Gill v. Whitford

Below, I’ve embedded the full decision in Gill v. Whitford, a much-awaited decision concerning partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. The decision was handed down this morning.

The case was remanded for lack of standing.  Immediately below, readers will find the syllabus for the case, a summary that’s useful to review before reading the opinion.  (“NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.”)

One can expect considerable legal commentary about the case from across the country.

Syllabus:

Gill et al. v. Whitford et al.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

No. 16–1161.?Argued October 3, 2017—Decided June 18, 2018

Members of the Wisconsin Legislature are elected from single-member legislative districts. Under the Wisconsin Constitution, the legislature must redraw the boundaries of those districts following each census. After the 2010 census, the legislature passed a new districting plan known as Act 43. Twelve Democratic voters, the plaintiffs in this case, alleged that Act 43 harms the Democratic Party’s ability to convert Democratic votes into Democratic seats in the legislature. They asserted that Act 43 does this by “cracking” certain Democratic voters among different districts in which those voters fail to achieve electoral majorities and “packing” other Democratic voters in a few districts in which Democratic candidates win by large margins. The plaintiffs argued that the degree to which packing and cracking has favored one political party over another can be measured by an “efficiency gap” that compares each party’s respective “wasted” votes—i.e., votes cast for a losing candidate or for a winning candidate in excess of what that candidate needs to win—across all legislative districts. The plaintiffs claimed that the statewide enforcement of Act 43 generated an excess of wasted Democratic votes, thereby violating the plaintiffs’ First Amendment right of association and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. The defendants, several members of the state election commission, moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims. They argued that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of Act 43 as a whole because, as individual voters, their legally protected interests extend only to the makeup of the legislative district in which they vote. The three-judge District Court denied the defendants’ motion and, following a trial, concluded that Act 43 was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Regarding standing, the court held that the plaintiffs had suffered a particularized injury to their equal protection rights.

Held: The plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate Article III standing. Pp. 8–22.

(a) Over the past five decades this Court has repeatedly been asked to decide what judicially enforceable limits, if any, the Constitution sets on partisan gerrymandering. Previous attempts at an answer have left few clear landmarks for addressing the question and have generated conflicting views both of how to conceive of the injury arising from partisan gerrymandering and of the appropriate role for the Federal Judiciary in remedying that injury. See Gaffney v. Cummings, 412 U. S. 735Davis v. Bandemer, 478 U. S. 109Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U. S. 267, and League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry, 548 U. S. 399. Pp. 8–12.

(b) A plaintiff may not invoke federal-court jurisdiction unless he can show “a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy,” Baker v. Carr369 U. S. 186, 204. That requirement ensures that federal courts “exercise power that is judicial in nature,” Lance v. Coffman549 U. S. 437, 439, 441. To meet that requirement, a plaintiff must show an injury in fact—his pleading and proof that he has suffered the “invasion of a legally protected interest” that is “concrete and particularized,” i.e., which “affect[s] the plaintiff in a personal and individual way.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S. 555, 560, and n. 1.

The right to vote is “individual and personal in nature,” Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U. S. 533, 561, and “voters who allege facts showing disadvantage to themselves as individuals have standing to sue” to remedy that disadvantage, Baker, 369 U. S., at 206. The plaintiffs here alleged that they suffered such injury from partisan gerrymandering, which works through the “cracking” and “packing” of voters. To the extent that the plaintiffs’ alleged harm is the dilution of their votes, that injury is district specific. An individual voter in Wisconsin is placed in a single district. He votes for a single representative. The boundaries of the district, and the composition of its voters, determine whether and to what extent a particular voter is packed or cracked. A plaintiff who complains of gerrymandering, but who does not live in a gerrymandered district, “assert[s] only a generalized grievance against governmental conduct of which he or she does not approve.”United States v. Hays515 U. S. 737, 745.

The plaintiffs argue that their claim, like the claims presented in Baker and Reynolds, is statewide in nature. But the holdings in those cases were expressly premised on the understanding that the injuries giving rise to those claims were “individual and personal in nature,” Reynolds, 377 U. S., at 561, because the claims were brought by voters who alleged “facts showing disadvantage to themselves as individuals,” Baker, 369 U. S., at 206. The plaintiffs’ mistaken insistence that the claims in Baker and Reynolds were “statewide in nature” rests on a failure to distinguish injury from remedy. In those malapportionment cases, the only way to vindicate an individual plaintiff’s right to an equally weighted vote was through a wholesale “restructuring of the geographical distribution of seats in a state legislature.”Reynolds, 377 U. S., at 561. Here, the plaintiffs’ claims turn on allegations that their votes have been diluted. Because that harm arises from the particular composition of the voter’s own district, remedying the harm does not necessarily require restructuring all of the State’s legislative districts. It requires revising only such districts as are necessary to reshape the voter’s district. This fits the rule that a “remedy must of course be limited to the inadequacy that produced the injury in fact that the plaintiff has established.” Lewis v. Casey518 U. S. 343, 357.

The plaintiffs argue that their legal injury also extends to the statewide harm to their interest “in their collective representation in the legislature,” and in influencing the legislature’s overall “composition and policymaking.” Brief for Appellees 31. To date, however, the Court has not found that this presents an individual and personal injury of the kind required for Article III standing. A citizen’s interest in the overall composition of the legislature is embodied in his right to vote for his representative. The harm asserted by the plaintiffs in this case is best understood as arising from a burden on their own votes. Pp. 12–17.

(c) Four of the plaintiffs in this case pleaded such a particularized burden. But as their case progressed to trial, they failed to pursue their allegations of individual harm. They instead rested their case on their theory of statewide injury to Wisconsin Democrats, in support of which they offered three kinds of evidence. First, they presented testimony pointing to the lead plaintiff’s hope of achieving a Democratic majority in the legislature. Under the Court’s cases to date, that is a collective political interest, not an individual legal interest. Second, they produced evidence regarding the mapmakers’ deliberations as they drew district lines. The District Court relied on this evidence in concluding that those mapmakers sought to understand the partisan effect of the maps they were drawing. But the plaintiffs’ establishment of injury in fact turns on effect, not intent, and requires a showing of a burden on the plaintiffs’ votes that is “actual or imminent, not ‘conjectural’ or ‘hypothetical.’ ” Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S., at 560. Third, the plaintiffs presented partisan-asymmetry studies showing that Act 43 had skewed Wisconsin’s statewide map in favor of Republicans. Those studies do not address the effect that a gerrymander has on the votes of particular citizens. They measure instead the effect that a gerrymander has on the fortunes of political parties. That shortcoming confirms the fundamental problem with the plaintiffs’ case as presented on this record. It is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights. Pp. 17–21.

(d) Where a plaintiff has failed to demonstrate standing, this Court usually directs dismissal. See, e.g.DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Cuno,547 U. S. 332, 354. Here, however, where the case concerns an unsettled kind of claim that the Court has not agreed upon, the contours and justiciability of which are unresolved, the case is remanded to the District Court to give the plaintiffs an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries using evidence that would tend to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes. Cf. Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama, 575 U. S. ___, ___. Pp. 21–22.

218 F. Supp. 3d 837, vacated and remanded.

Roberts, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KennedyGinsburgBreyerAlitoSotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined, and in which Thomas and Gorsuch, JJ., joined except as to Part III. Kagan, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which GinsburgBreyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Gorsuch, J., joined.

Opinion:

Film: Wednesday, June 20th, 12:30 PM @ Seniors in the Park, Call Me By Your Name

This Wednesday, June 20th at 12:30 PM, there will be a showing of Call Me By Your Name @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin community building.

Luca Guadagnino directs the two-hour, seventeen minute film set in 1980s Italy, about a “romance that blossoms between a seventeen year-old student and the older man hired as his father’s research assistant.”

The cast features Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, and Michael Stuhlbarg, and the film is rated R by the MPAA (sexual content, nudity, language). Call Me By Your Name received Oscar nominations for Best Film, Best Actor (Chalamet), Best Song, and was the winner for Best Adapted Screenplay.

It’s the first of Seniors in the Park annual summer series of foreign/art/documentary films that will be shown June through September.

One can find more information about Call Me By Your Name at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 6.18.18

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be see a high of eighty-seven and a chance of  an afternoon thunderstorm.  Sunrise is 5:16 AM and sunset 8:36 PM, for 15h 20m 17s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 29.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred eighty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Library Board meets this evening at 6:30 PM.

 

The War of 1812 begins two-hundred six years ago on this day.

Recommended for reading in full — Attorney General Sessions’s misuse of scripture

 The Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer and Laura Nasrallah write What Jeff Sessions got wrong when quoting the Bible:

A complete reading and understanding of Romans 13 — and the Bible more broadly — reveals more love and care for neighbors and immigrants than Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have us believe. On June 14, Sessions spoke in Fort Wayne, Ind., to a group that included law enforcement officers and others in the community. His remarks directly addressed “religious leaders” and “church friends.” Sessions used the words of the apostle Paul to justify current policies of separating children from parents, as families seek to enter the United States:

“Illegal entry into the United States is a crime — as it should be,” he said. “Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

….

We write as biblical scholars and as Christians to argue that Sessions has misused this passage from Romans.

First, the Bible shouldn’t — and can’t — be used to argue against immigration. Passages from Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the prophets argue for care for the stranger and the immigrant: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34 NRSV).

We can turn to the New Testament, as well. Jesus’ words as cited in the parable of the Good Samaritan call Christians to ask “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). These words demand that we expand our definition of neighbor — as did the Samaritan — to include the stranger and the foreigner, and that we serve that neighbor with our own time and financial resources.

Second, Romans 13 is the most-cited text in the Bible in debates in revolutionary America, according to James P. Byrd’s “Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution.”Christians then knew that the passage might be read to demand loyalty to Britain. So instead they read this passage to argue that they should obey only just rulers, not tyrants, and that just rulers supported liberty. They used it to argue that the Bible spoke for freedom.

….

Finally, if we do take Romans 13 as a keystone for action, then we have to put the small portion Sessions quotes within a larger context. The apostle Paul also argues in the same passage that all commandments are summed up in the teaching “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9). Paul continues, pointedly, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Paul here echoes the law (Leviticus 19:18) and teachings of Jesus (Matthew 22:19). This is a central message of the scriptures.

 Elizabeth Bruenig writes Sessions invents a faith all his own:

Here, whether deliberately or unknowingly, Sessions and Sanders radically depart from the Christian religion, inventing a faith that makes order itself the highest good and authorizes secular governments to achieve it. In Christianity as billions of faithful have known it, order and lawful procedures are not “good in themselves” and it is not “very biblical” to “enforce the law” whatever it might be. Rather, there is a natural order inscribed into nature. Human governance can comport with it or contradict it, meaning Christians are sometimes morally obligated to follow civil laws and are sometimes morally obligated not to.

Conservatives seize on this approach when it suits them; this is why they’re so keen on carving out legal protections for matters of religious conscience. Because religious obligations precede and generate civic ones, laws must accommodate religious practice, not the other way around.

….

But there are worse things than confusion, or even than hypocrisy. One of them is self-deception. When Sessions invoked Romans 13 — a verse infamous for earlier bad-faith invocations to justify slavery — he shifted the subject of the question from himself and his own department to those under his control. He was summonedto defend his choices, his judgment, his own moral reasoning — but instead offered a condemnation of the decisions and morality of migrants. He wanted to talk about what, in his view, the Bible demands of the ruled. But he omitted the more important question: What does it demand of rulers?

Any number of scriptural passages are available here, though less useful for Sessions’s purposes. From Deuteronomy 10 : “For the Lord your God .?.?. loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Or from Jeremiah 7: “If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place .?.?. then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever.” Dealing compassionately with strangers seems to be a minimal requirement for just leadership in the model set forth by God, a theme that carries into the New Testament, where Christ’s followers are taught to view themselves as wanderers on earth, and to treat others with appropriate empathetic mercy.

But some Christians aren’t strangers in the world at all. Some are very much at home here, or believe that they are, and that there is no tension between the desire of God and the desire of man. People can believe any number of things, especially given the right incentives.

If you had all the power in the world, maybe you would also hear a serpent dipping its smooth body down from some shadowy bough to say: God wants you to do whatever you like with your power, and whatever you do with it is good.

Jennifer Rubin writes Leave the Bible out of it, child separation is not ‘Christian’:

I’m no expert in Christianity, but the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was when he drafted his letter from the Birmingham jail:

Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

Sessions perfectly exemplifies how religion should not be used. Pulling out a Bible or any other religious text to say it supports one’s view on a matter of public policy is rarely going to be effective, for it defines political opponents as heretics.

The bishops and other religious figures are speaking out as their religious conscience dictates, which they are morally obligated to do and are constitutionally protected in doing. A statement from the conference of bishops, to which Sessions objected, read in part:

At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence.

Reminding the administration of the meaning of family values, the bishops continued, “Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

Fr. James Martin writes in a thread on Twitter:

Like many, I’ve resisted using this word but it’s time: the deliberate and unnecessary separation of innocent children from their parents is pure evil. It does not come from God or from any genuinely moral impulse. It is wantonly cruel and targets the most vulnerable.

Its use has been cloaked in lies, another clear sign that it does not proceed in any way from God or from a genuinely moral impulse. And the results–misery, anguish, physical suffering, division and despair–are also unmistakable signs that this is an evil.

As St. Paul wrote, “You will know them by their fruits….every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Mt 7:17). That is, the results enable us to clearly recognize evil. As such, we have a moral obligation to name it and fight against it.

Anyone who participates in this kind of wanton cruelty is also guilty of this evil. “I was just following orders” went out at Nuremberg. The decision-makers and all who cooperate in these actions will be judged.

“I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.” (Mt 25)

Fr. James Martin further explains What Does the Bible Say? Refugees, migrants and foreigners:

Daily Bread for 6.17.18

Good morning.

Father’s Day in Whitewater will be a sunny day with a high of ninety-two.  Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:36 PM, for 15h 20m 07s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 19.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred eighty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

 

On this day in 1885,  the Statue of Liberty arrives in New York harbor “aboard the French frigate Isère — in 214 crates that held the disassembled gift from the people of France. Nearly a quarter-of-a-million onlookers lined Battery Park, while hundreds of boats pulled into the harbor to welcome the Isère.”

Recommended for reading in full — articles on immigration policy — 

Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports Trump Again Falsely Blames Democrats for His Separation Tactic:

President Trump on Saturday repeated his false assertion that Democrats were responsible for his administration’s policy of separating migrant families apprehended at the border, sticking to a weeks long refusal to publicly accept responsibility for a widely condemned practice that has become a symbol of his crackdown on illegal immigration.

“Democrats can fix their forced family breakup at the Border by working with Republicans on new legislation, for a change!” Mr. Trump said in a morning post on Twitter.

It came the day after his administration said that it had taken nearly 2,000 children away from their parents in a six-week period ending last month, as part of a new “zero tolerance” policy that refers for criminal prosecution all immigrants apprehended crossing the border without authorization.

The White House defended the practice this week, saying the president was merely enforcing the law. And in recent speeches around the country, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, has made a spirited case for it, arguing that a strict approach is a vital tool for deterrence.

Katy Vine recounts What’s Really Happening When Asylum-Seeking Families Are Separated (“An expert [Anne Chandler] on helping parents navigate the asylum process describes what she’s seeing on the ground”):

There is no one process. Judging from the mothers and fathers I’ve spoken to and those my staff has spoken to, there are several different processes. Sometimes they will tell the parent, “We’re taking your child away.” And when the parent asks, “When will we get them back?” they say, “We can’t tell you that.” Sometimes the officers will say, “because you’re going to be prosecuted” or “because you’re not welcome in this country,” or “because we’re separating them,” without giving them a clear justification.

In other cases, we see no communication that the parent knows that their child is to be taken away. Instead, the officers say, “I’m going to take your child to get bathed.” That’s one we see again and again. “Your child needs to come with me for a bath.” The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.” Sometimes mothers—I was talking to one mother, and she said, “Don’t take my child away,” and the child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, “Can I at least have five minutes to console her?” They said no.

In another case, the father said, “Can I comfort my child? Can I hold him for a few minutes?” The officer said, “You must let them go, and if you don’t let them go, I will write you up for an altercation, which will mean that you are the one that had the additional charges charged against you.” So, threats. So the father just let the child go. So it’s a lot of variations. But sometimes deceit and sometimes direct, just “I’m taking your child away.”

Parents are not getting any information on what their rights are to communicate to get their child before they are deported, what reunification may look like. We spoke to nine parents on this Monday, which was the 11th, and these were adults in detention centers outside of Houston. They had been separated from their child between May 23 and May 25, and as of June 11, not one of them had been able to talk to their child or knew a phone number that functioned from the detention center director. None of them had direct information from immigration on where their child was located. The one number they were given by some government official from the Department of Homeland Security was a 1-800 number. But from the phones inside the detention center, they can’t make those calls.

Kristine Phillips reports ‘America is better than this’: What a doctor saw in a Texas shelter for migrant children:

Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said colleagues who were alarmed by what was going on at the border invited her to see for herself, so she visited a shelter run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“We needed to see what was happening and tell the country and the world about it,” she said.

One thing immediately became clear to Kraft: Those who work at this shelter, whom she declined to name for privacy reasons, were doing what they could to make sure the children’s needs are met. The children were fed; they had beds, toys, a playground and people who change their diapers. But there are limits to what workers could do. Not only could they not pick up or touch the children; they could not get their parents for them.

“The really basic, foundational needs of having trust in adults as a young child was not being met. That contradicts everything we know that the kids need to build their health,” Kraft said.

[‘Where’s Mommy?’: A family fled death threats, only to face separation at the border.]

Such a situation could have long-term, devastating effects on young children, who are likely to develop what is called toxic stress in their brain once separated from caregivers or parents they trusted. It disrupts a child’s brain development and increases the levels of fight-or-flight hormones in their bodies, Kraft said. This kind of emotional trauma could eventually lead to health problems, such as heart disease and substance abuse disorders.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issused a Statement from Daniel Cardinal DiNardo:

Fort Lauderdale, FL—”At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life. The Attorney General’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection. These vulnerable women will now face return to the extreme dangers of domestic violence in their home country. This decision negates decades of precedents that have provided protection to women fleeing domestic violence. Unless overturned, the decision will erode the capacity of asylum to save lives, particularly in cases that involve asylum seekers who are persecuted by private actors. We urge courts and policy makers to respect and enhance, not erode, the potential of our asylum system to preserve and protect the right to life.

Additionally, I join Bishop Joe Vásquez, Chairman of USCCB’s Committee on Migration, in condemning the continued use of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border as an implementation of the Administration’s zero tolerance policy. Our government has the discretion in our laws to ensure that young children are not separated from their parents and exposed to irreparable harm and trauma. Families are the foundational element of our society and they must be able to stay together. While protecting our borders is important, we can and must do better as a government, and as a society, to find other ways to ensure that safety. Separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

The United Church of Christ issues U.S. interfaith leaders urge government to #KeepFamiliesTogether:

Recently, the Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the wellbeing of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained to hear this news.

We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children.

As we continue to serve and love our neighbor, we pray for the children and families that will suffer due to this policy and urge the Administration to stop their policy of separating families.

Charles C. Camosy, of Democrats for Life, writes that You Can’t Be Pro-Life and Against Immigrant Children:

We are in the midst of a serious crisis for vulnerable children and families, though, and these “pro-life, pro-family” organizations have been largely silent.

The crisis is the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from undocumented parents, even when the families are asking for asylum. In one particularly horrific case, a mother said that her baby was taken from her while she was breast-feeding.

The number of children being taken is so large that the administration, using the fear these children must feel as a means of deterring undocumented immigration, is apparently building “tent cities” around military bases to house them.

Given their support of the administration, and an unwillingness to speak critically about immigration policy, “pro-life, pro-family” organizations now risk being tied to these and other horrific practices.

Psychologist J. A. Coan writes The Trump administration is committing violence against children:

As a clinical psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, I study how the brain transforms social connection into better mental and physical health. My research suggests that maintaining close ties to trusted loved ones is a vital buffer against the external stressors we all face. But not being an expert on how this affects children, I recently invited five internationally recognized developmental scientists to chat with me about the matter on a science podcast I host. As we discussed the border policy’s effect on the children ensnared by it, even I was surprised to learn just how damaging it is likely to be.

At minimum, forced separation will cause these children extreme emotional distress. Most of us know this intuitively. Less intuitive, as Nim Tottenham of Columbia University told me, is that “the sadness is not the thing that really matters here. What matters is this is a trauma to the developing nervous system.” Extreme emotional responses to separation from parents is part of evolution’s plan to keep those parents close — to “break any parent’s heart,” as Megan Gunnar of the University of Minnesota said. That’s because throughout human evolution, an absent caregiver has meant almost certain death. Jude Cassidy of the University of Maryland put it best: When faced with separation from loved ones, “we fight as if it’s a matter of life and death, because it is.”

But little minds and hearts can maintain that level of distress only for so long before the children face a horrifying decision: Continue, through severe emotional pain, to call out for their parents, or proceed on the assumption that their parents are gone. As Dylan Gee of Yale University explained, for those who choose the latter path, their brains will start down a course of “accelerated development” — they’ll mature more quickly. The problem is that rapid maturation often comes at the cost of cognitive and emotional inflexibility later on, as well as the assumption that the world is extremely dangerous and threats must be avoided automatically, without thinking. According to Gunnar, this assumption of perpetual danger will cause some to suffer from chronic, low-level inflammation, as if they are constantly battling a mild infection. Charles Nelson, a pediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School, provided the comprehensive long-term view: As those children grow and develop into adults, the combination of chronic inflammation and behavioral inflexibility will impair their health in at least two ways — through direct weathering of their bodies and less effective problem-solving, impulse control and decision-making.

The Migrants and Refugees Section at the Vatican recently tweeted a verse of Deuteronomy:

 

Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey report Trump cites as a negotiating tool his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents:

President Trump has calculated that he will gain political leverage in congressional negotiations by continuing to enforce a policy he claims to hate — separating immigrant parents from their young children at the southern border, according to White House officials.

On Friday, Trump suggested he would not change the policy unless Democrats agreed to his other immigration demands, which include funding a border wall, tightening the rules for border enforcement and curbing legal entry. He also is intent on pushing members of his party to vote for a compromise measure that would achieve those long-standing priorities.

Trump’s public acknowledgment that he was willing to let the policy continue as he pursued his political goals came as the president once again blamed Democrats for a policy enacted and touted by his own administration.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images:

MCALLEN, TX – JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants’ country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status.

Embed from Getty Images

Daily Bread for 6.16.18

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will see a sunny day with a high of ninety-two.  Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 19m 53s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 11% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred eighty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

 

On this day in 1903,  Ford Motor Company is incorporated.

Recommended for reading in full —

 Philip Rucker describes Dictator envy’: Trump’s praise of Kim Jong Un widens his embrace of totalitarian leaders:

President Trump’s praise Friday for Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian rule in North Korea — and his apparent envy that people there “sit up at attention” when the 35-year-old dictator speaks — marked an escalation of the American president’s open embrace of totalitarian leaders around the world.

Reflecting on his impressions of Kim following their Singapore summit, Trump told Fox News: “He’s the head of a country, and I mean he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

It was unclear whether Trump was referring to Americans generally or only to his staff. His interview took place along the West Wing driveway, and as the president talked about “my people,” he gestured toward the White House.

Later, when pressed by a CNN reporter about the comment, Trump claimed it had been a joke. “I’m kidding,” he said. “You don’t understand sarcasm.”

Whether jesting or not, no U.S. president has been as free in his admiration of dictators and absolute power as the 45th, historians say. And Trump’s interest in the subject seems to be growing as he becomes better acquainted with some of the world’s authoritarian leaders, including Kim, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, whom Trump said he may try to meet one-on-one this summer.

(Trumpism has three fundamental characteristics: authoritarianism, bigotry, and a license to self-dealing by leading operatives.)

 Jennifer Rubin writes Reporting on Trump’s lies requires identifying the lies:

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow touched off an interesting social media debate when she suggested that because her obligation is to tell her viewers the truth, she tries not to quote President Trump. “Because I generally feel like I can’t trust what purports to be information from this president, I just try to do the news without words from him, most of the time.”

Ah, to live in a world without listening to Trump’s voice or reading his blatant, infuriating lies! But how do news outlets fairly tell viewers and readers what Trump is lying about if they don’t tell them about the lies?

The problem, I would suggest, is the way Trump’s lies are presented. The most mind-numbing version of this consists of repeating the lie, with the addition “Trump says.” For example: “North Korean leader is smart and handsome, Trump says.” Now that’s a fictional example (I hope), but it’s not helpful insofar it does not explain why that pronouncement is newsworthy: not because Kim Jong Un really is smart and handsome, but because Trump is trying to spin the world by elevating a murderous tyrant and whitewashing crimes against humanity. What’s important is Trump revealing himself to either be a liar or deluded — which doesn’t require quoting the president. The better headline would be, “Trump heaps praise on notorious dictator.”

Jeff Horwitz reports They were brought down by the Facebook privacy scandal. Now they’re working for Trump’s 2020 re-election:

A company run by former officials at Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm brought down by a scandal over how it obtained Facebook users’ private data, has quietly been working for President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election effort, The Associated Press has learned.

The AP confirmed that at least four former Cambridge Analytica employees are affiliated with Data Propria, a new company specializing in voter and consumer targeting work similar to Cambridge Analytica’s efforts before its collapse. The company’s former head of product, Matt Oczkowski, leads the new firm, which also includes Cambridge Analytica’s former chief data scientist.

Oczkowski denied a link to the Trump campaign, but acknowledged that his new firm has agreed to do 2018 campaign work for the Republican National Committee. Oczkowski led the Cambridge Analytica data team which worked on Trump’s successful 2016 campaign.

The AP learned of Data Propria’s role in Trump’s re-election effort as a result of conversations held with political contacts and prospective clients in recent weeks by Oczkowski. In one such conversation, which took place in a public place and was overheard by two AP reporters, Oczkowski said he and and Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, were “doing the president’s work for 2020.”

Heather Long observes Trump is betting American families are willing to pay for his trade war:

This is no longer a war of words between Trump and China. There are actual economic consequences now. The result is that Americans will almost certainly face higher costs as companies pay more for parts they need to build cars, dishwashers and tractors, and then firms turn around and pass those higher prices onto consumers.

All of Trumps tariffs so far — on China, on steel and aluminum, on washing machines and on solar panels — will end up costing the average U.S. family $80 a year, Moody’s Analytics estimates in a report to be released next week. If Trump continues to pile tariffs on China (he has threatened to do another $100 billion) and China retaliates, then the cost to the average family would rise to $210, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs has also forecast rising prices from the tariffs.

The Tax Foundation, a think tank that supported Trump’s tax lawpredicts that more than 45,000 jobs will be lost because of the tariffs Trump has issued so far. They also forecast a small hit to the economy and wages. Analysts Kyle Pomerleau and Erica York argue that the tariffs will hurt the economy because prices will rise, reducing profits for companies and costing consumers more. Alternatively, tariffs could cause the U.S. dollar to rise, which usually makes it more difficult for American companies to sell their products abroad, another potential hit to jobs and the economy.

(Emphasis added.  Even an organization that supported Trump’s tax bill contends that tens of thousands will be unemployed under his trade policy.)

 Ponder The Art of Fishing With Birds:

Along the scenic Lijiang River in China, brothers Huang Yuechang and Huang Mingde have been keeping up a centuries-old tradition of fishing with cormorant birds. Forgoing nets and modern fishing poles, these brothers have cultivated relationships with their birds in a way that’s found them success in cormorant fishing for more than six decades. But with no young fishermen choosing this ancient method, they may be the last ones to carry on this rare Chinese tradition.

Daily Bread for 6.15.18

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will see a morning thundershower and a high of eighty-nine.  Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM, for 15h 19m 35s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 4.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

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

 

On this day in 1215,  King John of England agrees to, and so places his seal on, the Magna Carta.

Recommended for reading in full —

 Keegan Kyle reports Wisconsin county left 26 rape kits untested when Attorney General Schimel was the DA:

WAUKESHA – As Waukesha County district attorney, Brad Schimel allowed at least 26 rape kits to remain untested, adding to a statewide backlog he is now vowing to clear out as Wisconsin attorney general.

In one case with an untested kit, a 3-year-old girl’s parents worried she was molested at a party. In another, a teen reported falling asleep and waking up to a friend raping her. In a third, a homeless mother reported being raped at a motel near popular shopping centers.

USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin identified the 26 kits by obtaining more than a dozen documents from Waukesha County police agencies under state open records laws. They are among 86 rape kits left untested in Waukesha County since 2002.

See also, from Keegan on 6.14.18, Delays, blunders and police neglect in Wisconsin’s response to rape kits.

Garry Kasparov ponders World Cup 2018 and the ugly side of the beautiful game:

It’s just as clear why FIFA and the IOC like having their events hosted by autocratic regimes, despite their tired pabulum about ideals. In the wake of the Sepp Blatter-era corruption scandals, FIFA is moving to make the World Cup bidding process more transparent. This is laudable, although my personal experience battling the international chess federation, FIDE, taught that these transparency initiatives are often designed to buy time to find better ways to hide the money. International sports organizations often exploit a legal limbo between jurisdictions, a quasi-diplomatic status that is easily abused.

What is to be done? As a sportsman who represented my country for decades, the Soviet Union and then Russia — and yes, chess is sport if you’re doing it right — I have trouble with boycotts that unfairly punish athletes. Had a unified international response against Russia hosting the World Cup come early enough it might have been possible to relocate it. Qatar is still scheduled to host the Cup in 2022 despite numerous abuses and scandals, and after North Korea’s propaganda coup at the PyeongChang Winter Games this year, it’s clear that collective response is a lost cause.

Everyone moves on to the next event, the next crisis. Russia has already been forgiven for the worst doping scandal in history. FIFA’s massive 2015 corruption case is still in the courts.

In Sochi, activists used the international media presence to expose Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws, although Putin was quick to clamp down as soon as the Games were over. An environmental activist arrested during the Games was put in prison for two years for spray-painting a protest message on a fence.

But during the World Cup, the police might be relatively cautious in handling foreign visitors and journalists. The bold should exploit this to peek behind the curtain and report truthfully on the dire conditions in Russia.

We can support the beautiful game without supporting the world’s ugliest regimes.

Michael E. Miller, Emma Brown, and Aaron C. Davis report Inside Casa Padre, the converted Walmart where the U.S. is holding nearly 1,500 immigrant children:

 For more than a year, the old Walmart along the Mexican border here has been a mystery to those driving by on the highway. In place of the supercenter’s trademark logo hangs a curious sign: “Casa Padre.”

But behind the sliding doors is a bustling city unto itself, equipped with classrooms, recreation centers and medical examination rooms. Casa Padre now houses more than 1,400 immigrant boys in federal custody. While most are teenagers who entered the United States alone, dozens of others — often younger — were forcibly separated from their parents at the border by a new Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy.

On Wednesday evening, for the first time since that policy was announced — and amid increased national interest after a U.S. senator, Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, was turned away — federal authorities allowed a small group of reporters to tour the secretive shelter, the largest of its kind in the nation.

 Matt Wilstein writes ‘Daily Show’ Exposes Sean Hannity’s Trump-Kim Hypocrisy:

Fox News host Sean Hannity has been as enthusiastically supportive of President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as you would expect. And the president rewarded him handsomely with an interview from Singapore that will air Tuesday night.

But as The Daily Show expertly demonstrated in an online-only video that hit Twitter just as Hannity’s broadcast began, he was not quite as supportive of handing diplomatic victories to murderous dictators when Barack Obama was in office.

For instance, Hannity said Trump “deserves a lot of credit for being willing to talk to somebody that everybody thought would be a bad idea.” And yet, after Obama shook hands with Raul Castro for the first time in 2013 at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa, Hannity asked, “Is it just me or does it look like President Obama is more willing to give his time to our enemies than our allies?”

 Meet The World’s Most Elusive Bird:

Daily Bread for 6.14.18

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with morning shower and a high of eighty-two.  Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:34 PM, for 15h 19m 13s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 0.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred eightieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

 

On this day in 1801, Benedict Arnold dies in London.

 

Recommended for reading in full —

 Keegan Kyle reports Delays, blunders and police neglect in Wisconsin’s response to rape kits:

State investigator Jeff Twing was just trying to find out how many untested rape kits the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department had in its storage room.

The department seemed too busy to count its own kits, so Twing offered to make the two-hour trip northwest from Madison to Viroqua to help.

A litany of excuses followed.

Sheriff’s Deputy Ted Harris said he couldn’t meet with Twing, a Wisconsin Department of Justice agent, because he was out of town that day. Another day, the deputy had dinner plans. And when Twing offered another date, Harris replied that he would be “installing window treatments” for a side job and was unavailable. He suggested Twing could speak with a different deputy in a few weeks.

That was in 2016 — more than two years after the justice department learned that over 6,000 rape kits were sitting, untested, in storage rooms at police stations and hospitals across Wisconsin. The kits can contain evidence vital to catching sexual predators or freeing the wrongly convicted, but had never been sent to state crime labs for analysis.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign writes Big Donors Get Big Tax Breaks (“Corporate welfare recipients contributed more than $800,000 to Gov. Walker”):

Owners and employees from about two dozen companies that received corporate welfare from the state in 2017 have contributed more than $800,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign.

These companies were among the 59 businesses that were awarded nearly $3 billion in economic development tax credits and loans last year by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. The giveaways were made so the companies would either locate or expand their operations in the state. Most of the recipients, 50 of 59 (or 85 percent), were businesses already located in Wisconsin.

Owners and employees of 25 companies, which contributed about $809,000 to Walker’s campaign between January 2009 and December 2017, received about $66 million in tax credits or cheap loans. The top contributors and the giveaway the companies received were:

Generac Power Systems, of Waukesha, about $231,000 in contributions. Most of these contributions, $220,000, were made by the company’s founders, Robert and Patricia Kern. The company received a $10 million tax break.

Masters Gallery Foods, of Oostburg. Together with its parent, Sargento, the companies contributed $146,850. Masters Gallery received a $2.5 million tax break.

Johnsonville Sausage, of Sheboygan Falls, about $128,700 in contributions. The company received a $10 million tax break.

Fisher Barton Blades, of Watertown. The company’s parent, Fisher Barton Group, contributed $97,350. Fisher Barton Blades received a $180,000 tax break.

Kwik Trip, of La Crosse, about $91,200 in contributions. Most of these contributions, about $60,400, were made by Kwik Trip owners Don and LaVonne Zietlow. The company received a $21 million tax break.

The top recipient of economic development tax credits and loans in 2017 was Foxconn, which received nearly $2.9 billion to build a $10 billion liquid crystal display manufacturing plant in Racine County. State fiscal estimates say the Foxconn project will likely end up costing taxpayers about $4.5 billion in state tax breaks, grants, worker training, highway improvements, and other giveaways. Walker’s campaign did not receive a contribution from Foxconn executives as of the end of 2017.

Kelly Weill and Gideon Resnick report Trump Endorses Corey Stewart, the Alt-Right’s Favorite Candidate (“A pro-Confederate friend of anti-Semites got a presidential boost after winning the Republican nomination for Senate in Virginia”):

Two years ago, Corey Stewart was too extreme for the Trump campaign. This morning, he got Trump’s endorsement to run for Senate.

Stewart won the Republican nomination for Senate in Virginia on Tuesday. A county board member, Stewart almost won the Republican nomination for Virginia governor last year on a campaign of defending Confederate statues. Since then, he’s risen on the back of the alt-right, attending events with an architect of the violent Charlottesville rally and giving money to an anti-Semitic candidate in Wisconsin.“Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

(Of course Trump endores him.  This is what Trump is, what Trump proudly professes, and what Trump intends for all this continent.)

  Alan Neuhauser writes Trump Plan to Prop Up Coal, Nuclear Won’t Protect the Electric Grid (“The Trump administration says it needs to support struggling coal and nuclear plants to safeguard the grid. Experts say it’ll do the opposite):

Much remains unclear about the proposal, including how it will be implemented and how many plants it will seek to prop up. However, it encountered swift opposition from a broad range of energy experts, industry executives and advocates from across the spectrum. It’s also expected to face legal challenges in federal court, particularly from natural gas and renewables companies, which compete with coal and nuclear plants for market share.

Notably, a dispersed electric grid – one that relies on a diverse array of wind and solar power, in addition to natural gas, hydropower and, perhaps one day, advanced nuclear – is widely seen as far more resilient to attack or accident than one that depends on large, centralized power resources such as coal or large-scale nuclear.

The Defense Department, for example, is expected to spend as much as $1.4 billion by 2026 on developing decentralized electric systems known as micro-grids, and the Energy Department in 2015 partnered with private firms to research and develop distributed energy systems to boost the resilience for the civilian grid.

“If you really want security, you get away from all that and you decentralize the grid,” says David Bookbinder, chief counsel at the Niskanen Center, a libertarian-leaning think tank in the nation’s capital.

In particular, he continues, “residential solar is the single most secure form of power we have in the United States: It’s secure both from a fuel supply side – no one’s blocking the sun – and a distribution side: it goes from roof into your house, so there’s no problem with the transmission. That is a secure energy supply.”

Trump last year introduced a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels, which is expected to crimp the solar industry’s growth in the coming years.

The biggest threat to the nation’s electric grid, meanwhile, isn’t believed to be an attack or accident that would take down a power plant but instead a disruption of the distribution network: the transmission lines, transformers and substations that carry electrons from the nation’s power plants to its homes and businesses.

Tech Insider recounts 5 Realistic VR Experiences That Tricked Our Senses:

Foxconn’s Shabby Workplace Conditions

One reads that God, hearing the grumblings of the ancient Israelite community, once fed that people:

11 The LORD said to Moses:

12 I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will have your fill of bread, and then you will know that I, the LORD, am your God.

13 In the evening, quail came up and covered the camp. In the morning there was a layer of dew all about the camp,

14 and when the layer of dew evaporated, fine flakes were on the surface of the wilderness, fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.

15 On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?”* for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.

How odd it is, now, that state political operatives and connected business executives (many of whom profess themselves devout) should speak about Foxconn nearly as though it were a contemporary equivalent to a divine offering of manna and quail for ancient Israel.

Nowhere in Exodus is there a suggestion that Israel had to pay billions for the gift of manna and quail, nor is there a suggestion that the bread was stale and the meat was rancid.  The account describes the giving of true and needed gifts, not supposed or unwelcome ones.

By contrast, Wisconsinites not only have to pay well over four billion for Foxconn, but they’re paying for a company that treats many of its workers shabbily.  Jamie Condliffe reports that Foxconn Is Under Scrutiny for Worker Conditions. It’s Not the First Time:

Foxconn’s employment practices are drawing scrutiny again.

new report by China Labor Watch, a New York-based labor advocacy group, and the British newspaper The Observer claimed that a Foxconn factory in Hengyang, China, had violated employment laws. The factory produces Amazon’s Echo smart speakers and Kindle devices.

More from The Observer’s report:

“Agency staff — known as dispatch workers in China — do not get sick pay or holiday pay and can be laid off without wages during lulls in production. China changed its labor laws in 2014 to limit their use to 10 percent of any work force in an attempt to stop companies exploiting them to cut costs. The China Labor Watch investigation — published on Sunday in association with the Observer — found that more than 40 percent of the staff in the Foxconn factory were agency workers. Those working overtime were being paid at the normal hourly rate instead of the time-and-a-half required by Chinese law and by Amazon’s own supplier code of conduct.”

….

Here’s a rundown of some of the issues that have reportedly plagued Foxconn’s factories:

Suicides. The company was hit by a wave of worker suicides in 2010. Other incidents have occurred since.

Wage and hours exploitation. In 2012, Foxconn was accused of underpaying wages and having its employees work excessive hours. In response, the company pledged to curtail the length of shifts and raise wages.

Serious accidents. One Foxconn worker was left brain damaged after an electric shock in 2011. An explosion in one factory killed four people and injured another 18 in the same year.

That’s quite the workplace culture Foxconn has there.

When Whitewater’s local 501(c)(6) business league invited a connected political operative to tout Foxconn, there’s no report that, despite his many risible exaggerations of that company’s supposed benefits, the operative made any mention of Foxconn’s mistreatment of workers.

Foxconn won’t bring a greater Whitewater, but it has already brought, to many worldwide, lesser working conditions.

Previously10 Key Articles About FoxconnFoxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers,  Foxconn Destroys Single-Family HomesFoxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair Budget, and The Man Behind the Foxconn ProjectA Sham News Story on Foxconn, Another Pig at the Trough, and Even Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) WorkforceFoxconn in Wisconsin: Not So High Tech After All, and Foxconn’s Ambition is Automation, While Appeasing the Politically Ambitious.

 

Daily Bread for 6.13.18

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy-nine.  Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:34 PM, for 15h 18m 47s of daytime.  The moon is new today.

Today is the five hundred seventy-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1863, the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, continues:

Wisconsin troops were still engaged in the Siege 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 —

Molly Beck reports Democrats pick up long-held GOP seat, Republicans hold on to another in special elections:

MADISON – Wisconsin Democrats came one step closer to gaining control of the state Senate by picking up a seat held by Republicans for more than 40 years, while the GOP held on to an Assembly seat in a pair of special elections Tuesday.

Caleb Frostman topped Rep. Andre Jacque in the 1st Senate District and Jon Plumer defeated Ann Groves Lloyd in the 42nd Assembly District.

Frostman will be the first Democrat to represent the northeast Wisconsin district since the 1970s — a win Democrats are hailing as more evidence of a so-called blue wave ready to flip more Republican-held seats in elections later this year.

Mike Allen writes of the The Trump movie, starring him and Kim:

President Trump’s wooing of Kim Jong-un at the Singapore summit included the iPad showing (in English and Korean) of a “Destiny Pictures” movie trailer, made by the White House’s National Security Council, starring themselves saving the world.

  • There are dunked basketballs, exploding bombs, flourishing labs and cities — all designed to show Kim what’s possible if he engages with the West, and to warn him darkly of the alternative.
  • From the voiceover: “Only the very few will make decisions or take actions that renew their homeland and change the course of history … Two men. Two leaders. One destiny. … A story about a special moment in time when a man is presented with one chance that may never be repeated. What will he choose?”
  • From Trump’s presser: “I showed it to him … toward the end of the meeting. And I think he loved it. … [W]e had it on a cassette … an iPad.  … [A]bout eight of their representatives were watching it, and I thought they were fascinated.”

….

Be smart … A well-wired Republican tells me: “This is the return of the 70s/80s ‘buddy movie’ — but one of the buddies is a murderous dictator.

(Trump’s video is a political perversity, a paean to himself as much as Kim Jong-un. The truth about North Korea:  Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions and Yeonmi Park’s I Escaped North Korea. Here’s My Message for President Trump.)

  Max Boot describes A summit without substance:

Kim won an invaluable propaganda windfall: Ruling one of the poorest and most despotic countries in the world (North Korea’s gross domestic product is smaller than Vermont’s), he was recognized as an equal by the leader of the world’s sole superpower — not just an equal, indeed, but a valued friend. Trump claimed to have established a “special bond” with Kim just a day after one of his aides said there was a “special place in hell” reserved for the prime minister of Canada. (The aide, Peter Navarro, has now admitted his comment was “inappropriate.”)

Trump can barely stand to be in the same room with the leaders of the United States’ democratic allies, but he reveled in his quality time with Kim – “a very talented” and “very smart” man who “loves his country very much” and who, in turn is loved by his own people. If Kim does indeed love his country, he has a funny way of showing it, since he enslaves his own citizens. If you want to learn more about Kim’s atrocities, all you have to do is reread Trump’s own Jan. 30 State of the Union address, which gave chapter and verse on the “depraved character of the North Korean regime.”

There was, however, scant mention of North Korean human rights abuses on Tuesday. That would have been a downer for a president who has plenty of other downers to deal with — from a special counsel investigation to a botched Group of Seven summit. Trump was in full salesman mode in Singapore, touting a meeting that he claimed had gone “better than anybody could have expected.”

  There was one bit of substance – a concession from Trump – and the Committee to Investigate Russia asks Did Trump’s Surprise Concession Come from Putin?:

The following passage appeared in a Wall Street Journal article published in January titled, “Talking to Trump: A How-To Guide:”

He can be persuaded to change his mind……especially if it is tactfully done…

Around the same time, Mr. Trump had an idea about how to counter the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, which he got after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin: If the U.S. stopped joint military exercises with the South Koreans, it could help moderate Kim Jong Un’s behavior. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis used an approach that aides say can work: “He says, ‘Your instincts are absolutely correct,’ and then gets him [the president] to do the exact opposite of what his instincts say,” said one person close to the White House. Mr. Trump dropped the idea, although he has ordered aides to give the exercises a low profile, eliminating press releases and briefings about them.

After his summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un in Singapore Monday, President Trump declared he was doing exactly what Putin had recommended, catching both South Korea and the Pentagon off guard.

CBS News:

Mr. Trump also announced an end to joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, a goal long-sought by North Korea. The move surprised many at the Pentagon and in Seoul.

“We will be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, I think it’s very provocative,” Mr Trump mentioned.

New York Times:

Hours after Mr. Trump’s announcement in Singapore, American troops in Seoul said they are still moving ahead with a military exercise this fall — Ulchi Freedom Guardian — until they receive guidance otherwise from the chain of command.

Lt. Col. Jennifer Lovett, a United States military spokeswoman in South Korea, said in an email that the American command there “has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises — to include this fall’s schedule Ulchi Freedom Guardian.”

“We will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense,” she added.

(…)

… Mr. Trump’s promise to end joint military exercises with Seoul left many South Koreans stunned. The annual exercises have been an integral part of the alliance, forming the bulwark of South Korea’s defense against North Korea and Seoul’s sense of security among bigger powers in the region.

(…)

The South Korean Defense Ministry hurriedly issued a curt statement saying that it was trying to figure out Mr. Trump’s intentions.

American officials said the military exercises are important because the allies use them to ensure readiness and promote the ability to operate with similar equipment and tactics. On a strategic level, they demonstrate the strength of the decades-long alliance with South Korea.

(…)

The president’s statement also confused officials in Washington. While “war games” would be canceled, Vice President Mike Pence assured Republican senators that routine military exercises involving American and South Korean troops would continue, said Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado.

A deer visits Washington’s Metro:

Print: The Look of a Serious Commitment

Yesterday’s post described Print’s Continuing Decline (and the Message for Digital) with an example of proposed changes to the Janesville Gazette, as editor Sid Schwartz described them.  (See, from Schwartz, Objective: Preserve local journalism in the face of rising costs.)

While the Gazette‘s announcement describes steps they’ll take to save money, it mentions nothing about what the paper is doing specifically to advance journalism.  (There is mention of awards the paper has won, but those awards are from a panel of other, similarly-struggling newspapers.)

What would an announcement look like from an editor facing similar challenges, but facing them in a more confident way?

That better announcement would look like the one from Lauren Gustus, editor of the Sacramento BeeSee Here’s our plan for sustainable local news at the Sac Bee.

First, she candidly describes her paper’s readership statistics:

We could fully fund our newsrooms – from salaries and benefits to notepads and pens – if we had 60,000 people supporting us through digital subscriptions. Roughly 15,000 do so today, so we’d need to earn the support of about 45,000 more.

That’s a big number, but it’s not as big as it might seem.

Visitors come to sacbee.com more than 30 million times a month for our stories and videos and to search our databases. If even a fraction of those visitors became subscribers, we’d meet our goal. So we are now asking them – and you if you don’t already – to support local news with a digital subscription. That’s the best way to help ensure that our journalists can continue to tell the stories that matter to you and to our community.

Now, this is an oversimplification. To do what we do, we also need sales support and printing presses and other costs that are not built in here. So the numerical goal of 60,000 digital subscribers is somewhat symbolic. But the underlying goal is very real: to produce quality local journalism so important to you that you’re willing to pay for it. That’s the sustainable way forward for any news organization – or for any company, really: to create a product you feel is worth what you pay for it.

Second, she immediately follows with some ideas to make the Sacramento Bee more successful:

  • We’ve launched a daily news report that’s available on smart speakers, or voice-activated devices. You can now ask to hear the news from The Sacramento Bee on Amazon’s Echo or Google Home and get daily updates while you’re getting ready to head out in the morning.
  • We’re experimenting with new beats, or coverage areas. There are topics we should own – such as city government and accountability, state politics, local education, the Kings – and topics we should test. To that end, we’ve launched what we’re calling sprints (or short bursts of stories) on issues facing local health care workers, and one on dining and drinking, which includes trends, openings and closings, and adds to reviews by our beer and wine columnists.
  • Next month we’ll launch a coordinated reporting effort called Big Valley (its name is inspired by the old TV show). The focus: how rising home prices affect people who proudly call inland California home. Stories will be published in our five California dailies — The Sacramento Bee, The Fresno Bee, The Modesto Bee, The Merced Sun-Star and The Tribune in San Luis Obispo — and we will add a reporter to our team to cover this area.
  • In print, we added some fun with two new popular puzzles in your Sunday paper: Whatzit and 7 Little Words (which now runs Monday through Saturday). Find them starting Sunday inside the Life & Style section.
  • We’ve also combined the Forum and Business sections on Sunday. There’s no change to how many local stories we publish in the paper or on Sacbee.com; however, there is an efficiency to be gained on our printing presses. Subscribers can also find more than two dozen additional “print” pages in our e-edition, covering sports, news, business and more, each day – making it easy for you to access all of the nation and world news you need in one spot.

A few remarks:

Candid readership figures and improvement plans.  Sacramento is California’s state capital, and the Sac Bee’s readership surely includes prominent political, business, and cultural leaders.   Lauren Gustus speaks to them, and all readers, directly and informatively.  That’s the right approach.

Not one print newspaper in the Whitewater area that has approached its readers half so capably as Gustus has approached hers.

Content. Look at what Gustus does here: she tells you about the new ideas and series that she’s planning – the ideas she has for the future.

By contrast, for newspapers in the immediate area it’s all triage, amputations, and bemoaning that they’re so weak a few advertisers run the place. See Print Retreats to Print.

Digital. If there’s a print newspaper that’s not planning now for a circa 2020 environment that’s digitial-centric with only a limited print run (in total number and in number of days each week), then it’s a paper that doesn’t plan to be around.

The key is that digital – and the audience growing up on it – has a different sensibility than what’s come before in a print era.  Print content is mostly controlled from the top, at a publisher’s or editor’s discretion – digital invites multiple channels of immediate reader response.

It does no good simply to put yesterday’s Gazette, Daily Union, or Register online, and call it visionary; digital content requires a digital sensibility.

There are publishers and editors who see this clearly; there’s not a single print publisher in the Whitewater area who does.

Daily Bread for 6.12.18

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater be cloudy with occasional showers, and a high of seventy-nine.  Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:34 PM, for 15h 18m 17s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 2.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the five hundred seventy-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets this evening at 6 PM.

On this day in 1899, a tornado strikes New Richmond:

On this date the worst tornado disaster in Wisconsin history occurred. The storm virtually leveled New Richmond on the day the Gollmar Brothers Circus came to town. At the time, New Richmond was a prosperous town of 2500 people and one of the most scenic places in Wisconsin. On the day of the storm, the streets were filled with residents and tourists waiting for the afternoon circus parade. Shortly after the circus ended, the tornado passed through the very center of town, completely leveling buildings. Over 300 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Massive amounts of flying debris resulted in multiple deaths in at least 26 different families. In all, the storm claimed 117 lives and caused 150 injuries.

Recommended for reading in full —

Maya Salam and Matthew Haag describe Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions:

In North Korea, these crimes “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” concluded a 2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea. [Full article offers detail on the brutality of the North Korean regime.]

Yeonmi Park writes I Escaped North Korea. Here’s My Message for President Trump (“Yeonmi Park fled North Korea when she was 13. She is now fighting for the millions of other North Koreans still living under the oppressive regime of Kim Jong-un.”):

In this video op-ed, a North Korean defector, Yeonmi Park, urges the United States to put pressure on Kim Jong-un to end his human rights abuses. She tells President Trump that now is not the time for photo opportunities, but rather strong actions. Millions of North Koreans are suffering under the Kim regime and Mr. Trump must do something to help them, she says.

Ms. Park recently published her memoir, “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.” She is on the board of directors of the Human Rights Foundation.

  James Hohmann observes In Kim he trusts. Trump sounds naive after meeting North Korea’s leader:

“I think he might want to do this as much or maybe even more than me,” the president said during a 65-minute news conferenceon Tuesday, after spending four hours with Kim in Singapore.

“My whole life has been deals,” he added later. “I know when somebody wants a deal. … I just feel very strongly — my instinct … — they want to make a deal.”

Eager to cement what he’s calling “a very special bond” with Kim, Trump is giving someone the benefit of the doubt who has done little or nothing to earn it.

“I do trust him, yeah,” the president told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired on “Good Morning America.” “He really wants to do a great job for North Korea. He’s de-nuking the whole place, and I think he’s going to start very quickly. He really wants to do something I think terrific for their country.”

(Emphasis in original.)

Amy Brittain, Ashley Parker, and Anu Narayanswamy report Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump made at least $82 million in outside income last year while serving in the White House, filings show:

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, brought in at least $82 million in outside income while serving as senior White House advisers during 2017, according to financial disclosure forms released Monday.

Trump earned $3.9 million from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington and more than $2 million in severance from the Trump Organization, while Kushner reported over $5 million in income from Quail Ridge, a Kushner Cos. apartment complex acquired last year in Plainsboro, N.J.

The filings show how the couple are collecting immense sums from other enterprises while serving in the White House, an extraordinary income flow that ethics experts have warned could create potential conflicts of interests.

Here’s The Truth About Pelorus Jack:

Print’s Continuing Decline (and the Message for Digital)

One can be a critic of newspapers (for their low quality and high boosterism), and yet feel a sadness at their decline. There’s a notice in the Janesville Gazette about downsizing of the daily print edition. See Objective: Preserve local journalism in the face of rising costs.

Editor Sid Schwartz tells readers that the Gazette will reduce page width, eliminate some features, reduce the size of other features, and shift how advertising is distributed throughout the paper.

A few remarks:

Cost of newsprint. Schwartz notes that a tariff on newsprint has forced some of these changes. That’s only partly right: newspapers have been struggling for years. Suggesting that recent tariffs made this happen is like saying someone diagnosed as mortally ill passed away because he was hit by a bus on the way home from the hospital: it would be true that the accident killed him, but he was in critical condition beforehand.

Tariffs. The Gazette‘s publisher has backed the WISGOP for years, and any number of interventions into the marketplace to back favored businesses. In the end, all the Gazette got for that long, strange sham-capitalism trip was a lousy tariff on newsprint from a Trump-induced trade spat with Canada.

Live by encouraging government meddling in the marketplace, perish by government meddling in the marketplace.

Digital’s Not Working for Small Newspapers. If digital were making significant money for these print publishers (indeed, any money), they’d either not need to shrink print so much, or could securely shift to a predominately digital model.

It’s not working for these local papers, and they’ve no solution. They have, instead, a ride along a downward spiral.

Digital’s Not Simply Print Placed Online. In 2006, before the Great Recession, these gentlemen, and the local notables they consistently boosted, seemed on top of the world. Publishers, reporters, politicians, connected businessmen: all those the Gazette once called ‘movers and shakers.’

Digital’s failed for them because all these men did was take their insular print model and post it online. Same boosterism, pushing of bad policies from good friends, that was slowly causing print readers to drift away. See Shirky’s ‘Shock of Inclusion.’

In a small town like Whitewater, not one of the prominent political leaders from 2006 – for city, school district, or university positions – is still in office. All that newsprint on behalf of those leaders – all those website accolades – made not a difference.

There was nothing visionary about taking fawning newspaper content and transforming it into fawning digital content.

That’s the message for digital: you can’t imitate declining print to become thriving digital.

 Print Circulation.  I know of no daily print newspaper in the state – not one – that has seen an increase in print circulation from 2006 to 2018.  There may be one, but if so, it’s not a Whitewater-area newspaper. If any print publication’s advertising manager is telling prospective customers otherwise, they’d best ask for a detailed circulation audit.

Journalism. I’m not a journalist, reporter, or J-school guy. I’m a blogger. Not more, but not less. Pamphleteers helped shape political, artistic, and religious thought in America’s earliest days, and the web has revived that tradition (and revived it even more powerfully).

Growing up, however, we all knew how to read, and were surrounded by books, newspapers, magazines, journals, etc. There were all sorts of good newspapers around, and in their pages one found solid reporting.  Little that one sees today would, from the perspective of that earlier time, pass for journalism.

That strong, more competitive era is over.  Publishers pushed low quality over high standards, and saved money by contending to readers (duping them, really) that anybody who could open a laptop was a reporter.

There are some courageous newspapers left in America, but there are not any nearby.

If many of those entrusted with professional journalism hadn’t so throughly failed this society, perhaps there wouldn’t have been as great a need for alternatives, blogging being only one among them.  They have failed, however, and through their boosterism of all things powerful and connected have been part of that which paved the way to our present political crisis.

So many millions of us who would never have imagined our own small roles, who hoped only that the strength of newspapers in our youth should endure forever, will do the best we can, each in his or her way, day by day.

For additional posts on newspapers, see a newspaper category link on that topic.