Daily Bread for 12.4.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see scattered thunderstorms with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 7:09 AM and sunset 4:21 PM, for 9h 11m 06s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred ninetieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1842, a Civil War hero from Waukesha is born: “On this date William B. Cushing was born in Delafield. In October, 1864 Cushing led a small group of soldiers in the sinking of the Confederate ironclad ram, the Albermarle. The crew exploded a torpedo beneath the ship and then attempted to escape. The Albermarle imposed a blockade near Plymouth, North Carolina and sunk or removed many Union vessels while on the watch. Cushing’s plan was a success, although his ship sank and most of the crew either surrendered or drowned. Cushing and one other man swam to shore and hid in the swamps to evade Confederate capture. Cushing received a “vote of thanks” from the U.S. Congress and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He died in 1874 of ill health and is buried in the Naval Cemetery at Annapolis, Maryland. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinnersby Fred L. Holmes, p.274-285]”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Carol D. Leonnig, John Wagner and Ellen Nakashima report Trump lawyer says president knew Flynn had given FBI the same account he gave to vice president:

….Trump’s Saturday tweets had stoked controversy, as he wrote that “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Previously, the White House had cited only the false statements to Pence as a rationale for dismissing Flynn.

[Trump lawyer John] Dowd confirmed Sunday that he had drafted the tweet for Trump and acknowledged that it was sloppily worded. He said it was inaccurate to say the president was told that Flynn had lied to the FBI. Dowd said Sunday that Trump knew only what acting attorney general Sally Yates had told the White House counsel: that Flynn’s accounts to the agents interviewing him were the same as those Flynn gave Pence, and “that the [Justice] Department was not accusing him of lying”….

Dowd played down the significance of Trump’s tweet, saying he did not intend to make news and declared, “I’m out of the tweeting business.”

But several legal experts said the tweet, and some of Dowd’s comments about what the president may have known, could increase the president’s legal exposure.

If Trump knew that Flynn might not have been accurate with the FBI, it could provide motivation for any alleged effort to obstruct justice, said Barak Cohen, a former federal prosecutor who does white-collar defense work at Perkins Coie law firm. “It bolsters the intent for committing obstruction,” he said….

(One would have to accept that Dowd – of all people – actually drafted Trump’s tweets, and also contend that in any event that Trump’s publication of those words did not constitute an adoption of them.)

Mike Allen of Axios floats the latest theory from Dowd, that Trump lawyer claims the “President cannot obstruct justice”:

John Dowd, President Trump’s outside lawyer, outlined to me a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.

The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd claims.

Dowd says he drafted this weekend’s Trump tweet that many thought strengthened the case for obstruction: The tweet suggested Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired, raising new questions about the later firing of FBI Director James Comey….

(This comes close to l’etat, c’est moi, dressed as mere commentary on events. One can expect Trump’s base, relatively ignorant as they are, to accept this unflinchingly when Hannity ladles it to them.)

Craig Silverman writes Social Platforms Promised A Level Playing Field For All. The Russian Trolls Showed That Was Never True:

….If you can’t tell whether a Facebook or Twitter account is run by an American, a Macedonian spammer, or a Russian troll, then that’s great news for the Macedonians and Russians, or others seeking to push false information on social media. The fact that so much attention could be harvested on social media by fostering division, confusion, and conflict speaks volumes about American politics and society — but also about these massive platforms that cloak themselves in the values and talk of liberal democracies.

One of the unintended consequences of the so-called “flattening” effect of platforms is that, by ostensibly putting everyone on the same level, you empower those who become experts at gaming the system. By democratizing media on platforms that reward pure attention capture, you enable manipulation on a profound scale.

Thanks to the internet, the marketplace of ideas is more open and more democratized than ever before. Yet thanks to social platforms, it’s also been rigged to reward those who can manipulate human emotion and cognition to trigger the almighty algorithms that pick winners and losers….

Billy Bush writes Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That:

He said it. “Grab ’em by the pussy.”

Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator. Along with Donald Trump and me, there were seven other guys present on the bus at the time, and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass standup act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real.

We now know better.

Recently I sat down and read an article dating from October of 2016; it was published days after my departure from NBC, a time when I wasn’t processing anything productively. In it, the author reviewed the various firsthand accounts about Mr. Trump that, at that point, had come from 20 women.

Some of what Natasha Stoynoff, Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds and Jill Harth alleged involved forceful kissing. Ms. Harth said he pushed her up against a wall, with his hands all over her, trying to kiss her.

“He was relentless,” she said. “I didn’t know how to handle it.” Her story makes the whole “better use some Tic Tacs” and “just start kissing them” routine real. I believe her….

An omelette? No, a 10,000 egg omelette: