TODAY’S NEWS BRIEFS – Thursday, January 26, 2023

Briefs are posted weekday mornings, M-F

Liberal Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz has outright stated that she believes Scott Walker’s Act 10 collective bargaining law was unconstitutional.

Although judges are forbidden by Wisconsin judicial ethics codes from announcing how they would rule on issues that could come before the state Supreme Court, Protasiewicz, who is running the most overtly partisan Supreme Court campaign in recent Wisconsin history, made her bias explicitly clear in an interview with The New York Times.

Protasiewicz is running against liberal Judge Everett Mitchell and conservatives Jennifer Dorow and Dan Kelly. The two top advance to the April election, which will decide control of the court.

(Reid) Epstein’s story, dated January 25, 2023, reads, “In an interview last week, Judge Protasiewicz argued that abortion should be ‘a woman’s right to choose’; said that Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011 law effectively ending collective bargaining rights for most public employees was unconstitutional; and predicted that, if she won, the court would take up a case seeking to invalidate the Republican-drawn state legislative and congressional maps put in place last year.”

Protasiewicz had already prejudged any case of legislative redistricting maps, calling them “rigged.” She has made it clear she supports abortion and thought the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. She went even farther on Act 10.

Charles Geyh, a law professor at Indiana University whose specialty is judicial conduct and ethics, said, according to the Kenosha News, that Protasiewicz “may need to disqualify herself from any case concerning legislative redistricting.”

“A reasonable observer, knowing that she has prejudged the system as ‘rigged’ before the case begins, might reasonably doubt her impartiality,” he told the Kenosha News before her recent comments on Act 10 were reported.

The Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct makes it very clear that judges need to avoid even the appearance of bias. The Ethics code says justices must preserve the “independence of the judiciary” and “may not be swayed by partisan interests.”

The Wisconsin Code of Judicial Conduct says judicial candidates are prohibited “from making statements that commit the candidate regarding cases, controversies or issues likely to come before the court,” according to the Kenosha News article.

The state Supreme Court upheld Walker’s Act 10 in 2014, on a 5-2 decision authored by conservative Justice Michael Gableman. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the decision “found that collective bargaining over a contract with an employer is not a fundamental right for public employees under the constitution. Instead, it’s a benefit that lawmakers can extend or restrict as they see fit.”

—Wisconsin Right Now

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) reportedly has her eyes on a seat in the White House next to former President Trump.

According to former Trump aide Steven Bannon, Greene “sees herself on the shortlist” to be named Trump’s 2024 running mate as he rallies to take over the Oval Office once again.

“This is no shrinking violet, she’s ambitious- she’s not shy about that, nor should she be… she sees herself on the shortlist for Trump’s VP,” Bannon told NBC News, adding that when Greene “looks in the mirror, she sees a potential president smiling back.”

NBC reported that Greene has rebranded herself as a lawmaker who could potentially bridge the gap between the various factions of the Republican Party.

Although Trump, who announced his candidacy in November shortly after the midterm elections, has yet to name a running mate, an anonymous source said that Greene’s “whole vision is to be vice president.”

The Georgia Republican has stuck by Trump’s side through thick and thin, proving that she would make a loyal member of his team.

—Townhall

On Wednesday, Meta announced that former president Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be reinstated in the near future.

The decision comes two years after he was kicked off the platforms for violating their terms of service.

“Two years ago, we took action in what were extreme and highly unusual circumstances,” Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg wrote in a statement. “We indefinitely suspended then-US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

He explained that while the company’s Oversight Board upheld the decision, they criticized the “open-ended nature” of the ban. In response, a time limit of two years was imposed, at which point the decision was to be re-evaluated.

Earlier this month, Meta conducted an assessment of the risks to public safety posed by potentially bringing Trump back onto the platforms and determined that “the risk has sufficiently receded.”

“As such,” Clegg explained, “we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.”

“In light of his violations, he now also faces heightened penalties for repeat offenses — penalties which will apply to other public figures whose accounts are reinstated from suspensions related to civil unrest under our updated protocol. In the event that Mr. Trump posts further violating content, the content will be removed and he will be suspended for between one month and two years, depending on the severity of the violation.”

—The Post Millennial

A Quinnipiac poll released on Dec. 14 showed Trump with a 31% approval rating, a figure lower than at any time during his presidency or since he left office. The poll also indicated that 57% of Americans believed Trump’s new presidential run a bad idea.

Nevertheless, a bevy of polls taken after the new year reveals that Trump has rapidly recovered and is increasing in viability.

A Morning Consult poll conducted Jan. 13-15 showed him leading DeSantis by 17 points — 48% to 31% in a theoretical Republican primary including both men among a selection of other likely candidates.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris poll conducted the following week expanded Trump’s lead over DeSantis to 20 points, with Trump beating the Florida governor 48% to 28% in a field of other likely contenders, and 55% to 45% in a one-on-one match.

An Emerson poll released on Jan. 24 showed Trump extending his lead over DeSantis still further, to 55% to 29% in a multicandidate Republican primary. The same percentage expects that he will be the party’s nominee regardless of the respondent’s personal preference.

Importantly, Emerson also showed Trump defeating Biden 44% to 41%, while the Morning Consult poll taken ten days earlier had Biden up by three points.

Trump seems energized. He promises “MANY GIANT RALLIES” on his Truth Social platform, and may soon return to Twitter, which restored his account after Elon Musk took over.

With the House in Republican hands — and with most of its Never Trumper members gone — congressional investigations of him will cease and be replaced by what may well be damning investigations of the Biden administration.

Meanwhile, DeSantis has remained mum on his future plans and shows no sign of building the national-level campaign infrastructure, grassroots fundraising networks, or personal staff he would need to challenge Trump for the nomination or defeat Biden.

It is still early days, but despite all the reversals, 2024 could be Trump’s to lose.

—Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University.

On rare occasions, in an unintentional moment of honesty, a man with career political ambitions will tell you exactly what you can expect from him — and Biden did just that shortly after becoming a senator. During the 2008 election, The New York Times observed that Biden’s “weak filters make him capable of blurting out pretty much anything.” Recently, I came across a 1974 Biden interview, and it is very revealing.

Some people would describe such moments as gaffes — when a politician says something mind-numbingly stupid in any number of categories, from an unintentional truth to a BIG Lie, from the creepy or inappropriate to the unintelligible. Biden has a rich history across all four types of gaffes, and he knows it. “I am a gaffe machine,” he acknowledged ahead of the 2020 election.

In that PBS interview, Biden, who shamelessly described himself as being “like the token black or the token woman,” lamented the fact that he depends on “people who have money,” and “they always want something.” And over the last 50 years, Biden certainly has proven himself as a “giver.”

He said, “You run the risk of deciding whether or not you’re going to prostitute yourself to give the answer you know they want to hear in order to get funded to run for that office.”

He added: “I went to the big guys for the money. I was ready to prostitute myself in the manner in which I talk about it…” Apparently, the second-oldest profession is akin to the first! He insisted he was able to raise lots of money because he was “a 29-year-old oddball,” and “was able to have a national constituency to run for office because I was 29.”

Biden received funding from 25% of America’s billionaires, while Donald Trump received funding from less than 14% of them.

On top of that, Biden received a LOT of “dark money” despite his assertion that “dark money erodes public trust” and his faux effort to restrict it in campaigns.

And he’s still reaping the benefits — spending our most recent New Year’s Eve at the St. Croix villa of wealthy donors who, in return, were invited to Biden’s first 2023 state dinner.

Biden is not only an outstanding liar, he’s a political whore.

—Mark Alexander, The Patriot Post

Except for Alaska, every one of the 10 markets where consumers pay the highest prices for a gallon of gas was run by a Democrat in 2022, analysis of AAA data released Tuesday reveals.

At a national average of $3.45, the cost of a gallon of Regular gas on Tuesday was:

• Up 2 cents from Monday,

• Up 12 cents from a week earlier,

• Up 35 cents from a month ago, and

• Up 12 cents a year ago.

By region of the country, the nation’s 10 most expensive markets today are:

1. Hawaii ($4.94), Dem. Gov. Joshua Green

2. California ($4.44), Dem. Gov. Gavin Newsom

3. Washington ($4.06), Dem. Gov. Jay Inslee

4. Nevada ($3.95), GOP Gov. Joe Lombardo (GOP replacing Dem.)

5. Alaska ($3.72), GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy

6. Oregon ($3.71), Dem. Gov. Tina Kotek (replacing another Dem.)

7. Pennsylvania ($3.70), Dem. Gov. Josh Shapiro (replacing another Dem.)

8. Colorado ($3.65), Dem. Gov. Jared Polis

9. Washington, D.C. ($3.62) Dem. Mayor Muriel Bowser

10. Illinois ($3.56). Dem. Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Nevada had a Democrat governor in 2022, who was replaced by Republican Joe Lombardo earlier this month. In Alaska, Republican Governor Mike Dunleavy was governor in 2022, and remains so this year.

—CNS News

I happen to be one who believes that the escalating war in Ukraine is entirely Biden’s fault, that the current Ukraine government is completely corrupt, and that the entire thing, which has seen tens of thousands of Ukrainian deaths and the destruction of large swaths of that country, has become a profitable boondoggle for politicians and military contractors. Call me cynical or naïve, but that’s where I am. I also think the whole enterprise has taken on a truly hallucinatory quality, exacerbated by the news today: Putin is negotiating to buy abandoned American weapons from Afghanistan while Biden is sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. We will have armed both sides to the battle.

In August 2021, Biden abruptly ordered American troops to retreat from Afghanistan. Doing so wiped out almost 20 years of the American military effort, both blood and gold, led to the death of 13 American troops and untold numbers of Afghan citizens and saw Biden abandon around $90 billion in American weapons to the Taliban.

Those weapons, which should have been returned home to America as part of our arsenal in our defense, haven’t gone to waste. Some, surely, ended up in the hands of warlords in dangerous places, but it seems that many of them will end…in Putin’s hands.

Vladimir Putin is plotting to grab weapons seized by the Taliban during the US evacuation of Afghanistan, a so-called Kremlin insider claims.

In return, Putin wants US equipment snatched from Afghanistan by the Taliban to be handed over, according to Telegram channel General SVR, which claims to be fed information by a Kremlin insider.

The list of weapons potentially available to Putin is impressive:

It is thought Taliban fighters may have stolen as many as half a million US weapons and up to 50,000 vehicles. Estimates state 22,174 Humvees, 634 M1117s armored cars, 115 Maxx Pros trucks, and 549,118 machine guns, assault rifles and pistols were given over by the US.

We are facing a scenario in which American weapons will be turned on American allies.

Did I mention that Putin has nuclear weapons and, apparently, is terminally ill, something that might lead him to take risks he would once have avoided?

This cannot end well. There’s a surreal quality to a war that carries no benefit to America but that we’re nevertheless arming, especially because it seems we’ll soon be arming both sides of the war. Watching a decrepit fossil like Joe Biden leading us ever closer to Armageddon is one of the most unnerving things that’s happened in my lifetime.

—Andrea Widberg, The American Thinker

An asteroid estimated to be the size of a delivery truck is expected to fly by Earth on Thursday night. It’s one of the closest approaches recorded.

The asteroid, dubbed 2023 BU and about the size of a box truck, has no risk of hitting Earth, NASA said Wednesday. It’s expected to zip 2,200 miles above the southern tip of South America, approximately 10 times closer than some communication satellites.

Even if the asteroid did risk hitting Earth, it would “turn into a fireball and largely disintegrate harmlessly in the atmosphere, with some of the bigger debris potentially falling as small meteorites,” NASA said.

• The asteroid’s closest approach will be at 7:27 p.m. EST.

• It’s estimated to be between 11.5 feet and 28 feet across.

—USA TODAY

The Rhode Island Department of Health says it was not able “to definitively confirm or refute the presence of Santa” in a young girl’s home after she requested to have a partially eaten cookie and a couple of gnawed-on carrot sticks tested for DNA to see if Santa Claus is real.

The department tweeted on Monday that “we all agree that something magical may be at play.”

The department said it found no complete matches to anyone in the Combined DNA Index System but said there was a partial match “to a 1947 case centered around 34th Street in New York City,” referring to the movie “Miracle on 34th Street.” It said it would need more DNA samples “from other known Santa encounters to make a definitive match.”

The “good news” is that the lab did find the presence of DNA closely matching Rangifer tarandus, known as reindeer, when testing the carrots, the department said.

The girl, a Cumberland resident, had sent the cookie and carrot sticks to the town’s police department to ask if they can be tested for DNA, Chief Matthew Benson said on Friday. Benson forwarded the “evidence” to the state’s Department of Health-Forensic Sciences unit for analysis.

—Associated Press

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 2020, American basketball player Kobe Bryant—who was considered one of the sport’s greatest players, winning five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers—died in a helicopter crash at the age of 41.

And In 1988 Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, a musical version of Gaston Leroux’s melodramatic novel, opened in New York City and went on to become the longest-running show in Broadway history.

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