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July 2nd, 2017:

Weekend link dump for July 2

“They just stared at me, and at that moment, Tom’s door opened and another girl came out, adjusting her hair and taking off down the hall, while the first girl in line slipped into Tom’s room. This was a young man who knew something about time management and understood how to successfully juggle Bible study and blow jobs. I went to bed alone that night thinking it served me right for not being religious.”

The Science Channel is all over the August 21 solar eclipse.

Why do so many hackers come from Russia?

Getting bitten by a tick may result in developing an allergy to meat.

The truth about Medicaid, which is a lot more successful than some people would like you to think.

For example, Medicaid pays for most of the 1.4 million people in nursing homes. Where will they go if/when it gets cut to shreds?

“One would think that after the AHCA debacle, Senate Republicans would have proposed a vastly different bill, but they did not. The BCRA disproportionately impacts Americans on the lower end of the economic spectrum.”

“But we do not reside in normal times, McConnell is not a normal leader, and the contemporary Republican Party—one contemptuous of normal standards of behavior or representative process—is itself anything but a conventional American political party.”

“There’s no question that people in the individual insurance market would end up with higher deductibles under the Senate bill, much like the House.”

“A cheap home isn’t affordable if it comes with high transportation costs.”

“But politically, the far more important number is 15 million. The CBO projects that the Senate bill would create 15 million more uninsured in 2018. That’s next year. An election year.”

“According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about sixty per cent of the people who enrolled in the program were employed. Under the Senate bill (and the House bill), many of these workers, some of whom could be earning as little as fifteen thousand dollars a year, would no longer be eligible for Medicaid in a few years, and they would have to take their chances in the open market.”

“I often say that femmes are the queerest of the queer. We walk a lonely line between passing in, but not belonging to the straight world, and belonging to, but being invisible in the queer world.”

Bad Zillow. No biscuit for you.

“Pretending that both parties just have very different approaches to solving a commonly agreed upon problem is really just a lie. It’s not true.”

“I want you to take this in, hat-wearing female dog, lest you spend the next 15 years of your life trying to impress someone who is not worth your time. Ignore the hat-based norms of the dog universe and wear what makes YOU happy. Celebrate yourself! You are awesome and unique, like that dancing eleven-year-old in the blonde wig from Sia’s Chandelier video, only a dog version!”

RIP, Michael Bond, creator of Paddington bear.

Place your bets on who will win the (TV version of) Game of Thrones.

“A lot of top Republican leaders have expressed their dismay about what was obviously a sexist insult, but that’s hardly sufficient. This is the same party, after all, that recently produced its Senate health care bill drafted by a committee of 13 men. A bill whose defenders have argued, in effect, that making maternity health coverage more expensive is not a problem because guys don’t get pregnant.”

“Don’t sugarcoat this. Trump just called for 32 million people to lose health coverage.”

Texas will turn over some voter info to Trump vote “fraud” commission

I have three things to say about this:

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Texas will hand over personal information of the state’s more than 15 million voters to President Donald Trump’s commission that is looking into voter fraud.

Secretary of State Rolando Pablos said his office will share any publicly available information with Trump’s commission as requested, including the names, addresses, dates of birth and political party affiliations. But the state will not be sharing partial social security numbers as Trump’s commission asked for because that information is not part of Texas’ voter rolls.

“The Secretary of State’s office will provide the Election Integrity Commission with public information and will protect the private information of Texas citizens while working to maintain the security and integrity of our state’s elections system,” Pablos said. “As always, my office will continue to exercise the utmost care whenever sensitive voter information is required to be released by state or federal law.”

Pablos’ comments come as governors in some states have flat out refused a request by the commission this week to hand over data.

[…]

The White House on Friday responded by questioning why states would refuse to hand over the information to the commission.

“I think that’s mostly a political stunt,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters in Washington.

Using an executive order, Trump on May 11 created his commission to go after what he has told Republicans was 3 million to 5 million illegal votes cast in the 2016 election — a claim that has not been verifiable.

1. Let’s be very clear that Kris Kobach is an extreme partisan hack whose primary interest is in making it harder/impossible for as many people to vote as he can. He has a long track record of doing this, along with a long track record of being extremely anti-immigrant. Other members of this travesty have similar track records. This is a star chamber whose existence is owed to a giant lie about “illegal” votes. The whole point of this exercise is to purge people off of state voter rolls, just as the Dubya Bush-era Justice Department tried to do, featuring some of the same cast of deplorables as today. There is zero legitimacy to any of this. It is all malevolent.

2. As the Texas Election Law Blog notes, the state of Texas is legally prohibited from supplying confidential information (which includes Social Security numbers and Texas drivers license numbers) to the commission. Which is nice, but it’s hardly a guarantee. For example, as Sondra Haltom reminds us:

You should know that a bill was proposed this past session (HB 3422 by Laubenberg and Fallon) that would have allowed the TX SOS to provide voters’ Social Security numbers to Kobach as part of his Kansas Interstate Voter Crosscheck (read: flawed, illegal voter purge) program. Luckily it died, but not before it got out of the House Elections Committee. Just FYI. Sleep well.

And as Glen Maxey reminds us, it could be even worse:

Two sessions ago, the Republicans passed “Crosscheck” through the Texas legislature. This was a program to send all our voter data to the state of Kansas who ran a program to cross check it to other participating states to find “duplicates”. I fought it vigorously, but it passed. That program is run by Mr. Kobach, Kansas Sec. of State.

Our SOS didn’t implement the program because there was another statute in the Government code that prohibited sending dates of birth and social security and driver’s license numbers to others.

Maxey appears to be referring to SB 795 from 2015. I’m not enough of an expert to tell you the difference between these bills. What I can tell you is that there’s nothing stopping Greg Abbott from adding an item to require compliance to this sham commission to the special session agenda.

3. Remember when Texas leaders would file a lawsuit rather than comply with anything the federal government wanted them to do? Boy, those were the days. Can you even imagine the reaction from Abbott and Patrick and Paxton if the Obama administration or (sigh) a Clinton administration had tried this? Daily Kos, the WaPo, the Trib, the NYT, NPR, and Rick Hasen have more.

City responds to term limits mandamus

Here’s what the city had to say in response to the request that the Supreme Court vacate the district court ruling that let the 2015 term limits referendum stand and order an election for this November:

In an unusually blunt response filed last week, city attorneys accused plaintiffs’ attorney Eric Dick of an “unrelenting bum’s rush” and “near-hysterical ravings.”

“In short, (the plaintiff) cannot file a big pile of stuff, violate every rule designed to facilitate organization and efficiency, and expect other parties and the Court to try to sort through the mess and find any arguments and evidence in there on a ridiculously accelerated schedule,” lawyers from the City Attorney’s office wrote the state Supreme Court, responding to plaintiffs’ request to accelerate the case. “That is not due process. It is a tantrum.”

[…]

[The lower court ruling] positioned the case for a likely return to trial court for a hearing on the substance of whether the city’s ballot language obscured the nature of the vote by asking whether voters wanted to “limit the length for all terms.”

Dick was anxious for a faster resolution.

“Because of the crucial election timelines, there are extraordinary circumstances,” Dick wrote in a request for Supreme Court intervention.

He followed up last week with a motion to expedite after the court asked the city to reply by July 3, less than two months before the Aug. 21 deadline to call a November election.

See here for the previous update. I wish I had a copy of the full city response, but alas they didn’t send it out. The statutory deadline for having an election is the end of August as noted above, but I figure the realistic deadline is the end of July. People need to have some time to decide whether or not to run; you can’t just spring this on everyone a week before then. I don’t put anything past this Supreme Court, but I agree that every passing day reduces the odds of an election, and if we make it to August without an order it’ll be like making it to October without a hurricane – technically, there’s still time, but in real life it ain’t happening. Stay tuned.

Dukes pleads not guilty

To all counts.

Rep. Dawnna Dukes

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, entered not guilty pleas to abuse-of-office charges Friday in Travis County district court.

The 12-term lawmaker pleaded not guilty to tampering with a governmental record and abuse of official capacity by a public servant. Judge Brad Urrutia on Friday set a trial date of Oct. 16.

Dukes told reporters outside the court room: “Why accept a plea when I didn’t do what they are alleging?”

“No one has heard all of the evidence and heard my side,” Dukes said. “There’s been a barrage of print media that has attempted to try me in the court of public opinion, yet the court and the proceedings have not begun and when they do, my attorney will tell the full story, the whole story and show that unequivocally I am not guilty of these charges.”

[…]

Dukes has faced criticism for missing votes and being absent from the House floor. She was not in attendance when the House voted on the final budget.

When asked if she was going to run for re-election, Dukes said: “That is a very strong possibility.”

See here and here for the background. Dukes is entitled to her day in court, and she’s innocent until proven guilty, but she’s been a replacement level legislator for a long time. One way or another, this needs to be her last term.

Calling all artists!

The city of Houston has an opportunity for you.

A photo I took of an artist working on an Ann Richards portrait in the Heights

The City of Houston is gearing up to add another thirty-eight artworks to street-side traffic signal control cabinets throughout Houston and is encouraging artists to submit qualifications for the opportunity to create a mural. Known as “Mini Murals”, Houston now has over 170 new original artworks in neighborhoods throughout the city that have been funded by Mayor Sylvester Turner and City Council, as well as private sponsors.

“This program is a tremendous success on every level,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Community murals enrich our neighborhoods, represent the diversity of our community and employ the talents of Houston artists. People love them and we have had a lot of positive response, so we want more artists to join the roster.”

Mini Murals will soon be popping up in many of Houston’s neighborhoods including Acres Homes, Central Southwest, East End, Gulfton, Heights, Near Northside, Second Ward and Third Ward.

The City of Houston has contracted with UP Art Studio for program management and is partnering with the minority-owned business to expand the artist roster. Managing Partner, Noah Quiles, of UP Art Studio said, “We are excited that the City of Houston continues to be supportive of this project and sees the value in emphasizing public art through this and other public art projects. We work hard to leverage what the City does with other sponsorships and a lot of groups see a Mini Mural as a great way to give back to the community. The cost to sponsor a Mini Mural is $2,500 and we have had management districts, neighborhood associations, corporate partners, individuals, and others sponsor murals.”

If you are an artist interested in joining the registry, you can find the Open Call guidelines available here. Artists will need to submit their qualifications, including work samples, a letter of intent, and previous work experience. The deadline to submit your application will be no later than August 11, 2017 and all artists will be notified of results by August 31, 2017.

UP Art Studio will convene a panel of art experts, community stakeholders, artists and City representatives to review all submissions and select artists for the registry.

I love this project, which has been turning those big ugly traffic control cabinets into something colorful and creative. If you know someone who’s got the talent, point them in this direction. According to the application, the job pays $750 per cabinet plus $250 for supplies. The Chron, which has a bunch of images of other such cabinets, has more.