The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Someone call lunch

Today in Chicago we have seen more sun than in the past several weeks, and yet here I toil in my cube. But a lot is going on outside it:

And we now return to our regular JSON debugging session, already in progress.

In the news today

As the House Judiciary Committee goes through the unfortunately necessary step of having expert witnesses state the obvious, other things caught my attention over the course of the morning:

Finally, two CTA employees were fired after one of them discovered an exploitable security hole in bus-tracking software, and the other tested it. The one who discovered it has sued under a Federal whistle-blower statute. Firing someone for discovering a potentially-catastrophic software design error is really dumb, people.

What might be?

After conversations with knowledgeable friends on both sides of center, I wonder which of these scenarios in all seriousness is most likely. Note that these scenarios are not mutually exclusive:

A. President Trump wins re-election.

B. President Trump leaves office before the 2021 inauguration.

C. President Trump loses re-election but refuses to concede.

D. One or more members of President Trump's immediate family flees to exile in Russia before the end of 2022.

E. A flag or general officer openly defies an order from President Trump...
   1. and is acquitted at court-martial; or
   2. is not sent to court-martial.

F. A senior officer (O-4 to O-6, i.e., Major through Colonel or Lt Commander through Captain) openly defies an order from President Trump...
   1. and is acquitted at court-martial; or
   2. is not sent to court-martial.

G. One or more members of President Trump's immediate family is convicted of state crimes related to Trump's companies.

All of these are troubling scenarios. All of them are possible.

Not to mention, Scenario F2 has already happened, but people outside the military may not understand the problem. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman unambiguously violated a direct order from the president when he testified before Congress last month. But the order was unambiguously illegal. If the Army were to follow proper procedures, Vindman should go to court-marshal and he should be acquitted. He hasn't been because the Army has no way of starting those proceedings without looking like it's taking a political position. But what if...?

There are many other situations that could come up before Trump leaves office, but I think these are the most likely.

Thoughtful comments about these possibilities are encouraged.

Sick day reading

I hate taking sick days, I really do. Fortunately, the Internet never takes one:

I'm now going to try to do a couple of hours of work, but really, I just want to go back to sleep.

The War-Crimes President

Historian Waitman Wade Beorn, who served in Iraq after graduating from West Point, is deeply disturbed by President Trump's intervention into the Eddie Gallagher case:

History warns us that leaders who condone war crimes find themselves in command of criminal militaries. Lessons from the past about war crimes and transgressive military cultures are not just academic: My research shows that subordinates generally read their superiors’ intent with accuracy, for better and for worse. By demonstrating his willingness to intercede in the minutiae of military justice and disciplinary procedures, the president tells those who step over ethical boundaries that they can appeal to a sympathetic ear in the Oval Office. This is exceptionally dangerous. Our military demands that its members be able to recognize and refuse unlawful orders and relies on them to uphold codes of honorable behavior. But this presidential short-circuit can critically undermine this ethos. Military judges and juries may well question their own decisions, wondering whether the president will intervene and pillory them instead of the guilty. The effects of a malfunctioning moral compass extend past our borders. Allies and host nations will be more hesitant to work with the United States if they cannot count on us to effectively punish those who cross ethical boundaries. This can imperil our troops overseas and threaten our strategic safety.

Most importantly, Trump’s actions create a chilling effect for those in uniform who take risks to report bad apples like Gallagher. What are the incentives for risking a career and enduring the stress of reporting a comrade if the president of the United States and his troll army line up in opposition? Why would someone go through all that if they think that all their efforts will be nullified in the end? How many Gallaghers, BehennasLorances, and Golsteyns will escape justice now? Even before Trump’s meddling, the Navy SEALs who turned in Gallagher were told by their commanding officer to “stop talking about it” and that doing so would ruin their careers. Ironically, that officer, Commander Robert Breisch, told those SEALs that they risked losing their tridents. Gallagher himself called them “traitors” and obliquely suggested that they might meet retribution from other SEALs.

In addition to describing the moral rot, Beorn also points out how Gallagher and others profit from their disgusting behavior. Because in Trumpland, everything ultimately comes down to money.

A heartwarming gift idea

Alexandra Petri has a suggestion:

Unsure what to get your family for the holidays this year?

Have you considered something that Devin Nunes is clearly enjoying, that even Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delights in, that Donald Trump made for his own amusement in the 1980s and has since gotten to share with more and more people as demand increased?

It’s Your Own Set of Facts!

From the people who brought you Alternative Facts, but also, somehow, from Russia, Your Own Set of Facts will transform the way you interact with the news, medical professionals and everyone around you.

Sadly, she's not wrong.

Confirming expectations

Yesterday, the President of the United States mused aloud why we haven't celebrated the centennial of the 19th Amendment's passage in 1920 sooner:

After working his way through the prepared remarks, Trump interjected with his own riff. “They’ve been working on this for years and years,” he said, suddenly wondering, “And I’m curious, why wasn’t it done a long time ago, and also — well, I guess the answer to that is because now I’m president, and we get things done. We get a lot of things done that nobody else got done.”

The task of explaining to Trump that “centennial” means “100th anniversary” fell to Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn gently recounted that the bill worked its way through both chambers of Congress. ... She proceeded to note that “August 18th, 1920 is when the 19th Amendment was ratified.”

Mystery solved! They’re observing the women’s suffrage centennial now because next year is the centennial. That is how time works.

Even after this clear accounting, Trump nonetheless was still confused.

Dementia? Alzheimer's? The Omnibus Explanation? Probably the last one, as it would explain how he doesn't grasp that people who look at his financial disclosures easily spot the endemic fraud, such as what ProPublica reported today.

The election is in 342 days. Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.

Mid-day link roundup

As I try to understand why a 3rd-party API accepts one JSON document but not another, nearly-identical one, who could fault me for taking a short break?

Back to JSON and my miserable cold.

Not fit or proper

Transport for London (TfL) has declined to renew Uber's operating license for that reason:

Uber has lost its licence to operate private hire vehicles in London after authorities found that more than 14,000 trips were taken with more than 40 drivers who had faked their identity on the Uber app.

Transport for London announced the decision not to renew the ride-hailing firm’s licence at the end of a two-month probationary extension granted in September. Uber was told then it needed to address issues with checks on drivers, insurance and safety, but has failed to satisfy the capital’s transport authorities.

TfL said on Monday it had identified a “pattern of failures” by Uber, including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.

Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, which represents London black-cab drivers, said: “It’s all about public safety and the mayor has taken the right decision.

“As far as we’re concerned Uber’s business model is essentially unregulatable. It is based on everyone doing what they want and flooding London with vehicles. Uber cannot guarantee that the cars are properly insured, or that the person driving the car is the one that is supposed to be driving, as recent incidents show.”

I expect Uber will work something out with TfL, eventually. For now, they'll continue to operate while appealing the ruling.

Act III, Scene 1

The first debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn last night probably didn't sway anyone:

In a testy live debate on ITV, during which the prime minister repeatedly returned to the claim that he would “get Brexit done”, both men lavished praise on the NHS, but Corbyn said Johnson would put it up for sale.

Throughout the debate, Johnson continually tried to bring the focus back to Brexit, on which Corbyn repeatedly declined to say how he would campaign in a second EU referendum, while the Labour leader attacked the prime minister over the NHS and public services.

At one point, the audience openly laughed at Johnson when he agreed that the truth mattered in the election. The Conservatives came under fire during the debate when it rebranded its CCHQ Twitter account as “factcheckUK” and used it to pump out a series of pro-Tory messages.

Barry Gardiner, a shadow cabinet minister, emphasised the audience scorn for Johnson’s truthfulness, saying: “People looked at the prime minister and thought: how can we believe a word he said? How can we believe the manifesto when it comes out? He promised we would come out on 31 October and he would die in a ditch if we didn’t. It’s just lie after lie after lie.”

Polling still shows neither party getting 50% of the vote, but the Conservatives have pulled ahead a bit. The election is three weeks from tomorrow.