Daily Bread for 12.2.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of fifty-two. Sunrise is 7:07 AM and sunset 4:21 PM, for 9h 13m 30s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 98.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred eighty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1804, French imperialist and dictator Napoleon is coronated Emperor of France:

“A keen observer of Bonaparte’s rise to absolute power, Madame de Rémusat, explains that “men worn out by the turmoil of the Revolution … looked for the domination of an able ruler” and that “people believed quite sincerely that Bonaparte, whether as consul or emperor, would exert his authority and save [them] from the perils of anarchy.[100]”

Napoleon’s coronation took place on 2 December 1804. Two separate crowns were brought for the ceremony: a golden laurel wreath recalling the Roman Empire and a replica of Charlemagne’s crown.[101] Napoleon entered the ceremony wearing the laurel wreath and kept it on his head throughout the proceedings.[101] For the official coronation, he raised the Charlemagne crown over his own head in a symbolic gesture, but never placed it on top because he was already wearing the golden wreath.[101] Instead he placed the crown on Josephine’s head, the event commemorated in the officially sanctioned painting by Jacques-Louis David.[101] Napoleon was also crowned King of Italy, with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, at the Cathedral of Milan on 26 May 1805. He created eighteen Marshals of the Empire from amongst his top generals to secure the allegiance of the army.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Susan Hennessey, Matthew Kahn, Vanessa Sauter, Shannon Togawa Mercer, Benjamin Wittes offer The Flynn Plea: A Quick and Dirty Analysis:

The news that former national security adviser Michael Flynn has reached a cooperation and plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller could not come as less of a surprise. Reports of Flynn’s bizarre behavior across a wide spectrum of areas began trickling out even before his tenure as national security adviser ended after only 24 days. These behaviors raised a raft of substantial criminal law questions that have been a matter of open speculation and reporting for months. His problems include, among other things, an alleged kidnapping plot, a plan to build nuclear power plants all over the Middle East, alleged violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) involving at least two different countries, and apparent false statements to the FBI. In light of the scope and range of the activity that reputable news organizations have attributed to Flynn, it is no surprise that he has agreed to cooperate with Mueller in exchange for leniency.

The surprising thing about the plea agreement and the stipulated facts underlying it is how narrow they are. There’s no whiff of the alleged Fethullah Gulen kidnapping talks. Flynn has escaped FARA and influence-peddling charges. And he has been allowed to plead to a single count of lying to the FBI. The factual stipulation is also narrow. It involves lies to the FBI on two broad matters and lies on Flynn’s belated FARA filings on another issue. If a tenth of the allegations against Flynn are true and provable, he has gotten a very good deal from Mueller.

The narrowness gives a superficial plausibility to the White House’s reaction to the plea. Ty Cobb, the president’s ever-confident attorney, said in a statement: “The false statements involved mirror the false statements [by Flynn] to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.” Cobb reads Friday’s events as an indication that Mueller is “moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion” of the investigation

This is very likely not an accurate assessment of the situation. If Mueller were prepared to settle the Flynn matter on the basis of single-count plea to a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, he was almost certainly prepared to charge a great deal more. Moreover, we can infer from the fact that Flynn accepted the plea deal that he and his counsel were concerned about the degree of jeopardy, both for Flynn and for his son, related to other charges. The deal, in other words, reflects the strength of Mueller’s hand against Flynn….

Ari Berman lists challenges to democracy, all of which Trumpism presents:

Reuters reports Wisconsin county’s credit rating cut over Foxconn financial aid:

(Reuters) – A decision by Wisconsin’s Racine County to give financial assistance to Taiwan-based Foxconn to build a massive liquid-crystal display plant has led to a credit rating downgrade for the county.

Moody’s Investor Service on Wednesday dropped the rating one notch to Aa2 from Aa1, citing anticipated growth in the county’s debt burden after it authorized up to $764 million in financial incentives to support the $10 billion plant.

(As for whether the plant will be even half so large as touted…)

Aram Roston reports The Trump Administration Is Mulling A Pitch For A Private “Rendition” And Spy Network:

WASHINGTON — The White House and CIA have been considering a package of secret proposals to allow former US intelligence officers to run privatized covert actions, intelligence gathering, and propaganda missions, according to three sources who’ve been briefed on or have direct knowledge of the proposals.

One of the proposals would involve hiring a private company, Amyntor Group, for millions of dollars to set up a large intelligence network and run counterterrorist propaganda efforts, according to the sources. Amyntor’s officials and employees include veterans of a variety of US covert operations, ranging from the Reagan-era Iran–Contra affair to more recent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Amyntor declined to discuss the proposals, but a lawyer for the company said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the type of contract being contemplated would be legal “with direction and control by the proper government authority.”

Another proposal presented to US officials would allow individuals affiliated with the company to help capture wanted terrorists on behalf of the United States. In keeping with that proposal, people close to the company are tracking two specific suspects in a Middle Eastern country, the sources said, for possible “rendition” to the United States.

Explore the Majestic Sandstone of Vermilion Cliffs:

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument contains nearly 300,000 acres of public land on America’s Utah-Arizona border. Relatively unknown to many tourists, this remote desert wilderness is home to some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet. It is best known for the vivid, undulating sandstone formation known as “The Wave,” but travel deeper into the desert and you’ll find another spectacular spot called “White Pocket.” This hidden gem is special to Bureau of Land Management employee Rachel Carnahan, who helps protect this otherworldly landscape.