The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Articles to read this weekend

So many meetings today, so many articles in my queue:

Tired of all this Trump crap? Have some chocolate-truffle brownies. They look delicious.

Second-warmest autumn in Illinois history

The Illinois State Climatologist reports on the autumn season, which for meteorologists ended Wednesday:

This was the 5th warmest November on record for Illinois, based on preliminary data. The statewide average temperature was 8.6°C, and 2.7°C above normal.

It was also the 2nd warmest fall on record for Illinois. The statewide average temperature for fall was 15.2°C, 2.8°C above normal. Only the fall of 1931 was warmer at 15.4°C The climatological fall months are September, October, and November.

It was an absolutely beautiful season here. That's one of the benefits to Chicago of anthropomorphic climate change.

Twit in Chief

Jeet Heer sees Trump's incessant tweeting as a real strategy:

Trump is using Twitter it as a substitute for press conferences—as a means to make serious policy announcements in a safe space where he can spout off without being questioned or challenged. On Wednesday morning, for instance, Trump issued a string of tweets that, when strung together, announced: “I will be leaving my great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to make America great again. While I am not mandated to do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”

A worthwhile political analysis of any Trump tweet (or comment, for that matter) means stepping back from both reflexive outrage and uncritical repetition.Parroting his tweets with no context or critical analysis is simply bad journalism. But so is reflexive liberal outrage—which needs to be replaced by more sober critiques, rooted in the fact that Trump is a political leader with a track record. We know he likes to gin up false controversies to avoid policy disputes. We know he is deeply dishonest. We also now know that he’s going to continue in the campaign mode as president-elect and, no doubt, as president.

That knowledge has to be applied to his covering his tweets. They should be analyzed for their real political intent.

It's going to be a long four years. And let's not forget his weird phone call with the prime minister of Pakistan. Jeebus.

> 2.5 million

That, as of today, is the number of votes that Clinton won more than Trump:

Hillary Clinton's popular vote lead has now reached 2.52 million votes. In percentage terms that's a 1.9 percentage point margin. It will rise at least a bit more. We can likely be confident that her final margin will be at least 2 percentage points. To compare, that's 5 times the margin of Al Gore's popular vote win in raw vote terms and 4 times his margin in percentage terms. At this point, not only did Clinton win the popular vote. It wasn't even all that close. When George W. Bush had another bite at the electoral apple in 2004 and finally did win the popular vote it was by 2.5 percentage points. Barack Obama's margin in 2012 was 3.9 percentage points.

Thank you, James Madison.

Time passes

Here's a fun comparison. This is the building adjacent to the north side of the northbound platform at the Northbrook Metra station. First, October 1985:

Here's the same wall almost exactly 31 years later:

The pharmacy long ago disappeared. The building now contains an Italian restaurant and a hair salon.

Price is wrong

With Trump set to appoint Rep. Mike Price (R-Ga.) to head Health and Human Services, he's making good on his threat to destroy Obamacare. Even if the legislation doesn't disappear, Price will do everything in his considerable power to hobble it until it stops working altogether. Here's Greg Sargent:

Unlike many Republicans, Price has at least given a lot of thought to how to replace the ACA. But Price’s own replacement proposal would roll back the Medicaid expansion, a substantial portion of financial assistance for others getting coverage, and a fair amount of regulation of the individual market. And so, the likely end result (again, at best) is that a lot of the 20 million people who would lose coverage due to repeal will remain without coverage, and protections for those with bad medical conditions will be eroded.

Did people benefiting from Obamacare who voted for Trump really expect repeal to happen? I think we need more reporting on this question. Yes, Trump did repeatedly say he would repeal Obamacare. But he also said he would replace it with “something terrific.” And he explicitly went out of his way to create the impression that he does not agree ideologically with Republicans who are hostile to government efforts to supply health care to those who can’t afford it.

Now, it’s always possible that many voters backed Trump in the full knowledge that their Obamacare might be repealed, for other reasons — because, for instance, he’ll supposedly bring manufacturing and coal jobs roaring back. Before long, those voters will learn whether their bet was a well-placed one. It’s also possible that Trump will surprise us all and insist on some kind of replacement that somehow preserves much of Obamacare’s coverage expansion. And a kick-the-can-down-the-road scenario which keeps deferring the harshest fallout from repeal is also a possibility.

But it now looks more likely that we’ll see a substantial rollback of the progress toward universal health coverage we’ve seen in the past few years. News organizations love to venture into Trump’s America to hear voters explain that Trump spoke far more directly to their economic struggles than Democrats did. Maybe now we’ll get more coverage of those inhabitants of Trump’s America who are set to lose their health care, too.

How many Trump voters will lose their health insurance as a direct consequence of his election? Krugman estimates 4 million, and shows his work.

Elections have consequences.

Google Earth Engine

Google now has a tool that will show you a time-lapse of any part of the world from 1984 to present:

In 2013, we released Google Earth Timelapse, our most comprehensive picture of the Earth's changing surface. This interactive experience enabled people to explore these changes like never before—to watch the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, and the impressive urban expansion of Las Vegas, Nevada. Today, we're making our largest update to Timelapse yet, with four additional years of imagery, petabytes of new data, and a sharper view of the Earth from 1984 to 2016. We’ve even teamed up again with our friends at TIME to give you an updated take on compelling locations.

The examples on the demo page are striking. I would also suggest a few more to check out: Las Vegas (the city quadrupled in size in 22 years); North Suburban Illinois (watch the Glenview Naval Air Station disappear like a leaf in winter); Dubai; Mount St. Helens (watch the forest grow back and logging operations resume). Very cool stuff.

The rain stopped eventually

Even though it rained every day during my trip to Puerto Rico last week, it did stop raining every so often. Wednesday I was able to go to the Playa Negra (black sand beach) on Vieques, with tons of sunscreen and very uncomfortable flip-flops:

The rain made the "road" to Playa Negra more challenging to walk down, however, as it doubles as a stream:

Finally, on Thanksgiving—my last day on the island—the sun did what it should have done all week:

Liar in Chief

James Fallows implores the news media to report that Trump actually lies when he lies:

The United States is seeing both a chronic and an acute new version of this public-information problem. ...

The acute version is the emergence as president-elect of a man whose nature as a liar is outside what our institutions are designed to deal with. Donald Trump either cannot tell the difference between truth and lies, or he knows the difference but does not care. Tiniest example: On a single day during the campaign, Trump claimed that the National Football League had sent him a letter complaining that the presidential-debate schedule conflicted with NFL games (which the NFL immediately denied), then he said the Koch brothers had begged him to accept their donations (which they also flat-out denied).

Most people would hesitate before telling easily disprovable lies like these, much as shoplifters would hesitate if the store owner is looking at them. Most people are fazed if caught in an outright lie. But in these cases and others, Trump never blinked.

The news media are not built for someone like this.

Think Progress and The Daily Beast concur that Trump is engaged in an all-out battle against democracy itself.