FREE WHITEWATER

The Principle of Diversity Rests on Individual Rights

Some of Whitewater’s residents may have heard – because it’s been falsely told to them – that diversity – the inclusion of people from different backgrounds and characteristics – is a group value resting on subcultures of varying size. Hearing this, they’ve heard something else, too: that to abandon a particular leader in Hyer Hall is to abandon a progressive commitment to diversity, leaving that principle undefended from ideological attack.

Diversity doesn’t – and so politically needn’t – rest on a progressive or collective political foundation. Indeed, there are people who believe in individual liberty, free markets, and peaceful international relations (we’re called libertarians) who know that a diverse society rests on rights and respect for individuals as individuals, rather than a collective social foundation.

That’s of course what Noah Smith meant when he defended diversity as grounded in individuality against a bad faith attack:

Our institutions, too — schools, companies, etc. – are forced to take more of an account of people’s backgrounds than they would if they could simply assume that everyone came from the same background. Diversity means we can’t expect or force people to fall in line.

In other words, diversity strengthens America’s core values of individuality and freedom. Diversity provides a backstop defense against the natural tendencies of homogenization and conformity.

In other words, America chooses to embrace diversity not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Because the payoff – a society that instinctively respects each individual’s irreplaceable, unique humanity – is worth it.

Via Noah Smith on Diversity.

Now, fearing the consequences of a failed leadership, the denizens of Hyer Hall point to support for diversity as one of their supposed gifts to this small city, and warn their friends that should they go, a commitment to diversity will go.

This pointing and these warnings are self-serving lies: diversity rests on respect for individuality, and it will have a robust defense in this city long after one scheming, selfish administrator or another departs the public scene.… Continue reading

Daily Bread for 10.16.18

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of fifty-five.  Sunrise is 7:10 AM and sunset 6:09 PM, for 10h 59m 33s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 47.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the seven hundred seventh day.

Whitewater’s CDA meets at 5:30 PM, the Alcohol Licensing Committee at 6:10 PM, Common Council at 6:30 PM, and the Finance Committee at approximately 7 PM.

On this day in 1968, the Milwaukee Bucks play their first game:

On this date the Milwaukee Bucks opened their first season with an 89-84 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The loss was witnessed by 8,467 fans in the Milwaukee Arena. The starting lineup featured Wayne Embry at center, Fred Hetzel and Len Chappell at forward, and Jon McGlocklin and Guy Rodgers in the backcourt. Larry Costello was the head coach. The Bucks had its first win in their sixth game of the season with a 134-118 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Recommended for reading in full — Trump’s era of cruelty, the false morality of sheer power, Newt Gingrich as wrecker, signs of fascism, and video of the science of a frog’s leap —

 Conservative Michael Gerson observes The Trump era is full of cruelty without consequence:

It is difficult to trace causality in foreign affairs, but there is little doubt that Trump has reduced the cost of oppression and political murder in the world by essentially declaring it none of America’s business. And when you reduce the cost of something, you get more of it. U.S. indifference on human rights abuses is taken by other governments as a form of permission.

The story of a journalist [Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi] killed while picking up documents for his wedding is particularly powerful. But the aggregation of such horrors — the sum of killing and human misery at this historical moment — is stunning. The Trump era is also — perhaps not coincidentally — the age of mass atrocities. And the United States’ president is not concerned enough to be ashamed of it.

 Jacob Levy decries Trump’s love of strength over morality in Winning Isn’t Everything:

Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, the Trump administration is trying to persuade its audience of a deeply pernicious version of “might makes right:” that a political victory counts as moral vindication. The case at hand is the idea that now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation by the Senate somehow disproves the allegations of sexual assault against him. Trump was unusually explicit about this on Monday, but expect to hear variations of it from him, other members of his administration, and the talking-points-reciting apologists in Congress and elsewhere for a long time to come.

No one actually, consciously believes that a political victory can prove the victor innocent of charges that were under dispute at the time.

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Act Utilitarianism Isn’t Merely a National Scourge

Trump justifies his treatment of Christine Blasey Ford by the outcome of the Kavanaugh hearings: “It doesn’t matter. We won.”

One wouldn’t have to go to Washington, or wait for Trump to speak, to find this sort of act utilitarianism. Long before Trump’s 2016 campaign, officials and self-described community leaders in small towns across America shared a similar calculus. For the sake of some imagined overall gain, individual injuries and injustices have been swept aside.

And so, and so — officials justify financial and personal injuries to individuals on behalf of the supposed greater good of being ‘community-minded,’ of defending the ‘university family,’ or some such collective claim.

Trump’s act utilitarianism did not begin with Trump: it grew in cities and towns in which factions decided they’d take what they want, and conveniently sweep aside others by use of nebulous ‘community’ principles. (In the video above, Trump betrays his amorality early on, as he shrugs his shoulders when part of Christine Blasey Ford’s injury is recounted to him.)

In most of these cases of supposed collective gain, of course, it turns out to be a particular politician, particular businessman, or particular university official who reaps the most at the expense of ordinary individuals, but these community leaders would prefer one didn’t look too closely into that selfish benefit, thank you kindly.

Whether a highly-placed person’s selfish gain, or community’s supposed overall gain, the disregard for individual rights reveals a dark, calculating amorality.

Daily Bread for 10.15.18

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of forty-five.  Sunrise is 7:09 AM and sunset 6:11 PM, for 11h 02m 21s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 38.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the seven hundred sixth day.

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

On this day in 1885, Marinette-Menominee lumbermen strike:

On this date 2,500 Marinette-Menominee lumbermen walked off the job to support a reduction in workday hours. Mill owners locked out the workers in an attempt to force acceptance of an eleven-hour workday. The lockout failed as many lumbermen simply moved away from the area rather than agree to work eleven hour days. The employers were forced to negotiate with unions and conceded to a ten-hour work day and cash payment for wages.

Recommended for reading in full —  GOP majority leader’s family benefited from program for minorities, the relationship with Saudi Arabia is out of control,  Trump’s Middle East policy is a fantasy, Trump admits Putin is ‘probably’ a murderer, and video about a woman who searches for missing women — 

Paul Pringle and Adam Elmahrek report House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s family benefited from U.S. program for minorities based on disputed ancestry:

A company owned by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s in-laws won more than $7 million in no-bid and other federal contracts at U.S. military installations and other government properties in California based on a dubious claim of Native American identity by McCarthy’s brother-in-law, a Times investigation has found.

The prime contracts, awarded through a federal program designed to help disadvantaged minorities, were mostly for construction projects at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in McCarthy’s Bakersfield-based district, and the Naval Air Station Lemoore in nearby Kings County.

Vortex Construction, whose principal owner is William Wages, the brother of McCarthy’s wife, Judy, received a total of $7.6 million in no-bid and other prime federal contracts since 2000, The Times found.

….

Wages says he is one-eighth Cherokee. An examination of government and tribal records by The Times and a leading Cherokee genealogist casts doubt on that claim, however. He is a member of a group called the Northern Cherokee Nation, which has no federal or state recognition as a legitimate tribe. It is considered a fraud by leaders of tribes that have federal recognition.

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky write The U.S.-Saudi Relationship Is Out of Control:

Possible Saudi involvement in the disappearance—and alleged murder—of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi presents the U.S.-Saudi relationship with its greatest crisis since 9/11. If the Saudis are proven guilty of this heinous crime, it should change everything about the United States’ long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia. Regrettably, it probably won’t.

….

Donald Trump’s enabling of Saudi Arabia began even before he became president. He talked openly on the campaign trail about his admiration for Saudi Arabia and how he couldn’t refuse Saudi offers to invest millions in his real-estate ventures.

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Resolution & Defiance

Historian Blair L.M. Kelley describes What Civil Rights History Can Teach Kavanaugh’s Critics:

People watched Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony on monitors in an overflow room in the Dirksen Senate Building during Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings last month. Credit Damon Winter/New York Times

But in the end, these turn-of-the-20th-century African-American activists [in Richmond and dozens of other southern cities in 1904] could not stop Jim Crow’s advance. Their suits, sit-ins, letter-writing campaigns, boycotts, marches and impassioned pleas to lawmakers failed to make a difference when legislators were determined to segregate no matter the costs. Segregation or exclusion became the law of the land in the American South, and remained so for many years, separating black and white Southerners not only on trains and streetcars but also in schools, neighborhoods, libraries, parks and pools.

Progressives, liberals and sexual assault survivors and all those who desire a more just and decent America and who feel they lost when Kavanaugh was confirmed despite their protest should remember Mitchell, Plessy, Walker and Wells, along with Elizabeth Jennings, James Pennington, Lola Houck, Louis A. Martinet, Rodolphe Desdunes, P.B.S. Pinchback, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Church Terrell, J. Max Barber and many others, including those whose names we do not know. All of these men and women were on the side of justice and lost. None of these people, who fought for full and equal public access as free citizens on trains and streetcars, stopped fighting. None abandoned what they knew was right. They all tried again. Most would not live to see things made right, but they continued.

Those who see Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a lost battle in the larger war for gender equality and dignity for women — and sexual assault survivors, specifically — should emulate the activists of generations past. They should keep organizing, connect with like-minded people, volunteer for organizations that advocate for survivors, consider running for office, and work on the campaigns of those they believe in. A week after his confirmation, a reminder is in order: Movements are about more than moments; they are about thoughtful networks of dissent built over time.

My scholarship has taught me that activism requires a certain resilience, and the willingness to be long-suffering in pursuit of the cause. I hope people remember this. I hope they keep going.

 

 

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Daily Bread for 10.14.18

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny, with occasional showers, and a high of fifty-three.  Sunrise is 7:08 AM and sunset 6:13 PM, for 11h 05m 10s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 29.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the seven hundred fifth day.

 

On this day in 1947, Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier:

Such was the difficulty in this task that the answer to many of the inherent challenges was along the lines of “Yeager better have paid-up insurance.”[25] Two nights before the scheduled date for the flight, Yeager broke two ribs when he fell from a horse. He was worried that the injury would remove him from the mission and reported that he went to a civilian doctor in nearby Rosamond, who taped his ribs.[26][Note 2] Yeager told only his wife, as well as friend and fellow project pilot Jack Ridley, about the accident. On the day of the flight, Yeager was in such pain that he could not seal the X-1’s hatch by himself. Ridley rigged up a device, using the end of a broom handle as an extra lever, to allow Yeager to seal the hatch.

Yeager broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the X-1 Glamorous Glennis at Mach 1.07 at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 m).[27][Note 3] over the Rogers Dry Lake in the Mojave Desert.[31] Yeager was awarded the Mackay Trophy and the Collier Trophy in 1948 for his mach-transcending flight, and the Harmon International Trophy in 1954. The X-1 he flew that day was later put on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution‘s National Air and Space Museum.

Recommended for reading in full — Trump’s son-in-law paid no federal taxes for year after yearSchimel-Kaul debate, American leadership & Saudi Arabia, LaCroix as ersatz faith, video of canine vacation ambassadors— 

 Jesse Drucker and Emily Flitter report Kushner Paid No Federal Income Tax for Years, Documents Suggest (“Confidential documents reviewed by The Times indicate that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, probably paid little or no income tax from 2009 to 2016”):

Over the past decade, Jared Kushner’s family company has spent billions of dollars buying real estate. His personal stock investments have soared. His net worth has quintupled to almost $324 million.

And yet, for several years running, Mr. Kushner — President Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser — appears to have paid almost no federal income taxes, according to confidential financial documents reviewed by The New York Times.

His low tax bills are the result of a common tax-minimizing maneuver that, year after year, generated millions of dollars in losses for Mr. Kushner, according to the documents. But the losses were only on paper — Mr. Kushner and his company did not appear to actually lose any money.

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Found Footage: Daily Union Arrives on Subscriber’s Doorstep

See from the Daily Union Bus routes, security and parking addressed for Jefferson festival and Final preparations for Oct. 19-21 festival under way in Jefferson (reporter Ryan Whisner & publisher Brian V. Knox).

But see Sean Biggerstaff’s thread on Twitter (“I am disappointed and also angered to say that I will not be appearing at the @WandWFestival in Jefferson, Wisconsin this month. This is due to incompetence and dishonesty on the part of Scott Cramer, the head of the festival, who has known for some time that the event is in trouble, has been lying about it, and is now in breach of contract with me….So why the hell are city councils getting into bed with these shysters?”)

Previously: Attack of the Dirty Dogs, Jefferson’s Dirty Dogs Turn Mangy, Thanks, City of Jefferson!, Who Will Jefferson’s Residents Believe: Officials or Their Own Eyes?, and Why Dirty Dogs Roam With Impunity.

 … Continue reading

Daily Bread for 10.13.18

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of fifty-three.  Sunrise is 7:06 AM and sunset 6:14 PM, for 11h 07m 59s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 20.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the seven hundred fourth day.

 

On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress establishes an American navy: “On this day, Congress authorized the purchase of two vessels to be armed for a cruise against British merchant ships; these ships became Andrew Doria and Cabot.[1] The first ship in commission was the USS Alfred which was purchased on November 4 and commissioned on December 3 by Captain Dudley Saltonstall.[6] On November 10, 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines to be raised for service with the fleet.[7]”

Recommended for reading in full — Trump asks black voters to honor him while he praises Robert E. Lee, meet the researchers unmasking Russian assassins, myths of the 2018 midterms, for a young Jesuit grad at the synod justice for migrants is personal, and video of a really big Peruvian tarantula — 

Gabriel Pogrund reports Trump calls on blacks to ‘honor’ him with votes, then praises Confederate general Robert E. Lee:

 President Trump praised the Confederate general Robert E. Lee while asking African American voters to “honor us” by voting for him at an Ohio rally that featured an unexpected and provocative monologue on America’s Civil War history.

Addressing an open-air rally of around 4,000 supporters, Trump appeared buoyant as he declared that Lee was a “true great fighter” and “great general.” He also said Abraham Lincoln once had a “phobia” of the Southern leader, whose support of slavery has made his legacy a heavily contested and divisive issue.

The comments came during an anecdote about Ohio-born President Ulysses S. Grant’s alleged drinking problems, which historians deem exaggerated.

….

Minutes earlier, Trump had hailed African American unemployment numbers and asked black voters to “honor us” by voting Republican in November. “Get away from the Democrats,” he told them. “Think of it: We have the best numbers in history. … I think we’re going to get the African American vote, and it’s true.” He also celebrated hip-hop artist Kanye West’s visit to the Oval Office on Thursday, adding: “What he did was pretty amazing.”

Geoff Brumfiel writes Meet The Internet Researchers Unmasking Russian Assassins

Aric Toler isn’t exactly sure what to call himself

“Digital researcher, digital investigator, digital something probably works,” Toler says.

Toler, 30, is part of an Internet research organization known as Bellingcat. Formed in 2014, the group first got attention for its meticulous documentation of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Toler used posts to Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, VK, to track Russian soldiers as they slipped in and out of eastern Ukraine — where they covertly aided local rebels.

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Why Dirty Dogs Roam With Impunity

I’ve written before about the foul mess that is the ‘Warriors and Wizards’ festival in Jefferson (formerly a Harry Potter festival before Warner Bros. shut that usage down).

So, how is it that city officials, ‘development professionals,’ lying publishers, and bottom-shelf promoters get away with wasting tens of thousands in public funds each year while simultaneously cheating ordinary people out of tens or even hundreds of dollars for over-priced ticket fees, stomach-churning food, and wasted travel expenses?  These dirty dogs roam with impunity.

One reason – of many, no doubt – is that while a city wastes tens of thousands (or more), each ordinary family is cheated for a smaller amount (meaningful to them, but perhaps in an amount of one-hundred to two-hundred dollars), and those families are stuck bearing that loss without a cost-effective individual remedy. (Obvious point: I’ve not been cheated, so I do not write from a personal grievance. It shouldn’t require a personal grievance, however, to see that the event cheats ordinary people.)

If a ‘mover and shaker’ in one of these towns suffered even a proportionately smaller injury, then it would be the Worst Misfortune Since the World Began So Very Long Ago™. One could expect petitions, objections, meetings, wailing, rending of garments, gnashing of teeth, etc.

So one has public waste on a large scale (in cases far worse than a cheesy festival in Jefferson, Wisconsin), and private individuals are left time and again to bear the loss.

Previously: Attack of the Dirty Dogs, Jefferson’s Dirty Dogs Turn Mangy, Thanks, City of Jefferson!, and Who Will Jefferson’s Residents Believe: Officials or Their Own Eyes?Continue reading

Friday Catblogging: 75-year-old Wisconsin man naps with cats while volunteering at animal shelter

If anyone’s looking for a little inspiration for their post-retirement career, you could do a lot worse than taking a cue from Wisconsin’s Terry Lauerman.

The 75-year-old man is a volunteer at the Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary in Green Bay. His primary job, as it seems, is to take naps with the various cats.

Save Haven’s founder, Elizabeth Feldhausen, says that Lauerman “just walked in” one day, with a cat brush and an intention.

He’s been there for about six months, so Feldhausen said “eventually we told him he was an official volunteer and had him fill out our volunteer form.”

His typical day on the job involves him spending an hour snoozing on the couch with one cat. And then he’ll wake up and move onto a doze with the next cat.

Via Wisconsin Man, 75, Volunteers To Nap With Cats.… Continue reading

Daily Bread for 10.12.18

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of forty-four.  Sunrise is 7:05 AM and sunset 6:16 PM, for 11h 10m 47s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing crescent with 13.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the seven hundred third day.

 

On this day in 1782, Henry Dodge is born:

On this date Territorial Governor Henry Dodge was born in Vincennes, Indiana. The son of Israel Dodge and Nancy Hunter, Henry Dodge was the first Territorial Governor of Wisconsin. Prior to this position, he served as Marshall and Brigadier General of the Missouri Territory, Chief Justice of the Iowa County (Wisconsin) Court. During the Black Hawk War of 1832 he led the Wisconsin militia who ultimately brought the conflict to its tragic end. He served as Territorial Governor from July 3, 1836 to October 5, 1841 and again from May 13, 1845 to June 7, 1848. He also served as U.S. Territorial Senator from 1841 to 1846. When Wisconsin was admitted to the Union as a State, dodge was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate; he was reelected in 1851 and served from June 8, 1848, to March 3, 1857. He was also twice nominated for President and once for Vice President, all of which he declined. Henry Dodge died on June 19, 1867 in Burlington, Iowa.

Recommended for reading in full —  A five-year-old was persuaded to sign away her rights at the U.S. border, homegrown disinformation, Georgia Republican keeps thousands of voter registrations on hold, Ukrainian Christians break from Moscow’s political control, and a video about the Apollo space program’s origins —

Sarah Stillman reports The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights:

Helen—a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl—is an asylum seeker from Honduras. This summer, when a social worker asked her to identify her strengths, Helen shared her pride in “her ability to learn fast and express her feelings and concerns.” She also recounted her favorite activities (“playing with her dolls”), her usual bedtime (“8 p.m.”), and her professional aspirations (“to be a veterinarian”).

….

According to a long-standing legal precedent known as the Flores settlement, which established guidelines for keeping children in immigration detention, Helen had a right to a bond hearing before a judge; that hearing would have likely hastened her release from government custody and her return to her family. At the time of her apprehension, in fact, Helen checked a box on a line that read, “I do request an immigration judge,” asserting her legal right to have her custody reviewed. But, in early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a “Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,” which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. (“In a Flores bond hearing, an immigration judge reviews your case to determine whether you pose a danger to the community,” the document began.) On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.

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Who Will Jefferson’s Residents Believe: Officials or Their Own Eyes?

For three years, the Harry Potter Festival (in Edgerton and then Jefferson, Wisconsin) has been a fiasco and disappointment. (Note: I’ve not experienced personal disappointment: hundreds of patrons have.) It’s now re-branded as the Warriors and Wizards festival – because ignorant promoters ran afoul of the intellectual property rights of Warner Bros. – and with two weeks to go, it’s still a foul mess.

The best of the guests have already dropped out, because they contend they’ve not been compensated under the terms of their contracts. From Sean Biggerstaff’s thread on Twitter:

I am disappointed and also angered to say that I will not be appearing at the in Jefferson, Wisconsin this month. This is due to incompetence and dishonesty on the part of Scott Cramer, the head of the festival, who has known for some time that the event is in trouble, has been lying about it, and is now in breach of contract with me.

My representative and I have planned our schedules and indeed our finances around this and are now out of pocket and have wasted a great deal of time on it. The event itself is unlikely to go ahead in my opinion, as it would appear they have no money to pay contributors, and I’d appreciate it if followers of mine who are involved in the convention scene would share this thread as much as possible.

I don’t want any more fans to spend their money on tickets/travel/accommodation only to be disappointed. Very sorry if anyone is booked to come in the hope of seeing me.

Please know we did everything we could to make it happen. I’ll tag in some relevant parties so people are aware of this outfit.

They are now continuing to advertise my appearance whilst taking down posts about problems with the event. In other words, *deliberately* selling tickets to fans based on false information.

Stay well clear of these absolute shysters.

Yeah, they’ve been waffling, bullshitting even downright lying their way through everyone’s concerns.

So why the hell are city councils getting into bed with these shysters?

Why, indeed?

These vulgar promoters and the scheming local officials who cater to them aren’t helping their city – they’re ruining it. 

What’s telling is how (1) officials have insisted 50,000 previously attended last year when that’s almost impossible given the size of the town and reports from attendees, (2) Jefferson’s government signed on for five more years after the festival’s last three years of failure, (3) someone at UW-Whitewater apparently produced a ludicrous study claiming $33 million in economic benefits from this mess, (4) the promoters seem to be claiming tens of thousands in charitable contributions no one can or will identify, and (5) the Daily Union struggles between lying on behalf of city officials, laughable spokespeople, and not-worth-an-undergraduate-degree-let-alone-a-doctorate economic studies and telling the truth to people who actually live in Jefferson, Wisconsin.… Continue reading