Why Trump Press Secretary Spicer Lies

Anna Rascouët-Paz relates an explanation (from someone who worked in a past administration) for Trump press secretary Spicer’s repeated lies about inaugural crowd size.  It’s spot on:

For more on a disinformation strategy based on insisting that nothing is knowable, see The Russian Conspiracy on Behalf of Conspiracy Theorist Donald Trump (“there is a coherent pattern to the discourse he has promoted. It is a comprehensive attack on empiricism. He spreads distrust against every institution, so that the only possible grounds for belief is trust in a person. The suspicion he spreads against every institution protects Trump from accountability.”) and For Mr. Trump, It’s STEM, Schwem, Whatever… (“he insists that the truth is indeterminable whenever he wishes to evade responsibility for his own lies.”).

For Spicer’s calculated statement to undermine truth, see The White House Press Secretary Makes A Statement.


Daily Bread for 1.22.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of forty-four. Sunrise is 7:17 AM and sunset 4:56 PM, for 9h 38m 44s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 26.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the seventy-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1905, on what’s now known as to Russians as Bloody Sunday, soldiers of Russia’s Imperial Guard fire on petitioners led by Father Georgy Gapon as they march toward the Winter Palace to present a petition to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Over one-thousand are killed or wounded. On this day in 1964, the World’s Largest Block of Cheese (to that date) is produced “from 170,000 quarts of milk by the Wisconsin Cheese Foundation specifically for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It weighed 34,665 pounds (17.4 tons). The cheese was consumed in 1965 at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association at Eau Claire.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Gary D’Amato writes that McCarthy, Rodgers chase history: “Winning one Super Bowl game as a coach or a quarterback places you among the best of the best and lands you a fat contract extension and TV commercials. Do it in Green Bay and they’ll name a street after you. Winning two Super Bowls? Now that’s a fame-changer. Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers are two victories away from joining the ultra-elite group of head coaches and quarterbacks who have won the Big One multiple times. If the Packers get past the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday and then beat the AFC champion — either New England or Pittsburgh — in the Super Bowl in Houston on Feb. 5, McCarthy will become the 14th head coach and Rodgers the 13th quarterback to have done it more than once.”

Michael Schmidt, Eric Lipton, and Charlie Savage report that Jared Kushner, Trump’s Son-in-Law, Is Cleared to Serve as Adviser: “WASHINGTON — Hours after President Trump took his oath on Friday, the Justice Department issued an opinion saying that his appointment of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a senior White House adviser would be lawful despite a federal antinepotism law. In a 14-page opinion signed on Friday, a longtime career lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said that the president’s special hiring authority exempted White House positions from a 1967 law barring the president from employing relatives at a federal agency. Mr. Koffsky’s opinion acknowledged that in several cases since 1978, the Office of Legal Counsel had determined that the antinepotism statute prevented presidents from appointing relatives to positions.”

Tim Wallace and Alicia Parlapiano report that Crowd Scientists Say Women’s March in Washington Had 3 Times More People Than Trump’s Inauguration: “The women’s march in Washington was roughly three times the size of the audience at President Trump’s inauguration, crowd counting experts said Saturday. Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still, crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, analyzed photographs and video taken of the National Mall and vicinity and estimated that there were about 160,000 people in those areas in the hour leading up to Mr. Trump’s speech Friday. They estimated that at least 470,000 people were at the women’s march in Washington in the areas on and near the mall at about 2 p.m. Saturday. The two images below show the crowds when they were at their peak density at the two events.”

2017 Trump inauguration (58th Presidential Inaugural Committee)             2017 Women’s march (ABC News Footage)


Worth remembering for its brevity but more for its nativism, here is link to a transcript of President Trump’s inauguration speech, annotated to show his many false claims even in a short speech.
Why do maple syrup jugs have small handles? Here’s why —

Daily Bread for 1.21.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will see morning fog give way to afternoon clouds and a high of fifty-two. Sunrise is 7:18 AM and sunset 4:54 PM, for 9h 36m 42s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 34.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the seventy-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1954, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine, was christened by Mamie Eisenhower launched into the Thames River. On this day in 1945 the Medal of Honor is awarded posthumously to Sgt. Truman C. Olson of Cambridge, WI for “stopping a German counterattack on the beachhead in Anzio, Italy, on January 30, 1944. Twice wounded, Olson nevertheless manned his machine-gun for 36 hours. He killed 20 Germans and wounded many others.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Jennifer Rubin describes how Trump’s America [in his own mind] is a rotten place: “President Trump delivered a campaign speech, not an inaugural address, on Friday. That he and his staff do not understand the difference goes to the heart of his insufficiency as a leader. Addressing a shockingly sparse crowd, he painted a picture of a hellish America that can only be restored by turning inward, deciding the world is a burden and our allies are thieves….He perfectly channels the resentment of the white working class. And in case you didn’t know how rotten a country this is, he described, as he did on the campaign trail, a dystopia bearing little resemblance to the real United States. (“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories, scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation, an education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge. And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”) You would not know that unemployment stands at 4.7 percent, crime is down and productivity up. He sees only blight. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he declared. Carnage. Take that in for a moment. Does he see America as a decimated, destroyed and weak country? Apparently yes — or he would like us to believe so in order to, in a year or so, declare how everything has improved.”

Michael Kruse interviews three of Trump’s biographers who explain that ‘He Has This Deep Fear That He Is Not a Legitimate President’: ‘[Michael] D’Antonio: Those early influences are essential, and I also think it’s correct that he has been conducting his entire life as a vanity show, and he’s been rewarded, most recently since his reality TV show, by ever-greater public interest in him. This is a guy who is a president-elect who describes himself as a ratings machine, which is an absolutely absurd thing for a president to be reflecting on, but that matters to him. But one thing I think that we have overlooked as we see Trump trying to delegitimize others is what I suspect is a feeling he has inside that nothing he’s ever achieved himself has ever been legitimate. This is a person who has never known whether anybody wants to be around him because he’s a person they want to be around or they want to be around his money. And since he’s promoted himself as this glamorous, incredibly wealthy person, that’s the draw he’s always given. So he doesn’t know if he has any legitimate relationships outside of his family, and that’s why he emphasizes family. … He’s always kind of gaming the system—not, in my view, winning on the merits. And even his election was with almost 3 million fewer votes than his opponent. So he has this deep fear that he is himself not a legitimate president, and I think that’s why he goes to such great lengths to delegitimize even the intelligence community, which is the president’s key resource in security, and he’s going to do this demeaning and delegitimizing behavior rather than accept what they have to tell him.”

Anthony Romero offers the ACLU’s 7-Point Plan of Action to Take on the Trump Administration: “The first rock in our slingshot is a Freedom of Information Act request asking several government agencies to turn over documents relating to President Trump’s actual or potential conflicts of interest due to his business and family connections. The American people deserve to know their president will govern in the best interest of the nation and not his self-interest. Our first legal action is part of the ACLU’s Seven-Point plan to fight back against the Trump administration when it seeks to violate the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. The plan is supported by our new Constitution Defense Fund, established after the election, to provide the manpower and resources necessary to take on the most powerful government on earth. Going forward, the ACLU’s plan of action includes concrete steps….”

Sasha Abramsky explains How to build a moral resistance movement against Trumpism: “Grassroots groups that, for decades, have been preoccupied with their particular, micro-focused issues and identity themes will now have to put aside their differences and campaign en masse, protest in vast and sustained numbers on the streets, and, if necessary, engage in ongoing civil disobedience, to counter the unleashed assault against the progressive values that we hold dear. This resistance will have to emanate from universities, from faith communities, from networks of social justice campaigners, from environmentalists, and from anti-police brutality organisers. It will have to be so large, so loud, so uncompromising, that it will render impossible the implementation of Trumpism.”

Zelda the Canine is adorable, but has trouble fetching (and she’s not blind):

Neither Shocked Nor Awed

In these next months ahead, one should expect that the Trump Administration will do what it can to make statement after statement, in part to impress hardcore supporters and in part to shock and awe opponents.

As a guess, one can reasonably say that immigration deportations will be one of Trump’s prominent efforts. See, As soon as he is inaugurated, Trump will move to clamp down on immigration. Expect ready-for-the-camera deportations on the news.

This is likely to be a focus throughout 2017, with small towns affected as much as big cities. Small, rural towns will offer the Trump Administration the advantage of many collaborators who will aid federal authorities, and many residents who will identify neighbors as targets for deportation. Almost no one in these places will say a word in public opposition; outspoken residents will hail deportation as a necessary part of Making America Great Again.

We’ve a long campaign in opposition ahead, just beginning, and in these early months we can expect loss after loss. Those who expect as much – who see this with clarity – will succumb to neither shock nor awe.

Tragic although these moments will be, it is not how this conflict begins, but how it ends, that should occupy one’s efforts.

Daily Bread for 1.20.17

Good morning.

Whitewater will see morning showers with a daytime high of forty. Sunrise is 7:18 AM and sunset is 4:53 PM, for 9h 34m 42s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 44.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the seventy-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1942, fifteen high-ranking Nazi Party and German government officials gathered at a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to discuss and coordinate the implementation of what they called the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” On this day in 1865, the 25th Wisconsin Infantry reconnoiters the Salkehatchie River in South Carolina prior to battles in the first week of February.

Recommended for reading in full —

Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth describes Words as Weapons of Authoritarian Control on Primary Concerns:

David Corn suggests that investigators on the Trump-Russia Beat Should Talk to This Man: “Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee announced it was commencing an investigation of Russian hacking during the 2016 campaign that would include an examination of connections between Russia and the Trump camp. And a veiled but public exchange between Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the committee, and FBI Director James Comey during a hearing on January 10 suggested the FBI has collected information on possible ties between Trump associates and Russians and may still be probing this matter. So with subpoena-wielding investigators on this beat, here’s a suggestion: The gumshoes ought to talk to an American from Belarus named Sergei Millian, who has boasted of close ties to Trump and who has worked with an outfit the FBI suspected of being a Russian intelligence front. If they haven’t already. Millian, who is in his late 30s and won’t say when he came to the United States or how he obtained US citizenship, is an intriguing and mysterious figure with a curious connection to Trump.”

Ryan Koronowski writes that Trump made a lot of promises about what he will do as president. We’ve documented 663 of them: “ThinkProgress examined 583 days of Trump’s public statements, from his campaign announcement speech on June 16, 2015 all the way up to the day before his inauguration. This included thousands of radio and television interviews, speeches, tweets, and campaign policy documents?—?well over 4 million words and counting. Our basic criteria were: 1) a statement made by Trump or by a policy document or questionnaire issued in his name, 2) about what would or would not happen during or as a result of his presidency, 3) about which a reasonable person could be disappointed should the promise be broken. Every time Trump made a new statement or claim about what he would or would not do as president, or guarantees about what he’d ensure would or would not happen, it went on the list. This includes instances when Trump straightforwardly said “I promise” or “I guarantee,” but also instances when he said that “we will” do something or that something “will never” happen if he became president.”

Patrick Marley and Jason Stein report that Vos calls for $300 million more for roads: “Madison — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other Republicans in his house called Thursday for sending $300 million to state highways over the next two years and cutting taxes by the same amount or more. Catching hold of more than $700 million in new state money now expected through the summer of 2019, Vos essentially called for raising either the gas tax or vehicle registration fees to pay for roads while cutting income taxes or property taxes.”

In So Fly: The Impossibly Acrobatic Martial Art of Tricking, Great Big Story shows what happens “when you combine the ferocious kicks of taekwondo, the grace of wushu, the improvised movements of capoeira, and gymnastics [into] the head-spinning martial art of tricking:

So Fly: The Impossibly Acrobatic Martial Art of Tricking from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Dumb Show from Trump Now (and Mussolini Then)

Trump wanted to show the world how hard he was working on his inauguration speech, so he published a photograph. The picture is what one might expect from him: the overly-serious stare, the odd writing instrument, the apparently-unused tablet, turned so one could see if he’d written even a word, and the gaudy-but-suspicious-looking setting).

Almost immediately, people dissected the photo as a fraud, one more example of Trump’s love for dumb show, using confidence tricks persuasive only to easy marks. SeeIs Donald Trump Writing His Inaugural Address From a Mar-a-Lago Receptionist’s Desk? An Investigation (note: it’s probably the concierge’s desk).

Chris Hayes describes the photo – and Trump’s staged theatrics – generally:

Trump’s staged setting reminds one of Hemingway’s remarks about a similar stunt from Mussolini:

“The fascist dictator had announced he would receive the press. Everybody came. We all crowded into the room. Mussolini sat at his desk reading a book. His face was contorted into the famous frown. He was registering dictator. Being an ex-newspaper man himself he knew how many readers would be reached by the accounts the men in the room would write of the interview he was about to give. And he remained absorbed in his book. Mentally he was already reading the lines of the two thousand papers served by the two hundred correspondents.

As we entered the room the Black Shirt Dictator did not look up from the book he was reading, so intense was his concentration, etc.

I tip-toed over behind him to see what the book was he was reading with such avid interest. It was a French-English dictionary — held upside down.”

Daily Bread for 1.19.17

Good morning.

Thursday will be cloudy, with a likelihood of afternoon showers, and a high of forty-four. Sunrise is 7:19 AM and sunset 4:52 PM, for 9h 32m 45s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 54.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the seventy-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 2006, NASA launches the New Horizons spacecraft on a three-billion-mile journey to Pluto. SeeImage gallery: New Horizons’ images of Pluto. On this day in 1939, Ernest Hausen of Ft. Atkinson sets the world’s record for chicken plucking.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Dan Egan reports that the Straits of Mackinac ‘worst possible place’ for a Great Lakes oil spill: “The pipes were not expanded, replaced or thickened to increase the oil and natural gas they carry; the capacity was largely added by increasing pressure on the steel tubes. In 2013, the pipeline owner ratcheted up the maximum capacity on the lines to 540,000 barrels per day. That is a volume far greater than the 470,000 barrels per day planned for the state-of-the-art Dakota Access Pipeline, which drew thousands of protesters to the Great Plains this fall. Many were upset over the risk the Dakota line poses to the Missouri River, though engineers never planned to drape the pipe across the river bottom. Instead, they prepared to tunnel the pipe as deep as 115 feet below the riverbed to protect the waters above. Given the age of the Mackinac lines, and the fact that they were laid in what one prominent hydrodynamics expert now calls the “worst possible” place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes, environmentalists, politicians and Michigan regulators are taking a new look at the old pipes.”

Scott Shane describes From Headline to Photograph, a Fake News Masterpiece: “A few weeks later [after a Trump speech in Ohio], Cameron Harris, a new college graduate with a fervent interest in Maryland Republican politics and a need for cash, sat down at the kitchen table in his apartment to fill in the details Mr. Trump had left out. In a dubious art just coming into its prime, this bogus story would be his masterpiece. Mr. Harris started by crafting the headline: “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.” It made sense, he figured, to locate this shocking discovery in the very city and state where Mr. Trump had highlighted his “rigged” meme. “I had a theory when I sat down to write it,” recalled Mr. Harris, a 23-year-old former college quarterback and fraternity leader. “Given the severe distrust of the media among Trump supporters, anything that parroted Trump’s talking points people would click. Trump was saying ‘rigged election, rigged election.’ People were predisposed to believe Hillary Clinton could not win except by cheating.”

The Pew Research Center shows how Trump, Clinton Voters Divided in Their Main Source for Election News: “According to a new Pew Research Center survey, Americans who say they voted for Trump in the general election relied heavily on Fox News as their main source of election news leading up to the 2016 election, whereas Clinton voters named an array of different sources, with no one source named by more than one-in-five of her supporters. The survey was conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 12, 2016, among 4,183 adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel.

Jonathan Capehart describes, in response to Trump’s criticism of Rep. John Lewis’s congressional district, how Trump wanted to build a project in Atlanta. You can pretty much guess where it was going to be: “if Trump “believes Georgia’s fifth congressional district is ‘falling apart,’ then he believes Atlanta is falling apart.” But here’s the best part. When Trump wanted to slap his name on a project there, it was right there in Lewis’s district. The headline on a February 2010 story by Douglas Sams of the Atlanta Business Chronicle was to-the-point: “Proposed Trump Towers site listed for foreclosure.” The plan was to have two condo towers, luxury shopping and restaurants bearing the name of the Manhattan builder, who Sams reported, also lent his marketing and architectural teams to the effort.”

Peter Stone and Greg Gordon report that FBI, 5 other agencies probe possible covert Kremlin aid to Trump: “WASHINGTON – The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said. The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the sources said. Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said.”

Scientists at Scripps Oceanography announced a new species of sea dragon, colloquially known as the ruby sea dragon:

Betsy DeVos: What a Weak Nominee Looks Like

In a confirmation hearing, one might face tough questioning, and those tough questions might – understandably – trip up a nominee. What shouldn’t happen, to someone of normal ability and proper preparation, is to stumble over simple, straightforward questions.

That’s what happened to Trump nominee for secretary of education Betsy DeVos: she stumbled (indeed, almost threw herself to the ground) over direct questions that a capable nominee could have answered: (1) about her wealth, (2) about the difference between growth and proficiency, and (3) about guns in schools. A more capable nominee could have managed these questions easily; she’s not that nominee.

Sen. Sanders asks about DeVos how she became Trump’s nominee:

Sanders: “Okay. My question is, and I don’t mean to be rude. Do you think, if you were not a multi-billionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the Republican Party, that you would be sitting here today?”

DeVos: “Senator, as a matter of fact, I do think that there would be that possibility. I’ve worked very hard on behalf of parents and children for the last almost 30 years to be a voice for students and to empower parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, primarily low-income children.”

How she should have answered: Avoid answering with ‘would be that possibility’; begin with a detailed list of accomplishments in the very first words of her reply, e.g., “There are x contributions that I’ve made to education in this country, and I can list and describe them all, in order, to you now…”

Sen. Franken asks DeVos about the difference between growth and proficiency (where proficiency is hitting a benchmark and growth is about progress from one level of ability to another):

DeVos: “I think, if I’m understanding your question correctly around proficiency, I would also correlate it to competency and mastery, so that each student is measured according to the advancement they’re making in each subject area.”

Franken: “Well, that’s growth. That’s not proficiency.  I’m talking about the debate between proficiency and growth and what your thoughts are on that.”

How she should have answered: DeVos should have known – and made clear she knew – the difference between the two ways to measure progress; contending that she was just clarifying Franken’s question doesn’t mitigate the obvious truth that she didn’t see the distinction between the two. (Franken clearly does understand the difference, so she’s not clarifying his words, she’s making her own error). She either truly doesn’t know the difference, or lacks the intellectual ability or composure to comprehend a question in a formal setting.

Sen. Murphy asks about guns in schools:

Murphy: Do you think guns have any place in or around schools?

DeVos: That is best left to locales and states to decide. If the underlying question is—

Murphy: You can’t say definitively today that guns shouldn’t be in schools?

DeVos: I will refer back to [Wyoming] Sen. [Mike] Enzi and the school he was talking about in Wapiti, Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the schools to protect from potential grizzlies.

How she should have answered: Anything but this. Referring to a senator’s remark about wildlife doesn’t help here. Candidly, she would have been better off contending that guns were useful to defend against Martians: at least she might have been able to later say that she was joking.

Contending that guns in schools are needed to defend against wildlife is world-class buffoonery. A defense, if any, would have to talk about human threats and emphasize limitations to assure those possessing guns were well-trained. The problem here is that there are very few parents who will accept that well-trained means someone other than a police officer. She would have been better off to advocate for more police; even then, there are legitimate concerns about the quality of police training in communities that hire poorly and skimp on training costs.)

Her position is a hard political one to hold in any event, but talking about grizzlies is simply embarrassing.

Trump promised America that he would hire the “best people“; in DeVos he’s picked someone either too dim or too lazy to represent herself adequately, to a level that the vast majority of her fellow citizens easily meet each day.

Daily Bread for 1.18.17

Good morning.

Wednesday in town will see afternoon clouds give way to afternoon sunshine, with a high of forty-four. Sunrise is 7:20 AM and sunset 4:51 PM, for 9h 30m 51s. The moon is a waning gibbous with 63.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the seventy-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Parks & Recreation Board meets at 6:30 PM.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Conservative Jennifer Rubin asks Can Democrats learn to fight fire with fire?: “Democrats will need to shape the political battlefield if they want to stop elements of President-elect Donald Trump’s agenda and set themselves up to at least hold even, if not gain seats, in 2018. They have figured out that Trump watches TV a lot, so their opposition must often take the form of big events (e.g. marches to preserve Obamacare) or ready-made media narratives (e.g. more than 50 Democrats won’t go to the inauguration). They will have another chance on Saturday with the Women’s March on Washington (and local marches all over the country) for which they hope crowds and participants will be nearly as big as, or bigger than, the inauguration audience. Flashy, dramatic, made for TV. Using the Trump playbook against him may be the most effective way to at least get his attention, if not persuade him.”

David A. Graham considers Monica Crowley and the Limits of Trump’s Dismissal of the Press: “But Trump’s repeated claims that the press was irrelevant and powerless should never have been taken at face value, and Crowley’s withdrawal underscores this. Trump’s political genius was not in steering away from the press. It was recognizing how important the press was and figured out ways to marshal it to his own ends. When he blasted the press as powerless early in the campaign, it was disingenuous posturing. Throughout his career as a businessman, Trump grasped the power of using the media to his own ends, and that may be the most important lesson he brings to Washington. (By the end of the campaign, his attacks on the media seemed to become personal, as he got angrier and angrier at the stories about him.) The Crowley affair shows that while the president-elect may be unusually skilled at manipulating the press, he is not omnipotent.”

Conor Friedersdorf ponders  The Irrationally Divided Critics of Donald Trump: “A large cohort of Americans have reservations about the presidency of Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote by 2.9 million, strikes many who did vote for him as a highly flawed “lesser of two evils,” and has a dismal 37 percent approval rating. These ideologically diverse skeptics must cooperate if they hope to minimize the damage they believe the Trump Administration will do to America if left unopposed. But so far, they are easily divided. In fact, they cannot even refrain from attacking or alienating one another on matters where they are mostly in agreement.”

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper reports that Chewbacca rips off arm in deleted ‘Force Awakens’ scene: “The dramatic scene is less than a minute long, but it shows heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) being threatened by hulking junk boss Unkar Plutt, who wants revenge and the return of the Millennium Falcon. As you can guess, Falcon co-pilot Chewbacca isn’t going to let that happen, and he rips Unkar Platt’s entire arm off and tosses it onto a table. The scene is included as an extra on the “Force Awakens” 3D Blu-ray. It started trending this weekend after a fan posted it to YouTube.”

There are alligators, and then there are alligators –

Trump, His Inner Circle, Principal Surrogates, and Media Defenders

We’re early in the formation of a grand coalition in opposition to Trump, but however long the task, that effort should focus on the top: Trump, his inner circle, principal surrogates, and media defenders. All in all, that’s a small group on which one may concentrate.

There will be endless tactical debates about how to reach this voter or that one, to shrink Trump’s room to maneuver here or there. These discussions will be well-meaning (as they’ll be directed at Trump’s political ruin), but they shouldn’t be our principal focus.

A focus on Trump, key aides, and those who defend him in the media will accomplish three things: (1) assign responsibility where it is most deserved, (2) allow concentration of resources, and (3) speed a separation of Trump from ordinary people who are mere marks in his long confidence game.

Blaming those he’s conned is a sideshow. (There’s a necessary exception for the very few who are of the alt-right; they deserve, in-and-of-themselves, obloquy whenever one has the time.)

If Trump breaks politically, it will come from the case against him, and his present supporters will by turns break away (or in any event will have nothing left to support). In this way, his remaining supporters won’t be able to support him adequately in the end. He’ll stand or stumble despite them.

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.

Now, there are alliances to build, and a case to make, against Trump and those in his circle.

More on Local Problems Now Gone National

I posted in November that Fake News Was a Local Problem Before It Was a National One. (That post described “local fake (or low-quality)” news, but strictly speaking fake news isn’t merely of low quality or error; fake news is deliberately manufactured to deceive. See, How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News.)

Some of the worst aspects of our new national politics have been present in many small towns for years: (1) grandiosity, (2) news stories from weak reporters or indifferent stringers who are mere scribes for those in power, (3) ceaseless conflicts of interest, including news sites from incumbent politicians, (4) distortion of facts to turn crud into caviar, (5) low-quality, lazy work passed off as though it were Newton’s Principia, and (6) a top-down condescension in which a few decide that their work is ‘good enough’ and so the many should settle for that lesser standard & lesser product.

The overwhelming majority of people in these communities are sharp and capable, and deserve more than compromised standards.

Our new national scene brings myriad challenges, but there are many who’ve lived with small-scale versions of these challenges for years.

Daily Bread for 1.17.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be rainy, with a high of thirty-five, and an even chance of afternoon snow showers. Sunrise is 7:20 AM and sunset 4:49 PM, for 9h 29m 00s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 72.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the seventieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Common Council will meet tonight at 6:30 PM (part of the session will include a joint meeting with the Planning Commission).

On this day in 1706, Benjamin Franklin is born. On this day in 1900, women working at a cotton mill near Janesville go on strike for higher wages.

Recommended for reading in full —

Andrew Kaczynski and Jim Acosta report that Monica Crowley bows out of Trump administration post following plagiarism revelations: “The move comes after CNN’s KFile uncovered multiple instances of plagiarism in her 2012 book, her columns for the Washington Times, and her 2000 Ph.D. dissertation for Columbia University. Crowley was slated to be the senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council in Trump’s administration….CNN’s KFILE originally reported last week that Crowley had plagiarized more than 50 times in her 2012 book “What the Bleep Just Happened.” In response to the story, publisher HarperCollins pulled the book from sales until it could be updated to include proper attribution. CNN’s KFILE later found thousands of words plagiarized in Crowley’s 2000 dissertation for her Columbia University Ph.D. Columbia has said any review of her work would be kept confidential. A review of Crowley’s columns for the Washington Times also found plagiarism in seven columns.”

Paul Farhi reports on How Ed Schultz transformed from MSNBC lefty to the American face of Moscow media: “In mid-2015, MSNBC handed Schultz his last paycheck. After six years on the air, the ratings of his daily program, “The Ed Show,” were soft and MSNBC was going for more news in Schultz’s time slot, not opinion. His daily radio show had ended the previous year. So Schultz went back to his lakefront home in Detroit Lakes, Minn., and took stock. At 61, after a lifetime in broadcasting, he concluded he wasn’t done. In early 2016, he returned to television, albeit in an unlikely place and role for a guy who once styled himself as a “prairie populist.” He became the lead news anchor for RT America, the domestic network of what was once known as Russia Today, a globe-spanning multimedia organization funded by the Russian government….Stanford professor Michael McFaul, the former American ambassador to Russia, calls RT “an instrument of the Russian state. Their mission is to advance the mission of Mr. Putin and the [Russian] government.” By mimicking the look and feel of an American newscast — even to the extent of permitting an occasional dissent from the Kremlin-centric line — RT is trying to “disguise” its real intent, he said. And Schultz is part of the strategy, says McFaul. “They put on a lot of Americans as hosts and journalists,” he said. “The idea is to obfuscate and confuse people about it being a government entity.”

Brian Stetler describes Team Trump tactics: Deny, conflate, confuse:

Robert McFadden reports that Eugene Cernan, Last Human to Walk on Moon, Dies at 82: “A ferocious competitor with a test pilot’s reckless streak, Mr. Cernan (pronounced SIR-nun) rocketed into space three times, was the second American to drift weightless around the world on a tether, went to the moon twice and shattered aerospace records on the Earth and the moon. He also slid down a banister on a visit to the White House and once crashed a helicopter in the Atlantic while chasing a dolphin. Skimming the lunar surface in a rehearsal for the first manned landing, he erupted with salty language heard by millions when his craft briefly spun out of control. But he made spacewalks and romps over the lunar surface look routine, and in a way they were. Three and a half years after Neil A. Armstrong took mankind’s first step onto the lunar surface in 1969, Mr. Cernan, a Navy captain and one of the nation’s most experienced astronauts, landed with a geologist-astronaut near the Sea of Serenity in the final chapter of the Apollo program, America’s audacious venture to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 pledge to put Americans on the moon.”

DJI World presents The Eagle Huntress (for see Aisholpan’s full story, see the SONY Pictures feature-length documentary The Eagle Huntress at http://sonyclassics.com/theeaglehuntress):

On Obama & Trump

From columnist Dusty Nix of the Ledger-Enquirer, a comparison of Obama and Trump:

Barack Obama is everything so-called conservatives have, at least since the dismal dawn of the Moral Majority, told us a political figure should be: a dedicated and loving faith-and-family man, personally beyond reproach, publicly untainted by scandal or corruption. The man who succeeds him in five days is everything the same people have told us we should abhor and loathe: repulsively crass, gleefully promiscuous, serially adulterous, spiritually indifferent (at best), morally void and demonstrably corrupt.

Via Godspeed, Mr. President, and thank you.

One can guess that libertarians have had principled objections to Pres. Obama’s administration, yet for them all I’d not change a word of this comparison of Obama & Trump.

The work that awaits, as part of a grand coalition of millions of Americans, has only begun. Much is uncertain, and there are sure to be many difficult moments ahead. It is, it seems, for those opposed to Trump the regrettable but necessary work of our time to declare our views, and to act diligently each day on them.

And so we have, and will.

Daily Bread for 1.16.17

Good morning.

In Whitewater, the Martin Luther KIng Holiday will see freezing rain in the morning change to rain in the afternoon, with a high of thirty-three. Sunrise is 7:21 AM and sunset 4:48 PM, for 9h 27m 12s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 81.3.% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the sixty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1547, Ivan IV Vasilyevich, Ivan the Terrible, is crowned as ‘Tsar of All the Russias’. On this day in 1863, the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry occupies Kimbrough’s Cross Roads in Tennessee.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Christiano Lima reports that Pence denies contact between Trump campaign and Russia: “Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Sunday flatly denied any links between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials. “I joined this campaign in the summer, and I can tell you that all the contact by the Trump campaign and the associates were with the American people,” Pence told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes answer Why Are the Trump Allegations Hanging Around When They Haven’t Been Substantiated?: “Part of the explanation may also be that the salacious allegations and the reports of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence do not take place in a vacuum. They take place amidst the background of a great deal of public evidence of ties between the Trump campaign and Russian actors. Long prior to the election, remember, media outlets reported on links between Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and advisor Carter Page and questionable actors in and around Russia. Those reports led Manafort to resign as campaign manager and for the Trump team to disavow contact with Carter Page. Incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was photographed at an RT dinner in Moscow sitting at the same table as Vladimir Putin. Trump confident Roger Stone claimed ties to Wikileaks and Julian Assange, both of which are suspected of ties to Russia. In fact, the degree of coziness between the Trump team and Russia prompted us to write a somewhat tongue-in-cheek legal analysis on whether Trump qualifies as a Russian agent. So these reports are, at the very least, consistent in key thematic respects with verified public reporting.”

Rainer Buergin reports that Trump Calls NATO Obsolete and Dismisses EU in German Interview: “Trump’s reported comments leave little doubt that he will stick to campaign positions and may in some cases upend decades of U.S. foreign policy, putting him fundamentally at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on issues from free trade and refugees to security and the EU’s role in the world. On Russia, he suggested he might use economic sanctions imposed for Vladimir Putin’s encroachment on Ukraine as leverage in nuclear-arms reduction talks, while NATO, he said, “has problems.” “It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump was quoted as saying about the trans-Atlantic military alliance. “Secondly, countries aren’t paying what they should” and NATO “didn’t deal with terrorism.”

Dan Egan reports that As new pipelines stall on the Great Plains, oil pressure builds in the Great Lakes: “As pipeline protests have raged out West for the last decade, ever-growing volumes of North American oil have been discreetly flowing through the far more populous Great Lakes region, under its forests, rivers, ponds, wetlands, cities and towns and even, in one extreme case, across the bottom of the Great Lakes themselves. This is the story of what could be called the Great Lakes XXL — a swelling, invisible river of oil flowing through the world’s largest freshwater system at a time when other regions on the continent are rejecting the risk of new pipelines.”

Two divers go swimming with sharks off South Africa, and live to tell the tale —

Daily Bread for 1.15.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be a partly sunny day with a high of thirty-six. Sunrise is 7:21 AM and sunset 4:47 PM, for 9h 25m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 88% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the sixty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. is born. On this day in 1967, it’s Packers 35, Kansas City 10 in the first Super Bowl.

Recommended for reading in full — 

The AP reports on Ringling Bros. calling it quits after 146 years: “Ellenton, Fla. — After 146 years, the curtain is coming down on “The Greatest Show on Earth.” The owner of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus told The Associated Press that the show will close forever in May. The iconic American spectacle was felled by a variety of factors, company executives say. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs, along with changing public tastes and prolonged battles with animal rights groups all contributed to its demise.”

Michelle Goldberg thinks that Democrats Should Follow John Lewis’ Lead (but I don’t think her advice applies only to Democrats): “Lewis was speaking for many of us who are aghast at the way Trump benefited from Russian hacking and now appears to be returning the favor by taking a fawning stance toward Putin. He spoke for those of us who are shocked by the role of the FBI, which improperly publicized the reopening of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails but refuses to say whether it is investigating Trump’s ties with Russia. Trump lost the popular vote; he is president-elect only because the country values fidelity to the democratic process over popular democracy itself. (The Constitution, it turns out, may in fact be a suicide pact.) If the process itself was crooked—if Trump’s campaign colluded in any way with Russia—his legitimacy disappears. If he scorns the Constitution by, say, violating the Emoluments Clause, it disappears as well. A president who lost the popular vote, who may have cheated to win the Electoral College, and who will be contravening the Constitution the second he’s sworn in is due neither respect nor deference.”

Brian Buetler asks Who’s the Illegitimate President Now, Mr. Birtherism?: “But if it’s ironic that Trump rose to the pinnacle of global power on the strength of a failed campaign to delegitimize Obama, it’s also fitting that his own presidency will begin under a mix of suspicions and legitimacy questions that are very real and that Trump brought upon himself. Nobody who’s reasonable questions Trump’s eligibility for the presidency, but questions surrounding his entitlement to keep the job are widespread, and not just on the left-wing fringe. Birtherism may have been Trump’s accidental springboard to the presidency, but the next four years are set to express themselves as a continuous fight over the legitimacy of his presidency in ways that will make birtherism seem like a footnote.”

Sarah Oates describes How Russian ‘kompromat’ destroys political opponents, no facts required: “Kompromat has evolved well beyond the clumsy photo-editing of the Stalin era, when political opponents were carefully airbrushed out . Several opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Russian regime find themselves facing charges of possession of child pornography that they believe was planted by Russian operatives — in Russia, but also in Lithuania and Britain. Another tactic of choice involves sex tapes. In 2010, videos of Russian opposition journalists and politicians who had been filmed separately having sex with the same young Russian woman were leaked online. Last year, an opposition political party was damaged when a tape emerged of a married party leader having sex with an aide. Putin has been involved in such operations for years: In 1999, when he was the head of the FSB (the post-Soviet successor to the KGB), Putin reportedly helped then-President Boris Yeltsin to discredit and dismiss powerful prosecutor Yuri Skuratov, who had threatened to reveal which Russian officials were siphoning money to foreign bank accounts. When Yeltsin could not persuade the parliament to fire Skuratov, a video of the prosecutor — or at least a man who resembled him — having sex with prostitutes was aired on television. This all may sound like something out of “The Americans,” but it’s politics as usual in Russia.”

For a snowboarder in Canada, an inflatable backpack made all the difference: