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April 6th, 2014:

Weekend link dump for April 6

The national divorce rate is a more complicated question than you might think.

Who wants to get hoaxed about marrying a prince?

The best day of the week to buy groceries is Wednesday.

“Put aside, for now, the shameless hypocrisy of these self-styled heroes of the free market secretly engaging in such grotesquely anti-competitive practices. What’s particularly interesting to witness is how, in contrast to the smarmy public face of the Silicon Valley execs (the corporate mottos of Apple and Google are “Think Different” and “Don’t Be Evil”), in fact, when it comes to protecting their profits, these companies demonstrate the kind of ruthlessness that would do the old-school robber barons proud.”

“The reason contraception operates within the health insurance system rather than with a cash grant subsidy system is that it is part of professional medical care, and not simply a commodity that is available for purchase and subsidy should society so desire.”

It’s not the one percent so much as it is the one percent of the one percent that’s really hoovering up all the wealth.

RIP, Ray Hutchison, former legislator and husband of former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Who knew Newsweek had such a weird story behind it?

Getting marginal voters to the polls is what this year’s election is all about.

“Tesla Motors Inc’s electric vehicles can be located and unlocked by criminals remotely simply by cracking a six-character password using traditional hacking techniques, according to newly released research.”

“That means it’s also the time of year for America’s second-favorite pastime: the scoreboard marriage proposal. To step up your engagement game, we reached out to all 30 MLB teams to find out the cost of putting a ring (World Series or otherwise) on it at each stadium.”

Real fame is when someone cosplays as you…and other people know who they’re supposed to be.

On writing letters of reference.

From the If At First You Don’t Succeed, You Should Probably Try Something Else department.

“No matter how you slice it, [Paul] Ryan is balancing the budget almost entirely by slashing spending on the poor.” He’s not being subtle about it, either.

“The more you learn about how debt collection works, the more you’re surprised that they ever find the right target in the first place.”

A handy guide to Republican excuses about Obamacare enrollment numbers.

RIP, Charles Keating. Take Alan Stanford and mix in Ralph Reed, you’ll get Charles Keating.

Remember, flaws are OK“.

RIP, Frankie Knuckles, godfather of house music.

Congratulations to Willard Scott on his marriage. Mazel tov, you crazy kids.

“I knew it! (I had long suspected, but this is the smoking gun!) The Kochtopus is a crypto-Schopenhauerian cult! It is all a subtle plot to deny Americans their freedom – as Schopenhauer denied human freedom!” Also, too: Cool icon, dude.

Oh, South Carolina. I mean, seriously.

David Letterman is retiring. In times like these, Mark Evanier is your best bet to make sense of it all.

Do you need another reason to hate credit reporting services? Here you go.

“This is the conservative double standard in the realm of corporate rights: When the corporation supports a right-wing pet project—say, denying women reproductive care—conservatives pen encomia to the First Amendment’s corporate protections. But when a corporation dares to support a progressive cause like gay rights, conservatives cry foul at its alleged censorship of individual views.”

Pasadena lurches towards redistricting

It’s getting ugly.

Pasadena City Council

A Pasadena councilwoman was forcibly ejected by armed officers and the mayor was accused of packing a gun during recent meetings on a controversial redistricting plan.

Councilwoman Pat Van Houte was removed from a meeting Tuesday on orders of Mayor Johnny Isbell after exceeding a three-minute speaking limit. And at a redistricting hearing in March, another councilman said he was “shocked” to see Isbell carrying what looked like a handgun.

Pasadena, pop. 150,000, is among the first in the nation to test last year’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme court that weakened the Voting Rights Act. The high court voided the preclearance requirement for election changes, which had been the law of the land for nearly half a century in many Southern states.

After the ruling, Mayor Johnny Isbell pushed forward a plan, narrowly approved by the city’s voters. It switches two of the city’s eight council seats from district to citywide elections.

[…]

Van Houte acknowledged that she exceeded her time limit Tuesday before Mayor Johnny Isbell pulled the plug and ordered her removed by two armed officers.

Van Houte said she was not given sufficient time to voice her objections to the proposed new map: “If someone is trying to represent the best interests of their city, they should not be thrown out for doing it. I’ve not seen this happen in the nearly five years that I’ve been on council.”

In the map approved on first reading Tuesday, she and another incumbent from the north end, Ornaldo Ybarra, objected to being located in the same district and having to run against one another. She was evicted before the vote was taken.

Ybarra and the other two from the north end denounced the map and walked out in solidarity with Van Houte prior to the vote. The map was approved with the mayor and the four council members from the south side supporting it.

See here, here, here, and here for the background. If this fight is ugly, it’s because the power grab that’s at its heart is ugly. Isbell says he granted Van Houte an extra minute before calling the cops on her, which is awfully big of him. But c’mon, dude. You hold all the cards and you know it. The least you could have done would have been to be magnanimous in victory and let the opposition say its piece. Not doing so marks you as insecure and a bully. Can’t say I’m surprised by that, but Isbell did have a chance to show himself to be otherwise, and he failed to take it.

Anyway. The maps that were under consideration are here – it’s proposed map #2 that will be voted on. The current map is here for comparison. A memo from Mayor Isbell about the maps and their population figures is here. The numbers apparently changed from what you see in the first table. I’m sure we’ll get a clearer picture of all that really happened when litigation is filed after the map is adopted.

National ag groups not happy with Republicans

It’s all about immigration reform.

Craig Regelbrugge, who co-chairs the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform, says a large majority of his group’s members — which include large and small farming enterprises and growers all around the country — are Republican, and many give to the GOP. But he’s increasingly hearing from members who are so frustrated by the Congressional GOP’s failure to act on reform — which is central to maintaining a workforce in the industry — that they are considering withholding campaign donations.

“I hear from growers frequently who basically say, `I used to be a loyal check writer when the Republican Party called, but at this point, the checkbook is closed,’” Regelbrugge tells me. “I’m hearing from growers who are no longer writing checks supporting the party.”

Mike Gempler heads the Washington Growers League, which represents growers ranging from mom-and-pop outfits to enterprises spanning 10,000 acres, and he says that “well over 90 percent” of his members vote Republican, and many write checks. Some of them sit in the district of GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State, a member of the GOP leadership.

But, he says, they are increasingly convinced the GOP is no longer representing their interests in the immigration debate, if the failure to move on legislation is any indication, and are concluding that Republicans are very close to squandering a rare opportunity to achieve reform.

“We’re seeing a lack of response to our needs and concerns from significant parts of the Republican caucus in the House,” Gempler tells me. “They either have ideological issues or they are catering to a more reactionary crowd.”

“We want to see the leadership, including Cathy, move on this,” Gempler continues. “The chances for getting immigration reform are lessening quickly. If we don’t get this done by August recess, we’re going to be in trouble as an industry.”

[…]

All this gets to a point about the immigration debate that keeps getting lost: Major Republican-aligned groups want reform — from growers out west to the business community to to evangelicals — and when Republicans refuse to act because they fear blowback from anti-reform conservatives, they are prioritizing them over other core constituencies. Now the growers are increasingly convinced the chance for reform is slipping away and they are getting cut out as a result.

It also gets at a point that I’ve made here many times, which is that while all these groups may want reform, they continue to support – or at least, not oppose – plenty of Republican officeholders that stand in their way. The Texas Association of Business and the late moneybag Bob Perry were and are classic examples of this in Texas. The Texas Farm Bureau has joined in this unhappy chorus this year, and it remains to be seen if they will be as all-talk-no-action as their peers. We’ll know by their actions in the Lite Gov race. As for the national groups, withholding financial support is something, though with the latest SCOTUS shenanigans it may not amount to much. The bottom line is that they have the power to do something about this. A few well-placed primary challenges could do a world of good, and wouldn’t even require them to support any icky Democrats. Until they actually try to use that power, I’m not going to waste any time feeling sympathy for them.

News flash: The Bigfoot exhibition was a fake

I know, I’m as shocked as you are.

Steve Austin knows the truth

After a falling out with his Bigfoot crew, master tracker Rick Dyer, whose new title may be “con artist”, admitted that the 8-foot tall body named “Hank” that wooed crowds last month in Houston is a prop made to look like a Bigfoot.

The crew, including spokesman Andrew Clacy, had an apparent rift in Daytona last week with accusations, lawsuit threats and resignations that led to Dyer announcing “the truth” on Facebook, and Clacy emailing a statement to the San Antonio Express-News on Monday, admitting that the body was a prop.

“From this moment on, I will speak the truth! No more lies, tall tales or wild goose chases to mess with the haters!” Dyer said on his Facebook, which has since been deleted. “I never treated anyone bad, I’m a joker, I play around, that’s just me.”

[…]

Chris Russell, of Twisted Toy Box in Washington, admitted to manufacturing the prop, which Dyer named “Hank”, of latex, foam and camel hair last year at Dyer’s request in an interview with a Bigfoot blogging site Sunday.

It is unclear how much Dyer paid to have the prop made, but a full-body mummy suit on the site is more than $700, although a custom prop the size of the Bigfoot was significantly more expensive.

Dyer’s post said that nationwide tour that charged people $10 to see the fake body pulled in close to $60,000, with Clacy making more than $12,000 in cash, meals and entertainment, or 20 percent.

See here, here, and here for the background. You have to admit, that was a pretty good return on his investment. One wonders what Dyer could do with an honest idea if he put his mind to it. He’s still claiming to have shot a Bigfoot despite this admission of fakery, so don’t hold your breath waiting for him to come up with an honest idea. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do for his next trick. I just know I won’t give him any of my money to see it. Thanks to Hair Balls for the link.