Trump’s defenders – many of whom would otherwise support aggressive criminal prosecutions – sometimes argue that the case against Trump is merely circumstantial (no “direct evidence of collusion”). These apologists ignore what in other cases they might acknowledge: that circumstantial evidence can strongly, reasonably support a conclusion. Eric Swalwell and Chuck Rosenberg (as recounted by Natasha Bertrand) offer some examples:
What is circumstantial evidence? Suppose I’m trying to prove that my son Nelson ate some freshly baked brownies that we made together. When I turned away, all of the brownies were out. When I turned back, one was gone…
I didn’t see Nelson eat a brownie — that would be direct evidence. But when I returned, he had crumbs on his shirt, and chocolate on his lips and fingers. That would be considered circumstantial evidence that Nelson ate a brownie.
Chuck Rosenberg gave me another example: you wake up with snow on your front lawn. Do you have direct evidence that it snowed? No. But the circumstantial evidence is strong, and far more likely than someone driving up to your house and throwing snow on your lawn.
So many of these law-and-order Trumpists set aside a principle of evidence underlying law and order when it comes to Trump.… Continue reading
Sunday in Whitewater will be snowy with a high of twenty-nine. Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 5:29 PM, for 10h 41m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 93.3% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in 1801 (following a tie electoral college vote between Jefferson and Burr), House of Representatives on the 36th ballot elects Thomas Jefferson as the third president of the United States.
The number of Wisconsin students who received breakfast at school through a federally subsidized nutrition program decreased slightly in the 2017-18 school year. And while about 83 percent of schools in the state participated in the School Breakfast Program, that actually puts Wisconsin near the bottom nationally.
“If a school is not offering the school breakfast program, then children cannot access it,” said Crystal FitzSimons of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), which released its School Breakfast Scorecard on Wednesday.
Schools in Wisconsin that don’t offer breakfast for low-income students tell the state Department of Public Instruction they can’t afford to.
“The biggest barrier to providing breakfast is funding,” said DPI spokesman Thomas McCarthy.
On top of federal money, Wisconsin has a school reimbursement rate for free and reduced breakfast of 15 cents a meal. But the state hasn’t paid schools that statutorily set rate since 2006. Because of a shortfall in the account that pays schools for providing breakfast, the reimbursement has fallen to about 7 cents, said McCarthy.
(One would prefer conditions in which no student needed subsidized meals, but we’ve not those conditions, and in any event expenditures of this kind are slight – and far more valuable – as against any number of needless business subsidies or capital projects.)
Utility company We Energies wants to increase the amount of mercury it can release into Lake Michigan from its coal-burning power plant in Oak Creek.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing earlier this week to discuss the proposal, drawing more than 100 people opposing the plan.
We Energies spokesman Brendan Conway said the new limits wouldn’t cause a health risk to humans or wildlife.
“We are not asking to be asked to be treated differently than anyone else along the lake,” Conway said. “Other permitees along Lake Michigan have received similar or higher mercury variances. People should also understand this variance we are talking about is allowed by the EPA and the DNR so this is not an imminent public health risk.”
(That’s some spokesman We Energies has – he contends it’s not an imminent health risk. This begs the question of whether it might be an intermediate or long-term risk. The question of dumping mercury isn’t answered sensibly because others dump it, but by an assessment of cumulative effects. Conway offers a mush-for-brains level of reassurance.)
Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of twenty-eight. Sunrise is 6:49 AM and sunset 5:28 PM, for 10h 38m 58s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 86.2% of its visible disk illuminated.
Where to begin with President Trump’s rambling news conference to announce he was invoking a national emergency to build a border wall? It was chock-full of false and misleading claims, many of which we’ve previously highlighted, either in our database of Trump claims or our list of Bottomless Pinocchios. Here’s a summary of 14 of the most noteworthy claims, starting with immigration ones first. [The full article addresses each claim.]
As an initial matter, the government agrees with the guidelines analysis in the Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) and its calculation of the defendant’s Total Offense Level as 38 with a corresponding range of imprisonment of 235 to 293 months, a fine range of $50,000 to $24,371,497.74, a term of supervised release of up to five years, restitution in the amount of $24,815,108.74, and forfeiture in the amount of $4,412,500.
Second, while the government does not take a position as to the specific sentence to be imposed here, the government sets forth below its assessment of the nature of the offenses and the characteristics of the defendant under Title 18, United States Code, Section 3553(a).
(Emphasis added. This is very clever – agreeing with the PSR is less than taking a position on a specific sentence. The court may decide not to impose so lengthy a sentence in any event.)
Gov. Tony Evers announced he was directing the state Department of Natural Resources to allocate $75,000 to the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology (SWIGG) study in a statement released Wednesday.
The SWIGG study focuses on private wells in Grant, Lafayette and Iowa countries. An initial round of testing found 42 percent of tested wells were at unsafe levels of bacteria or nitrates, a compound linked to a variety of health problems.
Amazon said on Thursday that it will cancel its plans to add a second corporate headquarters in New York City. The company had pledged to build a campus in Queens’ Long Island City in exchange for $3 billion in subsidies.
In a statement, Amazon blamed local politicians for the reversal. “For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term,” the statement read. “A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project.
In a period of growing antipathy toward billionaires, Amazon’s corporate-welfare haul struck many—including me—as a gratuitous gift to a trillion-dollar company that was probably going to keep adding thousands of jobs to the New York region anyway. The company has more than 5,000 employees in the five boroughs, including 2,500 at a Staten Island fulfillment center and at least one thousand more in the Manhattan West office building.
The larger truth is that corporate subsidies, including the $3 billion package offered to Amazon, are often pernicious and usually pointless. Studies showthat these sorts of measures “have no discernible impact on firm expansion, measured by job creation.” Yet every year, local governments spend more than $90 billion to move headquarters and factories between states, a wasteful zero-sum exercise whose cost is more than the federal government spends on affordable housing, education, or infrastructure. In the most garish example of corporate-welfare absurdity, Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing company, solicited up to $4 billion in subsidies from Wisconsin in exchange for a factory and tens of thousands of workers. Now it’s an open question whether that facility will ever get built.
There’s a broad coalition – across the political spectrum – that opposes these deals. In New York, opponents were mostly progressives, but free-market advocates have always opposed these giveaways funded on the backs of ordinary taxpayers.
Indeed, each and every person – including Whitewater’s public officials, business lobbyists, and local reporters – who kept pushing Foxconn is either disqualifyingly ignorant or disconcertingly mendacious.
President Trump is verging on a declaration of national emergency — purely in order to fund his wall. And if he does, the courts may — or may not — reject his gambit.
But the fact that he may actually possess the legal authority to require agencies to waste billions of dollars simply to fulfill a foolish campaign promise he thinks won him the election is itself scandalous. The theatrics surrounding his petulant threat to do so obscure a vital question for our democracy going far beyond this (non)crisis, a question to which Congress should immediately turn: Who decides what constitutes a national emergency?
In hundreds of laws, Congress has given the president the power to decide. (The Brennan Center for Justice has compiled an exhaustive list.) But by failing to define crucial terms, legal standards and accountability rules, Congress has handed presidents an all-too-handy tool of tyranny commonly used by autocrats to amass more power, crush dissent and eviscerate democratic institutions. In Mr. Trump’s case, it has handed an unguided missile to an ignorant, impetuous man-child.
Congress should have known better. After all, it enacted the National Emergencies Act of 1976, which purported to regulate such declarations, only two years after President Richard Nixon’s abuses of power forced his resignation. The act actually made matters worse in a key respect: It defined a national emergency as “a general declaration of emergency made by the president.” This circular definition, of course, is no constraint at all. Or as Humpty Dumpty says to Alice, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“We thought he was good to go all morning, and then suddenly it’s like everything is off the rails,” said one senior Republican aide.
By midafternoon, however, Trump was back on board — agreeing to sign the legislation with the caveat that he would also declare a national emergency in an attempt to use existing government funds to pay for wall construction. It was an option that Republican leaders had urged him to avoid but eventually accepted as necessary to escape the corner in which Trump — and his party — were trapped. McConnell promised Trump he would encourage others to support the emergency in a bid to get the president to sign, according to people familiar with the conversations.
One of the supposed golden rules of journalism goes like this: “If everybody’s mad at your coverage, you must be doing a good job.”
That’s ridiculous, of course, though it seems comforting. If everybody’s mad, it may just mean you’re getting everything wrong.
But it’s the kind of muddled thinking that feels right to media people who practice what I’ll call the middle-lane approach to journalism — the smarmy centrism that often benefits nobody, but promises that you won’t offend anyone.
Who is the media’s middle-lane approach actually good for?
Not the public, certainly, since readers and viewers would benefit from strong viewpoints across the full spectrum of political thought, not just minor variations of the same old stuff.
But it is great for politicians and pundits who bill themselves as centrists.
Yes, indeed. The adult in the room, the triangulating schemer, the reptile whose body temperature requires a choice place in the sun: they all want to direct the debate positionally, situationally.
No, and no again: pick a few sound principles, and defend them against any and all.… Continue reading
There is a liturgical tradition in which parishioners reflect on what they have done and what they have left undone. A secular equivalent for Whitewater would ask a policymaker to consider not merely what has been done so many times before, but what might – and should have been – done, years ago and now.
So it is with police accreditation: that Whitewater sought this certification for many years is hardly to the city’s credit. Indeed, one would expect that the city’s officials have the ability to manage these matters on their own with no announcements or awards for doing so. SeeAccreditation: What Would Anyone Have Done Differently?
Following the preferences of Whitewater’s former chiefs isn’t a virtue – it’s closer to a resplendent error. Longstanding practices of this kind will never substitute for genuine town-gown respect, or equality of treatment for all people within the city.
An out-of-town insurance agent‘s reassurances, specifically, amount to laughable hubris: an insurance company’s concerns about claims are neither a dispositive legal determination of liability nor a representation of residents’ experiences (as the insurance agent is not a resident).
Doubtless, there are some residents who will take comfort in accreditation.
And yet, and yet — the indication of Whitewater’s better condition will not come when other cities look at her accreditation checklist – it will come when other cities look to her work in town-gown relations or relations among demographic groups.
Valentine’s Day in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of forty-one. Sunrise is 6:52 AM and sunset 5:25 PM, for 10h 33m 31s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 66.6% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this date, the inventor of the modern typewriter, C. Latham Sholes, was born. Sholes moved to Wisconsin as a child and lived in Green Bay, Kenosha, and Milwaukee. In 1867, in Milwaukee, he presented his first model for the modern typewriter and patents for the device were taken out in 1868. Sholes took the advice of many mechanical experts, including Thomas Edison, and so claims that he was the sole inventor of the typewriter have often been disputed.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors about his contacts with a colleague who had suspected ties to Russian intelligence, activity that occurred while Manafort ran President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and continued into 2018.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson found that Manafort violated an agreement he reached in September with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office to cooperate fully with their inquiry into Trump campaign contacts with Russia. Jackson’s ruling, which came during a sealed hearing Wednesday, will likely bring Manafort a longer prison term when Jackson sentences him next month on charges including money laundering, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy, to which he pleaded guilty last year.
The ruling also underscores a key allegation from Mueller: Manafort lied to cover up contacts he had with a suspected proxy for the Russian government while serving as head of Trump’s campaign.
Jackson agreed that prosecutors had shown that Manafort misled prosecutors about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik—a longtime Manafort employee in Ukraine—who prosecutors have said retains active ties to Russian military intelligence, known as GRU. Federal prosecutors charged agents of the same agency with carrying out hacks of the Democratic National Committee and other Democrats as part of an effort to help Trump win the presidency.
A lack of new state funding for special education has forced school districts across Wisconsin to find that money elsewhere, according to a new report by a public policy think-tank.
That discrepancy between what schools need and what the state gives them has grown to more than $1 billion per year.
“The takeaway is it doesn’t only affect special education kids,” said Anne Chapman, a senior researcher at the Wisconsin Policy Forum, which issued the report. “Because of the way Wisconsin chooses to fund both regular education and special education, this sort of what you might call underfunding of the costs of special ed cascades to affect all the school districts in the state.”
A private group may invite whom it wishes, but the guests invited tell much about the organization doing the inviting. Long years ago, straining even the finest recollection, private businesses relied on their own efforts for success (or so one has heard). Look about now, even in small and struggling places, and one finds well-fed businessmen searching fervently for any public money they can get. So, where once a business group’s guest of honor might have been an accomplished private person, now it’s a public official from whom the business lobby might wheedle some taxpayer money for its own ambitions.
In a small town like Whitewater, where a conservative landlord and a few others are organized as a business league (the Greater Whitewater Committee), their choice of guest speaker shows an attraction to public money.
Still, one has tried to be helpful with guest speaker suggestions, differences notwithstanding: suggesting former Gov. Walker offered someone knowledgeable about corporate welfare who also has time on his hands; suggesting Alfred E. Neuman matched the quality of the speaker with the policy outlook of the organization.
They’ve chosen more opportunistically, for another state bureaucrat.
Of this business league’s selection of a guest speaker, one sees a nearly mosquito-like attraction to a corpulent (and public) food supply.… Continue reading
Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of twenty-six. Sunrise is 6:53 AM and sunset 5:24 PM, for 10h 30m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 56% of its visible disk illuminated.
Walker had earlier received $1.75 million for his run for president from Blavatnik’s company Access Industries.
Why the donations? That involves a murky mystery that might make a good John LeCarre novel. Blavatnik, you see, is a Soviet-born and Russian-raised American citizen who co-owns businesses in Russia with two oligarchs there, Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, who are close to Vladimir Putin, as the Dallas News has reported
Blavatnik gave a $250,000 donation to Walker’s Our American Revival fund (supporting his run for president) just days after Walker met with accused Russian spy Maria Butina, who has pleaded guilty to attempting to infiltrate Republican political circles and influence US relations with Russia before and after the 2016 presidential election. Butina had developed a friendship with officials with the National Rifle Association and used that connection to meet Republican candidates for the 2016 election. She met with officials in the campaign of Donald Trump and with Walker himself.
Signs championed by former Gov. Scott Walker that welcomed visitors to Wisconsin as a state “Open for Business” are being turned into detour signs.
An official in Gov. Tony Evers’ administration said in a letter this month that the signs donning Walker’s economic development mantra will be turned into signs used for detours and directions in emergency situations.
“Therefore, the old signs will be cut in half with no material wasted,” said the Feb. 1 letter from Department of Administration enterprise operations administrator James Langdon to Republican Rep. John Macco of Ledgeview.
Breed after breed took turns in the spotlight, getting judged against their competitors. Over the course of two days, the field of about 2,800 dogs from 203 breeds was whittled to dozens, as one dog emerged from each breed contest victorious, to a mix of whoops, polite clapping and a few tears. By Tuesday night, only one dog remained: best in show.
King, a wire fox terrier, ultimately won the top award.
All the communities in our area are struggling economically, but yet Whitewater has fared better than neighboring places. The commitment of a community to transparency inoculates against an inferior, disordered politics of the sort one sees in the nearby cities of Jefferson and Milton.
Look at Jefferson (where city officials dissemble about relationships with fraudulent vendors) or the school district in Milton, Wisconsin (where the school board itself has fought against transparency, where a board member authorizes payments to officials without full board approval, and where twice now the community has thought so little of its school board and administrators that it has rejected their capital requests). In both of those cities, the local newspapers (Daily Jefferson County Union and Milton Courier) have been ineffectual (or, worse, they’ve lied by commission or omission to hide mistakes and fraud).
Government’s commitment to openness is, in the broadest sense, an embrace of a competitive marketplace of ideas. Fast and full information allows the discerning to make better decisions, and expands generally one’s capacity for discernment. (One improves by practice.)
The best record is a recording.
Fundamentally one is entitled to public information as a matter of right, but secondarily the spread of that information is a matter of prudence.
One wishes the best for all places, but Whitewater’s better record on governmental openness since 2010 has kept her from many of the problems that now bedevil Jefferson and Milton.
Update, Tuesday afternoon:
I’ve added replies from the city to an earlier post about our town’s cable access channel Channel 990.
Why a concern over this, why ask about it? Here’s why: the best record is a recording. If we were a different place – larger perhaps, or in a different era – this community might have credibly relied on local newspapers to keep it informed of politics and fiscal policy in the city, school district, and at the university. We don’t have those sort of newspapers. They’ve succumbed to pressures and made compromises that leave their accounts incomplete and unreliable.
Why worry about timing? Because when a poorly written, poorly reported newspaper account gets a head start on a recording, the truth of the recording is left to chase the errors and mendacity of the newspaper account.
Where does one turn? Prudently, one turns to a full and complete record. Communities – like Milton and Jefferson – that rely on dying newspapers become dying towns.
We’ve done better in this regard, but sadly worse practices fester not far beyond our city limits.… Continue reading
Channel 990 is televising properly again. Here’s my original email, and a reply from Whitewater’s city manager, Cameron Clapper. (See also a message below from Kristin Mickelson, Whitewater’s PR & Communications Manager.)
Good morning, City Manager Clapper.
I hope this note finds you well, and enjoying a snow day in Whitewater.
I’m writing about a notice on the City of Whitewater website that (1) mentions technical difficulties with the city’s cable access channel, and (2) makes a commitment to post online the videos of public meetings within forty-eight to seventy-two hours.
(A screenshot of the announcement is attached for your ready reference.)
The notice raises three simple questions:
1. Is Channel 990 still experiencing technical difficulties? (While there are programs running now on 990 – at the time of this writing – the notice about difficulties is still posted at the city website.)
2. Does the city have an estimated time of repair for Channel 990 (if still necessary)?
3. As the city ordinarily posts recordings of principal public meetings within about twenty-four hours, why is the promised posting schedule of recorded (but not broadcast) meetings now two or three times as long?
These questions address open government in Whitewater, and so are relevant to the municipality’s routine responsibilities.
Looking forward to your reply.
Reply from Cameron Clapper, Whitewater’s city manager:
Thank you for the email.
I have asked our PR & Communications Manager, Kristin Mickelson, to follow-up with you regarding your questions below. As far as I am aware, the challenge with our broadcasting equipment has been resolved for now and the notice has been removed from the website.
Kristin will be able to supply you with further details.
Whitewater City Manager
Update 2, Tuesday morning:
Reply from Kristin Mickelson, Whitewater’s PR & Communications Manager:
Good morning Mr. Adams,
Thank you for reaching out to us with your questions about the television station. I am happy to answer your questions below.
Channel 990 was briefly offline yesterday, February 11, 2019 with no explanation of why. Our IT staff and myself looked into the issue and was able to get regular programming back on but was unable to broadcast the Plan Commission live. For this purpose, a message was posted to the website informing viewers there was an issue. As the programming is continuing to work at this time, I did remove the message from the city website.
Though IT staff and myself still have not discovered the reason for the station going off air yesterday, we are going to continue to look into the issue and troubleshoot as the equipment is getting older and has had some issues on and off during my time here. We are going to test out our live streaming and update programming in hopes that everything is back to normal. If not, we will than look into other options or upgrades as needed.
As we always strive to post city meetings and any programs we film right away, we cannot promise a 24 hour turnaround time. There are many steps to filming a meeting and preparing it to post to our website and it may take 24-72 hours for my staff to have this completed based on their schedules and procedure alone.