Daily Bread for 9.30.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty-eight. Sunrise is 6:52 AM and sunset 6:36 PM, for 11h 44m 23s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 73.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the {tooltip}three hundred twenty-fifth day.{end-texte}Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.{end-tooltip}

On this day in 1938, British Prime Minister Chamberlain, after signing the Munich Agreement conceding Nazi Germany’s annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia, declares ‘peace for our time.’ On this day in 1859, Lincoln visits Wisconsin and observes of agriculture that “Every blade of grass is a study; and to produce two, where there was but one, is both a profit and a pleasure.” Lincoln’s full speech is online, and concludes hopefully:

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.” And yet, let us hope, it is not quite true. Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us, and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Abby Phillip, Ed O’Keefe, Nick Miroff and Damian Paletta report on a Lost weekend: How Trump’s time at his golf club hurt the response to Maria:

As Hurricane Maria made landfall on Wednesday, Sept. 20, there was a frenzy of activity publicly and privately. The next day, President Trump called local officials on the island, issued an emergency declaration and pledged that all federal resources would be directed to help.

But then for four days after that — as storm-ravaged Puerto Rico struggled for food and water amid the darkness of power outages — Trump and his top aides effectively went dark themselves.

Trump jetted to New Jersey that Thursday night to spend a long weekend at his private golf club there, save for a quick trip to Alabama for a political rally. Neither Trump nor any of his senior White House aides said a word publicly about the unfolding crisis.

Trump did hold a meeting at his golf club that Friday with half a dozen Cabinet officials — including acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke, who oversees disaster response — but the gathering was to discuss his new travel ban, not the hurricane. Duke and Trump spoke briefly about Puerto Rico but did not talk again until Tuesday, an administration official said.

Administration officials would not say whether the president spoke with any other top officials involved in the storm response while in Bedminster, N.J. He spent much of his time over those four days fixated on his escalating public feuds with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with fellow Republicans in Congress and with the National Football League over protests during the national anthem.

(Trump, having wasted days on golfing and culture-war feuds, now blames Puerto Ricans: “…Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They…….want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.” It’s a lie that racial minorities in America work less industriously than others, but music to the ears of self-satisfied bigots. Indeed, Jennifer Rubin is right: it’s the core of Trump’s support that is, in fact, less productive than the majority of America that opposes him. See Trump vs. an America that works.)

Ronald Radosh writes that Steve Bannon Is Winning With the Old Communist Party Playbook:

As Bannon, who see himself as a student of history, may know, his tactics mirror those that gave hope to American Communists in the 1940s, but finally fell short. The CPUSA had established a third party, the Progressive Party, which ran Henry A. Wallace for president in 1948. Their hope was that the unions and others on the left would actually put Wallace in the White House, since Truman was running against Republican Thomas Dewey and racist Southern Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond.

That February, a special election was held to fill a vacancy in New York City’s 24th Congressional District. Four candidates ran: a Democrat, a Republican, a member of the Liberal Party, and a pro-Communist supporter of the Wallace third party, Leo Isacson, who ran on the ticket of the Communist-led American Labor Party. Unexpectedly, and to the great shock of the political establishment, Isacson won.

Isacson’s victory, said Wallace—sounding something like Bannon now—proved that his “so-called third party would be the first party in 1948.” National Democrats panicked, thinking that this race showed Wallace’s strength. They were all wrong. The local victory had no national implications, and was not repeated anywhere else. Wallace was defeated overwhelmingly in November, without winning even one electoral vote.

Likewise, Judge Moore’s victory in Alabama’s very peculiar and particular race this week does not mean Bannon can repeat his success in other states in 2018. As they say, all politics is local.

There are, though, other parallels between Bannon’s strategy and that used by the American Communist Party during the New Deal, from 1935 to 1939 and then from 1941 through 1945. During those years, one part of FDR’s coalition was the American Communist Party. At home in the United States, the party called for a “Popular or Democratic Front” against fascism, uniting Communists with Socialists and Liberals, in support of the Roosevelt administration. The party’s leader, Earl Browder, his biographer James G. Ryan writes, “strove passionately to make the Communists not merely the left’s largest party, but a fully legitimate component of the Roosevelt coalition.” Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes write that “the essence of the Democratic Front policy, a variant of the Popular Front line officially adopted in 1938, was that the Communist Party had agreed to accept a junior and hidden role in the New Deal and labor movements”….

John Meyer reports NSA warned White House against using personal email:

The National Security Agency warned senior White House officials in classified briefings that improper use of personal cellphones and email could make them vulnerable to espionage by Russia, China, Iran and other adversaries, according to officials familiar with the briefings.

The briefings came soon after President Donald Trump was sworn into office on Jan. 20, and before some top aides, including senior adviser Jared Kushner, used their personal email and phones to conduct official White House business, as disclosed by POLITICO this week.

The NSA briefers explained that cyberspies could be using sophisticated malware to turn the personal cellphones of White House aides into clandestine listening devices, to take photos and video without the user’s knowledge and to transfer vast amounts of data via Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth, according to one former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the briefings.

The briefings were held in the White House Situation Room because of the sensitivity of the topics discussed, according to that official and three other former officials familiar with such briefings, which have been given to each incoming administration….

James Hohmann explains Why the divider in chief embraces culture wars:

….This scorched-earth strategy has taken a toll on Trump’s image, but it has also kept his core supporters relatively loyal.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Sunday finds that most Americans already see Trump as a divisive figure. “Overall, Trump’s image continues to be negative, with 39 percent of Americans approving and 57 percent disapproving of the president’s job performance,” Scott Clement and Philip Rucker report. “More broadly, more than twice as many Americans say Trump is doing more to divide the country than to unify it, 66 percent vs. 28 percent. The margin is significantly more negative than those recorded for Obama and Bush; at most, 55 percent of Americans said Obama or Bush was dividing the country.”

Among registered voters who identify as independents — a group Trump won by four percentage points in last year’s election — 62 percent say Trump has done more to divide the country than unite it,” per Scott and Phil. “Among Republican voters, however, about 6 in 10 say Trump is making strides toward unity. Still, confidence in Trump as a unifying force has declined even among those in his party. While 9 percent of Republican voters in a poll last November by The Washington Post and George Mason University’s Schar School had expected that Trump would divide the country, the new Post-ABC poll finds 31 percent of Republicans say Trump’s actions are dividing the country today” [Hohmann offers more examples]….

Here’s what it’s like Living With 80,000 Birds to Make Bird Nest Soup:

Resting on a steep hill on the island of San Pascual, Philippines, is a house that’s home to one man and 80,000 birds. These tiny black-and-brown birds are known as “swiftlets,” and they’re a hot commodity in the country. Their nests are formed from hardened saliva, the very special ingredient used to make bird’s nest soup, a Filipino delicacy. So, when the little creatures began to infiltrate his home, Eddie “Macoy” Espares welcomed them — he even gave them a floor in his house. And, despite the noticeable stench his new roommates bring, Espares has no problem “nesting” with his unlikely boarders.

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