The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Crisp fall morning

Cassie and I both love these crystal-clear autumn days in Chicago, though as far as I know she spent her first two autumns in Tennessee. Does Nashville have crisp fall mornings? I don't know for sure, and Cassie won't say.

I meant to highlight these stories yesterday but got into the deep flow of refactoring:

I will now make Cassie drool buckets by using salmon skin as a training tool.

Evening reading

I was pretty busy today, with most of my brain trying to figure out how to re-architect something that I didn't realize needed it until recently. So a few things piled up in my inbox:

And finally, Whisky Advocate has four recipes that balance whisky and Luxardo Maraschino cherries. I plan to try them all, but not in one sitting.

Happy Mason-Dixon Day

On this day in 1767, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon completed their survey of the disputed Maryland-Pennsylvania border, which became even more contentious in 1780 when Pennsylvania aboolished slavery. A group of surveyors started re-surveying the border in 2019; I can't find out whether they finished.

Meanwhile, 255 years later, politics is still mostly local:

Finally, Chicago has perfectly clear skies for only the third time this month after yesterday and the 4th, getting only 39% of possible sunshine for almost the past three weeks.

The Battle of Bamber Bridge

In June 1943, a group of white American MPs attacked a company of Black American soldiers in the town of Bamber Bridge, England (near Blackpool). The English took the side of the Black soldiers:

During the war, American soldiers accounted for the vast majority of black people in Britain. Britain’s population was overwhelmingly white, most of the country almost entirely so. Black Britons numbered around eight thousand in total, and were clustered in London, Liverpool and a few other ports. For the residents of most towns and villages near US bases, the proximity of black people was wholly novel.

Given that most Britons had seen black people only in films or books, you might have expected them to distrust or fear the new arrivals. Instead, as the historian David Olusoga remarks, the natives were “extraordinarily welcoming” to their black visitors. In fact, black GIs were offered a warmer reception than their white counterparts. In the letters and diaries of British inhabitants, White GIs are portrayed as arrogant, flashy, and unruly, while Black GIs, by contrast, are described as courteous, self-disciplined, and charming.

For black GIs, the warm and respectful treatment they received in Britain’s shops, pubs, and church halls threw their relationship with fellow countrymen into sharp relief. At home, black Americans from Southern states were strictly segregated from whites and systematically oppressed. Jim Crow laws ensured that they were politically disenfranchised and economically marginalised, eighty years after the abolition of slavery. The oppression was cultural too: black Americans were routinely  and openly treated as contemptible by their white counterparts.

For many black soldiers, the experience of Britain renewed and sharpened a sense of injustice over how they were treated in the United States. As one put it, “we are treated better in England than we are in a country that is supposed to be our home.” Naturally enough, it led some of them to question why they were fighting. Another GI wrote: “I am an American negro, doing my part for the American government to make the world safe for a democracy I have never known.”

I recently watched the Channel 4 miniseries Traitors, in which American race relations right after World War II in London mattered a great deal to the plot. Learning about Bamber Bridge added more depth to my understanding of the show.

Busy day, time to read the news

Oh boy:

Cassie has bugged me for the last hour, even though we went out two hours ago. I assume she wants dinner. I will take care of that presently.

The power of the press

After ProPublica's story about Rutherford County, Tenn., judge Donna Davenport, things have not gone well for the judge:

In the days after ProPublica’s investigation of the juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, one state lawmaker wrote that she was “horrified.” Another called it a “nightmare.” A third labeled it “unchecked barbarism.” A former Tennessee congressman posted the story about the unlawful jailing of kids and tweeted, “The most sickening and unAmerican thing I’ve read about in some time.” The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund called for a federal civil rights investigation. A pastor, in his Sunday sermon in Nashville, said: “We can’t allow this madness to continue. These are our babies.”

And on Tuesday evening, four days after the story published, the president of Middle Tennessee State University notified faculty and staff that Donna Scott Davenport, a juvenile court judge at the heart of the investigation, “is no longer affiliated with the University.” Davenport had been an adjunct instructor at the school, which is based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. For many years, she taught a course on juvenile justice. In 2015, she was one of the university’s commencement speakers.

On Sunday, Vincent Windrow, senior pastor at Olive Branch Church in Murfreesboro and Nashville, delivered a sermon at both branches centered on the revelations by ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio about Rutherford County’s juvenile justice system. The story included a detailed account of Murfreesboro police arresting four Black girls at an elementary school in 2016. The officers handcuffed two of the girls, including the youngest, an 8-year-old. The kids were accused of watching some boys fight and not stepping in. (They were charged with “criminal responsibility for conduct of another,” which is not an actual crime. All the charges were later dismissed.)

This, ladies and gentlemen, shows that a free press is the natural enemy of corruption, which is precisely why the XPOTUS hates it so much. I hope that ProPublica's story convinces the good people of Rutherford County to elect someone else in Davenport's place as soon as legally possible.

Dying for the cause

Former Chicago Fraternal Order of Police president Dean Angelo died yesterday of Covid-19. And yet the current FOP president, John Catanzara, has promised to sue the City over the requirement that police officers either show proof of vaccination by Friday or go on a twice-a-week testing regimen if they want to keep getting paid:

"It literally has been like everything else with this mayor the last two and a half years," said FOP President John Catanzara. "Do it or else because I said so."

In a social media post Tuesday, Catanzara urged his members to not comply with the vaccine mandate.

"We're notifying the city the demand for expedited arbitration along with filing unfair labor practice with the labor board," he said Tuesday. "Tomorrow we'll be filing court paperwork for a temporary restraining order."

The dispute comes as a new report from the National Law Enforcement Museum reveals that a full 62% of all line-of-duty law enforcement deaths across the country last year were from COVID-19.

(Emphasis mine.)

In related news, I'm about a quarter through Ruth Ben-Ghiat's Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, in which she details the patterns of authoritarians throughout the last century. In almost every case, the authoritarian leader demands his followers show loyalty by embracing lies, even when those lies kill them.

Ben-Ghiat's book, like the story today of Angelo's death, frustrate the hell out of me. We make the same mistakes over and over and over. Ultimately, though, we haven't had enough time away from the savannahs of Africa to stop acting like frightened apes half the time.

End of a busy day

Some of these will actually have to wait until tomorrow morning:

And now, I will feed the dog.

Rutherford County, Tenn., and its horrific juvenile judge

ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio dropped a bombshell description about how Rutherford County, Tenn., treats its Black children. That the main perpetrators of the violence against children under color of law appear to have a Christianist view of the world does not surprise me in the least:

In Rutherford County, a juvenile court judge had been directing police on what she called “our process” for arresting children, and she appointed the jailer, who employed a “filter system” to determine which children to hold.

The judge was proud of what she had helped build, despite some alarming numbers buried in state reports.

Among cases referred to juvenile court, the statewide average for how often children were locked up was 5%.

In Rutherford County, it was 48%.

When [judicial commissioner Sherry] Hamlett came up with “criminal responsibility for conduct of another” as a possible charge, there was a problem. It’s not an actual charge. There is no such crime. It is rather a basis upon which someone can be accused of a crime. For example, a person who caused someone else to commit robbery would be charged with robbery, not “criminal responsibility.”

But in the judicial commissioners’ office that Friday afternoon, 10 petitions were issued, each charging a child with “criminal responsibility.” The petitions didn’t distinguish the kids’ actions; the documents were cookie-cutter, saying each child “encouraged and caused” two other juveniles to commit an assault.

[One child's] lawyers wanted to know: How many kids were there who, like E.J., had been improperly arrested? How many kids had, like Jacorious Brinkley, been improperly jailed? The lawyers gathered large samples of arrest and detention records from an 11-year period, ending in December 2017. Then they extrapolated.

They would eventually estimate that kids had been wrongly arrested 500 times. And that was just for kids arrested by the sheriff’s office. This estimate didn’t account for other law enforcement agencies in the county that followed Davenport’s “process.” As for how many times the juvenile detention center had improperly locked up kids through its “filter system,” the lawyers estimated that number at 1,500.

Awful people like Davenport and a few others named in the story continue to exercise their power because the people who could stop them—the voters—don't care. I have no good explanation for how these people became so awful, but I suspect that narcissism plus religious belief had something to do with it.

Federal class-action lawsuits related to these matters have cost Rutherford County tens of millions of dollars. And yet the good people of the County can't seem to vote Davenport out of office. Would the good people of Chicago vote a similarly awful judge out? I don't know. But I'd hope that we would.

A hot time in the old town tonight

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, which burned for two days and left 100,000 people homeless. But only for a short time; by 1874, when the city had a second big fire, our population had already grown by about that number.

Flash forward to now:

Finally, last night I attended an actual live theater performance for the first time in 19 months, and it was amazeballs. If you live in Chicago, right now you need to go to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater website and buy tickets to As You Like It, which plays through November 21st.