The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Authentic frontier gibberish

Tom Nichols says it's past time to quit disregarding the convicted-felon XPOTUS's disordered mental state:

For too long, Trump has gotten away with pretending that his emotional issues are just part of some offbeat New York charm or an expression of his enthusiasm for public performance. But Trump is obviously unfit—and something is profoundly wrong with a political environment in which he can now say almost anything, no matter how weird, and his comments will get a couple of days of coverage and then a shrug, as if to say: Another day, another Trump rant about sharks.

Sure, it seems funny—Haha! Uncle Don is telling that crazy shark story again!—until we remember that this man wants to return to a position where he would hold America’s secrets, be responsible for the execution of our laws, and preside as the commander in chief of the most powerful military in the world. A moment that seems like oddball humor should, in fact, terrify any American voter, because this behavior in anyone else would be an instant disqualification for any political office, let alone the presidency.

Worse, the people who once managed Trump’s cognitive and emotional issues are gone, never to return. A second Trump White House will be staffed with the bottom of the barrel—the opportunists and hangers-on willing to work for a reprehensible man. His Oval Office will be empty of responsible and experienced public servants if the day comes when someone has to explain to him why war might be about to erupt on the Korean peninsula or why the Russian or Chinese nuclear forces have gone on alert, and he starts talking about frying sharks with boat batteries.

The 45th president is deeply unwell. It is long past time for Americans, including those in public life, to recognize his inability to serve as the 47th.

I mean, who said it better, the convicted-felon XPOTUS, or Gabby Johnson?

How have I never seen this before?

John Cleese did a political advert in 1987 for the SDP/Liberal Alliance, a moderate coalition of small UK parties that, as one would expect, got annihilated in the election that year, and ultimately became the Liberal Democratic Party. The LDP went on to get the shit kicked out of them in every election until the Tories found them useful for a hot second in 2010, whereupon they got kicked to the curb as soon as the Tories had an outright majority, before everyone forgot about them in 2015.

Anyway, his rant about extremism still has a lot of resonance today:

Two anniversaries and a passing

Seventy-five years ago today, George Orwell published 1984, a horrifying novel that gets closer to reality every day. Also on 8 June 1949, the FBI released a report naming acting stars and filmmakers "communists," kicking off a horrifying chapter in American history that gets closer to coming back every day.

And yesterday, NASA astronaut Bill Anders died in a plane crash. You may not know who Anders was, but you've seen the photo he took on Christmas Eve 1968:


By NASA/Bill Anders (Link) Public Domain

Oh, and today is also (possibly) the anniversary of Mohammed's death in 632 CE. (Calendars didn't measure time the same way back then that they do today, so we can't really be sure.)

Two historic elections

Over the weekend, Mexico and South Africa made history.

In South Africa, voters turfed out the African National Congress Party, which had held a majority of seats since the end of Apartheid in 1994:

Final results from Wednesday’s seismic South Africa elections have confirmed that the African National Congress (ANC) party has lost its majority for the first time in 30 years of full democracy, firing the starting gun on unprecedented coalition talks.

The ANC, which led the fight to free South Africa from apartheid, won just 159 seats in the 400-member national assembly on a vote share of just over 40%. High unemployment, power cuts, violent crime and crumbling infrastructure have contributed to a haemorrhaging of support for the former liberation movement.

The pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA) won 87 seats, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) – a new party led by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bitter rival, the former president Jacob Zuma – took 58, and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a Marxist-Leninist party led by the ousted ANC youth leader Julius Malema, took 39.

Voters cited corruption and a need for new leadership as reasons for voting against the party of Nelson Mandela.

And yesterday, Mexicans elected their first female president:

Claudia Sheinbaum was elected Mexico’s first female president in a landslide on Sunday, an official quick count of votes showed, cementing the dominance of the left-leaning Morena movement that over the past six years has upended the country’s political establishment.

Her victory stunned an opposition that’s accused Morena of weakening the country’s democratic institutions.

The former Mexico City mayor led with more than 58 percent of the vote, according to the count released by the National Electoral Institute. Her triumph ensures another six years in power for Morena, founded 13 years ago by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a charismatic leader who has emphasized helping the poor.

Women in this traditionally macho country didn’t win the right to vote until 1953, three decades after their American counterparts. But with the adoption of gender quotas and a gender-parity law during Mexico’s transition from a one-party state to democracy, women now hold half of the seats in Congress and nearly one-third of the governorships.

The US eliminated race as a bar to voting in 1868, and elected its first Black president in 2008. At that rate we should elect our first female president in 2060, years after every other OECD country has done so. And somehow we think ourselves more politically sophisticated than our neighbor to the south. Fascinating.

When the rain comes

I took Cassie out at 11am instead of her usual 12:30pm because of this:

The storm front passed quickly, but it hit right at 12:30 and continued for half an hour with some intensity. It'll keep raining on and off all day, too.

Other things rained down in the past day or so:

Finally, Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock has died at age 53 of cancer. No word whether the production of the 2004 documentary contributed to his early demise.

When is bad butt not bad butt?

Cassie got a bad result from the lab yesterday: a mild giardia infection. It's a good-news, bad-news thing: The bad news, obviously, is that she can't go to day camp (meaning I can't spend a full day in my downtown office) for at least a week. The good news is that she's mostly asymptomatic, unlike the last guy. So we just went to the vet again, got another $110 bill for dewormer.

But at least she wasn't crated for three hours with her own diarrhea. Poor Parker.

In other good news, bad news stories today:

Actually, they're all bad-news stories. Apologies.

Friedman on campus protests

Columnist Thomas Friedman, who identifies himself as "a hardheaded pragmatist who lived in Beirut and Jerusalem, [and] cares about people on all sides," finds American campus protests troubling because they're missing the larger context and workable goals:

In short: I find the whole thing very troubling, because the dominant messages from the loudest voices and many placards reject important truths about how this latest Gaza war started and what will be required to bring it to a fair and sustainable conclusion.

My problem is not that the protests in general are “antisemitic” — I would not use that word to describe them, and indeed, I am deeply uncomfortable as a Jew with how the charge of antisemitism is thrown about on the Israel-Palestine issue. My problem is that I am a hardheaded pragmatist who lived in Beirut and Jerusalem, cares about people on all sides and knows one thing above all from my decades in the region: The only just and workable solution to this issue is two nation-states for two indigenous peoples.

If you are for that, whatever your religion, nationality or politics, you’re part of the solution. If you are not for that, you’re part of the problem.

I am intensely both anti-Hamas and anti-Netanyahu. And if you oppose just one and not also the other, you should reflect a little more on what you are shouting at your protest or your anti-protest. Because no one has done more to harm the prospects of a two-state solution than the codependent Hamas and Netanyahu factions.

The whole column encapsulates a lot of my own struggles with this particular moment.

The chorus season is mostly over

After a week of rehearsals capped by two performances of some really challenging works by French and Swiss composers, I finally got a full 8½ hours of sleep last night. What a difference. Not just the needed rest, but also having a much smaller inbox (just one task for the chorus left until next week) and less to worry about.

Until I open a newspaper, of course:

  • The head of the political arm of Hamas, the terrorist group and de jure governing party in Gaza which has called for the annihilation of all Jews, claims to have accepted cease-fire terms that would avoid an Israeli invasion of Rafah, but Israel disputes this.
  • Six months out from the election, Walter Shapiro looks at President Biden's approval ratings and concludes they probably don't matter.
  • UMass Amherst professor Ethan Zuckerman has sued Facebook over a provision of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (47 USC 230) that could allow people to use third-party tools to block their social media. Zuckerman explains the suit in layman's terms in the Times.

Finally, a new bar claiming to be Chicago's first with an indoor dog park got a special-use permit, enabling them to open sometime this fall. B-A-R (as in, "who wants to go to the B-A-R?") still needs a liquor license, and will charge $25 per day or $50 per month per dog. I just passed by the site on Saturday, so I will note that it's directly across the street from some of Chicago's best thin-crust pizza. But $25 just to visit? Hm. The do know they're only a kilometer from a dog park, right?

This summer I hear the drumming

I'm mostly exhausted from this week of performing and rehearsing, and I still have another concert tomorrow afternoon. Plus, a certain gray fuzzball and I have a deep need to take advantage of the 22°C sunny afternoon to visit a certain dog park. (I also want to have a certain pizza slice near the certain dog park, but that's not certain.)

Joking aside, today is the 54th anniversary of the Ohio National Guard killing 4 innocent kids at Kent State University. As one of the projects on my way to getting a history degree, I studied the aftermath of the murders, with emphasis on how my own university reacted. (It was an archives project, teaching us history puppies how to do primary research, so that necessarily limited the scope of the project.)

That study has informed my attitudes towards the protests on elite university campuses today. I'm close to some conclusions, but not there yet, which has more to do with all the Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Bizet, Honneger, and Poulenc currently stuffing my brain than anything else. I will just say I found the contrast between Andrew Sullivan and Josh Barro this week a bit jarring. I think they're both a little right and a little wrong, but again, until probably Tuesday or Wednesday, I won't have the cognitive space to express how.

in short: children generally don't have the experience or cognitive development required to accept ambiguity in moral matters. The Gaza war is one of the messiest moral miasmas in my lifetime. The simple, black-and-white answers that some of the loudest voices offer makes the discomfort go away. And if no one has ever set real limits on your self-image, it's easy to believe that your own opinion—"guided" as it may be by people who seem to have the answers—must be the only valid one.

Like I said, I need to think more. A 10-kilometer dog walk with pizza as a reward, plus possibly some time sitting outside with a book and a beer, might help.

Sadly, yes

Angry Staffer, one of the last remaining informative Twitter accounts, had this yesterday:

Sigh.