Tuesday Reads

Great white shark swims beneath paddleboarding man on Cape Cod last week.

Good Morning!!

We’re having an incredible heat wave in Boston, and I know we’re not alone. It’s hot just about everywhere. Today it’s supposed to hit 100 degrees here. Anyone who believes the climate isn’t changing is delusional.

Maybe the sharks are affected too, because we’ve had some Great White close encounters here in Massachusetts lately. The Boston Globe: Shark sightings force swimmers out of the water in Plymouth, Cape Cod.

Swimmers at Plymouth and Wellfleet beaches looking to catch a break from the oppressive heat were forced out of the water Monday afternoon after sharks were spotted lurking nearby.

Plymouth beaches were closed after a great white shark was seen off Manomet Point. Red flags were flying at the beaches as crews investigated, the Plymouth harbormaster tweeted shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Researchers with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy were about a quarter-mile from Marconi Beach in Wellfleet when they saw a great white shark at around 1:45 p.m. They reported it to beach officials, and lifeguards promptly pulled everyone out of the water, Leslie Reynolds, chief ranger at the Cape Cod National Seashore, said. The beach was closed for an hour as a standard precautionary measure.

Also from the Globe: ‘It came right up, and opened its mouth’: Great white shark breaches water below boat.

State biologist Greg Skomal got an up-close look at a great white shark during a recent excursion off Cape Cod when one of the apex predators that researchers had been observing breached the water right beneath him, exposing its large teeth.

“Did you see that?! Did you see that?!” Skomal can be heard saying in a video posted by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Monday morning. “It came right up, and opened its mouth right at my feet!”

In the video, Skomal can be seen standing on the research boat’s pulpit, as the captain closes in on a shark. Skomal was using a long pole with a GoPro camera attached at the end so he could dip it into the water and capture footage of the shark. That’s when it suddenly breached the ocean’s surface.

“Oh!,” the boat’s captain, John J. King II, can be heard saying. “Holy crap! It dove right out of the water.”

Here’s the video. Be sure to put it on full screen and wait for the close-up.

Holy crap!

Seriously though, have we already lost the fight to reverse climate change? That’s the argument put forth by Nathaniel Rich in last week’s New York Times Magazine: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.

The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The Paris climate agreement — the nonbinding, unenforceable and already unheeded treaty signed on Earth Day in 2016 — hoped to restrict warming to two degrees. The odds of succeeding, according to a recent study based on current emissions trends, are one in 20. If by some miracle we are able to limit warming to two degrees, we will only have to negotiate the extinction of the world’s tropical reefs, sea-level rise of several meters and the abandonment of the Persian Gulf. The climate scientist James Hansen has called two-degree warming “a prescription for long-term disaster.” Long-term disaster is now the best-case scenario. Three-degree warming is a prescription for short-term disaster: forests in the Arctic and the loss of most coastal cities. Robert Watson, a former director of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has argued that three-degree warming is the realistic minimum. Four degrees: Europe in permanent drought; vast areas of China, India and Bangladesh claimed by desert; Polynesia swallowed by the sea; the Colorado River thinned to a trickle; the American Southwest largely uninhabitable. The prospect of a five-degree warming has prompted some of the world’s leading climate scientists to warn of the end of human civilization.

Is it a comfort or a curse, the knowledge that we could have avoided all this?

Because in the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989, we had an excellent opportunity to solve the climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions — far closer than we’ve come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for our current inaction had yet to emerge. Almost nothing stood in our way — nothing except ourselves.

Check out the full story at the NYT.

Today there are some interesting primary elections and one special election to watch. Will we see portents of a blue wave in November?

Vox: Every August 7 primary election you should know about, briefly explained.

Voters head to the polls in five states Tuesday to test whether Democrats will get their “blue wave” on Election Day this fall.

Danny O’Connor

The most heated race to watch is a special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District, where a Democrat hasn’t won since the 1980s. Despite big spending by Republicans, a huge ground push, and even campaign appearances by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, polls show the Democrat, Danny O’Connor, might actually beat Republican Troy Balderson.

Washington state’s top-two primary will be a similar test of how Democrats might perform in historically conservative districts.

In a governor’s race in Michigan and a House race in Kansas, meanwhile, Democrats will test whether the future of the party is rooted in its progressive wing.

To win back a House majority in November, Democrats will have to triumph in historically red districts, as they did in Pennsylvania earlier this year when Conor Lamb pulled off a surprise victory. Some big wins on Tuesday night could be another sign that a wave year is possible.

Read the details at Vox.

On Sunday, we watched Trump incriminate himself and throw his own son under the bus on Twitter. Will Don Jr. be indicted? Charles Savage at The New York Times: Donald Trump Jr.’s Potential Legal Troubles, Explained.

“I did not collude with any foreign government and did not know anyone who did,” Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017. But his participation in the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, as well as another meeting, has put that claim under scrutiny.

Ahead of the meeting with Russians, an intermediary promised Donald Trump Jr. that a “Russian government attorney” would provide “very high level” dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” He wrote back, “If it’s what you say I love it.”

In a meeting three months before the election, Donald Trump Jr. met with another small group offering to help his father win the election. It included an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes who run Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. The younger Mr. Trump responded approvingly, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The New York Times.

Of course we all know by now that “collusion” is just another word for “conspiracy,” which can be a crime.

….lawyers instead talk about conspiracy: an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime — whether or not they end up doing so. A powerful tool for prosecutors, conspiracy charges allow them to hold each conspirator responsible for illegal acts committed by others in the circle as part of the arrangement. To convict someone of such a conspiracy, prosecutors would need to obtain evidence of an agreement to commit a specific crime….

A provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act, Section 30121 of Title 52, broadly outlaws donations or other contributions of a “thing of value” by any foreigner in connection with an American election — or even an express or implied promise to take such action, directly or indirectly.

Depending on how a grand jury interprets the facts the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has gathered about the two Trump Tower meetings, it could find that the foreigners violated that law — and that Donald Trump Jr. conspired in that offense.

Another provision of the same statute makes it illegal for an American to solicit a foreigner for such illicit campaign help — again, even indirectly. If a grand jury were to interpret the evidence about Donald Trump Jr.’s words and actions as a solicitation, he could also be vulnerable to direct charges under that law, experts said.

Notably, the statute can be violated even if the promised or requested help is never provided.

Read the rest at the NYT.

At The Washington Post, William Ruckleshaus, who served as deputy attorney general under Nixon writes about Trump’s behavior: Only one other president has ever acted this desperate.

President Trump is acting with a desperation I’ve seen only once before in Washington: 45 years ago when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon was fixated on ending the Watergate investigation, just as Trump wants to shut down the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

A lesson for the president from history: It turned out badly for Nixon. Not only could he not derail the investigation, but also, 10 months later, he was forced to resign the presidency.

In fact, in some ways, Trump is conducting himself more frantically than Nixon, all the while protesting his innocence. Nixon fought to the end because he knew that what was on the tape recordings that the prosecutor wanted would incriminate him. We don’t know what Trump is hiding, if anything. But if he is innocent of any wrongdoing, why not let Robert S. Mueller III do his job and prove it?

On the way Trump and his minions are attacking the investigation:

…the cynical conduct of this president, his lawyers and a handful of congressional Republicans is frightening to me and should be to every citizen of this country. We are not playing just another Washington political game; there is much more at stake.

The vehemence and irresponsibility of the rhetoric attacking the Mueller investigation tear at the very structure of our governance. Men who have sworn to use and protect our institutions of justice are steadily weakening them. Should the president finally decide to fire Mueller and put in place someone who will do his bidding, the country could be thrown into a political crisis that would scar our democracy and further erode the trust of our people in our governmental institutions.

We need leaders who tell the truth. This is not now happening. Mueller is living up to his superior reputation as a model public servant. His is a search for the truth; we should not complicate his job. Support him, and when he has finished his work, listen to what he has found.

Read the whole thing at the WaPo.

There are a lot more interesting reads out there today. Some to check out:

Forbes: New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting.

Rolling Stone: Rick Wilson: Trump’s Tweets May Actually Be His Undoing.

NBC News: Now the Trump administration wants to limit citizenship for legal immigrants.

Politico: Manafort prosecution’s frustration with judge leads to fiery clashes.

The Washington Post: Trump’s political base is weaker than it seems, our new study finds.

Think Progress: Here’s what a new trove of Russian Twitter accounts tell us about Moscow’s support for Jill Stein.

Buzzfeed News: Accused Russian Agent’s Journey To Washington Began In South Dakota.

Franklin Foer at The Atlantic: How Trump Radicalized ICE.

What stories are you following today?

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20 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is interesting.

  2. dakinikat says:

    I read the climate change article over the weekend. It was long and excellent. I’ve lived near Ground Zero on this since moving here to New Orleans. The change in weather patterns and coastal geographer is incredible. It’s an important read. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. dakinikat says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

    • Fannie says:

      So miss Molly Ivins. Beloveds, these are some bad, ugly, angry times. And I am so freaked out. Hatred has stolen the conversation. The poor are now voting against themselves. But politics is not about left or right. It’s about up and down. The few screwing the many.

  5. dakinikat says:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/huppke/ct-met-trump-rick-wilson-huppke-20180806-story.html

    GOP strategist grinds Trump into hamburger in new book, ‘Everything Trump Touches Dies’

    The book is called “Everything Trump Touches Dies,” and, because it’s written by a 30-year veteran of conservative politics, it does what no squishy liberal newspaper columnist like myself can do: It pushes the modern-day Republican Party into the public square and roundly shames it for allowing an obvious con man like Trump to become its standard-bearer.

    Rick writes: “Everything we Never Trump folks warned you of, including massive, decades-long downstream election losses, is coming. Alienating African Americans and Hispanics beyond redemption? Check. Raising a generation of young voters who are fleeing the GOP in droves? Check. Age-old beefs, juvenile complaints, and ego bruises taking center stage while the world burns? Check. Playing public footsie with white supremacists and neo-Nazis? Check. Blistering pig-ignorance about the economy and the world? Check. … Shredding the last iota of the GOP’s credibility as a party that cares about debt, deficits, and fiscal probity? Check.”

    He goes on to absolutely clobber the voters who make up Trump’s base and devour his conspiratorial ramblings: “Honestly, at this point, it’s almost a moral imperative to slap the stupid out of them.”

    Rick admits that he and other Republicans “didn’t see that there is a deep strain in American political life that isn’t seeking party rigor or ideological purity or even an independent iconoclast but the safe reinforcement of the pack of people just as pissed off as they are. We underestimated the deep human psychological need to be part of a movement based not on hope but on channeling the comments section of the nuttiest blogs. That’s what Trump gave them. He was an avatar for their anger, their impotence, and their blamestorming for everything wrong in their world.”

    • Enheduanna says:

      LOL – can’t distance himself fast enough or far enough away from his party of which he was a member for 30 years. Cry me a river.

      OTOH he is funny to listen to – I’ve heard him drop a couple of f-bombs on teevee.

      https://crooksandliars.com/2018/08/what-did-rick-wilson-say-morning-joe-was

      • dakinikat says:

        You know. These guys thought they could do the southern strategy and hook up with the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Farwell, Phyllis Schafly, Pat Buchannan and just keep them at bay while tearing down every social net, picking at women’s right little by little, and promising their white trash base the moon since the late 70s early 80s. The religious right had a long term plan and they worked it under the knowing noses of all those Republican strategists who used them for votes.Now? NOW? They realize they can’t put them back in the box? They’re surprised their lack of action while constantly poking them by race baiting, woman hating, gay bashing on the stump finally birthed a monster ? Sorry, you don’t get to be pious when you built the machine that spit it all out.

  6. Enheduanna says:

    Here’s some stress relief – be sure to read the explanation for the Astronomical Picture of the Day for today:

    https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

  7. dakinikat says:

    Trump’s Lawyers Can’t Talk Him Out of Talking to Mueller

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/08/trumps-lawyers-cant-stop-mueller-interview.html

    Donald Trump has staked out the most confrontational stance toward Robert Mueller of anybody in his administration. The president repeatedly rages that the investigation is rigged, demands it end, and threatens to fire the special counsel, his boss (Rod Rosenstein), or his boss’s boss (Jeff Sessions), while Trump’s lawyers try to soothe him, even refusing to carry out his orders.

    But on the question of whether to sit for an interview with Mueller, the dynamic is just the opposite. Trump is reportedly eager to grant the special counsel’s request for a face-to-face chat, while literally every lawyer and political adviser he has thinks that would be a horrendous idea.

    While Trump’s lawyers “have been prepared to tell Mr. Mueller’s office there will be no interview,” reports the New York Times, “Trump pushed them to continue negotiating.” Axios reports that “insiders” expect Trump to get his way, because “Trump wants to, he thinks he can make his own best case, and no one around him can restrain him,” with one associate helpfully adding, “He just can’t help himself.”

    Trump is a nightmare client for a defense lawyer. He faces broad legal jeopardy in the Russia investigation — not only for a wide swath of potential crimes relating to collusion with Russia, but also for obstruction of justice. He is a habitual and uncontrollable liar, as even his closest allies grasp. He lies to his own lawyers, as evidenced by the confession of his counsel Jay Sekulow that he had been given “bad information” about Trump’s alleged noninvolvement in crafting a lie about the Trump Tower meeting.

    Trump’s attorneys have tried to steer him away from speaking with Mueller by portraying the interview as a “perjury trap,” but the truth is that any interview with Donald Trump is a perjury trap. Trump would perjure himself in an interview about what he ate for lunch.

    Trump’s persistent desire to speak with Mueller is one of the true oddities of the long, unfolding scandal. His impulse for maximum confrontation is being overridden by his apparently stronger impulse to keep blabbing to everybody.

    madman …

  8. bostonboomer says: