Daily Bread for 9.5.18

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy, with an afternoon thunderstorm, and a high of seventy-nine.  Sunrise is 6:24 AM and sunset 7:21 PM, for 12h 56m 48s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 22.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the six hundred sixty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.


On this day in 1905, a Russo-Japanese peace treaty is signed:

The Russo-Japanese War comes to an end as representatives of the two nations sign the Treaty of Portsmouth in New Hampshire. Russia, defeated in the war, agreed to cede to Japan the island of Sakhalin and Russian port and rail rights in Manchuria.

On February 8, 1904, following the Russian rejection of a Japanese plan to divide Manchuria and Korea into spheres of influence, Japan launched a surprise naval attack against Port Arthur, a Russian naval base in China. The Russian fleet was decimated. During the subsequent Russo-Japanese War, Japan won a series of decisive victories over the Russians, who underestimated the military potential of its non-Western opponent. In January 1905, the strategic naval base of Port Arthur fell to Japanese naval forces under Admiral Heihachiro Togo; in March, Russian troops were defeated at Shenyang, China, by Japanese Field Marshal Iwao Oyama; and in May, the Russian Baltic fleet under Admiral Zinovi Rozhdestvenski was destroyed by Togo near the Tsushima Islands.

These three major defeats convinced Russia that further resistance against Japan’s imperial designs for East Asia was hopeless, and U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt mediated a peace treaty at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in August 1905. (He was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this achievement.) Japan emerged from the conflict as the first modern non-Western world power and set its sights on greater imperial expansion. The Russian military’s disastrous performance in the war was one of the immediate causes of the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Recommended for reading in full — 

  Aaron Blake reports Transcript: Phone call between President Trump and journalist Bob Woodward:

Bob Woodward, an associate editor at The Washington Post, sought an interview with President Trump as he was writing “Fear,” a book about Trump’s presidency. Trump called Woodward in early August, after the manuscript had been completed, to say he wanted to participate.

Over the course of 11-plus minutes, Trump repeatedly claimed his White House staff hadn’t informed him of Woodward’s interview request — despite also admitting Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had told him Woodward wanted to talk. He also started the phone call by saying Woodward had “always been fair” to him, but by the end he said the book would be “inaccurate.”

This is a transcript of that call, with key sections highlighted and annotated. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text. [Full article includes transcript]

  Jennifer Rubin explains The dilemma Woodward’s book raises about Trump:

The White House is worse than you imagine. That’s the essential message from Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House.” As my colleague Aaron Blake puts it, the details “are damning in a way we simply haven’t seen before — both for their breadth and degree.”

In part, the out-sized impact the book is having can be attributable to Woodward’s reputation, sourcing (hundreds of people) and possession of scores of taped interviews. It is noteworthy that so many people around President Trump spoke to him, even those still at the White House. Moreover, accounts in the book are entirely credible because incidents he describes explain certain events (e.g., John Dowd quitting as Trump’s lawyer after the president couldn’t hold up during a mock interview with the special counsel). More so than Michael Wolff (who seemed to have gotten the details wrong in various episodes), Woodward’s book raises unavoidable, legitimate issues as to the president’s fitness to serve. (A responsible Congress would begin contacting people such as former national security adviser H.R. McMaster and former economic adviser Gary Cohn to determine the president’s capacity to function.) The president’s insistence all of this is made up simply doesn’t fly except with the most devoted cultists.

This is not a story of what Trump’s critics or neutral observers think of him. This is an account by those who know him best. It is they who believe he cannot be trusted to do his job. From the Post’s report: “The combination of [anecdotes] in one book is something we simply haven’t seen. It suggests a White House full of top aides who have almost no confidence in the man they’re serving and feel as if they are constantly averting calamity.” They think he’s an “idiot” (Chief of Staff John F. Kelly), or “unhinged” (Kelly again), or has the mental capacity of a “fifth- or sixth-grader”(Defense Secretary Jim Mattis). They deliberately thwart him because he tells them to do dangerous things (e.g., taking a document off his desk so he won’t pull out of a South Korea trade deal, an assassination of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad).

  Max Boot concludes President Trump is unfit for office. Bob Woodward’s ‘Fear’ confirms it:

These revelations will be greeted among Republicans not as a sign of Trump’s unfitness for office — which they are — but as more evidence of a conspiracy among the “fake news media” against their electoral hero. That is the genius of Trump’s attacks on the press and on truth itself: He has largely inoculated his base against all of the damaging revelations that continue to emerge about the most corrupt and dysfunctional administration in U.S. history. And by keeping the support of his base (78 percent of Republicans approve of him in a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll), Trump protects himself from removal either via the 25th Amendment or the Article II impeachment process.

Kelly is right. We really are in Crazytown. But Trump is far from the craziest person in town. His defects are no secret — they were obvious before his election. The really crazy people are the Republicans who think we should continue to entrust a man manifestly unfit to be Queens Borough president with the presidency of the United States of America.

  Conservative & Republican Tom Nichols writes Want to save the GOP, Republicans? Vote for every Democrat on this year’s ballot:

In the parliamentary systems of our allies, such as Canada or the United Kingdom, a vote for a candidate at any level is almost always a vote for a governing party and its leadership: The party that gains the most legislative seats gets to form a government and choose a prime minister.

By contrast, one of the great virtues of the American system of separated powers is that voters, usually, can ignore party affiliation if they feel a candidate is worth their support. Our model forces the legislative and executive branches to seek separate mandates from the electorate. In our system, voters can separate the party from its leader. They can split their tickets regionally, nationally and by party. They can even vote for divided government, and choose to place the executive and legislative power in opposing hands.

For now, however, those days are over — at least for the Republican Party. Rather than acting like a national party, entrusted with separate but coequal branches of government, the GOP at every level and in every state has been captured by the personality cult that has congealed around President Trump, and it is now operating like a parliamentary party, utterly submissive to its erratic but powerful prime minister. Republican elected officials, from Congress to the state houses, have chosen to become little more than enablers for an out of control executive branch.

The only way to put a stop to this is to vote against the GOP in every race, at every level in 2018. It’s tough medicine. But as someone who’s voted Republican for nearly 40 years, who favors limited government and public integrity, and who believes America still needs a credible, responsible center-right party, I see no alternative.

(Well said. I am not a Republican but rather a libertarian, and yet, I, too, see the necessity of Nichols’s approach: every last pillar and prop of Trumpism has to go.  One must be both relentless and patient, prepared not merely for a single election but for so many seasons and years as it takes. The Republican Party cannot be a normal party until Trumpism is exorcised from it.)

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