Daily Bread for 12.6.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of thirty-two. Sunrise is 7:11 AM and sunset 4:20 PM, for 9h 08m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 87.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred ninety-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee is scheduled to meet at 6 PM.

On this day in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment is ratified by the required number of states. On this day in 1864, the 30th Wisconsin Infantry arrives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Callum Borchers reports Time’s Person of the Year isn’t Trump. It’s basically the opposite of Trump:

President Trump claimed in a tweet last month that Time magazine told him he would likely be named Person of the Year. But the magazine’s selection turned out to be, essentially, the opposite of Trump: The women and men speaking out about sexual misconduct.

Time dubbed these people “silence breakers” on a cover unveiled Wednesday, and some attributed their silence breaking to the president.

“I have real doubts about whether we’d be going through this if Hillary Clinton had won, because I think that President Trump’s election, in many ways, was a setback for women,” said NBC’s Megyn Kelly, the former Fox News host who last year accused former Fox chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment in a book. She added that “the overall message” of Trump’s victory “was that we don’t really matter.”

Trump, of course, won the presidency last fall, despite having been accused of groping and kissing women without consent — and bragging about getting away with such behavior on the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape published by The Washington Post….

Megan Twohey, Jodi Kantor, Susan Dominus, Jim Rutenberg, and Steve Eder report on
Weinstein’s Complicity Machine (“The producer Harvey Weinstein relied on powerful relationships across industries to provide him with cover as accusations of sexual misconduct piled up for decades”):

Harvey Weinsten built his complicity machine out of the witting, the unwitting and those in between. He commanded enablers, silencers and spies, warning others who discovered his secrets to say nothing. He courted those who could provide the money or prestige to enhance his reputation as well as his power to intimidate.

In the weeks and months before allegations of his methodical abuse of women were exposed in October, Mr. Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, pulled on all the levers of his carefully constructed apparatus.

He gathered ammunition, sometimes helped by the editor of The National Enquirer, who had dispatched reporters to find information that could undermine accusers. He turned to old allies, asking a partner in Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood’s premier talent shops, to broker a meeting with a C.A.A. client, Ronan Farrow, who was reporting on Mr. Weinstein. He tried to dispense favors: While seeking to stop the actress Rose McGowan from writing in a memoir that he had sexually assaulted her, he tried to arrange a $50,000 payment to her former manager and throw new business to a literary agent advising Ms. McGowan. The agent, Lacy Lynch, replied to him in an email: “No one understands smart, intellectual and commercial like HW.”

Mr. Weinstein’s final, failed round of manipulations shows how he operated for more than three decades: by trying to turn others into instruments or shields for his behavior, according to nearly 200 interviews, internal company records and previously undisclosed emails. Some aided his actions without realizing what he was doing. Many knew something or detected hints, though few understood the scale of his sexual misconduct. Almost everyone had incentives to look the other way or reasons to stay silent. Now, even as the tally of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds is still emerging, so is a debate about collective failure and the apportioning of blame….

(Note for Whitewater: In institutions, organizations, corporations, and government, misconduct thrives on willing enablers, often men and woman who rationalize their role aiding misconduct in one way or another. Indeed, repeated abuse of individuals – discarding those injured in the name of some supposed, greater good – often requires carefully-placed help.)

Monika Bauerlein reports It’s a Perfect Storm for Destroying Journalism (“Economic threats or political attacks are bad enough by themselves. But together they are incredibly dangerous”):

We’ve known for a while that the news business is in trouble. Long before Google and Facebook started gobbling up advertising revenue, newsroom hiring froze and investigative teams were dissolved as corporate and hedge-fund owners sought ever fatter quarterly returns. Eric Klinenberg laid it all out in MoJo in 2007: As far back as the 1980s, he notes, corporate owners had begun to “buy up local newspapers, crush the competition, jack up ad rates, downsize the editorial staff (and, if required, break the union), then watch earnings soar.”

And we can fast-forward through the history of digital publishing in no time: Blogging (and layoffs), search engine optimization (and “rightsizing”), social-media optimization (and layoffs), pivot to video (did we mention layoffs?), rinse and repeat—and suddenly it’s late 2017, and here’s another round of, you guessed it, layoffs and revenue implosion. And the timing, at a moment when pursuing the truth about those in power feels like a matter of life and death for democracy, could not be worse….

(Note for Whitewater: Bloggers aren’t journalists, nor should they wish to be. The decline of local journalism has come about not merely for economic reasons, but lack of will: weak newspapers have led to even weaker imitations.)

Jonathan Berr writes The Kochs’ Investment In Time Doesn’t Make Much Business Sense:

It’s a good thing that Charles and David Koch don’t have to answer to shareholders because they would be livid over the billionaire brothers’ decision to invest $650 million in Meredith’s $2.8 billion acquisition of magazine publisher Time Inc.

Under the terms of the deal, the Kochs would become passive investors in the new company through preferred equity they will receive. Iowa-based Meredith has taken pains to note that the conservative-leaning Kochs would have no say over any editorial matters. I will believe it when I see it. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has made similar promises but has repeatedly meddled in the editorial affairs of his various media properties, such as the New York Post.

But even if you accept the Kochs at their word, it’s hard to see the appeal of the Meredith-Time Inc. merger for any investors because Time Inc. has been a financial basket case for years. Before Time Warner spun off the corporate home of People, Sports Illustrated and Time magazines in 2013, revenue at Time Inc. had plunged in 22 out of the past 24 quarters. The company’s fortunes haven’t improved much since then. Total revenue barely budged from 2013 to 2016 and is expected to plunge in 2017 to $2.78 billion. To top it off, Time Inc. is saddled with more than $1.2 billion in debt from the Time Warner spin-off, an amount that Time Inc. itself has warned is “substantial”….

(There’s speculation that they have a political angle, but it may be instead, as Berr notes, that “[w]hether the Koch Brothers will get an expensive education in a sector they know little about remains to be seen.”)

So, Why Can’t You Put Pineapple in Jello?:

2 thoughts on “Daily Bread for 12.6.17

  1. Ponder, as you eat your daily bread, the events of the last few days. It’s difficult to imagine where we are…

    Consider Trump, painful though that may be: His campaign manager is under house arrest. His former National Security Advisor has turned state’s evidence and is warbling melodiously into Mueller’s ear. His son, as I rant, is testifying before congress about the Commie-Connection. His bank records from one of Wilbur Ross’s old money laundering waypoints, Deutsche Bank, are reportedly in Mueller’s hands. His son-in-law is so deep in the septic tank that he is breathing thru a straw. Only a blanket presidential pardon will keep Jared out of the sneezer, at this point.

    Trump’s deputy National Security Advisor, and not-so-likely-anymore proposed Ambassador to Singapore, Ms. McFarland is on record, in writing, claiming that Russia threw the election to Trump. She is almost without doubt, correct, despite all of the pussyfooting around about how the Russians “attempted” to “interfere”. They did, and it worked, and the ramifications of that are simply too enormous to contemplate. This country is not equipped to deal with a real, not fictional, Manchurian candidate getting to the presidency. There is no clean way out of this, particularly considering the craven nature of the Republican Party, as currently constituted.

    Removal by congress will not happen in any plausible scenario. He may, if the house switches, as is entirely possible, get impeached. Even if the Senate falls, there isn’t any way a 67 senator vote to remove happens. Remember that the Senate Republicans will welcome a child molester to their caucus, as long as he votes for tax cuts. An interesting possibility is that Pence is up to his ass in this, too, and Flynn really didn’t lie to him. Pence can’t use the Nixon “If the President does it, it is by definition, legal” defense, as trotted out by Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, recently, as Pence ain’t President, at least not yet.

    Joe’s First Law, that if you get anywhere near Trump, you get covered in shit, is both inviolable, and directly applicable to Pence. Pence should have extended his personal law of never dining alone with a woman to never dining with Trump without a lawyer present. So, if Trump resigns, Pence gets Agnewed, and the D-Team takes the house, Nancy Pelosi becomes president. I’m deep into irrational exuberance, with that thought… If it happened though, Republican heads would look like the watermelon that former congressman Dan Burton shot with a .357 in an attempt to prove Hillary murdered Vince Foster.

    The Republican party, at this time, looks to be reenacting the Battle of Carthage (159 BC), complete with the crop-burning and earth-salting. They are ramming thru, or attempting to ram thru, wildly unpopular bills just to get tax-breaks and other more loathsome legislation done before the rout happens. This is not the activity of a party that expects to be around much longer. There is no planning for an enduring future in evidence.

    These are dangerous times. There is no feedback mechanism restraining the baser impulses of the Republican Party right now. There is no way this ends pretty…

    1. Your first law does hold as inviolable: There’s no one connected to Trump who’s not made worse by the connection. They may come in damaged, but Trump trebles any prior disorders, leaving them caked in filth.

      Jared Kushner: like father, like father-in-law, like son. One often hears Ivanka Trump compared favorably to her adult brothers, but the comparison still leaves her as someone who can’t think straight, about spouses or policies. Better than Don Jr. and Eric isn’t much.

      Pence fits with your first law. McKay Coppins has a story out recently about Pence, and I’m eager to read it. The lede is clever: “No man can serve two masters, the Bible teaches, but Mike Pence is giving it his all.” Coppins is, himself, religious (he’s a Latter Day Saint), and sometimes the best understanding (and implicit critique) comes from someone familiar with the underlying language of the claims being made.

      If there is earth to be salted, in our time, there’s probably a poorly landscaped Trump property somewhere that could use a change…any change. The only risk in mentioning as much is that Trump might expect for himself a personal tax break or subsidy for any work undertaken.

      But salted earth couldn’t look worse than the natural or artificial aesthetic choices he’s already made…

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