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Author Archive for JOHN ADAMS

Daily Bread for 11.17.19

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will bring rain and snow showers with a high of thirty-six.  Sunrise is 6:50 AM and sunset 4:29 PM, for 9h 39m 41s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 74.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred fourth day.

On this day in 2013, a late-season tornado outbreak plagues the Midwest, with 73 confirmed tornadoes across several states.

Recommended for reading in full:

Amber Phillips writes More testimony raises the question: What did Ron Johnson know about Trump’s intentions with Ukraine?:

What did Sen. Ron Johnson know about President Trump’s intentions with Ukraine? That’s been a question from the start of this impeachment inquiry, ever since the senator himself acknowledged he heard from people there was a quid pro quo.

The Wisconsin Republican’s name keeps popping up in testimony in critical conversations, including with Trump and Ukraine’s president. They are conversations that could help assess whether Ukrainians knew there were conditions on getting their military aid and whether Trump was behind ordering those conditions.

New closed-door testimony Friday folds Johnson in again, this time detailing a September meeting in Ukraine with Ukraine’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Here’s U.S. diplomat in Ukraine David Holmes saying this in his opening statement, obtained by CNN, about Johnson:

President Zelensky asked about the security assistance. Although both senators stressed bipartisan congressional support for Ukraine, Senator Johnson cautioned President Zelensky that President Trump has a negative view of Ukraine and that President Zelensky would have a difficult time overcoming it. Senator Johnson further explained that he was “shocked” by President Trump’s negative reaction during an Oval Office meeting on May 23, when he and the Three Amigos proposed that President Trump meet President Zelensky and show support for Ukraine.

Why that’s notable: We know that Johnson wanted the security aid, which was mysteriously frozen after Congress approved it this summer, given to Ukraine. He’s the vice chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and a key member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who helped shepherd it through Congress.

But Johnson has been publicly very supportive of Trump, giving the president the benefit of the doubt that he was interested in ensuring the money wouldn’t be used corruptly. Yet here’s Johnson in a closed-door setting appearing to say he doesn’t understand why Trump isn’t more supportive of Ukraine.

(Emphasis in original. Phillips’s full article lists other references in public statements showing Johnson’s ongoing role in the Ukraine matter.)

On Wisconsin Public Radio, Kate Archer Kent hosts a discussion on Immigration: Now, And Then:

As the Supreme Court takes up a case challenging efforts to end a program protecting from deportation young immigrants who came to the country illegally, we discuss conditions at the border with a Wisconsinite who saw them firsthand. Then, we take a closer look at the state’s immigration history.
Host(s):
Kate Archer Kent
Guest(s):
Primitivo Torres
Rachel Ida Buff

(Link to audio file.)

Coffee Around the World:

Daily Bread for 11.16.19

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of thirty-seven.  Sunrise is 6:48 AM and sunset 4:30 PM, for 9h 41m 47s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 83.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred third day.

On this day in 1861, the 4th Wisconsin Infantry reconnoiters Virginia’s eastern shore.

Recommended for reading in full:

 Devi Shastri reports Team searching for UW System’s next president has no faculty, no staff, little diversity:

On Nov. 1, a week to the day after Ray Cross, University of Wisconsin System president of five years, announced his intent to retire, faculty representatives from each of the 13 UW campuses sat in a meeting in Madison to discuss the upcoming search for his replacement.

“And literally while we were in the discussion, the email came in to faculty reps announcing the composition of the committee and announcing that they were going to meet in December to take their charge and get working,” said Kathleen Dolan, a distinguished professor at UWM and chair of the faculty senate’s university committee, said at a faculty senate meeting last week.

The search committee had no faculty. No staff. The committee’s sole student, Torrey Tiedeman, already sits on the Board of Regents.

Further, the committee appears to have only one person of color: Edmund Manydeeds III, a regent who is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

That composition has raised skepticism, particularly since it’s tasked with a big job: finding the best candidate to lead the state’s largest producer of college graduates into the ever-uncertain, ever-changing higher education landscape of tomorrow.

 Pema Levy writes Donald Trump Has Had a Lot of Terrible Lawyers. Rudy Giuliani Might Be the Worst:

Giuliani also took on a side portfolio: pushing for the ouster of the US ambassador in Ukraine and trying to get Ukraine to launch investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, as well as into a conspiracy theory about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 elections.

That project has proven a disaster for his client: A lawyer who sets out to defend a president and instead helps create the basis for his impeachment has not been an effective counsel. If that weren’t enough, here are three other ways Giuliani is not helping.

….

Giuliani is failing his most basic task of publicly defending his client. With little evidence that Giuliani is carrying out actual legal work for the president, that public role would seem to be his one job. This week he attempted to do so in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, describing the July 25th phone call during which Trump asked Ukraine’s president to do him “a favor”:

Allegations of Burisma-Biden corruption weren’t even a major part of the conversation. The focus was on Ukrainian corruption broadly speaking and out of a five-page transcript Mr. Trump spent only six lines on Joe Biden.

The line quickly drew derision on Twitter. There is no word-count threshold for crimes or abuses of power.

 Proof Russian Pilots Bombed a Hospital. Then They Did It Again:

Friday Catblogging: Cat influencer launches his own podcast

Bilbo The Cat is a bold entrepreneur. Without any help other than whatever small assistance his human mother Ellen Murray provides, Bilbo has created a popular Twitter account and spread his delightful image from his Belfast home to feeds across the globe. Now, knowing that any good media empire must include a video or audio component, Bilbo has struck out into the world of podcasts and debuted what is, to our knowledge, the very first cat-led venture of its kind with The Bilbcast.

Via Reid McCarter, A cat influencer has gone and launched his very own podcast.

Daily Bread for 11.15.19

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of thirty-eight.  Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 4:31 PM, for 9h 43m 54s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 90.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred second day.

On this day in 1942, the United States is victorious at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal:

In the resulting battle, both sides lost numerous warships in two extremely destructive surface engagements at night. Nevertheless, the U.S. succeeded in turning back attempts by the Japanese to bombard Henderson Field with battleships. Allied aircraft also sank most of the Japanese troop transports and prevented the majority of the Japanese troops and equipment from reaching Guadalcanal. Thus, the battle turned back Japan’s last major attempt to dislodge Allied forces from Guadalcanal and nearby Tulagi, resulting in a strategic victory for the U.S. and its allies and deciding the ultimate outcome of the Guadalcanal campaign in their favor.

Recommended for reading in full:

reports Operator of former Cedarburg fondue restaurant may have drugged more than 20 young women, prosecutor says:

A former Cedarburg restaurant operator charged with spiking a customer’s drink in 2014 may have drugged more than 20 young women’s drinks over a 10-year period, both in Cedarburg and in Florida, according to a prosecutor.

Jacob Banas, 39, owned the August Weber Haus, a fondue restaurant and bar on Cedarburg’s historic Washington Avenue. Allegations about him tampering with customers’ drinks first arose in 2014, in a search warrant affidavit.

Several women had complained that after accepting drinks from Banas, they had no recollection of the rest of their evening, felt sick and disoriented unlike being drunk, threw up, were told by others they engaged in strange behaviors, or woke up in Banas’ apartment, some having had sex with him, some unsure if they had or not.

But it wasn’t until last year that Banas was charged with “administering a dangerous or stupefying drug,” a felony related to one woman’s encounter with him in April 2014.

….

Banas’ trial is set for February. The case is being heard by the Washington County judge after all three judges in Ozaukee County Circuit Court either recused themselves or were substituted by the defense.

 Jacob Schultz reports FBI Releases Report on Lone Offender Terrorism:

The FBI has released a report on lone offender terrorism, which is commonly referred to as lone wolf terrorism. The report examines lone offender attacks in the United States from 1972-2015. In the report, the authors analyze a collection of data about lone offenders including demographic information, ideological inclinations and radicalization timelines. The report can be read here and below.

Cosmic Concepts: Galaxy Shapes and Sizes:

Government Breaks for Local Newspapers are a Bad, Bad Idea

There’s understandable worry that communities across America are losing their local newspapers, and so one hears that something simply must be done to save them.  Clara Hendrickson, in Local journalism in crisis: Why America must revive its local newsrooms, proposes that we (1) “provide public funding for local journalism” (via tax incentives, mainly), (2) “address the ways large online platforms undercut the business model for local news” (principally by taxing those enterprises more).

It’s a bad, bad idea for government to subsidize – by whatever means – local journalism:

Local journalists in America who depend on government will find themselves vulnerable to government pressure.

Many of these newspapers have already run themselves into the ground, and have been absorbed into large, out-of-market chains that will be the ones to receive any tax credits.

These remaining local newspapers are – even while publishing – contributing to a news desert: flimsy stories, news features that are little more than single-source government press releases, etc.

Just as a desert isn’t the absence of anything, so a news desert isn’t merely the absence of newspapers: it should also be understood as an arid landscape of limited foliage and growth. These local newspapers, even now, are part of a dry, desiccated condition by their own failure to report in detail and robustly.

These men created this desert, and they should not be rewarded for it. If they want more, they should offer more to market in substance and style. If they want better, they should do better.

See a FREE WHITEWATER category, Newspapers, chock-a-block with examples of deficient local newspaper reporting.

Whitewater Schools’ State Report Cards

Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction annually issues report cards measuring schools’ performance across several major categories. Whitewater’s detailed report card results appear below, first for the district, and then for each of her five schools (one high school, one middle school, and three elementary schools).

These documents are available here for download – in full size – and are also available at the DPI website @ https://apps2.dpi.wi.gov/reportcards/.

 

 

Daily Bread for 11.14.19

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of thirty-one.  Sunrise is 6:46 AM and sunset 4:32 PM, for 9h 46m 03s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 96% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundred first day.

On this day in 1861, historian Frederick Jackson Turner is born in Portage.

Recommended for reading in full:

Patrick Marley reports Lawsuit seeks to force Wisconsin election officials to remove people who may have moved from the voter rolls:

The lawsuit argues that state law requires the commission to remove people from the voter rolls within 30 days if it does not get responses after notifying them it has reliable information they have moved.

….

Commissioners have been reluctant to suspend people from the voter rolls quickly because thousands of voters contended in 2017 they were improperly removed from the rolls when similar mailings were sent that year.

In 2017, the commission contacted about 340,000 voters who it believed might have moved. It removed many of them from the voter rolls because they did not respond.

But election officials in the months afterward determined many of the people were contacted because of faulty data.

In September 2018, the commission told local election clerks they could reinstate voter registrations if they believed people had been wrongly removed from the rolls. That cleared the way for Milwaukee to restore the registrations of about 21,000 voters — nearly half of the 44,000 Milwaukee voters who had been taken off the rolls in 2017.

To avoid similar problems, the commission in June voted unanimously to give people more than a year to respond to the latest mailings before they would have their voter registrations suspended.

The commission consists of three Republicans and three Democrats.

Scott R. Anderson and Quinta Jurecic write What to Make of the First Day of Impeachment Hearings:

One aspect of the Republican strategy that appears constant is an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the process leading to impeachment proceedings. Nunes opened and closed by identifying three questions—what interactions the whistleblower who initially brought attention to the July 25 Trump-Zelensky call has had with Democrats, to what extent Ukraine meddled in the 2016 elections, and why Burisma placed Hunter Biden on its board—that he maintains should be answered before any further steps are taken, even as he accused Schiff of conducting a “star chamber” and orchestrating a show trial. Jordan and other Republicans returned to these themes, with several reiterating demands for more information about the whistleblower and implying that they were not fully aware of what had happened in the prior closed-door sessions. None of these critiques, however, have much bearing on the question of impeachment: Trump himself disclosed and has corroborated the July 25 call memorandum and none of these points contest the facts to which Taylor, Kent and others have testified. Instead, these Republican efforts are aimed to distract and obfuscate by creating so much outrage at the Democrats’ conduct that Trump’s own actions—the subject of the impeachment inquiry—cease to be the focus of the public debate.

Continue reading

Daily Bread for 11.13.19

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of twenty-five.  Sunrise is 6:45 AM and sunset 4:33 PM, for 9h 48m 15s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 99.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand one hundredth day.

Whitewater’s Police and Fire Commission meets at 6:30 PM.

 On this day in 1858, John Gund and Gottlieb Heileman establish the Heileman Brewery.

Recommended for reading in full:

Margaret Taylor and Benjamin Wittes describe The Story the Impeachment Depositions Tell:

First, the transcripts show how Rudy Giuliani pursued objectives in Ukraine for the benefit of his business partners, as well as the political interests of his client, President Trump. These activities lead to the president being fed bad information over a long period of time and they ultimately result in the meritless dismissal of Yovanovitch, as well as to a concerted attack on Deputy Secretary of State George Kent.

Second, against the backdrop of the election of a new president in Ukraine, the transcripts show the development of an irregular channel for achieving Trump’s objectives in that country—a channel that was not always playing by the usual rules of diplomacy or bureaucratic lines of communication. The transcripts show the members of both the regular and irregular channel trying to figure out what was really going on and how to navigate the unprecedented situation of Giuliani’s influence on Trump, in order to help the new Ukrainian president solidify a relationship with the United States—a relationship that is crucial for Ukraine’s continued existence as a fully independent sovereign country.

Third, in this broader context, the transcripts tell a specific story of the development of conditionality regarding a White House meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. What began as a mere hostility on the part of Trump toward Ukraine and an unsubstantiated conviction that the Ukrainians had interfered in the 2016 election, came to involve demands to investigate that theory. And it came as well to involve demands that the Ukrainians investigate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his connection to the Ukrainian national gas company, Burisma, on whose board the younger Biden sat. Those demands, over the course of the summer, came to be linked to the desire of the new Ukrainian government for a White House meeting between Zelensky and Trump.

Finally, the transcripts tell a related story of how the provision of military assistance to Ukraine similarly came to be conditioned on U.S. demands—because what Ukraine ultimately needs is U.S. support in an ongoing military conflict with a more powerful neighbor that is occupying its territory. The narrative is ultimately one of how an irregular actor’s behavior—circumventing the normal policy process and feeding bad information and conspiracy theories to a president—led to that president demanding political smears of an embattled, struggling democracy as a condition of U.S. support.

 The New Tech Of Door-To-Door Campaigning:

Her Constituents Can Be Proud

Here in Whitewater, part of the gerrymandered Fifth Congressional District, we have for a congressman a septuagenarian multi-millionaire (Sensenbrenner) who votes with Trump, and his most-likely successor is a state senator (Fitzgerald) who sings a Trump train song.

Men who tried all day to be embarrassments wouldn’t be able to match Sensenbrenner’s and Fitzgerald’s natural tendencies in that regard.

By contrast, in Virginia, the voters of that state’s Second Congressional District can be proud of their representative, Elaine Luria, a former officer in the United States Navy.

Why would one say this?

One says this because Rep. Luria’s plain statement about her oath of office, by itself, sets her apart from our own disappointing representative and his even worse, but probable, successor.

Janesville Gazette’s Reprehensible Story About an Alleged Sexual Assault

At the nearby Janesville Gazette, there’s a story about an alleged sexual assault that’s simply reprehensible reporting: Excessive drinking was prelude to sex assault, court document alleges. (The reporter, Frank Schultz; editor, Sid Schwartz.)

Here’s how Schultz’s story begins – a single-sentence first paragraph:

An 18-year-old Janesville man is accused of second-degree sexual assault after a woman said she was assaulted after a night of excessive drinking.

From the headline and first paragraph, and onward for 4 more short paragraphs, this story shifts the emphasis to alcohol’s role in this sexual assault (Paragraph 2: “after drinking to the point of vomiting”; Paragraph 3: defendant “offered to let her stay at his place so she wouldn’t drive in her condition”; Paragraph 4: “she passed out on the bed”; Paragraph 5: the victim “woke up to Dyer assaulting her, but she could not speak, see or move because she was so drunk”).

No and no again: the story mightily and falsely shifts the focus to over-drinking rather than violence inflicted without consent. Whether this victim drank or didn’t, dressed one way or another, wore makeup of one kind or another, etc., it does not matter: whether she gave consent is all that matters, and all that should and must matter in a morally well-ordered society.

The reporter goes on to write that according to the criminal complaint the alleged assailant “eventually admitted the assault, saying it dawned on him while he was doing it that it was wrong.”

The reporter, Frank Schultz, elsewhere fancies himself an amateur etymologist of sorts – he touts skill with language by describing himself as a ‘Word Badger.’ It’s notable that his story has not a single direct quotation of its own – I’m quoting this story, but it has no quotations marks – every word this reporter writes is attributed directly only to the reporter. Schultz, himself, chose each and every word.

This story did not have to be written this way – it was written this way. This story did not have to be edited this way (if it should have been edited at all) – it was edited this way.

An emphasis on the victim’s intoxication and not on the alleged assailant’s lack of consent runs through this shabby effort. It’s a veteran reporter and a veteran editor who are culpable here: neither reporter Frank Schultz nor editor Sid Schwartz is young.

Their word choice is, it turns out, a prelude of sorts for mine: the story is reprehensible, as it is deserving of rebuke.

The Gazette has had problems of commentary (Does the Janesville Gazette Have a Dictionary?), simple reporting (The Janesville Gazette’s Sketchy Reporting on Major Topics), and of economic analysis (in What the New Dealers Got Right – What Whitewater’s Local Notables Got Wrong.)

The failure of this crime story, however, is far worse: it reflects a failure of understanding and perspective.

Daily Bread for 11.12.19

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of nineteen.  Sunrise is 6:43 AM and sunset 4:34 PM, for 9h 50m 29s of daytime.  The moon is full with 100% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand ninety-ninth day.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 6 PM.

 On this day in 1836, Territorial Governor Dodge signs Wisconsin’s first law, prescribing how legislators were to behave, and how others were to behave toward them.

Recommended for reading in full:

Molly Beck reports Tony Evers rehires former agriculture secretary ousted by Senate Republicans:

Gov. Tony Evers has rehired his former agriculture secretary less than a week after Senate Republicans voted to fire him.

Brad Pfaff has been hired as the state Department of Administration’s director of business and rural development after being ousted last week by Republican lawmakers following a series of clashes over state funding for farmers’ mental health services.

….

A spokeswoman for Evers did not immediately say whether the position was created for Pfaff.

The Republicans’ vote to remove Pfaff marked the first time the Senate ousted a cabinet secretary in decades, and possibly ever. Evers’ called the move “absolute bullshit.”

Republicans defended their vote to reject Pfaff by arguing manure storage rules Pfaff has been developing would hurt struggling farmers amid one of the worst downturns for the dairy industry.

But Evers said the lawmakers were punishing Pfaff for sticking up for farmers and publicly criticizing Republicans who control the Legislature for holding back suicide prevention funds.

 Mitch Smith reports New Normal in Key State for 2020 Race: Political Deadlock:

MADISON, Wis. — The governor of Wisconsin called a special session last week to debate gun legislation. It resulted in exactly zero new laws, and it lasted less than a minute.

Such is life these days in Wisconsin, a state that for much of the last decade was a laboratory for some of the nation’s most conservative policymaking and a hotbed of partisan fervor, but where pretty much everything has now slowed to a crawl.

Acrimonious deadlocks have become the new normal in Wisconsin, one of three Midwestern states where Democrats ended full Republican control last year by flipping governorships. Gov. Tony Evers’s defeat of Scott Walker, whose success at pushing Wisconsin sharply to the right prompted a brief presidential bid, has given Democrats a new foothold this year in a region where they had been mostly sidelined. Yet with attention turning to the presidential election, in which Wisconsin voters are seen as playing a decisive role, divided power has given way to frustrated impasse, with little chance for either party to hold up state policymaking as the showcase it once was here.

Yesterday, Mercury transited in front of the Sun, and NASA recorded the event:

Daily Bread for 11.11.19

Good morning.

Veterans Day in Whitewater will be snowy with a high of twenty-five.  Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 4:35 PM, for 9h 52m 45s of daytime.  The moon is full with 99.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand ninety-eighth day.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets at 6 PM.

2019 Veterans Day Poster Competition Winner

It’s Veterans Day: “A Congressional Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made November 11 in each year a legal holiday: “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day’.”

Recommended for reading in full:

Shane Croucher writes Trump promised to eliminate the deficit in eight years. So far, he has increased it by 68%:

During the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump made an aggressive promise on federal finances: He would eliminate the budget deficit within eight years. Now, three years into his presidency, the deficit is 68 percent higher than when he started.

Trump inherited a deficit of $585 billion when he took office in January 2017. That was 58 percent lower than the $1.4 trillion former President Barack Obama inherited in 2009 following the financial crisis, a number his administration slashed over two terms.

According to the latest Congressional Budget Office data released on Monday, the full-year deficit for 2019 is estimated to come in at $984 billion, just shy of the $1 trillion that many analysts were expecting. In 2018 the figure was $779 billion and in 2017 it was $665 billion.

“Relative to the size of the economy, the deficit—at an estimated 4.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—was the highest since 2012, and 2019 was the fourth consecutive year in which the deficit increased as a percentage of GDP,” the CBO said in its report.

“He’s got no hope of eliminating the deficit,” Danny Blanchflower, professor of economics at Dartmouth College and a former monetary policymaker at the Bank of England, told Newsweek.

 Salvatore Rizzo debunks Rand Paul’s claim that Trump has a constitutional right to confront whistleblowers:

Paul said Trump’s confrontation rights under the Sixth Amendment supersede any laws Congress has passed to protect whistleblowers. But the two things aren’t really in conflict, and the Sixth Amendment doesn’t apply to impeachment in any case.

The Sixth Amendment includes bedrock constitutional protections: the rights to counsel, to call witnesses, to confront accusers and to a speedy public trial with an impartial jury. The text of the amendment starts by limiting those rights to defendants facing “criminal prosecutions.”

Impeachment is a different process that turns on congressional votes. The maximum penalty is removal from office. Under the Constitution, the House has the sole power of impeachment and the Senate the sole power to try impeachment charges, with a two-thirds majority required for conviction.

(The Pauls – Rand and father Ron – are often described as libertarians, but libertarianism is incompatible with Trumpism, and in the father’s case incompatible with pre-Trump racism. See Libertarians and Ron Paul. In the Pauls, one hoped for more but received less.)

 Using The 10-Year-Old Original Motorola Droid For A Week: