Since December I've been the technical lead on an 18-person project at work, which has tanked my blogging frequency. I may return to my previous 3-posts-in-two-days velocity at some point. For now, here are some articles to read:
That's all for now.
Diners at Mar-al-Lago overheard the President talking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the latest in a string of idiotic security breaches he's made all by himself:
As Mar-a-Lago's wealthy members looked on from their tables, and with a keyboard player crooning in the background, Trump and Abe's evening meal quickly morphed into a strategy session, the decision-making on full view to fellow diners, who described it in detail to CNN.
News of Pyongyang's launch had emerged an hour earlier, as Trump was preparing for dinner in his residence. Officials had concluded the Musudan-level missile flew 310 miles off North Korea's eastern coast before crashing into the Sea of Japan.
Meanwhile, the Sears Death Watch continues:
[B]ecause Sears and its sister company Kmartare merely shells of their former selves after they destroyed so much value over the years for employees, customers, and investors, there may be a group of stakeholders secretly hoping the end comes soon: shopping malls.
While a Sears Holdings bankruptcy might lead malls to suddenly face the prospect of being flooded with zombie retail space, they would have the chance to redevelop the stores themselves and attract new tenants who would pay them, and not Seritage, significantly higher rents.
Of course, a Sears Holdings bankruptcy carries risks for them, too. As noted, many retailers are reducing their footprints, not expanding them, so filling up the space may not be so simple, and for malls not in desirable locations, Sears Holdings' demise could be catastrophic. Credit Suisse says some 184 malls can be classified as "least valuable property" -- meaning at risk of shutting down -- and, concernedly, Sears is the anchor store in 110 of them. A Sears Holdings bankruptcy and the wave of store closings that would follow could very well jeopardize their existence.
We haven't gotten 25mm of snow in Chicago since December 19th, and the forecast for the next week is precipitation-free—57 days of snow-free weather so far. The record is 83, which we'll break if we don't get that much snow before March 12th. This is unlikely most years, but this year, the climate predictions look promising.
Stay tuned. We could always get a blizzard. It's February, after all.
Not exactly a slow news day:
- Former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions won confirmation as Attorney General of the U.S. on a 52-47 party-line vote.
- Meanwhile, the Senate told Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to sit down and shut up, but "she persisted," thus beginning her 2020 presidential campaign.
- And though the event was almost 26 full hours ago, yesterday's appeals court hearing in California resulted in a Trump tweet being rebuked by the President's own nominee for the Supreme Court. (The BBC has a really good primer on the U.S. constitutional system of checks and balances, for those overseas.)
- Speaking of the president, it's becoming clear as day that his motivations are very simple, and amount to a total integration of his businesses with the office. Just like we told you.
- Also, we should expect more crises, real and imagined, to scare people into supporting his consolidation of power.
- Closer to home, the building I work in, Willis Tower, has secured a $1bn refinancing that will free up funds for a $500m upgrade. Too bad the company that built it will be dead within two years, according to the bond markets.
And finally, for those of you living in the new, evidence-free world of today, you'll be happy to know that all of these things may have come about because of the lunar eclipse and comet happening Friday night.
Betsy DeVos was just confirmed as Secretary of Education by one vote: the vice president's tie-breaker. This has never happened before in the history of the United States. So far, all of President Trump's nominees requiring confirmation have had roll-call votes, and the rest are likely to. This also has never happened before:
She is only the latest of Trump’s Cabinet and Cabinet-level nominees to face an unusual amount of opposition in the Senate. Newly elected presidents are typically afforded wide latitude in picking their team — before this year, only one of the last 109 Cabinet-level nominations from new presidents, dating back to Jimmy Carter, has been rejected in a vote (five others withdrew). Many nominees are confirmed simply by unanimous consent or a voice vote, which are generally used when there is no substantial opposition and no desire to record individual votes. But all six of the Trump Cabinet-level nominees confirmed by the Senate so far were voted on via a roll-call vote.
And even with only six Cabinet members and Cabinet-level administrators confirmed so far (not including Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, who received 32 “no” votes but isn’t considered Cabinet-level), the Trump administration is on track to have the highest number of contested confirmation votes since at least the Carter administration. Ronald Reagan currently holds the record, with eight of his nominees receiving at least one “no” vote. Obama had been in second place with six contested votes, but Trump has already tied him. And the political website Decision Desk HQ has identified four other Trump nominees who could face close votes.
Meanwhile, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments about the travel ban imposed January 27th, with an appeal to the Supreme Court a foregone conclusion. And you can bet Trump will continue his assaults on the courts regardless of the outcome, because as Brian Beutler points out, "because judges are the greatest impediments to autocratic rule, Trump has singled them out most insidiously."
At least there are some signs that the national immune system is kicking in. But Trump isn't a bad cold; he's a debilitating illness that will leave the United States weaker no matter how soon we can get him out of office.
Stuff I'll read before rehearsal today:
Back to the mines...
New Republic has the update. tl;dr: Each week is worse than the one before.
Five U.S. representatives out of Illinois' 20-member Congressional delegation are trying real hard to support President Trump's ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and still sound like Americans. Peter Roskam (R-6th), Mike Bost (R-12th), Rodney Davis (R-13th), and John Shimkus (R-15th) have all made statements NPR says "support" the ban; Adam Kinzinger (R-16th) is "unclear." All but Roskam represent large rural districts where you can probably count the Muslims on one hand. Roskam, who represents the northwest and western suburbs of Chicago, is in the "support" column despite making no sense when he said, "By being provocative and by provoking action he’s stirred up a lot of things. But here’s what we know, the country is safer this morning than it was 72 hours ago."
All of our Democratic representatives and both Democratic Senators clearly opposed the ban.
In fact, nationally, every Representative and Senator in favor of the ban—154 in all—is Republican; every Democrat save 3 is opposed, with one making no statement and two being "unclear." Fully 112 Republicans whiffed on the question.
So there you have it: a deeply unpopular president signs a deeply unpopular executive order and we get a little more partisan as a country. Which, if I understand the administration correctly now, was entirely the point.
Welcome to February, in which I hope to increase my pathetic blogging rate (currently 1.23 per day for the last 12 months). Of course, even taking a day off to catch up on things doesn't seem to be helping, because I have all of these articles to read:
So, a lot to read. And still almost no time to read it.