Daily Bread for 2.2.18

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny skies with a high of eighteen. Sunrise is 7:07 AM and sunset 5:10 PM, for 10h 03m 06s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 94.0% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred forty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, and so predicts we’ll have six more weeks of winter:

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On this day in 1925, the ongoing 1925 serum run to Nome saves lives:

The 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy, was a transport of diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled relay across the U.S. territory of Alaska by 20 mushersand about 150 sled dogs 674 miles (1,085 km) in five and a half days, saving the small town of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic.

Statue of Balto, the lead dog on the last relay team. The statue is located in Central Park (NYC) and is dedicated to all the dogs involved in the serum run.

Both the mushers and their dogs were portrayed as heroes in the newly popular medium of radio, and received headlinecoverage in newspapers across the United StatesBalto, the lead sled dog on the final stretch into Nome, became the most famous canine celebrity of the era after Rin Tin Tin, and his statue is a popular tourist attraction in New York City‘s Central Park. The publicity also helped spur an inoculation campaign in the U.S. that dramatically reduced the threat of the disease.

All participants in the dogsleds received letters of commendation from President Calvin Coolidge,[10] and the Senate stopped work to recognize the event. Each musher during the first relay received a gold medal from the H. K. Mulford Company. The mayor of Los Angeles presented a bone-shaped key to the city to Balto in front of City Hall;[10] silent-film actress Mary Pickford put a wreath around the canine’s neck.[10] Poems and letters from children poured in, and spontaneous fundraising campaigns sprang up around the country.

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Steve Peoples reports that the formerly libertarian, now Republican Koch brothers target Wisconsin senate, governor’s races:

The influential Koch brothers and their powerful donor network plan to pour money into Wisconsin this fall to keep Gov. Scott Walker in the statehouse and replace U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

The Koch network’s chief lieutenants renewed their vow this weekend to spend up to $400 million on politics and policy to shape November’s midterm elections nationwide.

That’s more than the combined resources spent by the Republican National Committee, the National Rifle Association and the Chamber of Commerce in the 2016 election cycle.

They outlined plans Monday to spend big on political advertising now through the end of July on as many as 14 key Senate races and 15 gubernatorial elections — including those in Wisconsin. Their goal: Flood the airwaves with political messaging early to help shape voters’ opinions long before the election season’s final months.

“We need to be on offense starting now,” said Emily Seidel, CEO of the Kochs’ political arm, Americans for Prosperity.

➤ The Washington Post editorial board writes Paul Ryan is tarnishing the House:

As we’ve said before, we are not in the business of opposing the release of information of potential public value. But if the Nunes memo were truly about fair congressional oversight of law enforcement, as Mr. Ryan claims, Republicans would allow the simultaneous release of a Democratic memo on the same subject. But they are not, though Mr. Ryan’s staff says the speaker supports releasing the Democratic memo after giving it more scrutiny. That leaves only unsettling possibilities for why Mr. Nunes, a longtime Trump ally, is pushing to disseminate his version as the president’s ire about the Russia investigation crests and speculation swirls about his desire to fire senior law enforcement officials, including special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. CNN reported Thursday that Mr. Trump believes the Nunes memo “could discredit the agency” by exposing “bias within the FBI’s top ranks.”

Mr. Ryan bears full responsibility for the deterioration of congressional oversight of intelligence operations. Once a bipartisan responsibility that lawmakers treated soberly — as they still do in the Senate — oversight under Mr. Nunes has become another front in Mr. Trump’s assault on the law enforcement institutions investigating the president and his associates. House Republicans are poisoning the committee’s relationship with the intelligence community and distracting from real issues demanding attention.

In all the noise around the memo, it is easy to lose sight of the scary truth that a hostile foreign government attempted to influence the 2016 election and shows every intention of trying again this year. You’d think Mr. Nunes’s committee would be alarmed by this threat to American democracy. Instead, Mr. Nunes, with Mr. Ryan’s aid and comfort, is helping Mr. Trump impede an investigation into these very issues. It is sad to see the speaker allow the House to be tarnished in this way.

➤ Pema Levy lists A Timeline of Jeff Sessions’ Recusal Violations (“And other instances where the attorney general inserted himself into matters involving the 2016 campaign”):

On March 2, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Session recused himself from any investigations into the 2016 presidential campaign. This left his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, in charge of the probe into Russian meddling in the election and the possibility of illegal coordination with Donald Trump’s campaign. Not only is Sessions prohibited from making decisions about the investigation, he is barred from responding to queries from Congress or the media about them. Yet despite his recusal, Sessions has found ways to wade into the investigation. In some instances, experts see a clear violation; in others, a series of improper comments and acts whose cumulative effect is that the attorney general is, in fact, a player in the Russia investigation.

Sessions has also promised, under oath, to recuse himself from any investigations into Hillary Clinton that arose during the heated 2016 election. As a key member of Trump’s campaign, which for months pushed the idea that Clinton should be imprisoned for various alleged crimes, Sessions said at his confirmation hearing that he would formally recuse himself from investigations into matters like Clinton’s private email server and family foundation—a promise his office says he intends to keep. But again, there are signs Sessions is meddling.

Sessions’ recusal in March nearly cost him his job. As the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller gets closer to Trump and his top aides, Sessions is under increasing pressure to protect Trump and his inner circle from the investigation. Despite his recusal, Sessions appears to be using his formal powers as the nation’s top law enforcement officer and his bully pulpit to shield the president by discrediting his own department’s investigations. As Republicans in Congress mount new attacks on Mueller’s probe, including accusations of bias by FBI investigators, Sessions’ actions and comments legitimize their claims.

Here’s a timeline of Sessions’ interference in investigations he’s recused from [list follows in article].

➤ Jason Schwartz reports Fox News hosts ramp up ‘deep state’ conspiracies:

As Fox News opinion hosts have grown increasingly conspiratorial in the past week — going to ever-greater lengths to defend President Donald Trump — other conservative commentators are expressing alarm at what they describe as a rising threat to both their movement and the country.

Those concerns seemed to come to a head Thursday night, when Fox host Sean Hannity was widely mocked for his logic-bending dismissal of The New York Times’ report that Trump had sought to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

But Hannity’s coverage was just part of a wider trend, observers say. For the past week, Fox News opinion hosts have seized on claims by some Republican lawmakers about a “secret society” at the FBI and “deep state actors” to fashion unproven narratives designed to protect Trump and delegitimize Mueller.

On Wednesday night, Hannity told viewers, “The constitutional violations are severe and historically unprecedented in this country. You have deep state actors using and abusing the powerful tools of intelligence we give them to protect this country.”

On Tuesday, Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs said, “It may be time to declare war outright against the deep state and clear out the rot in the upper levels of the FBI and the Justice Department.”

Why do dogs have floppy ears?: