FREE WHITEWATER

Daily Bread for 3.28.18

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of fifty-seven. Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 7:17 PM, for 12h 34m 57s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 89.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the five hundred third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Parks & Recreation Board meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1898, the United States Supreme Court, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, rules that

A child born in the United States, of parents of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States, by virtue of the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution,

All person born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.

On this day in 1933, a national group posthumously honors  C. Latham Sholes:

On this date a group of women paid thanks to the inventor of the typewriter, Milwaukee’s C. Latham Sholes, in a national radio program. Amelia Earhart, Anna Boettinger (Franklin Roosevelt’s daugher), Mrs. Robert E. Speer, the president of the National Young Women’s Christian Association, all participated in the program. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred Holmes, p. 316-328]

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ David A. Graham sees  A Cabinet of Conspicuous Corruption (“Wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars by several secretaries follows a tone set by the president”):

For spring cleaning this year, President Trump is looking at his Cabinet. The Associated Press reported Monday that Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is near to being removed. When Trump fired H.R. McMaster as national-security adviser, that torpedoed a plan to dismiss McMaster, Shulkin, and Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, at once, according to Politico’s Eliana Johnson.

Shulkin and Carson face the same problem: dubious use of taxpayer dollars in their duties as secretaries. They can console themselves knowing that they’re in good company. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been caught in extravagant expenditures, too. Less heartening is the sixth example, Tom Price, who was unceremoniously forced out as secretary of health and human services in September 2017.

This extravagant spending around public displays of status—call it, with apologies to Thorstein Veblen, conspicuous corruption—has become a trademark of the Trump administration. There are so many cases of huge spending of taxpayer dollars by Cabinet secretaries that it’s easy to lose track of them all—or simply to become desensitized—so here’s a few of the lowlights [summary follows in article].

➤ The Committee to Investigate Russia writes that  NRA Admits Accepting Foreign Funds:

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is admitting it does receive funds from foreign sources but claims it does not spend that money on U.S. elections, an assertion that is difficult for outsiders to evaluate.

NPR:

Pressure on the organization has also been increased by a McClatchy report which suggested that the FBI had been investigating whether a top Russian banker with Kremlin ties illegally funneled money to the NRA to aid President Trump’s campaign for president. The Federal Election Commission has also opened a preliminary investigation into this question.

The NRA is not required to be transparent about how money moves between its various political entities, and this leaves questions unanswered about how these foreign funds were ultimately spent.

In the context of ongoing investigations, Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, wrote to the National Rifle Association earlier this month asking, “Can you categorically state that your organizations have never, wittingly or unwittingly, received any contributions from individuals or entities acting as conduits for foreign entities or interests?”

The NRA said that in fact they do receive foreign money, but not for election purposes.

(…)

The NRA’s response was not sufficient for Wyden. In a letter dated March 27, the senator demanded that the organization provide a detailed accounting of how foreign funds were used over the past three years, whether they were targeted at particular American audiences, and what its measured impact was.

Wyden also demanded to know whether any Russian nationals or foreign individuals had been members of the NRA’s donor programs, and whether the NRA received any money from sanctioned individuals.

(…)

The NRA has a variety of accounts, and the NRA Political Victory Fund is their official political action committee and must report all of its spending to the Federal Election Commission.

It also has other accounts that require less transparency, and do not report spending to the FEC — and in those funds, the NRA told Wyden, they “receive funds from foreign persons only for purposes not connected to elections, as permitted by federal law.”

However, the NRA acknowledges that money moves between those accounts: “transfers between accounts are made as permitted by law,” the NRA’s general counsel wrote.

➤ Joshua Matz contends Trump is running on animus autopilot:

President Trump is hard at work making animus the law of the land. Justice Department lawyers revealed his latest effort Friday night, announcing a revised plan to exclude nearly all transgender soldiers from the armed forces.

As many commentators have observed, the reasoning offered to support Trump’s policy is riddled with empirical errors and anti-trans stereotypes. It comes nowhere close to disproving the comprehensive study in 2016 that recommended allowing transgender people to serve openly. Like so many other missives from this White House, it makes only a token effort to conceal the disdain and disgust that underlie it.

Trump’s original “transgender ban” was blocked by four federal courts. After two of those rulings were affirmed on appeal, the administration decided against seeking Supreme Court review. It’s therefore safe to assume that Trump’s latest order will not go into effect unless it survives constitutional challenges.

And in thinking about that litigation, it’s hard to escape a feeling of deja vu. A little more than 14 months into Trump’s presidency, a pattern has emerged in cases challenging some of his most despicable decisions [list of steps in Trump’s pattern follows in article].

➤ Rhonda Garelick contends Stormy Daniels’s Boring Interview Was Actually Brilliant (“Once again, she proves she’s a worthy adversary for Trump”)

In fact, Stormy was entirely credible in every way. Calm, clear-eyed, and direct, she telegraphed competence and clarity of purpose. She answered questions quickly and without hesitation, never averting her gaze, lowering her eyes, or even pausing. Her words were simple and devoid of rhetorical flourishes. When asked, for example, whether she understood the $130,000 she’d accepted was “hush money,” Daniels’s firm “yes” flew from her mouth nearly before Cooper could finish his question. She offered this kind of swift, emphatic, and monosyllabic response several times.

Everything about this interview screamed legitimacy. 60 Minutes is the 50-year-old doyenne of broadcast journalism, a network show watched by grandparents and Trump supporters (and apparently even Trump himself). This was Stormy’s chance to take her case to the widest American public, to clear her name and tell her truth, even at the risk of being penalized for breaching her non-disclosure agreement (and possibly even at risk to her personal safety).

(I saw this interview last night. Trump’s conduct toward Daniels isn’t the worst of his offenses, but I agree that in her matter-of-fact presentation, Daniels did well for herself, all things considered.)

➤ NASA ScienceCasts describes Earth’s Magnetosphere:

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