Author Franklin Schneider, who wrote a book about getting fired from 13 jobs in 10 years, thinks the president is begging someone to fire him:
We didn’t need insider exposés about “executive time” spent shouting at the TV to know that Trump hates being president. It’s there in every seething tweet, every prickly exchange with reporters, every shrug of a coronavirus briefing. He despises everything about Washington — the modesty, the expertise, the functionaries around him who have the temerity to do their jobs and expect him to do his. At night, he must dream of telling them (us) to take this job and shove it, so he can return to his natural calling of selling subpar steaks and repeatedly filing for bankruptcy.
He wants out, but we all know he'd never step down. I get it. I do! It’s the reverse of the Groucho Marx saying about how he’d never want to be in a club who’d have him as a member: I’d never voluntarily leave an office where I wasn’t wanted. They had to drag me out each time, the HR lady snatching the key card out of my hand, then signaling for security to escort me to the elevator. Why did I resist leaving so many places I hated, and why does he? It’s a matter of spite: At some point, making your enemies unhappy becomes more important than making yourself happy. And if that was true for me, it has to be true for Trump, too: Spite animates his personality as much as his politics.
Take heart from this: No matter how horrifying a second Trump term sounds to you, it probably sounds even worse to Trump. And there’s still the outside chance that he could find the guts to seize his destiny and just quit. Donny, if you’re reading this, trust me: It feels wonderful when you finally escape. Resign, go home, block all your former co-workers on social media, and have a good cry. Someone else will take care of the whole coronavirus thing. It’s not like you were really trying, anyway.
Along the same lines, HHS Secretary Alex Azar says we should open up right away, no matter who it kills, and Josh Marshall points to the other billionaires demanding the same thing as evidence of an even worse divide in American life than we thought.
Since January 2019, Chicago has had only two months with above-average sunshine, and in both cases we only got 10% more than average. This year we're ticking along about 9% below, with no month since July 2019 getting above 50% of possible sunshine.
In other news:
- Former White House Butler Roosevelt Jerman, who served from 1957 to 2012, died of Covid-19 at age 91.
- One wonders, if the current White House had acted more propitiously, would Jerman have lived longer? Researchers suggest yes, if we'd locked down a week earlier, we would have 36,000 fewer Covid-19 deaths.
- The US saw 2.4 million more unemployment claims last week, bringing the national total to 39 million and Illinois' to 1 million.
- Ichan School of Medicine virologist Benjamen tenOever lays out how SARS-CoV-2 hijacks cellular machinery to suppress interferon production while boosting chemokines, which may explain why the virus is so damaging and hard to kill.
- President Trump "said the corrupt part out loud" in his threats to Michigan and Nevada yesterday, says Greg Sargent.
- Because it's 2020, and we haven't gotten through all the plagues yet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts an above-average Atlantic hurricane season starting June 1st.
- What happens to cities that depend on giant cruise ships if the ships won't go there? (NB: Perfect time to visit Venice or Alaska right now, except for the virus.)
- Block Club Chicago lays out what could open if the state moves to Phase 3 of the "Restore Illinois" plan a week from tomorrow.
- Around the corner from where I lived until 2015, a condo association is suing the private school next door for fraud, alleging the Francis Parker School illegally attempted to take over the condominium board through straw-man condo purchases.
- The European Southern Observatory revealed evidence of planets forming around a nearby star.
Finally, having "walktails" with friends may be a thing, but because drinking alcohol on public streets in Chicago is prohibited by city ordinance, I cannot admit to ever doing this.
You have to see these photos of the dark Sears Tower against the Chicago skyline—a metaphor for 2020 bar none. Also:
And oh! My long-running unit test (1575.9 seconds) has finished. I can get up now.
I think today is Tuesday, the first day of my 10th week working from home. That would make today...March 80th? April 49th? Who knows.
It is, however, just past lunchtime, and today I had shawarma and mixed news:
Earlier, I mentioned that the state's unemployment office accidentally revealed thousands of records in an own goal. Turns out, Deloitte Consulting did the work, so I am no longer surprised. Note to anyone who needs software written: don't hire a big consulting firm. They don't attract the best developers because they use manager-driven development patterns that irritate the hell out of anyone with talent.
Long day, with meetings until 8:45pm and the current sprint ending tomorrow at work, so I'll read most of these after the spring review:
Finally, Sheffield, U.K., wildlife photographer Simon Dell built a Hobbiton for the local field mice. It's as adorable as it sounds.
Charlie Pierce, noting that "[p]eople with firearms forced the civil government of the state of Michigan to shut itself down," wants to know in what sense this isn't terrorism. In other fun weekend stories:
And it's pouring, and will continue to do so for several more hours.
The bascule bridge over the Chicago River at Michigan Avenue turned 100 today. The Chicago Tribune has photos.
And the New York Times interviewed science-fiction author John Scalzi, whose The Last Emperox came out two weeks ago.
Just when you thought the Republican Party couldn't become more anti-science and pro-profit (at the expense of workers), the Wisconsin Supreme Court just struck down Wisconsin's stay-at-home order on a 4-3 party-line vote.
If only that were all:
- Jennifer Rubin points out that "Trump's abject hypocrisy shows us where he's failed."
- Not only has Trump "lost the plot," he "has no plan," according to two articles this week in The Atlantic. How is this news cycle different from all other news cycles?
- The US Supreme Court listened to arguments this week about the electoral college and Trump's tax returns. It seems likely the nation will lose both cases.
- The judge presiding over Michael Flynn's case has asked a retired judge to brief him on whether to hold Flynn in criminal contempt for perjury, after the Justice Dept. sought to end its prosecution of Flynn.
- The City of Chicago has ordered food delivery services to disclose the fees they charge restaurants so consumers have more transparency. Restaurants have complained about price-gouging from GrubHub and others.
- Meanwhile, Uber is in talks to buy GrubHub. If we had a functioning FTC, this would never happen.
- David Kamp brings back my childhood with his paean to Zoom, the children's television show I watched religiously when I was a kid.
- Anthropologists have found a 45,000-year-old midden containing homo sapiens tools, bones, and jewelry in a cave in Bulgaria. It's evidence of the earliest modern humans in Europe.
- The New York Times has an oral history of Mad Max: Fury Road, which the author calls a "modern action classic." (It's one of my faves as well.)
Someday, we'll all look back on this time, laugh nervously, and change the subject.
So believes NYU media professor Jay Rosen about how President Trump will try to win this fall:
The plan is to have no plan, to let daily deaths between one and three thousand become a normal thing, and then to create massive confusion about who is responsible— by telling the governors they’re in charge without doing what only the federal government can do, by fighting with the press when it shows up to be briefed, by fixing blame for the virus on China or some other foreign element, and by “flooding the zone with shit,” Steve Bannon’s phrase for overwhelming the system with disinformation, distraction, and denial, which boosts what economists call “search costs” for reliable intelligence.
Stated another way, the plan is to default on public problem solving, and then prevent the public from understanding the consequences of that default. ... The manufacture of confusion is just the ruins of Trump’s personality meeting the powers of the presidency. There is no genius there, only a damaged human being playing havoc with our lives.
In other fun stories:
Oh, and 151 years ago today, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads completed the Transcontinental Railroad.
The US unemployment rate exploded to 14.7% in April as 20.5 million people officially left the workforce, with millions more people leaving full-time work and others not even trying to find new jobs. April's job losses were more than 10 times the 1.9 million reported in September 1945 as the US demobilized from World War II.
Once you've absorbed that, there's more:
Finally, today is the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, when the Nazi army finally surrendered to the Allies, ending the war in Europe. Germans celebrated the event today as a day of liberation from the Nazis.