FREE WHITEWATER

Daily Bread for 1.31.23: Trump & Russia

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 10. Sunrise is 7:09 AM and sunset 5:07 PM for 9h 57m 46s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 77.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 6:30 PM.

 On this day in 1865, the United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery, and submits it to the states for ratification


Prof. Timothy Snyder writes a summary on Twitter of Russia’s influence on the FBI.  Snyder explains how Trump’s claim of Russian influence as a “hoax” is false — the Russia “hoax” was no hoax, but rather a criminal manipulation of America law enforcement at Russia’s bidding, on Trump’s behalf: 

In April 2016, I broke the story of Trump and Putin, using Russian open sources. Afterwards, I heard vague intimations that something was awry in the FBI in New York, specifically counter-intelligence and cyber. We now have a suggestion as to why. 0/20

The person who led the relevant section, Charles McGonigal, has just been charged with taking money from the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Follow this thread to see just how this connects to the victory of Trump, the Russian war in Ukraine, and U.S. national security. 1/20 

The reason I was thinking about Trump & Putin in 2016 was a pattern. Russia had sought to control Ukraine, using social media, money, & a pliable head of state. Russia backed Trump the way that it had backed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, in the hopes of soft control 2/20

Trump & Yanukovych were similar figures: interested in money, & in power to make or shield money. And therefore vulnerable partners for Putin. They also shared a political advisor: Paul Manafort. He worked for Yanukovych from 2005-2015, taking over Trump’s campaign in 2016. 3/20

You might remember Manafort’s ties to Russia from 2016. He (and Jared Kushner, and Donald Trump, Jr.) met with Russians in June 2016 in Trump Tower as part of, as the broker of the meeting called it, “the Russian government’s support for Trump” (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 237). 4/20

Manafort had to resign as Trump’s campaign manager in August 2016 when news broke that he had received $12.7 million in cash from Yanukovych. But these details are just minor elements of Manafort’s dependence on Russia. (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 235). 5/20

Manafort worked for Deripaska, the same Russian oligarch to whom McGonigal is linked, between 2006 and 2009. Manafort’s assignment was to soften up the U.S for Russian influence. He promised “a model that can greatly benefit the Putin government.” (#RoadToUnfreedom, p. 234). 6/20

While Manafort worked for Trump in 2016, though, Manafort’s dependence on Russia was deeper. He owed Deripaska money, not a position one would want to be in. Manafort offered Deripaska “private briefings” on the campaign. He was hoping “to get whole.” (#RoadToUnfreedom, 234) 7/20

Reconsider how the FBI treated the Trump-Putin connection in 2016. Trump and other Republicans screamed that the FBI had overreached. In retrospect, it seems the exact opposite took place. The issue of Russian influence was framed in a way convenient for Russia and Trump. 8/20

The FBI investigation, Crossfire Hurricane, focused on the narrow issue of personal connections between the Trump campaign and Russians. It missed Russia’s cyber attacks and the social media campaign, which, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson, won the election for Trump. 9/20

Once the issue of Russian soft control was framed narrowly as personal contact, Obama missed the big picture, and Trump had an easy defense. Trump knew that Russia was working for him, but the standard of guilt was placed so high that he could defend himself. 10/20

It is entirely inconceivable that McGonigal was unaware of Russia’s 2016 cyber influence campaign on behalf of Trump. Even I was aware of it, and I had no expertise. It became one of the subjects of my book #RoadtoUnfreedom. 11/20

The FBI did investigate cyber later, and came to some correct conclusions. But this was after the election, and missed the Russian influence operations entirely. That was an obvious counterintelligence issue. Why did the FBI take so long, and miss the point? 12/20

I had no personal connection to this, but will just repeat what informed people said at the time: this sort of thing was supposed to go through the FBI counter-intelligence section in New York, where tips went to die. That is where McGonigal was in charge. 13/20

The cyber element is what McGonigal should have been making everyone aware of in 2016. In 2016, McGonigal was chief of the FBI’s Cyber-Counterintelligence Coordination Section. That October, he was put in charge of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI’s NY office. 14/20

We need to understand why the FBI failed in 2016 to address the essence of an ongoing Russian influence operation. The character of that operation suggests that it would have been the responsibility of an FBI section whose head is now accused of taking Russian money. 15/20

Right after the McGonigal story broke, Kevin McCarthy ejected Adam Schiff from the House intelligence committee. Schiff is expert on Russian influence operations. It exhibits carelessness about national security to exclude him. It is downright suspicious to exclude him now. 16/20

Back in June 2016, Kevin McCarthy expressed his suspicion that Donald Trump was under Putin’s influence. He and other Republican members concluded that the risk of an embarrassment to their party was more important than American security. #RoadToUnfreedom, p. 255. 17/20

The Russian influence operation to get Trump elected was real. It serves no one to pretend otherwise. We are still learning about it. Denying that it happened makes the United States vulnerable to ongoing Russian operations. 18/20

I remember a certain frivolity from 2016. Trump was a curiosity. Russia was irrelevant. Nothing to take seriously. Then Trump was elected, blocked weapon sales to Ukraine, and tried to stage a coup. Now Ukrainians are dying every day in the defining conflict of our time. 19/20

The McGonigal question goes even beyond these issues. He had authority in the most sensitive possible investigations within U.S. intelligence. Sorting this out will require a concern for the United States that goes beyond party loyalty. 20/20

If Trumpism were an honest movement — it’s not — it would replace those Trump flags with an emblem that lies beneath: 


McDonald’s Opens First Fully Automated Location in Texas:

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Daily Bread for 1.30.23: Wisconsin Farm Bankruptcies Decline

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will see intervals of clouds and sunshine with a high of 7. Sunrise is 7:10 AM and sunset 5:05 PM for 9h 55m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 68.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

 The Whitewater School Board meets in closed session shortly after 7 PM.

 On this day in 1948, following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in his home compound, India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, broadcasts to the nation, saying “The light has gone out of our lives.” The date of the assassination becomes observed as “Martyrs’ Day” in India.


 Wisconsin no longer leads the nation in farm bankruptcies (‘Better financial conditions, more consolidation mean there are fewer farms filing for bankruptcy in the state’): 

After years of leading the nation in farm bankruptcies, the latest federal data shows Wisconsin has returned to more normal levels of new filings.

Federal court data shows Wisconsin only had 10 Chapter 12 bankruptcy cases filed in the 12 months before Sept. 30, 2022. Chapter 12 is a bankruptcy code that allows farmers who are carrying too much debt to reorganize their business and potentially have some of their debt forgiven.

The latest total is a 72 percent decline from the same period in 2021, when there were 36 new cases filed in the state. At that time, the western district of Wisconsin by itself was tied with Minnesota for highest number of cases in the nation.

In 2020, the same report showed 78 Chapter 12 filings, with western Wisconsin again leading the nation for the highest number of cases.

At the 2023 Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum this week, Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said part of the decline is likely from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s move to stop past-due debt collections and farm foreclosures during the COVID-19.

….

Mitchell said one of the biggest reasons farm bankruptcy filings are down is because the industry has been in a better financial position.

Many producers saw increased cash coming from the federal government through pandemic-related programs. Commodity prices across the industry, from corn to milk, and land values have also been going up.

“After two years of high income and increased land values, the average farmer is going into 2023 in a solid financial position, with their debts paid down, loans refinanced with lower interest rates, increased equity on their balance sheets from all those land value increases,” Mitchell said at the event. “Like I said, it’s a solid financial situation for the average farmer. Not every farmer, but the average farmer.”

Wisconsin farms took significant losses, but better for the surviving farms to be where they are now than where they were a few years ago. Nothing agreeable, however, in any of agriculture’s travails. 


 Boeing’s 747 prepares for final send-off:

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Daily Bread for 1.29.23: Trump’s Social Network Littered with Ads for Miracle Cures, Scams, Fake Merchandise

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of 19. Sunrise is 7:11 AM and sunset 5:04 PM for 9h 53m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 59.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1845, “The Raven” is published in The Evening Mirror in New York, the first publication with the name of the author, Edgar Allan Poe.


 A call to do one’s own research requires sound evidentiary and analytical standards. It’s not enough to look at an object: a serious examination requires that someone assess with reasoned standards. The populists have spent years telling others they’ve researched COVID-19, masks, vaccines, etc. Their examinations leave something to be desired.  

Unsurprisingly, some of these same types find themselves suckers, pigeons, and dupes for confidence schemes. Stuart A. Thompson writes On Trump’s Social Network: Ads for Miracle Cures, Scams and Fake Merchandise:

Between posts about conspiracy theories and right-wing grievances was an unusual advertisement: a photo of former President Donald J. Trump holding a $1,000 bill made of gold, which he was apparently offering free to supporters.

But there were a few catches: The bill was not free, it was not made of gold, and it was not offered by Mr. Trump.

The ad appeared on Truth Social, the right-wing social network started by Mr. Trump in late 2021, one of many pitches from hucksters and fringe marketers dominating the ads on the site.

Ads from major brands are nonexistent on the site. Instead, the ads on Truth Social are for alternative medicine, diet pills, gun accessories and Trump-themed trinkets, according to an analysis of hundreds of ads on the social network by The New York Times.

….

Some ads pushed coins, bills and gold-plated bars.

These ads often used Mr. Trump’s portrait. While the items are often described as “gold,” the checkout pages describe them as gold-plated, meaning they may have a patina of real gold. Mr. Trump’s supporters have been inundated with the ads since before his electoral victory in 2016.

….

Over time, the low-quality ads on Truth Social have irritated its own users, who have complained to Mr. Trump after repeatedly seeing the same disturbing images or after falling for misleading gimmicks.

“Can you not vet the ads on Truth?” asked one user in a post directed at Mr. Trump. “I’ve been scammed more than once.”

Purchasing from advertisers on the site shows insufficient judgment, but having been scammed “more than once” shows an absence of judgment. There’s a difference between research and credible research. (If there were not, no one would need to use credible as a modifier of research.) 

The populists are given to flimsy standards, efforts, and inquiries. They excel, however, in promoting their own flimsy standards, efforts, and inquiries as world-class insights. At that, they’re quite accomplished. 


Plane Passenger Captures Incredible Glimpse of Northern Lights:

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Daily Bread for 1.28.23: Public Listening Session for Wisconsin’s Wolf Management Plan

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be snowy with a high of 20. Sunrise is 7:12 AM and sunset 5:03 PM for 9h 50m 47s of daytime. The moon is in its first quarter with 49.62% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1813, Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice is first published in the United Kingdom.


Photo by M L on Unsplash

Deneen Smith reports Public listening session set for Wisconsin’s wolf management plan (‘Wisconsin DNR plan would split state into wolf management zones’): 

The public will get a chance to weigh in on the draft of a new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wolf Management Plan at an online listening session Feb 7.

The DNR released the draft plan in November. It shifts away from maintaining a statewide wolf population goal in favor of managing animals locally within the state’s six wolf hunting zones.

Members of the public have been able to comment on the plan in writing since its release, and the comment period had already been extended once. But the virtual listening session gives people a chance to speak directly to agency leaders.

“This listening session is an additional opportunity for anyone interested to provide input on the proposed plan while the public review and comment period remains open until Feb. 28,” the DNR stated.

….

Those who wish to speak at the listening session must register by Feb. 6. At the session, DNR staff will give a brief overview of the plan, and the public comment period will immediately follow. Comments will be limited to two minutes each. DNR staff will not be taking questions during the event, according to the agency.

The session can be viewed online on the DNR’s YouTube channel.

See also Bad Plans and Bad Planners Behind Wisconsin’s Wolf Hunt and Wisconsin’s New Wolf Management Proposal


How vitamins are made:

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Daily Bread for 1.27.23: Whitewater’s Other ‘Big Dark’

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will see scattered flurries with a bit of morning snow and a high of 33. Sunrise is 7:13 AM and sunset 5:01 PM for 9h 48m 32s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 38.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1776, Henry Knox‘s “noble train of artillery” to transport heavy weaponry that had been captured at Fort Ticonderoga arrives for the Continental Army outside Boston.


 One of our sons lives in Seattle, and so we read the Seattle Times. That newspaper yesterday described the days when the sun sets before 5 PM as the ‘Big Dark.’ The Big Dark is now ending for Seattle, as a measure of daylight, and also for Whitewater, of course. 

There is in beautiful, small-town Whitewater another kind of Big Dark that does not end: secretive government. At both the local development authority and the school district, policy decisions, hiring and firing, transfers of employees, etc. are made with little or no public notice. 

Public policies, public officials, public cost: treated often as private matters, kept from view with false (but self-serving) justifications of confidentiality and privacy. Almost all of this comes from non-lawyers who wrongly claim they are under a legal duty to remain silent. They often point to advice they’ve received from lawyers who are all-too-willing to flatter local officials with the notion that those local officials have ‘special’ responsibilities that trump the public’s right to know. (Lawyers like this know what they’re doing: they’re not delivering the law, they’re flattering board members’ own self-importance.)

Left, center, right, libertarian, etc.: they all come in talking about the public, but most of them are co-opted into a closed-door, closed-session mentality within a few months. They come in open-government men and women, but they become if-you-only-knew-what-I can’t-tell-you types within half a year or so. While they may contend they’re learned new insights, the greater truth is that they’ve shed prior principles. 

It’s as though they go to bed as one person, and then awake as another, looking the same yet in substance becoming something different:

So little it takes in Whitewater, even less than an alien pod in a science fiction movie, to turn someone into someone else. A few flattering words, an assignment on a committee, and adults become obsequious children. 

Candidates are understandably eager for office — while a few in this town are excitedly marking how many there are (And Then There Were 12!, And Then There 11!, etc.) — but it’s how officeholders perform over time that matters. 

The successful among these candidates should be careful about going to bed, as they might find themselves unfortunately transformed by the next morning.


 Uber Eats Delivery Interrupts College Basketball Game:

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Film: Tuesday, January 31st, 1:00 PM @ Seniors in the Park, The Banshees of Inisherin

Tuesday, January 31st at 1:00 PM, there will be a showing of The Banshees of Inisherin @ Seniors in the Park, in the Starin Community Building:

Comedy/Drama

Rated R (Language) 1 hour, 54 minutes (2022)

On a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, two lifelong friends find themselves at an impasse when one abruptly ends their relationship, with alarming consequences for both. This film has been receiving many accolades for Best Actor, Supporting Actor, Screenplay and Best Film. Stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleason.

One can find more information about The Banshees of Inisherin at the Internet Movie Database.

Daily Bread for 1.26.23: Trump and Facebook

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a bit of morning snow and a high of 30. Sunrise is 7:14 AM and sunset 5:00 PM for 9h 46m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 27.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1950, the Constitution of India comes into force, forming a republic. Rajendra Prasad is sworn in as the first President of India. Observed as Republic Day in India.


 Shannon Bond reports Meta allows Donald Trump back on Facebook and Instagram

Former President Donald Trump will be allowed to return to Facebook and Instagram more than two years after he was banned for inciting violence when his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump’s accounts will be reinstated “in the coming weeks” with new guardrails “to deter repeat offenses,” Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Facebook’s parent company Meta, said on Wednesday.

The “serious risk to public safety” that led Meta to suspend Trump in January 2021 “has sufficiently receded,” Clegg wrote in a blog post. Still, he said, Trump would face “heightened penalties” should he continue to break Meta’s rules, including removal of his posts and even a fresh two-year suspension.

“The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the ugly – so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box. But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform,” Clegg said.

“There is, in effect, no committee,” said Al Lindsay, a four-decade veteran of the local party, who was ousted as committee chairman last year.

Aside: anyone going to Instagram for photos of Donald Trump has masochistic tendency. 

Meta is a private company, not a public institution, so Trump never had a First Amendment right to appear on the platform. They can kick him off if he violates their terms of service, and they can bring him back on if he complies with those terms. If a customer walks into shop and urinates on the floor, the shopkeeper has a right to escort the customer from the premises. 

As I’ve written this week, most people should be allowed to keep talking and writing. That’s true of Trump and it’s true of local politicians, residents, even special interests. 

See also What Facebook and Trump have in common (‘As the social network lifts its ban on the former president, both face an aging base and a struggle to stay relevant’): 

When Facebook and Twitter booted Donald Trump from their platforms two years ago, the moves felt momentous. Trump was still president. His supporters had just mounted a brazen, violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. Facebook was America’s preeminent social network and a hotbed of political discourse and organizing. Twitter was the president’s primary megaphone.

Since then, much has changed. Trump is out of office and sidelined politically, though still influential. The wounds of Jan. 6 are unhealed but no longer fresh. Exiled from the largest platforms, Trump has retreated to a smaller social network of his own making, Truth Social, with which he claims (perhaps unpersuasively) to be satisfied.

And Facebook? Well, Facebook isn’t Facebook anymore — literally. The company changed its name to Meta in October 2021 as part of a startling pivot from social media to building a virtual-reality “metaverse” that its users have yet to embrace. More importantly, Facebook is no longer the social network, having lost market share, mindshare and much of America’s youth to the video platform TikTok.

All of which helps to explain why the company’s announcement Wednesday that it will reinstate Trump to Facebook and Instagram — an announcement made not by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but by former politico Nick Clegg, its public affairs chief — felt oddly anticlimactic. Not only because Trump may or may not in fact return, but because neither he nor the platforms themselves are the titanic forces in American culture and politics that they were when he left.


 Drowning in seaweed: How to stop invasive Sargassum:

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Daily Bread for 1.25.23: Kinds of Republicans — Kinds of Conservatives

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a bit of snow and a high of 33. Sunrise is 7:15 AM and sunset 4:59 PM for 9h 44m 07s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 18.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1915, Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.


Charles Homans reports Will the Real G.O.P. Please Stand Up? A National Power Struggle Goes Local (‘In one deep-red pocket of rural Pennsylvania, three warring factions each claim to represent the Republican Party. Tensions boiled over in a scuffle over a booth at a farm show’):

BUTLER, Pa. — Zach Scherer, a 20-year-old car salesman and Republican activist in Pennsylvania’s Butler County, decided to run for a seat on the county commission this year — a move that ordinarily would mean seeking the endorsement of local Republican Party leaders.

In Butler County, this raised an unusual question: Which Republican Party?

Last spring, the officially recognized Butler County Republican Committee was divided by a right-wing grass-roots insurgency, then divided again by a power struggle among the insurgents. There have been a lawsuit, an intervention by the state Republican Party and a dispute over a booth at the local farm show.

Butler, a rural county in western Pennsylvania where Donald J. Trump won nearly twice as many votes as Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020, now has three organizations claiming to be the true tribune of local Republicans. All of them consider the others illegitimate.

“There is, in effect, no committee,” said Al Lindsay, a four-decade veteran of the local party, who was ousted as committee chairman last year.

Some of the dispute in Butler, Pennsylvania is about control over institutional resources, yet it is true in many places that Republicans are divided both institutionally and ideologically. 

From FREE WHITEWATER see The Kinds of Conservatives in Whitewater (‘traditional, transactional, and populist’). It’s fitting to use conservative and Republican as synonyms, as there are no meaningful numbers of moderate or center-left Republicans. They are all conservative.

The two main groups among these three in Whitewater are the transactionalists and the populists. The transactionalists are best understood as a special interest group (landlord, banker, public relations man, these ‘Greater Whitewater’ types) and the few apologists inane enough to flack for them in common council sessions. They’ll make any sort of deal, with anyone. Although the transactionalists are conservative, self-promotion guides their moves. They’ll form expedient deals with anyone if they can gain, and they’ll break any deal just as quickly. Guilty pleasure: I always enjoy hearing them speak, as every word is revealing. 

The populists, by contrast, are conservatives for whom the transactionalists had no time until populist numbers started to swell. The populists are MAGA types, and they’re looking for a reinvigorated Trump (assuming that’s possible) or the next best thing (DeSantis, although he’s not the Trump replacement they may think he is). They often feel that others have disregarded or insulted them.

Note the contrast: while this libertarian blogger has written dismissively about town squires or notables or elites, it has been as a joke or spoof on others’ grandiosity. The populists, by contrast, will sometimes write, speak and act as though there are such important people who are wrongly ignoring or disrespecting them. That’s nutty-crazy: there are no true town squires or notableselites, or very-important-people in Whitewater. Whitewater is a small Midwestern town — anyone walking around thinking himself or herself elite is delusional. That delusion is sad and ridiculous and satirical.

The populists carry with them a susceptibility of narcissistic insult from others although those others are no better or worse than anyone else. (Their desire to be acknowledged is so strong that, sometimes, a few flattering words or a task-force assignment is enough to co-opt the needier among them.) All this head-shaking, arms raised, and shouting because someone else criticized them or didn’t give them their way? An earlier generation of conservatives better understood the value of stoicism and calculation. 

Differences among conservative groups are common in Whitewater, Wisconsin and Butler, Pennsylvania and places between.


 Apple’s Mixed-Reality Headset Will Be Controlled by Eye, Hand Tracking:

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Daily Bread for 1.24.23: A Role for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 37. Sunrise is 7:16 AM and sunset 4:58 PM for 9h 41m 58s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 10.4% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission meets at 6:30 PM and the Police & Fire Commission meets at 7 PM.  

 On this day in 1984, Apple Computer places the Macintosh personal computer on sale in the United States.


Matina Stevis-Gridneff reports Russia’s War Breathes New Life Into a Cold War Symbol (‘Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a news network originally set up as a C.I.A. operation early in the Cold War, is experiencing a renaissance and making a case for its independence’):

Until 1971, Radio Free Europe was a covert U.S. intelligence operation seeking to penetrate the Iron Curtain and foment anti-communist dissent in what was then Czechoslovakia, in Poland and elsewhere.

The C.I.A. stopped funding Radio Free Europe when its operation was revealed. Since then, the news organization has been funded by the United States Congress and has had editorial independence.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty — or RFE/RL — now barely resembles its historical predecessor, as dramatized in “Glória,” but it is still very much pursuing its mission of fact-based journalism by local reporters, in local languages for local audiences across the former Soviet sphere and Central Asia.[Glória: a Netflix program about early work on a Portuguese branch of the Munich-based Radio Free Europe.]

The organization is now based in Prague instead of Munich, and is growing, opening new offices this month in Riga, Latvia, to host a big part of its Russia-focused staff.

These days, RFE/RL is only partly a radio broadcaster, although in some regions, the airwaves are still how people access it. The majority of its Russian-language audience finds its reporting online, especially through social-media platforms.

One would prefer a private press, but our European allies now face a violent dictatorship, and in those dire conditions a free people is justified in funding truthful information for that continent. Libertarians are right to prefer peace and private initiative for America and the world; there is no circumstance in which that preference condones Russian dictatorship and conquest. On the contrary, we are right to inform — and arm — free peoples against Russian imperialism. 

Libertarianism is not an inherent pacifism, however much we would prefer peace, as people have a right to defend themselves and others. 


Black Canada lynx caught on camera for the first time:

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Daily Bread for 1.23.23: The Practicality of Public (and Official) Comment

Good morning.

Monday  in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 32. Sunrise is 7:16 AM and sunset 4:56 PM for 9h 39m 52s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 4.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM and Downtown Whitewater, Inc.’s Board of Directors meets at 6 PM. The Whitewater School Board goes into closed session shortly after 6 PM, and returns to open session at 7 PM

 On this day in 1957, American inventor Walter Frederick Morrison sells the rights to his flying disc to the Wham-O toy company, which later renames it the “Frisbee.”


Karin Brulliard reports Free speech or out of order? As meetings grow wild, officials try to tame public comment:

A school board meeting in Greeley, Colo., kicked off this month with a newly restrictive public comment policy — the fourth iteration in a year marked by such vitriol over masks and books that one member suggested suspending comment altogether. Two opportunities for citizens to address the board for a total of four minutes had already been slimmed to one three-minute chance per person. Now speakers would have two minutes each.

In Rochester, Minn., where public comment at city council meetings has featured personal attacks on the mayor and baseless accusations about the library promoting pedophilia, speakers since October have been permitted to comment just once a month — and the board is considering further restrictions.

And in Salem, Ore., the school board in September closed meetings to the public and began taking comments by Zoom or phone or in writing, following what the superintendent called an “escalation of disruptive behavior” that had turned in-person comment into a “public forum for political agendas.”

Obvious point: These schools aren’t promoting ‘pedophilia.’ Groups saying as much baselessly against individuals invite liability.  

And yet, and yet, more speech is generally better than less (absent defamation), as a right and as a practicality. Leaving aside for now the greater issue of rights, one can still consider practicality. It’s more useful for an understanding of others to allow them to talk.

Although Brulliard’s story is about public comment, there’s an equal practicality in hearing what officials have to say. Often, elected and appointed city officials will go on in a candid way about their views of past and present in the city. That candor is valuable (if telling). So valuable, in fact, it’s nearly priceless. Most people, including most officials, speak revealingly if they speak more than a little. Guile becomes guileless quickly.

It’s advantageous to let someone keep talking.  


Boston Dynamics’ Atlas Robot Shows Off New Skills:

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Daily Bread for 1.22.23: ‘You Don’t Negotiate With These Kinds of People’

Good morning.

Sunday  in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 31. Sunrise is 7:17 AM and sunset 4:55 PM for 9h 37m 48s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1879, the Battle of Isandlwana during the Anglo-Zulu War results in a British defeat. This same day and the next, the Battle of Rorke’s Drift just some 15 km (9.3 mi) away from Isandlwana, results in a British victory.


Thomas Edsall writes, of Congressional extremists in the GOP caucus, ‘You Don’t Negotiate With These Kinds of People’:

Over the past eight years, the Republican Party has been transformed from a generally staid institution representing the allure of low taxes, conservative social cultural policies and laissez-faire capitalism into a party of blatant chaos and disruption.

The shift has been evident in many ways — at the presidential level, as the party nominated Donald Trump not once but twice and has been offered the chance to do so a third time; in Trump’s — and Trump’s allies’ — attempt to overturn the 2020 election results; in his spearheading of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol; and most recently in the brutal series of votes from Jan. 3 to Jan. 7 in the House of Representatives, where 20 hard-right members held Kevin McCarthy hostage until he cried uncle and was finally elected speaker.

What drives the members of the Freedom Caucus, who have wielded the threat of dysfunction to gain a level of control within the House far in excess of their numbers? How has this group moved from the margins to the center of power in less than a decade?

Since its founding in 2015, this cadre has acquired a well-earned reputation for using high-risk tactics to bring down two House speakers, John Boehner and Paul Ryan. During the five-day struggle over McCarthy’s potential speakership, similar pressure tactics wrested crucial agenda-setting authority from the Republican leadership in the House.

“You don’t negotiate with these kinds of people,” Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Alabama and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, declared as the saga unfolded. “These are legislative terrorists.”

There lies problem for nation, state, and city: inability to see the difference between listening and acceeding. No one should say — least of all this libertarian blogger — that others should not speak. And yet, and yet… any prudent person should know — among them this libertarian blogger —that to hear is not to agree, to listen is not to assent

A political affliction in nation, state, and city: listening leads to intimidation, and intimidation leads to appeasement. A prepared man or woman should know how to hold a defensive position. 


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