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Daily Bread for 10.19.19

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will see afternoon showers with a high of sixty.  Sunrise is 7:13 AM and sunset 6:05 PM, for 10h 51m 54s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 70.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand seventy-fifth day.

On this day in 1781, American Continental Army troops under General Washington and French forces led by the Comte de Rochambeau defeat British peer and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown. Historian Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy (The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire) recounts British leaders receiving news of their defeat at Yorktown:

Throughout much of November 1781, there was still no certain news in London of the outcome of the Battle of Yorktown.  As accounts of the strength of the enemy positions arrived, the mood of the government grew more anxious each day. George III and Lord George Germain, the cabinet minister most responsible for the conduct of the war, had been so confident of victory that the draft of the King’s speech for the state opening of Parliament predicted British success in America. Germain, in particular, was aware that the outcome of the battle would determine the fate of the war and probably the future of the government of Lord North.

….

Between one and two o’clock in the afternoon [on 11.25.1781], the three cabinet ministers arrived at the official residence of the Prime Minister in Downing Street. Although he had long despaired of the war and had many times attempted to resign, Lord North reacted to the news in a state of shock. Germain described how the Prime Minister responded, as if he had been shot, “As he would have taken a ball in his breast.” Pacing up and down his rooms for several minutes, North suddenly opened his arms exclaiming wildly, “O God! It is all over!” North repeated the words many times in a state of consternation and distress. After North had calmed down, the ministers discussed whether to postpone the state opening of Parliament, which was due to occur in less than forty-eight hours.  With many members having already arrived in the capital and others on their way, they decided against a change. They then spent several hours rewriting the King’s speech, which was to be delivered from the throne in the House of Lords. The speech had originally predicted victory but was altered to make a token reference to the events at Yorktown. Germain then sent word of the news of the “melancholy termination of Lord Cornwallis’s expedition” to his Majesty King George III, who was at Kew Palace on the outskirts of London.

Recommended for reading in full:

When Rudy Giuliani went to the funeral of George H.W. Bush, he brought with him a date. A most unusual date…. (Video loads when clicked.)

(Aside: Rachel Maddow refers to George H.W. Bush as ‘Poppy’ in the video. It’s a respectful reference – she’s using a term of endearment that the Bush family, itself, used often to describe their late father and grandfather.)

Why Station Wagons Are More Popular In Europe Than America:

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Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner Thinks (or Hopes) You’re Ignorant or Stupid

Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, the gerrymandered, septuagenarian multimillionaire whose district (the Fifth) stretches all the way down to Whitewater, must think (or hope) people are ignorant.  One can conclude as much because Sensenbrenner contends the reason he’s not attending impeachment hearings is because those hearings are not open to the public. Honest to goodness, Sensenbrenner must think (wrongly) that his constituents are clueless or slow-witted.

The reason that hearings like this are now closed is to limit, as much as possible, prospective witnesses from changing their testimony based on the testimony of prior witnesses.  

Sensenbrenner must think that a feeble and inapplicable claim of transparency (during an investigation) will confuse his constituents into thinking he’s acting on principle.

No, and no again.

This does raise a question, however: what’s Sensenbrenner doing with his time while he’s not attending Congressional hearings?

Whitewater does know – from a press release – that not long ago then-Community Development Authority Chairman Kachel met with Sensenbrenner to thank him for a part of the Trump tax bill. (“Kachel met with Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls over the weekend to thank him for co-sponsoring the legislation…”) Sensenbrenner votes overwhelmingly with Trump.

Now that Sensenbrenner’s skipping work, perhaps he and Kachel (still chairman of a business special-interest group enjoying an IRS tax exemption) will have time to catch up.

The possibilities are as limitless as their imaginations —

Friday Catblogging: ‘The Cat Rescuers’ Trailer (and Streaming Links)

Posted originally on 9.6.19, now updated with streaming links:

Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Microsoft, Vudu, Vimeo on Demand, or Fandango Now.

THE CAT RESCUERS_Trailer from Rob Fruchtman on Vimeo.

Sign up for our the film’s email list. Find upcoming screenings.

Contact Balcony Releasing for US theatrical runs, limited engagements, festival dates, and one-off bookings. 

Daily Bread for 10.18.19

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of fifty-nine.  Sunrise is 7:12 AM and sunset 6:07 PM, for 10h 54m 40s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 80.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand seventy-fourth day.

On this day in 1867, the United States takes formal possession of Alaska:

… The troops being promptly formed, were, at precisely half past three o’clock, brought to a ‘present arms’, the signal given to the [USS] Ossipee … which was to fire the salute, and the ceremony was begun by lowering the Russian flag … The United States flag … was properly attached and began its ascent, hoisted by my private secretary [and son], George Lovell Rousseau, and again salutes were fired as before, the Russian water battery leading off. The flag was so hoisted that in the instant it reached its place the report of the big gun of the Ossipee reverberated from the mountains around … Captain Pestchouroff stepped up to me and said, ‘General Rousseau, by authority from his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to the United States the Territory of Alaska’ and in a few words I acknowledged the acceptance of the transfer, and the ceremony was at an end.”

Recommended for reading in full:

Karoli Kuns observes Mulvaney Thinks Crimes Admitted To In Public Aren’t Crimes:

During a press conference, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted to the quid pro quo with Ukraine and defiantly justified it as just a shift in foreign policy.

Toluse Olorunnipa, David A. Fahrenthold, and Jonathan O’Connell

That decision is without precedent in modern American history: The president used his public office to direct a huge contract to himself.

Trump’s Doral resort — set among office parks near Miami International Airport — has been in sharp decline in recent years, according to the Trump Organization’s own records. Its net operating income fell 69 percent from 2015 to 2017; a Trump Organization representative testified last year that the reason was Trump’s damaged brand.

Now, the G-7 summit will draw hundreds of diplomats, journalists and security personnel to the resort during one of its slowest months of the year, when Miami is hot and the hotel is often less than 40 percent full. It will also provide a worldwide spotlight for the club.
….

It also appears to signal the collapse of promises made by the president and Eric Trump, his son and the day-to-day leader of Trump’s businesses, at the start of the Trump presidency — when they pledged to create separation between the president’s private business and his new public office.

“I will be leaving my great business in total,” Trump said as president-elect in 2016.

“There are lines that we would never cross, and that’s mixing business with anything government,” Eric Trump said in 2017.

The Trump Organization on Thursday said it was “honored” to have been chosen by its owner, the president, for this event.

 How to Kill Disney Villains | Slash Course:

Foxconn on the Same Day: Yes…um, just kidding, we mean no

One reads that in the course of a single day, Foxconn changed its plans for a major building at its Wisconsin site. Corrine Hess reports In A Day, Foxconn Changes Course, Plans To Build Different Mount Pleasant Building:

This flashy building? Sorry, Wisconsin, you’re not getting this. Illustration via Mount Pleasant Development Dept.

Foxconn’s plans to build a nine-story circular office building reminiscent of Epcot’s iconic Spaceship Earth building at the entrance of its Orlando theme park in Mount Pleasant have been put on hold.

On Thursday morning [9.12.19], Sam Schultz, community development director with the village of Mount Pleasant, released plans to Wisconsin Public Radio about the project at 12001 Braun Road. The plans also included an approximately 34,000-square-foot building at the site.

The building, Schultz said, was going to serve as Foxconn’s network operations center. It would have been a central location where administrators will “manage, control and monitor one or more networks.”

….

But around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the village released a statement saying those plans had been put on hold so Foxconn can “explore additional design options.”

Instead, Foxconn is moving forward with another building, the “Fii Smart Manufacturing Center.” The one-story, 260,000-square-foot building will house manufacturing, office support staff, packaging and shipping and receiving functions, according to plans submitted to the village.

Trump said this project would be the “eighth wonder of the world,” but the project’s not even getting a cheesy knock-off of an amusement park’s architecture.

Honest to goodness, only someone foolish would have had confidence in this project. 

Previously10 Key Articles About FoxconnFoxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers,  Foxconn Destroys Single-Family HomesFoxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair BudgetThe Man Behind the Foxconn ProjectA Sham News Story on Foxconn, Another Pig at the TroughEven Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) WorkforceFoxconn in Wisconsin: Not So High Tech After All, Foxconn’s Ambition is Automation, While Appeasing the Politically Ambitious, Foxconn’s Shabby Workplace ConditionsFoxconn’s Bait & SwitchFoxconn’s (Overwhelmingly) Low-Paying JobsThe Next Guest SpeakerTrump, Ryan, and Walker Want to Seize Wisconsin Homes to Build Foxconn Plant, Foxconn Deal Melts Away“Later This Year,” Foxconn’s Secret Deal with UW-Madison, Foxconn’s Predatory Reliance on Eminent Domain, Foxconn: Failure & FraudFoxconn Roundup: Desperately Ill Edition,  Foxconn Roundup: Indiana Layoffs & Automation Everywhere, Foxconn Roundup: Outside Work and Local Land, Foxconn Couldn’t Even Meet Its Low First-Year Goal, Foxconn Talks of Folding Wisconsin Manufacturing Plans, WISGOP Assembly Speaker Vos Hopes You’re StupidLost Homes and Land, All Over a Foxconn Fantasy, Laughable Spin as Industrial Policy, Foxconn: The ‘State Visit Project,’ ‘Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn,’ Foxconn: When the Going Gets Tough…, The Amazon-New York Deal, Like the Foxconn Deal, Was Bad Policy, Foxconn Roundup, Foxconn: The Roads to Nowhere, Foxconn: Evidence of Bad Policy Judgment, Foxconn: Behind Those Headlines, Foxconn: On Shaky Ground, Literally, Foxconn: Heckuva Supply Chain They Have There…, Foxconn: Still Empty, and the Chairman of the Board Needs a Nap, Foxconn: Cleanup on Aisle 4, Foxconn: The Closer One Gets, The Worse It Is, Foxconn Confirm Gov.Continue reading

Daily Bread for 10.17.19

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of fifty-three.  Sunrise is 7:11 AM and sunset 6:08 PM, for 10h 57m 26s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 87.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand seventy-third day.

 Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets today at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1931, Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion.

Recommended for reading in full:

Michael D. Shear and

The White House’s trenchant declaration to House impeachment investigators last week was unequivocal: No more witnesses or documents for a “totally compromised kangaroo court.”

But just a week later, it has become clear that President Trump’s attempts to stonewall the Democrat-led inquiry that has imperiled his presidency and ensnared much of his inner circle are crumbling.

One by one, a parade of Trump administration career diplomats and senior officials has offered a cascade of revelations. Those accounts have corroborated and expanded upon key aspects of the whistle-blower complaint that spawned the impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election.

The latest disclosures came on Wednesday, when a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered an inside account of what he said was a demoralized State Department, where career diplomats were sidelined and others apparently were pressed to use their posts “to advance domestic political objectives.” In six hours of voluntary testimony, the former aide, Michael McKinley, told impeachment investigators that he quit his post as Mr. Pompeo’s senior adviser amid mounting frustrations over the Trump administration’s treatment of diplomats and its failure to support them in the face of the impeachment inquiry, according to a copy of his opening remarks.

Jacques Singer-Emery and Jack Goldsmith consider The Role of OMB in Withholding Ukrainian Aid:

One of the most damning allegations in the whistleblower complaint is that President Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son by withholding congressionally approved military aid.  The amounts include $250 million from the Defense Department and $141 million from the State Department.

As debates swirl over the existence and significance of a presidential quid pro quo, it is worth examining the underlying mechanics of how the White House might have withheld the money. The answer lies in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is responsible for overseeing all executive agency spending. That is why on Oct. 7 the chairmen of three House Committees—Oversight and Reform, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs—sent letters to subpoena documents from the acting director of OMB, Russell Vought, in addition to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The subpoena to Vought ordered him to produce “all documents and communications in your custody, possession, or control referring or relating to” various matters linked to the withholding or deferral of congressionally appropriated funds to Ukraine. The deadline to respond to the subpoena was Oct. 15, yesterday, and Vought made clear that he would not comply.

At present, it is unclear whether OMB withheld the money in a manner consistent with its legal obligations.

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Common Council, 10.15.19

The Whitewater Common Council met in regular session on Tuesday, October 15th.

The meeting agenda is available online.

Coffee. It’s not a bad idea to have coffee sessions with law enforcement (8:00 on the video), but it’s worth noting – because it’s true – that community policing depends on positive, routine contact between officers and residents in unstaged settings. This positive, routine contact requires that residents know officers’ names, etc. Single public-relations efforts are of lesser value than steady and respectful encounters during a daily patrol. (Simply driving about, or viewing the city behind sunglasses, doesn’t amount to a positive encounter with residents.)

More generally, public relations efforts in a city as diverse as ours are often failures – they reach only one part of the city (sometimes a part that erroneously thinks it’s the whole city).

Ordinary Public Works Requests. If every concern of the city involved an ordinary public works request (16:55 on the video), then the city would have no concerns.

Phosphorus Management. A sound plan for phosphorus management is vital for the health of the city’s residents. The recommendation before the council (22:50 on the video) on 10.15 was for Strand Associates, one of the lower bidders. They’ve done sound work for the city in the past (indeed more so than other vendors the city’s engaged over the years).

As always, embedded above, the best record is a recording.

Why Feature Stories on Major Topics are Now Often a Waste of Time

Feature stories on major topics, in which the author begins a multi-paragraph description of a person or scene before offering a substantive consideration of the topic, have today little use in newspapers.  These stories are meant to set a scene, and perhaps evoke emotions in readers who are, the author presumes, indifferent or ignorant of the substantive topic.

Reporters who are taught to write this way are indulged; reporters who are allowed to continue this way are over-indulged. For an example of this sentimental style, see Night walks, masks and navigating new spaces: Meet UW-Whitewater’s new chancellor.  For examples of poor beat reporting, see The Janesville Gazette’s Sketchy Reporting on Major Topics. (In both cases: Beleckis, reporter; Schwartz, editor.)

It should be needless to say that these are not indifferent times; these are times of continent-wide controversy when emotions are already high.  No one needs six paragraphs of treacly background information to be engaged in a major topic – nearly all America is now in dispute on our country’s major topics.  No one needs to be awakened to action – we are, all of us, in the action.  Those readers who are not yet awake to these times are either drunk or comatose –  which, in fact, means they likely aren’t readers at all.

It serves our present condition to state plainly: who did what to whom? 

Good straightforward beat or investigative reporting is like this: direct, concise, unambiguous, unsentimental.  Good commentary – writing with a strong editorial tint – has time for pathos as a rhetorical technique. These two approaches are not the same, and should not be mixed.

If newspaper people want to write lengthy, take-ten-paragraphs-of-teary-anecdotes-to-get-to-the-point feature stories, they should become magazine writers, or build time machines to transport themselves to an era that needed an awakening.  It’s not commendable poetry in motion to misunderstand one’s era; it’s more like an ill-timed limerick.

We are not in an easy time; we are awake already to a dozen controversies.  Writing should be direct and succinct in its description of our circumstances.

Daily Bread for 10.16.19

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of fifty-one.  Sunrise is 7:10 AM and sunset 6:10 PM, for 11h 00m 14s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 93.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand seventy-second day.

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

On this day in 1946, ten convicted Nazi war criminals are executed at Nuremberg.

Recommended for reading in full:

Rosalind S. Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne, and Tom Hamburger report How two Soviet-born emigres made it into elite Trump circles — and the center of the impeachment storm:

Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian-born emigre, appeared at a dark time in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Less than a month before the election, major GOP donors had been spooked by the revelation that Trump boasted about grabbing women during a recording of the television show “Access Hollywood.”

Parnas had never been a player in national Republican politics. But the onetime stockbroker chose that moment to deliver a $50,000 donation to Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party, and it quickly opened doors.

The contribution helped propel Parnas and his business partner, Belarus-born Igor Fruman, on an extraordinarily rapid rise into the upper echelon of Trump allies — before they became central figures in the presidential impeachment inquiry.

By spring 2018, the two men had dined with Trump, breakfasted with his son and attended exclusive events at Mar-a-Lago and the White House, all while jetting around the world and spending lavishly, particularly at Trump hotels in New York and Washington. That May, a pro-Trump super PAC reported receiving a $325,000 donation from an energy company the duo had recently formed.

Where Parnas and Fruman got their money remains a mystery. When they were arrested Wednesday on charges of campaign finance violations, prosecutors alleged that Parnas and Fruman were backed in part by an unnamed Russian national who used them to funnel donations to state and federal candidates.

 Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade report GOP players in Benghazi probe drop strong defense of congressional oversight:

Several key players in the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump were the strongest proponents of Republicans’ iron-fisted oversight of the Obama administration, culminating in a two-year House probe into the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Now, faced with a politically charged investigation into a president of their own party, they have dropped their formerly stout defense of congressional prerogatives and have joined Trump in endorsing a campaign of massive resistance to the impeachment probe — a turnabout that has left many Democrats and even some Republicans aghast.

Among those who participated in the select committee that probed the attacks on U.S. facilities in Libya were Mike Pompeo, then a Kansas congressman and now secretary of state and a key target of the current Democratic investigation, and Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), who is the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee. The panel’s chairman, then-Rep. Trey Gowdy (S.C.), who has since left Congress, was poised to serve as an outside lawyer for Trump. The president said Thursday that Gowdy would have to wait until January to start due to lobbying rules.

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The Janesville Gazette‘s Sketchy Reporting on Major Topics

The nearby Janesville Gazette, a newspaper that insists ‘local matters,’ too often reports on Whitewater’s local matters in a careless way, ignoring key information.  Whether that paper’s omissions are through negligence or by design, reporting like this ill-serves Whitewater. (In fairness, the Gazette long ago ran itself into the ground, and sold out this summer to a second-tier advertising network that masquerades as a newspaper chain.)

There’s more than one recent example of the paper’s sketchy work.

A video interview with UW-Whitewater’s new chancellor that’s obviously been edited. (Beleckis, reporter; Schwartz, editor.) See Truth Telling and Tale-Weaving and For UW-Whitewater’s Administration, Talking Points Won’t Be Enough.

One can see edits in the video, and in any event, no one would suppose the chancellor spoke for only 6 minutes and 32 seconds.

The Gazette’s practice is sub-standard: the contemporary, standard practice would be to print stories about the interview, but post the full recording online. The full video would allow readers to measure the quality of the stories against an official’s entire remarks.

Repetition (1, 2) of limited, selectively-presented information about the departure of an employee at the Whitewater School District. See Story on Whitewater’s District Administrator: Omission & Innuendo.

The Gazette’s original story on this departure (Beleckis, reporter; Schwartz, editor) is notably thin. The reporter claims to rely on the results of a public records request and a supposedly “confidential settlement communication” and other documents from the employee’s attorney that had been “shared with the news media.”

Demand letters are not uncommon; they vary widely in style and – more importantly – in the strength of their claims. They mean something, but they represent only a party’s position, not a determination of fact or law.

(There’s more one might say with confidence if one saw the full set of documents – assuming what the paper received is truly comprehensive – but a few slight quotations in a story from a young, non-lawyer reporter are hardly enough on which to rely.)

The contemporary, standard practice would be to publish these documents in full as links to a web-based story. The full documents would allow readers to measure the quality of the claims against the reporting about the employee’s departure.

Omitting basic details from a straightforward story. In a story about the selection of a new school board member, the Gazette (Beleckis, reporter; Schwartz, editor) left out the names of the other applicants and how they fared.  These were four good candidates; three didn’t even get a mention by name from the Gazette, let alone links to their letters of interest. See School Board, 9.16.19: Applicant Interviews and Reporting. (For the letters of interest, see from FW School Board Applicants’ Letters of Interest.)

(It’s also true that the Gazette’s editorials sometimes show a limited proficiency with language, facts, and analysis, but that’s a separate matter from sketchy reporting. See Does Anyone at the Janesville Gazette Have a Dictionary?)

Those of us who grew up in newspaper-loving families know how far this reporting is from good work. One doesn’t have to be a reporter to feel this way; one needs only to read carefully and think clearly.

Daily Bread for 10.15.19

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will see morning showers with a high of sixty.  Sunrise is 7:08 AM and sunset 6:11 PM, for 11h 03m 02s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 97.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand seventy-first day.

 The Whitewater Unified School District’s Policy Review Committee meets at 9 AM. Whitewater’s Common Council meets at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1991, Clarence Thomas is confirmed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Recommended for reading in full:

 Riley Vetterkind reports Wauwatosa spice company behind pro-impeachment ad blitz:

A Wauwatosa-based spice company spent nearly $100,000 on Facebook ads last week calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, placing the company among the biggest social media spenders to wade into the impeachment debate so far.

Penzeys Spices, the country’s largest independent spice retailer, spent $95,948 on Facebook ads promoting impeachment between Oct. 4 and 10, according to Facebook. That comes as the company was reported to have spent $92,000 on Facebook ads related to impeachment from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5.

The ads have caught fire online. One post generated 257,000 reactions, 55,000 comments and 45,000 shares.

(Buy Penzeys spices.)

Karoun Demirjian, Shane Harris, and Rachael Bade report Trump’s ex-Russia adviser told impeachment investigators of Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine:

Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser, told impeachment investigators on Monday that Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump, according to people familiar with her testimony.

Hill, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, was the latest witness in a fast-moving impeachment inquiry focused on whether the president abused his office by using the promise of military aid and diplomatic support to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

In a closed-door session that lasted roughly 10 hours, Hill told lawmakers that she confronted Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, about Giuliani’s activities which, she testified, were not coordinated with the officials responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose details of her deposition.

Tory Newmyer writes There’s less to Trump’s ‘greatest and biggest deal’ with China than meets the eye:

President Trump hailed the preliminary trade agreement struck by American and Chinese negotiators as “one of the biggest deals.” It’s “by far, the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country,” he trumpeted.

Closer inspection reveals there’s less to it than the presidential hype suggests. And the news this morning [10.14] that the Chinese want to hold more talks this month before President Xi Jinping signs an agreement is adding to investor skepticism.

(Emphasis in original.)

 Europe’s Oldest Forest:

Daily Bread for 10.14.19

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of fifty-one.  Sunrise is 7:07 AM and sunset 6:13 PM, for 11h 05m 50s of daytime.  The moon is full with 99.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand seventieth day.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets at 6:00 PM. The Whitewater Unified School Board meets 6:30 PM, to go into closed session with a return to open session afterward.

On this day in 1947, Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier while flying the X-1 Glamorous Glennis at Mach 1.05 at an altitude of 45,000 feet.

Recommended for reading in full:

Bob Bauer writes The Cipollone Letter: Trouble in the White House Counsel’s Office:

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s letter to the House leadership, declaring that the president will not cooperate in any impeachment inquiry, is an extraordinary document in more than one respect. As Keith Whittington and Frank Bowman have shown, the letter’s constitutional and “legal” arguments are baseless. It misrepresents the constitutional law and precedent that it is pleading on the president’s behalf. On the merits, it is an exceptionally weak performance. Add to this another deficiency: its glaring failure to effectively represent the institutional interests of the presidency.

….

With this goal of rejecting any cooperation, Cipollone also uses his letter to weigh in on the merits of the impeachment proceedings—with disastrous results. This portion of the letter is embarrassingly conclusory and superficial in its dismissal of any significance to be attached to the president’s call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Of course, Cipollone does not mention the whistleblower complaint or other reports of systematic administration pursuit of foreign government intervention in an American election on condition of withheld military aid. He does not address the documentary evidence that the head U.S. diplomat in Ukraine understood that this was the president’s aim and objected. Cipollone just asserts that the phone call with Zelensky was “completely appropriate.”

Seventeen former Watergate special prosecutors write We investigated the Watergate scandal. We believe Trump should be impeached

We, former members of the Watergate special prosecutor force, believe there exists compelling prima facie evidence that President Trump has committed impeachable offenses. This evidence can be accepted as sufficient for impeachment, unless disproved by any contrary evidence that the president may choose to offer.

The ultimate judgment on whether to impeach the president is for members of the House of Representatives to make. The Constitution establishes impeachment as the proper mechanism for addressing these abuses; therefore, the House should proceed with the impeachment process, fairly, openly and promptly. The president’s refusal to cooperate in confirming (or disputing) the facts already on the public record should not delay or frustrate the House’s performance of its constitutional duty.

In reaching these conclusions, we take note of 1) the public statements by Trump himself; 2) the findings of former special counsel Robert S.?Mueller III’s investigation; 3) the readout that the president released of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; 4)?the president’s continuing refusal to produce documents or allow testimony by current and former government employees for pending investigations, as well as for oversight matters; and 5) other information now publicly available, including State Department text messages indicating that the release of essential military aid to Ukraine was conditioned on Ukraine’s willingness to commence a criminal investigation designed to further the president’s political interests.

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