Daily Bread for 5.20.18

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be cloudy with intermittent rain, and a high of fifty-eight.  Sunrise is 5:26 AM and sunset 8:16 PM, for 14h 50m 06s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 31.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred fifty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1863, Union forces regroup at Vicksburg, Mississippi:

After the unsuccessful assault on Vicksburg the previous day, Union forces regrouped in front of the city. The 1st Wisconsin Light Artillery and the 8th, 11th, 18th and 23rd Wisconsin Infantry regiments joined the 14th and 17th Infantries to prepare for the next attack. While these arrangements were taking place at Vicksburg, the 4th Wisconsin Infantry fought in a skirmish in Cheneyville, Louisiana.

Recommended for reading in full —

Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman, and David D. Kirkpatrick report Trump Jr. and Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help to Win Election:

Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor.

The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.

Erik Prince, the private security contractor and the former head of Blackwater, arranged the meeting, which took place on Aug. 3, 2016. The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president. The social media specialist, Joel Zamel, extolled his company’s ability to give an edge to a political campaign; by that time, the firm had already drawn up a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation effort to help elect Mr. Trump.

(Trump puts America for sale to dictators and oligarchs worldwide.)

Inae Oh writes Rudy Giuliani Can’t Handle This 1998 Clip of Him Blowing Up His Own Trump Claims:

“He’s the president of the United States,” the former mayor of New York City said earlier this month. “We can assert the same privileges other presidents have.”

But during a live interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Friday, Giuliani was forced to confront remarks he made in 1998 that appear to undercut that very assertion. “You’ve got to do it,” Giuliani told Charlie Rose when asked about a presidential subpoena in 1998. “I mean, you don’t have a choice. There is a procedure for handling that.”

“That’s extremely unfair what you’re doing right now,” Giuliani complained as the clip played on a split screen. “This is the reason people don’t come on this show.” He later called the network “disgusting.”

(Giuliani is what Trump is: lazy and presumptuous, startled when someone simply and reasonably challenges his serial errors.  Such is the descent from lawyer to talk-show blowhard.  No way back.)

Richard Hurowitz writes Illiberalism Is Rising. Here’s How We Can Turn That Tide and Renew Our Democracy:

We have arrived at a point where the old political and policy divisions between left and right are less important than the divide between the liberal (in the term’s original Enlightenment sense) and the illiberal.

The liberal believes in individual rights and tolerance, international engagement and the rule of law while the illiberal believes in nativism, populism, protectionism and isolationism.

For the moment, momentum seems to be with forces arrayed with the illiberals, and against liberty. This must be taken as an alarm bell, a clarion call to action.

We are at a frightening moment. Washington Post survey just prior to the 2016 election found that 46 percent of Americans reported that they have lost faith in democracy—or never had it to begin with. A Harvard study found one in six are ready for a military dictatorship, up from one in sixteen twenty years ago. Thirty-one percent of Americans (including 51 percent of Republicans) believe the press is “an enemy of the people.” One in four Americans believe that the government should be able to prevent publication of information that officials deem biased or inaccurate.

It is critical for defenders of liberal democracy—no matter their personal political views—to unite and fight back against this rising tide. This is the mission of the Renew Democracy Initiative, a new organization dedicated to bringing together concerned citizens of all political views in the support of shared basic ideals. In the wake of the 2016 election, a number of us met to see what could be done to halt the march of illiberalism that the prior year had brought so painfully into focus. Because ideas must stand at the forefront of any political movement, we drafted a manifesto of those first principles indispensable to liberal democracy.

(Trump feasts on the bigoted populism of nativists; there’s no Trumpism without it.  No one would have welcomed the conflict we now face, yet there is honor in scraping Trump and his ilk from the political scene.  One may be confident that Trumpism’s ruin is a political and social good.)

A sermon from the Rev. Michael Curry (full sermon):

Here are 8 of the Cutest — and Rarest — Creatures on the Planet:

Daily Bread for 5.19.18

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of seventy-five.  Sunrise is 5:27 AM and sunset 8:15 PM, for 14h 48m 16s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 22.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred fifty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1780, New England experiences a mysterious darkness:

New England’s Dark Day refers to an event that occurred on May 19, 1780, when an unusual darkening of the day sky was observed over the New England states and parts of Canada.[1] The primary cause of the event is believed to have been a combination of smoke from forest fires,[2] a thick fog, and cloud cover. The darkness was so complete that candles were required from noon on. It did not disperse until the middle of the next night.[3][4]

Since communications technology of the day was primitive, most people found the darkness to be baffling and inexplicable. Many applied religious interpretations to the event.[8]

In Connecticut, a member of the Governor’s council (renamed Connecticut State Senate in 1818), Abraham Davenport, became most famous for his response to his colleagues’ fears that it was the Day of Judgment:

I am against adjournment. The day of judgment is either approaching, or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for an adjournment; if it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish therefore that candles may be brought.[9]

Recommended for reading in full —

David Von Drehle contends Now we know what Trump will say when we learn what he’s hiding:

Survivors on the Union side of the bloody battle of Shiloh reported witnessing a striking phenomenon moments before thousands of Rebels came charging through the Tennessee woods at dawn. Fauna in great abundance — rabbits and deer and squirrels and birds — made a startled dash through the Yankee camps. Thus the soldiers knew something alarming was headed their way, even before they knew what it was.

But what struck me like the Shiloh field suddenly teeming with startled wildlife was this language of setups and entrapment because, where I come from, only guilty people trot out the I-was-stung defense. Indeed, the most infamous use of this jargon in Washington — the late Marion Barry’s “Bitch set me up!” — followed the mayor’s dismayed realization that his crack-smoking had been caught on hidden camera.

How many times have we heard from the president and his defenders that the Mueller investigation is “a witch hunt,” that “there’s nothing there” and it’s time to shut it down? As the inquiry enters its second year, Trump’s forces now appear to be falling back to a new trench. Whatever Team Trump did wrong, the FBI tricked them into doing it.

Damian Paletta and Josh Dawsey report Trump personally pushed postmaster general to double rates on Amazon, other firms:

President Trump has personally pushed U.S. Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other firms to ship packages, according to three people familiar with their conversations, a dramatic move that probably would cost these companies billions of dollars.

Brennan has so far resisted Trump’s demand, explaining in multiple conversations occurring this year and last that these arrangements are bound by contracts and must be reviewed by a regulatory commission, the three people said. She has told the president that the Amazon relationship is beneficial for the Postal Service and gave him a set of slides that showed the variety of companies, in addition to Amazon, that also partner for deliveries.

Despite these presentations, Trump has continued to level criticism at Amazon. And last month, his critiques culminated in the signing of an executive order mandating a government review of the financially strapped Postal Service that could lead to major changes in the way it charges Amazon and others for package delivery.

(Ignorant and insecure, Trump’s a homegrown version of a third-world autocrat, fat and fatuous, making counter-productive demands that inhibit economic productivity.)

Jonathan Vankin reports Russian Trolls Instantly Spread Fake News Online About Alleged Santa Fe School Shooter:

Within minutes of 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis being named as the school shooter in Santa Fe, Texas, who killed 10 and wounded at least 10 more at a high school there Friday morning, Russian Twitter bots and other right-wing internet trolls began to spread false information about the alleged mass killer — including at least two Facebook profiles that appeared in Pagourtzis’ name, portraying the teen as a supporter of 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The fake Facebook pages showing Pagourtzis wearing a Hillary Clinton baseball cap — an image that had been digitally altered from an an actual image from the teen’s now-deleted authentic Facebook profile — also attempted to link him to Antifa, the “anti-fascist” group that frequently stages counter-protests against far-right demonstrators, by including an Antifa logo as the featured image on the fake Facebook page.

“There’s also a lot of bot activity on Twitter related to the shooting in Santa Fe, Texas,” observed Caroline Orr, an expert on Russian internet propagandaat Virginia Commonwealth University. “Four of the top 10 two-word phrases tweeted by automated accounts over the past 24 hours are related to the school shooting,” Orr wrote on her Twitter account shortly after the shooting Friday morning.

See also  Fake Facebook accounts and online lies multiply in hours after Santa Fe school shooting.

Adam Taylor reports Russia’s parliament to consider proposal to allow Putin to run for reelection again in 2024:

Russia’s parliament is expected to consider a constitutional amendment that would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to run in the 2024 election — a move that could potentially extend his rule until he is 77, if not older.

The proposal would change Russia’s constitution so that the president can hold office for three consecutive terms rather than the current limit of two. Putin, who has held high office in Russia since 1999, had previously stepped out of the president’s office to become prime minister in 2008 because of term limits.

(Now, a mere trial balloon; later, a true change to make Putin a czar.)

In Japan, people are battling Invincible ‘Super Rats’ Genetically Resistant to Poison:

They don’t have this problem on Aoshima Island. That happy and rat-free island points toward a solution for all Japan.

Buying Whitewater a Present

A man wants to impress his girlfriend, someone he professes to love, so he asks her what she’d like for a present – anything at all she might want.   She tells him that she’s been thinking about getting a car.

“That’s wonderful,” he exclaims. “I’ll get you something special!”

Before she can even suggest a few features she’d like in an automobile, the man’s out the door, and on his way.

Months go by, and although she doesn’t hear much about his search, she does know that he’s been scouring out-of-town locations unfamiliar to anyone nearby.  She does see several nice cars for sale in town, but he makes no mention of them.

One day he surprises her, and places a set of car keys in her hand. “It’s right outside, darling, just what I know you’ve always wanted,” he exults.

In the driveway, she finds a 1972 AMC Gremlin, with high mileage and a few mysterious stains on the upholstery:

She’s a bit surprised. “You bought me a … Gremlin,” she sighs. “How much was it?” she asks.

“It was a steal,” he answers.  “You had just enough in your checking account.”

“My account?” she replies.  “I thought you said you were going to buy me a car.”

“Well, darling, I did buy you a car.  Of course I did.  But I didn’t mean that I was going to pay for it.”

That’s Whitewater’s Community Development Authority, and those are the gifts it buys for Whitewater, with her own money.

Previously: Romancing Whitewater.

Daily Bread for 5.18.18

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-two.  Sunrise is 5:28 AM and sunset 8:14 PM, for 14h 46m 22s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 13% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred fifty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1863, the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, begins:

After nearly three weeks spent encircling Vicksburg, Mississippi, Union forces had bottled up their enemy inside the city and prepared to attack it. Seventeen different Wisconsin regiments were involved in the assault that began the next day (8th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th and 33rd Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 1st, 6th and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries as well as the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry).

Recommended for reading in full —

Robert Shapiro writes Trump lags behind his predecessors on economic growth:

In recent months, President Trump has tweeted that economic growth under his presidency “is better than it has been in many decades,” “the Economy is raging at an all-time high, and is set to get even better,” and “It has been many years that we have seen these kind of (economic) numbers.”

While some hyperbole is a matter of opinion, Trump’s claim that his stewardship of the economy puts his predecessors to shame can be checked by public information that is readily available to all. In fact, the data show that compared to his predecessors, Trump’s record so far falls somewhere between unremarkable and substandard. Moreover, other economic data suggest that the current expansion will likely wind down before his term ends, and his boasting will ring hollow once the economy slips into recession.

It is commonly said that a President deserves some credit or blame for the economy’s performance only after he’s been in office about six months. On those terms, let’s measure Trump’s words against the record for real GDP growth over the last three quarters (July 2017 through March 2018). Over those quarters, GDP has grown at an annual rate of 2.6 percent. Comparing that pace to his last nine predecessors over comparable periods in their first terms,  Trump here bests the four presidents who faced recessions in their first year in office (Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon). Trump’s other five predecessors came to office, as he did, during economic expansions. Among them, he’s tied for last place: Real GDP growth under Trump over the three quarters has lagged Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy, and tied George H.W. Bush, as the data in the following table shows [see full article for table and additional analysis].

Alison Frankel reports Experts bash Giuliani claim that Mueller can’t subpoena Trump:

He told Fox News Thursday morning not just that the special counsel cannot indict President Trump but that Mueller’s team cannot even subpoena the president to appear before a grand jury. Giuliani’s theory is that if the president cannot be prosecuted, he cannot be called to testify in an investigation of his conduct.

“We’re pretty comfortable, in the circumstances of this case, they wouldn’t be able to subpoena him personally,” Giuliani said. “They could probably require documents to be produced. That’s what was required of Nixon. We’ve provided 1.4 million documents. They probably could require you to testify in a civil case, possibly even as a witness in a criminal case, but they can’t require you to testify in what would be your own case.”

I talked Thursday to eight lawyers who’ve been involved in previous probes of U.S. presidents. Every one of them said Giuliani’s theory is incorrect.

Some of them had quite strong words.

George Conway wrote the Supreme Court briefs for Bill Clinton accuser Paula Jones in the case that led to a unanimous ruling from the justices that the Constitution does not shield presidents from testifying in certain civil suits. He said Giuliani’s assertion that President Trump cannot be subpoenaed is “drivel.”

Lawrence Robbins, who represented White House officials in the Whitewater investigation, said Giuliani’s theory is “facially preposterous.”

Solomon Wisenberg, who worked on the Whitewater probe of Clinton, called the theory “delusional.”

(Giuliani goes on news programs that don’t check or question his claims, and so he says any false thing he wants to say and low-information viewers erroneously think he might be right.)

Michael Gerson contends The Trump era is a renaissance of half-witted intolerance:

In West Virginia, Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenshipaccused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of creating jobs for “China people” and getting donations from his “China family.” (McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, was born in Taiwan.) In Georgia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams drives around in a bus he promises to fill with “illegals” who will be deported to Mexico. On the rear is stamped: “Murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molestors [sic], and other criminals on board.” In Arizona, Republican Senate candidate (and former Maricopa County sheriff) Joe Arpaio is a proud “birther” with a history of profiling and abusing Hispanic migrants. Vice President Pence recently called Arpaio “a great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.” In Wisconsin, Republican House candidate Paul Nehlen runs as a “pro-white Christian American candidate.”

Yes, these are fringe figures. But they are fringe figures in a political atmosphere they correctly view as favorable. In the Republican Party, cranks and bigots are closer to legitimacy than at any time since William F. Buckley banished the John Birch Society.

Whatever else Trumpism may be, it is the systematic organization of resentment against outgroups. Trump’s record is rich in dehumanization. It was evident when he called Mexican migrants“criminals” and “rapists.” When he claimed legal mistreatment from a judge because “he’s a Mexican.” (Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel was born in Indiana.) When he proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” When he attacked Muslim Gold Star parents. When he sidestepped opportunities to criticize former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. When he referred to “very fine people” among the white-supremacist protesters in Charlottesville. When he expressed a preference for Norwegian immigrants above those from nonwhite “shithole countries.”

Greg Sargent observes Republicans are betting it all on aging white Trump voters:

Driving this appears to be a hard-headed calculation about demographics. Ron Brownstein reports that House Republicans are basically betting their majority on a “generational” gamble:

The Republican bet is that the party can mobilize elevated turnout among their older and blue-collar white base without provoking the young and racially diverse voters who personify the emerging next America to show up on Election Day to defend it. Few things are likely to shape November’s outcome more than whether that bet pays off.

Most indications are that congressional Republicans are genuinely divided on immigration, with many supporting evolution on the issue while many others either don’t want to act or are in sync with Trump’s views. As Brownstein notes, polls show that large majorities of older white voters agree with Trump on most issues, and because Trump is pulling the GOP in a “nativist” direction, this is prioritizing the views of that latter camp.

(Those of us in opposition and resistance, including so many of that number who are white, are combined into a multiracial, multi-ethnic coalition in support of America’s centuries-long democratic and legal tradition. Those before us faced Tories, Know Nothings, Confederates, Klansmen, and the Bund.  Our forebears prevailed against these threats in their time; we will prevail against Trumpism in ours.  A party of aged nativists, no matter how strident, has no hope against us.)

Here’s advice on How to Survive a Snake Bite:

Daily Bread for 5.17.18

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-nine.  Sunrise is 5:29 AM and sunset 8:13 PM, for 14h 44m 25s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 6.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred fifty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1954, the United States Supreme Court hands down its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

Recommended for reading in full —

Gregory Korte and John Fritze report Trump Jr. told investigators he can’t recall if he discussed Russian meeting with his father:

WASHINGTON — After setting up a meeting with Russian agents to discuss what he thought would be incriminating information on Hillary Clinton in June 2016, Donald Trump Jr. made an 11-minute phone call to a blocked phone number, according to a transcript of his interview with Senate investigators released Wednesday.

Trump Jr. says he can’t remember who he spoke to that night. But his father, now President Trump, used a blocked phone number at his home at the time, according to former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. 

At a rally the next day, the presidential candidate alluded to information his campaign was gathering on Hillary Clinton. He said he was planning to give a “major speech” the following week “discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons,” he said.

“I think you’re going to find it very informative and very, very interesting,” Trump said. “I wonder if the press will want to attend, who knows.”

Aaron Blake finds 54 things Donald Trump Jr. couldn’t ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ in his testimony:

If there’s one thing Donald Trump Jr. cleared up with his congressional testimony, it’s that he doesn’t remember a lot of things.

In a newly released transcript of his testimony, Trump repeatedly couched his answers about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting by saying he did not “remember” or that he didn’t “recall” certain things. Even when he was pretty sure, he’d say “not that I recall” or something like that. The result was a pretty cagey piece of testimony.

Below is a list of 54 substantive issues on which Trump cited his lack of a memory [list follows in full article].

(Bet he can remember his favorite escort service’s phone number…)

Christine Emba writes The GOP is quietly crafting work requirement waivers — for white people:

In January, the Trump administration released new guidelines that would allow states to begin imposing work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It was a kindness, really: According to Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, meaningful work is essential to “economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, wellbeing and … health.”

Well, for some of us.

Since the announcement, states have raced to implement new work requirements, which will have the effect of bumping hundreds of thousands of their poorest citizens off the Medicaid rolls. But in more recent months, a number of GOP-controlled states have been quietly crafting waivers that would end up shielding rural, white residents from this new scheme for self-esteem.

It seems an unusually transparent move, even for a party that tends toward the blatant in its disdain for those not seen as “real Americans.” But most of all, it’s an example of how much-touted moral policy stances — such as solicitude for the “dignity of work,” or “zero tolerance” for drugs, or “extreme” immigration vetting — often give shelter to less attractive tribal loyalties.

Gregory Korte and Alan Gomez report Trump ramps up rhetoric on undocumented immigrants: ‘These aren’t people. These are animals.’:

WASHINGTON — President Trump used extraordinarily harsh rhetoric to renew his call for stronger immigration laws Wednesday, calling undocumented immigrants “animals” and venting frustration at Mexican officials who he said “do nothing” to help the United States.

“We have people coming into the country or trying to come in, we’re stopping a lot of them, but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are,” Trump said.

“These aren’t people. These are animals.”

Wisconsin man encounters rare white deer fawn:

A man searching for morel mushrooms in southern Wisconsin came across a white deer fawn. The animal appeared to be just hours old. Video courtesy Trent Zimmerman.

Zimmerman pulled out his cellphone and began taking video of the encounter.

The fawn tottered on its spindly legs as Maggie, a 1-year-old Labrador retriever, walked over to investigate.

Zimmerman can be heard on the video telling his dog to back off, an order to which Maggie promptly complied.

How rare are white deer? It’s difficult to determine the frequency, according to scientists, but some estimates put it at 1 in 20,000 or 30,000.

Groceries & Co-ops

Whitewater has more than one food-shopping option in town, but only Walmart is of significant size. Many residents would like something beyond what we now have here in Whitewater: a dedicated grocery or a co-op.

Over these last few months, I’ve received emails from readers favoring one option, the other, both, or neither.  (My thanks to each of you.)  It’s fair to say that most of those writing want something more than the choices now on offer, and every person writing has expressed strong feelings on the matter. I’ve written in reply to those who’ve written me, and had planned to write about the topic last week or this.  Now, I’ll wait a bit.

Last night, in reply to a question from a member of Common Council, the executive director of Whitewater’s Community Development Authority agreed to give, in July, an update on grocery-store recruitment.  As with many others in Whitewater, I’m curious how the CDA is progressing, and what publicly-funded offers (if any) they might propose to entice an out-of-town retailer to this city.

(There were other topics in the CDA update, some only raised in response to questions, and those answers are also food for thought.)

I’ll wait patiently and with interest what municipal development officials have to say in July, about a grocery or co-op.

Daily Bread for 5.16.18

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of eighty-one.  Sunrise is 5:30 AM and sunset 8:12 PM, for 14h 40m 25s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred fifty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets today at 7 AM, and her Parks & Rec Board at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1913, band leader Woody Herman is born in Milwaukee:

On this date Woody Herman was born in Milwaukee. A child prodigy, Herman sang and tap-danced in local clubs before touring as a singer on the vaudeville circuit. He played in various dance bands throughout the 20s and 30s and by 1944 was leading a band eventually known as the First Herd. In 1946, the band played an acclaimed concert at Carnegie Hall but disbanded at the end of the year. The following year, Herman returned to performing with the Second Herd that included a powerful saxophone section comprised of Herbie Steward, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, and Serge Chaloff. He died in 1987.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jennifer Rubin writes The gullible Trump finally finds out Kim Jong Un isn’t ‘honorable’:

The Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon observes that a “no more Mr. Nice Guy” stance actually is “more reassuring than the love fests that were happening previously, because they seemed surreal.” There are a couple of ways to read this shift in tone. “Either Kim is now nervous about the whole détente process, given the clear U.S. goals, and wants to shut it down entirely, in which case the summit may not happen at all,” says O’Hanlon. “Or, more likely, he is beginning the bargaining process in earnest, since the Trump administration was misinterpreting what he really meant and really was offering with all his talk of peace and denuclearization. It’s not going to be that easy, or unilateral on his part, and most of us didn’t think it would be.”

If it is the latter, Trump may be particularly susceptible to Pyongyang’s posturing. Trump’s reliance on “chemistry” with world leaders and penchant for interpreting other countries’ moves — be it the “nice” release of three Americans held in North Korea or a red-carpet welcome in China (the biggest ever!) — in personal terms are counterproductive when dealing with a methodical, aggressive regime. Instead of winning favor, Trump’s childish rhetoric merely confirms adversaries’ belief that they can manipulate him with a few superficial moves.

Nicholas Eberstadt warned in early March: “A good North Korean negotiating team seizes immediate control of the agenda. Typically it will suddenly stop talks, or unexpectedly demand resumption, to throw the other side off its game. If Team North does not take control of the agenda, talks get shut down until Team North says it is time to start talking again.” In short, if they did not see Pyongyang’s latest maneuver coming, Trump and his team are more gullible than we imagined.

Christopher Ingraham reports Satellite data strongly suggests that China, Russia and other authoritarian countries are fudging their GDP reports:

China, Russia and other authoritarian countries inflate their official GDP figures by anywhere from 15 to 30 percent in a given year, according to a new analysis of a quarter-century of satellite data.

The working paper, by Luis R. Martinez of the University of Chicago, also found that authoritarian regimes are especially likely to artificially boost their gross domestic product numbers in the years before elections, and that the differences in GDP reporting between authoritarian and non-authoritarian countries can’t be explained by structural factors, such as urbanization, composition of the economy or access to electricity.

Noah Lanard writes This Man Was Trump Before Trump. He Just Won Pennsylvania’s Senate Primary:

Nearly a decade before Donald Trump launched his campaign by accusing Mexico of sending “rapists” to the United States, Lou Barletta vowed to make the small city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, “the toughest place on illegal immigrants in America.” With Barletta as mayor, Hazleton became the first city in the country to pass a law that fined landlords who rented to undocumented immigrants and stripped employers of their business licenses if they hired unauthorized workers. On Tuesday, Republican voters chose Barletta, who is now one of Congress’ foremost immigration hawks, to be the party’s nominee in Pennsylvania’s US Senate race.

As mayor, Barletta capitalized on the resentment among the city’s aging white population of the new immigrants, who were mostly from the Dominican Republic. “What I’m doing here is protecting the legal taxpayer of any race,” Barletta said in 2006. “And I will get rid of the illegal people. It’s this simple: They must leave.” He fulfilled his pledge to crack down on immigrants in 2006 when the city passed the Illegal Immigration Relief Act, the ordinance that punished people who rented to or hired undocumented immigrants. The law also made English Hazleton’s official language and required all city business to be conducted in English unless federal law prohibited it. Barletta wore a bulletproof vest to the meeting where the measure passed to emphasize his claim that undocumented immigrants were driving up crime.

The law was so sweeping that the right-wing Federation for American Immigration Reform, which aggressively supports Trump’s immigration agenda, argued it was too broad. A federal judge temporarily blocked the law before it went into effect, and the Supreme Court later allowed it to be permanently struck down. But the fight established the anti-immigrant credentials that underpinned Barletta’s second bid for Congress in 2008. He lost again, but two years later he won the seat.

(A part of that which paved the way: a politician trafficking in racial resentment.)

Heather Long writes Just about everything is odd about Trump’s support of Chinese firm ZTE:

It’s odd that Trump, who campaigned on saving millions of U.S. jobs, suddenly says he cares about a few thousand Chinese jobs.

It’s odd that Trump, who championed “America First,” is worried about a single Chinese firm.

It’s odd that Trump, who has spent months berating the Chinese for stealing U.S. intellectual property, is coming to the rescue of a Chinese telecom firm that’s trying to compete with American companies such as Apple.

It’s odd that Trump, who wants a strong U.S. military and business climate, is ignoring a House Intelligence Committee report from 2012 that concluded that ZTE “cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus [poses] a security threat to the United States and to our systems.”

It is odd that Trump, who has put extensive sanctions on Iran and North Korea, seems to be willing to forgive ZTE, a company that admitted it illegally shipped telecom equipment to Iran and North Korea. Trump’s own Commerce Department punished ZTE in April for “egregious behavior,” including repeatedly lying to the U.S. government. (The department banned U.S. companies from selling critical microchips and other products to ZTE for seven years.)

How Do You Move a Shark? Very Carefully:

About that Trump Tax Plan

In Whitewater, by press release (twice), one can read about the supposed benefits of the Trump tax plan. The Whitewater Community Development Authority’s executive director, Dave Carlson, was quick to push a portion of the plan as good for Whitewater.

In doing so, he conceded what anyone observing Whitewater with care and concern already knew: that Whitewater is a lower-income community. (This is true in demographics other than the student-population, too.)

Indeed, if Whitewater were not a lower-income community generally, then an application for lower-income status would have been – at best – erroneous. Carlson cannot – reasonably – both claim the supposed benefits of the Trump plan for Whitewater and simultaneously disclaim its need. Since Carlson expressly touts the work of Trump, Walker, Mnuchin, and Sensenbrenner (and even writes that the CDA chair personally met and thanked Sensenbrenner for the legislation), he has no defense that lower-income status is all a big misunderstanding.

(Showing relative changes among different populations within the city, over the last generation, is a worthy project. That’s an approach that seems even more revealing than a general, all-population assessment.)

What, however, of the Trump tax bill, overall? Have Trump, Mnuchin, and Sensenbrenner brought America something good?

Careful assessments suggest they haven’t.  Benjamin R. Page and William G. Gale contend that CBO estimates imply that TCJA will boost incomes for foreign investors but not for Americans:

The CBO analysis implies that TCJA effectively will have no impact U.S. incomes after 10 years. The difference, in econ-speak, is between the estimated effect on Gross Domestic Product (GDP, or the output created within in the U.S.), the effect on Gross National Product (GNP, output created by American workers and American-owned capital), and ultimately on Net National Product (NNP, which is GNP minus depreciation of capital goods, and comes closest of the three measures to American incomes). Hang on while we explain the difference.

CBO estimates that TCJA will increase U.S. GDP by 0.5 percent in 2028. CBO projects that the tax cuts will boost output in 2028 largely because lower tax rates on capital income—such as the 21 percent rate on corporate profits—increases the after-tax rate of return which in turn will boost the stock of productive capital such as computers or factories.

But here’s the kicker:  CBO figures that most of that additional capital will be financed by foreigners—for example, from overseas corporations building factories in the U.S., or foreign investors buying U.S. stocks and bonds. As a result, net payments of profits, dividends, and interest to foreigners also will rise. Unlike GDP, the GNP subtracts those net payments to foreigners from domestic production. GNP therefore provides a better measure of the impact on U.S. incomes. CBO projects that tax bill will boost GNP by just 0.1 percent in 2028.

It turns out that the rise in depreciation is about 0.1 percent of output in 2028—enough to erase the already meager boost to GNP. Thus, long-run incomes for Americans as measured by NNP will be more or less unchanged by the TCJA. You can email one of us at bpage@urban.org if you’d like to see the details.

And that’s the good news about the TCJA. It ignores the negative effects of the tax law: Worsening income inequality, less revenue to finance government services and benefits, and higher federal debt. If the tax cut’s direct benefits on U.S. incomes are non-existent, it is hard to make a case that it is a positive for the U.S. economy in the long term.

Carlson and the Whitewater CDA think Trump, Walker, Mnuchin, and Sensenbrenner have they answer for Whitewater, do they?

No, and no again.

PreviouslyOn the Whitewater CDA’s Press Release (A Picture Reply Is Worth a Thousand Words and A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA.

Daily Bread for 5.15.18

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of seventy-six.  Sunrise is 5:30 AM and sunset 8:11 PM, for 14h 40m 25s of daytime.  The moon new today.

Today is the five hundred fifty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets this evening at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1928, Mickey Mouse makes his debut in Plane Crazy:

Plane Crazy is an American animated short film directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. The cartoon, released in 1928 by the Walt Disney Studios, was the first creation of the character Mickey Mouse. It was made as a silent film and given a test screening to a theater audience on May 15, 1928, but failed to pick up a distributor. Later that year, Disney released Mickey’s first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie, which was an enormous success. Following this, Plane Crazy was released as a sound cartoon on March 17, 1929. It was the fourth Mickey film to be released after Steamboat WillieThe Gallopin’ Gaucho, and The Barn Dance (1928).

Recommended for reading in full —

Scott Bauer reports Foxconn selects company with close ties to Walker:

MADISON, Wis. — Foxconn Technology Group on Monday selected a company led by a Republican megadonor with close ties to Gov. Scott Walker to develop the master plan for its massive campus in Wisconsin.

The Taiwan-based electronics giant said it chose Hammes Company to be the lead developer on the $10 billion project that will house a display-screen factory on a campus spread over 2,900 acres (1173.61 hectares) not far from the Illinois border. Foxconn could qualify for up to $4.5 billion in state and local taxpayer incentives if it employs 13,000 workers as envisioned.

Hammes is led by Jon Hammes, Walker’s campaign finance chairman for his re-election bid this year. Hammes is part owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans, including more than $15,000 to Walker, and GOP causes over the years.

Hammes said in a statement that he was “delighted” to have his Milwaukee-based company selected and it will provide “planning, strategic advisory and development related services.”

(Foxconn knows a crony when they see one.)

 Josh Rogin reports China gave Trump a list of crazy demands, and he caved to one of them:

After top Trump officials went to Beijing last month, the Chinese government wrote up a document with a list of economic and trade demands that ranged from the reasonable to the ridiculous. On Sunday, President Trump caved to one of those demands before the next round of negotiations even starts, undermining his own objectives for no visible gain.

The Chinese proposal is entitled, “Framework Arrangement on Promoting Balanced Development on Bilateral Trade,” and I obtained an English version of the document, which is the Chinese government’s negotiating position heading into the next round of talks. That round begins this week when Xi Jinping’s special economic envoy Liu He returns to town.

Bullet point 5 is entitled, “Appropriately handing the ZTE case to secure global supply chain.”

“Having noted China’s great concern about the case of ZTE, the U.S. will listen attentively to ZTE’s plea, consider the progress and efforts ZTE has made in compliance management and announce adjustment to the export ban,” the document states.

Trump took a big step in that direction Sunday when he tweeted that he had instructed the Commerce Department to help get ZTE “back into business, fast,” only weeks after the Commerce Department cut off its supply of American components because it violated U.S. sanctions on sales to North Korea and Iran. Trump’s tweet set off a panic both inside and outside the administration among those who worry that Trump is backing down from his key campaign promise to stand up to China’s unfair trade practices and economic aggression.

(Even Trump’s own staff can’t make sense of his erratic, self-contradictory behavior.)

Benjamin Mueller, Robert Gebeloff, and Sahil Chinoy report the Surest Way to Face Marijuana Charges in New York: Be Black or Hispanic (“The police explanation that more black and Hispanic people are arrested on marijuana charges because complaints are high in their neighborhoods doesn’t hold up to scrutiny”):

There are many ways to be arrested on marijuana charges, but one pattern has remained true through years of piecemeal policy changes in New York: The primary targets are black and Hispanic people.

Across the city, black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years, The New York Times found. Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people. In Manhattan, the gap is even starker: Black people there were arrested at 15 times the rate of white people.

With crime dropping and the Police Department under pressure to justify the number of low-level arrests it makes, a senior police official recently testified to lawmakers that there was a simple reason for the racial imbalance: More residents in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods were calling to complain about marijuana.

[Read how we crunched the numbers to reveal the racial disparity in arrests.]

An analysis by The Times found that fact did not fully explain the racial disparity. Instead, among neighborhoods where people called about marijuana at the same rate, the police almost always made arrests at a higher rate in the area with more black residents, The Times found.

(One doesn’t have to smoke – as I don’t – to think that low-level marijuana arrests are a waste of publicly-funded resources, and – more importantly – to reject the racially disproportionate arrests the Times describes on moral grounds.)

Preet Bharara states the obvious about Trump’s complaints of White House leaks:

Sarah Lewin reports Yes, NASA Is Actually Sending a Helicopter to Mars – Here’s What It Will Do:

Even Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) Workforce

Here in Whitewater, one has heard the most optimistic (indeed, truly fantastic) projections for Foxconn’s employment opportunities. Look more closely, however, and even under Foxconn and state officials’ self-interested projections on behalf of the project, many of the projected employees will be entry-level workers, as Rick Romell reports:

But there’s another aspect of the 22-million-square-foot manufacturing complex planned for Racine County that has received relatively little attention: It will employ thousands of people who will arrive at its gates with no special skills and no more education than a high school diploma — and at wages well above the median for such workers.

That picture emerges in interviews with industry observers and with a key Foxconn executive, and in documents connected to the project.

See Foxconn will need thousands of workers with entry-level skills and a high school diploma.

Lots of entry-level workers, but with promises of above-market wages.

That’s not a prospect of a long-term career – it’s an incentive for Foxconn to automate as soon as they can.

They already have a solution they used elsewhere: they’re called Foxbots.

(Proper credit: comments here at FW have made this point more fully than I’ve done here.)

Previously10 Key Articles About FoxconnFoxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers,  Foxconn Destroys Single-Family HomesFoxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair Budget, and The Man Behind the Foxconn Project, A Sham News Story on Foxconn, and Another Pig at the Trough.

Daily Bread for 5.14.18

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see thunderstorms with a high of seventy-six.  Sunrise is 5:32 AM and sunset 8:10 PM, for 14h 38m 21s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent, with 1.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred fiftieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

On this day in 1796, Edward Jenner successfully tests a smallpox vaccine, the world’s first vaccine.

Recommended for reading in full —

The Hill reports on a shift to overseas production:

Rick Barrett reports In Washington, union rips Harley-Davidson for closing Kansas City plant while opening in Thailand:

A labor union for Harley-Davidson Inc. employees was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, complaining about Harley’s plan to close its factory in Kansas City, Mo., while opening an assembly plant in Thailand.

The world’s largest manufacturer of heavyweight motorcycles has said it will close the Kansas City factory despite pleas from some members of Congress to keep it open and retain about 800 jobs.

Harley says it’s moving the Kansas City work to the company’s plant in York, Pa., creating about 400 additional jobs in York.

Drew Harwell and Tony Romm report Facebook suspends 200 apps following Cambridge Analytica scandal:

Facebook said Monday morning it had suspended roughly 200 apps amid an ongoing investigation prompted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal into whether services on the site had improperly used or collected users’ personal data.

Facebook did not immediately provide detail on which apps were suspended or how many people had used them. The company said in an update, its first look since the social network announced the internal audit in March, that the apps would now undergo a “thorough investigation” into whether they had misused user data.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the company will examine tens of thousands of apps that could have accessed or collected large amounts of users’ personal information before the site’s more restrictive data rules for third-party developers took effect in 2015.

(“Tens of thousands” of apps yet to be examined.)

Greg Sergeant relates Alarming new revelations about Trump’s addiction to Fox News:

The New York magazine piece reports that former White House advisers Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus sought to deliberately drive Trump deeper into the Fox News bubble, because he was getting overly agitated by criticism on MSNBC and CNN. They did this by talking up Fox’s high ratings and importance to Trump’s base until Trump’s television diet became, as one former official put it, “mainly a complete dosage of Fox.”

But this has created its own alarming problems, officials now say. Fox gets Trump riled up about topics that weren’t supposed to be on that day’s agenda, forcing White House staff to scramble to refocus. And Trump’s addiction to Sean Hannity — who has become a kind of walking security blanket for the president — is having a deep impression on his view of the Mueller investigation:

Regardless of the news of the day, the overarching narrative of the show is the political persecution of Trump, and by extension of Hannity and Hannity’s viewers, at the hands of the so-called deep state and the Democratic Party, and the corrupt mainstream media, a wholly owned subsidiary of both. Everything comes back to … Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, a phony, petty diversion from what should be the real focus: prosecuting Hillary Clinton.

Now over to The Post’s new piece. The big takeaway is that the Mueller probe, as the piece puts it, is “secretive and methodical,” a “steaming locomotive” that is racking up indictments and guilty pleas — the real action in the background, even as Hannity rails about the Deep State and Rudy Giuliani rails about Mueller’s “stormtroopers” while pummeling himself about the face with seemingly endless rake-stepping.

NASA ScienceCasts describes New Science from Jupiter: