The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

The Tory clown car

Guys, you really need to go to the country now. You're making Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party look like a model of competence:

Liz Truss started her premiership with a mad dash for growth. She continues to insist that boosting Britain’s growth rate is her mission. But whatever remains of her time in office is now focused on a different goal: restoring the faith of the bond markets in Britain.

Ms Truss’s reversal is a humiliation. She had spent the Conservative Party leadership campaign promising to abandon the planned rise in corporation tax. She brushed aside warnings from Rishi Sunak, her rival, that her plans for unfunded tax cuts represented a dangerous “fairy tale” which would stoke inflation. In the end the fiscal statement on September 23rd included cuts worth £45bn ($50bn), an even more lavish giveaway than the one she had dangled during the contest.

Much of her party is determined to get rid of her. Her project of deficit-funded tax cuts and a smaller state always had shallow support in a party that combines a new-found taste for state intervention with an old liking of sound money. Even those Tories who backed her project now have little reason to keep her in place, save for the embarrassment of installing its third leader in a year. The question preoccupying MPs is not “if” but “when”: should they move against her now or wait until after the fiscal plan on October 31st?

In a public letter thanking Mr Kwarteng for his 39 days as chancellor, Ms Truss declared that he had “set in train” structural reforms to planning law, as part of her mission of lifting Britain’s parlous productivity. In truth, those reforms exist only on paper and face a difficult battle through Parliament. “We share the same vision for our country and the same firm conviction to go for growth,” she wrote. Convictions are all she has left.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer didn't hold back:

In an interview with the Guardian, the Labour leader said Truss had driven the economy “into a wall” while “trashing our institutions”, and changing the prime minister again without allowing the country to vote would not be acceptable.

However, Starmer said he had told his shadow cabinet not to be complacent about the party’s 30 points-plus poll lead, and that Labour was “not going to sit back” but fight for every vote.

He said people were “looking to Labour for the answers to the next election” and the party needed to carry on putting in the work to win the contest, rather than assuming the government’s incompetence would cause the Tories to lose.

Asked if a general election was necessary immediately, or if Truss is replaced, Starmer said: “Yes … We are in the absurd situation where we are on the third, fourth prime minister in six years and within weeks we have a got a prime minister who has the worst reputational ratings of any prime minister pretty well in history. Their party is completely exhausted and clapped out. It has got no ideas, it can’t face the future and it has left the UK in a defensive crouch where we are not facing the challenges of the future because we haven’t got a government that could lead us to the future. For the good of the country we need a general election.”

Of course, the Tories have no requirement to call an election until 2025, so I expect we're about to see which bozo comes out of their Mini Cooper to move into Number 10 before Christmas. Maybe Jeremy Hunt?

Not the shortest term as Chancellor ever

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng is out on his ass so that PM Liz Truss (who also holds the title First Lord of the Treasury) can put off going to the country for just a little longer:

Jeremy Hunt has been appointed as Liz Truss’s new chancellor, in a stunning reversal of political fortune and a sign that the beleaguered prime minister wants to reach out to other sections of the Conservative party.

Hunt, the former foreign secretary and health secretary, who has twice tried unsuccessfully to become Conservative leader, was named chancellor after Kwasi Kwarteng, in the job for just over five weeks, was sacked by Truss ahead of another U-turn over tax cuts.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats said Truss now needed to stand down. Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said: “We don’t just need a change in chancellor, we need a change in government.”

Kwarteng now holds the record for the shortest-serving Chancellor ever to survive the office:

Mr Kwarteng, formerly Ms Truss’s close political ally, is carrying the can for the financial and political turmoil unleashed by his mini-budget on September 23rd. His tenure of just 39 days in a job that dates back to the Middle Ages is not the shortest. But it’s not far off....

Mr Kwarteng’s chancellorship is the second shortest of modern times. Only Iain Macleod, who died on his 31st day in office, in 1970, spent less time in 11 Downing Street. Mr Kwarteng’s immediate predecessor, Nadim Zahawi, was chancellor for just 64 days. His tenure, it turns out, was not even the shortest of the year.

Mr Kwarteng’s successor, Jeremy Hunt, is the sixth chancellor in just over three years. Philip Hammond gave way to Sajid Javid when Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as prime minister in July 2019. Mr Javid fell out with Mr Johnson after less than seven months. Rishi Sunak quit this year to force Mr Johnson from office. Mr Zahawi kept the seat warm while the Tories chose a new leader. And now Ms Truss’s catastrophic start has cost her ally his job. It may yet cost her hers.

The parliamentary system means that the government doesn't have to call an election if they don't want to, though an act passed earlier this year will force Parliament to dissolve five years after its opening. As that won't happen until January 2025, the Conservative Party could continue to drag the country through chaos until just after the end of President Biden's first term. Let's all hope they just get out of the way next spring.

Consequences

Man-shaped bag of feces Alex Jones may be "done saying I'm sorry," but a Connecticut jury suggests he should have tried just one more time:

The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay $965 million to the families of eight Sandy Hook shooting victims and an FBI agent who responded to the attack for the suffering he caused them by spreading lies on his platforms about the 2012 massacre, a Connecticut jury found on Wednesday.

Jones had already been found liable by a judge after refusing to hand over critical evidence before the trial began, and this six-member jury was only asked to decide how much Jones should pay.

During closing arguments, Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the families and agent, suggested that Jones should be ordered to pay at least $550 million, saying that the host's Sandy Hook content got an estimated 550 million views from 2012 to 2018.

“I’ve already said I’m sorry hundreds of times, and I’m done saying I’m sorry,” Jones said. 

A defiant Jones said he believed Sandy Hook was a hoax when he spread his lies. “I legitimately thought it might have been staged and I stand by that. I don’t apologize for it.”

News reports suggest he can afford it—barely. And of course, he'll just make up more vile shit that the MAGA folks will eat, because we're at that point in an historic cycle of stupidity. Maybe this means the cycle could end soon? I hope so.

Packing day

As far as I know, I'm moving in 2½ weeks, though the exact timing of both real-estate closings remain unknown. Last time I moved it took me about 38 hours to pack and 15 to unpack. This time I expect it to go faster, in part because I'm not spending as much time going "oh, I love this book!"

I'm taking a quick break and catching up on some reading:

Finally, a new survey says Chicagoans swear a lot less than most Americans, with people from Columbus, Ohio, swearing the most. Fuck that shit.

Herschel Walker should not have run for Senate

Comedian John Fuselgang summed up the Georgia GOP's position as: "I oppose abortion in all cases, unless it's to save the political life of the father." And whose political life does the Georgia GOP want to save? This guy's:

to read the mainstream media’s coverage of Walker’s gaffes and transgressions—his previously unidentified children from different partners, his spaced-out climate change commentary about “China’s bad air” taking over America’s “good air space,” a seemingly never-ending litany of resume-inflating lies—you’d think that everyone reporting these incidents imagines that the hypocrisy police are sure to arrive on the scene to make an arrest. What they’re missing is that the law of gravity is no longer in effect; the point of view that Senate candidates need to possess plainly evident core values or sturdy credentials to hold high office has been beaten into obsolescence by McConnell, who is the sole arbiter of who gets to run for Senate as a Republican.

For McConnell, the ideal Senate Republican possesses one quality: They are a warm body with enough cognitive acuity and physical dexterity needed to cast votes according to his demands. No further values or credentials are required. And for the most part, the votes those senators will cast only really reify an agenda he has already successfully enacted. For the past decade, as Beltway journalists have touted him as a “master tactician” by the way he’s leveraged arcane Senate rules to his own advantage or praised him, inexplicably, as a civil rights hero because he ultimately voted for an eminently qualified Black woman to serve as attorney general after months of delaying her confirmation, they’ve largely ignored his masterwork: a federal judiciary transformed by his blowtorch and pickax.

Andrew Sullivan piles on:

But then you come across the Senate candidacy of one Herschel Walker, and, well, words fail. No magical realist fiction writer could come up with something so sickeningly absurd. Walker is, of course, inextricable from his longtime friend, Donald Trump....

Walker is, to start with, very dumb. I don’t usually note this quality in a candidate and it doesn’t make him a huge outlier in politics of course. Being brainy, moreover, can be a serious liability for some pols. But seriously: this stupid?

He’s clearly incapable of understanding even a scintilla of what his job would entail, and manifestly incapable of doing it.

Maybe Walker makes up for it in charm and eloquence? Nope. He speaks like someone with brain damage. (As a pro-football alum, it’s amazing that the possibility of CTE has barely been raised, even though he has shown classic symptoms — no impulse control, murderous rage, incoherent speech, and even multiple personalities — for decades.) Just read any transcript of his incoherent rambling.

I am not saying that the Democrats are not also corrupted by rank tribalism. At their worst, they are, as I often point out. I am saying that they do not compare with the current GOP in its hollowness and depravity and madness.

Walker shows that there is no principle they will not jettison, no evil they will not excuse, no crime they won’t “whatabout,” and no moron they won’t elect, if it means they gain power. There is degeneracy among many Democrats, sure. But the Republican party is defined by this putrescence. Burn it down.

Karen Attiah compares Walker with another "toxic Black man," Kanye West:

If I had my way, I would dismiss these two as clowns. But America just makes them impossible to ignore. This country loves to inundate us with coverage of Black male figures embodying the archetype of the dumb, violent, Black servant eager to please the White masters.

But what can be done? I think it’s worthwhile and necessary to reward Black men who are doing good in society with our attention, votes and money when we can. For my part, I try not to allow West to profit off my attention. That’s what’s within my control. And Walker? It’s on Georgia voters to do the right thing — and keep him away from the Senate.

But no matter what happens, as long as our culture rewards anti-Blackness and misogyny, we will be sure to see more Wests and Walkers. It’s a dark state of affairs, for sure.

After Walker's most recent scandal, his poll numbers have plummeted, so we might not have to worry about him for too much longer. But the GOP has shown (with Walker, with Tommy Tuberville, with Sarah Palin, with so many other candidates) that they really don't care about governing, and have stopped any pretense of doing so. I hope more voters figure this out before the GOP takes us past the point of no return.

Complete pile-up in my "to be read" stack

I've had a busy day. I finally solved the token-authentication problem I've been working on all week for my day job (only to discover another flavor of it after deploying to Azure), while dealing with a plumber ($1600 repair!), an HVAC inspector ($170 inspection!) and my buyer's mortgage appraiser (not my problem!). That left some reading to do tonight:

Finally, despite the crashing temperatures outside my window right now (down 5.5°C in the past 2 hours), Illinois had a pretty dry and mild start to autumn.

Yay Justice Ketanji Brown!

The Tweet I highlighted earlier has this context behind it:

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson turned the favored tactic of her right-wing peers on its head Tuesday, advancing an originalist argument to support protections for racial minorities. 

She made the comments during oral arguments in Merrill v. Milligan, a case that gives the conservative majority the opportunity to gut the Voting Rights Act even further.

She read out a quote from the legislator who introduced the [14th] amendment, and went on to explain that the 14th Amendment was enacted to give a constitutional foundation to the Civil Rights Act of 1866 that was “designed to make people who had less opportunity and less rights equal to white citizens.”

Josh Marshall loves it:

It is such a breath of fresh air, seeing Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson say from the bench what the 14th Amendment actually says. “It’s not a race-blind remedy,” she says, in something of an understatement. But we can actually go well beyond this since so much of modern jurisprudence, mostly but not only from the right, is based not only on ignoring the context and plain text of the 14th Amendment but pretending that the real Constitution — albeit with some additions and fresh paint jobs — is the one finalized in the first Congress as the first ten amendments. The Civil War amendments are not only not race-blind. They reflect a larger realization and aim: that the whole state thing just hadn’t worked out.

It would be possible to argue that 150+ years since the passage of the Civil War amendments represents a cooling of the ambitions of the statecraft of the 14th Amendment and an effort to work out some equitable balance between localism and national power. There’s some truth to that. But that’s not an argument available to anyone who argues for originalism. With that you have to go back to what the Reconstruction Congress thought they were doing. And what they were trying to do was quite radical in the context of the 80 preceding years of American national history — indeed, quite radical in some ways in relation to today.

Will this cause the "originalists" on the Court any hesitation before finding against Black voters through tortured, motivated, ahistorical reasoning? Of course not. But the more the centrist Justices call out the three Trump appointees and Thomas for their partisan hackery, the more likely we will see some real court reform.

Well, yes, that's the idea

Chef's kiss:

In case it doesn't show up, here's the Tweet she's replying to:

That didn't stop Justice Thomas (R) from taking his seat, either, so moral consistency isn't something we should expect.

Tracy Flick was never cruel

A first-year undergraduate twerp with obvious narcissistic tendencies went through a homeless encampment handing out fake eviction notices earlier this week:

The one-page notices titled “Maria Hadden’s Five Day Notice To Vacate” were stuffed into belongings and posted on signs in and around Touhy Park, 7348 N. Paulina St., residents said. They were dated Sept. 27 and listed the name of Hadden, the 49th Ward alderperson, in bold blue type over a line reading “landlord/agent.”

The notice says Touhy Park residents have five days to leave and clear the area of “all buildings, sheds, closets, out-buildings, garages, barns and other structures used in connection with said premises.”

It also says residents will be relocated for free to the Four Seasons Hotel in Gold Coast. Their stay at the hotel, 120 E. Delaware Place, would be open-ended “for as long as it takes for Maria Hadden to find you appropriate housing,” the notice states.

The notices say they were “served” by Bill Morton, president of the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce and candidate for 49th Ward alderman. Sarah Lim, a DePaul University freshman who is considering a run for mayor, is listed as the document’s “affiant,” or someone who files an affidavit.

Lim said she was solely responsible for the fake eviction notices. Morton denied having any involvement.

Lim fantasizes that she's a candidate for mayor next year, and also fantasizes that she didn't do anything wrong with this stunt:

Lim, who is planning on running for mayor of Chicago, said she taped up the bogus flyers so that she could “get my name out there.”

By circulating the sheets, she also hoped to get publicity directly to her website. The site assists high school and college students in attaining internships.

“I started the website last summer,” Lim said. “It has really been a struggle to get more traffic to it, which is why I resorted to the publicity stunt.”

Lim, reached by phone late Thursday afternoon, said she didn’t mean to offend anyone and was only seeking publicity.

“I have no hatred against homeless people,” said Lim, who said she came up with the idea last week because she knows the encampment is controversial. “People want something done about it,” Lim said of the homeless people living there.

“Whatever the intention, it was a very cruel act for all of these people who are pretty vulnerable and seeking housing,” Hadden said. Some are on waiting lists to be placed in homes.

When Lim was told that Hadden thought the fake notices were “cruel,” she said: “I think that instead of trying to turn me into a criminal, Hadden should be focusing on the issues right now.”

A bewildered Hadden said she had no idea why someone would do this. “You can’t make this stuff up,” Hadden said.

I make the comparison to the character Tracy Flick in Tom Perrotta's novel Election because Flick frequently gets held up as a sociopathic striver who would do anything to get elected class president. Except anyone who's read the novel can understand that Flick is actually the good guy; she wins on her merits, and never acts as cruelly as the social-studies teacher who has it in for her.

Sarah Lim, however, seems like a true sociopath in a way that most 17-year-old humans have already grown out of. I sincerely hope she matures in college, but it looks like she has a long way to go just to get to the first-year baseline.

Der Anschluß Ukrainisch

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin illegally declared Russia has annexed parts of Ukraine, which literally no other country in the world has recognized:

Speaking to hundreds of Russian lawmakers and governors in a grand Kremlin hall, Mr. Putin said that the residents of the four regions — which are still partially controlled by Ukrainian forces — would become Russia’s citizens “forever.” He then held a signing ceremony with the Russian-installed heads of those four regions to start the official annexation process, before clasping hands with them and chanting “Russia! Russia!”

Ukraine’s government has rebuffed Mr. Putin’s claims and vowed to retake territory captured by Russia in the east and south. Even as Mr. Putin spoke, Ukrainian officials said their army had encircled the Russian-occupied town of Lyman, a strategically important hub in the Donetsk region that lies inside the territory Mr. Putin is claiming.

Without saying so directly, Mr. Putin hinted that the role of nuclear weapons in war is on his mind. Describing the West as “deceitful and hypocritical through and through,” Mr. Putin noted that the United States was the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. He then added: “By the way, they created a precedent.”

In addition to telling Putin to fuck off (in diplomatic terms, anyway), Ukrainian president Volodomir Zelenskyy announced that Ukraine has formally applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—something he was ready to promise not to do until this week:

[Putin's] speech was followed by Moscow-installed leaders of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia signing documents proclaiming them part of Russia, before joining hands with Putin and singing the national anthem.

Minutes later, Zelenskyy posted a surprise online video announcing, "We are taking our decisive step by signing Ukraine's application for accelerated accession to NATO."

Joining the alliance has been a goal of Kyiv's for years, and would give it the protection of collective defense promised by Washington and others. In reality, a number of hurdles stand in its way.

While not being NATO allies, the U.S. and others have provided billions of dollars of military support for Ukraine as well as multiple rafts of sanctions. On Friday it responded to Putin's statement with another salvo, imposing economic and visa sanctions on hundreds of Russian and Belarusian officials, their family members and businesses.

Putin's domestic situation has deteriorated precipitously in the past two weeks as the Russian people have discovered they really do have an unhinged malignant narcissist running their country. And that movie always ends the same way.

(h/t Darth Putin KGB on Twitter)