The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

In search of a dozen impartial New Yorkers

Yesterday, the XPOTUS began his first (!) criminal (!!) trial of the multiple legal actions he currently faces, and it didn't go well. For starters, as Josh Marshall pointed out, the XPOTUS has always behaved as if he believes nothing more than one is either dominating or dominated. Being at the defense table on trial for multiple felonies puts one distinctly in the second category:

What is clear to anyone who has ever tried to understand the man is that he lives in a binary world of the dominating and the dominated. The visuals around the man endlessly illustrate this. Most of us live in a much more fluid and textured world. We interact with most people on a ground of relative equality. Where real differentials of power exist most of us try to paper over those realities with softening trappings. Trump’s whole world view, the way he interacts with friends and foes, won’t accept any middle ground. And this is more than just performance. It’s clear that this is deeply rooted in his experience of the world. Being dominated is a kind of social and ego depth. That’s why he’s so good at his whole racket. Because it’s coded so deeply into him.

At the most basic level, sitting in the dock is horribly and perhaps even fatally off brand. Trump’s brand is swagger and impunity. Always be dominating. Until you’re not.

The XPOTUS's first reaction? He fell asleep, which comedian Trae Crowder summarized as, "there's an ongoing screaming match where one side is like, 'your guy can't even stay awake in the Oval Office,' and the other side accurately responds, 'your guy can't even stay awake in his criminal trial,' and somehow that doesn't immediately end the debate."

So far, jury selection in that trial has actually found 6 jurors, despite everyone having heard of the XPOTUS. Alexandra Petri imagines how the New York County District Attorney could amend the jury questions to speed this along:

1. Wait, you don’t have any strong opinions or firmly held beliefs about Donald Trump?

2. Have you been living in a hole for the past 20 years?

3. For the past 50 years?

I dunno, man. I feel for everyone involved in the trial—well, except that one guy—having to slog through that exercise.

The XPOTUS will do everything he can to make the trial a circus, partly because he does that with everything, but partly to force a mistrial so he won't have to run for president as a convicted felon. Meanwhile, he has three other trials going on. This will be a long summer.

It's in the cards

I'm heading off to a Euchre tournament in a bit. I haven't played cards with actual, live people in quite some time, so I just hope to end up in the middle of the pack. Or one perfect lay-down loner... A guy can dream.

When I get home, I might have the time and attention span to read these:

  • John Grinspan looks at the similarities and crucial differences between the upcoming election and the election of 1892.
  • Andy Borowitz jokes about the latest of Robert F Kennedy's conspiracy theories: that his own brain is being controlled by a complete idiot.
  • Why do so many of the country's most infamous serial killers come from the Midwest? (Perhaps because it's the home of Kellogg's and General Mills?)
  • Michael Sweeney reviews all the errors of navigation and judgment that led to the RMS Titanic sinking 110 years ago tomorrow.
  • Speaking of navigation, researchers have found evidence that a sense of direction comes from experience, not genetics.
  • Meagan McArdle describes the Oedipus Trap that led Dr Walter Freeman to continue lobotomizing patients years after the horrors of the procedure became clear to just about everyone else, and what this means for some contemporary medical thinking.

Finally, the weather forecast this weekend calls for some real Chicago spring weather: 19°C and sunny today, 22°C and sunny tomorrow...and 9°C with a stiff breeze from the northeast tomorrow afternoon. If you head out to enjoy the warmth tomorrow lunchtime, make sure you have a sweater because it'll be 15°C by dinner.

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.

One news story eclipsed all the others

Ah, ha ha. Ha.

Anyway, here are a couple other stories from the last couple of days:

Finally, Ohio State wildlife and ecology professor Stanley Gehrt has written a book I will have to stop myself (for now) from adding to my ever-expanding shelf of books I need to read. Gehrt spent decades studying Chicago's coyote population and how well they co-exist with us, tagging more than 1,400 coyotes and collaring another 700.

My only complaint about the animals is they don't eat enough rabbits. I live near several suspected dens, the closest only about 400 meters from my front door. I can't wait to read the book.

As for the risks coyotes pose to humans, he lets us know who the real enemy is: “If you were to ask me, ‘What’s the most dangerous animal out there [for urban dwellers]?’, it’s white-tailed deer,” Gehrt said.

The dread of a colorful radar picture

Ah, just look at it:

Rain, snow, wind, and general gloominess will trundle through Chicago over the next 36 hours or so, severely impacting Cassie's ability to get a full hour of walkies tomorrow. Poor doggie.

If only that were the worst thing I saw this morning:

  • The XPOTUS called for an end to the war in Gaza, but without regard to the hostages Hamas still holds, irritating just about everyone on the right and on the left.
  • Knight Specialty Insurance Company of California has provided the XPOTUS with the bond he needed to prevent the Manhattan District Attorney from seizing $175 million of his assets, which makes you wonder, what's in it for the insurer?
  • Related to that, Michelle Cottle analyzes the Republican Party's finances and concludes that the XPOTUS is destroying them.
  • These are the same Republicans, remember, who are threatening to block money needed to re-open the Port of Baltimore and replace the Key Bridge.
  • Massachusetts US District Judge Allison Burroughs has ruled that a case against the private air carrier who flew migrants to Martha's Vineyard may proceed, and the case against the politicians who paid for the flight could come back with an amended complaint.
  • Charles Marohn argues that cities using cash accounting, rather than accrual accounting, end up completely overwhelming future generations with debt they would never have taken on with an accurate view of their finances.
  • But of course, the prevalence of the city-killing suburban development pattern in the US has an upside of sorts: everywhere you go in the US feels like home.

And after all this, does it surprise me that Mother Jones took a moment to review a book called End Times?

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.

Slow Sunday

Before I take Cassie on yet another 30-minute walk (how she suffers!), I'm going to clear some links:

OK, Cassie has roused herself, and probably needs to pee. Off we go.

Monday afternoon with no rehearsal

We always take a week off after our Choral Classics concert, which saves everyone's sanity. I in fact do have a chorus obligation today, but it's easy and relatively fun: I'm walking through the space where we'll have our annual Benefit Cabaret, Apollo After Hours, and presumably having dinner with the benefit committee. I'll be home early enough to have couch time with Cassie and get a full night's sleep.

Meanwhile:

  • Former presidential speechwriter James Fallows annotates President Biden's State of the Union Address.
  • Today's TPM Morning Memo blows up US Senator Katie Bush's (R-AL) response to the SOTU, but really I think Scarlett Johansen did it best:
  • Jennifer Rubin throws cold water on the belief that the United States is "polarized," given that one party wants to, you know, govern, while the other party wants to prevent that from happening so they can take power and therefore preserve the status quo ante from the 1850s: "America is divided not by some free-floating condition of “polarization” but by one party going off the deep end. And that’s a threat to all of us."
  • Greg Sargent points out the fundamental and ugly scam right-wingers like the XPOTUS perpetrate when they blather on about "border security:" it has a lot more to do with demographics (see, e.g., "great replacement theory") than crime.
  • Charles Marohn warns that blaming drivers for buying bigger cars shifts the blame from planning departments to individuals, where your state's DOT would prefer people put it.
  • Kensington Palace has apologized for sending out an obviously-edited photo of Princess Catherine with her children, causing the family some embarrassment, and distracting for a moment from any questions about why the people of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland continue to pay for Kensington Palace.
  • Seattle police impounded the oldest newsstand in the city after the landlord complained, repeatedly, over the course of three years.
  • If you have a couple of extra bucks lying around and you want a cool place to live, Block Club Chicago has a list of seven historical buildings you can live in, from a $318,000 condo in Marina City on up to the $3 million Edwin J Mosser House in Buena Park.

Finally, Crain's slices into the six best thin-crust pizzas in Chicago, a list that includes three I've personally tried (Bungalow by Middle Brow, Michael's, and Jimmy's), and three that I now need to try soon. (I have some Michael's in my freezer, in fact, which I'm planning to eat for dinner tomorrow.) I would add Barnaby's in Northbrook and Flapjack Brewery in Berwyn, by the way.

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.