The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Hobbs takes Arizona

The Democratic Party got another governor yesterday when Katie Hobbs beat election-denier and former news anchor Kari Lake 51%-49%.

Someday this won't make any sense at all, but this was the perfect meme for Hobbs' win:

Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Lake also had a delicious spat on Twitter. Cheney's response gets a chef's kiss from The Daily Parker.

I recognize that links to Twitter will just be lint by this time next year, but for now, enjoy.

Good morning, US Senate!

US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) held her seat, as did Mark Kelly (D-AZ), meaning the Democratic Party has held the Senate:

[W]ith Ms. Cortez Masto’s victory in Nevada, Democrats have nailed down the 50 seats they need to retain control of the upper chamber, a major feat considering that voters typically punish the president’s party during the midterms.

The Democratic victory will bolster Mr. Biden’s political capital as he moves toward a possible bid for a second term. Even if Republicans do take the House, he will be able to stock the judiciary with his nominees and will be insulated from politically freighted G.O.P. legislation. And Democrats will be free to mount their own investigations to counter the threatened onslaught from a Republican-controlled lower chamber.

A Democratic Senate will be invaluable to Mr. Biden, even if Republicans narrowly secure control of the House. In addition to having two more years to confirm judges, the president will have more control over personnel in his government with the confirmation of nominees under the guidance of Mr. Schumer.

There was fist-pumping at my table last night at Rachael Yamagata's concert. I don't know if Yamagata knew the result during her set, but I'd like to think I saw an extra bit of optimism in her eyes.

It does look like we will lose the House, but I do love these two bits:

  • Democrats picked up a seat in the 3rd congressional district in Washington state, a district that had been held by a Republican, Jamie Herrera Beutler. But she voted for former President Trump's impeachment and was ousted by the right in the primary. There's an irony in the fact that she was ousted because she voted to impeach Trump and, now, a Democrat has taken over that seat. It's indicative of the broader message in this election.
  • One of the other races with a razor-thin margin is Rep. Lauren Boebert's seat. The conservative lightning rod had been trailing in this right-leaning district on Election Night, but is now up by just over 1,000 votes. The race appears to be trending in her direction. But it's a result that is far closer than what was expected.

On Boebert's race, keep in mind she beat a sitting Republican 55-45 in the June 2020 primary and went on to win 52-45 in the general by running as a MAGA extremist. Will she feel any contrition? Probably not. But she hasn't said anything since Tuesday, so we know she's rattled.

Nobody knows nothin', more eruditely

James Fallows wants to put the domestic political press in a time-out:

[I]n historic terms, the midterm results under Joe Biden in 2022 are likely to be far better for the incumbent party and its president than for other modern presidents. As Biden would say, it’s a BFD.

[But] what has happened appears to be entirely at odds with what the political-reporter cadre — the people whose entire job is predicting and pre-explaining political trends — had been preparing the public for.

The Democrats have “defied expectations,” as the Post headline above puts it, largely because of the expectations our media and political professionals had set.

The premises of “analysis” pieces and talk shows over the past year-plus have been:

  • Biden is unpopular,” which may be true but seems not to have been decisive.

  • Afghanistan was the effective end of his presidency,” a widespread view 14 months ago. You can look it up.

  • Democrats have no message” — which in turn is an amalgam of (a) “Roe was a long time ago,” (b) “no one cares about infrastructure,” (c) “it’s all about crime” [or immigrants], and (d) “it’s all about Prices At The Pump.”

  • Dems in disarray.” On the day before people went to the polls, the Times’
    front page had two “analysis” stories on how bleak the Democratic prospects looked.

It’s not so much that this proved to be wrong. It’s that they felt it necessary and useful to get into the "expectations" business this way

How about this, in practical terms: For the next three stories an editor plans to assign on “Sizing up the 2024 field,” or the next three podcasts or panel sessions on “After the midterms, what’s ahead for [Biden, Trump, DeSantis, etc.],” instead give two of those reporting and discussion slots to under-reported realities of the world we live in now.

Whatever you say about the 2024 race now will be wrong. And what you say about the world of 2022 could be valuable.

Fallows, I should remind everyone, started his career as a speechwriter for President Carter and went on to write some of the most salient and prescient analyses of news media in the last 30 years.

Right now, however, I'm just glad I won't get 30 texts a day from candidates I've never heard of.

A better morning than I expected

Democrats picked up a US Senate seat in Pennsylvania with Lt Governor John Fetterman defeating charlatan carpetbagger Oz Mehmet handily. And at least one far-right troll, US Rep Lauren Boebert (R-CO), may lose her seat to a challenger.  So far, though, control of the House remains unknown, even as Democrats look likely to hold the Senate.

One of the night's biggest losers was the XPOTUS, whose hand-picked candidates—not one of them qualified for office—did worse than expected.

Even better, states resoundingly defeated anti-abortion measures and supported pro-choice ones, including in Kentucky, Michigan, California, and Vermont.

Plus, it looks like Republicans failed to win a veto-proof majority in their heavily-Gerrymandered legislature, even though Republican Ted Budd won the open US Senate seat.

Finally, in an historic win, Democrat Wes Moore beat his Republican challenger to become the first African-American governor of Maryland.

So we ended the night very close to where we started, albeit with hundreds of thousands of votes yet to be counted. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) may well become House Speaker on January 3rd, but with a 2- or 3-vote majority—which still means endless hearings, but also means he'll have to hold his caucus together with spit and baling wire.

Fifteen minutes of voting

Even with Chicago's 1,642 judges on the ballot ("Shall NERDLY McSNOOD be retained as a circuit court judge in Cook County?"), I still got in and out of my polling place in about 15 minutes. It helped that the various bar associations only gave "not recommended" marks to two of them, which still left 1,640 little "yes" ovals to fill in.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world...

Finally, Chicago gets a new brewery taproom on Thursday when Hop Butcher to the World opens in Half Acre's former Lincoln Avenue space, just over 2 km from my house. Cassie and I might find out on Saturday whether they let dogs in, assuming the forecast holds. (And there it is: a post that literally checks all the boxes for Daily Parker categories!)

Between a demo and a 5-point feature

I'm running all 538 unit tests in my real job's application right now after updating all the NuGet packages. This is why I like automated testing: if one of the updated packages broke anything, tests will fail, and I can fix the affected code. (So far they've all passed.)

This comes after a major demo this morning, and a new feature that will consume the rest of the sprint, which ends next Monday. Oh, and I have two opera rehearsals this week. Plus I have to vote tomorrow, which could take 15 minutes or two hours.

So it's not likely I'll have time to read all of these:

Regardless, I'm setting an alarm for just past 4am to see the total lunar eclipse tonight. NOAA predicts 17% sky cover, so I should get a good view of it. Unless I go back to sleep.

Count me among the Standard Time "stans"

The Daylight Saving Time arguments that crop up twice a year encapsulate American decision-making so well. People argue for one position or another based on what works best for them; people predict doom and gloom if their view doesn't prevail; Congress makes a change that everyone hates (and, as in 1975, they have to repeal); and not a lot changes. It also has nuances that most people don't understand (or care to) and stems from a social construct completely within our control that people think is a fixed law of the universe (i.e., clock time).

Because I live just east of my time zone's standard meridian, and at a latitude that sees a six-hour daylight difference between solstices, I believe year-round standard time would be best. Katherine Wu agrees:

I gotta say, the science (pushes glasses up nose) largely backs me and my fellow standardians up. Several organizations, including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, have for years wanted to do away with DST for good. “Standard time is a more natural cycle,” Pelayo told me. “In nature we fall asleep to darkness and we wake up to light.” When people spend most of their year out of sync with these rhythms, “it reduces sleep duration and quality,” says Carleara Weiss, a behavioral-sleep-medicine expert at the University at Buffalo. The onset of DST has been linked to a bump in heart attacks and strokes, and Denise Rodriguez Esquivel, a psychologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told me that our bodies may never fully adjust to DST. We’re just off-kilter for eight months.

For years, some researchers have argued that perma-DST would cut down on other societal woes: crimetraffic accidentsenergy costs, even deer collisions. But research on the matter has produced mixed or contested results, showing that several of those benefits are modest or perhaps even nonexistent. And although sticking with DST might boost late-afternoon commerce, people might hate the shift more than they think. In the 1970s, the U.S. did a trial run of year-round DST … and it flopped.

We could also redraw the time zone boundaries to move more people closer to the center meridians, but that would involve even more nuance and recognition that these things are human constructs we can change.

(Also: I wonder if Michigan is so weird because so much of the state is in the wrong time zone?)

How to light $44 billion on fire

Elon Musk had a lot going for him when he started his first company: rich parents, being white in Apartheid South Africa, malignant narcissism, etc. Like other well-known billionaire charlatans, he has had his share of spectacular successes, and still decided to find his own little corner of the Peter Principle. So let it be with Twitter:

Some might say Elon Musk, who last week became Twitter’s official new owner, has buyer’s remorse. But that implies he had actually wanted the thing before he bought it. Back in April, the mercurial billionaire made an overpriced takeover bid, which he then tried to back out of.

Perhaps understandably: Twitter has been plagued by problems for years, of both the monetary and moral kinds. When Musk made his offer, tech stocks were already tanking, and it was clear he had neither a plan for fixing the company nor the inclination to fritter away a big chunk of his fortune figuring it out. After some legal back-and-forth, he reluctantly agreed to complete the $44 billion acquisition.

He has already begun pursuing a few controversial changes. They include charging users for their “blue check” verification badges, as well as developing a new paid-video feature, which will probably be used for “adult” material. But his most perplexing moves involve simultaneous plans to A) police content less, while B) increasing advertising revenue.

These objectives are somewhat at odds.

Mother Jones's Ali Breland wonders if Musk "made it his job to look dumb:"

[A]s has become increasingly obvious after Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter this week, getting rich does not make you deserving of praise. In fact, Elon Musk’s Twitter timeline is making one of the clearest cases that meritocracy is a myth. The reason Silicon Valley people, to their absolute chagrin, can’t be idolized like the maniacal bankers that came before them, is that they got rich by engineering the precise platforms that make them look awful.

The problem with the new tech sets’ desire to be heralded is that they got rich off tools for their own demise. There was a lengthy period in which Mark Zuckerberg was idolized. He achieved the national dream of going to Harvard, then eschewed it and conventional paths to wealth into a massively successful tech company and balked at a $1 billion offer to sell it years before it became profitable. The more Zuckerberg went out on his own platform though, posting videos of himself “smoking meats” and just generally being awkward and charisma-less, the harder it became to believe that his life is aspirational.

Marc Andreessen, who also invested in Twitter, albeit much earlier than Musk, could have ridden off into the metaphorical sunset looking like a genius for developing Mosaic and then Netscape, pioneering how we would all experience the internet. Instead, he showed us all of his mental shortcomings, by tweeting about the harms of anti-colonialism; liking tweets from people like date-rape apologist and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich; and being thin-skinned by blocking anyone who said anything slightly less than complimentary about him. Again: He did all of this on a platform he funded.

Elon Musk bought Twitter and Twitter makes people dislike Elon Musk. For once, the story of the stupidity of rich people—and how they got rich—is making sense to the masses. It just had to be written by the overlords themselves, in 280 characters or less.

Regardless of what happens with Twitter, I'm glad that the SNAFU of the US House of Representatives has at least forestalled an even bigger stupidity, year-round daylight saving time...

The 118th Congress

If, as seems likely, the Republicans take over the House next January, they will likely either blow up the United States welfare state or the world economy, depending on how the Democrats react:

In several recent posts I’ve told you that most of the near-term (pre-2024) dangers of a GOP House majority are manageable. I don’t mean no big deal. It’s disaster after disaster. But I mean manageable in the sense of things the country can get through. With one exception, a debt limit hostage taking stand off in 2023 in which House Republicans force the first US debt default in US history.

The demand from House Republicans will likely be some combination of ‘Repeal all the stuff you passed in 2021’ or ‘Cut Social Security and Medicare’ or we force a US debt default. Adam thinks that faced with this cataclysm Democrats, albeit kicking and screaming, will feel compelled to relent because the consequences of default are that bad. For the elected officials, especially on the Senate side, that may well be true. But I have a different read on those elected officials constituents. I think there is less than zero appetite among Democrats for even entertaining the idea of such a negotiation. I think any move in this direction will spur a rebellion among Democrats nationwide. This is why I think the country will go into default. Because House Republicans are entirely ready to shoot the hostage. Indeed, there is a portion of the GOP House caucus that is not only entirely willing to take that step but is eager to do so.

Krugman examines the GOP's targets, and what they mean:

Republican plans to cut Medicare and Social Security would impose widespread hardship, with some of the worst impacts falling on red-state, noncollege whites — that is, the party’s most loyal base.

Why, then, does the party want to do this? We needn’t take claims that it’s about fiscal responsibility seriously; a fiscally responsible party wouldn’t be seeking to make the Trump tax cuts permanent or oppose giving the I.R.S. the resources it needs to crack down on tax cheats. What we’re seeing, instead, is that despite its populist rhetoric, the G.O.P. is still very much a party of and for the rich.

If Republicans win one or both houses of Congress, they’ll try to achieve their goals not though the normal legislative process but through blackmail. They’ll threaten to provoke a global financial crisis by refusing to raise the debt limit. If Democrats defang that threat, Republicans will try to get what they want by making America ungovernable in other ways.

In what other ways will the GOP make the country ungovernable? Georgetown Law professor Jeff Chavetz lays it out:

Most obviously, the pace of legislation is likely slow to a trickle — though perhaps not dry up completely. But a Republican House could do more than simply reduce the amount of legislation passed by Congress; it could also use powers entirely within its own control to assert itself in the political sphere. It would very likely use the chamber’s oversight powers aggressively, which might include keeping a close eye on the administration’s carrying out of laws passed in the current Congress. So, for example, we should expect Republican-controlled committees to keep a sharp watch for any purportedly wasteful spending under the Inflation Reduction Act — and if they find anything amiss, to make as big a stink as possible.

If Republicans capture the Senate as well as the House, their options will expand even more. They could pass at least some messaging legislation that President Biden would be forced to veto, thus setting up advantageous (for the Republicans) policy contrasts in advance of the 2024 elections. And they could refuse to confirm most (or all) of Mr. Biden’s nominees, making it harder for him to process his agenda through executive agencies and to reshape the federal judiciary.

At the most extreme, they could impeach President Biden or members of his administration.

Because, remember, the Republicans don't want to govern; they want to rule. This has been true for half a century. And unfortunately, we might have neglected vast swaths of our citizens for so long that the country might have to experience something worse than Democratic elitism or ordinary Republican country-club governance before we return to our senses.

The American Right, having gotten this close to power, won't give up soon. Even though we can see how much damage they'll cause in the next generation, we might just have to suffer through it.

Threads to read

Here are some short thoughts that add up to longer thoughts today:

Finally, from 2021, the Calgary Real Estate Board (no kidding) extols the virtues of the conversation pit.