The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

God save our gracious King

With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the British National Anthem has changed back to "God Save the King" for the third time in 185 years. In other news:

By the way, the UK has a vacancy for the post of Prince of Wales, in case anyone would care to apply. I think we can bet on nepotism, though.

Is it Monday?

I took Friday off, so it felt like Saturday. Then Saturday felt like Sunday, Sunday felt like another Saturday, and yesterday was definitely another Sunday. Today does not feel like Tuesday.

Like most Mondays, I had a lot of catching up at the office, including mandatory biennial sexual harassment training (prevention and reporting, I hasten to point out). So despite a 7pm meeting with an Australian client tonight, I hope I find time to read these articles:

Finally, the Hugo Awards were announced in Chicago over the weekend, and now I have a ton more books to buy.

Short rant about student loans

I posted this last night on Facebook:

It's so interesting to me that we're having a (manufactured) political argument about canceling $10k in student debt while all the countries we compete with are horrified that people even have to pay $10k to go to university. Even privatization-happy Brits flipped some constituencies to Labour in the last general election because the Tories raised university fees to £9,250 ($10,900) per year. The outrage isn't that we forgave a token amount of Federally-held debt. The outrage is that the richest country in the history of the world doesn't ensure its entire population gets the same education as the average teenager in Belgium.

One of my more rabid Republican friends did not like that, but I'll spare you his response. Instead, I'll note Paul Krugman's take on the topic:

The right is inveighing against debt relief on moral grounds. “If you take out a loan, you pay it back. Period,” tweeted the House Judiciary G.O.P. On which planet? America has had regularized bankruptcy procedures, which take debt off the books, since the 19th century; the idea has been to give individuals and businesses with crippling debts a second chance.

But, you may argue, student borrowers weren’t struggling to cope with a pandemic. True. But many student borrowers were suckered in by the misleading marketing of for-profit colleges; millions ran up debts but never received a degree. Millions more went into debt only to graduate into a labor market devastated by the global financial crisis, a market that took many years to recover.

So don’t think of this as a random giveaway. Many though not all of those who will benefit from debt forgiveness are, in fact, victims of circumstances beyond their control.

Of course, that's an argument based on facts and evidence, so it won't sway anyone on the far right. I just wish they'd find something else to do than get outraged over every single thing the administration does.

Stuff to read tomorrow morning

In just a few minutes I will take Cassie to boarding, then head up to Northwestern for a rehearsal (I'm in the chorus at Ravinia's upcoming performances of La Clemenza di Tito.) I'll then have to pack when I get home from rehearsal, then head to a hotel by O'Hare. Ah, how much fun is an 8:30 international flight!

As I'll have some time at the airport in the morning, and no time now, I want to queue these up for myself:

All right, I'm off. After I pack.

Meanwhile and elsewhere

In case you needed more things to read today:

There are others, but I've still got a lot to do today.

One bit of good news

About an hour ago, President Biden signed the first significant gun safety law we've passed in 30 years:

The bill provides grants to states for “red flag” laws, enhances background checks to include juvenile records, and closes the “boyfriend loophole” by keeping guns away from unmarried dating partners convicted of abuse. It will also require enhanced background checks for people ages 18 to 21 and funding for youth mental health services.

The bipartisan gun legislation sped through Congress in the month after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Democrats unanimously voted in favor of the bill along with more than two dozen Republicans in the House and the Senate, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

"When it seems impossible to get anything done in Washington, we are doing something consequential," Biden said. "If we can reach a compromise on guns, we ought to be able to reach a compromise on other critical issues, from veterans health care to cutting-edge American innovation to so much more."

I don't think the President is quite correct in that conclusion. And while the law doesn't do some things we desperately need to do, like ban military-grade weapons for most civilians (including civilian police forces), it's a start. If you recall how long it took to get car safety rules passed, even incremental steps will help.

Monday afternoon stories

Just a few:

Finally, James Fallows rolls his eyes at the annual White House Correspondent's Dinner, but praises Trevor Noah's closing statement.

Other reactions

What the professionals had to say about last night's State of the Union address:

  • Aaron Blake: "While Russia’s invasion has fueled some bipartisanship, there remain some divides on precisely what to do or what should have been done — particularly about our energy supply and related sanctions on things like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. But Biden opted not to dwell on the specifics and instead focused on our sudden and rare unity of cause."
  • The Economist: "Although never regarded as a gifted orator, Mr Biden was in especially poor form, stumbling through both his scripted lines and ad libs. He spoke of the “Iranian people” when he meant Ukrainians and confused the word “vaccine” for “virus”. After the perfunctory closing line “May God protect our troops”, the president felt compelled to add a mystifying postscript: “Go get him!” (or perhaps, as some transcribed it, “Go get ’em!”), he shouted into the microphone."
  • Michael D Shear: "There were few subjects that did not get a mention in Mr. Biden’s speech. But some of the Democratic Party’s biggest agenda items — like climate change, immigration, gun control and abortion rights — received only cursory treatment."

And Greg Sargent takes the GOP to task for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds' response: "In her speech, she reached for all kinds of absurd ways to blame Russian aggression on Biden’s alleged weakness, while declaring solidarity with Ukraine. But in the real world, while Biden has drawn a line against sending in troops, he has led an international response that has been far more robust than most observers expected."

Meanwhile, The Economist has a series of guest essays about Russia's invasion of Ukraine that you should read, especially from Lithuanian prime minister Ingrida Simonyte ("Russia's invasion was predictable") and Russian scholar Alexander Gabuev ("why Putin and his entourage want war").

President Biden's first State of the Union

As I did in 2020, this year I live-posted SOTU on Facebook. Here are my posts, in the order I made them:

OK, here we go with the SOTU. Last time (2020) I needed two martinis and watched with the sound off. This time, I see no need for alcohol and I'm happy to listen. What changed, I wonder?

Ukrainian ambassador gets an extended standing ovation from the entire government of the United States. She might prefer fighter jets and ammunition, but it was a nice gesture

We're putting troops along the Russian border...whoo boy

Yes! End "trickle-down" policies which only concentrate wealth at the top

Infrastructure decade. Yes.

It's so nice to hear a coherent, positive speech from a man who cares about the job he has

I was already a little concerned about the "make it in America" rhetoric, and then cue the GOP chanting "USA, USA!"

Dignity! Yes, this is where Biden excels. Nice.

The wise grandfather is such a welcome contrast to the ugly uncle

I did not predict a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud. Very good.

"The only president ever to cut the deficit by $1 trillion in one year." Partially disingenuous, but still true

Anti-virals on the spot at no cost if you test positive at a pharmacy. Wow

Bipartisan standing O on "our kids need to be in school."

"Let's see each other as...fellow Americans." Most of the GOP clapped too. Good.

Strong statement against "defund the police." And yes! Repeal the liability shield protecting guns!

Awww. Justice Breyer looks so cute

Wow, Katanji Brown to "strong borders" in one sentence? Grandpa missed a paragraph break

Did the speechwriters run out of time? It seems like we're in the "and another thing" section. The recap in sonata-allegro form, I suppose

Wow, connecting military burn pits to his son's cancer

ARPAH [Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health]. We can do this.

The state of the Union is strong because you, the American people, are strong.

Of course the outburst was from Boebert.

Wow, what a contrast from last time. No martinis required, but I believe I will have a wee Lagavulin.
Meanwhile, Cassie has graduated to loud snoring:

And yes, I did have a wee Lagavulin:

Here's the unedited thread:

Productive first day of spring

I finished a sprint at my day job while finding time to take Cassie to the dog park and make a stir-fry for lunch. While the unit tests continue to spin on my work computer, I have some time to read about all the things that went wrong in the world today:

I'm heading out tonight to watch President Biden's first State of the Union Address with friends. Robert Reich will also tune in.