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January 17th, 2021:

Weekend link dump for January 17

“David Hasselhoff is auctioning off KITT from Knight Rider“.

“The ongoing breach affecting thousands of organizations that relied on backdoored products by network software firm SolarWinds may have jeopardized the privacy of countless sealed court documents on file with the U.S. federal court system, according to a memo released Wednesday by the Administrative Office (AO) of the U.S. Courts.”

“For Biden’s Justice Department, tackling domestic terrorism will now be front and center.”

“Even Trump Loyalists Can No Longer Defend His Legacy”. But don’t let that let them off the hook even a little.

“Every Republican—all 147 of them but especially Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz—who voted to overturn election results even after the insurrectionist mob of terrorists drove them out of the House and Senate chambers must be held to account and ostracized. Hitting them where it hurts by taking away their big donors is exactly the right lane for the [Project] Lincoln gang to be in.”

That defamation lawsuit against Sidney Powell looks pretty solid.

“The PGA of America will strip Donald Trump of the 2022 PGA Championship, which is scheduled to be held at Trump National Bedminster golf club in New Jersey.” There’s similar action in Scotland, affecting Turnberry.

“When historians eventually tally the cost of the Donald Trump era, the manifold indecencies of which culminated in Wednesday’s sacking of the United States Capitol during a failed insurrection, golf will not be counted among its casualties. The game will instead be portrayed as Trump’s refuge, something he did while ignoring a pandemic that has claimed 365,000 lives, refusing to acknowledge a resounding electoral defeat, and inciting feeble-minded fascists to violence that left five people dead at the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s the best case scenario.”

“It is the main cause of our current crisis – and of the difficulty in solving it. Today’s Republican party is one where it is considered divisive to take decisive action against a faction that was trying to hunt down Democratic _and_ Republican politicians a few days ago.”

“Preferring such lies seems strange, given that they involve a massive evil conspiracy that includes nearly everyone at every level of government and in every institution. It’s an awful thing to imagine that the entire world is out to get you and that the situation is so dire that you’ve got to arm yourself and begin stockpiling food so you can flee to the woods as your only slim hope for survival. But it’s an even more awful thing to reach the point where you consider your whole life — your job, your family, your home, your church, your passions — as so entirely meaningless and unrewarding that you’d be better off as someone on the run from such a massive, evil conspiracy.”

RIP, Michael Apted, award-winning director of the 7 Up documentary series and much more.

RIP, Pat Loud, matriarch of the family featured in An American Family, the first TV reality series.

“Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.”

“Republican Attorneys General Association Encouraged Supporters To Attend Wednesday’s Action At The Capitol”.

“I’ve received several DMs from friends asking what do to about parents/family members who believe misinformation regarding the election, vaccines and COVID. Here’s a research-based thread to help explain the roots of these beliefs and how to (and how *not* to) address them.”

Losing his law license should be the first of a very long list of consequences for Rudy Giuliani.

Facial recognition technology is still a bad thing, even if right now it is being used against bad people.

“If you want to understand the real Deep State, the biggest thing you need to know is it’s institutional, impersonal, and operates on a national scale.”

Here’s one thing Parler was good for.

As far as I’m concerned, Elizabeth Smart has a lifetime pass to do most anything she wants.

RIP, Siegfried Fischbacher, the “Siegfried” part of Siegfried & Roy.

“I think it’s reflective of where Trump’s own status is these days in which he has relatively little to offer and people don’t want to be associated with him generally. The fact is he’s not going to get the A team.”

RIP, Joanne Rogers, pianist, humanitarian, and widow of Fred “Mr.” Rogers. You should read this LA Times profile of her, it’s terrific.

““Unity” begins with repentance, and Republicans should get started. Supporting Trump’s removal from office and instituting his permanent exile from American politics are the necessary first steps.”

RIP, Charlie Thomas, former owner of the Houston Rockets.

“Situation with new #sarscov2 variants is becoming harder to follow (and not just because of the names), so let me try and give a brief overview: Where are we at? What should we be worried about? And how worried?”

Legislative diversity report 2021

It’s a tiny bit more diverse, but not by much.

In a perennial takeaway of The Texas Tribune’s demographic analysis, the Texas Legislature remains mostly white and male.

When the 2021 legislative session begins Tuesday, 3 of every 5 lawmakers in the state House and Senate will be white, although white Texans make up just 41% of the state’s population. That’s largely a function of the Republican dominance of the Capitol and the dearth of diversity in the party’s ranks. All but five of the 100 Republicans in the Legislature are non-Hispanic white people.

Women have seen gains in the Legislature in recent years, but their underrepresentation is underscored by how marginal those gains have been. Four years ago, women held just 20% of seats; on Tuesday they’ll take roughly 27%. And unlike at the start of the legislative session two years ago, there won’t be more lawmakers named “John” than Republican women in the House.

There will be an equal number.

Click over to see the charts. There are 13 Republican women this session, up one from 2019. For what it’s worth, I believe the Trib has undercounted Anglo Democratic legislators. They have it at sixteen, but my count is seventeen. There were eighteen Anglo Dems following the 2018 election, a significant increase over previous years in which retirements and electoral defeats, both in March and in November, had whittled that number down to six. Looking at that list the changes from the 2019 session are as follows:

– Sen. Sarah Eckhardt replaces Kirk Watson, who stepped down to take a job at the University of Houston.
– Rep. Gina Calanni was defeated, but Rep. Ann Johnson was elected, leaving the Harris County share of the contingent unchanged.
– The drop from 18 to 17 is the result of Joe Pickett’s retirement due to health concerns. Rep. Art Fierro won the special election to succeed him.

The number of LGBTQ legislators went up by one as well with the election of Rep. Ann Johnson.

Finally, I should note that if we include the SBOE in this scope, then the Anglo Democrat number goes back up to 18, as Rebecca Bell-Metereau was elected in SBOE5, winning the seat vacated by Republican Ken Mercer. I won’t be surprised if the SBOE is redistricted back to a ten R/five D situation, and of course who knows where the House and the Senate will end up, but for now, this is what we have. Tune in following the next election for further updates.

Vax and the cities

Makes sense.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

A group of mayors representing some of the United States’ most populous cities — including Austin, San Antonio and Houston — is asking President-elect Joe Biden to give them direct access to coronavirus vaccines.

In a Wednesday letter, the 22 mayors urged the Biden administration to establish a national vaccine distribution plan for cities, instead of allocating all available doses to state governments.

“Cities have consistently been on the front line of our nation’s COVID-19 response,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg wrote on Twitter. “I’m proud to join my mayoral colleagues in requesting that the Biden Administration prioritize a direct line of vaccines to our communities. We must do all we can to expand and improve access.”

Direct shipments of the vaccine would allow local leaders to plan and connect directly with their constituents, including disadvantaged communities, and help distribute vaccines more swiftly, the mayors argue.

“While it is essential to work with state and local public health agencies, health care providers, pharmacies, and clinics, there is a need to be nimble and fill gaps that are unique to each local area,” they wrote. “Very few cities are receiving direct allocations, and as a result, the necessary outreach needed to lay the groundwork for your vaccination goals are not being met.”

It’s basically an argument for streamlining the supply chain. I favor this because I don’t have much faith in the state’s apparatus, but I’ll listen to your counterargument if you have one. President Biden is proposing a big COVID relief plan that includes a bunch of money for “community vaccination centers”, which kind of sounds like vaccination hubs to me. We’ll see what kind of response this gets.

State Capitol closed again

At least through Inauguration Day, which is to say Wednesday.

The Texas Department of Public Safety abruptly announced the closure of the state Capitol Friday evening after uncovering new intelligence that intensified security concerns and prompted the agency to ramp up security further.

The closure affects the building and the Capitol grounds, which only reopened to the public this month after being closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and damage that officials said protestors did to state property during protests in May and June.

The closure begins Saturday and continues through Wednesday.

In a statement, DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw said that “the Texas Department of Public Safety is aware of armed protests planned at the Texas State Capitol and violent extremists who may seek to exploit constitutionally protected events. As a result, DPS has deployed additional personnel and resources to the Capitol and are working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Austin Police Department to monitor events and to enforce the rule of law.”

Authorities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were bracing Friday for what law enforcement said could be violent protests this weekend through Wednesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden. The caution stems from intelligence gained after the deadly pro-Donald Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Earlier this week, McCraw told state senators that authorities are monitoring multiple sects that could threaten Capitol security in coming days but stressed that the agency stood ready to neutralize any possible attack.

He said the groups have different political ideologies with 200 to 600 members each, according to three senators who attended the briefings. The senators did not want to comment publicly because DPS deemed the information confidential and said that releasing it could jeopardize safety.

McCraw said officials have ample troopers and other officers to respond should one of the groups travel to Austin to protest or riot. Their bigger concern, however, is that if the groups consolidate and mobilize together, that would pose a greater risk and prompt officials to call in reinforcements, the senators said.

We all know what this is about. I just hope it turns out to be a lot more talk than action. But whatever happens or doesn’t happen between now and January 20, the long-term threat isn’t going away and needs to be taken very seriously. The Chron has more.