NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Wednesday, March 8, 2023
Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F
Wisconsin’s record $7 billion surplus has given state policymakers an unprecedented opportunity to make fundamental changes in the 2023-25 budget that could boost aid to schools and local governments and cut taxes for Wisconsinites.
But a new report from the non-partisan Wisconsin Policy Forum warns the opportunities are not unlimited.
“If adopted in full, the Evers proposal would leave the state with enough reserves to cover about 12%of annual spending but also a structural deficit that would make it more difficult to balance the nextstate budget,” the report found.
Gov. Tony Evers touted his $108.3 billion two-year spending plan Tuesday during a WisPolitics.com for lunch.
“There is a $7.1 billion surplus that I believe should be used for tax relief and take on some issues that have bedeviled us for decades,” Evers said.
During a brief interview after the lunch, Evers said he has not seen the Wisconsin Policy Forum report, but said every biennium he hears something similar.
“We’re in a good place, I don’t believe we’ll be in a difficult position two years from now,” Evers said. “If (Republicans) pass my entire budget, we’ll have money available next time.”
Some of Evers’ proposals are for one-time spending, including $750 million on broadband expansion, $243.4 million to help establish paid family medical leave benefits in the state and $290 million for improvements to American Family Field.
But other proposals would be ongoing and leave the state with a structural imbalance heading into the 2025-27 budget, according to the Policy Forum report.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the report confirms what Republicans have been saying for the last two weeks — that more light needs to be “shed on the problems created by Gov. Evers budget.”
“The spending is too large,” Vos said. “The use of one-time money to do this will mean massive deficits going forward.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Republicans who control the state Legislature are signaling they would block new policies put forward by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that require seventh graders to get vaccinated against meningitis and create new rules for chickenpox vaccinations in school-age children.
It’s the latest action by the state Legislature to block state health officials’ efforts to mandate statewide rules aimed at lowering rates of life-threatening diseases.
In a public hearing Tuesday at the state Capitol, the leader of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules questioned the decision-making of Wisconsin’s chief medical officer Ryan Westergaard, who has been the face of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic response that has been heavily criticized by Republican lawmakers.
“How can I trust you?” committee co-chairman Sen. Steve Nass, a Republican from Whitewater, said to Westergaard during the day-long hearing that often focused on the coronavirus pandemic. “Honest to God, when I see you I refer to you as Wisconsin’s Dr. Fauci.”
Westergaard said he and others within the state Department of Health Services in the early weeks of the pandemic recommended rules based on the limited knowledge they had about COVID-19, which was new in 2019.
“2020 was a scary time. I don’t recall saying I anticipated the state would be shut down for more than a year but I more than likely said we could be dealing with a deadly pandemic for more than a year,” he said.
Westergaard, in the first face-to-face meeting with lawmakers who have pushed back against state orders he helped inform, said his proposals — including the rule to mandate meningitis vaccines — are based on keeping as many children alive and healthy as possible.
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Donald Trump heaped praise on Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson for releasing unseen footage from the Jan. 6 Capitol breach revealing that events which unfolded on the day were not as violent or part of an insurrection as portrayed by mainstream media.
The Jan. 6 committee investigating the breach as well as other lawmakers, including Republicans like former Rep. Liz Cheney, have been claiming that protestors were part of an insurrection campaign. Carlson pointed out that even though a few protestors inside the building were “hooligans” engaging in vandalism, many others were not. Some were even assisted by the police. One footage shows Jacob Chansley, also known as the “Qanon Shaman,” being calmly escorted by officers through the Capital. Trump praised Carlson for the exposé and for breaking the mainstream narrative.
“Congratulations to Tucker Carlson on one of the biggest ‘scoops’ as a reporter in U.S. history. The New Surveillance Footage of the January 6th Events sheds an entirely different light on what actually happened. The Unselect Committee was a giant SCAM, and has now unequivocally been stamped as CRIMINAL FABRICATORS OF THIS MOST IMPORTANT DAY,” Trump said in a March 7 Truth Social post.
“Pelosi & McConnell failed on security. The Police story is sad and difficult to watch. ‘Trump’ and most others are totally innocent, LET THEM GO FREE, NOW!”
In another post, Trump praised the “great courage” shown by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in releasing the surveillance footage to Carlson.
—The Epoch Times
Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger sent an internal memo to the law enforcement agency tasked with protecting the Capitol building and members of Congress in response to Fox News host Tucker Carlson airing previously unseen footage from the January 6 riot on Monday.
In the memo, Manger said Carlson’s recent episode was “filled with offensive and misleading conclusions” about the riot.
“One false allegation is that our officers helped the rioters and acted as ‘tour guides.’ This is outrageous and false. This Department stands by the officers in the video that were shown last night…Those officers did their best to use de-escalation tactics to try to talk rioters into getting each other to leave the building,” Manger wrote.
Manger accuses Carlson of using “cherry-picked” moments of when there were times of calm inside the building. He went on to say the worst aspect of Monday’s episode was Carlson stating the rioters’ action had nothing to do with the death of Officer Brian Sicknick.
“TV commentary will not record the truth for our history books. The justice system will. The truth and justice are on our side,” Manger concluded.
Mayor Eric Adams wants the Big Apple’s retailers to make customers remove their masks in a bid to stem the ongoing shoplifting epidemic — but some merchants are wary of how they’re going to enforce that.
“We are putting out a clear call to all of our shops: Do not allow people to enter the store without taking off their face mask,” Adams said Monday on 1010 WINS radio. “And then once they’re inside, they can continue to wear it if they so desire to do so.
Adams said the move would help cops “use the technology we have available to identify those shoplifters and those who are committing serious crimes.”
“When you see these mask-wearing people, oftentimes it’s not about being fearful of the pandemic,” he said. “It’s fearful of the police catching them for their deeds.”
It was endorsed by Fernando Mateo of the United Bodega Workers of America, who said, “I back up the mayor 100%.”
“COVID is over, let’s take the masks off,” Mateo said. “He’s not referring to grandma and grandpa or regular customers who come in. We are talking about criminals.”
But Francisco Mata of the rival Bodega and Small Business Group said Adams “should make it illegal to wear the masks now” and put the NYPD in charge of enforcement.
“We cannot do that because two years ago, we tried to enforce people to wear the mask and people would not listen,” he said. “It’s a good idea but we cannot enforce it.”
A Brooklyn store owner whose business was recently robbed said Adams’ plan was “easy for him to say.”
“What am I supposed to do? Ask every man, woman, kid who walks in to buy a juice to take their mask off?” the merchant said. “So, they take the mask off — then they rob me. How am I supposed to be safe? I have to make a living. What am I supposed to do, close up shop?”
Law-enforcement sources also warned that the mayor’s idea could backfire on him.
“If you tell one of these guys in the ‘hood who’s coming out to get a beer to take his mask off, he’s going to tell the bodega worker to shut up and beat the crap out of him,” a veteran Bronx cop said. “They should help these bodega owners with better cameras, plexiglass, panic buttons.”
A Manhattan cop also called Adams’ recommendation “just another desperate act by a desperate administration.”
“What store owner or worker wants to have an unnecessary confrontation with a possible criminal?” the cop said. “It is not worth it for them.”
A quarter of parents lied about whether their children were following COVID-19 public health measures (PHM), including misrepresenting vaccination status and falsifying the age of their children, a recent study has found.
The study, conducted among 580 U.S. parents between Dec. 8 and 23, 2021, asked whether they had engaged in any of the seven types of misrepresentation and nonadherence behaviors regarding COVID-19 PHM for their children. The seven behaviors included not mentioning their child had COVID-19, falsely claiming a higher age for their child to avoid getting vaccinated, falsely claiming their child had been vaccinated, claiming that their child was unvaccinated when in fact they had taken COVID-19 shots, saying their child did not have to quarantine though they had to, avoiding their child from getting tested due to concerns that they might have COVID-19, and allowing their child to break COVID-19 quarantine rules.
“One hundred fifty participants (25.9 percent) reported misrepresentation and/or nonadherence in at least 1 of 7 behaviors; the most common behaviors were not telling someone who was with their child that they thought or knew their child had COVID-19 (63 of 263 [24.0 percent]) and allowing their child to break quarantine rules (67 of 318 [21.1 percent]),” according to a JAMA Network study published on March 6.
“The most common reason was wanting to exercise personal freedom as a parent. Additional reasons included wanting their child’s life to feel normal and not being able to miss work or other responsibilities to stay home.”
—The Epoch Times
Laughter erupted inside the New York City studio after “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon asked Michelle Obama what was running through her mind as she waved goodbye on Inauguration Day in 2017.
“Bye, Felicia,” Obama cheekily replied of the moment that marked the end of her family’s time at the White House and the beginning of the Trump administration.
That was in December 2018, when Obama was promoting her first book, “Becoming.” Now, four years and another book later, the former first lady is offering a more serious assessment of the emotions she felt on Jan. 20, 2017, the day Donald Trump became president.
When her family took off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, she began to cry, Obama says in a clip of “Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast,” which premieres Tuesday.
“I cried for 30 minutes straight — uncontrollable sobbing — because that’s how much we were holding it together for eight years,” Obama says in the clip shared by People.
When she arrived at Trump’s inauguration, she said, she was disappointed that the ceremony did not reflect “the broader sense of America.”
While detailing the moments that led up to her final wave at Joint Base Andrews, Obama weighed in on a dispute from the early days of the Trump administration: the inauguration crowd size.
“You walk through the Capitol, you wave goodbye, you get on Marine One, and you take your last flight flying over the Capitol, where there weren’t that many people there — we saw it, by the way,” Obama said.
For months Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, “AOC”, has been under investigation for ethics violations stemming from her stunt at the MET Gala in 2021. She showed up in a now infamous dress that read, “Tax the Rich,” in bold red letters across the back as she waltzed her way to the gala, where tickets for entry go for $40,000 a piece.
She was featured by Vogue and said the message on her dress was about representing working class Latina women.
A number of private ethics watchdog groups filed complaints about her attendance and in December, the bipartisan House Ethics Committee officially announced a probe was underway.
But it turns out that not only did AOC try to get around Congressional ethics rules to attend, she allegedly left small vendors out to dry by refusing to pay her bills. AOC’s whole brand is that she’s a former bar tender fighting in Washington D.C. for her fellow working class men and women.
AOC maintains she did nothing wrong and takes ethics rules “very seriously.”
U.S. auto safety regulators have opened an investigation into Tesla’s Model Y SUV after getting two complaints that the steering wheels can come off while being driven.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the probe covers an estimated 120,000 vehicles from the 2023 model year.
The agency says in both cases the Model Ys were delivered to customers with a missing bolt that holds the wheel to the steering column. A friction fit held the steering wheels on, but they separated when force was exerted while the SUVs were being driven.
The agency says in documents posted on its website Wednesday that both incidents happened while the SUVs had low mileage on them.
The agency also is investigating complaints that Teslas can brake suddenly for no reason.
It’s that time of year when households across the United States set their clocks back an hour as daylight saving time ends.
The annual “fall back” that happens this Sunday and “spring forward” in March can throw off natural body rhythms, including sleep cycles and eating schedules. That can make it hard for adults, babies and pets to adjust.
While the fall time change doesn’t mess with sleep cycles as much as the spring one, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, or AASM, says there are some things people can do to make the transition smoother. That includes slowly adjusting your bedtime 15 to 20 minutes later in the days before the time changes, changing clocks before going to bed on Saturday night and sticking to regular wake-up times.
For babies and young children, some experts recommend shifting the sleep cycle 10 minutes later in the morning each day in the week prior to the switch to standard time.
For adults, adjusting the first light of day can also help. The ASSM advises limiting light exposure in the mornings until wake-up time. This can help regulate your body clock, and in turn help with the timing of feeling sleepy or feeling alert.
Getting plenty of sleep is also a good idea, no matter what time of year it is.
—The Weather Channel
According to The Marshall Project and the Murder Accountability Project, the odds of getting away with murder in the United States are 50%. The FBI also confirmed this data, specifying that this is particularly about the police clearance rate, which has been measured over time from 1965-2020.
The clearance rate is a flexible standard since it doesn’t always mean justice is served. According to The Guardian: “There are several ways a homicide can be considered cleared. One is if someone is arrested, charged and turned over to a court for prosecution. Homicides can also be cleared by ‘exceptional means’, including the death of a suspect, another jurisdiction’s refusal to extradite someone, or police identification of a suspect, according to the FBI.”
Regardless, this is a historic low for our supposedly developed country.
The police across America, particularly in blue cities, are demoralized and overwhelmed. The Philadelphia Police Department says that the sheer volume of homicides is bogging it down. There is also a cop shortage. Who would want to protect and serve a community that actively hates them? The job is hard enough without that flak.
We have a more dangerous country because criminals are more likely to commit crimes if they think they have a chance to get away with it. Moreover, because of the racial element, communities of color are disproportionately effected. (Democrats say that about everything, but it’s actually true in this case.) According to data gathered by the Murder Accountability Project, “CBS noted a growing discrepancy in homicide clearance rates according to the race and ethnicity of the victim, with African American victims experiencing the lowest clearance rate.”
This is largely not because of racist cops but because of black-on-black crime and gang activity in minority communities. FrontPage Magazine also revealed that of the black teens who died in 2020 (the year of George Floyd’s death), 52% of them were murdered.
Our Mark Alexander pointed out an important piece of this puzzle. He noted: “Where victim race was known, black-on-black assault is much more prevalent than white-on-white. The fact that black citizens are 13% of the population but their murder victim rate is 22% higher than for white victims should be the starting place for every meaningful conversation about resolving the racial disparity associated with violence.”
—Emmy Griffin, The Patriot Post
Media Matters (a liberal publication) tried to shame Transphobe of the Year Matt Walsh by posting a clip of him saying that having a trans child “is a fate worse than death.” Walsh fired back, saying he never said that, because to him, there’s no such thing as a trans child. He believes trans children are made, not born, and having your child “indoctrinated into a self-destructive cult” is a fate worse than death.
Here’s a dad (where’s mom?) whose biological son started wearing tutus before he was 3, and so dad affirmed his child’s gender and is getting her on hormones so she’ll never go through male puberty.
Walsh was called a stochastic terrorist for encouraging people to call in a bomb threat to Boston Children’s Hospital, where Dr. Jeremi Carswell says parents know some children are trans since the moment they’re born, practically, and “actions like refusing to get a haircut” or “playing with the quote ‘opposite gender’ toys” are pre-verbal indicators that the child is transgender. So wearing a tutu at age 3? Definitely trans.
No, you need to start the puberty blockers and hormones as soon as possible to help affirm your child’s gender identity. Don’t wait until they’re, say, 5 … it may be too late.
Dad seems pretty happy that he can be a trans-rights activist and enroll his daughter in girls’ sports programs, where they can share locker rooms and showers. Biological girls love that.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1884 Susan B. Anthony testified before the US House Judiciary Committee arguing for a Constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote.
And in 1948 the US Supreme Court agreed that promoting one religion through religious instruction in public schools violated the Constitution.