I've been coding most of the day because it has rained since 1pm. I'm getting very close to a series of posts on what I've been working on the past few months, so stay tuned.
Today's end-of-workweek stories:
Finally, today is the 157th anniversary of the surrender of the traitors and the end of the white rebellion in America. (Sounds different these days, doesn't it?)
His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London, Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, has died just shy of his 100th birthday:
A statement issued by the palace just after midday spoke of the Queen's "deep sorrow" following his death at Windsor Castle on Friday morning.
The Duke of Edinburgh, the longest-serving royal consort in British history, was at the Queen's side for more than her six decades of reign.
The BBC's royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said it was "a moment of sadness" for the country and "most particularly, for the Queen losing her husband of 73 years - a bigger span of years than most of us can imagine".
He said Prince Philip had made "a huge contribution to the success of the Queen's reign", describing the duke as "utterly loyal in his belief in the importance of the role that the Queen was fulfilling - and in his duty to support her".
The Duke would have turned 100 on June 10th. Prince Charles became the new Duke of Edinburgh upon his father's death. The title will revert to the Crown when Charles becomes King.
Getting my first Pfizer-Biontech SARS-COV-2 vaccine today comes on the heels of Chicago setting a new one-day record for vaccine administration:
The 7-day daily average of administered vaccine doses is 112,680, with 154,201 doses given on Wednesday. Officials also say a total of 6,707,183 vaccines have now been administered.
Illinois next week will make 150,000 first-dose appointments for coronavirus vaccinations available at 11 state-run mass vaccination sites in the Chicago suburbs and at area pharmacies as Illinois opens eligibility to everyone 16 and older, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday.
Also, two weeks after my second dose, I'll be on an airplane for the first time since 12 November 2019.
I got my first Pfizer Biontech jab this morning, and will get the second one in three weeks. So far, no side-effects. And Cassie seemed to enjoy being with me for the portions of the morning involving the car, though she didn't seem all that pleased with the car itself.
In related news, I've booked a flight for mid-May.
I feel better already.
Today's Republican Party has gone so far from an actual policy-making political entity that one wonders if they see their own self-owns. Right now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said so many nonsensical things about President Biden's key proposals that I have trouble taking him seriously.
OK, I have more trouble lately.
As Paul Krugman pointed out this week, Republicans oppose Biden's proposals because they don't want him to succeed. But this strategy has run into the reality of 75% of their own voters supporting the recovery plan passed in January and the infrastructure bill proposed late last month.
And now they're all a-twitter about vaccine passports.
It's sad watching the Party of Lincoln implode. They could pull out of their death spiral, the way we did in the late 1980s, but right now I'm not optimistic. In the past, parties that have reinvented themselves have done so through popular policy initiatives: the Democrats with civil rights, the Republicans with anti-trust law. The parties that have died failed to say what they stood for, only what they stood against: the Federalists (against the expansion of civil rights in the 1790s), the Know-Nothings (against the expansion of civil rights in the 1850s), the Whigs (against the Know-Nothings in the 1850s, but apparently against themselves as well).
You can see this most clearly in the Republican Party's anger at corporations who have come out against Republican voting suppression laws. Republicans love corporate involvement in politics most of the time, because corporations love right-wing governments most of the time—but in this case, companies have realized the GOP are on the wrong side of history. Josh Marshall made a good argument (paywalled) that corporations take the future into account, and the future doesn't look like the modern GOP's imagined past. So they're making low-cost efforts to ensure the young people who will buy things for the next 60 years don't hate them. The old people who don't buy things now, let alone for the next 10 or 20 years, don't influence profits quite as much.
I want a real opposition party, one with real ideas, not this clown show of right-wing anti-populism that hasn't had a serious policy proposal in 30 years.
As the US approaches 4 million Covid-19 jabs per day, I finally got my place in line. I get my first dose on Thursday morning, and the second dose three weeks after. If all goes according to plan, I should have maximum resistance to SARS-COV-2 by May 13th.
For those of you keeping score at home, that will be 419 days after Illinois first locked down on 20 March 2020.
Humorist Alexandra Petri didn't write a humor column today:
There are several details of the Matt Gaetz story that keep sticking in my head, but the one that sticks in it most is the report that the Florida Republican used to wander around and show his colleagues nude photos of people he had slept with.
I keep coming back to the detail in CNN’s report that this wasn’t something Matt Gaetz did a single time, but repeatedly. Because if it happened more than once — if it happened twice, even — that is because the first time went better than it should have.
To me, this is something you do, ideally, zero times.
So I am not writing this for Matt Gaetz. I am talking to the person who was on the receiving end. The person who was presented with this behavior and had a choice of how to respond. I am talking to the person without whose chuckle or back-slap this situation would, perhaps, have been just a little less bad.
This is a plea for those small awkward no’s. The moment will inevitably come for you to offer one. And when I think of how much difference could be made by just one person, one guy in a locker room, or around a campfire, or even on the floor of Congress, saying, uncomfortably, “What?” or “Why would you show someone that?” — sometimes I want to chew glass. It is a small favor to ask. But it could reshape this whole place, if it happened enough.
She's right. When confronted with an asshole, sometimes you need to tell him he's being one.
Via Josh Marshall, Pfizer has halted vaccine shipments to Israel because political chaos there has made the company worry about getting paid:
Pfizer has halted shipments of coronavirus vaccines to Israel in outrage over the country failing to transfer payment for the last 2.5 million doses it supplied to the country, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Senior officials at Pfizer have said they are concerned that the government-in-transition will not pay up and the company does not want to be taken advantage of. They said that they do not understand how such a situation can occur in an organized country.
Army Radio reported that Pfizer called Israel a “banana republic.”
A shipment of 700,000 doses was expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday but was delayed until further notice.
Marshall puts this in wider context:
After a number of delays, a prosecutor began his opening statement today in the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu was in court today, with the jarring images you would expect from such a moment going out over the news wires.
The issue is the paralysis of the government and the breakdown of the deal Netanyahu used to hold on to power after election number three last spring. Last week, the cabinet was supposed to meet to approve the payment. But the meeting was canceled because of infighting between Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz. The two had agreed to form a power-sharing government in which the two would trade off as Prime Minister, with Netanyahu holding the job until later this year when he would hand the job over to Gantz. (This was last done in Israel in the mid-1980s in a deal between Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres.)
It's a common story: corruption, right-wing governments trying to retain power at any cost, corruption, a popular right-wing leader who really only cares about himself, and corruption.
You read that right. The UK has so few dogs available for adoption that organized crime has stepped in:
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in the field for 35 years,” said Wayne May, police liaison with Dog Lost, Britain’s largest lost-and-found dog service.
May said thefts reported to his organization have increased 250 percent, year-on-year.
“That’s over 400 cases, just in England, just reported to us,” he said. “This isn’t a dog that’s run off. This is a reported case of theft.”
Investigators talk about the emergence of a new “puppy mafia.” They say some of the same traffickers who usually deal in prostitution, drugs and gun sales have turned to Labradoodles, unscrupulously exploiting the exploding demand.
“No papers, no shots record, nothing, and they pay £3,000 in a parking lot for a sick puppy,” said [Jacob] Lloyd, [senior investigator for] Animal Protection Services.
The report may be a little sensational, but I can't imagine losing Cassie to a dog thief. Violence might be justified.