Month: March 2023
3RD UPDATE: Is my daughter on crack? (She’s not BTW)
Previously on This Just In…
Forbid Your Children to Have TikTok Now!
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill on March 23, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
By Roger Simon
March 26, 2023
Unless you would like the People’s Republic of China to rule the world, do not allow your children to have TikTok.
If they disobey your parental edict, take away their cellphones and computers—it’s that serious.
Don’t wait for Congress to do anything about this. That’s like Waiting for Godot. Do it yourself.
Take parental responsibility, something sorely lacking in our country. Do it for yourself, your family, and the United States of America.
This isn’t because of the data that TikTok mines, as bad as that is.
That’s mined everywhere, including by our own government, their intelligence agencies, the FBI, and multiple tech companies that we’ve learned work in cahoots with them.
Privacy no longer exists, and it’s hard to imagine how it will be recovered.
But the real problem is worse than that.
The overweening danger of the Chinese-owned company, its real intention, as Gordon Chang just explained on Newsmax and should be evident to all, after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew’s evasive testimony before Congress, is mind control.
That’s your mind, my mind, and, most of all, your kid’s mind, with 150 million Americans—nearly half the country—currently on TikTok.
TikTok is among the most pernicious forms of propaganda ever invented—perhaps the most—because it’s often subliminal and well-hidden as a “lifestyle” choice that few notice or even wish to.
Via its proprietorial algorithms, TikTok does this by encouraging and magnifying the most self-destructive trends in our culture. The platform has plenty of inadvertent allies in this mission among our young, many of them being so-called influencers.
In this way, TikTok is radically increasing the spread of all aspects of what we call “woke,” from transgenderism and hyper-sexuality to a pervasive sense of victimhood and depression unseen in our society probably ever.
Drug use and suicide, often closely associated, are way up. There’s a general feeling of hopelessness in our culture, particularly among the young.
If you wanted to destroy a country without firing a bullet, what better way could there be than to get them addicted to an app with those inherent values?
With that in mind, I believe that China is working from an established communist intelligence playbook to undermine us.
If you’re interested in the workings of that playbook—and you should be, out of self-defense—I would suggest reading the enlightening “Disinformation,” written by the late Ion Pacepa, the onetime Romanian spy chief and highest-ranking official of the former Soviet Union to defect.
Because it was less expensive and risky while being ultimately more effective, Pacepa explained, with many examples, disinformation was generally the preferred method over actual spying for the KGB.
Of course, they did both, as does Chinese intelligence obviously, but ask yourself this:
What’s a more effective form of disinformation, not to mention distraction, than TikTok promulgating woke ideology?
It has the capacity to destroy a generation, driving our citizens apart as it continually escalates its demands.
What was woke yesterday is no longer woke today.
Social acceptance, again particularly among the young, comes only to those who meet these constantly changing demands.
Our youth spend huge portions of their days that could be used more profitably in myriad ways—from playing sports and socializing in person to actually studying—chasing this woke rabbit.
TikTok is their home for that—a literal temple of woke.
I use the word temple deliberately because as religion fades from the consciousness, almost to the point of disappearance, the social media company replaces it almost as an object of worship, thus increasing its domination of the mind and diminishing its capacity for intelligent thought. It’s a form of hypnosis.
Just the other day, Forbes published news of a new study showing that the American IQ is declining precipitously, another result that has to be partly ascribed—along with our horrendous, woke-infested educational system that can’t manage to teach children how to read—to the rise of social media, most notably TikTok.
Turn it off before it’s too late.
It already may be.
While our youth were buried in the social media company, trying to figure out the answer to such “crucial” questions as what pronouns the good BIPOC should be using today, China, Russia, Syria, and even astonishingly, long-divided and hostile Sunni/Shiite Saudi Arabia and Iran have forged an alliance under the guidance of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
This is an extraordinary realignment of global politics that will affect our lives, weakening our nation and the West, for generations to come, if it holds.
How many TikTok users do you think even know this has happened? Is it more than 3 percent?
They should be paying attention. Given the IQ decline, learning Chinese likely isn’t going to be easy.
—Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, editor-at-large for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (nonfiction).
NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F
If elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz says she would consider recusing herself from cases involving Wisconsin’s law known as Act 10 that limited collective bargaining abilities for most public employees because of her participation in protests against the measure.
Protasiewicz told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board last week her opposition to the law, including participating in protests in 2011 and signing a recall petition of then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker, might result in a recusal if she is elected the court.
“I’d have to think about it,” Protasiewicz said. “Given the fact that I marched, given the fact that I signed the recall petition, would I recuse myself? Maybe. Maybe. But I don’t know for sure.”
Protasiewicz also said she believes the law is unconstitutional and agreed with a dissenting opinion written in 2014 by liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in a decision that upheld Walker’s signature legislation.
Bradley wrote in the dissent that the majority opinion diluted public workers’ constitutional right to freedom of association.
“The majority has opened the door for the state to withhold benefits and punish individuals based on their membership in disfavored groups,” Bradley wrote.
“I agree with the dissent in that case,” Protasiewicz said in an extensive interview with the Journal Sentinel editorial board on March 20.
The 2014 decision upholding Act 10 was 5-2, with former conservative Justice Michael Gableman writing the lead opinion, which 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, he said.
Conservatives say they believe a legal challenge to Act 10 could make its way to the Supreme Court if Protasiewicz is elected and liberal justices take a 4-3 majority on the court. Protasiewicz faces conservative Dan Kelly, a former state Supreme Court Justice, in the April 4 election.
Kelly wrote a September 2012 blog post saying that Act 10 had saved the state from budgetary woes. He dismissed the merits of one of the legal challenges to the law, writing that “there was no rational relationship between the law and the reasons given for deeming it unconstitutional.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Republican state Senate candidate Dan Knodl says if his election gives Senate Republicans a two-thirds majority, he would “certainly consider” support launching impeachment proceedings against Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz.
Wisconsin Republicans are defending a two-thirds majority in the state Senate that they achieved in November but quickly lost after the retirement of longtime GOP state Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills. If Knodl replaces Darling, Senate Republicans will have enough members to be able to remove state officials who are impeached by the state Assembly.
The Wisconsin Constitution allows lawmakers to remove state officials “for corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors,” but Knodl said Sunday he would consider launching impeachment proceedings for criminal justice officials “who have failed” at their jobs.
Knodl, of Germantown, faces Democratic environmental lawyer Jodi Habush Sinykin of Whitefish Bay in the April 4 special election to replace Darling. The district represents areas of the north and northwest suburbs of Milwaukee.
In an appearance on WISN-TV’s political talk show “UpFront,” Knodl said the “Milwaukee County justice system is failing” and said he believes its prosecutors and circuit court judges “need to be looked at” including Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and Protasiewicz.
“She has failed,” Knodl said. When asked directly if he would support impeaching Protasiewicz, Knodl said “I certainly would consider it.”
Knodl did not immediately say whether his comments meant he would consider voting in favor of impeaching Protasiewicz if she is elected to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.
“It simply gives us some more authority in the areas of oversight and accountability of elected officials or appointed officials,” Knodl told WISN-TV. “If there are some out there who are corrupt, who are failing at their tasks, we have an opportunity to hold them accountable.”
“I feel the Milwaukee County justice system is failing and that includes prosecution, so DA Chisholm I think should be looked at,” he said. “The circuit court judges I think have failed the community by releasing or not having high enough bail on these criminals, the perpetrators. And so, they need be looked at — Janet Protasiewicz is a circuit court judge right now in Milwaukee and she has failed.”
Sam Roecker, spokesman for Protasiewicz, did not directly respond to Knodl’s comments.
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Gov. Tony Evers has directed that flags to be flown at half-staff in the state Tuesday to honor a Wisconsin soldier who died in World War II and whose remains were recently identified.
Evers’ order directs that U.S. flags and Wisconsin state flags be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset Tuesday to honor U.S. Army Private First Class William LaVerne “Sonny” Simon.
Simon’s remains will be buried Tuesday with full military honors in his hometown of Middleton, Wisconsin, nearly 80 years after he died in Germany.
“A decorated military veteran, Private Simon served our state and country well, giving his life in defense of the values and freedoms we hold most dear,” Evers said Monday in a statement.
Simon was a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, when he was reported unaccounted for on Nov. 5, 1944, during the Battle of the Hürtgen Forest in Germany.
The horrible task of counting began before noon.
How many children and staff members had gone into Covenant School (in Nashville) on Monday morning, and how many had come out alive after the gunshots?
Frantic administrators and teachers, tearful parents and first responders hurried to get that count finished. Parents were routed to nearby Woodmont Baptist Church waiting, hopefully, to be reunited with their children.
And they waited.
In fear. In shock. In anger. They waited for more understanding in a situation where none would be forthcoming.
The morning was filled with the sound of sirens.
The news they heard just after noon was devastating: Three children and three school staff members were killed. Police said they were Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all age 9, and staff members Katherine Koonce, 60, the head of school, and Cynthia Peak, 61 and Mike Hill, 61.
Police identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who police killed at the scene. Hale was a former student at The Covenant School, according to police.
Police identified the shooter by his name at birth and did not provide another name. He was a transgender man who used male pronouns. The police initially identified him as a woman.
Hale was an illustrator and graphic designer who had two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun, police said.
The shooter entered the school just after 10 a.m. through a side door, began shooting on the first floor and then moved to the second. The first call to police came at 10:13 a.m. Five police officers confronted Hale on the second floor, and two opened fire, killing the shooter at 10:27 a.m.
Police found the suspected shooter’s car at the scene.
—The Nashville Tennessean
The Biden White House will probably push the usual talking points about banning so-called assault weapons, which will be echoed by their allies on the gun control issue. Unlike the shootings at Michigan State University and East High School in Denver, Colorado, this perpetrator had a handgun and two AR-15-style rifles. You can already hear the anti-gun Left licking their lips—now they had a chance to score some points. Except they can’t, Audrey Hale was identified as the shooter, and this person was transgender. Hale was shot and killed by police during the assault.
There is a manifesto and maps of potential targets. This shooter planned this attack, and given the setting; a hate crime cannot be ruled out. The lingering question will remain unresolved since a transgender mass shooter is one story the media will avoid like the plague. Authorities said they have a working theory on a motive but are unwilling to disclose it at this time.
The shooters at MSU and East High School were black. This one was transgender. The shelf life of this heinous school shooting isn’t going to last past the week for reasons you already know: the past string of mass shootings does not fit the liberal media narrative. When the weapon of choice isn’t an AR-15 rifle, the clock to expiration starts ticking. When members of a community the media loathes to expound upon when they’re the prime suspects in crimes, especially violent ones, the timeline to move on to the next subject is accelerated immensely.
As I’m writing this, CNN’s Erin Burnett is already moved on how Ukrainians are running out of weapons again, so that’s a gauge of how other networks might respond to this shooting.
—Matt Vespa, Townhall
A staffer for Sen. Rand Paul was stabbed and seriously injured in Washington, D.C., on Saturday and a suspect has since been arrested, according to police and Paul’s office.
“This past weekend a member of my staff was brutally attacked in broad daylight in Washington, D.C.,” Paul, R-Ky,. said in a statement to ABC News on Monday. “I ask you to join [wife] Kelley and me in praying for a speedy and complete recovery, and thanking the first responders, hospital staff, and police for their diligent actions.”
Paul’s office has not publicly identified the staffer.
According to a police report obtained by ABC News, officers first responded Saturday around 5:15 p.m. to a call about a stabbing on the 1300 block of H Street Northeast in the district.
The victim was treated on the scene for “stab wounds” and was seen by a witness “bleeding from the head,” the report states.
According to one of two witnesses cited in the report, the suspect had “popped out of the corner” and stabbed the Paul staffer multiple times as he and the witness were walking. The victim “was able to grab [the suspect’s] arms” and the witness with him tackled the suspect, “leading to a struggle between the parties,” the report states. Then, the victim and the witness ran as the suspect fled.
The first witness shouted to another about what was happening and that person called the authorities while they aided the victim, according to the report.
On Monday, D.C. police said that 42-year-old Glynn Neal, a D.C. resident, was arrested later on Saturday and had been charged with assault with intent to kill, wielding a knife, in connection with the attack. Court filings state that he has told officers he heard a voice was going to get him before the attack occurred.
Paul’s staffer was hospitalized “for treatment of life-threatening injuries,” police said, but further information about his condition was not available.
Former President Donald Trump claims that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has “dropped” an investigation into him over the “hush money” payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Trump, 76, made the assertion while speaking to reporters on his jet after a campaign rally in Waco, Texas, Axios reported.
“I think they’ve already dropped the case,” Trump said. “It’s a fake case. Some fake cases, they have absolutely nothing.”
Trump didn’t say what led him to believe he was off the hook.
A spokesperson for Bragg, a Democrat, declined to comment Sunday on Trump’s remarks but pointed to an unrelated Saturday statement that referred to the Daniels hush money probe as “an ongoing matter.”
For many Americans, grabbing a latte or a hot tea from a coffee shop is as habitual as brushing their teeth. You know the routine: Leave the house at 8:00 a.m., pick up your Starbucks drink at 8:15, and get to work by 8:30.
Coffee and tea help us get through the Monday–Friday grind.
But according to recent research, when we drink hot coffee or tea from disposable paper cups, we’re ingesting thousands of health-damaging microplastics.
Though one might not think a paper cup would contain plastic, almost all paper dishware utilizes microplastics as a sealant.
Two separate studies showed that when hot liquid is poured into paper cups, microplastics leach from the coating into the hot liquid, thereby turning a cup of coffee or tea into a microplastic elixir.
In one study published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, researchers discovered that consuming hot liquid from a standard 12-ounce paper cup results in the ingestion of roughly 88,000 microplastic particles, if not more.
After a year of drinking just one cup of coffee or tea from a paper cup daily, the total amount of microplastic particles consumed would be over 32 million.
When heated to between 185 and 194 degrees Fahrenheit, paper cups were shown to release thousands of microplastics into the liquid. For reference, most lattes are served at around 160 degrees while brewed coffee is served at 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Researchers in another study also discovered that paper cups “do not appear to release fewer microplastic particles than plastic cups.”
As they concluded in the study published in Science of the Total Environment, “microplastic debris released from the cups as a type of exposure source to humans should be cause for grave concern.”
The impact of microplastics on the health of ocean ecosystems has rightfully seen widespread media coverage. Biodegradable straws and saving sea turtles have become a widespread environmental cliché. What is untold, however, is the immediate threat microplastics pose to human health, particularly hormone and reproductive health.
From the air we breathe to the water we drink, it has become an impossible feat to avoid microplastics altogether. Even so, we can reduce our microplastic exposure by thousands—if not millions—of particles if we choose to forgo paper cups.
Instead of drinking your favorite tea or coffee from a disposable cup, consider using a stainless steel thermos or a ceramic mug. This simple switch might be the catalyst that restores your health and fertility.
—The Epoch Times
The Wall Street Journal has conducted a poll with the most interesting results. From 1998 to the present, the percentage of Americans who say that patriotism is an important value has crashed from 70 percent to 38 percent. The bulk of the fall has happened since 2019.
Indeed, there is a growing cultural movement, extending from academia to the mainstream, that encourages loathing of American history and its achievements. No “founding father” is safe from being called the worst-possible names. Hatred of this country has risen to be an expected norm. But the problem goes deeper even.
When you are locked in your home, your business is closed, your church is shut, your neighbors are screaming at you to mask up, then the doctors come at you with shots you don’t want, and you are further prevented from leaving the country to anywhere but Mexico, and the president calls the unvaccinated enemies of the people, sure, one can imagine that affections for the homeland decline.
But there is another important pillar of patriotism. It is about trust in the civic institutions of the country. These include schools, courts, politics, and all the institutions of government at all levels. Civic trust in these are surely at rock bottom. The courts did not protect us. The schools shut, particularly the public ones which are supposed to be the crowning achievement of Progressive ideology. Our doctors turned on us.
The media too turned on regular people for three years, calling our parties super-spreader events, jeering pastors who held worship services, demonizing live concerts, and screaming at everyone to stay home and stay glued to the tube.
Patriotism was supposed to mean staying home and staying safe, masking up, social distancing, complying with every random edict no matter how ridiculous, and finally getting jabbed once, twice, three times, and more forever, despite the lack of medical vulnerability for vast swaths of the public.
We should in no way be surprised that the public these days is not feeling very patriotic. And yes, this is very sad in many ways. But it is also what happens when patriotism is hijacked by the state and industry to shatter our hopes and dreams. We tend to learn from our errors. So when the pollsters come around and ask if we are feeling patriotic, it’s hardly unusual that people would respond: not really.
And we could say the same about the other poll result: the importance of religion has fallen from 62 percent in 1998 to 39 percent in 2022. Again the bulk of the crash happened after 2019. No question that the nation was already trending secular. But what are we to think when two successive seasons of Easter and Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) were canceled by the civic elites with full cooperation from the mainstream of religious leaders?
In the final results of the poll, the importance of having children went from 59 percent to 39 percent and the importance of community involvement peaked at 62 at the height of lockdowns to fall to an astounding 27 percent.
Again, the culprit here seems pretty obvious: it was the pandemic response. All the policies were structured to shatter human relationships. People are nothing but disease vectors. Stay away from everyone. Don’t become a super-spreader by daring to hang around others. Be alone. Be lonely. That’s the only proper way.
Finally, among the only things that are rising concern the importance of money. That’s probably because real income has been declining for the better part of two years and inflation is gutting our standards of living. Once again, pandemic policies are the culprit. They spent trillions and the money printers matched that spending nearly dollar for dollar, watering down the value of a previously reliable currency.
—Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute
I could fill pages on each of these items, but I’m not going to dwell on them. I do, however, believe they are worth bringing to your attention so you can make sure your friends and family members are also informed.
• USA Today labeled a man as one of its “Women of the Year.” So much for accuracy in reporting. The left continues its war on normalcy by embracing insanity and is erasing women in the process.
• The left-wing media aren’t simply misleading us with biased reporting. They’re actually celebrating their lies and deceit.
• California’s $640 billion reparations plan is twice the state’s annual budget. Imagine the taxes that would have to be imposed to cover that fiscal insanity! Not to be outdone, San Francisco’s reparations scheme costs 12.5 times the city’s annual budget, amounting to a tax of $600,000 on every non-African American household in the city!
• Leftist universities continue to embrace segregation. Grand Valley State University in Michigan is hosting at least five different graduation ceremonies segregated by race and “gender identity.” How does dividing us bring us together? Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., must be rolling over in his grave.
• Washington, D.C., may cut its bus service in half in order to save money so it can buy expensive electric buses that will run fewer routes, moving fewer people. How’s that for liberal logic?!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1944, a Swedish housewife in her mid-30s, Astrid Lindgren, sprained her ankle so badly that she was confined to bed and finally put pen to paper transcribing the bedtime stories she’d been telling her 10-year-old daughter Karin for years.
Pippi Longstocking, the red-haired, freckled character, became a “new role model for female assertiveness” and the chapter books were translated into 76 languages from Arabic to Zulu.
Pippi was named by Lindgren’s daughter, who asked her mother for a get-well story when she was off school. Unconventional with superhuman strength—able to lift her horse one-handed—she is playful and unpredictable. She often makes fun of unreasonable adults, especially if they are pompous and condescending. Her anger comes out in extreme cases, such as when a man ill-treats his horse. The daughter of a buccaneer captain—with adventure stories to prove it—Pippi, like Peter Pan, has no interest in growing up.
Today’s highly interesting read (03/27/2023): Should there be age limits for drivers?
When she was a state Senator, before she became Wisconsin’s first female lieutenant governor, my dear friend and colleague Margaret Farrow proposed legislation that would have required drivers in Wisconsin that became a certain age to take an annual driver’s test to get/keep their licenses.
The proposal went nowhere.
That’s a lead-in to recent news. On March 15, the famed actor Dick Van Dyke crashed his silver Lexus into a gate in Malibu while driving in wet conditions, apparently losing control of the wheel. Photos from the accident show Van Dyke with blood on his mouth and nose, and paramedics treated him at the scene for his injuries and a possible concussion.
Officers don’t believe alcohol or drugs were involved in the slippery crash, but they reportedly requested that the actor retake his driving exam with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Today’s read is from Charles Passy in MarketWatch. Here’s an excerpt:
How old is too old when it comes to driving? Or should no age limit apply?
Those are the questions many are likely asking in light of the news that the legendary 97-year-old actor Dick Van Dyke was in a driving accident last week in Malibu, Calif. According to reports, Van Dyke’s silver Lexus collided with a gate, but the actor suffered only minor injuries. He appeared to be the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle.
Like many states, California makes certain requirements of older drivers as a safeguard — specifically, it requires that those 70 and over renew their license in person and provide proof of adequate vision. Some states also require that older drivers renew their licenses more frequently.
Still, all this hasn’t stopped seniors from driving.
Read the entire column here.
The latest pro-life news (03/27/2023)
THIS WEEKLY BLOG POSTED EVERY MONDAY PROMOTES A CULTURE OF LIFE Don’t miss our heartwarming closing story every week.
From Pro-Life WI:
STATE SUPREME COURT ELECTION NEXT TUESDAY!
PREBORN LIVES HANG IN THE BALANCE
Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz are facing off in the general election for state supreme court on Tuesday, April 4. The Pro-Life Wisconsin Victory Fund Political Action Committee (PAC) is urging pro-life, pro-family, pro-rule of law citizens across Wisconsin to vote for Daniel Kelly for Wisconsin Supreme Court.
It is imperative that Wisconsinites elect a justice who will serve fairly and impartially, respecting and upholding the rule of law. That justice is Daniel Kelly. The same cannot be said for Janet Protasiewicz who has consistently and brazenly pronounced her public policy preferences on matters likely to come before the high court, including abortion and redistricting. Her public support for ‘abortion rights’ is a clear indication that her thumb will be on the scales of justice when it comes to adjudicating our current abortion ban. Janet Protasiewicz will legislate from the bench!
Human lives are at stake in this Wisconsin Supreme Court race!
Wisconsin’s current law abortion ban, s.940.04, is being challenged in our state court system by pro-abortion Democrat Attorney General Josh Kaul. If we lose our tenuous 4-3 conservative majority on the state supreme court, a new liberal, activist court will likely rule s.940.04 unenforceable, restoring abortion on demand in Wisconsin. Even worse, a liberal supreme court could find a right to abortion in our state constitution, thus overturning all our pro-life laws. We cannot let this happen! We cannot let Janet Protasiewicz return abortion on demand to Wisconsin.
Justice Kelly is the only candidate in this race with a proven record of judicial conservatism, and therefore the only candidate we trust to uphold the rule of law. His belief in the dignity of the human person makes him the only choice for pro-life voters. We are extremely proud to endorse him.
The PLW Victory Fund PAC is urging pro-life, pro-family, pro-rule of law citizens across Wisconsin to vote In-Person Absentee, Absentee by Mail, or on Election Day Tuesday, April 4, for Daniel Kelly for Wisconsin Supreme Court. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for this nonpartisan race. Learn more about where you should vote, who else is on your local ballot, and for information on voting absentee (by mail or in-person) if you cannot vote on Election Day here.
SENATE INSURANCE AND SMALL BUSINESS COMMITTEE TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON BILL EXTENDING MEDICAID COVERAGE FOR POSTPARTUM WOMEN
The Senate Committee on Insurance and Small Business will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill (SB) 110 this Wednesday, March 29, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South of the State Capitol.
Authored by Sen. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan), SB 110 extends Medical Assistance (Medicaid) coverage for postpartum women from 60 days to 365 days. Currently, newborn babies are covered under the Medicaid program up to 365 days after birth. Thirty states already provide 12 months of continuous Medicaid postpartum care for new mothers, eight states are in the process of expanding to 12-month care, and legislation is pending in Missouri to do so.
In a post-Roe nation, Wisconsin is presently a safe haven for mothers and their preborn children. It is vitally important that we provide robust public and private support for pregnant mothers. Extending Medicaid coverage to new mothers for the first year of their child’s life is part of this. It is good public policy. The symbiotic relationship between mom and baby, especially in the first three years of a child’s life, is scientifically irrefutable. A healthy mom will be better equipped to care for her baby, financially, medically, materially, and emotionally.
Senate Bill 110 is beneficial to pregnant mothers, especially those facing crisis pregnancies. Providing comprehensive pre- and post-natal medical coverage for both mom and baby, from conception to one year after birth, will encourage mothers to choose life for their preborn children. Knowing the Medicaid program will provide affordable, optimal, and prolonged care for her and her child, before and after birth, will empower mothers to overcome the abortion temptation in challenging circumstances.
Pro-Life Wisconsin strongly supports this compassionate, bi-partisan legislation. It will save lives and it will save the Medicaid program dollars by promoting healthy outcomes for moms and babies.
With your help, Pro-Life Wisconsin will work for passage of SB 110. Again, the Senate Insurance and Small Business Committee will hold a public hearing this Wednesday, March 29, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South of the State Capitol. Matt Sande, Pro-Life Wisconsin Legislative Director, will testify in favor of SB 110.
- Please ATTEND the public hearing and testify or register in favor of SB 110.
- If you are unable to attend the public hearing, please CALL or EMAIL your state senator TODAY and urge him/her to “Support AB 110.” Tell them, “Encourage mothers to choose life for their preborn children. Support mothers and their newborn babies with extended postpartum Medicaid coverage.”
- Don’t know your state senator? Go to legis.wisconsin.gov and type in your home address under “Who Are My Legislators” or call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-362-9472.
Please make your pro-life voices heard in the Wisconsin Senate. Thank you!
LAST CHANCE TO PRAY WITH THE 40 DAYS FOR LIFE SPRING CAMPAIGN
The 40 Days for Life Campaign wraps up this week! Join fellow pro-lifers in praying outside your local abortion center. Since their founding in 2007, 40 Days for Life campaigns have saved 22,829 babies through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil outside of local abortion facilities. While abortion is illegal here in Wisconsin, abortion-bound women continue to visit local Planned Parenthood facilities and community “health” centers to obtain contraception and information on the procurement of abortion. Our work is not done!
We invite you to commit to prayer time on the sidewalks outside these facilities. Bring your friends and family, or call us if you’d like a member of our Pro-Life Wisconsin staff to join you. If you or your campaign is in need of signs, we can ship you one or as many as you need. Please go to a campaign near you and get involved. Current cities include Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and Waukesha.
Why does Wisconsin’s judicial race matter? Here’s why pro-lifers are concerned
18 Years After They Starved My Sister to Death, We Must Never Forget Terri Schiavo
Memories of Pre-Dawn Raids at Gunpoint Haunt Pro-Life Activists, Friends, and Family
Activists say family members held at gunpoint by FBI more than a year after attending protests at abortion clinics
Mark Houck with his daughter, Imelda, at their home in Kintnersville, Pa., on March 17, 2023. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
By Jackson Elliott, Epoch Times
March 27, 2023
Jonathan Darnel woke at 5:30 a.m. to fists pounding on his door.
There was a crash as it was torn from its hinges, then shouts of armed men, he told The Epoch Times.
Without warning, FBI agents swarmed in to arrest him.
His crime: participating in what he calls a “peaceful pro-life protest” nearly two years prior.
Similar scenes have played out at the homes of several of the 26 pro-life activists arrested nationwide in 2022 and 2023. Some were given the opportunity to turn themselves in. At least one was arrested at work.
Many of these pro-life activists now face up to a year in prison for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. They also could be sentenced to more than 10 more years for the charge of “conspiracy against rights,” because they were acting in a group.
As of yet, none have been sentenced. At least one was taken from his home at gunpoint as his wife demanded to see a warrant and his terrified children cried.
An 11-year sentence would be an unprecedented punishment for participating in protests that were not violent, a legal expert told The Epoch Times.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has deployed predawn raids with dozens of armed agents and coordinated ambushes against these protesters whose alleged crimes neither damaged property nor harmed people.
Yet attacks on centers that seek to give pregnant women options other than abortion have failed to attract the same attention from federal law enforcement.
There were 82 confirmed attacks on crisis pregnancy centers in 2022, according to Catholic Vote, an organization that “advocates living out the Catholic faith in public life.” As of March 2023, the FBI has arrested just two people thought to be responsible for some of the attacks, the organization noted.
In a press release, the FBI said it is continuing to investigate threats against pregnancy resource centers, faith-based organizations, and abortion clinics.
“The incidents are being investigated as potential acts of domestic violent extremism, FACE Act violations, or violent crime matters, depending on the facts of each case,” the statement reads. “The FBI takes all violence and threats of violence very seriously and we are working closely with our law enforcement partners at the national, state, and local levels to investigate these incidents.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the DOJ for comment but didn’t receive a response by press time.
Rounding up Pro-Life Activists
Federal agents forced their way into the homes of at least three pro-life activists in 2022.
The raids have left children terrorized, homes damaged, and families worried about their future.
And in the wake of the raids, families’ lives are forever changed, as the charged activists face the uncertainty of prison time and legal bills that quickly mount into the six-figure range.
In the case of Darnel, the FBI agents wouldn’t let him change clothes before taking him from his home on that chilly morning.
So he walked into the agency’s Washington headquarters on March 30, 2022, in a sweater, pajamas, and shoes with laces removed, he told The Epoch Times.
Agents didn’t tell him why he’d been brought in, he said.
“I’d just woken up,” Darnell told The Epoch Times almost a year later, as he awaits trial. “I was trying to plan my day in my head.”
Soon after his arrest, Darnel discovered that he faced 11 years in prison for his role in protest he characterizes as peaceful.
Other crimes that carry a similar sentence include arson, kidnapping, and negligent homicide.
FBI agents didn’t show him a warrant, he said.
“It was just an early morning dawn raid—grab this guy and throw him in a car and drive off with him,” said Darnel, the founder of the Christian, pro-life website GetSeriousChurch.com. “It was very, very spooky.”
Before he could make sense of what was happening, agents had smashed through two doors in his home, he said.
“I guess I delayed too long.”
Darnel’s housemate, Ed Caughlan, and three others in the home confirmed the details. They described looking down the barrels of pointed at them, while a bomb disposal robot waited outside.
Bewildered, Darnel’s four roommates were handcuffed and forced to sit against a wall inside.
“The most vivid image was multiple M16s being pointed at me, as I answered the downstairs door to a peacetime standing army,” Caughlan said.
En route to the FBI facility, Darnel tried to tell agents they were in the wrong.
“If they’re called upon to arrest people for trying to save babies or give babies a decent burial, they really need to reconsider their line of work,” he said.
Nationwide Prosecution of Protesters
The protesters with Darnel at the Washington Surgi-Clinic weren’t the only pro-life protesters to face harsh law enforcement tactics over the past two years.
The DOJ also has filed charges against 11 pro-life protesters who say they entered peacefully and simply sat down in a Mount Juliet, Tennessee, abortion clinic in March 2021. They face possible sentences of up to 11 years in prison for violating the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights.
Eight other protesters were charged and face similar sentences for violating the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights for blockading a Sterling Heights, Michigan, abortion clinic by sitting and praying in front of the door in August 2020.
These groups have some overlap.
Protesters Chester Gallagher, Calvin Zastrow, and Caroline Davis each face one 11-year sentence for blocking access to both the Mount Juliet abortion clinic and another 11-year sentence for blocking the Sterling Heights clinic.
Eva Edl and Eva Zastrow each face an 11-year sentence for violating the FACE Act and conspiracy against rights for blocking access to the Sterling Heights clinic. They also both face a potential one-year sentence for violating the FACE Act at the Mount Juliet clinic.
Heather Idoni, who participated in all three protests, faces three 11-year sentences.
In a separate incident, the government charged Rev. Fidelis Moscinski, a Catholic priest in Hempstead, New York, for violating the FACE Act. He used chains to block a clinic entrance.
And after an October 2021 dust-up with a pro-abortion activist at an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, armed agents surprised pro-life activist Mark Houck at his home in a pre-dawn raid. As his children cried and his wife asked for information, they put him in a car and drove away, charging him with violating the FACE Act.
Houck is the founder of a Catholic men’s mentorship group, The King’s Men, according to the DOJ website.
Before that, Houck’s attorneys had told federal prosecutors he was willing to submit himself to the FBI if needed for questioning.
It appeared the FBI didn’t want him to come in on his own, Houck said.
It was before dawn, and Houck was whipping up a quiche for his wife and seven homeschooled children.
“I hear a heavy banging at the door, and the doorbell is rung repeatedly,” Houck told The Epoch Times. “And all I hear outside is someone yelling, ‘Open up!’ like there’s some sort of problem outside.”
He wondered if there had been an emergency, he said, or if there was a “madman trying to get into my house.”
Nearly a year had passed since his scuffle with a pro-abortion activist. So that wasn’t on his mind, he said.
When he opened the door, he saw FBI agents wearing bullet-proof vests and ballistic helmets. There were 15 law enforcement vehicles and two battering rams.
Then there were the guns.
State police pointed pistols at him, he said. Five agents on his porch holding shields pointed M16 rifles at him, and then they pointed the guns at his wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, as well, he said.
A senior FBI source told Fox News that Houck never had guns pointed at him. Houck told The Epoch Times that the denial is “patently false.”
Behind Houck and his wife, their seven children stood on the stairs terrified and weeping.
“It was just completely reckless, because someone could have been shot,” Houck said.
And when his wife asked for a warrant, Houck said, the agent replied, “We’re taking him, with or without a warrant.”
‘They wanted to scare pro-life America’
The FBI cuffed Houck, put him in a black SUV, and drove him away in his flip-flops, shorts, and T-shirt. He wasn’t allowed to put on clothes or brush his teeth, he said.
“They didn’t even give me permission to say goodbye to my children,” Houck said.
Houck was belly-shackled, with handcuffs that connected to a chain around his stomach. He was held for six hours, cuffed to a table at a local federal office, he said.
Agents fingerprinted him, interrogated him, and conducted a hearing. They released him 10 hours later, he said, after indicating that they’d determined he wasn’t a flight risk and posed no threat to the community.
“You have to ask yourself, why the tremendous show of force when they knew that already?”
On Jan. 30, 2023, a jury found Houck not guilty of violating the FACE Act.
But Houck still wonders why he was arrested with such force, and in a way he believes put his family’s safety at risk.
He doesn’t have a criminal record and owns no guns, he told The Epoch Times. He also said he has no skills dangerous enough to justify using over 15 armed agents to arrest him, he added.
“It’s not logical,” Houck said. “They wanted to show and silence other pro-lifers and scare pro-life America.”
According to the FBI, there are “inaccurate claims being made” about Houck’s arrest.
“The FBI then employs the personnel and tactics deemed necessary to effect a safe arrest or search,” reads a written statement about Houck’s arrest.
“While it’s the FBI’s standard practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence,” the statement reads.
Others involved have questioned whether the dramatic arrests, including predawn raids and coordinated multi-state round-ups, were warranted.
Houck had been providing sidewalk counseling outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia with his 12-year-old son Mark, Jr. on Oct. 13, 2021. He was trying to talk women approaching the clinic out of abortion.
The details of exactly what happened vary, depending on who’s telling the story.
According to Houck, trouble began when a 72-year-old clinic escort approached and started aggressively telling Mark, Jr. that his father was a bad person who was hurting women.
“He’s extremely vulgar, very belligerent. He’s taught my son the F-word,” Houck said.
Houck’s son backed away, but the person continued to approach, staying within feet of the boy, while hurling insults, Houck alleged.
Fuming, Houck shoved the person away from his son, he said. Houck’s attorney said the men weren’t near anyone else.
The person fell, but got up with nothing more than a scraped arm, Houck said.
The clinic escort’s criminal complaint against Houck differs from Houck’s account.
In a criminal trial in the U.S. District Court of the East District of Pennsylvania, the person said Houck verbally confronted him and shoved him while he was escorting women out of Planned Parenthood, according to a DOJ press release.
A half-hour later, Houck allegedly walked over to him, threatened him, then shoved him again, the person testified. The person also said he never spoke to Houck’s son.
The Epoch Times contacted the Philadelphia Planned Parenthood where the incident took place, but didn’t receive comment by press time. The Epoch Times also reached out to the clinic escort but did not receive a reply.
Prior to his acquittal by a jury, Houck had faced the possibility of 11 years in prison.
More Punishment for Protestors
The chain of events that brought Darnel to FBI headquarters in March 2022 began 17 months earlier, on Oct. 22, 2020.
On that day, Darnel—along with other pro-lifers, and some activists with the Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU)—acted out what they call a “direct action rescue” at the Washington Surgi-Clinic abortion center.
The nine-person group included people from many backgrounds, including evangelical Christians, Catholics, progressives, and anarchists.
They all agreed that abortion was murder and they planned to peacefully oppose it by trying to enter the clinic and persuade women not to go through with abortion.
Darnel’s website encourages all Christians to dedicate 2 percent of their time to peaceful action against abortion. He’s been arrested “many times” by police, he said, for what he describes as peaceful protest.
But no sacrifice is too great, because “there are millions of children being murdered in the nation every year,” he told The Epoch Times.
Pro-abortion activist group We Engage posted pictures of the Surgi-Clinic protest on its Facebook page. The pictures show pro-life activists tied or chained to chairs inside the clinic. The chairs appear to block one door inside the clinic.
Activist Will Goodman was part of the group that day.
Surgi-Clinic staff allegedly became violent when they entered the building, Goodman told The Epoch Times. Clinic workers attacked group members and attempted to slam doors on the fingers of Goodman and fellow protester Idoni, he alleged.
“They were even using a broom handle or a mop handle to hit the pro-lifers, who were now on the ground,” Goodman said.
In response, the pro-life protesters went limp, as they’d been trained, he said.
“Rev. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] taught that we will not use violence to end violence. Rather, it is through non-violent direct action, through mercy and dialogue, that we will try to change hearts.”
The Epoch Times contacted the Washington Surgi-Clinic abortion center to respond to the allegations but didn’t receive a comment by press time.
Arrested, But Not Charged
During the confrontation between the protestors and Surgi-Clinic staff, men in suits arrived, Goodman said. They watched, and they photographed the pro-life band.
Goodman suspected the bystanders were federal attorneys from the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ. Other pro-life participants said they suspected the men were with the FBI.
After the men in suits had watched for a while, police arrested Goodman, Darnel, Idoni, PAAU activism director Lauren Handy, Jay Smith, Paulette Harlow, Jean Marshall, John Hinshaw, and Joan Bell.
Bell, the oldest, was 74. Five group members were older than 60.
While in jail, group members faced interrogation from FBI agents, Goodman said. Both he and Darnel said they didn’t recall police reading them their rights.
“All of us were essentially interrogated under duress and without being given clear direction that we should have our counsel present when being interrogated by the FBI,” he said.
They spent hours in Washington’s Second District Police Department, but were never charged, he said.
Two years later, in March 2022, FBI agents swept in to arrest all of them at almost the same time in a coordinated, multi-state operation.
After their arrests, the activists started to wonder if the FBI had been trailing them, Handy told The Epoch Times.
PAAU members knew for sure that the FBI had infiltrated their activist planning meetings, said Terrisa Bukovinac, the group’s executive director.
An agent produced an audio recording of a group meeting in January 2023 to argue in federal court that, by planning a protest, Handy had violated her terms of release from jail after being arrested in October 2020.
“We were very concerned about pro-abortion people infiltrating,” Bukovinac said. “We weren’t really thinking about the FBI.”
Bukovinac said the FBI plant was a man who called himself Eric Mike Santos. Santos arrived at PAAU’s online meeting late, left early, and emailed Handy, asking for information about her plans.
“We realized [later] that he was the only person no one knew,” Bukovinac said. “We went back to look at his Facebook page, and it had been deleted.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland pressing him for answers on the alleged FBI infiltration of PAAU’s meeting and why it happened.
Other events also suggested the FBI had infiltrated PAAU, Bukovinac said.
In one incident, a PAAU member used a fake social media account to ask about a planned pro-abortion protest by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights (RU4AR).
PAAU members hoped to stealthily obtain the details so they could prepare a counterprotest, Bukovinac said.
A representative of RU4AR replied and asked the PAAU member to plan a pro-abortion protest event, she said.
The PAAU member posing as a pro-abortion activist agreed, Bukovinac said. Fellow members were giddy about the plan to pretend to arrange a pro-abortion demonstration for RU4AR, she said.
When RU4AR members showed up, PAAU members plotted to surprise them with a pro-life demonstration, complete with media coverage, Bukovinac said.
“We were hysterically laughing about this plan for a week,” said Bukovinac. “It was so hilarious.”
But 10 minutes before the protest was scheduled, RU4AR somehow caught on to the trick, she said. The group removed online details about the protest and blocked PAAU members on social media.
Somehow, Bukovinac said, RU4AR members learned PAAU was planning the event, not as a pro-abortion protest, but as a pro-life gathering. She blames a mole, possibly a tip-off from the FBI.
“They found out somehow, and we didn’t know how,” she said.
In another incident, PAAU planned to protest at three Washington abortion clinics.
“Our plan is to go in, hand out roses, and leave,” Bukovinac said.
But, when the pro-life activists rolled up, all three clinics had police present, she said.
“We’re like, what the hell? There’s no way they were at all 21 abortion centers in the DMV area. How would they know it’s these three?” she said.
Then, a plainclothes police officer revealed to a journalist accompanying PAAU that the group was under surveillance, Bukovinac said.
The journalist, she said, told the group that the officer had said, “We’re tracking everything they’re doing. We know where they’re going when we see their conversations.”
On March 30, 2022, FBI agents arrested eight participants in the Surgi-Clinic protest, all within a few hours of each other, Handy said. It was 17 months after the incident.
Some were taken quietly. Some faced armed agents.
That morning, messages and calls alerted Handy to the FBI sweep.
Moscinski, the priest, was first to call Handy to tell her the FBI had arrested another ally, Hinshaw.
“You need to prepare yourself,” he advised.
Then Darnel didn’t return messages, and Handy learned from one of his roommates about the raid on their house in Alexandria, Virginia.
“The FBI just took him! What’s going on?” the baffled roommate asked.
Handy, who wasn’t home, wondered when they’d come for her. It already had been a nightmarish day.
She feared the FBI would visit her parent’s house because she’d just moved from there, she said. She headed to her apartment in an Uber, she said.
When she stepped out, the street burst into activity.
About 10 suited FBI agents jumped from black vehicles and rushed at her.
“It was so surreal,” Handy said, recalling a female agent gently removing her eyebrow piercings.
Soon, she found herself in the roach-infested Central Cell Block in Washington.
“I was like, ‘OK, I understand what’s happening now,’” she said.
Police let her out before the end of the day. She was charged with conspiracy against rights because she’d been part of the group at the Surgi-Clinic confrontation. She also was charged with violating the FACE Act.
But Handy didn’t feel bothered by her arrest, she said. She was still trying to process the horror she’d witnessed over the previous few days.
Human Remains Found
Before returning to her apartment, Handy had been trying to give police potential evidence of a horrific crime.
Five days earlier, she and her friend Bukovinac asked for help from a man collecting medical waste from a medical clinic.
They wanted to see what was being thrown away, they told him. He obliged.
As Handy began to examine the waste, she recoiled.
The baby boy didn’t have a name, but had thin black hair, perfectly formed tiny fingers and toes, and pink, slightly-peeling skin.
He was dead, dumped in a bucket of blood-dark fluid. Handy picked him up in gloved hands and cried.
Her apartment and its refrigerator would be his tomb temporarily, she decided, until she could figure out what to do next.
She called the Metropolitan Police Department. She wanted answers. Was he a baby murdered by the clinic, or a legally terminated fetus? Was his death evidence of a crime?
And he wasn’t the only one.
The medical waste allegedly included 114 more bodies of babies estimated to be aborted at up to 35 weeks’ gestation.
Broken-hearted, the woman reached out to other pro-life friends for help. A priest working with PAAU buried 110 of the bodies in an undisclosed location, Bukovinac said.
Group members kept five of the bodies to turn over to the police as potential evidence of an illegal partial-birth abortion or infanticide. Partially delivering, then killing, a growing baby has been illegal nationwide since 2003.
Handy said one could never forget holding many “murder victims in your own hands.”
Police said they couldn’t come right away, she said. In the meantime, Handy decided to stay at Bukovinac’s place out of respect for the dead.
She was headed home when she began to hear of the arrests of fellow protestors. That’s when she was taken.
“I just suffered such a massive personal trauma with finding 115 dead children that getting arrested didn’t really feel or mean anything to me,” she said.
Even more bewildering, it later seemed the FBI had used Handy’s efforts to turn over potential evidence as a way to arrest her.
On April 8, 2022, 69 Republican Congressmen sent a letter to Garland, demanding that police investigate whether the babies Bukovinac and Handy found were victims of partial-birth abortion. The letter asked for police to perform an autopsy.
A day after her arrest, Metropolitan police finally came to Handy’s home to collect the five bodies. Police still haven’t questioned her or Bukovinac about them.
“It’s just business as usual for DC police: cover up and ignore,” Bukovinac said.
Maximum Sentences for Pro-Life Protesters
The Thomas More Society represents Houck, several Surgi-Clinic protesters, several Mount Juliet pro-life protesters, and several Michigan pro-life protesters.
“People of faith and pro-life people are not going to get a fair shake out of the Biden administration,” said Peter Breen, the organization’s executive vice president and head of litigation.
The administration has stretched the law to hand pro-lifers the maximum possible sentence, he said.
The Epoch Times reached out to the White House for comment, but did not receive a response.
The FACE Act makes it a crime to use or attempt the use of force, physical obstruction, or intimidation to block access to reproductive services. Normally, a violation of the FACE Act without violence could draw a sentence of up to a year in prison and would be charged as a misdemeanor.
But the Biden administration’s DOJ also has charged pro-life protesters with conspiracy against rights, adding a penalty of up to 10 more years in prison.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
Being convicted of a felony, instead of a misdemeanor, has long-standing consequences that are far more significant.
Convicted felons often lose voting rights permanently. They can’t own guns, so they lose their right to bear arms. They lose the right to serve on a jury. It can also be harder for felons to obtain certain jobs and housing. And felonies have harsher sentences.
Normally, for a conspiracy charge to be a felony, the crime planned by conspirators must be a felony, said Breen. It usually isn’t possible to convict someone of conspiracy felony charges if the crime they conspired to commit was a misdemeanor, he said.
But conspiracy against rights breaks this rule, Breen said. If people conspire against the rights of another person, it counts as a felony, even involving a crime that’s a misdemeanor, he said.
This law can severely punish any group of peaceful protesters who commit misdemeanors involving others’ rights, Breen explained.
In his clients’ cases, those found guilty of conspiring to block access to an abortion clinic would become felons.
“Sit-ins usually involve multiple people chatting and sitting in,” Breen said. “You don’t normally just have one person go and plop themselves down in front of an abortion clinic’s door.”
Because sit-ins or entry-blocking protests usually involve more than one person, conspiracy against rights charges can be used against them, Breen said.
It’s unprecedented to use conspiracy against rights charges to try to send peaceful protesters to prison for more than a decade, Breen said.
“The statute they’re using was intended to stop the Ku Klux Klan,” he said. “It shouldn’t have anything to do with peaceful sit-ins in an abortion clinic.”
Facing the FACE Act
The government usually allows non-violent defendants to present themselves to the justice system, instead of sending agents to arrest them, Breen said.
Even those charged with serious financial crimes often are given the opportunity to turn themselves in, he said.
But many accused of protesting abortion face armed federal agents.
Breen said he doesn’t know of anyone officially offered the option to appear on their own recognizance, instead of facing arrest.
“There was no reason to go and grab them, instead of allowing them to just present themselves,” Breen said.
Houck, Handy, Bukovinac, and Goodman told The Epoch Times they believe they didn’t violate the FACE Act or do anything to deserve charges of conspiracy against rights because they never blocked access to any abortion clinic.
Non-violent crimes, such as creating graffiti, shouldn’t land anyone in prison for a year, Bukovinac said.
Graffiti is used by some pro-abortion activists to damage crisis pregnancy centers, leaving threats and accusations on the sides of the buildings.
In the same way, protesting abortion without violence also shouldn’t lead to prison time, Bukovinac said.
Yet, the FACE Act often has been used as a weapon against the pro-life movement, she said.
“It’s applied almost exclusively throughout history to silence peaceful pro-life activism, and it needs to be repealed,” Bukovinac said.
“It’s completely unfair. It’s ineffective. It makes no sense. It’s unjust. It’s applied in an unfair way.”
Goodman said he suspects the “pro-abortion politics” of the Biden administration drive the harsh sentencing recommendations.
“We’re being treated as enemies of the state,” he said, “because we believe life is sacred.”
No Predawn Raid, No Problem
Will Goodman was the ninth Surgi-Clinic protester arrested by the FBI, 17 months after the conflict.
The FBI couldn’t find him because he’s homeless, technically, and lives on odd jobs. He describes himself as an “activist, who has given up his home for the babies,” or as a “pro-life nomad.”
To follow his passion for defending the unborn, he sleeps on friends’ couches, camps in a tent, stays at a monastery, whatever it takes to stay on the ready.
“If I’m going to rescue, it’s hard to have a regular nine-to-five job when there’s always a chance to get thrown into jail for a week or two. Or a month, or a year,” Goodman said.
A rescue refers to when a pro-life activist tries to intervene at an abortion clinic and persuade a woman from following through on a planned abortion.
In graduate school, Goodman watched a short film about abortion. Since then, he has lived on whatever money he can make to travel from anti-abortion protest to anti-abortion protest.
According to his friend Richard Bonomo, Goodman often gives away the few possessions he has.
“At some point, someone else in the movement needed a car and a cell phone, so he just gave them to them,” Bonomo said.
When the FBI came looking for Goodman, a pair of agents in jeans and flannel knocked on Bonomo’s door in Madison, Wisconsin.
The agents told him not to mention their visit.
“Of course, I’m going to tell him you are here looking for him!” Bonomo said he told the agents.
When Goodman heard the FBI wanted him for questioning, he asked his fellow crusader Moscinski for a ride to the nearest FBI headquarters. It was about 20 minutes away.
Solidarity With The Unborn
Goodman said that when he got in the car, he didn’t know he was facing the possibility of 11 years in prison.
But he was acutely aware that, in the hands of the DOJ, he controlled nothing.
“There’s a sort of spiritual solidarity I have with [the unborn] because I don’t have security and a place to live,” he said.
On the way to the FBI facility, Goodman prayed, thought, and talked of spiritual matters with Moscinski, his priest friend.
“You begin to think, ‘Lord, into your hands, I commend my spirit. I trust you know where you will want me to go,’” Goodman said.
By the end of the day, the FBI had arrested and released Goodman. He still faces the possibility of an 11-year prison sentence. His trial date has not been set yet.
Six months later, Moscinski was arrested and charged with a violation of the FACE Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the eastern district of New York. Fidelis was convicted, and currently awaits sentencing for his role in the Oct. 22, 2020, Washington Surgi-Clinic protest.
Goodman remembers watching the gates of the Yonkers FBI facility close behind him the day he turned himself in.
“What will happen once the federal government takes me into custody?” he remembers wondering. “What will they do with me?”
What started as an effort to protect the unborn has left the activists questioning what the future might hold.
“You feel very small,” Goodman said. “You can be crushed like a bug under a draconian system.”
AND FINALLY, LOVIN’ LIFE…
The Lullaby Project Connects Mothers Behind Bars with Their Babies, Helping Them Write Original Lullabies
Two years ago CBS 58 reported on the partnership between The Lullaby Project and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
Thanks for reading!
My Most Popular Blogs (03/27/2023)
Here are last week’s most popular blogs, Sunday – Saturday:
1) Today’s highly interesting read (03/23/2023): The Mask of Ignorance
2) Stark contrasts in Franklin’s mayoral race
3) Today’s highly interesting read (03/21/2023): Hey Teacher, Leave Them Kids Alone
4) NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Monday, March 20, 2023
5) NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Friday, March 24, 2023
6) Best Cartoons of the Week (03/25/2023)
7) My Most Popular Blogs (03/20/2023)
8) Saturday Special (03/25/2023): Down Memory Lane
9) Today’s highly interesting read (03/24/2023): It is clearer every day which party is radical, extreme, dangerous, and flat out crazy
10) Week-ends (03/25/2023)
NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Monday, March 27, 2023
Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F
With the future of abortion rights and redistricting hanging in the balance, all eyes are on the April election for Wisconsin Supreme Court. But for people who find themselves in front of a judge, two questions on the ballot could have more substantial consequences than who controls the state’s highest panel.
A proposed constitutional amendment will let voters choose whether it should be harder to get out of jail on bail. Early voters have reported confusion over what the proposal would do and how the questions are worded.
The first question asks voters if they think judges should be able to set conditions to protect the public from serious harm when releasing people before trial. The second asks whether judges should be allowed to consider past convictions for violent crimes when setting bail for someone accused of a violent crime.
The questions may seem vague and unimportant, but they would let judges set higher cash bail amounts that could disproportionately keep poor defendants behind bars, said Alison Shames, director of the Center for Effective Public Policy. The measure’s Republican sponsors say higher bail amounts would protect the public.
“It traps people with little money in jail when the judge may in fact not even intend for that person to be staying in jail,” Shames said.
Bail is meant to ensure a defendant returns to court and isn’t supposed to be a punishment, since the defendant hasn’t yet been convicted. Research shows that people who stay in jail before trial because they cannot afford their bail are more likely to be unemployed and reoffend in the years after their case ends.
“Even just a few days of jail can disrupt someone’s life, can cause them to lose jobs or housing or contact with their family — essentially all of the stabilizing factors that help someone keep out of trouble with the law,” said Matt Alsdorf, who works alongside Shames to study bail policies.
Many details of the Republican-backed plan to overhaul bail in Wisconsin were laid out in a separate bill passed last week by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Opponents raised concerns about how that bill defines the two key terms referenced in the ballot questions: serious harm and violent crime.
Under the bill, which can only go into effect if the amendment passes, judges would have broad discretion to set stricter release conditions for any defendant they believe could physically or emotionally hurt someone or inflict damages of more than $2,500 while on release.
The bill also names more than 100 offenses as violent crimes. Opponents say the list is too broad and contains offenses that should not make it harder to get out on bail, such as watching a cockfight or leaving a firearm where a child gains access to it.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers could still veto the bill, but he cannot veto a constitutional amendment. If Evers vetoes the bill and voters ratify the amendment, judges would have to decide what violent crime and serious harm mean. The governor’s office has not responded to messages asking about his plans for the bill.
In the case that voters approve only one of the two questions, only that part of the amendment and clarifying bill would go into effect.
Republican Rep. Cindi Duchow and Sen. Van Wanggaard, who sponsored the bail measures, say the legislation will keep communities safe by making it easier for judges to hold people they deem dangerous on high bail amounts.
The stricter bail policies gained traction in Wisconsin after Darrell Brooks drove his SUV through a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee in 2021, killing six people and injuring more than 60 while out on $1,000 bail for a prior charge of domestic violence. Brooks’ bail for the parade killings was set at $5 million.
Police organizations and conservative funding groups have voiced support for the bail amendment. Meanwhile organizers such as Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing, or EXPO, the ACLU, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and Milwaukee-based Black Leaders Organizing Communities, or BLOC, oppose it.
A Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton collaboration was deemed too controversial to be performed by students at a Wisconsin elementary school – a move that was blasted by some in the school community.
Originally, first grade students were set to perform “Rainbowland” which is a duet between the pop star and country legend that praises acceptance, before administrators for the Waukesha school district vetoed the selection ahead of the spring concert, according to reports.
“I was very confused,” parent Sarah Schindler, whose daughter goes to the Heyer Elementary School, told CBS 58, adding her daughter informed her the song was no longer in play.
Superintendent Jim Sebert said the school received two inquiries about the 2017 song from parents.
After which, Heyer Principal Mark Schneider and another school administrator erred against allowing it at the concert, according to the television station.
“It was determined that Rainbowland could be perceived as controversial,” Sebert reportedly said in a statement, referencing school board decision. “The main question was is the song appropriate for the age level and maturity of the students.”
Among the parents and teachers irked by the decision was Melissa Tempel, a first grade teacher at the school, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“My first graders were so excited to sing Rainbowland for our spring concert but it has been vetoed by our administration,” she said in a tweet last week. “When will it end?”
Some of the song lyrics from Cyrus and Parton include “Wouldn’t it be nice to live in paradise / Where we’re free to be exactly who we are” and “Brush the judgment and fear aside / Make wrong things right / And end the fight / ‘Cause I promise ain’t nobody gonna win.”
Schindler told the LA Times the school board had a “conservative flip” in recent years that led to policy changes and caused controversy in the school community.
“I know, Miley Cyrus kind of has a past, in the spotlight with, you know, talking about drug use, and sexuality, and all of that,” she told the newspaper. “And Dolly Parton supports drag queens, and you know, that’s another thing going about in our country these days.”
In a long speech full of by-now-familiar grievances, insults, self-defense, self-promotion, and exaggeration, former President Donald J. Trump told a crowd in Waco, Texas on Saturday that he will win the 2024 election.
“When this election is over, I will be the president of the United States,” he said to applause.
And if he doesn’t win, he later added, “I believe our country is doomed.”
Trump slammed his many critics, but thanked the current Republican-led House, singling out two lawmakers, Reps. Jim Jordan and James Comer, by name, calling them “great people” for the investigations they are leading.
A recent survey of taxpayers shows a large number of Americans anticipated a tax refund that is either the same size or larger than last year’s.
The survey, released by tax-preparing software firm TaxAct this month, showed that only about 30 percent of Americans anticipated “receiving less of a refund on their 2022 returns” despite recent warnings from the Internal Revenue Service and other tax experts. Another 24 percent said in the survey that they “don’t know what to expect.”
The smaller refunds come as many Americans are saving less and are increasingly expressing worry about decades-high inflation, according to a TaxAct release. Tax experts have said that federal government pandemic programs as well as tax credits have ended for many.
“Refunds are predicted to go down 11 percent from last year,” Curtis Campbell, president and CEO of TaxAct, stated in a press release. “And it’s important for people to be prepared to receive less or even owe money this tax season.”
Citing recent changes to the tax code, he noted that “we can expect to see lower tax refunds across the board this season being there was no stimulus relief this past year and other tax advantages, like the Child Tax Credit, reverted back to their lesser 2019 values.”
“There is a lot of economic uncertainty right now, and for the majority of customers we serve, their tax refund is their biggest paycheck of the year,” Campbell added. “U.S. citizens are saving less money, and therefore, relying on their refunds to help make ends meet.”
Data released by the IRS earlier this month show that tax refunds are 11 percent smaller, on average, than the same time a year ago. Still, the IRS has sent out more tax refunds this year than last year, while a greater number of processed returns triggered a refund so far with less than a month to go before the April 18 tax-filing deadline.
The average tax refund amounted to $3,028 as of Mar. 3, down from $3,401 during the same time period in 2022. So far, the IRS has sent out 42 million refunds this year, compared with some 38 million that were sent during the same time period last year.
—The Epoch Times
Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a bill allowing execution by firing squad, making Idaho the latest state to turn to older methods of capital punishment amid a nationwide shortage of lethal-injection drugs.
The Legislature passed the measure March 20 with a veto-proof majority. Under it, firing squads will be used only if the state cannot obtain the drugs needed for lethal injections.
Pharmaceutical companies increasingly have barred executioners from using their drugs, saying they were meant to save lives. One Idaho death row inmate has already had his execution postponed repeatedly because of drug scarcity.
The shortage has prompted other states in recent years to revive older methods of execution. Only Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina have laws allowing firing squads if other execution methods are unavailable, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. South Carolina’s law is on hold pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
“While I am signing this bill, it is important to point out that fulfilling justice can and must be done by minimizing stress on corrections personnel,” Little wrote in a transmittal letter after signing the bill, the Idaho Statesman reported. “For the people on death row, a jury convicted them of their crimes, and they were lawfully sentenced to death. It is the responsibility of the state of Idaho to follow the law and ensure that lawful criminal sentences are carried out.”
The Florence museum housing Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece the David on Sunday invited parents and students from a Florida charter school to visit after complaints about a lesson featuring the statue forced the principal to resign.
Florence Mayor Dario Nardella also tweeted an invitation for the principal to visit so he can personally honor her. Confusing art with pornography was “ridiculous,” Nardella said.
The board of the Tallahassee Classical School pressured Principal Hope Carrasquilla to resign last week after an image of the David was show to a sixth-grade art class. The school has a policy requiring parents to be notified in advance about “controversial” topics being taught.
The incredulous Italian response highlighted how the U.S. culture wars are often perceived in Europe, where despite a rise in right-wing sentiment and governance, the Renaissance and its masterpieces, even its naked ones, are generally free of controversy. Sunday’s front page of the Italian daily publication Corriere della Sera featured a cartoon by its leading satirist depicting David with his genitals covered by an image of Uncle Sam and the word “Shame.”
Carrasquilla believes the board targeted her after three parents complained about a lesson including a photo of the David, a 5-meter tall (17 foot) nude marble sculpture dating from 1504. The work, reflecting the height of the Italian Renaissance, depicts the Biblical David going to fight Goliath armed only with his faith in God.
Carrasquilla has said two parents complained because they weren’t notified in advance that a nude would be shown, while a third called the iconic statue pornographic.
Carrasquilla said in a phone interview Sunday that she is “very honored” by the invitations to Italy and she may accept.
“I am totally, like, wow,” Carasquilla said. “I’ve been to Florence before and have seen the David up close and in person, but I would love to go and be a guest of the mayor.”
Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia, where the David resides, expressed astonishment at the controversy.
“To think that David could be pornographic means truly not understanding the contents of the Bible, not understanding Western culture and not understanding Renaissance art,” Hollberg said in a telephone interview.
Michelangelo Buonarroti sculpted the David between 1501-1504 after being commissioned by the Cathedral of Florence. The statue is the showpiece of the Accademia, and helps draw 1.7 million visitors each year to the museum.
Texas Republican Rep. Troy Nehls rebuked Rep. Jamaal Bowman for being flippant about the dangers TikTok poses to youth mental health after the New York Democrat attributed Republican support for a ban on the popular, Chinese-owned video sharing platform to a lack of “swag.”
Currently, many Republicans in Congress and a growing number of Democrats are in favor of a nationwide ban on TikTok, for reasons ranging from national security and user data privacy to the targeting of the young with harmful content.
During a protest outside the Capitol Wednesday, Bowman, a progressive Democrat opposed to the ban, impugned the motives of ban advocates in the familiar terms of identity politics, urging Congress to “not be racist towards China and express our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok.”
Bowman also took another, somewhat head-scratching, swipe at his opponents.
“Republicans ain’t got no swag, that’s why they want a ban,” he declared.
Asked for a response, Nehls ripped Bowman for trivializing a serious issue.
“Give me a break,” Nehls retorted. “What are we teenagers? What is this high school? … Is this a popularity contest? Am I running for class president? This is serious stuff.
Nehls continued, alluding to a mother who sued TikTok last year, alleging her daughter died from imitating a dangerous stunt that the app’s demographic targeting algorithm curated for her. “How would Bowman feel if we get the mother of the 10-year-old that committed suicide?” Nehls asked. “You think he’s going to look her in the eyeballs like I’m looking at you and say, ‘I want to talk to you a little bit about swag’? Give me a break. This is serious business.”
Nehls is in favor of banning TikTok, in part, because it is owned by ByteDance, the Chinese company which has access to personal data related to the platform’s millions of users.
“We have to act responsibly,” Nehls said. “We have to put the American people first and their children. We must do it today. I don’t see the fight here. I don’t see the arguments. I don’t see the argument other than the guy in the White House. He’s owned by China.”
—Just the News
A Mississippi meteorologist, shocked by radar images of a tornado belt headed for a small town in his viewing area, broke down on Friday and prayed live on-air.
WTVA‘s Matt Laubhan was overcome as he watched his radar screen while delivering the weather. He saw that the tornado was heading directly toward the town of Amory shortly before 11 PM on Friday.
“Here’s the thing about this, y’all trust me too much,” he said on the newscast. “I tell you where it’s going to go and some of you guys are like, ‘That’s where it’s gonna go.’ The reality of this, this could be changing direction. So, Amory, we need to be in our safe place.”
Laubhan kept his gaze fixated on his radar screen during his segment, at one point leaning down on his table.
“Oh man, North side of Amory, this is coming in,” he said. “Oh, man. Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen.”
The tornado has so far claimed 23 people in Mississippi, with several in Monroe County, where Amory is located.
—The website Deadline
Keep an eye to the sky this week for a chance to see a planetary hangout.
Five planets — Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Uranus and Mars — will line up near the moon.
Where and when can you see them?
The best day to catch the whole group is Tuesday. You’ll want to look to the western horizon right after sunset, said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke.
The planets will stretch from the horizon line to around halfway up the night sky. But don’t be late: Mercury and Jupiter will quickly dip below the horizon around half an hour after sunset.
The five-planet spread can be seen from anywhere on Earth, as long as you have clear skies and a view of the west.
“That’s the beauty of these planetary alignments. It doesn’t take much,” Cooke said.
—The Associated Press
Whether you wear shoes in your home usually comes down to personal preference. Kicking off your sneakers at the end of the day can be a creature comfort that also extends the life of your carpeting and makes mopping your hardwood floors an easier chore. But cozy vibes and aesthetics aside, should you leave your shoes at the door for the sake of your health? Spoiler: If you want to keep feces, bacteria, lead, pesticides, and other potentially harmful other chemicals from entering your home, it’s probably a good idea.
Jill Litt, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, recommends people take their shoes off before entering their homes in order to reduce tracking in dirt and feces (yup, from dog poop) that your shoes inevitably pick up when you’re out and about. But how germy, really, are our shoes? A University of Arizona-led study in 2008 set out to quantify just that by swabbing new shoes worn by 10 participants over the course of two weeks. On average, 421,000 units of bacteria clung to the outside of the shoes. E. coli, which is known to cause intestinal and urinary tract infections and other health problems, was prevalent in the samples. (The small study wasn’t published in a peer-reviewed journal; it was supported by a shoe company testing out machine-washable shoes.)
One thing parents should keep in mind: Hand-to-mouth contact is one of the primary ways children get exposed to toxic substances and infectious disease agents, Litt points out. In urban areas with high levels of lead-based paint (older homes built before 1978), researchers have found high levels of lead in dust in the home and one of the main sources is dust tracked in from outside. Research has also shown you can even bring in pesticide residue from gardens via shoes, Litt says.
“The factors that influence how these particles and dirt move through the indoor environment include climate, design of the entrance, and whether there are exterior mats and interior mats,” she says. (Shoe and boot scrapers can help keep germy intruders out, too.)
The highest concentration of debris is in the interior entryway, and levels go down as you move from this area, Litt explains. Carpeting, though, retains a lot of dust, she points out, and unfortunately vacuuming is very good at dispersing those particles rather than just removing them.
If you’ve got some dirt spots or pesky white stains from salt and de-icing chemicals that are extra stubborn to remove from your flooring, try some at-home cleaning solutions, suggests Alicia Sokolowski, the president and co-CEO of AspenClean. Here are a couple solutions Sokolowski recommends trying.
• Vinegar and water: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on the mud or dirt stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a clean microfiber cloth or sponge to scrub the stain gently, starting from the outside and working your way inward. Rinse with clean water and blot the area dry with a clean towel or cloth.
• Baking soda and water: Mix baking soda and water to form a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub the stain gently, and then rinse with clean water. Blot the area dry with a clean towel or microfiber cloth.
During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden welcomed immigrants from around the world to enter the United States. In a 2019 Democratic Party presidential debate, Biden said, “You want to flee, and you’re fleeing oppression, you should come.”
This message was heard by migrants worldwide as illegal immigrants from 160 nations have been encountered at the southern border. It is especially concerning that the number of Chinese nationals who have been apprehended at the border has increased 900% since last year. According to author and analyst Gordon Chang, “We have to assume that the Chinese regime is taking advantage of the situation by smuggling in their agents.”
This development should worry every American as communist China is our foremost enemy. There is also a high probability that Chinese spies and terrorists are among the 1.2 million illegal migrants who “got away” and escaped from U.S. border agents during the Biden presidency.
Overall, there have been approximately 189,000 border encounters per month during the Biden presidency, a 370% increase since the Trump administration. During the last two years, illegal crossings were one million higher than during the entire four years of the Trump presidency. In just 2022, there were more than 2 million illegal border crossings.
Obviously, this is a massive problem that should have the full attention of the Biden administration. We do not have enough resources deployed at the border. At a minimum, we need to finish the border wall, boost the number of border patrol agents and swiftly deport illegal aliens who enter our country.
With an open border, fentanyl and other illegal drugs are pouring into the United States. Fentanyl overdose was the primary cause of 70,601 deaths in our country in 2021. This was approximately 65% of the 106,699 drug overdose deaths which were recorded that year, an all-time record.
With drug overdose deaths and illegal immigration at the highest levels in American history, this country is facing a severe crisis. Unfortunately, the Biden administration has totally failed to provide adequate border security.
What are the American people concerned about? According to a recent Gallup poll, the top four priorities are poor leadership, illegal immigration, the weak economy, and the escalating inflation rate. The issue of the “environment” came in last among respondents at 3%.
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Minority Leader, stated the war in Ukraine was the most important issue facing Republicans.
Not surprisingly, the American people do not share this ridiculous belief. The Gallup poll indicated that the war in Ukraine was not even mentioned by 1% of respondents as our top problem.
—Talk show host Jeff Crouere is political columnist
One of the more comical moments early in the tenure of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was in 2019 when she triumphantly raised both fists over her head a la Rocky Balboa upon executing five push-ups. She later Tweeted, “Don’t judge me, I def fell off the workout wagon.”
This is lighthearted behavior but it illustrates how Leftists routinely implore people not to be judgmental. In truth, people make judgments all the time. Whether you’re deciding if you should run a yellow light or hit the brakes, deciding what clothes to buy, or whether to associate with someone or politely avoid them, we all make judgments. It’s how we survive.
Judgment can be tricky. If it is made absent inquiry, it’s usually unwise. That’s why most people ask questions before arriving at a conclusion. It’s what people do when trying to make judgments about politics or public policy. But some questions are deemed good while others not so much, particularly when they involve the most pressing issues of our time.
If you ask questions in pursuit of judgment on climate or COVID policy, you’re liable to be branded a denier. If you ask questions about sexuality, you’re a homophobe. If you ask about critical race theory, you’re a racist.
This is how the Left betrays the vapidity of its positions. On one hand, if you ask the questions necessary to arrive at a responsible judgment, Leftists hurl slander and threats. On the other hand, you’re castigated about how you shouldn’t be judgmental if the Left disagrees with you.
When we’re pilloried for asking questions and excoriated for wrongthink, the people scolding us for being judgmental leave us with one remaining option; to agree with them – or else. This is a time tested strategy of totalitarians; people who disagreed with Soviet Communism were systematically imprisoned in psychiatric gulags.
The Left does not want us to make judgments. They simply demand we buy whatever they’re selling, no questions asked.
The American Left hates it when we make judgments about their policies because they are bad policies. Most people don’t like them and they know this. Even our attempts to learn about these policies by asking fundamental questions is attacked. Rather, we’re told to sit down, shut up and obey.
We need to be more judgmental. Discerning judgment is indispensable to a well run civil society, and it is incumbent upon us to ask the questions necessary to judge policies and account for our judgments. In evaluating the ideology of the totalitarian Left, people quickly learn that it seeks to prohibit the discerning kind of judgment Christ taught us. That’s a leading indicator of the fruits of Leftism right there.
—Scott Hogenson is president of Hogenson Communications, a Dallas-Fort Worth public relations and crisis management practice.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – 111 years ago today, the first of 3,000 Japanese cherry blossom trees were planted in Washington, D.C. — a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki, and in 1935 marked the date of the inaugural Cherry Blossom Festival in the nation’s capital. Ozaki gave the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.
Classical music? (Expletive deleted)
Every Sunday I make it a point to listen to my old colleague from WUWM-FM Milwaukee Public Radio and dear friend Obie Yadgar.
He now does a weekly Sunday morning program on WMSE-FM in Milwaukee from 8-9 am with great classical music and with wonderful anecdotes shared whimsically by Obie. Today he referenced a 1989 Chicago Tribune article about a young woman named Sonia Sudak who used classical music to talk herself out of an encounter with a pair of thugs. His on-air anecdote followed the playing of a well-known Vivaldi composition, “Summer from the Four Seasons.”
I couldn’t locate the Tribune article but I did find this from the NY Times dated January 18, 1989, by Ron Alexander:
The boy who had spoken looked disgusted, grumbled ”aw . . .,” uttered a four-letter word and turned to walk off with his cohort.
When Ms. Sudak left the park a few minutes later, she was still listening to Vivaldi.
UPDATE: Culinary no-no #768
THERE ARE THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF FOOD BLOGS, BUT ONLY ONE CULINARY NO-NO!
Previously on This Just In…
Stopped in at Franklin’s Blend this past week with daughter Kyla for one of those fancy caramel macchiato frappuccino drinks that Kyla wanted.
When the drink was handed over I was shown a screen for payment that included various tip options. Not sure what percent I selected but I do recall adding a tip. Turns out I would have been ok not to tip at all. According to some so-called experts.
Here are some recent articles about the very misunderstood art of tipping:
Tipping is different than it was just a few years ago (CBS)
The tipping culture is radically different (CNN)
How much should you tip (FOX News)
What money experts say (CNBC)
ICYMI: Culinary no-no #770
Photos of the Week (03/26/2023)
A backyard pool is left hanging on a cliffside after torrential rain brought havoc on the beachfront town of San Clemente, California, U.S. Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake
HERE WE GO. The week that was in pictures from several sources: