NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz agreed Monday to one televised debate and has turned down other public forums that voters have used to hear from candidates for the state’s highest court — including a debate that has been televised statewide in every Supreme Court race for nearly 30 years.

Protasiewicz is competing in the most expensive judicial race in U.S. history, one that holds enormous implications for Wisconsin, including setting new policies related to abortion access, voting rules and the state’s legislative and congressional maps.

But she has so far agreed to one major public forum with opponent former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly and declined to answer questions about her candidacy at events organized by the nonpartisan Milwaukee Press Club, and Rotary Club of Milwaukee, WISN-TV, the Wisconsin chapters of the liberal-leaning American Constitution Society and the Wisconsin Justice Initiative, and the Milwaukee chapter of the conservative-leaning Federalist Society — resulting in at least two of the organizations to cancel their events.

Protasiewicz will appear with Kelly on March 21 for a debate in Madison hosted by the State Bar of Wisconsin, WISC-TV, and She and Kelly also are scheduled to meet with the editorial boards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal.

“The State Bar of Wisconsin has a long history of conducting debates in this race and we know this will be one great way for voters to hear from the candidates,” Sam Roecker, spokesman for Protasiewicz, said in a statement.

Hosts of major primetime televised Supreme Court debates, Marquette University Law School’s Lubar Center and PBS Wisconsin, have not yet announced whether the organizations will host candidate events this year. A spokesman for Marquette said he was unsure at this point of whether a program would take place before election day.

Kelly, a former Supreme Court justice, has agreed to appear at more than 10 events as he competes against Protasiewicz, according to his campaign.

“It is outrageous that Politician Protasiewicz has promised to put her thumb on the scales of justice and rule based on her ‘values’ instead of the law, but now won’t even explain her soft-on-crime record and ties to extremist activists,” Ben Voelkel, a spokesman for Kelly, said in a statement.

On Monday, WISN-TV announced the station would not be hosting both candidates in a debate after Protasiewicz had declined to participate.

The Milwaukee Press Club, and Rotary Club of Milwaukee are moving forward with an event on March 14 with only Kelly in attendance. A spokesman for Protasiewicz told event organizers the campaign couldn’t make it work in the judge’s schedule.

Barry Burden, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Elections Research Center, said the growing tendency of candidates nationwide to avoid debates and forums that had been standard practice in prior years is in part due to a “fear of doing something that could become a tool used against them in a campaign ad or by sharing on social media.”

“Candidates are opting for messaging they fully control such as press releases and social media posts over unscripted activities that put them in more risk,” Burden said.

Burden said in most states, more Republican candidates avoid debates than do Democratic candidates, especially in the era of former President Donald Trump as Republicans “become leerier of traditional media and tend to grant access to outlets such as talk radio they know will treat them more favorably.”

“Wisconsin is showing a different pattern from other states in that Democratic candidates rather than Republicans have become more reticent about doing debates,” Burden said.

Burden said Protasiewicz’s calculation could be that she believes she is the “leading candidate” heading into the April 4 election and debates and other events with uncontrolled questions could be “more likely to complicate her path to victory than provide a boost.” Protasiewicz finished first in the four-way Feb. 21 primary, picking up 46% of the vote to Kelly’s 24%.

“The absence of debates does a real disservice to voters. This is especially true in a nonpartisan spring election where the campaigns are shorter and the candidates are not as well known,” Burden said. “A large number of voters will learn about the candidates mostly through TV and Internet ads. That is problematic because ads can distort the truth and often do not deal with issues that are actually most important to the public and the office being sought.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A person going for their early morning walk stumbled upon a human femur on Bradford Beach’s Northpoint area on Monday.

Authorities confirmed that at 8:06 a.m., the Milwaukee County Sherriff’s Office was contacted and the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office later confirmed that they were human remains.

Sheriff deputies closed off the area where the bone was found and detectives have now opened an investigation.

A statement from the Sheriff’s Office said additional remains had been discovered in the same area, but it has not yet been determined whether they were human or animal.

No cause of death or identification have been determined.

Anyone who has information related to the discoveries or concerns about a missing person are encouraged to contact the MCSO Criminal Investigation Division at (414) 278-4788.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin Republicans are preparing to again block a new policy from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that requires students to get vaccinated twice against meningitis and tightening student chickenpox vaccination mandates.

The Legislature’s GOP-controlled rules committee is set to hold a public hearing on the policy Tuesday. A committee vote to block the policy could soon follow, perhaps within days.

The committee’s co-chair, Republican Sen. Steve Nass, called the new provisions “arbitrary and capricious” in a message to constituents. The rules committee blocked the policy in the last legislative session as well.

“Unfortunately, Governor Evers, the (state Department of Health Services) and legislative Democrats vigorously oppose the right of parents and adults to make free decisions regarding immunizations,” Nass said in his message.

State health officials in February announced they were trying again to implement regulations this fall that require students entering 7th grade to get vaccinated against meningitis. Students entering 12th grade must get a booster shot. Previously, the agency did not require students to get vaccinated against meningitis at all.

The health department also requires students to get vaccinated against chickenpox to enter every grade from kindergarten through 6th grade. In the past, a child was exempt if parents contacted the school district and said the child has already had the disease. Under the regulations beginning this fall, parents must provide evidence of infection from a health care provider to secure an exemption.

Families can still seek waivers from the meningitis vaccination and chickenpox proof requirements for medical, religious or philosophical reasons, just as they can for other vaccinations.

—Wisconsin AP

Newly revealed surveillance footage from Jan. 6, 2021, shows two Capitol police officers escorting Jacob Chansley, the be-horned so-called “QAnon Shaman” who has come to symbolize the riot, through the halls of the Capitol and to the very door of the US Senate.

The footage aired on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Monday night shows the officers closely following Chansley as he wanders the corridors of the Capitol, bare-chested and wearing face paint and a luxuriant fur hat with Viking horns.

“Virtually every moment of his time inside the Capitol was caught on tape,” says Carlson, who was granted exclusive access by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to 40,000 hours of surveillance footage from that day inside and around the Capitol, which has never been seen before by the public.

“The tapes show the Capitol police never stopped Jacob Chansley. They helped him. They acted as his tour guides.”

At one point, the officers are seen walking Chansley past seven other police officers milling around outside the Senate chamber, who barely give him a second look.

Then they escort him to various entrances of the chamber which appear to be locked. Eventually, they help him open a door, and he enters the chamber.

Chansley, a 33-year-old naval veteran from Arizona, has been jailed for almost four years for “obstructing an official proceeding.”

In a jailhouse interview played by Carlson, he says: “The one very serious regret that I have [is] believing that when we were waved in by police officers that it was acceptable.”

—NY Post

It’s still snowing in the Sierra Nevada after a weekend storm dumped several more feet of snow on top of the 12 feet that fell during the two weeks prior.

The onslaught of precipitation is far from over.

Signs point to a continued active weather pattern that could deliver massive additional amounts of precipitation in the next two weeks. With the temperature forecast to slowly rise, the concern is that an increasing portion of this precipitation may fall as rain, melting snowpack and leading to serious flooding risks.

A staggering 48.33 feet of snow has fallen so far this winter at the Central Sierra Snow Lab near Donner Pass in California. Through the end of February, the recorded snowfall was unprecedented. The Sierra Nevada now has a snowpack that is 186 to 269 percent of normal.

—Washington Post

Just 11 minutes of moderate physical activity per day may lower one’s risk of premature death, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from nearly 200 studies involving a total of more than 30 million participants from around the world, who self-reported their activity levels for at least three years. The team then looked at the association between physical activity and 22 distinct health outcomes, including 14 types of cancer, making it one of the largest analyses of its kind.

The results indicated that people who were moderately active for 75 minutes per week — meaning they engaged in activities like hiking, walking briskly, cycling to work or playing actively with their children — had lower risks of overall mortality, heart disease, stroke and various cancers relative to people who were not active.

The researchers estimated that 1 in 10 premature deaths, defined by the World Health Organization as deaths between ages 30 and 70, tallied in their analysis could have been prevented if everyone had engaged in moderate physical activity for 75 minutes per week.

—NBC News

Human beings can’t stop looking at themselves in the mirror, a new study explains. An international team finds that people spend one-sixth of their lifetime trying to enhance their physical appearance. That’s four hours a day, every day, for both men and women, the young and the old, according to researchers.

So, why do humans have such an obsession with how they look? Using a global survey of over 93,000 people in 93 countries, the team finds that one of the reasons is fairly obvious — people want to look good to attract a lover. However, in the digital age, the study also finds that people are more likely to fuss over their appearance if they spend more time on social media. For the social media-obsessed, researchers say many are spending all this time chasing unrealistic standards of beauty.

The researchers say that social media is the strongest predictor of a person’s desire to look good. Active social media users spent the most time improving their appearance, according to the survey. Study authors say these individuals spend a large amount of time chasing unrealistic beauty standards and are more concerned when their pictures receive fewer likes online.

—Study Finds

The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is set to make a comeback after a 4-year break, according to reports.

Stuart B. Burgdoerfer, chief financial officer and executive vice president of L Brands, announced the revival of the show in a conference call, according to People Magazine.

“We’re going to continue to lean into the marketing spend to invest in the business, both at top-of-funnel and also to support the new version of our fashion show, which is to come later this year,” Victoria’s Secret CFO Tim Johnson said on an earnings call according to Fox News.

The popular and iconic fashion show was put on pause in 2019, right around when the brand dropped the Victoria’s Secret Angel moniker. Controversy swirled around the fashion show’s noticeable lack of plus-sized models or models of different gender identities. Furthermore, the relationship of CEO Les Wexner with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein added additional scrutiny and public pressure against the show.

In November 2018, former Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek sparked anger when he said in an interview with Vogue that plus-sized and transgender models were not a good fit for the fashion show.

“Shouldn’t you have transsexuals in the show? No. No, I don’t think we should. Well, why not? Because the show is a fantasy. It’s a 42-minute entertainment special,” Razek said to Vogue.

Victoria’s Secret responded to the outrage by diversifying its lineup to include 19 models of color. Razek stepped down from his post in August of that year and future versions of the show were placed on hold.

“We must evolve and change to grow,” CEO Les Wexner said in 2019 “With that in mind, we have decided to re-think the traditional Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Going forward, we don’t believe network television is the right fit.”

—The Daily Caller


Nikki Haley deserves credit for showing up.

In other news, Donald Trump curb-stomped the competition in the annual CPAC Straw Poll, pulling in the support of 62% of the more than 2,000 young conference attendees who voted, while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis drew 20%, 75-year-old Michigan-based auto entrepreneur Perry Johnson drew 5%, and Haley, the former South Carolina governor and Trump UN ambassador, drew just 3%. Like we said: credit for showing up.

The results of the CPAC straw poll seem to align with a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll of Republican voters, which showed Trump leading DeSantis 47% to 39%. This is both significant and remarkable because it’s a net swing of 12 points in Trump’s direction since the same poll a month earlier had DeSantis leading Trump 45% to 41%. In fact, DeSantis had led Trump in this same poll for three straight months.

And lest you think DeSantis is bleeding support as additional candidates like Haley have entered the fray, this poll was a head-to-head, mano a mano matchup. Notably, when the other candidates are included, Trump’s number decreases only two points, while DeSantis’s drops 10 points, 45% to 29%.

So, just what did DeSantis do during the past month to erode his support among Republicans? Near as we can tell, nothing. In fact, just the opposite. Indeed, DeSantis has continued to distinguish himself as a smart, tough, fearless, and hugely popular governor of the state than has long been the Republican Party’s most essential electoral prize.

And what has Trump done to improve his visibility? For one, he went to East Palestine, Ohio, the site of a catastrophic train derailment, where his visit and his delivery of aid to the townspeople there forced Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to finally pay a visit himself. Three weeks after the fact.

Beyond that, the former president has been unbowed and resolute in the face of incessant attacks, legal and otherwise, from the Trump-deranged Biden administration and its deeply disgraceful attorney general, Merrick Garland, who seems to think that our nation ought to have two tiers of justice: one for Democrats, and one for their political enemies.

Suffice it to say that Trump’s apparent staying power among Republicans is unique. Normally, when a guy loses the presidency, he gets kicked to the curb. Trump, as decrepit and defensive old Joe Biden is fond of telling us, lost by seven million votes. (Actually, Trump lost by 43,000 mail-ballot-harvested votes in three states — Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin — and only then because the Democrats and their leftist brethren in Big Tech and the Department of Justice interfered. But who’s counting?)

As for the goings-on at CPAC, Trump, Haley, and others gave stirring speeches designed to appeal to those in attendance.

Haley gave a solid right hand to those who think America’s time has passed, as well as those who think a woman of 51 is past her prime, as CNN’s pathetic 57-year-old Don Lemon told his dozens of viewers recently. “China thinks the American era has passed. So do all our enemies,” Haley said. “But they’re wrong. America is not past our prime. It’s just that our politicians are past theirs. … Now Don Lemon didn’t seem to like that. He claimed I’m not in my prime. … I’m 51. That’s younger than Don Lemon. It’s also younger than Hunter Biden. And it’s 30 years younger than Joe Biden.”

Then there was Trump. “We are going to complete the mission,” Trump said in his conference-closing speech. “We are going to see this battle through to ultimate victory. We are going to make America great again.”

Americans, he said, would be put first “every single time, every single day,” as they were during his presidency.

If there were any doubt about Trump’s desire to finish what he started, he put it to rest at CPAC: “I am your warrior, I am your justice, and for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution,” he said. “I will totally obliterate the deep state.”

—Douglas Andrews, The Patriot Post

California’s COVID emergency will be expiring at the beginning of next month, and this apparently is freaking out San Francisco’s public health establishment.

Both mask and vaccine mandates will expire, including for healthcare facilities. Few people are aware of this but the CDC’s own healthcare mask requirements were dropped months ago–back in September 2022, in fact. Chances are if you have been required to wear a mask to enter a doctor’s office or similar facility wearing a mask, it was your state or the facility that required it. The CDC no longer does.

San Francisco’s Health Officer Susan Philip knows better, and she has issued an order that makes it a crime to enter any of 15 types of facilities, including healthcare facilities, prisons, long-term care facilities, or 12 other similar institutions without a “well-fitted face mask.”

A crime. Meaning you can go to jail or be fined for not wearing a mask, despite the CDC and now the State of California admitting that this is unnecessary.

This is following The Science.

The science behind masking has always been weak to nonexistent. Back in the old days, when government officials didn’t consider it their duty to jerk citizens around and make fun of us, everybody in public health knew that mask mandates do not and cannot work to stop the spread of respiratory viruses.

When COVID hit, though, suddenly the surgeon general was instructing people on how to make masks out of T-shirts (he literally made a video on how to do so!)

A t-shirt. A mask out of a t-shirt. Bandannas work too!

Only a naif thinks that any of the people who were promoting such practices believed that they did anything to stop the virus. They did so to get people used to the idea of complying with the silliest orders, and it worked with many people.

It is tempting to simply shake one’s head and acknowledge that anybody who lives in a Blue-city hellhole deserves what they get–and they do since an overwhelming number of them voted for such idiotic governance. I would agree with this sentiment if we could require anybody who voted for this madness to live with it forever, or at least renounce Leftism before they leave for greener pastures.

But history shows that liberals vote for idiocy until they cannot stand to live with the consequences, then leave for nice, reasonably priced conservative places.

And then begin voting for liberals, destroying those places too. Massachussetts exported its values to surrounding states as liberals fled the high taxes and excessive regulations, turning those states Blue too.

Liberalism is like a fungus that way. It spreads.

Consider this: the San Francisco Health Officer is deathly afraid of COVID entering a prison, but apparently unconcerned about human feces being deposited daily on the streets of her city.

—David Strom, Hot Air

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1962, the Royal College of Physicians released “Smoking and Health,” the first collection of data warning about the dangers of cigarette smoking. Released by Sir Robert Platt, it came as a watershed moment in the history of public health policy, notably not merely for broadcasting the first information of the dangers of smoking, but also for using data collection to present medical recommendations based on risk assessments, as a report that came directly from physicians and researchers to the public at large, and informing the formation of the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on smoking in the U.S.

The report found…

“The benefits of smoking are almost entirely psychological and social. It may help some people to avoid obesity. There is no reason to suppose that smoking prevents neurosis.”

“Cigarette smoking is a cause of lung cancer and bronchitis, and probably contributes to the development of coronary heart disease and various other less common diseases. It delays healing of gastric and duodenal ulcers.”

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