Daily Bread for 8.10.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s Thursday will bring afternoon thundershowers and a high of eighty-one. Sunrise is 5:57 AM and sunset 8:02 PM, for 14h 05m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 91.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventy-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1846, Congress charters the Smithsonian Institution “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” On this day in 1865, the 8th Wisconsin Light Artillery musters out “after fighting in the battles of Corinth, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga. The regiment lost only 28 men during service.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Emma Green writes that It Was Cultural Anxiety [Not Economics] That Drove White, Working-Class Voters to Trump:

In the wake of Trump’s surprise win, some journalists, scholars, and political strategists argued that economic anxiety drove these Americans to Trump. But new analysis of post-election survey data conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found something different: Evidence suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump. Besides partisan affiliation, it was cultural anxiety—feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment—that best predicted support for Trump.

This data adds to the public’s mosaic-like understanding of the 2016 election. It suggests Trump’s most powerful message, at least among some Americans, was about defending the country’s putative culture. Because this message seems to have resonated so deeply with voters, Trump’s policies, speeches, and eventual reelection may depend on their perception of how well he fulfills it.

In September and October 2016, PRRI and The Atlanticsurveyed American voters about how they were feeling about politics. Researchers specifically focused on white, working-class voters—people without college degrees or salaried jobs. This group accounts for one-third of American adults. They make up a bigger share of the population in the Midwest than they do in any other region, and more than half of rural Americans are part of the white working class.

Terrell Jermaine Starr writes of How Russia Used Racism to Hack White Voters:

In order for fake news to work, you have to believe it. Our news feeds are saturated with misleading and false stories about any given subject, and it is up to readers to exercise media literacy to ascertain their validity. But human nature doesn’t exactly work that way. We click on links that confirm our biases, whether the stories are true or not….

Christian Gant, a former counterintelligence officer who spent more than four years at the FBI and the CIA conducting surveillance operations against Russian targets, said that part of any intelligence officer’s job is to pick up on social discord that his agency can exploit. However, what was troubling about what Russia did was that it has convinced conservatives that it is not a bad thing to have relations with Russia. He said he is particularly troubled that elected officials like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) are essentially actively acting as Putin surrogates in Washington.

“Twenty years ago, you couldn’t do that,” Gant said. “But President Putin was able to convince a large segment of the United States that Russians are not our enemy. That is a textbook covert influence campaign. And the way that you do that is find individuals who are apt to believe that [Russia is not our adversary] and you grasp on to their racism, lack of intellect and support a person like Donald Trump who panders to that. If Donald Trump says it’s OK, then it must not be bad. You have Sean Hannity sending out tweets that say, ‘Make Russia great again.’ Had [CNN’s] Don Lemon done that, they’d be trying to put him in jail and calling him a traitor. Now you can say that and it is not a problem.”

(Starr’s right: Putin’s manipulations would not have worked without fellow travelers and fifth columnists within the United States, vouching for or actively promoting Russian propaganda.)

Leon Aron identifies Putin’s Goal: Revenge and Restoration:

What happened during the 2016 presidential election, then, was not an anti-American one-off. It was part of a sustained policy, a tile in the giant geopolitical mosaic of Russian resurgence that Mr. Putin has set out to construct.

Moscow has perpetrated cyberwarfare, hacking, fake news and political interference for years. Last year, in addition to meddling in America’s election, Russia was behind an attempted coup d’état in Montenegro meant to prevent it from joining NATO. Since 2007, Russia has hacked the servers of government, industrial or financial institutions in Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. The International Olympic Committee and unclassified computers at the U.S. State Department have been attacked as well. Now Germany’s leaders are alarmed enough about potential interference in their September parliamentary elections to have issued stern warnings to Moscow.

Judging by all this—and especially by what followed Mr. Putin’s election to a third term in 2012—his overarching foreign-policy objective is to weaken Western democratic institutions and alliances by relentlessly chipping away at their legitimacy and popular support.

Michael Tomasky contends that The Voices on the Left Who Said Clinton Was as Bad as Trump Helped Get Us ‘Fury and Fire’:

….on this day, in the wake of Trump’s insanely irresponsible fury and fire rhetoric, let’s give a special little shout out to those brilliant people who argued that Hillary Clinton was more likely to start World War III than Donald Trump. I’ve been looking back over some articles from last year and am reminded that it was a surprisingly robust theme, this idea that Clinton was more dangerous than Trump. I doubt many votes hinged on this single issue, but it became a key talking point in the larger narrative that Clinton was corrupt and unprincipled and there really wasn’t much difference between her and Trump.

Most of this nonsense came from the anti-Clinton and anti-Democrat left. Here, for example, was Jill Stein, a reliably useful idiot, appearing on C-SPAN last October: “On the issue of war and nuclear weapons, it is actually Hillary’s policies which are much scarier than Donald Trump who does not want to go to war with Russia.” She favored Trump on Russia, of course, because she herself was a Friend of Vlad.

A whole phalanx of journalists on the left spent most of 2016 in the following basic posture. Yes, Donald Trump is horrible. That practically goes without saying, but I’ll say it, just so it’s on the record and I can note in the future that I said it. But now that I’ve said it, what I really want to talk about is Hillary. She’s the real danger. The true evil. Look at how the neocons love her, rushing to support her over Trump.

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