Daily Bread for 3.5.18

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see snow with a high of thirty-seven. Sunrise is 6:22 AM and sunset 5:50 PM, for 11h 27m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with  85.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred eightieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1953, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin dies. On this day in 1935, the controversial Elizabeth “Baby Doe” McCourt pass away: “On this date, the controversial wife of Horace (H.A.W.) Tabor, silver mine owner during the 19th century Colorado gold and silver booms, died. Born Elizabeth Bondeul McCourt in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1854, she was first married to Harvey Doe, Jr. of Oshkosh but in 1880 divorced him on the grounds of adultery. She then moved to Colorado where she married Leadville’s silver king, Horace Tabor. Despite great wealth, she died penniless and alone in Leadville: she froze to death in a cabin near the famous Matchless mine, which in its heyday had produced $10,000 worth of silver ore per day. Elizabeth and Horace are the subject of an American opera, ‘The Ballad of Baby Doe’.”

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ The New York Times observes Donald Trump Sure Has a Problem with Democracy:

But Donald Trump just doesn’t get it. There’s something in the man that impels him reflexively to celebrate the authoritarian model. At a Republican fund-raiser on Saturday night, in remarks reported by CNN, President Trump lavished praise on President Xi Jinping of China, who recently consolidated his power and moved to change the rules so he could effectively become “emperor for life.”

“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Xi to the Republican donors, at a luncheon at Mar-a-Lago. Then he went on seemingly to express interest in doing the same thing in the United States so that he too could rule forever. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

Mr. Trump was surely joking about becoming president for life himself. But there can be little doubt now that he truly sees no danger in Mr. Xi’s “great” decision to extend his own rule until death. That craven reaction is in line with Mr. Trump’s consistent support and even admiration for men ruling with increasing brutal and autocratic methods — Vladimir Putin of Russia, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, to name a few.

➤ Khrishnadev Calamur enumerates Nine Notorious Dictators, Nine Shout-Outs From Donald Trump (“The president of the United States continues to heap praise on the world’s most reviled rulers”) [full list in original story]:

Russian President Vladimir Putin

What Trump said about him: “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him. I’ve already said, he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, ‘Oh, isn’t that a terrible thing’—the man has very strong control over a country. Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system. But certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”

Trump also said in 2016 that Libya would be better off “if [Moammar] Gaddafiwere in charge right now.” He once tweeted a quote from Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist leader, and later defended the tweet, saying: “Mussolini was Mussolini … It’s a very good quote. It’s a very interesting quote… what difference does it make whether it’s Mussolini or somebody else?”

Trump even said China’s brutal crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 “shows you the power of strength,” contrasting the Communist Party’s action with the United States, which he said “is right now perceived as weak.” Trump made those comments in 1990. When asked about the remarks during the presidential debate in 2016, Trump defended himself and appeared to take the Chinese Communist Party’s view of the events at Tiananmen. He dismissed the deadly military response as a “riot.”

➤ Gardiner Harris reports State Dept. Was Granted $120 Million to Fight Russian Meddling. It Has Spent $0:

As Russia’s virtual war against the United States continues unabated with the midterm elections approaching, the State Department has yet to spend any of the $120 million it has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in elections or sow distrust in democracy.

As a result, not one of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speaks Russian, and a department hiring freeze has hindered efforts to recruit the computer experts needed to track the Russian efforts.

The delay is just one symptom of the largely passive response to the Russian interference by President Trump, who has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow and defend democratic institutions. More broadly, the funding lag reflects a deep lack of confidence by Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson in his department’s ability to execute its historically wide-ranging mission and spend its money wisely.

Mr. Tillerson has voiced skepticism that the United States is even capable of doing anything to counter the Russian threat.

➤ Kirk Semple, Ben Protess, and Steve Eder report Thugs, Leeches, Shouting and Shoving at Trump Hotel in Panama:

…in recent days, guests have witnessed a decidedly less glamorous side of the operation: Yelling and shoving matches involving security personnel and others, the presence of police in Kevlar helmets, and various interventions by Panamanian labor regulators, forensic specialists and a justice of the peace.

The source of the drama? The businessman who recently purchased a majority stake in the hotel wants the Trumps out. And the Trumps, who have a long-term contract to manage the property, are refusing to go.

In a letter marked “Private & Confidential” to the hotel’s other owners, the businessman, Orestes Fintiklis, likened the Trumps to leeches who had attached to the property, “draining our last drops of blood,” according to a copy reviewed by The New York Times. He has also filed legal actions accusing the Trump family business, the Trump Organization, of mismanaging the hotel.

The Trump Organization, in turn, has accused Mr. Fintiklis of using “thug-like, mob-style tactics” in trying to force his way into the hotel’s administrative offices, which prompted the physical and verbal altercations, and of engaging in a “fraudulent scheme” to strip the property of its Trump management and branding. Mr. Fintiklis’s criticisms of the company’s management “are a complete sham and a fraud,” the company said in a court filing.

➤ So, Why Does Bluetooth Still Suck?