Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 11: ‘Fiestas and Apple Orchards’)

This is the eleventh post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

In the Wall Street Journal, Pennsylvanian Crispin Sartwell writes of Fiestas and Apple Orchards: Small-Town Life Before Trump (“My corner of Pennsylvania was thriving again—until immigration agents began carting people away”):

I live in York Springs, a no-stoplight town near Gettysburg, in the middle of what’s known as the South Mountain Fruit Belt. Adams County grows more apples than any other in Pennsylvania and is fourth-highest producer in the nation. The fruit belt is not the Rust Belt, but the biggest employers are canning plants: Knouse, Rice and Mott’s. Down the road in Biglerville, they call the high-school teams the Canners.

York Springs, known locally as “Little Mexico” or “Rednexico,” has a population of 800 or so, 46% Hispanic, according to the 2010 census. This, I daresay, is now inaccurate: If you made the population 1,100 and 70% Hispanic, you’d be nearer the mark. Many people came to Adams County as seasonal apple pickers, and orchards need tending year round, so they stayed. Some became orchard managers, and some started businesses: hair salons and restaurants, grocery stores and landscaping companies.

The mix is a remarkable thing: Oaxaca in a Wyeth painting….

Now, however, York Springs has become a target for immigration enforcement. Statistics by locality are hard to come by, but an attorney speaking at a community forum last month at the Adams County Agricultural Center said there were at least 15 actions in York Springs during February and March, with many more since, including street arrests and traffic stops that have resulted in detentions. People are held at the prison in the city of York, 25 miles down the road, and the phrase “they took her to York” has become the expression for someone who’s been taken into the immigration system….

This stringent enforcement of immigration law is destroying a rich, new rural culture. It’s likely to destroy the economy, too. The orchards generate over $500 million a year, and, one way or another, most of the jobs. But the local growers, many of whom have been operating the family orchards for generations, worry they won’t have enough manpower this fall to harvest the crop.

More than one town in this country, meaning truly many of the people in those towns, will see ruin before this federal administration of the lumpen and the lying meets its end. The injustices inflicted, to be sure, will be worse for those who experience them than for those on the sidelines who merely find them uncomfortable, offensive, or unfair.

In all these things, however, it will be helpful to have a long memory.

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), 4 (demographics), 5 (working age), 6 (divided), 7 (how it was supposed to be), 8 (nearby), and 9 (small-town harvards), and 10 (mailers).

Tomorrow: Part 12.

Daily Bread for 6.18.17

Good morning.

Father’s Day in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-four. Sunrise is 5:16 AM and sunset 8:36 PM, for 15h 20m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 39.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred twenty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1815, French dictator and military imperialist Napoleon meets his waterloo at…Waterloo:

Waterloo was the decisive engagement of the Waterloo Campaign and Napoleon’s last. According to Wellington, the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”.[10]Napoleon abdicated four days later, and on 7 July coalition forces entered Paris. The defeat at Waterloo ended Napoleon’s rule as Emperor of the French, and marked the end of his Hundred Days return from exile. This ended the First French Empire, and set a chronological milestone between serial European wars and decades of relative peace.

The battlefield is located in the municipalities of Braine-l’Alleud and Lasne,[11] about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Brussels, and about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) from the town of Waterloo. The site of the battlefield today is dominated by a large monument, the Lion’s Mound. As this mound was constructed from earth taken from the battlefield itself, the contemporary topography of the battlefield near the mound has not been preserved.

Recommended for reading in full —

Yashar Ali reports that Unedited Putin Interview Reveals A Missed Opportunity For Megyn Kelly and America (“The footage obtained by HuffPost shows a nervous Kelly who failed to press Putin on obvious issues”):

The last question Kelly asked Putin, which was not aired, was startling in its pandering. “We have been here in St. Petersburg for about a week now. And virtually every person we have met on the street says what they respect about you is they feel that you have returned dignity to Russia, that you’ve returned Russia to a place of respect. You’ve been in the leadership of this country for 17 years now. Has it taken any sort of personal toll on you?”

A former CIA Russia analyst who spoke to HuffPost was taken aback by the last question Kelly asked. “I can’t begin to tell you what this did for Putin’s ego, and I wouldn’t put it past the Kremlin to use it for propaganda purposes. Putin’s obsession is, by his definition, making Russia great again. He’s obsessed with the idea that he has returned the country to what he sees as the glory days of the USSR. He feels that since the breakup of the USSR, Russia has too often ceded ground where it shouldn’t have. And he’s obsessed with people seeing him as the one who brought dignity back to Russia.”

Michelle Liu reports that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke says he withdrew from for Homeland Security post:

At least publicly, the job had never been offered. And as of Friday, Clarke had not resigned from his sheriff’s post.

Clarke had said then he would work in the department’s Office of Partnership and Engagement as a liaison with state, local and tribal law enforcement and governments. It would be an extension of the role Clarke has already taken on as a defender of police on media outlets like Fox News and would follow the campaigning he did for Trump around the country last year.

But when Clarke put out the news of his appointment on his own last month, it quickly drew a rebuke in an agency tweet that said “no such announcement” had been made. Agency spokeswoman Jenny Burke repeated the language of the tweet almost word for word Friday, the Journal Sentinel reported Saturday.

“The position mentioned is a secretarial appointment. Such senior positions are announced by the department when made official by the secretary,” Burke said in an email. “No such announcement with regard to the Office of Partnership and Engagement has been made.”

Clarke was expected to start a job with the department at the end of June. But a source close to the administration told the Washington Post that Clarke’s appointment was subject to delays that spurred his withdrawal.

Matt Valentine writes that The NRA is pushing policies that gun owners like me don’t want:

The idea that the NRA speaks with one voice for America’s 100 million gun owners has never really been credible. The organization claims to have 5 million members, a figure that can’t be independently verified and that doesn’t jibe with its magazine circulation. That tally also includes people like me: intermittent NRA members who joined as a prerequisite for something else. (Local gun clubs, certain insurance policies and even some employers require NRA membership or subsidize it as a benefit.) In any case, the political agenda of the organization doesn’t necessarily reflect the will of rank-and-file members. Of the 76 directors who lead the NRA, annual-dues-paying members elect only one. A small committee nominates candidates to fill the other 75 positions, for which only lifetime members may cast votes.

Callum Borchers offers the Three prongs of the Russia investigation, explained (with details of each prong):

As special counsel Robert S. Mueller III widens his inquiry of Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential campaign, it can be difficult to keep track of who is under investigation for what. The Fix is here to help.

The law enforcement investigation led by Mueller now has three known prongs, after The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that Mueller will interview senior intelligence officials to help determine whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice.

I’ve broken down each of the three prongs below. Keep in mind that congressional committees are conducting investigations of their own: This post covers only the special counsel investigation. To better understand the others, check out Amber Phillips’s guide….

Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign….

Possible attempts to obstruct justice….

Possible financial crimes….

Caitlin Dewey writes of The surprising number of American adults who think chocolate milk comes from brown cows:

Seven percent of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows, according to a nationally representative online survey commissioned by the Innovation Center of U.S. Dairy.

If you do the math, that works out to 16.4 million misinformed, milk-drinking people. The equivalent of the population of Pennsylvania (and then some!) does not know that chocolate milk is milk, cocoa and sugar.

Daily Bread for 6.17.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with afternoon thunderstorms and a high of eighty-four. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:36 PM, for 15h 20m 10s of daytime. The moon is in its third quarter, with 49.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred twenty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1972, Virgilio González, Bernard Barker, James McCord, Eugenio Martínez, and Frank Sturgis, who were charged with attempted burglary and attempted interception of telephone and other communications at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate office building. On this day in 1673, Marquette & Joliet reach the Mississippi:

“Here we are, then, on this so renowned river, all of whose peculiar features I have endeavored to note carefully.” It’s important to recall that Marquette and Joliet did not discover the Mississippi: Indians had been using it for 10,000 years, Spanish conquistador Hernan De Soto had crossed it in 1541, and fur traders Groseilliers and Radisson may have reached it in the 1650s. But Marquette and Joliet left the first detailed reports and proved that the Mississippi flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, which opened the heart of the continent to French traders, missionaries, and soldiers. View a Map of Marquette & Joliet’s route.

Recommended for reading in full — 

John Taschler reports that Mosquitoes have been scarce so far, but signs point to bumper crop ahead (and ticks, too):

“Usually a week or two weeks after you get a lot of rain, you’d get a lot of mosquitoes,” said Edward Blumenthal, who is an associate professor of biological sciences at Marquette University. “There doesn’t seem to be as many as you’d expect.”

But just wait. Wisconsin’s mosquito season is just beginning, and businesses that deal with the pesky critters are bracing for clouds of them to erupt in the next couple weeks.

“Mosquitoes, they are going to go off full blast here in probably, I’m guessing, the next week,” said John Esser, owner of The Mosquito Guy, a bug control company based in Waukesha. “They’re coming. I think once the mosquitoes kick off, it’s going to get pretty crazy. That’s my guess, just from what I’m seeing.”

Part of that forecast is based on the types of mosquitoes Esser and his crews are encountering.

“We’re seeing plenty of male mosquitoes out there, and we haven’t seen a lot of males the last five or six years,” Esser said. “So they were out early fertilizing eggs.”

The main hatch of mosquitoes usually goes off around July 4, he added.

Although the mosquitoes have been scarce, ticks have been abundant, Esser said.

“I’ve had plenty of customers telling me about their kids coming in with ticks on them,” Esser said.

McKay Coppins describes Evan McMullin’s War:

And yet, for all his time spent studying authoritarianism overseas, he says, “I didn’t expect to see [it] here in the United States in my lifetime.” Now that he believes American democracy is at risk, McMullin says he’s less fixated than he once was on the ideological debates that have dominated partisan politics. “When authoritarians come to power,” he told me, “it can reshuffle the political spectrum. Instead of having the traditional right versus left, you end up with a dynamic in which there are those who decide they are supporting the authoritarian regime, and then you have a group that opposes them.” What’s needed, he argues, is for antiauthoritarians of all ideological persuasions to set aside their disagreements and link arms in defense of core democratic principles.

Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports that a Lobbyist for Russian interests says he attended dinners hosted by Sessions:

An American lobbyist for Russian interests who helped craft an important foreign policy speech for Donald Trump has confirmed that he attended two dinners hosted by Jeff Sessions during the 2016 campaign, apparently contradicting the attorney general’s sworn testimony given this week.

Sessions testified under oath on Tuesday that he did not believe he had any contacts with lobbyists working for Russian interests over the course of Trump’s campaign. But Richard Burt, a former ambassador to Germany during the Reagan administration, who has represented Russian interests in Washington, told the Guardian that he could confirm previous media reports that stated he had contacts with Sessions at the time.

“I did attend two dinners with groups of former Republican foreign policy officials and Senator Sessions,” Burt said.

Jason Grotto describes The Tax Divide: Cook County failed to value homes accurately for years. The result: a property tax system that harmed the poor and helped the rich:

An unprecedented analysis by the Tribune reveals that for years the county’s property tax system created an unequal burden on residents, handing huge financial breaks to homeowners who are well-off while punishing those who have the least, particularly people living in minority communities.

The problem lies with the fundamentally flawed way the county assessor’s office values property.

The valuations are a crucial factor when it comes to calculating property tax bills, a burden that for many determines whether they can afford to stay in their homes. Done well, these estimates should be fair, transparent and stand up to scrutiny.

But that’s not how it works in Cook County, where Assessor Joseph Berrios has resisted reforms and ignored industry standards while his office churned out inaccurate values. The result is a staggering pattern of inequality.

For Caturday, a Tiny House Cat Squares Up To A Lion:

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 10: Mailers)

This is the tenth post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

Worried over a large-scale party in 2016, Whitewater’s local government set about looking for a plan for 2017. College-aged adults are a plurality of the city’s population; they are a majority of the city’s adult population. Solutions included drafting a mailer (an early version of which I have embedded below), directing possible attendees to a website exhorting them to celebrate responsibility, and hoping for rain to dampen outdoor activities.

(It’s also worth noting that the city recently began using a new drug detection dog, whom officials believe will “just light-up a room,” and with whom residents are “sure to fall in love.” One wishes police K9 Ruso the best, but neither his animal magnetism nor his detection abilities would be of much use during a major celebration, or for many of the unfortunate crimes that otherwise beset small-town Whitewater.)

One can say with confidence that neither mailers, nor dogs, nor municipal websites, nor raindances, nor ice cream socials with elderly residents, nor pictures with smiling children, nor public relations managers are a substitute for the daily trust that comes from genuine community enforcement, with positive relationships with all members of the community. Arms length is no substitute, and belies the value of six, or twenty-six, or sixty-six – however many – proudly-cited years of tenure.

There are few more powerful indictments than decades wasted.

Download (PDF, 670KB)

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), 4 (demographics), 5 (working age), 6 (divided), 7 (how it was supposed to be), 8 (nearby), and 9 (small-town harvards).

Updated: Sunday, 6.18: Part 11.

Friday Catblogging: Cat-Themed Home

Architectural Digest has a story online entitled This Cat-Themed Home in Arizona Is Unreal (“You have to see it to believe it”):

Courtesy of Trulia

A cat-themed home exists in Arizona, though to say it’s “themed” probably doesn’t do it justice. Although many might wonder whether it’s even OK to leave out their cat’s toys and furniture when guests come over, the owners of this home have no problem doing just that—and then some. The listing says, “If you love cats this is the home for you! If not bring a sandblaster.” Even though the rural home looks unassuming from the outside, once you step inside, you’ll feel as though you entered another universe—where only cats exist.

There is barely a square inch of the colorful home that isn’t covered in cat-themed merchandise. Walls, though initially painted bright colors like hot pink, lime green, and a brilliant blue, have been wallpapered in images of the felines. There are framed photos hanging, furniture decoupaged in the animals’ likeness, and even pillars that have been clothed in feline stuffed animals.

The listing also says that the location is a “once in a lifetime find” and an “extremely fun home.” Both statements, true as they may be, don’t do the location justice—you need to see it to believe it.

Admittedly, I’m not much for a cluttered high-intensity style, but if one is going to have lots of objects around, cat-themed ones are always a sound choice.

Daily Bread for 6.16.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a four-in-ten chance of afternoon thunderstorms, and a high of eighty-six. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 19m 56s. The moon is a waning gibbous with 60% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred twentieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1911, the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, the predecessor company to IBM, incorporates in New York. (IBM’s Watson technology is named after Thomas J. Watson Sr., president of the company, and successor IBM, from 1915-1956.) On this day in 1832, Henry Dodge and twenty-nine soldiers engage the Kickapoo in the Battle of Pecatonica.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Haley Hansen reports that Body cam video shows 1.69 seconds between shots in Sherman Park [Milwaukee] police shooting:

Body camera footage exhibited in court Thursday shows former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown sitting in a squad car after he fatally shot Sylville Smith last August.

“It happened so quick,” he said, snapping his fingers.

During the eight minutes the body camera is running, Heaggan-Brown never asked about Smith’s condition.

According to court testimony from Thursday, 1.69 seconds separated Heaggan-Brown’s first shot that hit Smith in the arm and his second shot that hit the 23-year-old in the chest.

Heaggan-Brown, 25, is on trial on a charge of first-degree reckless homicide in the August 2016 incident that sparked two days of violent unrest in parts of the Sherman Park neighborhood.

Heaggan-Brown was fired from the Milwaukee Police Department in October after he was charged in an unrelated sexual assault.

Sari Horwitz, Matt Zapotosky and Adam Entous report that Special counsel is investigating Jared Kushner’s business dealings:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, as part of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

FBI agents and federal prosecutors have also been examining the financial dealings of other Trump associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Carter Page, who was listed as a foreign-policy adviser for the campaign.

The Washington Post previously reported that investigators were scrutinizing meetings that Kushner held with Russians in December — first with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and then with Sergey Gorkov, the head of a state-owned Russian development bank. At the time of that report, it was not clear that the FBI was investigating Kushner’s business dealings.

Jonathan Chait writes that Trump’s Cover-up May Be Worse Than the Crime, But the Crime Seems Pretty Bad:

Trump’s defense has begun to emphasize the unfairness of the process. “They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story,” tweeted the president. The supposed lack of evidence for any underlying crime for Trump to obstruct has become an article of faith on the right. Andrew McCarthy’s column in the Journal of American Greatness, large portions of which are italicized for emphasis, sarcastically notes, “All that was lacking was—wait for it—actual evidence of collusion.”

What, you might wonder, would count as evidence of Trump colluding with Russian election interference? How about one of his campaign advisers having advance knowledge of the Russian hacking operation? Because that exists. If that’s not enough to count as evidence, what if I told you Donald Trump asked Russia to hack his opponent’s email system and publicize the results in order to help Trump, and it was on video? Because that exists, too.

So the evidence for collusion in the email hacking lies right out in the open — just like evidence that Trump fired James Comey to obstruct the Russia investigation, which the president confessed to in an NBC News interview. (Sometimes it seems like this investigation doesn’t even need a special counsel, just a video-montage editor.) But the collusion is almost surely not limited to the planning of the email hack. It seems to run much deeper, into a web of financial ties between Vladimir Putin’s regime and Trump and his closest advisers.

Sarah Kendzior writes that Trump is reportedly under investigation. Does that signal his end? Not so fast:

On Donald Trump’s 71st birthday on Wednesday, he received a special gift: a news report that he was under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller for possible obstruction of justice. The Washington Post reports that after a year of FBI inquiry into whether Mr. Trump’s associates co-ordinated with the Kremlin, Mr. Trump himself was now the subject of a special council probe for possibly obstructing the investigation by firing FBI director James Comey in May….

But does this mean Mr. Trump’s reign is reaching its end? Not so fast. It is possible that the President will fire Mr. Mueller, much as he fired Mr. Comey, even though this will be perceived as further admission of guilt and possibly open up yet another obstruction of justice investigation.

Pundits who speculate that the optics of this decision will hold Mr. Trump back are still mired in the presumption that the President respects democratic norms and rule of law, which he does not. The optics Mr. Trump favours are those of an autocrat: blatant demonstrations of power that proclaim, “We know that you know what we did, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

In other words, Mr. Trump does not care if firing Mr. Mueller makes him look guilty, as long as he continues to get away with his crimes. Last week, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions made it clear he will protect Mr. Trump at any cost, claiming blanket ignorance of the Russian interference case (in which he’s implicated to the point of recusal) and reducing Mr. Comey’s firing to the need for “a fresh start.” One can easily envision Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions deciding that Mr. Mueller needs a fresh start as well.

In Los Angeles, the city displayed a bat signal in honor of the late Adam West. Clever, kind:

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 9: Small-Town Harvards)

This is the ninth post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

Alana Semuels asks Could Small-Town Harvards Revive Rural Economies? Her contention, as she succinctly describes it:


College campuses and educational institutions can bolster the economies of small towns that otherwise would be struggling like many other rural locations throughout the country. Many of the rural areas that are thriving today are either home to natural features they can capitalize on—like Aspen, Colorado, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, do with skiing—or they’re the home to colleges or universities. The main benefits of educational institutions are twofold: They often produce research and technology that can be parlayed into new businesses, creating jobs nearby. And they bring to the area students, who spend money on restaurants and services, and attract professors and administrators, who do the same and also buy houses and cars.

Pick out any rural college town and it’s likely doing better economically than other nearby rural areas. The unemployment rate in Kearney, Nebraska, home to the University of Nebraska at Kearney, for example, is 2.5 percent, compared to the state’s overall rate of 3.4 percent. In rural Corvallis, Oregon, the home of Oregon State University, the unemployment rate is 3 percent, while surrounding rural counties such as Lincoln have a rate as high as 4.8 percent. According to Jed Kolko, an economic researcher at the job-search website Indeed.com, non-metropolitan counties that are growing in population have 30 percent college graduates or more; those that are shrinking tend to have populations with less than 30 percent college grads.

It goes without saying that Whitewater has not seen the economic gains across the city that some of these communities have seen. There are a few reasons for this, among many:

1.  Limited community support for the university.

2.  Community support that’s not really support. University employees who make excuses for their own institution in order to ingratiate themselves into the part of town culture that has limited support for the university are third-tier advocates. Just about every university-affiliated town notable has this problem. (See, from yesterday, Nearby.)

3.  Ersatz tech development instead of meaningful achievements. The Innovation Center is mostly the CESA 2 building. It’s what one builds when one wants to misapply a big federal grant to claim a successful tech affiliation that, in fact, falls far short of its promise. Boasting about the Innovation Center is boasting for the gullible or ignorant.

4. Self-affirming studies from the university that look more like flimsy press releases (and are, from the very get-go, conceptually flawed).  (See, The Value of Sports.) Studies like that should be embarrassments to accredited, degree-granting institution.)

5. Too much administrative emphasis on sports victories. Winning seasons are hard, and are not the accomplishment of non-athlete administrators. Banking on victories, in any event, is hard when Wisconsin’s D3 environment, overall, is sufficiently balanced that victories will naturally be spread over several schools (each with the ability to do well nationally). Expecting a permanent place at the top is a sign of how little someone knows about the challenges of a competitive environment.

Worse, pressure to stay on top leads to injury to individuals for the sake of an administrator’s pride.

As a community matter, though, too few are committed to the university as a university. They advocate for it in timid, compromising, unrealistic, and ineffectual ways. A town grandee or two walking around in a purple jacket isn’t meaningful advocacy – it’s self-congratulatory fashion.

Whitewater’s not close to a university that advocates for itself powerfully. There’s scarcely anyone among the university-affiliated who’s also formidable advocate for the school within town, and not one on the Media Relations team. Good writing is not enough – one must be emotionally resolute. (If Sen. Nass & Chief of Staff Mikalsen can back someone off, one’s not up to the job.)

(Models of strength in advocacy: @JRubinBlogger and @sarahkendzior. They’ll see their views through, come what may. So very admirable.) 

The university won’t be what it can be until a new group of university advocates emerges.

Until then, we’ll not have the small-town Harvard we otherwise might.

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), 4 (demographics), 5 (working age), 6 (divided), 7 (how it was supposed to be), and 8 (nearby).

Tomorrow: Part 10.

Daily Bread for 6.15.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of eighty-nine. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 19m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 69.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred nineteen day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 7 AM.

On this day in 1775, the Second Continental Congress unanimously appoints George Washington commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.  On this day in 1832, Gen. Winfield Scott assumes command in the Black Hawk War.

Recommended for reading in full —

Edward Fishman reports that The Senate Just Passed a Monumental New Russia Sanctions Bill—Here’s What’s In It:

…the Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would fortify existing sanctions on Russia and add new restrictions. If the bill becomes law, it would mark the most significant step taken by Congress on Russia policy in recent history. Though not perfect, the bill would substantially strengthen the West’s negotiating position vis-à-vis Russia on the conflict in Ukraine and send a strong message to Moscow that efforts to undermine US elections carry costly consequences.

It is not yet a sure thing that the bill will become law. While the legislation has bipartisan support in the Senate, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled on June 13 that the Trump administration might oppose it. The White House’s opposition could give House Republicans cold feet about voting on the bill.

But for now, it is worth examining the contents of the bill and explaining what it would mean for US policy toward Russia….[items follow]

Heidi Blake, Jason Leopold, Jane Bradley, Richard Holmes, Tom Warren, and Alex Campbell write of Poison in the System:

When a financier dropped dead in Britain shortly after exposing a vast Russian crime, police said it was not suspicious. But with his inquest now underway, BuzzFeed News has uncovered explosive evidence of a suspected Kremlin assassination plot – and a secret assignation in Paris on the eve of his death – that the British authorities have sidelined….

Ben Schreckinger describes How Russia Targets the U.S. Military (With hacks, pro-Putin trolls and fake news, the Kremlin is ratcheting up its efforts to turn American servicemembers and veterans into a fifth column):

In the fall of 2013, Veterans Today, a fringe American news site that also offers former service members help finding jobs and paying medical bills, struck up a new partnership. It began posting content from New Eastern Outlook, a geopolitical journal published by the government-chartered Russian Academy of Sciences, and running headlines like “Ukraine’s Ku Klux Klan — NATO’s New Ally.” As the United States confronted Russian ally Bashar Assad for using chemical weapons against Syrian children this spring, the site trumpeted, “Proof: Turkey Did 2013 Sarin Attack and Did This One Too” and “Exclusive: Trump Apologized to Russia for Syria Attack.”

In recent years, intelligence experts say, Russia has dramatically increased its “active measures” — a form of political warfare that includes disinformation, propaganda and compromising leaders with bribes and blackmail — against the United States. Thus far, congressional committees, law enforcement investigations and press scrutiny have focused on Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin’s successful efforts to disrupt the American political process. But a review of the available evidence and the accounts of Kremlin watchers make clear that the Russian government is using the same playbook against other pillars of American society, foremost among them the military. Experts warn that effort, which has received far less attention, has the potential to hobble the ability of the armed forces to clearly assess Putin’s intentions and effectively counter future Russian aggression.

Jonathan Alter foresees Trump’s Coming Constitutional Crisis:

The best analogy to today’s madness is also the most recent—Watergate. In 1973, in what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” President Nixon fired Attorney General Elliott Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus when they wouldn’t fire Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor.

The questions raised so far by Trumpgate are similar: How much power does the president have over the executive branch? Is it obstruction of justice if the president does it? Can the president be indicted?

As several former federal prosecutors confirmed this week, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on Thursday was a roadmap for special counsel Robert Mueller to follow as he builds an obstruction of justice case against President Trump. The two men, friends and former colleagues, view the law in similar terms. Mueller is unlikely to believe the word of an habitual liar over that of a Boy Scout. It’s unlikely that juries will, either.

At the Philadelphia Zoo, a baby gorilla was born, with the help of both veterinary and medical doctors. Ed Yong explains How a Philly Ob-Gyn Ended Up Delivering a Baby Gorilla:

Last Friday, at 10:30 a.m., ob-gyn Rebekah McCurdy was seeing patients in her office when she got the call. Hello, said the voice on the line. It’s us. We’re thinking of doing a C-section, and we’re ready to put her under anesthesia. Weird, thought McCurdy. She wasn’t covering deliveries that morning, and in any case, she didn’t have any C-sections scheduled. “Who is this?” she said.

“It’s the zoo,” said the voice. “It’s for Kira.”

McCurdy dropped everything and ran to her car. A few hours later, she was delivering a baby gorilla into the world.

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 8: Nearby)

This is the eighth post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

Just beyond the Whitewater proper lie several towns that form the rest of the Whitewater Unified School District. They play a key role in life within Whitewater, far beyond school policies.

A few observations:

The New Divide. Where once the main local issue was a town-gown divide within Whitewater (a divide that also represented political divisions between red and blue), the main divide now implicates small towns nearby. Whitewater proper (the city) will never be red again. The small towns nearby are likely to stay red, at least for years to come. See, Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 6: Divided).

Affinity. In many ways, remaining red voters in the city have more in common with those in the nearby towns than they do with their fellow city residents. Whitewater’s red-leaning residents (especially the aged ones) are now probably closer politically with voters in the Lima Center or Richmond Township than they are with Whitewater’s average voter. I would venture that local politicians like Stewart or Binnie would run better outside the city than in it. It’s not that they couldn’t do well in the city – it’s that they’re now ideologically closer to those outside of it. They’ve not appreciably changed, but the whole city has evolved in ways that make their politics closer to those in nearby red towns.

Chief Otterbacher’s outlook certainly fits more closely with the towns near the city than within Whitewater.

Jan Bilgen’s longtime role on Whitewater’s PFC & as a university staffer who describes the students whose careers she’s supposed to be developing as though they were almost feral children, and Jim Winship’s political influence as a college professor who fought to restrict student housing from his own neighborhood, would probably play even better outside Whitewater than in it.

(Perhaps Winship would describe himself as a progressive, but his views on student housing have been a reactionary departure from, for example, genuine progressive Thurgood Marshall’s recognition of the importance of freedom of association against housing restrictions. I’ve written previously, from a libertarian viewpoint, in support of Marshall’s view, expressed in his dissent in Village of Belle Terre v. Borass, 416 U.S. 1 (1974). SeeWhitewater’s Planning Commission Meeting from 5/10/10: Residential Overlay.)

The more conservative views outside the city have allowed, or encouraged, officials to advance red-leaning policies that would have been rejected within Whitewater proper. (District officials Runez, Parker, and Jaeger would all fall within this category – this, however, is a longer subject for another series. For now, a theory: professions of neutrality have actually advanced right-leaning policies with disregard to a majority of city residents’ views. Those internally who would normally be opposed to these policies often yield to the first belligerent reactionary they encounter. Others are co-opted with awards,, etc., and become advocates or appeasers of views they would reject if not for their easily-manipulated vanity.)

Unrequited. If those outside the city represent a more right-wing view that would fail within the city, what do they give in return for appeasement of their politics?

Not their money, to be sure: the longstanding move of retail shopping away from Whitewater shows that if those in towns nearby want to see an imposition of red views, they still take their money to places beyond Whitewater. Grocery shoppers in area towns, who once shopped in Whitewater, have shifted to other places for their needs; one of the main challenges of a co-op is simply gathering retail demand that has found satisfaction in other cities.

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), 4 (demographics), 5 (working age), 6 (divided), and 7 (how it was supposed to be).

Tomorrow: Part 9.

Daily Bread for 6.14.17

Good morning.

Flag Day in Whitewater will see a probability of scattered thunderstorms and a high of eighty-five. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 19m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 78.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred eighteenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1777, the Second Continental Congress chooses a flag for America: “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” On this day in 1855, Fighting Bob La Follette is born.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jonathan Chait observes that Kamala Harris Pummels Jeff Sessions So Badly That John McCain Has to Stop Her:

Harris: And you referred to a long-standing DOJ policy. Can you tell us what policy it is you’re talking about?

Sessions: Well, I think most cabinet people as the witnesses you had before you earlier, those individuals declined to comment. Because we were all about conversations with the president.

Harris: Sir, I’m just asking you about …

Sessions: Because that’s a long-standing policy …

Harris: the DOJ policy you referred to …

Sessions: a policy that goes beyond just the attorney general.

Harris: Is that policy in writing somewhere?

Sessions: I think so.

Harris: So did you not consult it before you came this committee knowing we’d ask questions about it?

Sessions: Well, we talked about it. The policy is based …

Harris: Did you asked that it would be shown to you?

Sessions: The policy is based on the principle that the president …

Harris: Sir, I’m not asking about the principle. I am asking when you knew …

Sessions: Well I am unable to answer the …

Harris: that you would be asked these …

Sessions: question.

Harris: questions and you would rely on that policy.

McCain: Chairman [inaudible].

[thumping noise]

Harris: Did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer the …

McCain: Chairman, the witness …

Harris: majority of questions that have been asked of you.

McCain: should be allowed to answer the question.

[Sessions laughs. Harris is not amused.]

Chairman Burr: Senators will allow the chair to control the hearing. Senator Harris, let him answer.

Harris [to Sessions]: Please do. [To Burr]: Thank you.

Sessions: We talked about it. And we talked about the real principle at stake is one that I have some appreciation towards, having spent 15 years in the Department of Justice, 12 as United States attorney, and that principle is that the Constitution provides the head of the executive branch certain privileges. And that members — one of them is, confidentiality of communications — and it is improper for agents of any of the departments in the executive branch to waive that privilege without a clear approval …

Harris: Mr. Chairman …

Sessions: of the president.

Harris: I have asked …

Sessions: And that’s the situation we are in.

Harris: Mr. Sessions for a yes or no. Did you ask …

Sessions: Though the answer is yes.

Harris: …your staff to see the policy.

Sessions: I consulted …

Harris: Did you ask your staff to see the policy?

Burr: The senator’s time has expired.

Harris: Apparently not.

Burr: Senator Cornyn.

(If one is looking for competent lawyering in this exchange, it will be found with Harris, not Sessions, who’s embarrassingly weak. Hard to believe (for more than one reason) that Sessions is the Attorney General of the United States.)

Indeed, Sessions is so weak that he begs off that he can’t keep up with Harris, and that she makes him – a grown man with a lengthy career behind him — nervous:

Julia Ioffe asks Why Did Jeff Sessions Really Meet With [Russian Ambassador] Sergey Kislyak?:

Sessions called a press conference and publicly recused himself from the Russia investigation. “I did meet with this one Russian official a couple of times,” he said, referring to his encounters with Kislyak. But he insisted on the fine distinction he and Flores had drawn the previous day, saying he had “never had meetings with Russian operatives or government intermediaries about the Trump campaign.” That is, he claimed that when he met with Kislyak, he did so as a senator on the Armed Services Committee, not a Trump surrogate.

But an examination of Sessions’s activities in 2016 calls this defense of his testimony into question. It shows a significant spike in the frequency of his contacts with foreign officials after he joined the Trump campaign as a foreign-policy adviser in March. That was when the longtime member of the Armed Services Committee embarked on an intensive program of meetings and dinners with ambassadors and members of Washington’s foreign-policy establishment. His meeting with Kislyak took place during those months. And some of those who met with Sessions said they sought him out not because he was a senator, but precisely because of his role as a Trump campaign surrogate, tasked with advising the campaign on matters of national security.

Former Congressman Bob Inglis writes I helped draft Clinton’s impeachment articles. The charges against Trump are more serious:

I was on the House Judiciary Committee that began the consideration of impeaching of President Bill Clinton. Armed with information from independent counsel Kenneth Starr, we were convinced the president had lied under oath. We drafted articles of impeachment, and a majority of the House concurred with our assessment. The Senate subsequently determined that there wasn’t sufficient cause to remove him from office. In retrospect, a public censure or reprimand may have been more advisable.

Regardless, Clinton was impeached for charges less serious than the ones before us now. In the current case, Comey was exploring the possibility of American involvement in the Russian plot, a treasonous offense. While it’s not time to start drafting articles of impeachment, it is time to pursue this investigation into Russian meddling in our presidential election with vigor, without friends to reward and without enemies to punish.

Here’s why white noise helps us sleep:

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 7: How It Was Supposed to Be)

This is the seventh post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

Consider the contemporary town-gown conditions in Whitewater. Here I am referring to present-day conditions, over the last ten or fifteen years. Part of the solution to this, surely, was meant to come from university-connected residents serving in local municipal government (e.g., Stewart, Bilgen, Winship).

Who better, the theory goes, to bring harmony than those both working on campus and residing in town?

(In earlier generations, Whitewater also had a crossover between university-affiliated residents and local government. Those earlier experiences, however, occurred when the university was much smaller than it is now, with fewer students, when student housing needs were different, and when students were more like boarders than apartment tenants. Earlier cases, from the ’50s or ’60s, aren’t applicable, and are uninteresting as examples for current policy.)

So, how did this recent decade go, among relations between the largest number of Whitewater’s residents (college-age students) and the smaller number of working-age adults from 25-64?

One can guess not well, if Whitewater’s still contending over local parties, if her police chief is fretting over “mob rule,” and if Jan Bilgen is declaring – in 2017! – that a campus informational campaign would be “starting soon to remind students “how to be a good neighbor” and that any trouble that they might possibly have with law enforcement could have a detrimental effect on their standing as a good student on campus.”

UW-Whitewater’s Marketing & Media Relations might want to work on that as a campaign:

“Hey, Mom and Dad, those kids you raised, and on whose tuition we depend, need some work. Have you been raising them in a barn for their first eighteen years, or what? Try harder!”

Whitewater’s former police chief worried over ‘raucous’ behavior; her present one worries over ‘mob rule.’ All these decades, yet it’s mostly been treading water.

I’d guess a minority of university faculty or upper-level staffers even live in Whitewater. Of those who live here, an even smaller number seek influence within city government.

This means that those who are part of a city-university nexus are a minority of a minority. Those who have sought so strenuously to be a part of town & university affairs are hardly representative of the majority of their colleagues on campus. Whether those colleagues (had they been more interested) could have done more, one cannot say.

One can say, however, that these unrepresentative few find themselves contending with the same problems, year after year, without success. Perhaps a desire to be popular, to hold influence, leads them to compromise from both sides in ways that short-changes everyone. In any event, the theory of relying on those who are (or seek to be) both campus and town notables looks better as a theory than as a practice.

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), 4 (demographics), 5 (working age), and 6 (divided).

Tomorrow: Part 8.

Daily Bread for 6.13.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-nine. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:34 PM, for 15h 18m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 85.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred seventeenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

At 6:30 PM, the Library Board will hold a meeting.

On this day in 1967, Pres. Johnson nominates Thurgood Marshall to the U.S. Supreme Court (“the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man and the right place”).

On this day in 1863, Wisconsinites defending the Union continued their engagement at the Seige of Vicksburg (” The 8th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 25th,27th, 29th and 33rd Wisconsin Infantry regiments, the 1st, 6th, 7th and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries and the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry were among Union forces surrounding the city”).

Recommended for reading in full —

Michael Shear and Maggie Haberman report that Friend Says Trump Is Considering Firing Mueller as Special Counsel:

WASHINGTON — A longtime friend of President Trump said on Monday that Mr. Trump was considering whether to fire Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the president’s campaign and Russian officials.

The startling assertion comes as some of Mr. Trump’s conservative allies, who initially praised Mr. Mueller’s selection as special counsel, have begun trying to attack his credibility.

The friend, Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media, who was at the White House on Monday, said on PBS’s “NewsHour” that Mr. Trump was “considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel.”

“I think he’s weighing that option,” Mr. Ruddy said.

His comments appeared to take the White House by surprise.

“Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the president regarding this issue,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said in a statement hours later. “With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”

(I’m with Sarah Kendzior @sarahkendzior on this: it’s only a matter of time until Trump pressures the Justice Department to fire Mueller; if they resist that pressure, he’ll fire Justice Department officials until he finds someone to fire Mueller. Kendzior observes: “As I’ve been saying, they enjoy the flagrancy. Autocrat logic: “We know that you know what we did, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”)

Ellen Nakashima reports that Russia has developed a cyberweapon that can disrupt power grids, according to new research:

Hackers allied with the Russian government have devised a cyberweapon that has the potential to be the most disruptive yet against electric systems that Americans depend on for daily life, according to U.S. researchers.

The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system — in Ukraine in December. In that incident, the hackers briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric power generated in Kiev.

But with modifications, it could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect, said Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, a cybersecurity firm that studied the malware and issued a report Monday.

And Russian government hackers have shown their interest in targeting U.S. energy and other utility systems, researchers said.

Ron Brownstein asks Are Demographics Really Destiny for the GOP?:

Despite President Trump’s magnetic appeal for working-class whites, those fiercely contested voters continued their long-term decline as a share of the national electorate in 2016, a new analysis of recent Census Bureau data shows.

That continued erosion underscores the gamble Trump is taking by aligning the GOP ever more closely with the hopes and fears of a volatile constituency that, while still large, has been irreversibly shrinking for decades as a share of the total vote. The data analysis on 2016 voting, conducted for The Atlantic by Robert Griffin and Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress’s States of Change project, found that non-college-educated whites declined as a share of the electorate even in the key Midwestern states that tipped the election to Trump.

“This is a good example of just how hard it is to reverse an ongoing trend like this,” said Teixeira, a co-founder of the project, which studies how demographic change affects politics and policy. “It says to Republicans: ‘You have intrinsically placed your bets on a political group that under almost any conceivable circumstances will continue to decline as a share not only of eligible voters, but [of actual] voters going forward.’ If that didn’t [reverse] in this election, you have to say it’s not going to happen.”

(Even in an election that she lost, It’s official: Clinton swamps Trump in popular vote: “The Democrat outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”)

John Wagner reports on Praise for the chief: Trump’s Cabinet tells him it’s an ‘honor’ and ‘blessing’ to serve:

(Part perverse, part heretical: Priebus is nothing more than a groveling supplicant.)

What does an airliner look like when recorded from a weather balloon at 38,000 feet? It looks like this:

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 6: Divided)

This is the sixth post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

Years ago (in 2010), I wrote of a red-blue divide within the city, where some elections favored red-leaning voters, and some blue-leaning voters. See, Why Whitewater Isn’t a Progressive City; Why Whitewater’s ‘Conservatives’ Hold the City Tenuously.

Over time, the city proper has become more dependably blue. State and national political trends, affecting local demographics, have probably assured this result. See, The (Red) State, the (Blue) City.

Look at the last presidential election: Clinton carried the city, Trump carried the outlying towns within the area of the Whitewater Unified School District. (See, results from Walworth, Jefferson, and Rock Counties.)

Where once there was a divide between red and blue within the city, there is now a reliably blue city; the divide is now between the city and the smaller towns outside the city.

Older residents remember a more conservative city; that past won’t return. Current residents know that the towns nearby are more conservative than the city; that will stay true for the foreseeable future.

The city-towns divide represents things as they now are, and has consequences of economics, fiscal policy, education, and culture.

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), 4 (demographics), and 5 (working age).

Tomorrow: Part 7 (How It Was Supposed to Be).

Film: Tuesday, June 13th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Collateral Beauty

This Tuesday, June 13th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Collateral Beauty @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Collateral Beauty (2016) is a drama about Howard, who, “retreating from life after a tragedy…questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.”

Will Smith stars in the one hour, thirty-seven minute film, also starring Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Michael Peña, and Helen Mirren. The film carries a PG-13 rating from the MPAA.

One can find more information about Collateral Beauty at the Internet Movie Database.


Daily Bread for 6.12.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see a high of eighty-seven and an even chance of thunderstorms. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:43 PM, for 15h 18m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 91.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred sixteenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets this evening at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1776, Virginia’s colonial legislature adopts a Declaration of Rights. On this day in 1899, a tornado in New Richmond proves to be the worst tornado disaster in Wisconsin history.

Recommended for reading in full —

Conservative Christian Schneider observes that Donald Trump supporters concoct their own James Comey story:

To say that Comey’s testimony “vindicates” Trump in any way ignores giant swaths of what the former FBI director actually said — it’s like leaving the theater after seeing Wonder Woman and telling people it’s a World War I documentary.

This is the place where Trump’s supporters exist: rather than seeing the president for who he clearly is, they construct an entirely different Trump in the negative space around him. If Comey accuses the president of obstructing an FBI investigation, they will say, “but look at all the laws Comey didn’t charge Trump with breaking!” If Comey says Trump lied, they’ll say “according to Comey’s own admission, here’s an instance where Trump told the truth!”

….For #AlwaysTrumpers, it is also important to concoct fictions about Trump and never back down from them. Trump supporters are required to pretend, for instance, that the president is a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense negotiator who will only get us the best deals – yet the briefest of trips through his Twitter timeline reveals a thin-skinned moral adolescent obsessed with settling scores and being well-liked.

(Trump, a serial liar, makes liars or fiction writers of his ardent supporters.)

Aaron Davis reports that D.C. and Maryland to sue President Trump, alleging breach of constitutional oath:

Attorneys general for the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland say they will sue President Trump on Monday, alleging that he has violated anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution by accepting millions in payments and benefits from foreign governments since moving into the White House.

The lawsuit, the first of its kind brought by government entities, centers on the fact that Trump chose to retain ownership of his company when he became president. Trump said in January that he was shifting his business assets into a trust managed by his sons to eliminate potential conflicts of interests.

But D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) and Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) say Trump has broken many promises to keep separate his public duties and private business interests. For one, his son Eric Trump has said the president would continue to receive regular updates about his company’s financial health.

Patrick Wintour reports that Trump’s state visit to Britain put on hold:

Donald Trump has told Theresa May in a phone call he does not want to go ahead with a state visit to Britain until the British public supports him coming.

The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.

The call was made in recent weeks, according to a Downing Street adviser who was in the room. The statement surprised May, according to those present.

The conversation in part explains why there has been little public discussion about a visit.

May invited Trump to Britain seven days after his inauguration when she became the first foreign leader to visit him in the White House. She told a joint press conference she had extended an invitation from the Queen to Trump and his wife Melania to make a state visit later in the year and was “delighted that the president has accepted that invitation”.

Many senior diplomats, including Lord Ricketts, the former national security adviser, said the invitation was premature, but impossible to rescind once made.

Margaret Sullivan asks (and answers) Is media coverage of Trump too negative? You’re asking the wrong question:

“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” he complained in a commencement address last month to U.S. Coast Guard graduates. “No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

Looked at through this lens, Trump’s press coverage has been a political nightmare.

Isn’t that terribly unfair?

Here’s my carefully nuanced answer: Hell, no.

That’s because when we consider negative vs. positive coverage of an elected official, we’re asking the wrong question.

The president’s supporters often say his accomplishments get short shrift. But let’s face it: Politicians have no right to expect equally balanced positive and negative coverage, or anything close to it. If a president is doing a rotten job, it’s the duty of the press to report how and why he’s doing a rotten job.

The idea of balance is suspect on its face. Should positive coverage be provided, as if it were a birthright, to a president who consistently lies, who has spilled classified information to an adversary, and who fired the FBI director who was investigating his administration?

Adam West, Gotham’s Caped Crusader, passed away recently after a brief bought with leukemia. Colin Fleming, in Adam West’s Criminally Overlooked Contribution to Cinematic History, recalls a film with West that’s great fun:

Most of the West tributes will focus on television’s Batman, naturally, but what even the most robust cineastes often overlook is West’s one great contribution to movie history, to the art house.

The 1960s were largely a bad time for sci-fi films. They’d blown their load in the 1950s, with pictures about atomically-altered bugs and extraterrestrial beings, all manner of body-snatching alien interlopers, peaceful Martians who get attacked by paranoid earthlings, you name it. We remember 2001: A Space Odyssey from the tail end of the ‘60s, but it wasn’t exactly box office gold. What sci-fi there was was commonly tucked away in low-budget productions, and there was none finer than 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars….

In Robinson Crusoe on Mars there are Martian canals, a polar ice cap, snow shelters, subterranean tunnels, autodestruct buttons, alien blasters, and a slave revolt, but the film’s haunting solemnity, its crucial, post-earth poetry, comes largely from West—the right-hand man in the cockpit, the space ghost who intervenes when reason is all but lost, and helps it again be found.

I’ve seen the Robinson Crusoe on Mars more than once, and have enjoyed more each time. Here’s the trailer from a fun, memorable film:

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 5: Working Age)

This is the fifth post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

To love something truly is to see it clearly, with dry eyes. So if federal census data show that the largest group in the city – by far – is college-age residents 20-24 (5,300), and that those young residents easily outnumber traditional working-age residents (3,892), what can one say about those 25-64 year-old working-age residents? (Quick note: I’m in this age bracket.)

The first thing one can conclude is that in absolute number, they’re fewer than nearby Fort Atkinson. I’ve written on this before (see, Data Around Whitewater’s Size), but it bears repeating (data from the American Community Survey using 2015 data as the 2016 data do not have demographics by age):

Whitewater, aged 25-64: 3,892.

Fort Atkinson, aged 25-64: 6,454.

There are implications to a smaller working-age population than a student population.

When working-age residents 25-64 insist they’re the real town residents, they’re doing so only from innumeracy or arrogance: residents aged 25-64 are a demographic minority.

There’s a second implication, too: in absolute terms, the 25-64 age group isn’t so large as it presents itself.

Indeed, it’s not so relatively large within the city, or relatively compared to a nearby city.

So if there’s a claim to a superior position, that group (of which I am a part) does not have a numerical claim to superiority.

Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), 3 (oasis), and 4 (demographics).

Tomorrow: Part 6.

Daily Bread for 6.11.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny, with a high of ninety. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:33 PM, for 15h 17m 52s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 96.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred fifteenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Vince Lombardi is born this day in 1913. On this day in 1935, Gene Wilder is born in Milwaukee.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jenna Johnson observes that Trump’s son seems to confirm Comey’s account of the president’s comments on the Flynn investigation:

…Donald Trump Jr. — the president’s eldest son — seemed to confirm Comey’s version of events in a Saturday interview on Fox News as he tried to emphasize the fact that his father did not directly order Comey to stop investigating Flynn.

“When he tells you to do something, guess what? There’s no ambiguity in it, there’s no, ‘Hey, I’m hoping,'” Trump said.

Chris Buckley reports on China’s New Bridges: Rising High, but Buried in Debt:

The Chishi Bridge is one of hundreds of dazzling bridges erected across the country in recent years. Chinese officials celebrate them as proof that they can roll out infrastructure bigger, better and higher than any other country can. China now boasts the world’s highest bridge, the longest bridge, the highest rail trestle and a host of other superlatives, often besting its own efforts….

But as the bridges and the expressways they span keep rising, critics say construction has become an end unto itself. Fueled by government-backed loans and urged on by the big construction companies and officials who profit from them, many of the projects are piling up debt and breeding corruption while producing questionable transportation benefits.

For all its splendor, the Chishi Bridge, in Hunan Province, exemplifies the seamy underside of China’s infrastructure boom. Its cost, $300 million, was more than 50 percent over the budget. The project struggled with delays and a serious construction accident and was tarnished by government corruption. Since it opened in October, the bridge and the expressway it serves have been underused and buried in debt.

Jeremy Peters tells of A Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theorist, a False Tweet and a Runaway Story:

Jack Posobiec had his Twitter sights set on James B. Comey.

A pro-Trump activist notorious for his amateur sleuthing into red herrings like the “Pizzagate” hoax and a conspiracy theory involving the murder of a Democratic aide, Mr. Posobiec wrote on May 17 that Mr. Comey, the recently ousted F.B.I. director, had “said under oath that Trump did not ask him to halt any investigation.”

….It mattered little that Mr. Comey had said no such thing. The tweet quickly ricocheted through the ecosystem of fake news and disinformation on the far right, where Trump partisans like Mr. Posobiec have intensified their efforts to sow doubt about the legitimacy of expanding investigations into Trump associates’ ties to Russia.

But as the journey of that one tweet shows, misinformed, distorted and false stories are gaining traction far beyond the fringes of the internet. Just 14 words from Mr. Posobiec’s Twitter account would spread far enough to provide grist for a prime-time Fox News commentary and a Rush Limbaugh monologue that reached millions of listeners, forging an alternative first draft of history in corners of the conservative media where President Trump’s troubles are often explained away as fabrications by his journalist enemies.

Ana Swanson and Max Ehrenfreund report that Republicans are predicting the beginning of the end of the tea party in Kansas:

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Kansas was at the heart of the tea party revolution, a red state where, six years ago, a deeply conservative group of Republicans took the state for a hard right turn. Now, after their policies failed to produce the results GOP politicians promised, the state has become host to another revolution: a resurgence of moderate Republicans.

Moderate Republicans joined with Democrats this week to raise state taxes, overriding GOP Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto and repudiating the conservative governor’s platform of ongoing tax cuts. The vote was a demonstration of the moderates’ newfound clout in the state Republican Party. Brownback was unable to successfully block the bill because many of the die-hard tax cut proponents had either retired or been voted out of office, losing to more centrist candidates in GOP primaries.

“The citizens of Kansas have said ‘It’s not working. We don’t like it.’ And they’ve elected new people.” said Sheila Frahm, a centrist Republican who served as lieutenant governor of Kansas and briefly as a U.S. senator.

In Atlanta, during a Braves game, a contestant gets the chance to race against a competitor called the Freeze (who’s very fast). Here’s what happens when the contestant underestimates the contest, and the mighty Freeze:

Via @iamjoonlee, Staff Writer, Bleacher Report & B/R Mag.

Whitewater, Cultures & Communications, June 2017 (Part 4: Demographics)

This is the fourth post in a series considering related local topics of cultures & communications within the city.

Take a look at impartial census data for Whitewater, from the federal government (using American Community Survey population estimates for 2016 now available, and otherwise 2015 measurements).

Whitewater’s is a population that’s relatively young (where student-aged residents significanty outnumber non-student adults aged 25-64), and with a significant Latino community (almost certainly larger by percentage among the K-12 population than it is among older age groups).

These disparate groups most surely don’t have the same outlook. Pretending that there’s one, common outlook is at best mistaken, at worst arrogant. Seeing the city through the eyes of a few, without a dispassionate review of the city’s demographics, isn’t a reasoned outlook.

It’s nothing more than aged beholders’ nostalgia.

Data follow —

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Previously: Parts 1 (introductory assumptions), 2 (population), and 3 (oasis).

Tomorrow: Part 5.

Daily Bread for 6.10.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-eight. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:33 PM, for 15h 17m 14s of daytime. The moon is waning gibbous with 99% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the two hundred fourteenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1978, Affirmed wins the Belmont Stakes, and becomes a Triple Crown winner. He would remain the last Triple Crown winner for 37 years, until 2015. On this day in 1837, workmen arrive to begin building what would be Wisconsin’s first capitol building.

Recommended for reading in full —

David A. Fahrenthold and Robert O’Harrow Jr. recount in Trump: A True Story how the “mogul, in a 2007 deposition, had to face up to a series of falsehoods and exaggerations. And he did. Sort of”:

It was a mid-December morning in 2007 — the start of an interrogation unlike anything else in the public record of Trump’s life.

Trump had brought it on himself. He had sued a reporter, accusing him of being reckless and dishonest in a book that raised questions about Trump’s net worth. The reporter’s attorneys turned the tables and brought Trump in for a deposition.

For two straight days, they asked Trump question after question that touched on the same theme: Trump’s honesty.

The lawyers confronted the mogul with his past statements — and with his company’s internal documents, which often showed those statements had been incorrect or invented. The lawyers were relentless. Trump, the bigger-than-life mogul, was vulnerable — cornered, out-prepared and under oath.

Thirty times, they caught him.

Trump had misstated sales at his condo buildings. Inflated the price of membership at one of his golf clubs. Overstated the depth of his past debts and the number of his employees.

Yoni Applebaum contends that Trump’s Ignorance Won’t Save Him:

(I’m sure Trump is ignorant of many things, but I doubt that when Trump cleared the room to talk to Comey he was ignorant of what he was about to attempt. In any event, Applebaum’s point holds: ignorance would not be exculpatory. Ironic, though, that so many of Trump’s hardcore supporters would insist that ignorance should not be an excuse when considering the conduct of minorities, but insist upon it when considering the conduct of the vulgar white billionaire they support.)

Alana Petroff reports that Murdoch’s Fox-Sky deal at greater risk after U.K. election shock:

Labour, which has opposed the massive media takeover, gained seats in parliament following Thursday’s election. Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party saw its majority wiped out. May is now trying to form a minority government.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom is currently reviewing whether or not to approve Fox’s purchase of Sky (SKYAY), in which it already holds a 39% stake. It is due to complete its review by June 20.

“Had the Conservatives won a large majority, we think it would have been more straightforward to approve the deal relatively quickly,” said Polo Tang, head of European telecom research at UBS. “We still see scope for the deal to be approved but the risks around an extended review have increased,” he added.

Rachel Walker explains How to plan the perfect road trip:

In 2006, my boyfriend and I drove from Colorado to Moab, Utah, for a week of desert exploration. For 300 miles, we had no problems. Then the gas light came on, 40 miles from Moab and at least an hour after we had passed the last service station. Did we panic? No. The impending calamity only fed our sense of ad­ven­ture. We drove giddily on, eventually coasting into a gas station on fumes just as the engine cut out.

Nowadays, I can’t be so cavalier. With two school-age kids, road trips require slightly more vigilance. Since my boys were born, my husband (the boyfriend from the Moab trip) and I have canvassed the country with them strapped into a succession of car seats. We drive to save money and to show them our world — and because we believe in the power of “windshield time,” the moments of intimate connection that intersperse the monotony of car travel.

Here’s what to consider before pulling out of the driveway….[list follows]

Great Big Story tells of Cultivating Japan’s Rare White Strawberry:

Cultivating Japan’s Rare White Strawberry from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

In Japan, there’s a specialty fruit craze sweeping the nation, from square watermelons to grapes the size of Ping-Pong balls. Still, the crown jewel of the luxury fruit basket is the white strawberry, bred to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot sweeter than its classic red counterpart. We took a tour of Yasuhito Teshima’s farm in Karatsu, Japan, to find out why so many people are spending a pretty penny for a taste of these famous white berries.