It’s What’s Inside That Truly Matters

 

For years, Whitewater has seen construction project after construction project: a new high school, remodeled buildings, a Bridge to Nowhere, a roundabout, an Innovation Center, a Starin Road extension, an East Gate project, etc.

 

And yet, and yet…it’s what’s inside that truly matters.

While many a formerly-fine church has come to ruin for its neglected teachings, still house churches of true devotion emerge across the planet.

Old Whitewater – a state of mind, not a person or chronological age – loves nothing so much as a big project & a big show.

For it all, shovels, construction helmets, ceremonies, contractors, architects, politicians, and photo opportunities will instruct not one student for even one day.

Daily Bread for 5.25.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with a high of seventy. Sunrise is 5:22 AM and sunset 8:21 PM, for 14h 59m 05s of daytime. The moon is new today, with just .1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets today at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1977, Star Wars opens. On this day in 1889, Wisconsin Gov. Oscar Rennebohm is born.

(The Star Wars trailer was so new at the time that it did not capture the setting as “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”)

Recommended for reading in full —

Karla Adam reports British outraged over alleged U.S. leaks in the Manchester bomb investigation:

LONDON — British indignation over alleged American leaks of investigative material related to the Manchester bombing will likely create a charged environment Thursday when British Prime Minister Theresa May meets later with President Trump.

May said Thursday morning she would “make clear” to Trump when they meet later in the day at a NATO summit in Brussels that “intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”

Leaks from the ongoing investigation — including the publication of crime-scene photos in the New York Times and the naming of the suspected bomber by U.S. broadcasters — have provoked ire from British officials.

Betsy Woodruff, Lachlan Markay, and Asawin Suebsaeng report Reince Priebus Sweating Secret Comey Memos, White House Sources Say:

Three White House officials told The Daily Beast that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has privately expressed worry about a possible Comey memo specifically involving one of their reported chats, and how it might play in the press and to investigators.

“Nervous laughter,” one official succinctly characterized Priebus’ demeanor in the midst of recent revelations.

In late February—long before Trump fired Comey over the “this Russia thing”—Priebus had reportedly already acted on the president’s behalf in trying to use the FBI to quash the Trump-Russia news.

According to CNN, Priebus asked Comey and his then-top deputy, Andrew McCabe, on Feb. 15 to refute news reports about conversations between Trump campaign staff and Russian government officials. Comey and McCabe reportedly refused. The White House denied the story at the time.

Matt Ford writes of The Known Unknowns of the Russia Investigation:

On Friday, CNN reported on similar Russian conversations held last summer about Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who spent two years as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency under the Obama administration. Those exchanges prompted a “five-alarm fire” within the American intelligence apparatus, according to an anonymous U.S. official quoted by CNN. The Times reported that the findings were then passed to the FBI, which opened a counterintelligence probe that eventually grew into the sprawling investigation that has consumed Trump’s nascent administration.

Many questions still remain about the inquiry’s origins. It’s not clear if the FBI and other agencies already had other curious information in their possession before learning about Russian officials’ conversations and deciding to launch the probe. Both outlets’ descriptions of the talks suggest a familiarity with Trump campaign staffers and a desire to sway them somehow. They also underscore the lopsided efforts to undermine last year’s presidential election, a plot that U.S. intelligence officials concluded in January was designed to hinder Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Dan Bice reports that Sheriff Clarke directed staff to hassle plane passenger after brief exchange:

Sitting on the tarmac at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Jan. 15, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. sent a text message to one of his captains after a brief verbal exchange with a passenger.

The sheriff explained in the text what should be done when Riverwest resident Dan Black got off the plane.

“Just a field interview, no arrest unless he become an asshole with your guys,” Clarke wrote Captain Mark Witek. “Question for him is why he said anything to me. Why didn’t he just keep his mouth shut?”

“Follow him to baggage and out the door,” Clarke continued. “You can escort me to carousel after I point him out.”

One man was fortunate to escape with only minor injuries after a bear charged him:

Daily Bread for 5.24.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:20 PM, for 14h 57m 29s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent today with 2.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge opens for traffic. On this day in 1864, the 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 36th Wisconsin Infantry regiments participate in the Battle of North Anna, Virginia.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Michael Grynbaum and Daniel Victor report that Fox News Retracts Story Linking Murder of D.N.C. Aide to 2016 Presidential Campaign:

Fox News on Tuesday retracted a story linking the murder of a Democratic National Committee staff member with the email hacks that aided President Trump’s campaign, effectively quashing a conspiracy theory that had taken hold across the right-wing news media.

It was a rare acknowledgment of error by the network. But it also underscored a schism between the network’s news-gathering operation and one of its biggest stars: the conservative commentator Sean Hannity, who has unapologetically promoted the theory and remained defiant on Tuesday.

“These are questions that I have a moral obligation to ask,” Mr. Hannity said on his radio show, shortly after Fox News announced its mistake. “All you in the liberal media — I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing.”

(Hannity later said on his evening television program of 5.23.17 that “Out of respect for the family’s wishes, for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time.”)

Jennifer Rubin poses Questions Fox and the right need to answer:

What is this “high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting”? Who is responsible for maintaining such high standards?

Does the alleged high scrutiny apply to Fox’s nighttime shows?

How did the story manage to slip by this exacting scrutiny?

How did it remain on the website and on Hannity’s show despite widespread calls to cease airing a debunked story?

Who, if anyone, is going to be held accountable for this?

Will Fox real-news cover the incident?

How did widespread coverage of birtherism slip by Fox’s “high degree of editorial scrutiny”?

Are evening shows’ coverage of the Russia scandal subjected to a “high degree of editorial scrutiny”?

Binyamin Applebaum  describes Trump’s Problematic Math: Budget Plan Adds Growth, but Doesn’t Subtract Cost:

When the government cuts taxes, it collects less money. That is the purpose of a tax cut. But Mr. Trump’s budget does not include any hint of a downturn in federal revenue. To the contrary, it projects that federal tax revenue will increase every year for the next decade.

The White House is indeed projecting faster economic growth as a consequence of tax cuts. What it is not doing is projecting the cost of those tax cuts, that is, the loss in tax revenue. It is the rough equivalent of trying to raise $10,000 for a project expected to produce $100,000 in revenue, and telling investors the profit will total $100,000. It won’t be, because you have to account for the cost.

Lawrence H. Summers, the Harvard economist who served in senior roles in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, writing for The Washington Post, declared it “the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.”

Matt Valazquez reports on John Hammond leaving Bucks to become [Orlando] Magic GM:

Hammond’s hiring came on the heels of Orlando’s announcement Tuesday morning that it had hired Weltman as its president of basketball operations, a position that Hammond also had applied for according to multiple reports. Weltman and Hammond worked together in Detroit for a year before Hammond took the GM job in Milwaukee in 2008 and brought Weltman with him as his assistant general manager. Weltman left for Toronto in 2013 and was promoted to the GM job there before last season.

Someone enjoyed a trip in a cycling jersey:

Daily Bread for 5.23.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy, with afternoon thunderstorms and a high of sixty-four. Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:19 PM, for 14h 55m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 8.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

The City of Whitewater’s Finance Committee will meet at 5:30 PM today.

On this day in 1934, the crime spree of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow meets a violent end. On this day in 1854, the first railroad reaches Madison: “When the cars pulled into the depot, thousands of people gathered to witness the ceremonial arrival of the first train, and an enormous picnic was held on the Capitol grounds for all the passengers who’d made the seven-hour trip from Milwaukee to inaugurate the line.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Jonathan Chait writes that Trump’s Russia Scandal Is Becoming a Corruption Scandal:

Ominously for Trump, the Post reports that the FBI is “determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.” While Kushner’s public persona differs wildly from that of the president in the functioning of his real-estate work, he is a kind of mini Trump. Inheriting an empire from his father, he has operated in gray areas of the world economy and positioned himself to gain handsomely from Trump’s election. Kushner has met with the head of a Russian bank functionally controlled by Vladimir Putin. He appears to be eager to use his proximity to Trump to make a buck; his family business is exploiting the familial connection to sell visas in China. Trump himself has a long, nontransparent history of business dealings with organs of the Russian state. (Last week, The Wall Street Journal dug up another case.)

….All this implies that the probe is scrutinizing the financial aspects of Trump’s business, which is a family operation. While some Trump advisers opposed the firing of Comey, Kushner reportedly advocated for it. That fact may seem strange if one thinks of Kushner as a voice of pragmatism. But it is easier to understand if you think of him as a figure sitting near the heart of a financial scandal, who harbors a strong interest in suppressing the investigation.

Jenny Luna reports that Trump Takes a Big Bite Out Of His Voters’ Food Stamps:

As the Associated Press reported, the budget is expected to include $193 billion in cuts over a decade to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps—25 percent of the program’s budget. About 44 million people benefit from food stamps in the US, especially poorer states in the Southeast. For example, one out of every five people in Louisiana receives food stamps in a given month, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Trump’s proposed cuts to food stamps will by and large hit his own voters the hardest. Louisiana voted overwhelmingly for Trump, as did its Southeast counterparts Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and Georgia. Out of the ten states with the highest food stamp-use by population, seven voted Republican in last year’s presidential election….

Catherine Rampell asks Want to know what Trumpcare would do to the country? Look at the implosion in Iowa:

As passed in the House, the American Health Care Act would let states get waivers allowing insurers to offer new plans that don’t meet Obamacare’s coverage or cost requirements. In other words, as in Iowa, Trumpcare would permit healthier and younger people to sort themselves into cheaper plans that cover little, and leave sicker and older people in more expensive plans. Which, as in Iowa, would probably cause markets to unravel.

This isn’t the only thing throwing Iowa’s individual markets out of whack. The state also has one very sick, very expensive enrollee on its Obamacare exchange — and the predicament this presents offers a further lesson for what we should expect from Trumpcare.

Richard Cohen contends that The definitive book about the Trump administration was written in 1951:

Back in 1951, Herman Wouk published the definitive book about the Trump administration. He set it in the 1940s, during the war in the Pacific, aboard a destroyer-minesweeper skippered by a paranoid man with a compulsion to blame others for his mistakes. The captain was named Philip Francis Queeg, his ship was called the USS Caine, and the novel was “The Caine Mutiny.” It won the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a dead certainty President Trump never read it.

But maybe he saw the movie , in which Humphrey Bogart plays Queeg, a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination, or the Broadway play, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” — but none of that is likely, either. The character of Queeq would have been too close to home for him and the mutiny too terrible to contemplate….

Those who live in states with lots of deer know that their collisions with vehicles can be devastating:

The National Increase in Reported Campus Sexual Assaults

The latest federal study on crime and safety in schools (at all levels), Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2016, is now available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), “the primary federal entity for collecting, analyzing, and reporting data related to education in the United States and other nations.” A portion of the report concerns sexual assaults on campus (beginning on page 121), and in tables after the narrative. I’ve embedded the full document, below.

The report (pg. 122) makes plain the large national increase in reported campus sexual assaults:

The number of reported forcible sex crimes on campus increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 6,700 in 2014 (a 205 percent increase).

Focusing on more recent data years, the number of reported forcible sex crimes increased by 34 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 5,000 to 6,700). It should be noted that data on reported forcible sex offenses were collected differently in 2014 than in prior years. In 2014, schools were asked to report the numbers of two different types of forcible sex offenses, rape and fondling, and these were added together to reach the total number of reported forcible sex offenses. In years prior to 2014, schools only reported a total number of reported forcible sex offenses, with no breakouts for specific types of offenses. About 4,400 rapes and 2,300 fondling incidents were reported in 2014.

(Writing about the reported increase in the Daily Beast, Lizzie Crocker (who has reported previously on campus sexual assault) considers a few points: (1) numbers may be higher now because campus assaults are more frequently reported, (2) the federal data do not, necessarily, “confirm the campus rape epidemic narrative perpetuated by high profile cases like that of convicted rapist Brock Turner and Alec Cook, who was recently expelled from the University of Wisconsin after being charged with sexually assaulting multiple women,” but (3) “[b]ecause sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, some advocates say that these figures likely underestimate the prevalence of sexual assault on campus.” Crocker’s article also mentions recent, relevant studies on the matter and the claims derived from them.)

Download (PDF, 4.47MB)

Film: Tuesday, May 23rd, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Hidden Figures

This Tuesday, May 23rd at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Hidden Figures @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Hidden Figures (2016) is the true story of a team of African-American women mathematicians who were vital contributors to the early America space program. Theodore Melfi directs the two hour, seven minute film, starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. Hidden Figures received three 2017 Academy Award nominations (Best Motion Picture, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for Octavia Spencer, and Best Adapted Screenplay by Allison Schroeder & Theodore Melfi). The film carries a PG rating from the MPAA.

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

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 5.22.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be increasingly cloudy, with an even chance of afternoon thundershowers, and a high of seventy-two. Sunrise is 5:24 AM and sunset 8:18 PM, for 14h 54m 07s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 16.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM today. At 5 PM, a local private group has scheduled a rally to garner support for preserving the building at 507 W. Main Street. Whitewater’s Library Board meets at 6 PM for a community forum on the construction of a new library. (There’s a possible relationship between the private action’s preservation goal and library construction, although one would need to know more about construction options before having confidence whether one might affect the other. There’s time enough to hear patiently the arguments involved.)

Whitewater’s School Board meets tonight, with an open session beginning at approximately 7 PM.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is born this day in 1859. On this day in 1968, the Milwaukee Bucks get their name: “On this date “Milwaukee Bucks” was selected as the franchise name after 14,000 fans participated in a team-naming contest. 45 people suggested the name, one of whom, R.D. Trebilcox, won a car for his efforts.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Jennifer Rubin describes Trump’s un-American speech in Saudi Arabia:

At times Trump’s language was cringe-worthy. It is all well and good to explain we have shared “interests” — with regard to fighting Iran and the Islamic State, most clearly. To say we have shared “values” with Saudi Arabia, however, is daft, and shows how deficient is Trump’s understanding of American values and their role in American foreign policy. In so starkly diminishing the importance of human rights, he foolishly sacrificed our moral authority and risked repeating his predecessor’s foolish, unqualified support of Middle Eastern dictators.

When after the speech Trump attempted to scold Iran for its human rights policy, the flaw in this approach was evident. For both Iran and Saudi Arabia, we are not “tell[ing] other people how to live” but standing up for universal human rights. We are not “lectur[ing]” but extolling the importance of recognizing human dignity. And we give a flawed message that modernization and full inclusion in the community of nations are possible without basic rights for women, religious minorities, et al.

One tool, a critical one, the United States has against repressive regimes such as Russia, China, Iran and Cuba, is that we can undermine their legitimacy by appealing to universal values and exposing their cruelty, corruption and repression. We give hope to the oppressed and whittle away at despots’ grip on power by excoriating them for human rights abuses. When, however, we not only ignore but also give unqualified praise to autocratic allies, we leave ourselves open to charges of gross hypocrisy.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty explains how Baltic Elves Fight Kremlin Trolls:

Dave Weigel observes that The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works:

On July 10, at 4:19 a.m., gunfire was detected in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. Not five minutes later, police found Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer, lying on the ground, dying from a bullet wound to his back. A conscious Rich was transported to the hospital; by daybreak, he was dead.

Nearly one year later, Rich’s death remains one of America’s thousands of unsolved murders — and the focus of endless conspiracy theories, spread this past week by Fox News, alt-right social media, a local D.C. news station and the Russian embassy in Britain. The reemergence of the conspiracy theory this week, which did not lack for real news, revealed plenty about the fake news ecosystem (or to use BuzzFeed’s useful phrase, “the upside-down media”) in the Trump era. It also happened to cause untold pain for the Rich family, which has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the so-called private investigator who led this dive back into the fever swamp.

[Family of slain DNC staffer fights back against conspiracy theories with cease-and-desist letter]

Here’s what we learned….

Bill Vlasic reports that Ford Motor Is Replacing Mark Fields as C.E.O.:

Jim Hackett, who oversees the Ford subsidiary that works on autonomous vehicles, will take the reins from Mr. Fields. Ford plans to make an announcement on Monday morning, the officials said.

During Mr. Fields’s three-year tenure — a period when Ford’s shares dropped 40 percent — he came under fire from investors and Ford’s board for failing to expand the company’s core auto business and for lagging in developing the high-tech cars of the future.

The change came less than two weeks after Mr. Fields was sharply criticized during the company’s annual shareholders meeting for Ford’s deteriorating financial results.

Science Magazine reports that Bees have more brains than we bargained for:

Daily Bread for 5.21.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 5:25 AM and sunset 8:17 PM, for 14h 52m 21s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 25% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1673, Marquette and Joliet reach the Menominee:

On or about May 21, 1673, Fr. Jacques Marquette, fur-trader Louis Joliet, and five French voyageurs pulled into a Menominee community near modern Marinette, Mich. Marquette wrote that when the Menominee learned that he and Joliet intended to try to descend the Mississippi River all the way to the sea, “They were greatly surprised to hear it, and did their best to dissuade me. They represented to me that I should meet nations who never show mercy to strangers, but break their heads without any cause; and that war was kindled between various peoples who dwelt upon our route, which exposed us to the further manifest danger of being killed by the bands of warriors who are ever in the field.

They also said that the great river was very dangerous, when one does not know the difficult places; that it was full of horrible monsters, which devoured men and canoes together; that there was even a demon, who was heard from a great distance, who barred the way, and swallowed up all who ventured to approach him; finally that the heat was so excessive in those countries that it would inevitably cause our death.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Andrew Kaczynski, Christopher Massie and Nathan McDermott contend that Sheriff David Clarke plagiarized portions of his master’s thesis on homeland security:

Controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who this week announced he will be joining Donald Trump’s administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, plagiarized sections of his 2013 master’s thesis on US security, a CNN KFile review has found.

Clarke, a visible surrogate for Trump during the campaign known for his incendiary rhetoric, earned a master’s degree in security studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. In his thesis, “Making U.S. security and privacy rights compatible,” Clarke failed to properly attribute his sources at least 47 times.

In all instances reviewed by CNN’s KFile, Clarke lifts language from sources and credits them with a footnote, but does not indicate with quotation marks that he is taking the words verbatim.

According to guidelines on plagiarism posted on the Naval Postgraduate School’s website, “If a passage is quoted verbatim, it must be set off with quotation marks (or, if it is a longer passage, presented as indented text), and followed by a properly formulated citation. The length of the phrase does not matter. If someone else’s words are sufficiently significant to be worth quoting, then accurate quotation followed by a correct citation is essential, even if only a few words are involved.”

See, also, from RightWisconsin, What’s Up With Sheriff Clarke’s Bizarre Uniform? (A closer look at all those fake medals):

Along with the cowboy hat, Sheriff David Clarke’s uniform — loaded with bling — has been a reliable prop for his media career. But Army veteran Charles Clymer took a close look at all of the hardware on Clarke’s chest… and wasn’t impressed.

His tweet storm went viral: (LANGUAGE WARNING)….

(I’ve included parts of Charles Clymer’s full tweet thread. He’s an American military veteran with respect for our country’s long-established service uniform protocols.)

Craig Gilbert reports that As chaos mounts, House Speaker Paul Ryan tries to power through the Trump turmoil:

“He’s walking on an ice rink and trying to stay upright,” said the speaker’s former GOP colleague, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin.

No politician other than the president has seen his poll ratings decline more than Ryan’s amid the upheaval of the Trump presidency. Arguably, no one’s task has been more complicated by Trump’s turmoil.

“There are more and more minefields coming up for Ryan, compounded by the dragging down of the Republican brand,” said congressional scholar Sarah Binder of George Washington University.

David Weigel explains that The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works:

On July 10, at 4:19 a.m., gunfire was detected in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. Not five minutes later, police found Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer, lying on the ground, dying from a bullet wound to his back. A conscious Rich was transported to the hospital; by daybreak, he was dead.

Nearly one year later, Rich’s death remains one of America’s thousands of unsolved murders — and the focus of endless conspiracy theories, spread this past week by Fox News, alt-right social media, a local D.C. news station and the Russian embassy in Britain. The reemergence of the conspiracy theory this week, which did not lack for real news, revealed plenty about the fake news ecosystem (or to use BuzzFeed’s useful phrase, “the upside-down media”) in the Trump era. It also happened to cause untold pain for the Rich family, which has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the so-called private investigator who led this dive back into the fever swamp…

Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward report that At the Pentagon, overpriced fuel sparks allegations — and denials — of a slush fund:

The Pentagon has generated almost $6 billion over the past seven years by charging the armed forces excessive prices for fuel and has used the money — called the “bishop’s fund” by some critics — to bolster mismanaged or underfunded military programs, documents show.

Since 2015, the Defense Department has tapped surpluses from its fuel accounts for $80 million to train Syrian rebels, $450 million to shore up a prescription-drug program riddled with fraud and $1.4 billion to cover unanticipated expenses from the war in Afghanistan, according to military accounting records.

The Pentagon has amassed the extra cash by billing the armed forces for fuel at rates often much higher — sometimes $1 per gallon or more — than what commercial airlines paid for jet fuel on the open market.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty explains How to change a country’s alphabet — and how not to:


Daily Bread for 5.20.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of fifty-nine. Sunrise is 5:26 AM and sunset 8:16 PM, for 14h 50m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 35% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1961, 400 U.S. Marshals Sent to Alabama as Montgomery Bus Riots Hurt 20; [the] President Bids State Keep Order: “Washington, May 20 — The Federal Government dispatched 400 marshals and other armed officers to Alabama tonight to restore order in areas that were torn by racial violence. The Government acted after a mob of white persons attacked a racially mixed group of bus riders in Montgomery, Ala. The disorders lasted two hours. At least twenty of the riders were beaten. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy announced the Federal action in a telegram to Alabama officials.” On this day in 1863, Union Forces Regroup at Vicksburg, Mississippi: “The 1st Wisconsin Light Artillery and the 8th, 11th, 18th and 23rd Wisconsin Infantry regiments joined the 14th and 17th Infantries to prepare for the next attack. While these arrangements were taking place at Vicksburg, the 4th Wisconsin Infantry fought in a skirmish in Cheneyville, Lousiana.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Janell Ross explains ‘They were not patriots’: New Orleans removes monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee:

Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the historic moment with a rousing speech that sought to end nearly two years of heated debate in the city over what the monuments said about its past.

“They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for,” Landrieu said, adding that Lee and the Confederate army fought against the United States. “They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.”

(Exactly right: the Confederacy was an organized expression of racism and treason. Neo-Confederates have any number of false justifications for their views, but they are, in fact, the closest homegrown movement America has to Holocaust denial. They all regurgiate variations of the RedeemersLost Cause‘ lies and rationalizations for slavery. Some are practiced at it, but even the best of them are among the worst of our society.)

Karoun Demirjian reports that Former FBI director Comey to testify publicly:

Former FBI director James B. Comey will testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee at a date to be set after Memorial Day, committee leaders announced Friday night.

The public commitment to testify comes after a tumultuous week and a half since President Trump dismissed Comey — a move that perplexed committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), who vowed to bring Comey before the committee nonetheless to testify as part of their probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, including potential ties between the Trump campaign and Kremlin officials.

(This assumes that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will not request that Comey refrain from public comment during this part of Mueller’s investigation.)

Connon Friedersdorf describes The World’s Worst Negotiation:

“The conversation [Trump in Oval office with Russian FM and Ambassador], during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives,” the Times wrote. And that’s right. That it leaked clearly hurts the White House.

If I see that it hurts them, and you see it, and TheNew York Times saw it? Then so did the Russians. The highest-ranking Russian diplomats in the United States are not idiots. They are savvy. And while it appears they weren’t the ones who leaked the story, that means Trump gave the Russians information they could have used to weaken him.

And he did so without even realizing it.

That is unnerving, because it suggests that even if Trump is innocent of Russia ties and obstruction of justice—and he may be!—he cannot hold his own in a low-pressure meeting, on his own turf. He wasn’t even pressured in a clever bid to extract information; Trump’s words here were self-sabotage, a totally unforced error.

(Even under the most charitable interpretation – and I do not believe the most chartible view is an accurate one – Trump’s in over his head.)

Evan Perez reports that, to defend Trump from all possibilities, White House lawyers research impeachment:

Washington (CNN) White House lawyers have begun researching impeachment procedures in an effort to prepare for what officials still believe is a distant possibility that President Donald Trump could have to fend off attempts to remove him from office, two people briefed on the discussions tell CNN.

White House officials believe the President has the backing of Republican allies in Congress and that impeachment is not in the cards, according to the people briefed on the legal discussions. Even Democrats have tried to calm impeachment talk out of concern it is premature.

But lawyers in the White House counsel’s office have consulted experts in impeachment during the past week and have begun collecting information on how such proceedings would work, a person briefed on the matter told CNN.

SpotMini, Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robot is versatile:

Daily Bread for 5.19.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with occasional afternoon showers, and a high of fifty-two. Sunrise is 5:27 AM and sunset 8:15 AM, for 14h 48m 42s of daytime. The moon is in its last quarter, with 45% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1675, noted explorer Fr. Jacques Marquette passes: “After the famous voyage down the Mississippi that he made in 1673 with Louis Joliet, Marquette vowed to return to the Indians he’d met in Illinois. He became ill during that visit in the spring of 1675 and was en route to Canada when he passed away. His diary of the trip is online in our [Wisconsin Historical Society] American Journeys collection.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Devlin Barrett, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous report that Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump:

FBI Director James B. Comey prepared extensively for his discussions with President Trump, out of concern that the president was unlikely to respect the legal and ethical boundaries governing their respective roles, according to associates of the now-fired FBI chief.

The associates recounted how worried Comey was about meeting with Trump and recalled conversations in which they brainstormed how to handle moments in which the president asked for details of an investigation.

One associate referred to Comey’s preparation as a kind of “murder board” — a phrase used to describe a committee of questioners that hurls tough questions at someone as practice for a difficult oral examination.

(One prepares this way if one is uncomfortable, but also if one wants to build a case.)

Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti report that Trump Ally Was Once a Target of Russian Spies:

The congressman, Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill….

But the F.B.I. has taken seriously the possibility that Russian spies would target American politicians. In a secure room at the Capitol, an F.B.I. agent told Mr. Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence” — someone the Russian government might be able to use to steer Washington policy-making, former officials said.

Mr. Rohrabacher said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the meeting had focused on his contact with one member of the Russian Foreign Ministry, whom he recalled meeting on a trip to Moscow. “They were telling me he had something to do with some kind of Russian intelligence,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. He recalled the F.B.I. agent saying that Moscow “looked at me as someone who could be influenced.”

(Imagine ‘prospect for Putin’ as one’s reputation. Better to be nothing than to descend so low.)

Brandon Patterson reports that The Feds Had Been Moving Away From Mass Incarceration For Years. Then Jeff Sessions Came Along:

Bipartisan support for shifting away from mandatory minimums has grown in recent years, as research has shown that incarceration does little to improve public safety and has had a disparate impact on communities of color—and as lawmakers have decided that running prisons costs too much.

Sen. Rand Paul said mandatory minimums have a racially disparate impact, and that Sessions’ policy shift would “accentuate” that “injustice.”

On Tuesday, in response to Sessions’ policy announcement, Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy proposed legislation more in line with Holder’s approach: It would allow judges to tailor sentences on a case-by-case basis, regardless of whether a mandatory minimum sentence applies. Paul said these minimums have a racially disparate impact, and that Sessions’ policy shift would “accentuate” that “injustice.” He also said his bill would save the DOJ money—the department currently spends nearly a third of its budget on corrections. A group of House members plan to introduce similar legislation.

Megan Garber describes Roger Ailes’s (Other) Legacy:

Karem Alsina, a makeup artist formerly employed by Fox News, recently shared a memory of her time at the network with New YorkMagazine’s Gabriel Sherman. The women anchors of Fox, Alsina recalled, would sometimes come to see her before they went to private meetings with Roger Ailes—the man who, until last year, was Fox’s chairman and CEO. “They would say, ‘I’m going to see Roger, gotta look beautiful!’” Alsina recalled. She also recalled this: “One of them came back down after a meeting, and the makeup on her nose and chin was gone.”

Ailes has another legacy, though, and it’s the one Karem Alsina suggested when she recalled her time preparing the women to meet with their boss: Ailes’s alleged pattern of sexual harassment—and, you could also argue, psychological manipulation—of his employees. He was accused of it by more than two dozen women, some anonymous, some named, some through lawsuits, some through testimony to the media. The allegations included not just direct harassment, but also surveillance, smear campaigns, hush money, and a general culture of misogyny at the network that claimed to be the only source of “fair & balanced” news in a nation rife with liberalism. Ailes vehemently denied the allegations. But there were so many women. They had so many stories—all unique, yet all troublingly similar. In July of 2016, under pressure from Rupert Murdoch and, more notably, Murdoch’s sons, Ailes resigned. He received $40 million from Fox as part of his exit agreement.

Anna Rubincam creates portraits as A Continuous Shape:

A Continuous Shape from Eyes & Ears on Vimeo.

 

Daily Bread for 5.18.17

Good morning.

After a night of stormy weather, Whitewater’s Thursday will be cloudy with a high of sixty-nine. Sunrise is 5:27 AM and sunset 8:14 PM, for 14h 46m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 54.5% of its visible disk illuminated.Today is the one hundred ninety-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Police and Fire Commission is scheduled to meet at 6:30 PM this evening.

On this day in 1804, the Sénat conservateur vested the powers of the French First Republic in an emperor. Napoleon’s coronation, and acquisition of effectively absolute power, would follow later that year. On this day in 1863, the Union Siege of Vicksburg begins, with “[s]seventeen different Wisconsin regiments involved in the assault that began the next day (8th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th and 33rd Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 1st, 6th and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries as well as the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry).”

Recommended for reading in full —

Rick Romell reports that For third straight year, Wisconsin ranks last in business startup activity:

Another year, another last-place ranking for Wisconsin on the business startup front.

For the third year running, Wisconsin has placed 50th among the 50 states in startup activity as measured by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the country’s leading entrepreneurship advocacy and research organizations.

Not only was Wisconsin last; the gap between Wisconsin and the next-lowest states widened significantly from 2016 and 2015. While other states are clustered with relatively small differences from one state to the next, Wisconsin stands as an outlier – on the low end.

“It just feels like such a broken record,” said Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor, a company with offices in Milwaukee and Madison that runs a respected training program for startups. “We’ve played this song so many times in terms of we’ve been dead last and dead last and dead last.”

The New York Times Editorial Board writes of The Special Counsel America Needs:

If President Trump thought that by sacking the F.B.I. director, James Comey, he could kill off the investigation into his associates’ ties to the Russian government and its attempt to deliver him the White House, he was wrong.

The investigation will go on, now under the leadership of a former F.B.I. director — and this one the president can’t fire on his own. Robert Mueller III, who was named special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the Trump-Russia investigation, is charged with revealing the truth about suspicions that reach into the highest levels of the Trump campaign and White House.

Given the “unique circumstances” of the case, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in making the appointment, a special counsel “is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome” of the investigation.

Mr. Rosenstein is absolutely right, and he has done the nation a service in choosing Mr. Mueller, one of the few people with the experience, stature and reputation to see the job through….

Michael Kranish observes that As president, Trump’s legacy of lawsuits and minimal briefings isn’t helping:

the tactics that Trump believed served him so well in business may be adding to his self-inflicted wounds as a special counsel prepares to launch an investigation into allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election.

Trump’s family has no government background, and most of his most trusted advisers never worked in a White House. His demands to government officials for personal loyalty are superseded by their loyalty to the Constitution. His threats — such as tweeting that fired FBI Director James B. Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” — have often backfired. Comey’s associates provided quotes from a memo about the conversation that appear to support Comey’s version of events.

And Trump’s famous aversion to in-depth analysis — he once wrote that “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience” — has led to concerns that he doesn’t absorb complicated briefing material from intelligence agencies and other sources.

Lloyd Grove writes that Sally Yates Outclasses the President in CNN Interview:

Where Trump is gluttonous, rambling, egomaniacal, and undisciplined—the leader of the free world as an unmade bed—Yates is a human laser beam, focused on her target.

And also, despite all that, immensely likable.

That’s the persona that emerged from the lengthy sit-down, presented in multiple segments on AC 360, that covered her decisions not only to oppose the president’s anti-Muslim executive order that was later adjudged unconstitutional by a series of federal trial and appeals courts, but also to alert the White House that retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump’s trusted national security adviser, had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador and then lied about it to the vice president and the FBI, opening himself up to criminal prosecution by U.S. law enforcement authorities and blackmail by the Kremlin.

How fast are F1 cars? Really fast —

Legislative Audit Bureau: WEDC Still Fails at Basic Tasks

Wisconsin’s Legislative Audit Bureau, as required by state law, has “completed a biennial financial audit of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and a program evaluation audit of WEDC’s economic development programs.”

Perhaps the politician-publisher of the Banner, who has hawked these programs so many times, and is himself the recipient of a WEDC award, will trouble himself to read the audit in full and respond through his publication. This isn’t, to be sure, the first disappointing audit for the WEDC. (I’ve a dedicated category for that agency).

To be serious in one’s views is to defend them competently (or at least make an effort to do so).

The summary and full audit are embedded below.

Consider, among others, these key findings:

WEDC did not contractually require grant and loan recipients to submit information sufficiently detailed to allow it to determine the extent to which jobs were actually created or retained.

The potentially uncollectable balance of loans with repayments 90 days or more past due increased from $1.3 million on December 31, 2014, to $11.0 million on December 31, 2016.

WEDC did not collect sufficiently detailed information from tax credit recipients about their existing employees. Collecting such information will help WEDC determine in future years the extent to which recipients actually created or retained contractually required jobs. In addition, WEDC did not comply with statutes because it did not annually verify jobs-related information submitted by recipients on the extent to which contractually required results were achieved.

WEDC indicated that 192 awards it had made since July 2011 ended through September 2016, including 24 awards (12.5 percent) that WEDC indicated had an expected result of job creation or retention. Thirteen of the 24 awards ended before the contractually specified completion dates and, as a result, the recipients were no longer contractually required to create 183 jobs and retain 1,082 jobs. Eight of the 24 awards reached their contractually specified completion dates.

WEDC cannot be certain about the numbers of jobs created or retained as a result of its awards. Additional actions need to be taken to improve the accuracy of the numbers that WEDC reports in its online data regarding jobs that were created or retained as a result of the awards it made.

Legislative Audit Bureau Brief on WEDC, May 2017:

Download (PDF, 166KB)

Legislative Audit Bureau Full Audit on WEDC, May 2017:

Download (PDF, 1.46MB)

Daily Bread for 5.17.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a four-in-ten chance of afternoon thundershowers and a high of eighty-two. Sunrise is 5:28 AM and sunset is 8:13 PM, for 14h 44m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 65% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninetieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

On this day in 1954, the United States Supreme Court hands down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education.  On this day in 1673, the Jolliet and Marquette expedition gets underway.

Recommended for reading in full —

The staff of the thorough, respected Lawfare website (Helen Klein Murillo, Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Paul Rosenzweig, Benjamin Wittes) collectively offer Initial Thoughts on Trump Asking Comey to Kill the Flynn Investigation:

Historically, obstruction of justice articles of impeachment do elaborate a pattern of conduct. The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon, for instance, included making false statements to investigators, withholding evidence, counseling witnesses to lie or give misleading testimony, and “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States [and] the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The critical point is that impeachment for obstruction of justice is ultimately not just a legal question; it’s also a political question, albeit a political question highly inflected by the law and often discussed in the language of the law. The boundaries of the impeachable offense are not coextensive with the boundaries of the criminal law. There are things that are not criminal that are certainly impeachable, and there are crimes that are generally regarded as too trivial to trigger the Constitution’s standard in Article II § 4  of “Treason, Bribery, and other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The great constitutional scholar Charles Black, in an excellent volume entitled, Impeachment: A Handbook written during the Watergate era, describes this point in vivid detail.

Michelle Goldberg offers Free Advice to Trump Aides: Quit While You Can:

Out in America, Mr. Trump still has plenty of genuine admirers, people who view him as a brilliant, iconoclastic businessman. But there is scant evidence of such respect among the people who actually work with him in Washington. The New York Times recently reported that there are “deep resentments among his scarred staff,” and The Washington Post writes of aides “bewildered and alarmed by how Trump arrives at his decisions.” These men and women are suffering personally while propping up a presidency they appear to hold in contempt. They are allowing themselves to be permanently tarnished through their association with a man whose name is destined to become the root of a political epithet signifying disgrace, like McCarthyite or Nixonian.

They aren’t just selling out their country. They’re selling out themselves.

Andrew Roth reports that so deep is Trump’s connection to Russia that Putin offers to provide Congress with details of Trump disclosures to Russian envoys:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he would be willing to provide the U.S. Congress a record of President Trump’s meeting with top Russian envoys, bringing scoffs on Capitol Hill that the Kremlin could help shed light on the disclosures of reportedly highly classified intelligence.

The provocative offer for the Kremlin to share evidence with U.S. oversight committees about the Oval Office meeting came with the caveat that the request for the transcript would have to come from the Trump administration….

(So Trump needs Putin to bail him out, and Putin thinks there are Americans stupid or deluded enough – other than Trump, himself – to think Russia’s offer could possibly be an honest, accurate one.)

Daniel Bice reports that Walker’s commission bankrolled by Bradley Foundation:

When Gov. Scott Walker laid out a plan in his state budget address urging people to take steps to avoid welfare, it mirrored a platform of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has pushed for greater personal responsibility and more stringent welfare requirements.

Documents hacked from the Bradley Foundation’s computer server show the connection is not just philosophical — it’s financial.

A Bradley Foundation staffer sat on the Future of the Family Commission, which came up with Walker’s plan. Two experts who advised the state panel are major Bradley grant recipients, with one running a center that has received $11 million over the years. A key study used by the commission was paid for by Bradley.

The foundation even awarded a $100,000 grant to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to underwrite the commission itself — an unusual, if not unique, step in government. Neither the source of the commission’s money nor the foundation’s stake in the outcome was disclosed. The state spent about $62,000 of the grant before making its recommendation to the governor.

So, of what are Velveeta and Kraft Singles are actually made?

Considering Janesville: An American Story (Part 14 of 14)

This is the final post in a series of considering Amy Goldstein’s Janesville: An American Story.

I can happily recommend Goldstein’s book, both for the tale it tells of a single city’s struggle after an auto plant closes, and for what readers may reasonably infer about a none-too-bright boosterism that has left Janesville (and other cities) divided between actual conditions experienced by many and self-congratulatory optimism from a well-fed few.

When I began this series (and an earlier series on Katherine Cramer’s Politics of Resentment), I did so to search for insights that Goldstein and Cramer might have about our current condition, one in which the greatest republic in all history has found itself under leadership of a mendacious, mediocre autocrat.

(Cramer offers little, and what little she offers both too narrow and too broad: claims of a Wisconsin resentment, but of an indeterminate kind, might be applied anywhere at anytime. Her thesis is, notwithstanding her insistence that it’s a serious political ethnography, is slight, and might have served as a ephemeral conservation piece, nothing more.)

Goldstein’s work tells part – and by her own design only part – of a story that is truly useful for our time – how a dense and dim-witted boosterism in Janesville reveals the way sugary claims are offered in the place of serious, practical policy.

The shallow thinking that has made ‘Two Janesvilles‘ possible has led, I think, to far worse things than sham economic proposals. Once weak, the body becomes susceptible to all sorts of infections, one invading after another.  (Acceptance of myriad lies as facts, yet a contradictory insistence that there are no facts.)

Goldstein’s book is about a place, but that place’s experiences are not isolated. Cities far removed from Janesville, stretching from one end of this continent to another, are now suffering a cumulative and debilitating illness, whose early signs one could identify from events of Janesville’s last decade.

Previously: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 78, 9, 10 1112, and 13.

Daily Bread for 5.16.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-five. Sunrise is 5:29 AM and sunset 8:12 PM, for 14h 42m 55s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 74% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 2001, federal agent Robert Hanssen was indicted on charges of spying for Moscow. He is now serving life without parole. On this day in 1913, bandleader Woody Herman is born in Milwaukee.

Recommended for reading in full —

Louis Nelson reports that Trump claims he has ‘absolute right’ to share intelligence with the Russians:

President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning claimed he has “the absolute right” to share intelligence with the Russian government, while doing little to deny that he allegedly divulged highly classified information to a foreign adversary during an Oval Office meeting last week.

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” Trump wrote on Twitter, breaking his message up into two posts.

Eliot A. Cohen explains The Terrible Cost of Trump’s Disclosures:

To a remarkable degree, the United States relies on liaison relationships with other powers with whom it shares information. If Trump has indeed compromised a source of information, it is not merely a betrayal of an ally’s trust: It is an act that will jeopardize a whole range of relationships. After all, the Director of Central Intelligence cannot very well say, “Don’t worry, we won’t share that with the president.” So now everybody—even our closest allies like the United Kingdom—would be well-advised to be careful with what they share with us. That is a potential intelligence debacle for us, but the danger goes beyond that. If any foreign government harbored lingering illusions about the administration’s ability to protect any information, including sensitive but non-intelligence matters like future foreign-policy initiatives or military deployments, they no longer do. They will be even more apprehensive about sharing sensitive information of any kind because…

Bob Cesca observes that Trump’s Russia scandal keeps getting deeper: At this point, campaign collusion might be the least of his problems:

Anyone with even a remedial understanding of politics and public relations understands that Trump is bungling the White House reaction to the ongoing investigation, turning an already harrowing treason probe into a harrowing treason probe made far more toxic by an obvious coverup.

It’s still unclear exactly what’s wrong with the president that he continues to botch and fumble the political reaction to the widening Russia scandal. We should definitely rule out, with prejudice, any argument that the president is practicing “three-dimensional chess” — that is, the “crazy like a fox” theory suggesting that Trump is working his way through a twisty Machiavellian strategy that we mere mortals are incapable of understanding. There’s nothing like that going on here. Chances are, Trump is being perpetually stymied by a combination of his desperation to kill the Russia probe; his clinical delusions, in which he believes certain things are real that clearly aren’t; his political ignorance; and, of course, his erratic knee-jerk style of blurting out gibberish and lies without any message discipline or self-censorship.

David Roberts contends that We overanalyze Trump. He is what he appears to be:

We badly want to understand Trump, to grasp him. It might give us some sense of control, or at least an ability to predict what he will do next.

But what if there’s nothing to understand? What if there’s no there there? What if our attempts to explain Trump have failed not because we haven’t hit on the right one, but because we are, theory-of-mind-wise, overinterpreting the text?

In short, what if Trump is exactly as he appears: a hopeless narcissist with the attention span of a fruit fly, unable to maintain consistent beliefs or commitments from moment to moment, acting on base instinct, entirely situationally, to bolster his terrifyingly fragile ego.

We’re not really prepared to deal with that…

Woody Herman entertains with the Woodchopper’s Ball: