Daily Bread for 8.17.17

Good morning.

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

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

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

Recommended for reading in full —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a Corgi, chicken, and duck romp

Daily Bread for 8.16.17

Good morning.

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

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

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

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jennifer Rubin asks What did you expect from Trump?:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Byran Behar, on Twitter, succinctly describes Trump:

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

Daily Bread for 8.15.17

Good morning.

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

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

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

Recommended for reading in full — 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Ford writes of The Statues of Unliberty:

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

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

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

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

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

Nine months later, their paths have diverged dramatically.

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

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

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

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

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

Leah Varjacques explains What Scientists Have Learned from Eclipses:

Daily Bread for 8.14.17

Good morning.

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

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

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

Recommended for reading in full —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the biggest myth about sharks, debunked:

Daily Bread for 8.13.17

Good morning.

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

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

Recommended for reading in full — 

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

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

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

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

Colbert King reminds These are your people, President Trump:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Bread for 8.12.17

Good morning.

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

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

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

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

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

Recommended for reading in full — 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Bread for 8.11.17

Good morning.

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

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

Recommended for reading in full —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August will be A Big Month for Astronomy:


Daily Bread for 8.10.17

Good morning.

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

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

Recommended for reading in full —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mosquitoes bite you more if you do these 5 things:

Daily Bread for 8.9.17

Good morning.

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

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

Recommended for reading in full — 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Bread for 8.8.17

Good morning.

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

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

Recommended for reading in full —

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daily Bread for 8.7.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-five. Sunrise is 5:53 AM and sunset 8:07 PM, for 14h 13m 17s of daytime. The moon is full, with 99.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1942, Allied forces land on Guadalcanal, in their first major offensive against Imperial Japan. On this day in 1862, the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry fights in a skirmish at Rocky Bluff, Missouri.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Anne Applebaum writes that If this were the Cold War, America would be poised to lose:

In retrospect, the battle lines of the Cold War — the West, NATO and democracy on one side; the East, the Warsaw Pact and dictatorship on the other — seem obvious and inevitable. The outcome — the collapse of the U.S.S.R. — feels now as if it were preordained. But at many moments in the half-century that the Cold War lasted, the battle lines were far from clear and the ultimate outcome very much in doubt….

Why does this history matter? Because we are living at a similarly fraught moment, in a time when international alliances are in flux. America’s reputation abroad has plunged in many countries. Conspiracy theories have never been easier to create and pass on, both abroad and at home. A part of the U.S. population right now believes that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin is a “Christian” leader fighting against the Islamic State in Syria. In fact his government represses religion and is not particularly interested in the battle against the Islamic State at all.

Yet at the moment, there is no systematic U.S. or Western response to Russian, Chinese or Islamic State disinformation. Attempts to keep track of it are uneven. There is no group or agency inside the U.S. government dedicated solely to this task. And, thanks to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, it looks like there won’t be anytime soon.

(There are surely American fellow travelers who consider Putin a moral exemplar; then again, there are Americans who consider Trump the same. Both views require a wilful perversion of religious teaching.)

Christian Caryl asks Why is Trump so reluctant to defend us from Russia’s lie machine?:

If the Russians had done these things in the old-fashioned way, with real people lurking about, and if we’d caught dozens of their agents red-handed, riffling through sensitive papers or trying to steal ballots, we’d have probably treated it all as something close to an act of war. But because the operation was waged remotely, in the murky realms of the Internet, we continue to refer to it, halfheartedly, as a “hacking” — a word more often used when discussing stolen credit-card numbers, identity theft or even relatively harmless online pranks.

Yet this was, in fact, an attack — a large-scale, multidimensional, coordinated attack on the foundations of our democratic system. And even if you’re a Republican who shares President Trump’s repeated assertions that we can’t be sure who was behind it, surely this is something you’d want to get to the bottom of. You’d be pressing for a thorough review of what happened, and above all you’d be planning new defenses to prevent it from happening again….

Today, in August 2017, we receive confirmation that the Trump administration has done exactly zero to bolster our defenses against hostile information operations. Last year, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) co-authored a law aimed at providing the State Department with the resources to start pushing back. Even though Trump signed the bill into law, his administration has done nothing to act on its provisions. This week a report in Politico revealed that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made zero effort to use the $80 million provided for the purpose by Congress.

Chico Harlan writes of the Rise of the machines:

But as one factory in Wisconsin is showing, the forces driving automation can evolve — for reasons having to do with the condition of the American workforce. The robots were coming in not to replace humans, and not just as a way to modernize, but also because reliable humans had become so hard to find. It was part of a labor shortage spreading across America, one that economists said is stemming from so many things at once. A low unemployment rate. The retirement of baby boomers. A younger generation that doesn’t want factory jobs. And, more and more, a workforce in declining health: because of alcohol, because of despair and depression, because of a spike in the use of opioids and other drugs….

In earlier decades, companies would have responded to such a shortage by either giving up on expansion hopes or boosting wages until they filled their positions. But now, they had another option. Robots had become more affordable. No longer did machines require six-figure investments; they could be purchased for $30,000, or even leased at an hourly rate. As a result, a new generation of robots was winding up on the floors of small- and medium-size companies that had previously depended only on the workers who lived just beyond their doors. Companies now could pick between two versions of the American worker — humans and robots. And at Tenere Inc., where 132 jobs were unfilled on the week the robots arrived, the balance was beginning to shift….

Tenere is a company that manufactures custom-made metal and plastic parts, mostly for the tech industry. Five years earlier a private-equity firm acquired the company, expanded to Mexico, and ushered in what the company called “a new era of growth.” In Wisconsin, where it has 550 employees, all non-union, wages started at $10.50 per hour for first shift and $13 per hour for overnight. Counting health insurance and retirement benefits, even the lowest-paid worker was more expensive than the robots, which Tenere was leasing from a Nashville-based start-up, Hirebotics, for $15 per hour. Hirebotics co-founder Matt Bush said that, before coming to Tenere, he’d been all across America installing robots at factories with similar hiring problems. “Everybody is struggling to find people,” he said, and it was true even in a slice of western Wisconsin so attuned to the rhythms of shift work that one local bar held happy hour three times a day.

Ruth May observes that a Tangled web connects Russian oligarch money to GOP campaigns:

Party loyalty is often cited as the reason that GOP leaders have not been more outspoken in their criticism of President Donald Trump and his refusal to condemn Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Yet there may be another reason that top Republicans have not been more vocal in their condemnation. Perhaps it’s because they have their own links to the Russian oligarchy that they would prefer go unnoticed.

Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.

During the 2015-2016 election season, Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonid “Len” Blavatnik contributed $6.35 million to leading Republican candidates and incumbent senators. Mitch McConnell was the top recipient of Blavatnik’s donations, collecting $2.5 million for his GOP Senate Leadership Fund under the names of two of Blavatnik’s holding companies, Access Industries and AI Altep Holdings, according to Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org.

So, what’s The Truth About Clothes Moths?:

Daily Bread for 8.6.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of seventy-four. Sunrise is 5:52 AM and sunset 8:08 PM, for 14h 15m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 98.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1945, after years of war, the United States drops an atomic bomb on the Imperial Japanese city of Hiroshima. On this day in 1864, the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry is among the Union forces that begin an expedition from Little Rock to Little Red River, Arkansas.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Conservative Jennifer Rubin, surveying the GOP support for Trump, asks Does the GOP deserve to survive?:

….how Republicans behave from here on out will play a huge role in determining the extent of the housecleaning/destruction of the GOP required. It makes all the difference in the world whether Democrats (by winning elections) save the country from Trump or whether the GOP (by impeachment, support for prosecution, primary challenge) takes matters into its own hands to expunge Trump. The latter would not erase entirely the original sin they committed when they backed him, but a Republican revolt against Trump (finally) would suggest internal reformation is possible. Republicans in office, running for office, in think tanks and other right-leaning groups should think long and hard about how they want the Trump presidency to end; it will become the defining event in their personal and political legacies. And the manner of Trump’s political demise will largely determine whether the 2016 election was the last to produce a Republican president.

George Will observes that The GOP has become the party of the grotesque:

“Anything that comes out of the South,” said writer Flannery O’Connor, a sometime exemplar of Southern Gothic, “is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.” But, realistically, Alabama’s primary says more about Republicans than about this region. A Michigan poll shows rocker-cum-rapper Kid Rock a strong potential Republican Senate candidate against incumbent Debbie Stabenow. Rock says Democrats are “shattin’ in their pantaloons” because if he runs it will be “game on mthrfkers.”

Is this Northern Gothic? No, it is Republican Gothic, the grotesque becoming normal in a national party whose dishonest and, one hopes, futile assault on [Alabama candidate for the U.S. Senate Mo] Brooks is shredding the remnants of its dignity.

Jeff Greenfield describes The Ugly History of Stephen Miller’s ‘Cosmopolitan’ Epithet:

When TV news viewers saw Trump adviser Stephen Miller accuse Jim Acosta of harboring a “cosmopolitan bias” during Wednesday’s news conference, they might have wondered whether he was accusing the CNN White House reporter of an excessive fondness for the cocktail made famous on “Sex and the City.” It’s a term that’s seldom been heard in American political discourse. But to supporters of the Miller-Bannon worldview, it was a cause for celebration. Breitbart, where Steve Bannon reigned before becoming Trump’s chief political strategist, trumpeted Miller’s “evisceration” of Acosta and put the term in its headline. So did white nationalist Richard Spencer, who hailed Miller’s dust-up with Acosta as “a triumph”….

One reason why “cosmopolitan” is an unnerving term is that it was the key to an attempt by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to purge the culture of dissident voices. In a 1946 speech, he deplored works in which “the positive Soviet hero is derided and inferior before all things foreign and cosmopolitanism that we all fought against from the time of Lenin, characteristic of the political leftovers, is many times applauded.” It was part of a yearslong campaigned aimed at writers, theater critics, scientists and others who were connected with “bourgeois Western influences.” Not so incidentally, many of these “cosmopolitans” were Jewish, and official Soviet propaganda for a time devoted significant energy into “unmasking” the Jewish identities of writers who published under pseudonyms.

What makes this history relevant is that, all across Europe, nationalist political figures are still making the same kinds of arguments—usually but not always stripped of blatant anti-Semitism—to constrict the flow of ideas and the boundaries of free political expression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example, has more and more embraced this idea that unpatriotic forces threaten the nation.

David A. Graham explains Why Trump Invokes ‘Common Sense’:

The recourse to “common sense” is probably not accidental, especially for a student of political movements like Miller. Nearly every contemporary politician is guilty of falling back on the phrase, but for centuries, populist movements in particular have invoked common sense as a justification for policy goals and as an antidote to expert opinion. Like President Trump, the people invoking it have often done so, as Sophia Rosenfeld writes in her book Common Sense: A Political History, as part of “a populist style of conservatism that celebrated authoritarian governance alongside the traditional ways, values, and language of ordinary people”….

“Common sense has … served to underwrite challenges to established forms of legitimate rule … in the name of the special kind of intuition belonging to the people,” Rosenfeld observes. Common sense is typically evoked and held up as authoritative only at moments of crisis in other forms of legitimacy. Revolutions, which, by definition, result in divided loyalties and the upending of the rules to multiple domains at once, are a case in point. Otherwise common sense does not need to call attention to itself.”

Time and again, the Trump administration has embraced solutions that it has labeled common sense, but which are either highly disputed, wholly counter to expert consensus, or flat wrong. This has been true on immigration, on protectionism, on industrial policy, climate change, and a range of other issues.

Great Big Story presents Navigating Niagara Falls by Helicopter:

Daily Bread for 8.5.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-six. Sunrise is 5:51 AM and sunset 8:09 PM, for 14h 18m 02s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 95.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1884, workers placed the cornerstone for the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty now stands: ” ‘the rain was pouring down in torrents’ which effectively kept away hundreds of ceremony invitees. Yet according to the New York Times, 1500 water-logged people still jammed onto the small island to be part of the historic event. About a third of the attendees were French. The steamship Bay Ridge was festooned with French and American flags and chosen to shuttle people from Manhattan to Bedloe Island. Because of the driving rain “its capacity was not tested.” Once the ceremony began the David Island Government Band played “Marseillaise” and “Hail Columbia” respectively while men lowered the six ton granite stone onto the northeast corner of Fort Wood’s foundation.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Beth Schwartzapfel asks Guess Who’s Tracking Your Prescription Drugs? (your doctor, your pharmacist… and the police):

As drug overdose deaths continue their record climb, Missouri last month became the 50th state to launch a prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP. These state-run databases, which track prescriptions of certain potentially addictive or dangerous medications, are widely regarded as an essential tool to stem the opioid epidemic. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens last month announced he was creating one in what had been the lone holdout state; legislative efforts to establish a program there had repeatedly failed because of lawmakers’ concerns about privacy.

Their concerns were not unfounded.

Federal courts in Utah and Oregon recently ruled that the Drug Enforcement Administration, in its effort to investigate suspected drug abusers or pill mills, can access information in those states’ PDMPs without a warrant, even over the states’ objections. And last month in California, the state supreme court ruled that the state medical board could view hundreds of patients’ prescription drug records in the course of its investigation of a physician accused of misconduct. “Physicians and patients have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the highly regulated prescription drug industry,” District Judge David Nuffer wrote in the Utah case.

Rachel Harmon contends that Trump’s Remarks To Police Violate His Oath of Office:

Speaking in New York Friday [7.28.17], President Trump encouraged our nation’s police officers to rough up suspects in their custody. In the days since, many law enforcement leaders and groups have denounced Trump’s comments as damaging to police-community relations. Some have responded by publicly reaffirming their commitment to serve and protect the public, but what about the president’s own oath?

“When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in rough. I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice’,” Trump told the audience of officers, referring to the practice of shielding suspects’ heads when placing them in police vehicles. “Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody. I said, ‘You can take the hand away, okay?'”

President Trump’s remarks encouraged officers to violate the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, which grant individuals the right to be free from excessive force while in official custody. They also require police officers to protect those under arrest from unnecessary harm. As the Supreme Court once put it, “when the State takes a person into its custody and holds him there against his will, the Constitution imposes upon it a corresponding duty to assume some responsibility for his safety and general well-being.” And since federal law makes it a crime to willfully depriving a person of a constitutional right, he asked them to violate federal criminal law as well.

Yashar Ali reports that Fox News Host Sent Unsolicited Lewd Text Messages To Colleagues, Sources Say:

Eric Bolling, a longtime Fox News host, sent an unsolicited photo of male genitalia via text message to at least two colleagues at Fox Business and one colleague at Fox News, a dozen sources told HuffPost.

Recipients of the photo confirmed its contents to HuffPost, which is not revealing their identities. The women, who are Bolling’s current and former Fox colleagues, concluded the message was from him because they recognized his number from previous work-related and informal interactions. The messages were sent several years ago, on separate occasions.

The women did not solicit the messages, which they told colleagues were deeply upsetting and offensive. One of the recipients said that when she replied to Bolling via text, telling him never to send her such photos again, he did not respond. Four people, outside of the recipients, confirmed to HuffPost they’d seen the photo, and eight others said the recipients had spoken to them about it.

For this story, HuffPost spoke to 14 sources in and out of Fox News and Fox Business, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity either because they currently work at the networks and aren’t allowed to speak to members of the press without prior authorization or because they have confidentiality agreements with Fox News and its parent company 21st Century Fox.

Shawn Boburg and Emily Rauhala report that Stephen Bannon once guided a global firm that made millions helping gamers cheat:

Stephen K. Bannon had already been successful in Hollywood and on Wall Street when he flew to Hong Kong in mid-2005 to learn more about a promising new opportunity.

A start-up called Internet Gaming Entertainment, or IGE, had found a novel way to make millions of dollars each month in the exploding online video game industry. Working from the 19th floor of a skyscraper in Hong Kong, the company sold virtual goods for real money — magical swords and capes and other accoutrements that granted video game players power and access in more than a dozen popular online role-playing games.

There was one problem, though: The companies that owned and operated these fantasy games prohibited what IGE was doing, and even considered it illegal. Several IGE executives told The Washington Post that they thought Bannon could help change that. Bannon agreed to become the company’s vice chairman.

It’s an Elephant v. Goose battle at the zoo:

Daily Bread for 8.4.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of sixty-nine. Sunrise is 5:50 AM and sunset 8:11 PM, for 14h 20m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 90.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1862, an order for conscription meets with a riot in Port Washington.

Recommended for reading in full —

Zack Beauchamp and Andrew Prokop write of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and why Trump is so afraid of it, explained [with 9 points in full]:

So what follows is a clear guide to the biggest, most pressing issues about the investigation into Trump: how it works, what Mueller and his team are looking into, what we know about the Russia scandal so far, why it all matters, and what could happen next.

1) What is the Mueller investigation?

On May 17, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that he was appointing Mueller as a special counsel charged with investigating connections between the Trump campaign and Russia’s effort to interfere in the 2016 election.

“The public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command,” Rosenstein said in the announcement.

Though various congressional committees are investigating Russian interference in the election and the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Moscow, the Mueller investigation is where the real action is. It’s the one that can actually file federal charges. It’s also best positioned to get financial records, examine secret intelligence, and flip witnesses. When people talk about “the Russia investigation” these days, they’re usually talking about Mueller and his team.

The investigation actually started well before Mueller came on board — the FBI began it in the summer of 2016, prompted by the hacking and leaking of Democratic National Committee internal emails.

In the ensuing months, that investigation turned toward examining the broader topic of what intelligence officials identified as a Russian government campaign to interfere with the elections, and whether the Trump campaign or Trump associates were involved. Other agencies — including the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit — also got involved, scrutinizing financial transactions and intercepting Russian communications.

Throughout all of that, the investigation followed the ordinary FBI chain of command. Then-FBI Director James Comey was the major figure overseeing the investigation, working with top Justice Department officials, who would in the end decide whether charges would be filed.

But on May 9, Trump fired Comey. Soon afterward, the president admitted that his unhappiness with Comey’s handling of the Russia investigation played a role in his firing. A series of leaks about troubling behavior by the president, including asking Comey to pledge his loyalty to Trump personally, made it into the press, raising serious questions about the investigation’s independence. Enter Bob Mueller….

Andy Kroll reports on New Fox Harassment Allegations: “A Contributorship…Was Contingent Upon” Sex:

A former frequent on-air guest at Fox News says that a Fox consultant and top lieutenant to Roger Ailes, the network’s late founder and longtime CEO, sexually harassed her repeatedly for more than a year, including dangling the possibility of a paid job at Fox if she would have sex with him.

The allegation appears in a written declaration by Caroline Heldman, an associate professor of politics at Occidental College who made numerous guest appearances on Fox starting in 2008. The Fox consultant, Woody Fraser, is a veteran television producer who helped create shows such as Good Morning America and Nightline and worked closely with Ailes at Fox for nearly a decade. Fraser’s relationship with Ailes dated back to the 1960s, when he hired a young Ailes to work on The Mike Douglas Show. “It was the best hire I’ve ever made,” Fraser told an Ailes biographer.

Heldman wrote in her declaration—signed under penalty of perjury and prepared as part of a potential lawsuit involving separate Fraser accusers—that Fraser “used coded language (an ‘arrangement’) on three different occasions, once in New York and twice in Los Angeles, that he wanted to have a sexual relationship with me.” Heldman says she repeatedly rejected his advances. She goes on to note: “Mr. Fraser insinuated on several occasions that a contributorship at Fox was contingent upon me having a sexual relationship with him. Even though I was a popular guest with numerous appearances and high ratings (according to Mr. Fraser), I was not offered a contributorship because I rebuffed Mr. Fraser’s sexual advances.”

See Declaration of Caroline Heldman.

John Herrman observes that For the New Far Right, YouTube Has Become the New Talk Radio:

Like its fellow mega-platforms Twitter and Facebook, YouTube is an enormous engine of cultural production and a host for wildly diverse communities. But like the much smaller Tumblr (which has long been dominated by lively and combative left-wing politics) or 4chan (which has become a virulent and effective hard-right meme factory) YouTube is host to just one dominant native political community: the YouTube right. This community takes the form of a loosely associated group of channels and personalities, connected mostly by shared political instincts and aesthetic sensibilities. They are monologuists, essayists, performers and vloggers who publish frequent dispatches from their living rooms, their studios or the field, inveighing vigorously against the political left and mocking the “mainstream media,” against which they are defined and empowered. They deplore “social justice warriors,” whom they credit with ruining popular culture, conspiring against the populace and helping to undermine “the West.” They are fixated on the subjects of immigration, Islam and political correctness. They seem at times more animated by President Trump’s opponents than by the man himself, with whom they share many priorities, if not a style. Some of their leading figures are associated with larger media companies, like Alex Jones’s Infowars or Ezra Levant’s Rebel Media. Others are independent operators who found their voices in the medium.

(The answer is to fill YouTube and other media with a competing, but intellectually superior, opposing view.)

The Washington Post rightly excoriates The man who may disenfranchise millions:

The day after last fall’s presidential election, Kris Kobach got to work. In an email plotting action items for the new Trump administration, Mr. Kobach, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas and a champion of voter suppression campaigns there and nationally, said he had “already started” drafting a key legislative change that would enable states to impose rules complicating registration for millions of new voters — exactly the sort of rules he had advanced in Kansas, with mixed success.

Writing to a Trump transition official, Mr. Kobach said he was preparing an amendment to the National Voter Registration Act to allow states to demand documentary proof of citizenship for new registrants. Despite years of litigation and adverse rulings from courts, that same requirement in Kansas, in effect since 2013, had blocked more than 30,000 people at least temporarily from registering and, in thousands of cases, from voting, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which studies voting issues and has contested Mr. Kobach’s moves in Kansas.

Nearly all of those blocked in Kansas were eligible U.S. citizens who simply lacked ready access to passports, birth certificates and other documents, as at least 5 percent of Americans do. Disproportionately, those lacking such documents are minorities and younger voters — groups that tend to back Democrats.

Mr. Kobach now leads a presidential commission on election integrity, established by President Trump after his groundless assertion that 3 million to 5?million people voted illegally last November. The commission, stacked with Kobach clones who have made voter suppression into a political cottage industry, could undertake various forms of mischief intended to impede voting. Few would be as effective, or as damaging to electoral participation, as fiddling with registration by changing the NVRA, known as the “motor voter” law.

Tech Insider’s time-lapses show how much America has changed:

Daily Bread for 8.3.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with a probability of afternoon thundershowers, and a high of seventy-eight. Sunrise is 5:49 AM and sunset 8:12 PM, for 14h 22m 42s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 84.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission meets at 6:30 PM.

Recommended for reading in full —

Denise Clifton offers A Chilling Theory on Trump’s Nonstop Lies:

“26 hours, 29 Trumpian False or Misleading Claims.”

That was the headline on a piece last week from the Washington Post, whose reporters continued the herculean task of debunking wave after wave of President Donald Trump’s lies. (It turned out there was a 30th Trump falsehood in that time frame, regarding the head of the Boy Scouts.) The New York Timeskeeps a running tally of the president’s lies since Inauguration Day, and PolitiFact has scrutinized and rated 69 percent of Trump’s statements as mostly false, false, or “pants on fire.”

Trump’s chronic duplicity may be pathological, as some experts have suggested. But what else might be going on here? In fact, the 45th president’s stream of lies echoes a contemporary form of Russian propaganda known as the “Firehose of Falsehood.”

In 2016, the nonpartisan research organization RAND released a study of messaging techniques seen in Kremlin-controlled media. The researchers described two key features: “high numbers of channels and messages” and “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions.”

The result of those tactics? “New Russian propaganda entertains, confuses and overwhelms the audience.”

(I’ve posted the RAND study previously; it bears repeating that Trump’s techniques are almost identical to Soviet and Russian ones.)

As a particular example of a Russian-style talking point, Hannah Levintova observes that The Trump Administration and Kremlin Responses to the New Russian Sanctions Are Very Similar:

In a statement last week, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Congress’ nearly unanimous approval of the sanctions bill indicates that “in certain circles” of US politics “Russophobia and the course of open confrontation with our country have become entrenched.” The ministry added, “[T]he new law on sanctions clearly showed that relations with Russia have become hostage to the internal political struggle within the United States itself.”

Seva Gunitsky, a political-science professor at the University of Toronto and Russia commentator, notes that “by saying things like ‘certain circles’ in Congress are pushing for these sanctions, they are still trying to appeal to Trump. They are saying, ‘Look, these sanctions are not really Trump’s fault; they are the Congress’ fault or the deep state’s fault.’ They don’t say it in those words, but that’s sort of implicit.”

Writing on his Facebook page on Wednesday, Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachev also eased Trump’s responsibility for the bill he just signed: “The news is mainly that Trump has given up,” he wrote, noting that Trump’s other option was to go against Congress.

Daniel Fried describes Russia’s Back-to-the-80s Foreign Policy (“Moscow has reprised Cold War tactics against the United States. It’s worth remembering that they didn’t work out well for the Soviet Union last time.”):

History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” The latest round of Russian-American embassy staff hits—Russia cut hundreds of U.S. Embassy employees in an escalatory response to U.S. expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last December—recall the big Soviet-American embassy staff expulsions of 1986. Few recall the details of these Reagan-era fights. But many remember that the 1980s ended badly for the Soviet Union.

And that is the point: Moscow now, like then, has been going down a dark road of confrontation with the United States and aggression elsewhere. As with the Soviets and reactionary tsars, external confrontation coincides with, and may be compensation for, stagnation at home. Putin’s tactics, like the demonization of the United States in Russian official media, appear recycled from the Cold War. Russian cyber hacking and disinformation recall Soviet “active measures” of the 1980s. Russia’s low-grade war in Ukraine is different from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (for one thing, the Ukrainians are fighting for a European future), but both aggressions triggered resistance on the ground and from the West. Russia’s leaders can try to convince their people, and themselves, that their ability to bully neighbors, repress dissenters, and shake their fists at the United States, is a sign of strength. But, just like in the mid-1980s, this won’t work.

Despite the hopes of the Soviet regime then and Putin’s regime now, the West is not on its last legs. The anti-European, pro-Russian French nationalist whom Putin supported lost badly in France’s elections this spring. Whatever deal Putin sought or thought he had with President Trump, the power of American institutions and long-term American interests in the success of certain values—including the rule of law, human rights, democracy, and the prosperity these generate—is likely to prevail, which will not help Putin. Neither Putin’s aggression abroad nor his repression at home will fix a stalled Russian economy still dependent on oil, gas, and other raw material exports, or a political system rooted in staggering corruption organized from the top.

Eugene Rumer writes that We’ve Seen This Movie Before. In Russia:

Conventional wisdom holds that the present situation in Washington is unprecedented. The hyperpartisanship, the dysfunctional administration, the accusations of conflicts of interests, the embattled and erratic White House and the president’s reliance on a small circle of trusted insiders, first and foremost his family, have stunned Washington and much of the country and the world. But veteran Russia-watchers have seen this before. They remember Russia in the 1990s.

The president, Boris Yeltsin, a charismatic figure often unable to control his impulses, was a prisoner of the Kremlin, or his out-of-town residence near Moscow. A heavy drinker, he was frequently reported to be unable to perform the duties of his office. He ended up relying on a small group of advisers who became known in Moscow as the “family.” At the center of it was his immediate family, who controlled access to him and his flow of information. First daughter Tatyana was his chief adviser and gatekeeper. Yeltsin’s press spokesman, Valentin Yumashev, who later married Tatyana and became Yeltsin’s chief of staff, was another key figure in the “family.” At one time or another, members of the “family” were reported to be under investigation by various Russian law enforcement agencies on suspicion of corruption. None ever went to trial, but allegations of corruption and ethical violations by those closest to Yeltsin became virtually an everyday feature of Russian political life, and in 1999 Yeltsin sacked the man in charge of the investigation.

(It’s worth noting that Yeltsin, at the right moment, defied the Communist party; Trump has never defied authoritarianism, even for a moment. Indeed, he daydreams of it. Yeltsin was the better, and Trump is the worse, man.)

From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, here’s What’s Up for August 2017:

Daily Bread for 8.2.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will see a likelihood of afternoon thundershowers and a high of eighty-one. Sunrise is 5:48 AM and sunset 8:13 PM, for 14h 24m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 76.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1939, Leó Szilárd and Albert Einstein send a letter to Pres. Roosevelt urging Roosevelt to consider an atomic bomb project in response to possible Nazi work along those lines:

On July 12, 1939, Szilárd and [Hungarian physicist Eugene] Wigner drove in Wigner’s car to Cutchogue on New York’s Long Island, where Einstein was staying.[9] When they explained about the possibility of atomic bombs, Einstein replied: Daran habe ich gar nicht gedacht (I did not even think about that).[10] Szilárd dictated a letter in German to the Belgian Ambassador to the United States. Wigner wrote it down, and Einstein signed it. At Wigner’s suggestion, they also prepared a letter for the State Departmentexplaining what they were doing and why, giving it two weeks to respond if it had any objections.[9]

This still left the problem of getting government support for uranium research. Another friend of Szilárd’s, the Austrian economist Gustav Stolper, suggested approaching Alexander Sachs, who had access to PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt. Sachs told Szilárd that he had already spoken to the President about uranium, but that Fermi and Pegram had reported that the prospects for building an atomic bomb were remote. He told Szilárd that he would deliver the letter, but suggested that it come from someone more prestigious. For Szilárd, Einstein was again the obvious choice.[6] Sachs and Szilárd drafted a letter riddled with spelling errors and mailed it to Einstein.[11]

Szilárd set out for Long Island again on August 2. Wigner was unavailable, so this time Szilárd co-opted another Hungarian physicist, Edward Teller, to do the driving. Einstein dictated the letter in German. On returning to Columbia University, Szilárd dictated the letter in English to a young departmental stenographer, Janet Coatesworth. She later recalled that when Szilárd mentioned extremely powerful bombs, she “was sure she was working for a nut”.[12] Ending the letter with “Yours truly, Albert Einstein” did nothing to alter this impression. Both the letter and a longer explanatory letter were then posted to Einstein.[12]

Recommended for reading in full:

Yascha Mounk writes that The Past Week Proves That Trump Is Destroying Our Democracy:

Over just a few days last week, President Trump and his allies stepped up attacks on Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the campaign’s connections to Russia. They tried to push Attorney General Jeff Sessions out of office. They thought out loud about whether the president can pardon himself.

This all points to the same conclusion: Mr. Trump is willing to deal a major blow to the rule of law — and the American Republic — in order to end an independent investigation into his Russia ties.

It is tempting to picture the demise of democracy as a Manichaean drama in which the stakes are clear from the start and the main actors fully understand their roles: Would-be dictators rail against democracy, hire violent thugs to do their bidding and vow to destroy the opposition. When they demand expanded powers or attack independent institutions, their supporters and opponents alike realize that authoritarianism has arrived.

There have, in fact, been a few times and places when the villains were quite as villainous, and the heroes quite as heroic. (Think Germany in the 1930s.) But in most cases, the demise of democracy has been far more gradual and far easier to overlook….

(Dark those these times are, yet one can still reasonably believe that there are in America enough who see this, and from among them enough who will resist.)

Philip Bump has for readers A timeline of the explosive lawsuit alleging a White House link in the Seth Rich conspiracy:

NPR’s David Folkenflik reported Tuesday morning on a lawsuit filed by a man named Rod Wheeler that makes a remarkable claim: The Trump White House — or President Trump personally — may have been aware of or involved in a discredited Fox News story about the killing of a Democratic National Committee staffer last July.

It’s a complicated story that, we hasten to add, is based on allegations in a lawsuit filed by a person whose quotes in that discredited story were themselves discredited. But the lawsuit includes documentary evidence (like text messages), and Folkenflik was given access to recorded calls that bolster the story as presented. What’s more, the lawsuit is predicated on Wheeler’s assertion that he never said the quotes attributed to him.

Given the complexity of the story, we’ve taken the details in the lawsuit and arranged them as a timeline. First, though, it’s important to understand the cast of characters [charcaters and timeline follow]…

Margaret Sullivan observes that You don’t have to believe everything in that Seth Rich lawsuit. What’s been confirmed is bad enough:

Now, though, we know that Spicer [despite his denial on 5.16.17] was indeed aware that Fox News was cooking up a story that would eventually be amplified and twisted into a huge, baseless conspiracy theory.

And — if you choose to believe everything in the lawsuit by former police investigator and Fox contributor Rod Wheeler — President Trump himself encouraged the bogus story in advance. (Wheeler’s suit claims he was misquoted by the network.)

At its most outrageous, the conspiracy theory that grew out of that initial Fox story suggested that Hillary Clinton arranged to have Rich assassinated after he betrayed the DNC by sending internal information to WikiLeaks during the campaign. All of this was based on the idea that an internal mole betrayed the DNC and that Russian hackers had nothing to do with it.

Let’s be clear: There’s no basis for that craziness and never has been. Although the killing remains unsolved, D.C. police continue to view the shooting of 27-year-old Rich as part of a botched robbery attempt.

Garrison Keillor reassuringly believes that We will survive this:

So. We have a vulgar, unstable yo-yo with a toxic ego and an attention-deficit problem in the White House, and now we can see that government by Twitter is like trying to steer a ship by firing a pistol at the waves — not really useful — but what does it all add up to? Not that much, if you ask me, which you didn’t, but I’ll say it anyway.

 We will survive this. He will do what damage he can, like a man burning books out of anger that he can’t read, but there will still be plenty of books left….
(I’d say that Keillor’s right that we’ll prevail in this, but not – as he believes – by thinking of other, better things. We’ll prevail when Trump meets his political demise, as he will through the efforts of millions of Americans committed to defending our constitutional order in active opposition to Trumpism.)

Adam [Conover] Ruins Everything takes on the Myers-Briggs test:

(Obvious point: Conover’s is a comedy program, not a scholarly analysis. It’s clever as it is, taken the way it’s offered.)

Daily Bread for 8.1.17

Good morning.

A new month in Whitewater begins with partly cloudy skies and a high of eighty-one. Sunrise is 5:47 AM and sunset 8:14 PM, for 14h 27m 14s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 68.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

The Whitewater Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1790, the first United States Census finds just under four million people in the country. On this day in 1832, the steamboat Warrior blocks Black Hawk’s escape across the Mississippi.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig, Philip Rucker and Tom Hamburger report that Trump dictated son’s misleading statement on meeting with Russian lawyer:

Flying home from Germany on July 8 aboard Air Force One, Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said that he and the Russian lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children” when they met in June 2016, according to multiple people with knowledge of the deliberations. The statement, issued to the New York Times as it prepared an article, emphasized that the subject of the meeting was “not a campaign issue at the time.”

Over the next three days, multiple accounts of the meeting were provided to the news media as public pressure mounted, with Trump Jr. ultimately acknowledging that he had accepted the meeting after receiving an emailpromising damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to help his father’s campaign.

The extent of the president’s personal intervention in his son’s response, the details of which have not previously been reported, adds to a series of actions that Trump has taken that some advisers fear could place him and some members of his inner circle in legal jeopardy.

David Folkenflik reports from Behind Fox News’ Baseless Seth Rich Story: The Untold Tale:

The Fox News Channel and a wealthy supporter of President Trump worked in concert under the watchful eye of the White House to concoct a story about the murder of a young Democratic National Committee aide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The explosive claim is part of the lawsuit filed against Fox News by Rod Wheeler, a longtime paid commentator for the news network. The suit was obtained exclusively by NPR.

Wheeler alleges Fox News and the Trump supporter intended to deflect public attention from growing concern about the administration’s ties to the Russian government. His suit charges that a Fox News reporter created quotations out of thin air and attributed them to him to propel her story.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) writes My Party Is in Denial About Donald Trump:

Who could blame the people who felt abandoned and ignored by the major parties for reaching in despair for a candidate who offered oversimplified answers to infinitely complex questions and managed to entertain them in the process? With hindsight, it is clear that we all but ensured the rise of Donald Trump.

I will let the liberals answer for their own sins in this regard. (There are many.) But we conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure. It was we conservatives who, upon Obama’s election, stated that our No. 1 priority was not advancing a conservative policy agenda but making Obama a one-term president—the corollary to this binary thinking being that his failure would be our success and the fortunes of the citizenry would presumably be sorted out in the meantime. It was we conservatives who were largely silent when the most egregious and sustained attacks on Obama’s legitimacy were leveled by marginal figures who would later be embraced and legitimized by far too many of us. It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial.

I’ve been sympathetic to this impulse to denial, as one doesn’t ever want to believe that the government of the United States has been made dysfunctional at the highest levels, especially by the actions of one’s own party. Michael Gerson, a con­servative columnist and former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote, four months into the new presidency, “The conservative mind, in some very visible cases, has become diseased,” and conservative institutions “with the blessings of a president … have abandoned the normal constraints of reason and compassion”….

(I’ll assume that Flake is sincere in his views, but much more will have to be done than for a conservative senator to write remorsefully about Trumpism. Flake’s party nominated Trump, and attended his inauguration; by contrast, many millions of us have opposed and resisted him all the while.)

Bret Stephens writes of The ‘No Guardrails’ Presidency:

Trumpism wasn’t just some bottom-up movement. It, too, had its professors, politicians and journalistic commentators — the theoreticians, enablers, sanctifiers, excuse makers and Never Never-Trumpers — who gave the movement a patina of intellectual respectability and moral seriousness that Trump himself had done nothing to earn.

They are our new Antinomians, who believe the president and his administration are bound by no law, even the Mosaic one, because they have already been saved by a new version of grace — in this case, the grace of defeating Hillary Clinton. Thought exercise for Trump’s media defenders: If the president were to sexually assault a woman in the Oval Office tomorrow, would you still justify your vote on the view that Neil Gorsuch’s elevation to the Supreme Court made it all worthwhile?

“The first duty of a revolutionist is to get away with it,” Abbie Hoffman said in Chicago in 1968. This might as well be the slogan of this administration and its supporters, too.

In the meantime, we have a “No Guardrails” presidency, in which Trump’s contempt for law, procedure and decorum are a license for the behavior of his minions and a model for future American demagogues and their apologists.

Man meets bears, narrates:

Daily Bread for 7.31.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-two. Sunrise is 5:46 AM and sunset 8:15 PM, for 14h 29m 27s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 58,9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1930, The Shadow, the narrator of the Detective Story Hour, first goes on the air: “The narrator was initially voiced by James LaCurto,[6] who was replaced after four months by prolific character actor Frank Readick Jnr. The episodes were drawn from the Detective Story Magazine issued by Street and Smith, “the nation’s oldest and largest publisher of pulp magazines.” Although the latter company had hoped the radio broadcasts would boost the declining sales of Detective Story Magazine, the result was quite different. Listeners found the sinister announcer much more compelling than the unrelated stories. They soon began asking newsdealers for copies of “that Shadow detective magazine,” even though it did not exist.”

On this day in 1967, Lake Geneva bans go-go girls (“the Lake Geneva city government passed an ordinance banning go-go girls, dancers in bikinis, and swimsuit-clad waitresses from working in establishments that served alcohol”).

Recommended for reading in full —

The Washington Post editorial board observes that Russian propaganda has flooded U.S. airwaves. How about some reciprocity?:

The asymmetry is a problem. Mr. Putin’s government, intent on undermining liberal democracies by casting doubt on the very notion of truth, and sowing division and doubt about basic Western institutions, has become increasingly adept at weaponizing information. U.S. intelligence agencies have called attention to Moscow’s fake news campaign, as have U.S. allies in Europe.

Yet in the realm of U.S.-Russian international news, reciprocity seems absent from Mr. Trump’s radar. A 24/7 Russian-language television venture produced by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, called Current Time, has been up and running for several months, producing high-quality news, but is available only online.

The asymmetry is a problem. Mr. Putin’s government, intent on undermining liberal democracies by casting doubt on the very notion of truth, and sowing division and doubt about basic Western institutions, has become increasingly adept at weaponizing information. U.S. intelligence agencies have called attention to Moscow’s fake news campaign, as have U.S. allies in Europe.

Mattathais Schwartz reports that Internal Documents Show How the Nation’s Top Spy Is Instructed to Talk About Trump:

ProPublica has obtained internal talking points, apparently written by one of Coats’ aides, anticipating questions that [NBC’s Lester] Holt was likely to ask. They offer a window into the euphemisms and evasions necessary to handle a pressing issue for Coats: how to lead the intelligence community at a time when the president has insulted it on Twitter and denigrated its work while questions about Russian influence consume ever more time and attention in Washington. Sixteen of the 26 questions addressed by the talking points concerned internal White House politics, the Russia investigation, or the president himself. One question put the challenges facing Coats this way: “How can you work as DNI for a president that undermines your work?”

DNI spokesman Brian Hale told ProPublica that the 17-page document was a small, unclassified part of “a thick binder” of preparation documents for Coats’ interview. The other pieces, according to Hale, “had substantive material on Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea.” The talking points document, he said, “was designed to address the questions we anticipated being asked because of the news cycle.”

….In the talking points, Coats was advised to say that he and the president have “a trusted relationship,” framing any disagreements as constructive ones. “We may not always agree,” the document stated. “We must maintain an open dialogue … the relationship portrayed in the media between the president and the intelligence community is a far cry from what I have personally experienced and witnessed … there is a healthy dialogue and a good back and forth discussion.”

David Sanger writes that Putin’s Bet on a Trump Presidency Backfires Spectacularly:

President Vladimir V. Putin bet that Donald J. Trump, who had spoken fondly of Russia and its authoritarian leader for years, would treat his nation as Mr. Putin has longed to have it treated by the West. That is, as the superpower it once was, or at least a major force to be reckoned with, from Syria to Europe, and boasting a military revived after two decades of neglect.

That bet has now backfired, spectacularly. If the sanctions overwhelmingly passed by Congress last week sent any message to Moscow, it was that Mr. Trump’s hands are now tied in dealing with Moscow, probably for years to come.

Just weeks after the two leaders spent hours in seemingly friendly conversation in Hamburg, Germany, the prospect of the kinds of deals Mr. Trump once mused about in interviews seems more distant than ever. Congress is not ready to forgive the annexation of Crimea, nor allow extensive reinvestment in Russian energy. The new sanctions were passed by a coalition of Democrats who blame Mr. Putin for contributing to Hillary Clinton’s defeat and Republicans fearful that their president misunderstands who he is dealing with in Moscow.

Fred Hiatt asks readers to Behold the Trump boomerang effect:

Once you start looking, you find the boomerang at work in many surprising places. Trump’s flirting with a ban on Muslim immigration encouraged federal judges to encroach on executive power over visa policy. Firing FBI Director James B. Comey entrenched the Russia investigation far more deeply. Withdrawing from the Paris climate treaty spurred states from California to Virginia to toughen their policies on global warming. Threatening the research budget may have strengthened the National Institutes of Health’s hand in Washington. And so on.

The boomerang effect is no panacea. Trump can still do grave damage at home and abroad in the next 3½ years. If he undermined Obamacare, millions of people would suffer before we got to single-payer. Nationalist governments ensconced in parts of Eastern Europe could still draw strength from Trump. The absence of U.S. leadership in the world leaves ample ground for others to cause trouble.

But Trump’s policies are turning against him, and not only because his execution has been so ham-handed. The key factor is that so many of his policies run so counter to the grain of cherished values and ideals.

Tech Insider explains Why most planes are white:

Daily Bread for 7.30.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of eighty-one. Sunrise is 5:45 AM and sunset 8:17 PM, for 14h 31m 38s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 48.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1619, the first European-style legislative assembly in the Americas “convened for a six-day meeting at the church on Jamestown Island, Virginia. A council chosen by the Virginia Company as advisers to the governor, the Virginia Governor’s Council, met as a sort of “upper house,” while 22 locally elected representatives met as the House of Burgesses. Together, the House of Burgesses and the Council would be the Virginia General Assembly.”

Recommended for reading in full —

April Glaser observes that The New Wisconsin Foxconn Plant Will Probably Be Staffed By Robots—if It Ever Gets Built:

For one, Foxconn has a track record of promising factories to cities in need of jobs and not coming through. It happened in 2013 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when Foxconn promised a $30 million factory that would employ 500 workers. The announcement made headlines, adding to both Foxconn’s and the Pennsylvania politicians’ political capital, but it was never actually built, and there’s no sign it will ever happen. Very little was made of the deal’s quiet death. It also happened in Vietnam in 2007 and Indonesia in 2014.

Even if a plant gets built, it could fall short of expectations. In 2011, Foxconn promised a plant in Brazil that was projected to create 1000,000 jobs. In 2015, the factory reported it employed roughly 3,000 people, and the company never explained why it fell short of its projections, according to Reuters.

Last year, Foxconn boasted that it replaced 60,000 workers with robots at asingle factory in China. The company even makes its own industrial robots, dubbed Foxbots, that work on its assembly lines. Foxconn was making about 10,000 Foxbots a year in 2015.

Sarah Kendzior explains How Trump fulfilled a 30-year fantasy of becoming president, with a little help from the Kremlin:

As the Trump family faces political pressure and criminal inquiries, it is important to debunk the neophyte myth and take a look back at how Trump entered the political stage – because the same players who propelled him thirty years ago played a vital role in both the 2016 election and the Russian interference scandal.

That Trump uses ignorance as an excuse for negligence and criminal behavior is bad enough, but Trump is not ignorant. There is a grey area between moron and mastermind, and he occupies it. What he lacks in geopolitical acumen he makes up for in his ability to manipulate the political system to benefit himself – and he was groomed by some of the US’s most notorious operatives to do so.

 on Trump paints a damning portrait of Trump’s presidential ambitions, which he had announced that year. “He’d love to be president, but only if he were appointed,” one friend told the magazine. A second source warned of the consequences: “He is a dangerous man… he’s the type who’d make the trains run on time,” said John Moore, an attorney who fought a tenant dispute with Trump. A second friend accurately forecast Trump’s ceaseless ambition: “No achievement can satisfy what he wants. What he wants still is acceptance from his father. He is playing out his insecurities on an incredibly large canvas.”

Steve Rosenberg asks Could Putin prove to be Trump’s fatal attraction?:

When it began, Donald Trump’s presidency looked very pretty to Moscow. The Russians expected that America’s new leader would herald a new era in US-Russian cooperation.

At the time, a news anchor on Russian State TV described Trump as “an Alpha male… a real man.” The day after America’s presidential election, one Russian state official told me that she had celebrated Trump’s victory with a cigar and a bottle of champagne.

But, after six months of President Trump, US sanctions against Russia remain in place.

The two Russian diplomatic compounds, closed by President Obama last December, remain shut. And the idea of a “Grand Deal” with America, much hoped for here at the start of the Trump presidency, has disappeared from the pages of the Russian dailies.

Natasha Bertrand reports that Former officials say something ‘insidious’ is brewing between the White House and DOJ:

As Carrie Cordero, a former DOJ counsel, wrote recently, Trump’s feud with the Justice Department long predated Scaramucci’s appointment and the events of the past week.

Cordero noted that Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates in January when she refused to defend his executive order on immigration and that he dismissed Comey after he refused to state publicly that Trump was not personally under FBI investigation.

In an op-ed on Friday, Yates warned against the White House encroaching on the DOJ.

“The spectacle of President Trump’s now daily efforts to humiliate the attorney general into resigning has transfixed the country,” Yates wrote. “But while we are busy staring at the wreckage of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ relationship with the man he supported for the presidency, there is something more insidious happening.”

Deborah Acosta reports on Venezuela on the Brink:

Daily Bread for 7.29.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 5:44 AM and sunset is 8:18 PM, for 14h 33m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 39.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1588, the English defeat the Spanish Armada in the Battle of Gravelines. On this day in 1863, the 13th Wisconsin Infantry fights in a skirmish at Fort Donelson, Tennessee.

Recommended for reading in full —

Annie Lowrey assesses the economics of the Wisconsin’s latest corporate handout in Foxconned:

….tax incentives tend to sap state coffers without necessarily generating good jobs or creating positive spillovers in the regional economy—both things that would boost a state’s tax revenues and thus help justify the investment. “Incentives are still far too broadly provided to many firms that do not pay high wages, do not provide many jobs, and are unlikely to have research spin-offs,” argues Timothy J. Bartik of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a labor-market research organization, in a major analysis of such state and local tax breaks. “Too many incentives excessively sacrifice the long-term tax base of state and local economies. Too many incentives are refundable and without real budget limits. States devote relatively few resources to incentives that are services, such as customized job training.”

Plus, states rarely seem to consider whether the money they lavish on corporations might be better spent elsewhere—on public goods like bridges, say, or educational initiatives for their workforces. “If offering more tax incentives requires spending less on public education, congestion-relieving infrastructure projects, workforce development, police and fire protection, or high technology initiatives at public universities, the overall impact on a state’s economy could actually be negative,” argues the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonprofit research group. “While the long-term economic benefits of education and infrastructure investments may not be as flashy as incentive-backed ribbon-cutting ceremonies, these investments are even more fundamental to any successful economy.”

All of these things might be true of the Foxconn deal—and one way or another, 3,000 or 13,000 jobs does not a manufacturing renaissance make. If it even happens: Foxconn made a splashy and lavishly praised promise to build a new high-tech factory in central Pennsylvania a few years ago. It never followed through.

Molly Beck reports that a pending Bill significantly rolls back environmental rules for Foxconn:

Despite $3 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies, technology giant Foxconn would be given wide latitude to bypass state environmental regulations in building and operating its 1,000-acre electronics manufacturing plant in southeastern Wisconsin under a proposal from Gov. Scott Walker.

Walker unveiled the sprawling bill Friday as he called lawmakers to convene a special legislative session to pass the measure aimed at speeding up construction of Foxconn’s planned liquid-crystal display panel factory.

The bill lawmakers will consider as early as Tuesday allows the company to move or change the course of streams, build man-made bodies of water that connect with natural waterways and discharge materials in state wetlands without authorization from the state Department of Natural Resources. It exempts the company from being subject to an environmental impact statement.

Richard Engel reports that the Russian Kaspersky Lab faces new scrutiny, suspicion:

Miles Parks reports that a Businessman Paints A Terrifying And Complex Picture Of Putin’s Russia:

Much of Thursday’s hearing was spent getting at the bigger question: Why is the Russian president so fixated on the Magnitsky Act?

There are two reasons, according to Browder:

The first is purely financial. Browder believes Putin is the richest man in the world, with an assortment of assets worth what Browder estimates to be $200 billion at his disposal, but those assets are “held all over the world” including in America. When the accounts of Putin’s intermediaries are frozen because of the law, that is in effect, freezing some of Putin’s cash flow as well.

The second is that the banking sanctions imposed by the law devalue Putin’s promises, and so decrease his power. Putin gets his intermediaries to “arrest, kidnap, torture and kill” by promising absolute impunity, Browder said. But the law’s sanctions create a tangible consequence. Not only do the sanctions affect violators vis-a-vis their U.S. dealings, but, internationally, other banks abide by a sanctions list put out by the Treasury Department that includes those found to have violated the Magnitsky Act, Browder explained to lawmakers. “As a result, you basically become a financial pariah,” he said.

“This is a war of ideology between rule of law and criminality,” Browder also told the senators. “And if we allow all the corrupt money to come here, then it’s going to corrupt us until we end up like them.”

BBC Earth shows how Whales, Sharks, Dolphins and Sea Lions snack on sardines: