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January 1st, 2012:

Weekend link dump for January 1

Are things better yet?

Who does a celebrity kid have influence over, anyway?

Maybe this year scumbags like Jamie Dimon will come to understand why people loathe them. I’m not counting on it, though.

“On behalf of all gays and lesbians living in Minnesota, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize for our community’s successful efforts to threaten your traditional marriage. We apologize that our selfish requests to marry those we love has cheapened and degraded traditional marriage so much that we caused you to stray from your own holy union for something more cheap and tawdry.”

To disconnect or not to disconnect, that is the question.

Oh, those direct mail pieces. So hard to get your story straight about later.

When a blind squirrel with a stopped watch finds an acorn. You want evidence that the world will end this year, that would count.

Maybe Facebook will be better behaved in the new year. Nah, probably not.

That old chestnut about good ideas not needing lies to be told about them to garner public support remains true. So does the basic idea that supporting bad policy should lead to consequences.

Which won’t stop anyone from telling lies, of course.

More pundit accountability would be nice. Or you can take the approach I prefer, which is to avoid making predictions like the plague.

You really shouldn’t have to turn your Kindle off during takeoff and landing.

Speaking as the father of daughters, let’s please all do more to teach our sons to respect women. Thanks.

When men were men, and computers were ginormous.

It helps to actually understand math if you’re going to teach it.

The fetish for bipartisanship is as ridiculous as it ever was. Bipartisanship is not an end, it is a means to an end, and it’s only as good as the end it is a means for is good.

Ironically, I received a robocall for “cardmember services” about fifteen minutes after reading that post. If only I had Sen. Schumer’s number handy.

US debt was a better investment than gold last year. That sound you hear is Glen Beck’s head exploding.

The Jon Swift Memorial Roundup for 2011.

Ten years after

I don’t know how many people are actually reading blogs today, but if you’re one of them then I’m happy to tell you that today is the tenth birthday of this blog. It started as an exercise to see if I could write something on a regular basis, and I think it’s safe to say that I passed the test. I keep doing it after all this time because I still enjoy it, I still get something out of it, and I still think the exercise is good for me. There may yet come a day when I won’t have the time to do as much of it as I’ve been doing, but if so I’ll find a way to adjust. In the meantime, I’d just like to say thank you to all of you, for reading and commenting and correcting my mistakes and so on and so forth. At the time I started I figured I’d keep going even if I were shouting into a void, but I can’t say I’d have lasted anywhere near this long if that were the case.

I’ve had some preliminary discussions with Greg, who’s also been at this for a decade, about having some kind of celebration to mark the milestone, but typically we haven’t gotten past the “wouldn’t it be cool if” stage just yet. Figure maybe some time in the spring, if we ever decide what we’re doing. The 2012 state Democratic convention will be here in Houston, as it was in 2004 for the first Texas political blogger get-together, so that’s a possible tie-in. We’ll let you know when we get our act together.

Finally, I’m pleased to announce that at long last I’ve gotten my act together and created a Facebook page for this blog. I will use it to share content from here and whatever else strikes my fancy. It’s taken me this long to create the page, don’t expect me to know what to do with it right away. Please feel free to like it and tell others about it as well. You may also notice that its profile picture is somewhat lacking. If you have a modicum of design skill and would care to create something a bit less boring for me, by all means please do so and let me know. Thanks very much.

Until then, Happy New Year, and remember that the “hair of the dog” thing is just an old wives’ tale. See you tomorrow.

DOJ preclears Commissioners Court map

This came in late Friday.

The U.S. Department of Justice has approved Harris County’s redistricting map for commissioner precincts, which has been the subject of a lawsuit from Latino activists since August.

The approval, known as “pre-clearance” under the Voting Rights Act, means the Department of Justice has determined the court’s plan complies with Section 5 of the act, said Gene Locke, a lawyer who advised the county on its map.

The activists’ lawsuit, which alleges the county’s plan illegally dilutes Hispanic voting power in the southeast commissioner precinct, Precinct 2, is ongoing under a section of the act intended to protect the voting power of minorities.

“Harris County’s plan came under criticism, but the commissioners were always careful to take all legal and policy considerations into account to craft a plan that meets federal law and allows Harris County to deliver a high level of service to its citizens,” Locke said. “Obviously I am pleased that the Department of Justice recognized the legality of Harris County’s plan and pre-cleared it.”


Chad Dunn, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the pre-clearance means that he will need to go before the court again to prove his case.

“We’re ready to do that,” Dunn said. “We think that the evidence already presented to the court demonstrates that the plan the county adopted should not be used moving forward, and we’re confident that that will continue to be the case.”

The lawsuit is about Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The interim map drawn by Judge Vanessa Gilmore for the 2012 election will stay in place; since the lawsuit is mostly about the way Precinct 2 was drawn, and Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman isn’t up for re-election until 2014, it’s a minimal change from the map the Commissioners drew. The crux of the dispute is that Precinct 2 as drawn by the Commissioners contains a larger Latino population than it did in the 2000 Census, but a smaller Latino population than it does right now. The plaintiffs argue that this constitutes retrogression – see Greg for the numbers. That’s for Judge Gilmore, and one presumes ultimately SCOTUS to decide.