Daily Bread for 9.4.17

Good morning.

Labor Day in Whitewater will bring a high of seventy-seven, with a one-third chance of isolated thunderstorms. Sunrise is 6:23 AM and sunset 7:22 PM, for 12h 58m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 96.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1957, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to prevent nine black students from entering Central High School in Little Rock.

Recommended for reading in full —

John Wagner observes that In action after action, Trump appeals primarily to his dwindling base:

President Trump pardoned a tough-on-immigration Arizona sheriff accused of racial profiling. He threatened a government shutdown if Congress won’t deliver border wall funding. He banned transgender people from serving in the military. And he is expected to end a program that shields from deportation young undocumented immigrants who consider the United States home.

These and other moves — all since Trump’s widely repudiated remarks about the hate-fueled violence in Charlottesville less than a month ago — are being heartily cheered by many of his core supporters. But collectively, they have helped cement an image of a president, seven months into his term, who is playing only to his political base.

Trump’s job-approval numbers remain mired in the 30s in most polls, and several new findings last week gave Republicans interested in expanding the party’s appeal fresh reason to worry. A Fox News survey, for example, found that majorities of voters think that Trump is “tearing the country apart” and does not respect racial minorities….

(Trump is playing to his base, and what’s left of that lumpen band is the very worst among us: ignorant, bigoted, xenophobic, excuse-making, unproductive. Trump’s glass now contains only the dregs.)

Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno writes that Trump Sells Snake Oil on Opioids:

….In a number of remarks, President Trump has stressed his priorities: ramping up federal drug prosecutions, getting “very, very tough” on the southern border and targeting the “pretty tough hombres” he says are responsible for the opioid crisis. His approach is all about doubling down on the most extreme policies of the failed war on drugs. And it’s a craven betrayal of those people in New Hampshire, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and other states hard hit by opioid overdoses, where Trump’s preferred policies will do nothing to stem the wave of deaths he claims are his priority.

The reality is that the war on drugs — the billions of dollars that have been poured into the enforcement of laws criminalizing drug use, production, and distribution since the 1970s — has never actually prevented drug abuse. Drug use fluctuates but has largely remained steady over the decades. And far from preventing violence, the drug war has driven up drug profits, providing an endless source of wealth for international organized crime.

What the war on drugs has done very effectively is devastate black and Latino communities. Across the country, it has served as the justification for heavier policing of black neighborhoods in particular, even though black and white people use drugs at similar rates. Millions have been arrested, torn from their families, imprisoned, saddled with criminal records, deported, and even killed in the name of drug prohibition….

Nafeesa Syeed reports that Pro-Russian Bots Sharpen Online Attacks for 2018 U.S. Vote:

….“They haven’t stood still since 2016,” said Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow in information defense at the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council in Washington, which tracked the activity. “People have woken up to the idea that bots equal influence and lots of people will be wanting to be influencing the midterms.”

While special counsel and former FBI chief Robert Mueller keeps investigating the 2016 race, Nimmo’s work is among a number of initiatives cropping up at think tanks, startups, and even the Pentagon seeking to grasp how bots and influence operations are rapidly evolving. Blamed for steering political debate last year, bots used for Russian propaganda and other causes are only becoming more emboldened, researchers say.

They’re preparing “and sowing seeds of discord” and “potentially laying the groundwork for what they’re going to do in 2018 or 2020,” said Laura Rosenberger, senior fellow and director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund….

Lawrence Summers contends that It’s time to balance the power between workers and employers:

….What can be done? This surely is not the moment for lawmakers to further strengthen the hand of large employers over their employees. Sooner or later — and preferably sooner — labor-law reform should be back on the national agenda, especially to punish employers who engage in firing organizers. We should also encourage union efforts to organize people in nontraditional ways, even when they do not involve formal collective bargaining. And policymakers should support institutions such as employee stock ownership plans, where workers have a chance to share in profits and in corporate governance.

In an era when the most valuable companies are the Apples and the Amazons rather than the General Motors and the General Electrics, the role of unions cannot go back to being what it was. But on this Labor Day, any leader concerned with the American middle class needs to consider that the basic function of unions, balancing the power of employers and employees, is as important to our economy as it has ever been….

Great Big Story shows How the Japanese Craft the World’s Hardest Food:

Daily Bread for 9.3.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty. Sunrise is 6:22 AM and 7:24 PM, for 13h 01m 45 of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 92% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1783, representatives of the United States and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War. Britain ceded land including present-day Wisconsin to the United States.

Recommended for reading in full —

Nina Burleigh reports that Trump’s Claim that Obama Wiretapped His campaign is False:  U.S. Department of Justice:

In a stunning filing last night [Friday, 9.1], the Department of Justice stated in a court case that neither the FBI nor its National Security Division ever wiretapped Trump Tower, contradicting a bombshell claim President Trump made in a series of early morning tweets on March 4.

The document is the first time the Department of Justice has officially denied the substance of the Tweets. Former FBI Director James Comey had already denied that the FBI ever wiretapped Trump.

“Both FBI and NSD confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps as described by the March 4, 2017 tweets.” the filing states….

Jason Dearen and Michael Biesecker report that Toxic waste sites near Houston flooded by Harvey, EPA not on scene:

….The Associated Press surveyed seven Superfund sites in and around Houston during the flooding. All had been inundated with water, in some cases many feet deep.On Saturday, hours after the AP published its first report, the EPA said it had reviewed aerial imagery confirming that 13 of the 41 Superfund sites in Texas were flooded by Harvey and were “experiencing possible damage” due to the storm.

The statement confirmed the AP’s reporting that the EPA had not yet been able to physically visit the Houston-area sites, saying the sites had “not been accessible by response personnel.” EPA staff had checked on two Superfund sites in Corpus Christi on Thursday and found no significant damage….

Kimberly Kindy, Sari Horwitz and Devlin Barrett write that the Federal government has long ignored white supremacist threats, critics say:

On June 3, 2014, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. restarted a long-dormant domestic terrorism task force created after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. A former Ku Klux Klan leader had just murdered three people near a Jewish Community Center in a Kansas City suburb and yelled “Heil Hitler” as police took him into custody.

For too long, Holder said, the federal government had narrowly focused on Islamist threats and had lost sight of the “continued danger we face” from violent far-right extremists.

But three years later, it is unclear what, if anything the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee has done, despite expectations that its reanimation would better focus efforts throughout the Justice Department to disrupt and detect plots in a more centralized way, as was already being done by the department and FBI when it came to hunting Islamist terrorists.

Krishnadev Calamur considers North Korea’s Nuclear Test: What We Know and Don’t Know:

….The U.S. Geological Survey said it detected a tremor with a magnitude of 6.3 after the North’s test at 12:36 p.m., local time, at the Punggye-ri underground test site, in the northwest of the country. South Korea estimated the magnitude at 5.7—lower, but still “five to six times more powerful than” the North’s previous test in September 2016, said Lee Mi-Sun, the head of South Korea’s Meteorological Administration’s earthquake and volcano center. A second, weaker tremor, which came minutes after the first, likely indicated the “collapse” of tunnels at the test site, the USGS and South Korean officials said.

Notwithstanding North Korea’s claim that it tested a hydrogen bomb—which is far more powerful than the atomic bombs typically tested—it’s not clear if it was an actual hydrogen bomb that was detonated Sunday. The last time the North claimed to have detonated a hydrogen bomb was in January 2016, but many experts say that was a bomb “boosted” using tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that produces a higher yield during explosions. South Korean officials said the nuclear blast yield of Sunday’s test was between 50 and 60 kilotons, lower than the yield for a real hydrogen bomb, which can be in the range of 10,000 kilotons. This assessment would suggest that the bomb tested Sunday was not a true hydrogen bomb. But other estimates of the yield are higher.

Either way: What is known is the weapon is far more powerful than anything the Kim regime has previously tested, and that, combined with its regular ICBM tests with increasing range, makes the North a very threatening adversary. But perhaps still not an imminent one.

Today I Found Out recounts When the Beatles Were Pelted with Jelly Beans:

Daily Bread for 9.2.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of sixty-eight. Sunrise is 6:21 AM and sunset 7:26 PM, for 13h 04m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 85.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1945, Imperial Japan formally surrenders in ceremonies aboard the USS Missouri.

On this day in 1862, rumors of an Indian attack worry some Wisconsinites: “Manitowoc settlers were awakened to the cry of “Indians are coming.” Messengers on horseback arrived from the Rapids, Branch, Kellnersville, and other nearby communities, announcing that Indians were burning everything in their path, starting what was known as the “Indian Scare of 1862.” Fire and church bells gave warning to frightened residents. Over the next few days, people from the surrounding areas fled to Manitowoc and other city centers. Ox carts were loaded with women and children carrying their most valuable belongings. Men arrived with guns, axes, and pitchforks, anything with which to defend themselves and their community. A company of recruits from the Wisconsin 26th Regiment formed themselves into two scouting units, both of which returned to report that there was no threat of an Indian attack. Even after the excitement had subsided, many frightened farm families could not be persuaded to return home.”

Recommended for reading in full —

The calls started flooding in from hundreds of irate North Carolina voters just after 7 a.m. on Election Day last November.

Dozens were told they were ineligible to vote and were turned away at the polls, even when they displayed current registration cards. Others were sent from one polling place to another, only to be rejected. Scores of voters were incorrectly told they had cast ballots days earlier. In one precinct, voting halted for two hours.

Susan Greenhalgh, a troubleshooter at a nonpartisan election monitoring group, was alarmed. Most of the complaints came from Durham, a blue-leaning county in a swing state. The problems involved electronic poll books — tablets and laptops, loaded with check-in software, that have increasingly replaced the thick binders of paper used to verify voters’ identities and registration status. She knew that the company that provided Durham’s software, VR Systems, had been penetrated by Russian hackers months before….

Jennifer Rubin asks That’s all Trump’s lawyers have?:

The Wall Street Journal reported this week on two memos President Trump’s lawyers prepared for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III:

One memo submitted to Mr. Mueller by the president’s legal team in June laid out the case that Mr. Trump has the inherent authority under the constitution to hire and fire as he sees fit and therefore didn’t obstruct justice when he fired Mr. Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in May, these people said.

Another memo submitted the same month outlined why Mr. Comey would make an unsuitable witness, calling him prone to exaggeration, unreliable in congressional testimony and the source of leaks to the news media, these people said.

As legal arguments, these are pathetic. Taking the last one first, arguing to Comey’s long-time colleague Mueller that Comey is a liar won’t win the day, nor does it pass the laugh test. Comey’s testimony will be lined up against written evidence and other witness testimony and actually may come out looking even more credible as a result. This is the sort of weak assertion one would make on Sean Hannity’s show; it’s not worthy of consideration by Mueller or any other serious prosecutor.

The “he can fire at will” argument is obviously flawed for at least three reasons. The argument is so bad one wonders if the Trump team is not ready for prime time or is simply trying to provide fodder for his cult-like following to support him if he tries to fire Mueller.

Bill Buzenberg catches readers up on All the Trump-Russia News You May Have Missed:

As crises both national and international have set in this month, Trump has been on a tear, from his comments blaming “both sides” for the deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, to his brazen pardon of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio as Hurricane Harvey bore down on Texas. Somewhat lost in the fire and fury (literally) has been a series of consequential developments concerning the multiple ongoing investigations into Team Trump’s ties to and possible collusion with Russia.

Perhaps the biggest of the bunch: On August 27, the Washington Post reported that Trump was actively pursuing a deal to build a “massive” Trump Tower in Moscow while campaigning for the presidency. And the New York Times exposed a series of emails between Trump’s business associate Felix Sater and his lawyer Michael Cohen, in which Sater boasted about how the Moscow deal could help Trump win the White House. “Our boy can become president of the USA,” Sater wrote, “and we can engineer it.”

Here are some of the other Russia investigation-related developments you may have missed in recent weeks: [list follows]….

Ronald Brownstein writes of Why a Republican Pollster Is Losing Faith in Her Party:

“There are still enough good people inside … that I agree with that I am still staying,” Anderson told me recently. “But I am significantly less convinced that I am going to succeed in this effort. [That’s] because at the same moment somebody like me is becoming very disheartened, there are voters who are thinking, ‘This is the Republican Party I have been waiting for.’ If I pack up my toys and go home, there are people in red MAGA hats who would be saying, ‘Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.’”

Anderson’s fear is that in a rapidly diversifying America, Trump is stamping the GOP as a party of white racial backlash—and that too much of the party’s base is comfortable with that. Trump’s morally stunted response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month unsettled her. But she was even more unnerved by polls showing that most Republican voters defended his remarks.

“What has really shaken me in recent weeks is the consistency in polling where I see Republican voters excusing really bad things because their leader has excused them,” she told me. “[Massachusetts Governor] Charlie Baker, [UN Ambassador] Nikki Haley, [Illinois Representative] Adam Kinzinger—I want to be in the party with them. But in the last few weeks it has become increasingly clear to me that most Republican voters are not in that camp. They are in the Trump camp.”

The portion of the party coalition willing to tolerate, if not actively embrace, white nationalism “is larger than most mainstream Republicans have ever been willing to grapple with,” she added….

(Well, Trumpism is a white nationalist movement. White nationalism has no future, as it’s both ideologically immoral and fundamentally composed of the worst of America: bigoted, ignorant, autocratic, self-pitying, excuse-making, unproductive. There is no better refutation of the empty conceit of a master race than to review video of Trump’s rabid supporters at one of his rallies.)

Great Big Story shares a story of The Artist Keeping Neon Aglow in the Heart of Texas:

Daily Bread for 9.1.17

Good morning.

A new month begins in Whitewater under partly cloudy skies with a high of seventy-one. Sunrise is 6:20 AM and sunset 7:28 PM, for 13h 07m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 78.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1939, the Second World War begins as Nazi Germany invades Poland. On this day in 1875, Edgar Rice Burroughs is born. Burroughs used the Midwest in his stories: “In chapter 27 of “Tarzan of the Apes”, Burroughs depicts Tarzan saving Jane from a forest fire in Wisconsin. ”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Chris Smith observes that Robert Mueller’s Lines of Attack Are Getting Clearer:

Robert Mueller is not ending the summer with a tan. The 73-year-old special counsel leading the sprawling Department of Justice investigation into alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia is keeping the same grueling hours he did a decade ago as director of the F.B.I. Mueller is among the first of his team to arrive in their borrowed offices inside Washington’s Patrick Henry office building every morning and one of the last to leave each night.

More of what’s going on behind Mueller’s office door is showing up in public, though, a sign of the growing momentum of his probes into possible collusion, money laundering, election hacking, and obstruction of justice. NBC News reported that Mueller has obtained notes from the phone of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, that include a cryptic reference to “donations” and “RNC.” The notes were apparently taken during a meeting with Russian nationals at Trump Tower. And Politico’s Josh Dawsey broke the news that Mueller has begun working with the office of New York state’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman. (The offices of Mueller and Schneiderman declined to comment.)

The special counsel’s staff had been in touch with Schneiderman’s office for months, exchanging information and discussing whether they might coordinate their efforts, because the attorney general has spent years looking into Trump’s finances. He added to that knowledge in March by hiring Howard Master, who had been deputy chief of the criminal division under former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Bharara’s office had assembled a major money-laundering case against 11 Russian companies; the scheme had been uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in a Moscow jail under mysterious circumstances. A defense lawyer who represented the Russian companies, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was part of the now-famous Trump Tower meeting, supposedly to discuss adoptions, during last year’s presidential campaign….

Andrew Prokop offers Paul Manafort’s central role in the Trump-Russia investigation, explained (“Why Robert Mueller appears to be zeroing in on the former Trump campaign manager”):

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation about Russian collusion has increasingly appeared to zero in on one particular Trump associate: Paul Manafort.

In July, we learned that Manafort — Trump’s former campaign manager — attended a meeting Donald Trump Jr. set up with a Russian lawyer last year to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. Later that month, the FBI raided Manafort’s house for documents. His business associates, from PR firms to his former lawyer and his current spokesperson, are being slammed with subpoenas from Mueller’s team. Even Manafort’s son-in-law has reportedly been approached and asked to cooperate with the investigation.

“If I represented Paul Manafort, I would conclude that my client has significant criminal liability,” says Renato Mariotti, a partner at Thompson Coburn and a former prosecutor for a US Attorney’s office in Illinois….

David Kocieniewski and Caleb Melby report Kushners’ China Deal Flop Was Part of Much Bigger Hunt for Cash

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, wakes up each morning to a growing problem that will not go away. His family’s real estate business, Kushner Cos., owes hundreds of millions of dollars on a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue. It has failed to secure foreign investors, despite an extensive search, and its resources are more limited than generally understood. As a result, the company faces significant challenges.

Over the past two years, executives and family members have sought substantial overseas investment from previously undisclosed places: South Korea’s sovereign-wealth fund, France’s richest man, Israeli banks and insurance companies, and exploratory talks with a Saudi developer, according to former and current executives. These were in addition to previously reported attempts to raise money in China and Qatar.

The family, once one of the largest landlords on the East Coast, sold thousands of apartments to finance its purchase of the tower in 2007 and has borrowed extensively for other purchases. They are walking away from a Brooklyn hotel once considered central to their plans for an office hub. From other properties, they are extracting cash, including tens of millions in borrowed funds from the recently acquired former New York Times building. What’s more, their partner in the Fifth Avenue building, Vornado Realty Trust, headed by Steve Roth, has stood aside, allowing the Kushners to pursue financing on their own….

Aaron Blake finds A very intriguing new subplot in the saga of Donald Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting:

The Washington Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman and Karoun Demirjian had previously reported that Manafort took notes during the [June 2016] meeting — notes that naturally were of interest to investigators — but this appears to be the first report to indicate he did so using his phone.

Why is that significant? Because Manafort being on his phone was presented by both Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, as evidence of his disinterest in the meeting. It was used to suggest that the meeting was rather insignificant — a disappointment to all involved — and didn’t go anywhere. Trump Jr. and others have said that the information promised was a bust and was never used by the Trump campaign, whatever their intent in accepting the meeting was….

Precisely what this means is up in the air. But Trump Jr.’s version of the Russia meeting has been wrong before. And it doesn’t seem far-fetched to think that maybe he misunderstood how closely Manafort was paying attention in that meeting in June 2016 — and documenting the proceedings.

NASA highlights What’s Up for September 2017:

Daily Bread for 8.31.17

Good morning.

Month’s end in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy. Sunrise is 6:16 AM and sunset 7:29 PM, for 13h 10m 09s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 70.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission is scheduled to meet this afternoon at 4:30 PM.

On this day in 1987, Michael Jackson releases Bad, his seventh studio album. On this day in 1864, “1st, 12th, 16th, 17th, 21st, 24th, 25th and 32nd Wisconsin Infantry regiments along with the 5th and 10th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries fight in the Battle of Jonesborough, Georgia.

Recommended for reading in full —

Anna Nemtsova, Betsy Woodruff, and Spencer Ackerman contend that Someone’s Lying About the Money for Trump Tower Moscow:

….Reports from earlier this week indicate [Felix] Sater, a convicted felon and former business associate of Trump, claimed in November 2015 he had lined up funding from VTB—a huge Russian bank, 60 percent of whose shares are owned by the Kremlin—for a Trump Organization construction project in Moscow.

If Sater’s claim is true, it could be a key link between Trump world and the Kremlin. But the bank at issue told The Daily Beast it isn’t. The Daily Beast cannot independently determine which side is telling the truth.

“VTB never held any negotiations about financing the Trump Tower in Moscow,” a bank representative told The Daily Beast in a statement. “We’d like to underline that not a single VTB group subsidiary had any dealings with Mr.Trump, his representatives or any companies affiliated with him”….

Dan Friedman reports on The Curious Link Between Trump’s Moscow Tower Deal and a Ukraine “Peace Plan”:

A pair of Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, appear to be gaining significance in the Trump-Russia investigation. News broke this week that during the presidential campaign the two sought a deal for the construction of a Trump Tower in Moscow. And, as reported earlier this year, the pair pushed a Kremlin-backed proposal for the US to lift sanctions on Russia—part of a proposed “peace deal” between Ukraine and Russia that Cohen and Sater brought to Trump’s then national security advisor Michael Flynn.

Congressional investigators are now interested in how the Moscow tower proposal and the so-called peace deal may connect. “That is a question members will be exploring, certainly,” says an official close to the Senate Intelligence Committee. One thread running through both deals is Russia’s desire for relief from US sanctions, which the Trump presidential campaign repeatedly signaled it was interested in accommodating. How that might shed further light on the deals is a “very interesting line of inquiry,” the official adds….

Philip Allen Lacovara explains How the pardon power could end Trump’s presidency:

Almost certainly, a presidential decision to preemptively pardon any of those caught up in Mueller’s investigation, whether former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn or Donald Trump Jr., would be effective and would spare those pardoned from prosecution, at least on the federal level.

So Trump may be tempted to use this mechanism to extricate himself from what he calls derisively “the Russia thing.”

But issuing pardons to his own friends, associates and relatives could be a perilous path for Trump, creating additional exposure on two levels, criminal and political — both flowing from an important proposition that is often overlooked in the debate over presidential power. Our legal system provides mechanisms for probing the intent and motives behind the exercise of power. The president may have the power to grant effective pardons in the Russia investigation, but both Congress and the federal prosecutor are entitled to determine whether the exercise of that power violates constitutional and statutory norms….

Josh Dawsey reports that Mueller teams up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe:

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on its investigation into Paul Manafort and his financial transactions, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The cooperation is the latest indication that the federal probe into President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying. It also could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes.

The two teams have shared evidence and talked frequently in recent weeks about a potential case, these people said. One of the people familiar with progress on the case said both Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s teams have collected evidence on financial crimes, including potential money laundering….

Business Insider’s talking peanut butter:

Daily Bread for 8.30.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 6:18 AM and sunset 7:31 PM, for 13h 12m 56s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 61.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1945, MacArthur arrives in Japan, “and immediately decreed several laws. No Allied personnel were to assault Japanese people. No Allied personnel were to eat the scarce Japanese food. Flying the Hinomaru or “Rising Sun” flag was initially severely restricted (although individuals and prefectural offices could apply for permission to fly it). ” On this day in 1862, Wisconsin troops rest at the White House lawn: “The 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th Wisconsin Infantry regiments fought in the Second Battle of Bull Run. By the end of this third day, more than 18,000 soldiers had been killed or wounded and Union forces had been pushed back to Washington, D.C. When the Wisconsin regiments arrived in Washington, they rested on the White House lawn. According to historian Frank Klement, “President Lincoln came out with a pail of water in one hand and a dipper in the other. He moved among the men, offering water to the tired and thirsty. Some Wisconsin soldiers drank from the common dipper and thanked the President for his kindness.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

April Glaser reports that Russian bots posing as regular people are trying to sow discord on Twitter after Charlottesville:

….The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund that tracks efforts to undermine democratic governments, monitors a collection of 600 Twitter accounts that are known to be linked to Russian influence, including openly pro-Russian users, accounts that take part in Russian disinformation campaigns, and automated bot accounts that parrot Russian messaging.

They found these accounts busy at work in the days after Charlottesville. “PhoenixRally,” “Antifa,” and “MAGA” were among the most common hashtags used by these accounts this week. One of the central themes shared by the Russian-linked accounts after Charlottesville was an accusation, propagated by both the Russian news agency Sputnik and American far-right media personality Alex Jones, that the left-leaning philanthropist George Soros had supported the counterprotesters.

One example of a likely bot was an account under the name Angee Dixson, opened on Aug. 8, the Tuesday before the Charlottesville rally started, as reported by ProPublica. Described in her Twitter bio as a conservative Christian, Angee sent about 90 tweets out a day, in which she vigorously defended President Trump’s response to the rally and shared pictures that allegedly showed violence on the part of counterprotesters in Charlottesville. The account has now been shut down….

The Digital Forensic Research Lab lists Twelve Ways to Spot a Bot (“Some tricks to identify fake Twitter accounts”):

“Bots” —automated social media accounts which pose as real people — have a huge presence on platforms such as Twitter. They number in the millions; individual networks can number half a million linked accounts.

These bots can seriously distort debate, especially when they work together. They can be used to make a phrase or hashtag trend, as @DFRLab has illustrated here; they can be used to amplify or attack a message or article; they can be used to harass other users.

At the same time, many bots and botnets are relatively easy to spot by eyeball, without access to specialized software or commercial analytical tools. This article sets out a dozen of the clues, which we have found most useful in exposing fake accounts….

(It’s worth keeping in mind that Putin uses both bots and actual people – trolls who are online all day – to spread anti-American lies and pro-Trump propaganda.)

Evan Perez reports that Special counsel subpoenas Manafort’s former attorney and spokesman:

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has issued subpoenas to a former lawyer for Paul Manafort and to Manafort’s current spokesman, an aggressive tactic that suggests an effort to add pressure on the former Trump campaign chairman.

The subpoenas seeking documents and testimony were sent to Melissa Laurenza, an attorney with the Akin Gump law firm who until recently represented Manafort, and to Jason Maloni, who is Manafort’s spokesman, according to people familiar with the matter.

Manafort is under investigation for possible tax and financial crimes, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. The allegations under investigation largely center on Manafort’s work for the former ruling party in Ukraine, which was ousted amid street protests over its pro-Russian policies….

Sean Illing interviews 10 legal experts on why Trump can’t pardon his way out of the Russia investigation [two of ten, below]:

Julie O’Sullivan, law professor, Georgetown University
If the President pardons anyone involved in the Russian investigation, it may prove to be one of the stupidest things he has yet done. If the president were to pardon Kushner or Manafort or Flynn, presumably that pardon would extend to the Russia investigation because that is what concerns Trump. If — and this is a big if — the president is shown to have pardoned them to avoid his own personal exposure in the Russia investigation, that in and of itself could constitute obstruction of justice.

Peter Shane, law professor, Ohio State University
Russiagate pardons would pose some strategic risks for Trump. No one pardoned could constitutionally withhold their testimony in either a criminal investigation or from Congress. And, unlike the pardon of Arpaio, which is a despicable blow to the rule of law, pardoning anyone who might have been a co-conspirator in misconduct involving Trump himself would much more plausibly be impeachable.

And in any event, there is no “ground to prepare.” Pardoning Manafort, Flynn, Kushner, or anyone surnamed Trump would unleash a firestorm of protest that the Arpaio pardon will not lessen in any way. In Marbury v. Madison, John Marshall said there were “political” acts for which the president “is accountable only to his country in his political character and to his own conscience.” While Trump’s “conscience” has yet to display itself, both Congress and the voters can hold him to account “in his political character.”

Allen Miller shows a monarch caterpillar going into a cocoon:

Daily Bread for 8.29.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of seventy-four. Sunrise is 6:17 AM and sunset 7:33 PM, for 13h 15m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 52.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

John Locke is born on this day in 1632. On this day twelve years ago, Hurricane Katrina makes landfall in Louisiana.

Recommended for reading in full —

Ryan Goodman asks Did Trump Campaign Collude with Russia to Defeat Republican Opponents in GOP Primary?:

Russia’s election interference began well before the general election. It started during the GOP primaries and clearly in support of Donald Trump over his GOP opponents. Thanks to investigative reporting by the New York Times, we now know, at the very least, the Trump campaign was open to support from the Russian government by early June 2016 when senior campaign members met with Russians purporting to have information from the Kremlin that would harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, discussed timing for implementing Russian support, and failed to report any of this to U.S. authorities. Many have raised the question whether the Trump campaign’s knowledge of Russian government support and these kinds of exchanges began before June 2016. Yet to truly understand the scope of Russian interference in the U.S. election, we must ask a more specific question: did the Trump campaign know about, accept, or work with the Russian government when the Kremlin interfered in the GOP primary?

The publicly available information on this matter should prompt Congress, Robert Mueller, news media, and others to pursue that question with utmost concern. Let’s take a closer look….

Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger report that a Top Trump Organization executive asked Putin aide for help on business deal:

A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress on Monday.

The request came in a mid-January 2016 email from Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s closest business advisers, who asked longtime Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov for assistance in reviving a deal that Cohen suggested was languishing.

“Over the past few months I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower-Moscow project in Moscow City,” Cohen wrote to Peskov, according to a person familiar with the email. “Without getting into lengthy specifics, the communication between our two sides has stalled….

Manu Raju reports on How a request about Russians made its way from West Virginia to Trump’s team:

Washington (CNN) A West Virginia man who was a former contractor in Iraq proposed setting up a meeting with Russians and the Trump campaign last year to discuss their “shared Christian values,” raising new questions for investigators to explore as part of their Russia inquiry.

Current and former US intelligence and law enforcement officials, as well as other intelligence experts, say that Russians sought to employ covert tactics to find entry points into the Trump campaign. And more broadly, experts say, Russian intelligence services have sought to court conservative organizations, including religious groups, to build alliances in the United States.

It’s unclear whether this attempted meeting amounted to such a tactic, or if it was simply an innocent request….

Jennifer Rubin concludes that Trump exemplifies abuse of power:

President Richard Nixon faced impeachment not for any crime but, under the first article of impeachment, because, “in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice.” It does not say — and it was not established — that he committed a crime. In essence, the House of Representatives concluded that impeachment and removal would be justified if Nixon used the instruments of power not for the country’s benefit but to save his own political skin (“using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his close subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or plan designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation” of the Watergate break-in).

As one charged with enforcement of the laws and the fair administration of justice, the president is not acting in the public interest when he uses his powers as a shield against inquiry. That seems particularly relevant as we begin to look at the case for impeachment against President Trump. Following on The Post’s blockbuster story that Trump was seeking a major deal with Russia at the time he was running for president, the New York Times reports:

A business associate of President Trump promised in 2015 to engineer a real estate deal with the aid of the president of Russia, Vladimir V. Putin, that he said would help Mr. Trump win the presidency.

The business associate, Felix Sater, wrote a series of emails to Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in which he boasted about his ties to Mr. Putin and predicted that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would be a political boon to Mr. Trump’s candidacy.

“Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Mr. Sater wrote in an email. “I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.”

As the Times notes, there is no evidence Sater “delivered” for Trump, but what we do get is a clear picture, in conjunction with previous disclosures, of gross conflicts of interest and abuse of power….

NASA has video of Saturn with stunning real images from Cassini:

Daily Bread for 8.28.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see thunderstorms with a high of seventy-two. Sunrise is 6:16 AM and sunset 7:34 PM, for 13h 18m 29s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 42.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission is scheduled to meet at 4:30 PM, and her Library Board at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. King delivers his ‘I Have a Dream Speech.’

On this day in 1862, the Iron Brigade fights its fights its first battle: “The unit was composed of the 2nd Infantry, 6th Infantry, 7th Wisconsin Infantry, and the 19th Indiana Infantry, 24th Michigan Infantry, and Battery B of the 4th U.S. Light Artillery and was well known for its valor at such Civil War battles as Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman report that Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president:

While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.

As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested that he could get President Vladimir Putin to say “great things” about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.

The developer, Felix Sater, predicted in a November 2015 email that he and Trump Organization leaders would soon be celebrating — both one of the biggest residential projects in real estate history and Donald Trump’s election as president, according to two of the people with knowledge of the exchange.

….the details of the deal, which have not previously been disclosed, provide evidence that Trump’s business was actively pursuing significant commercial interests in Russia at the same time he was campaigning to be president — and in a position to determine U.S.-Russia relations. The new details from the emails, which are scheduled to be turned over to congressional investigators soon, also point to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia-connected individuals and Trump associates during his presidential bid….

Meanwhile, here’s Trump in January 2017, lying on Twitter yet again:

Ahmed Baba offers The Ultimate Cheat Sheet To The Trump-Russia Investigation:

It was November 9th, 2016. The mood was joyous in the Kremlin as President Vladimir Putin, along with Russian officials, celebrated the election of Donald J. Trump as 45th President of the United States. Champagne was literally popped and toasts were made, as this foreign adversary celebrated American democracy.

Russian Governor, Viktor Nazarov

What we have here is an orchestrated effort by Russia, a hostile foreign power, to undermine American democracy and prop up Donald Trump. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy involved complex espionage and coordinated propaganda campaigns designed to damage Hillary Clinton, chipping away at her support from both the far-left and far-right of the political spectrum.

Russia’s intentions have been widely debated. Some say they never truly expected Trump to win, and were merely trying to weaken Clinton politically, whom Putin has accused of sowing discord in his own nation after Clinton questioned the legitimacy of Russia’s 2011 parliamentary elections. Putin wanted Clinton to come into office beleaguered by congressional investigations and a divided United States [cheat sheet follows]….

Elizabeth Randol explains Why Government Can’t Be Allowed to Make You Pay for Free Speech:

Imagine if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., future Congressman John Lewis, and their compatriots in the civil rights movement had been stuck with the bill for Sheriff Bull Connor’s harassment, beatings, and arrests. Under a proposal before the Pennsylvania Senate, people who take to the streets to express their political views would face exactly that if they end up on the wrong side of the law.

On August 16, Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) introduced a bill that could hold protesters liable for public safety costs associated with demonstrations.  The primary trigger for this proposed legislation was the protest of the  Dakota Access Pipeline, though it was introduced just four days after the white supremacist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Under Senate Bill 754[2], courts could hold individuals convicted of protest-related misdemeanors or felonies liable for all public safety costs associated with demonstrations. This is most certainly unconstitutional and would likely be struck down in federal court, but only after a costly legal fight….

David Haynes warns of The risk of believing in Foxconn:

Even under the best conditions, Wisconsin taxpayers won’t break even for 25 years, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. But it might be a lot longer if more workers than expected drive up from Illinois or if Foxconn automates more work than expected and creates fewer jobs. In a globally competitive industry, Foxconn will automate extensively, which is why predictions of 13,000 jobs in a few years at the Wisconsin plant sound wildly optimistic. Points for [WEDC leader] Hogan for trying to mitigate that risk. The fact is we really don’t know where the break-even point is. The Fiscal Bureau notes that the way Gov. Scott Walker’s administration accounted for the capital tended to reduce the cost to taxpayers. Using a more typical accounting method “could push the break-even point for the project further into the future,” the Fiscal Bureau warns.

But there is a more basic question that has to be answered: Can Foxconn be trusted?

I’d love to believe the story that Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou is spinning. I’d love to imagine a sprawling, new industry emerging in southeastern Wisconsin, an operation that includes thousands of good-paying factory jobs making next-generation flat-panel LCD screens (Hogan says the median wage would be nearly $54,000). I’d love to see scores of smart technical people working at a cutting-edge research and development facility.

But then the dream bubble over my head bursts, and I remember Harrisburg, Pa.

And India and Brazil.

And Vietnam and Indonesia.

In all of those places, Foxconn talked big and failed to deliver. Walker has blamed the collapse of a factory deal in central Pennsylvania on a transition in state government. (A Democrat took office). But how to explain the others?….

Here’s a map shows every upcoming solar eclipse until 2040:

Daily Bread for 8.27.17

Good morning.

Whitewater will see thunderstorms today with a high of seventy-two. Sunrise is 6:15 AM and sunset 7:36 PM, for 13h 21m 14s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 32.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninety-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1883, the island volcano Krakatoa erupts, causing tidal waves in Indonesia’s Sunda Strait that would claim some 36,000 lives in Java and Sumatra. On this day in 1864, the 5th, 6th, 7th, 19th, 36th, 37th and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments remained entrenched around Petersburg, Virginia.

Recommended for reading in full —

David Frum observes that Trump Won’t Back Down:

….Trump has bolted himself back to his political base, defying all mainstream opinion. It’s not just a matter of appealing to nativist voters, although Donald Trump always is glad to do that. Many conservative voters who are not especially nativist will rally to the Arpaio pardon too. Conservatism has been leaking its ideological contents for a long time now, and the Trump experience has ejected whatever little remained. Yet conservative voters remain passionately attached to Donald Trump, at least as compared with anyone else in politics, as a recent poll from George Washington University demonstrates. Among Republicans in Republican districts, 53 percent complained their member of Congress was not doing enough to support President Trump; only 4 percent complained that the representative was doing “too much”….

If it weren’t for the atavistic hatreds—and of course the micro-targeted paybacks to favored lobbying constituencies—not much would remain in the Trump era of the party of Reagan and the Bushes. But the hatreds still rage hot and fierce, and having been powered into the presidency by them once, Donald Trump hopes he can do it again. After all, what other choice does he have? Not only because he has accomplished nothing better, but because it’s not in his nature even to imagine what that “better” could look like.

(Frum’s right, as Trump’s course is unsurprising. This is why it’s true, as it has been since the beginning of Trump’s rise, that our present conflict will end only when Trump meets his complete ruin.)

Adam Liptak explains Why Trump’s Pardon of Arpaio Follows Law, Yet Challenges It:

Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard, argued before the pardon was issued that such a move “would express presidential contempt for the Constitution.”
“Arpaio didn’t just violate a law passed by Congress,” Professor Feldman wrote on Bloomberg View. “His actions defied the Constitution itself, the bedrock of the entire system of government.” By saying Mr. Arpaio’s offense was forgivable, Professor Feldman added, Mr. Trump threatens “the very structure on which his right to pardon is based.”

It was the first act of outright defiance against the judiciary by a president who has not been shy about criticizing federal judges who ruled against his businesses and policies. But while the move may have been unusual, there is nothing in the text of the Constitution’s pardons clause to suggest that he exceeded his authority.

(Trump will abuse powers granted to him to undermine lawful authority – such as that of the judicial branch – that remains outside his grasp.)

Edel Rodriguez writes that As a boy, I fled despotism in Cuba. Now I’m fighting it here in America:

….At 19, I became an American citizen, one of the highlights of my life. Throughout high school, I had become a devoted student of U.S. history and cherished this country’s democratic system. I came to feel that this was truly my country.

Over the past year, though, I’ve sometimes strained to differentiate my adoptive country from the dictatorship I fled. Violence at political rallies, friends watching what they say (and noting who is in the room when they say it) and a leader who picks on society’s weakest — this has felt all too familiar. I began making art about what I saw, to bear witness. I wanted to hold up a mirror to the president’s daily abuses of the Constitution, test the rights given to me by that Constitution. I wanted to find out if this is really the land of the free, the home of the brave.

The work has been published on magazine covers worldwide and on street posters, and has appeared at numerous political rallies. I’ve been interviewed by television shows and been the subject of news articles. I would give all of that up for a return to normalcy. A return to the idea that the magic of America lies in the fact that it is a country of immigrants and will always be. I love going to Chinatown and not understanding a thing, eating new food in Koreatown, speaking Spanish with the guys in the taco truck and dancing to Arabic music with the Egyptian falafel cook on the street. One of the great things about America is having a genuine international experience without having to travel.

Immigrants have made America a shining example to the world, have renewed this country and will continue making it great.

Michael Cavna reports on The next Pokémon Go? Star Wars unveils a massive ‘Last Jedi’ augmented-reality game:

If it can work for Pokémon, then why not for the world of Obi-Wan?

An augmented-reality experience as real-world physical hunt is being rolled out next month by another global entertainment franchise, with the next Star Wars film, “The Last Jedi,” on the near horizon.

Last summer, as the AR scavenger hunt from Pikachu’s universe exploded — spurring a $7.5 billion market-value surge for maker Nintendo — The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs asked: “Now, what’s to keep the Comcasts and Apples and Amazons and Disneys of the world from making our naturally 3-D world the exciting new area of augmented exploration on a scale as massive as Pokémon Go?”

The short answer from Disney, one year later: Apparently nothing. Because the Mouse House is unveiling its promotional stunt of a free “treasure hunt” on a rather massive scale, the company announced early Thursday.

The campaign’s basics, by the numbers: As the first wave of “Last Jedi” merchandise lands Sept. 1 (a.k.a. “Force Friday II”), the “Find the Force” AR game — involving about 20,000 stores in 30 countries — will let participants hunt down 15 Star Wars characters, two are which are new. (Is that the Admiral Ackbar you’re looking for?)….

Today I Found Out describes the sad fate of the passenger pigeon in From Billions to Zero in 50 Years:

Daily Bread for 8.26.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-five. Sunrise is 6:14 AM and sunset 7:38 PM, for 13h 23m 58s of daytime. The moon is waxing crescent with 23.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred ninetieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1863, the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry is among the Union forces that assault Confederate-held Perryville, Oklahoma.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Judd Legum relates The inside story of how TMZ quietly became America’s most potent pro-Trump media outlet:

Trump was the ideal vehicle for TMZ to break into political coverage. A reality TV host and a creature of celebrity culture pursues the most powerful position in the world?—?all while dishing out TMZ-friendly sound bites on a daily basis.

As Trump has risen, TMZ has quietly emerged as, arguably, the most important pro-Trump outlet in America. Fox News is the largest and best known, but its audience is older and already inclined to support Trump. Breitbart is the most aggressive and strident, but its connection to white nationalism limits its appeal. TMZ attracts a large and diverse audience?—?precisely the folks Trump needed to reach to stitch together a winning coalition.

Stories on TMZ not only gain a wide audience online but also appear on two nationally syndicated daily television shows (TMZ and TMZ Live) that, in most markets, are aired multiple times each day.

Jennifer Rubin asks Is the GOP a lost cause?:

….Consider the following: If Trump is still president in 2020 and still enjoys a strong majority of support among Republicans, what hope would there be for a devoted anti-Trump Republican? He or she would be running in a party convinced that there are “fine people” in league with neo-Nazis, that the press is the enemy of the people, that white working-class people are victims of foreigners, that Christianity is under attack, that Russia isn’t so bad after all, etc. It seems unlikely that a decent, rational person could win the nomination of a party gone (politically speaking) stark-raving mad….

It would seem that those Republicans contemplating a challenge to Trump –as Ohio Gov. John Kasich reportedly is — have to consider the possibility that the GOP is a lost cause. If they would be blocked from running as an independent under so-called “sore loser” rules, then it would make far more sense to run for president as an independent or leader of a new third party. Preparation for that possibility should start sooner rather than later.

Kristen Soltis Anderson contends that Data show that Trump’s real base is 24 percent of the electorate:

….The data – on issues and on Trump himself — keep pointing back to “one-in-four” as the true size of Trump’s base. It is around one in four who like the tweeting, like the insults, the things other people say are mean or unproductive behavior.

If Trump’s job approval erodes to down to this level, that would almost certainly spell electoral doom for Republicans. On the eve of the Pelosi wipe-out of GOP House control in 2006, former President George W. Bush had an approval rating that looked a lot like Trump’s does now, to say nothing of how bad things could get if they fall further.

But one-quarter of the 160 million registered voters in America is still 40 million people. That’s not enough to win re-election, but it’s enough to pack a lot of arenas donning red MAGA hats — and that may be good enough for Trump’s tastes.

Jane Coaston writes that ‘Virtue Signaling’ Isn’t the Problem. Not Believing One Another Is:

….The real problem, of course, isn’t the signaling part: Everyone is signaling all the time, whether it’s about social justice or their commitment to Second Amendment rights or their concerns about immigration law. Those who accuse others of virtue signaling seem angry about the supposed virtues themselves — angry that someone, anyone, appears to care about something they do not. Another Twitter user, defending Donald Trump after the infamous ‘‘Access Hollywood’’ tape, wrote: ‘‘Stop virtue signaling. It doesn’t work. Are you saying you never talked dirty in a [private] conversation?’’ The logic here is not that Trump or his actions were morally correct, but that no one else is, either, and anyone who claims otherwise is lying….

But of course many people do care, about all sorts of things that you or I might disagree with. People on low-lying islands in the Pacific care about climate change. Members of the armed forces care about military spending. Transgender people care about their ability to access public facilities, gay people care about whether they can adopt children and evangelical Christians care about their ability to live out their faith in the workplace. These people have families and friends, and next-door neighbors and dog walkers, who most likely care, too. This caring is not a crime; it is an argument, about what people should value in the first place. And accusations of ‘‘virtue signaling’’ are, more than anything, a way of walking out on that argument and dismissing it altogether — a quick and easy solution for those moments when engaging and listening, agreeing or disagreeing, seem too hard, too challenging, too personal, too dangerous.

(When Trumpists criticize others for virtue signaling, they’re running from the powerful argument that Trump is a living expression of vice.)

Great Big Story tells of The Dog Lifeguards of Italy:

Daily Bread for 8.25.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-two. Sunrise is 6:13 AM and sunset 7:39 PM, for 13h 26m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 16.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1944, the Allies liberate Paris from the Nazi occupation. On this day in 1864, the 36th Wisconsin Infantry takes part in the Second Battle of Ream’s Station, Virginia: “Of 175 enlisted men and 11 officers who went into the fight, only 48 reported for duty the next day. The majority had been killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Aaron Blake enumerates 7 times Trump tried to call off the dogs on Russia:

In a must-read piece, Politico reports that President Trump appeared to pressure two Senate Republicans to back off their Russia-related efforts. Josh Dawsey and Elana Schor report that Trump vented frustrations about Congress’s Russia sanctions bill to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and tried to get Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) to back off a planned bill to protect Russia special counsel Robert S. Mueller III from being fired.

Add them to the list.

Trump’s attempts to influence actions related to Russia and the investigation that is now focused on him personally constitute a growing volume. Last weekend, in fact, the New York Times reported on another example that some may have missed.

Below, we recap all of them. If I missed one, email me [list of seven attempts folows]….

Judd Legum writes that Roger Stone promises a violent response if Trump is impeached:

Roger Stone, one of President Trump’s oldest and most-trusted advisers, warned that any politician who voted to impeach Donald Trump “will endanger their own life.”

Stone began by taunting members of Congress who were calling for Trump’s impeachment. “Try to impeach him, just try it!,” Stone exclaimed. He then promised that, if Trump was impeached, there would be a violent, armed response.

“You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection, like you’ve never seen,” he promised. “The people will not stand for impeachment. A politician that votes for it will endanger their own life”….

(Having spent these hundreds of days in correspondence with scores of Trump opponents, there’s not the slighest chance that they will relent. How their representatives will conduct themselves, one cannot say.)

Abigail Tracy reports that a New Russia Revelation Highlights the Big Lie at the Center of Trump’s Campaign (“A previously unreported e-mail reveals yet another Trump staffer discussing contact with Russians”):

In the last several months of his campaign, Donald Trump and his aides repeatedly denied that anyone in his orbit had any contact with anyone connected to the Russian government. “That’s absurd,” then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort said when asked about any ties. Donald Trump Jr. said that the idea that Russia may have helped his father is “disgusting” and “phony.” Both men, of course, had met with a Russian lawyer and a former Soviet intelligence officer just weeks earlier, alongside Jared Kushner, after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of an explicit Russian government effort to aid their campaign. Still, the charade continued for months, even as Trump’s talking points drifted from claims that there was no “contact” to simply no “collusion.”

That lie, which was central to the Trump campaign’s messaging on Russia throughout 2016, was thrown into harsh relief again Wednesday when CNN reported on yet another potential point of contact between a member of Trump’s team and the Kremlin. Last summer, Rick Dearborn, who served as a top policy aide during the campaign and is now the president’s deputy chief of staff, sent an e-mail informing Trump campaign officials about an individual who sought to arrange a meeting between the presidential hopeful and Vladimir PutinDiscovered by congressional investigators, the e-mail may provide further evidence of the Kremlin’s effort to interfere in the presidential election, and of Trump’s associates’ efforts to conceal those efforts.

Dearborn sent the e-mail in June of last year, around the time of Donald Jr.’s rendezvous with the Russian lawyer. According to sources that spoke with CNN, the person seeking the meeting was only identified as being from “WV”—believed to be a reference to West Virginia. It is unclear why they sought the meeting and whether Dearborn or other Trump campaign officials acted upon the request….

Jennifer Rubin reminds that We cannot forget the unrepentant moral cowards on the right:

Scores of Republican politicians, activists and operatives who have supported and defended President Trump will be defined by the choices they made. If they choose to run for office again or be considered for future positions in government or maintain positions of leadership in political life, we think an appropriate series of questions must be asked:

Did they, from the get-go, spot Trump for what he was — a racist, a charlatan and a narcissist? (#NeverTrump Republicans and the Bush family did.)

If they didn’t spot him as such from the get-go, did they at least refrain from endorsing him? (A significant list of GOP members of Congress and senators, including Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Ben Sasse of Nebraska, as well as Ohio Gov. John Kasich, did.)

If they endorsed him, did they at least pull back their endorsement after he attacked Judge Gonzalo Curiel in textbook racist terms or went after the Gold Star Khan family?….

NASA describes The Hunt for Asteroids:

Daily Bread for 8.24.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-one. Sunrise is 6:12 AM and sunset 7:41 PM, for 13h 29m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 8.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

On this day in A.D. 79, Mount Vesuvius erupts, destroying Pompeii and Herculaneum. On this day in 1970, a car bomb explodes outside Sterling Hall on the UW-Madison campus, killing research scientist Robert Fassnacht.

Recommended for reading in full —

Isaac Arnsdorf reports that Pro-Russian Bots Take Up the Right-Wing Cause After Charlottesville (“Analysts tracking Russian influence operations find a feedback loop between Kremlin propaganda and far-right meme”):

Angee Dixson joined Twitter on Aug. 8 and immediately began posting furiously — about 90 times a day. A self-described American Christian conservative, Dixson defended President Donald Trump’s response to the unrest in Charlottesville, criticized the removal of Confederate monuments and posted pictures purporting to show violence by left-wing counterprotesters.

“Dems and Media Continue to IGNORE BLM and Antifa Violence in Charlottesville,” she wrote above a picture of masked demonstrators labeled “DEMOCRAT TERROR.”

But Dixson appears to have been a fake, according to an analysis by Ben Nimmo, a fellow with the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council think tank. The account has been shut down. Dixson’s profile picture was stolen from a young Instagram celebrity (a German model rumored to have dated Leonardo DiCaprio). Dixson used a URL shortener that is a tell for the sort of computer program that automatically churns out high volumes of social media posts whose authorship is frequently disguised. And one of her tweets attacked Sen. John McCain for his alleged support of Ukrainian neo-Nazis, echoing language in tweets from Russian outlets RT and Sputnik….

John Amato writes that CNN Debunks Latest Right Wing Conspiracy On Charlottesville:

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota helped uncover and debunk the conspiracy theory that Charlottesville was a staged protest by actors to cause trouble —

Samantha Michaels reports that A Federal Judge Put Hundreds of Immigrants Behind Bars While Her Husband Invested in Private Prisons (“Judge Linda Reade’s husband bought more prison stock five days before one of the nation’s biggest immigration raids”):

Nearly 400 workers were arrested in the bust, which cost $5 million and was then the biggest workplace immigration raid in US history. They were driven to the National Cattle Congress, a fairground in Waterloo, where several federal judges would handle their cases over nine business days. Hearings were held in trailers and a dance hall. Cots were set up for the defendants in a nearby gymnasium. At the time, undocumented immigrants caught in raids like this were usually charged with civil violations and then deported. But most of these defendants, shackled and dragging chains behind them, were charged with criminal fraud for using falsified work documents or Social Security numbers. About 270 people were sentenced to five months in federal prison, in a process that one witness described as a “judicial assembly line.”

Overseeing the process was Judge Linda R. Reade, the chief judge of the Northern District of Iowa. She defended the decision to turn a fairground into a courthouse, saying the proceedings were fair and unhurried. The incident sparked allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct and led to congressional hearings. Erik Camayd-Freixas, an interpreter who had worked at the Waterloo proceedings, testified that most of the Spanish-speaking defendants had been pressured to plead guilty. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the unconventional process seemed “like a cattle auction, not a criminal prosecution in the United States of America.”

Yet amid the national attention, one fact didn’t make the news: Before and after the raid, Reade’s husband owned stock in two private prison companies, and he bought additional prison stock five days before the raid, according to Reade’s financial disclosure forms. Ethics experts say these investments were inappropriate and may have violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.

Emily Atkin delivers the bad news that America Is on the Verge of Ratpocalypse:

….Most cities know rat woes well. Washington, D.C., for instance, has burned through countless plans to stymie its longstanding “rat problem” or “rodent crisis,” in which disease-ridden critters are not only growing in number but ballooning to the size of human infants.

What they don’t know is how this all will end. Houston, Texas, is seeing a rat spike this year, and so is New York City. In Chicago, rodent complaints for the early part of the summer have increased about 9 percent from last year, forcing city officials to start sprinkling the streets with rat birth control. Philadelphia and Boston were recently ranked the two cities with the most rat sightings in the country. And it’s not just this year; as USA Today reported last year, major cities saw spikes in rodent-related business from 2013 to 2015. Calls to Orkin, the pest control service, were reportedly “up 61 percent in Chicago; 67 percent in Boston; 174 percent in San Francisco; 129 percent in New York City; and 57 percent in Washington, D.C.”

It’s no surprise that rats thrive in cities, where humans provide an abundance of food and shelter. But experts now agree that the weather is playing a role in these recent increases. Extreme summer heat and this past winter’s mild temperatures have created urban rat utopias….

Is it possible that Snowstorms could happen nightly on Mars?:

Daily Bread for 8.23.17

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-two. Sunrise is 6:11 AM and sunset 7:43 PM, for 13h 32m 09s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union establish the Molotov–Ribbentrop non-agression pact. On this day in 1864, the 8th Wisconsin Infantry takes part in an expedition from LaGrange, Tennessee to Oxford, Mississippi, including a skirmish that broke out in Abbeville, Mississippi.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Casey Michel observes that America’s neo-Nazis don’t look to Germany for inspiration. They look to Russia:

….It doesn’t take much to gather white nationalists’ affections for modern Moscow — a regime whose model they want to bring to bear in the United States. For David Duke, who has seen his books sold in the Russian Duma, Moscow remains the “key to white survival.” For Richard Spencer, a founding member of the alt-right’s rogues’ gallery — and someone married to the translator of Alexander Dugin, Russia’s illiberal polemicist extraordinaire — the Kremlin stands as the “most powerful white power in the world.” For Matthew Heimbach, who has said he would like to see the United States fracture on ethnic lines, Vladimir Putin has transformed into the “leader of the free world.”

Ignore the multi-confessional, multiethnic nature of the Russian state. Ignore the fact that Moscow maintains the largest mosque in Europe, or that Putin’s Russia contains one of the largest swaths of immigrantsoutside of the United States. These alt-right actors have proved to be more than capable of disregarding these base realities. For the white supremacists who brought bloodshed to Charlottesville, Russia remains the last, best hope for the world they would wish in Washington.

And Russia has proved to be only too willing to cater to these groups. While Moscow’s relations with neo-fascist contingents across Europe — in France, in Hungary — are well-known, less has been said about its extensive efforts to cultivate like-minded actors in the United States…..

Jennifer Rubin explains Why Paul Ryan, defender of the indefensible, should just stop talking:

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), among all elected Republicans, may be faring the worst during the Trump era. By defending, rationalizing, excusing and ignoring President Trump’s egregious behavior and attack on democratic norms, Ryan has gone from respected wonk to disgraced toady. At a CNN town hall on Monday night, he demonstrated why he would do better to say as little as possible.

Asked a reasonable question about a timeline for Afghanistan, he answered with double talk. “And that is why I think it’s important that we don’t telegraph — I think that was a strategic mistake the last president made, that we shouldn’t telegraph our timetable when we’re leaving so that we can actually make it conditions-based, which is what is the purpose of being there. … So I think it’s very important that we not do that. But at the same time, like the president said, no blank check. You’ve got to make sure that we prosecute this to the end so that we can bring reconciliation.” So there is no timeline, but no blank check and no idea when this will end — not to mention no idea what “reconciliation” is or what happens if this is impossible. One wonders why Ryan even agreed to do this town hall, since he has literally nothing to offer good-faith questioners.

Things went from bad to worse when Charlottesville came up. Asked to comment on Trump’s remarks, he blathered on for some time decrying racism, white nationalism and hate but never condemning the president’s comments. The best he could come up with was to praise Trump’s scripted remarks on Monday, Aug. 14, and then say this about his off-the-cuff comments: “I think he made comments that were much more morally ambiguous, much more confusing. And I do think he could have done better. I think he needed to do better.” He went on to say, “So I do believe that he messed up in his comments on Tuesday, when it — it — it sounded like a moral equivocation, or at the very least moral ambiguity, when we need extreme moral clarity.” When Ryan says Trump “messed up,” he suggests falsely that this was a political faux pas, a poorly phrased comment. No, Mr. Speaker, what he said was morally abhorrent, a none-too-subtle wink to white nationalists. Trump says these things when freed from ascript because that is what he really thinks. Ryan seems incapable of both disagreeing with Trump and holding him to account….

Sohrab Ahmari ponders The Self-Degradations of Jerry Falwell, Jr. (“Trump corrupts”):

How far–how low–do religious leaders end up going when they decide that, in public life, the end justifies any means? Consider the case of Jerry Falwell, Jr. For the Liberty University president, the end was the advancement of social conservatism. The means: Donald Trump….

It didn’t have to be like this for Falwell. One of the great blessings of a faith in a loving, personal God is that it liberates the faithful from the populist leaders and impulses of the moment. As Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention noted in his contribution to National Review’s “Against Trump” issue, “Trump can win only in the sort of celebrity-focused mobocracy … in which sound moral judgments are displaced by a narcissistic pursuit of power combined with promises of ‘winning’ for the masses. Social and religious conservatives have always seen this tendency as decadent and deviant.”

Moore might have added self-degrading.

Abha Bhattarai reports that ‘Not one drop’ of Poland Spring bottled water is from a spring, lawsuit claims:

Poland Spring, the country’s best-selling bottled water, is “a colossal fraud,” according to a class-action lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Connecticut, alleges that instead of spring water, parent company Nestle Water North America has been selling billions of gallons of groundwater to its customers.

“Not one drop of Poland Spring Water emanates from a water source that complies with the Food and Drug Administration definition of ‘spring water,’” the lawsuit states.

And, it goes on: “the famous Poland Spring in Poland Spring, Maine, which defendant’s labels claim is a source of Poland Spring Water, ran dry nearly 50 years ago”….

Here’s How Deep Sea Creatures Emit Their Own Light:

Daily Bread for 8.22.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny with a high of seventy-four. Sunrise is 6:09 AM and sunset 7:44 PM, for 13h 34m 51s of daytime. The moon is waxing crescent with just 0.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 3 PM, and there is a Fire Department Business Meeting at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1485, Richard III meets his end at the Battle of Bosworth Field. On this day in 1920, Milwaukee runner Arlie Schardt wins a gold medal in the 3,000-meter team race (with teammates Hal Brown and Ivan Dresser) at the Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium.

Recommended for reading in full —

Eliot A. Cohen asks Is It Time for Trump Aides to Resign?:

….The answer is different for different people. Young people who seek careers in the civil service, military, diplomatic corps, or intelligence services should do so— career people do not represent any particular administration; their seniors must stay in, because some of the most effective brakes on Trump’s excesses will come from officials stubbornly adhering to constitutional norms. This is not the Deep State of Stephen Bannon’s dark fantasies; it is the deep fidelity of public servants to the law.

Political appointees are another matter. Yes, they take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but they are representatives of the president, and are presumed to be committed to implementing his plans and his platform. If they cannot say as much openly, if they construct a distance between themselves and him on the most important issues, then they are lying to themselves and to others. It may not seem to present an immediate  moral crisis for a deputy assistant secretary for warehouse maintenance, but challenges to one’s integrity in public service can crop up in the oddest places.

Those who are already at the center of government have a much tougher problem. Unless they had been living in an isolation chamber during all of 2016, they had to have gone in knowing that Trump was awful. The name Trump will be tattooed invisibly on their foreheads going forward; henceforth in the right light it will be brightly illuminated. They may, in later years, like to say, “I worked for Rex Tillerson” or “I served honorably at the Treasury.” Those around them, including those whose respect is worth having, will think, “No, you signed up for Trump and you know it”….

Michelle Ye Hee Lee assesses Attorney General Sessions’s absurd link between sanctuary policies and crimes in Chicago and Miami-Dade:

….The data connecting sanctuary city policies to crime is quite thin. We previously awarded Three Pinocchios to Sessions and to Trump when they claimed that sanctuary cities “breed crime” or that “criminals take notice” when cities make it known that they have sanctuary policies.

There is limited research on the effect of sanctuary policies on crime. The research that does exist found no statistically significant impact of sanctuary policies on crime or showed that immigrant-friendly policing strategies reduced crime in some jurisdictions. Sanctuary jurisdictions release inmates after their criminal case is complete, and extensive research shows noncitizens are not more prone to criminality than U.S.-born citizens. Moreover, some sanctuary jurisdictions do cooperate with the federal government if they believe the inmate is a public safety threat.

Despite Sessions’s assertion, there’s no evidence that sanctuary policies had anything to do with crime trends in Chicago and Miami, including over the 2017 Fourth of July weekend….

Trump apologists like Ken Abramowitz want to argue that Trump is unpopular with successful executives because there’s an illusion that Trump’s toxix; Jennifer Rubin sets him straight, that it’s no illusion and that apologists like Abramowitz are covering for bigotry and incompetency:

Brian Beutler rightly observes that History Will Remember the Republicans Who Appeased Trump:

….After Trump’s initial comments transformed the disgrace in Charlottesville into a crisis for the White House, only a handful of CEOs on Trump’s business councils resigned unprompted. A few more followed when activists threatened boycotts, but it was only after Trump’s truly unhinged defense of neo-Nazis on Tuesday that the remaining participants responded en masse. Only, rather than resign in disgrace, they connived with Trump to dissolve the councils altogether, sparing themselves the personalized wrath Trump directed at Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, who initiated the exodus, and protecting their access to regulatory favors in the future. Like Ryan, they are now free to criticize white supremacy as an abstraction, without having to cite Trump specifically.

Within the White House, the response has been even more craven. Trump’s closest advisers—at least, those who are not white nationalists personally—promote themselves, individually and collectively, as the country’s saviors. When they then fail to protect the country from Trump’s depredations, they distance themselves from his behavior through anonymous leaks to the press. Thus we learn that Trump’s Jewish aides, including chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, are supposedly “disgusted” with Trump. But Cohn returned to work dutifully on Wednesday, still angling, no doubt, for a plum appointment to the Federal Reserve chairmanship early next year.

Though the president who took America to war with Nazis was a Democrat, and conservatives fought the civil rights movement with billy clubs, Republicans have nevertheless fashioned themselves for decades as the true heirs to both righteous traditions. This rhetorical sorcery has paid off for them in many ways, but it will be put to the ultimate test now that Trump is appeasing neo-Nazis in the role of GOP Grand Wizard.

33,600 piece jigsaw puzzle time lapse video shows the value of patience:

Daily Bread for 8.21.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a high of eighty-two, and a one-third chance of afternoon thunderstorms. Sunrise is 6:08 AM and sunset 7:46 PM, for 13h 37m 31s of daytime. We’ve a new moon. Today is the two hundred eighty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Birge Fountain Committee is scheduled to meet at 6 PM, and her Library Board at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas begin the first of seven debates during their United States Senate race. On this day in 1864, the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad, near Petersburg, Virgina ends, with Wisconsinites distinguishing themselves: “On this day, the 7th Wisconsin Infantry repulsed a fierce attack. It then captured the 16th Mississippi Infantry and all its officers. This was the first Union victory in the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Dan Zak describes Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump:

….His campaign may or may not have conspired with Moscow, but President Trump has routinely employed a durable old Soviet propaganda tactic. Tuesday’s bonkers news conference in New York was Trump’s latest act of “whataboutism,” the practice of short-circuiting an argument by asserting moral equivalency between two things that aren’t necessarily comparable. In this case, the president wondered whether the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville — where white supremacists clashed this weekend with counterprotesters — would lead to the teardown of others….

For a nanosecond, especially to an uncritical listener, this stab at logic might seem interesting, even thought-provoking, and that’s why it’s a useful political tool. Whataboutism appears to broaden context, to offer a counterpoint, when really it’s diverting blame, muddying the waters and confusing the hell out of rational listeners.

“Not only does it help to deflect your original argument but it also throws you off balance,” says Alexey Kovalev, an independent Russian journalist, on the phone from Moscow. “You’re expecting to be in a civilized argument that doesn’t use cheap tricks like that. You are playing chess and your opponent — while making a lousy move — he just punches you on the nose.”

Gabe Sherman writes that Steve Bannon Readies His  Revenge:

….Bannon has media ambitions to compete with Fox News from the right. Last week in New York, he huddled with his billionaire benefactor, Robert Mercer, and discussed ways to expand Breitbart into TV, sources said. “Television is definitely on the table,” a Bannon adviser told me. A partnership with Sinclair remains a possibility. In recent days, Sinclair’s chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn has spoken with Breitbart editors about ways to form an alliance, one Breitbart staffer said. “All the Sinclair guys are super tight with Breitbart. Imagine if we got together Hannity and O’Reilly and started something?”

Meanwhile, the next phase has already begun. On Sunday, the website’s lead story was based on a Daily Mail report that said Ivanka was behind Bannon’s removal. “Trump’s daughter Ivanka pushed out Bannon because of his ‘far-right views’ clashing with her Jewish faith,” the article noted. Another piece was headlined: “6 TIMES JAVANKA’S DISPLEASURE WITH POTUS LEAKED TO PRESS.” In his feud with Kushner, Bannon may have a powerful ally: Reince Priebus, also recently departed from the White House with a quiver of grudges. Recently, according to several sources, Bannon has told friends he wants Priebus to give his account of the James Comey firing to special prosecutor Robert Mueller. According to a source close to Priebus, the former chief of staff believes that the decision was made during an early May weekend in Bedminster, where Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Stephen Miller were with the president. Trump returned to the Oval Office on Monday, May 8 and told other aides he intended to fire Comey….

Colin Binkley reports that Math experts join brainpower to help address gerrymandering:

….”Mathematicians are coming late to this problem,” said [Tufts University mathematics professor] Duchin, who started studying the shapes of electoral districts after teaching a course on voting during the presidential primary last year. “We think we can see underlying mathematical principles that weren’t visible before.”

Gerrymandering isn’t new, and it isn’t always illegal. States are given wide latitude to draw their own voting districts, and since at least the 1800s politicians have sought to cement their power by creating districts in which certain voting groups are spread thinly over many districts or clumped heavily into only a few. Either way, it dilutes their power.

Drawing districts along racial lines has been ruled unconstitutional, as in North Carolina, where a federal court struck down 28 districts last year because state Republicans relied too heavily on race when drawing them. Gerrymandering along partisan lines has survived legal challenges, but the Supreme Court will revisit the topic this year in a Wisconsin lawsuit that experts say could be a landmark case.

Mathematicians hope to help by offering new measurements to evaluate whether a district has been drawn unfairly. Until recently many courts have relied on relatively unscientific methods, experts say, often using the so-called “eyeball test” to see if a district’s shape looks reasonably compact and regular….

Alan Feuer reports that Far Right Plans Its Next Moves With a New Energy:

The white supremacists and right-wing extremists who came together over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., are now headed home, many of them ready and energized, they said, to set their sights on bigger prizes.

Some were making arrangements to appear at future marches. Some were planning to run for public office. Others, taking a cue from the Charlottesville event — a protest, nominally, of the removal of a Confederate-era statue — were organizing efforts to preserve what they referred to as “white heritage” symbols in their home regions.

Calling it “an opportune time,” Preston Wiginton, a Texas-based white nationalist, declared on Saturday that he planned to hold a “White Lives Matter” march on Sept. 11 on the campus of Texas A&M — with a keynote speaker, Richard B. Spencer, who was featured at the Charlottesville event….

And yet, and yet, Boston was a disappointment for them:

Today I Found Out describes stories from its WWII Files – Pigeon Guided Missiles and Literal Bat Bombs:

Daily Bread for 8.20.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-six. Sunrise is 6:07 AM and sunset 7:48 PM, for 13h 40m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 2.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1968, the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations invade Czechoslovakia to crush the Prague Spring liberalization of Alexander Dubcek’s regime. On this day in 1794, American troops under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne defeat a confederation of Indian forces led by Little Turtle of the Miamis and Blue Jacket of the Shawnees: “The crushing defeat of the British-allied Indians convinced the British to finally evacuate their posts in the American west (an accession explicitly given in the Jay Treaty signed some three months later), eliminating forever the English presence in the early American northwest and clearing the way for American expansion. The battle also resulted in the 1795 Treaty of Greenville, in which the defeated Indians ceded to Wayne the right of Americans to settle in the Ohio Valley (although the northwestern area of that country was given to the Indians). Wayne’s victory opened the gates of widespread settlement of the Old Northwest, Wisconsin included.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Anna Nemtsova asks Did a Mole-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named Leak Plot to Elect Trump?:

MOSCOW—For the first time in his two decades defending people accused of treason, Ivan Pavlov has come across a case he says he truly has trouble getting his head around. Everything about it is a guessing game for the defense lawyer, including the charges against his client, whose name he is not allowed to mention in public.

Speaking at his office in St. Petersburg, under a photograph of President Barack Obama shaking his hand, Pavlov, 46, explained to The Daily Beast that the arrest in Russia last December of accused cyber spies is heavy with high-profile politics….

To get a sense of just how fraught it may be, let us go back to January. By then, allegations by the American intelligence community about Russian meddling in the American elections had been building for several months. President Obama had warned Putin, eyeball to eyeball, to stop. Two reports had been issued publicly by the U.S. intelligence services in October and in December, but in guarded and less than explicit language as America’s spooks tried to protect the methods and especially the sources that had led them to their conclusions….

Conservative Jennifer Rubin contends Yes, boycott the White House — and Trump properties:

….We certainly hope [Kevin] Durant’s teammates, fellow basketball players and indeed all professional and college sports players make the same choice [not to visit Trump at the White House]. They are inarguably role models, and America could use some role models right about now. Durant and others can emphasize that their extraordinary action is required because of Trump’s deliberate effort to rewrite history and redefine the United States in ways that are antithetical to our founding creed.

We’ve urged public figures of all types — entertainers, civic leaders, public intellectuals, business leaders, scientists, etc. — to make the same decision. Those who publicly decline to attend events deserve praise; those who attend deserve our contempt. No one can honestly say that meeting with the president offers a chance to shape Trump’s views, influence his decisions or help our country. This week should have removed any doubt that Trump is immune to reason, indifferent to history and contemptuous of advice.

Charities are also making some public decisions. Both the American Cancer Society and the Cleveland Clinic have canceled events at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The Post also reports, “The American Friends of Magen David Adom, which raises money for Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross, also said it would not hold its 2018 gala at the club ‘after considerable deliberation,’ though it did not give a reason. The charity had one of Mar-a-Lago’s biggest events last season, with about 600 people in attendance.” I cannot imagine why any charitable organization that wants the support of a wide array of Americans would think it was in its interest to stage an event under the Trump logo….

Meanwhile, Matthew Nussbam reports that Republicans’ confidence in Russia’s Putin on the rise:

Russian President Vladimir Putin is enjoying rising popularity among Republicans according to a new poll from the Pew Research Center.

The poll found that the share of Republicans expressing confidence in Putin doubled to 34 percent from 17 percent in 2015, when Donald Trump launched a campaign for the White House that was seen as friendly toward Moscow.

Though most Americans view Russia negatively, Moscow’s overall popularity in the United States has risen since 2014, when it plummeted after the country annexed Crimea. Twenty-nine percent of Americans now have a favorable view, compared with 19 percent in 2014, the poll found….

Dexter Roberts reports that This Is China’s Real Economic Problem (“A $600 billion stimulus program created corporate zombies and stinted on the private sector. The result: lower productivity”):

….one key indicator—total factor productivity—gives a more worrisome picture of China’s economic health. Total factor productivity is the extra output that the economy produces without additional labor or capital—it’s what creates prosperity. While productivity in the manufacturing industry grew an average of 2.6 percent a year from 1998 to 2007, growth has been almost zero since, according to Loren Brandt, a China specialist at the University of Toronto. In the U.S., by contrast, productivity growth fell from 1 percent to about 0.5 percent over the same period, he says.

It isn’t unusual for productivity to slow once the easy gains that come from industrialization, the development of supply chains, and the embrace of technologies such as computers are used up. “You would expect productivity to come down, but not as sharply as we’re seeing” in China, Brandt says.

So what explains the dramatic drop? There’s a pretty obvious culprit. To combat the effects of the global financial crisis, China unleashed a 4 ­trillion-yuan ($586 billion) stimulus program in 2008, much of it directed at state-owned enterprises (SOEs), to prop up growth and avoid mass layoffs. While the spending helped China avoid a deep slump, the focus on SOEs hurt the private sector. Today, state companies get almost 30 percent of all loans but contribute less than a tenth of GDP, according to Gavekal Dragonomics, a Beijing-based economic consulting firm. “The government’s repeated use of state-owned enterprises to stimulate short-term activity has weakened the private sector and lowered productivity growth,” Andrew Batson, research director at Dragonomics, wrote in a May report. As a result, China is “increasingly locked into a slower-growth future”….

Great Big Story presents The Alaskan Town FULL of Bald Eagles:

A bald eagle is an exciting, rare sighting for most Americans. But on this Alaskan island, our national symbol is as common as a beachside seagull. You can find them everywhere—lurking above the post office, inspecting the trash, waiting patiently for the local fishing boats to return with the day’s catch, even hanging out in front of the town church. In Unalaska, Alaska, everyone has an eagle story.

 

Daily Bread for 8.19.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-one. Sunrise is 6:06 AM and sunset 7:49 PM, for 13h 42m 51s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 6.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 2004, Google’s initial public offering (IPO) takes place: “the company offered 19,605,052 shares at a price of $85 per share.[27][28] Shares were sold in an online auction format using a system built by Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, underwriters for the deal.[29][30] The sale of $1.67 bn (billion) gave Google a market capitalization of more than $23bn.[31] By January 2014, its market capitalization had grown to $397bn.[32] The vast majority of the 271 million shares remained under the control of Google, and many Google employees became instant paper millionaires.” On this day in 1812, the USS Constitution defeats the British frigate HMS Guerriere off Nova Scotia during the War of 1812, earning the nickname “Old Ironsides.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Anthony Breznican observes that “[t]hey should teach this interview in journalism schools to show how you stop someone from lying on live TV“:

(As Trump lies with abandon, so do his surrogates. As an autocrat he assumes that no will challenge his lies, and his surrogates make the same arrogant mistake.)

David Graham observes that Bannon’s Exit Leaves Trump Untethered (“As the president cuts ties with establishment staffers, and forces out his populist firebrand, what’s left of Trumpism other than white identity politics?”):

….The one view that seems likely to persist, even without Bannon around, is Trump’s embrace of the politics of white resentment and racially divisive rhetoric. In a sense, Trump is right that Bannon was a newcomer: Trump has flirted with racism for decades. He first made headlines when the Justice Department prosecuted him for trying to keep black tenants out of Trump Organization apartments. He later called for the execution of the Central Park Five, who were eventually exonerated.

Trump’s peculiar statement on Tuesday, endorsing some forms of white identity politics and white pride, while trying to separate them from neo-Nazis and white nationalism, was among his clearest and most cogent statements so far. And while Bannon said he was “proud” of the comments, they came with Bannon already on the outs. Those comments from the president created a major split with the business establishment, which he had leaned on to deliver manufacturing jobs—along with white identity politics, the core of his pitch for the presidency. With Bannon gone, the GOP establishment out, and the business community treating Trump as toxic, white identity politics might be the only remaining strongly held view that Trump has.

Of course, it’s unclear whether that matters. Kelly has proven that he can help push out staffers he dislikes, but he has also had little luck in reining in the president, who has horrified advisers with comments on North Korea and Charlottesville in the last week alone. He is now left with a team of advisers with few ideological commitments and less political experience. Pushing Priebus out seems to have done little to arrest Trump’s slide into chaos. Will Bannon’s ouster really change things any more? Commentary about Trump has tended to obsess over who his staffers are, but the important fact remains who the president is. That hasn’t changed.

Jennifer Rubin cautions Don’t fall for the White House spin on Stephen Bannon’s ouster:

Maybe Bannon appealed to Trump’s worst instincts, but honestly, does the president have any good ones? It is said that Bannon’s pro-Russian views made for constant tension with hawkish advisers, but does anyone think Trump is not compromised in some fashion when it comes to Russian President Vladimir Putin? Bannon was the faux intellectual giving direction and form to Trump’s views, but Trump’s deeply warped views, glaring ignorance and defective character are the root of the problem. Trump will still talk to allies harboring the same worldview, will still tweet impulsively, will still repeat discredited hoaxes and will still be unfit for the presidency. And most ominously, the Russia investigation will still grind on, and Trump will no doubt lash out at both the special prosecutor and the media. This personnel move may buy him a brief pause in the chaos, but his presidency is living on borrowed time.

How will we know that Bannon’s departure is more than another staff shuffle? Look to see if Trump continues to campaign against Republican incumbents, obsess over news coverage, treat Russia with kid gloves, saber-rattle over North Korea and stoke racial tension.

Patrick Radden Keefe writes of Carl Icahn’s Failed Raid on Washington (“Was President Trump’s richest adviser focussed on helping the country—or his own bottom line?”):

….In the months after the election, the stock price of CVR, Icahn’s refiner, nearly doubled—a surge that is difficult to explain without acknowledging the appointment of the company’s lead shareholder to a White House position. The rally meant a personal benefit for Icahn, at least on paper, of half a billion dollars. There was an expectation in the market—an expectation created, in part, by Icahn’s own remarks—that, with Trump in the White House and Icahn playing consigliere, the rules were about to change, and not just at the E.P.A. Icahn’s empire ranges across many economic sectors, from energy to pharmaceuticals to auto supplies to mining, and all of them are governed by the types of regulations about which he would now potentially be advising Trump.

Janet McCabe, who left the E.P.A. in January, and now works at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, told me, “I’m not naïve. People in business try to influence the government. But the job of the government is to serve the American people, not the specific business interests of the President’s friends. To think that you have somebody with that kind of agenda bending the President’s ear is troubling.”

Conflicts of interest have been a defining trait of the Trump Administration. The President has not only refused to release his tax returns; he has declined to divest from his companies, instead putting them in a trust managed by his children. Questions have emerged about the ongoing business ties of his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, who, since Trump took office, have reaped nearly two hundred million dollars from the Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., and from other investments. Although Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” he has assembled a Cabinet of ultra-rich Americans, including two billionaires: Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, and Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce….

This train could hit 200 mph on just air power (perhaps…):

Daily Bread for 8.18.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be increasingly cloudy with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 6:05 AM and sunset 7:51 PM, for 13h 45m 29s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 13.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1919, Tennessee ratifies the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution (“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation”), providing the necessary number of ratifying states to bring the amendment into law. On this day in 1864, the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad begins: “2nd, 6th, 7th, 37th, and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments [take] part in the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad, also known as the Battle of Globe Tavern, near Petersburg, Virginia. This was the first Union victory in the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign. By destroying the railway while under heavy attack, Union troops forced Confederates to carry their provision 30 miles by wagon around Union lines to supply the city.”

Recommended for reading in full —

James Hohmann observes that Trump acts like the president of the Red States of America:

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump often behaves, first and foremost, as if he is the president of the states and people who voted for him.

That’s at odds with the American tradition, and it’s problematic as a governing philosophy — especially in a moment of crisis. Trump’s initially tone-deaf response to Charlottesville underscores why.

Animated by grievance and congenitally disinclined to extend olive branches, Trump lashes out at his “enemies” — his 2020 reelection campaign even used that word in a commercial released on Sunday — while remaining reticent to explicitly call out his fans — no matter how odious, extreme or violent.

Channeling his inner-Richard Nixon, who kept an enemies list of his own, candidate Trump often claimed to speak for “a silent majority.” After failing to win the popular vote, President Trump has instead governed on behalf of an increasingly vocal but diminishing minority….

Rhonda Colvin writes that Resistance efforts are taking root in pro-Trump country — and women are leading the charge:

When Susan Kroger decided to help launch a political activism group for women in her largely rural, pro-Trump region, she expected a few dozen liberal neighbors to show up.

But when she opened the doors at the group’s first community meeting in Sioux Falls, S.D., 100 people flooded into the room. Now nine months later, Kroger says the group has quickly grown to 2,300 active members.

It’s a story emerging across Trump country, where left-leaning grass-roots groups have popped up in some of the reddest parts of the nation — a sign that “the resistance” has gone rural.

Most surprisingly, Kroger said, some of her newest members are disappointed Trump voters. The uncertainty over health-care policy has become a top issue driving first-time activists to join their ranks, Kroger and other grass-roots organizers said.

(Some have said that those who oppose Trump belong in blue states; on the contrary, there’s much benefit to being here, in a red state. Whitewater is beautiful, a citizen may freely choose where he wishes to live, and there is not the slightest reason to yield this space to others)….

David Corn and Dan Friedman report that A Putin-Friendly Oligarch’s Top US Executive Donated $285,000 to Trump:

Earlier this year, as Donald Trump, then the president-elect, was trying to counter news reports that Russia had hacked the 2016 election to help him win, the head of the American subsidiary of a Russian conglomerate owned by a Russian oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin made a huge donation to Trump.

On January 6—the day the US intelligence community reported that Putin had approved a covert operation to subvert the presidential campaign to assist Trump—Andrew Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund.

Intrater is the CEO of Columbus Nova, the lone American subsidiary of Renova Group, a giant holding company owned by oligarch Viktor Vekselberg with interests in the metals, mining, chemical, construction, transport, energy, telecommunication, and financial sectors in Russia and abroad. Intrater, an American citizen, is Vekselberg’s cousin, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In June, Intrater also made a $35,000 contribution to a joint fundraising committee for Trump’s reelection and the Republican National Committee.

Intrater has no public history as a major political funder; his Trump donations dwarf his previous contributions. According to Federal Election Commission records, his only past political donations were $2,600 in 2014 to a business associate running as a Republican for Congress, $1,200 to Democratic New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s 2008 presidential campaign, and $250 to the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts in 1995. Intrater’s hefty gift to the inauguration fund earned him special access to inaugural events, including a dinner billed as “an intimate policy discussion with select cabinet appointees,” according to a fundraising brochure obtained by the Center for Public Integrity….

Alberrto Nardelli reports that This Is What European Diplomats Really Think About Donald Trump:

….On one level, the officials said, he is something of a laughing stock among Europeans at international gatherings. One revealed that a small group of diplomats play a version of word bingo whenever the president speaks because they consider his vocabulary to be so limited. “Everything is ‘great’, ‘very, very great’, ‘amazing’,” the diplomat said.

But behind the mocking, there is growing fear among international governments that Trump is a serious threat to international peace and stability.

“He has no historical view. He is only dealing with these issues now, and seems to think the world started when he took office,” a diplomat told BuzzFeed News, pointing to Trump’s remarks and tweets about defence spending. “He thinks that NATO existed only to keep the communists out of Europe. He has a similar attitude in Asia-Pacific with Japan, ignoring that the US basically wrote their constitution.” During his presidential campaign, Trump called out Japan to pay more for the security US provides, including for hosting the US troops in the country. Japan’s constitution restricts its military options….

So, why do jets leave white trails in the sky? Here’s why:

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