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Daily Bread for 2.22.20

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of forty-one.  Sunrise is 6:40 AM and sunset 5:45 PM, for 10h 54m 59s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 1.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundred first day.

  On this day in 1980, it’s a Miracle on Ice at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY, as the US hockey team defeats the Soviets, 4-3.

Recommended for reading in full —

Toluse Olorunnipa, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey report Trump embarks on expansive search for disloyalty as administration-wide purge escalates:

President Trump has instructed his White House to identify and force out officials across his administration who are not seen as sufficiently loyal, a post-impeachment escalation that administration officials say reflects a new phase of a campaign of retribution and restructuring ahead of the November election.

Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former personal aide who now leads the effort as director of presidential personnel, has begun combing through various agencies with a mandate from the president to oust or sideline political appointees who have not proved their loyalty, according to several administration officials and others familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The push comes in the aftermath of an impeachment process in which several members of Trump’s administration provided damning testimony about his behavior with regard to Ukraine. The stream of officials publicly criticizing Trump’s actions frustrated the president and caused him to fixate on cleaning house after his acquittal this month.

“We want bad people out of our government!” Trump tweeted Feb. 13, kicking off a tumultuous stretch of firings, resignations, controversial appointments and private skirmishes that have since spilled into public view.

The National Security Council, the State Department and the Justice Department are targets of particular focus, according to two administration officials, and there have recently been multiple resignations and reassignments at each of those agencies.

Sally Yates writes Trump thinks the Justice Department is his personal grudge squad:

The imperative of Justice Department independence from political influence has deep roots. After the Watergate scandal, Attorney General Griffin Bell sought to reestablish Justice’s independence and ensure that the department would be “recognized by all citizens as a neutral zone, in which neither favor nor pressure nor politics is permitted to influence the administration of the law.” The nation had lost faith in the Justice Department and the rule of law, so during the Carter administration Bell instituted strict limits on communications between the White House and Justice to prevent any “outside interference in reaching professional judgment on legal matters.”

While the policy is ostensibly still in effect, it is a hollow ode to bygone days. From virtually the moment he took office, President Trump has attempted to use the Justice Department as a cudgel against his enemies and as a shield for himself and his allies. He ran off Jeff Sessions after Sessions’s recusal in the Russia investigation rendered Sessions useless to protect him. The president has attempted to order up investigations of his perceived political enemies and enlist the department to protect his friends. With every blow, the wall of Justice independence has wobbled a bit more. This week, it teetered on the verge of collapse.

Moon ‘eclipses’ Mars in Arizona’s early morning sky:

Daily Bread for 2.21.20

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of thirty-three.  Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 5:34 PM, for 10h 52m 10s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 4.29% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand two hundredth day.

  On this day in 1918, a resolution to denounce Sen. Robert La Follette and the nine Wisconsin congressmen who refused to support World War I fails in the State Assembly, by a vote of 76-15.

Recommended for reading in full —

 Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, and Anne Gearan report Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected:

A senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers last week that Russia wants to see President Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments.

After learning of that analysis, which was provided to House lawmakers in a classified hearing, Trump grew angry at his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office, seeing Maguire and his staff as disloyal for speaking to Congress about Russia’s perceived preference. The intelligence official’s analysis and Trump’s furious response ­ruined Maguire’s chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief, according to people familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

It was not clear what specific steps, if any, U.S. intelligence officials think Russia may have taken to help Trump, according to the individuals.

Philip Rucker writes ‘Something has to be done’: Trump’s quest to rewrite the history of the Russia probe:

The U.S. intelligence community long ago produced evidence of Russia’s illegal interference in the 2016 presidential election to try to boost Donald Trump’s candidacy. Then the special counsel investigating the matter detailed myriad ways President Trump sought to stymie the probe. And then Robert S. Mueller III testified to Congress about Trump’s conduct — and warned of Russia’s continued interest in thwarting U.S. elections.

Seven months after Mueller’s marathon testimony brought finality to the Russia investigation, Trump is actively seeking to rewrite the narrative that had been meticulously documented by federal law enforcement and intelligence officials, both for immediate political gain and for history.

Turbocharged by his acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial and confident that he has acquired the fealty of nearly every Republican in Congress, Trump is claiming vindication and exoneration not only over his conduct with Ukraine — for which the House voted to impeach him — but also from the other investigations that have dogged his presidency.

Russia is foremost on Trump’s mind. Since even before he was sworn in as president, Trump has viewed the FBI’s Russia investigation as a dark cloud over his administration that threatened to delegitimize his claim on the office. And more than three years in, Trump remains haunted by all things Russia, according to advisers and allies, and continues to nurse a profound and unabated sense of persecution.

As his reelection campaign intensifies, Trump is using the powers of his office to manipulate the facts and settle the score. Advisers say the president is determined to protect his associates ensnared in the expansive Russia investigation, punish the prosecutors and investigators he believes betrayed him, and convince the public that the probe was exactly as he sees it: an illegal witch hunt.

  How Old Shoes Get Turned Into Ski Boots:

Daily Bread for 2.20.20

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixteen.  Sunrise is 6:43 AM and sunset 5:33 PM, for 10h 49m 22s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred ninety-ninth day.

The Whitewater Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.

  On this day in 1962, astronaut John Glenn, aboard the Mercury capsule Friendship 7,  becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.

Recommended for reading in full —

Elliot Hughes, Alison Dirr, and Mary Spicuzza report 8 in 10 Milwaukee police stop-and-frisk incidents lack documented justification, report on ACLU lawsuit says:

The Milwaukee Police Department failed to document a justification for 80% of frisk incidents in the first half of 2019, according to a newly released report.

The report comes from the Boston-based Crime and Justice Institute, which is monitoring the police department’s compliance and issuing periodic reports as part of a multimillion-dollar settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin over stop-and-frisk practices.

The report found that officers’ narratives were lacking the details necessary to establish reasonable suspicion that the people being frisked were armed or immediately dangerous to those around them.

Police Chief Alfonso Morales defended his agency, saying it is making progress.

“It’s a learning process for us,” Morales said in an interview. “We’re making progress, we’re learning. Are those numbers going to be perfect from the beginning? Absolutely not.”

Joseph O’Neill writes How Milwaukee Could Decide the Next President:

Our polarized national politics means that the Presidential election is exceptionally transparent. If the Democrat flips Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, he or she will almost certainly win. If Donald Trump holds just one of these states, he will very likely scrape together an Electoral College majority. In the 2018 midterms, which came to be known as the Blue Wave, Democratic gubernatorial candidates won in Pennsylvania and Michigan by about seven points. In Wisconsin, the Democrat Tony Evers defeated Scott Walker, the incumbent governor, by a point—fewer than thirty thousand votes. If the upcoming Presidential race goes down to the wire, it very much looks like the wire will be in Wisconsin.

….

Most Democrats in Wisconsin are concentrated in two cities: Madison and Milwaukee. Voter turnout in Madison has been consistently very high; in Milwaukee, it has been up and down. In the 2012 Presidential election, Milwaukee city’s turnout was measured at sixty-six per cent, but in 2016 it fell to fifty-six per cent. The difference comes to forty-one thousand votes—almost double Trump’s margin of victory.

This is not the whole story, of course. But even I, who had never set foot in the state, could figure out this much: if Milwaukee voters turn out in numbers, Trump will be in trouble. Who are those guys?

Here we come to one of the great historical ironies of the 2020 election. Milwaukee has been rated the worst city in the country to be an African-American resident, yet nearly forty per cent of its population is African-American. What may be the most downtrodden urban community in the United States has a superpower: the potential to decide who will be the country’s next President.

  What is Super Tuesday?:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Yesterday’s spring primary included a statewide contest for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, with incumbent Justice Dan Kelly and challengers Judge Jill Karofsky and Professor Ed Fallone. (It was the only race on Whitewater’s ballot, as there were no contested local races).

A few remarks —

Statewide. Kelly and Karofsky will move on to the spring general election on April 7th. In unofficial results, Kelly received 352,860 votes, Karofsky 261,721 with Fallone in third at 89,181. (The sum of the challengers’ votes, 350,902, is roughly the same as Kelly’s total.)

In Whitewater. In the City of Whitewater, Karofsky led with 478, Kelly had 364, and Fallone had 276. (The sum of the challengers’ votes, 842, is significantly greater than Kelly’s total.)

April 7th. April 7th is both Wisconsin’s spring general election and a presidential preference primary. The upcoming electorate will be so much larger than last night’s, with a likely onslaught of presidential candidates’ advertising, so predicting the outcome of April’s judicial election based on February’s results is unsound.

Walworth County. Once again, and perhaps forevermore, Walworth County reported its election results in a pdf format while nearby counties used a more advanced web-based format. A county that doesn’t take pride in its election reporting doesn’t take pride in representative government.

Daily Bread for 2.19.20

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of twenty-one.  Sunrise is 6:45 AM and sunset 5:31 PM, for 10h 46m 35s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 15.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred ninety-eighth day.

Whitewater’s Parks & Rec Board meets at 5:30 PM.

  On this day in 1868, photographer Edward S. Curtis is born near Whitewater.

Recommended for reading in full —

Eli Stokols and Del Quentin Wilber report Trump grants clemency to 11, including former junk bond king Michael Milken:

President Trump issued a pardon Tuesday to Michael Milken, the disgraced former junk bond king who later became a prominent Los Angeles philanthropist, in a mass clemency to 11 convicted felons that marked a dramatic expansion of the president’s intervention in judicial matters since his Senate impeachment acquittal.

Among those whose sentences were commuted was former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has served eight years of a 14-year prison term for trying to sell the open U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama had held before he entered the White House.

Trump also granted clemency to Bernard Kerik, who led the New York Police Department after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was nominated by President George W. Bush to head the Department of Homeland Security, although his name ultimately was removed from consideration. Kerik was sentenced to four years in prison in 2010 for tax fraud and lying to investigators.

The president made clear he had not ruled out pardoning his longtime friend and informal advisor Roger Stone, who is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court Thursday despite Trump’s demand on Twitter earlier Tuesday that the case should be “thrown out.”

Jeffrey Toobin writes of The Trouble with Donald Trump’s Clemencies and Pardons:

Authoritarianism is usually associated with a punitive spirit—a leader who prosecutes and incarcerates his enemies. But there is another side to this leadership style. Authoritarians also dispense largesse, but they do it by their own whims, rather than pursuant to any system or legal rule. The point of authoritarianism is to concentrate power in the ruler, so the world knows that all actions, good and bad, harsh and generous, come from a single source. That’s the real lesson—a story of creeping authoritarianism—of today’s commutations and pardons by President Trump.

….

The pardons were entirely personal in origin, and so the granting of them was exclusively an exercise of Trump’s own power. That was their point. A benevolent leader dispensed favors. The world will not change much because of these actions; of the four, only Blagojevich was still incarcerated. Some of the others may receive a few minor benefits, such as a restored right to purchase guns legally. The only cost is the further degradation of the government, moving our system closer to a cult of personality. In this era of mass incarceration, many people deserve pardons and commutations, but this is not the way to go about it. All Trump has done is to prove that he can reward his friends and his friends’ friends. The chilling corollary is that he knows he can punish his enemies, too.

  Philadelphia comic book shop fosters inclusive “geek space”:

Ariell Johnson is known to be the first black female owner of a comic book shop in the East Coast. After studying accounting in college, she decided to channel her entrepreneurial spirit into building Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, an inclusive space for her community in North Philadelphia.

Dog runs sweet potato stand in Hokkaido

One reads that a Japanese dog has significant managerial responsibilities

SAPPORO — A Shiba Inu dog that “manages” a baked sweet potato store alone in a residential area of this city is building a loyal following that matches the breed’s faithful reputation.

Ken, the 4-year-old Japanese hunting dog in Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, is also warming foreign visitors’ hearts as the story of the dog’s unique work has been spreading through social media. Other canines are also benefiting from his activities as part of the store’s profits are donated to an organization that works to prevent the culling of pets.

….

The handmade store contains a heater and opens at 11 a.m. on weekdays. The store is closed for an hour at noon and resumes operations at 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Payment is through an honesty box where customers place 200 yen per potato into a hole in the wall of the store.

Murayama [Sonoto Murayama, who had the idea for the stand] thinks that the store has gained popularity among foreigners as unmanned stands are rare abroad although they are a common sight in rural areas in Japan. Messages in foreign languages including English, Chinese and Thai are seen written on a notebook placed in front of the shop.

Whitewater Schools: Meeting, Survey, Timeline for the Next District Administrator

There are important steps ahead in the Whitewater Schools’ search for a new district administrator. (A link on the district webpage  has information about the process. I’ve reproduced key information below.)

Tonight, at 6:30 PM in the Whitewater High School library, there will be an open forum where residents can share their views on what they’d like to see in a district administrator.

(I’ve written before about sound practices for a public forum. Those who are unaffiliated, and are new to a public forum, should have pride of place. Those who are accustomed to public participation should wait their turn. Whitewater has too many of the same people who sit up front and speak as though they were in a private audience.

As for bloggers – who are modern-day versions of eighteenth century pamphleteers – we have ample means of expression. There will be time to write about the search process.)

Through Monday, February 24th, there is an online survey that respondents can complete about the search. (The survey is, as it should be, in English & Spanish. A link on the page allows for language selection.)

The district website also has a tentative hiring timeline that I have reproduced below, and that can be clicked for a larger image. (HYA refers to the search consulting firm — Hazard, Young, Attea.)

Daily Bread for 2.18.20

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of thirty-two.  Sunrise is 6:46 AM and sunset 5:30 PM, for 10h 43m 49s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 23.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred ninety-seventh day.

The Whitewater School Board’s Calendar Committee meets at 3:45 PM, and Whitewater’s Police & Fire Commission at 7:30 PM.

  On this day in 1920, Janesville, Wisconsin allows billiards and bowling on Sunday (but proprietors would be ‘fined $15 each for staying open longer than allowed’).

Recommended for reading in full —

Fred Barbash reports Federal judges reportedly call emergency meeting in wake of Stone case intervention:

The head of the Federal Judges Association is taking the extraordinary step of calling an emergency meeting to address the intervention in politically sensitive cases by President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, the Philadelphia-based judge who heads the voluntary association of around 1,100 life-term federal judges told USA Today that the issue “could not wait.” The association, founded in 1982, ordinarily concerns itself with matters of judicial compensation and legislation affecting the federal judiciary.

On Sunday, more than 1,100 former Justice Department employees released a public letter calling on Barr to resign over the Stone case.

A search of news articles since the group’s creation revealed nothing like a meeting to deal with the conduct of a president or attorney general.

Rufe, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, could not be reached for comment late Monday.

The action follows a week of turmoil that included the president tweeting his outrage over the length of sentence recommended by career federal prosecutors for his friend Roger Stone and the decision by Barr to withdraw that recommendation.

Author Jean Guerrero has revealed the title and cover art for her forthcoming biography of Trump official Stephen Miller (‘HATEMONGER: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda’):

It will be published by William Morrow, a division of the Murdoch family’s HarperCollins, on May 19. A pre-order page for the book just popped up on Amazon. From the description: “Emmy- and PEN-winning investigative journalist and author Jean Guerrero charts the thirty-four-year-old’s astonishing rise to power, drawing from more than one hundred interviews with his family, friends, adversaries and government officials…”

 

  How U.S. Consumers Help Prop Up The World Economy:

Over 1,100 Department of Justice Alumni Call on A.G. Barr to Resign

Over one-thousand DOJ alumni have issued a statement on the events surrounding the sentencing of Roger Stone:

We, the undersigned, are alumni of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) who have collectively served both Republican and Democratic administrations. Each of us strongly condemns President Trump’s and Attorney General Barr’s interference in the fair administration of justice.

As former DOJ officials, we each proudly took an oath to support and defend our Constitution and faithfully execute the duties of our offices. The very first of these duties is to apply the law equally to all Americans. This obligation flows directly from the Constitution, and it is embedded in countless rules and laws governing the conduct of DOJ lawyers. The Justice Manual — the DOJ’s rulebook for its lawyers — states that “the rule of law depends on the evenhanded administration of justice”; that the Department’s legal decisions “must be impartial and insulated from political influence”; and that the Department’s prosecutorial powers, in particular, must be “exercised free from partisan consideration.”

All DOJ lawyers are well-versed in these rules, regulations, and constitutional commands. They stand for the proposition that political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department’s core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law.

And yet, President Trump and Attorney General Barr have openly and repeatedly flouted this fundamental principle, most recently in connection with the sentencing of President Trump’s close associate, Roger Stone, who was convicted of serious crimes. The Department has a long-standing practice in which political appointees set broad policies that line prosecutors apply to individual cases. That practice exists to animate the constitutional principles regarding the even-handed application of the law. Although there are times when political leadership appropriately weighs in on individual prosecutions, it is unheard of for the Department’s top leaders to overrule line prosecutors, who are following established policies, in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the President, as Attorney General Barr did in the Stone case. It is even more outrageous for the Attorney General to intervene as he did here — after the President publicly condemned the sentencing recommendation that line prosecutors had already filed in court.

See also 1,100 Former DOJ Employees Call On Barr To Resign After Intervening In Stone Case.