The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Democrats in complete array

What a consequential 24 hours we've had.

After President Biden's historical withdrawal from the 2024 election, he endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris. So far, dozens of other elected Democrats have followed, including Illinois governor JB Pritzker just this morning.

And because the Vice President is already on the campaign, according to Federal election rules, she can use the entire $96 million campaign fund—and in fact she's already filed with the Federal Election Commission to do so.

In other words, Harris is, without question, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, which means next month's Democratic National Convention in Chicago will be the election kickoff we hoped for and not a repeat of 1968.

Some reactions from the usual suspects:

I should also add Aaron Sorkin's piece from yesterday's Times, published before President Biden's announcement: "How I would script this moment for Biden and the Democrats." But no, we aren't going to nominate Mitt Romney (R-UT).

Meanwhile, the news has put the Republican party in complete disarray as their entire election strategy just evaporated. Over the next few days we will see the convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS back in form as the racist, misogynist wanna-be thug that he is. But the best news of all from yesterday is: the chances we need to care about him for longer than 106 more days just got a lot smaller.

One or two other things happened yesterday, including the last-surviving piping plover chick on Montrose Beach getting a name. I'll have more later today.

President Biden withdraws

The New York Times reports that President Biden has withdrawn from the 2024 election:

After three weeks of often angry refusals to step aside, Mr. Biden finally yielded to a torrent of devastating polls, urgent pleas from Democratic lawmakers and clear signs that donors were no longer willing to pay for him to continue.

Mr. Biden said he will not resign the presidency, and intends to finish out his term even as he leaves it to others to try and defeat Mr. Trump. Over the next several months, the president faces the ongoing war in Ukraine and the increasingly desperate efforts to reach a negotiated deal to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

No sitting American president has dropped out of a race so late in the election cycle. The Democratic National Convention, where Mr. Biden was to have been formally nominated by 3,939 delegates, is scheduled to begin Aug. 19 in Chicago. That leaves less than a month for Democrats to decide who should replace Mr. Biden on the ticket and just under four months for that person to mount a campaign against Mr. Trump.

And now the race is between a demented 78-year-old who has a proven track record of chaos and corruption against a brilliant 59-year-old who has a proven track record of accomplishment and fighting for our rights.

The XPOTUS's campaign must be shitting bricks right now.

Here's the President's statement:

A bit of perspective

Time for another reminder. If you see something on social media that:

  • seems to confirm something you already believed about the "other side,"
  • comes from someone claiming to have inside knowledge, and
  • makes you angry

...then it's almost certainly fake*.

The Economist prominently featured a story on the onslaught of conspiracy theories today, as did NPR. Will those stories help? Probably not. After all, "men willingly believe what they want," as Julius Caesar once (may have) said. But let's review anyway.

The FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police aren't going to leak information about Saturday's shooting on Facebook. They're going to make sure they have it right, then hold a press conference, where journalists from real news organizations will ask them questions and report what they said. I can't believe people have trouble understanding this. "Officer Krupke" was posting bullshit to TikTok from an industrial park outside Minsk on Sunday morning, not hearing the latest secrets about the investigation from his higher-ups at the incident response center outside Pittsburgh. And you almost certainly know that, but you reposted the meme anyway.

What we do know about Saturday makes the event no less horrible but a lot less surprising. All of the public evidence points to a pathetic post-teen white incel with too-easy access to near-military-grade weapons deciding to become famous in the worst possible way. It was similar to almost every other time someone has shot at a US president throughout history. This pathetic boy will be remembered in the long list of similar nutters that includes Hinckley, Fromme, Schrank, Oswald, Guiteau, Booth, Czolgosz, Zangara, and the dozens who never got the chance because the USSS or their local cops got to them in time.

The worst part about Saturday isn't its effect on the election or that the convicted-felon XPOTUS got nicked in the ear; it's that two people died, and absent the immediate actions of the best-equipped, best-trained armed guards in the history of the world, many more would have. Two more Americans are dead because a trade group has convinced a huge swath of the country—and an overwhelming percentage of those at Saturday's rally—that buying their member-organizations' products is a God-given right.

Because of those policies, promoted by the Republican Party and enshrined in Pennsylvania law, this postpubescent hobgoblin obtained a military-style rifle, loaded it, and got it to within 150 meters of the presumptive Republican nominee for president, all completely legally. Until he pointed the rifle at the XPOTUS, he hadn't committed a crime.

In fact, as Josh Marshall laments, this wasn't much different than a school shooting. He makes good points, including that it doesn't really matter what flavor of mass shooting it was. He also notices that Republicans office-holders were the first to politicize the event. Well, of course they were, because otherwise someone might connect their rhetoric and their policies with the increased frequency of shootings.

I don't think this event will move the needle on the election, not one little bit. We're too entrenched in our candidates. That said, I fully expect the next four days in Milwaukee to showcase exactly how deranged the rapist XPOTUS is—but no one will change his mind because of it. Tonight, in fact, we get to find out who he's picked to be his panegyrist running mate, and we can all feel a little sorry for that person when he or she gets kicked to the curb in a year or two. (Update: it's US Senator JD Vance (R-OH), one of the only people in US politics who is possibly less genuine than the XPOTUS.)

The next 113 days will suck. Probably the two months after that will suck, too. And there's a real possibility that the XPOTUS could win, making the next few years after suck as well, at least until 78 years of Big Macs and rapidly-advancing frontotemporal dementia catch up to him.

But enough with the misinformation. Seriously.

* Unless it's the New York Times telling you that a corrupt Federal judge dismissed a criminal case against an unrepentant felon on a theory so batshit crazy that not even Sam Alito signed on to it when he had the chance. That actually happened this morning.

Millennium Park before the millennium

I don't know the provenance of this photo, but it appears to be taken from near the top of the Prudential Building at 135 E. Randolph St., summer of 1968:

Here's approximately the same view from last year (via Google Earth):

What a difference 55 years makes. I especially like how we removed all the surface parking lots and hid them under the park. And I'll be there—under the park—tomorrow morning for another Brews & Choos expedition.

In other Chicago history, today is the 45th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park.

G7 slams the Israeli government

The G7, meeting today in Washington, strongly rebuked the Israeli government's illegal seizure of Palestinian land:

We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the EU, join the UN and the European Union in condemning the announcement by Finance Minister of Israel Smotrich that five outposts are to be legalised in the West Bank. We also reject the decision by the Government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands’- the largest such declaration of state land since the Oslo Accords – and the decision to expand existing settlements in the occupied West Bank by 5,295 new housing units and to establish three new settlements. The Government of Israel’s settlement program is inconsistent with international law, and counterproductive to the cause of peace.

We reaffirm our commitment to a lasting and sustainable peace in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, on the basis of a two-state solution. We have therefore consistently expressed our opposition to the expansion of settlements and, as in previous cases, we urge the Government of Israel to reverse this decision.

Further, maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security. In this context, we take note of the latest transfers of parts of clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority, but we urge Israel to release all withheld clearance revenues in accordance with the Paris Protocols, remove or relax measures that exacerbate the economic situation in the West Bank, and to take the necessary measures to ensure that correspondent banking services between Israeli and Palestinian banks remain in place with proper controls.

Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz behind the woodshed:

Secretary Yellen reaffirmed Treasury’s strong commitment to Israel’s security. Secretary Yellen also emphasized the need for Israel to maintain economic stability in the West Bank by regularly transferring clearance revenues to the Palestinian Authority and ensuring that correspondent banking relations between Israeli and Palestinian banks remain uninterrupted. Secretary Yellen also raised Treasury’s February Executive Order 14115, holding individuals and entities accountable for perpetrating, inciting, or financially supporting violence throughout the West Bank.

Yellen meeting with Katz instead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken meeting with him can be understood as a rap on the knuckles. But that's not all she did, and not the only reason she met with him.

Yellen no doubt gave Katz a heads-up that the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control has added a number of Israeli persons and entities, including several farms and extremist groups in the West Bank, to the list of "specially designated nationals." This is the same list we put narcotraficantes and terrorists on. Americans are forbidden to deal with them, and we block their American assets and access to the US banking system. We typically don't do this to people our allies' governments endorse. It's a strong statement that Israel must stop its illegal seizure of Palestinian lands in the West Bank. I'm sure it won't mollify the anti-Israeli left, but it will help move to a two-state solution once the Israeli government gets its head out of its Knesset.

I will be curious to see when all this hits the American press. The Israeli press already has it, naturally. But I guess the President having a bad debate is more important than the President taking direct action to rein in the crazies.

(Thanks to reader MG for the tip.)

Sir Keir Starmer, KDB, KC...PM

A few hours ago, HM King Charles III invited Sir Keir Starmer (Lab) to become his Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, and form a government in his name:

Keir Starmer has said the “sunlight of hope” is now shining in Britain again as Labour won a landslide UK election victory, bringing a crushing end to 14 years of Conservative rule.

Labour had won 411 seats, while the Conservatives were on just 119, with five left to declare by 9.30am. The government’s likely majority is set to be about 170 seats. The party dominated in Scotland, with the SNP reduced to eight seats so far, while the Liberal Democrats gained at least 71 seats – their best performance ever.

There were five shock victories against Labour for pro-Palestine independent candidates, with Jonathan Ashworth, one of Labour’s election chiefs, voted out in Leicester South, and the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn winning in Islington North. Plaid Cymru was expected to win four seats.

At the last general election, in 2019, the Conservatives had a majority of 80, with 365 seats to Labour’s 203. The SNP won 48 seats and the Lib Dems had just 11.

Former PM Liz Truss lost her seat, as did former leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, incumbent leader of the Commons Penny Mordaunt, and Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps. Outgoing PM Rishi Sunak has resigned as leader of the Conservative Party.

It wasn't all good news: racist demagogue Nigel Farange (Reform) won a seat in Westminster, and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, expelled from the Labour party for anti-Semitism and also leading the party to its worst loss in generations, won election as an independent in his constituency in Islington. (For US readers, Islington is the Logan Square or—and I am aware of the irony—SoHo of London. So exactly the kind of area that would elect someone like Corbyn.)

Proportionally, the Scottish National Party had the worst night, losing 38 of its 47 seats, while the Liberal Democrats jumped from 8 to 71 seats and will get to ask questions on Wednesdays again.

Right now, Labour front-benchers are meeting individually with Number 10 to find out what exciting new jobs they get in government. But as the Zen koan that the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg just posted, "none of these appointments are confirmed, until they are confirmed." Angela Rayner has become the deputy PM, and it looks like Rachel Reeves will has become the UK's first female Chancellor, an office that often leads to election as PM later on.

It took 14 years for the UK's voters to remember why right-wing governments suck. I just hope the Labour government takes at least that long to fall apart. We all need a strong center-left government somewhere in the West while Putin still breathes.

Feeling a little better, weather a lot better

A cool front came through last night and I no longer want to take a shower every 45 minutes:

The dewpoint also dropped, from a sticky 26°C yesterday afternoon to a comfortable 13°C right now. Cassie and I will take advantage of this delightful development in about half an hour. I'm hoping we get a good 10-12 km in over two hours or so.

Speaking of weather, the WGN Weather Blog reminded me this morning of the twin derechos that tore through Northern Illinois 10 years ago today. And Facebook reminded me that I got drenched in the first one. Parts of Chicago got 100 mm of rain in as many minutes, while a poor town in Iowa got 207 mm in the storm. That's a lot of rain.

Historical parallels, anyone?

We've had stories of people clinging to power long past their ability to wield it for as long as we've had stories. Today, though, I want to take note of three people who held on so long, they wound up undoing much of what they'd accomplished in their lifetimes: Paul von Hindenburg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and now possibly Joe Biden.

Germans largely loved and respected Hindenburg, in part because he came very close to winning the First World War as supreme commander of the Central Powers. The loss of that war, plus the humiliating terms of the November 1919 armistice, led bit by bit to Hindenburg's disastrous second term as President of Germany. After a tumultuous first term, and by this time 84 years old, he won re-election in 1932. It turned out that Hindenburg didn't have all his youthful mojo, so within a year he had handed the keys to Germany to a pathologically narcissistic convicted criminal from Austria. We all know how that went.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote some of the most progressive opinions in her time on the US Supreme Court, and fought her whole life for women's rights, abortion rights, and basically everything that progressives hold dear. She got her first diagnosis with colon cancer in 1999, with pancreatic cancer in 2009, and with heart disease severe enough to require a stent in late 2014. When John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, she became the oldest person on the Court. By this point progressives, including President Obama, really wanted her to retire to ensure that another like-minded judge took her place. She didn't; and when she died in September 2020, just two months before we finally got the not-yet-convicted felon out of the Oval Office, the Republican-controlled Senate fast-tracked the anti-Ginsburg, militant Christianist Amy Comey Barrett (R) into her seat. Since Ginsburg's death, the Republican supermajority on the Court has whittled away at everything she accomplished, up to and including reversing Roe v Wade. Fitting that the last two days have seen some of the most reactionary rulings from the Court since Plessy v Ferguson. (I expect a ruling as egregious as Dred Scott to hit next June.)

And now we come to President Biden, whose performance last night brought both Hindenburg and Ginsburg to mind immediately. Never mind that the convicted-felon XPOTUS couldn't utter three consecutive syllables without lying, it was excruciating to watch. Great time to have Covid; I really would have liked a stiff drink when it ended. (I'm especially sad that I couldn't commiserate with a dear friend who died on the 11th. He would have brought the bourbon.)

Let's review the reviews, shall we?

James Fallows: Thirty minutes in, he Tweeted: "Trump is lying nonstop but has been at the high end of his 'sounding coherent' range. Biden has too much info and has been at the low end of his 'revving up for big events' range." "So that is why his labored, halting, raspy, fact-clogged, uneasy sounding first set of answers was so startling. Without consciously realizing it, I had gotten used to the idea that in a crunch he could sound younger than he looks. This time he sounded very old. That’s what I meant by the bottom of his range."

Dana Milbank: "The first and probably last meeting between Donald Trump and President Biden wasn’t a debate. It was a 90-minute disinfomercial promoting the former president, who uttered one egregious fabrication after the other, with barely a pause for breath between his inventions. The truth never had a chance. The truth needed a standard-bearer on that stage in Atlanta on Thursday night. Biden plainly was not up to the job. If the country is 'failing,' it’s because it is experiencing a relentless, disciplined and coordinated attack on everything that is true — and because the one person the reality-based community was counting on to save us has just shown himself to be unequal to the task."

David Corn: President Biden "tumbled through 90 minutes, muffing answers, often looking uncertain, speaking in a low, gravelly voice that did not convey strength. This was not only a missed chance. It was a disaster. Bill Clinton used to say that strong-and-wrong beats weak-and-right. With his performance on Thursday night, Biden created a perfect test case for that proposition."

Alex Shephard: "Again and again, with no prompting, he made his opponent’s case for him. He was often incoherent, frequently appeared to forget the question he was responding to, and consistently failed to make the very easy and simple case for his reelection. He allowed Donald Trump—a man who was terrible in every Republican primary debate in 2016 and who decisively lost every presidential debate in 2016 and 2020—not only to appear competent in comparison, but to seem normal."

Andrew Sullivan: "For god's sake, withdraw. [L]ast night’s debate performance by Joe Biden is the end of his campaign. It’s over. Done. No sane person can possibly believe that this man is capable of being president now, let alone for another four years."

David Graham: "Watching the president at the first debate was at times almost physically uncomfortable. If the purpose of debates such as this one is to show voters something new about the candidates, then it didn’t work. And how could it? Both men are very well known, and very little liked, by the entire American public. Nor was there much to learn about policy: Trump doesn’t care about it, and Biden kept getting mixed up in details about it."

Peter Hamby: "What’s striking is the level of anger coming from normal Democrats, not professional Democrats, people who just want to vote against Trump and get this over with, even if they’re not in love with Biden, who are texting me their anger. It’s because so much feels at stake. Biden, by the way, never said, “I will be a transitional president.” He hinted at it. A lot of people took that to heart, and after the midterms he could have walked away like Michael Jordan after hitting that shot against the Jazz and been a hero forever to Democrats. After the midterms, Jill and Valerie Biden, and Ron Klain and Mike Donilon and Ted Kaufman should have been like, Hey man, you did your duty. You’re a historic figure. Time to pass the torch."

And those are the people on our side!

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.

When, years from now, historians try to make sense of how the United States collapsed in the late 21st century, they may clock last night as one of the nails in its coffin. Forget modern infrastructure and universal health care; we'll be lucky to have civil liberties in 20 years.

The XPOTUS and his Supreme Court appointees don't care about you

Yes, President Biden is old, but he doesn't want to recreate the world of Victor Hugo. The Republican Party does, and this morning, they showed how they'll do it.

The debate last night did not fill me with joy, as it showed my guy looking like the 82-year-old great-grandfather he is, and showed the convicted-felon other guy looking like the 78-year-old con artist he is. I may come back to this train wreck for democracy later today, but for now, I'd rather focus on why the President's geriatric performance matters less than what the convicted-felon XPOTUS gleefully took credit for.

And who better to demonstrate why a second convicted-felon XPOTUS term would set the country back two generations than the US Supreme Court, which just a few minutes ago handed down its third major decision this week demonstrating how the court's Republican majority does not think the government should prevent easily-preventable harm to innocent people.

In City of Grant Pass v Johnson, Justice Gorsuch (R) wrote the opinion for the usual suspects—Chief Justice Roberts (R) and Justices Alito (R), Kavanaugh (R), Thomas (R), and Barrett (R)—that allows cities to criminalize being homeless.

Yesterday, the same bunch limited the ability of the government to go after people who commit securities fraud (SEC v Jarkesky) and to keep our air clean (Ohio v EPA, also a Gorsuch opinion). Wednesday they said that you can tip public officials for good service (Snyder v US, by Kavanaugh).

And just now, it appears that the radical right has overturned its 1984 Chevron decision. In Loper Bright Enterprises v Raimondo, the Chief Justice says that Federal agencies, who are staffed by experts and people who know what they're doing, can't fill in the gaps that Congress (who generally don't know what they're doing) leaves in legislation. I will have a lot more to say about this development after I read the opinion.

These opinions are huge wins for people who want to cheat, steal, pollute, and punish others they see as inferior. The country this week lurched back into the mid-20th century, with the loony radical fringe salivating that they can bring us back to the mid-18th if the convicted-felon XPOTUS wins in November.

Because for the Justices that the convicted-felon XPOTUS appointed, plus of course the corrupt, Christianist radicals Alito and Thomas, if you lose your house and have to sleep rough after you invested in a fraudulent stock while choking on the air pollution from the unregulated chemical plant just across the state line from you, it's obviously your own fault, you dirty criminal.

So yes, I'm sorry, the President is an old man. But the convicted-felon XPOTUS and his Grand Old Party has caused an enormous amount of damage to the country, and will do so much more damage if put back into power next year.

Gonna be a hot one

I've got a performance this evening that requires being on-site at the venue for most of the day. So in a few minutes I'll take two dogs to boarding (the houseguest is another performer's dog), get packed, an start heading to a hockey rink in another city. Fun! If I'm supremely lucky, I'll get back home before the storm.

Since I also have to travel to the venue, I'll have time to read a few of these:

Finally, the Post examined a Social Security Administration dataset yesterday that shows how baby names have converged on a few patterns in the last decade. If you think there are a lot of names ending in -son lately (Jason, Jackson, Mason, Grayson, Failson...), you're not wrong.