The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

"Don't call me stupid"

I read the news today, oh boy. And one of the stories reminded me of this movie:

See if you can guess which one.

Finally, Chicago managed 58 hours of above-freezing temperatures (from 1pm Monday until 11pm yesterday) leaving us with only 15 cm of snow on the ground and a chance it'll all be gone by this time tomorrow. The forecast calls for daytime highs above freezing every day through next week, possibly hitting 10°C over the weekend. Spring!

Leni Riefenstahl on the Ellipse

Writing for Just Security, Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley decodes the structural and content similarities between the propaganda film that introduced the XPOTUS on the Ellipse on January 6th and the propaganda films a certain central-European country produced in the first half of the previous century:

Fascism is a patriarchal cult of the leader, who promises national restoration in the face of supposed humiliation by a treacherous and power-hungry global elite, who have encouraged minorities to destabilize the social order as part of their plan to dominate the “true nation,” and fold them into a global world government. The fascist leader is the father of his nation, in a very real sense like the father in a traditional patriarchal family. He mobilizes the masses by reminding them of what they supposedly have lost, and who it is that is responsible for that loss – the figures who control democracy itself, the elite; Nazi ideology is a species of fascism in which this global elite are Jews.

The future promised by the fascist leader is one in which there are plentiful blue collar jobs, reflecting the manly ideals of hard work and strength.

Fascism uses propaganda as a way of mobilizing a population behind the leader. Fascist propaganda creates an awesome sense of loss, and a desire for revenge against those who are responsible. The goal of fascist propaganda is to mobilize a population to violently overthrew multi-party democracy and replace it with the leader.

This history, both European and American, illuminates the dangers we face today, laid bare in the video. In it, Trump is repeatedly represented as the nation’s father figure. It is laced through with images of masculinity, and mournful loss at the hands of traitors, clearly justifying a violent restoration of recent glory.

The message of the video is clear. America’s glory has been betrayed by treachery and division sown by politicians seeking to undermine and destroy the nation. To save the nation, one must restore Trump’s rule.

We didn't dodge a bullet on January 6th; the shooter just missed, and not by much.

This wobbly earth (and other stories)

I'm having a series of productive days lately, which has taken me away from wasting a bunch of time. So for example, I haven't yet today read these items:

And all of this on the coldest day in two years, in a month in which most days have had no sunlight. But hey, we're still having an abnormally-mild winter, so again, we're not complaining.

Waiting for one CI build, then another

It's every other Tuesday today, so I'm just waiting for the last continuous-integration (CI) build to finish before deploying the latest software to our production environment. So far, so boring, just the way I like it. Meanwhile, in the real world:

  • In a symbolic but meaningless vote, all but 5 Republican members of the US Senate voted to let the XPOTUS off the hook for inciting an insurrection against, well, them, as this way they believe they get to keep his followers at no cost to themselves. If this past year were a novel, the next sentence might begin with "Little did they know..." Which, you know, describes those 45 Republicans to a T.
  • Dutch police arrested more than 180 people in Amsterdam and Rotterdam for rioting against Covid-19 lockdowns: "A leading Dutch criminologist, Henk Ferwerda, said the riots involved 'virus deniers, political protesters and kids who just saw the chance to go completely wild – all three groups came together.'"
  • Air travelers across the US can rejoice that CNN Airport News will go away on March 31st.
  • Over 1 teratonne of ice melted over each of the past few years, increasing concerns about global sea level rises.
  • Two mathematicians argue that time-travel paradoxes don't exist, because the universe routes around them.

Finally, snow continues to fall in Chicago, so far accumulating to about 100 mm by my house and as of noon about 125 mm at O'Hare. Calling this a "snowstorm" seems a bit over the top as it's coming down at under 10 mm per hour and forecast to stop before too long. Plus it's barely below freezing for now—but forecast to cool down to -11°C by Wednesday night before creeping above freezing Friday and Saturday. So we might have a blanket of snow for a bit. Still, it's the most snow we've gotten all season, with less than 5 weeks to go before meteorological spring starts March 1st. I'm OK with this mild winter, though it might presage a very hot summer.

Sixty-five minutes

The VSTBXPOTUS* has by now arrived in Palm Springs, where in just a few minutes he'll cease to matter and instead become the ultimate Florida Man. I would like to draw attention to something he said today (and wow, am I never going to write those words about that person again) as he stopped briefly at Joint Base Andrews while a very big door swung towards his ass:

As Trump concluded his remarks, he vowed, “We will be back in some form,” and he told his supporters, “Have a good life.”

Yes, you will. That's how subpoenas work.

Speaking of, as of this writing (10:50 EST), he has not yet pardoned his family or attempted to pardon himself. I woke up with a daydream of him at 11:55 asking an aide for the pardon paperwork for his kids and the aide giving him a cartoonish shrug. Remember: Marbury v Madison is still the law of the land.

* Very, very soon.

It keeps getting worse

As the capital braces for violence at President-Elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week, Andrew Sullivan points out the obvious:

We could have...the beginning of an ongoing, armed insurgency, denying the legitimacy of the democratically elected government of the United States, backed by a hefty chunk of one of the two major parties.

Josh Marshall points out that the GOP has hobbled our resistance to this disease for 30 years or longer:

Go back to April 1995 and the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. This sparked the first widespread interest in the militia movement which had begun to take root in the country in the 1980s. But Republicans, who had just taken control of Congress in January of that year, quickly shifted gears to defending militias as conservatives being smeared the association with McVeigh and his accomplices. Indeed, in June of 1995 the Senate held a hearing aimed at humanizing members of the militia movement as little more than very motivated conservative activists. As Ken Adams of one Michigan militia group told Senators at the hearing: “What is the militia?. We are doctors, lawyers, people getting involved in their government.”

[W]e’ve seen four or four cycles of this drama over the last twenty-five to thirty years: the US government is prevented from taking even basic steps to combat violent right wing extremism because the Republican party either forbids it (when Republicans are in power) or makes the political costs prohibitively high (when Democrats are).

Every time it’s the same. And the coddling of right wing extremists and terrorists by the institutional GOP has led us to a place where a government that spends approaching a trillion dollars a year on military and intelligence capacities had its seat of government stormed by an insurrectionist crowd acting at the behest of a renegade President.

As I said to a London-based colleague this morning, things will be strange over here for a few years, at least.

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.

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...