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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

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.

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.”

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!

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.

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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.

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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In case you missed it earlier this week, here's (very deservedly) one of our most popular pieces in months. A former cop and now law professor/policing scholar looks at what went wrong and what went right in that pool party incident in McKinney, Texas. If you missed it, it's truly a must read.

As we've learned in recent years, quality journalism isn't free. It requires money and resources and commitment to get the job done. So with that in mind, I've spoken to the business professionals who run TPM and they've agreed to offer a bounty for bona fide, publishable and exclusive photos of the pilates class Bloomberg News mascot Mark Halperin will host for GOP donors tomorrow morning with Ann Romney.

We had originally planned on offering a bounty of $500 for eligible photos. But the thinking here was that that's somehow not legitimate or unseemly - especially since the possible recipients are likely to have net worths of hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. So we've compromised on a $500 credit toward official TPM merchandise, which you can find here at the official TPM store. So for instance, you could buy 27 TPM mugs, 18 TPM t-shirts, etc. or various combinations.

We got a huge amount of reader response to my post yesterday about the impending demise of the University of Wisconsin. That's not terribly surprising. One of the things we've learned over the years from audience research is that about half our readers have advanced degrees and a disproportionately large number of them are in education, from K through college. As I said in that post, I'm more interested in the practical effect of what Walker is trying to do than a discussion of tenure in the abstract. Because what Walker is doing is basically like lighting your own house on fire. States can get into financial jams and need to cut spending, either because of budgetary mismanagement or rough economic times. But if you look closely at what Walker is doing there's no real budgetary imperative behind it. It's just a desire to destroy a great public institution for the sake of doing it, driven in part by right-wing ideology and in part by the palpable animus Walker himself holds to people who managed to get an education.

A big part of what is happening here is that, to people like Walker, Madison is an anchor of Wisconsin liberalism. But not just liberalism in the partisan political sense, also scarier things like empirical thinking and new ideas. And it's not just the humanities. What really comes out in this article is how much of the scythe is aimed at the sciences.

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The North Carolina House just put together the votes necessary to override Gov Pat McCrory's (R) veto of a 'religious freedom' bill. The Senate had already done the same. McCrory, as that little R signifies, is a Republican and one who opposes gay marriage. But he reasoned, really beyond any possible reasonable counter-argument, that "no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath.”

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