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June 24th, 2018:

Weekend link dump for June 24

“You probably think you’re a Good Guy too. Well, you might be the good guy defending a potential rapist. You might be the good guy making your female friends feel silenced by insisting on interjecting jaunty anecdotes into a serious discussion of a could-be creep. You’re the good guy derailing the uncomfortable conversation, and by extension, any shot of progress and positive change.”

“How Tippi Hedren made Vietnamese refugees into nail salon magnates”.

From the “Look, I Have Always Had Problems With Deadlines” department.

Maybe there was a good reason why nobody had been eager to start trade wars lately.

“We are convinced that mandatory family separation is profoundly harmful to children and to families, in addition to being morally egregious and a violation of fundamental human rights.”

“I see Paul Ryan finally said he’s not comfortable with babies being taken from their mothers. Well hoop de do. He and Corker and Jeff Flake, who are all so brave they’re headed back home (or to K Street to make millions of dollars from whatever remains of the Trump presidency), aren’t going to matter soon anyway. They have been, and have let themselves be, steamrolled.”

Among many other things, Harvey Weinstein is an example of how the cash bail system is broken.

Phishing attacks, y’all. Know how to avoid them.

The importance of Pride Month in Major League Baseball.

By the way, the Brexit-Russia connection is becoming clearer every day.

Kris Kobach deserves a lot more than this, but it’s a start.

Some giant panda news, since I know you like that sort of thing.

“Finding true love is hard. Almost as hard as getting cast on The Bachelor, which guarantees if not a soul mate, then at least a few paychecks for hawking FabFitFun boxes on Instagram. But a shocking pair of recent revelations — that current Bachelorette Becca Kufrin’s pool of suitors includes both a sex offender and a bigot — has made it painfully apparent that the long-running reality series’ casting processes are in desperate need of an overhaul.”

“You should know that Mike Godwin — the guy who came up with Godwin’s Law — is saying that you’re in the clear to make those comparisons.”

“Soerens and the other good people at World Relief are grappling with the dismaying disappointment of realizing that the very same white evangelical Americans they have spent decades educating about the need to minister to immigrants and refugees are the most viscerally and viciously anti-immigrant and anti-refugee group in the country.”

“All presidents are tested now and again, and Trump is failing massively. It’s not quite the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last. Being president of the United States is a difficult job, and Donald Trump has no idea how to do it.”

“On June 23, 1988, a sultry day in Washington, James Hansen told Congress and the world that global warming wasn’t approaching — it had already arrived. […] Thirty years later, it’s clear that Hansen and other doomsayers were right. But the change has been so sweeping that it is easy to lose sight of effects large and small — some obvious, others less conspicuous.”

“A new group called Lawyer Moms of America, formed to oppose separation of immigrant families, has quickly grown to 10,000 members, thanks to social media.”

“In a week of crazy lying and horribles, this Trumpian tweet below stood out to me. It speaks directly to the core of Trumpism, and why Trumpism is failing as a governing approach.”

RIP, Koko, the sign-language-using gorilla.

RIP, Mildred McWhorter, founder of the Mission Centers of Houston.

SCOTUS and sales taxes

This ruling will be good for Texas.

Texas stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that states may force online retailers to collect sales tax even when they have no physical presence in the state.

Every year, Texas loses $1.1 billion in uncollected sales tax, according to the Texas comptroller’s office — well over the $800 million the state will spend securing its southern border this year and next. That’s the result of the high court’s 1992 decision, now reversed, that retailers are responsible for collecting sales tax only in states where they had “nexus.” That decision — which predated the astronomical rise of the internet and the subsequent boom in online shopping — was outdated, argued lawyers for the state of South Dakota, who won the case this week.

That lost tax revenue is particularly meaningful in Texas, one of just a handful of states without a personal income tax. This May, for example, the state’s sales tax revenue totaled $2.76 billion.

[…]

Customers themselves owe sales tax on their purchases, but it’s sellers who are required to collect that money and send it to the government. States have little mechanism — and little incentive — to chase down sales tax on small-ticket purchases from average consumers when the retailers don’t do it themselves. Some of Texas’ largest online retailers — Amazon, for example — already remit sales tax to the state. Amazon has almost a dozen distribution centers in the state.

Texas is highly unlikely to gain back all of the $1.1 billion it’s currently losing, experts said, and any money the state gets back won’t come overnight. While the Texas comptroller has a great deal of taxing authority, some changes to the state’s tax structure might have to be carried out by the Legislature when it reconvenes in 2019, said Dale Craymer, the president of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. The Comptroller’s office is looking into that, a spokesman said.

“We welcome the court’s ruling in this case and are currently assessing any potential revenue impacts,” said Kevin Lyons, a spokesman for the agency.

I have long believed that the sales tax exemption for online purchases outlived its purpose years ago. This is not just for states like Texas but also for local governments that rely on sales tax revenue, and for traditional retailers who are no longer at an automatic disadvantage. Sales tax rates vary by locality, and not all items are subject to sales taxes, so this will be a challenge to set up, but that’s not our problem. Online retailers will figure it out, and life will go on. This was the right decision.

MJ Hegar introduces herself

Here’s her opening video:

Fair to say it made a good impression, and USA Today, Daily Kos, Slate, Business Insider, and Political Animal all gushed about it. Nancy LeTourneau, who wrote that latter article, used it as a springboard to talk about not just the influx of female (mostly Democratic) candidates this cycle, but how they are running different types of campaigns than what we are used to seeing:

The shift that has happened was perhaps best described by Stacey Abrams, who is running to be Georgia’s next governor, when she said, “My being a black woman is not a deficit…It is a strength. Because I could not be where I am had I not overcome so many other barriers. Which means you know I’m relentless, you know I’m persistent, and you know I’m smart.” I recently took at look at how some Native American candidates are embracing the same message.

These women are tossing out the playbook for political campaigns that was written mostly by men and putting their experiences as women front and center to make their case for why voters should support them. They’re breaking down stereotypes and talking about things that have affected women for centuries but have been relegated to the shadows.

As LeTourneau says, this is a big deal regardless of how many of these women win. It’s a paradigm shift, one that we better get used to. Hegar’s a decided underdog in CD31, but if the wave is high and she pulls an upset, people are going to know her name.

San Antonio to get pro football team

Not the NFL or the XFL but the AAF.

“After talking to [league co-founder and CEO] Charlie Ebersol, I knew the Alliance of American Football was right for San Antonio, and that San Antonio was right for the Alliance,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who participated in talks with the league prior to the announcement.

The AAF was unveiled in March as a complement to the NFL with its season kicking off in early February next year six days after the Super Bowl and finishing in April with a championship around the time of the NFL draft. It aims to put a quality product on the field made up of former college players and pros trying to make it back to the NFL and coached by names fans will recognize.

League officials, including Ebersol, a television and film producer, will be in town Thursday to announce the local general manager and head coach. San Antonio was the eighth and final city to be unveiled as a charter member of the new league joining Atlanta; Birmingham, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Phoenix; Salt Lake Cit; and San Diego.

Coaches such as Steve Spurrier in Orlando, Mike Singletary in Memphis, Rick Neuheisel in Phoenix, and Mike Martz in San Diego give the league credibility. Add to that a television contract with CBS and the league already appears to be on more stable footing than other professional football league startups of the past.

“Spring football forever has been thought of as a money grab,” Ebersol said during a Facebook Live event after announcing the league in March. “It has been thought of as somebody just going in and building a business very quickly and making money right out of the gate because people love football.

“But what we tried to build here was something bigger. We tried to put together a team, an alliance of people that were committed to what we could do if we actually started from scratch with a professional sports league.”

The AAF is funded by private investors but there are no individual owners for each team. It is what the league’s name suggests – an alliance aimed at building a strong product in each city.

[…]

The AAF founders have been working for more than a year to identify the cities in which they wanted to place the first eight teams. They also have been laying the groundwork for the league in talking with potential coaches, general managers, and considering ways in which they might want to make their brand of football different from the NFL.

Some of those differences will include no kickoffs, no extra points, no television timeouts, and a 30-second play clock instead of the 40-second clock in the NFL. The differences are rooted in player safety and shortening the length of games.

The San Antonio franchise will play its games at the Alamodome. The AAF was mentioned in that recent XFL story I blogged about, which was the first I had heard of it. Sounds like they have some interesting ideas, with this league maybe kind of serving the same function as the NBA G League does for that sport. The recent record of non-NFL pro football leagues is not great, but this one has a pretty good pedigree, so we’ll see. (Then again, so did the WLAF.) And since you’re wondering, yes, Charlie Ebersole is Dick Ebersole’s son.