Daily Bread for 9.13.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 6:33 AM and sunset 7:07 PM, for 12h 33m 21s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 46.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1759, the British defeat the French at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham overlooking Quebec. On this day in 1861, the 8th Wisconsin Infantry, “known as the Eagle Brigade, was mustered at Camp Randall, in Madison for service in the Civil War. The 8th Wisconsin Infantry was known as the Eagle Brigade for their mascot, Old Abe, a bald eagle that accompanied the regiment in battle for three years.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Scott Shane reports Purged Facebook Page Tied to the Kremlin Spread Anti-Immigrant Bile:

Posts taken from “Secured Borders,” a Kremlin-tied Facebook page that posed as an American activist group and spread provocative anti-immigrant messages.

The notice went out on Facebook last year, calling citizens of Twin Falls, Idaho, to an urgent meeting about the “huge upsurge of violence toward American citizens” by Muslim refugees who had settled there.

The inflammatory post, however, originated not in Idaho but in Russia. The meeting’s sponsor, an anti-immigrant page called “Secured Borders,” was one of hundreds of fake Facebook accounts created by a Russian company with Kremlin ties to spread vitriolic messages on divisive issues.

Facebook acknowledged last week that it had closed the accounts after linking them to advertisements costing $100,000 that were purchased in Russia’s influence campaign during and after the 2016 election. But the company declined to release or describe in detail the pages and profiles it had linked to Russia….

(Here one finds Putin’s government surreptitiously advertising anti-immigrant meetings in America.)

The Washington Post editorial board contends The Supreme Court should strike down Wisconsin’s gerrymandering:

THE SUPREME COURT has long kept a distance from arguments over gerrymandering, that most American practice of redrawing the lines of legislative districts in order to tip elections toward the party in power. But early next month, the justices will hear a challenge to the 2011 redrawing of Wisconsin’s state legislative map by Republican lawmakers — a demonstration of how increasingly powerful technology allows partisan mapmakers to distort representation with ever-greater precision. Using computer modeling, Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature produced districts so unbalanced that, in 2012, Republicans won a supermajority in the state assembly even after losing the popular vote. And the state GOP continued to entrench that hold in 2014 and 2016, even after winning only slim majorities of the vote.

Given that the case, Gill v. Whitford, concerns an egregious abuse of power to the advantage of Republicans, it’s heartening to see officials of that same party condemn Wisconsin’s map. In a series of recently filedlegalbriefs before the Supreme Court, high-profile Republican politicians — including Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — stand shoulder to shoulder with Democrats to report from the “political front lines” on the destructive effects of gerrymandering.

The legal arguments against extreme partisan gerrymandering focus on the practice’s offensiveness to constitutional promises of equal protection and free expression: Voters packed into skewed districts have less of a voice in the political process and are arguably penalized for their party affiliation. And in cases such as Wisconsin’s, technology allows legislators to create maps that essentially immunize the party in power from ever being voted out. The bipartisan briefs make clear how a practice designed to undercut democratic competition further degrades American politics by weakening public faith in government and pushing lawmakers away from compromise, especially in the House of Representatives. This is not an issue of one party’s advantage over another — Democrats have also used gerrymandering against Republicans when convenient, most notably in Maryland — but a matter of bipartisan concern….

 (I’d be stunned if this court found against gerrymandering in the case, however egregiously the districts have been drawn, and however clear is the case against such districts.)

David Von Drehle contends that Steve Bannon is a Swiss-cheese philosopher:

….On the evidence of this interview [with CBS], Bannon has the makings of a great pundit. But he aspires to something bigger: an encompassing political philosophy. That’s where the hangover set in. His big holey cheese was an idea he called “populist economic nationalist,” which certainly sounds impressive but in the light of morning turns out to have almost nothing to do with the Trump presidency.

Take Obamacare, for example. Bannon bitterly attacked Republican leaders of Congress for their failure to repeal the law and replace it with a new health insurance architecture — all in the ridiculously short window between the inauguration and the Easter recess. But health care is one of the least globalized industries we have. And the goal of Obamacare (however unevenly achieved) is to make access to medical care more widely available. So why would this be the urgent Job One for a supposed populist economic nationalist?

Later in the interview, Bannon evoked his grand theory to justify deportation of the “dreamers,” and called on Alexander Hamilton and Henry Clay’s “American system” to back him up. But Hamilton (an immigrant) was the opposite of a populist, and Clay was the archenemy of populism’s high priest, Andrew Jackson. Clay and his disciple Abraham Lincoln — another Bannon name-check — were strong supporters of virtually unchecked immigration….

(Another way of saying all this is that Bannon’s ill-read, and often negligently or intentionally misrepresents others’ positions.)

John Hudson reports that Russia Sought A Broad Reset With Trump, Secret Document Shows:

WASHINGTON — In the third month of Donald Trump’s presidency, Vladimir Putin dispatched one of his diplomats to the State Department to deliver a bold proposition: the full normalization of relations between the United States and Russia across all major branches of government.

The proposal, spelled out in a detailed document obtained by BuzzFeed News, called for the wholesale restoration of diplomatic, military, and intelligence channels severed between the two countries after Russia’s military interventions in Ukraine and Syria.

The broad scope of the Kremlin’s reset plan came with an ambitious launch date: immediately.

By April, a top Russian cyber official, Andrey Krutskikh, would meet with his American counterpart for consultations on “information security,” the document proposed. By May, the two countries would hold “special consultations” on the war in Afghanistan, the Iran nuclear deal, the “situation in Ukraine,” and efforts to denuclearize the “Korean Peninsula.” And by the time Putin and Trump held their first meeting, the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security Council, and Pentagon would meet face-to-face with their Russian counterparts to discuss areas of mutual interest. A raft of other military and diplomatic channels opened during the Obama administration’s first-term “reset” would also be restored….

Besides offering a snapshot of where the Kremlin wanted to move the bilateral relationship, the proposal reveals one of Moscow’s unspoken assumptions — that Trump wouldn’t share the lingering US anger over Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and might accept a lightning-fast rapprochement.

“It just ignores everything that caused the relationship to deteriorate and pretends that the election interference and the Ukraine crisis never happened,” said Angela Stent, a former national intelligence officer on Russia during the George W. Bush administration who also reviewed the document….

(This so-called rapprochement would have been entirely on Putin’s terms; that Russia even offered the one-sided plan shows their expectation that Trump would be compliant, indeed servile, to their desires.)

Great Big Story tells of Launching Flowers Into Outer Space: