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June 1st, 2014:

Weekend link dump for June 1

Neil Gaiman visits a refugee camp in Jordan. You should read about it.

On a completely not-coincidental note, there’s over $100 million lying idle in the campaign accounts of former members of Congress. You could feed a lot of refugees with that kind of money. I’m just saying.

“Let’s be real though, I have no idea if we’re doing the right thing. My younger boys are teenagers living at home, and the oldest is just about to blow this joint, so the jury’s still out. But I do hope that by regarding our children’s individuality and by allowing and engaging with them in the right-of-passage wrestling of souls, we are managing our family in a manner worthy of respect.”

RIP, Bunny Yeager, pinup model and best-known photographer of Bettie Page.

“It’s interesting that many evangelical groups are quick to break ties with anyone who does not believe that being gay is a sin, yet are cautious and claim that it’s not their right to “adjudicate” when it comes to sexual abuse of children.”

What TBogg says.

“The war against euphemism and cliché matters not because we can guarantee that eliminating them will help us speak nothing but the truth but, rather, because eliminating them from our language is an act of courage that helps us get just a little closer to the truth. Clear speech takes courage.”

The most horrifying wedding cake ever.

“Dating advice of the sort you find in Cosmo magazine and other women’s media usually starts from the premise that the advice-seeker has flaws that need to be fixed in order to make her more attractive. But pick-up artistry argues that men who can’t get laid are fine the way they are, and it’s women—the entire lot of them—who are broken. And that by accepting that women are the ones to blame here, the student of PUA can finally start getting the sex he feels entitled to.”

The kids are all right. And they very likely will continue to be.

“Bob Newhart is the rare straight man who gets laughs all on his own.”

“Cops carry around holstered guns all the time. Accidents happen; but it’s pretty rare to have something like this happen. It seems increasingly common, though, in the new open carry era where your average doofus decides it’s a hot idea to bring his loaded weapon to the local Walmart. So just what is the law and balance on negligence, aggravated derp and criminal responsibility?”

RIP, Seth Popper, Director of Labor Relations for The Broadway League and a high school classmate of mine. We weren’t friends but we had friends in common and took at least a couple of gym classes together. Condolences to family and friends.

“Earthing” is a load of crap.

Who needs Shark Week when you can have Sharknado Week?

“In any event, the legal tussle over the ONE TRUE HUMMUS rages on.”

The Reading Rainbow is coming back.

Turns out all those apocalyptic predictions about the imposition of clean air standards on power plants were a bunch of overblown hooey.

In fact, even the Chamber of Commerce’s own numbers show that we can achieve a lot of climate protection for a fairly low cost.

RIP, Maya Angelou, national treasure.

“There’s no evidence that countries that provide free or low-cost healthcare to their citizens, even those who provided it to all their citizens, end up spending more. Quite the contrary.”

Sixteen questions Edward Snowden wasn’t asked.

“It doesn’t look like Obama is doing much to move the country in a more liberal direction, but in his slow, methodical, pragmatic way, he’s doing just that. A lot of people might not know it, but they’re attracted by his no-drama approach to incremental social change. It frustrates those of us who want to see things change faster, but in the end, it might turn out to be pretty effective.”

When poorly conceived social media campaigns go horribly – and hilariously – wrong.

Wilson’s petitions

Here, courteously sent to me by reader and regular commenter Mainstream, is a copy of Dave Wilson’s petition for a charter amendment to “prohibit men (who perceive or express themselves as women) from using the women’s restroom. The petition itself is in addition to a scare-mongering letter from Wilson, sent from his current “residence” on 34th Street, and an offensive and misleading drawing. The latter was included in an earlier petition effort from last October for the same thing. Either I completely forgot about that one or I never heard of it in the first place. Hopefully that’s a harbinger for this one. In any event, the petition itself reads as follows:

Except as required by State or Federal law, the City of Houston shall only define “Gender Identity” as an individual’s innate identification, as either male or female, which is assigned at birth. Perceived gender Identification is not allowed in defining “Gender identity”. Furthermore, the City of Houston shall require entities doing business with the city to adopt the same definition of “Gender identity”.

If any portion of this proposed Charter amendment is declared unlawful, then such portion shall be removed and the remainder of the Charter amendment will remain in effect. Any ordinance or executive order in conflict with this section of the Charter is hereby repealed and declared invalid.

You know I’m not an attorney, but I have a hard time seeing how this drivel could survive a legal challenge, if it were somehow to be adopted. It’s so vaguely worded yet specifically targeted I don’t know how it could possibly be enforced. Any attorneys out there that want to weigh in on this, by all means please do. Note that this is also not a petition to repeal the ordinance, for which there is a 30 day window, or to recall Mayor Parker or any member of Council. I’m not sure what to make of that. If you receive this or any other petition for one or more of these purposes, from Dave Wilson or any other group, please let me know, either via comment or an email to kuff – at – offthekuff – dot – com. If you get a different petition than this one, I will be eternally grateful if you can scan it and send it in email to me. Thanks very much.

Supreme Court denies Burnam mandamus request

Rep. Lon Burnam

Late Friday I got an email from the Ramon Romero campaign touting the news that the State Supreme Court had denied a write of mandamus to Rep. Lon Burnam in his electoral challenge lawsuit. You can see the Supreme Court’s order here – scroll down to case 14-0372, the third one listed under “Miscellaneous”. See here, here, and here for the background – basically, he’s alleging that the Romero campaign’s use of iPads to process absentee ballot requests violates Texas electoral law, which only references fax machines. Burnam had asked that county election officials release all the applications turned in for mail-in ballots in this race to investigate potential illegalities such as an “illegal computerized-signature vote-by-mail operation”, with the goal being to have any absentee ballot requested via a Romero iPad thrown out. He was denied by the trial court judge on the grounds that he was fishing for information, then by the 2nd Court of Appeals, and now by the Supreme Court. State District Judge Robert McFarling had agreed to delay the trial until after the appeals court had ruled, and now Burnam has come to a dead end. Accordint to this Star-Telegram story that reported the Supreme Court ruling and recapped the story so far, Rep.-elect Romero has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which will be heard on June 16. If Burnam survives that, I presume a trial date will be next, unless he decides to drop the matter. It’s hard to see how Burnam can prove his case at this point, but I suppose one tends to keep hope alive for as long as one can. Anyway, the next update will be on or around June 16, unless Burnam gives up before then.

Another slap on the wrist for a prosecutor behaving badly

Weak. Very weak.

The Texas Bar Association has issued a public reprimand to state district Judge Kaycee Jones for her role in clandestine texting during a criminal trial while she was a prosecutor and before her election to the bench last year.

Jones, who oversees the 411th court in Polk, Trinity and San Jacinto counties, signed the agreed judgement citing her for “professional misconduct” just before she came in front of the bar’s grievance panel for a hearing this month.

Jones, 39, was an assistant Polk County prosecutor for 11 years before becoming a judge in 2013. She could not be reached for comment.

However, in a letter to the bar’s disciplinary counsel several months ago, Jones confessed to being an accomplice in a texting incident that she stated she knew was wrong, writing: “I deeply regret that I acted in this manner.”

The agreed judgment documented how Jones had received text messages from state district Judge Elizabeth Coker, while she was seated on the bench during a trial in a child injury case.

Jones, then an assistant prosecutor and observer during the trial, wrote down the message that suggested a line of questioning to bolster the prosecution’s case and relayed it to the lead prosecutor.


However, several whistle blowers in the investigation, including attorneys Cecil Berg and Richard Burroughs, said the state bar was far too lenient on Jones.

“I’m totally stunned and in disbelief,” said Burroughs of Cleveland. “I served on the state bar’s grievance committee for eight years and would have expected Jones to be suspended or disbarred when she has confessed to violating someone’s civil rights.”

He said Jones has since refused to recuse herself from overseeing his cases that come into her court and feels she is retaliating against him.

He and Berg wanted the state bar to expand its investigation to include multiple other “ex parte” texts between Jones and Coker involving other defendants which were given to the state judicial commission for review.

“We want to find a way to have the bar association look at them still,” Burroughs said.

See here and here for the background. I suppose the State Commission on Judicial Conduct can weigh in as well, since Jones is now a judge, but since all they did with her partner in crime Coker was make her resign, I don’t expect much. I still think a suspension of one year is the bare acceptable minimum punishment for what these two unethical idiots did, and disbarment would not have been too harsh. Why bother to behave if there are no consequences for breaking the rules? Grits has more.