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June 26th, 2022:

Weekend link dump for June 26

“Not a single MAGA candidate who has been screaming 2020 fraud—Ken Paxton in Texas, Herschel Walker in Georgia, JD Vance in Ohio, Ted Budd in North Carolina, Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania—not one of them has answered the question of how such endemic fraud just happened to be missing from their own election.”

“According to an NBC News analysis of FBI hate crime data from the last 10 years, more than 160 hate crimes were recorded at grocery stores in 2020, 65% more than in 2019 and four times as many as in 2010.”

“Stolen-election activists and supporters of former President Donald Trump have embraced a new tactic in their ongoing campaign to unearth supposed proof of fraud in the 2020 presidential race: chasing down a fictional breed of fraudster known as a “ballot mule” and using social media to do it.”

“Researchers Release Comprehensive Twitter Dataset of False Claims About The 2020 Election”.

“The legitimacy of judicial review hinges in part on the public perception that we are applying the rule of law regardless of our personal preferences instead of merely engaging in judicial policymaking.”

“The philosopher John Rawls’ bit was to argue that justice was rational because it makes sense for all of us to want a world in which any such Great Swapping wouldn’t put us in jeopardy of losing our rights, needs, safety, and dignity.”

“It is clear that weeks before January 6 the White House staff under Trump’s direction engaged in a pattern of firings, transfers and otherwise diminishing agencies that could have prevented the events of the day. In addition it is clear that Trump and others close to him were advised, and were aware, that their conduct would violate the Electoral Count Act and perhaps other statutes. It is clear also that Trump was advised and knew even through communications from his daughter and the former Attorney General that he had lost the election and that there was no cognizable evidence of fraud. Put all these things together and it is clear that Merrick Garland would have grounds to seek indictments and would be able to deflect any argument that the participants in the seditious conspiracy lacked criminal intent.”

“While the rest of official Washington, including other government buildings including the White House and Capitol, has reopened its doors to the public at least partially as the pandemic ebbs, the top U.S. judicial body remains in a form of lockdown with what appears to be siege mentality even as it wields huge influence over public policy.”

Why you get paper receipts for cash transactions at fast food and casual dining outlets.

RIP, Rosemary Catacalos, former poet laureate of Texas.

Birds of a feather. Who should both be locked up.

“Sexualized threats. Home break-ins. Death threats. An attempted citizen’s arrest. Being singled out by name and image by Donald Trump and his advisers. This is just a fraction of what Georgia’s election workers and their families experienced in the days and weeks after the former president made the state the focus of his “Big Lie” election conspiracy.”

Here’s a fairly simple explanation of Gödel’s incompleteness theorem.

Lock them up.

“Should you keep abortion pills at home, just in case?” (Spoiler alert: The answer is yes, you should.)

RIP, Tony Siragusa, TV personality and former NFL player who won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.

“What makes this article special, though, is that it’s a perfect example of how sexism and mainstream media collide and collude to convince Americans that abusive men are the real victims. And in a moment when misogynist backlash is on an upswing, pieces like this are more dangerous than ever.”

“If you’re wondering what you can do right now to fight for abortion rights in the wake of the Dobbs decision, this is one of those things”.

A big part of the Cornyn gun bill will do nothing in Texas

Just a reminder.

The bipartisan gun bill that is on a fast track through Congress and backed by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn includes new state grants to incentivize red flag laws, which allow judges to temporarily seize firearms from people who are deemed dangerous.

That means it’ll be up to states as to whether they want to take advantage of one of the key provisions of the landmark gun legislation. But despite last month’s Uvalde school shooting being the inspiration for the bill, Texas is unlikely to get on board.

Red flag laws likely remain a nonstarter among Republican leaders in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott already faced a conservative backlash after he asked the Legislature to consider them four years ago.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who oversees the Senate and wields tremendous sway over what legislation is considered, indicated Wednesday he still opposes such an effort.

“After the Santa Fe shooting, we had the same move to do this and we did not support it,” he said in a radio interview. “I did not support [that], the Senate did not support that.”

Patrick said that if he were in the U.S. Senate, he would have been among the 36 Republicans — including Texas’ junior senator Ted Cruz — who sided against the bipartisan gun bill in an initial vote Tuesday. Patrick added that he was “very, very concerned about that and where that goes.”

See here for some background, in which the subject of red states and red flag laws was thoroughly discussed. I don’t really have anything to add to that, so go listen to this week’s episode of the Josh Marshall podcast, in which they discuss the politics of this bill and what might happen next. Our job here remains to elect leaders that will not be obstacles to sensible and meaningful gun reform.

One more thing:

Red flag laws are nonetheless popular with Texas voters. A poll released Tuesday found that 75% of the state’s voters support laws that “give family members or law enforcement a way to ask a judge to issue an order temporarily removing guns from someone who poses a violent threat to themselves or others.” The survey was conducted by Third Way, a centrist think tank, and GS Strategy Group, a GOP polling firm.

The poll doesn’t break any of their issues questions down by party (or any other subgroup, like gender or race or age), so it’s not very useful. That said, in addition to the number cited above, the poll had 89% support for “Requiring a background check before every gun purchase, including at gun shows and for online sales”, 80% support for “Increasing the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic weapon from 18 to 21 years old”, 80% support for “Allowing law enforcement to access sealed juvenile records to ensure that young adults with a history of violent criminal behavior are restricted from purchasing firearms”, and 68% support for ” Funding research around the effectiveness of gun safety policies”. You’re not going to get those kind of numbers without a fair amount of Republican support. Getting them to vote for candidates that also support those positions, that’s a different matter. As we well know. The Chron has more.

Supreme Court confirms that Texas Central is a railroad

Hope it’s not too little, too late.

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday gave the go-ahead to beleaguered plan to build a bullet train connecting Houston and Dallas, ruling that companies behind the project have the power to acquire private property through eminent domain. .

In a 5-3 ruling issued Friday, the high court said that Texas Central Railroad and Texas Logistics could indeed be considered as an “interurban electric railway companies” under state law, even though they have yet to build a railroad, and may never do so.

The decision culminates a years-long legal battle, launched by landowners along the bullet train’s route shortly after project was proposed. One of them, Leon County rancher James Fredrick Miles, filed suit in 2016, after Texas Central sought to survey the roughly 600 acres he owns along its “preferred” route—land which would be bisected if the bullet train is built.

The case turned on what it means to be a “railroad company” or “interurban electric railway company,” which have eminent domain authority under the state Transportation Code.

On HoustonChronicle.com: Critics say the idea of a Houston-Dallas bullet train could be over

Miles, along with other property owners argued that Texas Central didn’t qualify because it wasn’t operating a railroad and may never do so. Texas Central has yet to build any tracks or train stations, or acquire the Japanese Shinkansen railcars called for in the project proposal.

The project’s proponents, however, argued that this line of reasoning yielded a chicken-and-egg problem that would make it impossible to ever build a rail line.

A trial court sided with Miles. A court of appeals in 2020 overturned that ruling, leading Miles to petition the Texas Supreme Court for review. Friday’s ruling affirms the appellate court’s ruling.

See here for the previous update, and here for the majority opinion; there were two concurrences and two dissents, and you can find all of those documents here. As the story notes, this ruling comes at a time of turmoil for Texas Central. It’s not clear if this will finally enable them to move forward with construction, or if the only beneficiary will be whatever tries to resurrect the idea of a privately-run high speed railroad following their downfall. But in the end, they were indeed a railroad. That has to mean something.

Lock Louie up

He believes he committed at least one federal crime. Who are we to disbelieve him?

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert was one of a handful of Republicans in Congress who asked former President Donald Trump for a pardon after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to testimony shown by the House committee investigating the insurrection.

Witnesses told the committee that the president had considered offering pardons to several individuals, said U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican on the committee.

Cassidy Hutchison, who served as an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said in recorded testimony shown Thursday that the Tyler Republican was one of the members who had sought a pardon. Others included U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.

“The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you’ve committed a crime,” Kinzinger said.

Gohmert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What could he possibly say? His actions speak for themselves. Over to you, Justice Department.