed moment in the long-running Brownback/Kansas budgetary train wreck. The Senator-turned-Governor slashed taxes, with the tax shortfall to be made up by increased revenues driven by tax-cut fueled economic growth. The economic growth didn't happen and the state tumbled in a severe budgetary crisis which Brownback has been trying to find some way out of for months.

Now most of the state's Republican lawmakers have taken the plunge and violated the "Norquist Pledge" most made never to raise taxes.

Read More →

Stressed Out In Blue

Fascinating piece at TPMCafe by an expert on policing about how all our macho notions of what it means to be a good policemen make it exceedingly difficult for cops to admit when they're under stress and to get the help they need -- and how that is a major contributor to police misconduct of the type we saw in the McKinney pool incident:

[A]n officer in a vulnerable emotional state is a liability, not an asset. An officer who is struggling to deal with the stress of the last call is much less likely to be able to effectively manage the next one. Attempting to do so endangers not only the officer themselves, but also their fellow officers and the community more broadly.

Read the rest.

Chat with Journalist and NYT Best Selling Author Guy Lawson at 3 PM Eastern

Guy Lawson, New York Times bestselling author and a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, will be in The Hive chatting with Prime members at 3 PM Eastern (sub req). His work has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, and Harper's. His new book, Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History, was just released on June 9.

Join him for a live chat to talk about his book (which we've excerpted here), our failed war on drugs and more. Drop questions here at or before 3 PM EST.

And remember, you can now participate in live chats via mobile! If you don't have a Prime subscription, you can sign up here.

Real Keepeth

Recent events have confirmed me in my belief that our great scientists should continue their path-breaking research deep into old age but probably stop commenting on the major social issues of the day around age 60.

Severely Black, The Rachel Dolezal Story

I read the Rachel Dolezal story before it got picked up by any national outlets in the original story in the Coeur d'Alene Press on Thursday (yes, epic aggregation fail ... what can I say I was traveling). If you've only read pick-ups or follow-ups, read the original if you get a chance. It's an amazing piece of reporting and will make you appreciate what a great thing small paper journalism is - just an amazingly detailed piece of shoe-leather reporting. Since I read it I've been trying to think what if anything there is to add beyond the peristaltic WTF that seems to be the near universal response.

So let me just go with bullet points.

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