Daily Bread for 1.6.18

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of twelve. Sunrise is 7:25 AM and sunset 4:37 PM, for 9h 11m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 73.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1759, George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis are married in New Kent County, Virginia. On this day in 1921, ‘Janesville women abhor salacious entertainment’: “On this date the Janesville Federation of Women decided to “censor” movies and vaudeville in the city. Members of this organization praised and promoted what they considered “better offerings.” They were zealously critical towards those of a “salacious” nature. No follow-up ever determined whether the women were successful in their quest or if the increased publicity for “salacious” shows backfired.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Rachel Maddow contends we’ve seen that “In a year, Republicans went from caring about the Russia investigation to caring about undermining it. And the FBI in that time has become oddly compliant“:

Jennifer Rubin contends Senate Republicans become Trump accomplices in manipulating the system:

The Post reports:

“The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended Friday that the Justice Department investigate for possible criminal charges the author of the now-famous “dossier” alleging the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin during the 2016 election.

The move by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) marks a major escalation in conservatives’ challenges to the FBI’s credibility as the agency investigates whether any Trump associates committed crimes. Another Republican, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), joined in the letter to the Justice Department.

Their letter makes what is called a criminal referral to the Justice Department, suggesting it investigate the dossier author, former British spy Christopher Steele, for possibly lying to the FBI. It is a crime to lie to FBI agents about a material fact relevant to an ongoing investigation.”

This is an outrageous political stunt, one with no legal ramifications and obviously designed to take the heat off the White House as damning reports bolstering an obstruction-of-justice claim and questioning the president’s mental fitness have sent the White House spinning.

(Grassley & Graham have two possible strategies: create a diversion, and also forestall release of the transcript of the ten-hour testimony from FusionGPS executives about the dossier as that those executives have requested. By enoucouraging an investigation into dossier author Steele, Grassley & Graham will be able to say that must withhold FusionGPS’s transcribed testimony about the dossier ‘pending the outcome of an investigation.’ That testimony, if released, would by the account of those who gave it leave Fox, Breitbart, and Trump’s defenders with no credible reply. See The Republicans’ Fake Investigations, linked here on 1.3.18)

Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder, and Norman L. Eisen ask Did Trump Obstruct Justice?:

….Of all the elements that must be proved to establish the offense of obstruction, the one that is most critical is corrupt intent: Did Mr. Trump wrongfully intend to obstruct the criminal and congressional investigations? The facts contained in these reports strongly suggest he did.

We now know, for example, that the president took aggressive steps to prevent Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Justice Department’s investigation because he needed Mr. Sessions to protect and safeguard him, as he believed Eric Holder Jr. and Robert Kennedy did for their presidents. This shows that from the outset the president was concerned that he needed protection from the impact of any investigation. In fact, when the president’s efforts were unsuccessful, he purportedly responded by saying, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” perhaps suggesting that Mr. Trump wanted the attorney general of the United States to act as his personal criminal defense lawyer — a startling view into his state of mind.

Equally significant are new revelations that the president had drafted a letter to the F.B.I. director at the time, James Comey, describing the Russian investigation as “fabricated and politically motivated.” Those disclosures support that the president’s statements to the press and the public in connection with firing Mr. Comey were misleading. The president, of course, publicly claimed that Mr. Comey was fired because of his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. This matters because attempts to cover up the truth are classic indicators of a culpable state of mind under the obstruction statutes.

In this same vein, the Wolff book claims that the president’s lawyers believed that his efforts aboard Air Force One last summer to shape his son Donald Jr.’s statement about a meeting at Trump Tower with Russians was “an explicit attempt to throw sand into the investigation’s gears.” Mr. Wolff also asserts that one of Mr. Trump’s spokesmen quit over the incident because of a concern that it was obstruction of justice. That was a wise move. If the president knowingly caused his son to make a false statement to interfere with the investigations or cover up the facts, that alone could constitute obstruction of justice….

(See also from the same authors, as linked here on 10.19.17, Presidential obstruction of justice: The case of Donald J. Trump.)

Jonathan Lemire and Zeke Miller report More departures on horizon for struggling White House staff:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Already setting turnover records, President Donald Trump’s White House is bracing for even more staff departures and an increasing struggle to fill vacancies, shadowed by the unrelenting Russia probe, political squabbling and Trump’s own low poll numbers.

Entering a grueling year that is sure to bring fresh challenges at home and abroad, Trump faces a brain drain across a wide swath of government functions, threatening to hamstring efforts to enact legislation or conduct even basic operations. Some departures are expected to come from senior ranks — the staff churn that makes headlines — but more are likely among the lesser-known officials who help to keep the White House and Cabinet agencies running.

In Trump’s first year, his administration’s upper-level officials have had a turnover rate of 34 percent, much higher than any other in the past 40 years, according to an analysis by Kathryn Dunn-Tenpas, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The study found that 22 of the 64 senior officials she tracked have resigned, been fired or reassigned.

Anecdotal evidence among more junior officials — the White House wouldn’t release data — suggests similar departure rates, and White House aides acknowledge difficulty filling roles in the administration….

(Rats, a listing ship, and rising waters…)

The Quiet Exuberance of Winter:

“You have to be at peace with the fact that something might happen, and you might not make it through,” says Alexandra de Steiguer, the caretaker for the Oceanic Hotel, in Brian Bolster’s short documentary, Winter’s Watch. De Steiguer has spent the past 19 winters tending to the 43-acre grounds of the hotel, on Star Island, which sits 10 miles off the coast of New England. In the long, wintry off-season, she is the island’s sole inhabitant.

Winter’s Watch explores de Steiguer’s relationship to extreme isolation. Its meditative imagery contemplates the beauty of absence, while de Steiguer reflects on the unique challenges and rewards of solitude. “There are no other distractions,” she says. “You have to decide how to fill your days….and yet it is peaceful, and I can use my imagination.”

The hulking—and possibly haunted—hotel bears a striking resemblance to The Shining, but de Steiguer maintains that “if there are ghosts out here, they are being extremely kind to me.” Rather, she has embraced what she calls “the great waiting of winter.”

“Being alone here and seeing the struggle of winter makes me feel connected to the web of life,” she says. “Winter has a quiet exuberance. You have to look into the bones.”

2 thoughts on “Daily Bread for 1.6.18

  1. Patricia Arquette asks a really good question: “In a Trump/Bannon divorce, who gets the Nazis?”

    I suspect that we will get an answer to that question soon. Wolff rolled a number of grenades into the white house, and that is just one of them.

    The fracturing of the Republican party continues apace. Bannon and Trump are now competing for the same basket of deplorables. That is a finite resource, not a hate-a-copia. The smart money is on Trump, but Bannon will siphon-off some of Trump’s support. They are fighting over the 32% of the dead-enders, though, and making it extraordinarily likely that they will get any additional “converts”. 32%, even if you get it all, isn’t a majority.

    Meanwhile, it is clear that the Republican party has decided that they are going to lose big in the next election and are just trying to loot the government before they get deposed. There is no expectation of defending voting for toxic, self-serving, bills like Trumpcare, supported by 17% of the electorate. That failed (barely), but got back-doored thru the tax “reform” anyway.

    The tax-cut bill was opposed by 2/3 of the citizens, yet got voted in exclusively with R-Team support, and signed into law, after the assembled Republicans wiped off their chins, by one of the largest recipients of sugar from the new law, the Dear Leader. What political calculus results in a wild celebration of accomplishment for enacting a law opposed by 2/3 of the voters? I’m just an engineer, and not a Republican politician, so am having a difficult time with whatever Chinese algebra they are invoking. They were celebrating getting something, anything, done even if the net effect will not be kind to them at the polls. Nobody hoping to build support for re-election in the electorate does this sort of political blunder. It is a clear loot-and-leave operation.

    Meanwhile…the cabinet is doing its level best to piss everyone off, not just stick it to the Dems. Ryan Zinke (soon to be Attorney General), opened up all shores to offshore drilling. There was a simultaneous “WTF are you doing!” gasp all the way from Rick Scott (R-FL) to Jerry Brown (D-CA), and all other points along both shores. Governors of all persuasions were, and are, aghast. Expect lots of state-based anti-offshore laws, stat.

    Sessions just stirred up what may be the deciding backlash with his old-school, hippie-punching, reefer-madness. The madness is threatening medical weed, supported by 95% of the citizens and stoner weed, supported by 67% of the citizens, including 51% of Republicans. Younger voters support legalization by 75%. So much for youth outreach, eh? Plus Sessions lied about the subject to Senators, thereby royally pissing off the head of the NRSC, Cory Gardner (R-CO) enuf that he flat told Sessions that he gets no more appointments to the Justice Department until he backs off.

    The R-team is going out partying. Their support among minorities is close to nil. Their support among women is -20% at the moment. They are despised as aging theocrats by the youth of America, and now they want to lock up pot-heads again? Jesus!!

    Many Pulitzers will be won on the back of Trump, and there will be a significant industry just trying to analyze what drove the Republican Party to suicidal madness.

    1. Arquette’s question is a good one: there’s sure to be a contentious placement over who gets the alt-right. They’re not worth having, but Trump and Bannon can’t get anyone who’s not bigoted or ignorant, so they’ll fight over the miscreants who’ve failed utterly to function within democratic society. It is a finite resource, fortunately: most people are better than that.

      I read a comment on Twitter, applied to someone else, that fits well what I think of violent neo-Nazis (that is, the worst of the alt-right): They have only two stops left – first jail, then Hell. (Of course, I’m in no position to predict where someone will land – indeed, there are serious & compelling theologians who contend Hell is nearly or completely empty – but the expression does nicely if inadvisedly capture how much I despise these neo-Nazis Americans who have committed themselves to conflict against the democratic order.)

      It is like a GOP fire sale, isn’t it? Discarding all they can, everything must go.

      I don’t smoke (anything), but this libertarian would urge a legal treatment of marijuana as we now treat wine. Sessions is the embodiment of every retrograde direction and reactionary idea of 1950. The worst of that time, now inflicted in our time.

      It’s odd about Pulitzers, because of course you’re right – there are more to be won by thoroughly, insightfully uncovering Trump’s serial misconduct. David Fahrenthold won in ’17 for uncovering Trump’s lies about charitable giving. What’s odd is that although Fahrenthold’s work was excellent, we’ll look back and see lies over donations as the least of Trump’s many sins. That’s not Fahrenthold’s fault – it’s just that Trump feeds from deep, foul trough.

      Ryan, Graham, Grassley, etc. – if tonight they cried a Niagara in sorrow over their evident complicity with Trump, I’d shed not even a single tear, not even a faint sigh, in response. Too late for that now, so much damage having already been done…

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