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Author Archive for JOHN ADAMS

Markets and Markets

One reads that Whitewater now has an option, for most of the city, of grocery delivery from nearby cities. As it is, Whitewater has a Walmart, but no stand-alone, full-service grocery. Private delivery service is a benefit to the community. It’s better to have more grocery options than fewer.

These are private enterprises providing private delivery services. Government, including Whitewater’s Community Development Authority, has spent years and millions on large public projects (an ‘Innovation Center,’ profitless tech startups, etc.), and for it Whitewater has only grown poorer as a low-income community. A decade of letting the leaders of the local business league (the self-described ‘Greater Whitewater’ Committee) run the CDA like a low-rent club hasn’t improved the best measure of economic development: gains in individual and household incomes.

Market manipulation means fewer markets.

Whitewater’s slipped far, and she needs something wholly different to address her condition: Waiting for Whitewater’s Dorothy Day.

See also A Candid Admission from the Whitewater CDA, Whitewater & Walworth County’s Working Poor, 2020 ALICE® Report, Reported Family Poverty in Whitewater Increased Over the Last Decade.

 

Daily Bread for 1.12.21

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be overcast with a high of thirty.  Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:43 PM, for 9h 20m 33s of daytime.  The moon is new with 0.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is both the one thousand five hundred twenty-sixth day and the sixty-seventh day. 

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets via audiovisual conferencing at 6 PM.

On this day in 1932, Hattie Caraway becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Tim Craig, Holly Bailey, and Matt Zapotosky report State capitals face threat of armed protests, FBI warns:

On Saturday, heavily armed demonstrators surrounded the Kentucky Capitol. The protesters, dressed in camouflage and carrying assault weapons and zip-tie handcuffs, vowed to continue to support Trump while railing against Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

At a news conference Monday, Beshear vowed he would not be “intimidated,” and he called on Americans to reject those who threaten the symbols and buildings that represent the country’s democratic principles.

“These are not the actions of people who believe in this country. These are people who believe they can bully and intimidate other individuals,” Beshear, visibly angry, said. “To anybody who believes that domestic terror is the way to go, we will be ready for you. We will not back down.”

In Wisconsin, state workers on Monday began boarding up ground-level windows of the Capitol in Madison in anticipation of the protesters. In Arizona, officials had erected a double-layer chain-link fence around the Capitol complex in Phoenix. In Michigan, a state that has been on edge since the FBI disrupted a plot in October to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), a state legislative committee voted Thursday to ban residents from openly carrying guns inside the Capitol in Lansing.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) called up 750 National Guard troops to help protect the Capitol, where the legislature kicked off its annual session Monday.

Jennifer Schuessler reports Hundreds of Historians Join Call for Trump’s Impeachment:

More than 300 historians and constitutional scholars have signed an open letter calling for the impeachment and removal of President Trump. They say his continuation in office after encouraging supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol posed “a clear and present danger to American democracy and the national security of the United States.”

Those who signed the letter, released on Medium on Monday, include best-selling authors like Ron Chernow, Taylor Branch, Garry Wills and Stacy Schiff, as well as many leading academic historians. A number of the signatories had joined a previous letterin December 2019, calling for the president’s impeachment because of “numerous and flagrant abuses of power” including failure to protect the integrity of the impending 2020 election.

“Since November 2020,” the new letter says, “Trump has refused to accept the results of a free and fair election, something no president before him has ever done.”

Politically, the condemnation by historians may carry less weight than the president’s loss of support in recent days from business groups that once supported him or his policies. But David Greenberg, a historian at Rutgers who drafted the new letter, said that historical expertise mattered.

“Trump has defied the Constitution and broken laws, norms, practices and precedents, for which he must be held accountable now and after he leaves office,” the letter says of his presidency. “No future president should be tempted by the example of his defiance going unpunished.”

Japan’s Hokuriku region blanketed by record snowfall:

Confederates, Copperheads, and Conservatives

It’s an understatement to say that a democratic society that endures a violent mob seizing its capitol building is a society in distress. We find ourselves in the twenty-first century facing movements as malevolent and mendacious as the nineteenth century’s Confederates and Copperheads.

Karen L. Cox writes What Trump Shares With the ‘Lost Cause’ of the Confederacy (‘It is hard to miss the parallels between now and then of rewriting history and campaigns of disinformation’):

And if there was ever a campaign of disinformation, the Lost Cause was it. The Confederacy, the lie went, failed only because of the North’s superior numbers and resources. But it went further than that. As Edward Pollard, the Richmond editor who coined the term “Lost Cause” wrote in 1866, “The Confederates have gone out of this war,” he wrote, “with the proud, secret, dangerous consciousness that they are the BETTER MEN, and that there was nothing wanting but a change in a set of circumstances and a firmer resolve to make them victors.”

This constitutes another parallel to the movement Mr. Trump has created. Under a change in circumstances — overturning the results of the election — the better man would have won. This is the “dangerous consciousness” of Trump’s supporters. Like Lee’s Lost Cause, it will not likely end. When Lee died just five years after the Civil War, the myths around Confederate defeat and efforts to memorialize it were growing exponentially throughout the South. The Lost Cause did not belong to Lee; Lee belonged to the Lost Cause — a cultural phenomenon whose momentum could not be stopped.

….

Like the original Lost Cause, today’s movement has been aided and abetted by the president’s field generals — many of them Republican members of Congress. They espouse the same language, stoke the same flames and perpetuate the same myths — all to incite a base of voters to keep them in office.

Of modern-day Copperheads (who like the original version are those within a democratic government undermining democratic policy), one reads that an Officer resigns as Army investigates her involvement in Washington rally that led to U.S. Capitol riot

A psychological operations officer who the Army is investigating for leading a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington that led up to the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol had already resigned her commission, CBS News correspondent David Martin reports. Commanders at Fort Bragg said they were reviewing Captain Emily Rainey’s involvement in last week’s events in the nation’s capital, but she said she acted within military regulations and that no one in her group broke the law.

A Defense official told CBS News the Army is investigating how many soldiers from Fort Bragg accompanied Rainey to Washington. Rainey had resigned her commission after receiving a career-ending letter of reprimand for her actions at an earlier protest in the Fort Bragg area, Martin reports.

Of conservatives, Jonathon V. Last writes Conservatism [Before 2016] Is Dead

When Donald Trump first annexed the Republican party there was a lot of talk in conservative circles about True Conservatism. There were people from the Reagan/fusionism years who insisted that their precepts represented the True Conservatism and that the Trumpists were an aberration.

The Trumpists, on the other hand, argued that their brand of ethno-nationalism was the True Conservatism that had finally displaced a failed, dead consensus.

….

In this sense, it is useful to think about pre-2016 “conservatism” as a dead language. We can argue about how the language died, whether it was gradual, bottom-to-top, or radical. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is, as a functional matter, dead.

What good is it to claim that Old English is the “True English” if only a handful of academics speak it?

Daily Bread for 1.11.21

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of twenty-nine.  Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:42 PM, for 9h 19m 00s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 3.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is both the one thousand five hundred twenty-fifth day and the sixty-sixth day. 

Whitewater’s Planning Board meets at via audiovisual conferencing 6 PM.

On this day in 1787, William Herschel discovers Titania and Oberon, two moons of Uranus.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Kathleen Gray reports In Michigan, a Dress Rehearsal for the Chaos at the Capitol on Wednesday:

LANSING, Mich. — First came the “Unlock Michigan” protest. More than 1,000 cars, many draped with flags supporting President Trump, drove around the Michigan State Capitol, blaring their horns and decrying Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus lockdown orders. Hundreds of others, many armed with military-style weapons, milled about on the lawn.

Two weeks later, on April 30, the dissent escalated. Gun-toting protesters rushed the State Capitol, not long after Mr. Trump tweeted “Liberate Michigan.” They demanded entry into the House of Representatives’ chamber, chanting “Let Us In.”

A handful of them, wearing camouflage fatigues with semiautomatic rifles slung over their shoulders, watched ominously from the gallery above the Senate chamber as the elected officials did their work. The lawmakers passed bills and resolutions and gave angry floor speeches about the extraordinary show of force looking down at them. At least two of the protesters were among 14 people later charged in a failed plot to kidnap Ms. Whitmer and bomb the state Capitol.

See also After trial runs at statehouses last year, the far-right’s violent tactics erupted at the Capitol.

 Ann Hornaday writes The Trump cult has obliterated the line between citizenship and fandom, with deadly results:

“Sleep well tonight, patriots … You are going to love how this movie ends.”

Those are the words of StormIsUponUs, who posted on Parler on Wednesday encouraging the hundreds of Donald Trump supporters who earlier that day had laid siege to the sanctum sanctorum of American democracy.

Presumably, the rioters were there to stop the process underway to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden, a dubious goal they achieved for a few tense and chaotic hours. Mostly, though, they seemed aimless and incoherent, roaming the corridors, ransacking offices, scrambling up and down walls even though stairs were right there. A motley crew dressed in red MAGA hats and ridiculous costumes ranging from Uncle Sam and a bald eagle to Captain America and the Punisher, they presented a bizarre tableau, as if a “Purge” sequel were being filmed at Mos Eisley’s Cantina.

And, as indicated by the movie quote, cinematic references were definitely the point for people who, once they claimed the stage, clearly had no idea what to do with it. Rather than kicking ass and taking names, they looked like asses and made memes. Incoherent, incompetent, devoid of ideology beyond inchoate rage at not getting their way, they mulled and milled about — posing, posturing, taking selfies and live-streaming their exploits. “Our house!” West Virginia state delegate Derrick Evans exclaimed on Facebook Live as he joined the rioters who had smashed windows and bullied their way through doors. “We’re in, baby!” (On Friday, he was charged with unlawfully entering restricted grounds.)

How Instant Ramen Became An Instant Success:

Trump’s Employment Failure

Catherine Rampell writes December’s jobs report confirms Trump is set to be the worst jobs president on record:

When the pandemic first hit the United States, we lost 22 million jobs almost immediately. Then after seven months of gains — albeit decelerating ones — the economy tipped back into job losses in December, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. Employers eliminated 140,000 jobs on net; the industry with the biggest losses was leisure and hospitality (President Trump’s own sector); it lost nearly half a million jobs last month alone. Since February, employment in the industry is down by about a quarter.

A separate survey of workers found that 6.7 percent of workers remain officially unemployed. A broader measure of underemployment — including those who can’t find jobs, can’t find enough hours or have become discouraged and given up applying for work entirely — stands at 11.7 percent.

….

Trump is not responsible for a global pandemic or the economic crisis it caused. As I’ve said ad nauseam, presidents get too much credit when the economy is good and too much blame when it is bad; they can affect things only on the margin. That said, a number of his administration’s decisions made things worse on the margin.

That includes discouraging Americans from taking simple precautions (such as mask-wearing) that reduce the spread of the virus, whose latest wave is undoubtedly the reason for the service industry’s significant losses.

Andrew Van Dam gives these losses a visual representation

See also Trump’s Economy: Exaggerations, Lies, Failures, Trumpism Brings Economic Decline, and Trump Tax Bill is the Predictable Failure Sensible People Warned It Would Be.

Daily Bread for 1.10.21

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be overcast with a high of twenty-seven.  Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:41 PM, for 9h 17m 32s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 9% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is both the one thousand five hundred twenty-fourth day and the sixty-fifth day. 

  On this day in 1927, Fritz Lang’s futuristic film Metropolis is released in Germany.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Adam Liptak reports Can Twitter Legally Bar Trump? The First Amendment Says Yes:

When Simon & Schuster canceled its plans this week to publish Senator Josh Hawley’s book, he called the action “a direct assault on the First Amendment.”

And when Twitter permanently banned President Trump’s account on Friday, his family and his supporters said similar things. “We are living Orwell’s 1984,” Donald Trump Jr. said — on Twitter. “Free-speech no longer exists in America.”

The companies’ decisions may have been unwise, scholars who study the First Amendment said, but they were perfectly lawful. That is because the First Amendment prohibits government censorship and does not apply to decisions made by private businesses.

It is certainly possible to violate the values embodied in the First Amendment without violating the First Amendment itself. But the basic legal question could hardly be more straightforward, said RonNell Andersen Jones, a law professor at the University of Utah. And, she said, it should not have been lost on Mr. Hawley, who graduated from Yale Law School and served as a law clerk to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

“It’s become popular — even among those who plainly know better — to label all matters restricting anyone’s speech as a ‘First Amendment issue,’” she said. “But the First Amendment limits only government actors, and neither a social media company nor a book publisher is the government. Indeed, they enjoy their own First Amendment rights not to have the government require them to associate with speech when they prefer not to do so.”

(Emphasis added.)

 Mark Cuban explained the rights of private publishers in a free society to Sen. Hawley after the cancelation of Hawley’s book deal:

Josh, let me explain Capitalism to you. Sometimes people decide not to do business with you. It’s their decision. You know the whole “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” thing? In your case it happens to be “No Principles, No Honesty, No Book” thing. Feel free to Self-Publish.

 Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt report Trump has not lowered flags in honor of an officer who died from injuries sustained amid the riot:

President Trump has not ordered the flags on federal buildings to fly at half-staff in honor of Brian D. Sicknick, a police officer who was killed after trying to fend off pro-Trump loyalists during the siege at the Capitol on Wednesday.

While the flags at the Capitol have been lowered, Mr. Trump has not issued a similar order for federal buildings under his control. A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Sicknick, 42, an officer for the Capitol Police, died on Thursday from brain injuries he sustained after Trump loyalists who overtook the complex struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher, according to two law enforcement officials. Hours earlier, addressing supporters at a rally steps from the White House, Mr. Trump denounced the 2020 election as stolen from him and instructed them to march “peacefully” to the Capitol while also repeatedly noting that his side needed to “fight.”

Mr. Trump has not reached out to Mr. Sicknick’s family, although Vice President Mike Pence called to offer condolences, an aide to Mr. Pence said.

Inside NYC’s new Penn Station train hall:

Film: Tuesday, January 12th, 1 PM @ Seniors in the Park, The King of Staten Island

This Tuesday, January12th at 1 PM, there will be a showing of The King of Staten Island @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

Comedy/Drama
Rated R (Language, Sex, Drugs)

2 hours, 16 minutes (2020)

A semi-biographical film of Pete Davidson, a member of the ensemble of “Saturday Night Live.” At age 24, he still hasn’t come to grips with the passing of his firefighter father, a victim of 9/11.

Also stars Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Steve Buscemi, and Machine Gun Kelly.

Masks are required and you must register for a seat either by calling, emailing or going online at https://schedulesplus.com/wwtr/kiosk. There will be a limit of 10 people for the  time slot. No walk-ins.

One can find more information about The King of Staten Island at the Internet Movie Database.

Enjoy.

Daily Bread for 1.9.21

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of thirty.  Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:40 PM, for 9h 16m 07s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 16.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is both the one thousand five hundred twenty-third day and the sixty-fourth day. 

  On this day in 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the original iPhone at a Macworld keynote in San Francisco.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny report Extremists made little secret of ambitions to ‘occupy’ Capitol in weeks before attack:

“Everyone who was a law enforcement officer or a reporter knew exactly what these hate groups were planning,” [Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl A.] Racine said. “They were planning to descend on Washington, D.C., ground center was the Capitol, and they were planning to charge and, as Rudy Giuliani indicated, to do combat justice at the Capitol,”

On the fringe message board 8kun, which is popular with QAnon followers, for example, users talked for weeks about a siege of the Capitol, some talking about it like a foregone conclusion. Others simply debated how violent the uprising should be, and if police should be exempt.

“You can go to Washington on Jan 6 and help storm the Capital,” said one 8kun user a day before the siege. “As many Patriots as can be. We will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents, and demand a recount.”

….

A day before the rally, the investigative journalism website Bellingcat published an article detailing the online convergence of radical conservative groups with QAnon and white supremecist groups leading up to what the president promised would be a “wild protest,” specifically mentioning their online discussion about storming and burning the Capitol and specific threats directed at D.C. government officials and police.

The Washington Post published a similar article, citing specific posts on the encrypted app Telegram and Parler, a Twitter alternative, about sneaking illegal weapons into the rally. NBC News also published an article highlighting the threats, using research from Advance DemocracyInc., a global research organization that studies disinformation and extremism.

(Emphasis added.)

 Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman report Trump Is Said to Have Discussed Pardoning Himself:

In several conversations since Election Day, Mr. Trump has told advisers that he is considering giving himself a pardon and, in other instances, asked whether he should and what the effect would be on him legally and politically, according to the two people. It was not clear whether he had broached the topic since he incited his supporters on Wednesday to march on the Capitol, where some stormed the building in a mob attack.

Mr. Trump has shown signs that his level of interest in pardoning himself goes beyond idle musings. He has long maintained he has the power to pardon himself, and his polling of aides’ views is typically a sign that he is preparing to follow through on his aims. He has also become increasingly convinced that his perceived enemies will use the levers of law enforcement to target him after he leaves office.

No president has pardoned himself, so the legitimacy of prospective self-clemency has never been tested in the justice system, and legal scholars are divided about whether the courts would recognize it. But they agree a presidential self-pardon could create a dangerous new precedent for presidents to unilaterally declare they are above the law and to insulate themselves from being held accountable for any crimes they committed in office.

Closest brown dwarf star to Earth has ‘stripes’:

NASA’s TESS space telescope was used to measure brown dwarf Luhman 16B’s brightness. A University of Arizona-led research team used the high precision light data to create a visualization of the star and its atmosphere.

Johnson & Fitzgerald: Betrayers of Wisconsin

The Journal Sentinel’s editorial board correctly contends that Ron Johnson, Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany should resign or be expelled for siding with Trump against our republic:

It was one of Scott Fitzgerald’s first votes in Congress — and he voted to give aid and comfort to an insurrection.

This is what putting Donald Trump ahead of democracy, the Constitution and the will of the citizens has wrought.

Fitzgerald was joined by fellow Wisconsin Congressman Tom Tiffany in voting with those who wanted to reject Electoral College votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania, just hours after a band of rioters roused by Trump stormed the Capitol.

They would have voted to reject the will of voters in Wisconsin as well, they said later, but they weren’t given the chance.

….

Fitzgerald and Tiffany were the only members of the House of Representatives from Wisconsin who joined in an insurrection built upon a foundation of ignorance and lies.

Sen. Ron Johnson decided to vote against both baseless challenges to certified votes only after our nation’s Capitol was sacked as Congress gathered to perform its simple constitutional duty to recognize the Electoral College vote.

But Johnson had been shilling for Trump and this moment for days, adding kindling to the megalomaniac’s fire, so his last-minute switch does nothing to absolve his role in stoking this shameful day in American history.

Both Johnson and Fitzgerald have Whitewater connections: Johnson in his representation of Wisconsin in the United States Senate, and Fitzgerald as the United States Representative for the gerrymandered Fifth Congressional District, of which Whitewater is a part.

If these men had their way, then Wisconsin’s certified presidential choice (the choice of Whitewater, also) would have been set aside on the basis of lies and conspiracy theories.

Well worth remembering.

Daily Bread for 1.8.21

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be overcast with a high of thirty.  Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:39 PM, for 9h 14m 45s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 26.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is both the one thousand five hundred twenty-second day and the sixty-third day. 

  On this day in 1982, AT&T agrees to divest itself of twenty-two subdivisions

Recommended for reading in full — 

Margaret Sullivan writes The pro-Trump media world peddled the lies that fueled the Capitol mob. Fox News led the way:

“Fair and balanced” was the original Fox News lie, one of the rotten planks that built the foundation for Wednesday’s democratic disaster.

Over decades, with that false promise accepted as gospel by millions of devotees, Fox News radicalized a nation and spawned more extreme successors such as Newsmax and One America News.

Day after day, hour after hour, Fox gave its viewers something that looked like news or commentary but far too often lacked sufficient adherence to a necessary ingredient: truth.

Birtherism. The caravan invasion. Covid denialism. Rampant election fraud. All of these found a comfortable home at Fox.

In the Trump era, the network — now out of favor for not being quite as shameless as the president demands — was his best friend and promoter. So to put it bluntly: The mob that stormed and desecrated the Capitol on Wednesday could not have existed in a country that hadn’t been radicalized by the likes of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, and swayed by biased news coverage.

 The Wall Street Journal editorial board assesses Donald Trump’s Final Days:

If Mr. Trump wants to avoid a second impeachment, his best path would be to take personal responsibility and resign. This would be the cleanest solution since it would immediately turn presidential duties over to Mr. Pence. And it would give Mr. Trump agency, a la Richard Nixon, over his own fate.

This might also stem the flood of White House and Cabinet resignations that are understandable as acts of conscience but could leave the government dangerously unmanned. Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser, in particular should stay at his post.

We know an act of grace by Mr. Trump isn’t likely. In any case this week has probably finished him as a serious political figure. He has cost Republicans the House, the White House, and now the Senate. Worse, he has betrayed his loyal supporters by lying to them about the election and the ability of Congress and Mr. Pence to overturn it. He has refused to accept the basic bargain of democracy, which is to accept the result, win or lose.

It is best for everyone, himself included, if he goes away quietly.

 Jeremy Peters reports How Trump’s Allies Are Still Defending Him: Denial, Deflection, Disinformation:

This was one mob they found a way to excuse.

Even as scores of President Trump’s usually unfailing loyalists condemned him for moving too slowly to call off the swarm of demonstrators that stormed and ransacked the Capitol, many of his most vocal and visible allies in Congress, the media and conservative politics still could not bring themselves to fault him for the surreal and frightening attack carried out by people he had just urged to “fight like hell.”

They downplayed the violence as acts of desperation by people who felt lied to by the news media and ignored by their elected representatives. They deflected with false equivalencies about the Democratic Party’s embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Some even tried to dispute the fact that Trump supporters were actually the perpetrators, suggesting that far-left activists had infiltrated the crowd and posed as fans of the president.

These were not isolated or trivial assertions from little-known people on the fringes of Mr. Trump’s movement. Rather, they came from some of his highest-profile allies who helped enable his rise in the Republican Party and have aided him in his unrelenting assault on anyone who questions his actions.