Friday, July 10, 2020

No-jail for WI banker shows why it's called white-collar crime

Start with this recent story about the racial implications of everyday language.

Now let's note that several African-American defendants in a recent Wisconsin case received multiple years in prison and extended probationary supervision for what media called 30 seconds of 'mob shoplifting of $33,000 in goods in 30 seconds.
Two more of the eight men charged in connection to a case of mob shoplifting at the North Face store at Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets in July 2019 were sentenced on April 15. 
Cashmere Antwine, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of retail theft — intentionally taking greater than $10,000, as party to a crime, filed on July 15. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison — credit for 238 days served — and three years of extended supervision on April 15.
Police described the incident this way:
The incident happened at 7:45 p.m. Monday at the store at 11601 108th St., Suite 577, when “10 black males entered the store and each grabbed as much merchandise as they could carry before running to the cars and leaving the property,” said Sgt. Aaron Schaffer of the Pleasant Prairie Police Department. Items included jackets and other articles of clothing. There was no physical confrontation. 
Schaffer said the suspects, who remain at large, were in the store for approximately 20 to 30 seconds before fleeing the scene.
Serious crimes, to be sure, and no doubt upsetting for customers and employees.

Meanwhile, the former top executive at a Waupaca, WI bank just accepted a plea deal dismissing all but one of 13

count of misappropriating more than $1.6 million in bank funds for his personal use. 

And which paid for years of perks, upscale meals and world travel, a paid-up Cadillac Escalade and various other forms of alleged familial and financial favors on top of an already generous salaries and benefits.


Serious crimes in toto were alleged, to be sure, and which were no doubt upsetting for customers and employees, as records showed:

The indictment alleges that between 2010 and 2013, [Archie] Overby, who was then president, CEO and Chairman of the Board of First National Bank in Waupaca, Wisconsin, defrauded the bank by expensing the bank for luxurious personal travel and entertainment for himself, his family, and various friends. Among the trips that he is alleged to have taken at bank expense are trips to Tanzania, the Cayman Islands and St. Maarten, as well as to luxury hotels and resorts in California, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. The indictment alleges that this personal travel exceeded $1.2 million dollars and that he caused the bank to provide him with an additional $320,930 to cover taxes on the ill-gotten proceeds.
Given the easy access which Overby had or was allowed to the bank's resources, and the number of others who benefited from it makes you wonder if it indicates a quieter form of 'mob shoplifting.' 

Overby been facing a maximum sentence of 30 yearsBut other than paying a fine and restitution, no jail time or probation was ordered for what we interestingly have come to call "white-collar crime."


Who wants to argue that the contrasting sentences are fair, equitable, or free of systemic or institutional racial (Overby is white) and class biases?

WI Sup. Ct. continues 2018 election nullification

The double-standard is a fresh way WI Republicans and their cudgels are keeping Walkerism alive across state government.

They can't outright cancel elections, but Republican legislators have a rightwing-run high court to keep alive the reactionary governance voters rejected in the Democrats' statewide office sweep in November, 2018.

This goes beyond snubbing special legislative session requests and pretending the Governor isn't part of the process.

Several weeks ago, the right-wing State Supreme Court majority hamstrung the executive's ability to put public health ahead of enabling a pandemic.



Then Thursday it OK'ed most of the GOP's partisan, post-2018 election power grabs, thereby extending Walkerite control of the Capitol despite his defeat, and also put restrictions on victorious Democratic AG Josh Kaul which had not applied to the ousted GOP AG Brad Schimmel.

It is not a surprise that the right-wing 5-2 majority on the WI Supreme Court upheld nearly all aspects of the Walkerites's unprecedented lame-duck power grab that elevated already-embedded GOP legislative leaders weakened Gov. Evers and AG Kaul even before they took office.

Today the right-wing justices slapped Evers'-only limitations on a Wisconsin Governor's veto authority: 
MADISON - A divided state Supreme Court scaled back Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' veto authority Friday, throwing out three changes he made to the state budget last year.  
The ruling, written by conservatives who control the court, is a setback for Evers and future governors. For decades, the high court has given Wisconsin governors broad authority to rewrite budgets and some other legislation using partial vetoes. 
These are big wins for the GOP and its wealthy donors whose encrusted conservative extremism is crumbling nationally. 

The Republicans’ next goals: suppressing Democratic voting sufficient to swing the state for Trump, and cutting Evers out of the upcoming legislative redistricting and extending the lopsided GOP gerrymander for another decade of one-party, favor-dispensing self-dealing.

Meanwhile, we await the GOP-dominated legislature’s approval of a new Wisconsin license plate slogan: 
"Elections don't matter here."

But Mr. Speaker, you contradict yourself

I am amused by WI GOP Assembly Speaker Vos's Twitter ID - 
@repvos Proud conservative fighting to make Wisconsin more competitive by reducing the size of government.
- that is contradicted by two stories of his own making:
1. Vos's proud conservatism includes his taking between $150,000 and $350,000 in government assistance for his popcorn business during the pandemic.
2. Vos's proud conservatism and reducing the size of government includes his doubling the size of his staff to 14, and raising salaries, too, as he legislated 

and litigated to shift power from the Governor and Attorney General to the Legislature he co-manages with counterpart Scott Fitzgerald, the GOP Senate Majority Leader.
Vos adds seven positions to speaker’s office
----------------------------------------------------

Thursday, July 9, 2020

WI Supreme Court sends progressives an electoral assignment through November

It is not a surprise that the right-wing 5-2 majority on the WI Supreme Court upheld nearly all aspects of the Walkerites's unprecedented lame-duck power grab that elevated already-embedded GOP legislative leaders 



weakened Gov. Evers and AG Kaul even before they took office.

By doing so, the Court's majority also defined the stakes and etched the template for the November legislative elections, too:


The more seats which the GOP controls on top of their already-consequential gerrymander, the more donor-serving, corporately-obeisant and anti-democratic laws it can pass. 


If the GOP nets three more seats in both legislative chambers, the party of Trump is handed a two-chamber veto-proof majority it will use to turn the state into a GOP subsidiary.


Note I did not say 'can use.' 


I said 'Will use' - straight through another census-triggered redistricting/gerrymandering to expand to a generation the GOP's decade of ultra-partisan, environment-bludgeoning and intentional dilution of minority and voting rights. 

And remember, the existing gerrymander was hatched in secret - and was the surprise rollout of the lame-duck laws and Act 10 - - the GOP's preferred anti-democratic, transparency-defeating methodology.

So I'd pay less attention to the decision released Thursday, and more to the messages it sends about the import of the November statewide election - something of a common-sense blueprint for progressives posted for months on this blog.

In 2020 balloting, take every opportunity to cast a Trump protest vote 
Given Trump's even more blatant bulldozing of the Constitution, common sense and the law, it's important for Wisconsinites in 2020 to cast protest votes where possible that reject Trumpism while also backing high-quality progressive alternatives on the ballot.











Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Evers backs discarded I-94 expansion past Story Hill

There is no constituency or true priority for, and zero fit with environmental justice and climate science facts and agendas to justify rebooting the Story Hill-area I-94 expansion which even road-building-boosting Walker had abandoned.

Why are we still dreaming about adding expensive 'freeway' [sic] lanes while the potholes ('Scottholes') and crumbled pavement statewide which helped drive Walker out of office remain unrepaired.

The last time I checked, Wisconsin's road system infrastructure among the states ranked 44th out of 50.  

Is this proposed spending of hundreds of millions of dollars and foisting years more encounters with heavy equipment and orange barrels on the public really in the public interest?

I hope this renewed interest in the I-94 boondoggle goes nowhere, fast.

Regrettably, this is the second Walker road-building gift to road-builders Evers has revived. The first was the Highway 23 project which was blocked by a federal judge who found WisDOT's funding application unsupportable.

Once Evers suddenly green-lit the project, down came trees in the 'rural road's 'right-of-way.'



Look: Walker is gone: there's no need to revive his 'expansionist, free-spending 'vision' which has been anti-city since 2003:
Walker vetoes board's freeway widening opposition
Though more than three years ago I said the Story Hill expansion could come back because the road-builder/government complex is so powerful and persistent:
-----------------------------------------------

Story Hill spared ruinous, costly I-94 widening. For now.

The Journal Sentinel is reporting that right-wing GOP Gov. and long-time Friends of the Road Builders Scott Walker's suicidally-bloated highway expansion budget will be somewhat reined in by his dropping the politically and fiscally toxic plan to widen I-94 E/W past Miller Park and Story Hill but also finishing I-94 N/S between Milwaukee and the Illinois line to satisfy GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and his Racine County constituents.

Citizens have been fighting this I-94 E/W "Billion Dollar Boondoggle" for years:
“This costly highway widening would divide our neighborhoods, increase air and noise pollution, pollute our waterways, while diverting over a billion dollars away from the repair of our crumbling roads and bridges and the transit that connects workers to jobs and prosperity,” said Juan Carlos Ruiz, Chair of the Cleaner Milwaukee Coalition. “Some residents are also concerned that this construction could bring down their property values...” 
“This billion dollar boondoggle is another costly highway expansion that will divert hundreds of millions of dollars away from the repair of our crumbling roads and bridges and the local repair needs that are currently underfunded,” said Bruce Speight, WISPIRG Director.  “Wisconsin taxpayers should not be footing the bill for highways that aren’t needed.  We want and need better transportation options in our communities.”
Always good to remember that Walker pushed the entire, unfunded, multi-billion-dollar Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Freeway plan as Milwaukee County Executive, and in his first six years as Governor - - in other words, when it was politically expedient for him.

Now, in a re-election year and a budget short of highway funds, it's expedient for him to pose as fiscally-responsible.

So I'd say that, for now, we should be cautiously optimistic about Story Hill and the West side of Milwaukee being spared the loss of property, tax base, clean air, and peace of mind - - essentially, that segment of the plan is collapsing if its own unfunded weight and space limitations within the narrow corridor - - but remember:

Never under-estimate the power of the road-builder/state government complex - - and especially Waukesha County and its tens of thousands of GOP-oriented, road-expansion, anti-transit commuters - - to lobby for the segment expansion which Walker is putting on hold and to foist more highway-widening projects


 
and wild spending on the public to meet their narrow, mutually-beneficial agendas.

Waukesha County commuters and the very powerful, symbiotically-linked road-builder/state government will worry and complain and fear-monger that the entire seven-county SE Freeway plan depends on Western Milwaukee County segment being completed, that the Zoo Interchange and Marquette Interchange projects will be left incomplete and orphaned without it, and the drumbeat to 'finish what we started' - - despite the lack of funding - - will begin.

So be happy today, but always vigilant. I don't think the matter is over.

-----------------
How long are the suburbs going to keep taking city land and command precious public dollars to cut a few minutes off motorists' commuting times while urban and inter-city cleaner and greener rail alternatives are continually blocked, defunded and dismissed?
I-94 Ribbon Cutting Waukesha 1958

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

WI lakeshore counties bad air alert extended. As I predicted Mon., & 2 years ago

The more things change, the more they do not, regrettably.

As I predicted Monday, the WI DNR's advisory for ozone polluted-air has been extended into Tuesday, with two more counties - Sheboygan and Ozaukee - added to Monday's list of Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha.

Advisory for Ozone (Orange)

Start Time: 3:00PM CT Tuesday, July 7, 2020
End Time: 11:00PM CT Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Counties: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan

AIR QUALITY INDEX CHART

Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health ConcernColors
When the AQI
is in this range:
...air quality conditions are:...as symbolized
by this color:
0 to 50GoodGreen
51 to 100ModerateYellow
101 to 150Unhealthy for
Sensitive Groups
Orange
151 to 200UnhealthyRed
201 to 300Very UnhealthyPurple
301 to 500HazardousMaroon
For More Information:
Wisconsin's Current Air Quality
And I repeat: the lakeshore area is allowed more air pollution thanks to a 'favor' Scott Walker received from the scandal-plagued/now-departed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt designed to ease Foxconn's air pollution and other industries' pollution abatement spending. 

As I noted nearly two years ago when summer heat helped bring on the dirty air alerts:

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4, 2018


WI lakeshore counties' ozone alert. Won't be the last.

Remember that when you see dirty air alerts for Wisconsin;s lakeshore counties.  Walker got polluter-obeisant administrator Scott Pruitt before he left the EPA which he disgraced to exempt miles of SE Wisconsin's Lake Michigan counties from routine air quality standards.

Making sure Foxconn's projected 796-ton annual airborne emissions were 'legal. All lauded by the statewide chamber of commerce, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.' 

Smoke stacks from a factory.
You can't miss the symmetry, as the WMC's former general counsel and environmental policy guy has been running the air section of the DNR under Walker for nearly eight years.

Also remember that during the first days of his first term, Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality'DNR got rid of ozone-alert early warnings, thus when notices are actually distributed, the conditions leading up it were known but withheld from people with asthma, heart disease, and other health risks.

From the DNR this morning, by email:
Advisory for Ozone (Orange)
Start Time: 3:00PM CT Saturday, August 4, 2018
End Time: 11:00PM CT Saturday, August 4, 2018
Counties: Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan

Monday, July 6, 2020

Outdoor air can be escape from Covid, but not ozone/smog

Outdoor exercise Monday, perhaps Tuesday is not recommended for people with underlying cardio-vascular issue. Often these alerts - the warning at level Orange is for Kenosha, Milwaukee and Racine Counties - are expanded to other counties, or into consecutive days when temperatures and humidity are high.

Don't forget that the air in the Foxconn zone can be more polluted than 'normal' because then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt granted loosened air standards to facilitate Walker's pet Foxconn project and save it money on smog pollution-prevention machinery.

More about ozone, here.
People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers. In addition, people with certain genetic characteristics, and people with reduced intake of certain nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, are at greater risk from ozone exposure. 
Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and airway inflammation. It also can reduce lung function and harm lung tissue. Ozone can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma, leading to increased medical careLearn more about health effects.
From the WI DNR Monday: 

Advisory for Ozone (Orange)

Start Time: 3:00PM CT Monday, July 6, 2020
End Time: 11:00PM CT Monday, July 6, 2020
Counties: Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine

AIR QUALITY INDEX CHART

Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values
Levels of Health ConcernColors
When the AQI
is in this range:
...air quality conditions are:...as symbolized
by this color:
0 to 50GoodGreen
51 to 100ModerateYellow
101 to 150Unhealthy for
Sensitive Groups
Orange
151 to 200UnhealthyRed
201 to 300Very UnhealthyPurple
301 to 500HazardousMaroon

Vos bashes 'socialism,' transit and Medicaid, but takes big public Covid $$

Remember when GOP icon Ronald Reagan said you should aworry when someone says they're from the government and they've arrived to help?

WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, his hand out, is proving Reagan wrong.

Because while Vos has opposed public spending on bus services, blocks Medicaid expansion for low-income Wisconsinites, sidetracks and public transit lines and bashes 'Socialism,' he's only too happy to take between $150,000-$350,000 in federal government Covid-19 assistance loans to keep his popcorn business afloat.

Talk about hypocritical, and is reminiscent of fellow GOP public-trough gorger Ron Johnson, who rants about socialism but is awash in public perks, and ran a business that twice got public loans or a grant on favorable terms.
On the lookout for an even more selfish politician.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Pressure builds in WI, MI vs. Enbridge tar sands line

With a long history of oil spills in Wisconsin, nearby Michigan and elsewhere, the WI DNR should take the public's online opposition and presentations to heart and work towards shutting down Enbridge's Pipeline 5 which the Bad River Tribe wants out of the watershed - 
"When it comes to the Bad River Tribe and Enbridge’s latest public manipulation strategy, to throw monetary terms around in the media, our Tribal Council's position has never wavered," says [tribal chief Mike] Wiggins. 
"Enbridge’s expired leases were rejected and our litigation is rooted in the protection of the Bad River Watershed hydrology. Whatever that ends up looking like for Enbridge is their problem. Decommissioning and removing the whole of Line 5 sounds like a great start."
And also because the pipeline threatens the Great Lakes regionally:
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued a statement Friday, saying was “deeply troubled” by the most recent discovery of damage to the Line 5 pipeline. 
“Yet again, Enbridge has confirmed what we already know — Line 5 is a clear and present danger to our Great Lakes and to the millions of Michiganders who rely on those lakes for recreation, business and tourism,” Nessel wrote in the statement. 
Both [Governor Gretchen] Whitmer and Nessel campaigned on shutting down Line 5. The two government officials this year lost a legal battle with Enbridge over the future of its Line 5 pipeline. 
The Michigan Court of Appeals last week upheld the company’s legal victory against Whitmer and Nessel in the state Court of Claims from last October, which found that a controversial 2018 law allowing construction of a new Enbridge oil pipeline tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac is constitutional.
However, there a newer, temporary shutdown order has been lodged by Michigan authorities.
Line 5 runs along a 645-mile (1,040-kilometre) route from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, transporting as much as 540,000 barrels a day of light crude and synthetic crude, and natural gas liquids that are refined into propane. 
The pipeline was built in 1953 and consists mostly of 30-inch diameter pipe. It splits into two 20-inch diameter lines for the 4.5-mile section that runs under the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron
Michigan officials no doubt remember the company's $1.2 billion Kalamazoo [Michigan] catastrophe, reprised in this 2019 report.
It took the energy company seventeen hours to notice the spill. As the pipeline discharged, more than twenty thousand barrels—843,000 gallons—of oil flowed directly into Talmadge Creek, a tributary that carried the oil into the Kalamazoo River. Marshall residents began to notice a smell creeping through the town.
And Michigan authorities surely understand that even after the company signed an agreement to do better once the clean-up was over, Enbridge still failed to carry out pipeline inspections it had agreed to perform:
The Canadian oil pipeline company responsible for one of the largest inland oil spills on record has agreed to pay a $1.8 million fine for failing to thoroughly inspect its pipelines for weaknesses as required under a 2016 agreement. 
Federal officials say Enbridge, Inc., did not carry out timely and thorough inspections on one of its pipeline systems, as it had agreed to do as part of a consent decree reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice.
Why should WI and MI do this dance with such a bad partner? Why should the Bad River tribe and its watershed live under the continuing threat?

The WI DNR is through its webpage on the project proposal is accepting written comments through July 11
A public comment period is currently open for the proposed Line 5 relocation project. Written comments can be submitted by email comments to DNROEEACOMMENTS@WI.GOV, or mail comments to "Line 5 Comments EA/7," 101 South Webster Street, Madison, WI 53707. All written comments must be submitted or postmarked by no later than July 11, 2020.
Note also that the organization Madison350 has been protesting these pipeline expansions for years. 

Click image for information about our Anti Tar Sands initiative

Friday, July 3, 2020

Walker made it harder in WI to drop racist school images, nicknames

[Blog editor's note. My apologies for the ugly reproduction. Two complete rewrites could not correct an inexplicable coding problem.] 

As there may finally be some movement towards the DC NFL team erasing its racist name and images, it's important to remember that then-Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill more than six years ago that made it harder for communities and school districts to rid themselves of racist names and images.

On Race-Based Names, Walker Has No Conviction, Courage 
As I'd predicted here, below more than once, Gov. Walker told the AP today he will sign (sorry, the original link to a Fox 11 story is dead) a bill to make it easier for Wisconsin school districts to retain race-based names, mascots and logos that stereotype Native American people. 
Walker's signature rewards a right-wing GOP voting base where "compassionate conservative" is a slur, but fearing his signature would further validate his brag as "the original Tea Party in Wisconsin, “Walker cloaked his bill signing motives in a Tuesday Journal Sentinel interview with a mumbly-jumbly and preposterous civil libertarian charade.
Of course, the 'unintimidated' [sic] Walker signed the measure in private, said the AP:
The Republican measure requires a petition to trigger a state review of a nickname -- a departure from current law, which states a single complaint is enough to prompt an evaluation. It also wipes out all previous state orders for schools to drop race-based mascots. 
Walker, a Republican, signed the measure privately Thursday afternoon.


WI GOP convention heads for Brown County, a Covid-19 hot spot

The Wisconsin GOP-created Covid-19 containment fail puts its consequences and contradictions on full display when it holds its in-person state convention next week in Brown County.

That's a noteworthy locale these days because Brown County is ranked #2 in confirmed Covid-19 cases among Wisconsin's 72 counties.

The choice is super-ironic, given that the state's positive case load is again spiking after state GOP legislative leaders won a ruling at the State Supreme Court which ended the Governor's statewide Covid-19-control emergency plan.


 A Forbes business staff writer, saw the cause-and-effect relationship.

Wisconsin Sees Coronavirus Spike 2 Weeks After Abrupt Reopening
And a fair review of the GOP's Covid culpabilities should include mention of State Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack pooh-poohing during the Court's deliberations [sic] of the already-heavy Brown County Covid-19 caseload when she dismissively suggested that 'regular folks' there - and not the local meat-packing workforce - didn't face much virus risk.

Furthermore, the GOP's legislative leaders who won their case never came forward with their promised alternative plan to the Governor's plan they blew up because they said local governments - you remember that long-dead WI GOP talking point, don't you - were free to craft plans locality-by-locality - as if 
creating a crazy-quilt of uneven rules statewide was smart, or even a 'plan.'
[GOP Assembly Speaker Robin] Vos downplayed the concern, saying “we don’t necessarily need a statewide approach.”
“We already know that local health departments have the ability to utilize their power, which is already there to deal with those situations if they feel it’s unsafe,” Vos said.
Except that a Racine County District Court Judge just overturned the City of Racine's Covid-19 control ordinance.

And if that ruling sticks, and becomes a statewide template, there could be even fewer Covid-19 control measures across Wisconsin.

A state already gaining notoriety as one of a handful where people are everyone pretty much on their own.

Ironically, Green Bay media have taken note:

Wisconsin one of four states with no statewide face mask requirements
So it falls to private sector owners and operators and venues - not medical experts advising public officials - to make critical public health decisions for Wisconsin.

For example, the Marinette, WI shipyard where an of-course Maskless Trump spoke in late June had mandated masks at the event on the premises - for everyone else.
 
And while I believe the Green Bay convention center where the GOP convention will be held is not requiring that visitors wear masks, the party says it will provide them.

And then everyone is on his or her own. 

Ironic, again, isn't it the Green Bay Packers who intend to play games a few minutes from the convention center at nearby Lambeau Field this season will require attendees to wear face coverings.
Packers say masks will be required, seating could be limited if fans allowed at games 
And while you process these ridiculous and contradictory consequences spawned by the Wisconsin's GOP-delivered Covid-19 fail, take in that possible convention attendee Ron Johnson still isn't sold on meeting and masking - 
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was spotted carrying — not wearing — his mask into a senators-only lunch on Tuesday and said, “I haven’t seen how particularly effective these are.”
- at least one other likely convention attendee has shown he knows how to mask-and-suit-up. 
Vos worked at a Racine County polling place during the April election after saying it was "incredibly safe" to venture outside.



Thursday, July 2, 2020

Trump's Mt. Rushmore show can expose more about country's racist history

One of Trump's perverse and unpresidential peculiarities is the way he makes fraught situations even worse for the victims - usually minorities or people with fewer resources and less power than the privileged people he protects.

Like Trump's adulation for the traitor Robert E. Lee and an earlier defense from the White House of home-grown Nazis who tore up Charlottesville and killed a peaceful female protester.

And Trump will again rub salt in a long list of public wounds on Friday, July 3rd, by attending a fireworks display and military fly-over at Mount Rushmore in the western mountains of South Dakota.

* Begin with the fact that this public gathering is taking place against the basic advice of medical experts Trump regularly ignores or contaminates about how and why Covid-19 is rampaging.

The caseload has exploded anew, the US death toll is closing in on 130,000, but Trump will spend more taxpayer money moving his entourage to mingle with 7,500 invited visitors in one of only four states (including Wisconsin), which has no statewide mask-wearing requirements - and whose far-right, Tea Party-created Governor is lauding her intentional contempt for social distancing and public safety:
And despite at least 91 deaths registered in South Dakota from COVID-19, these visitors will not be told to don face masks or to practice social distancing at the event. 
"We will have a large event July 3rd; we told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home," South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday. "But [for] those who want to come and join us, we'll be giving out free face masks if they choose to wear one, but we won't be social distancing...."
"Gov. Noem is the only governor in the country who never mandated a single business or church to close, never ordered a shelter-in-place order for her citizens," Noem spokesman Ian Fury tells NPR...
South Dakota currently ranks 11th among the 34 states considered by the Harvard Global Health Institute to be prone to "potential community spread...."
* Then you have all the issues surrounding the actual site itself beyond its location in a fire-prone zone with heightened drought-related danger where fireworks displays have been barred for years until Trump personally overrode the ban so he could have a show that suits his ego.

* While the country is to a degree coming to grips with its racist legacies - a movement which Trump is dissing to serve his most base of base voters by protecting Confederate statues and idols - Trump will only draw more attention to the slave-owning Presidents honored at Mt. Rushmore - Jefferson and Washington - and to the perhaps lesser-known racism in the histories of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

Mount Rushmore detail view (100MP).jpg

Information regarding Theodore Roosevelt can be found here, and here

Lincoln's legacy with regard to the Black Hills really needs airing if the country is going to come to grips with its history and development which continues to spare past leaders of a full and fair assessment of their roles.

I would wager that not many people know that during the Civll War the US Army was also engaged in wars with native tribes, and that while he pardoned many, Lincoln also signed the death warrants for 38 Sioux fighters who were hung in the largest mass execution in US history.

I had blogged about some of these matters in 2007 after a first-time and eye-opening visit to the museum at the Crazy Horse Memorial still under construction by the Lakota Sioux in the Black Hills.

Like I said, so much of this history has been hidden away, or justified with big slogans about Manifest Destiny, or Opening the West.

And I'm sure that Trump who doesn't care to read the briefing materials about the murder-for-hire-plotting Russia unleashed on US solders a few months ago in Afghanistan has never read a word about what Mt. Rushmore means to the Oglala Sioux from whom it was stolen or their warriors whom Lincoln ordered hung en masse in Minnesota.
CLAIM: Social media posts circulating recently stated: “On this day, 26 December 1862, 38 Native Americans are executed in the US’s largest mass-hanging. The execution was ordered by Abraham Lincoln.” 
 AP’S ASSESSMENT: True. Thirty-eight Native Americans were hanged on Dec. 26, 1862, as ordered by former President Abraham Lincoln, after the 1862 Dakota War, which was also known as the Sioux Uprising of 1862. The sentences of 265 others were commuted.  
 THE FACTS: A military commission sentenced 303 Sioux fighters to be executed after deadly fights white settlers and soldiers had with Indians angry about the loss of their homeland and lack of access to food. Harold Holzer, author of several books on Lincoln, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview this month that Lincoln reviewed “every one of these capital cases.” 
According to reporting by The Associated Press, the original trials were a farce, some taking as little as five minutes. In addition, the Indians were denied counsel and did not understand what was being said.
And how many people nationally know that the ugliness which took place in Mankato, MN continued there for decades, as some of the executed prisoners were dug up, dissected for medical research and the corpse of one executed leader remained for decades in the home of a prominent doctor.

To their credit, the City of Mankato and the Mayo Clinic have made some amends.
The Indian warrior’s bones were kept in an iron kettle, with Mayo sometimes pulling out pieces for his sons, William and Charles, to identify, according to Scott Berg, author of the book “38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End.”

The skeleton was put on display in the early years of the Mayo Clinic before it was put in storage. The whereabouts of much of the skeleton are not known today, but a skull held by the Mayo Clinic was sent in the early 1990s to Hamline University scientists, who determined it was that of Marpiya te najin.
I would also wager that many Americans may know the Black Hills where the Mt. Rushmore faces were carved - and which Trump will use as an ego stroke and campaign prop Friday - are on what had been treaty-protected ancestral lands stolen violently from their native occupants people by the US Government.
Although United States law (the treaties with the Sioux) prohibited Euro-American occupation of the Black Hills in South Dakota, President Ulysses S. Grant, in a secret November meeting with the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of War, Lieutenant General Sherman and Brigadier General George Crook, brushed aside any treaty obligations to the Sioux and ordered “no further resistance shall be made to miners going into [the Black Hills].” 
In December all Sioux nations were ordered onto reservations away from their sacred Black Hills, and away from the gold coveted by the Americans.... 
The United States declared war on the Sioux in 1876.
I'm certainly hoping a wider understanding of our shared history trumps whatever else Trump achieves Friday at Mt. Rushmore:  

The principal designer and carver of the Mt. Rushmore monument had connections to and sympathies with the Ku Klux Klan who had first failed to get his design into the out-sized monument to the Confederacy at Stone Mountain, Georgia.

I consider myself a fairly well-educated person, but I didn't know this piece about the Mt. Rushmore carver Gutzon Borglum until today, and I've been to Mt. Rushmore many times.

May this July4th weekend kick off a thousand conversations.