The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The GOP Clown Caucus lights the tent on fire

House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) lost the first procedural vote to prevent a second vote aimed at kicking him out of the Speaker's chair, which will probably result in him getting re-elected in a few days. The Republicans in Congress simply have no one else who can get 218 votes for Speaker. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) would get 214, but no Republican would ever vote for him. And my party's caucus have absolutely no interest in helping the Romper Room side of the aisle get its own house in order.

Fun times, fun times.

In other news:

  • Former US Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) wants his party to grow up. Of course, he's (a) writing in (b) the New York Times, so there's little danger of the children currently running his party to read it.
  • The US Supreme Court has the opportunity this term to undo a century of regulation, thrusting us back into the early Industrial Age and making life miserable for everyone in the country who doesn't have billionaire friends.
  • Live attendance at performing arts events in Chicago has dropped 59% from pre-pandemic levels, which we in the Apollo Chorus have noted and do not like one bit.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency will test the national alert system starting at 2:20 pm EDT tomorrow, most likely scaring the bejezus out of a sizeable portion of the Boomer generation.
  • Chivas Bros. announced a plan to build a new distillery on Islay, which would be the 12th operating on the small island in the Western Hebrides. Seriously: the island is almost exactly the same size as the city of Chicago (620 km²) but with almost exactly 1,000th the population (3,000), and it will have twelve distilleries by 2026.
  • A bar three blocks from my house bet everyone's drinks bill that the Chicago Bears would win their game against Kansas City on Sunday. They lost. In fact, the Bears are now the only major-league sports team in the United States that hasn't won since Elon Musk took over Twitter.

Finally, next week the western hemisphere will see an annular solar eclipse, so named because the moon won't completely cover it, leaving a ring (or annulus) of fire around it. Chicago will get to about 45% coverage, with maximum darkness around noon. Next April, however, we get a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality passing just a couple hundred kilometers south of us.

Someone call lunch

I haven't had the most productive morning ever, but I should get back into coding after I take Cassie on her lunchtime walk. Meanwhile:

Finally, just look at this wonderful creature who got a bath yesterday. She actually climbed into the tub on her own, and seems to have figured out that getting a vigorous whole-body massage with warm water, followed by an equally-vigorous toweling off, actually feels pretty good.

McCarthy calls their bluff

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) surprised the Crazy Caucus by moving a 45-day spending bill to keep the government open that Democrats could support:

The legislation, which the Senate then passed with broad bipartisan support, marked a stunning reversal after many in Washington expected the government to close at midnight following several failed attempts by House Republicans to agree on spending legislation over the past week.

Ultimately, House Democrats supported McCarthy’s eleventh-hour proposal for a 45-day “continuing resolution” including disaster relief funds, an extension of a federal flood insurance program and reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. All but one Democrat voted to support the legislation while 90 Republicans voted against it, resulting in a vote of 335-91.

Oddly, the "lone Democrat" happens to be my Representative, Mike Quigley (D-IL), because the bill temporarily halted aid to Ukraine.

Josh Marshall explains that all McCarthy did, really, was to shoot the hostage. Of course, McCarthy's the hostage, so...

At every point this was about the House Republican caucus’s demand to get some new goodies in exchange for not shutting down the government. The only slight ambiguity there is that for some House hardliners the shutdown itself clearly was the goodie. For the House hardliners it was goodies or a shutdown. There was no getting out of that binary choice because Kevin McCarthy refused any solution that relied on Democratic votes.

Then sometime today he decided to allow a vote on a clean resolution relying on Democratic votes. It passed and that was it. That change was really all that happened.

We’ve been on this course of escalating drama for weeks or months, with all the purported big matters of principle, all the tough talk about never backing down. And then they backed down and agreed to get nothing. So it all ended with a resounding “Never Mind.” But not before holding the hold federal government and much of the economy on tenterhooks for weeks or months.

So, good news, the government will keep going. The Supreme Court can start removing more of our rights based on bullshit theories proposed, one suspects, by billionaires, and the rest of us can keep getting on.

Too nice to do computer things

Happy fin de Septembre, the last day of the 3rd quarter and possibly the last really summer-like weekend of 2023. At the moment it's a perfectly sunny 21.4°C at Inner Drive WHQ with a perfect forecast of 24°C.

The plan today: walk 4 km to a friend's house because her kids want to see Cassie, then walk 3 km to the Horner Park DFA, then another 5 km to Spiteful Brewing's Oktoberfest, then walk the last kilometer home and plotz. I am confident both Cassie and I will succeed in all aspects of this plan.

Enjoy the last few hours of September 2023. See you in October, after the Republican Party once again shuts down the US Government, something the USSR could never accomplish.

With 33 hours to go in the 3rd Quarter...

Somehow, it's already the end of September. I realize this happens with some predictability right around this time of year, but it still seems odd to me.

Of course, most of the world seems odd these days:

Finally, just look at this happy dog and all his new human friends playing a fun game of keep-away...during a professional football game in Mexico. I've watched it about five times now. The goodest boi was having such a great time. I hope one of the players or refs adopted him.

Diane Feinstein dead at 90

The senior US Senator from California, a Democratic stalwart, died overnight, according to her family:

In recent years, Ms. Feinstein, 90, had suffered from frail health and memory issues that made it difficult for her to function alone and prompted calls for her to step down, which she consistently rejected.

Her staff was being informed at 9 a.m.

A spokesman for Ms. Feinstein’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CNN had her obituary ready to go:

Feinstein broke a series of glass ceilings throughout her life, and left her fingerprints on some of Capitol Hill’s most consequential works in recent history – including the since-lapsed federal assault weapons ban in 1994 and the 2014 CIA torture report.

In her later years, the California Democrat’s health was the subject of increasing scrutiny and speculation. A hospitalization for shingles in February led to an extended absence from the Senate – stirring complaints from Democrats, as Feinstein’s time away slowed the confirmation of Democratic-appointed judicial nominees – and when she returned to Capitol Hill three months later, it was revealed that she had suffered multiple complications during her recovery, including Ramsay Hunt syndrome and encephalitis. A fall in August briefly sent her to the hospital.

Feinstein, who was the Senate’s oldest member at the time of her death, also faced questions about her mental acuity and ability to lead. She dismissed the concerns, saying, “The real question is whether I’m still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows that I am.”

She will be missed.

In other news of the day...

It's only Wednesday? Sheesh...

  • The Writers Guild of America got nearly everything they wanted from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (i.e., the Astroturf organization set up by the big studios and streamers to negotiate with the Guilds), especially for young writers and for hit shows, but consumers should expect more bundling and higher monthly fees for shows in the future.
  • Josh Marshall suspects that the two competing storylines about the XPOTUS (that he's about to return to power, but he's also losing every legal battle he fights) are actually just one: his "current posture of bravado and menace – while real enough as a threat – is simply his latest con, concealing a weaker and more terrified reality."
  • Jamie Bouie marvels that Justice Clarence Thomas (R$) wins the trifecta: "We have had partisan justices; we have had ideological justices; we have had justices who favored, for venal reasons, one interest over another. But it is difficult to think of another justice, in the history of the Supreme Court, who has been as partisan and as ideological and as venal as Thomas...."
  • Melissa Gira Grant profiles US District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk (R-NDTX), a Christian nationalist who rose through the Federalist Society pipeline to a lifetime appointment where he will push his Victorian-era views on the people of Texas for the next 30 years or so.
  • North Korea vomited up US Army Private 2nd Class Travis King, having used him for the little he was worth after the soon-to-be-dishonorably-discharged soldier illegally entered the kingdom in July.
  • Kelli María Korducki worries that "in the age of AI, computer science is no longer the safe major," not realizing, perhaps, that the most effective programmers are and have always been liberal arts majors.

Finally, yet another fact that will make everyone I know feel old: today is Google's 25th birthday. And yes, the Daily Parker has been around longer trillion-dollar search company. We just haven't had our IPO yet.

He's as big a fraud as everyone suspected

New York Supreme Court (i.e., trial court) judge Arthur Engoron ruled yesterday that the XPOTUS's eponymous family business committed fraud on such a scale that the company is no longer allowed to do business in New York State:

The surprising decision...is a major victory for Attorney General Letitia James in her lawsuit against Mr. Trump, effectively deciding that no trial was needed to determine that he had fraudulently secured favorable terms on loans and insurance deals.

Ms. James has argued that Mr. Trump inflated the value of his properties by as much as $2.2 billion and is seeking a penalty of about $250 million in a trial scheduled to begin as early as Monday.

Justice Engoron wrote that the annual financial statements that Mr. Trump submitted to banks and insurance companies “clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business.”

While the trial will determine the size of the penalty, Justice Engoron’s ruling granted one of the biggest punishments Ms. James sought: the cancellation of business certificates that allow some of Mr. Trump’s New York properties to operate, a move that could have major repercussions for the Trump family business.

In his order, Justice Engoron wrote scathingly about Mr. Trump’s defenses, saying that the former president and the other defendants, including his two adult sons and his company, ignored reality when it suited their business needs. “In defendants’ world,” he wrote, “rent-regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air.”

The judge also levied sanctions on Mr. Trump’s lawyers for making arguments that he had previously rejected. He ordered each to pay $7,500, noting that he had previously warned them that the arguments in question bordered on being frivolous.

Wow. Who would have imagined that possibly the biggest grifter the United States has ever known, a man psychologically incapable of telling the truth, would have lied about his businesses? I mean, other than the sentient beings who have been laughing out loud at the man's self-description as a "billionaire" ever since he first uttered the word.

We've known for years that his "business empire" was a Potemkin village of naming rights and loans, with so many bankruptcies and defaults literally no respectable bank (and few disrespectable ones) would lend him any more money. Anyone who lived in New York as far back as the 1980s knew then that any nickels he could rub together came from someone else. But knowing he was full of shit and relying on fraudulent financial disclosures are two different things under the law.

I guess he'll have a few more bankruptcies under his immense belt soon. They'll go nicely with the 91 criminal charges against him.

And still, a third of the country think this man can do no wrong. Homines liber volunt credunt.

Busy work day

Other than getting a little rained on this morning, I've had a pretty good day. But that didn't leave a lot of time to catch up on any of these before I started a deployment just now:

  • Heather Cox Richardson examines US history through the lens of a never-ending conflict between "two Americas, one based in religious zeal, mythology, and inequality; and one grounded in rule of the people and the pursuit of equality."
  • Josh Marshall ponders the difficulty of covering the XPOTUS's increasingly ghastly behavior in the "both-sides" journalism world we inhabit.
  • James Fallows zooms out to look at the framing decisions that journalists and their publishers make that inhibit our understanding of the world. Like, for example, looking at the soon-to-be 4th time Republicans in Congress have shut down the Federal government and blaming all of Washington.
  • Fallows also called attention to Amna Nawaz's recent interview with authoritarian Turkish president Recep Erdogan in which she kept her cool and her focus and he...didn't.
  • Speaking of the impending Republican torching of the US Government (again), Krugman looks at the two clown shows in the party, but wonders why "everyone says that with the rise of MAGA, the G.O.P. has been taken over by populists. So why is the Republican Party’s economic ideology so elitist and antipopulist?"
  • The Supreme Court has once again told the Alabama legislature that it can't draw legislative maps that disenfranchise most of its black citizens. Which, given the state's history, just seems so unlike them.
  • The Federal Trade Commission and 17 US States have sued Amazon for a host of antitrust violations. “A single company, Amazon, has seized control over much of the online retail economy,” said the lawsuit.
  • Monica Hesse dredges all the sympathy and understanding she can muster for XPOTUS attorney Cassidy Hutchinson's memoir. NB: Hutchinson is 27, which means I am way overdue for starting my own memoir.
  • Chicago Sun-Times columnist David Roeder complains that the CTA's planned Red Line extension to 130th Street doesn't take advantage of the existing commuter rail lines that already serve the far south side, but forgets (even as he acknowledges) that Metra and the CTA have entirely different missions and serve different communities. Of course we need new regional transport policies; but that doesn't mean the 130th St extension is bad.
  • Software producer Signal, who make the Signal private messaging app, have said they will leave the UK if the Government passes a "safety" bill that gives GCHQ a back door into the app.
  • Molly White shakes her head as the mainstream press comes to terms with something she's been saying for years now: NFTs have always been worthless. Oh, and crypto scored two $200-million thefts this week alone, which could be a new record, though this year has already seen $7.1 trillion of crypto thefts, hacks, scams, and other disasters.
  • After almost 20 years and a the removal of much of an abandoned hospital in my neighboorhood, the city will finally build the park it promised in 2017.

Finally, I rarely read classical music reviews as scathing as Lawrence Johnson's evisceration of the Lyric Opera's Flying Dutchman opening night last Friday. Yikes.

Writers reach deal with AMPTP

The Writers Guild of America's negotiating committee announced the tentative deal last night:

We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional – with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.

What remains now is for our staff to make sure everything we have agreed to is codified in final contract language. And though we are eager to share the details of what has been achieved with you, we cannot do that until the last “i” is dotted. To do so would complicate our ability to finish the job. So, as you have been patient with us before, we ask you to be patient again – one last time.

To be clear, no one is to return to work until specifically authorized to by the Guild. We are still on strike until then. But we are, as of today, suspending WGA picketing. Instead, if you are able, we encourage you to join the SAG-AFTRA picket lines this week.

The last bit means that writers and actors still haven't returned to work, and probably won't for a week or two. Plus, writers may choose not to cross the actors' picket lines. But after 145 days of AMPTP stonewalling, the studio CEOs who attended negotiations last week seem to have knocked some sense into their own committee.