The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Nobody knows nothing yet

The last 48 hours have no precedent in US politics. People have only just started to absorb what it means for President Biden to drop out of the election and Vice President Harris to take his place (which she has almost certainly done, based on delegate counts--and the endorsements of both the House Minority Leader and Senate Majority Leader). No polling data released before Thursday will have captured any of that.

I will say, however, that I feel so much better about the election than I did Sunday morning, I believe we will win it. Clearly, I'm not alone.

The election is 15 weeks from today. That's 13 weeks longer than most people pay attention. And given how much has happened in just the last 4 weeks, a lot more can happen before November.

But for the first time in a while, I feel great about our chances.

Democrats in complete array

What a consequential 24 hours we've had.

After President Biden's historical withdrawal from the 2024 election, he endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris. So far, dozens of other elected Democrats have followed, including Illinois governor JB Pritzker just this morning.

And because the Vice President is already on the campaign, according to Federal election rules, she can use the entire $96 million campaign fund—and in fact she's already filed with the Federal Election Commission to do so.

In other words, Harris is, without question, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, which means next month's Democratic National Convention in Chicago will be the election kickoff we hoped for and not a repeat of 1968.

Some reactions from the usual suspects:

I should also add Aaron Sorkin's piece from yesterday's Times, published before President Biden's announcement: "How I would script this moment for Biden and the Democrats." But no, we aren't going to nominate Mitt Romney (R-UT).

Meanwhile, the news has put the Republican party in complete disarray as their entire election strategy just evaporated. Over the next few days we will see the convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS back in form as the racist, misogynist wanna-be thug that he is. But the best news of all from yesterday is: the chances we need to care about him for longer than 106 more days just got a lot smaller.

One or two other things happened yesterday, including the last-surviving piping plover chick on Montrose Beach getting a name. I'll have more later today.

President Biden withdraws

The New York Times reports that President Biden has withdrawn from the 2024 election:

After three weeks of often angry refusals to step aside, Mr. Biden finally yielded to a torrent of devastating polls, urgent pleas from Democratic lawmakers and clear signs that donors were no longer willing to pay for him to continue.

Mr. Biden said he will not resign the presidency, and intends to finish out his term even as he leaves it to others to try and defeat Mr. Trump. Over the next several months, the president faces the ongoing war in Ukraine and the increasingly desperate efforts to reach a negotiated deal to end the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

No sitting American president has dropped out of a race so late in the election cycle. The Democratic National Convention, where Mr. Biden was to have been formally nominated by 3,939 delegates, is scheduled to begin Aug. 19 in Chicago. That leaves less than a month for Democrats to decide who should replace Mr. Biden on the ticket and just under four months for that person to mount a campaign against Mr. Trump.

And now the race is between a demented 78-year-old who has a proven track record of chaos and corruption against a brilliant 59-year-old who has a proven track record of accomplishment and fighting for our rights.

The XPOTUS's campaign must be shitting bricks right now.

Here's the President's statement:

End of Thursday link roundup

Lots of stories in the last day:

Finally, comic genius and Chicago native Bob Newhart has died at age 94. He was a national treasure.

Guys, he's not dropping out

Everyone in the world knows that President Biden had a bad night two weeks ago. Since then, we've heard a steady drumbeat of calls for him to withdraw from the race. But did anyone watch last night's press conference? Here it is; I'll wait:

The convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS could not have done that press conference, because he lacks the knowledge, the focus, the sanity, and frankly the IQ to answer questions for that long.

And still, what did most press outlets report? That he bobbled the name of the Vice President.

Meanwhile, the convicted-felon rapist XPOTUS can't find a coherent thought with two hands and a flashlight on his best days.

Yes, the President is an old man, and he could drop dead before January 2029. But as he said, "I wouldn't have picked Kamala if she weren't qualified to be President."

Until something actually changes in the race, I'm done with the "will he drop out" bullshit. He's the President, and he's crushing it.

Other things happened in the last 24 hours that were more interesting than George Clooney's whining:

Finally, if Google Maps and Waze drive you crazy, you're not alone. Julia Angwin explains why, and suggests alternatives, like Valhalla.

Nothing has really changed in the last two weeks

Josh Marshall sometimes gets excited, but he comes around eventually:

[A new poll] from ABC and the Washington Post...shows Biden and Trump tied and Harris actually up over Trump by two points. This is only one poll of course. But I don’t think it’s greatly different from other polls over the last several days. An Emerson poll, never especially favorable to Biden, shows the two tied. A Bendixen/Amandi poll shows Biden down one, Harris up one. A handful of other polls show Biden down two or three points.

I think these polls show a few things. One is that there’s a good chance that the run of bad polls last weekend was significantly impacted by response bias. (Dems too depressed and catatonic to answer pollsters and thus showing a ‘false’ or at least ephemeral shift.) The race actually remains fairly static notwithstanding the truly unprecedented events of the last two weeks. The idea that the bottom is falling out for Democrats just isn’t borne out by the polls. There’s other data I’ve seen that tends to bear that out.

Regardless, you can’t make this decision on the basis of the polls. Not for any high-toned or kumbaya reason but simply because they haven’t moved that much. If you’re looking just at the polls they tell you not very much has happened over the last two weeks. The question is whether you have a campaign and candidate focused and energetic enough to deliver in the final four months of the campaign.

The second point is what happens if Joe Biden withdraws from the race and endorses and is replaced by Kamala Harris. [A]s much as we think this is a big deal I don’t think we really realize how big a deal and how many unknowns it unleashes. Positive and negative. Even with Trump the US presidential system is highly highly structured, choreographed, bounded by all sorts of informal but highly binding rules. Something like this blows them all apart.

The President completely blew the debate. But as much as I felt awful for him, I really haven't thought it changed much. Both Biden and the convicted-felon rapist demented XPOTUS are known quantities. We can imagine another world where the Baby Boomers voluntarily get out of the way, but as a Gen-X, I have never seen that happen and I doubt I ever will. So these are the old white guys we have.

Still, regardless of what happens in the next five months, I can take some comfort in the near-inevitability that this will be the last Boomer-vs-Boomer presidential election. (I also believe we will have elections in 2026 and 2028 as usual, though if the Republican nominee wins, I think they will both be really ugly.) I also think that by 2028, we will have enough pent-up frustration with the system that we will have a real election between normal candidates.

But yeah, after this, I'm really done with the modern GOP, and I'm done with Boomer politicians.

What if it's Harris?

Since President Biden shat the bed at the debate against the demented, convicted-felon, narcissistic imbecile XPOTUS last week, the Democratic Party cognoscenti have lost their minds. Everyone who doesn't have an office in the West Wing seems to want the President to withdraw from the race, despite only 123 days left before the election.

Now, I believe firmly that a healthy party self-corrects, and if a party fails to do so for 14 years, it deserves its worst loss in history.

But the reality is, we head into the Democratic National Convention next month with almost every delegate pledged for the Biden/Harris campaign. The only alternative to President Biden right now is Vice President Harris. Any other path would grossly violate the democratic principles the Democratic Party stands for.

Not to mention, changing candidates requires the President's assent; he has to release or direct his delegates in order for anyone else to win nomination. Not to mention, if the nominated candidate were anyone other than the Vice President, the XPOTUS's team would gleefully sue the campaign on the grounds that no one else was elected.

Believe it or not, professional pessimist Josh Marshall thinks the XPOTUS's campaign have to be shitting bricks worrying about us nominating the Vice President, because the President's age has really been their only winning argument:

Trump’s campaign has spent three years thinking it was running against Joe Biden. Well – if this set of events transpires – he’s not. He’s running against someone young and vital. His entire plan of battle goes out the window. It’s hard to overestimate how important that is. But that’s not the case for Democrats. They’re still running against a deeply unpopular candidate, who outlawed Roe v Wade, who staged a coup against the state, who’s a convicted felon, who most Americans don’t want to see as President again. The whole two very old very unpopular candidate model, well, that’s out the window. Harris at the top of the ticket pushes abortion even higher into salience. Republicans will try to shift things back to questions about Joe Biden. Why this? Why that? Harris has a perfect, taunting rejoinder every time: “Focus, Donald. You’re not running against Joe Biden anymore. You’re running against me, Kamala Harris.”

I think he makes a good point. I would also say that the XPOTUS has more liabilities coming into this election than anyone in history. Not just his 34 felony convictions; not just his wildly anti-democratic rants; not just his track record with the pandemic, abortion, and the Federal courts in general. Oh, no. If you want to debate whose cognitive decline matters in this election, I'll take Sleepy Joe over the Stark Raving Loony leader of the Republican Party:

We live in interesting times.

Historical parallels, anyone?

We've had stories of people clinging to power long past their ability to wield it for as long as we've had stories. Today, though, I want to take note of three people who held on so long, they wound up undoing much of what they'd accomplished in their lifetimes: Paul von Hindenburg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and now possibly Joe Biden.

Germans largely loved and respected Hindenburg, in part because he came very close to winning the First World War as supreme commander of the Central Powers. The loss of that war, plus the humiliating terms of the November 1919 armistice, led bit by bit to Hindenburg's disastrous second term as President of Germany. After a tumultuous first term, and by this time 84 years old, he won re-election in 1932. It turned out that Hindenburg didn't have all his youthful mojo, so within a year he had handed the keys to Germany to a pathologically narcissistic convicted criminal from Austria. We all know how that went.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote some of the most progressive opinions in her time on the US Supreme Court, and fought her whole life for women's rights, abortion rights, and basically everything that progressives hold dear. She got her first diagnosis with colon cancer in 1999, with pancreatic cancer in 2009, and with heart disease severe enough to require a stent in late 2014. When John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, she became the oldest person on the Court. By this point progressives, including President Obama, really wanted her to retire to ensure that another like-minded judge took her place. She didn't; and when she died in September 2020, just two months before we finally got the not-yet-convicted felon out of the Oval Office, the Republican-controlled Senate fast-tracked the anti-Ginsburg, militant Christianist Amy Comey Barrett (R) into her seat. Since Ginsburg's death, the Republican supermajority on the Court has whittled away at everything she accomplished, up to and including reversing Roe v Wade. Fitting that the last two days have seen some of the most reactionary rulings from the Court since Plessy v Ferguson. (I expect a ruling as egregious as Dred Scott to hit next June.)

And now we come to President Biden, whose performance last night brought both Hindenburg and Ginsburg to mind immediately. Never mind that the convicted-felon XPOTUS couldn't utter three consecutive syllables without lying, it was excruciating to watch. Great time to have Covid; I really would have liked a stiff drink when it ended. (I'm especially sad that I couldn't commiserate with a dear friend who died on the 11th. He would have brought the bourbon.)

Let's review the reviews, shall we?

James Fallows: Thirty minutes in, he Tweeted: "Trump is lying nonstop but has been at the high end of his 'sounding coherent' range. Biden has too much info and has been at the low end of his 'revving up for big events' range." "So that is why his labored, halting, raspy, fact-clogged, uneasy sounding first set of answers was so startling. Without consciously realizing it, I had gotten used to the idea that in a crunch he could sound younger than he looks. This time he sounded very old. That’s what I meant by the bottom of his range."

Dana Milbank: "The first and probably last meeting between Donald Trump and President Biden wasn’t a debate. It was a 90-minute disinfomercial promoting the former president, who uttered one egregious fabrication after the other, with barely a pause for breath between his inventions. The truth never had a chance. The truth needed a standard-bearer on that stage in Atlanta on Thursday night. Biden plainly was not up to the job. If the country is 'failing,' it’s because it is experiencing a relentless, disciplined and coordinated attack on everything that is true — and because the one person the reality-based community was counting on to save us has just shown himself to be unequal to the task."

David Corn: President Biden "tumbled through 90 minutes, muffing answers, often looking uncertain, speaking in a low, gravelly voice that did not convey strength. This was not only a missed chance. It was a disaster. Bill Clinton used to say that strong-and-wrong beats weak-and-right. With his performance on Thursday night, Biden created a perfect test case for that proposition."

Alex Shephard: "Again and again, with no prompting, he made his opponent’s case for him. He was often incoherent, frequently appeared to forget the question he was responding to, and consistently failed to make the very easy and simple case for his reelection. He allowed Donald Trump—a man who was terrible in every Republican primary debate in 2016 and who decisively lost every presidential debate in 2016 and 2020—not only to appear competent in comparison, but to seem normal."

Andrew Sullivan: "For god's sake, withdraw. [L]ast night’s debate performance by Joe Biden is the end of his campaign. It’s over. Done. No sane person can possibly believe that this man is capable of being president now, let alone for another four years."

David Graham: "Watching the president at the first debate was at times almost physically uncomfortable. If the purpose of debates such as this one is to show voters something new about the candidates, then it didn’t work. And how could it? Both men are very well known, and very little liked, by the entire American public. Nor was there much to learn about policy: Trump doesn’t care about it, and Biden kept getting mixed up in details about it."

Peter Hamby: "What’s striking is the level of anger coming from normal Democrats, not professional Democrats, people who just want to vote against Trump and get this over with, even if they’re not in love with Biden, who are texting me their anger. It’s because so much feels at stake. Biden, by the way, never said, “I will be a transitional president.” He hinted at it. A lot of people took that to heart, and after the midterms he could have walked away like Michael Jordan after hitting that shot against the Jazz and been a hero forever to Democrats. After the midterms, Jill and Valerie Biden, and Ron Klain and Mike Donilon and Ted Kaufman should have been like, Hey man, you did your duty. You’re a historic figure. Time to pass the torch."

And those are the people on our side!

Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.

When, years from now, historians try to make sense of how the United States collapsed in the late 21st century, they may clock last night as one of the nails in its coffin. Forget modern infrastructure and universal health care; we'll be lucky to have civil liberties in 20 years.

The XPOTUS and his Supreme Court appointees don't care about you

Yes, President Biden is old, but he doesn't want to recreate the world of Victor Hugo. The Republican Party does, and this morning, they showed how they'll do it.

The debate last night did not fill me with joy, as it showed my guy looking like the 82-year-old great-grandfather he is, and showed the convicted-felon other guy looking like the 78-year-old con artist he is. I may come back to this train wreck for democracy later today, but for now, I'd rather focus on why the President's geriatric performance matters less than what the convicted-felon XPOTUS gleefully took credit for.

And who better to demonstrate why a second convicted-felon XPOTUS term would set the country back two generations than the US Supreme Court, which just a few minutes ago handed down its third major decision this week demonstrating how the court's Republican majority does not think the government should prevent easily-preventable harm to innocent people.

In City of Grant Pass v Johnson, Justice Gorsuch (R) wrote the opinion for the usual suspects—Chief Justice Roberts (R) and Justices Alito (R), Kavanaugh (R), Thomas (R), and Barrett (R)—that allows cities to criminalize being homeless.

Yesterday, the same bunch limited the ability of the government to go after people who commit securities fraud (SEC v Jarkesky) and to keep our air clean (Ohio v EPA, also a Gorsuch opinion). Wednesday they said that you can tip public officials for good service (Snyder v US, by Kavanaugh).

And just now, it appears that the radical right has overturned its 1984 Chevron decision. In Loper Bright Enterprises v Raimondo, the Chief Justice says that Federal agencies, who are staffed by experts and people who know what they're doing, can't fill in the gaps that Congress (who generally don't know what they're doing) leaves in legislation. I will have a lot more to say about this development after I read the opinion.

These opinions are huge wins for people who want to cheat, steal, pollute, and punish others they see as inferior. The country this week lurched back into the mid-20th century, with the loony radical fringe salivating that they can bring us back to the mid-18th if the convicted-felon XPOTUS wins in November.

Because for the Justices that the convicted-felon XPOTUS appointed, plus of course the corrupt, Christianist radicals Alito and Thomas, if you lose your house and have to sleep rough after you invested in a fraudulent stock while choking on the air pollution from the unregulated chemical plant just across the state line from you, it's obviously your own fault, you dirty criminal.

So yes, I'm sorry, the President is an old man. But the convicted-felon XPOTUS and his Grand Old Party has caused an enormous amount of damage to the country, and will do so much more damage if put back into power next year.

The circus coming to town tonight

The President and the convicted-felon XPOTUS will perform for the voting public this evening in what CNN optimistically calls a "debate." One of them currently managing the Federal government competently and without drama as an impressive cap to his 50 years in public service, while the other is a convicted fraudster who has raped, stolen, and lied his way through 50 years of narcissistic fury. But sure, let's have them discuss matters of national concern.

Hillary Clinton, who has actually debated both men before, knows "it is nearly impossible to focus on substance when Mr. Trump is involved:"

It is a waste of time to try to refute Mr. Trump’s arguments like in a normal debate. It’s nearly impossible to identify what his arguments even are. He starts with nonsense and then digresses into blather. This has gotten only worse in the years since we debated.

Mr. Trump may rant and rave in part because he wants to avoid giving straight answers about his unpopular positions, like restrictions on abortion, giving tax breaks to billionaires and selling out our planet to big oil companies in return for campaign donations. He interrupts and bullies — he even stalked me around the stage at one point — because he wants to appear dominant and throw his opponent off balance.

Josh Marshall thinks "we actually know going in mostly what will happen:"

We’ve seen Joe Biden in presidential debates, even with Donald Trump. We’ve seen him in successive State of the Unions, as recently as three months ago. He doesn’t knock your socks off but he’s basically fine. And it amounts to a bit more than fine given the ridiculously low expectations Republicans have themselves largely created.

We know Donald Trump. He’ll be a freak: lying, interrupting, making up wild claims or dares he’ll mostly not get called on.

[M]uch of this debate will be a battle of Trump with himself. He’ll be a swaggering predatory freak. Most people don’t see that a lot, especially people who don’t follow politics very closely and whose votes will be the deciding factor in the election. So, do his antics remind people of what a freak he is? Or does he manage to use his disruptive powers to create some shiny object or embarrassing moment that somehow helps him or hurts Biden despite acting like a predatory freak?

Alex Shephard concurs:

Trump does whatever Trump wants to do—he doesn’t change. He doesn’t calibrate. He will be vile and extreme and racist. He is incompetent and chaotic and weird. He will remind voters, again and again, of the many qualities they dislike about him.

It’s clear that the people around Trump are more disciplined than they have been in previous campaigns. But Trump is not only still Trump, he’s arguably much worse.

Joe Biden may perform well, and he might not. He will likely be, as he has been for much of his presidency, somewhere in the middle. But Donald Trump will show up to the debate and do Donald Trump things. His performance in the debate will be many voters’ first major reminder of what his presidency was like. That may very well be enough for Biden, even if he cannot answer questions about his age.

I will watch, and only owing to me needing the coronavirus in my nose to die as quickly as possible will I not play any drinking games with my friends. (Plus, a drinking game with this match-up could kill a healthy adult.)

And I have to say, about President Biden's age, it doesn't really matter. If somehow the convicted-felon XPOTUS gets back into office and sees out the entire term, then he'll be just as old as Biden, but with a lot more dementia and a lot fewer IQ points.