A Sign for Whitewater High School

The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin

Whitewater Planning Commission – A High School Sign from John Adams on Vimeo.

Anyone who thinks that small town politics is simple hasn’t watched small town politics. In the video above, the Whitewater Planning Commission took 28 minutes to approve conditions for the local high school to place an electronic sign on school property. (Whitewater is a small city of about fifteen thousand, half of whom are college students attending a local campus.)

I’d invite readers to watch the video (and the video of the full meeting, too, online @ https://vimeo.com/250492564).

A local family raised donations toward the cost of an electronic sign with a scrolling message the school could display. One sees signs like this across America.

Whitewater’s planning commissioners, one of whom sits on the Whitewater city council, consider here whether the sign would be a distraction, where it would be placed, what kind of message should scroll on it, how long the messages should scroll, when some messages but not others should scroll, etc.

The summary written immediately above takes only a few seconds to read; the  discussion of these topics consumes nearly a half-hour.

A few remarks:

1. A lawyer in town raises concerns about the sign. He contends that traffic in the area is intense. That’s a relative term; there are millions of commuters who travel safely each day in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York under conditions that they would consider intense.

2. How risky is driving at the intersection near the sign? The local lawyer says it’s intense, and a commissioner/council member mentions that the commission might have asked the police department for accident reports from the area.

No one, however, took the simple step before the meeting of asking for a summary of existing accident data for the area. It wouldn’t have been hard, but instead of looking for the best available information, the commissioners and city planner speculate without it. No data will offer a perfect assessment, but it’s a sign of a lazy mindset to know one could get better information – and relatively easily – and not even bother to try.

3. Hyper-rationality isn’t rational. It’s right to ponder something, to think it through, and yet, and yet – some matters will remain undiscernible even after lengthy consideration. Some scrolling letters might be less distracting than other letters, at some times of day, under some weather conditions, at some months of the year, etc.

It’s not a higher reasoning, but instead a lower one, that delves into unknown (and unknowable) speculation. Significance (relevant & material) constrains – as it should – right reason. On and on doesn’t bring one closer – it takes one father away.

4. The question for Dr. Elworthy. Mark Elworthy, the school district administrator, appeared to answer any questions that the commissioners might have. Commissioner/Council member Lynn Binnie decided to ask him one (@ 6:20 on the video):

Binnie: You received a copy of Mr. Devitt’s [lawyer-resident objecting to sign’s location]  letter. What comments would you have with respect to those concerns?

Elworthy: We’ve talked about that, but Mr. Devitt has spoken to the school board, and the school board has responded to all of those. I apologize, I did not, I got the copy, if I could look at those I could answer it. [Receives Devitt letter, examines.] I guess I came here this evening to share that the school board has listened a couple times to Mr. Devitt, responded, we have spoken privately as well, the board has listened to those concerns, after listening to his concerns the board approved the sign.

Elworthy’s right, here, about how to respond. He’s an appointed administrator of an elected, collectively-governing body. He neither can nor should offer an individual, point-by-point reply if there’s already been a decision of the board to which he is responsible. Elworthy’s right to point to a decision of the collective body to which he, Elworthy, is responsible. A point-by-point reply would inch Elworthy away from whatever the board has decided on the matter. It’s the board’s position, and the board’s language, that controls the school district response.

Binnie’s free to ask the question, of course, but Elworthy answered soundly. (One can’t tell whether Binnie expected the response he received. Perhaps he didn’t know that there had been prior discussions with the school district, perhaps he didn’t see that the proper answer precluded a point-by-point reply, or perhaps Binnie just asked the question regardless to appease a complaining constituent.)

5. Conditions. One hopes that there will never be an accident at the high school intersection, or any other intersection in town, for any reason. The relationship between the commission’s conditions for use of the sign and the actual value of those conditions for safety, however, is unknowable.  What one can say, however, is that it’s much easier to impose conditions – one after another – than to show how any of them will actually reduce the chances of an accident.

These conditions should also give pause, that the commission regulates easily, and readily, even over a simple matter.

It would have been a moment of candor for the members of the commission to admit as much.

Daily Bread for 1.17.18

Good morning.

The Scene from Whitewater, WisconsinWednesday in Whitewater will partly cloudy with a high of twenty-three. Sunrise is 7:2o AM and sunset 4:49 PM, for 9h 28m 33s of daytime. Today is the four hundred thirty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Planning  Commission Housing Sub-Committee meets at 5 PM, and her Parks & Rec Board meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1781, the Americans under under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeat British forces under Sir Banastre Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina.  On this day in 1900, one hundred Wisconsin women working in a cotton mill go on strike: “100 female employees of the Monterey mill, affiliated with the Janesville Cotton Mills, went on strike for higher wages. According to local sources, a committee of four “good-looking young ladies” was appointed to negotiate with management. Doing piece work, the women earned only $40 a month. The company said the women “don’t know how good they’ve got it…because they are paid more than at other local cotton mills and as well as some men with families.” The women argued their monthly pay only averaged $20. Within three days, all the women were hired to work by tobacco warehouses. The Monterey mill was one of three Janesville cotton mills in operation at the turn of the century. ”

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Todd Richmond reports Democrat wins special election in northwestern Wisconsin:

Patty Schachtner defeated Republican state Rep. Adam Jarchow for an open state Senate seat Tuesday in an upset victory for struggling Wisconsin Democrats, signaling voter anger toward President Donald Trump that could cost the GOP more legislative seats in the fall elections.

Jarchow tweeted his concession to Schachtner late Tuesday evening, with returns nearly complete across five counties and Schachtner leading by more than 1,600 votes. Schachtner, the St. Croix County medical examiner and a Somerset school board member, had entered the race in northwestern Wisconsin’s traditionally conservative 10th Senate District as the clear underdog.

The district has trended conservative for years. Republican Sheila Harsdorf held the Senate seat for 16 years before she resigned in November to become Gov. Scott Walker’s agriculture secretary and every county in the district voted for Trump in 2016. Jarchow is in the middle of his third term representing the area in the Assembly and had built a formidable base.

But Democrats banked that anti-Trump backlash could even the playing field. Republicans sensed it, too. Conservative groups Americans for Prosperity and the Republican State Leadership Committee both ran ads supporting Jarchow, and Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir, who is running for U.S. Senate, traveled to the district to campaign for him.
It wasn’t enough.

➤ Paul Waldman asks The Trump presidency: On track to becoming the most corrupt in U.S. history?

What distinguishes Trump from all his predecessors is the fact that he barely conceals his intentions. After a lifetime spent not only manipulating the economic, legal, and political systems to increase his wealth but publicly bragging about his ability to do so, there was little doubt that he’s continue in the same vein as president. He refused to divest himself from his businesses, then held a press conference standing next to piles of what were almost certainly stacks of blank paper inside blank folders which he claimed were the “documents” he had to sign to affect the transfer of those businesses to his sons.

But as the director of revenue management for the Trump Hotel in Washington wrote to an acquaintance in an email obtained by the Daily Beast, “DJT is supposed to be out of the business and passed on to his sons, but he’s definitely still involved.” This too surprises no one.

That’s not to mention that the Republican tax bill could barely have been designed better to maximize the benefits to Trump himself, particularly the dramatic cut in taxes on pass-through companies, which will be worth many millions of dollars to the president, since the Trump Organization is essentially a collection of hundreds of pass-throughs. Of course, we don’t know exactly how much he’ll gain, because unlike every president and presidential candidate in decades, Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns. This despite the fact that there is no president in history whose finances are in more urgent need of public examination.

➤ Bess Levin writes Report: Trump Has Done a Great Job Profiting Off the Presidency (“Particularly from foreign government and lobbyists”):

According to a new report compiled by Public Citizen, a liberal-leaning watchdog organization based in Washington, over the past year 64 “politicians, interest groups, corporations and entities affiliated with foreign governments” have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump-branded properties. Among them were Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his delegation, who stayed at Trump’s D.C. hotel during a September 2017 trip to Washington; a company tied to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which paid the hotel $270,000 for rooms, catering, and parking while lobbying to overturn a law that allows terrorism victims to sue foreign governments; the Kuwait Embassy, which held a National Day celebration last February at the Trump International Hotel; and the government-linked Turkey-U. S. Business Council and the American Turkish Council, which held a conference at the hotel in May and plan to do so again this year.

And that’s not counting the conference at Trump National Doral thrown by top execs whose companies are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a private prison company’s leadership conference at the same property, and a holiday party for the William Koch-owned Oxbow Carbon LLC at Mar-a-Lago.

While we would never suggest that any of these individuals or groups were attempting to curry favor with the president by spending lavishly at his properties, experts believe such a thing is quite possible. “The motive varies from event to event, but a number of these seem clearly for the purposes of ingratiating with the president,” Public Citizen president Robert Weissman told The Wall Street Journal. Although Trump relinquished the day-to-day operations of the Trump Organization to Eric and Don Jr., he retained his financial interest in the family business through a trust that he can draw money from at any time, whether it’s for new Brioni suits or to fund his legal defense in the Russia probe. And though the Trump Organization claimed it would send any profits earned from foreign government payments by guests at its hotels to the Treasury, it declined to tell the Journal how that money is tracked, saying last month that it “expects to have information to share at the end of February.”

➤ Chris Strohm and Greg Farrell report GOP Access to FBI Files Rattles Agents Caught in Political Fight:

The Justice Department’s decision to give congressional Republicans access to documents about FBI investigations risks exposing sensitive sources or material and poses a critical early test for bureau Director Christopher Wray, current and former U.S. law enforcement officials say

Some officials view the department as capitulating to a small group of Republicans who are intent on helping President Donald Trump undermine the integrity of the FBI and, by extension, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election.

It’s the latest setback for a law enforcement agency that has long held itself out as doggedly independent and above partisan politics, only to be besieged over the last two years by questions about its handling of politically sensitive investigations into Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Trump.

One agent said he’s now concerned that forms identifying FBI informants would be handed over to Congress. If that happened, he said, it would cause him to think carefully about whether to withhold sensitive information from future reports.

Another agent said recent statements about the bureau by Trump and congressional Republicans have made it more difficult for him to get informants to open up.

➤ No one would think that FREE WHITEWATER is a site about modeling, but then Not Your Average Brazilian Model isn’t merely a video about modeling:

“When we tell people we’re from the favela, they automatically think of danger, violence, mess, or worthlessness,” says Caio Guimaraes, a model featured in Geoff Levy’s short film, Rio’s Different Face of Fashion. “Of course, there are bad things, but there are a lot of great things, too. It’s a magical world.”

Jacarezinho, one of the largest favelas in Rio de Janeiro, is home to a modeling agency that aims to challenge stereotypes and galvanize the community. Levy’s vibrant and kinetic documentary profiles Jacaré Moda’s rising models. More than just an economic opportunity—Guimaraes had less than a dollar to his name before he began attending casting calls—fashion, for these underserved youth, is a chance to bolster self-esteem, cultivate creativity, and achieve a purpose. It is a portal to self-actualization.

Many of the young models embrace their community’s resourceful ethos. “I improvise with all I have,” says model Natalia Sant’Anna. “Even if it’s disposable, it can be used—and used well. In the favela, you see things and you think, ‘Wow, look what they came up with.’ This is creativity.”

“Working as a model is an affirmation of my identity,” says Camila Reis, another model in the film. “Growing up, I always thought, ‘ Why am I not represented in media that tries to connect with the masses?’ We now have the opportunity to tell our story our way—through the eyes of the people who live in the favela.”

Print Retreats to Print

The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin Local print publications are struggling, and so they’ve decided to retreat to print publishing. See Twilight (Part 1 of a Series).

At the Gazette, they’ve established a high paywall (after one three articles viewed per month), and as for ambitions for Walworth County, one need only consider what happened to that publisher’s WalworthCountyToday.com:

At the Daily Union, in a print editorial for Friday 1.12.18 (“It’s a brave new world for Daily Union staffers”) one reads that “[i]t’s a brave new world for some of us old J-School grads weaned on the axiom that ‘the advertising department makes the money, the news department spends the money … and ne’er the twain shall meet.’ ”

A few remarks:

Did someone say dinner?

1. Walworth County. Walworth County’s an arid, inhospitable media market (to the extent it’s even a market). It’s also a place that expects individual attention. The Gazette‘s failure to make a go of a tailored presence in Walworth County limits significantly their influence in the county. A high paywall for a Janesville-based paper makes matters worse.

The DU‘s couple-of-times-a-month offer to Whitewater of stenography in the place of reporting is (and should be) embarrassing to all concerned.

2. Advertising’s running the show. The DU‘s acknowledgement of dependency is honest, but sad, too. Every local official who can pressure even one advertiser now has an incentive to try – the paper’s conceded that approach has a good chance of working. See Thanks, City of Jefferson!: “All of these local papers are afraid of municipal officials (and far more afraid of hyper-cautions advertisers). If an advertiser gets the sniffles, the publisher comes down with double pneumonia.”

3. More of What Ails Ya. A drowning man tries to swim farther from shore, or a dehydrated woman refuses water: that’s what it’s like to reduce digital, or to succumb to even greater advertiser leverage.

4. A Public Records & Open Meetings Foundation. In an area with an ailing press, that’s getting weaker, an approach relying on sound principles of open government matters more than ever. See Daylight (Part 3 in a Series). These papers won’t manage this vital oversight; its absence is a danger to a well-ordered politics.

(More to come, in this regard.)

Daily Bread for 1.16.18

Good morning.

The Scene from Whitewater, WisconsinTuesday in Whitewater will see morning clouds and afternoon sunshine, with a high of twenty-three. Sunrise is 7:21 AM and sunset 4:48 PM, for 9h 26m 46s of daytime. It’s a new moon today, with 0.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred thirty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets at 5 PM, and Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1920, the Prohibition takes effect in America. On this day in 1864, the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry occupies Kimbrough’s Crossroads in Tennessee.

 

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Ed Kilgore writes of William Barber II and the MLK Legacy of Church-Based Activism:

Recapturing the language of morality from conservatives remains one of Barber’s chief preoccupations. It is often jarring to progressives accustomed to a less fraught rhetoric of gradual social and economic progress to hear someone describe contemporary conservatives as deeply immoral people who are motivated by greed and who are making a mockery of their professed religious convictions. But while the Moral Movement was fully underway before Donald Trump executed his takeover of the GOP and the conservative movement, it now seems even more appropriate to describe the right as seized by a frenzy of immoral greed when it’s headed by the great narcissist and business pirate whose campaign was fueled by cultural resentments and hatred of “losers.” But Barber won’t let Republicans hide behind Trump:

“Trump is a symptom of a deeper moral malady. And if he was gone tomorrow or impeached tomorrow, the senators and the House of Representatives and Ryan and McConnell and Graham and all them would still be there. And what we have found, Amy, when we look at them, no matter how crazy they call him or names they call him or anger they get with him, it’s all a front, because at the end of the day, they might disagree with his antics, but they support his agenda.”

Even as Democrats fight to thwart Trump and his party in the 2018 midterms, the Poor People’s Campaign will be seeking to set a higher standard for what comes after Trump and how voters measure both parties. Barber calls the organization that will be running that campaign Repairers of the Breach, which aims at nothing less than “to redeem the heart and soul of our country.” That means convincing people used to thinking of “morality” as about enforcing sexual codes and keeping women under control to instead think first about how Americans treat the poor and oppressed. It’s hardly the first such effort, as we will recall during commemorations of Martin Luther King’s life and legacy. But it’s a psychological tonic for all those who read sacred texts and long for prophetic voices seeking justice for the afflicted rather than comfort for the powerful.

➤ Russ Choma reports  For Sale by President Trump: A Leaky, Polluted Warehouse Caught Up in a Lawsuit:

Anyone in the market for a polluted South Carolina warehouse that’s mired in a messy lawsuit? Did we mention it has a leaky roof?

President Donald Trump’s company, known for its glitzy real estate developments, is trying to find a buyer for just such a property, located in a North Charleston industrial park. The 157,000-square-foot warehouse is a vestige of one of Donald Trump Jr.’s biggest business blunders, a deal his father had to bail him out of four years ago and one that is still creating headaches for the Trump Organization.

In 2010, Trump Jr. and a few business partners launched a concrete company, Titan Atlas Manufacturing, and purchased the warehouse, once owned by Lockheed Martin, as the headquarters for their new venture. The company went bust after four years, leaving Trump Jr. holding a $3.65 million Deutsche Bank loan, secured by the warehouse. That was when the elder Trump stepped in, creating a new company, DB Pace Acquisition, which he used to buy the loan from the German bank (which was also Donald Trump’s biggest lender). Trump then foreclosed on the loan, taking the building into his own possession and out of the hands of his son’s failed concrete business. On his most recent personal financial disclosure, Trump listed DB Pace Acquisition as worth between $1 million and $5 million.

➤ Marcus Kolga reports Countering the growing threat of Russian disinformation in Canada (“The Russian government is paying off Canada’s largest media companies to expose unsuspecting television subscribers to regime-sponsored disinformation in what amounts to a surreal 24 hour propaganda informercial”):

As the number of reports about Kremlin election meddling and disinformation campaigns around the world continue to build, a disturbing Canadian report claims that the Putin regime has been paying millions of dollars annually to Canada’s largest cable providers to force feed Russian state propaganda into 6 million Canadian households since 2009.

The scheme represents a highly unusual reversal of the typical flow of money in the television distribution industry, where channel and content providers usually get paid by cable and satellite TV providers whose subscribers pay for content. The Russian government is paying off Canada’s largest media companies to expose unsuspecting television subscribers to regime-sponsored disinformation in what amounts to a surreal 24 hour propaganda informercial.

Russia Today, or RT as it’s known today, has been churning out pro-Putin propaganda, conspiracy theories and outright disinformation to support and advance the Russian regime’s foreign policy objectives since 2005.

➤ Michelle Cottle contends it’s The Perfect Pairing of Subject and Chronicler (“Disdain for playing by the rules, delight in shocking their audiences, and hunger for the approval of the elites they mock—there’s a lot that Michael Wolff and Donald Trump share in common”):

Love him or hate him, Michael Wolff, author of the dishy new Trump tell-all, Fire and Fury, is a good sport.

Thirteen years ago, after Wolff won his second National Magazine Award, I wrote a profile of him that was not especially flattering. In addition to deeming Wolff a mediocre political commentator, the piece noted that his journalistic m.o. was … unorthodox. He burned sources, busted embargoes, was less-than-meticulous about details, and had a penchant for gilding his actual reporting with colorful bits of what he imagined had happened in certain situations. He didn’t try to pass fiction off as fact so much as he wove both together in a swirl of style, substance, and snark. (Wolff has always been more about painting entertaining, impressionistic portraits than about sweating the nitty-gritty.) His flagrant disdain for journalistic conventions is a key reason Wolff has long been controversial among, and even loathed by, much of the Fourth Estate.

With the release of Fire and Fury—the gist of which is that even those in Trumpworld consider Trump unfit for office—Wolff is getting hammered by the president’s protectors. They aim to discredit his book by discrediting Wolff himself, and one of their pet tools has been my 2004 profile, which Trump supporters both inside and outside the White House have been peddling to reporters and political types. I have written many critical pieces. None has been half so fiercely weaponized—which is saying a lot, since I mostly cover politicians.

Despite all this, when I reached Wolff via email Saturday evening to ask how he was weathering the madness, he was nice as pie. He had just listened to a CNN podcast I had done about him and kindly observed that I had a “nice voice.” Nor was he crabby about any of my past or current critiques. “As my presumptive biographer, you get it about 55 percent right,” he quipped. “That’s not so bad.”

(A good friend kindly gave me a copy of Fire and Fury, and I’m enjoying the readable account.)

Students And Researchers Built A Pavilion Out Of Carbon Fiber Using Robots:

This pavilion was built by robots and drones. Researchers and students from the University of Stuttgart are studying the use of carbon fiber and glass in construction. Typical fabrication doesn’t allow for too much creativity. The lightweight composites are strong, which allow for some impressive shapes. The structure is also based on nature. It mimics the silk hammocks spun by moth larvae which shows in its bent, winding structure. Robots created the smooth fiber weaving process, and drones were also used to cover more ground. The resulting pavilion is 39 feet long, weighs 2,200 pounds, and 112 miles of woven glass and carbon fiber were used. Who knew nature could inspire such stunning architecture?

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jazz

 

God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations. Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music. Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument. It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls. Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down. And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith. In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.

Via Jazz in Pop Culture.

Daily Bread for 1.15.18

Good morning.

The Scene from Whitewater, WisconsinThe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in Whitewater will see cloudy skies and snow showers, with a high of twenty-five. Sunrise is 7:22 AM and sunset 4:47 PM, for 9h 25m 01s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 2.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred thirty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Library Board is scheduled to meet at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1943, the United States completes construction of the Pentagon. On this day in 1967, the Packers win the first Super Bowl (35-10 over the Chiefs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum).

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Lonnie Bruch contends This was Martin Luther King Jr.’s most ambitious dream:

King’s commitment to economic reform is often overshadowed by his broader civil rights work and his assassination. He characterized America’s socioeconomic schism as an “enormous, entrenched evil,” one analogous to “strangulation.”

What King could not know was that this economic divide would long outlive him. Though there has been a decline in the percentage of people trapped in poverty, people of color are still disproportionately affected.

There is something to be gained, then, from revisiting King’s final dream — one that cuts across borders and boundaries to illuminate the cracks in the nation’s veneer of abundant prosperity.

This month, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is exploring King’s final vision in a new exhibition, “City of Hope: Resurrection City and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign.” The exhibition, bringing together rare oral histories, posters and photographs, lays bare the distance traveled, the stories shared and the history made by Americans with seemingly little in common except the dream to overcome poverty.

➤ The Fresno Bee writes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘Let us march on ballot boxes’:

Editor’s note: This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the five-day, 54-mile Selma to Montgomery March for Voting Rights. This is an excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at the conclusion of the march. We reprint it in observance of Dr. King’s birthday.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, but without the vote it was dignity without strength.

Once more the method of nonviolent resistance was unsheathed from its scabbard, and once again an entire community was mobilized to confront the adversary. … There never was a moment in American history more honorable and more inspiring than the pilgrimage of clergymen and laymen of every race and faith pouring into Selma to face danger at the side of its embattled Negroes. …

Today I want to tell the city of Selma, today I want to say to the state of Alabama, today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now.

Yes, we are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us.

We are on the move now. The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us.

We are on the move now. The wanton release of their known murderers would not discourage us.

We are on the move now. Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom.

Let us therefore continue our triumphant march to the realization of the American dream. …

➤ The Washington Post offers Some tweetable quotations from the man we honor:

“We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.’?”

God is not interested merely in freeing black men and brown men and yellow men, but God is interested in freeing the whole human race.”

“We must act in such a way as to make possible a coming together of white people and colored people on the basis of a real harmony of interest and understanding. We must seek an integration based on mutual respect.”

When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love. ”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

That last one is on the South Wall of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, part of a tribute to a national leader who sought to appeal to the best that is in us. Engraved in stone, maintained by the National Park Service, it is a message of hope that will long outlive the discord and disrespect of these days.

➤ Carol Giacomo contends Dutch Reporters Show How to Keep American Officials Honest:

Last week, Dutch reporters had one question they particularly wanted to press Mr. Hoekstra on: Would he admit that his 2015 claims were false, or could he cite an example of a Dutch politician who was burned in recent year.

Looking like a deer in headlights, the ambassador tried to brush off his interrogators. Maybe Mr. Hoekstra had watched President Trump spew lies and hate without apology for so long that he thought he could get away with it, too. Not in The Hague, apparently. The journalists came back repeatedly — “This is the Netherlands, you have to answer questions,” one said.

They invoked a quote from John Adams, the first American envoy to the Netherlands, about “honest and wise men.” They were probably being ironic.

The ambassador looked uncomfortable, but it was refreshing to see reporters demanding honesty from an official and not letting up in the face of resistance. It would be good to see that more often on this side of the ocean, especially since the confrontation seemed to have had a salutary effect.

➤ Go ahead, Float Along Colombia’s Rainbow River:

The Caño Cristales River is a spectacular, natural wonder located in Meta, Colombia. Every year when the conditions are just right, an endemic aquatic plant species that lives within the riverbed blooms, creating a brilliant show of colors. The river bursts to life with vibrant hues of red, yellow, orange, green and blue, earning the monikers “Liquid Rainbow” and “River of Five Colors” by local residents. Although the phenomenon is short-lived, the ephemeral splendor it brings has some referring to Caño Cristales as the most beautiful river in the world.

Daily Bread for 1.14.18

Good morning.

The Scene from Whitewater, WisconsinSunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a high of twenty-one, and an even chance of afternoon snow showers. Sunrise is 7:22 AM and sunset 4:45 PM, for 9h 23m 20s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 5.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred thirtieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1784, Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris, formally ending war between the United States and Britain. On January 14, 1863, the 23rd Wisconsin Infantry leads an expedition to South Bend, Arkansas.

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Brian Klaas asks Want to see where Trump is taking America? Look at Turkey under Erdogan:

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, authoritarian despots across the globe must be feeling pretty flattered by President Trump these days. Trump’s latest efforts to distort and discredit special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia is straight out of the despot’s playbook.

In 2013, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey — a democratically elected leader with a clearly authoritarian bent — was facing credible allegations of corruption. A truly independent investigation could threaten Erdogan’s grip on power. As arrests mounted, it became clear that the prosecutorial net was sweeping closer to the prime minister himself.

Erdogan’s political machine sprang into action. Despite overwhelming evidence of corruption among his close associates, Erdogan claimed there was none. He dismissed the investigation as a “dirty plot” by law enforcement. His supporters spoke of a “witch hunt” launched by the Turkish “deep state.” Erdogan demanded that the investigation focus not on him but on his political opponent. His supporters began to agitate about the need to “clean house” in the judiciary and law enforcement. Soon thereafter, Erdogan fired those who were investigating him.

Sound familiar? It should.

Despite evidence of at least attempted collusion with Russia, Trump declares that there was “no collusion.” Trump, like Erdogan, has repeatedly denounced the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt.” A year ago, Trump claimed that law enforcement was out to get him, comparing the FBI to “Nazi Germany.” His supporters — including Republican members of Congress — frequently refer to the Justice Department as a part of the “deep state” that needs to be “purged.” Trump has obsessively urged the FBI to turn its focus away from him and to investigate his political opponent, Hillary Clinton, instead. When Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, he openly admitted that he did so because of “the Russia thing”….

➤ Andrew Van Dam reports Trump wants to remove these immigrants. An ugly bit of history tells us what it could do to the economy:

In the United States, the clearest parallel may well be the mass repatriation of Mexicans during the Great Depression. It was an era of desperation, hyperbole and racist hysteria. Politicians of the time should sound familiar, a few hilarious archaisms aside. In his 1931 annual report, Commissioner General of Immigration Harry Hull bemoaned the “hardships inflicted upon the American citizen” by “exposure to competition in employment opportunities of the bootlegged aliens.”

[Salvadorans fear TPS decision will be a huge economic blow but pin hopes on Congress]

To solve this problem, he promised “to spare no reasonable effort to remove the menace of unfair competition which actually exists in the vast number of aliens who have in one way or another, principally by surreptitious entries, violated our immigration laws.”

Hull and his allies got their wish. Almost a third of America’s Mexican population, which amounted to almost a quarter of the entire labor force in some Texas towns, were eventually expelled.

And did it work?

Economists Jongkwan Lee, of the Korea Development Institute, Vasil Yasenov, a postdoctoral scholar at the Goldman School of Public Policy in the University of California at Berkeley, and Giovanni Peri, economics chair at the University of California at Davis, looked at decades of detailed data to see if the higher wages and lower unemployment promised by opponents of immigration had materialized.

If anything, the opposite occurred.

Like TPS beneficiaries, many Mexicans (defined by the authors as people born in Mexico and their children) had established themselves in their communities. Researchers found cities that sent away more Mexicans saw worsening unemployment and slower wage growth after repatriation, even when adjusting for effects such as extreme drought and localized New Deal policies….

(Trump’s policies are both racially discriminatory and economically counter-productive. Indeed, racially discrimnatory policies are inherenetly destructive of the optimal allocation of labor, capital, and goods. No one owes Trump either his bigotry or his economic ignorance.)

➤ Raquel Sater reports Russian hackers planning to target U.S. Senate, cybersecurity firm says:

The same Russian government-aligned hackers who penetrated the Democratic Party have spent the past few months laying the groundwork for an espionage campaign against the U.S. Senate, a cybersecurity firm said Friday.

The revelation suggests the group often nicknamed Fancy Bear, whose hacking campaign scrambled the 2016 U.S. electoral contest, is still busy trying to gather the emails of America’s political elite.

“They’re still very active — in making preparations at least — to influence public opinion again,” said Feike Hacquebord, a security researcher at Trend Micro Inc., which published the report . “They are looking for information they might leak later.”

The Senate Sergeant at Arms office, which is responsible for the upper house’s security, declined to comment….

➤ Ben Smith of BuzzFeed writes I’m Proud We Published the Trump-Russia Dossier:

Exactly one year ago BuzzFeed published what’s now known simply as “the dossier”: a set of reports put together by a former British intelligence officer named Christopher Steele during the 2016 presidential campaign. The 35-page dossier suggested that the Russian government had both compromised and colluded with President-elect Donald Trump.

Our choice to publish the dossier was greeted by outrage from two sources. Journalistic traditionalists didn’t like the idea of sharing an unfiltered, unverified document with the public, whatever the caveats and context. NBC’s Chuck Todd told me on air, “You just published fake news.” Mr. Trump agreed. He described CNN’s reporting on the dossier as “fake news” and called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage.”

But a year of government inquiries and blockbuster journalism has made clear that the dossier is unquestionably real news. That’s a fact that has been tacitly acknowledged even by those who opposed our decision to publish. It has helped journalists explain to their audience the investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election. And Mr. Trump and his allies have seized on the dossier in their efforts to discredit the special counsel leading the investigation, Robert Mueller….

(More is better than less; publishing was the right decision.)

➤ Cleve R. Wootson Jr. reports These alligators spent days trapped in swamp ice — and survived:

There’s a certain Homo sapiens arrogance that comes around every time we get a Snowmageddon or a bomb cyclone.

We assume that while we’re shivering through single-digit temperatures, gaining a better appreciation of what it truly means to be Inuit, most of the rest of kingdom Animalia is similarly struggling.

There are, of course, Discovery Channel extremophiles covered in blubber or wrapped in fur, but we humans are equipped with opposable thumbs and the unmatched ability to make complex tools to warm ourselves.

If we can’t handle the cold, who — or what — can?

So it can be disconcerting to see a group of creatures meet an icy end-of-days scenario with a coldblooded “meh”….

(Americans are by nature a strong people. Although there are dangers in icy weather, we diminish ourselves when we impressionably accept hysterical weather coverage. There are far greater dangers than snow. There is also, for those who would only look about, great beauty in winter.)

Daily Bread for 1.13.18

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of fourteen. Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:44 PM, for 9h 21m 42s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 10.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1968, Johnny Cash performs two shows at Folsom Prison, California. The performances yielded material for Cash’s At Folsom Prison live album, released in May 1968.

On this date in 1922, Madison radio station WHA gets its call letters: “the call letters of experimental station 9XM in Madison were replaced by WHA. This station dates back to 1917, making it ‘The oldest station in the nation.’ ”

Recommended for reading in full —

Jason Noble reports Trump criticism dominates Chuck Grassley town meeting in rural Iowa:

LOGAN, Ia. — U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley faced relentless questioning about President Donald Trump’s fitness for office and his own handling of the investigation into Russian election meddling at a rural town meeting here Friday morning.

Amid a smattering of questions about trucking regulations, homeopathic medicine and pension security, a steady stream of attendees pressed Grassley to defend his handling of the ongoing Russia investigation and to offer his views on Trump’s conduct on the job.

“Are you not personally concerned about his fitness to serve? If not, why not? Because I’m very concerned,” Mary Mikels, a retired 67-year-old from nearby Portsmouth, asked Grassley.

Grassley deflected that question, saying he wasn’t qualified to make a psychiatric assessment, but Mikels persisted.

“He gets on Twitter and says the last thing that Fox News told him to say,” she said. “That’s not presidential. It’s concerning. Are you personally concerned?”….

(Admirable, truly, to hear Iowans speak directly as Americans, something that their senator can’t or won’t do. I’d almost say they’re woke, but then I’m not hip enough to use woke convincingly, and the surest proof is that I’m using hip as the measure of whether one is woke.)

Gabriel Sherman writes of “A Safe Space for Trump”: Inside the Feedback Loop Between the President and Fox News (“With Roger Ailes gone, the network’s chief de-facto programmer is the president. ‘He has the same embattled view as a typical Fox viewer.’ ”):

According to conversations in recent days with current and former Fox executives, producers, and hosts, Trump looms almost as large in the minds of employees as Ailes did. Fox hosts regularly get calls from Trump about segments he likes—or doesn’t. “When you worked at Fox, you knew that at any moment Roger Ailes was watching. Every day was like a job interview with Ailes. Now it’s the same way for Trump,” says a veteran Fox News contributor. According to sources, Trump doesn’t explicitly dictate talking points the way Ailes did, but over time, the effect can be similar. “What he usually does is he’ll call after a show and say, ‘I really enjoyed that,’” a former Fox anchor told me. “The highest compliment is, ‘I really learned something.’ Then you know he got a new policy idea.” But knowing Trump always could be tuning in means the network is being programmed for an audience of one. “He has the same embattled view as a typical Fox viewer—that ‘the liberal elites hate me; they’re trying to bring me down,’” an executive said.

This dynamic makes it extremely complicated to cover the administration’s near-constant conflagrations. “They don’t want to see stuff about Michael Wolff. It’s depressing,” one staffer said, speaking about how the network struggled to cover the frenzy around Fire and Fury. One sure strategy has been to follow Trump’s lead and continue attacking the Clintons. Since becoming president, Trump has tweeted about Hillary Clinton about 70 times. Trump brought up Hillary multiple times at a joint press conference with the Norwegian prime minister on January 10. One Fox staffer explained that the anti-Hillary segments rate almost higher than anything else the network programs. “The audience eats up anything about Hillary,” the staffer said. Fox will soon debut a new weekly documentary series called Scandalous.The subject of the first episode: the Clintons.

The hugely successful alliance is mostly transactional—privately, many at the network have a nuanced view of the president. “He’s sort of viewed as this crazy person who calls all the time,” the Fox executive said. During the early stages of the Republican primary, Fox News was one of Trump’s chief antagonists. Murdoch championed comprehensive immigration reform and was horrified by Trump’s nativist rhetoric, sources told me. I reported how, shortly before the first G.O.P. primary debate, Murdoch told Ailes to prevent Trump from getting the nomination. But once Trump became the nominee, the network quickly fell into line. It was simply a programming play. Fox producers saw ratings drop whenever something negative about Trump was said on air. Since then, Fox has shed prominent Trump critics like Megyn Kelly,George Will, and Rich Lowry, while bulking up on pro-Trump voices such as Seb Gorka,Laura Ingraham, and Mark Levin. “The network has become a safe space for Trump fans,” said an executive. Those who didn’t get on board felt the pressure. Last spring, Bob Beckel, a former co-host of The Five and vocal Trump detractor, found an unsigned note in his office telling him to back off Trump, a Fox source told me. On the news side, journalists seem to have a somewhat freer hand. Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith have been skeptical in their Trump coverage….

Michael Duff and Nancy Gibbs write of The Unpresident: Why Donald Trump Will Never Change:

With Donald Trump, the nation is seeing something new. Although he flirted with running as an independent decades ago, and as a Republican in 2012, he was never driven by a vision, an agenda or a set of goals. He gave every indication of wanting to win the presidency but not be the President.

That impression, and so much more, is brought to life in Michael Wolff’s explosive and controversial new book, Fire and Fury, a damning account of the first nine months of the Trump presidency that has Democrats salivating and studying the Constitution and Republicans fretting over its conclusions while pretending to criticize it as a hatchet job. The President was so incensed by the book and its many criticisms of his leadership style that he tried to block its publication even after Fire and Fury was widely available, thereby guaranteeing that it would sell out everywhere from Maine to Montana. So many are the questions raised in the book about his suitability for office that Trump was left to declare in a Jan. 6 tweet that he is a “very stable genius.”

For all the criticism of Wolff’s methods, much about the portrait rings true. Trump didn’t expect to win and, if he thought about it, probably didn’t want to. The campaign itself gave him the power and the glory and the profits. The office takes those away. In the terms he cares about–nuclear button notwithstanding–he is in many ways less powerful as President than he was a year ago. Candidates can say whatever they want about what they will do; Presidents are expected go out and do it. There’s more ridicule and much less freedom. Harry Truman’s “great white jail” is spartan compared with a life pinballing between Mar-a-Lago and Fifth Avenue. The rewards of the office, such as they are, aren’t rewarding to Trump, other than the pomp, the crowds, the chance to show off the Lincoln Bedroom or to see in our response an awe he does not share but likes provoking. The fuel that powers the presidency–the passion for ideas, the attachment to allies, the give and take of practical politics–gives him no energy. So this is an exhausting, even debilitating, life for a 71-year-old, much less one with little curiosity or sense of mission beyond self-interest. The most thin-skinned public figure imaginable has been exposed to the elements. And he doesn’t like them….

Mike Levine reports FBI vets: What many are missing about the infamous ‘dossier’ amid Russia probe:

In fact, even without the dossier, the U.S. intelligence community was in possession of information warranting an FBI probe.

“I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and it served as the basis for the FBI investigation to determine whether such collusion [or] cooperation occurred,” former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Judiciary Committee last year.

For the FBI, the dossier was essentially just another tip.

“This particular matter was complicated by the fact that the ‘main subject’ happened to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States,” but “we still had an obligation to look at it as part of our effort to protect the Republic from foreign threats,” according to Frank Montoya, who spent more than two decades with the FBI and another two years leading U.S. counterintelligence policy under the Director of National Intelligence.

Police routinely respond to unverified “reports” of criminal activity on city streets. Border Patrol agents routinely respond to unverified reports of illegal border crossings. Similarly, the FBI routinely commits resources to a matter based on unverified reports.

In all those cases, what happens next depends on what investigators find. The FBI’s Russia-related probe is no different….

Perhaps he used Apple Pay

(I’ve seen clips like this before. Looking closely at this one, I’d say this seagull went for the Doritos® Salsa Verde. One might say that’s because it was easily within reach, but one might imagine more of this gull, that he’s a discerning consumer, as the salsa verde flavor so powerfully suggests.)

Daily Bread for 1.12.18

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of twenty. Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset is 4:43 PM, for 9h 20m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 16.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1904, Henry Ford sets a land speed record:

Henry Ford, standing, and Barney Oldfield in 1902, with the “999” racing automobile.

The Ford 999 was a nameplate attached to two distinct but similar racers built by Henry Ford during the early 20th century. Though they began as separate entities, they were virtually mechanically identical, and parts (and ultimately names) were swapped between them as needed, making the identities and legacies inseparable….On January 12, 1904 in New Baltimore, Michigan, Henry Ford personally drove the rechristened 999 with his mechanic Ed “Spider” Huff at the throttle. A new land speed record was achieved of 91.37 mph (147.05 km/h) on an ice track carved into Lake St. Clair’s Anchor Bay. It stood for only a few weeks, but this was ample time to bring more good publicity for Ford’s new company.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Zach Beauchamp writes Trump’s “shithole countries” comment exposes the core of Trumpism (“Trump’s racism isn’t incidental to his political appeal. It’s the core of it”):

This is a man who launched his political career by pushing a conspiracy theory that the first black president was not actually born in America. This is a candidate who rocketed to the top of the GOP primary polls by calling Mexicans rapists. This is a president who has repeatedly attempted to act on his campaign pledge to ban Muslims from entering the United States, who has said that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and that Nigerians live in “huts.”

It’s not just that Trump has consistently and unambiguously expressed beliefs like this — though he has. It’s that his willingness to say these things, out loud, is the core of his political appeal to his vaunted base. Trump won the GOP primary and the presidency not in spite of his xenophobia and racism, but because of them.

Put even more bluntly, his talk about “shithole countries” is a perfect distillation of Trumpism….

Political scientists who study race and immigration find that they have played a central role in the transformation of American politics. Democratic support for civil rights legislation and mass Latino immigration led to a sea change in American voting, wherein white voters who feel high levels of racial resentment shifted en masse into the Republican Party….

This meant that a candidate like Trump, someone who was willing to openly disparage minority groups and immigrants, had an opening in the Republican primary. Someone who could mobilize these voters by telling them what they really wanted to hear would be able to command their votes.

That’s exactly what happened. Michael Tesler, a professor at the University of California Irvine, took a look at racial resentment scores among Republican primary voters in the past three GOP primaries. In 2008 and 2012, Tesler found, Republican voters who scored higher were less likely to vote for the eventual winner. The more racial bias you harbored, the less likely you were to vote for Mitt Romney or John McCain.

With Trump, the opposite was the case. The more a person saw black people as lazy and undeserving, the more likely they were to vote for the self-proclaimed billionaire….

You might think that looking back to the primary is old news — but really, it isn’t. Trump’s “base,” his most hardcore supporters, are the people who helped make him the Republican standard-bearer. Primary data is some of the best evidence we have about the nature of Trump’s support — and it suggests that xenophobia and racism were the defining part of Trump’s support.

(See also How race and identity became the central dividing line in American politics. A herrenvolk isn’t merely a sham democracy – it’s inimical to democracy.)

Eli Rosenberg and Amar Nadhir write Reporters to Trump ambassador: ‘This is the Netherlands — you have to answer questions’:

Peter Hoekstra, the newly minted U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, held his first news conference with the Dutch media at his new residence in The Hague on Wednesday.

It did not go well.

Dutch journalists peppered Hoekstra with questions on unsubstantiated claims he made in 2015 about chaos that the “Islamic movement” had allegedly brought to the Netherlands.

“There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” he said then, at a conference hosted by a conservative group. “And yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”

The comments have widely been described as inaccurate, and seem to reflect certain conspiracy theories about sharia law that crop up in some circles of the far-right in the West. When pressed by the Dutch reporters, Hoekstra declined to retract the comments or give specific examples to back them up.

In fact, after saying that he would not be “revisiting the issue,” he simply refused to answer the question at all.

But the reporters were not done with the line of questioning. Instead of moving on, another reporter would simply ask a variation of the query again.

“Everybody there had one question: That crazy statement you made, are you going to withdraw it?” Roel Geeraedts, a political reporter at the Dutch television station RTL Nieuws, said in a phone interview about the event. “We were not getting answers, so we all kept asking it.”

(Our press – nationally and locally – should do as well: This is America — you have to answer questions. The Dutch example is a good one for us; we’ve forgotten what we should always have kept in mind.)

Ronald Brownstein observes The Voters Abandoning Donald Trump (“According to previously unpublished findings, the blue-collar whites at the core of his coalition have lost faith over his first year in office”):

Together, the results crystallize the bet Trump is making for his own reelection in 2020, and for his party’s chances in November’s election: that he can mobilize enough support among older and blue-collar (as well as rural and evangelical) whites to offset the intense resistance he’s provoked from groups that are all growing in the electorate: Millennials, minorities, and college-educated whites—particularly the women among them.

These findings emerge from a cumulative analysis of 605,172 interviews SurveyMonkey conducted with Americans in 2017 about Trump’s job performance. At my request, Mark Blumenthal, SurveyMonkey’s head of election polling, calculated Trump’s average approval rating over the last year among groups of voters segmented simultaneously by their race, gender, education level, and age. That extra level of detail, not available in conventional polls because their samples are too small, offers a more precise picture of Trump’s coalition.

The SurveyMonkey results put Trump’s total approval rating for 2017 at 42 percent, with 56 percent disapproving. That’s slightly higher than, but within range of, other major public surveys….

Layering in gender and age underscores voters’ retreat. Trump in 2016 narrowly won younger whites. But he now faces crushing disapproval ratings ranging from 62 percent to 76 percent among three big groups of white Millennials: women with and without a college degree, and men with a degree. Even among white Millennial men without a degree, his most natural supporters, Trump only scores a 49-49 split….

(These are encouraging findings, but there’s more to be done, with a relentless, withering focus on Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders.)

Betsy Woodruff, Lachlan Markay, and Asawin Suebaseng report Steve Bannon Lawyers Up… as Russia Investigators Get Ready to Pounce:

The Daily Beast has learned that the former top White House strategist has retained Bill Burck, of the firm Quinn Emanuel. Two sources tell us Burck is helping Bannon prepare for an interview with the House intelligence committee, which is currently scheduled for next week. Sources also said Bannon plans to “fully cooperate” with investigators.

Burck also represents White House Counsel Don McGahn and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus for the purposes of the Russia probe, as Law360 reported last September.

It is not unheard of for one attorney to represent more than one client on the same matter. But the fact that several key players with Trump administration ties have the same lawyer could irk investigators.

“In general, prosecutors don’t like it when the same attorney represents multiple people who are subjects—or more—because it looks like they’re controlling the story,” said Ken White, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in First Amendment issues, speaking of investigators’ targets.

Until recently, Bannon had largely avoided becoming publicly ensnared in the Russia investigation. But behind the scenes, Bannon sought to play a role in Team Trump’s handling of the issue. He privately advised the president in October to get more aggressive in fighting back against Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and urged Trump to hire new lawyers….

Imagine a Flight Through Orion Nebula in Visible and Infrared Light:

By combining the visible and infrared capabilities of the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, astronomers and visualization specialists from NASA’s Universe of Learning program have created a spectacular, three-dimensional, fly-through movie of the magnificent Orion nebula, a nearby stellar nursery. Using actual scientific data along with Hollywood techniques, a team at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California, has produced the best and most detailed multi-wavelength visualization yet of the Orion nebula. Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute

Daily Bread for 1.11.18

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be rainy, with freezing rain in the afternoon, and a high of fifty-three. Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:42 PM, for 9h 18m 36s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 24.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Involvement Commission meets today at 5 PM (Update: canceled).

On this day in 1964, the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health, United States Public Health Service, issues “Smoking and Health,” a report on the danger of cigarette smoking.

On this date in 1887, noted conservationist Aldo Leopold is born: “American author, philosopher, scientist, ecologist, forester, conservationist, and environmentalist. He was a professor at the University of Wisconsin and is best known for his book A Sand County Almanac (1949), which has sold more than two million copies.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Tom Davies reports New layoffs at Indiana Carrier factory year after Trump deal:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A new round of layoffs is taking effect this week at the Carrier Corp. factory in Indianapolis a little more than a year after President Donald Trump touted a deal that staved off the plant’s closure and saved some of its jobs.

About 215 people are being let go starting Thursday, leaving about 1,100 workers at the plant, according to the company. That’s down from the some 1,600 factory, office and engineering jobs at the facility when Carrier announced plans in early 2016 to move production to Mexico.

This week’s previously announced layoffs follow about 340 job cuts at the factory in July.

Trump frequently criticized Carrier’s plant closing plans during the 2016 campaign. He traveled to the Indianapolis factory three weeks after his election win to announce a tax-incentive agreement partially reversing the closure and keeping some 800 furnace production jobs.

Retired United Steelworkers Local 1999 President Chuck Jones, who was chastised by a Trump tweet after complaining that Trump gave false hope to Carrier workers by inflating the number of jobs being saved, said the president hasn’t followed up on his campaign talk of stopping the country’s loss of manufacturing jobs….

(State capitalism is sham capitalism, but then Trump’s promises weren’t even a serious state intervention in the market – dishonest public relations is not an economy policy.)

Josh Dawsey reports Trump declines to say whether he would sit for interview with Mueller’s team:

President Trump on Wednesday declined to say whether he would grant an interview to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his team, deflecting questions on the topic by saying there had been “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said when asked directly about meeting with the special counsel.

Trump then questioned why he would be interviewed, arguing again there had been “no collusion” between his campaign and Russia.

“When they have no collusion — and nobody’s found any collusion at any level — it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Trump’s comments Wednesday marked a shift from what he said months ago….

(One’s tempted to say that if Trump won’t sit for an interview, he can always stand. More seriously: he either sits for an interview or gets a subpoena to a grand jury – he doesn’t have any other effective options short of provoking a constitutional crisis.)

Frank Rick contends Trump Has Moved a Step Closer to Implosion:

The only way Trump leaves office absent a Democratic sweep in the 2018 midterms is if he does so of his own volition: poisoning himself with his binges of Big Macs and Diet Coke; making a deal to head off pending indictments of himself, his son, or son-in-law; or breaking down mentally to the point where he is so unhappy, angry, and unmoored that he’d rather declare victory and take his marbles home to Mar-a-Lago. Fire and Fury has moved the latter process along. That Trump would feel compelled to declare himself a “very stable genius” and turn this book into an epic best seller by (impotently) threatening legal action to suppress it suggests that Wolff has quite successfully gaslighted him. Though it’s Ivanka Trump whom Steve Bannon described as “dumb as a brick,” her father’s self-immolating actions from the moment New York posted its Fire and Fury excerptis proof positive that the apple didn’t fall far from the orange tree….

(Trump may do many things; those in resistance and opposition have only to focus on lawfully limiting the range of what he may do. Our work is his political limitation.)

Kurt Bardella describes life Inside Steve Bannon’s ‘Fight Club’:

By the fall of 2015, Breitbart had become nothing more than a propaganda vessel to advance the political interests of Steve Bannon’s chosen one. Nothing illustrated this more than when Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, grabbed one Breitbart reporter, Michelle Fields. Steve was so invested in Mr. Trump that he was willing to sacrifice his own reporter, whom he refused to defend, to protect his personal interests.

For me, it was the last straw. I made the decision during the Fields situation to resign — joined in short order by Ms. Fields herself and our editor at large, Ben Shapiro — and terminate my relationship with Steve and Breitbart, who had become one and the same.

Today, Steve finds himself a man without currency. Thanks to his arrogance and his lack of discipline, he has lost his proximity to the president, lost his billionaire benefactor Rebekah Mercer and lost his precious platform, Breitbart. Meantime, ever the dramatist, he compares himself to Thomas Cromwell….

(Self-centered, malevolent man – repulsive and unsympathetic. Stephen Miller will likely take his place – the work of opposition goes on.)

Dolphins recognize themselves:

Daily Bread for 1.10.18

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will see afternoon showers with a high of forty-five. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset is 4:41 PM, for 9h 17m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 33.4% of its disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine anonymously publishes Common Sense. On this day in 1883, the Newhall House fire claims over seventy: “one of America’s worst hotel fires claimed more than seventy lives when the Newhall House burned at the northwest corner of Broadway and Michigan Streets in Milwaukee. Rescued from the fire were The P.T. Barnum Lilliputian Show performers Tom Thumb and Commodore Nutt. The fire, shown here, was discovered at 4:00 a.m. on the 10th, but sources give the date variously as 1/9/1883 or 1/10/1883.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Spencer Ackerman reports White House Official Floated Withdrawing U.S. Forces to Please Putin (“A member of Trump’s National Security Council staff had a radical notion: to pare back American troops in Europe as a way to curry favor with the Kremlin”):

A senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump presidency, according to two former administration officials.

While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to Donald Trump seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin—something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia’s election-time investment in President Trump. The White House did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment….

According to the ex-colleague, Harrington considered it a gesture to the Kremlin that would enable the nascent Trump administration to see if its desire for a friendly relationship with Russia would be reciprocated. It was included in a strategy paper that, conspicuously to the former official, made no mention of Russia as either a competitor or adversary….

(Vladimir Putin is an enemy of our people, as he is an enemy of democratic peoples elsewhere. No one who fails to see as much of Russia’s autocratic murderer & imperialist is suited for service in the United States Government.)

The Committee to Investigate Russia offers testimony takeaways  from the transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony given to her committee on August 22, 2017. The following are key excerpts from that 312-page transcript: 

On Trump’s known connections to convicted criminal Felix Sater:

Page 70  I found it notable this was something he didn’t want to talk about and testified under oath he wouldn’t know Felix if he ran into him in the street. That was not true. He knew him well and, in fact, continued to associate with him long after he learned of Felix’s organized crime ties. So, you know, that tells you something about somebody. So I concluded that he was okay with that and that was a troubling thing. I also, you know, began to — I keep saying I, but we as a company began to look at where his money came from and, you know, that raised a lot of questions. We saw indications that some of the money came from Kazakhstan, among other places, and that some of it you just couldn’t account for….

Steele first met with someone from the FBI in July and then again in September, and Simpson says that during that second meeting, Steele heard about the FBI having a source inside the Trump campaign:

Q. You said that he told you of the meeting with the FBI in Rome in mid or late September, that he “gave them a full briefing”?

A. A debrief I think is what he probably said, they had debriefed him … Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.

On why Steele stopped communicating with the FBI:

Page 178  A: There was some sort of interaction, I think it was probably telephonic that occurred after Director Comey sent his letter to Congress reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. That episode, you know, obviously created some concern that the FBI was intervening in a political campaign in contravention of long-standing Justice Department regulation.

So it made a lot of people, including us, concerned about what the heck was going on at the FBI. So, you know, we began getting questions from the press about, you know, whether they were also investigating Trump and, you know, we encouraged them to ask the FBI that question. You know, I think — I’m not sure we’ve covered this fully, but, you know, we just encouraged them to ask the FBI that question.

On October 31st the New York Times posed a story saying that the FBI is investigating Trump and found no connections to Russia and, you know, it was a real Halloween special.

Sometime thereafter the FBI — I understand Chris severed his relationship with the FBI out of concern that he didn’t know what was happening inside the FBI and there was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on. So he stopped dealing with them….

Jennifer Rubin asks What didn’t Republicans want you to see in the Fusion GPS transcript?:

You can understand why the Republicans were furiously trying to suppress the transcript, which contains no classified information.

First, it makes clear that Steele was engaged because of his expertise and contacts. He was not told to find anything in particular, but just to research the totality of Trump’s involvement in Russia.

Second, according to Simpson, Trump was doing business all over the former Soviet states of Georgia and Azerbaijan. Interestingly, Trump repeatedly denied having financial ties in Russia itself but never publicly denied operations in states in which Russians exercised substantial influence.

Third, in investigating Trump’s finances they found his properties were not as highly valued as he suggested and, in the case of several golf courses, weren’t making money.

Fourth, Steele took it upon himself to report his finding to the FBI because he believed there was a “crime in progress” and matter of national security. He later relayed to Simpson that the FBI already had information from a campaign source.

Fifth, Trump lied about not knowing who Felix Sater is. Simpson testified, “This was something he didn’t want to talk about and testified under oath he wouldn’t know Felix if he ran into him in the street. That was not true. He knew him well and, in fact, continued to associate with him long after he learned of Felix’s organized crime ties. So, you know, that tells you something about somebody.” We do not know if Sater was in fact tied to organized crime.

Sixth, Simpson called it a reasonable “interpretation” that the Trump Tower meeting was designed by Russian officials to reach out to and cooperate with the Trump team.

Seventh, far from interfering in the election to benefit Hillary Clinton, the FBI did not publicly disclose during the campaign the wealth of information it was learning about Trump and Russia.

What stands out most from an initial perusal of the transcript is the professionalism and seriousness of Fusion GPS and Steele. By attempting to suppress a candid look into the dossier (really a series of memos, Simpson explains), Republicans once again are caught acting like Trump henchmen, trying to play down the investigation into Russia, not unearth and air what they learn.

Trump arrogantly & falsely thinks it’s a privilege that some Americans (albeit a clear minority of them) voted for him:

TechInsider contends humans may have more in common with bats than previously thought:

Daily Bread for 1.9.18

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-one. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset is 4:40 PM, for 9h 15m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 43.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 6 PM.

On this day in 1863, the Battle of Arkansas Post begins: “The Battle of Arkansas Post, also called Fort Hindman, began on this day near the mouth of the Arkansas River. The 23rd Wisconsin Infantry was in the thick of the action all three days.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Ezra Klein describes The most clarifying conversation I’ve had on Trump and Russia:

What really happened between the Trump campaign and the Russian government?

The investigation into that question has rocked American politics. The FBI director was fired over it. The attorney general might get fired over it. The president’s former campaign manager and his original national security adviser were charged with crimes as part of it. The president himself might ultimately be charged with obstruction of justice for his response to it.

It’s also a devilishly difficult story to follow, with information coming out in half-true dribs and drabs, new names grabbing headlines and then disappearing for weeks, and countless threads that need to somehow be stitched into a coherent whole. Which is why I asked Susan Hennessey to join the podcast this week.

Hennessey, a former lawyer at the National Security Agency, is a fellow at the Brookings Institution and managing editor of Lawfare, which has done extraordinary work both tracking and driving this story. And in this conversation, she pulls it all together in ways I found extremely clarifying, and occasionally horrifying.

This is a conversation about the big picture of the Russia investigation: what we know and what we don’t know, what Robert Mueller has actually promised to deliver, what collusion really means, how Trump’s aides could have done what they’ve been accused of doing, and much more.

The Daily Beast reports Gorka Unwittingly Confirms Trump Staff Were Told to Cooperate With Wolff:

While attempting to discredit Michael Wolff’s controversial new book about the Trump administration, former aide Sebastian Gorka unwittingly confirmed that White House staff were told to cooperate with Wolff. The Trump White House’s pushback against Fire and Fury has largely centered around the president’s claim that he did not give Wolff unlimited access and approval to hang around the West Wing and gather stories. But in a column for The Hill, Gorka revealed that he’d been asked to comply with the author: “When I met Michael Wolff in Reince Priebus’ office, where he was waiting to talk to Steve Bannon, and after I had been told to also speak to him for his book, my attitude was polite but firm: ‘Thanks but no thanks.’”

(Few Trump talking points survive unrefuted for more than a day or two.)

Christopher Ingraham reports Kansas lawmaker says African Americans are more susceptible to drug abuse because of ‘character makeup’ and ‘genetics.’:

Attempting to explain at a weekend legislative coffee session with constituents why “all drugs” were outlawed in the United States in the 1930s, Rep. Stephen Alford offered the following, according to The Garden City Telegram: “One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, it’s that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because their character makeup, their genetics and that.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, this is not true.

According to federal data, there is virtually no difference between black and white Americans when it comes to either rates of illicit drug use or rates of substance-abuse disorder. In 2016, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 54 percent of whites age 12 and older had ever used an illicit drug in their lifetime, higher than the 46 percent rate among blacks.

Similarly, whites (7.8 percent) were slightly more likely than African Americans (7.6 percent) to meet diagnostic criteria for a substance-use disorder in 2016….

I published yesterday a video of a SpaceX launch, that seemed to go well, but unfortunately not every effort succeeds. Everett Rosenfeld reports Highly classified US spy satellite appears to be a total loss after SpaceX launch:

A highly classified U.S. government satellite appears to have been totally lost after being taken into space by a recent launch from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, according to a new report.

Dow Jones reported Monday evening that lawmakers had been briefed about the apparent destruction of the secretive payload — code-named Zuma — citing industry and government officials

The payload was suspected to have burned up in the atmosphere after failing to separate perfectly from the upper part of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, the report said.

According to Dow Jones, the absence of official word on the incident means that there could have been another chain of events….

Biking to Protect Guatemala’s Rainforest? Of course

Winding through the lush rainforests below Guatemala’s Volcan de Agua is a growing mecca for mountain biking. Known as El Zur, the 2,500-acre private nature reserve was created to protect the land. Turns out, the best way to protect the land sustainably is to offer a variety of outdoor activities. Join guide José Pablo Jelkmann Mendia as he takes us through this pristine paradise on bike, replete with lush trails, suspension bridges and dreamlike waterfalls. It’s truly a site to behold.

‘Executive Time’ for the Laziest Person in North America

It’s a big planet, with billions of people, so one cannot account for every last lazybones on every last continent. And yet, and yet, is there anyone on this continent as lazy as Donald J. Trump? Jonathan Swan explains in Scoop: Trump’s secret, shrinking schedule:

President Trump is starting his official day much later than he did in the early days of his presidency, often around 11am, and holding far fewer meetings, according to copies of his private schedule shown to Axios. This is largely to meet Trump’s demands for more “Executive Time,” which almost always means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence, officials tell us.

The schedules shown to me are different than the sanitized ones released to the media and public.

The schedule says Trump has “Executive Time” in the Oval Office every day from 8 am to 11 am, but the reality is he spends that time in his residence, watching TV, making phone calls and tweeting. Trump comes down for his first meeting of the day, which is often an intelligence briefing, at 11am….

On Tuesday, Trump has his first meeting of the day with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11am. He then has “Executive Time” for an hour followed by an hour lunch in the private dining room. Then it’s another 1 hour 15 minutes of “Executive Time” followed by a 45 minute meeting with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then another 15 minutes of “Executive Time” before Trump takes his last meeting of the day — a 3:45pm meeting with the head of Presidential Personnel Johnny DeStefano — before ending his official day at 4:15pm….

On Thursday, the president has an especially light schedule: “Policy Time” at 11 am, then “Executive Time” at 12pm, then lunch for an hour, then more “Executive Time” from 1:30pm….

Watching Fox & Friends, chatting up cronies, tweeting in substandard English, eating junk food: Trump has every advantage in the world, and this is how he spends his time.

Film: Tuesday, January 9th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Dunkirk

This Tuesday, January 9th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Dunkirk @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Christopher Nolan directs the one hour, forty-six minute film. Dunkirk recounts ‘the dramatic and true evacuation of Allied soldiers from Belgium, England and France, who were cutoff and surrounded by the German Army, from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France, May 26-June 4, 1940. Told through the eyes of a trapped soldier, two RAF pilots and a group of civilians. A critically acclaimed film starring Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, and Kenneth Branagh.’

The historical drama carries a PG-13 rating from the MPAA.

One can find more information about Dunkirk at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 1.8.18

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of thirty-seven. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:39 PM, for 9h 14m 23s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 53.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority Seed Capital Committee meets at 4 PM. The PLanning Commission meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1790, Pres. Washington delivered the first state of the union address.

Recommended for reading in full —

Masha Gessen observes that “Fire and Fury” Is a Book All Too Worthy of the President:

The President of the United States is a deranged liar who surrounds himself with sycophants. He is also functionally illiterate and intellectually unsound. He is manifestly unfit for the job. Who knew? Everybody did….

A year in, the Trump Presidency remains unimaginable. To think that a madman could be running the world’s most powerful country, to think that the Commander-in-Chief would use Twitter to mouth off about whose nuclear button is bigger or to call himself a “very stable genius,” verges on the impossible. If the word “unthinkable” had a literal meaning, this would be it. It also brings to mind the psychiatrist Judith Herman’s definition of a related word: “Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud,” she once wrote. “This is the meaning of the word unspeakable.” The Trump era is unimaginable, unthinkable, unspeakable. Yet it is waging a daily assault on the public’s sense of sanity, decency, and cohesion. It makes us feel crazy.

At the end of the day, we sit down in front of the screen and watch the late-night comedians state the obvious: they imagine the unimaginable, think the unthinkable, and speak the unspeakable. There is nothing funny about it, but we laugh with relief. However briefly, the comedians free us from the nagging sense that we are crazy. It’s not us, it’s him. The laughter becomes hysterical….

Jake Tapper found himself compelled to cut off an interview with Trump adviser Stephen Miller:

(Miller conveys the impression of someone who tormented small animals as a child.)

Linette Lopez reports that Stephen Miller had to be escorted off CNN’s set after his interview with Jake Tapper went off the rails:

White House adviser Stephen Miller was escorted off the set of CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday after a contentious interview with host Jake Tapper.

Two sources close to the situation told Business Insider that after the taping was done, Miller was politely asked to leave several times.

He ignored those requests and ultimately security was called and he was escorted out, the sources said.

CNN declined to comment on this story.

Miller’s appearance on the cable network quickly went off the rails when Tapper pressed him on explosive claims about President Donald Trump that appeared in the book “Fire & Fury: Inside The Trump White House” by Michael Wolff.

Miller repeatedly attempted to pivot the conversation toward criticism of CNN, a favorite target of Trump’s. He then referred to Trump as a “political genius” and lamented his treatment during the interview, leading Tapper to reply that there was only “one viewer you care about right now”….

David Ferguson reports Ex-GOP Rep explains Stephen Miller’s boot-licking CNN performance: He’s trying to be the new Bannon:

Former U.S. Rep. David Jolley (R-FL) slammed President Donald Trump’s adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday after Miller’s toadyish tantrum on CNN forced anchor Jake Tapper to cut him off and end the segment early — a move that earned plaudits for Tapper.

Jolley said that the current rift between Trump and former adviser Steve Bannon will heal and the two will head into the 2018 midterms as a team, especially now that Bannon has rolled over and offered a groveling apology to Trump for the things he said in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Anchor David Gura played video from Miller’s CNN segment, to which Jolley said, “Stephen Miller is the one person in this White House, through loyalty and sycophancy who can fill Steve Bannon’s shoes and he knows that.”

SpaceX streamed live its Falcon rocket (ZUMA mission) launch last night. The lauch was a success. I watched the live stream, and here’s a replay – the countdown is informative, and oen can learn a lot during a webcast like this:

SpaceX is targeting launch of the Zuma spacecraft from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The two-hour primary launch window opens at 8:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, January 7, or 1:00 UTC on Monday, January 8. A backup two-hour launch window opens at 8:00 p.m. EST on Monday, January 8, or 1:00 UTC on Tuesday, January 9.

Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will attempt to land at SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Daily Bread for 1.7.18

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of twenty-seven. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset is 4:38 PM, for 9h 13m 06s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 63.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1610, Galileo Galilei observes three of Jupiter’s moons, although he was mistaken at first about what he was seeing: “three fixed stars, totally invisible[111] by their smallness”, all close to Jupiter, and lying on a straight line through it.[112] Observations on subsequent nights showed that the positions of these “stars” relative to Jupiter were changing in a way that would have been inexplicable if they had really been fixed stars. On 10 January, Galileo noted that one of them had disappeared, an observation which he attributed to its being hidden behind Jupiter. Within a few days, he concluded that they were orbiting Jupiter:[113] he had discovered three of Jupiter’s four largest moons. He discovered the fourth on 13 January. Galileo named the group of four the Medicean stars, in honour of his future patron, Cosimo II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Cosimo’s three brothers.[114] Later astronomers, however, renamed them Galilean satellites in honour of their discoverer. These satellites are now called IoEuropaGanymede, and Callisto.”

On this day in 1901, Robert Marion La Follette becomes governor: “On this date Robert M. La Follette was inaugurated as governor after winning the November 6, 1900 election. La Follette was born in Dane County in 1855. A Wisconsin Law School graduate and three-term member of congress, La Follette was renowned for his oratorical style. He was the first Wisconsin-born individual to serve as governor.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

James Fallows writes of How Actual Smart People Talk About Themselves (“Hint: not by discussing IQ”):

Grace Hopper, American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral.

….In short (as Lloyd Bentsen might once have put it): I’ve known some very smart people. Some very smart people have been friends of mine. And Donald Trump…

Here are three traits I would report from a long trail of meeting and interviewing people who by any reckoning are very intelligent.

They all know it. A lifetime of quietly comparing their ease in handling intellectual challenges—at the chess board, in the classroom, in the debating or writing arena—with the efforts of other people gave them the message.

Virtually none of them (need to) say it. There are a few prominent exceptions, of talented people who annoyingly go out of their way to announce that fact. Muhammad Ali is the charming extreme exception illustrating the rule: he said he was The Greatest, and was. Most greats don’t need to say so.* It would be like Roger Federer introducing himself with, “You know, I’m quite graceful and gifted.” Or Meryl Streep asking, “Have you seen my awards?”

They know what they don’t know. This to me is the most consistent marker of real intelligence. The more acute someone’s ability to perceive and assess, the more likely that person is to recognize his or her limits. These include the unevenness of any one person’s talents; the specific areas of weakness—social awkwardness, musical tin ear, being stronger with numbers than with words, or vice versa; and the incomparable vastness of what any individual person can never know. To read books seriously is to be staggered by the knowledge of how many more books will remain beyond your ken. It’s like looking up at the star-filled sky….

Paul Waldman explains Why Jeff Sessions’s marijuana crackdown is going to make legalization more likely:

Jeff Sessions hates marijuana. Hates it, with a passion that has animated almost nothing else in his career. “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” he has said. He even once said about the Ku Klux Klan, “I thought those guys were okay until I learned they smoked pot.”

He says that was a joke, but even so, it still says something about where he’s coming from….

the Trump administration has sent a clear message to the public that it wants to turn back the clock on our nation’s drug laws. There’s no doubt that Sessions is sincere in his desire to do so, but politically it could be a disaster. According to the latest Gallup poll, 64 percent of Americans favor legalization, including a majority of Republicans. There could be a dozen more states considering some form of legalization this year, either in their legislatures or through ballot initiatives, which will only bring more attention to the issue and set people’s own states against the administration. Just yesterday, the Vermont House of Representatives voted to legalize personal possession and cultivation of marijuana, and the bill is expected to pass the state Senate and be signed by the governor. They won’t be the last.

That the Trump administration is doing something so unpopular will put a lot of Republicans in a very awkward position, particularly if they come from a state like Colorado or California — precisely the representatives who are going to be most vulnerable in this November’s elections. Many of them have released outraged statements condemning the decision, but it might not be enough to persuade voters not to punish President Trump by voting them out. A member such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (whose California district was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016) can cry to his constituents that he opposed the marijuana crackdown and the tax bill (which cut back their deduction for state and local taxes), and they might listen. But in a year of a Democratic wave, they might also just decide to sweep him out with the rest of the GOP.

So the end result of this policy could well be to accelerate the liberalization of the nation’s marijuana laws. A backlash could help more Democrats get elected, and push elected Democrats to more unambiguously support legalization. Don’t be surprised if every Democrat running for president in 2020 favors ending the federal prohibition on marijuana and returning the question to the states. One potential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, has already introduced a bill to do just that….

(I don’t smoke – anything – but advocate treating marijuana like wine. That’s where America’s heading, and Trump won’t meaningfully change that direction. Sessions, in particular, is the distillation of every reactionary idea into one tiny southern politician.)

Jared Yates Sexton contends Steve Bannon sees the writing on the wall for Trump:

Mr. Bannon’s quote and sudden posturing against Mr. Trump and his inner circle seems self-interested only because that’s exactly what it is. He, like a growing number of Trump supporters, can see the writing on the wall and knows it’s time to put as much daylight between himself and the President. Their transactional relationship, it seems, has reached its point of diminishing returns.

In past cases, whether it was Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, a president caught in the midst of a scandal can at least count on the loyalty of those around them that shared their worldview or had weathered hard times with them, thus creating a sense of intimacy and trust. In those cases, the presidents maintained an inner circle of dedicated true believers who stayed to the bitter end.

Now?

We might be seeing the fall of a captain devoid of followers, and the rats might already be preparing to abandon ship….

(I’d contend that there are, in fact, a core of operatives with an ideology: autocratic white nationalism, sometimes softly, sometimes more loudly, expressed. There are, in fact, ideas that Trump supports, and they are uniformly detestable to the democratic order.)

Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo report Amid Calls from Trump, F.B.I. Renews Questions Over Clinton Foundation:

WASHINGTON — F.B.I. agents have renewed asking questions about the dealings of the Clinton Foundation amid calls from President Trump and top Republicans for the Justice Department to take a fresh look at politically charged accusations of corruption.

People familiar with the F.B.I.’s steps said on Friday that agents have interviewed people connected to the foundation about whether any donations were made in exchange for political favors while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. Career prosecutors shut down that investigation in 2016 for lack of evidence.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump branded his rival “Crooked Hillary” and promised to send her to jail if he won. He struck a more magnanimous tone after the election, however, and said he had no interest in pushing for a prosecution.

That has changed as Mr. Trump’s legal problems have mounted. With four former aides facing federal charges and a special prosecutor investigating him and his campaign, Mr. Trump has resumed his attack on his favorite target. He has openly called for Mrs. Clinton to be investigated and one of her top aides to be imprisoned….

(Trump wields power like a dirty Central American autocrat, but he knows his audience: aged, ignorant Fox News addicts.)

The federal government needn’t be in the egg-ranking business, but as it is in that business, one might as well understand the rankings:

Daily Bread for 1.6.18

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of twelve. Sunrise is 7:25 AM and sunset 4:37 PM, for 9h 11m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 73.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1759, George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis are married in New Kent County, Virginia. On this day in 1921, ‘Janesville women abhor salacious entertainment’: “On this date the Janesville Federation of Women decided to “censor” movies and vaudeville in the city. Members of this organization praised and promoted what they considered “better offerings.” They were zealously critical towards those of a “salacious” nature. No follow-up ever determined whether the women were successful in their quest or if the increased publicity for “salacious” shows backfired.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Rachel Maddow contends we’ve seen that “In a year, Republicans went from caring about the Russia investigation to caring about undermining it. And the FBI in that time has become oddly compliant“:

Jennifer Rubin contends Senate Republicans become Trump accomplices in manipulating the system:

The Post reports:

“The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended Friday that the Justice Department investigate for possible criminal charges the author of the now-famous “dossier” alleging the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 election.

The move by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) marks a major escalation in conservatives’ challenges to the FBI’s credibility as the agency investigates whether any Trump associates committed crimes. Another Republican, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), joined in the letter to the Justice Department.

Their letter makes what is called a criminal referral to the Justice Department, suggesting it investigate the dossier author, former British spy Christopher Steele, for possibly lying to the FBI. It is a crime to lie to FBI agents about a material fact relevant to an ongoing investigation.”

This is an outrageous political stunt, one with no legal ramifications and obviously designed to take the heat off the White House as damning reports bolstering an obstruction-of-justice claim and questioning the president’s mental fitness have sent the White House spinning.

(Grassley & Graham have two possible strategies: create a diversion, and also forestall release of the transcript of the ten-hour testimony from FusionGPS executives about the dossier as that those executives have requested. By enoucouraging an investigation into dossier author Steele, Grassley & Graham will be able to say that must withhold FusionGPS’s transcribed testimony about the dossier ‘pending the outcome of an investigation.’ That testimony, if released, would by the account of those who gave it leave Fox, Breitbart, and Trump’s defenders with no credible reply. See The Republicans’ Fake Investigations, linked here on 1.3.18)

Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder, and Norman L. Eisen ask Did Trump Obstruct Justice?:

….Of all the elements that must be proved to establish the offense of obstruction, the one that is most critical is corrupt intent: Did Mr. Trump wrongfully intend to obstruct the criminal and congressional investigations? The facts contained in these reports strongly suggest he did.

We now know, for example, that the president took aggressive steps to prevent Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Justice Department’s investigation because he needed Mr. Sessions to protect and safeguard him, as he believed Eric Holder Jr. and Robert Kennedy did for their presidents. This shows that from the outset the president was concerned that he needed protection from the impact of any investigation. In fact, when the president’s efforts were unsuccessful, he purportedly responded by saying, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” perhaps suggesting that Mr. Trump wanted the attorney general of the United States to act as his personal criminal defense lawyer — a startling view into his state of mind.

Equally significant are new revelations that the president had drafted a letter to the F.B.I. director at the time, James Comey, describing the Russian investigation as “fabricated and politically motivated.” Those disclosures support that the president’s statements to the press and the public in connection with firing Mr. Comey were misleading. The president, of course, publicly claimed that Mr. Comey was fired because of his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. This matters because attempts to cover up the truth are classic indicators of a culpable state of mind under the obstruction statutes.

In this same vein, the Wolff book claims that the president’s lawyers believed that his efforts aboard Air Force One last summer to shape his son Donald Jr.’s statement about a meeting at Trump Tower with Russians was “an explicit attempt to throw sand into the investigation’s gears.” Mr. Wolff also asserts that one of Mr. Trump’s spokesmen quit over the incident because of a concern that it was obstruction of justice. That was a wise move. If the president knowingly caused his son to make a false statement to interfere with the investigations or cover up the facts, that alone could constitute obstruction of justice….

(See also from the same authors, as linked here on 10.19.17, Presidential obstruction of justice: The case of Donald J. Trump.)

Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller report More departures on horizon for struggling White House staff:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Already setting turnover records, President Donald Trump’s White House is bracing for even more staff departures and an increasing struggle to fill vacancies, shadowed by the unrelenting Russia probe, political squabbling and Trump’s own low poll numbers.

Entering a grueling year that is sure to bring fresh challenges at home and abroad, Trump faces a brain drain across a wide swath of government functions, threatening to hamstring efforts to enact legislation or conduct even basic operations. Some departures are expected to come from senior ranks — the staff churn that makes headlines — but more are likely among the lesser-known officials who help to keep the White House and Cabinet agencies running.

In Trump’s first year, his administration’s upper-level officials have had a turnover rate of 34 percent, much higher than any other in the past 40 years, according to an analysis by Kathryn Dunn-Tenpas, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The study found that 22 of the 64 senior officials she tracked have resigned, been fired or reassigned.

Anecdotal evidence among more junior officials — the White House wouldn’t release data — suggests similar departure rates, and White House aides acknowledge difficulty filling roles in the administration….

(Rats, a listing ship, and rising waters…)

The Quiet Exuberance of Winter:

“You have to be at peace with the fact that something might happen, and you might not make it through,” says Alexandra de Steiguer, the caretaker for the Oceanic Hotel, in Brian Bolster’s short documentary, Winter’s Watch. De Steiguer has spent the past 19 winters tending to the 43-acre grounds of the hotel, on Star Island, which sits 10 miles off the coast of New England. In the long, wintry off-season, she is the island’s sole inhabitant.

Winter’s Watch explores de Steiguer’s relationship to extreme isolation. Its meditative imagery contemplates the beauty of absence, while de Steiguer reflects on the unique challenges and rewards of solitude. “There are no other distractions,” she says. “You have to decide how to fill your days….and yet it is peaceful, and I can use my imagination.”

The hulking—and possibly haunted—hotel bears a striking resemblance to The Shining, but de Steiguer maintains that “if there are ghosts out here, they are being extremely kind to me.” Rather, she has embraced what she calls “the great waiting of winter.”

“Being alone here and seeing the struggle of winter makes me feel connected to the web of life,” she says. “Winter has a quiet exuberance. You have to look into the bones.”