The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Democrats in complete array

What a consequential 24 hours we've had.

After President Biden's historical withdrawal from the 2024 election, he endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris. So far, dozens of other elected Democrats have followed, including Illinois governor JB Pritzker just this morning.

And because the Vice President is already on the campaign, according to Federal election rules, she can use the entire $96 million campaign fund—and in fact she's already filed with the Federal Election Commission to do so.

In other words, Harris is, without question, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, which means next month's Democratic National Convention in Chicago will be the election kickoff we hoped for and not a repeat of 1968.

Some reactions from the usual suspects:

I should also add Aaron Sorkin's piece from yesterday's Times, published before President Biden's announcement: "How I would script this moment for Biden and the Democrats." But no, we aren't going to nominate Mitt Romney (R-UT).

Meanwhile, the news has put the Republican party in complete disarray as their entire election strategy just evaporated. Over the next few days we will see the convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS back in form as the racist, misogynist wanna-be thug that he is. But the best news of all from yesterday is: the chances we need to care about him for longer than 106 more days just got a lot smaller.

One or two other things happened yesterday, including the last-surviving piping plover chick on Montrose Beach getting a name. I'll have more later today.

President Biden withdraws

The New York Times reports that President Biden has withdrawn from the 2024 election:

After three weeks of often angry refusals to step aside, Mr. Biden finally yielded to a torrent of devastating polls, urgent pleas from Democratic lawmakers and clear signs that donors were no longer willing to pay for him to continue.

Mr. Biden said he will not resign the presidency, and intends to finish out his term even as he leaves it to others to try and defeat Mr. Trump. Over the next several months, the president faces the ongoing war in Ukraine and the increasingly desperate efforts to reach a negotiated deal to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

No sitting American president has dropped out of a race so late in the election cycle. The Democratic National Convention, where Mr. Biden was to have been formally nominated by 3,939 delegates, is scheduled to begin Aug. 19 in Chicago. That leaves less than a month for Democrats to decide who should replace Mr. Biden on the ticket and just under four months for that person to mount a campaign against Mr. Trump.

And now the race is between a demented 78-year-old who has a proven track record of chaos and corruption against a brilliant 59-year-old who has a proven track record of accomplishment and fighting for our rights.

The XPOTUS's campaign must be shitting bricks right now.

Here's the President's statement:

End of Thursday link roundup

Lots of stories in the last day:

Finally, comic genius and Chicago native Bob Newhart has died at age 94. He was a national treasure.

A bit of perspective

Time for another reminder. If you see something on social media that:

  • seems to confirm something you already believed about the "other side,"
  • comes from someone claiming to have inside knowledge, and
  • makes you angry

...then it's almost certainly fake*.

The Economist prominently featured a story on the onslaught of conspiracy theories today, as did NPR. Will those stories help? Probably not. After all, "men willingly believe what they want," as Julius Caesar once (may have) said. But let's review anyway.

The FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police aren't going to leak information about Saturday's shooting on Facebook. They're going to make sure they have it right, then hold a press conference, where journalists from real news organizations will ask them questions and report what they said. I can't believe people have trouble understanding this. "Officer Krupke" was posting bullshit to TikTok from an industrial park outside Minsk on Sunday morning, not hearing the latest secrets about the investigation from his higher-ups at the incident response center outside Pittsburgh. And you almost certainly know that, but you reposted the meme anyway.

What we do know about Saturday makes the event no less horrible but a lot less surprising. All of the public evidence points to a pathetic post-teen white incel with too-easy access to near-military-grade weapons deciding to become famous in the worst possible way. It was similar to almost every other time someone has shot at a US president throughout history. This pathetic boy will be remembered in the long list of similar nutters that includes Hinckley, Fromme, Schrank, Oswald, Guiteau, Booth, Czolgosz, Zangara, and the dozens who never got the chance because the USSS or their local cops got to them in time.

The worst part about Saturday isn't its effect on the election or that the convicted-felon XPOTUS got nicked in the ear; it's that two people died, and absent the immediate actions of the best-equipped, best-trained armed guards in the history of the world, many more would have. Two more Americans are dead because a trade group has convinced a huge swath of the country—and an overwhelming percentage of those at Saturday's rally—that buying their member-organizations' products is a God-given right.

Because of those policies, promoted by the Republican Party and enshrined in Pennsylvania law, this postpubescent hobgoblin obtained a military-style rifle, loaded it, and got it to within 150 meters of the presumptive Republican nominee for president, all completely legally. Until he pointed the rifle at the XPOTUS, he hadn't committed a crime.

In fact, as Josh Marshall laments, this wasn't much different than a school shooting. He makes good points, including that it doesn't really matter what flavor of mass shooting it was. He also notices that Republicans office-holders were the first to politicize the event. Well, of course they were, because otherwise someone might connect their rhetoric and their policies with the increased frequency of shootings.

I don't think this event will move the needle on the election, not one little bit. We're too entrenched in our candidates. That said, I fully expect the next four days in Milwaukee to showcase exactly how deranged the rapist XPOTUS is—but no one will change his mind because of it. Tonight, in fact, we get to find out who he's picked to be his panegyrist running mate, and we can all feel a little sorry for that person when he or she gets kicked to the curb in a year or two. (Update: it's US Senator JD Vance (R-OH), one of the only people in US politics who is possibly less genuine than the XPOTUS.)

The next 113 days will suck. Probably the two months after that will suck, too. And there's a real possibility that the XPOTUS could win, making the next few years after suck as well, at least until 78 years of Big Macs and rapidly-advancing frontotemporal dementia catch up to him.

But enough with the misinformation. Seriously.

* Unless it's the New York Times telling you that a corrupt Federal judge dismissed a criminal case against an unrepentant felon on a theory so batshit crazy that not even Sam Alito signed on to it when he had the chance. That actually happened this morning.

Not even attempting to conceal the corruption

US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon (R-SDFL) has dismissed the classified-documents case against the convicted felon rapist XPOTUS on the clearly erroneous grounds that Special Counsel Jack Smith's appointment violated the constitution:

[T]he judge...found that because Mr. Smith had not been named to the post of special counsel by the president or confirmed by the Senate, his appointment was in violation of the appointments clause of the Constitution.

The ruling by Judge Cannon, who was put on the bench by Mr. Trump, flew in the face of previous court decisions reaching back to the Watergate era that upheld the legality of the ways in which independent prosecutors have been named. And in a single swoop, it removed a major legal threat against Mr. Trump on the first day of the Republican National Convention, where he is set to formally become the party’s nominee for president.

I can scarcely imagine the 11th Circuit not rapping Cannon on the knuckles for this one, and possibly removing her from the case. But that wasn't the point; with only 112 days left until the election, this pushes the trial date well past it. Cannon doesn't care if the 11th removes her. She did her job, and she'll get promoted to the Court of Appeals or even SCOTUS should her patron return to power in January.

I wouldn't mind the Republican Party so much if they cared about anything other than power. We need a right-of-center party in this country. Instead we've got this band of thieves hiding behind white-male grievance. And like any organized criminal organization, they protect their own. It's exhausting.

Stormy weather

Three celebrities from my youth died yesterday, but for obvious reasons none was the top story on any news outlet this morning.

No one should politicize the attempt on the XPOTUS's life yesterday at a rally outside Pittsburgh. We have no idea why the assailant shot the XPOTUS and three other people; the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police are investigating, and with the shooter killed by the Secret Service, we won't have to wait for a criminal trial for the full story. I trust both agencies to investigate thoroughly and report honestly on what they find.

We need to wait until those facts are in before drawing any conclusions. Predictably, some people have already said some horrible things and made ridiculous accusations, and equally predictably, others have reported on those horrible and ridiculous things. I'm not going to do either. And I'm going to examine my own dark thoughts to get a handle on why people are saying what they're saying.

Violence is reprehensible. Political violence doubly so. This is not how civilized societies function.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the passing of Shannen Doherty, Richard Simmons, and Dr Ruth Wesheimer. All three were at their peak celebrity in my teenage and young-adult years. All three dying on the same day is just...weird.

Guys, he's not dropping out

Everyone in the world knows that President Biden had a bad night two weeks ago. Since then, we've heard a steady drumbeat of calls for him to withdraw from the race. But did anyone watch last night's press conference? Here it is; I'll wait:

The convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS could not have done that press conference, because he lacks the knowledge, the focus, the sanity, and frankly the IQ to answer questions for that long.

And still, what did most press outlets report? That he bobbled the name of the Vice President.

Meanwhile, the convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS can't find a coherent thought with two hands and a flashlight on his best days.

Yes, the President is an old man, and he could drop dead before January 2029. But as he said, "I wouldn't have picked Kamala if she weren't qualified to be President."

Until something actually changes in the race, I'm done with the "will he drop out" bullshit. He's the President, and he's crushing it.

Other things happened in the last 24 hours that were more interesting than George Clooney's whining:

Finally, if Google Maps and Waze drive you crazy, you're not alone. Julia Angwin explains why, and suggests alternatives, like Valhalla.

G7 slams the Israeli government

The G7, meeting today in Washington, strongly rebuked the Israeli government's illegal seizure of Palestinian land:

We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the EU, join the UN and the European Union in condemning the announcement by Finance Minister of Israel Smotrich that five outposts are to be legalised in the West Bank. We also reject the decision by the Government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands’- the largest such declaration of state land since the Oslo Accords – and the decision to expand existing settlements in the occupied West Bank by 5,295 new housing units and to establish three new settlements. The Government of Israel’s settlement program is inconsistent with international law, and counterproductive to the cause of peace.

We reaffirm our commitment to a lasting and sustainable peace in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, on the basis of a two-state solution. We have therefore consistently expressed our opposition to the expansion of settlements and, as in previous cases, we urge the Government of Israel to reverse this decision.

Further, maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security. In this context, we take note of the latest transfers of parts of clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority, but we urge Israel to release all withheld clearance revenues in accordance with the Paris Protocols, remove or relax measures that exacerbate the economic situation in the West Bank, and to take the necessary measures to ensure that correspondent banking services between Israeli and Palestinian banks remain in place with proper controls.

Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz behind the woodshed:

Secretary Yellen reaffirmed Treasury’s strong commitment to Israel’s security. Secretary Yellen also emphasized the need for Israel to maintain economic stability in the West Bank by regularly transferring clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority and ensuring that correspondent banking relations between Israeli and Palestinian banks remain uninterrupted. Secretary Yellen also raised Treasury’s February Executive Order 14115, holding individuals and entities accountable for perpetrating, inciting, or financially supporting violence throughout the West Bank.

Yellen meeting with Katz instead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with him can be understood as a rap on the knuckles. But that's not all she did, and not the only reason she met with him.

Yellen no doubt gave Katz a heads-up that the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has added a number of Israeli persons and entities, including several farms and extremist groups in the West Bank, to the list of "specially designated nationals." This is the same list we put narcotraficantes and terrorists on. Americans are forbidden to deal with them, and we block their American assets and access to the US banking system. We typically don't do this to people our allies' governments endorse. It's a strong statement that Israel must stop its illegal seizure of Palestinian lands in the West Bank. I'm sure it won't mollify the anti-Israeli left, but it will help move to a two-state solution once the Israeli government gets its head out of its Knesset.

I will be curious to see when all this hits the American press. The Israeli press already has it, naturally. But I guess the President having a bad debate is more important than the President taking direct action to rein in the crazies.

(Thanks to reader MG for the tip.)

Nothing has really changed in the last two weeks

Josh Marshall sometimes gets excited, but he comes around eventually:

[A new poll] from ABC and the Washington Post...shows Biden and Trump tied and Harris actually up over Trump by two points. This is only one poll of course. But I don’t think it’s greatly different from other polls over the last several days. An Emerson poll, never especially favorable to Biden, shows the two tied. A Bendixen/Amandi poll shows Biden down one, Harris up one. A handful of other polls show Biden down two or three points.

I think these polls show a few things. One is that there’s a good chance that the run of bad polls last weekend was significantly impacted by response bias. (Dems too depressed and catatonic to answer pollsters and thus showing a ‘false’ or at least ephemeral shift.) The race actually remains fairly static notwithstanding the truly unprecedented events of the last two weeks. The idea that the bottom is falling out for Democrats just isn’t borne out by the polls. There’s other data I’ve seen that tends to bear that out.

Regardless, you can’t make this decision on the basis of the polls. Not for any high-toned or kumbaya reason but simply because they haven’t moved that much. If you’re looking just at the polls they tell you not very much has happened over the last two weeks. The question is whether you have a campaign and candidate focused and energetic enough to deliver in the final four months of the campaign.

The second point is what happens if Joe Biden withdraws from the race and endorses and is replaced by Kamala Harris. [A]s much as we think this is a big deal I don’t think we really realize how big a deal and how many unknowns it unleashes. Positive and negative. Even with Trump the US presidential system is highly highly structured, choreographed, bounded by all sorts of informal but highly binding rules. Something like this blows them all apart.

The President completely blew the debate. But as much as I felt awful for him, I really haven't thought it changed much. Both Biden and the convicted-felon rapist demented XPOTUS are known quantities. We can imagine another world where the Baby Boomers voluntarily get out of the way, but as a Gen-X, I have never seen that happen and I doubt I ever will. So these are the old white guys we have.

Still, regardless of what happens in the next five months, I can take some comfort in the near-inevitability that this will be the last Boomer-vs-Boomer presidential election. (I also believe we will have elections in 2026 and 2028 as usual, though if the Republican nominee wins, I think they will both be really ugly.) I also think that by 2028, we will have enough pent-up frustration with the system that we will have a real election between normal candidates.

But yeah, after this, I'm really done with the modern GOP, and I'm done with Boomer politicians.

People doing it completely wrong

If he were even a tiny bit better as a human being, I might have some empathy for the old man clearly suffering from some kind of dementia who spoke in Doral, Fla., yesterday. But he's not, so I don't. I mean...just read the highlights.

In other news:

Finally, I got two emails through the contact-us page from the "Brand Ambassador & Link Approval Specialist" at a little company in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick demanding that we remove a link from a post to their site. Each email was clearly the output of an automated process that must have scraped every post on The Daily Parker—all 9,479 of them—more than once, because each email had a different fully-qualified domain name and most of the links they included were for category or history pages. Clearly the BALAS hadn't actually read the post that contained the link. 

The request read: "We kindly request the immediate removal of these links to SchengenVisaInfo.com from your page because SchengenVisaInfo maintains strict editorial control over the information it provides. As such, we do not endorse the linking of our website without our prior consent."

This is dumb for several reasons. First, the emails provide clear evidence that they ran a bot over The Daily Parker more than once, which is rude. Second, this particular link could only benefit the complaining firm as it appeared in context as a way of finding out more about exactly what the company offered. And finally, before you send an email like that, you should confirm that the site you're complaining to won't ridicule you and your firm in a subsequent post.

Of course I removed the link. There are many better sources of information on the topic out there.

(Note to self: remove the company's name before posting!)