Daily Bread for 12.22.17 | FREE WHITEWATER

Daily Bread for 12.22.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of thirty-six. Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset is 4:24 PM, for 9h 01m 47s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 16% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, German commander Generalleutnant (Lt. Gen.) Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz demands American surrender at Bastogne. American Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe made a defiant reply:

When Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st, was told of the Nazi demand to surrender, in frustration he responded, “Nuts!” After turning to other pressing issues, his staff reminded him that they should reply to the German demand. One officer, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard, noted that McAuliffe’s initial reply would be “tough to beat.” Thus McAuliffe wrote on the paper, which was typed up and delivered to the Germans, the line he made famous and a morale booster to his troops: “NUTS!”[99] That reply had to be explained, both to the Germans and to non-American Allies.[g]

Recommended for reading in full —

Raphael Satter, Jeff Donn, and Nataliya  Vasilyeva report Russian hackers targeted more than 200 journalists globally:

The Associated Press found that [Russian journalist Pavel] Lobkov was targeted by the hacking group known as Fancy Bear in March 2015, nine months before his messages were leaked. He was one of at least 200 journalists, publishers and bloggers targeted by the group as early as mid-2014 and as recently as a few months ago.

The AP identified journalists as the third-largest group on a hacking hit list obtained from cybersecurity firm Secureworks, after diplomatic personnel and U.S. Democrats. About 50 of the journalists worked at The New York Times. Another 50 were either foreign correspondents based in Moscow or Russian reporters like Lobkov who worked for independent news outlets. Others were prominent media figures in Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltics or Washington.

The list of journalists provides new evidence for the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Fancy Bear acted on behalf of the Russian government when it intervened in the U.S. presidential election. Spy agencies say the hackers were working to help Republican Donald Trump. The Russian government has denied interfering in the American election.

Previous AP reporting has shown how Fancy Bear — which Secureworks nicknamed Iron Twilight — used phishing emails to try to compromise Russian opposition leaders, Ukrainian politicians and U.S. intelligence figures, along with Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and more than 130 other Democrats….

Chris Strohm, Steven T. Dennis , and Shannon Pettypiece report Mueller’s Silence Cuts Through Noise of Trump Russia Inquiries:

Through all the controversy, threats and noise surrounding the Trump-Russia investigation, one person has been conspicuously silent: Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The former FBI director hasn’t uttered a single word in public since he was appointed in May to lead the probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election despite increasingly combative attacks by Republicans and their allies on the FBI, the Justice Department and the integrity of his probe.

It’s an intentional strategy meant to convey the investigation’s credibility and seriousness in an age of 24-hour noise, amplified by cable news shows and Twitter, according to current and former U.S. officials who know Mueller personally or who have followed his work.

Instead of press conferences, Mueller has spoken loudly through a series of indictments and plea deals related to various Trump associates….

(Disciplined, deliberate, methodical.)

Sam Tanenhaus reports On the Front Lines of the GOP’s Civil War (“In 2016, a group of Republicans broke ranks with their party to try to stop Donald Trump from winning the presidency. Now they’re rallying once more to keep him from destroying the country. Sam Tanenhaus reports on the Never Trumpers”):

….Well, the decades kept coming, but so did resistance, in ever-changing forms. Today, it is the Never Trumpers who are holding out against “forced collectivization”—imposed by the leaders of their own party—and feel locked in an epochal struggle, with a great deal riding on the outcome. To them Trumpism is more than a freakish blight on the republic. It is a moral test. “We’ve seen a moment before when holders of property gambled that their best hope of retaining their property was to disenfranchise fellow citizens,” [David] Frum told me. “We’ve seen before when important parts of society put their faith in authoritarianism. Because Americans have emerged safely at the other end of some pretty scary pasts, they think no one has to do anything—‘It’ll just happen automatically.’ ”

This is not the sort of thing Frum said in his former life, as a wunderkind of the American Right. But for him, as for many of the guests at his party, the rise of Trump changed the old refrain “It can happen here” into something more dire and pressing: “It’s happening now and must be stopped.” One guest, the affable conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, has called Trump a “European-style blood-and-soil nationalist.” Another, the historian Ronald Radosh, has written that when he met Steve Bannon in 2013, at the so-called Breitbart Embassy in D. C., Trump’s future Rasputin told him, “I’m a Leninist. . . . I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.” That establishment includes the Never Trumpers, and it’s a sign of how far things have come that these insiders have now become outlaws….

(The war for the GOP, and conservatism has been lost; Trump’s won that fight. The greater conflict – over the direction of America, herself, is a conflict Trump will lose. Those Republicans who still oppose him no longer truly have a party, but their role is still important: as part of a large, formidable, continental  opposition and resistance.)

Michael Gerson writes of Trump’s influence in Trump’s successes are thanks to Republicans. His failures are thanks to Trump:

Vice President Pence’s obsequiousness at a recent Cabinet meeting — “Thank you for seeing, through the course of this year, an agenda that is truly restoring this country…” and on, and on — might be appropriate at a Communist Party Central Committee meeting or at a despot’s birthday party. But it is not the language of any self-respecting republic.

The divestment of self-respect is a qualification for employment in the Trump administration. Praising the Dear Leader in a Pence-like fashion seems to be what the Dear Leader requires — not in the way we might need dessert after dinner, but in the way an addict needs drugs. President Trump divides the world into two categories: flunkies and enemies. Pence is the cringing, fawning high priest of flunkiness. It is hard to know whether to laugh or puke (and difficult to do both at the same time).

It is precisely the claim of miracles by mediocrities that makes it hard for some of us to judge Trump’s first-year record with any objectivity. Compared with his claims of world-historic change, Trump has accomplished little. But how does his record compare with more realistic expectations?

….It is important to count our blessings, even when they are meager. But for Republicans and conservatives, it is also important to count the costs — the tonnage on the other side of the balance….

(Gerson holds out hope for a Republican party and conservatism apart from Trump. He’s unrealistic in that hope, but not in his critique of Trump: “count the costs — the tonnage on the other side of the balance….”)

A Glacier Disappears in Alaska:

In Indonesia, more than 75% of people live within 100 kilometers of a volcano. It’s the most densely populated volcanic region in the world. As a result, Indonesians have developed a spiritual and economic symbiosis with the volatile natural phenomena. Amongst Fire, a short film from Toronto-based cinematographer Justin Pelletier, is a breathtaking portrait of life at this unique intersection of destruction and vitality.

“The production was an adventure in itself, with countless close calls and near misses,” Pelletier told The Atlantic. “One memory that really sticks out was watching locals evacuate the villages surrounding Mount Agung [which erupted in November 2017]. That was an extremely tense time for everyone. But we were consistently greeted with open arms and smiles, even during the insane event of an impending volcanic eruption.”

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