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.

End of Thursday link roundup

Lots of stories in the last day:

Finally, comic genius and Chicago native Bob Newhart has died at age 94. He was a national treasure.

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.

Not even attempting to conceal the corruption

US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon (R-SDFL) has dismissed the classified-documents case against the convicted felon rapist XPOTUS on the clearly erroneous grounds that Special Counsel Jack Smith's appointment violated the constitution:

[T]he judge...found that because Mr. Smith had not been named to the post of special counsel by the president or confirmed by the Senate, his appointment was in violation of the appointments clause of the Constitution.

The ruling by Judge Cannon, who was put on the bench by Mr. Trump, flew in the face of previous court decisions reaching back to the Watergate era that upheld the legality of the ways in which independent prosecutors have been named. And in a single swoop, it removed a major legal threat against Mr. Trump on the first day of the Republican National Convention, where he is set to formally become the party’s nominee for president.

I can scarcely imagine the 11th Circuit not rapping Cannon on the knuckles for this one, and possibly removing her from the case. But that wasn't the point; with only 112 days left until the election, this pushes the trial date well past it. Cannon doesn't care if the 11th removes her. She did her job, and she'll get promoted to the Court of Appeals or even SCOTUS should her patron return to power in January.

I wouldn't mind the Republican Party so much if they cared about anything other than power. We need a right-of-center party in this country. Instead we've got this band of thieves hiding behind white-male grievance. And like any organized criminal organization, they protect their own. It's exhausting.

Guys, he's not dropping out

Everyone in the world knows that President Biden had a bad night two weeks ago. Since then, we've heard a steady drumbeat of calls for him to withdraw from the race. But did anyone watch last night's press conference? Here it is; I'll wait:

The convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS could not have done that press conference, because he lacks the knowledge, the focus, the sanity, and frankly the IQ to answer questions for that long.

And still, what did most press outlets report? That he bobbled the name of the Vice President.

Meanwhile, the convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS can't find a coherent thought with two hands and a flashlight on his best days.

Yes, the President is an old man, and he could drop dead before January 2029. But as he said, "I wouldn't have picked Kamala if she weren't qualified to be President."

Until something actually changes in the race, I'm done with the "will he drop out" bullshit. He's the President, and he's crushing it.

Other things happened in the last 24 hours that were more interesting than George Clooney's whining:

Finally, if Google Maps and Waze drive you crazy, you're not alone. Julia Angwin explains why, and suggests alternatives, like Valhalla.

Nothing has really changed in the last two weeks

Josh Marshall sometimes gets excited, but he comes around eventually:

[A new poll] from ABC and the Washington Post...shows Biden and Trump tied and Harris actually up over Trump by two points. This is only one poll of course. But I don’t think it’s greatly different from other polls over the last several days. An Emerson poll, never especially favorable to Biden, shows the two tied. A Bendixen/Amandi poll shows Biden down one, Harris up one. A handful of other polls show Biden down two or three points.

I think these polls show a few things. One is that there’s a good chance that the run of bad polls last weekend was significantly impacted by response bias. (Dems too depressed and catatonic to answer pollsters and thus showing a ‘false’ or at least ephemeral shift.) The race actually remains fairly static notwithstanding the truly unprecedented events of the last two weeks. The idea that the bottom is falling out for Democrats just isn’t borne out by the polls. There’s other data I’ve seen that tends to bear that out.

Regardless, you can’t make this decision on the basis of the polls. Not for any high-toned or kumbaya reason but simply because they haven’t moved that much. If you’re looking just at the polls they tell you not very much has happened over the last two weeks. The question is whether you have a campaign and candidate focused and energetic enough to deliver in the final four months of the campaign.

The second point is what happens if Joe Biden withdraws from the race and endorses and is replaced by Kamala Harris. [A]s much as we think this is a big deal I don’t think we really realize how big a deal and how many unknowns it unleashes. Positive and negative. Even with Trump the US presidential system is highly highly structured, choreographed, bounded by all sorts of informal but highly binding rules. Something like this blows them all apart.

The President completely blew the debate. But as much as I felt awful for him, I really haven't thought it changed much. Both Biden and the convicted-felon rapist demented XPOTUS are known quantities. We can imagine another world where the Baby Boomers voluntarily get out of the way, but as a Gen-X, I have never seen that happen and I doubt I ever will. So these are the old white guys we have.

Still, regardless of what happens in the next five months, I can take some comfort in the near-inevitability that this will be the last Boomer-vs-Boomer presidential election. (I also believe we will have elections in 2026 and 2028 as usual, though if the Republican nominee wins, I think they will both be really ugly.) I also think that by 2028, we will have enough pent-up frustration with the system that we will have a real election between normal candidates.

But yeah, after this, I'm really done with the modern GOP, and I'm done with Boomer politicians.

Tuesday afternoon links

It has started raining in downtown Chicago, so it looks like Cassie and I will get wet on the walk home, as I feared. I still have a few tasks before I leave. I just hope it stays a gentle sprinkle long enough for us to get home from doggy day care.

Just bookmarking these for later, while I'm drying out:

  • Researchers concluded that the problem with online misinformation and epistemic closure comes from people, not technology. Apparently we generally look for information that confirms our existing biases. Who knew.
  • Chicago has more lead pipes than any other North American city--and more regulation, labor issues, and general corruption, too. We might replace all the pipes by 2075; not so much the corruption.
  • Shocking absolutely no one, a study has found that drinking alcohol on an airplane is worse that doing it on the ground.

Finally, former US Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) died today, just as climate change once again contributed to a massive storm flooding neighboring Texas. I mention that because Inhofe, who served in the Senate until he was 88 years old, refused to believe that the planet had gotten warmer, and did his best to keep the US from entering the 21st Century by any reasonable measure. Oh, and he was also an asshole pilot who once nearly hit a bunch of construction workers because he wanted to land on a closed runway. He may be mourned somewhere, but the Daily Parker is glad to see him underground. So, presumably, is the FAA.

What if it's Harris?

Since President Biden shat the bed at the debate against the demented, convicted-felon, narcissistic imbecile XPOTUS last week, the Democratic Party cognoscenti have lost their minds. Everyone who doesn't have an office in the West Wing seems to want the President to withdraw from the race, despite only 123 days left before the election.

Now, I believe firmly that a healthy party self-corrects, and if a party fails to do so for 14 years, it deserves its worst loss in history.

But the reality is, we head into the Democratic National Convention next month with almost every delegate pledged for the Biden/Harris campaign. The only alternative to President Biden right now is Vice President Harris. Any other path would grossly violate the democratic principles the Democratic Party stands for.

Not to mention, changing candidates requires the President's assent; he has to release or direct his delegates in order for anyone else to win nomination. Not to mention, if the nominated candidate were anyone other than the Vice President, the XPOTUS's team would gleefully sue the campaign on the grounds that no one else was elected.

Believe it or not, professional pessimist Josh Marshall thinks the XPOTUS's campaign have to be shitting bricks worrying about us nominating the Vice President, because the President's age has really been their only winning argument:

Trump’s campaign has spent three years thinking it was running against Joe Biden. Well – if this set of events transpires – he’s not. He’s running against someone young and vital. His entire plan of battle goes out the window. It’s hard to overestimate how important that is. But that’s not the case for Democrats. They’re still running against a deeply unpopular candidate, who outlawed Roe v Wade, who staged a coup against the state, who’s a convicted felon, who most Americans don’t want to see as President again. The whole two very old very unpopular candidate model, well, that’s out the window. Harris at the top of the ticket pushes abortion even higher into salience. Republicans will try to shift things back to questions about Joe Biden. Why this? Why that? Harris has a perfect, taunting rejoinder every time: “Focus, Donald. You’re not running against Joe Biden anymore. You’re running against me, Kamala Harris.”

I think he makes a good point. I would also say that the XPOTUS has more liabilities coming into this election than anyone in history. Not just his 34 felony convictions; not just his wildly anti-democratic rants; not just his track record with the pandemic, abortion, and the Federal courts in general. Oh, no. If you want to debate whose cognitive decline matters in this election, I'll take Sleepy Joe over the Stark Raving Loony leader of the Republican Party:

We live in interesting times.

Whoo boy

Apparently everyone else got over Covid yesterday, too. Or they're just trying to make deadline before the holiday:

Finally, the Post analyzed a ton of weather forecasts and determined that forecasting Chicago weather is a lot harder than forecasting Miami's. The only glimmer of good news: today's 7-day forecasts are at least as accurate as the 3-day forecasts from the 1990s.

Right-wing power grab

Well, the Republicans sure did pack the court well, didn't they? The Supreme Court's term finally ended today with another apparent success for the convicted-felon XPOTUS. All three Justices he appointed plus Thomas (R) and Alito (R) agreed with the Chief Justice (R) that, despite the actual words of the Constitution and everything that the Federalist Papers warned us about, some actions by a president during his or her time in office cannot be prosecuted:

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision along [partisan] lines, ruled that a former president has absolute immunity for his core constitutional powers — and is entitled to a presumption of immunity for his official acts, but lacks immunity for unofficial acts. But at the same time, the court sent the case back to the trial judge to determine which, if any of Trump’s actions, were part of his official duties and thus were protected from prosecution.

That part of the court’s decision likely ensures that the case against Trump won’t be tried before the election, and then only if he is not reelected. If he is reelected, Trump could order the Justice Department to drop the charges against him, or he might try to pardon himself in the two pending federal cases.

Monday’s decision to send the case back to trial Judge Tanya Chutkan all but guarantees that there will be no Trump trial on the election interference charges for months. Even before the immunity case, Judge Chutkan indicated that trial preparations would likely take three months. Now, she will also have to decide which of the charges in the Trump indictment should remain and which involve official acts that under the Supreme Court ruling are protected from prosecution.

All of this stands in stark contrast to the way the court has handled other presidential power cases. In 1974 the justices ruled against President Nixon just 16 days after hearing oral arguments. The vote was 8-0, with Justice William Rehnquist recusing himself because of his close ties to some of the officials accused of wrongdoing in the case. And this year the court took less than a month to rule unanimously that states could not bar Trump from the ballot.

That's right, in 50 years the Republican Party has managed to crater the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, which in turn has saddled us with a seemingly never-ending stream of bad decisions that will take two generations to fix.

And they will get fixed, eventually. We fixed Dred Scott by amending the Constitution—after a bloody civil war that killed 600,000 Americans, and we remedied Plessy by passing the Civil Rights Act—80 years later.

So it's not that I have lost hope in the United States, it's just that I'm old enough that I don't believe I'm going to see the right-wing grinding down of the country reversed before I'm too old to enjoy it.