Milton’s School Referendum (and How to Fix Milton’s Mess)

The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin

2017 Referendum for $69.9 million

The Milton School District held a school construction referendum last night, the second within the last year. The 2016 construction referendum was for $87 million, the 2017 referendum was for $69.9 million. In fact, the 2016 referendum for the larger amount (with a different electorate, to be sure) was closer than the 2017 referendum for a relatively smaller amount.

A few remarks:

1. What Comes First. It’s true that I’m a critic of large spending projects, but fundamentally, here’s why: What happens inside the building will always be more important than the building itself.

First and foremost, schools should be run for the advancement of substantive learning (academics, arts, and athletics) and the promotion of a sound civic understanding (of liberty and equality within a free society). That’s more important than any building.

Mark this well – this position – substance first – is one that promotes educational accomplishment. One very well sees that construction is important – it’s simply not the most important matter.

It’s far easier to put in some new bricks than it is to teach a young person properly, even in the cases where bricks make teaching possible.

Educational officials in this community should approach every conversation about their work in this order: substantive academic achievement, assurances of fairness among students striving to achieve, and then construction and maintenance needs.

They don’t have to approach it this way, of course. It’s simply that to do otherwise produces second-rate work.

2. Milton’s focus was construction. That was all the talk (and I followed much of it, from newspapers and social media and in conversation). Even a construction referendum should emphasize other matters first.

3. Communications. No normal school district hires a former police chief, who was later a city administrator, as their comms guy. No normal place. ‘Communications Director’ Jerry Schuetz needs to go. Any money he’s paid should go to instructional materials, school lunches, even cleaning supplies. Those allocations would at least be useful for a positive end (learning, nutrition, sanitation).

Worse even than the referendum, Milton has had debilitating debates about lawful public recording of meetings. A district that isn’t behind open government from the beginning is simply fomenting community mistrust.

4. A Reasonable Amount. Milton’s a small town. Eighty-seven million’s possible for some communities, perhaps, but rural Wisconsin doesn’t have those communities. Even sixty-nine million was too much (and too much for the electorate).

Community leaders need to be realistic, and pick a more acceptable number (as most communities, including Whitewater, have done).

I’m not a construction booster, but those who are (in Milton or elsewhere) need to be practical. If they are, they can win at referendum. Until they’re practical, they’ll be nothing more than an example for other communities of What Not to Do.

Daily Bread for 11.8.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of forty-five. Sunrise is 6:39 AM and sunset 4:37 PM, for 9h 58m 36s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 74.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Counting from 11.9.16 as the first day, today is the three hundred sixty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1942, Britain and the United States undertake Operation Torch, in which those nations began an invasion of French North Africa. On this day in 1870, Increase Lapham issues the first national weather forecast, for “high winds and falling temperatures for Chicago, Detroit and the Eastern cities.”

National Election Roundup —

Anti-Trump Republican Consultant Rick Wilson sums up Trumpism’s influence last night–

Virginia. Democrat Ralph Northam wins big, exceeding pre-election forecasts, and besting previous Democratic victories in against Virginia:

Data: Dave Leip’s Election Atlas; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Axios’s Mike Allen quotes Larry Sabato:

U.Va.’s Larry Sabato told me there’s one explanation: “Donald Trump. He really is deeply unpopular in urban-suburban Virginia. Voter after voter wanted to send him a message, and said so. Of course, he won’t listen, but the message was sent.”

(Beyond that, Democrats did well in the Virginia House of Delegates, including Danica Roem’s legislative victory, where “Virginia’s most socially conservative state lawmaker was ousted from office Tuesday by Danica Roem, a Democrat who will be one of the nation’s first openly transgender elected officials and who embodies much of what Del. Robert G. Marshall fought against in Richmond.”)

Georgia. In Georgia, Democrats pick up three legislative seats in special elections.

St. Petersburg, Fla. Voters re-elected Mayor Rick Kriseman (D). Republican consultant Rick Wilson reminds that his Republican challenger looked strong earlier in the year, but Trump’s unpopularity helped sink another Republican.

Charlotte. Democrat Vi Lyles easily defeated Republican Kenny Smith on Tuesday to become Charlotte’s first African-American female mayor (“Lyles took about 58 percent to Smith’s 42 percent in unofficial returns. She carried precincts throughout the city, including a handful in south Charlotte.”)

New Jersey. Democrat Phil Murphy beat unpopular Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno (“As of Wednesday morning, with 99 percent of districts reporting, Murphy led Guadagno by about 13 percentage points — 55.4 percent to 42.5 percent, according to the Associated Press. Murphy was ahead by nearly 250,000 voters — 1.12 million to 859,000.”)

Maine. Maine’s voters decided to expand Medicaid coverage in a ballot referendum. Trump-supporting Gov. Paul LePage (R) had been fighting the effort. Trump’s made the Affordable Care act more popular than ever.

Washington state. Democrat Manka Dhingra won the 45th Senate District seat, and so Democrats take control of both chambers of the Washington legislature.

Democrats now control all the legislative chambers and the three executive offices in Washington, Oregon, and California. The entire west coast is blue.

Last night, Trump tried to reassure his low-information base that “we will continue to win, even bigger than before!”  Reporter Daniel Daniel notes that Donald Trump made 32 false claims last week, 835 since his inauguration.

Promising his supporters they will be winning bigger than before would count as false claim # 836.

Here’s how sheep with cameras got some tiny islands onto Google Street View:

Foxconn? What’s Foxconn?

The Scene from Whitewater, WisconsinOne reads that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker downplays Foxconn because deal not a sure campaign winner:

MADISON – Scott Walker said the state would ink a $3 billion contract this week with Asian tech giant Foxconn Technology Group, even as he downplayed the deal and pointed to other jobs being created through his administration.

As Walker launches his bid for a third term and as the polling on the Foxconn project has been lackluster so far, the governor has taken a different tone on the bid to bring a flat-screen plant to Racine County. 

After spending months touting the up to 13,000 jobs at the proposed plant, the GOP governor didn’t mention Foxconn at his 2018 re-election kickoff on Sunday. He kept his distance again on Monday when conservative talk radio host Jerry Bader asked Walker about Sunday’s omission.

“Those 13,000 jobs are no more important than the 13 jobs that we helped the small business (create) in Green Bay or Superior or La Crosse,” Walker told Bader, who is based in Green Bay. “Whether it’s 13 jobs, 130 jobs, 1,300 jobs or 13,000 jobs, they’re all important to us”….

Oh dearie me: Walker flacked those Foxconn job projections incessantly, and now he won’t even mention the deal in his re-election announcement.

A few simple questions:

1. Did Gov. Walker ever truly believe in the 13,000 jobs figure? If he did, why did he do so? If he didn’t, why did he allow the number to be offered without rebuke or correction?

2. If Gov. Walker no longer believes in the 13,000 jobs figure (assuming that he once did), then what’s changed his mind?

3. Does Gov. Walker – or any policymaker – really think that 13, 130, 1,300, or 13,000 are implicitly numbers of equal importance?

If he thinks any number is important, why not stop at 13 jobs created for the 3 billion investment, and call it a day?

4. The obvious question for JS reporter Jason Stein: does Walker downplay Foxconn only because it’s polling poorly? (“A survey last month from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found 34% of registered voters statewide supported the deal and 41% opposed it, with 26% undecided.”) Alternatively, is he also downplaying the deal because he knows – at least now – that it’s not going to live to his own hype?

If the problem is that the deal was always over-talked, what does that say about the competency or honesty of Wisconsin’s governor?

5. Finally, here in Whitewater, we’ve had more than one man push WEDC projects, one after another, for years. So faithfully have some offered apologetics for WEDC and other publicly-funded business deals that Whitewater even has a WEDC 2012 Main Street Best Business Citizen recipient.

Gentlemen, gentlemen: WEDC and Gov. Walker need you now. Will you not help them calculate prospective employees for Foxconn, and afterward help them distinguish between amounts of 13, 130, 1,300, or 13,000?

I’m sure they’d be so very grateful for your assistance.

Daily Bread for 11.7.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-four. Sunrise is 6:38 AM and sunset 4:39 PM, for 10h 00m 58s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 89.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred sixty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1917 (October 25th under the Julian calendar), Lenin’s Bolsheviks overthrow Kerensky’s moderate, provisional government (that provisional government having overthrown the Tsar in February). A century of oppression in Russia and the countries she would come to occupy would follow.

Recommended for reading in full —

Eileen Sullivan Adam Goldman report Trump Adviser Carter Page Describes Meeting With Russian Official During 2016 Campaign:

WASHINGTON — A former Trump campaign adviser told Congress he had a private conversation with a Russian deputy prime minister during the 2016 presidential campaign and that at least two members of the president’s team were aware, providing more details to what is publicly known about Moscow’s access to President Trump’s circle, according to a congressional transcript released late Monday.

“I’ll send you guys a readout soon regarding some incredible insights and outreach I’ve received from a few Russian legislators and senior members of the Presidential administration here,” the former adviser, Carter Page, wrote in a July 8, 2016, email to campaign staff members after he spoke with Arkady Dvorkovich, the deputy prime minister.

The New York Times first reported the fact that Mr. Page notified campaign officials about his meetings in Moscow, but the transcript, which is over 200 pages long, discloses the names of those advisers — Tera Dahl and J.D. Gordon — and the identity of the Russian official, Mr. Dvorkovich. Mr. Page’s testimony also revealed that more campaign staff members were aware of his July 2016 trip to Russia than had previously been disclosed, including Jeff Sessions, who is now the attorney general.

Mr. Page’s eight-hour testimony, under oath, to the members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday, came the same week as the first charges were announced in the special counsel’s investigation into ties between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russian officials….

(Curious about Page’s lengthy testimony? Here’s a link (pdf), from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.)

David Kirkpatrck reports Parliament Asks Twitter About Russian Meddling in Brexit Vote:

LONDON — A British lawmaker said on Friday that some of the same Russian-linked Twitter accounts that sought to influence the American presidential election were also deployed in Britain, in the strongest indication yet that Russia used the same tactics on both sides of the Atlantic.

Twitter disclosed to the United States Congress this week that it had identified 2,752 accounts affiliated with Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a notorious troll factory. In a letter to the company, the lawmaker, Damian Collins, wrote that “it has subsequently emerged that some of those accounts were also posting content that relates to the politics of the United Kingdom.”

Mr. Collins, a Conservative who is leading a parliamentary inquiry into “fake news,” had been presented with screen shots showing the same Russian-linked accounts posting about Britain, his office said Friday.

Any evidence that Russia sought to use social media to manipulate British politics, as the Kremlin appears to have done in the United States and France, could raise questions about the legitimacy of the referendum last year that called for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, or Brexit….

(Fake news, properly understood, is Russian propanda masquerading as factual accounts. Fake news as Trump has describes it is simply an appropriation of the term to describe meticulously-sorced stories that are critical of his administration. Trump commonly takes terms and distorts their original meanings to serve his purposes.)

Ronan Farrow reports on Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies (“The film executive hired private investigators, including ex-Mossad agents, to track actresses and journalists”):

In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature.

Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details.

The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating….

Farther down in Farrow’s story, one finds reporting about Atty. David Boies:

David Boies, who was involved in the relationships with Black Cube and psops, was initially reluctant to speak with The New Yorker, out of concern that he might be “misinterpreted either as trying to deny or minimize mistakes that were made, or as agreeing with criticisms that I don’t agree are valid.”

But Boies did feel the need to respond to what he considered “fair and important” questions about his hiring of investigators. He said that he did not consider the contractual provisions directing Black Cube to stop the publication of the Times story to be a conflict of interest, because his firm was also representing the newspaper in a libel suit. From the beginning, he said, he advised Weinstein “that the story could not be stopped by threats or influence and that the only way the story could be stopped was by convincing the Times that there was no rape.” Boies told me he never pressured any news outlet. “If evidence could be uncovered to convince the Times the charges should not be published, I did not believe, and do not believe, that that would be averse to the Times’ interest.”

He conceded, however, that any efforts to profile and undermine reporters, at the Times and elsewhere, were problematic. “In general, I don’t think it’s appropriate to try to pressure reporters,” he said. “If that did happen here, it would not have been appropriate.”

(Boies doesn’t think it’s a conflict of interest to represent a publisher-client while hiring investigators who are working to undermine the publisher-client’s stories? Oh brother, oh brother, oh brother. See Report Details Weinstein’s Covert Attempt to Halt Publication of Accusations. Here’s an NYT statement on the matter: “We learned today that the law firm of Boies Schiller and Flexner secretly worked to stop our reporting on Harvey Weinstein at the same time as the firm’s lawyers were representing us in other matters,” the statement read. “We consider this intolerable conduct, a grave betrayal of trust, and a breach of the basic professional standards that all lawyers are required to observe. It is inexcusable and we will be pursuing appropriate remedies.”)

Lauren Duca writes Fox News Is Undermining American Democracy:

Few displays of Fox News propaganda have been as egregious as the cheeseburger incident on Monday, October 30.

It was a huge news day, with game-changing developments in the ongoing investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia. That morning, major news outlets like CNN and MSNBC reported that Mueller had indicted the president’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his deputy Rick Gates. The special counsel’s office also released documents revealing that earlier in the month it received a guilty plea from former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who admitted to lying to the FBI about “his interactions with a certain foreign contact who discussed ‘dirt’ related to emails” concerning Hillary Clinton, according to CNN.

As developments unfolded on its competitors’s screens, Fox and Friends briefly mentioned the news, but failed to provide any accompanying reporting or commentary, and quickly moved on to a minutes-long dialogue about the differing placement of cheese on burger emojis released by Google and Apple.

A history-shifting moment was breaking in real time, and there was Fox, committed to a deep dive into the nuance of the virtual-beef-patty stacking hierarchy. It came just after a spot on millennials getting too enthusiastic about Halloween and before a piece announcing the breaking discovery that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the most desired holiday candy.

“We’ve been talking about this all morning,” says host Jillian Mele, introducing the emoji segment. “Can you see what’s wrong with this picture? The cheese is underneath the hamburger! Who does that?”

(Talking about cheeseburgers on 10.30.17 is Fox’s equivalent of holding one’s hands over one’s  and singing blah-blah-blah-blah.)

So, Is There Any Cheese in Cheez Whiz? (And the Story of Kraft):

On School Board Membership


The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin
There’s a notice at the Whitewater Unified School District website about a school board vacancy. (The original notice is embedded at the bottom of this page.)

As is his habit, board member Stewart has taken the announcement, modified the official notice on his own with links to board qualifications that he considers important, and posted it to his website.

All the district policies are online, but one might easily highlight a few for board members —

110 School District Vision, Mission and Core Values:

Vision
Every Graduate an Engaged Lifelong Learner

Mission
Whitewater Unified School District (WUSD), in collaboration with families and community, inspires students to achieve excellence in a safe, innovative educational environment.

Core Values

Students as our #1 priority

High expectations for student achievement

Respect for and appreciation of human diversity

Excellence in teaching, leadership and service

School, community and family partnerships

Responsible planning and management of resources

Education as the foundation of a strong community

(No one should run, let alone serve, who does not begin first with thoughtful views on the district’s vision, mission, and core values.)

161 Board Member Authority

Individual members of the School Board have authority only when acting as a Board legally in session, and the Board will not be bound in any way by any action or statement on the part of any individual Board member, except when such statement is made or action is taken pursuant to specific in­structions from the Board.

Individual members of the Board contacted by the media should feel free to respond, but no individual member of the Board has the authority to speak on behalf of the entire Board unless directed by the Board.

No Board member, by virtue of his/her office, will exercise any adminis­trative responsibility with respect to the District or, as an indi­vidual, command the services of any employee of the District.

(No one member, even an aged and entitled one, speaks for all the board unless specifically instructed or directed.)

165 School Board Member Conduct/Ethics

School Board members are expected to conduct themselves in an ethical manner and in the best interest of their constituents. Relevant Wisconsin State Statutes include:
19.41      Declaration of policy
19.59   Codes of ethics for local government officials, employees and candidates
946.10    Bribery of public officers and employees
946.12    Misconduct in public office
946.13    Private interest in public contract prohibited

Board Operating Principles

Agenda
School Board members choose to conduct meetings in an open, orderly manner by using the following guidelines:

The Board develops and reviews an annual agenda plan.

Board meeting agendas are developed by the Board President and District Administrator, with input from Board members.

Regular Board meeting packets are distributed the Friday prior to the meeting.

Individual Board members are encouraged to contact either the Board President or District Administrator in a timely fashion if they require additional background information.

The Board President conducts the meeting based on the approved agenda.

Board members can request an item be placed on a future agenda by contacting the District Administrator and/or Board President.

Communication
School Board members are committed to District communications that promote openness and understanding of the diverse perspectives of the community.

Provide opportunities for open discussion and feedback among the School Board, staff, parents, students and community members

Maintain confidential information

Be respectful of guests who present information to the Board

Interaction 
School Board members are responsible for the interaction that takes place when they function as members of the team.

Talk and act respectfully to each other

Invite and respect individual contributions

Maintain focus on issues, not individual(s), during conflict

Do not discount, dismiss, interrupt or name-call

Relationships
School Board members recognize that it is essential to work together as a team.

Speak and act with integrity when dealing with each other and with guests

Treat each other and the District Administrator in ways that are trustworthy and supportive

Prepare for meetings, including reading information and directing questions to the District Administrator

Keep interactions positive at Board meetings

Adopt the norms of collaboration as a guideline for discussion at all meetings

Team Decision-Making
School Board members are committed to relying on best practices, background data, research, budget impact, and any other relevant information (evidence) to make good decisions.

(These policies would reasonably exclude those who repeatedly interrupt others, don’t review agendas properly beforehand, and have a habit of pushing dodgy data in a way that fails meet one’s expectations of a competent high-school student.)

181 Rules of Order

All meetings of the School Board will be conducted using Robert’s Rules of Order, Revised, as a guide, and will follow the generally accepted four principles of parliamentary procedure:

1. Majority rules. This principle has several components, starting with the concept that School Board members alone have no legal power. The Board, then, must act as a body for its decision to be binding. And, except in those areas specified by state law, the Board is bound by the decisions of the majority.

The majority rule principle is first one of practicality, since meeting time is too precious to allow every debate to run on until consensus is reached. However, the closer the Board can come to consensus, the better. It also is a way to strengthen and preserve the Board’s group identity because the minority is bound to support the majority’s action.

2. Equal opportunity decisionmaking. All Board members, according to this second principle, should have an equal chance to speak to the issue before the Board.

3. Decisions based on merit. The third principle states that the Board’s action should be based entirely on merit —- not on manipulation of procedural rules. Deliberation should focus on issues, not people.

4. Efficient proceedings. The first three principles are part of this fourth, which is augmented by these ideas:

a) Discussions should be orderly, with no Board member randomly or spontaneously interrupting another who has the floor.

b) Board members should proceed as though time is of the essence, wandering neither to the left nor to the right in personal reminiscences or redundancies.

c) Board members should know their rules of procedure and the principles behind them.

(Knowing the Rules of Order requires more than misapplying the provisions, failing to cite a rule properly, or insisting on one’s past, habitual misuse of a provision as a justification for a present use. Having done something many times in the past, but ignorantly and wrongly, shouldn’t be satisfactory.)

Best wishes to all, as there are so many good works to be accomplished.

The original and unedited notice follows —

Download (PDF, 157KB)

Daily Bread for 11.6.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-three. Sunrise is 6:36 AM and sunset 4:40 PM, for 10h 03m 23s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 92.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred sixty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Downtown Whitewater, Inc. board will meet today at 5 PM.

On this day in 1860, former Illinois congressman Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States, defeating John Breckinridge, John Bell and Stephen Douglas. On this day in 1837, Burlington, Iowa is picked as the temporary capital of the Wisconsin Territory: “A year earlier, legislators offered a bill making Madison the capital with a temporary capital in Dubuque until which time a permanent building could be constructed in Madison. Legislators also proposed the City of Belmont as a temporary capital. One month later, on December 12th, a fire destroyed the two-story temporary capital in Burlington. The new legislature moved its headquarters to the Webber and Remey’s store in Burlington where they conducted government affairs until June 1838.[Source: State of Wisconsin Blue Book].”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jon Swaine and Luke Harding report Trump commerce secretary’s business links with Putin family laid out in leaked files:

Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, is doing business with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law through a shipping venture in Russia.

Leaked documents and public filings show Ross holds a stake in a shipping company, Navigator, through a chain of offshore investments. Navigator operates a lucrative partnership with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.

Ross, a billionaire and close friend of Trump, retained holdings in Navigator after taking office this year. The relationship means he stands to benefit from the operations of a Russian company run by Putin’s family and close allies, some of whom are under US sanctions.

Corporate records show Navigator ramped up its relationship with Sibur from 2014, as the US and EU imposed sanctions on Russians. The measures followed Putin’s aggression in eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Navigator has collected $68m in revenue from its Sibur partnership since 2014.

Michael S. Schmidt, Matt Apuzzo, and Scott Shane report Trump and Sessions Denied Knowing About Russian Contacts. Records Suggest Otherwise:

WASHINGTON — Standing before reporters in February, President Trump said unequivocally that he knew of nobody from his campaign who was in contact with Russians during the election. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told the Senate the same thing.

Court documents unsealed this week cast doubt on both statements and raised the possibility that Mr. Sessions could be called back to Congress for further questioning.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, unsealed his first charges Monday in a wide-ranging investigation into Russian attempts to disrupt the presidential election and whether anyone close to Mr. Trump was involved. Records in that case show that George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser, had frequent discussions with Russians in 2016 and trumpeted his connections in front of Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions.

For months, journalists have revealed evidence that associates of Mr. Trump met with Russians during the campaign and the presidential transition. But the court documents represent the first concrete evidence that Mr. Trump was personally told about ties between a campaign adviser and Russian officials.

Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig report At least nine people in Trump’s orbit had contact with Russians during campaign and transition:

….While Trump has sought to dismiss these Russia ties as insignificant, or characterized the people involved in them as peripheral figures, it has now become clear that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III views at least some of them as important pieces of his sprawling investigation of Russian meddling in last year’s presidential campaign.

Documents released last week as part of Papadopoulos’s guilty plea show that Mueller’s team is deeply interested in the Trump campaign’s operations, including possible links to Moscow, at even the lowest levels. And Mueller’s interest in Russian contacts may extend to Trump’s business, as well, with the special counsel’s office recently asking for records related to a failed 2015 proposal for a Moscow Trump Tower, according to a person familiar with the request….

Jon Swaine and Luke Harding also report Russia funded Facebook and Twitter investments through Kushner associate (“Institutions with close links to Kremlin financed stakes through business associate of Trump’s son-in-law, leaked files reveal”):

 Two Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner, leaked documents reveal.The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.

The discovery is likely to stir concerns over Russian influence in US politics and the role played by social media in last year’s presidential election. It may also raise new questions for the social media companies and for Kushner

Alexander Vershbow, who was a US ambassador to Russiaunder George W Bush and to Nato under Bill Clinton, said the Russian state institutions were frequently used as “tools for Putin’s pet political projects”.

Vershbow said the findings were concerning in light of efforts by Moscow to disrupt US democracy and public debate. “There clearly was a wider plan, despite Putin’s protestations to the contrary,” he said….

South Korea is getting ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics

Daily Bread for 11.5.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of fifty-one. Sunrise is 6:35 AM and sunset 4:41 PM, for 10h 05m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 97.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred sixty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1912, Wisconsin voters (men only) consider a referendum on women’s suffrage, when they “considered a proposal to allow women to vote. When the referendum was over, Wisconsin men voted women’s suffrage down by a margin of 63 to 37 percent. The referendum’s defeat could be traced to multiple causes, but the two most widely cited reasons were schisms within the women’s movement itself and a perceived link between suffragists and temperance that antagonized many German American voters. Although women were granted the vote in 1920 by the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Wisconsin’s own constitution continued to define voters as male until 1934. [Source: Turning Points in Wisconsin History]”

Recommended for reading in full:

Dan Balz and Scott Clement report Trump’s approval rating is far lower than any president in 7 decades of polling:

A majority of Americans say President Trump has not accomplished much during his first nine months in office and they have delivered a report card that is far harsher even than the tepid expectations they set for his tenure when he was sworn into office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News survey.

Approaching the first anniversary of his victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, Trump has an approval rating demonstrably lower than any previous chief executive at this point in his presidency over seven decades of polling. Fewer than 4 in 10 Americans — 37 percent — say they approve of the way he is handling his job.

Trump’s approval rating has changed little over the past four months, which have included tumultuous events, from hurricanes to legislative setbacks to indictments in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the role Russia played in the 2016 campaign….

(Trump received three million fewer votes than Clinton, received that minority share of the vote with Russian help, is historically at the bottom of polling for a sitting president, is collapsing nationally among rural voters, and was decisively  rejected here within the City of Whitewater on election day. When one encounters someone from what’s left of Trump’s base taking up about him, it’s worth remembering and reminding of these uncontestable truths.)

Tai Ragan writes Don’t Lose Focus: Here Is Every Scandal Plaguing Donald Trump (“The Trump presidency is defined by the presence of scandal”):

Donald J. Trump has led a confrontational social and business life that often landed him in the tabloids. In both his personal and professional life he has been notoriously litigious and has been mired in many scandals over the years. The press mostly emphasized President Trump’s controversies while on the campaign trail, but a brighter light has shown on his actions since taking office.

Several books could be written on the events plaguing this administration, but these are the most egregious scandals [list that follows includes Trump-Russia, Nepotism And Swamp Creatures, Dog Whistling Dixie, Conflicts, Sexual Harassment & Assault, Gross Ineptitude]….

Ellen Nakashima reports U.S. investigators have identified Russian government hackers who breached the DNC:

Federal investigators have identified several Russian government hackers who penetrated the Democratic National Committee’s computers last year and siphoned out information that was released online, according to individuals familiar with the matter.

Gathering the evidence necessary to bring charges against them has proven to be a challenge, and it is not clear when that might happen, the individuals said. Prosecutors and FBI agents have been in discussions about the case and could bring charges next year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Justice Department declined to comment. Russian President Vladi­mir Putin has denied his government played any role in the hacking or in seeking to influence the 2016 election….

Anna Nemtsova reports Ukraine Believes Paul Manafort’s Crimes Go Way Beyond Money Laundering:

MOSCOW—Many of Kiev’s journalists, investigators, and officials felt genuinely happy on Monday when they heard Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, had been indicted on charges of laundering more than $18 million from Ukraine.

Most of the 12 counts of the indictment pulled together by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team spoke about Manafort’s illegal financial deals when he was working for Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin Party of Regions from 2006 onward. It also accused him of “conspiracy against the United States,” since Manafort allegedly used multiple shell companies to hide his money, and never bothered to inform U.S. authorities about the true size of his income.

Manafort had racked up this fortune as an adviser to the infamously corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled into exile in Russia in 2014. So, to see Manafort brought up on charges and threatened with jail time was considered a triumph for Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, which overthrew Yanukovych. During the uprising, which centered on Kiev’s central square, the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, more than 100 people lost their lives in 2014.

“It is very important for Ukraine to never see such a phenomenon as Manafort on its soil ever again,” journalist and commentator Ekaterina Sergatskova told The Daily Beast. “He symbolizes the ‘old regime’ of money laundering, corrupt lobbying, dirty scams—the regime that made millions suffer—both in Ukraine and in United States. Manafort served a regime that worked under Russia’s total control—that regime should never come to power in Ukraine again.”

How ’bout A Michelin-Starred Meal for $1.50?

Chan Hon Meng is the master chef behind “Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle,” the food cart home to the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world. Ringing in at a mere $1.50, Meng’s perfected braised chicken recipe was passed down to him by his uncle. Now, he’s serving hundreds of meals a day out of his hawker in Singapore. And while his food has gained acclaim and recognition across the culinary community, Meng hasn’t forgotten his roots. He’s still serving up the same great food, all for under two bucks.

Daily Bread for 11.4.17

Good mornng.

Saturday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of forty-seven. Sunrise is 7:34 AM and sunset 5:42 PM, for 10h 08m 23s. We’ve a full moon, with 99.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred sixtieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1922, British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter discovers entrance to King Tutankhamen’s tomb. On this day in 1847, the first class assembles at Beloit College.

Recommended for reading in full —

Philip Rucker and Matt Zapotosky report Trump breaches boundaries by saying DOJ should be ‘going after’ Democrats:

President Trump on Friday repeatedly called on the Department of Justice and FBI to investigate his Democratic political opponents, a breach of the traditional executive branch boundaries designed to prevent the criminal justice system from becoming politicized.

Trump urged federal law enforcement to “do what is right and proper” by launching criminal probes of former presidential rival Hillary Clinton and her party — a surprising use of his bully pulpit considering he acknowledged a day earlier that presidents are not supposed to intervene in such decisions.

In a flurry of accusatory morning tweets, Trump claimed there was mounting public pressure for new Clinton probes, including over her campaign’s joint fundraising agreement with the Democratic National Committee that effectively gave her some control over the party’s finances, strategy and staffing before the primaries began….

(Trump, expressing himself as what he is: authoritarian.)

WASHINGTON — Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump presidential campaign, met Russian government officials during a July 2016 trip he took to Moscow, according to testimony he gave on Thursday to the House Intelligence Committee.

Shortly after the trip, Mr. Page sent an email to at least one Trump campaign aide describing insights he had after conversations with government officials, legislators and business executives during his time in Moscow, according to one person familiar with the contents of the message. The email was read aloud during the closed-door testimony.

The new details of the trip present a different picture than the account Mr. Page has given during numerous appearances in the news media in recent months and are yet another example of a Trump adviser meeting with Russians officials during the 2016 campaign. In multiple interviews with The New York Times, he had either denied meeting with any Russian government officials during the July 2016 visit or sidestepped the question, saying he met with “mostly scholars”….

(The more one asks, the more one finds, of Trump operatives’ lies and misconduct.)

Carl Schreck asks Who Are The Russia Contacts In The Papadopoulos Plea?:

According to U.S. court documents unsealed this week, a foreign policy adviser to the campaign of President Donald Trump said he was in contact with Russian officials and had been told during the campaign that Moscow had “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and “thousands of her e-mails.”

The documents related to the guilty plea of former adviser George Papadopoulos — the first admission of guilt to emerge from U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election and potential collusion by Trump associates — do not provide the names of Papadopoulos’s contacts.

But the identities of two of these individuals appear to have been confirmed — a man described in court documents as “the professor” and another as a “connection” to the Russian Foreign Ministry. The name of another — a woman Papadopoulos initially believed was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s niece — remained unclear as of October 31.

Here’s a look at key individuals with ties to Russia in the October 5 plea deal signed by Papadopoulos, whose arrest in July on charges of lying to FBI agents only came to light after court documents were unsealed on October 30, and what we know about them [list follows]….

David Corn and AJ Vincens report Hackers Compromised the Trump Organization 4 Years Ago—and the Company Never Noticed:

Four years ago, the Trump Organization experienced a major cyber breach that could have allowed the perpetrator (or perpetrators) to mount malware attacks from the company’s web domains and may have enabled the intruders to gain access to the company’s computer network. Up until this week, this penetration had gone undetected by President Donald Trump’s company, according to several internet security researchers.

In 2013, a hacker (or hackers) apparently obtained access to the Trump Organization’s domain registration account and created at least 250 website subdomains that cybersecurity experts refer to as “shadow” subdomains. Each one of these shadow Trump subdomains pointed to a Russian IP address, meaning that they were hosted at these Russian addresses. (Every website domain is associated with one or more IP addresses. These addresses allow the internet to find the server that hosts the website. Authentic Trump Organization domains point to IP addresses that are hosted in the United States or countries where the company operates.) The creation of these shadow subdomains within the Trump Organization network was visible in the publicly available records of the company’s domains.

Here is a list of a Trump Organization shadow subdomains.

The subdomains and their associated Russian IP addresses have repeatedly been linked to possible malware campaigns, having been flagged in well-known research databases as potentially associated with malware. The vast majority of the shadow subdomains remained active until this week, indicating that the Trump Organization had taken no steps to disable them. This suggests that the company for the past four years was unaware of the breach. Had the infiltration been caught by the Trump Organization, the firm should have immediately decommissioned the shadow subdomains….

It shouldn’t be confusing, but sometimes it is —

Daily Bread for 11.3.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of fotrty-eight. Sunrise is 7:32 AM and sunset 5:43 PM, for 10h 10m 52s of daytime. The moon is full, with 99.5% of its visible disk iluminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1804, a controversial treaty is agreed in St. Louis: “Fox and Sauk negotiators in St. Louis traded 50 million acres of land in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois for an annuity of $1,000. The treaty allowed the tribes to remain on the land until it was sold to white settlers. However, Chief Black Hawk and others believed that the 1804 negotiators had no authority to speak for their nation, so the treaty was invalid. U.S. authorities, on the other hand, considered it binding and used it justify the Black Hawk War that occured in the spring and summer of 1832. [Source: Along the Black Hawk Trail by William F. Stark, p. 32-33]”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Betsy Woodruff reports Mueller Reveals New Manafort Link to Organized Crime:

Buried deep in Robert Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort is a new link between Donald Trump’s former campaign and Russian organized crime.

The indictment (PDF), unsealed on Monday, includes an extensive look into Paul Manafort’s byzantine financial dealings. In particular, it details how he used a company called Lucicle Consultants Limited to wire millions of dollars into the United States.

The Cyprus-based Lucicle Consultants Limited, in turn, reportedly received millions of dollars from a businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian named Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to one of Russia’s most notorious criminals: Semion Mogilevich.

Mogilevich is frequently described as “the most dangerous mobster in the world.” Currently believed to be safe in Moscow, he is, according to the FBI, responsible for weapons trafficking, contract killings, and international prostitution. In 2009, he made the bureau’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

“Ivan Fursin was a senior figure in the Mogilevich criminal organization,” Taras Kuzio, a non-resident fellow at Johns Hopkins-SAIS’ Center for Transatlantic Relations and a specialist on the region told The Daily Beast.

Martin Sheil, a retired criminal investigator for the IRS, said the indictment, with its connections to Fursin, helps illuminate the murky world Manafort operated in before taking the reins of Trump’s presidential bid.

“This indictment strongly indicates the existence of a previously unknown relationship between an alleged Russian organized crime leader and Mr. Manafort,” Sheil told The Daily Beast….

(Trump surrounds himnself with men swimming in corruption and lies.)

Evan Perez, Pamela Brown and Shimon Prokupecz report Jared Kushner’s team turned over documents to special counsel in Russia investigation:

Jared Kushner has turned over documents in recent weeks to special counsel Robert Mueller as investigators have begun asking in witness interviews about Kushner’s role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, CNN has learned.

Mueller’s investigators have expressed interest in Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, as part of its probe into Russian meddling, including potential obstruction of justice in Comey’s firing, sources familiar with the matter said.

Their questions about Kushner signal that Mueller’s investigators are reaching the President’s inner circle and have extended beyond the 2016 campaign to actions taken at the White House by high-level officials. It is not clear how Kushner’s advice to the President might relate to the overall Russia investigation or potential obstruction of justice….

John Santucci and James Meek report the White House was unaware top adviser testified before grand jury:

The White House first learned one of its senior staffers met with the grand jury hearing the case presented by the special counsel into alleged Russian meddling into the 2016 election not from the staffer but from media reports, sources with knowledge of the investigation tell ABC News.

Former Trump campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis recently testified before that grand jury into his role on President Donald Trump’s campaign. Clovis currently serves as the senior White House adviser to the Department of Agriculture.

Clovis’ testimony comes on the heels of another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleading guilty to lying to federal authorities. As part of Papadopoulos’ admission of guilt, details of emails were disclosed that showed him describing to top Trump campaign officials communications he had with contacts in Russia….

(Manafort & Clovis: both campaign chairmen at different times during Trump’s campaign. And yet, Trump promised he’d hire only the ‘best people‘…)

Ben Collins and Joseph Cox describe how Jenna Abrams, Russia’s Clown Troll Princess, Duped the Mainstream Media and the World:

….Those same users who followed @Jenn_Abrams for her perfect Kim Kardashian jokes would be blasted with her shoddily punctuated ideas on slavery and segregation just one month later.

“To those people, who hate the Confederate flag. Did you know that the flag and the war wasn’t about slavery, it was all about money,” Abrams’ account tweeted in April of last year.

The tweet went viral, earning heaps of ridicule from journalists, historians, and celebrities alike, then calls for support from far-right users coming to her defense.

That was the plan all along.

Congressional investigators working with social media companies have since confirmed that Abrams wasn’t who she said she was.

Her account was the creation of employees at the Internet Research Agency, or the Russian government-funded “troll farm,” in St. Petersburg.

Jenna Abrams, the freewheeling American blogger who believed in a return to segregation and said that many of America’s problems stemmed from PC culture run amok, did not exist….

A panoramic view of Burgundy doesn’t disappoint —

The Astonishing Truth About WEDC


The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin
One can be a longtime critic of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and still learn even worse things about that agency.

With the Foxconn deal pending, WISGOP legislative leaders Vos & Fitzgerald want the WEDC board to be able to see the full text of the Foxconn contract. See Walker Delays Commenting On Possible Change To Foxconn Contract Approval (“GOP Leadership Has Called For WEDC Board To See Full Contract Before Vote”).

Of course the WEDC’s own board should see the full contract before voting on it. WEDC is a state-established entity, using public money.

One might have thought that Foxconn sought – wrongly, to be sure – to withhold the full contract from WEDC’s own board, but this concealment isn’t limited to Foxconn.

The truth is far worse, as Wisconsin Public Radio reporter Laurel White reveals:

Typically, the board would vote on a staff memo outlining the contract, instead of seeing the entire document.

(Emphasis added.)

Typically – as in ‘conforming with what usually happens’? In all these years, in all these failed WEDC deals, what has usually happened is that the WEDC board has not seen a full contract before voting whether to approve a deal?

These board members are not board members of a major corporation like Apple or Verizon. Not at all – they’re overseeing the distribution, in significant measure, of public money from a small Midwestern state. Members of WEDC’s board should not be relying on a staff memo, they should be looking more closely and exercising greater scrutiny with public resources. Worthy scrutiny for WEDC requires a review of the full contracts.

Perhaps someone in Whitewater will pass this message along to each town notable who flacked the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, or touted awards they’d won from WEDC (e.g., ‘best business citizen’):

WEDC was, is, and as constituted will continue to be an embarrassment and disgrace to the reasonable people of this state.

Daily Bread for 11.2.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of fifty. Sunrise is 7:31 AM and sunset 5:45 PM, for 10h 13m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 96.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission is scheduled to meet at 6 PM, and her Fire Department to have a board meeting at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1947, Howard Hughes’s Hughes H-4 Hercules (‘Spruce Goose’) makes its only flight:

The Hughes H-4 Hercules (also known as the Spruce Goose registration NX37602) is a prototype strategic airliftflying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be used in the war. The aircraft made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, it was nicknamed by critics the Spruce Goose, although it was made almost entirely of birch.[2][3] The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built, and it has the largest wingspan of any aircraft that has ever flown.[4][N 1] It remains in good condition and is on display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, United States.[5]

Recommended for reading in full —

The Market

The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin There’s an editorial at Royal Purple that contends a future Grocery store should accommodate students.

The editorial makes sound points for pricing outreach to students, but my focus here isn’t merely a supermarket or co-op, but the general economic market of Whitewater and nearby, smaller towns (some of which are part of the local school district). So, in the paragraphs that follow, the focus is on economic markets and not particular businesses.

A few key points:

1.  The City of Whitewater’s not homogeneous – there are several key constituencies in town. Old Whitewater – a state of mind – describes part of the town as the real town.  The insatiable desire to wrap the town in a middle-aged-or-older, white package is both futile and inhibiting of future (cooperative)  growth.

Over 56% of the residents in Whitewater are between 15 and 24. 

https://factfinder.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/15_5YR/DP05/1600000US5586925

2.  Half’s only half as much. One could ignore that 56%, but to do so cuts the size of one’s nearby economic market in half. For supermarkets, co-ops, or any number of other general-interest businesses a within-the-city 56% (even a part of it) is astonishingly valuable.

3. A short distance is usually an easier distance. Although a business could try to supplement an older demographic within the city with an older demographic on the other side of the city line (in nearby towns), the farther a business tries to reach from its home area, the closer it will come to competitors defending their home areas.

It’s not impossible for a general-interest business to succeed with an older demographic in town combined with an older demographic outside town, but it’s sure to be more difficult.

4. Broad-based success within town requires an ability to reach multiple demographics. Thousands of businesses across America – small and large – know how to sell profitably to different consumer groups.

5. If a general-interest business can’t or won’t sell to multiple demographics in a diverse city like Whitewater, it’s an inefficient business. Why use resources to attract people from far away, when with fewer resources one could have customers right in town?

I’m not writing about a co-op, or any specific store, but broadly: those general businesses that ignore 56% or so of the city’s economic market may be doing so for cultural or other reasons, but these cultural or other reasons are short-sighted, producing less productive outcomes.

(As for what these cultural or other reasons might be, that’s a post for another day.)

Daily Bread for 11.1.17

Good morning.

A new month begins for Whitewater with afternoon showers and a high of forty-five. Sunrise is 7:30 AM and sunset 5:46 PM, for 10h 15m 55s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 91% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1765, Parliament passes the Stamp Act of 1765 (Duties in American Colonies Act 1765; 5 George III, c. 12). On this day in 1863, George Safford Parker is born: ” George Safford Parker was born in Shullsburg. While studying telegraphy in Janesville, he developed an interest in fountain pens. In 1891 he organized the Parker Pen Company in Janesville. The company gained world-wide acclaim for innovations like the duo-fold pen and pencil. Parker served as president of the company until 1933. Parker died on July 19, 1937. [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography, p.280]”

Recommended for reading in full — 

David Graham writes John Kelly Is a Trumpist After All (“The White House chief of staff’s stylistic differences have obscured the extent to which he, like many Republicans, is aligned with the president on substance”):

….The most striking example of Kelly’s Trumpian views, however, is his commentary from Monday night on Fox News.

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly said. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days.  Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

As my colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates explains in detail, this is an atrociously bad analysis of the causes of the war, but it is closely aligned with Trump’s own, bad historical sense. It is not surprising that Kelly and Trump might find common ground on issues like border security, but it is remarkable for Kelly to stick his neck out on the Civil War question, applauding the military chief of a treasonous rebellion and giving aid and comfort to neo-Confederates…..

(This is true of all those around Trump: they are in meaningful measure what he is.)

Ta-Nehisi Coates accurately describes What This Cruel War Was Over (“The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it”):

This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:

…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

In citing slavery, South Carolina was less an outlier than a leader, setting the tone for other states, including Mississippi:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin…

(Coates cites additional examples in his essay, and elsewhere. There is no honor in those who committed violent treason in defense of slavery. None.)

Katelyn Polantz reports Manafort has 3 passports, traveled to China with phone registered under fake name:

Among the highlights:
* Manafort currently has three US passports, each under a different number. He has submitted 10 passport applications in roughly as many years, prosecutors said.
* This year, Manafort traveled to Mexico, China and Ecuador with a phone and email account registered under a fake name. (The name was not disclosed in the filings.)
* Over the past year, Manafort traveled to Dubai, Cancun, Panama City, Havana, Shanghai, Madrid, Tokyo and Grand Cayman Island.
* Both Manafort and Gates were frequent travelers to Cyprus. “Extensive travel of this nature further evidences a risk of flight,” the prosecutor’s filing said.
* Manafort wrote on loan applications and other financial documents that his assets were worth between $19 million in April 2012 and $136 million in May 2016.
* In some months, like while he served as Trump’s national campaign chairman in August 2016, Manafort’s assessment of his total worth fluctuated. In August 2016 he said his assets were worth $28 million, then wrote he had $63 million in assets on a different application.
* Gates “frequently changed banks and opened and closed bank accounts,” prosecutors said. In all, Gates opened 55 accounts with 13 financial institutions, the prosecutors’ court filing said. Some of his bank accounts were in England and Cyprus, where he held more than $10 million from 2010 to 2013.

(And yet, Trump promised to hire only the ‘best people.’ His definition of best differs from that of every other English speaker on the planet.)

Jason Schwartz reports Murdoch-owned outlets bash Mueller, seemingly in unison:

After having generally avoided Trump’s efforts to de-legitimize democratic institutions, the Journal last week wrote an editorial calling for special counsel Robert Mueller to resign and featured a contributor op-ed Sunday afternoon that said Trump should issue a blanket pardon in the Russian scandal, including of himself.

The Journal has also called for an investigation into Democratic Party collusion with Russia, a conservative talking point in the wake of a Washington Post report that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for some of the opposition research that led to the infamous “dossier” of anti-Trump information – but which made no suggestion of any collusion with Russia.

The points made in the pieces in the Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch, not only tracked with White House talking points but were similar to those being hawked on other Murdoch properties, including the New York Post and Fox News. On October 28, the Post also ran an op-ed calling for Mueller’s resignation, while Fox News personalities have beat a steady drum calling for attention to shift away from any investigation of Trump and toward Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Reaction to the Journal pieces on Twitter was mostly unkind:

“WSJ edit page has gone full bats–t, now hosting an op-ed suggesting Trump pardon everyone, including himself,” tweeted Columbia Journalism School professor and former high-ranking Wall Street Journal editor Bill Grueskin.

“This is embarrassing for every good reporter at that paper,” New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted of the Journal editorial board’s call for Mueller to resign and Democrats to be investigated.

(It’s not unkind to call Murdoch’s foul approach what it is.)

So, Why are Buffalo Wings Called That?

Boo! Scariest Things in Whitewater, 2017



Here’s the eleventh annual FREE WHITEWATER list of the scariest things in Whitewater for 2017. The 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 20142015, and 2016 editions are available for comparison.

The list runs in reverse order, from mildly frightening to truly scary.

10. Dirty Dogs. This town’s like a magnet for every smooth talking heel with a scheme to develop the place, a just-what-you-need-be-prosperous-quick plan. They’ll come in packs, or at least a couple from the same litter, and before you know it, you’re facing the Attack of the Dirty Dogs. It’s almost as though someone might try to convince a town to pay for a poorly planned, ratty excuse for a festival by taking a beloved children’s series and turning it into nothing but a pile of doggie doo. You say it couldn’t happen, but look just 13.9 miles to the north, and perhaps you’ll change your mind…

9. Demand.  It sounds bad, doesn’t it, the demand for something. The word sounds so pushy, so coercive, so oppressive. But when residents complain that there’s too much demand for student housing, they’re not describing the Big Bad Wolf at a straw house.

They’re describing ordinary buyers and sellers in the housing marketplace, looking to make voluntary and cooperative transactions to rent places to live. Some of the same people who enjoy our Farmers’ Market or a City Market refuse to accept a housing market.

8. Big Projects.  The cost of spending on one big project is both alternatives passed over and, for any community, constraints on how much can be spent on other projects while serving the last project’s debt. Going big on one project, and pretending it’s done and in the past, doesn’t place that project in the past – the influence of that past expenditure reaches into the present, and limits the future.

7.  Fairness.  Here’s a question that this community might consider: what does it mean to be fair? Does fairness require that, in all cases, each person should be treated alike, or does it require that in some cases persons should be treated alike and in other cases goods and services should be distributed to each person based on need? (That is, is all justice commutative, or is justice sometimes commutative and sometimes distributive?)

For thousands of years, civilization has recognized more than one concept of justice, with each applicable in different situations. Whitewater’s had a problem – and has recently & happily shed at least one administrator too dense to comprehend any of this – with seeing how important these distinctions are.

When commutative justice is misapplied to deny services to the needy, the denial is injurious specifically and ignorant generally. 

6. What’s Inside.  It must be scary, because leaders would rather start with a discussion of what’s outside than what’s inside. No, and no again: one builds outside to assure vibrant relationships inside. Those relationships are more than the building, more even than photos or videos of what’s happening inside.

5. Comparative AdvantagesThey must be scary, because officials have such trouble grasping them. It makes sense to follow the best practices of others, but a comparative advantage requires doing something better (often a specialization) over one’s competitors. Doing the same thing as everyone else only leaves a community lost in the shuffle. Everyone in the state has a flimsy business development scheme, a new construction project, etc. Every town has roads, buildings, etc. 

4. Personal Awards.  If you’re leading with your personal awards, you’ve already lost anyone accomplished. It’s that simple. When an email signature line lists individual awards, there’s a good chance of over-rating, and an excellent chance of vanity. Accomplishment should be clear after acquaintance. There’s a better way than leading with one’s individual achievements: For Your Consideration, Dr. Jonas Salk.

Team awards, by contrast, are different: they’re not about one person, but about the gains to a group or organization. That’s not vanity – it’s legitimate pride in group accomplishment.

3. That Which Paved The Way. Trump and Putin didn’t emerge overnight. When they came on the scene, many communities across America were vulnerable to their lies and manipulation. Smarmy glad-handers played a role in advancing junk claims, and weakening critical thought. They were part of That Which Paved the Way.  

2. Tabbies, Not LionsMen who were supposed to be the lions of this community, roaring of themselves as movers and shakers, visionaries, dignitaries, etc., are now mostly silent when Trump’s name comes up. Suddenly, but not surprisingly, they’re quiet about the most significant political development of our time.  When they do speak, it sounds like When Lions Meow.

1. Trump.  Of course: autocratic, bigoted, ignorant, contemptuous of democratic traditions and desirous of dictatorial ones.

However serious the challenge from Trump, there’s this consolation: Trump did not carry the City of Whitewater last year. What he did not do in ’16, he will never do. The majority in this small city rejected Trump last year, they would reject him again this year, and they will forever reject him.

We’ve a long slog ahead, but we’ll come through this a free and, one can truly hope, a stronger people.

Best wishes to all for a Happy Halloween.

Daily Bread for 10.31.17

Good morning.

Halloween in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny as the day progresses with a high of forty-two. Sunrise is 7:29 AM and sunset 5:47 PM, for 10h 18m 28s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 83.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1941, although not yet at war with the United States, a German U-boat sinks the USS Reuben James: “At daybreak on 31 October, she was torpedoed near Iceland[2] by U-552 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Erich ToppReuben James had positioned herself between an ammunition ship in the convoy and the known position of a German “wolfpack“, a group of submarines poised to attack the convoy. Reuben James was hit forward by a torpedo meant for a merchant ship and her entire bow was blown off when a magazine exploded. The bow sank immediately. The aft section floated for five minutes before going down. Of a crew of seven officers and 136 enlisted men plus one enlisted passenger, 44 enlisted men and no officers survived.[1][2] “

On this day in 1968, the Milwaukee Bucks win their first game: “the Milwaukee Bucks claimed their first victory, a 134-118 win over the Detroit Pistons in the Milwaukee Arena. The Bucks were 0-5 at the time, and Wayne Embry led Milwaukee with 30 points. Embry became the first player in Bucks history to score 30 or more points in a regular season game.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes assess Robert Mueller’s Show of Strength: A Quick and Dirty Analysis:

The first big takeaway from this morning’s flurry of charging and plea documents with respect to Paul Manafort Jr., Richard Gates III, and George Papadopoulos is this: The President of the United States had as his campaign chairman a man who had allegedly served for years as an unregistered foreign agent for a puppet government of Vladimir Putin, a man who was allegedly laundering remarkable sums of money even while running the now-president’s campaign, a man who allegedly lied about all of this to the FBI and the Justice Department.

The second big takeaway is even starker: A member of President Trump’s campaign team now admits that he was working with people he knew to be tied to the Russian government to “arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government officials” and to obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of hacked emails—and that he lied about these activities to the FBI. He briefed President Trump on at least some them.

Before we dive any deeper into the Manafort-Gates indictment—charges to which both pled not guilty to today—or the Papadopoulos plea and stipulation, let’s pause a moment over these two remarkable claims, one of which we must still consider as allegation and the other of which we can now consider as admitted fact. President Trump, in short, had on his campaign at least one person, and allegedly two people, who actively worked with adversarial foreign governments in a fashion they sought to criminally conceal from investigators. One of them ran the campaign. The other, meanwhile, was interfacing with people he “understood to have substantial connections to Russian government officials” and with a person introduced to him as “a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin with connections to senior Russian government officials.” All of this while President Trump was assuring the American people that he and his campaign had “nothing to do with Russia.“….

(Forget Fox News: these are serious matters.)

Tony Romm and Kurt Wagner report Facebook says 126 million people in the U.S. may have seen posts produced by Russian-government backed agents:

Facebook, Google and Twitter plan to tell congressional investigators this week that the scope of Russia’s campaign to spread disinformation on their sites — and to potentially disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential race — is much broader than the companies initially reported.

At Facebook, roughly 126 million users in the United States may have seen posts, stories or other content created by Russian government-backed trolls around Election Day, according to a source familiar with the company’s forthcoming testimony to Congress. Previously, Facebook had only shared information on ads purchased by Kremlin-tied accounts, revealing that they reached more than 10 million U.S. users….

(The more one learns, the clearer Putin’s reach into America media becomes.)

Anne Applebaum asks Did Russia teach Paul Manafort all its dirty tricks?:

Years from now, historians may study the documents indicting Paul Manafort to understand just how the Russification of American public life was accomplished. Manafort is alleged to have laundered money, to have cheated on taxes and to have lied about his clientele. All of this he did in order to “enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States,” according to the indictment. Among other things it is alleged that he spent $1,319,281 of his money, illegally hidden from the U.S. Treasury, to pay a home lighting and entertainment company in Florida; to purchase $934,350 worth of rugs at a shop in Virginia; and to drop $655,500 on a landscaper in the Hamptons.

Some will find it ironic that Manafort did all of this while coaching candidate Donald Trump to run an “anti-elite” election campaign, one directed at “draining the swamp” and cleaning up Washington. But in fact, this is exactly the kind of tactic that Manafort perfected on behalf of Russia, in Ukraine, where he worked for more than a decade.

Manafort was first invited to work in Ukraine in 2004, by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. But Manafort left a real mark in 2006, when he brought dozens of American political consultants to Ukraine to assist in an ethnically charged election that pit Russian and Ukrainian speakers against one another, in an attempt to help Russia retain influence over the country. In 2008, he helped run an anti-NATO campaign, opposing Ukraine’s membership in the transatlantic alliance. In 2010, he was one of several advisers — the others were mostly Russians — who helped remake the image of Viktor Yanukovych, the ex-con whom the Russian government then supported for president of Ukraine. Yanukovych charged the sitting government with corruption, declared that the election would be “rigged” and finally won….

(Posterity will be rightly harsh, and view these Trump men as opponents of America’s democratic tradition.)

Greg Sargent describes The Trump authoritarian cult:

The Glorious Republican Civil War of 2017 isn’t really a battle over policy or ideology. It isn’t even quite the clash of grand agendas we constantly read about — the supposed showdown between populist economic nationalism on one side, and limited government conservatism, free trade and internationalism on the other.

Instead, the GOP civil war is really a battle over whether Republican lawmakers should — or should not — genuflect before President Trump. The battle is over whether they should — or should not — applaud his racism, his authoritarianism and his obvious pleasure in dispensing abuse and sowing racial division. It’s also over whether Republicans should submit to Trump’s ongoing insistence that his lack of major accomplishments is fully the fault of Republicans who failed his greatness….

If you’re a Stranger Things fan, 13 details you might have missed in ‘Stranger Things’ season 2:

Film: Tuesday, October 31st, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park: Halloween Movie Festival

This Tuesday, October 31st at 12:30 PM, it’s Halloween movie festival at Seniors in the Park with Halloween treats and movie tricks including a Mighty Mouse cartoon, a serial chapter Commando CodyRadar Men from the Moon,” and “KONG: Skull Island.”

Kong: Skull Island is a redo/update/reboot of “King Kong” with an All-Star cast of Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L.Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, and John Goodman. KONG IS H-U-U-G-E !!!

Enjoy!