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October 6th, 2019:

Weekend link dump for October 6

“In my research, I came across so many doommongering quotes about how texting was ruining the English language, when we obviously now know it as a cultural renaissance in writing that ushered in the new genre of the textolary novel and other kinds of microfiction, not to mention creating now-classic nonfiction formats like the thread. (I drafted this op-ed as a thread myself, as any sensible writer would do, because how else would I stresstest each of my sentences to make sure they were all pithy and vital?)”

“The National Rifle Association acted as a “foreign asset” for Russia in the period leading up to the 2016 election”.

“How the Supreme Court might frustrate the effort to use statutory authority to advance a progressive agenda, and why the next president should follow through anyway”.

“The declines were certainly notable, but some ecologists have begun to question whether the calculus undertaken in the paper truly warranted this sort of language, and the ominous future it seemed to suggest. And those concerns have raised further questions among some scientists—and even some reflection among authors of the paper themselves—about how high-stakes research, the constraints of high-profile journal publishing, and sophisticated publicity can sometimes combine to drive a story into the news cycle while eclipsing important uncertainties, and perhaps even delivering an incomplete message to the public.”

“You know, you’ve got an opinion, I’ve got an opinion.”

“We may not know the identify of the person who came forward to blow the whistle on Trump and Giuliani, but we should celebrate them. And we should take a moment to celebrate Joe Wilson, too, on the occasion of his passing.”

“There’s never been a requirement that a whistleblower have firsthand knowledge of what they’re reporting. They need to have a reasonable belief. The firsthand information is usually gathered by the inspector general, as I believe did occur here.”

“A quid pro quo for purposes of any of these federal statutes can be implicit and need not be provable from one piece of evidence. Rather, investigators look at all of the interactions between the parties, as well as other relevant facts, to determine whether an exchange was solicited, offered or accepted.”

“Which means that—the way that the defense is arguing the case—an intruder and a resident could both shoot at each other, if they both believe they’re in their own homes, and nobody would be committing a crime. It’s a strange law that promotes a kind of lawlessness.”

“Data shows that community-support circles decrease rates of sex-offender recidivism. One program may lead the way when it comes to reintegrating offenders into society.”

RIP, Jessye Norman, renowned opera singer.

“The time is now for more newspapers to use their public platforms to call for Trump to resign. It’s time for news outlets to use their bully pulpits to make the case for a return to the rule of law in the executive branch. And it’s time for newspapers to grow a spine, because yes, scores of dailies used that same public platform to demand that Bill Clinton resign during the impeachment proceedings of the late 1990s.”

“The Rush to Testify is Bad News for the White House”.

“It was as though Richard Nixon in 1972 had gone out on the White House lawn and said, Yes, I authorized the Watergate break-in, and I’d do it again. It was as though Bill Clinton in 1998 had said, Yes, I lied under oath about my affair with Monica Lewinsky, and I’d do it again.”

“Polarization, however, is probably not the root cause of the polling we’re seeing on a possible Trump impeachment. Politics were polarized during Barack Obama’s administration, and not many wanted him impeached and removed. Only 33% of Americans wanted Obama impeached and removed in a July 2014 CNN poll. Most, 65%, didn’t feel that way.”

“Impeachment, in our view, serves more purposes than removal and should proceed without the certainty of a slam-dunk conviction in the Senate. Indeed, the process has more, rather than less, legitimacy if the outcome is not entirely predetermined by partisanship.”

“A newly unearthed letter from 2016 shows that Republican senators pushed for reforms to Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office and judiciary, echoing calls then-Vice President Joe Biden made at the time.”

“We apologize to anyone that was offended by the Snoop Dogg performance at Late Night.”

RIP, Diahann Carroll, singer and pioneering actor, who was the first African American female to star in a non-stereotypical role in her own primetime network series.

John B. Love III

Meet the ninth Democratic candidate in the Senate primary.

John Love

John B. Love III, a Midland city councilman, is the latest Democrat to jump into the crowded race to challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, saying in his announcement that gridlock in Washington is “taking a toll on Texas families.”

“In August, a mass shooting came to Midland,” Love said in his announcement, citing the mass shooting in which a gunman killed seven people and injured two dozen more in Midland and Odessa. “Tomorrow it will come to someone else’s town. We can fix these tough problems if we work together.”

Love, a three-term councilman who serves as Midland’s mayor pro tem, is pitching himself as the small-town cure for the problems in D.C.

“I grew up in West Texas where neighbors talked to each other,” Love said in his announcement. “I’m a proud Democrat, but in a small city you have to talk to your Republican neighbors. We’ve gotten a lot done in Midland and I’m ready to bring the same approach to Washington.”

Love is one of nine Democrats who have so far filed paperwork to run in the primary, in which gun violence has already become a top issue.

[…]

Love said he’s a “proud gun owner who supports a ban on assault weapons.”

“I’m for comprehensive background checks and closing the gun show loophole,” Love said. “But more importantly, we need real action, real votes and leadership to reduce gun violence.”

I did not find a Senate campaign page for him, but this local news story about his announcement has an image that appears to be what he’ll be using. Love is the ninth candidate, and the fourth African-American in the field, along with Amanda Edwards, Royce West, and Michael Cooper. If he draws a non-trivial level of support, that could affect Edwards and West’s chances of making it to the runoff. At first glance, he looks like an interesting candidate, and in a cycle that doesn’t already have a bunch of interesting candidates, I bet he could make an impression. If he ends up in the conversation for a statewide race in 2022, I would not consider that a bad outcome. We’ll know soon enough how far behind he is in fundraising, and then we’ll get to see how much ground he can make up. The Midland Reporter-Telegram has more.

The clown show is coming for Drag Queen Story Time

The words, they fail me.

The group that opposed and defeated Houston’s equal rights ordinance in 2015 announced Tuesday it is launching a petition drive aimed at prohibiting Drag Queen Storytime, the program shuttered earlier this year by city officials over reports that a participant was a registered sex offender.

Houston Public Library officials in March said they would seek to “improve upon policies” and “re-organize the program,” in which drag queens read books to children at the Freed-Montrose Library. A spokesperson for Mayor Sylvester Turner declined comment and did not respond to an inquiry about the status of the program.

The group Campaign for Houston seeks to amend the city charter to bar the program “or any variation thereof where a biological male dresses up in women’s clothing representing himself as a Drag Queen or a biological woman dresses up in male clothing representing herself as a Drag King.”

The proposed amendment also would prohibit “any content, programs or people related to adult sexually oriented business” from reading stories to children at Houston public libraries.

Jared Woodfill, a Campaign for Houston spokesperson, alleged the program is “targeting kids” and called it “out of step with the moral values” of Houston.

Just a reminder, Jared Woodfill also spends his time defending the honor of accused child molesters. But sure, it’s drag shows that are the problem. I have a hard time seeing this proposition as worded surviving a First Amendment challenge, and I’m also not sure if the intent is to put something on the May ballot or the next November ballot. A previous lawsuit alleging that Drag Queen Story Time had somehow violated people’s religious freedom was dismissed (in addition to a lack of standing) not having established any constitutional problems. I don’t doubt their ability to get the petition signatures, but how it proceeds from there is unclear. Deeply stupid, and unclear.

What kind of laws might have helped mitigate our recent violent incidents?

The DMN asks a good question.

Texas politicians are looking anew at ways to reduce gun violence in the wake of the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa. Dozens of policies, from the piecemeal to the comprehensive, have been proposed.

But would any have applied to the four massacres Texans have experienced since November 2017? The Dallas Morning News sought to answer this question by breaking down the circumstances behind some of the shootings to learn which preventive measures, criminal penalties or enforcement mechanisms would have applied in each case.

The News then compared these measures to the proposals Texas elected officials are now discussing and have proposed in the past, in addition to similar laws in other states. Here’s what we found.

In order, they suggest the following:

Midland-Odessa shooting: Private gun sales
El Paso shooting: Welfare checks and red flag laws
Santa Fe shooting: Child access prevention laws
Sutherland Springs: Domestic violence laws

To me, “gun control” is a lot like cyber security. You can’t just do one thing and expect it to be sufficient. Any robust cyber security program in an enterprise includes patching, vulnerability scans, firewalls, intrusion detection, anti-virus software, a control framework, incident detection and response, and so much more. There’s overlap and redundancy, with the philosophy being that if one thing doesn’t do it the next thing will. This article is a good illustration of how the metaphor applies to gun violence. There is no one single solution. There are many tactics and strategies that work together. We need to understand that or we’ll never make any progress.