A Response Hate Groups

A reader kindly pointed me to a tweet describing a successful method to respond to Nazi sympathizers. It’s true that money for programs to rehabilitate racists is needed now more than ever, as the current administration recently cut funding for a vital program, Life After Hate, that works to counter violent extremism.

Here’s the tweet, describing an approach used in Germany —

Below is a video and description of Life After Hate’s work. If you’d also like to make a contribution to Life After Hate (I just did), they’ve an easy-to-use donation link.

Life After Hate, Inc., a 501(c)(3) U.S. nonprofit, was created in 2011 by former members of the American violent far-right extremist movement. Through powerful stories of transformation and unique insight gleaned from decades of experience, we serve to inspire, educate, guide, and counsel.

Whether working with individuals who wish to leave a life of hate and violence or helping organizations (community, educational, civic, government, etc.) grappling with the causes of intolerance and racism, Life After Hate works to counter the seeds of hate we once planted. Through personal experience and highly unique skill sets, we have developed a sophisticated understanding about what draws individuals to extremist groups and, equally important, why they leave. Compassion is the opposite of judgment and we understand the roles compassion and empathy play in healing individuals and communities.

Daily Bread for 8.17.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with an even chance of afternoon thundershowers, and a high of seventy-seven. Sunrise is 6:04 AM and sunset 7:52 PM, for 13h 48m 07s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 22.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 7 AM, her Community Involvement & Cable TV Commission at 5:30 PM, and her Police & Fire Commission at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1864, soldiers of the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry bury Confederate war dead: “A soldier in the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry wrote home this day describing the aftermath of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia. He criticizes Confederate officers for withdrawing under cover of darkness and forcing Union soldiers to inter their enemies: “Instead of burying his dead, we found the plains, the hills, the villages strewn with dead and dying rebels. Oh! the sight was sickening, and beggars description. Here an arm, there a leg, yonder half of what was once a man…”

Recommended for reading in full —

Michael Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo report  that Trump Lawyer Forwards Email Echoing Secessionist Rhetoric:

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s personal lawyer on Wednesday forwarded an email to conservative journalists, government officials and friends that echoed secessionist Civil War propaganda and declared that the group Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups.”

The email forwarded by John Dowd, who is leading the president’s legal team, painted the Confederate general Robert E. Lee in glowing terms and equated the South’s rebellion to that of the American Revolution against England. Its subject line — “The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville” — was a reference to comments Mr. Trump made earlier this week in the aftermath of protests in the Virginia college town.

Mr. Dowd received the email on Tuesday night and forwarded it on Wednesday morning to more than two dozen recipients, including a senior official at the Department of Homeland Security, The Wall Street Journal editorial page and journalists at Fox News and The Washington Times. There is no evidence that any of the journalists used the contents of the email in their coverage. One of the recipients provided a copy to The New York Times.

“You’re sticking your nose in my personal email?” Mr. Dowd told The Times in a brief telephone interview. “People send me things. I forward them.” He then hung up.

(Obvious points: 1. This is shoddy lawyering that draws attention to the lawyer rather than supportive points of the client’s defense. 2. Dodd sent a letter to news organizations, then expects it to be a merely private matter? Joke, right? 3. He has a habit of abruptly ending phone conversations. 4. Matthew Miller’s right that “Dowd is both the perfect lawyer for Trump and an absolutely abysmal choice for someone who is the subject of a serious investigation” and “It remains mind-boggling that the president of the United States can’t find a real criminal defense attorney to represent him.”)

Kristine Philips reports on the view of Historians: No, Mr. President, Washington and Jefferson are not the same as Confederate generals:

….To make an equivalency between two of the Founding Fathers and Confederacy leaders is not only “absurd,” but also “unacceptable for the president of the United States,” said Jim Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association.

“They accomplished something very important. Washington and Jefferson were central to the creation of a nation … Lee and Stonewall were not being honored for those types of accomplishment,” Grossman said. “They were being honored for creating and defending the Confederacy, which existed for one reason, and that was to protect the right of people to own other people.”

Trump has said that he’s a fan of history yet he does not seem to trust historians.

Douglas Blackmon, an author and senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said Trump either does not understand the history of the Confederacy or he’s sympathetic to white nationalist views….

Andrew Kramer and Andrew Higgins find In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking:

KIEV, Ukraine — The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the dark web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in Russian hacking in the United States. American intelligence agencies have determined Russian hackers were behind the electronic break-in of the Democratic National Committee.

But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.

Adam Davidson writes of Trump’s Business of Corruption (“What secrets will Mueller find when he investigates the President’s foreign deals?”):

President Donald Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow recently told me that the investigation being led by Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Justice Department, should focus on one question: whether there was “coördination between the Russian government and people on the Trump campaign.” Sekulow went on, “I want to be really specific. A real-estate deal would be outside the scope of legitimate inquiry.” If he senses “drift” in Mueller’s investigation, he said, he will warn the special counsel’s office that it is exceeding its mandate. The issue will first be raised “informally,” he noted. But if Mueller and his team persist, Sekulow said, he might lodge a formal objection with the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who has the power to dismiss Mueller and end the inquiry. President Trump has been more blunt, hinting to the Times that he might fire Mueller if the investigation looks too closely at his business dealings.

Several news accounts have confirmed that Mueller has indeed begun to examine Trump’s real-estate deals and other business dealings, including some that have no obvious link to Russia. But this is hardly wayward. It would be impossible to gain a full understanding of the various points of contact between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign without scrutinizing many of the deals that Trump has made in the past decade. Trump-branded buildings in Toronto and the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan were developed in association with people who have connections to the Kremlin. Other real-estate partners of the Trump Organization—in Brazil, India, Indonesia, and elsewhere—are now caught up in corruption probes, and, collectively, they suggest that the company had a pattern of working with partners who exploited their proximity to political power.

One foreign deal, a stalled 2011 plan to build a Trump Tower in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea in the Republic of Georgia, has not received much journalistic attention. But the deal, for which Trump was reportedly paid a million dollars, involved unorthodox financial practices that several experts described to me as “red flags” for bank fraud and money laundering; moreover, it intertwined his company with a Kazakh oligarch who has direct links to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin. As a result, Putin and his security services have access to information that could put them in a position to blackmail Trump. (Sekulow said that “the Georgia real-estate deal is something we would consider out of scope,” adding, “Georgia is not Russia.”)

(Neither subjects of criminal investigations nor their lawyers are entitled peremptorily to set the terms of an investigation.)

It’s a Corgi, chicken, and duck romp

Daily Bread for 8.16.17

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will see a probability of evening thundershowers and a high of eighty-three. Sunrise is 6:03 AM and sunset 7:54 PM, for 13h 50m 43s of daytime. Today is the two hundred eightieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Parks and Recreation Board meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1777, America is victorious at the Battle of Bennington, fought at  Walloomsac, New York, and near Bennington, Vermont. On this day in 1864, the 1st Wisconsin Light Artillery successfully repulses two attempts to seize Union artillery pieces during the Cumberland Campaign.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jennifer Rubin asks What did you expect from Trump?:

We  should be clear on several points. First, it is morally reprehensible to serve in this White House, supporting a president so utterly unfit to lead a great country. Second, John F. Kelly has utterly failed as chief of staff; the past two weeks have been the worst of Trump’s presidency, many would agree. He can at this point only serve his country by resigning and warning the country that Trump is a cancer on the presidency, to borrow a phrase. Third, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have no excuses and get no free passes. They are as responsible as anyone by continuing to enable the president. Finally, Trump apologists have run out of excuses and credibility. He was at the time plainly the more objectionable of the two main party candidates; in refusing to recognize that they did the country great harm. They can make amends by denouncing him and withdrawing all support. In short, Trump’s embrace and verbal defense of neo-Nazis and white nationalists should be disqualifying from public service. All true patriots must do their utmost to get him out of the Oval Office as fast as possible.

Ilya Somin contends Why slippery slope arguments should not stop us from removing Confederate monuments:

In fairness, the slippery slope argument is sometimes advanced by more intellectually serious advocates than Trump. It is wrong, even so. The argument fails because there are obviously relevant distinctions that can be made between Washington and Jefferson on the one hand and Confederate leaders on the other.

One crucial distinction it misses is that few if any monuments to Washington, Jefferson and other slaveowning Founders were erected for the specific purpose of honoring their slaveholding. By contrast, the vast majority of monuments to Confederate leaders were erected to honor their service to the Confederacy, whose main reason for existing was to protect and extend slavery. I noted another key distinction here:

Some try to justify continuing to honor Confederates because we honor many other historical figures who committed various moral wrongs. For example, many of the Founding Fathers also owned slaves, just like many leading Confederates did. But the Founders deserve commemoration because their complicity in slavery was outweighed by other, more positive achievements, such as establishing the Constitution. By contrast, leading a war in defense of slavery was by far the most important historical legacy of Davis, Robert E. Lee, and other Confederate leaders. If not for secession and Civil War, few would remember them today.

Endorsing the slippery slope case against removing Confederate monuments also creates a problematic slippery slope of its own. If we should not remove monuments to perpetrators of evil for fear that it might lead to the removal of monuments to more worthy honorees, that implies that eastern European nations were wrong to remove monuments to communist mass murderers like Lenin and Stalin, and Germany and Italy were wrong to remove monuments to Nazi and Fascist leaders. After all, there is no telling where such removals might lead! By Trump’s logic, taking down German monuments to Hitler and Goebbels might lead to the removal of monuments to Immanuel Kant, who expressed racist sentiments in some of his writings. Getting rid of monuments to Lenin and Stalin might lead people to take down monuments to Picasso, who was also a communist. Where will it all stop?

(Trump is a weak thinker, with an apparently stunted intellect, limited vocabulary, and general ignorance of historical distinctions: when he advances arguments, they’re scarcely arguments at all, but merely shallow attempts at such.)

Rosie Gray reports that some are ‘Really Proud of Him’: Alt-Right Leaders Praise Trump’s Comments:

White nationalist and alt-right activists are cheering President Trump for defending white-nationalist protesters and placing equal blame on counterprotesters for the violence that ensued in Charlottesville this past weekend at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“Really proud of him,” the alt-right leader Richard Spencer said in a text message. “He bucked the narrative of Alt-Right violence, and made a statement that is fair and down to earth. C’ville could have hosted a peaceful rally — just like our event in May — if the police and mayor had done their jobs. Charlottesville needed to police the streets and police the antifa, whose organizations are dedicated to violence.”

Spencer said he didn’t necessarily view Trump’s remarks as an endorsement of the protesters’ goal; the Unite the Right rally was held to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. “He was calling it like he saw it,” Spencer, who was one of the leaders of the protest, said. “He endorsed nothing. He was being honest.” Spencer held a press conference in his office and home in Alexandria on Monday in which he said he did not believe Trump had condemned white nationalists in his comments on Monday, in which the president said “racism is evil” and specifically called out white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan. Trump made those remarks after intense criticism for failing to specifically condemn white-nationalist groups in his initial response.

Byran Behar, on Twitter, succinctly describes Trump:

NPR’s Skunk Bear science program with Adam Cole explains How Eclipses Changed History:

Daily Bread for 8.15.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 6:02 Am and sunset 7:55 PM, for 13h 53m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 44% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

The Whitewater Common Council meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1969, the Woodstock festival opens on a dairy farm in New York. On this day in 1862, the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry musters in: “The 24th was organized in late 1862 from the Milwaukee and the surrounding areas under the direction of Lieutenant Colonel Herman L. Page. The regiment was encamped at Camp Sigel in Milwaukee. Page resigned one day after the muster in and Charles H. Larrabee was appointed Colonel. On September 5th, the regiment left Wisconsin for Kentucky. At Louisville they were assigned to the 37th Brigade, under Colonel Gruesel, of the 11th Division, under General Phillip Sheridan. The 24th was mustered out on June 10, 1865. [Source: 24th Wisconsin Infantry page].”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Adam Serwer demolishes The Myth of the Kindly General Lee (“The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed.”):

….There is little truth in this. Lee was a devout Christian, and historians regard him as an accomplished tactician. But despite his ability to win individual battles, his decision to fight a conventional war against the more densely populated and industrialized North is considered by many historians to have been a fatal strategic error.

But even if one conceded Lee’s military prowess, he would still be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans in defense of the South’s authority to own millions of human beings as property because they are black. Lee’s elevation is a key part of a 150-year-old propaganda campaign designed to erase slavery as the cause of the war and whitewash the Confederate cause as a noble one. That ideology is known as the Lost Cause, and as historian David Blight writes, it provided a “foundation on which Southerners built the Jim Crow system.”

Lee was a slaveowner—his own views on slavery were explicated in an 1856 letter that it often misquoted to give the impression that Lee was some kind of an abolitionist. In the letter, he describes slavery as “a moral & political evil,” but goes on to explain that:

I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.

The argument here is that slavery is bad for white people, good for black people, and most importantly, it is better than abolitionism; emancipation must wait for divine intervention. That black people might not want to be slaves does not enter into the equation; their opinion on the subject of their own bondage is not even an afterthought to Lee….

(Lost Causers, Redeemers, and neo-Confederates — similar if not identical species — are like an American form of Holocaust deniers: they hide the full truth, and offer distorted truths and outright lies in its place.)

Matt Ford writes of The Statues of Unliberty:

….Thanks to segregationist Southern state legislatures in the early 20th century, eight statues of Confederate leaders currently reside in the National Statuary Hall Collection on Capitol Hill. They include Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vice President Alexander Stephens, and Lee, whose Charlottesville monument was the focal point of this weekend’s strife. These bronze and marble figures, standing in the center of American democracy, pay tribute to the same authoritarian forces that congressional leaders eagerly denounced.

States can voluntarily swap out their statues for new ones at will, thanks to a 2000 amendment to the original federal law authorizing the collection. But Congress is ultimately responsible for what can and can’t be kept within the Capitol; the senators and representatives who condemned the marchers in Charlottesville have the power to clean their own house by banning Confederate statues….

(Every man so memorialized with these statues was a traitor to his own people.)

McKay Coppins describes how little loyalty Trump has in From Trump Aide to Single Mom (“Last November, A.J. Delgado played a vital role on a winning campaign. Then everything fell apart”):

A.J. Delgado and Jason miller stood in the New York Hilton ballroom on the night of the 2016 election, watching the man they helped elect president deliver the unlikeliest of victory speeches. It was a heady moment for the small band of aides and operatives who had been working toward this dream for months—and few had worked harder than Delgado and Miller. As prominent spokespeople for Donald Trump, they had become key figures in his campaign, and that night they both looked poised to join the ranks of America’s most powerful politicos. They were also engaged in a romance that had been forged in the frenetic final weeks of the race.

Nine months later, their paths have diverged dramatically.

Miller lives with his young family near Washington, D.C., where he works at a high-powered consulting firm, offers political analysis on CNN, and reportedly speaks regularly with the president and his inner-circle. Delgado, meanwhile, is living with her mother in Miami, without a job in politics, largely abandoned by the movement she helped lead to victory—and raising her and Miller’s son on her own….

Lachlan Markay and Spencer Ackerman report that Paul Manafort Sought $850 Million Deal With Putin Ally and Alleged Gangster:

Paul Manafort partnered on an $850 million New York real-estate deal with an ally of Vladimir Putin and a Ukrainian moneyman whom the Justice Department recently described as an “organized-crime member.”

That’s according a 2008 memo written by Rick Gates, Manafort’s business partner and fellow alumnus of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. In it, Gates enthused about finalizing with the financing necessary to acquire New York’s louche Drake Hotel.

Two former federal prosecutors told The Daily Beast that the hotel deal was likely to be an item of focus for special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin.

Leah Varjacques explains What Scientists Have Learned from Eclipses:

Don’t Be a Sucker

In 1943, in the middle of the Second World War, the United States Government, fighting on both sides of the world, commissioned a short film about fascism entitled Don’t Be a Sucker. The film describes the fight in which America was embroiled in the style and vernacular of that time; it’s even more compelling to me for its simple presentation.

Americans’ lives were not then without deep contradictions, but the plain, direct defense of American liberty & equality that the film advances is morally superior to anything Trump or his ilk have never said, even these decades later. Indeed, that 1943 defense is a worthy reply to the bigotry Trump’s vanguard (Bannon, Miller, Gorka, Anton) daily foments.

Via Why an Anti-Fascist Short Film Is Going Viral @ The Atlantic.

Film: Wednesday, August 16th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: The Salesman

This Wednesday, August 16th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of The Salesman @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building. The film is the last movie in a summer series of foreign films.

The Salesman (2016) is dramatic thriller recounting how, “[w]hile both participating in a production of “Death of a Salesman,” a teacher’s wife is assaulted in her new home, which leaves him determined to find the perpetrator over his wife’s traumatized objections.”

Asghar Farhadi directs the two hour, four-minute film, starring Taraneh Alidoosti, Shahab Hosseini, and Babak Karimi. The Salesman won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. The film carries a PG-13 rating from the MPAA.

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


Daily Bread for 8.14.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see an even chance of scattered thunderstorms and a high of seventy-eight. Sunrise is 6:01 AM and sunset 7:57 PM, for 13h 55m 52s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 55.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

On this day in 1941, Pres. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill announce in a joint declaration the Atlantic Charter. On this day in 1864, the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry joins Union forces in an expedition to Jasper, Georgia.

Recommended for reading in full —

In November, before the election, Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes wrote of CVE [Countering Violent Extremism] for White People: The Trumpist Movement and the Radicalization Process:

….But Trumpism doesn’t simply provide—like certain Islamisms—an ideational platform on which radicalization can take place. It also provides key aspects of the crucial social networks for very large numbers of people. Nazis and white supremacists have always been able to find each other online, but unless you visited their particular corners of the web, they had very little way to reach you. They were a relatively small group of people speaking almost entirely to themselves.

Trump has changed that. Now white supremacists and alt-righters are a small group of people in a giant stadium, doing the wave in the bleachers with Sieg Heils. Everyone in the stadium gets to see them, particularly because the Trump campaign often puts them on the Jumbotron by retweeting them or refusing to repudiate them. Notoriously, in January, Trump retweeted a message from a user with the Twitter handle “@WhiteGenocideTM,” a reference to a widespread white supremacist meme. Later in the campaign, Trump also refused for days to conclusively repudiate David Duke’s endorsement of his candidacy.

What’s more, if you follow Donald Trump’s own Twitter feed, you inevitably get exposed to a steady diet of the hardest-core white supremacists as they fawningly reply to him. Even if you don’t follow Trump, you see those people attacking the journalists and commentators you do follow. And if you attend Trump’s rallies or watch clips of them online, you can find other Trump supporters chanting slogans like “Jew-S-A.” A recent video shows one rally attendee in Cleveland coaching another through calling reporters members of the “Lügenpresse”—a Nazi phrase meaning “lying press”….

T. Rees Shapiro, Alice Crites, Laura Vozzella and John Woodrow Cox reports that the Alleged driver of car that plowed into Charlottesville crowd was a Nazi sympathizer, former teacher says:

The alleged driver, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old who traveled to Virginia from Ohio, had espoused extremist ideals at least since high school, according to Derek Weimer, a history teacher.

Weimer said he taught Fields during his junior and senior years at Randall K. Cooper High School in Kentucky. For a class called “America’s Modern Wars,” Fields wrote a deeply researched paper about the Nazi military during World War II, Weimer recalled.

“It was obvious that he had this fascination with Nazism and a big idolatry of Adolf Hitler,” the teacher said. “He had white supremacist views. He really believed in that stuff.”

Fields’s research project into the Nazi military was well written, Weimer said, but it appeared to be a “big lovefest for the German military and the Waffen-SS.”

Jena McGregor reports that Trump fires back after the CEO of Merck resigned from his manufacturing council:

The chief executive of Merck said Monday in a tweet that he was resigning from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, saying he was doing so “as CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience” and that “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy.”

In the statement, Kenneth C. Frazier, one of the few African American CEOs in the Fortune 500, said “I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism” and touted the power of diversity. “Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs.”

Within an hour after the statement was first issued, Trump tweeted his response. “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”….

(Trump’s chances of finding a way to lower drug prices are about the same as his chances of flying to the moon by flapping his arms; his tweets are persuasive only to those who are gullible, ignorant, or dense. Frazier did the right thing.)

The New York Times, in an editorial, sees Trump rightly for The Hate He Dares Not Speak Of:

Let’s discard the fiction that President Trump wasn’t placating white supremacists by responding so weakly to the neo-Nazi violence that killed Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old counterdemonstrator in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday. The neo-Nazis heard his message loud and clear….

Mr. Trump is alone in modern presidential history in his willingness to summon demons of bigotry and intolerance in service to himself. He began his political career on a lie about President Barack Obama’s citizenship and has failed to firmly condemn the words and deeds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan leaders and other bigots who rallied behind him. A number of these people, including David Duke, the former Klan imperial wizard, and Richard Spencer, self-styled theorist of the alt-right, were part of the amen chorus of bigots in Charlottesville.

“We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” said Mr. Duke, whose support Mr. Trump has only reluctantly disavowed in the past. “That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump”….

Here are the biggest myth about sharks, debunked:

Daily Bread for 8.13.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-seven. Sunrise is 6 AM and sunset 7:58 PM, for 13h 58m 25s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 67.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1961, East Germany’s communist government begins construction of the Berlin Wall. On this day in 1936, a freight train derails near Janesville, “18 cars, 13 of them oil tankers, burned in the ensuing spectacular blaze. Although monetary loss was estimated at $150,000, no one was injured.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Vann Newkirk asks When Does a Fringe Movement Stop Being Fringe?:

….Where euphemism, newly-coined terms, and lack of historical perspective all leave the country confused as to just how the violence in Charlottesville came to be, the truth is there in plain sight. What happened there in Emancipation Park and what is happening not only in the streets of Charlottesville, but streets across the country, is that the rhetoric and policy of white supremacy, which is still fostered and abetted widely, is again being converted into the kinds of overt interpersonal violence by which most people recognize it. And for the people who stand to lose the most from that kind of violence, the question might be when—not if—it transforms from a political peripheral into a regime.

History says that those transformations are relatively fast, and often act as conflagrations that destroy decades of progress in flashes. The paramilitary racist Red Shirts in South Carolina appeared on the scene just two years before their armed resistance helped bring an end to Reconstruction and the establishment of a new white-supremacist Jim Crow government. The third Klan arose in strength in the South in the 1950s, and by the end of the decade had embarked on one of the most extensive bombing and terrorism campaigns in American history. Its predecessor in the second Klan existed as a tiny membership group for years after the 1915 release of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, but fielded a 50,000-strong march through the nation’s capital in 1925.

The emerging lessons in Charlottesville are somber. White supremacy can and will flourish when given fuel; white-supremacist rhetoric will tend towards violence; and it’s often only in the rear-view mirror that Americans can clearly see the events that lead to that violence spreading….

Colbert King reminds These are your people, President Trump:

President Trump’s mealy-mouthed mutterings on the terrorism let loose in Charlottesville on Saturday are worthy of the hypocrite and instigator of hate that he has proved himself to be. Trump knows what was at work on those streets and who was behind it. As well he should. They are some of the same forces that helped to put him in the White House.

On hand giving the clan of white nationalists a verbal boost was former Ku Klux Klan leader and preeminent white nationalist David Duke. Just as the bigoted Duke was on hand on election night exclaiming on social media that Trump’s victory was “one of the most exciting nights of my life.” Duke tweeted at the time, “Make no mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE role in electing Trump.”

And Duke’s people — Trump’s people, also — were out in force in Charlottesville with their hate-filled minds, their guns, and a weaponized automobile….

(There have been, and are, many reasons to oppose Trump: his autocracy, bigotry, serial mendacity, ignorance, subservience to Putinism, and intemperance. He’s so much of these vices, that any one of them would be enough to reject him from any significant position, let alone the presidency. Trump is unfit even to care briefly for one’s dog; no reasonable person would trust him to do so. It is an old adage that bad doesn’t get better, it gets worse. So it is with Trump: the longer he holds power, the worse will be the damage he causes.)

Jennifer Rubin argues Enough of the Confederate statues, the alt-right heroes and Trump’s moral idiocy:

….If Republicans are now truly disgusted by the president they supported, they can condemn his embarrassing comments, support the FBI and Justice Department investigation, and urge that Confederate statues throughout the country be taken down. We’ve now erased the fictions that these monuments are about “Southern heritage.” No, they are giant concrete shrines to white nationalism.

“It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, they fought against it,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said in a memorable speech explaining his city’s decision to remove the statues. “They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots. These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement and the terror that it actually stood for.”

If the president doesn’t grasp this, the rest of the country should. It’s time to get rid of the statues and get rid of the alt-right heroes in the White House. As for Trump, the country cannot get rid of him soon enough.

Sarah Kaplan writes of Doggy glasses, doomsday omens and other eclipse myths — debunked:

….Myth: The sun emits harmful radiation during the eclipse.

Fact: Because there have been so many strongly worded warnings about the hazards of watching the eclipse, some folks worry that there’s something dangerous about the sun itself at this time. Others have heard that eclipses are associated with particularly harmful radiation that can poison food or cause birth defects. And astrologers have been saying that eclipses are associated with chaos, disruption, violence — you name it.

These claims have no scientific basis, though, and there’s nothing particularly dangerous about the sunlight during an eclipse. It’s the same sun we always enjoy, the one that lights our days, fuels our plants and makes our planet habitable, but momentarily just stuck behind the moon. The situation is analogous to a cloud passing in front of the sun, only in this case, the cloud is made of rock and is floating 240,000 miles above the ground. The light you see during totality — when the moon completely covers the main part of the sun and makes it possible to see the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona — is a little eerie and sometimes has a greenish tinge.

You don’t need to cover your windows, hide indoors or protect your unborn children from the light. You just need to make sure that anyone watching the event takes the appropriate measures to protect their eyes….

Great Big Story takes viewers on a Dive Into Budapest’s Hidden Underwater World:

Daily Bread for 8.12.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-five. Sunrise is 5:59 AM and sunset 8:00 PM, for 14h 00m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 76.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1981, IBM introduces the IBM Personal Computer (Model 5150):

By the end of 1982 IBM was selling one PC every minute of the business day.[27] It estimated that 50 to 70% of PCs sold in retail stores went to the home,[96] and the publicity from selling a popular product to consumers caused IBM to, a spokesman said, “enter the world” by familiarizing them with the Colossus of Armonk. Although the PC only provided two to three percent of sales[2] the company found that it had underestimated demand by as much as 800%. Because its prices were based on forecasts of much lower volume—250,000 over five years, which would have made the PC a very successful IBM product—the PC became very profitable; at times the company sold almost that many computers per month.[36][44][21] Estridge claimed in 1983 that from October 1982 to March 1983 customer demand quadrupled. He stated that the company had increased production three times in one year, and warned of a component shortage if demand continued to increase.[49] Many small suppliers’ sales to IBM grew rapidly, both pleasing their executives and causing them to worry about being overdependent on it. Miniscribe, for example, in 1983 received 61% of its hard drive orders from IBM; the company’s stock price fell by more than one third in one day after IBM reduced orders in January 1984. Suppliers often found, however, that the prestige of having IBM as a customer led to additional sales elsewhere.[48]

On this day in 1939, the Wizard of Oz holds a world premiere:

According to the fan site, thewizardofoz.info, “The first publicized showing of the final, edited film was at the Strand Theatre in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin on August 12, 1939. No one is sure exactly why a small town in the Midwest received that honor.” It showed the next day in Sheboygan, Appleton and Rhinelander, according to local newspapers. “The official premiere was at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on August 15, attended by most of the cast and crew and a number of Hollywood celebrities.” [Source: thewizardofoz.info/.]

Recommended for reading in full — 

Dave McKinney reports for Reuters what Wisconsinites have know for years, that Audits show lax oversight by Wisconsin agency counting Foxconn jobs:

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Wisconsin agency tasked with holding Foxconn accountable for delivering up to 13,000 jobs in exchange for $1.5 billion in state payroll tax credits has a history of failing to verify job-creation claims and rewarding companies that fall short of quotas, according to state audits.

The deal to secure Foxconn’s proposed LCD screen plant announced late last month is one of the largest economic development agreements in U.S. history and counts President Donald Trump, who rode into office on promises of creating manufacturing jobs, as one of its proponents.

A May audit found the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) did not independently verify jobs numbers claimed by recipients of tax credits and posted inaccurate jobs figures online. Earlier such reports by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau identified similar shortcomings in 2013 and 2015….

Oliver Darcy describes The chaos behind the scenes of Fox News’ now-retracted Seth Rich story:

For more than two months, Fox News has declined to explain the story behind one of its most high-profile journalistic disasters — the publication of an article that aimed to tie slain Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich to Wikileaks. Now CNN has learned the details and is disclosing them for the first time.

Rod Wheeler, a Fox News contributor and former detective hired to investigate Rich’s death on behalf of the slain man’s family, sued the network last week, claiming that quotes in the story attributed to him were fabricated, and that the whole effort had been a collaboration with the White House to advance a storyline aimed at discrediting allegations President Trump colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. (The White House has denied being involved with the story.)

But CNN’s reporting into what happened behind the scenes at Fox News shows that Wheeler’s own actions likely played a central role. In the day leading up to the article’s publication, Wheeler went rogue. In doing so, he sent the network’s editorial process into chaos, and as a result the article was rushed to the site without undergoing the kind of editorial scrutiny it should have received….

Benjamin Wittes describes why he filed The Friendliest Lawsuit Ever Filed Against the Justice Department:

I filed it because I believe President Trump lied before Congress about data kept by his Justice Department, and I want to find out whether I’m right.

Back in February, speaking before a Joint Session of Congress, President Trump declared that: “according to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.”

There’s a lot of reason to believe this statement is a compound lie—both to believe that the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism-related crimes did notcome here from elsewhere and to believe that the men and women of the Department of Justice did not provide any data suggesting otherwise….

Alex Whiting ponders the FBI Search of Paul Manafort’s Home: What Does It Really Mean?:

On Wednesday news broke that at the end of last month, FBI agents searched one of Paul Manafort’s homes for documents as part of the Russia collusion investigation, directed by special counsel Robert Mueller. What is the significance of this news, and why didn’t Mueller just obtain the documents by grand jury subpoena?

Mueller’s use of a search warrant tells us that he was able to establish on the basis of evidence, and to the satisfaction of a United States Magistrate-Judge, that there was probable cause to believe that evidence of a specific crime or crimes existed in the location to be searched. That standard is significantly higher than what is required to obtain a grand jury subpoena, which can be used to obtain any evidence that a grand jury (under the direction of a prosecutor) decides will be helpful to their investigation. Mueller’s resort to a search warrant shows, therefore, that his investigation has advanced, has identified specific potential crimes, and is zeroing in on key evidence. Since it was Manafort’s house that was searched, it is likely that he is implicated in the crimes, but that is not necessarily the case. Further, it should be clear that just because Mueller has now reached this stage in the investigation, it does not necessarily mean that Manafort or anybody else will be ultimately charged with crimes.

Now why did Mueller use a search warrant instead of a subpoena, particularly since Manafort’s attorney says that they have been cooperating with the investigation all along? I can think of four possible reasons for Mueller’s move (none of which are mutually exclusive) [reasons follow]….

Here’s what it’s like to ride the thrilling Coney Island Cyclone:

Daily Bread for 8.11.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny with a high of seventy-two. Sunrise is 5:58 AM and sunset 8:01 PM, for 14h 03m 28s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 84.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary began accepting prisoners on this day in 1934 (it remained in operation until 1963). On this day in 1919, when “a score or more of young athletes, called together by Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun, gather[ed] in the editorial room [of the local newspaper] on Cherry Street and organized a football team,” the Green Bay Packers are founded.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jennifer Rubin observes that As Trump debases the presidency, the religious right looks away:

No group has been as blindly loyal to President Trump as Christian conservatives. They have not let religion or values get in the way of their support. Consider the “Access Hollywood” tape, the attack on a Gold Star family, a mass of inexplicable ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials (and the president’s open invitation to Russia to continue hacking), the firing of the FBI director, the humiliation of evangelical-favorite Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the politicization of the Boy Scouts, the threats to the special counsel and now an interview with Trump’s out-of-control, potty-mouthed communications director. What about Trump, exactly, reflects their values? (Taking Medicaid away from millions and separating families to deport law-abiding immigrants?) The Trump administration is a clown show — but it’s the evangelicals who supplied the tent, the red noses and the floppy shoes. Each day presents a new insult to the office of the presidency and a repudiation of civilized behavior….

Cumulatively — let’s not forget the erratic, impulsive declaration that he was throwing transgender military personnel out of the armed services — it is not clear whether Trump has reached a tipping point when Republicans decide he actually has to leave office. Yet if Trump nevertheless proceeds to fire Sessions and then order Justice Department officials to fire Mueller (or fire them if they won’t), Republicans will have no remedy at their disposal other than impeachment; they may very well choose not to use it, but then we have the makings of a constitutional crisis on our hands.

And the religious right, which intones “Judge Gorsuch, Judge Gorsuch!” when confronted with the series of Trump abominations, should do some soul-searching. Was this trashing of the White House, assault on civil language and conduct and contempt for the Constitution (the one the religious right thinks is so important that the new Supreme Court justice must protect it) worth it? And if it gets worse, is there any point at which the religious might put country above tribe, morality above partisanship? No, I don’t think it will do so ever.

Pema Levy reports that The Justice Department’s New Civil Rights Chief Has Defended States Accused of Racial Gerrymandering:

There’s a new boss at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the office at the center of politically fraught battles over enforcement of the nation’s civil rights laws, including laws that protect the right to vote. John Gore, a Republican attorney who has represented states accused of racial gerrymandering and Florida’s governor in a voter purge case, will take over the division until a permanent replacement is confirmed by the Senate, according to an NPR report Friday.

In private practice, Gore developed an expertise in redistricting cases, defending states against charges of racial gerrymandering. There are currently major cases before the courts across the country over whether states illegally used race to draw legislative districts. This fall, the Supreme Court will hear a case on the question of whether the Constitution puts a limit on political gerrymandering as well.

Gore, who joined the division in January as deputy assistant attorney general, has already played a key role in the administration’s activity on voting rights cases. According to ProPublica, Gore drafted a brief in the case over Texas’ voter ID law that announced the Trump administration’s withdrawal of key discrimination claims against the state. Several career attorneys refused to sign it.

Philip Bump contends that The White House isn’t at war with leaks. It’s at war with basic transparency:

Trump has bashed “leakers” on his official communications channel (i.e., Twitter) dozens of times since taking office, using the term broadly to refer to anyone releasing information that he’s not happy about. That’s how Scaramucci used it, too. Trump, like Scaramucci, has also used the threat of access to federal prosecution as a means of impugning critics. Trump suggested that former FBI director James B. Comey violated the law by giving a memo to a friend to give to the press, though there’s no indication that doing so was illegal. To keep people in line, Trump’s team looks for the biggest cudgel available; as president, that’s the Justice Department.

What Trump wants isn’t solely an end to unauthorized information dripping out the White House windows (though he certainly wants that). He wants, more broadly, for no negative information about him or anyone he likes to be released at all, regardless of past practice and expectations. His frustration with the media isn’t really that the media makes things up, it’s that the media has the gall to tell the truth. He loves “Fox and Friends” (praising it yet again on Twitter on Thursday morning) and he loves Sean Hannity because neither has shown any interest in critical, objective coverage of his presidency. That’s the sort of information-sharing Trump supports.

President Trump and his core allies want you to know only what President Trump wants you to know. Everything else is leaks or “fake news.” Or, somehow, both.

Bill Buzenberg writes that Russia Is Continuing Its Cyberattack on America Right Now:

President Donald Trump trashed the Russia investigation once again last week at a rally in West Virginia, saying that “there were no Russians in our campaign” and denouncing “a total fabrication” to enthralled supporters. “Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania?” he asked mockingly. “Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?”

There may well have been, for anyone in the crowd scrolling through a smartphone.

As Trump spoke, Russian-linked social-media networks were busy attacking Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, using the same type of digital operations that the Kremlin deployed against the 2016 presidential election. Russian-linked Twitter accounts had for days been piling onto a growing campaign by the so-called alt-right to purge Trump’s national security adviser—who is viewed by some of the president’s base as a “globalist tool” and a threat to their hardline nationalist agenda. Meanwhile, recent content from Russian state media RT and Sputnik has included stories such as “What’s Behind Trump’s Striking Back at Washington’s ‘Russophobes’”—a piece that went on at length about McMaster “falling out of favor with Trump.”

August will be A Big Month for Astronomy:


Daily Bread for 8.10.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s Thursday will bring afternoon thundershowers and a high of eighty-one. Sunrise is 5:57 AM and sunset 8:02 PM, for 14h 05m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 91.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1846, Congress charters the Smithsonian Institution “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” On this day in 1865, the 8th Wisconsin Light Artillery musters out “after fighting in the battles of Corinth, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. The regiment lost only 28 men during service.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Emma Green writes that It Was Cultural Anxiety [Not Economics] That Drove White, Working-Class Voters to Trump:

In the wake of Trump’s surprise win, some journalists, scholars, and political strategists argued that economic anxiety drove these Americans to Trump. But new analysis of post-election survey data conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found something different: Evidence suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump. Besides partisan affiliation, it was cultural anxiety—feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment—that best predicted support for Trump.

This data adds to the public’s mosaic-like understanding of the 2016 election. It suggests Trump’s most powerful message, at least among some Americans, was about defending the country’s putative culture. Because this message seems to have resonated so deeply with voters, Trump’s policies, speeches, and eventual reelection may depend on their perception of how well he fulfills it.

In September and October 2016, PRRI and The Atlanticsurveyed American voters about how they were feeling about politics. Researchers specifically focused on white, working-class voters—people without college degrees or salaried jobs. This group accounts for one-third of American adults. They make up a bigger share of the population in the Midwest than they do in any other region, and more than half of rural Americans are part of the white working class.

Terrell Jermaine Starr writes of How Russia Used Racism to Hack White Voters:

In order for fake news to work, you have to believe it. Our news feeds are saturated with misleading and false stories about any given subject, and it is up to readers to exercise media literacy to ascertain their validity. But human nature doesn’t exactly work that way. We click on links that confirm our biases, whether the stories are true or not….

Christian Gant, a former counterintelligence officer who spent more than four years at the FBI and the CIA conducting surveillance operations against Russian targets, said that part of any intelligence officer’s job is to pick up on social discord that his agency can exploit. However, what was troubling about what Russia did was that it has convinced conservatives that it is not a bad thing to have relations with Russia. He said he is particularly troubled that elected officials like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) are essentially actively acting as Putin surrogates in Washington.

“Twenty years ago, you couldn’t do that,” Gant said. “But President Putin was able to convince a large segment of the United States that Russians are not our enemy. That is a textbook covert influence campaign. And the way that you do that is find individuals who are apt to believe that [Russia is not our adversary] and you grasp on to their racism, lack of intellect and support a person like Donald Trump who panders to that. If Donald Trump says it’s OK, then it must not be bad. You have Sean Hannity sending out tweets that say, ‘Make Russia great again.’ Had [CNN’s] Don Lemon done that, they’d be trying to put him in jail and calling him a traitor. Now you can say that and it is not a problem.”

(Starr’s right: Putin’s manipulations would not have worked without fellow travelers and fifth columnists within the United States, vouching for or actively promoting Russian propaganda.)

Leon Aron identifies Putin’s Goal: Revenge and Restoration:

What happened during the 2016 presidential election, then, was not an anti-American one-off. It was part of a sustained policy, a tile in the giant geopolitical mosaic of Russian resurgence that Mr. Putin has set out to construct.

Moscow has perpetrated cyberwarfare, hacking, fake news and political interference for years. Last year, in addition to meddling in America’s election, Russia was behind an attempted coup d’état in Montenegro meant to prevent it from joining NATO. Since 2007, Russia has hacked the servers of government, industrial or financial institutions in Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee and unclassified computers at the U.S. State Department have been attacked as well. Now Germany’s leaders are alarmed enough about potential interference in their September parliamentary elections to have issued stern warnings to Moscow.

Judging by all this—and especially by what followed Mr. Putin’s election to a third term in 2012—his overarching foreign-policy objective is to weaken Western democratic institutions and alliances by relentlessly chipping away at their legitimacy and popular support.

Michael Tomasky contends that The Voices on the Left Who Said Clinton Was as Bad as Trump Helped Get Us ‘Fury and Fire’:

….on this day, in the wake of Trump’s insanely irresponsible fury and fire rhetoric, let’s give a special little shout out to those brilliant people who argued that Hillary Clinton was more likely to start World War III than Donald Trump. I’ve been looking back over some articles from last year and am reminded that it was a surprisingly robust theme, this idea that Clinton was more dangerous than Trump. I doubt many votes hinged on this single issue, but it became a key talking point in the larger narrative that Clinton was corrupt and unprincipled and there really wasn’t much difference between her and Trump.

Most of this nonsense came from the anti-Clinton and anti-Democrat left. Here, for example, was Jill Stein, a reliably useful idiot, appearing on C-SPAN last October: “On the issue of war and nuclear weapons, it is actually Hillary’s policies which are much scarier than Donald Trump who does not want to go to war with Russia.” She favored Trump on Russia, of course, because she herself was a Friend of Vlad.

A whole phalanx of journalists on the left spent most of 2016 in the following basic posture. Yes, Donald Trump is horrible. That practically goes without saying, but I’ll say it, just so it’s on the record and I can note in the future that I said it. But now that I’ve said it, what I really want to talk about is Hillary. She’s the real danger. The true evil. Look at how the neocons love her, rushing to support her over Trump.

Mosquitoes bite you more if you do these 5 things:

Molly Ball on ‘The Trump Show’

Covering Trump’s recent appearance in West Virginia, Molly Ball writes that

“HUNTINGTON, W.V.—Every day brings new drama, but the Trump Show’s themes remain the same. He’s come to tell his people that everyone else is wrong and they are right….

They have come here, more or less, to be lied to: Trump, in his speech, will say, “We are building a wall on the Southern border,” which is not actually happening, though some preexisting fencing is being repaired. He will also claim that thousands more people were turned away outside, which isn’t true, and that coal jobs are “coming back strong,” though only about 1,000 coal jobs have been created during his tenure—a decrease from the previous administration’s pace….

“The news pisses me off,” says Jerry Pullen, a 45-year-old local who’s sitting at the end of a row of wheelchairs and motorized scooters. He’s tired of the phony statistics, the negative tone. “I don’t think they should keep letting people into America when I’m unemployed,” he says. Raised a Democrat, Pullen dislikes both parties now; he only likes Trump.

I ask Pullen what Trump needs to accomplish to satisfy him, and he says, “Quit letting the Mexicans and Muslims in here. All the other foreign people, too. They’re terrorists. There’s too many people in this country—we’re overpopulated.” When he’s out on the street, he says, he can tell certain people are looking at him with contempt. “They hate me because I’m a white guy,” he says. “I can feel it.”

See The Trump Show Never Ends (“This is what’s going to happen, day in and day out—an endless loop of shock and fury…”).

Pullen and his ilk dubiously claim to be victims while simultaneously calling for the victimization of others.

Before Trump, before the Russians who leash him like an organ grinder’s monkey, before white nationalism became the alt-right, before Fox spent years flacking birtherism and then Putinism, there were many in cities and towns across America who tolerated, excused, and overlooked the worst.

Fallacious arguments, dodgy data, puffery, Babbittry, and buffoonery: we grew complacent, in reasoning and diligence, and in came those who thrive on such weakness. If we had done more – if we had been even more diligent in our opposition – we might have prevented much of this.

Trumpism and Putinism (they’re related, to be sure) have this in common: they thrive in places lacking sound principles and practices.

We have allowed ourselves, in towns across America, to become other such people and places. When we have reclaimed our just & proper tradition, we’ll need to keep our own negligence in mind.

Daily Bread for 8.9.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty. Sunrise is 5:55 AM and sunset 8:04 PM, for 14h 08m 25s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 96.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1945, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Imperial Japan. On this day in 1793, Milwaukee pioneer Solomon Juneau is born: “Known as the founder of Milwaukee, Juneau was a fur trader with John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company. He built the first log house in Milwaukee in 1822 and followed with the first frame house in 1824. In October 1833 he formed a partnership with Morgan L. Martin to develop a village on the east side of the Milwaukee River. Juneau was elected commissioner of roads and director of the poor in September 1835. He was also appointed postmaster, a position he held until 1843. In 1837 he began publishing the Milwaukee Sentinel. He was elected first mayor of Milwaukee in 1846. Juneau died on November 14, 1856. [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography, p.198]”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Matt Boot observes that Fox News Has Completed Its Transformation Into Trump TV (“Who needs state-owned propaganda when the president has friends like these?”):

You would be forgiven for thinking — hoping — that Fox News Channel would improve after the ouster of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, its late founding CEO and biggest star, respectively, in a massive sexual harassment scandal. It’s true that Fox now takes such allegations more seriously — host Eric Bolling was just suspended after being accused of emailing pictures of his penis to female colleagues.

So perhaps Fox is becoming a less hostile environment for women. But its programming is, if anything, more egregious than ever.

Fox is ever more firmly entrenched in the official echo chamber of Trump Nation — and ever more divorced from reality. The National Enquirer, owned by Trump friend David Pecker, is Trump’s Pravda (its recent cover story: “Hillary Framed Trump Family! How she set up Donald’s son with dirt file emails!”). Breitbart, once chaired by Trump aide Stephen Bannon, is his Sputnik. Fox is the jewel in the crown — Trump’s own version of RT. “A lot of people wish President Trump was a dictator,” Fox host Jesse Watters said on July 27. Perhaps at Fox “News.”

Emily Yoffe writes that, contrary to our legal tradition, sadly sometimes injustices mean that Innocence Is Irrelevant (“This is the age of the plea bargain—and millions of Americans are suffering the consequences”):

This is the age of the plea bargain. Most people adjudicated in the criminal-justice system today waive the right to a trial and the host of protections that go along with one, including the right to appeal. Instead, they plead guilty. The vast majority of felony convictions are now the result of plea bargains—some 94 percent at the state level, and some 97 percent at the federal level. Estimates for misdemeanor convictions run even higher. These are astonishing statistics, and they reveal a stark new truth about the American criminal-justice system: Very few cases go to trial. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged this reality in 2012, writing for the majority in Missouri v. Frye, a case that helped establish the right to competent counsel for defendants who are offered a plea bargain. Quoting a law-review article, Kennedy wrote, “?‘Horse trading [between prosecutor and defense counsel] determines who goes to jail and for how long. That is what plea bargaining is. It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it is the criminal justice system.’?”

Ideally, plea bargains work like this: Defendants for whom there is clear evidence of guilt accept responsibility for their actions; in exchange, they get leniency. A time-consuming and costly trial is avoided, and everybody benefits. But in recent decades, American legislators have criminalized so many behaviors that police are arresting millions of people annually—almost 11 million in 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available. Taking to trial even a significant proportion of those who are charged would grind proceedings to a halt. According to Stephanos Bibas, a professor of law and criminology at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the criminal-justice system has become a “capacious, onerous machinery that sweeps everyone in,” and plea bargains, with their swift finality, are what keep that machinery running smoothly.

Because of plea bargains, the system can quickly handle the criminal cases of millions of Americans each year, involving everything from petty violations to violent crimes. But plea bargains make it easy for prosecutors to convict defendants who may not be guilty, who don’t present a danger to society, or whose “crime” may primarily be a matter of suffering from poverty, mental illness, or addiction. And plea bargains are intrinsically tied up with race, of course, especially in our era of mass incarceration.

Keith Humphreys writes that Most drunken-driving programs focus on driving. This one worked because it focused on booze:

The criminal justice system often responds to drunk drivers by focusing on their driving, for example, by taking away driver’s licenses, restricting driving to daylight hours, or installing a breathalyzer that locks the ignition if the would-be driver has been drinking. But new research indicates that a highly effective approach to alcohol-involved crime is more direct and simple: Take away the offender’s access to alcohol.

24/7 Sobriety” was invented more than a decade ago in South Dakota by an innovative county prosecutor (and future state attorney general) named Larry Long. Long concluded that the best use of the power of the criminal justice system was to attack the role of alcohol in offenders’ lives directly by mandating them to abstain. Many judges across the country order abstinence as part of parole or probation, but Long decided to actually enforce it. Offenders’ drinking was monitored every single day, typically by in-person breath tests in the morning and evening. In contrast to the typically slow and unpredictable ways of the criminal justice system, anyone caught drinking faced a 100 percent chance of arrest and an immediate consequence — typically 12 to 36 hours in jail.

The approach is working, according to an evaluation of the 24/7 Sobriety program by RAND researchers Greg Midgette and Beau Kilmer….

The results were impressive, with 24/7 Sobriety participants showing up and passing more than 99 percent of scheduled breathalyzer tests. With alcohol removed from their lives, 24/7 Sobriety participants were less likely to be re-arrested for any offense one year, two years and three years after their initial arrest. The latter two periods are particularly impressive in that individuals were typically on 24/7 Sobriety for less than a year, indicating that the benefits persisted after the program stopped. This is a favorable contrast to alcohol ignition interlocks, which typically reduce drunken driving only for the limited time they are in place on an offender’s vehicle.

Jason Leopold reports that ‘Everyone thinks he was whacked’ (“The US government ruled Mikhail Lesin’s death an accident, but multiple intelligence and law enforcement officials suspect it was a Russian hit. The government is withholding information so today BuzzFeed News has filed a lawsuit to pry the records loose”):

Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was murdered in Washington, DC, on the eve of a planned meeting with the US Justice Department, according to two FBI agents whose assertions cast new doubts on the US government’s official explanation of his death.

Mikhail Lesin’s battered body was discovered in his Dupont Circle hotel room on the morning of Nov. 5, 2015, with blunt-force injuries to the head, neck, and torso. After an almost yearlong “comprehensive investigation,” a federal prosecutor announced last October that Lesin died alone in his room due to a series of drunken falls “after days of excessive consumption of alcohol.” His death was ruled an “accident,” and prosecutors closed the case.

But the two FBI agents — as well as a third agent and a serving US intelligence officer — said Lesin was actually bludgeoned to death. None of these officials were directly involved in the government’s investigation, but they said they learned about it from colleagues who were.

Here’s the NASA Curiosity rover’s 5-year time-lapse:

Erin Gloria Ryan on Fox News

Erin Gloria Ryan, a senior editor at The Daily Beast, writes of Fox News in light of so many harassment allegations against Fox News hosts:

At this point, Fox News seems to be functioning less like a news organization with a sexism problem and more like a sexism organization with a news hobby….

For a certain slice of its viewers, Fox is fantasy. I should be able to spend all day hanging around skinny blonde Miss America types. I should be able to talk over these women, tell them they’re dumb but fuckable, and suffer no social consequences. I should demand physical perfection. I should have my needs catered to and feelings tiptoed around, while ironically decrying others who demand basic human politeness and consideration.

This sort of viewer demands being the central focus, taken seriously at all times except for when they are deliberately joking, and then celebrated as a comedic visionary. They can demand sweetness and beauty and give none of it.

See Fox News Is Like Porn for Aggrieved Men.

(In these paragraphs, Ryan is describing some Fox News viewers (‘a certain slice of its viewers’), but elsewhere in her post she describes the Fox hosts who create what others view.)

Everything Ryan writes (accurately, I think) is about people who want others to be seen, and to behave, in a certain obliging way toward them. They’ve firm expectations of others’ deference and delicate regard. Ryan’s right to call it a fantasy (albeit, of course, a sometimes malevolent one).

By contrast, there’s always a fair chance that one will listen, express a view, reply to other views, and thereafter find a tomato flying in one’s direction. That’s one of the reasons there are laundries. So much the better not to expect a fawning reception from others (or worse, impose one on them).

Too Little, Too Late

Brian Beutler writes that Jeff Flake’s Ridiculous, Fake Anti-Trump Rebellion Should Terrify Republicans:

[U.S. Senator from Arizona Jeff] Flake now professes alarm about Trump’s “affection for strongmen and authoritarians,” yet has done next to nothing with his extraordinary power—including a seat on the Foreign Relations Committee—to stop Trump from presiding over a pro-authoritarian administration.

Only a handful of Republicans can boast of having taken meaningful action to contain Trump. That may be changing now that it’s too late. Nearly all of them convinced themselves to hope for the best if Trump won, without expecting or preparing for the worst. They made their peace with a president they, like Flake, knew wasn’t good enough for America, which leaves them enormously exposed if the very things they agreed to overlook destroy his presidency and plunge the country into bitter chaos.

Trump will retain, to be sure, a core of support even if some Republican incumbents inch away. One should be clear, however, that many GOP officeholders either wanted Trump or tolerated him for the sake of a hard-right agenda. Very few opposed Trumpism all the way along – on the contrary, they went along.

Trump’s base of dead-enders won’t yield, but then they never were and never will be the principal focus of opposition and resistance. That principal focus remains Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders (“If Trump should meet his ruin (and he will), it will come from a relentless case against his mediocrity, lies, bigotry, character disorders, and authoritarianism. One needn’t ask why people support him now; it’s enough to show him again and again as unworthy of support.”)

Applying effort mostly toward the top will settle the matter of Trumpism. (Once Union victory was assured, it didn’t matter how assiduously the Copperheads had sought appeasement to secession; their efforts brought nothing. Destroying the Confederacy left the Copperheads with no secessionists to appease.)

When Trump meets his political end, the terms of Republicans’ political rehabilitation, if there should be any, will come not from Republicans themselves but instead with those who were at the forefront of opposition and resistance to Trumpism.

(This will be true across the country, locally, too: the reputations of local officials will be in the hands of those who prevail, of those who will have declared firmly against Trump. The future will write the history of this present conflict.)

Daily Bread for 8.8.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of eighty-one. Sunrise is 5:54 AM and sunset 8:05 PM, for 14h 10m 52s of daytime. The moon is almost full, with 99.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1974, Richard Nixon announces that he will resign the presidency, effective the following day. Six years earlier, on this day in 1968, the Wisconsin Republican Party nominates Nixon for president at the GOP convention in Miami.

Recommended for reading in full —

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (@DFRLab) describes a Twitter campaign in #FireMcMaster, explained:

On August 3, a handful of Twitter accounts launched a media campaign under the hashtag #FireMcMaster. The hashtag appeared in response to United States National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s recent personnel decisions at the National Security Council (NSC) and his recently leaked letter to former President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice.

The ensuing social media campaign to #FireMcMaster spread virally and, ultimately, forced President Trump to affirm support for his closest advisor on matters relating to national security and foreign policy, for now. Mobilization across alt-right social media platforms is commonplace, and this case shows another correlation between their mobilization and high-performing bot networks….

Aaron Blake contends that Trump TV’s ‘real news’ sounds more like real propaganda:

Kayleigh McEnany, who has been plying her trade as a pro-Trump pundit on CNN for a while, jumped ship to the Trump Team over the weekend. And Sunday, she debuted a Trump TV segment that she labeled the “real news.”

It is real spin, at best. And it feels a lot like real propaganda — or state TV.

In her first 90-second segment, McEnany makes a number of questionable claims, most notably about the credit President Trump deserves for continued strong economic growth. Below, I’ve transcribed the whole segment, with some reality checks interjected.

Hey, everybody. I’m Kayleigh McEnany. Thank you for joining us as we provide the news of the week from Trump Tower here in New York. More great economic news on Friday: The July jobs report added a better-than-expected 209,000 new jobs. Overall, since the president took office, President Trump has created more than 1 million new jobs, the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, and consumer confidence is at a 16-year high — all while the Dow Jones continues to break records. President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction.

First off, it is true that the July jobs report was “better than expected.” It is also true that the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since 2001. And these are legitimately good stories for Trump to tell.

But like Trump, McEnany takes it too far. Saying that Trump “has created more than 1 million jobs” and that Trump “has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction” is taking some real liberties. And that’s for one big reason: The jobs picture has largely continued the trends from late in President Barack Obama’s administration. In his first six months, the economy under Trump has indeed added more than 1 million new jobs — 1.07 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in the last six months under Obama, the economy added slightly more jobs than that — 1.08 million. And if anything, the average jobs growth under Trump is actually slightly slower than it was in Obama’s final years….

(One should expect Trump TV for as long as Trump is in power: his base consumes what he serves, and by consuming what he serves they remain mired as his base.)

Bess Levin writes that The Trumpian “Dealmaker” Myth is Finally, Truly Dead (“Leaked transcripts of Trump’s phone call with the Australian prime minister reveal the profound depths of the president’s ignorance”):

For all of his adult life, Donald Trump has been telling people that he’s a brilliant businessman, a habit he continued, to great effect, on the campaign trail. So you’ll have to forgive Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull,who may have been laboring under a similar assumption when he got on the phone last January with the newly sworn-in president. One of the primary purposes of the call was to discuss a deal that had been struck by Barack Obama to take in 1,250 refugees who had been detained by Australia, which Turnbull was worried would not be honored in light of the travel ban Trump had ordered the day before. But as Turnbull quickly realized, as revealed Thursday [8.3.17] by a leaked transcript of their conversation, Trump is completely incapable of grasping even basic facts about foreign policy—and is too ignorant to negotiate even the most basic deals. In fact, it seems highly possible Turnbull came away from the conversation not confident the president of the United States knows what Australia is….

(Levin is wholly right that Trump’s no deal-maker, but she’s only partly right about Trump’s reputation as such being dead: his base will still see him this way, as Trump is an ignorant person’s idea of a knowledgeable person, to paraphrase Jennifer Rubin’s description of Trump.)

Sarah Wire reports on Why Dana Rohrabacher’s name keeps coming up in the Russia investigation:

There is no indication Rohrabacher is under investigation by the FBI or the House and Senate committees looking into what happened, but his name keeps popping up in connection to key figures and events in the investigation.

It’s a story that involves Russian tax fraud, foreign adoptions, dinner with a foreign agent and a meeting in Trump Tower with the soon-to-be president’s son. And much of it has just recently come to light….

FBI agents sat Rohrabacher down in the Capitol and warned him that a Russian spy was trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence” — someone the Russian government might be able to use to steer policymaking.

(One can’t show that Rohrabacher’s a fifth columnist, but by his own expressed suppport for Putin he’s an undeniable fellow traveler.)

Geoffrey Glassner met some bears on a trail, and recorded his meeting, while walking backwards away from them:

Film: Tuesday, August 8th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Live by Night

This Tuesday, August 8th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Live by Night @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Live by Night (2017) is a crime drama about a group of “Boston-bred gangsters who set up shop in balmy Florida during the Prohibition era, facing off against the competition and the Ku Klux Klan.”

Ben Affleck directs the two hour, nine-minute film, starring Affleck, Elle Fanning,  Remo Girone, and Brendan Gleeson. Live by Night received a Broadcast Film Critics Association nomination for Best Production Design. The film carries an R rating from the MPAA.

One can find more information about Live by Night at the Internet Movie Database.