The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sadly, yes

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

Sigh.

When we go high, they go low

Political writer and YouTube creator Ian Danskin put together a series of videos in the aftermath of the 2016 election to explain what we Democrats did wrong, and how we need to engage with the Alt-Right (now known as the Republican Party). The whole series is worth watching, but if you want to skip to the end, watch this one:

Some things have changed since 2017, but not as many things as one would hope. We need everyone in the Party to understand the core message of the above video: we need outcomes, not just process, if we're going to save democracy. Think of LBJ, not Walter Mondale, for f's sake.

Really busy couple of weeks

Through next weekend I'm going to have a lot to do, so much that I've scheduled "nothing" for the back half of next week going into our annual fundraiser on April 6th. I might even get enough sleep.

I hope I have time to read some of these, too:

Finally, submitted without comment: Grazie Sophia Christie, writing in New York Magazine, advises young women to marry older men.

We did not get Uncle Fluffy last night

I didn't expect to watch President Biden's State of the Union Address to Congress last night, so instead of live-blogging here, I live-commented on Facebook. Some highlights, with annotations as needed:

  • MTG didn't even let him get to the podium before snarking at him. She's the Nobby Nobbs of the House
  • Sweden's PM is sitting to Jill Biden's left. Wow. That's a message about NATO
  • Wow, someone ate his Wheaties today. "Many of you were here [on January 6th]. ... But they failed! Democracy prevailed!"
  • "You can't love your country only when you win."
  • Mike Johnson looks like he needs to change his diaper
  • "My predecessor failed the most basic duty, the duty to care." Cue first Republican outburst
  • Despite my best efforts, Cassie appears disappointingly nonpartisan:
  • Somebody get Mike Johnson a Pepto-Bismol
  • "The state of our Union is strong and getting stronger!" (Four more years!)
  • Seriously, did Mike Johnson take a large gummie before the speech? He looks like he's dissociating...
  • "America is safer than 4 years ago... Violent crime fell to the lowest level in 50 years" (And an incoherent protestor is escorted from the gallery?)
  • "The only real solution is a two-state solution. ... There is no other path that guarantees peace between Israel and all of its neighbors."

Of course, many more-qualified people also had reactions. Here are just a few:

  • Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post fact checker: "Biden’s job record in his first three years certainly tops Trump’s performance. ... The U.S. inflation rate is much better than the OECD average of 5.7 percent. But other G-7 members such as Japan, Italy and Germany had lower inflation rates as of January. ... A Rand study published last month, using 2022 data, concluded that across all drugs, U.S. prices were 2.78 times higher than prices in 33 other countries that are part of the OECD."
  • Josh Marshall: "I thought this was a strong speech."
  • Assorted New York Times columnists, starting with Gail Collins: "For Biden, the speech was a real rouser."
  • Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times: "Biden’s speech set the stage for the reset he needs on the Israel-Hamas war."
  • Michael Tomasky: "[President Biden] threw punches—and he landed almost all of them. But let’s not talk about Biden. Let’s talk instead about that little guy in the chair over the president’s left shoulder. House Speaker Mike Johnson showed, in his histrionic facial expressions, everything that’s wrong and idiotic and dangerous and even treasonous about the Republican Party."

As for the official opposition response that US Senator Katie Britt (R-AL) delivered, I could barely watch. Her entire demeanor and manner made my skin crawl. It was like watching a high-school junior work up fake outrage in a campaign speech for class secretary, except Tracy Flick probably wouldn't have worked in all the comments about rape and murder.

Michael Bender and Kayla Guo summed it up best: "With a sunny, inviting smile, Senator Katie Britt of Alabama welcomed Americans into her kitchen on Thursday night. Many soon backed away nervously." Monica Hesse also got a little skeeved out: "Somehow, despite also being a White 42-year-old mom who watched the State of the Union from my own kitchen, I did not feel I was her target audience."

One of my friends posted "Katie Britt proves it’s hard to find normal people in Alabama not on a football scholarship," at which I reminded him that, looked at one way, she is on a football scholarship.

I enjoyed this SOTU a lot. And I'm very much looking forward to hearing President Biden's Second Inaugural in 10 months.

Ukrainian engineering

With the news this morning that Ukraine has disabled yet another Russian ship, incapacitating fully one-third of the Russian Black Sea fleet, it has become apparent that Ukraine is better at making Russian submarines than the Murmansk shipyards. Russia could, of course, stop their own massive military losses—so far they've lost 90% of their army as well—simply by pulling back to the pre-2014 border, but we all know they won't do that.

In other news of small-minded people continuing to do wastefully stupid things:

Finally, a reader who knows my perennial frustration at ever-lengthening copyright durations sent me a story from last March about who benefits from composer Maurice Ravel's estate. Ravel died in 1937, so his music will remain under copyright protection until 1 January 2034, providing royalties to his brother’s wife’s masseuse’s husband’s second wife’s daughter. Please think of her the next time you hear "Bolero."

He's a damn good president, actually

In light of the report from special counsel Robert Hur that James Fallows calls "tendentious," Republican pollster and Lincoln Project member Stuart Stephens wonders why Democrats don't crow more loudly about all that President Biden has actually accomplished:

A plea to my Democratic friends: It’s time to start calling Joe Biden a great president. Not a good one. Not a better choice than Donald Trump. Joe Biden is a historically great president. Say it with passion backed by the conviction that it’s true.

Joe Biden should remain president because of his historic level of achievement here at home while standing on the side of freedom versus tyranny in the largest land war in Europe since World War II, a role no American president has played since the Roosevelt-Truman era. Be bold. Walk into this campaign with swagger and confidence and pride.

The stock market is hitting record highs. Unemployment is at a record low, with 14 million new jobs. Talk to small-business owners, and the biggest problem they are facing is finding workers. A child born in the first Republican “infrastructure week” would have been entering grade school by the time President Biden passed the largest public spending initiative in American history. As a Republican media consultant, I made hundreds of ads about the high cost of prescription drugs. But it took President Biden to give Medicare the power to directly negotiate with Big Pharma to lower prices and cap the cost of insulin for Medicare beneficiaries at $35. For all the bitching about gas prices, the United States is now producing more oil than any country in history. Yes, more than Russia or Saudi Arabia, and that’s one of the reasons gas prices are now lower in inflation-adjusted prices than in 1974. Yeah, I know, fossil fuels suck, and the world should run on solar power. But the Biden administration also launched a $7 billion solar power investment project.

What is most amazing is that Biden got this done in a world in which the majority of Republicans believe he is not a legal president. Ponder that for a minute. You are a White House staffer working to help pass Biden initiatives, and you are dealing with members of Congress and senators who don’t just disagree with your boss—they think he’s an illegitimate president.

I could go on citing the achievements of a president who actually cares about governing. All of these actions and numbers are important, but none matter as much as what Joe Biden has done to restore stability and decency to the presidency. One of the greatest gifts of a democratic civil society is the freedom not to think about government, to wake up and not worry about the mood of a leader. Joe Biden has made governing boring and predictable, both fundamental rights of the people in a healthy democracy.

I agree with Stuart: 2024 looks a lot more like 1944 or 1948 than it does other, more troubling election years (like 1856 or 1908). But Biden's our Truman. Is he showing his age? Well, he looks better at 80 than either Johnson did at 67 or FDR did at 64, doesn't he?

You don't need sunscreen in Chicago in January

A weather pattern has set up shop near Chicago that threatens to occlude the sun for the next week, in exchange for temperatures approaching 15°C the first weekend of February. We've already had 43 days with above-normal temperatures this winter, and just 12 below normal during the cold snap from January 13th through the 22nd. By February 2nd, 84% of our days will have had above-normal temperatures since December 1st.

Thank you, El Niño. Though I'm not sure the gloominess is a fair exchange for it.

Elsewhere:

Finally, Minnesota-based wildlife photographer Benjamin Olson discovered that a mouse had moved into his car. So naturally, he set up a photo trap. And naturally, it's totes adorbs.

How to explain this to future generations?

Twenty years ago today, former Vermont governor Howard Dean (D) showed enthusiasm for his 3rd-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses in a way he came to regret:

Conventional wisdom says that this scream tanked (see what I did there?*) his campaign, but really, Dean never had the momentum or following needed to win the nomination. Plus, President Bush had taken us to war with the Taliban in Afghanistan and with common sense in Iraq, so war hero John Kerry looked like the best person to challenge him.

I can't remember exactly, but I think I voted for Kerry, mainly because the nomination was sewn up by then. More importantly, though, I voted for Illinois State Senator Barack Obama (D-13th) in the primary to fill the US Senate seat of retiring US Senator Peter Fitzgerald (R). My guy won that election (if you recall), and I got to go to the victory party on primary night. Fun!

* See, e.g., this clip from 1988.

Gross weather day

Looking out my 30th-floor office window this afternoon doesn't cheer me. It's gray and snowy, but too warm for accumulation, so it just felt like rain when I sprinted across the street to get my burrito bowl for lunch.

I do have a boring deployment coming up in about an hour, requiring only that I show the business what we've built and then click "Run pipeline" twice. As a reward for getting ahead on development, I have time to read some of these absolutely horrifying news stories:

Finally, Cranky Flier examines American Airlines' European operations and singles out its heavy dependence on Heathrow as a key reason why its fares trans-Atlantic are lower than other US carriers. Since I am using one of those really low fares to visit Germany next month, I'm OK with American keeping their fares low.