In just a few minutes I will take Cassie to boarding, then head up to Northwestern for a rehearsal (I'm in the chorus at Ravinia's upcoming performances of La Clemenza di Tito.) I'll then have to pack when I get home from rehearsal, then head to a hotel by O'Hare. Ah, how much fun is an 8:30 international flight!
As I'll have some time at the airport in the morning, and no time now, I want to queue these up for myself:
All right, I'm off. After I pack.
Journalist and author Nellie Bowles, a San Francisco native, looks at the defenestration of Chesa Boudin as part of a larger pattern of progressive San Franciscans coming to their senses:
San Francisco voters decided to turn their district attorney, Chesa Boudin, out of office. They did it because he didn’t seem to care that he was making the citizens of our city miserable in service of an ideology that made sense everywhere but in reality. It’s not just about Boudin, though. There is a sense that, on everything from housing to schools, San Francisco has lost the plot—that progressive leaders here have been LARPing left-wing values instead of working to create a livable city. And many San Franciscans have had enough.
It was easier to ignore...suffering amid the throngs of workers and tourists. And you could always avert your gaze and look at the beautiful city around you. But in lockdown the beauty became obscene. The city couldn’t get kids back into the classroom; so many people were living on the streets; petty crime was rampant. I used to tell myself that San Francisco’s politics were wacky but the city was trying—really trying—to be good. But the reality is that with the smartest minds and so much money and the very best of intentions, San Francisco became a cruel city. It became so dogmatically progressive that maintaining the purity of the politics required accepting—or at least ignoring—devastating results.
But this dogmatism may be buckling under pressure from reality. Earlier this year, in a landslide, San Francisco voters recalled the head of the school board and two of her most progressive colleagues. These are the people who also turned out Boudin....
It has become no big deal to see someone stealing in San Francisco. Videos of crimes in process go viral fairly often. One from last year shows a group of people fleeing a Neiman Marcus with goods in broad daylight. Others show people grabbing what they can from drugstores and walking out. When a theft happens in a Walgreens or a CVS, there’s no big chase. The cashiers are blasé about it. Aisle after aisle of deodorant and shampoo are under lock and key. Press a button for the attendant to get your dish soap.
The rage against Boudin was related to that locked-up soap, but it went far beyond it.
San Franciscans tricked themselves into believing that progressive politics required blocking new construction and shunning the immigrants who came to town to code. We tricked ourselves into thinking psychosis and addiction on the sidewalk were just part of the city’s diversity, even as the homelessness and the housing prices drove out the city’s actual diversity. Now residents are coming to their senses. The recalls mean there’s a limit to how far we will let the decay of this great city go. And thank God.
I've got family in the Bay Area, a good portion of whom read The Atlantic. I'll publish any of their thoughts they allow me to.
The most interesting (to me) story this afternoon comes from Cranky Flier: American Airlines has a new software tool that can, under specific circumstances, reduce weather-related cancellations by 80% and missed connections by 60%. Nice.
In other news:
And finally, as Lake Michigan water levels decline from their record levels in 2020, the receding water has exposed all the work the city and state need to do to repair our beaches.
It's mid-July today, at least until around 8pm, when late April should return. The Tribune reported this morning that our spring has had nearly three times the rain as last spring, but actually hasn't gotten much wetter than normal.
Finally, via The Onion, Google Maps now shows you shortcuts through people's houses when they're not home.
According to my Garmin, I got almost 18 hours of sleep the past two nights, but also according to my Garmin (and my groggy head), few of those hours made a difference. I take some of the blame for that, but on the other hand, someday I want to stay in a hotel room where I can control when the air conditioner turns on and off.
Anyway, while I slept fitfully, these stories passed through my inbox:
And finally, good news for the Brews & Choos Project: Lagunitas plans to re-open their taproom later this year.
- Josh Marshall takes another look at the astonishing bribe Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler paid to Jared Kushner and concludes it's not just a one-off favor; it's an ongoing relationship.
- Joan Williams argues that Democrats need to look at the class and economic aspects of the Right's economic populism, and maybe perhaps argue (correctly) that blaming people of color just takes the spotlight off the super-rich who are stealing from the middle?
- US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) makes essentially the same argument, with a reminder that the mid-term election is only 202 days away.
- A homeless-rights organization in Chicago argues that increasing the transfer tax on property sales over $1 million could fund real homelessness relief for real people.
Finally, a quirk in US copyright law has created a bonanza for litigators, along with the original creators of such diverse works as The Thing and Hoosiers.
US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) excoriated Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) on the floor of the Senate this week. Greg Sargent follows Josh Marshall in exhorting more Democrats to get messages like this out more often:
Grandstanding and disingenuousness are endemic to politics. The tension between sordid political theatrics and the higher ideals they serve goes back to the ancients. But at a certain point, the pileup of absurdities becomes so comically ludicrous, so obviously unmoored from even the most basic standards of conduct, that it needs to be called out.
Yet we don’t hear enough from Democrats putting down hard emotional markers indicating that at moments like these, something is deeply amiss, and something unusually absurd and depraved is happening.
Just this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) practically snickered as he refused to say that a GOP-controlled Senate will give a hearing to a future Biden nominee to the Supreme Court.
We’re constantly told the American people hate Washington dysfunction. Yet McConnell knows he can cheerfully threaten something this obscenely destructive without fearing any political downside. But why does McConnell know this?
McConnell perhaps instinctively knows little noise from Democrats will break through to their voters, or alert the middle that something this unusual happened at all. Meanwhile, the vast right-wing media apparatus will keep up the drumbeat of wildly inflated hysteria about the threat of radical Democratic rule...
Marshall has made this point repeatedly, mostly behind paywalls. So have others. Hey, pop quiz, who's the most badass ex-military US Senator? Mine, actually. And which US Senator actually owns and works on his own farm? A Democrat. Which US Senator's latest election win was the largest swing from his state's presidential vote? A Democrat (despite it all). Who's the only person in the US Senate to have commanded multiple space missions? A Democrat.
We need to remind people who we are and what we do. And to mercilessly ridicule useless grandstanders like Hawley until they get tossed out of office.
The US Senate did something pretty cool yesterday:
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to be elevated to the pinnacle of the judicial branch in what her supporters hailed as a needed step toward bringing new diversity and life experience to the court.
Overcoming a concerted effort by Republicans to sully her record and derail her nomination, Judge Jackson was confirmed on a 53-to-47 vote, with three Republicans joining all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in backing her.
Not everyone shared in the joy of the day. As applause echoed from the marbled walls, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, turned his back and slowly walked out, as did most of the few Republicans remaining on the floor, leaving half of the chamber empty as the other half celebrated in a stark reflection of the partisan divide.
“When it came to one of the most consequential decisions a president can make, a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the Biden administration let the radicals run the show,” Mr. McConnell had said earlier, making one last argument against Judge Jackson, whose nomination he framed as an example of extremists taking control of the Democratic Party. “The far left got the reckless inflationary spending they wanted. The far left has gotten the insecure border they wanted. And today, the far left will get the Supreme Court justice they wanted.”
Senator McConnell is full of shit, of course, and he knows it. Jackson would have made any Republican Senator's heart sing only five years ago. But, hey, thanks to Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Mitt Romney (R-UT), we may have gotten the last bipartisan confirmation in our lifetimes.
On July 1st, Justice Jackson will become only the 7th person to sit on the Court who wasn't a white guy.
Winter officially has another week and a half to run, but we got a real taste of spring in all its ridiculousness this week:
Yesterday the temperature got up to 13°C at O'Hare, up from the -10°C we had Monday morning. It's heading down to -11°C overnight, then up to 7°C on Sunday. (Just wait until I post the graph for the entire week.)
Welcome to Chicago in spring.
- Republicans in New York and Illinois have a moan about the redistricting processes in those states that will result in heavily-skewed Democratic legislatures and House delegations, even while acknowledging that we've agreed to put down our gun when they put down theirs.
- The pillowmonger we all know and love, who rails on about unauthorized, disease-carrying immigrants to our country, got all pissy with Canada when they kicked him out for being an unauthorized, disease-carrying immigrant.
- The pillowmonger's friend the XPOTUS had a no good, very bad, rotten week that he totally deserved.
- Voters roundly ejected the president and vice president (plus another divisive member) of the San Francisco School Board that the Editor in Chief of Mother Jones says was for incompetence, not politics.
- Alaska Airlines has a new subscription deal for California that could become more common with other carriers if it takes off.
Finally, if you're in Chicago and want to hear a free Apollo Chorus concert tonight, leave a note in the comments. We perform at Harris Theater at 8pm.
With state legislatures finalizing district maps throughout the country to prepare for the 2022 elections just 10 months from now, no one knows who has the advantage. The Times angsts that it looks bad for everyone:
It’s not yet clear which party will ultimately benefit more from this year’s bumper crop of safe seats, or whether President Biden’s sagging approval ratings might endanger Democrats whose districts haven’t been considered competitive. Republicans control the mapmaking for more than twice as many districts as Democrats, leaving many in the G.O.P. to believe that the party can take back the House majority after four years of Democratic control largely by drawing favorable seats.
the far greater number of districts drawn to be overwhelmingly safe for one party is likely to limit how many seats will flip — even in a so-called wave election.
“The parties are contributing to more and more single-party districts and taking the voters out of the equation,” said former Representative Tom Davis, who led the House Republicans’ campaign arm during the 2001 redistricting cycle. “November becomes a constitutional formality.”
In the 29 states where maps have been completed and not thrown out by courts, there are just 22 districts that either Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump won by five percentage points or less, according to data from the Brennan Center for Justice, a research institute.
Josh Marshall thinks the Democrats may actually come out ahead in 2024 and beyond:
far from the doomsaying, it looks like Democrats will basically hold their own and end up with a national map that is slightly more favorable to them than the current one. This is no fluke of course. It’s the product of an incredible amount of hard work across the country by the people who were saying how bad it might end up. It doesn’t mean the doomsaying was wrong. Kate Riga explained the various factors that went into this outcome in this post from late December. State and federal courts have been a bit less generous with Republican gerrymanders than expected – including racial gerrymanders. Republican states that had opted for commissions or other reforms held to the spirit of those reforms a bit more than expected. Democrats meanwhile pushed their advantage in the few states where they were able. New York is the key example here.
Another key overarching trend is that in a number of states Republicans just didn’t quite go for it in the way that some observers expected. They didn’t push for every last advantage. But as Kate notes in that article one key reason is that in purple-trending states those advantages got harder to manage. It became harder to figure out where to put growing numbers of voters of color or white voters who were trending more liberal. This means, if you looked closely, Republicans were using the gerrymandering opportunity less to seek new advantage and more to shore up existing seats. That has led to a new national map which is both better for Democrats and also less competitive overall.
Of course, given the technology available to both parties, and the belief stoked by Republicans but now more and more felt by Democrats that every election could be the last, neither party has an incentive to lay down arms and find a more fair system.
We have to fix this, though. I believe something will shift after 2024, especially if the XPOTUS gets back into the race. I just don't know whether the shift will benefit the country or not.