Daily Bread for 5.18.18

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-two.  Sunrise is 5:28 AM and sunset 8:14 PM, for 14h 46m 22s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 13% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred fifty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1863, the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, begins:

After nearly three weeks spent encircling Vicksburg, Mississippi, Union forces had bottled up their enemy inside the city and prepared to attack it. Seventeen different Wisconsin regiments were involved in the assault that began the next day (8th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th and 33rd Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 1st, 6th and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries as well as the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry).

Recommended for reading in full —

Robert Shapiro writes Trump lags behind his predecessors on economic growth:

In recent months, President Trump has tweeted that economic growth under his presidency “is better than it has been in many decades,” “the Economy is raging at an all-time high, and is set to get even better,” and “It has been many years that we have seen these kind of (economic) numbers.”

While some hyperbole is a matter of opinion, Trump’s claim that his stewardship of the economy puts his predecessors to shame can be checked by public information that is readily available to all. In fact, the data show that compared to his predecessors, Trump’s record so far falls somewhere between unremarkable and substandard. Moreover, other economic data suggest that the current expansion will likely wind down before his term ends, and his boasting will ring hollow once the economy slips into recession.

It is commonly said that a President deserves some credit or blame for the economy’s performance only after he’s been in office about six months. On those terms, let’s measure Trump’s words against the record for real GDP growth over the last three quarters (July 2017 through March 2018). Over those quarters, GDP has grown at an annual rate of 2.6 percent. Comparing that pace to his last nine predecessors over comparable periods in their first terms,  Trump here bests the four presidents who faced recessions in their first year in office (Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon). Trump’s other five predecessors came to office, as he did, during economic expansions. Among them, he’s tied for last place: Real GDP growth under Trump over the three quarters has lagged Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy, and tied George H.W. Bush, as the data in the following table shows [see full article for table and additional analysis].

Alison Frankel reports Experts bash Giuliani claim that Mueller can’t subpoena Trump:

He told Fox News Thursday morning not just that the special counsel cannot indict President Trump but that Mueller’s team cannot even subpoena the president to appear before a grand jury. Giuliani’s theory is that if the president cannot be prosecuted, he cannot be called to testify in an investigation of his conduct.

“We’re pretty comfortable, in the circumstances of this case, they wouldn’t be able to subpoena him personally,” Giuliani said. “They could probably require documents to be produced. That’s what was required of Nixon. We’ve provided 1.4 million documents. They probably could require you to testify in a civil case, possibly even as a witness in a criminal case, but they can’t require you to testify in what would be your own case.”

I talked Thursday to eight lawyers who’ve been involved in previous probes of U.S. presidents. Every one of them said Giuliani’s theory is incorrect.

Some of them had quite strong words.

George Conway wrote the Supreme Court briefs for Bill Clinton accuser Paula Jones in the case that led to a unanimous ruling from the justices that the Constitution does not shield presidents from testifying in certain civil suits. He said Giuliani’s assertion that President Trump cannot be subpoenaed is “drivel.”

Lawrence Robbins, who represented White House officials in the Whitewater investigation, said Giuliani’s theory is “facially preposterous.”

Solomon Wisenberg, who worked on the Whitewater probe of Clinton, called the theory “delusional.”

(Giuliani goes on news programs that don’t check or question his claims, and so he says any false thing he wants to say and low-information viewers erroneously think he might be right.)

Michael Gerson contends The Trump era is a renaissance of half-witted intolerance:

In West Virginia, Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenshipaccused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of creating jobs for “China people” and getting donations from his “China family.” (McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, was born in Taiwan.) In Georgia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams drives around in a bus he promises to fill with “illegals” who will be deported to Mexico. On the rear is stamped: “Murderers, rapists, kidnappers, child molestors [sic], and other criminals on board.” In Arizona, Republican Senate candidate (and former Maricopa County sheriff) Joe Arpaio is a proud “birther” with a history of profiling and abusing Hispanic migrants. Vice President Pence recently called Arpaio “a great friend of this president, a tireless champion of strong borders and the rule of law.” In Wisconsin, Republican House candidate Paul Nehlen runs as a “pro-white Christian American candidate.”

Yes, these are fringe figures. But they are fringe figures in a political atmosphere they correctly view as favorable. In the Republican Party, cranks and bigots are closer to legitimacy than at any time since William F. Buckley banished the John Birch Society.

Whatever else Trumpism may be, it is the systematic organization of resentment against outgroups. Trump’s record is rich in dehumanization. It was evident when he called Mexican migrants“criminals” and “rapists.” When he claimed legal mistreatment from a judge because “he’s a Mexican.” (Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel was born in Indiana.) When he proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” When he attacked Muslim Gold Star parents. When he sidestepped opportunities to criticize former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. When he referred to “very fine people” among the white-supremacist protesters in Charlottesville. When he expressed a preference for Norwegian immigrants above those from nonwhite “shithole countries.”

Greg Sargent observes Republicans are betting it all on aging white Trump voters:

Driving this appears to be a hard-headed calculation about demographics. Ron Brownstein reports that House Republicans are basically betting their majority on a “generational” gamble:

The Republican bet is that the party can mobilize elevated turnout among their older and blue-collar white base without provoking the young and racially diverse voters who personify the emerging next America to show up on Election Day to defend it. Few things are likely to shape November’s outcome more than whether that bet pays off.

Most indications are that congressional Republicans are genuinely divided on immigration, with many supporting evolution on the issue while many others either don’t want to act or are in sync with Trump’s views. As Brownstein notes, polls show that large majorities of older white voters agree with Trump on most issues, and because Trump is pulling the GOP in a “nativist” direction, this is prioritizing the views of that latter camp.

(Those of us in opposition and resistance, including so many of that number who are white, are combined into a multiracial, multi-ethnic coalition in support of America’s centuries-long democratic and legal tradition. Those before us faced Tories, Know Nothings, Confederates, Klansmen, and the Bund.  Our forebears prevailed against these threats in their time; we will prevail against Trumpism in ours.  A party of aged nativists, no matter how strident, has no hope against us.)

Here’s advice on How to Survive a Snake Bite: