Daily Bread for 7.24.20

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of eighty-four.  Sunrise is 5:39 AM and sunset 8:23 PM, for 14h 43m 30s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 17.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand three hundred fifty-fourth day. 

 On this day in 1969, Apollo 11 splashes down safely in the Pacific Ocean.

Recommended for reading in full —

Anne Applebaum writes The president is deploying the kind of performative authoritarianism that Vladimir Putin pioneered:

The very idea seems, on the face of it, sheer madness. In Portland, Oregon, federal security officers dressed for combat—wearing jungle-camouflage uniforms with unclear markings, carrying heavy weapons, using batons and tear gas—are patrolling the streets, making random arrests, throwing people into unmarked vans. The officers do not come from institutions that specialize in political crowd control. Instead, they come from Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Coast Guard. These are people with experience patrolling the border, frisking airline passengers, and deporting undocumented immigrants—exactly the wrong sort of experience needed to carry out the delicate task of policing an angry political protest.


Students of modern dictatorship will find these tactics wearily familiar. Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump admires, has deployed performative authoritarianism, alongside other tools, in order to keep himself in power for many years now. In 2014, during a political crisis in Ukraine, he created an elaborate media narrative that equated Ukrainian democracy protesters with 1940s fascists. Russian state television showed scenes of violence over and over again—scenes that Putin himself had helped create, first by encouraging the former Ukrainian president to shoot at demonstrators, and then by invading the country. He sent troops in unmarked uniforms—the infamous “little green men”—into Crimea and eventually eastern Ukraine to “dominate” the situation, to use Trump’s own word for his tactics in Portland. Or at least that was the way it was meant to look on TV.

Lt. Gen. (retired) Mark Hertling writes I helped build a police force in Iraq. We refused to dress them in camo:

We were rapidly expanding our recruiting and training of future Iraqi police officers so we could put thousands in the cities quickly, but the interior minister — the Baghdad official charged with growing the nascent police force — couldn’t get us the large number of uniforms we needed for those we were graduating. The minister asked if we would accept camouflage outfits instead of police uniforms for the graduates, and he asked if we would also accept unmarked pickup trucks for service as police cruisers.

“Tell him, ‘Hell, no,’” the MP commander told me emphatically. When I asked why, he explained the history of the blue police uniform, as well as the psychological role that a uniform plays in law enforcement. The traditional “blues” started with the London “bobbies” of the early 1800s, whose uniforms were designed to distinguish the British police force from the British military. Our nation’s first organized police, in New York, continued this tradition in the 1850s, numerous other American cities followed suit, and now most nations associate the police officer with blue uniforms.

Myriad studies have shown interesting results: For example, some research shows citizens adjust behaviors when someone wearing a police uniform is nearby; others show that police uniforms are most likely to “induce feelings of safety” when compared to other uniforms or civilian clothes, and those wearing a blue uniform receive a high rate of cooperation when asked to perform a task. Wearing camouflage uniforms, our division MP commander said, would send the wrong message, especially in a society where neither the U.S. nor the Iraqi military was yet trusted by the population.

How CBS News covered the Apollo 11 splashdown:

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