Daily Bread for 2.14.18

Good morning.

Ash Wednesday &  Valentine’s Day in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of forty-one. Sunrise is 6:51 AM and sunset 5:26 PM, for 10h 34m 11s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 1.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the {tooltip}four hundred sixty-first day.{end-texte}Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.{end-tooltip}

On this day in 1819, the typewriter inventor is born: “On this date the inventor of the modern typewriter, C. Latham Sholes, was born. Sholes moved to Wisconsin as a child and lived in Green Bay, Kenosha, and Milwaukee. In 1867, in Milwaukee, he presented his first model for the modern typewriter and patents for the device were taken out in 1868. Sholes took the advice of many mechanical experts, including Thomas Edison, and so claims that he was the sole inventor of the typewriter have often been disputed. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Homes, pg 316-328]”

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Michael A. Cohen writes John Kelly was supposed to be ‘the adult in the room.’ He’s anything but:

This is hardly the first time that Kelly, in his mere six and half months as chief of staff, has done and said bad things. In the fall, Kelly slandered congresswoman Frederica Wilson with an accusation of publicly grandstanding at an event opening a federal office building in Miami in 2015. When confronted with evidence that his claims against Wilson were untrue, Kelly said he would never apologize for his comments. He referred to a traitorous Confederate general, Robert E. Lee, as an “honorable” man, and, echoing his boss’s language about neo-Nazis who marched this summer in Charlottesville, Va., said, about a civil war fought over slavery, “men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”Just this week, he attacked so-called Dreamers who had failed to register for the DACA program as being “too lazy to get off their asses.”

From a policy standpoint, Kelly, as secretary of Homeland Security, was the point man for both the Trump administration’s so-called Muslim ban and its increasingly cruel and sadistic efforts to deport law-abiding undocumented immigrants. Under his short tenure at DHS, there was a 40 percent increase in deportation arrests.

In his public speeches, Kelly eagerly adopted the public line, pushed by Trump, that immigrants represent an existential threat to American security, suggesting in April that the nation is “under attack from criminals who think their greed justifies raping young girls at knifepoint, dealing poison to our youth, or killing just for fun.” Last month, he appears to have played a crucial role in torpedoing a possible deal on DACA because of his own hard-line and racist views toward nonwhite immigrants.

➤ Mary Ann Georgantopoulos asks Having Trouble Following The Alleged Rob Porter Wife Abuse Scandal? This Timeline Will Help (“President Trump’s top aides have struggled to clearly explain their response to questions about Rob Porter, making it confusing for the American people. Here’s what the public learned in chronological order”):

A week after former White House staff secretary Rob Porter resigned amid domestic abuse allegations, the White House is still struggling to provide clear answers on who knew what and when. The scandal has rare longevity for the Trump administration, which is used to bouncing from one controversy to the next.

Last week, the Daily Mail reported that Porter’s two ex-wives said he was physically and emotionally abusive to them. His first wife, Colbie Holderness, alleged to the Daily Mail that he had punched her during a trip to Florence, Italy, in the early 2000s, and his second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, said she had obtained a temporary protective order against Porter after he allegedly violated their separation agreement.

Porter — whose job required him to handle sensitive and confidential information read by the president — denied the allegations and resigned before he was ever granted permanent security clearance from the FBI or White House. The White House has suggested it learned all about the allegations in the past week — but the FBI said it related issues in Porter’s background investigation to White House officials at least three times, twice in 2017 and once in January.

What has emerged is a timeline in which White House officials offer contradictory information, leading to a confusing narrative and dribs and drabs of information from the news media. Here’s what the public learned about the scandal, in order [detailed chronology follows]…

➤ Laura King and Michael Finnegan report Fate of Trump’s chief of staff hangs in balance as White House weathers fallout from spouse abuse scandal:

More than a dozen women have publicly accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault over a period of many years. He says they are all lying and has dismissed a 2005 audio recording from the TV show “Access Hollywood” that captured him boasting in vulgar terms about such behavior as “locker room” talk.

The Porter controversy has brought intense scrutiny of Kelly’s role in protecting him, but Conway said on ABC’s “This Week” that Trump “is not actively searching for replacements” for the retired Marine four-star general, who has sought to impose discipline on a chaotic West Wing.

Conway said Trump also has full confidence in Hope Hicks, a former campaign aide who became White House communications director. News reports have said Hicks was romantically involved with Porter and helped craft an initial forceful White House statement defending him.

A person close to the White House, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the president had not authorized him to characterize their private conversations, said he expects Trump to keep Kelly rather than choose a third chief of staff. Kelly replaced Reince Priebus, who served in the White House for only six months.

(Kelly is unfit, so a suitable fate would be – indeed would already have been – dismissal.)

➤ Aaron Blake asks Is Trump scaring away officials who would stand in his way?:

What we can say with some clarity at this point is that people who would stand in Trump’s way do have a tendency to step aside. Trump’s most vocal critics in the Senate just happen to have been the first two GOP senators to announce their retirements, Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). Political pressure applied by Trump may also have contributed to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s decision to step down months earlier than he had been planning. Trump has made Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s life so miserable over his recusal in the Russia probe that Sessions offered to quit.

(Better to leave than be a party to wrongdoing: cooperation is humiliation, collaboration is degradation.)

➤ A Boston Dynamics robots asks another, Hey Buddy, Can You Give Me a Hand?:

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