In yesterday's ruling in Harris v Cooper, the Supreme Court ruled against North Carolina's blatant gerrymandering. The surprising bit is that Justice Clarence Thomas voted in the majority on both issues. New Republic's Scott Lemieux postulates reasons why:
In a 2015 case, Thomas provided the fifth vote to an opinion holding that Texas was not required to issue license plates with the Confederate flag as part of its option of personalized license plates. It is not terribly surprising that even a conservative African-American who grew up impoverished in the rural Jim Crow South would have a different perspective on the Confederacy and its legacy than the typical conservative.
Thomas’s votes yesterday were squarely within that tradition. His brief concurring opinion emphasized that the result comported with two of his longstanding views. First, he believes that any use of race by the government, for any purpose, triggers strict scrutiny, a high burden North Carolina could not meet. Since the state conceded that District 1 was intentionally created as a majority-minority district, this made the case easy for Thomas as well as the other conservatives.
He also explained that he joined the liberal faction with respect to District 12 in part because of his belief in deferring to the findings of the trial court unless it clearly errs.
This isn't an evolution, but who Thomas really is, Lemieux says. Maybe Antonin Scalia so overshadowed Thomas that we really didn't see it? I'll need more convincing.
Responding to the horrible bombing of Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester, England, last night, this morning President Trump had this to say:
We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom. So many young beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them, from now on, losers, because that’s what they are. They are losers. And we will have more of them. But they are losers, just remember that.
I'm going to guess two things: first, that only the first sentence of that paragraph was scripted (which is more obvious when you hear it), and second, that he had no idea (nor would he have cared anyway) how much his off-script remarks would grate on just about everyone whose view of the world has changed since junior high school.
Speaking of grating, Trump apologist Scott Adams thought the president totally nailed a presidential tone and communicated the gravity of the situation appropriately, saying the "losers" epithet "is – literally – weapons-grade persuasion from the most powerful Master Persuader of our time."
Next, our Master Persuader in Chief will call them "stupid-heads" and take his ball home.
Because that's exactly how we want our head of state to memorialize the killers of children.
I started a new role today as a Principal Consultant at DevMynd, a startup-y software development shop in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.
I'll have more information later this week. For now, I'm really excited to start here, especially as I'll be learning a couple of new languages. So watch this space for really bad Ruby code coming up.
Watch this space for an announcement sometime tomorrow.
Unexpectedly had to drive for five hours today, but fortunately there doesn't seem to be much going on in the world. The president has arrived in Saudi Arabia, where so far he hasn't committed any public faux-pas. Give him time, I suppose. And anyway, he's among friends.
Meanwhile, someone is selling out our Chinese intelligence assets. I sure hope it's not him.
It turns out, the King of the Netherlands has an air transport pilot certificate:
King Willem-Alexander, reigning monarch of the Netherlands, revealed in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that he'd regularly flown flights for a subsidiary of the Dutch flag carrier for over two decades.
Calling the part-time role a "hobby," the King says that he'd taken to the cockpit as a co-pilot of KLM Cityhopper -- the airline's short-haul carrier -- flights for over 21 years.
Being the co-pilot also allowed him to retain his anonymity, even while addressing the passengers, he said.
"The advantage is that I can always say that I wish everyone a heartfelt welcome in the name of the captain and the crew," he told De Telegraaf. "So I don't have to say my own name. But most of the (passengers) don't listen anyway."
That's kind of cool.
Surprising everyone in Washington last night, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia. The Washington Post sees this as really bad news for the president:
“The risk is that you lose control of your agenda,” added Robert Luskin, a Washington white-collar attorney who represented Karl Rove in the Plame investigation, as well as a pair of Clinton senior officials during Whitewater. “It’s an enormous distraction. It’s an energy suck. As long as the clouds hang over a presidency it becomes much more difficult to get anything else done.”
This is why White House officials and GOP leaders in Congress have so strongly resisted a special counsel until now.
The FiveThirtyEight blog has a balancing view:
Although the simple case is that Mueller’s appointment is not welcome news for Trump — the White House was surprised by the announcement — it does have some plausible benefits for the president, especially in the near term. The Russia investigation had been dogging the Trump administration, and his firing of Comey had turned into a debacle.
Trump can now say there is an independent investigation going on, by someone he did not personally appoint and who is not beholden to his party. And Mueller has very strong credentials. The president and his team, in theory, can turn the focus to governing, while deferring questions about the investigation. And maybe Comey, who appears to have notes of every conversation he has had with the president, will share them with Mueller and not The New York Times.
Mueller’s appointment ensures that the Russia controversy won’t just go away — at least not anytime soon. And he could gravely threaten Trump’s presidency if he finds clear, improper connections between the president’s campaign and Russian officials. There was a reason that Republicans on Capitol Hill and the Trump administration were trying to stop the appointment of a special counsel. Prosecutors with broad authority to investigate can cause major problems. Just ask Bill Clinton.
Greg Sargent simply says "Trump is totally delusional about what’s happening to him right now."
On the other side, Fox News is downplaying the appointment, reporting that Mueller and Comey have had a "long, close relationship." Otherwise they seem more preoccupied with Roger Ailes' death ("and his legacy of free speech"). And I'm not going to look at the far-right reactions just now.
So is this a good development? We'll see.
The Tribune reported late yesterday that the John Hancock Center is for sale:
Chicago-based developer Hearn Co. plans to put the North Michigan Avenue tower's office space and parking garage up for sale, possibly by late summer, company President and CEO Stephen Hearn said.
Hearn said he believes the real estate is worth more than $330 million, or more than double what his firm paid in 2013.
Hearn has been in talks with companies interested in putting their name on the skyscraper since the structure's namesake no longer pays for that right. "We've had interest in it, but have not made a deal yet," Hearn said.
That process could be resumed by a new owner.
Hearn declined to say how much he believes naming rights are worth, but people familiar with the property estimate it could generate $1 million to $2 million annually.
When it opened in 1969, it was the second-tallest building in the world. Today it has the best view of any building in Chicago.
I just realized, 25 years ago today I graduated from college. To help you understand what that means, here's the Beloit College Mindset List for kids born back then.
And there I am with my college radio colleague Renee Depuy:
For context, this was my dorm refrigerator two days earlier (you can see the packing boxes to the left):