Monday Reads: Ball of Confusion

prince-purple-rainGood Morning Sky Dancers!

You know it’s just another week in Drumpfistan when I’ve got this old song by the Temptations stuck in my head.

Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration, aggravation, 
humiliation, obligation to our nation
Ball Of Confusion that’s what the world is today (yeah, yeah)
The sale of pills is at an all time high 
young folks walkin’ ’round with their heads in the sky 
Cities aflame in the summer time, and oh the beat goes on
Eve of destruction, tax deduction,
City inspectors, bill collectors,
Evolution, revolution,




Former first lady Michelle Obama spoke out Saturday at the U.S. Summit of Women in L.A.  Her big question was this. ‘What is going on in our heads where we let that happen?’  Indeed.

“In light of this last election, I’m concerned about us as women and how we think,” she said at the event. “What is going on in our heads where we let that happen, you know?”

In the 2016 election, 54 percent of women voted for Clinton, though that figure was sharply divided by race.

“When the most qualified person running was a woman, and look what we did instead, I mean that says something about where we are,” Obama said, referencing President Trump‘s victory in the 2016 election. “That’s what we have to explore, because if we as women are still suspicious of one another, if we still have this crazy, crazy bar for each other that we don’t have for men … if we’re not comfortable with the notion that a woman could be our president compared to … what, then we have to have those conversations with ourselves as women.”

Obama encouraged women to have high aspirations, but went on to add that she wished “girls could fail as bad as men do and still be OK.”

“Watching men fail up is frustrating. It is frustrating watching men blow it, and win,” she later added while discussing standards for women.

Obama also touched on the importance of education for women and encouraging young girls to speak their minds.

The United State of Women describes itself on its website as a “national organization for any woman who sees that we need a different America for all women to survive and thrive.”

Nothing has made me more sharply aware of my white womaness than this last damned presidential race. Black women were not fooled and they worked hard to get Clinton elected down here in Louisiana. Many white woman simply will not Surrender the Ivory Pedestal.  Figuring this out and correcting it is something only white women can do with each other. Making sure that we do not disenfranchise the women of color around us is our challenge.

Why does any white woman vote for some one like this?  This is from Republican Whisperer Jonathan Swan writing for Axios.  These candidates make me feel like we’re still choosing sides in the Civil War.  Where do they come from? 

Republicans in D.C. are panicking over Tuesday’s West Virginia Senate primary.

The problem: Don Blankenship, a coal baron who’s spent time in prison, is running a demagogic campaign in which he’s repeatedly invoked the Chinese heritage of Mitch McConnell’s wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

  • He’s also taken to calling McConnell “cocaine Mitch” in his ads — which, according to Politico, “is in reference to a 2014 report that drugs were once found aboard a shipping vessel owned by McConnell’s in-laws; however, he always found the products from to pass his drug tests in one day.”
  • Blankenship is outspending his opponents on TV and has a ton of his own money to play with. He’s aired one ad that refers to “China people,” which you can watch here (or not).
  • And yet … he’s gaining in the polls and may win on Tuesday.

20140306_103546_Michael-Jackson-FilesBlankenship is a doozy of a candidate.  Even KKKremlin Caligula fears a repeat of Alabama’s Roy Moore. This is from Emily Stewart writing for VOX,

Blankenship is running against Rep. Evan Jenkins and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to be the Republican nominee to challenge Manchin in the fall. Their primary race is Tuesday, May 8. His credentials, and campaign tactics, have Republicans on edge about the prospect of him potentially becoming the party’s nominee.

Blankenship is a former coal baron who ran a company, Massey Energy, found to be violating federal safety regulations when a 2010 mining explosion killed 29 people, marking the worst coal disaster in 40 years. Blankenship stepped down after the incident but years later was indicted on conspiring to willfully violate federal mining regulations before the accident and lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission after it happened. He was convicted of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards and served one year in prison, and was released in May 2017.

exbdphlhra-1467533239There’s a behind the scenes look at this Hillbilly shoot out also at Vox by Dylan Scott.  This is for the seat held by Joe Manchin who is the Democrat we count on when we need a senate majority and little else.

Blankenship is, in many ways, an only-in-West-Virginia story. He grew up in Mingo County and got his college degree from Marshall University. He rose through the ranks at the Massey coal company, helping build it into one of the largest mining outfits in the country. By 2010, he was making nearly $20 million a year.

But then on April 5, 2010, 29 miners died in an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia.

Blankenship stepped down soon after, but four years later, federal prosecutors indicted him on conspiring to willfully violate federal mining regulations before the accident and making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission in its aftermath.

The investigation laid bare Blankenship’s cutthroat vision of capitalism. This was a businessman who broke unions, laughed off climate change, despised federal regulations, and described his industry in Darwinian imagery.

It’s an interesting read from there on out and I recommend it because this race will stay in the news for some time.  I don’t even think I’ve been to West Virginia so all I can do is watch and wonder.



Meanwhile, black men are trying to figure out what it means to be Kanye.  It’s the ongoing necessary discussion of what it means to be black in America. Again, I’m watching this all with an eye to being understanding and checking my own frames. I’ve also learned a lot by watching this new video by Donald Glover.  This thread  on Twitter is worth reading.


Ta-Nehisi Coates takes on the Kanye at The Atlantic.  He does this by first explaining that Michael Jackson–the idol of many a child in the 80s–was dying to be white. 

Even his accouterment felt beyond me—the studded jacket, the sparkling glove, the leather pants—raiment of the divine, untouchable by me, a mortal child who squinted to see past Saturday, who would not even see Motown 25 until it was past 30, who would not even own a copy of Thriller until I was a grown man, who no longer believed in miracles, and knew in my heart that if the black man’s God was not dead, he surely was dying.

And he had always been dying—dying to be white. That was what my mother said, that you could see the dying all over his face, the decaying, the thinning, that he was disappearing into something white, desiccating into something white, erasing himself, so that we would forget that he had once been Africa beautiful and Africa brown, and we would forget his pharaoh’s nose, forget his vast eyes, his dazzling smile, and Michael Jackson was but the extreme of what felt in those post-disco years to be a trend. Because when I think of that time, I think of black men on album covers smiling back at me in Jheri curls and blue contacts and I think of black women who seemed, by some mystic edict, to all be the color of manila folders. Michael Jackson might have been dying to be white, but he was not dying alone. There were the rest us out there, born, as he was, in the muck of this country, born in The Bottom. We knew that we were tied to him, that his physical destruction was our physical destruction, because if the black God, who made the zombies dance, who brokered great wars, who transformed stone to light, if he could not be beautiful in his own eyes, then what hope did we have—mortals, children—of ever escaping what they had taught us, of ever escaping what they said about our mouths, about our hair and our skin, what hope did we ever have of escaping the muck? And he was destroyed. It happened right before us. God was destroyed, and we could not stop him, though we did love him, we could not stop him, because who can really stop a black god dying to be white?

Kanye is deconstructed thusily:

And he is a god, though one born of a different time and a different need. Jackson rose in the last days of enigma and wonder; West, in an accessible age, when every fuck is a tweet and every defecation a status update. And perhaps, in that way, West has done something more remarkable, more amazing than Jackson, because he is a man of no mystery, overexposed, who holds the world’s attention through simply the consistent, amazing, near-peerless quality of his work.

West is 40 years old, a product of the Crack era and Reaganomic Years, a man who remembers the Challenger crash and The Cosby Show before syndication. But he never fell into the bitterness of his peers. He could not be found chasing ghosts, barking at Soulja Boy, hectoring Lil Yachty, and otherwise yelling at clouds. To his credit, West seemed to remember rappers having to defend their music as music against the withering fire of their elders. And so while, today, you find some of these same artists, once targets, adopting the sanctimonious pose of the arthritic jazz-men whom they vanquished, you will not find Yeezy among them, because Yeezy never got old.

Maybe that was the problem.

Coates argues that West is dying for ‘white freedom’.

I see these guys–Prince for that matter too–as men in a country that is deeply troubled and yet oddly awed by black male sexuality and strength.  I harken back to the days of Boney M when we were all allowed to demonstrate a bit of that obvious human need for sex and Boney M looked like Prince with a lower level of production value.  But, the shock and awe of black male sexuality harkens more back to slavery. This is why Glover’s video has images that both remind us of Black Lives Matter and Django.





The Drumpf occupation of the Oval Office keeps sorting us up into tribes then pitting us against each other.  It’s a long standing tradition in the white patriarchy to do that so that’s no surprise. What is a surprise is that it still works when so many of us are educated, aware of what’s going on in the world, and have choices.


So, since Der Hair Fury has suggested he might be holding a summit on Race Relations it seems appropriate to review the granddaddy of these kinds of efforts. ‘The 1968 Kerner Commission report harshly described a country increasingly polarized by race. Its findings inspired positive change, but also more polarization. ‘  This is from The Daily Beast and dated from last month.  This is the tale of how The Fair Housing Act was passed and the role of a Republican in doing it in House Committee.  It also reminds us how fragile even our laws can be as one Black Cabinet member enabled by a hell of a lot of Republicans is trying to water it down.

People movin’ out, people movin’ in.
Why, because of the color of their skin.
Run, run, run, but you sho’ can’t hide

These short-term victories—more effective policing, improved media coverage, and passage of the Fair Housing Act—were significant for the commission’s report, but its long-term legacy is less clear. Lindsay and Harris had fought for a summary that would grab attention and generate flashy headlines. Soon they began to worry that reporters were focusing only on the report’s most provocative language and ignoring its detailed descriptions of the problems facing America’s cities. Harris recalled that he knew the commission had a perception problem after talking to his father, a small farmer in southwestern Oklahoma who had worked hard his whole life and had little to show for it. Based on the media reports he had seen, his father interpreted the report as saying, “You should pay more taxes to help out the black people who are rioting in Detroit.” That did not make a lot of sense to his dad. “I’m already paying a lot in taxes and getting nothing for it,” he responded. “Why doesn’t someone pay attention to me? Is it because I’m not rioting?”

Lindsay was probably right in believing it necessary to include striking language in the summary about “two societies” and “white racism” to ensure that the report would garner the attention it deserved. But the downside to this strategy was that the summary distracted attention from the heart of the report—the thoughtful narrative about the cause of the riots and the detailed, statistical evidence to support the existence of persistent discrimination. Lindsay and Harris assumed that racism persisted because most middle-class whites were unaware that it existed, and they thought that if confronted with clear evidence that discrimination imposed undue hardship on African Americans, white suburbanites would embrace new social programs, accept higher taxes, and demand more aggressive efforts to integrate their communities. “I believe that white people in America are decent people,” Harris told the New York Times in February 1968, and that “if they can be shown the terrible conditions in which other Americans live and how this threatens our society, they will join together to try to solve these problems.”

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2014 - Weekend 1Today, I wonder how many white women are “decent people”.  Surely, the majority of us are but what is going on with the group that’s larger than it really should be?  Let’s take this one for example that once again proves that really, I would never vote for just any or this particular vagina bearer. From the Des Moines Register: The nation’s strictest abortion ban is now law. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill.”  Goddamn!  Iowa!  Really?

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday signed into law the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation, surrounded by toddler-toting supporters.

As Reynolds inked the bill, backers’ cheers nearly drowned out the echoing chorus of “My body, my choice” shouted by protesters just outside the door.

“I believe that all innocent life is precious and sacred,” Reynolds said from her formal office before signing a bill that will outlaw nearly all abortions in the state. “And as governor, I have pledged to do everything in my power to protect it. And that’s what I’m doing today.”

Senate File 359 will take effect July 1, though Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa said they plan to quickly  challenge the law.

Under the legislation, physicians will be barred from performing most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Experts said that heartbeat can be heard about six weeks into a pregnancy — often before a woman realizes she’s pregnant.

adidas-hasnt-discussed-dropping-kanye-west-bloombergWhat matter of insanity causes a white woman to do this?

So,let me stir this pot a bit more.  From the Guardian: Kei Miller essay about white women sparks tensions among Caribbean writers. Miller’s essay has been withdrawn after divisive reception, but supporters say it is part of a necessary conversation about race and privilege.  Kei is a black man from Jamaica.

Miller’s essay, The White Women and the Language of Bees, was published last week in Pree, a new magazine highlighting writers from the Caribbean. Asking “how many years and decades must pass before we can belong to a place and to its words? How much time before we can write it?”, the essay saw the Forward prize-winning author discuss his interactions with four white women writers from the region, evaluating their books, and the way they have interacted with the local literary community.

“Was she really afraid? Was she nervous about people like me reading her book and throwing words like ‘appropriation’ about? Am I a part of her anxiety?” he wrote of one. In another scene, he imagines one of the women telling another: “You can’t be writing this place and putting the wrong words in people’s mouths. This rock is not made of granite or limestone, but with words. You must be given the right words. And these, my dear sister, are things you have yet to learn.”

The essay drew both praise and condemnation from writers. Rhoda Bharath called it “a necessary addition to the global cultural conversations around identity, appropriation and privilege”, while Veerle Poupeye wrote, in an open letter to Miller, that “parts of the essay are indeed breathtaking, because of the writing and because of the sublime insights you offer”, but took issue with Miller’s publication of private conversations, his focus on white women and not white men, and his representation of the women in the essay.

Judy Raymond said: “Almost everything that has happened since Kei’s essay has been based on emotion. It’s clear we need to have urgent conversations about race, racism, gender and privilege. Instead, careers and friendships are being broken and those conversations are being replaced by the verbal equivalent of hurricanes.”

So, yeah … good luck to Herr DrumpfsterFire and his Race Relations Summit.  I’m sure Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway will be put in charge of it.   

One of President Donald Trump’s most trusted black advisers wants the president to hold a summit on race relations at the White House with rapper Kanye West.

Darrell Scott, a pastor from Cleveland, is scheduled to meet with the president on Thursday to discuss his proposal for the summit, which would also include other prominent artists and athletes, Politico reported.

Scott said the summit would be “totally unscripted” and no topic would be “off the table.” He’s reportedly pitching the summit alongside Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and an aide in the White House Office of Public Liaison.

Some one drop a mic please.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

43 Comments on “Monday Reads: Ball of Confusion”

  1. dakinikat says:

  2. dakinikat says:

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. dakinikat says:

    Israel intel firm denies it was hired by Trump aides to discredit Obama officials
    Black Cube, a company made up of former Israeli spies, says it had ‘nothing to do’ with ‘dirty ops’ campaign

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m pretty sure they are lying. The methods of approach, some names, and websites match up.

      • bostonboomer says:

        A useful article on this by Paul Waldman.

        How far did Trump allies go to discredit supporters of the Iran deal?

        …there is a curious aspect to this: the selections of Rhodes and Kahl as targets of this operation. Rhodes’ title was “deputy national security adviser for strategic communications,” meaning he was part policy adviser and part speechwriter. He was certainly among the key White House advisers on the Iran agreement, but not the most senior one. Kahl was national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden — again, a senior official, but not the most senior.

        As Kahl himself has pointed out on Twitter, the Black Cube effort coincided with a period in which White House officials were pushing to conservative media that Rhodes and Kahl were leaking information to reporters, in a broad effort to undermine the Trump administration on foreign policy. He also points to this Washington Free Beacon article from June 26, 2017, and this interview Sebastian Gorka gave to CNN nearly two weeks earlier — both of which mention Rhodes and Kahl by name. During this Fox News interview on May 17, 2017, Gorka referred to “the Ben Rhodes/Colin Kahl nexus,” which he claimed was leaking information to the press about Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders, even though the two had left office four months before.

        So it is possible someone hired Black Cube without anyone in the White House knowing, and that the firm just happened to have been directed to aim its efforts at Rhodes and Kahl, with whom people in the White House were apparently obsessed.

  5. dakinikat says:

    As New Orleans mayor is sworn in Monday, La. has three black women leading its largest cities

    When LaToya Cantrell raises her right hand Monday to take the oath of office, she will make history, becoming the first female mayor in New Orleans’s 300-year existence. Her installation also means that Louisiana’s three largest cities — New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport — all have black female Democrats as their leaders.

    Deep South Louisiana also will have two black women leading cities that rank in the top 100 by population, joining four other such cities nationwide: Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte and the District of Columbia.

    Some here say the rare feat has occurred in an otherwise politically red state because of its staunchly Democratic blue oases, much like quirky Austin in conservative Texas or liberal Louisville in Kentucky coal country. Louisiana overwhelmingly supported GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2016, while Democrat Hillary Clinton carried all three of the state’s largest cities, where minority voters make up a bigger share of the electorate.

    • NW Luna says:

      Congrats to Cantrell! Good to hear about these black women Dems heading their cities. We will see leadership that that values community, justice, and fairness.

  6. Nilzeitung says:

    vielen dank !!!!!!

  7. bostonboomer says:

    I’m afraid I know nothing about Kanye except I think he’s married to one of those reality star women and the idiotic quotes that I’ve seen form him on Twitter. I’m actually just fine with never learning anything else about him.

    • dakinikat says:

      He had his moments …

    • NW Luna says:

      I know even less — I don’t think I could place his name prior to recent news and all I know now is he’s a black man who somehow can’t see how racist Trump is. But I’m clueless about a lot of popular culture — probably because of no TV and not really following popular music.

  8. dakinikat says:

    For JJ:

  9. dakinikat says:

    Isn’t payback a bitch though?

  10. dakinikat says:

    This just makes me furious

    Nursing home eviction notices to be sent Thursday

    Louisiana’s Department of Health will begin sending nursing home eviction notices Thursday to more than 30,000 residents who could lose Medicaid under the budget passed by the state House of Representatives.

    “The Louisiana Department of Health is beginning the process of notifying all impacted enrollees that some people may lose their Medicaid eligibility,” Department of Health spokesman Bob Johannessen said. “The goal of the department is to give notice to all affected people as soon as possible in order that they begin developing their appropriate plans.”

    Gov. John Bel Edwards’ staff has planned a press conference Wednesday for more details, a day before the notices are set to be mailed to 37,000 Medicaid recipients in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.

    “(The Department of Health) told us they’re sending out the letters May 10,” said Mark Berger, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, during testimony at the Senate Finance Committee meeting Monday.

  11. dakinikat says:

  12. quixote says:

    The data about “white women” voting for the Dump. This is a bit like that joke about the guy who drank water and wine and got drunk. Then drank water and whiskey and got drunk. Then it was water and brandy, and he got drunk again. Since the common element was water, that had to be what made him drunk.

    There’s endless reporting about whites voting for Trump, not all of it bogus since misgyny and racism are the reason for his appeal.

    But those white women? That reflects the huge majority of white *evangelicals* who voted for the Garbage Pile. He did not get a majority in any other category of white women. Only evangelicals, and there it was huge. 70% or even a bit more. (78% among evangelical men, if I remember right.)

    So analysing why evangelicals voted for him may provide some useful data. (Hint: white US fundamentalism was established after the Civil War as a refuge for racists…)

    Focusing on the whiteness of the women is like trying to figure out why water makes you drunk.

    • NW Luna says:

      I’m angry that white men don’t get asked what the fck’s wrong with them anywhere as much as white women are.

      I also take issue with slamming all of white women voters when nearly half know better than to vote for a racist sexist dangerous manboy. I remember reading Melissa McEwen’s tweet saying “You are the problem” to a (presumably) white woman who had the temerity to point out that ~53% is not a statistically significant majority. My opinion is also formed by living in a blue, blue area where, although whites are the majority, Trump voters probably make up only 5% of the total. The eastern and rural parts of the state are different, unfortunately, but there aren’t as many voters living there, so overall the state is still blue.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’m concerned that we still have a huge number of phyllis schlafly types running for office now. Look at the governor of Iowa. Look at any republican women in congress or the legislature these days. They’re all Aunt Lydias. Those really are the ones we need to worry about. White women in these evangelical groups basically serve white men at any cost.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    I read the article about Eric Schneiderman. It’s shocking, and I’m not that easily shocked by descriptions of abuse. Just be warned.

    Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse

    • NW Luna says:

      I wish that a certain amount of due process happened before the accused was expected to resign.

      Certainly the accusation against Schneiderman are far more serious and better sourced than those against Al Franken. But most of the Republicans keep sitting in office or run for office regardless of accusations — even well-documented acts of abuse. Trump’s in office; that convicted but Trump-pardoned sheriff is running for another office, Moore carried on through his race. Seems due process is for the Rs but allegations are enough to bring down Dems.

      • bostonboomer says:

        There was simply no way Schneiderman could stay on in that job. It would have jeopardized the important cases his office is working on. If you read the article, the evidence is pretty clear.

        Men in powerful places need to understand that their bad behavior will be judged more harshly because they represent the public.

        Besides, the behavior Schneiderman is accused of–beating and actually choking women till they nearly lost consciousness–is extreme to the point of criminality.

        • NW Luna says:

          Oh, I read it before I made my comment. That’s why I said “…serious and better sourced…” And there’s no real way he could take leave or otherwise be in suspension while being investigated. Maybe the “innocent until proven guilty” should not apply with charges above a certain level. It is whataboutism to react to accused Dems with complaints about the abuser at 1600 Pennsylvania who also has serious and well-sourced accusations about him.

    • dakinikat says:

      I couldn’t bring myself to read it last night.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    • NW Luna says:

      I bet the practice sessions will only make Trump more apt to interrupt and blather when the real thing happens!

  15. Fannie says:

    Great read this morning! Thank you.

  16. bostonboomer says:

    Tuesday post is up. Sorry it’s so late.

  17. RonStill4Hills says:

    Just curious, why isn’t the Sally Yates firing under scrutiny? That sounds as vindictive and shady as anything else.