Daily Bread for 1.10.18

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will see afternoon showers with a high of forty-five. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset is 4:41 PM, for 9h 17m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 33.4% of its disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred twenty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine anonymously publishes Common Sense. On this day in 1883, the Newhall House fire claims over seventy: “one of America’s worst hotel fires claimed more than seventy lives when the Newhall House burned at the northwest corner of Broadway and Michigan Streets in Milwaukee. Rescued from the fire were The P.T. Barnum Lilliputian Show performers Tom Thumb and Commodore Nutt. The fire, shown here, was discovered at 4:00 a.m. on the 10th, but sources give the date variously as 1/9/1883 or 1/10/1883.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Spencer Ackerman reports White House Official Floated Withdrawing U.S. Forces to Please Putin (“A member of Trump’s National Security Council staff had a radical notion: to pare back American troops in Europe as a way to curry favor with the Kremlin”):

A senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump presidency, according to two former administration officials.

While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to Donald Trump seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin—something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia’s election-time investment in President Trump. The White House did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment….

According to the ex-colleague, Harrington considered it a gesture to the Kremlin that would enable the nascent Trump administration to see if its desire for a friendly relationship with Russia would be reciprocated. It was included in a strategy paper that, conspicuously to the former official, made no mention of Russia as either a competitor or adversary….

(Vladimir Putin is an enemy of our people, as he is an enemy of democratic peoples elsewhere. No one who fails to see as much of Russia’s autocratic murderer & imperialist is suited for service in the United States Government.)

The Committee to Investigate Russia offers testimony takeaways  from the transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson’s testimony given to her committee on August 22, 2017. The following are key excerpts from that 312-page transcript: 

On Trump’s known connections to convicted criminal Felix Sater:

Page 70  I found it notable this was something he didn’t want to talk about and testified under oath he wouldn’t know Felix if he ran into him in the street. That was not true. He knew him well and, in fact, continued to associate with him long after he learned of Felix’s organized crime ties. So, you know, that tells you something about somebody. So I concluded that he was okay with that and that was a troubling thing. I also, you know, began to — I keep saying I, but we as a company began to look at where his money came from and, you know, that raised a lot of questions. We saw indications that some of the money came from Kazakhstan, among other places, and that some of it you just couldn’t account for….

Steele first met with someone from the FBI in July and then again in September, and Simpson says that during that second meeting, Steele heard about the FBI having a source inside the Trump campaign:

Q. You said that he told you of the meeting with the FBI in Rome in mid or late September, that he “gave them a full briefing”?

A. A debrief I think is what he probably said, they had debriefed him … Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.

On why Steele stopped communicating with the FBI:

Page 178  A: There was some sort of interaction, I think it was probably telephonic that occurred after Director Comey sent his letter to Congress reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. That episode, you know, obviously created some concern that the FBI was intervening in a political campaign in contravention of long-standing Justice Department regulation.

So it made a lot of people, including us, concerned about what the heck was going on at the FBI. So, you know, we began getting questions from the press about, you know, whether they were also investigating Trump and, you know, we encouraged them to ask the FBI that question. You know, I think — I’m not sure we’ve covered this fully, but, you know, we just encouraged them to ask the FBI that question.

On October 31st the New York Times posed a story saying that the FBI is investigating Trump and found no connections to Russia and, you know, it was a real Halloween special.

Sometime thereafter the FBI — I understand Chris severed his relationship with the FBI out of concern that he didn’t know what was happening inside the FBI and there was a concern that the FBI was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people and that we didn’t really understand what was going on. So he stopped dealing with them….

Jennifer Rubin asks What didn’t Republicans want you to see in the Fusion GPS transcript?:

You can understand why the Republicans were furiously trying to suppress the transcript, which contains no classified information.

First, it makes clear that Steele was engaged because of his expertise and contacts. He was not told to find anything in particular, but just to research the totality of Trump’s involvement in Russia.

Second, according to Simpson, Trump was doing business all over the former Soviet states of Georgia and Azerbaijan. Interestingly, Trump repeatedly denied having financial ties in Russia itself but never publicly denied operations in states in which Russians exercised substantial influence.

Third, in investigating Trump’s finances they found his properties were not as highly valued as he suggested and, in the case of several golf courses, weren’t making money.

Fourth, Steele took it upon himself to report his finding to the FBI because he believed there was a “crime in progress” and matter of national security. He later relayed to Simpson that the FBI already had information from a campaign source.

Fifth, Trump lied about not knowing who Felix Sater is. Simpson testified, “This was something he didn’t want to talk about and testified under oath he wouldn’t know Felix if he ran into him in the street. That was not true. He knew him well and, in fact, continued to associate with him long after he learned of Felix’s organized crime ties. So, you know, that tells you something about somebody.” We do not know if Sater was in fact tied to organized crime.

Sixth, Simpson called it a reasonable “interpretation” that the Trump Tower meeting was designed by Russian officials to reach out to and cooperate with the Trump team.

Seventh, far from interfering in the election to benefit Hillary Clinton, the FBI did not publicly disclose during the campaign the wealth of information it was learning about Trump and Russia.

What stands out most from an initial perusal of the transcript is the professionalism and seriousness of Fusion GPS and Steele. By attempting to suppress a candid look into the dossier (really a series of memos, Simpson explains), Republicans once again are caught acting like Trump henchmen, trying to play down the investigation into Russia, not unearth and air what they learn.

Trump arrogantly & falsely thinks it’s a privilege that some Americans (albeit a clear minority of them) voted for him:

TechInsider contends humans may have more in common with bats than previously thought:

2 thoughts on “Daily Bread for 1.10.18

  1. What is going on with Huckleberry Graham and the notorious ethanol whore, Chuck Grassley, throwing down on Steele?? Their freelancing of criminal referrals, without any visible justification, brings deep suspicions of why two senior Republican Senators would throw their careers overboard for Trump. What’s the leverage? Graham is the more interesting case. He has gone from justifiable scorn for Trump to wearing out his tongue on him. Why would he do that? Graham has been thoroughly in the closet for all of his life, but that closet has a see-thru door, and his constituents have long-since come to grips (as they should) with his proclivities. They aren’t much of a secret. His e-mail was hacked, presumably by Russians, and he shows definite signs of being muscled to comply with the Trump company line. Why?? I’ve no clue about Grassley.

    They managed to piss-off Dianne Feinstein enuf that she abandoned her usual abundance of caution and blew off both of their kneecaps by releasing the actual transcript of the Fusion interview. This is not DiFi’s normal mode, so it is clear that she was powerfully pissed. Grassley was stoic about it all, but Huck immediately backtracked to saying that “it was good” that it was made public. He looked embarrassed, as he should.

    Meanwhile DiFi, on a roll, got Trump to agree to a clean DACA bill. The White House deleted that line from the transcript of the cabinet show-meeting, but there is tape, which is replaying endlessly. Then, a Fed Judge from DiFi’s state told Trump that his bullshit DACA deadline was arbitrary and capricious and swatted it down. DACA is not being friendly to the R-Team…

    “Sloppy Steve” Bannon has achieved superstar status by verifying the existential veracity of Joe’s First Rule of Trump, which holds that anyone that gets anywhere near Trump gets inevitably covered in shit. Steve got special attention. He was first covered with diagonal strips of lath, followed by a thick layer of shit, which was plastered on with a finishing treatment of tasteful trowel-swirls, lending an elegant Mediterranean-revival motif to the shit-job. In the course of a very few days he has gone from being the Trump administration’s designated enforcer to being kicked out of the White house, disowned by his sugar-mama, Rebecca Mercer, fired by Breitbart, and losing his XM radio wingnut sinecure. Word is that he is living a surly and resentful life on a steam-grate somewhere in DC. His life now sucks, but the world is a better place…

    Momentum is building on the partisan Gerrymandering front, too. A Federal judge panel threw out NC districts and ordered the legislature to come up with a fair set of districts and do it before the 2018 elections, or the court will do it for them. That is sure to be appealed to the SC, where it will rest next to the WI and Maryland partisan Gerrymander cases. This is a big deal, and if Kennedy rules that ya gotta be fair about districting, it will have an enormous effect on the future of the Republican party almost everywhere.

    1. You know, there’s a lot to be said for a Mediterranean-revival style – with the right climate, it’s quite suitable. Might as well use it to make the otherwise unsightly a bit more seemly.

      Grassley? I don’t know what’s happened to him. (Graham, as you note, is so erratic in his shift from opposed to favorable – and almost back again on occasion – that his response seems more emotional.) Grassley doesn’t convey a sense of panic or nervousness – he’s fairly stoic. What motivates him seems harder to discern, as he’s harder to read.

      Graham or Grassley – there’s no good way back for a prominent official when he or she drifts pro-Trump. However they got here, and even if they try to shift about (as Graham does), there’s no reason to see them except as impediments to a freer, fairer, safer America.

      Well, if there’s optimism on the gerrymandering from – and one hopes so – it would be a huge gain for this country. Gerrymandering – far worse than earmarks, for example – is a significant threat to representative government. Are there five justices who’ll rule wisely and well? One hopes – and expect – a sound decision. At least four justices, to my mind, will make that right decision; at least four justices likely will decide wrongly.

      In any event, five on either side of a case will probably decide the matter.

      Gerrymandering in favor of the GOP made something like Trumpism much more likely. Not certain, but more likely.

      If no federal decision or decisions will settle this rightly, then even more will rest on statehouse wins in ’18 and ’20.

      Bannon? I saw that Kurt Bardella has an article about his time at Breitbart, Inside Steve Bannon’s ‘Fight Club’:

      In Mr. Trump, Steve saw someone who, like him, was shunned from the polite classes and was a true outsider. He admired Mr. Trump’s uncanny ability to command and control the media spotlight. Mr. Trump had the voice; Steve had the message. In Mr. Trump, Steve found the man to rally his audience of deplorables around.

      By the fall of 2015, Breitbart had become nothing more than a propaganda vessel to advance the political interests of Steve Bannon’s chosen one. Nothing illustrated this more than when Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, grabbed one Breitbart reporter, Michelle Fields. Steve was so invested in Mr. Trump that he was willing to sacrifice his own reporter, whom he refused to defend, to protect his personal interests.

      For me, it was the last straw. I made the decision during the Fields situation to resign — joined in short order by Ms. Fields herself and our editor at large, Ben Shapiro — and terminate my relationship with Steve and Breitbart, who had become one in the same.

      Why does it always become a matter of personality, with so little of philosophy, economics, law, and history from these men?

      But that’s not fair – Bannon did have things to say – and they were wrong, malevolent, and contemptible. Stephen Miller will perhaps try to play a role in Washington like Bannon wanted to play.

      So be it – millions of us will confront him, as assertively as possible.

      Bannon’s finished, most likely, but we have plenty of fight in us, come what may.

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