It has cooled off slightly from yesterday's scorching 36°C, but the dewpoint hasn't dropped much. So the sauna yesterday has become the sticky summer day today. Fortunately, we invented air conditioning a century or so ago, so I'm not actually melting in my cube.
As I munch on some chicken teriyaki from the take-out place around the corner, I'm also digesting these articles:
Can you believe we're only 99 days from the election? How time flies.
I kind of got into the flow today, so things to read later just piled up:
And wait—you can make risotto in an Instant Pot? I might have to try that.
A friend and I plan to go to a local beer garden this weekend—one on the Brews and Choos list, in fact—so we had to make a reservation that included a $7.50-per-person deposit. Things are weird, man. And if you read the news today, oh boy, the weirdness is all over:
Finally, closer to home, 4,400 restaurants in Chicago have closed because of the pandemic, 2,400 permanently. The Chicago Tribune has a list of the more notable closures.
Just a few things have cropped up in the news since yesterday:
- President Trump has threatened to send federal agents to "assist" with Chicago's efforts to curb gun violence, which no one except the Trump-supporting head of our police union wants. Michelle Goldberg calls the presence of federal agents in Portland a harbinger of fascism, while the ACLU calls it "a constitutional crisis" and has filed suit to reverse the policy.
- Also in Portland, an unidentified woman wearing only a hat and face mask nonchalantly walked in front of a row of federal police and danced for them. Said the LA Times, "She stood calmly, a surreal image of human vulnerability in the face of an overpowering force that has been criticized nationally by civil rights advocates." (Nudity is constitutionally-protected speech in Oregon.)
- The BBC also digs in and reports that the 1807 Insurrection Act prohibits this kind of federal intervention. Notably, the last time a president invoked the law against the express wishes of the state was in 1957, when Eisenhower sent troops to Arkansas to protect black children from white mobs.
- St Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner's office filed felony charges against Mark and Patricia McCloskey for unlawful use of a weapon, but the Republican governor of Missouri has already promised to pardon the couple.
- The FBI arrested Republican Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and three others in connection with a $60 m bribery case.
- The Boeing 747 has become the latest casualty of Covid-19, with only one airline continuing to fly the jet in passenger service.
- The Chicago Transit Authority has started round-the-clock construction on the $2.1 bn Red-Purple Modernization Project, which my alderman acknowledged would cause "massive disruption."
Finally, the Covid-19 mitigation rollback announced yesterday has led to Guthrie's Tavern closing permanently. Guthrie's, which opened in 1986 and featured board games and good beer, will pour its last pint on Thursday.
Philip Bump puts in black-and-white terms why the president should perhaps shut up about his cognitive test results:
“And they were very surprised,” Trump said of the doctors. “They said that’s an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody do what you just did.”
No. That did not happen. Or, at least, it didn’t happen without a qualifier like, “rarely does anybody your age not demonstrate any of the impairments this test is meant to measure,” which is possible. But the doctors did not call this “an unbelievable thing.” It would be like my fawning over your alphabet recitation: “Wow, you even nailed the L-M-N-O-P.”
Getting a perfect score [on the cognitive test Trump took] is literally the baseline for being normal, not for being exceptional.
[P]eople were quick to point out the flip side of his boast about the doctors: Having medical professionals be amazed that you performed normally on an evaluation of your cognitive abilities is not exactly the endorsement it might have seemed like as the words were coming out of Trump’s mouth.
I would enjoy seeing the president take an IQ test, though. I would enjoy that very much.
I'll get to the final head-to-head comparison between my Garmin Venu and Fitbit Ionic later today. Meanwhile:
And finally, because our Covid-19 numbers have started creeping up, indoor bar service will halt on Friday.
Oregon Public Broadcasting is reporting this morning that last night, two Federal agencies using unmarked cars have started pulling people off the streets:
Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.
The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to “quell” nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks.
Officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC, have been sent to Portland to protect federal property during the recent protests against racism and police brutality.
But interviews conducted by OPB show officers are also detaining people on Portland streets who aren’t near federal property, nor is it clear that all of the people being arrested have engaged in criminal activity. Demonstrators like O’Shea and Pettibone said they think they were targeted by federal officers for simply wearing black clothing in the area of the demonstration.
Charlie Pierce calls this "being softly Pinochet'ed in broad daylight" (despite the arrests happening at night):
LEO’s in camo? Unmarked vehicles? Disappearing people off the street without charge? Detention in something far too close to a police black site? (Ask some folks in Chicago how those work out.) I always knew I missed something not growing up in Santiago.
Why in the hell is this not a bigger story? A major American city is being softly Pinochet’ed in broad daylight. And, if we know one thing, if this president* and his administration* get away with this, it will only get worse. You’d have to be out of your mind—or comatose since the Fall of 2016—not to suspect that this could be a dry run for the kind of general urban mobilization at which the president* has been hinting since this summer's protests began.
Also on Thursday, press secretary Kaleigh McEnany took a moment out of her briefing to call Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot a “renegade mayor” because Lightfoot refuses to ask for the National Guard to come into her city. (To her credit, Lightfoot snapped right back.) The White House is on record several times as trying to delegitimize Muriel Bowser as mayor of Washington, D.C.
Portland may be a dumbshow for dummies, but it also looks like a dress rehearsal. This is not an "authoritarian impulse.” This is authoritarian government—straight, no chaser.
The good news, if we can call it that, is that 56% of Americans and 55% of likely or registered voters disapprove of the administration.
Happy tax day! And now, we're off to the races:
Finally, Bloomberg takes a backward glance at the rise and fall of the Segway.
Today's interesting and notable news stories:
Finally, Lawrence Wright explores how historical plagues, particularly the European one in 1347, can sometimes spark radical social change.
Yesterday, Florida reported 15,300 new cases of Covid-19, handily breaking the one-day record for new cases we set waaaay back in early April. We've now passed 70,000 new cases nationally in one day (another record), and 230,370 new cases worldwide (another record). We could lose control of this situation completely any day now--as Florida already has.
And yet, " 'There was no justification to not move forward' with the state's reopening in May, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday, according to NBC Miami."
Yes, folks, Ron DeSantis is that stupid. In fact, new research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences demonstrates that lower cognitive ability correlates with lower compliance with social-distancing and other mitigation strategies.
Meanwhile, even as Illinois set a record for the number of tests administered in a day, while our new cases per day hovers around 1,000, other parts of the country continue to experience testing shortages and delays getting results.
And why is this happening? President Donald J. Trump takes the lead in his stupid, craven, and psychopathic failure to do anything remotely useful to stop the spread of this virus. This graph circulating around social media illustrates the problem:
We were close. We had stopped the spread, and even reversed it. Then our idiot president and a few sycophantic Republican governors reversed our progress.
Just look at that graph. Look at it. If that doesn't enrage you, then please get your head out of your rectum.
November 3rd is 113 days away.