Daily Bread for 3.12.18

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty. Sunrise is 7:10 AM and sunset 6:58 PM, for 11h 48m 10s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 22.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred eighty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

On this day in 1933, Pres. Roosevelt gives his first fireside chat. On this day in 1862, the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry musters in: “It would go on to participate in the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, on December 7, 1862, and in the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the following year. The regiment would lose 312 men during service. Twenty-four enlisted men were killed in combat, and four officers and 284 enlisted men died from disease.”

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Jordan Kyle and Yascha Mounk explain Why it’s so difficult to kill a populist movement:

But why do so many citizens give populists a second chance, even when their flaws are well-known? One answer has to do with the depth of disenchantment with democratic institutions that usually precedes the populists. Since some populists experience a meteoric rise, breaking onto the political scene suddenly, it is tempting to think of the causes of their success as ephemeral. Yet populists in virtually every country have exploited deep social divisions (such as fears about immigration in Europe) and long-standing economic frustrations (such as the vast differences in prosperity between town and country in Thailand). Since these underlying causes are rarely remedied after populists are deposed, it’s not surprising that the same kind of politics can live on.

Another answer has to do with the way populists destroy the most basic rules and norms of the political system. Leaders’ willingness to signal that their adversaries are legitimate participants in the system, and to respect the sanctity of institutions instead of pressing their partisan advantage to the limit, is largely dependent on the premise that voters would punish them for such transgressions. Italians before Berlusconi and Americans before 2015 assumed that a candidate who attacked the independent judiciary or called for his opponent to be jailed could never garner mass support. Once a ruthless and talented political leader demonstrates that this assumption is mistaken, it becomes more tempting for future politicians to break norms with abandon.

The experiences of countries like Peru, Italy and Thailand are a warning for Americans not to underestimate Trump’s staying power. To vanquish the broader style he represents will require more than voting him out of office. It will require healing the disease — fixing the reasons for Americans’ growing disenchantment with democratic institutions and reestablishing their commitment to the country’s most fundamental norms — not merely managing the symptoms.

➤ Maria Sacchetti reports Defiance, resistance: The front lines of California’s war against the Trump administration:

SAN FRANCISCO – In the nerve center of the Trump resistance, some volunteers staff 24-hour hotlines in case immigration agents strike in the middle of the night. Others flood neighborhoods to film arrests and interview witnesses. Local governments are teaming with donors to hire lawyers for those facing expulsion hearings.

California and the Trump administration are engaged in an all-out war over immigration enforcement, the president’s signature issue on the campaign trail and in the White House. It is a deeply personal battle in the nation’s most populous and economically powerful state, where 27 percent of the 39 million residents are foreign-born.

“Local governments and state government have stepped up in a way to protect immigrants like never before in my lifetime,” said Eric Cohen, the 57-year-old executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a national nonprofit headquartered in the Mission district of San Francisco.

The stakes are high for the Trump administration because if California defies the White House on sanctuary cities, then others can, too, jeopardizing Trump’s main campaign promise to deport many of the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants.

(Conditions in a blue state like California may seem more favorable for resistance and opposition than a red state like Wisconsin, but one does not choose where one is called. In any event, there’s no better place to be in all the world than tiny Whitewater, and from this city to contend confidently, come what may.)

➤ Robinson Meyer reports The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News
(“Falsehoods almost always beat out the truth on Twitter, penetrating further, faster, and deeper into the social network than accurate information”):

“Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it,” Jonathan Swift once wrote.

It was hyperbole three centuries ago. But it is a factual description of social media, according to an ambitious and first-of-its-kind study published Thursday in Science.

The massive new study analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.

“It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information,” said Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at MIT who has studied fake news since 2013 and who led this study. “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.”

(See The spread of true and false news online. Twitter is one medium only, of course, and the rapid spread of lies is an incentive to work harder in opposition to them.)

➤ GOP consultant and author Stuart Stevens observes that

(Stevens’s remark is in response to another’s observation that one should not call poor white opioid addicts privileged. Whatever one calls them, Stevens is right that their circumstances do not – cannot – excuse racial and anti-immigrant prejudice. If they think it does, then they’re either ignorant or claiming an entitlement to malice. Misery doesn’t justify malevolence toward others.)

➤ So, Why Don’t Birds’ Legs Freeze?: