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October 10th, 2021:

Weekend link dump for October 10

“11 Netflix Settings Everyone Should Know About”.

“It’s one thing to sell out for a $200,000 car, it’s another to do it for a fast casual milkshake.”

“Why the Texas Abortion Law May Galvanize Young Women Politically Like Never Before”.

“What the Media Gets Wrong About Last Year’s Uptick In Murders”.

The science of Fat Bear Week.

“On the one hand, acting is acting—it shouldn’t require perfect alignment with the character you’re playing. On the other hand, the fact that it keeps happening when Hollywood doesn’t exactly suffer from a lack of Jewish actors shows that something is off. It seems that the idea of letting an actual Jewish actress interpret a Jewish role is pushing a cultural boundary we didn’t realize was still there.”

“Put more prosaically: Does Donald Trump have a perp walk and a prison cell in his future?”

“I’m going to take a handful of recent articles that I felt badly missed the mark, and offer alternative ledes or nut graphs that I think do a better job of telling the truer story.”

“Golden State Warriors’ forward Andrew Wiggins is finally vaccinated.”

Cancel culture really is running amuck.

“Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Literally Broke the Internet in South Korea”.

“Women who have miscarried know first-hand that a pre-term fetus is not a baby, we must use our voices and our standing as mothers to protect abortion access”.

“When we realized tobacco companies were hiding the harms it caused, the government took action. When we figured out cars were safer with seatbelts, the government took action. I implore you to do the same here.”

“What’s so damaging about Facebook is that there’s no willfully bad person doing this. That’s just what the product is.”

“I’m a professor of art crime. To teach my students about the varieties of cultural heritage crime, like forgery, fraud, and looting, I’ve spent decades researching cases from throughout history and around the world. Which, frankly, was a big waste of time. They could have learned nearly everything about heritage crime by looking at what the Museum of the Bible has been caught doing in the past few years.”

Don’t anger Taylor Swift fans. Take it from the father of a devout Swiftie on this.

Lock them up.

RIP, Dr. Robert Grossman, pioneering Houston neurosurgeon who as a young resident examined the fatal head wound of President John F. Kennedy.

30 day campaign finance reports: HISD

HISD and HCC elections are the main event this November, and as we approach the start of early voting, we can now look at the 30-day campaign finance reports for the candidates. Here’s what things look like in HISD.

Elizabeth Santos, District I
Janette Garza Lindner, District I
Matias Kopinsky, District I

Sue Deigaard, District V
Maria Benzon, District V
Caroline Walter, District V

Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca, District VI
Kendall Baker, District VI
Greg Degeyter, District VI

Anne Sung, District VII
Bridget Wade, District VII
Dwight Jefferson, District VII
Mac Walker, District VII

Myrna Guidry, District IX
Gerry Monroe, District IX
Joshua Rosales, District IX


Dist  Candidate     Raised      Spent     Loan     On Hand
==========================================================
I     Santos        23,383      7,319        0      18,733
I     Lindner       60,385     12,809        0      44,500
I     Kopinsky       3,492      2,905        0       1,619
V     Deigaard      31,565     15,662        0      42,728
V     Benzon         6,297      2,555        0       3,741
V     Walter        14,792      8,535        0       8,977
VI    Vilaseca      42,632     12,792        0      52,853
VI    Baker          8,370      6,604        0       1,765
VI    Degeyter       1,703      2,887    2,900       1,703
VII   Sung          64,506     18,888        0      61,419
VII   Wade          78,655     58,612    7,000     142,906
VII   Jefferson        712     16,008   17,000           0
VII   Walker        64,776      4,263        0      58,412
IX    Guidry        10,000     11,864    7,500       5,636
IX    Monroe        25,500     15,429   10,000         120
IX    Rosales        1,702      1,818    1,786       1,669

The July reports are here. Incumbents not up for election do not have to file 30 day or 8 day reports, so we’ll next hear from them in January. Not everyone listed here had a July report, so for some people this is all we have.

This is one of those non-city election years, and with all that’s going on nationally and in Austin I don’t know how much people are even aware of these races, let along how much they’re paying attention to them. I live in District I and I do see a fair number of yard signs, for all three candidates. With the pandemic and work from home I’m not out and about much, and as such I have no idea what things might look like in other districts. Are you seeing any signs of activity where you live, if you have an HISD race on your ballot? Please leave a comment and let me know.

I’m a little surprised there isn’t more money in the District V race. Sue Deigaard raised almost the exact same amount as she did last period – I actually went and double checked to make sure I wasn’t looking at the wrong report. I might have expected Maria Benzon, who is being supported by the teachers’ union, to have raised more. I know they’re going to spend some money on her behalf (and on behalf of their other candidates), but I still expected to see some of that in her report. As for Caroline Walter, one of the anti-mask candidates on the ballot, I will note that she got $2,500 from Cal and Hannah McNair. Those of you that haven’t given up on the Texans yet, make of that what you will.

District VII is the race with the most money in it. Bridget Wade had a nice followup to her huge July haul, Anne Sung stepped it up from July, and Mac Walker did well. Dwight Jefferson is the odd one out, but there’s always someone who doesn’t raise much. I’m told that Wade is advertising on TV, and indeed her report shows $30K for “cable/OTT media buy”. Anyone out there seen one of her ads?

In District VI, perennial candidate/loser Kendall Baker got most of his money from himself (he listed a $5000 self-contribution), plus $2000 from Hannah McNair. She sure can pick ’em. Gerry Monroe got $10K from the Conservative Republicans of Harris County, and $10K from Steven Hotze. I sure hope Democrats are paying attention in District IX, because this is Myrna Guidry’s first time on the ballot, and we sure don’t need someone like Gerry Monroe on the Board. He also reported a $50K in kind donation from Aubrey Taylor Communications for “political newspaper advertisements”, which is hilarious and ridiculous on multiple levels. Oh, and a $500 contribution from Hannah McNair.

So that’s the basic landscape at this time. I’ll do a post on the 30 day HCC reports, and will look at the 8 day reports when they come out. As always, let me know what you think.

We wait until at least Tuesday for a chance at justice with SB8

In case you missed it.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday temporarily allowed Texas’ near-total abortion ban — the strictest in the nation — to again be enforced after freezing a federal judge’s temporary block of the law. The state appealed the order just two days after it was issued.

A panel of 5th Circuit justices restored enforcement of the law hours after Texas asked the court to step into a lawsuit that the U.S. Justice Department filed against the state. Enforcement of the law will be allowed to continue until at least Tuesday, when a response from the Justice Department is due. After the court considers arguments from both sides, the court can decide whether to continue allowing enforcement of the law or allow a lower court to once again temporarily block it.

The court would not be determining the overall case’s outcome at this point — but it would decide whether the law could continue to stand while court proceedings unfold.

[…]

The abortion law allows for retroactive enforcement — meaning those who helped someone get an abortion while the law was blocked for two days can now be sued.

A day after Pitman’s order, at least one major provider in the state — Whole Woman’s Health — had quickly begun performing abortions that Texas lawmakers sought to outlaw. It appears the clinics and doctors who performed abortions outlawed by the statute would now be vulnerable to lawsuits after Friday’s order.

“We do understand that it does open us up to some risk. We have to wait and see,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. “We have a lot of lawyers on speed dial these days.”

Miller said her organization and physicians in her clinics are on edge.

“But not for a second do we question that it was the right thing to do,” she said. “People need our help, and they shouldn’t be put through this.”

The organization will comply with the law once again, she said. Already several appointments had been made for Monday, so clinics will have to cancel them.

“Unfortunately, there’s going to be a lot of phone calls we have to make,” she said.

See here for the previous entry, which had an update at the end for the Fifth Circuit action. The Justice Department may wait for a ruling from the Fifth Circuit before it appeals (because we all know what the lawless Fifth Circuit is going to do) to SCOTUS, or it may just file an emergency petition with SCOTUS and hope for a faster ruling. SCOTUS has a Mississippi abortion case on its docket this term, so one way or another it’s going to be dealing with the larger issues. It’s just a question of whether they want to allow for a de facto overturning of Roe v Wade before they rule in that case or not. Maybe take a closer look a those approval numbers, guys.

In the meantime, there’s a real danger that it won’t much matter anyway what happens.

Abortion providers have said they are hoping they get more permanent relief from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The nation’s highest court was asked to intervene when the law was first going into effect, but justices declined. Since the law has been in effect, abortion providers have petitioned the court, again. So far, the court has not responded.

Abortion providers have said one of the longer-term concerns is what will happen to their clinics if the law continues to stay in effect. Hagstrom Miller said providers are facing serious financial strains as they turn away the majority of people seeking an abortion.

She said access to abortion in the state could be permanently altered if the law isn’t blocked as the legal challenges move through the courts.

“If clinics close because SB 8 is enforced long enough,” Hagstrom Miller said, “the damage will be done, even if it’s eventually struck down.”

Abortion providers have been begging for relief from this ludicrously unconstitutional law, to no avail so far. The danger that they’ll be forced out of business for financial reasons while they wait is real, and is exactly what happened with the TRAP law that was struck down in a few years ago. Fully half of all clinics went under in the interim, and I guarantee you that was no accident. If it happens again, we may never recover. And again, that was the plan all along.

What’s in a ballot name, 2021 edition

This is unfortunate.

Mac Walker

A candidate for the Houston ISD Board of Education said Friday his name has been printed incorrectly on ballots and county elections officials said it is too late to change the name.

Lee “Mac” Walker, running for the district 7 seat, said the issue came to his attention last weekend when a voter emailed to ask if he was on the ballot. The voter sent him a picture of the ballot, which showed his legal name, Lee Walker, instead of the nickname he has gone by and campaigned under, he said.

Walker’s notarized application shows he wrote he wanted his name to be displayed as Mac Walker on the ballot, according to district records. The application has a notary’s stamp on the bottom. A sample ballot shows his name appears as Lee Walker.

An HISD spokesperson said Friday evening the district was looking into questions from the Chronicle.

“I have gone by Mac since the day I was born,” Walker said. “I am just disappointed.”

[…]

Harris County Elections Administrator Isabel Longoria told Walker changing the language of the ballot would require a new logic and accuracy test for the entire election, according to an email sent to Walker that he shared with the Chronicle.

That test requires voting more than 15,500 ballots, five days and more than 60 staffers. Post-test requirements include multiple tasks that would be “impossible” to complete with the test before Wednesday, when equipment and materials will be delivered to early voting sites, Longoria wrote in the email.

“In short: at this point in our election preparations, making a correction in even one race would imperil our ability to start early voting for all the 44 entities on the ballot,” Longoria wrote. “After consultation with the Office of Texas Secretary of State, I’ve decided to move forward with our course of action to avoid derailing the entire Nov. 2nd election.”

Walker forwarded me the email correspondence he had with HISD and the Harris County Elections office regarding this snafu. The error is HISD’s, and at this point it appears to be too late to fix it. (Walker said in his email to Isabel Longoria that he “notified your office on Monday” and that he was disheartened to hear her say that “time is the real bottleneck in the matter when it took you four days to respond”.) I have not spoken to anyone at HISD or in the Elections office – I received this correspondence Friday night after I had gone to bed – so I have no further context to offer for any of this. I am in favor of people appearing on the ballot by their preferred name (within reason), and by any reasonable standard, “Mac Walker” is the name that should be on this ballot. It’s unfortunate that it likely will not happen in this race. Given that, the best I can do is to let you know the situation. Hope this helps.

The kids are all right

This is the best thing you’ll read today.

Patrick Kisindja spends his days combating vaccine hesitancy. Sometimes he calls people, other times he drives to their homes to explain the science behind the shot.

Then, in the afternoon, Kisindja drives teens to the Harris County Public Health vaccination clinic at Dick Graves Park.

The 21-year-old southwest Houston resident serves as an ambassador at the faith-based nonprofit reVision.

Founded in 2011 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, the organization provides mentors, case managers and community support for the city’s most disconnected youth, including refugees, those experiencing homelessness and members of the juvenile detention system.

Because of their circumstances, members of the reVision program are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. So for the past few months, the nonprofit has focused on helping them get their shots. Ambassadors like Kisindja are integral to reVision’s program, which uses peers to lead the vaccination effort for teens.

The people Kisindja spends his days informing about the coronavirus vaccine? The parents of students in the program.

Often, he visits them three or four times before they acquiesce. Many are refugees, and he often reminds them — sometimes in Swahili — that they were vaccinated against other diseases before settling in the U.S.

“It protects you,” Kisindja said. “You’re better with that. You don’t want to end up in the hospital.”

Kisindja uses every tool in his arsenal to persuade parents to sign consent forms for their children to get the shot.

“We’re doing it for the kids,” Kisindja continued. “And that’s what reVision is all about — helping kids and keeping them safe.”

There’s more, so read the rest. Patrick Kisindja has done more good for the people of Texas in the past few months than Ted Cruz would do in a dozen lifetimes. He and his friends are doing it one person at a time, though as you’ll see there were some events that greatly helped their cause. If you need numbers to be convinced:

[reVision CEO Charles Rotramel] hired four former reVision students, now in college, to serve in the program. Methodist provided their training — going in depth with how the vaccine works and also the different categories of vaccine hesitancy.

“In June, we really just turned them loose,” Rotramel said. “I didn’t know if it would work, but we felt like, let’s just go all in and see what we could do.”

Besides, he had no idea how else they would ever reopen reVision without everyone being vaccinated.

And, ultimately, Rotramel had faith.

“I had a firm belief and trust in young people that they would make the right decision,” he said.

[…]

The youth who showed up to reVision’s first clinic in July were rewarded with a full day of fun at Main Event.

Then, those kids shared their photos on social media, and everything changed.

“That broke the dam,” Rotramel said. “Then, we had a flood of kids who wanted to get vaccinated.”

Before long, the ambassadors shuttled youth to their shots almost every day. By the time school started, about 70 percent of reVision students were fully vaccinated.

“And that was our goal,” Rotramel said. “We had been so concerned about them going back to in-person school in an unvaccinated space.”

On Aug. 12, Rotramel was able to finally open the doors to the reVision community center. The only people invited inside were fully vaccinated.

“That turned another corner because everyone wanted to be in the space,” he said. “That was moving to us.”

The hallways were again full of chatter and laughter, from all age groups and in a variety of languages.

“It’s that joyful noise we really hadn’t heard,” Rotramel said.

Now, nearly 90 percent of reVision students are vaccinated.

Just fantastic. We could use a whole lot more of this. Thanks, y’all.