The National-Local Mix (Part 2)

On November 18th, I posted on a National-Local Mix, that combination of topics that a blogger might consider under Trump. The need to think about a national-local mix was obvious enough: “Trump is a fundamentally different candidate from those who have come before him.  Not grasping this would be obtuse.  Writing only about sewing circles or local clubs or a single local meeting while ignoring Trump’s vast power as president – and what it will bring about – would be odd. Someone in Tuscany, circa 1925, had more to write about than the countryside.”

To say I’m opposed to Trump, if it had to be said, would be an understatement.

How, though, does one go about deciding what to write about politics, sometimes national, sometimes local?

I’d say there are three steps: (1) be clear about one’s own political beliefs, and find the challenges to those beliefs in (2) national and (3) local policy.

(In this method, finding the challenges is actually a sign of optimism, as it assumes the more easily enumerated group is what’s wrong; if the smaller, more easily counted items were what’s right, then a community would be in truly terrible shape. Most matters in life are not political, and Whitewater in particular would do well to abandon a failed political culture. See, An Oasis Strategy.)

Here’s how those three steps look, in my (libertarian) case —

Political beliefs: individual liberty, limited government, free markets in capital, labor & goods, sound reasoning, peace.

National challenges: authoritarianism, nativism, mendacity, conflicts of interest, poor reasoning, government intervention for businesses, subservience & admiration of Putinism (this last being both a matter of domestic and foreign policy).

Local challenges: closed government, self-interested leadership, grandiosity, conflicts of interest, poor reasoning, government intervention for businesses, and factionalism & lack of community-based enforcement.

Other people would start with different beliefs, and so find different challenges. From the concerns they listed, one would have topics to address that derive from these concerns.

That some officials might have trouble making a list of their own principles (where principles mean more than self-interest) is much to their detriment.

Daily Bread for 2.21.17

Good morning.

Here in Wisconsin it’s election day in the Spring Primary; two (Holtz, Humphries) of the state superintendent candidates call each other liars. Well done, candid politicians, well done. In Whitewater, we’ll have a day of morning clouds and afternoon sunshine, with a high of sixty-two. Sunrise is 6:41 AM and sunset 5:35 PM, for 10h 54m 12s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 25.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1885. the Washington monument is dedicated. On this day in 1918, the Wisconsin Assembly rejects (by a 76-15 margin) a denunciation of  Sen. Robert LaFollette and the nine Wisconsin congressmen who refused to support World War I.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jason Stein reports that Scott Walker’s budget would shrink parole agency to 1 employee: “MADISON – The state’s parole system for roughly 3,000 long-time state inmates would drop from eight employees to just one, under Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal. As a lawmaker in the late 1990s, Walker championed the state’s truth in sentencing law to ensure tough sentences on convicted criminals. Now as governor, Walker wants to sharply downsize the system for handling the potential release of state inmates who are still subject to the rules that were in effect prior to the debut of truth in sentencing in 2000. The move is in keeping with other actions of the governor, such as his decision not to issue pardons. If the state loses some of its staff experienced in judging the risk of paroling inmates, the effect will likely be more people remaining in prison for longer, Madison attorney Lester Pines said.”

Michael Rosenwald reports on Trump’s dislike for Camp David in Mar-a-Lago 3, Camp David 0. With Trump as president, is the rustic Md. retreat doomed?: “ Dwayne Snurr, a janitor and lifelong resident of this rural, working-class town 60 miles from the White House, was eating chicken wings in a cafe off Main Street last week when he began chewing over a locally important subject: President Trump’s taste in vacations. “I guess he’s got that place down in Florida,” Snurr said, referring to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach resort. “When you have a place like that, I have to assume you prefer the beach and nice weather.” Trump’s Florida compound and his other gold-laden properties have been top of mind lately in Thurmont, where just a few miles up a winding mountain road presidents have vacationed and cajoled world leaders at Camp David — deep in the woods, in cozy cabins, a total anathema to Trump. “Camp David is very rustic, it’s nice, you’d like it,” Trump said in an interview with a European journalist just before taking office. “You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes.”

Peter Baker and Sewell Chan describe the process From an Anchor’s Lips to Trump’s Ears to Sweden’s Disbelief: “….in that moment was born a diplomatic incident that illustrates the unusual approach that President Trump takes to foreign policy, as well as the influence that television can have on his thinking. After watching the program, Mr. Trump threw a line into a speech the next day suggesting that a terrorist attack had occurred in Sweden the night before. Just like that, without white papers, intelligence reports, an interagency meeting or, presumably, the advice of his secretary of state, the president started a dispute with a longtime American friend that resented his characterization and called it false. The president’s only discernible goal was to make the case domestically for his plans to restrict entry to the United States.The Swedes were flabbergasted.“We are used to seeing the president of the U.S. as one of the most well-informed persons in the world, also well aware of the importance of what he says,” Carl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden, said by email on Monday. “And then, suddenly, we see him engaging in misinformation and slander against a truly friendly country, obviously relying on sources of a quality that at best could be described as dubious.”

Greg Jaffe describers For a Trump adviser, an odyssey from the fringes of Washington to the center of power: “[Sebastain] Gorka is a deputy assistant to the president. He reports to Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and is a member of his Strategic Initiatives Group. Bannon has spoken in similarly apocalyptic terms of a “new barbarity” that threatens the Christian West. Most counterterrorism experts dismiss Gorka’s ideas as a dangerous oversimplification that could alienate Muslim allies and boost support for terrorist groups. “He thinks the government and intelligence agencies don’t know anything about radicalization, but the government knows a lot and thinks he’s nuts,” said Cindy Storer, a former CIA analyst who developed the agency models that trace the path from religious zealotry to violence. Religious scholars are equally withering. “I can’t overstate how profoundly dangerous this is,” said Omid Safi, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Duke University. “This is music to the ears of [the Islamic State]. This is what they seek.”

Early Days

We’re in the early days of Trump, and we’ve likely a long and difficult way to go. (My daily count runs from 11.9, so it’s not as early from my vantage.) Even now, however, a solid resistance is forming across the country, including in red states that Trump supporters might otherwise consider unshakably Trump’s. (There is little, in the end, that will prove unshakably Trump’s.)

Clare Foran reports that The Anti-Trump ‘Resistance’ Takes Hold in Red States (“This isn’t a fad, it’s not going away, and there’s nothing coastal or elite about it.”):

Last week, videos went viral of people expressing anger and dismay over the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act during the town hall in Tennessee, a state Trump won by a double-digit margin. So did footage of an angry crowd yelling “Do your job!” at Republican congressman and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz at a town hall in Utah….

In the end, GOP lawmakers will likely be more motivated to act if they believe the demands are coming from a significant number of their constituents. Aguirre, who said he never attended a protest before the election, noted that Utah Indivisible is composed of Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. “We’re a group of people who are all extremely pissed off,” he explained. Amanda Gormley, a 34-year-old Arizona Democrat and spokesperson for PN Tucson, which formed in opposition to Trump’s election, said her organization is “open to talking to conservatives.” But she clarified that’s not the group’s first priority. Instead, members will focus on encouraging people who voted against Trump to step up their civic engagement.

A few quick points about all this:

  1. For some who oppose Trump (myself included) opposition has nothing to do with being a Democrat, but rather with independent views. Opposition will require a grand coalition from among many, regardless of party.
  2. Foran’s article describes one method of active opposition – one that looks like the Tea Party protests in some respects – but one method is only one method. For every person who attends a rally, there may be many others who write letters and emails, who walk door-to-door, publish posts, etc.
  3. Local, small-town politicians often assume that how they have done something is how others should do something. So, if there’s never been a rally, they react with alarm to a rally (“this can’t be!”) and if no one nearby has ever written a blog, they insist that it’s simply impermissible to do so. (For an aspect of the latter from here in Whitewater, see An Anecdote About an Appeal to (but not of) Authority).
  4. Very few human events move in a straight line; resistance to Trump can expect setbacks and significant losses along the way. One should be Neither Shocked Nor Awed.
  5. For the most part, I believe that Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders should be the key focus of opposition.
  6. Significantly, this leaves unaddressed the problem of local officials who are, in effect if not avowedly, Trump surrogates. A resistance to Trump nationally that lets local officials carry on as Trump does is a half-resistance. Forming principles for opposition both nationally and locally is necessary.

There’s so much work – good work – to be done.

Daily Bread for 2.20.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a chance of afternoon & evening showers, and a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 5:34 PM, for 10h 51m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 34% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1792, Pres. Washington signs the Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department. On this day in 1863, Company A of the 10th Wisconsin Infantry began training as sharpshooters in Madison, Wisconsin.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Annie Armstrong interviews Ex-Neo Nazis [to] Explain What’s Driving the Alt-Right: “Do you feel like if that hadn’t have happened, your old self could have identified with the alt-right? Frank Meeink: Oh, absolutely. It’s the same movement. It’s just cleaned up; it’s well-spoken. They preach exactly the same stuff that I used to preach. Exactly the same stuff. Angela King: The alt-right does not exist. It’s nothing more than white supremacists who have repackaged the hate and served it up in a more palatable form for human consumption.”

Josh Marshall describes The American Experiment in Exile: “The historic oddity of this situation points to a common dynamic Americans now face at home and abroad. Our partners in the international order we created – some of whom we conquered to make it possible – are now seeking to defend it from us. Let’s say that again, Defend it from us. How do we now as loyal Americans look at the warnings of the French and the Germans, as well as the British and our other erstwhile allies’ warnings? This is a complicated question which different people, depending on their professions and governmental responsibilities and personal dispositions, must answer in different ways. But we cannot ignore the fact that the American experiment is now in a kind of exile – taken refuge elsewhere – and the executive power of the American state now under a kind of, hopefully temporary, occupation. We face a comparable dynamic at home. I have been thinking for weeks that the central challenge and reality of the Trump Era is what do you do as an institutionalist when the central institutions of the state have been taken over, albeit democratically, by what amount to pirates, people who want to destroy them? To put it another way, do the institutions and norms which Trump and his gang are trying to destroy become shackles and obstacles in the way of those trying to defend them? There’s no easy answers to these questions.

Kristina Rizga explains Why Teaching Civics in America’s Classrooms Must Be a Trump-Era Priority: “In 2011, all federal funding for civics and social studies was eliminated. Some state and local funding dropped, too, forcing many cash-strapped districts to prioritize math and English—the subjects most prominently featured in standardized tests. A study by George Washington University’s Center on Education Policy found that between 2001 and 2007, 36 percent of districts decreased elementary classroom time spent on social studies, including civics—a drop that most affected underfunded schools serving working-class, poor, rural, and inner-city kids.*

Charles F. Gardner reports on the NBA All-Star Game: West prevails; Giannis leads East: “NEW ORLEANS – The Greek Freak put on a show in his all-star debut. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a team-high 30 points and pounded home some crowd-pleasing dunks, but the Western Conference all-stars pulled away in the final quarter for a 192-182 victory over the East in the NBA All-Star Game at the Smoothie King Center. New Orleans forward Anthony Davis set an NBA All-Star Game record with 52 points to lead the West, beating the mark of 42 points set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. Russell Westbrook just missed beating Chamberlain’s mark, scoring 41 points. Antetokounmpo was impressive with 14-of-17 shooting on layups and dunks. He attempted a single three-pointer and missed it. He scored in the last second to reach the 30-point mark, the most scored by a Bucks player in an NBA All-Star Game. He also had six rebounds, three steals and one assist while playing 23 minutes.”

Have Conspiracy Theories Gone Mainstream?

Daily Bread for 2.19.16

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 6:44 AM and sunset 5:32 PM, for 10h 48m 36s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 42.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this  day in 1473, astronomer and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus is born in Toru?, Poland. On this day in 1863, photographer Edward S. Curtis is born near Whitewater.

Recommended for reading in full —

Patrick Marley reports that Wisconsin gives cash to Lincoln Hills guards fired for excessive force (on juvenile inmates): “MADISON – For the second and third times, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has given cash settlements to guards who it determined had used excessive force on juvenile inmates, state records show. The payoffs — including one totaling $9,000 — were reached as the FBI continues a criminal investigation of Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, which share a campus 30 miles north of Wausau. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last year reported officials at the prison complex trained staff improperly, failed to preserve video evidence, didn’t document serious incidents and often shirked their duty to report matters to parents, police and social service agencies. State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said he wants the Walker administration to explain why it is cutting deals after disciplining employees. “Either they had a weak case going in or they had a strong case but they suddenly lost their backbone,” he said. “Neither one is good.”

Darren Samuelsohn and Annie Karni report on a Leaked Trump tape: ‘You are the special people’ (Exclusive audio shows how Trump lets loose at his clubs — inviting guests to join him on staff interviews): “President Donald Trump, living alone inside the White House, often hungers for friendly interaction as he adjusts to the difficult work of governance. At his clubs, he finds what’s missing. That showed last November at a cocktail and dinner reception celebrating longtime members of his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club. Deep into the process of meeting potential Cabinet nominees, the president-elect invited partygoers to stop by the next day to join the excitement. “We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump told the crowd, according to an audio tape of his closed-press remarks obtained by POLITICO from a source in the room. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.” “We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State,” he continued. “We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable….so you might want to come along.”

The New York Times editorial board fittingly describes President Trump, White House Apprentice: “It’s with a whiff of desperation that President Trump insists these days that he’s the chief executive Washington needs, the decisive dealmaker who, as he said during the campaign, “alone can fix it.” What America has seen so far is an inept White House led by a celebrity apprentice….“Everything he rolls out is done so badly,” Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, marveled recently. “They’re just releasing comments, tweets and policies willy-nilly.”

Daniel Dale’s updated The complete list of all 80 false things Donald Trump has said in his first 4 weeks as president: “The [Toronto] Star’s running tally of the bald-faced lies, exaggerations and deceptions the president of the United States of America has said, so far….”

Helen Czerski, author of Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life, explains why some of the kernels in your popcorn don’t pop:

Daily Bread for 2.18.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 6:45 AM and sunset 5:31 PM, for 10h 45m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 52.4% of its visible disk illuminated.Today is the one hundred first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1885, Mark Twain publishes the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the United States.On this day in 1920, Janesville, Wisconsin city council votes to allow billiard halls and bowling alleys to open for limited hours on Sunday.

Recommended for reading in full —

Rebecca Carballo reports that Cooperative mergers reduce options for dairy farmers in Wisconsin: “The number of dairy cooperatives in Wisconsin continues to shrink, leaving dairy farmers in the state with fewer options for selling their milk, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent cooperative statistics reports. The number of agriculture cooperatives headquartered in Wisconsin dropped from 180 in 2000 to 113 in 2015. Of those, dairy cooperatives headquartered in Wisconsin dropped from 31 to 21 in that same period. The explanation for the shrinkage is simple but problematic for smaller dairy farms: Cooperatives across the agricultural industry are consolidating. Darin Von Ruden, Westby dairy farmer and president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, finds the increasing number of cooperative mergers worrisome, noting consolidation was especially prevalent in northwestern Wisconsin. “We have fewer and fewer places we can sell our products to,” Von Ruden said. “We’re lucky in southwest Wisconsin we have a few different places, but it’s a different story in the northwest.” He added that cooperatives such as Dairy Farmers of America have become “marketing giants” in the southwest part of the U.S. “If that’s the way they’re going to carry on their business around the rest of the country, that is a scary thought for the 50- to 100-cow operators,” Von Ruden said.”

Emily Guskin and Scott Clement interview independent voters for ‘What the hell is he doing on Twitter and watching cable TV all the time?’: Eight independents talk Trump: “Tom Barnett, an independent from Binghamton, N.Y., said he disapproves of Trump but not strongly, feeling the newly elected president is acting too quickly on some policies. “Sure you make promises, but he’s moving way too fast,” Barnett said. On the travel ban, Barnett said: “I think it’s too quick; he should have looked more into it. And deporting a lot of these people; I don’t think that’s right. Even if they did make a mistake in their lives.” The 51-year-old Barnett also has problems with Trump’s media habits and temperament. “What the hell is he doing on Twitter and watching cable TV all the time?” he asked. “I don’t want a president watching cable TV all the time! That’s my job!” “He’s got very thin skin,” Barnett said, “He can dish it out, but he can’t take it.”

Erin Gloria Ryan sees The Downfall of Kellyanne Conway: “As Kellyanne’s once-forceful cable news denials have disintegrated into whimpers, I can’t say I feel anything for her at all. I don’t mind when people point out how tired she looks. I simply cannot dredge up any sympathy for a person who has acknowledged the structural problems most women face only when she is personally facing them, or used them as derailing tactics when she’s losing an argument. I can’t mourn the downfall of a fair-weather feminist, a woman who has used her power to hurt other women. Ms. Conway made her bed. And now it’s time for her to get some sleep.”

David Frum asks How High Does Russia’s Influence Reach?: “Nobody would care if an incoming national security adviser had confidential conversations with an ambassador of a hostile foreign government before Inauguration Day, if it were believed that the conversations served a legitimate and disinterested public purpose. But that is exactly what is doubted in this case. To put the story in simplest terms: 1) Russian spies hacked Democratic Party communications in order to help elect Donald Trump. 2) Donald Trump welcomed the help, used it, publicly solicited more of it—and was then elected president of the United States. 3) President Obama sanctioned Russia for its pro-Trump espionage. 4) While Russia considered its response, its ambassador spoke with the national security adviser-designate about the sanctions 5) The adviser, Flynn, reportedly asked Russia not to overreact, signaling that the new administration would review the sanctions; Russia did not respond. 6) As president-elect and then president, Donald Trump has indicated that he seeks to lift precisely those sanctions caused by Russia’s espionage work on his behalf.”

It’s a battle between an octopus and a crab, until (at around :55) someone else shows up:

Daily Bread for 2.17.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy and mild, with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 5:30 PM, for 10h 43m 03s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 62.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1801, the House of Representatives breaks a tie on the thirty-sixth ballot, and chooses Thomas Jefferson to be president.On this day in 2002, West Allis native Chris Witty wins a gold medal in speed skating’s 1000 meter at the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Tracy Jan reports that The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: working-class whites: “Working-class whites are the biggest beneficiaries of federal poverty-reduction programs, even though blacks and Hispanics have substantially higher rates of poverty, according to a new study to be released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Government assistance and tax credits lifted 6.2 million working-class whites out of poverty in 2014, more than any other racial or ethnic demographic. Half of all working-age adults without college degrees lifted out of poverty by safety-net programs are white; nearly a quarter are black and a fifth are Hispanic.

The result does not simply reflect the fact that there are more white people in the country. The percentage of otherwise poor whites lifted from poverty by government safety-net programs is higher, at 44 percent, compared to 35 percent of otherwise poor minorities, the study concluded.”

David Rothkopf describes The Fog of Trump (Come for the chaos, stay for the consequences. The Flynn debacle is just the tip of the iceberg): “Disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s 24 days in office is by almost half a year the shortest tenure of any national security advisor in history. The scandal that brought Flynn down is almost certainly the earliest of real consequence to hit a fledgling presidency. From Flynn’s apparently illegal communications with the Russian government to Trump’s conducting of what should have been secret business in the middle of a dinner party at his Florida club, no White House has ever shown such contempt for the norms of operational security. Trump’s approval rating is the lowest for a new president in the modern era. His disregard for the Constitution has not only gotten him in trouble with the court system earlier than any president in recent memory, but it quite likely gives him the record for being the earliest serial violator of his oath of office ever. No president has ever been enshrouded by anything remotely like the web of conflicts of interest that envelops Trump, who has made being above the law a foundational principle of his presidency. He has done more to shake the confidence and earn the opprobrium of America’s most important allies — from the U.K. to EU and Mexican leaders to Australia — than any president since the United States became a world power.”

Sari Horwitz and Adam Entous report Flynn in FBI interview denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador: “Former national security adviser Michael Flynn denied to FBI agents in an interview last month that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States before President Trump took office, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies, current and former U.S. officials said. The Jan. 24 interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy. Lying to the FBI is a felony offense. But several officials said it is unclear whether prosecutors would attempt to bring a case, in part because Flynn may parse the definition of the word “sanctions.” He also followed his denial to the FBI by saying he couldn’t recall all of the conversation, officials said.”

Julie Hirschfeld and Eric Schmitt report that Trump’s Pick to Replace Flynn Turns Down the Job: “Current and former national security officials familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, said Mr. Harward had harbored strong reservations from the beginning about taking the post because of Mr. Trump’s unpredictable style and the level of chaos that has engulfed his White House. Those were only underscored this week in the politically charged aftermath of Mr. Flynn’s ouster, despite the attempts of Mr. Trump’s inner circle to allay his concerns. One person briefed on the discussions said that Mr. Harward, who had been interviewing for a different administration post when he was tabbed for the N.S.C., had been startled by media accounts of Mr. Trump telling the deputy national security adviser, who was close to Mr. Flynn, that she could stay in her post. It added to his concerns about working for a mercurial president.”

A Japanese man’s persistence has been rewarded, and after ten years’ time, he’s solved a puzzle that perplexed him. Well done —

Underestimating Opposition

I’m libertarian, not liberal, but a quoted remark from some conservative teenagers about liberals caught my attention. In an essay in the New York Times (Why Rural America Voted for Trump), Robert Leonard describes how two conservative eighteen-year olds think of liberals. Here’s the essay’s introductory paragraph, containing the quote:

Knoxville, Iowa — One recent morning, I sat near two young men at a coffee shop here whom I’ve known since they were little boys. Now about 18, they pushed away from the table, and one said: “Let’s go to work. Let the liberals sleep in.” The other nodded.

Perhaps some liberals find this unfair or irritating, but I’ll leave them to their own assessment. Here’s what matters about the teenagers’ remark: they’re assuming their ideological opponents are lazy, and there are few greater mistakes than assuming weakness in one’s political opponents.

On the contrary, the better approach is to assume strength, skill, and tenacity in one’s opponents, and to prepare oneself to face capable adversaries.

Although one’s opponents might be lazy – and should be called out accordingly if that should prove true – one should prepare to face them as though they were industrious, relentless, insatiable. I’ve never prepared for any exchange in my life as though the other side were weak; one prepares as best one can under the assumption that a political adversary is formidable.

A liberal might look at the boys’ remark and take umbrage, but anyone (conservative, liberal, or libertarian) should look at it and notice instead the risk of underestimating others.

Wisconsin’s Best & Brightest Vie for Office

Molly Beck reports that two of the three candidates for state superintendent discussed an arrangement – not illegal yet astonishingly cynical –  about one of them dropping out in exchange for a state job:

A candidate for state superintendent offered an opponent a taxpayer-funded $150,000 job if he dropped out of the race and sought the same for himself if he were the one to drop out, his challenger alleged Wednesday.

Candidate John Humphries said in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal that during discussions between him and opponent Lowell Holtz, Holtz proposed in writing that either he or Humphries should drop out in exchange for the guaranteed three-year job with the Department of Public Instruction should one of them defeat incumbent Tony Evers in the general election.

But Holtz said in an interview with the State Journal that the proposal — including a driver, benefits and sweeping control over several urban school districts, including Madison — was a “rough draft” of ideas assembled at the request of business leaders he declined to name of how the two conservative candidates could work together instead of running against each other. Both candidates said the proposal went nowhere.

Holtz said the proposal was intended for consideration after the primary, but Humphries said Holtz meant for it to be weighed before the race even began and contemplated scenarios under which one or the other candidate would drop out.

Each sought to make his case with dueling documents released Wednesday, although it was impossible to ascertain whether either had been altered.

Via State superintendent candidate: Challenger offered 6-figure job to drop out of race @ Wisconsin State Journal.

Credit where credit is due: this is industrial-grade jackassery.

Download (PDF, 443KB)

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Daily Bread for 2.16.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of forty. Sunrise is 6:48 AM and sunset 5:28 PM, for 10h 40m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 71.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one-hundredth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Update: these meetings are for 2.23:  Whitewater’s Community Development Authority Seed Capital Screening Committee meets at 4 PM, and the CDA —Board of Directors meets thereafter at 5 PM.

On this day in 1937, Wallace H. Carothers, a research chemist for Du Pont, received a patent for nylon. On this day in 1943, Milwaukee native Mildred Harnack is executed in Berlin for her service in the German resistance.

Jacob Carpenter reports that Wisconsin dog and Westminster winner Rumor conquers New York City: “With their Best in Show victory Tuesday night, Rumor and [owner Kent] Boyles, who runs a kennel between Janesville and Madison, became the toast of New York City, embarking on a whirlwind tour of the Big Apple. Five-year-old Rumor, named after the song “Rumour Has It” by British songstress Adele, became the second German shepherd to claim top dog in the 141-year history of the competition. “To be the old, retired one, and to come out and take on the new champion, it was a whole lot of fun,” Boyles said Wednesday. Working on just three hours of sleep, Rumor made several television appearances, snapped majestic photos atop the Empire State Building and One World Observatory, and kept with tradition by politely noshing on a pair of steaks at Sardi’s. Rumor handled the onslaught famously before crashing in the afternoon, her 65-pound body weighed down by meat and media attention.”

Ana Fifield reports that Airport assassination of half brother focuses new attention on North Korean leader: “For the victim was his older half brother, Kim Jong Nam, traveling on an apparently fake passport that said he was a 46-year-old named Kim Chol. It was an attack that South Korea’s spy chief asserted was directly ordered from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. One of the women grabbed the man as the other sprayed liquid on his face and held a cloth over it for about 10 seconds. In the hullabaloo of the check-in area, no one even seemed to notice. This account of the attack and its aftermath was pieced together from interviews with staff at the airport, police and other official statements, and leaks to the local media. The women left swiftly, but not that swiftly. They went down three sets of escalators, past an H&M and a Baskin-Robbins, and out of the terminal to a taxi stand, where they needed to buy a voucher for their journey before lining up for a cab. They got in and told the driver to take them to the Empire Hotel, some 40 minutes from the airport.

Michael D. Shear observes that After Election, Trump’s Professed Love for Leaks Quickly Faded: “WASHINGTON — As a candidate for president, Donald J. Trump embraced the hackers who had leaked Hillary Clinton’s emails to the press, declaring at a rally in Pennsylvania, “I love WikiLeaks!” To the cheering throngs that night, Mr. Trump marveled that “nothing is secret today when you talk about the internet.” The leakers, he said, had performed a public service by revealing what he called a scandal with no rival in United States history. Now, after less than four weeks in the Oval Office, President Trump has changed his mind. At a news conference on Wednesday and in a series of Twitter postings earlier in the day, Mr. Trump angrily accused intelligence agencies of illegally leaking information about Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser, who resigned after reports that he had lied about conversations with the Russian ambassador.”

Charles Blow describes a slow, Drip, Drip, Drip: “In July, at a televised campaign event, Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Then in October, an hour after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tapes of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women, WikiLeaks began to dump the Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails on the internet. Coincidence? Maybe. But that would be one hell of a coincidence, considering all the other reinforcing “coincidences”: Trump’s inexplicable, inexhaustible praise of Russia and Vladimir Putin; Putin’s failure to respond to Obama’s sanctions; an explosive report last week from CNN that read: “For the first time, U.S. investigators say they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent.” What we know only makes what we don’t know feel all the more ominous. But I believe that facts are forthcoming. Reporters are digging like a crew of coal miners hopped up on a case of Red Bull, and sources in Washington are leaking to anyone with a press credential. Drip, drip, drip it goes until the dam breaks and the truth spills.”

These are the bees that give us almonds:

Mark Hamill’s Two-Point Plan

Regarding Trump, Mark Hamill (that Mark Hamill, the one who plays Luke Skywalker), tweeted that two aspects of recent politics deserve diligent inquiry:

Of all Trump’s objectionable actions and qualities, these two topics – Russian involvement in the election and Trump’s taxes – are wisely chosen: they both address questions of law and legitimacy, and they are both related to whether Trump is Putin’s useful fool. (Looking at his tax returns would show Trump’s income and how significantly that income rests on Russian loans.)

That’s not all there is to Trump, to be sure: he has other objectionable qualities.

Yet for it all, there’s never been a president so servile, so fawning, before a foreign leader as Trump is toward Putin. (No one thought, for example, that Nixon was weak on the dictators then in Moscow and Beijing. Quite the opposite: Only Nixon could go to China, for example, precisely because he was considered firm, not fawning, to that foreign power.)

There’s much to go, and many setbacks yet ahead, but Trump shows every sign of being Putin’s tiny dancing monkey.

An Eminent Psychiatrist on Trump

Dr. Allen Frances, professor emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical College, who served as chairman of the task force that wrote the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (D.S.M.-IV), on 2.14.17 sent a letter to the New York Times in which he addresses questions about Donald Trump’s mental state. (SeeAn Eminent Psychiatrist Demurs on Trump’s Mental State.)

Frances is addressing a debate about whether Trump is mentally ill (Andrew Sullivan, The Madness of King Donald) or is simply a lifelong conniver who has profited from his misconduct (Eric Posner, Is Trump Mentally Unstable?)

Dr. Frances concludes that Trump’s behavior is worse than a person with mental illness, that Trump shows no signs of distress from his “grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy” (as a clinically-ill person would), and so suggesting Trump is mentally ill only stigmatizes those who suffer from properly-diagnosed conditions.

The full text of letter appears below (emphasis mine).

To the Editor:

Fevered media speculation about Donald Trump’s psychological motivations and psychiatric diagnosis has recently encouraged mental health professionals to disregard the usual ethical constraints against diagnosing public figures at a distance. They have sponsored several petitions and a Feb. 14 letter to The New York Times suggesting that Mr. Trump is incapable, on psychiatric grounds, of serving as president.

Most amateur diagnosticians have mislabeled President Trump with the diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder. I wrote the criteria that define this disorder, and Mr. Trump doesn’t meet them. He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill, because he does not suffer from the distress and impairment required to diagnose mental disorder.

Mr. Trump causes severe distress rather than experiencing it and has been richly rewarded, rather than punished, for his grandiosity, self-absorption and lack of empathy. It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither).

Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely. Psychiatric name-calling is a misguided way of countering Mr. Trump’s attack on democracy. He can, and should, be appropriately denounced for his ignorance, incompetence, impulsivity and pursuit of dictatorial powers.

His psychological motivations are too obvious to be interesting, and analyzing them will not halt his headlong power grab. The antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.

ALLEN FRANCES

Coronado, Calif.

Needless to say, I’ve neither the ability nor inclination to diagnose Trump; the better course is to defer to the judgment of those properly trained for this work (as Allen Frances surely is).

Frances’s point, however – that Trump’s “psychological motivations are too obvious to be interesting, and analyzing them will not halt his headlong power grab” – seems profoundly right. The Ancients, with a sense of psyche but without the insights of modern psychiatry, yet would have been able to understand Trump well. We are right to see him as they would have, and as Dr. Frances does, and to conclude that the “antidote to a dystopic Trumpean dark age is political, not psychological.”

Daily Bread for 2.15.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of thirty-two. Sunrise is 6:50 AM and susnet 5:27 PM, for 10h 37m 33s of daytime. The mon is a waning gibbous with 79.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the ninety-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Tech Park Board meets this morning at 8 AM.

On this day in 1820, social reformer and women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony is born. On this day in 1865, the 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery participated in the Union victory at Congaree Creek near Columbia, South Carolina.

Tom Kertscher reports that three (Seventh Circuit Appellate) Judges question investigators’ conduct in Brendan Dassey ‘Making a Murderer’ case: “CHICAGO – Guessing how federal appeals court judges will rule based on the questions they ask in a hearing is more parlor game than science. Nevertheless, an attorney for the state of Wisconsin had barely started his argument Tuesday that Brendan Dassey’s murder conviction should be reinstated when Judge Ilana Rovner stopped him cold. Rovner wanted to know if Dassey, convicted in the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach, would have concluded he could go home after answering questions by investigators, instead of being arrested. After all, he was a low-IQ, “extremely suggestible” 16-year-old, she noted. Wisconsin’s deputy solicitor general, Luke Berg, was firm in his response: No specific promises were ever made. However, the exchange immediately highlighted a critical issue in the case: Even if Dassey wasn’t given an explicit promise of leniency, did the way he was questioned — including lines such as, “The truth will set you free” — produce an involuntary confession? Don’t you think, Rovner asked Berg, that investigators “crossed the line?” Rovner, nominated to the court by Republican President George W. Bush, is leading a three-judge panel of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Dassey’s murder conviction, sensationalized in the “Making A Murderer” documentary, was overturned last August by William Duffin, a federal magistrate judge in Milwaukee. Duffin ruled that Dassey’s constitutional rights were violated because investigators for the prosecution made false promises to Dassey during multiple interrogations.”

Michael Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo report that Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence: “WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation. But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.”

Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima report on Flynn’s swift downfall: From a phone call in the Dominican Republic to a forced resignation at the White House: “Michael Flynn was at a beachside resort in the Dominican Republic, a stretch of sand and sun that he and his wife had visited for years, when he took a few moments out of their post-election vacation for a call with the Russian ambassador to the United States. As a veteran intelligence officer, Flynn must have known that a call with a Russian official in Washington would be intercepted by the U.S. government, pored over by FBI analysts and possibly even shared with the White House. But six weeks later, Flynn was forced out of his job as national security adviser to President Trump over what was said in that conversation and Flynn’s inability to be truthful about it with then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence and other officials now in senior positions at the White House.”

Dave Gold (a Democrat) writes that ‘Data-Driven’ Campaigns Are Killing the Democratic Party: “Though the problem for Democrats is urgent, the challenge is not new. Before the clamor for a “data-driven” approach, the “best practices” embraced by much of the Democratic Party apparatus encouraged campaigns that were predominantly driven by issue bullet points. In 2000, for example, the Gore presidential campaign had no shortage of position papers, but it would be challenging (at best) to say what the campaign’s message was. In contrast, in Obama’s 2008 campaign, “Hope and Change” was not only a slogan, but a message frame through which all issues were presented. Years ago, my political mentor taught me the problem with this approach, using a memorable metaphor: issues are to a campaign message what ornaments are to a Christmas tree, he said. Ornaments make the tree more festive, but without the tree, you don’t have a Christmas tree, no matter how many ornaments you have or how beautiful they are. Issues can advance the campaign’s story, but without a narrative frame, your campaign doesn’t have a message, no matter how many issue ads or position papers it puts forward. Storytelling has been the most effective form of communication throughout the entirety of human history. And that is unlikely to change, given that experts in neurophysiology affirm that the neural pathway for stories is central to the way the human brain functions (“The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor,” as social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has written).”

Tech Insider contends that The ‘alpha dog’ myth is leading countless owners to mistreat their dogs:

Where Reaction Leads

What happens when the municipal officials of a small college town repeatedly malign – in print and on camera – a private business and college residents for the conduct of unrelated third-parties?

This is what happens:

The City of Whitewater Clarifies Recent Comments Regarding Spring Splash, Encourages Residents to Celebrate Responsibly 

Whitewater, Wis., February 11th, 2017 – For several years, many residents, primarily students, have come to look forward to gathering and celebrating together in early spring. Since 2013, Wisconsin Red has joined in the celebration through the organization and sponsorship of Whitewater’s Spring Splash. Spring Splash 2016 was, quite possibly, the most successful event to date; drawing more participants than prior years for what was a very well-run event.

While Spring Splash 2016 was well organized and free of problems, many other parties and events hosted elsewhere in the City [sic] were not. Due to the magnitude of visitors, many parties outside of Spring Splash outgrew their designated space resulting in large mobs of party goers roaming the city. Many groups quickly became unruly and dangerous.

In recent meetings with city staff, Wisconsin Red stressed that the events that transpired outside of Spring Splash were in no way representative of the organization’s mission or values. However, many officials believed that the successful promotional campaign on the Wisconsin Red website and social media pages had contributed to the large turnout of visitors and the mobs that continued throughout the day and night.

City staff met with Wisconsin Red representatives earlier this month to discuss its plans for Spring Splash 2017. While Wisconsin Red displayed great respect and organizational ability, anxiety over what could happen outside of the event prompted city officials to express continued concerns. After discussing the anticipated negatives that could result from a repeat of last year’s ancillary events, all parties agreed that it would be in the City’s best interest to cancel Spring Splash 2017 and consider revisiting in 2018.

“All the reports I’ve received regarding Spring Splash 2016 have confirmed that Wisconsin Red’s event was well organized and well run,” says Cameron Clapper, Whitewater City Manager. “It is the other parties and the meandering mobs we’re concerned about. Everyone deserves a chance to relax and unwind but no one can be excused from their civic responsibility to exercise good judgment, avoid dangerous behaviors and be respectful of our neighbors.”

The City of Whitewater recognizes most of the negative behavior that occurred last year was not from Whitewater students. The City does not want to limit celebrative opportunities for any group or individual but rather encourages safe and controlled gatherings.

The City of Whitewater and Wisconsin Red would like to express a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all those who celebrated responsibly last year and who assisted with the clean-up following the day’s activities. Thanks to the volunteer efforts of many community members, including UW-Whitewater students, the city was cleaned-up in less than a day.

“We hope that if an individual or group chooses to celebrate and have gatherings throughout the year, they continue to do so in a safe and respectful manner as Whitewater students have been known to do,” Clapper says. “Encourage party hosts to be respectful of their neighbors as well as their guests by not promoting bad behavior or inviting those that would. We are proud of our student body and want to continue to support them in hopes they can support and care for the city they live in.”

The City of Whitewater provides efficient and high quality services which support living, learning, playing and working in an exceptional community. Visit www.whitewater-wi.gov for community information and updates.

Via http://www.whitewater-wi.gov/residents/recent-news/3257-spring-splash.

The simple truth is that Whitewater’s town-gown divide is debilitatingly wide, despite empty insistence to the contrary, her municipal officials shuttle between support of one contesting faction within the city and another, overreacting to events, with over-wrought assertions and language, and without the detached and dispassionate view that would prevent the need for printed clarifications.

Daily Bread for 2.14.17

Good morning.

Valentine’s Day in Whitewater will be mild and partly sunny, with a high of forty-four. Sunrise is 6:51 AM and sunset 5:26 PM, for 10h 34m 50s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 87.2% of its visible disk illuminated.Today is the ninety-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1859, Oregon became America’s thirty-third state. On this day in 1819, C. Latham Sholes, one of the inventors of the typewriter, is born. Sholes lived much of his life in Wisconsin, and served in both the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate.

Recommended for reading in full —

Patrick Marley reports that Syrian man files lawsuit in Wisconsin over Trump refugee ban: “MADISON – Wisconsin was pulled into the legal fight Monday over President Donald Trump’s refugee and immigration ban, with a Syrian man filing suit over his inability to finalize asylum for his wife and 3-year-old daughter. The man – a Sunni Muslim who filed the federal lawsuit under the name John Doe to protect his family’s identity – arrived in the United States in 2014 after two military forces extorted, falsely imprisoned and tortured him. He was granted asylum in May 2016 and soon afterward sought asylum for his wife and daughter, who remain in war-torn Aleppo. According to the lawsuit, the grants of asylum for his wife and daughter were in the final stages of being processed when they were halted by Trump’s executive order that barred Syrian refugees from the United States. The order also suspended immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.”

Eric Posner asks Is Trump mentally unstable? and concludes that he’s not unstable, but rather a lifelong liar:  “But if Trump’s behavior is politically pathological, it is psychologically natural. If biographic accounts are to be believed, he has spent his entire life telling lies and profiting from them. The lies helped his business, his love life, and his endless efforts at self-promoting. They helped him win the election. And not just the lies, but the incessant bloviating about things he knows nothing of. Having won the campaign, he has gained immense self-confidence in his political instincts. Three weeks in, he sees no reason (yet) to depart from his modus operandi of chattering, lying, bloviating, and tweeting, in order to provoke people, gain attention, and control the agenda. He enjoys it all too much, maybe he can’t really help it, but he has not been convinced that his lies harm him. He makes up facts to make himself look good because he is like everyone else except more so. Unlike everyone else, he is publicly contradicted by the press. When this happens, he doubles down rather than take the risk of losing face. Trump believes that the press is controlled by his enemies; he cannot afford to make concessions to it.”

Andrew Roth reports that Russian lawmakers rush to the defense of Trump’s ex-national security adviser: “ Leading Russian lawmakers rushed to defend President Trump’s former national security adviser on Tuesday after he resigned for misleading senior White House officials, including Vice President Pence, about his contacts with Russia. The heads of the foreign affairs committees in both Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament chalked up Michael Flynn’s resignation to a dark campaign of Russophobia in Washington, and said it would undermine relations between the White House and the Kremlin.”

The 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is under way. The Journal Sentinel has a 51-photograph slideshow.

Iceland, under a full moon

 

Iceland under Full Moon from O Z Z O Photography on Vimeo.

 

Daily Bread for 2.13.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of forty-six. Sunrise is 6:52 AM and sunset 5:25 PM, for 10h 32m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 92.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the ninety-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1935, a New Jersey jury convicts Bruno Richard Hauptmann of the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s son. For further reading on the case, see The Sixteenth Rail, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado, ISBN 978-1-55591-716-6, copyright by Adam Schrager, 2013, 314 pages. On this day in 1935, Wisconsin establishes a minimum gasoline price per gallon.

Piet Levy reports that Al Jarreau, celebrated vocalist, Milwaukee native, dies at 76: “Al Jarreau has said his yellow brick road started in Milwaukee. From singing songs as a child at church and PTA meetings, to his first paid gigs at the Pfister Hotel, the genre-blending jazz singer went on to tour the world, record 21 albums and earn seven Grammys. He remains the only vocalist in Grammy history to win in the jazz, pop and R&B categories. But Jarreau’s heart was always at home. “Practically every night from stage, he would say, ‘I’m from Milwaukee,’ ” said fellow Milwaukee native Joe Turano, a member of Jarreau’s band for 17 years and his musical director since 2008. When they met, Turano said, Jarreau asked, “‘You’re from Milwaukee? I never had a guy from Milwaukee in my band before.’ And he gave me a big hug.” Jarreau, 76, died in a Los Angeles hospital early Sunday morning, with his wife, Susan, their son Ryan and a few friends and relatives by his side. On Wednesday, Jarreau announced through his website that he would have to retire from touring on medical orders, due to “exhaustion.” A cause of death was not immediately known. “He was just a great human and talented and wonderful to be around,” said friend Greg Marcus, CEO of the Marcus Corp. “He made you feel good. The world has lost someone special.”

Philip Rucker reports that Trump friend says Priebus is ‘in way over his head’: One of President Trump’s longtime friends made a striking move on Sunday: After talking privately with the president over drinks late Friday, Christopher Ruddy publicly argued that Trump should replace his White House chief of staff. “A lot of people have been saying, ‘Look, Donald has some problems,’ and I think he realizes that he’s got to make some changes going forward,” Ruddy said in an interview with The Washington Post. Ruddy went on to detail his critique of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus: “It’s my view that Reince is the problem. I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it’s pretty clear the guy is in way over his head. He’s not knowledgeable of how federal agencies work, how the communications operations work. He botched this whole immigration rollout. This should’ve been a win for Donald, not two or three weeks of negative publicity.”

David Sanger, Eric Schmitt, and Peter Baker describe Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down: “Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks. The national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, has hunkered down since investigators began looking into what, exactly, he told the Russian ambassador to the United States about the lifting of sanctions imposed in the last days of the Obama administration, and whether he misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations. His survival in the job may hang in the balance. Although Mr. Trump suggested to reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday that he was unaware of the latest questions swirling around Mr. Flynn’s dealings with Russia, aides said over the weekend in Florida — where Mr. Flynn accompanied the president and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe — that Mr. Trump was closely monitoring the reaction to Mr. Flynn’s conversations. There are transcripts of a conversation in at least one phone call, recorded by American intelligence agencies that wiretap foreign diplomats, which may determine Mr. Flynn’s future.”

Tom Boggioni relates a comment from Charlie Sykes in Conservative pundit: Trump only uses ‘cringe-worthy’ surrogates because no one else will lie for him: ““I want to know who will play him on SNL next week,” Sykes said after watching Miller yell at multiple Sunday morning hosts. “What an extraordinary choice by the Trump administration to push Stephen Miller out when they actually do have some credible spokesmen. This was a cringe-worthy performance.” “Stephen Miller has only one audience,” Sykes continued. “He’s playing to Donald Trump. This is somebody proving that he is the loyalist possible spokesman. But what you have there [in Miller] is you have the intersection of inexperience, incompetence and zealotry, and the fact that he is doubling down on something that is clearly just not true.”

On February 7, 2017 a tornado hit NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Employees shot video of the tornado and its aftermath: