Chris Hayes: Does Trump Jr.’s Email Thread Reveal He Had a Phone Conversation Before His 6.9.16 Meeting?

Having a prior phone conversation with the person who arranged the meeting, of course, makes it even less likely that Trump fils was ignorant of the subject matter.

Trumpism Down to the Local Level

I wrote last week, in a post entitled ‘What Putin’s team is probably telling him about Trump,’ about five degrees of culpability for Putinism’s insinuation and degradation of American politics.

One could modify that list only slightly, and thereby describe Trump’s present influence in America:

(1) those who have served the Trump as operatives and surrogates to advance his agenda in opposition to America liberty and sovereignty, (2) those sympathetic to Trumpism (including white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots, and theologically-confused & intellectually-stunted Americans who ludicrously think that Trump’s a moral exemplar), (3) those who wilfully refuse to see the damage Trump has done, (4) those who for years have maintained the low standards that have allowed Trump-style lies and misconduct to flourish (including every glad-handing Babbitt in every town in America), and (5) those of us who should have seen more clearly, and dealt with the rest more assertively & decisively, all these years gone by.

Most people, facing a conflict not of their wishes, would yet prefer to fight on only one front. America has not had that luxury in prior conflicts, and those of us in opposition do not have that luxury now. Some might have hoped to fight only nationally, and others to do so only locally. However one might apportion one’s time, there is a need to engage on both fronts.

Those supporting Trumpism declared boldly (and falsely) in 2016 that theirs was an existential struggle. I don’t believe for a moment that their situation was such; I’ve no doubt that they’ve now pushed those in opposition into such a conflict. What they unreasonably feared for themselves they’ve now unjustly inflicted on others.

So be it. Americans have faced secessionist slaveholders, copperheads, klan, and bund. Each threat we overcame, each danger in its time we consigned to the outer darkness.

We will slog through this time, through its dark politics, by use of law and a better politics, until it is no longer necessary to do so.

Local Newspaper Demographics

One of the interesting – but hard to answer – questions about local news is the composition of its readership. Of local news publications, this question implicates professional publications like the Daily Union and Gazette (and even a longtime politician’s website like the Banner).

One could guess – but only guess – that local readership of these publications is probably similar to that of Fox News. Nationally, newspaper readership skews to older Americans: half of newspaper readers in 2015 were over 65 years old. For Fox News, it’s a similar, if even older, demographic: half of Fox News viewers in 2015 were over 68. These are nationwide, rather than local, readership and viewership data.

Although Gazette, Daily Union, and Banner likely skew old, that doesn’t mean the same older people are consuming both Fox and these print media.

Still, it’s probably not a bad assumption. I’d guess that there’s a significant overlap between the readership of these publications and viewership of Fox. In some cases this is because the respective publishers lean the way Fox does; more significantly, the publications in this group (surely the professional ones) are probably financially beholden to a readership that looks to Fox for political guidance. An overt break would doom them with skittish advertisers. (More broadly, a lifetime of glad-handing and ingratiation now likely depends on toeing a none-too-sharp party line.)

Fox relies (at best) on mediocrity or (at worst) mendacity. (For an assessment of the habitual low quality of a program like Fox & Friends, for example, see Trump accuses James Comey of breaking the law — based on a misleading Fox News report,  Kill ‘Fox & Friends’ before it’s too late, and ‘Fox & Friends’ issues correction on Comey report.)

It must be a difficult atmosphere environment in which to work. The best decision one could make would be to chart one’s own course, avoiding having to fret over tension between a normal standard and one no better than Fox delivers.

One measures the strength of a position by whether one would abandon it for another. Sometimes a good decision simply requires that one turn away from others’ worse ones. I’ve felt from the beginning, and feel incrementally more so each day, that an independent course has been the right one.

We might have lived in easier times, when an independent course would count for less; these are not those easier times. Acquiescence seemed a bad choice five or ten years ago; it’s far worse than that now.

Daily Bread for 7.13.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 5:29 AM and sunset 8:32 PM, for 15h 02m 52s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 81.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred forty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission will hold a special meeting at 6 PM this evening.

On this day in 1787, the Continental Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance, providing “for the administration of the territories and set rules for admission as a state. The Northwest territory included land west of Pennsylvania and Northwest of the Ohio River, which encompassed present day Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, parts of Minnesota and of course Wisconsin.” On this day in 1936, Wisconsin records its hottest temperature, of 114 degrees, in the Wisconsin Dells.

Recommended for reading in full —

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen and Ryan Goodman write that The Media Is Not Asking the Right Questions on Trump Jr. Emails and Meeting with the “Russian Government Lawyer”:

The media is, in large part, missing the point when it comes to the news about Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Vesilnitskaya and should be steering instead to raising the right questions. It is difficult to conceive of a scenario in which a private citizen in Russia has access to derogatory information on a U.S. presidential candidate. The act of offering such information was likely, at minimum, a trial balloon, and at best (from Moscow’s perspective), a chance to pass certain information from an agent of the Russian government to the Trump campaign through the candidate’s campaign manager and son, thereby also implicating Donald J. Trump himself. This raises the most important questions: what did she offer in that meeting? How did Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort respond?

Vesilnitskaya may have had her own agenda in requesting a meeting with Trump. That part could be legitimate. But Russian intelligence practice is to co-opt such a person by arming them with secret intelligence information and tasking them to pass it to Trump’s people and get their reaction. Did Trump’s associates like it? Do they want more? Did they report it to U.S. authorities?  The key point is that essentially no Russian citizen or lawyer has compromising material on Hillary Clinton which has not been supplied to them from Russian intelligence. The simple assertion that she had such information is tantamount to declaring that Vesilnitskaya was acting as agent of Russian government in this particular role. Couple that with the specific text of the email messages (PDF full text) sent to Donald Trump Jr. to set up the meeting which described the material as coming from the Russian government. All the alarm bells should have been going off in Trump Tower when they received an email offering to provide “very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and it’s government’s support for Mr. Trump.” A later email refers to the “Russian government attorney who is flying over from Moscow.” Donald Trump Jr.’s response: he would include Manafort and Kushner in the meeting.

Peter Beinart explains How to Know Who Will Let Trump Get Away With Anything:

It comes down a simple question: Can Trump do anything wrong? By laying out what it would consider wrongdoing, National Review has answered yes. It has set out a standard for  Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, to meet. By shifting their argument to “everyone does it,” Hannity and Gingrich have essentially answered no, nothing Trump could have done would qualify as wrongdoing. It is, after all, always possible to find examples of other people doing bad things. Remember what Trump said in December 2015 when Joe Scarborough pushed him about Putin’s murder of journalists: “I think our country does plenty of killing also.”

It’s now easier to predict which conservatives will defend Trump to the end and which conservatives will not. The argument between them will help determine whether his presidency survives.

Dan Friedman writes of his experience I Caught the Russian Ambassador As He Left His Farewell Party. It Was Super Weird:

Journalists were barred from the closed-door farewell reception hosted by the US-Russia Business Council. Several attendees, though, described what outsiders might consider a strangely serene and low-key send-off, at which business people and policy wonks mingled, snacked, and remembered the softer side of a man accused of overseeing Russian espionage efforts over nine years as Moscow’s man in D.C. There was little reference, they said, to the swirling collusion controversy that has left relations between the countries at their worst since the Cold War, not to mention the big news of the day about Donald Trump Jr….

Mother Jones caught Kislyak as he exited the St. Regis, accompanied by a few well-wishers but no evident security. Asked to assess his tenure, the ambassador called it “interesting.”

“It could have been more interesting,” he added when pressed on whether he regretted the recent downturn in relations.

It was not clear exactly what he meant. But Kislyak left the confusion hanging, climbed in the idling car, and departed.

House Judiciary Democrats have demanded answers on a DOJ Settlement of a Fraud Case Handled by the Russian Lawyer Who Met with Trump Jr.:

Today, all seventeen Democratic members of the House Committee on the Judiciary wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request information about his decision to abruptly settle United States v. Prevezon Holdings Ltd, a money laundering case that the Department of Justice (DOJ) abruptly settled that involved Russia sanctions, New York real estate holdings, and the lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr.

In their letter, the Members wrote, “Last summer, Donald Trump, Jr. met with a Kremlin-connected attorney in an attempt to obtain information “that would incriminate Hillary.”  Earlier this year, on May 12, 2017, the Department of Justice made an abrupt decision to settle a money laundering case being handled by that same attorney in the Southern District of New York.[1]   We write with some concern that the two events may be connected—and that the Department may have settled the case at a loss for the United States in order to obscure the underlying facts.”

In addition to the letter, House Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr., issued the following statement:

“The connections here are too substantial to ignore.  Why was a Russian money-laundering case involving more than $230 million dismissed without explanation?  Why was a central figure in that case chosen to approach the Trump campaign about assistance from the Russian government?  Was the firing of Preet Bharara in any way related to his office’s prosecution of these crimes?  Wittingly or unwittingly, was the Department of Justice involved?

“Even if these facts are mere coincidence—and there is reason to be doubtful that they are mere coincidence—they merit immediate explanation by the Attorney General and immediate investigation by the House Judiciary Committee.”

Background: The Prevezon case relates to a massive tax-theft and money laundering scheme uncovered in 2007 by Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.  His 2012 death in Russian custody led to the passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which enabled President Obama to sanction the Russian officials thought responsible for such human rights abuses.

2013 complaint filed in federal court alleged that Prevezon helped to launder more than $230 million stolen from the Russian treasury, largely through high-end real estate in Manhattan.  One of Prevezon’s attorneys was Natalia Veselnitskaya—a lawyer known for lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, and the “Russian government attorney” who met with Donald Trump, Jr. and others to discuss “information and official documents that would incriminate Hillary” on June 9, 2016.  Even Donald Trump Jr.’s alternative explanations for this meeting—he described the discussion, at one point, as “primarily about adoption”—appear to turn on Ms. Veselnitkaya’s efforts to protect her client and undo U.S. sanctions on Russian officials.

On May 12, 2017—just two days before the Prevezon trial was set to begin—the Department of Justice settled the case for less than $6 million and no admission of guilt.  Ms. Veselnitskaya told one Russian news outlet that the penalty was so light that it seemed “almost an apology from the government.

Full text of the letter to Attorney General Sessions can be found here.

(I’m not a Democrat, but am more than willing to support any effort to receive more information on Putin-affiliated Russian nationals making favorable deals over criminal conduct.)

James Gorman and Mae Ryan contend that Ants Can Build an Eifel Tower (Sort of):

Good for Her

Martha McSally, a member of Congress from Arizona (R-02), chose to wear a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes while speaking on the House floor. It’s not, to be sure, the most consequential act of these times, but the rules against such attire are unnecessarily restrictive. She’s dressed ordinarily for an American woman in the summer, and, indeed, millions of women in all sorts of professions dress similarly. Congressional prohibitions on this style of dress are simultaneously irritating and ridiculous.

Gabriel Schoenfeld on ‘Trump and his whole circus – They have no good choices’

Gabriel Schoenfeld, the author of Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law, was a senior adviser to the 2012 Romney for President campaign. He observes the damage that Trump has done to the GOP:

Figures like Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer, cogs in the White House machinery who today seamlessly defend Trump and his lies, did not come to Trump World from the fever swamps of Breitbart News. They are from the heart of the GOP apparatus, the Republican National Committee, where only yesterday — in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat — they were preaching moderation and inclusiveness.

Employing their skills to rationalize Trump’s fabrications, his misogyny, his debasement of discourse and language, and his strange admiration for and acquiescence to Vladimir Putin, these apparatchiks have compromised themselves even more than Trump’s band of true believers. There is no going back. The latter — figures like Jeffrey LordKayleigh McEnany,and Katrina Pierson — have come to resemble a cult of unswerving loyalty to Trump and the Trump line….

As the Russian collusion story enters a new and perhaps decisive phase, it would not be surprising to see these intellectuals [Bennett, Gelernter, Kimball], along with the political operatives and politicians, stick with Trump to the bitter end. Having wandered into the muck, they are loath to admit how badly they’ve soiled themselves, let alone turn back. Their dilemma is quite similar to the one their hero now faces as the lies unravel and the truth comes to light. They have no good choices. The rest of us can take satisfaction that the ship of fools has run aground.

Via Don Jr. Russia emails trap Trump and his whole circus. They have no good choices.

There’s much yet to come, and those of us in opposition will see it through, confident from the beginning that we have been right in that opposition.

Daily Bread for 7.12.17

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will see thunderstorms with a high of ninety. Sunrise is 5:28 AM and sunset 8:32 PM, for 15h 04m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 89% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred forty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1995, a deadly heat wave strikes the Midwest: “From July 12-15, 1995, the Midwest was subjected to a deadly outbreak of hot and humid weather responsible for 141 deaths in Wisconsin. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, this was the “greatest single event of weather-related deaths in Wisconsin history.” Most of the fatalities happened in the urban southeast counties of the state, and at one point several Milwaukee-area hospitals were unable to admit more patients.

Milwaukee Temperatures (from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel): July 12: Hi=91, Lo=65 July 13: Hi=103*, Lo=78 July 14: Hi=102, Lo=84 July 15: Hi=92, Lo=69 July 16: Hi=88, Lo=68 *Some communities reported highs as high as 108. Heat Index values were 120-130 degrees.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Bob Bauer ponders an Open Door to Moscow? New Facts in the Potential Criminal Case of Trump Campaign Coordination with Russia:

The Trump campaign in 2016 was signaling to Russia that it would be happy to have the Putin regime’s help.  President Trump, as a candidate, famously called for Russia’s assistance. Later, when pressed, he repeatedly refused to clearly acknowledge its interference or condemn it.

Now it appears that Trump campaign was not simply hinting that it would welcome this help. The Wall Street Journal very recently, and now the New York Times, have reported active Trump campaign or campaign supporter contacts with Russian agents or intermediaries toward the goal of obtaining negative information about Hillary Clinton.  And, for the first time, someone named Trump–Donald, Jr.–has publicly confirmed that the campaign communicated directly with a Russia foreign national connected with the Putin regime in the bid for material damaging to the former Secretary of State.

In previous pieces, I have discussed the ground of legal liability based on “substantial assistance” to, or “aiding and abetting,” a foreign national’s providing a “thing of value” to influence an election. To this date the evidence has been largely on the public record, in “plain sight,” and it included Mr. Trump’s own comments.  The recently published reports do not replace this theory; they supplement it, or round it out, by corroborating that what the campaign was pursuing through private channels were the same goals–help from the Russians—that were strongly indicated by the candidate’s words and related public behavior.

James Hohmann observes that Trump dysfunction follows family from the campaign to the White House:

Perhaps the biggest conceit of Donald Sr.’s rationale for seeking the presidency was his competence as a manager. Many voters assumed that because he is rich and once hosted a successful reality-television show, Trump could effectively lead an organization. The more details that emerge about how his campaign really operated behind the scenes — and how paralyzed his White House is now — the clearer it becomes that the president is in way over his head….

Conor Friedersdorf explains Why Donald Trump’s Russia Denials Can No Longer Be Believed:

Perhaps Donald Trump knew that all this was going on, which would make his statement at the press conference last spring a particularly shameless lie, even by his standards. Only a fool would ever again trust a politician who they caught in a lie like that.

Then again, maybe Trump was oblivious to the meeting that took place in Trump Tower. But if it’s the latter, that means that Trump was so ignorant about what happened inside his own campaign that he didn’t even know about a meeting his own son scheduled for the purpose of colluding with the Russian government, even though both his campaign manager and his son-in-law were also in attendance. That would mean his closest advisers were actively keeping him in the dark.

Both possibilities, though, point to the same conclusion: The president cannot be believed. Either Trump’s denials about campaign collusion with Russia cannot be believed because he is a shameless liar; or Trump’s denials about campaign collusion with Russia cannot be believed because he was utterly clueless about at least one major effort to collude, and thus cannot credibly attest that there were not other efforts to which he wasn’t privy.

Tom Haudricourt asks and answers How are the Milwaukee Brewers in first place at the all-star break? Here’s why:

So how did this relatively inexperienced team exceed expectations to this extent over the first half? Here are 10 reasons for the Brewers’ surprise showing:

1. CORNERING THE MARKET

Seeking to balance what had been a predominantly right-handed lineup in 2016, the Brewers acquired two left-handed hitters with pop to man their infield corners. First baseman Eric Thames was signed to a three-year deal after tearing up the Korean Baseball Organization for three seasons and third baseman Travis Shaw was part of a package of players acquired from Boston in a trade for reliever Tyler Thornburg.

It is safe to say that both Thames and Shaw have exceeded expectations. Thames was the talk of the baseball world in April when he set a club record with 11 home runs and posted a 1.276 OPS. He has cooled off considerably since but still made it to the break with 23 home runs and a .936 OPS. Shaw was the steadiest offensive player on the club, blasting 19 home runs – three more than he had in 145 games with Boston last season – and driving in 65 runs to go with a .937 OPS.

“They have given us the balance we were seeking in our lineup,” manager Craig Counsell said. “I put Travis in the cleanup spot and he has been there every day. Consistency is the word to use when describing his play this season [list continues]….

At the Oregon Zoo, Samudra cools off:

Daily Bread for 7.11.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with an even chance of afternoon showers. Sunrise is 5:27 AM and sunset 8:33 PM, for 15h 05m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 94.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred forty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

At 6:30 PM, there will be a Common Council & City Management Strategic Planning Meeting.

On this day in 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr mortally wounds former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a pistol duel near Weehawken, N.J. On this day in 1839, the first patent is issued to a Wisconsin resident: “Ebenezar G. Whiting of Racine was issued patent #1232 for his improved plow, the first patent issued to someone from Wisconsin. Whiting’s improvements consisted of making the mold-board straight and flat which, when united in the center with the curvilinear part of the mold-board, would require less power to drag through the dirt.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Rep. Schiff of the House Select Committee on Intellegence notes that when Trump Jr. took that [6.9.2016] meeting, the Russians had already hacked into Democratic servers, but hadn’t dumped docs:

Trump’s surrogates (who are, effectually, fellow travelers of Russian electoral interference) don’t fare well when confronted by reasonable, loyal Americans (as one sees here in an exhange between Max Boot and Trump supporter Mike Schields):

Alex Thompson explains Here’s exactly how Russia can hack the 2018 elections:

The year is 2018.

Tens of millions of people show up to vote in the midterm elections to discover their names are no longer on the voter rolls. Thousands of voting machines malfunction and do not properly record votes. Tallies are distorted and inaccurate numbers are sent from counties to states. TV networks call races for the wrong candidates. Recounts begin. Lawsuits are filed.

That’s the nightmare scenario for next year’s elections, and national security and cybersecurity experts warn it’s a very real possibility unless something is done about the country’s outdated election infrastructure — and fast. The hyper-partisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill, however, appears to have frozen any effort to shore up defenses ahead of the midterms, with Republicans wary of giving more attention to the ongoing Russia probes and suspicious that Democrats are only using the issue to attack the president.

Randall Eliason explains that the latest Russia revelations lay the groundwork for a conspiracy case:

Collusion is usually defined as a secret agreement to do something improper. In the criminal-law world, we call that conspiracy. If unlawful collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals did take place, criminal conspiracy would be one of the most likely charges….

Conspiracies, by their nature, take place in secret. To break through that secrecy, prosecutors often rely on circumstantial evidence. The classic trial lawyer’s metaphor is that each such piece of evidence is a brick. No single event standing alone may prove the case. But when assembled together, those individual bricks may build a wall — a big, beautiful wall — that excludes any reasonable doubt about what happened.

That’s why this latest news is a big deal. The meeting helps establish a few critical facts. The first is simply that contacts between Russians and campaign officials did take place. If you are seeking to prove a criminal partnership, evidence that the alleged partners had private meetings establishes the opportunity to reach an agreement.

Stunning footage shows underwater marine life beneath Greenland:

Film: Tuesday, July 11th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Beauty and the Beast

This Tuesday, July 11th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Beauty and the Beast @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Beauty and the Beast (2017) is a live-action fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.

Bill Condon directs the two hour, nine-minute film, starring Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, and Kevin Kline. Beauty and the Beast received two MTV Movie + TV Awards, for Best Movie and Best Actor in a Movie (Emma Watson). Beauty and the Beast carries a PG rating from the MPAA.

One can find more information about Beauty and the Beast at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 7.10.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see scattered afternoon thunderstorms and a high of eighty-two. Sunrise is 5:26 AM and sunset 8:33 PM, for 15h 06m 58s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred forty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1940, the Battle of Britain begins. On this day in 1832, construction of Fort Koshkonong during the Black Hawk War begins.

Recommended for reading in full

The New York Times editorial board considers Combating a Real Threat to Election Integrity:

The question is this: Can the system be strengthened against cyberattacks in time for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential race? The answer, encouragingly, is that there are concrete steps state and local governments can take right now to improve the security and integrity of their elections. A new study by the Brennan Center for Justice identifies two critical pieces of election infrastructure — aging voting machines and voter registration databases relying on outdated software — that present appealing targets for hackers and yet can be shored up at a reasonable cost.

Last year, Russian hackers tried to break into voter databases in at least 39 states, aiming to alter or delete voter data, and also attempted to take over the computers of more than 100 local election officials before Election Day. There is no evidence that they infiltrated voting machines, but they have succeeded in doing so in other countries, and it’s only a matter of time before they figure it out here. R. James Woolsey, the former C.I.A. director, wrote in an introduction to the Brennan Center report, “I am confident the Russians will be back, and that they will take what they have learned last year to attempt to inflict even more damage in future elections.”

The report identifies three immediate steps states and localities can take to counter the threat [lists of three steps follows]….

The White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush, Richard Painter, describes the conduct of Trump operatives’ meeting with a Russian apparatchik as conduct that borders on treason:

Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian politician committed to democracy, testified to Congress in June on How the West should deal with the Putin regime:

Pema Levy writes that These Three Lawyers Are Quietly Purging Voter Rolls Across the Country:

Republican-backed laws requiring a photo ID to cast a ballot have attracted attention in recent years for impedingthe ability of minority, poor, and elderly people to vote. But increasingly, the focus of the voting rights battle is over who gets to be on the list of registered voters. Democrats have successfully pushed for automatic voter registration in eight states and the District of Columbia, while Republicans have begun putting up roadblocks to registration. In Kansas, Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican with a national reputation for crafting anti-immigrant laws and pushing the myth of widespread voter fraud, is locked in a legal battle with the ACLU over his decision to require Kansans to show a birth certificate or passport in order to register to vote. (Kobach and Adams are working together on a case to determine whether states can require people to show proof of citizenship in order to register.) Kobach was recently appointed vice chair of President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission, a perch from which he may recommend more stringent registration requirements nationwide.

Adrenaline Rush asks Have you ever wanted to fly like an eagle?:

Daily Bread for 7.9.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-three. Sunrise is 5:26 AM and sunset 8:34 PM, for 15h 08m 13s of daytime. The moon is full today. Today is the two hundred forty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1755, Frenchman Charles de Langlade leads an ambush: “a group of Wisconsin Native Americans (including Ottawa and Ojibway) against the British General Braddock during the French and Indian War. Langlade, acting as “commander” of the Northwestern Indians, ambushed the British troops. The battle is depicted in the oil painting by Edward W. Deming which hangs on the 4th floor of the Wisconsin Historical Society. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes, 1939; pg 25]”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Joby Warrick considers The secret to Kim’s success? Some experts see Russian echoes in North Korea’s missile advances:

Four months before its July 4 missile test, North Korea offered the world a rare technical preview of its latest missile engine, one said to be capable of lobbing nuclear warheads at U.S. cities. A video on state-run TV depicted a machine with thickets of tubes and vents, and a shape that struck some U.S. experts as familiar — in a distinctly Soviet way.

“It shocked me,” said Michael Elleman, one weapons expert who noticed jarring similarities between the engine tested by North Korea in March and one he frequently encountered in Russia at the end of the Cold War. “It seemed to come out of nowhere.”

After intensive study, Elleman, a former consultant at the Pentagon, and other specialists would report that they had detected multiple design features in the new North Korean missile engine that echo those of a 1960s-era Soviet workhorse called the RD-250.

Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman report that Trump Team Met With Lawyer Linked to Kremlin During Campaign:

Two weeks after Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.

The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting.

(Hallie Jackson reports that “spox for POTUS outside legal team casts mtg as part of oppo effort. Source close to team calls it ‘poss. setup by Russian operatives’.” Bill Kristol correctly observes that Trump’s own private lawyers see the significance of this revelation, and that the “legal team must be worried. If you’re suggesting the meeting is a setup, you’re acknowledging the meeting is on its face problematic.”)

Jonathan Freedland writes that No wonder Trump is Putin’s favourite: he’s making America weak again:

In every respect, Putin now faces a US leadership feebler than at any time in the 17 years he has ruled Russia – or for many decades, for that matter. It’s not just that both the president and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, are foreign policy novices. Or that the State Department is depleted, with hundreds of key posts unfilled. The problem goes much deeper….

Even if Trump had more skill and was surrounded by more able people, he’d still be in a shaky position. His administration is as distracted as he is by the cloud that hangs over them permanently: the gathering investigation into the Russia affair. From Hamburg, Trump tweeted the laughable claim that: “Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the [Democratic National Committee] server to the FBI and the CIA”, proof that he obsesses over the details of that saga even when he is meant to be engaged in high diplomacy.

It often used to be said that in the US, foreign policy is domestic policy. That maxim referred to the way US diaspora communities could shape decisions on the countries they had left behind. In the age of Trump, it has new meaning. Thanks to his domestic situation, he can barely move on the world stage. No wonder Putin was smiling in Hamburg. He knows he has succeeded in his chief objective: he has made America weak again.

Chris Uhlmann, political editor of the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, describes what a disaster Trump’s G20 appearance was:

Michael Tunick describes Why Swiss cheese has those mysterious, giant holes:

See, also, Tunick’s The Science of Cheese.

Daily Bread for 7.8.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 5:25 AM and sunset 8:34 PM, for 15h 09m 26s of daytime. We’ve nearly a full moon, with 99.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred forty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1776, John Nixon makes the first public proclamation of the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the Pennsylvania State House (now know as Independence Hall).

On this day in 1850, Walworth County resident James Jesse Strang, leader of a Mormon faction, declares himself a king:

On this date James Jesse Strang, leader of the estranged Mormon faction, the Strangites, was crowned king; the only man to achieve such a title in America. When founder Joseph Smith was assassinated, Strang forged a letter from Smith dictating he was to be the heir. The Mormon movement split into followers of Strang and followers of Brigham Young. As he gained more followers (but never nearly as many as Brigham Young), Strang became comparable to a Saint, and in 1850 was crowned King James in a ceremony in which he wore a discarded red robe of a Shakespearean actor, and a metal crown studded with a cluster of stars as his followers sang him hosannas. Soon after his crowning, he announced that Mormonism embraced and supported polygamy. (Young’s faction was known to have practiced polygamy, but had not at this time announced it publicly.) A number of followers lived in Walworth County, including Strang at a home in Burlington. In 1856 Strang was himself assassinated, leaving five wives. Without Strang’s leadership, his movement disintegrated. [Source: Wisconsin Saints and Sinners, by Fred L. Holmes, p. 106-121]

Recommended for reading in full — 

Molly McKew accurately observes that Trump Handed Putin a Stunning Victory:

In very concrete terms, through speech and action, the president signaled a willingness to align the United States with Vladimir Putin’s worldview, and took steps to advance this realignment. He endorsed, nearly in its totality, the narrative the Russian leader has worked so meticulously to construct.

The readout of Trump’s lengthy meeting with Putin included several key points. First, the United States will “move on” from election hacking issues with no accountability or consequences for Russia; in fact, the U.S. will form a “framework” with Russia to cooperate on cybersecurity issues, evaluating weaknesses and assessing potential responses jointly. Second, the two presidents agreed not to meddle in “each other’s” domestic affairs—equating American activities to promote democracy with Russian aggression aimed at undermining it, in an incalculable PR victory for the Kremlin. Third, the announced, limited cease-fire in Syria will be a new basis for cooperation between the U.S. and Russia; Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went so far as to say that the Russian approach in Syria—yielding mass civilian casualties, catastrophic displacement, untold destruction and erased borders—may be “more right” than that of the United States.

Each of these points represents a significant victory for Putin. Each of them will weaken U.S. tools for defending its interests and security from the country that defines itself as America’s “primary adversary.” Trump has ceded the battle space—physical, virtual, moral—to the Kremlin. And the president is going to tell us this is a “win”….

Jason Easley writes that Adam Schiff Devastates Trump’s Version Of The Putin Meeting With A Point By Point Destruction:

In a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, Schiff said:

According to Secretary of State Tillerson, the President repeatedly pressed Putin on Russia’s interference in the election. The American people can be forgiven for a healthy skepticism about just how hard Mr. Trump could have pressed the Russian autocrat, given that the President publicly cast doubt on Russian responsibility and the probity of our intelligence agencies only the day before. Can we really expect the President to be more forthcoming with the Russian President if he is not willing to fully level with our own people on the same subject?

Moreover, the establishment of a working group as reported by Foreign Minister Lavrov to study how to curb cyber interference in elections in which the Russians would play any role, would be akin to inviting the North Koreans to participate in a commission on nonproliferation — it tacitly adopts the fiction that the Russians are a constructive partner on the subject instead of the worst actor on the world stage.

With respect to the ceasefire in southwest Syria, if such an agreement can truly bring about a pause in the violence and lead to a transition away from Bashar al Assad, this could be an important start. The Russians have very different interests than we do in Syria, however, and we would be wise to treat any Russian commitments with a jaundiced eye. Other ceasefires have been poorly enforced and Russia will need to live up to any commitments that it has made.

Finally, the Secretary’s readout included no mention on pushing back against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the need to maintain sanctions until they withdraw and end their destabilization. If this topic was ignored by the President, that would send a message of tacit acceptance to the Kremlin. It also underscores the need for Congress to maintain all sanctions on Russia over Ukraine and its hacking of our elections. Congress should pass such legislation without further delay.

Alexander Baunov describes How Putin Made Political Corruption Great Again:

For many Russians, there is a blatant contradiction between the patriotic consensus Putin seeks and the immiseration they face at home. The economic growth of his early years in office has been replaced with the idea of suffering—the hardship of stagnation and sanctions that are the apparent price for assertive foreign policy. But the wages of privation do not seem to extend to the new generation of oligarchs he has surrounded himself with—his old friends, including Gennady Timchenko, the Rotenberg brothers, and Igor Sechin, all of whom became billionaires during his rule, and even receive support from the state. (Parliament passed a special law with huge tax privileges for those touched by Western sanctions.)

This is what corruption in the Putin era means. While much has been done in recent years to combat low-level corruption between citizens and authorities, his style of rule implies a “controlled corruption,” when his cronies can reckon for the reward.

Jordan Pearson reports that The Same Twitter Bots That Helped Trump Tried to Sink Macron, Researcher Says:

New research from Emilio Ferrara, the University of Southern California academic who exposed the role of bots in the 2016 US election, shows that many Trump bots went dark and later turned into MacronLeaks bots. This, Ferrara wrote in a new paper posted to the arXiv preprint server this week (which is currently being peer-reviewed), suggests that there may be a “black market” for right-wing political bots that can lay dormant for months before being activated to promote the next conservative demagogue.

“There are way too many coincidences here to keep us from thinking that there are venues where organizations with enough resources can access these botnets,” Ferrara said over the phone….

Ferrara collected 17 million tweets from roughly two weeks leading up to the French election and designed a custom machine learning algorithm (based on the Botometer, a public tool that looks for the defining marks of a robot controlling a given Twitter account), to parse the massive trove and pick out bot accounts. Of the nearly 100,000 users in the sample who participated in the MacronLeaks discussion on Twitter, 18,000 were bots, Ferrara said. According to the paper, some of the accounts that targeted Macron were actually created in the lead-up to the 2016 US election.

“These accounts were tweeting their support for Trump for about a week in the run-up to the 2016 election and then they went dark for a very long time,” Ferrara said. “These same accounts picked up again and some even started tweeting in French—but the alt-right narrative was the same.”

We can be sure that at least one Finnish man will brook no intrusions from a foraging bear:

Daily Bread for 7.7.17

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-three. Sunrise is 5:42 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 10m 34s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 97.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred fortieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Joint Review Board meets today at 9 AM.

On this day in 1981, Pres. Reagan nominates Sandra Day O’Connor to become a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. On this day in 1832, Gen. Atkinson leads his men (among them future presidents Zachary Taylor & Abraham Lincoln) to an encampment in Palmyra during the Black Hawk War.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Rep. Adam Schiff writes that Putin Aims to Take Down Liberal Democracy. To Put America First, Trump Must Stand Up to Him:

If Trump fails to stand up to Putin and forcefully raise the issue of Russian interference in our elections, the Kremlin will conclude that he is too weak to stand up to them at all. That makes his statement today—that no one really knows who was behind the hacking and dumping of Hillary Clinton’s emails—more than discouraging. Far from putting America first, if he continues to cling to this personal fiction, he will be elevating Russian interests above all others.

On the agenda should also be Russia’s continued destabilization of Ukraine, Russia’s propping up of Bashar al-Assad, and a clear declaration that the U.S. will not turn a blind eye to any potential Russian support of the Taliban or increased trade with North Korea.

There is little evidence, though that Trump plans to confront Putin on any of these serious matters. Instead, he may seek little more than the exchange of pleasantries and the usual claims of a fabulous meeting.

Michael Riley , Jennifer A. Dlouhy, and Bryan Gruley report that Russians Are Suspects in Nuclear Site Hackings, Sources Say:

Hackers working for a foreign government recently breached at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas, according to current and former U.S. officials, sparking concerns the attackers were searching for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid.

The intruders could be positioning themselves to eventually disrupt the nation’s power supply, warned the officials, who noted that a general alert was distributed to utilities a week ago. Adding to those concerns, hackers recently infiltrated an unidentified company that makes control systems for equipment used in the power industry, an attack that officials believe may be related.

The chief suspect is Russia, according to three people familiar with the continuing effort to eject the hackers from the computer networks. One of those networks belongs to an aging nuclear generating facility known as Wolf Creek — owned by Westar Energy Inc., Great Plains Energy Inc. and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative Inc. — on a lake shore near Burlington, Kansas.

The possibility of a Russia connection is particularly worrisome, former and current officials say, because Russian hackers have previously taken down parts of the electrical grid in Ukraine and appear to be testing increasingly advanced tools to disrupt power supplies.

Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz, and Evan Perez report that Russia steps up spying efforts after election:

Russian spies are ramping up their intelligence-gathering efforts in the US, according to current and former US intelligence officials who say they have noticed an increase since the election.

The officials say they believe one of the biggest US adversaries feels emboldened by the lack of a significant retaliatory response from both the Trump and Obama administrations.

“Russians have maintained an aggressive collection posture in the US, and their success in election meddling has not deterred them,” said a former senior intelligence official familiar with Trump administration efforts….

Since the November election, US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have detected an increase in suspected Russian intelligence officers entering the US under the guise of other business, according to multiple current and former senior US intelligence officials. The Russians are believed to now have nearly 150 suspected intelligence operatives in the US, these sources said. Officials who spoke to CNN say the Russians are replenishing their ranks after the US in December expelled 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in retaliation for election-meddling.

“The concerning point with Russia is the volume of people that are coming to the US. They have a lot more intelligence officers in the US” compared to what they have in other countries, one of the former intelligence officials says.

The FBI, which is responsible for counterintelligence efforts in the US, would not comment for the story.

Fueling law enforcement officials’ concern is that the Russians are targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information, in addition to ongoing efforts to hack the US government for intelligence, according to several of the officials. In some cases, Russian spies have tried to gain employment at places with sensitive information as part of their intelligence-gathering efforts, the sources say.

Peter Beinart describes The Racial and Religious Paranoia of Trump’s Warsaw Speech:

The most shocking sentence in Trump’s speech—perhaps the most shocking sentence in any presidential speech delivered on foreign soil in my lifetime—was his claim that “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.” On its face, that’s absurd. Jihadist terrorists can kill people in the West, but unlike Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, they cannot topple even the weakest European government. Jihadists control no great armies. Their ideologies have limited appeal even among the Muslims they target with their propaganda. ISIS has all but lost Mosul and could lose Raqqa later this year.

Trump’s sentence only makes sense as a statement of racial and religious paranoia. The “south” and “east” only threaten the West’s “survival” if you see non-white, non-Christian immigrants as invaders. They only threaten the West’s “survival” if by “West” you mean white, Christian hegemony. A direct line connects Trump’s assault on Barack Obama’s citizenship to his speech in Poland. In Trump and Bannon’s view, America is at its core Western: meaning white and Christian (or at least Judeo-Christian). The implication is that anyone in the United States who is not white and Christian may not truly be American but rather than an imposter and a threat.

Poland is largely ethnically homogeneous. So when a Polish president says that being Western is the essence of the nation’s identity, he’s mostly defining Poland in opposition to the nations to its east and south. America is racially, ethnically, and religious diverse. So when Trump says being Western is the essence of America’s identity, he’s in part defining America in opposition to some of its own people. He’s not speaking as the president of the entire United States. He’s speaking as the head of a tribe.

(It’s worth noting that many are white and Christian and yet opposed to Trump’s tribalism. I’m white, of a Lutheran & Catholic family, and yet Trump and his lumpen band hold no attraction for me. Indeed, it would more appealing to sit among a troop of screenching, scratching, howling baboons than any of Trump’s officials and surrogates. More enlightening, too: one can learn much about the created order from the beauty of nature.)

UW-Madison’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences rooftop camera recorded a recent, and beautiful, thunderstorm:

Trump Uses the Same Old Russia Excuses

For more on how Trump sows fear, uncertainty, or doubt to evade simple, direct questions, see David Graham’s The Trump Uncertainty Principle @ The Atlantic (“When Trump wants to rebut a charge, he seldom flatly denies it. Instead, he generally prefers to sow doubt, skillfully stressing uncertainties to obfuscate and muddy the issue.”)

One hears much from Trump’s most fervent supporters about the need for personal responsibility, greatness, etc., but when the object of their devotion speaks he uses techniques common only to an excuse-making child.

‘What Putin’s team is probably telling him about Trump’

Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA from 2010 to 2013 and twice acting director, and Samantha Vinograd of the National Security Council staff from 2009 to 2013, speculate from experience on What Putin’s team is probably telling him about Trump:

This is a speculative account of a memo that Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s national security team would likely send him as he prepares to meet with President Trump for the first time this week. It is not a reflection of how we see the issues; it is a reflection of how we think Putin’s closest aides see the issues.

Mr. President, when you meet with President Trump at the Group of 20 meeting this week in Hamburg, you will do so at a historic time. Russia is in its strongest position since the end of the Cold War; the United States, our great adversary, is the weakest it has been. We are on the road to achieving our fundamental national security objectives — for Russia to retake its place as a great power and to have a sphere of influence in the countries on our periphery.

This did not happen by chance; it happened because we took action. We undertook the most successful covert political influence campaign since World War II. We kept our nemesis Hillary Clinton out of the White House, and we installed a president who is deepening existing schisms in his country while creating new ones at home and abroad. This is the first time in history that the United States has been attacked by another country and not come together as a nation; instead, our actions have caused it to come apart. This is a great victory for us.

Needless to say, I’m not able to speculate reasonably on what Putin’s advisors are telling the Russian dictator, but any guidance that tells him that he’s won a great victory over America seems right to me.

Trump is a huge gift to Russian power, nearly in proportion to his ignorance, bigotry, nativism, mendacity, authoritarian tendencies, and preference for foreign autocrats.

Saying all this about Trump is simply stating the obvious about him, but it’s worth remembering that a core of American fellow travelers and fifth-columnists, having more sympathy for Putinism than America values, made Putin’s meddling and Trump’s excreable rise possible. (See, Useful Idiots: Trump is getting played by the Russians – but so is the rest of the GOP, where John Stoehr applies the phrase, dubiously attributed to Lenin, to contemporary politics.)

There are, in a rough, descending order of culpability for Putin’s interference in our politics, the following: (1) those who have collaborated with Russians or other third parties to undermine American liberty & sovereignty, (2) those sympathetic to Putinism (including white nationalists, anti-Muslim bigots, and theologically-confused & intellectually-stunted Americans who ludicrously think that Putin’s a moral exemplar), (3) those who wilfully refuse to see the damage Putin has done, (4) those who for years have maintained the low standards that have allowed Putin’s lies to flourish (including every glad-handing Babbitt in every town in America), and (5) those of us who should have seen more clearly, and dealt with the rest more assertively & decisively, all these years gone by.

Daily Bread for 7.6.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-nine. Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 11m 39s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 94% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred thirty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission meets at 6 PM this evening, and the Fire Department has a business meeting at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1934, eight are injured during a riot at a Wisconsin malted milk plant:

On this day three policemen and five office employees of the Horlick Malted Milk Corp. were injured when a crowd of strike sympathizers stormed a motorcade of employees entering the plant’s main gate. Emerging from a crowd of 500 striking employees, the rioters overpowered police escorts, shattered windshields and windows, and pelted officers with rocks. Police blamed Communist influence for the incident, and former Communist congressional candidate John Sekat was arrested in the incident. Employees of the plant were demanding wage increases and recognition of the Racine County Workers Committee as their collective bargaining agent. [Source: Capital Times 7/6/1934, p. 1]

Recommended for reading in full — 

Patrick Marley and Jason Stein report that Foxconn considering bringing 10,000 jobs to southeastern Wisconsin, Assembly speaker says:

MADISON – Foxconn Technology Group is considering bringing 10,000 jobs to southeastern Wisconsin, leaders of the state Assembly said Wednesday.

With their passing reference to the proposed project in a memo, the leaders became the first high-ranking state officials to acknowledge the Taiwanese company is considering a massive presence here.

The firm also is considering putting the development in Michigan or other states.

They referred to the possible project as they sought to revive stalled talks over the state budget. Disputes over transportation funding have kept Republicans, who control the Legislature, from reaching a budget deal.

“Recently, technology company, Foxconn, has indicated its desire to locate in southeastern Wisconsin with up to 10,000 jobs, and yet the (funding) of I-94 North-South through Racine and Kenosha counties continues to be delayed,” wrote Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), the co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee.

(Obvious points: Foxconn is considering other states, they’re sure to ask for huge public incentives to locate here, and Vos has an incentive of a different kind to tout Foxconn’s interest as a point in favor of the additional road-construction money that he wants.)

Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Nathan McDermott report on the 80 times Trump talked about Putin:

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump consistently broke from political orthodoxy in his effusive praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His glowing statements on Putin have become central in stoking the suspicion that he and his campaign were somehow connected to Russian interference in the election.

A CNN KFile review of Trump’s public statements — from the years immediately before his presidential campaign to present — reveal that Trump has contradicted himself over the years about the nature of his relationship with Putin.

Since 2013 — when Trump’s Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow — Trump has at least nine times claimed to have spoken to, met, or made contact with Putin. But as the 2016 campaign wore on and his statements on Putin began to attract more scrutiny, Trump changed course, denying having ever met the Russian president….

Brian Bennett observes that the Stakes are high for Trump’s meeting with Putin. Here’s what to expect:

Should Trump prove unprepared, that won’t be for lack of effort on the Americans’ side.

Leading up to his first face-to-face meeting with Putin, U.S. intelligence officials have prepared a detailed psychological profile of the long-serving Russian strongman, a former KGB officer who spent decades recruiting spies for the Soviet Union and mastered the art of bending people to his will.

The profile, according to two U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the preparations, is part of a thick binder prepared for Trump. The president often doesn’t read the usual briefing books and relies on in-person briefings, the officials said, so aides also have written a list of tweet-length sentences that summarize the main points Trump could bring up with Putin.

(There’s Trump, the great leader: after a tweet-length sentence of 140 characters, he’s spent.)

Lydia Wheeler and Mike Lillis report that Trump’s supposed Voter fraud commission may have violated law:

President Trump’s voter fraud commission may have violated the law by ignoring federal requirements governing requests for information from states, several experts on the regulatory process told The Hill.

Experts say the failure to submit the request to states through the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) violates a 1980 law known as the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). They also say the failure could be significant, since states could argue it means they are under no obligation to respond.

“If the commission gets heavy-handed with them, it seems to me that the states are within their right to say, ‘No, we don’t have to respond because you didn’t go through [OIRA],’” said Susan Dudley, a former OIRA administrator who is now director of the GW Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked all 50 states and the District of Columbia for extensive information last week on their voters, including full names and addresses, political party registration and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.

Great Big Story presents If You Build It, They Will Come: A Juke Joint’s Field of Dreams:

A Juke Joint’s Field of Dreams from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Robert “Bilbo” Walker has been playing blues music for over 60 years. Hailing from the same area of the Mississippi Delta as Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, B.B. King and others, Walker has become a legend of the genre in his own right. And for the past seven years, he’s been working on opening his own live music venue, known locally as a “juke joint.” Juke joints—or quasi-legal drinking establishments with live music—are a relic of blues music that were popular until about 50 years ago. Today, they’re nearly extinct. But Walker just celebrated the grand opening of Wonderlight City—a classic-style juke joint located in a remote rural area 20 miles from Clarksdale, Mississippi. With nothing but fields surrounding the establishment, this is one venue you’ll really have to go out of your way to find. But when you happen upon it, you’re in for a real treat.

Daily Bread for 7.5.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-six. Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 12m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 88.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred thirty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Phineas Taylor “P. T.” Barnum is born this day in 1810. On this day in 1832, Gen. Atkinson and his soldiers enter the Trembling Lands during the Black Hawk War: “The area was some 10 square miles and contained a large bog. Although the land appeared safe, it would undulate or tremble for yards when pressure was applied. Many of the militiamen were on horses, which plunged to their bellies in the swamp. The “trembling lands” forced Atkinson to retrace his steps back toward the Rock River, in the process losing days in his pursuit of Black Hawk.”

Recommended for reading in full —

David Rothkopf contends that The greatest threat facing the United States is its own president:

I asked Petraeus, a man I respect, if he thought the president was fit to serve. His response was, “It’s immaterial.” He argued that because the team around Trump was so good, they could offset whatever deficits he might have. I was floored. It was a stunningly weak defense.

That is where we are now. The president’s tweeting hysterically at the media is just an element of this. So too is his malignant and ever-visible narcissism. The president has demonstrated himself to have zero impulse control and a tendency to damage vital international relationships with ill-considered outbursts, to trust very few of the people in his own government, and to reportedly rant and shout at staff and even at the television sets he obsessively watches.

Whether he is actually clinically ill is a matter for psychiatric professionals to consider. But when you take the above behaviors and combine them with his resistance to doing the work needed to be president, to sitting down for briefings, to reading background materials, to familiarizing himself with details enough to manage his staff, there is clearly a problem. Compound it with his deliberate reluctance to fill key positions in government and his wild flip-flopping on critical issues from relations with China to trade, and you come to a conclusion that it may be that Trump’s fitness to serve as president is our nation’s core national security issue.

Patrick Granfield explains Why Trump Should Embrace America’s Immigrant Soldiers:

The men who declared American independence 241 years ago today were largely landowners and merchants, already well established in society. Not so, however, for many of the soldiers who helped secure that independence over the course of the Revolutionary War.

From the nation’s very first days, some of its finest soldiers have been immigrants and, yes, even foreigners. As President Trump and his team celebrate their first Fourth of July in office—and as they continue shaping their immigration policies—they would do well to reflect on this tradition and its importance to the United States’ security….

Millions of immigrant soldiers would follow in their footsteps. They include 100,000 U.S. troops who arrived in Europe a century ago to fight the First World War, immigrants who did not become citizens until their naturalization after a victorious return. And they include more than 100,000 men and women from this century who have earned their citizenship through military service since the September 11 attacks.

Jim Rutenberg writes that an Independent Press Is Under Siege as Freedom Rings:

You’re old enough to know that you can’t always have a feel-good birthday. And let’s face it: This Fourth of July just isn’t going to be one of them.

How could it be when one of the pillars of our 241-year-old republic — the First Amendment — is under near-daily assault from the highest levels of the government?

When the president of the United States makes viciously personal attacks against journalists — and then doubles down over the weekend by posting a video on Twitter showing himself tackling and beating a figure with a CNN logo superimposed on his head? (Every time you think he’s reached the limit …)

John Stoeher writes of Exposing the Fraud That Is [White Nationalist and Trump Supporter] Richard Spencer:

Richard Spencer lives on his family’s fortune. That wealth in part comes from owning, for generations, huge tracts of land used in growing cotton. That cotton is subsidized, like many farming operations, to maintain prices by the federal government.

Moreover, Spencer dropped out of graduate school and does not appear to have held down a real job before founding his “think tank.” No one knows where he got the money to found it. The National Policy Institute has lost its tax-exempt status.

What do we make of these facts?

For one thing, it’s hard to maintain the veneer of strength and purity when you are vulnerable to accusations of being a mama’s boy. (His parents are evidently mainstream Republican who dislike their son’s embrace of fascism, but not enough, apparently, to cut him off.)

For another, it’s hard to maintain an image of authenticity as the one true voice of an oppressed white people when your money comes from mommy and daddy, instead of a deep pool of contributors who might nominally represent a truly democratic yearning. White nationalism ends up taking a back seat to his carefully constructed image and in doing so risks revealing Spencer as being a fraud.

Here’s What’s Up for July 2017: