The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sure Happy It's Thursday, March 319th...

Lunchtime roundup:

Finally, the authors of The Impostor's Guide, a free ebook aimed at self-taught programmers, has a new series of videos about general computer-science topics that people like me didn't learn programming for fun while getting our history degrees.

The Economist's Bartleby column examines how Covid-19 lockdowns have "caused both good and bad changes of routine."

Impeached. Again.

The US House of Representatives has voted 231-197 (including 10 Republicans) to impeach the STBXPOTUS a second time. The Republicans voting for impeachment included: Jaime Beutler (Wash.), Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), John Katko (N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Peter Meijer (Mich.), Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Tom Rice (S.C.), Fred Upton (Mich.), and David Valadao (Calif.). Four Republicans abstained. Illinois representatives Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Mary Miller, and Darin LaHood voted with their party not to send the article of impeachment to the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader (for the next 6 days) Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to call the Senate into emergency session to begin a trial, though he did leave open the possibility of voting to convict the STBXPOTUS after Joe Biden takes office a week from now. So, from his own perspective, the twice-impeached STBXPOTUS will face no real consequences—at least, not immediately—for his attempted self-coup last week.

In the background, 20,000 National Guard troops have deployed to the capital, while the acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia said "people will be shocked when they find out they find out the totality of what happened," according to Talking Points Memo.

The hangover from 2020 just won't go away.

Big news from Springfield

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago/Clearing) will lose his job later today after serving in the role since 1983. Rep. Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Hillside) received 69 votes (of a required 60) in the Democratic Caucus this morning, making his accession to the Speaker's chair all but guaranteed when the whole House votes in a few minutes to elect the Speaker. Welch will become the first Black Speaker in Illinois history.

In other news:

  • The Illinois legislature ended its previous legislative session earlier today by passing a 700-page criminal justice overhaul bill that ends cash bail and requires every law-enforcement officer in the state to wear a body camera, among other reforms. Governor Pritzker is expected to sign the bill this week.
  • Ross Douthat holds out hope that the "divide between reality and fantasy" in the Republican Party may lead to the party's disintegration.
  • Earth's rotation has picked up a tiny bit of extra speed that may require negative leap second soon.

Too bad those shorter days haven't added up to a quicker end to the current presidential administration. At least we have less than a week to go before the STBXPOTUS is just some guy in a cheap suit.

More on Republican posturing about "unity"

Granted, I get most of my news and information from only one part of the media: the part based on evidence and reason. So I may not intuit correctly how Republicans calling for "unity" right now makes any sense at all, as I said on Sunday. I may, instead, think about how this reminds me of Lincoln's Cooper Union speech.

It turns out, I'm not the only one drawing these parallels. Jamelle Bouie makes the connection more eloquently than I do:

The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, also said that impeaching the president “will only divide our country more.”

“As leaders, we must call on our better angels and refocus our efforts on working directly for the American people,” McCarthy said in a statement given two days after he also voted not to accept the results of a free and fair election in which his favored candidate lost.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas helped lead the Senate attempt to object to Joe Biden’s victory. “My view is Congress should fulfill our responsibility under the Constitution to consider serious claims of voter fraud,” he said last Monday. Now, he too wants unity. “The attack at the Capitol was a despicable act of terrorism and a shocking assault on our democratic system,” he said in the aftermath of the violence, as calls to impeach the president grew louder and louder. “We must come together and put this anger and division behind us.”

I’m reminded, here, of one particular passage from Abraham Lincoln’s 1860 address ;at Cooper Union in Manhattan, in which he criticized the political brinkmanship of Southern elites who blamed their Northern opponents for their own threats to break the union over slavery.

But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

These cries of divisiveness aren’t just the crocodile tears of bad-faith actors. They serve a purpose, which is to pre-emptively blame Democrats for the Republican partisan rancor that will follow after Joe Biden is inaugurated next week. It is another way of saying that they, meaning Democrats, shot first, so we, meaning Republicans, are absolved of any responsibility for our actions. If Democrats want some semblance of normalcy — if they want to be able to govern — then the price for Republicans is impunity for Trump.

Accountability is divisive. That’s the point. If there is a faction of the Republican Party that sees democracy itself as a threat to its power and influence, then it has to be cut off from the body politic.

Exactly. I, and a whole lot of other Democrats and moderates from both parties, have had it up to here with the lack of good faith coming from the Republican Party. They've banged away with this crap for 50 years now. Only now, after an armed incursion into the US Capitol, does it seem like my party leaders have had enough.

I really hope we've finally answered the question "what do the Republicans have to do before we finally hold them to account?"

Meanwhile, in the last 5 weeks, we have had 15 days where more Americans died of Covid-19 than died on 9/11.

Mr Vice President, kick your boss to the curb now

The House of Representatives have started debate on a resolution to ask Vice President Mike Pence to start the process of removing the STBXPOTUS under the 25th Amendment. As you might imagine, this was not the only news story today:

Finally, the always-funny Alexandra Petri imagines what people who have never read Orwell believe his books actually say.

Everyone who understands security predicted this

Security is hard. Everyone who works in IT knows (or should know) this. We have well-documented security practices covering every part of software applications, from the user interface down to the hardware. Add in actual regulations like Europe's GDPR and California's privacy laws, you have a good blueprint for protecting user data.

Of course, if you actively resist expertise and hate being told what to do by beanie-wearing nerds, you might find yourself reading on Gizmodo how a lone hacker exfiltrated 99% of your data and handed it to the FBI:

In the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by scores of President Trump’s supporters, a lone researcher began an effort to catalogue the posts of social media users across Parler, a platform founded to provide conservative users a safe haven for uninhibited “free speech” — but which ultimately devolved into a hotbed of far-right conspiracy theories, unchecked racism, and death threats aimed at prominent politicians.

The researcher, who asked to be referred to by their Twitter handle, @donk_enby, began with the goal of archiving every post from January 6, the day of the Capitol riot; what she called a bevy of “very incriminating” evidence.

Operating on little sleep, @donk_enby began the work of archiving all of Parler’s posts, ultimately capturing around 99.9 percent of its content. In a tweet early Sunday, @donk_enby said she was crawling some 1.1 million Parler video URLs. “These are the original, unprocessed, raw files as uploaded to Parler with all associated metadata,” she said. Included in this tranche of data, now more than 56 terabytes in size, @donk_enby confirmed the raw video includes GPS coordinates, which point to the locations of users when the videos were filmed.

Meanwhile, dozens of companies that have donated to the STBXPOTUS and other Republican causes over the past five years have suddenly started singing a different tune:

Impeach me once, shame on me; impeach me twice...

The House of Representatives have introduced an Article of Impeachment against the STBXPOTUS. If it passes later this week, it would make him the first President—possibly the first person ever—to be impeached twice:

House Democrats on Monday introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol last week, vowing to press the charge as Republicans blocked their move to formally call on Vice President Mike Pence to strip him of power under the 25th Amendment.

As expected, Republicans objected to a resolution calling on Mr. Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, meaning that the House would have to call a full vote on the measure on Tuesday. Democratic leaders were confident it would pass, and pressured Republican lawmakers to vote with them to beseech the vice president, who is said to be opposed to using the powers outlined in the Constitution, to do so.

It was a remarkable threat. If Mr. Pence does not intervene “within 24 hours” and the president does not resign, the House will move as early as Wednesday to consider the impeachment resolution on the floor, just a week after the attack. Already more than 210 Democrats have signed onto the charge, just shy of a majority of the House. Several Republicans were said to be considering voting to impeach for the first time, though party leaders were opposed.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall asks the uncomfortable question: who's running the government?

[I]f there were a functioning federal government we’d be seeing regular press conferences updating the public on on-going arrests, health status of the injured, progress of the investigation. As far as I can tell there hasn’t been a single one. Nothing from DOJ, FBI, Capitol Police, the Pentagon. Normally you might expect such information to be channeled through press conferences at the White House. But, not to put too fine a point on it, it’s not clear or perhaps too clear which side the White House is on.

The best analogue or constitutional description for the current situation is that the President has abandoned his post but not resigned his office. In practice he did that when he led an insurrection which stormed the seat of government, despite his oath to enforce the laws and protect the constitution. But since then he just seems to have walked away. I will emphasize again that other than two videos, clearly taped under duress, we have not seen the President since Wednesday morning. We really have no idea what he’s doing. And at any moment he could pick up the reins of his constitutional powers and cause a new tragedy or force a fresh constitutional crisis in which members of the government explicitly refuse his orders.

The death throes of this presidency were always going to involve the narcissistic rage of the STBXPOTUS. It's still an extraordinary and anxious time.

Move on from this? You and the horse you rode in on, GOP

Republicans in Congress, not surprisingly the most culpable among them, have started calling for "unity" and for the country to "move on" from the violent insurrection against the US Capitol last Wednesday. The list of people who are having none of that bullshit gets longer by the day.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY):

Robert Reich:

Arnold Schwarzenegger:

John Cleese:

James Fallows:

The response of Congress should be to impeach; that of law enforcement should be to arrest and prosecute every participant who can be identified; and that of civil society should be to ensure that there are consequences for those who chose violence and fascism at a decisive moment in the country’s history. Usually “letting bygones be bygones” is wise advice for individuals and for societies. Not in this case.

In [an] article [I] completed two months ago, just after the election, I set out a triage system for how the Biden-Harris team should make these choices.

All of that was “before”—before a sitting president and several U.S. senators (and the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice) cheered on an insurrectionist horde, before that horde broke into the Capitol and rubbed excrement along its walls, before the Confederate flag was trooped inside a space that had been the seat of Union government. And before eight U.S. senators and 139 representatives—all Republicans, the representatives making up most of the GOP delegation in the House—voted to overturn Electoral College results, for the first time in American history. Now it is “after.”

The new president and vice president can’t afford to look back. The rest of us have to. The person with the most individual responsibility for this week’s carnage is, of course, Trump. He is stained, culpable, unfit, and forever disgraced. But that is who he has always been—as I argued in 152 “Time Capsule” installments during his 2016 rise, and as he prefigured in his appalling American Carnage” inaugural address.

Arieh Kovler examines the fallout within the STBXPOTUS's supporters:

When all these people were talking about their contingencies, it was always if and when Trump tells us to. The overriding message I was seeing was, "We're here to do a job, we don't know what that job is yet. When Trump said we're going to go to the Capitol, I guess our job is to go to the Capitol." But then they didn't get any further instructions, so there was a moment of, "Okay, now what? Surely this isn't why Trump called us to DC, we don't get it. This was where he was supposed to unveil the evidence, or arrest the plotters, or reveal that China is behind it." And then none of this happened.

I even saw people looking for post-Trump Trumpism. They're furious at Ted Cruz when he flipped back, and at Mike Pence, [in their minds] one of the biggest traitors. But now there's a little thinking that, "Trump kind of betrayed us, too. He told us he was the only one who could save the country and we believed it. And he's the only one who can stop Communist Joe Biden from selling organs to Chinese people. And he's not doing that and that means he's also a traitor." There's some very odd stuff popping up in Trump spaces right now. Obviously, that's not the majority of Trump fans, but there are all these people who just don't know, "Was there ever a plan? Was there a plan and it didn't work?" What we are going to see over the next few days is people trying to reassemble their worldviews.

Historian Karen Cox compares the STBXPOTUS to the "Lost Cause" of the Confederacy:

Mr. Trump’s lost cause mirrors that of Lee’s. His dedicated followers do not see him as having failed them, but as a man who was failed by others. Mr. Trump best represents their values — even those of white supremacy — and the cause he represents is their cause, too. Just as Lee helped lead and sustain the Confederacy over four years, Mr. Trump has also been a sort of general — in a campaign of disinformation.

And if there was ever a campaign of disinformation, the Lost Cause was it. The Confederacy, the lie went, failed only because of the North’s superior numbers and resources. But it went further than that. As Edward Pollard, the Richmond editor who coined the term “Lost Cause” wrote in 1866, “The Confederates have gone out of this war,” he wrote, “with the proud, secret, dangerous consciousness that they are the BETTER MEN, and that there was nothing wanting but a change in a set of circumstances and a firmer resolve to make them victors.”

Meanwhile, Amazon has booted the right-wing platform Parler (pronounced, as one would expect from the good ol' boys who use it, as "parlor") from its cloud, while Google and Apple have removed it from their platforms. Predictably, right-wingnuts claim this violates their first-amendment rights, despite the first amendment not applying to private companies. As a meme going around has it, "It's like Amazon is a Christian bakery and you guys are a gay wedding cake."

And tomorrow, the STBXPOTUS will become the only President ever impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

Unemployment insurance fraud at record levels

The expansion of unemployment benefits combined with sensible precautions against transmission of Covid-19 have made criminals' lives much easier:

From March through the end of November, there have been more than 2 million initial claims filed for regular state unemployment benefits, according to the agency. That figure excludes people filing claims under five federal pandemic jobless aid programs the state implemented last year.

The agency has said the rise in unemployment fraud is likely due to large corporate data breaches and is not the result of any state system breaches. Past breaches including one in 2017 involving Equifax exposed the personal data of millions of people, including names, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses number, dates of births, addresses and credit card information.

People who have not filed for benefits but receive a letter from the state unemployment agency saying a claim has been filed under their name should immediately report it through the IDES website or by calling 800-814-0513.

Don't even get me started on the calls about my car's warranty...

Calmer today as the Derpnazis return home

We had a relatively quiet day yesterday, but only in comparison to the day before:

Meanwhile, here in Chicago:

Finally, Bruce Schneier advises the incoming administration on how to deal with the SolarWinds intrusion.

See? Yesterday was quiet.