Today's Republican Party has gone so far from an actual policy-making political entity that one wonders if they see their own self-owns. Right now, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said so many nonsensical things about President Biden's key proposals that I have trouble taking him seriously.
OK, I have more trouble lately.
As Paul Krugman pointed out this week, Republicans oppose Biden's proposals because they don't want him to succeed. But this strategy has run into the reality of 75% of their own voters supporting the recovery plan passed in January and the infrastructure bill proposed late last month.
And now they're all a-twitter about vaccine passports.
It's sad watching the Party of Lincoln implode. They could pull out of their death spiral, the way we did in the late 1980s, but right now I'm not optimistic. In the past, parties that have reinvented themselves have done so through popular policy initiatives: the Democrats with civil rights, the Republicans with anti-trust law. The parties that have died failed to say what they stood for, only what they stood against: the Federalists (against the expansion of civil rights in the 1790s), the Know-Nothings (against the expansion of civil rights in the 1850s), the Whigs (against the Know-Nothings in the 1850s, but apparently against themselves as well).
You can see this most clearly in the Republican Party's anger at corporations who have come out against Republican voting suppression laws. Republicans love corporate involvement in politics most of the time, because corporations love right-wing governments most of the time—but in this case, companies have realized the GOP are on the wrong side of history. Josh Marshall made a good argument (paywalled) that corporations take the future into account, and the future doesn't look like the modern GOP's imagined past. So they're making low-cost efforts to ensure the young people who will buy things for the next 60 years don't hate them. The old people who don't buy things now, let alone for the next 10 or 20 years, don't influence profits quite as much.
I want a real opposition party, one with real ideas, not this clown show of right-wing anti-populism that hasn't had a serious policy proposal in 30 years.
As the US approaches 4 million Covid-19 jabs per day, I finally got my place in line. I get my first dose on Thursday morning, and the second dose three weeks after. If all goes according to plan, I should have maximum resistance to SARS-COV-2 by May 13th.
For those of you keeping score at home, that will be 419 days after Illinois first locked down on 20 March 2020.
Humorist Alexandra Petri didn't write a humor column today:
There are several details of the Matt Gaetz story that keep sticking in my head, but the one that sticks in it most is the report that the Florida Republican used to wander around and show his colleagues nude photos of people he had slept with.
I keep coming back to the detail in CNN’s report that this wasn’t something Matt Gaetz did a single time, but repeatedly. Because if it happened more than once — if it happened twice, even — that is because the first time went better than it should have.
To me, this is something you do, ideally, zero times.
So I am not writing this for Matt Gaetz. I am talking to the person who was on the receiving end. The person who was presented with this behavior and had a choice of how to respond. I am talking to the person without whose chuckle or back-slap this situation would, perhaps, have been just a little less bad.
This is a plea for those small awkward no’s. The moment will inevitably come for you to offer one. And when I think of how much difference could be made by just one person, one guy in a locker room, or around a campfire, or even on the floor of Congress, saying, uncomfortably, “What?” or “Why would you show someone that?” — sometimes I want to chew glass. It is a small favor to ask. But it could reshape this whole place, if it happened enough.
She's right. When confronted with an asshole, sometimes you need to tell him he's being one.
Via Josh Marshall, Pfizer has halted vaccine shipments to Israel because political chaos there has made the company worry about getting paid:
Pfizer has halted shipments of coronavirus vaccines to Israel in outrage over the country failing to transfer payment for the last 2.5 million doses it supplied to the country, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Senior officials at Pfizer have said they are concerned that the government-in-transition will not pay up and the company does not want to be taken advantage of. They said that they do not understand how such a situation can occur in an organized country.
Army Radio reported that Pfizer called Israel a “banana republic.”
A shipment of 700,000 doses was expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday but was delayed until further notice.
Marshall puts this in wider context:
After a number of delays, a prosecutor began his opening statement today in the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu was in court today, with the jarring images you would expect from such a moment going out over the news wires.
The issue is the paralysis of the government and the breakdown of the deal Netanyahu used to hold on to power after election number three last spring. Last week, the cabinet was supposed to meet to approve the payment. But the meeting was canceled because of infighting between Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz. The two had agreed to form a power-sharing government in which the two would trade off as Prime Minister, with Netanyahu holding the job until later this year when he would hand the job over to Gantz. (This was last done in Israel in the mid-1980s in a deal between Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres.)
It's a common story: corruption, right-wing governments trying to retain power at any cost, corruption, a popular right-wing leader who really only cares about himself, and corruption.
You read that right. The UK has so few dogs available for adoption that organized crime has stepped in:
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in the field for 35 years,” said Wayne May, police liaison with Dog Lost, Britain’s largest lost-and-found dog service.
May said thefts reported to his organization have increased 250 percent, year-on-year.
“That’s over 400 cases, just in England, just reported to us,” he said. “This isn’t a dog that’s run off. This is a reported case of theft.”
Investigators talk about the emergence of a new “puppy mafia.” They say some of the same traffickers who usually deal in prostitution, drugs and gun sales have turned to Labradoodles, unscrupulously exploiting the exploding demand.
“No papers, no shots record, nothing, and they pay £3,000 in a parking lot for a sick puppy,” said [Jacob] Lloyd, [senior investigator for] Animal Protection Services.
The report may be a little sensational, but I can't imagine losing Cassie to a dog thief. Violence might be justified.
It's the warmest day of 2021 so far, up to 21°C at Inner Drive Technology World Headquarters, so basically I'm just in between Cassie walks. (She's gotten two hours already today, including half an hour at the dog park.) Tomorrow it may be cooler, but still 16°C by mid-afternoon.
So, posting may be light this weekend.
A few articles caught my attention this week:
Also, I'm just making a note to myself of Yuriy Ivon's rundown on Microsoft Azure Cosmos DB, because I'm using it a lot more than I have in the past.
Microsoft Azure and Office 365 suffered an outage yesterday that affected just about everything in their cloud:
Microsoft Corp. was hit by a massive cloud outage today that took most of its internet services offline.
Microsoft’s Azure cloud services, as well as Teams, Office 365, OneDrive, Skype, Xbox Live and Bing were all inaccessible due to the outage. Even the Azure Status page was reportedly taken offline.
The first reports of the outage emerged from users on Twitter, and were confirmed by the website DownDetector which showed that reports began flooding in at around 5 p.m. ET. It says it received thousands of notices from Xbox Live, Teams and Office users.
Microsoft 365’s Twitter status account posted another update at 6.35 p.m. ET saying that traffic was being rerouted to resilient DNS capabilities and that it was already “seeing an improvement in service availability.”
Today, Microsoft reported as a preliminary root cause "We are continuing to investigate the underlying cause for the DNS outage but we have observed that Microsoft DNS servers saw a spike in DNS traffic." In other words, it looks like they suffered a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack on their internal name servers. The final analysis will come out next Thursday.
This outage was like the familiar "collective amnesia" trope in sci-fi where suddenly none of the characters recognizes any of the others, though they retain their normal personalities and abilities. (See, e.g., Dollhouse and Buffy. Joss Whedon lurves this trope.) For example, The Daily Parker was still running, but no one could get to it because the mapping from www.thedailparker.com to the Microsoft App Service hosting it has to go through Microsoft's internal name servers.
I wonder if this was a DDOS attack from inside the house?
Amtrak has big plans—especially for Chicago—if it gets a piece of President Biden's $2-trillon infrastructure bill:
Chicago passenger-rail riders ought to thrilled. A proposed map released by Amtrak shows rail service out of the Windy City absolutely exploding, with enhanced service to Detroit, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and other locales, plus new service to cities including Minneapolis/St. Paul, Green Bay, Iowa City, Rockford, Cleveland and Louisville.
According to spokesman Marc Magliari, the “vision statement” fact sheet is an idea of what the long financially challenged passenger rail agency could do if Washington fully climbs aboard.
“It’s our vision of what can be ahead, given that the president has set the table,” Magliari said. “We hope to have more details soon.”
Key details about Amtrak's expansion proposal are not yet available. Such as timing – Magliari says the “vision plan” runs 15 years into the future – or whether states would have to at all match capital or operating subsidies.
Amtrak has already made some improvements. After upgrading rights of way in Illinois, the carrier has begun testing 175 km/h service between Chicago and St Louis—a big improvement over today's 145 km/h speeds.
Someone has lost her unsupervised time for a while:
I have no idea why she attacked the table. When I last saw the room, all the pillows were on the couch and the table had straight edges. That was an hour ago.
Cassie is now confined to my office until further notice.