The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Happy Monday morning!

To thoroughly depress you, SMBC starts the week by showing you appropriate wine pairings for your anxiety. In similar news:

Time to take a walk.

Warmest November opening in history

The forecast for Chicago today predicts a 23°C high will give us not only a new record in itself, but our 7th day above 21°C in a row, a record for November. Yesterday's 24°C also set a record.

And then we have a tiny cold front on its way:

This afternoon should bring us back to the end of autumn with alacrity:

Today. A slight chance of showers between 2pm and 4pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 22. Breezy, with a south wind 30 to 35 km/h increasing to 35 to 40 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 70 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Tonight. Showers and thunderstorms before 10pm, then a slight chance of showers between 10pm and 11pm. Low around 2. Breezy, with a south wind 35 to 40 km/h becoming west 25 to 30 km/h after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 70 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between 7.5 mm and 1 cm possible.

So Parker and I will take our afternoon constitutional a bit earlier than usual.

Sunny Friday morning in Chicago

The record for consecutive 21°C-plus days in Chicago is 5, set 15-19 November 1953. Today will be the third in a row, with the forecast showing the fourth, fifth, and sixth coming this weekend and on Monday.

In other sunny news, the electoral map has shifted a bit overnight:

Arizona's count has slowly shifted away from Biden while in both Georgia and Pennsylvania the count has put Biden ahead. In Georgia, Biden now leads by 1,200 votes, with a few thousand absentee ballots from heavily-Democratic areas near Atlanta. In Pennsylvania, Biden's 6,000-vote lead will likely grow as the final votes come in from Philadelphia, which has gone 90-10 for him in some places. And, of course, Biden leads in the national popular vote, by about 4 million. Both candidates have so far received more votes than any in history.

Note that if the six undeclared states solidify in their current colors, the Electoral College vote will exactly mirror 2016's: 306 to 228. That would be a delicious irony, showing that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

First results

Dixville Notch, N.H., votes for Biden, 5-0:

The results are already in from two New Hampshire towns where voters famously head to the polls just after the stroke of midnight on Election Day.

In Dixville Notch, where a handful of masked residents voted shortly after midnight on Tuesday, all five votes for president went to Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee. He is the first presidential candidate to sweep the general election vote in Dixville Notch since the midnight voting tradition began there in 1960, when Richard M. Nixon won all nine votes over John F. Kennedy.

The other northern New Hampshire town that voted around the same time on Tuesday, Millsfield, favored President Trump by 16 votes to 5.

But:

Antsy journalists and political types often look to these New Hampshire towns for clues as to how the election will unfold across the country, but they have a spotty track record. While Millsfield voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, Dixville Notch went for Hillary Clinton.

See you at 6.

(Apologies for posting this almost 10 hours late.)

An avenue for thwarting minority rule

In the March 2020 Atlantic, writer and attorney Simon Barnicle laid out one of the simplest ways to re-balance the Senate and Electoral College without a constitutional amendment:

Realizing that the deck is stacked against them, but recognizing that constitutional amendments are a pipe dream, some Democrats have called for structural reforms that could be accomplished with a simple majority in Congress: court packing, filibuster reform, and the legally dubious Senate Reform Act, to name a few. These proposals, while perhaps well intentioned, are inadequate. At best, they are temporary fixes—the minute Republicans regain control, they will retaliate in kind. And given the structural advantages enjoyed by Republicans, Democrats are unlikely to benefit in the long run.

A better solution to the problem of minority rule would address it directly. Democrats—if and when they regain control of Congress—should add new states whose congressional representatives would likely be Democrats. In areas that are not currently states, like Washington, D.C., or territories like Puerto Rico, this could be done with a simple congressional majority. But Democrats should also consider breaking up populous Democratic states and “un-gerrymandering” the Senate. Perhaps there could be a North and South California, or an East and West Massachusetts. A new state of Long Island, an area that is geographically larger than Rhode Island, would be more populous than most of the presently existing states.

In the short term, new Democratic states would remedy the advantages Republicans currently hold in the Senate—and, to a lesser extent, the Electoral College—which allow a party to control the federal government despite a lack of popular support. And unlike other progressive proposals, the risk of retaliation and escalation is low. Because adding states would also add Democratic senators, there would be no way for Republicans to immediately add states of their own without an overwhelming electoral victory.

[T]he federal government is increasingly acting on behalf of a smaller fraction of the population. And unless Democrats get serious about adding new states to counteract the Republican advantage, the disconnect between popular votes and control of the federal government is likely to grow.

My guess is that DC will become the 51st state before the end of the next Congress, possibly followed by Puerto Rico in 2023. But here we have to tread carefully: Puerto Rico would probably send one member of each party to the Senate, if not two Republicans. I'm willing to take that chance though.

The view from a rural county in Ohio

Science-fiction author John Scalzi (Red Shirts, Old Man's War) lives in Darke County, Ohio, population 52,000, 97% of them white. He does not exactly fit in with his neighbors politically, as he describes:

Four years ago in Bradford, the town where I live, there were Trump street signs, like the one in the picture above. Here in 2020, there are multiple signs per yard, and banners, and flags, not just with Trump’s name on them, but of him standing on a moving tank whilst screaming eagles fly alongside him, and no, those flags are not being flown ironically, they really mean it. There are occasional Biden signs, mostly of modest size, but anecdotally they are outnumbered by Trump signs by at least twenty to one. The 2020 Darke County Trump tank is deep and perhaps a bit frantic. If Trump is hoping for “shy voters” to suddenly spring up to take him to victory, he’s not going to get them here. Darke County Trump supporters may be many things, but shy does not appear one of them.

A whole bunch of the voters are being fed shit from social media and questionable news sources and either they don’t know it or they don’t care. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the epistemic capture in the US of (not only, but in particular) poor and working class whites by conservatives, billionaires and propagandists is one of the great social engineering success stories of the last half century. This includes an informational ecosystem that’s easy to get into and hard to get out of because it simultaneously stimulates fear and anger responses, degrades one’s own ability to reason, and breeds mistrust in outside sources and political points of view. In other words: cult conditioning.

Now, it would unfair nonsense to suggest the people of a county that hasn’t gone for a Democrat since LBJ would not be reliably voting for whomever the GOP candidate was every four years. But it’s not unfair nonsense to say that convincing a historically large percentage of these folks to vote for someone who four years ago was clearly not competent to be president, and in 2020 has a nearly four-year record of venal graft and malice, is the fruit of a decades-long effort to get into their heads and make them resistant to actual facts that are right in front of them. It’s not coincidence that QAnon is metastasizing through conservative and GOP circles at breathtaking speed; having a millions-strong corps of voters willing to lap up even that level of rank bullshit is in fact the goal.

Meanwhile, Jamelle Bouie picks apart the nonsense of "constitutional originalism," which to me seems no better than any other fundamentalist religion.

Evening news roundup

I dropped off my completed ballot this afternoon, so if Joe Biden turns out to be the devil made flesh, I can't change my vote.

Tonight, the president and Joe Biden will have competing, concurrent town halls instead of debating each other, mainly because the president is an infant. The Daily Parker will not live-blog either one. Instead, I'll whip up a stir-fry and read something.

In other news:

Finally, a pie-wedge-shaped house in Deerfield, Ill., is now on Airbnb for $113 a night. Enjoy.

Evening news stories

A cold front pushed its way through Chicago this afternoon, making it feel much more like autumn than we've experienced so far. And it got pretty chilly in Washington, where Senate Republicans began the first day of hearings into the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court:

And much farther from home, Mars will be in opposition tomorrow night, coincidentally during the new moon, meaning we'll get a really good look at it.