The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

In other news of the day...

It's only Wednesday? Sheesh...

  • The Writers Guild of America got nearly everything they wanted from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (i.e., the Astroturf organization set up by the big studios and streamers to negotiate with the Guilds), especially for young writers and for hit shows, but consumers should expect more bundling and higher monthly fees for shows in the future.
  • Josh Marshall suspects that the two competing storylines about the XPOTUS (that he's about to return to power, but he's also losing every legal battle he fights) are actually just one: his "current posture of bravado and menace – while real enough as a threat – is simply his latest con, concealing a weaker and more terrified reality."
  • Jamie Bouie marvels that Justice Clarence Thomas (R$) wins the trifecta: "We have had partisan justices; we have had ideological justices; we have had justices who favored, for venal reasons, one interest over another. But it is difficult to think of another justice, in the history of the Supreme Court, who has been as partisan and as ideological and as venal as Thomas...."
  • Melissa Gira Grant profiles US District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk (R-NDTX), a Christian nationalist who rose through the Federalist Society pipeline to a lifetime appointment where he will push his Victorian-era views on the people of Texas for the next 30 years or so.
  • North Korea vomited up US Army Private 2nd Class Travis King, having used him for the little he was worth after the soon-to-be-dishonorably-discharged soldier illegally entered the kingdom in July.
  • Kelli María Korducki worries that "in the age of AI, computer science is no longer the safe major," not realizing, perhaps, that the most effective programmers are and have always been liberal arts majors.

Finally, yet another fact that will make everyone I know feel old: today is Google's 25th birthday. And yes, the Daily Parker has been around longer trillion-dollar search company. We just haven't had our IPO yet.

Sunday morning link clearance

Google Chrome is patiently letting me know that there's a "New Chrome available," so in order to avoid losing all my open tabs, I will list them here:

Finally, XKCD traces the evolution of most Americans' thoughts about urban planning and transport policy, once they start having any. I feel seen!

Three out of 300 is a start

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) forced through a vote on the top three general officer promotions that junior Senator Tommy "Coach" Tuberville (R-AL) has blocked for over six months, meaning we will have a Joint Chiefs Chair, a Commandant of the Marine Corps, and an Army Chief of Staff in the next couple of days. That leaves just over 300 admirals and general officers waiting for confirmation. No biggie.


Finally, Bob Ballard's company recently did a 40-hour underwater survey of three WWII aircraft carriers sunk at the Battle of Midway. 

Two more senior Navy jobs blocked by Coach Tuberville

Former college football coach Tommy Tuberville, now a United States Senator grâce a the wisdom and good sense of the fine people of Alabama, continues to degrade the United States military by preventing the US Senate from confirming 301 (and counting) general and flag officers from formally taking the jobs they're already doing. Earlier this month, the commanders of the Naval Air Forces and Naval Sea Systems Command retired, passing their responsibilities—but, crucially, not their policy-setting powers—to their putative successors. US Senator Mark Kelly (D-AZ), a retired US Navy Captain and 4-time Space Shuttle astronaut, stopped just short of calling Tuberville an idiot on today's NPR Morning Edition.

In other news:

Finally, John Scalzi's blog turned 25 today, making the Hugo-winning author a relative new arrival to the blogging scene, at least when compared with The Daily Parker.

No, there is no nude beach in Rogers Park

That's just one of the absurdities that I encountered over the course of the last 24 hours:

  • A prankster put up an official-looking sign declaring Loyola Beach on the north side of Chicago clothing-optional. Unfortunately no one was fooled.
  • For the 15th or 20th time since its founding, critics accuse the US Navy of adapting too slowly to emerging risks in order to preserve tradition and Mississippi jobs. (Really, this comes up about every 20 years.)
  • Of course, it doesn't help that we currently have no Chief of Naval Operations, Army Chief of Staff, or Marine Commandant, thanks to US Senator Tommy "Never Could Beat Alabama" Tuberville (R-AL).
  • A working group that didn't include historians has proposed how sweeping changes to Chicago-area transit can help it become more like 1960s Baltimore more quickly: concentrate on "financial viability" at the expense of fast, frequent service. Because we really have learned nothing in the last 75 years.
  • Illinois has become the third-largest home of data center space in part because we have a lot of office parks no one wants anymore.

Finally, Arizona continues to allow residential development as if the state has as much available water as Illinois. Because we really have learned nothing in the last 75 years.

End of day reading list

The XPOTUS continuing to get indicted for trying to steal the 2020 election wasn't the only bit of authoritarian fuckery this week:

Finally, Michael Oher, the subject of the book and film The Blind Side, says the white family that he lived with not lied to him about adopting him, but also used their positions as his conservators to screw him out of compensation from the story of his own life. Which, if you remember, put the white folks up as the heroes. I wish I'd been more surprised and shocked, but no, it tracks.

Losing the Joint Chiefs, one by one

Former football coach and mediocre white guy Tommy Tuberville (R-MS), currently fighting for the Dumbest Person in Congress title against several of his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate, has continued his one-man blockade in the Senate against confirming the promotions of general and flag officers across the US military. As a consequence, for the first time in a century, the US Marine Corps has no Commandant:

[Commandant General David] Berger, whose four-year tour as the Marines’ top officer came to an end, was supposed to hand the reins over to Gen. Eric Smith, who has been nominated for the job. Instead, Smith will run the Corps on a temporary basis while he waits for Senate confirmation, thanks to the hold. Because he’s not confirmed, Smith will have to hold off on making any making strategic decisions for the service. He will also simultaneously serve in his current position as the Marine Corps’ No. 2.

Tuberville, an Alabama Republican and Senate Armed Services Committee member, placed the hold in protest of the Pentagon’s new policy that pays travel expenses for troops if they cannot obtain abortions in their state. He has also voiced frustration that President Joe Biden has yet to reach out to discuss the matter.

The senator’s procedural holds mean that senior officers across the military are unable to move their families to their new assignments, and in many cases are losing out on the pay raises that promotions entail.

Berger is the first of four members of the eight-member Joint Chiefs of Staff who will begin retiring this year. With the hold in place, half the chiefs, the leaders of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, along with the chair, will have no confirmed successor in the seat to replace them.

Obviously the US Marine Corps can function with only an acting Commandant for a while. But because Tuberville has stopped almost 300 promotions to O7 and above, critical lower-level posts have gone unstaffed as well. (Let's just forget for a moment that arcane Senate rules, specifically designed to halt legislative business far beyond the "cooling saucer" envisioned by the founders, allows this to happen.)

Yesterday, US Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) had this to say about the Coach:

This hold is unnecessary, unprecedented, and, at a critical time in national security, it is driving the U.S. military to a potential breaking point. It is also an affront to the military and their families, who so many of us just lauded for their sacrifices during the Fourth of July festivities. My colleagues thanked them profusely, but do not recognize that they are professional officers who deserve consideration, not as political chips but as men and women of our services.

Those of my colleagues who support this unprecedented delay are themselves politicizing the military by the very nature of their actions. These promotions have always been confirmed by unanimous consent very soon after being reported to the floor or, on the rare occasion, a single overwhelming vote without cloture. But now, in refusing to confirm these promotions, the uniformed military, previously and appropriately shielded from partisan politics, is being thrust into the midst of politics. This behavior was once reserved only for individual political appointees, civilian political appointees on specific matters of dispute, usually with some reasonable or negotiable outcome. No more. It seems it is ‘‘my way’’ or no way at all. And that is a sad demonstration of individual hubris.

The Senator from Alabama often says if we really wanted these generals and admirals, we would just vote, but I would like to explain that. The Senator is not allowing a simple vote; he is demanding cloture first on every nomination. So we asked the Congressional Research Service what it would take to process 251 nominations with cloture. They estimate to file cloture on all the nominations being held, it would take approximately 5 hours. Then 2 days later, the Senate could start voting.

It will take approximately 668 hours to confirm all these military nominations. That is 27 days if the Senate works around the clock, 24 hours a day. If the Senate just did military nominations for 8 hours a day, it would take 84 days. So ‘‘just vote’’ is not an answer. This is not a feasible solution to this issue.

Right now, a number of military officers who were planning to retire are on an indefinite hold because they have no one confirmed to take their jobs. Others want to go to new commands but cannot for the same reason. Their families cannot move to their new homes. Their children cannot get ready for a new school. Their spouses cannot take new jobs.

This is not a game. These are real lives that have been upended. Due to the pure obstinacy of the Senator from Alabama, the Senate is, in effect, holding thousands of loyal members of the U.S. military and their families in limbo. I believe we owe them more than that.

Hear, hear. This isn't a game to anyone but Tuberville. But it's kind of what we'd expect from a mediocre old white guy from Alabama, isn't it? Except...weren't the Republicans the party of military preparedness a few years ago? I guess we have always been at war with Oceania after all...

The dumbest person in Congress and military readiness

Coach US Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), whose election to the Senate in 2020 coincided with the elections of Representatives Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO), has given those two a good race to the bottom of the IQ charts since all three took office. But I have to give him the "dumbest person in Congress" honors just on the basis of his current program of holding up all general officer promotions in the Senate.

Tuberville, who has never served in the military, explained his reasoning in April: "Experts have known for more than a decade that the military is top heavy. We do not suffer from a lack of generals," Tuberville said. "When my dad served in World War II, we had one general for every 6,000 troops. Think about that: one for every 6,000. Now, we have one general for every 1,400 enlisted service members."

In just a few weeks, Tuberville's obstinance will leave us without officers in the following positions:

That's 3/5 of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, not including the Chair, who plans to retire soon. Also we will have several areas of the world where our allies or adversaries have 3- or 4-star officers that will have to interface with 2- or 3-star Americans, which is an astounding loss of face for us and an insult to them.

This also holds up promotions to lower-ranking service members, as O7 and higher officers must sign off on awards and assignments to the senior officer corps. This affects readiness as those officers can't plan to move their families to their new duty stations, and can't collect the pay they've earned for their promotions, until they formally "put on" their new ranks.

I'm also aware of service members overseas who can't visit their families because there isn't an admiral or general to sign off on them visiting certain countries (like the Philippines) or, in some cases, taking any leave at all. This is already having deleterious effects on morale and retention, in some of the most dangerous places in the world, like Korea.

Why is Tuberville doing this? Abortion, of course. And because he has no idea how the military actually works, or why we need proportionately more high-ranking officers than we did when we had 12 million men and women in the military. (Today we have about 1/4 that number.)

Just to get a handful of promotions through, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Democratic senators may have to hold roll-call votes on the Senate floor, which takes a lot of time. As of last week, Tuberville is blocking 221 promotions, and that number will continue to get larger as generals and admirals retire. So even with roll-calls on each nominee, there simply isn't enough time to get them all through.

When you elect clowns, you get a circus.

The indictment

I've just read the indictment against the XPOTUS and his "body man" Walt Nauta. Wow. As a FBI agent in The West Wing once remarked, "In 13 years with the Bureau I've discovered that there's no amount of money, manpower or knowledge than can equal the person you're looking for being stupid." And wow, was the XPOTUS stupid.

I'm not a practicing lawyer but I can read an indictment. If the US Attorneys can prove any of these facts—and I have no doubt they will—he's going to get convicted of a felony. Oddly, under our Constitution, he can still run for a second term if that happens, though he won't be able to vote for himself in Florida. But as Josh Marshall points out, the larger issues just distract from the utterly banal issues:

I wanted to share one thought.

That is the sheer ordinariness of the whole story. That may seem like a odd thing to say: ex-President facing multiple federal felony indictments for the first time ever, the bizarre details of this antic clown’s Florida Villa-cum-Hotel stuffed with banker’s boxes of classified documents, the bathroom chandelier, the power glitz jammed together with gaudy dime store aesthetic. But we grant Trump too much by lavishing, wearying too much in the purported weightiness of the moment. It’s very normal. Yes, powerful people get away with a lot. But if you commit crimes repeatedly and brazenly you’re very likely to get charged with one or more crimes, particularly if you’re in the public spotlight.

We hear endlessly how everyone not thoroughly in Trump’s thrall wants to ‘move on’ from the man. The first and most important part of that is shaking free of the reality distortion field that surrounds the man, as much for his foes as his followers. He’s hit with charges with evidence of his guilt that is clear and overwhelming and he jumps to the front to declare no one ever thought this could happen or be possible. He didn’t do it … but of course he was perfectly entitled to do it, even though he chose not to. Remember, he could have but chose not to. Got it? He attacks, defames. People get caught up in the frenzy of his seeming invulnerability and transgressive nature, the entertainment and the confusion. They’re wondering what he’ll do next. They’re baffled and suddenly the obvious ceases to be obvious.

Don’t be baffled. You may be thinking somehow there’s no way he’ll actually get convicted of anything. You’re wrong. He probably will. Maybe not. That happens too. That’s normal. It’s all normal.

I lived in New York in the late '80s and late '90s, and we always thought that the XPOTUS would never survive first contact with law enforcement. It took a while, but eventually his narcissism, unaccountability, and yes, his tiny little hands mind would eventually lead us here.

One more thing. John Scalzi called out all the remaining XPOTUS supporters to "get off the train," but hit on the reason they won't: "no one who is still on the Trump train at this point in 2023 is there for logical or rational reasons, you’re probably...stuck too far down in the grift to ever admit you’re the chump." But wow, the national security implications of this indictment alone should have every rational person in the country running from this guy.

Wednesday afternoon potpourri

On this day in 2000, during that more-innocent time, Beverly Hills 90210 came to an end. (And not a day too soon.) As I contemplate the void in American culture its departure left, I will read these articles:

Finally, a new genetic study suggests that "modern humans descended from at least two populations that coexisted in Africa for a million years before merging in several independent events across the continent." Cool.