Daily Bread for 7.16.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of seventy six. Sunrise is 5:31 AM and sunset 8:30 PM, for 14h 58m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 52.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred forty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1945, the United States conducted the first detonation of an atomic bomb at “at 5:29 am on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project. The test was conducted in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles (56 km) southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, on what was then the USAAF Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range (now part of White Sands Missile Range). The only structures originally in the vicinity were the McDonald Ranch House and its ancillary buildings, which scientists used as a laboratory for testing bomb components. A base camp was constructed, and there were 425 people present on the weekend of the test.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Andrew Higgins and Andrew Kramer report that the Soviet Veteran Who Met With Trump Jr. Is a Master of the Dark Arts:

MOSCOW — Rinat Akhmetshin, the Russian-American lobbyist who met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016, had one consistent message for the journalists who met him over the years at the luxury hotels where he stayed in Moscow, London and Paris, or at his home on a leafy street in Washington: Never use email to convey information that needed to be kept secret.

While not, he insisted, an expert in the technical aspects of hacking nor, a spy, Mr. Akhmetshin talked openly about how he had worked with a counterintelligence unit while serving with the Red Army after its 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and how easy it was to find tech-savvy professionals ready and able to plunder just about any email account.

A journalist who visited his home was given a thumb drive containing emails that had apparently been stolen by hackers working for one of his clients.

Christian Caryl explains to his Dear red-state friends: Embracing Russia is not an act of patriotism:

Some of you admire Putin because he’s a “strong leader.” But do you ever discuss the issue of his personal corruption, his alliances with Hezbollah and Iran and North Korea, his gross mismanagement of his state-dominated economy? (Given Russia’s incredible natural wealth, it should be the richest country in the world. Instead, it has a gross domestic product roughly equivalent to Italy’s.) Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were strong leaders: They persuaded by argument and example. Putin operates more like Tony Soprano.

I’ve even heard some of you say that he’s a Christian leader who’s defending “Western civilization” from the threat of liberals and gays and feminists. Really? Putin makes an odd poster boy for the defense of Christianity. He started his political career in the Soviet KGB, a militantly atheistic organization. The present-day Russian Orthodox Church is basically a branch of the Kremlin, locked in a mindset of xenophobia and anti-Western paranoia. It is run by priests who worked as KGB informers in Soviet days, and who are themselves profoundly corrupt.

The kind of Russian political culture that Putin represents today, steeped in centuries of autocracy, has far more in common with places such as China or the Middle East than with any part of the West. But Putin knows what conservatives in the West like to hear, and he’s shrewd enough to give it to them. (Note to you gun fans: Russia is scamming you when it portrays itself as a paradise for gun owners. It has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world.)

Jennifer Rubin (now back from vacation) observes that The GOP’s moral rot is the problem, not Donald Trump Jr.:

Let’s dispense with the “Democrats are just as bad” defense. First, I don’t much care; we collectively face a party in charge of virtually the entire federal government and the vast majority of statehouses and governorships. It’s that party’s inner moral rot that must concern us for now. Second, it’s simply not true, and saying so reveals the origin of the problem — a “woe is me” sense of victimhood that grossly exaggerates the opposition’s ills and in turn justifies its own egregious political judgments and rhetoric. If the GOP had not become unhinged about the Clintons, would it have rationalized Trump as the lesser of two evils? Only in the crazed bubble of right-wing hysteria does an ethically challenged, moderate Democrat become a threat to Western civilization and Trump the salvation of America.

Indeed, for decades now, demonization — of gays, immigrants, Democrats, the media, feminists, etc. — has been the animating spirit behind much of the right. It has distorted its assessment of reality, giving us anti-immigrant hysteria, promulgating disrespect for the law (how many “respectable” conservatives suggested disregarding the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage?), elevating Fox News hosts’ blatantly false propaganda as the counterweight to liberal media bias and preventing serious policy debate. For seven years, the party vilified Obamacare without an accurate assessment of its faults and feasible alternative plans. “Obama bad” or “Clinton bad” became the only credo — leaving the party, as Brooks said of the Trump clan, with “no attachment to any external moral truth or ethical code” — and no coherent policies for governing.

Peter Beinart explains The Projection President (“Months into his tenure, Trump still responds to controversies by lobbing the same charges at his opponents”):

In Paris on Thursday, Donald Trump said, “A lot of people don’t know” that “France is America’s first and oldest ally.” That may be true. But commentators noted that when Trump uses the “a lot of people don’t know” formulation, it’s usually a sign that he didn’t know himself….

Why does Trump do this? Sigmund Freud believed people project onto others impulses that they cannot accept as their own. Erick Erickson suggested that projection may be a response to crisis or extreme stress. Others have linked it to narcissism….

The more important question is why it works, at least among Trump’s base. One answer may be that Trump supporters embrace his projection because they’re doing it themselves. Consider Trump’s claim that Hillary Clinton is the real bigot. On its face it’s odd given that Clinton enjoyed overwhelming African American support. But it’s easier to understand the statement’s appeal when you realize that, according to a November 2016 Huffington Post/YouGov poll, Trump supporters were twice as likely to say whites face a “lot of discrimination” as they were to say blacks face a lot of discrimination. When it came to bigotry, in other words, Trump’s overwhelmingly white fan base may have been projecting, too.

(The simplest formation of this observation about Trump: Trump falsely accuses others of the very conduct of which he is truly guilty.)

NPR’s Skunk Bear offers Sketchy History Of Pencil Lead: