The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sunday noon

We've got a day and a half of autumn left in Chicago. Here's what I'm reading on a lazy Sunday:

And finally, new research shows that the pyroclastic flows from Vesuvius in 79 CE turned people's brains to glass. Yummy.

Happy Monday morning!

To thoroughly depress you, SMBC starts the week by showing you appropriate wine pairings for your anxiety. In similar news:

Time to take a walk.

The final election map of 2020

The New York Times and NBC have called Georgia for Joe Biden and North Carolina for the president, giving Biden 306 Electoral College votes to the president's 232. This is the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has won Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992. It also means that in addition to taking over 5 million more popular votes than the president, Biden has won exactly the same number of electoral votes as the president did in 2016.

In 68 days, we'll finally have a new president.

Why are Republicans joking about the election?

Andrew Sullivan recognizes he's hyperventilating, but he has an important point:

Secretary of state Pompeo insisted with a smile that there would be a transition to a second Trump term, even as he lectures other countries about respecting election results. He is treating the solemn democratic process as a joke. “We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,” echoed White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, this morning.

To put it plainly: this simply does not happen in a healthy liberal democracy. It is a sign of the deepest imaginable rot. It is the kind of thing that occurs in developing countries with warlord leaders and fledgling democratic processes. It violates the sacredness of a peaceful and consensual transfer of power in America — marked first by George Washington.

It renders the US an international outlier in terms of democratic practices, and makes a mockery of any American pretension to be a model for democracy. We’re not. We’re increasingly a cautionary tale. And the damage this past week has already inflicted on basic democratic norms is incalculable. More foreign leaders have accepted Biden’s victory than Republican officials. Think about that for a bit.

Trump’s threat has never been that he wants to set himself up as a new Mussolini. His idleness and incompetence render that moot. His threat is that his psyche requires him to break every democratic norm, to hold the rule of law in contempt, and to deepen polarization so intensely that America becomes ungovernable at a federal level, and liberal democracy surrenders to one man’s ego.

Meanwhile, the AP has called Arizona, and I'm going to call Alaska on my own, so the electoral map will look like this until North Carolina and Georgia get done counting (and re-counting) their votes:

We won, stop hyperventilating

Eight days after the country resoundingly turfed out the president, it seems people still have overactive endocrine systems. I understand; coming down from a stressful experience can take some time. But seriously, we have to take a collective chill.

The president will leave office at noon Eastern time on January 20th whether he believes he lost the election or not. Mike Pompeo, Bill Barr, Betsy DeVos, and every other Cabinet-level officer will go as well. I expect, in fact, that Biden will have an executive order prepared for his signature, and minutes after he takes the Oath, every political appointee in the current administration will be fired.

None of the crap coming from the president, Pompeo, Barr, et alli, has anything to do with the election. If you look at their behavior from the perspective of a medium- or low-information voter on the other side, from the perspective as someone just as wound up about things as you are but with less ability than you have to tell truth from fiction, it makes a lot of sense. Because all of these lawsuits, personnel shifts, harping about a stolen election—it's all a big fundraising effort.

These people are grifters. They're thieves. They're the most corrupt batch of public officials the country has ever known, and I'm including the Harding, Jackson, and Andrew Johnson administrations. And the president will leave office with $400m in debts that he has to pay back personally within a few months. I will bet all the money in my pockets against all the money in your pockets that when his re-election committee files its disclosures later in the year, somehow a lot of the money the Republicans have raised post-election will go to pay some of those debts.

Maybe my feelings about Parker have depressed my ability to feel strong emotions about anything else. If so, it's one last gift he's giving me: an inoculation against the crazy that we will have to roll our eyes and live through for the next 70 days, 1 hour, and 11 minutes.

Sunny Friday morning in Chicago

The record for consecutive 21°C-plus days in Chicago is 5, set 15-19 November 1953. Today will be the third in a row, with the forecast showing the fourth, fifth, and sixth coming this weekend and on Monday.

In other sunny news, the electoral map has shifted a bit overnight:

Arizona's count has slowly shifted away from Biden while in both Georgia and Pennsylvania the count has put Biden ahead. In Georgia, Biden now leads by 1,200 votes, with a few thousand absentee ballots from heavily-Democratic areas near Atlanta. In Pennsylvania, Biden's 6,000-vote lead will likely grow as the final votes come in from Philadelphia, which has gone 90-10 for him in some places. And, of course, Biden leads in the national popular vote, by about 4 million. Both candidates have so far received more votes than any in history.

Note that if the six undeclared states solidify in their current colors, the Electoral College vote will exactly mirror 2016's: 306 to 228. That would be a delicious irony, showing that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Wisconsin returns to the fold

The AP has called Wisconsin for Biden, as his margin over the president continues to grow as workers report on last few ballots left in Milwaukee. The New York Times believes Michigan and Nevada will also go to Biden, North Carolina won't, and Pennsylvania and Georgia are still too close to call. So as of now, the map looks like this:

Nevada won't release any new numbers until 9am PST tomorrow (18:00 UTC, 11am in Chicago), but Biden's lead seems insurmountable at this point. North Carolina's secretary of state said he expects to announce the winner later today. No word on when Michigan and Pennsylvania will finish counting; most sources say Friday at the earliest.

In other news, we've officially counted 139.8 million votes, blowing past the 137.1 million cast in 2016. It's the largest number in American history and we still have over 2 million to go. Also, win or lose, Joe Biden has received more votes for president (over 70 million) than anyone else in history. That's something.

Down-ballot races

As the counting continues in the states both presidential candidates need to win, and as Biden's lead continues to increase in Wisconsin and Michigan while he catches up in Pennsylvania, I should mention that voters weighed in on other races last night.

  • Every person bar one I voted for won in Illinois, including Joe Biden, US Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D), US Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL09), my state representative Gregory Harris (D-13), and my state senator Heather Steans (D-7). (Steans ran unopposed.)
  • Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL06) held his seat after his challenger Jeanne Ives came within a whisker of beating him. Meanwhile, extreme-right-wing dairy mogul Jim Oberweis' race to defeat incumbent US Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL14) remains too close to call; at this writing, Oberweis is up by 900 votes out of 375,000 counted.
  • The Fair Tax Amendment failed. It would have allowed a graduated income tax in Illinois and slowed the concentration of wealth here, and I supported it. Plutocrat Ken Griffin provided most of the money towards defeating it, mainly so he could continue to hoard the wealth he gained through skimming off the financial system.
  • A pair of billionaires succeeded in defeating Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride. Griffin contributed millions to this effort as well. (See a pattern?)
  • Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx won re-election, but not easily.
  • Mark Kelly won a resounding victory over US Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ). Because McSally was never elected to the office, Kelly can take his seat in the Senate as soon as the vote is certified.
  • US Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) appears to have won, 52%-45%, denying us a pickup we had hoped for.
  • In Maine, US Senator Susan Collins (R) is 66,000 votes ahead of challenger Sara Gideon, and looks likely to retain her seat.
  • In Georgia, US Senator David Purdue (R) and challenger Jon Ossoff may go to a runoff in January if neither wins 50% of the vote. With 94% counted, Perdue is up by 3 percentage points, at just over 50%. Georgia's special election for Senate will also go to a runoff with Democrat Raphael Warnock winning 32% of the vote against incumbent Sally Loeffler (R).

In sum: Biden will probably win, but we won't know if we have flipped the Senate until January. When the 117th Congress sits on January 3rd, we will most likely have 49 senators to the Republicans' 50, with Warnock being our only hope of getting any significant legislation onto Biden's desk before 2023.

Holding our breaths and turning blue

Good morning! We're still alive, and I still think we'll win. So do both candidates, as evidenced by the president claiming victory overnight and Biden's firm "not so fast, Charlie."

The map of called races has not changed since the AP called Arizona around midnight. Nevada will eventually go to Biden, so the president needs to win 4 other states to win. Biden needs only 2. And since I finally got back to sleep around 4am, the counting has shifted Michigan and Wisconsin blue. And all evidence suggests they will stay blue.

In Wisconsin, with 95% of expected votes counted, and many of the remaining absentee and early votes concentrated in Milwaukee, Biden leads by 21,000 votes. In Michigan, they're still counting in the heavily-Democratic Detroit and Flint, and Biden has crept ahead to an 18,000-vote lead; the state believes it will be done counting in about 11-12 hours.

Pennsylvania has so far counted only 64% of the votes they expect to count, with only 58% counted in Philadelphia and 73% counted in Pittsburgh. Biden trails right now by 660,000, but there may be a million ballots left to count.

North Carolina has counted 94% and Biden trails by 80,000. In Georgia, he trails by 102,000 with 94% counted. Those states look like losses for us. But wow, what narrow losses, in states that haven't voted Democratic since 2008 and 1992, respectively.

It surprised me how little anxiety I experienced yesterday, but I realized it's because I'm sad about Parker. Who knew a good helping of depression could make a stressful time easier?

And here he is as a puppy, demonstrating the proper attitude for today:

Election night live blogging

Well, here we are. After just shy of four years living with the current president, I can say that his most remarkable accomplishment has been to raise the reputations of George W Bush, Warren Harding, and Franklin Pierce, if only relatively. Forty-four men have been president of the United States, one for only a month, and one who was never elected. Someone had to rank 44th in that list. It makes stack ranking so much easier when the most recent addition goes straight to the bottom.

I don't know that I'll stay up until 2am like I did last time. But I'll hang in there as long as I can. (All times US Central Standard, UTC-6.)

I am not calling any races; that's illegal in most states before polls close. I am, however, making a first prediction:

If we start there, we win with any other state on the map. And I think we're starting there.

17:00 CST: Polls have closed in the eastern portions of Indiana and Kentucky. Nothing to report yet; the rest of both states have yet to finish voting.

18:00: Polls have closed in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia, and Vermont, plus the eastern part of Florida. I'm confident only in two: Indiana (R) and Vermont (D).

18:05: The Associated Press calls Vermont for Biden and Kentucky for the president. No surprise there. The New York Times projects Mark Warner (D-VA) will go back to the Senate. No significant reports of poll disruptions reported.

18:13: I'll be updating the map at the top of this post as the night goes on.

18:42: Polls closed 12 minutes ago in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia. The AP has called West Virginia for the president and Virginia for Biden. Still no surprises.

19:00: Polls in 21 states and DC just closed, including here in Illinois. NPR believes Biden leads in Florida. Everyone knows Biden won Illinois. The AP called West Virginia for the president a few minutes ago; again, no one died of shock.

19:31: Arkansas, unsurprisingly, goes to the president. Meanwhile, no one knows nothing at this point.

20:01: Another 14 states with big Electoral Vote delegations have closed their polls. New York's 29 votes go to Biden; Wyoming's 3 and Kansas' 6 go to the president, as do Indiana's 11. NPR says Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, and Ohio all lean Biden, while Florida leans the other way. The Chicago Tribune thinks Kansas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania will also break our way. Sadly, Amy McGrath has lost her challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Also, the AP's website now displaying a generic 500 error. Oops.

Now Parker needs a nice, long walk, so I don't have to think about the election for half an hour.

20:45: Back from a nice walk, I hear we have our first pick-up in the Senate, in Colorado, which also has gone to Biden, and Kansas has slipped back into play.

21:01: Iowa, Montana, Nevada, and Utah have closed. Republicans have filed suit to stop vote counting in Clark County, Nevada, because they can't win there without cheating.

21:05: Keep in mind: we won't know the results in Wisconsin, Michigan, or Pennsylvania until tomorrow at the earliest.

22:01: The West Coast and Idaho close; no surprises. All of the surprises will take days to count. So far tonight, Parker and I have walked for more than an hour, I've had only two beers, and I just can't stay up until midnight waiting for the results this time.

Counting will take a long time. And smaller, rural precincts can always report their results before larger, urban precincts. No one has gotten close to calling anything on the brown portion of the map at the top of this post. As I said to one of my friends, we're not fucked yet. The whatever from high atop the thing hasn't even taken off its pants yet.

We did lose the Alabama US Senate seat, so we're still at 47-53, even though 13 million more people have voted for Democratic US Senators than for Republican ones. (We knew Doug Jones would lose, though. Again: no surprise.)

I will say that Biden will win the popular vote by millions more votes than Clinton won in 2016, and if he winds up losing the Electoral College, people will be unhappy. Very unhappy. Minority rule has to end. I'm still pretty confident it will end in January, but until then, we just won't know.

So, I'm going to bed. I expect I'll wake up around 3 to clean up some poop (not mine), and if that happens, I'll check the map. But Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida won't have results tonight.

We're not fucked yet. The whatever from high atop the thing hasn't even taken off its pants. I'm going to chill for eight hours and come back in the morning.

02:51: I don't know what woke me up. I thought someone on my "OK to disturb me" list texted, but that wasn't the case. In any event, this is not the map I wanted to see in the middle of the night, but (if you recall) it's almost exactly the map I predicted earlier. Except for Pennsylvania.

We still don't have final counts for the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee, Detroit, Philadelphia, or Atlanta. Also, no one knows what "100% reporting" means in those areas, because no one will know the total number of early and mail-in votes until they're all counted.

Mark Kelly won the special election for US Senate in Arizona, giving us a second pick-up. But Joni Ernst (R-IA) won re-election, which says something about Iowa, and possibly the whole race.

Of course the president went on TV to claim victory earlier. And of course Biden went on TV to say we have millions of votes left to count. And it also seems clear that, regardless of the Electoral College, Biden will have won millions of votes more than the president, by a margin considerably larger than Hillary Clinton won four years ago.

I will also say, the whatever from high atop the thing definitely has a "hey, baby" look in its eye.