NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Thursday, April 13, 2023

Information is power.

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


As many as 4,500 police officers from agencies outside of Milwaukee could staff the Republican National Convention next year ― 1,500 more than had been originally expected for the 2020 Democratic National Convention that the city also hosted.

Ultimately, the DNC went largely virtual as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, taking with it Milwaukee’s hopes of hosting a large-scale political convention and its 50,000 visitors. That meant fewer outside officers as well.

The RNC in July 2024 again holds that promise for an influx of out-of-towners and the opportunity for the city to capture international attention. That spotlight will even be trained on Milwaukee a year before the convention, when the first Republican presidential debate is held here in August.

Still, city leaders are being careful to say that the 4,500 outside officers are solely an estimate, and there’s much yet to do before a final tally is set.

As the city contemplates an increase in law enforcement, the Wisconsin House delegation is seeking $25 million more to cover Milwaukee’s security costs for the RNC, which would bring the total federal grant to $75 million. The two presidential nominating convention host cities have each been allocated $50 million grants to cover security costs since 2004, though that sum was markedly lower for the pared-down 2020 DNC.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The line to vote last Tuesday at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire stretched on and on … and on some more.

The corner of a lunch room designated as the campus polling place for sleepy spring elections simply wasn’t enough in this year’s state Supreme Court race. UW-Eau Claire students cast ballots at a level close to last November and even higher than in the 2020 election, big races where the city clerk’s office relies on a university ballroom to meet voter demand.

Across the state, college students showed up to the polls in droves for an election barely on their radar a couple of months ago. A number of voting wards on or near college campuses show students cast ballots near midterm-level, exceeding the expectations of local clerks and youth organizers.

“I’ve been in this line of work a long time and the turnout we saw and the energy created on college campuses around the Supreme Court race was tremendous,” said Mike Tate, a former state Democratic party chair who launched Project 72 WI earlier this year to mobilize college voters. “We saw enthusiasm surge in a way we don’t often see.”

In some cases, more student voters cast ballots than in surrounding neighborhoods. Of the 77 wards in the city of Eau Claire, the highest turnout came from Ward 20, which serves a number of UW-Eau Claire dorms. Nearly 900 votes were cast there compared to the 150 in the 2019 state Supreme Court race.

Liberal candidate Janet Protasiewicz earned 87% of ballots from Ward 20, a higher share than Gov. Tony Evers received last fall. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found she outperformed Evers in more than two dozen other wards serving primarily college students at UW-Madison, UW-La Crosse, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Milwaukee, Marquette University and the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Protasiewicz handily won the Supreme Court election and probably would have done so even without the level of support she received from college students. According to unofficial totals, more than 1.8 million votes were cast in the Supreme Court race, far above a typical off-year spring election that often sees fewer than a million votes. But the turnout on campuses this spring shatters an assumption that young voters cast ballots at far lower rates than the general population.

The rise in campus turnout is already on the radar of some Republicans, with former Gov. Scott Walker suggesting it played a role in Republicans’ loss last week. Walker, who did not respond to requests for comment, leads Young America’s Foundation, a group that works to promote and popularize conservative ideas among young people.

“Younger voters are the issue,” he tweeted. “It comes from years of radical indoctrination — on campus, in school, with social media, & throughout culture. We have to counter it or conservatives will never win battleground states again.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The abrupt closure of Cardinal Stritch University at the end of this semester has left hundreds of students and employees with questions about what their future may hold.

“I want to reassure you that we are doing our best to have answers for you,” Cardinal Stritch President Dan Scholz said in a video announcing the Fox Point school’s closure.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviewed Scholz on Wednesday, two days after the announcement.

Why is the school closing?

Cardinal Stritch has lost a massive number of students over the past 15 years. Federal education data show the school enrolled more than 6,000 students in the year before the Great Recession. That dropped to about 1,250 this year.

Fewer seats filled means fewer tuition dollars flowing into college coffers. That exacerbates the school’s budget, which publicly available tax documents show has been running at a financial deficit for seven of the last eight years.

Did Cardinal Stritch consider merging with another school?

Yes, Scholz said. But the time it takes to merge and receive the proper accreditation is between 18 and 24 months, time he said Cardinal Stritch didn’t have.

What was the timeline like for school leaders arriving at this decision to close? Why weren’t students and staff notified sooner?

Technically, the Board of Trustees voted on the matter last week and then sent it to the Sisters of St. Francis for approval, Scholz said.

Given the state of the school’s finances and enrollment, was this decision really made so quickly?

Scholz said he didn’t know the exact timeline, but school leaders were probably debating all options as of a month ago.

“It had only been in the last few weeks that, you know, it’s not like, it’s not like we were trying to deceive anyone,” he said. “It was the timeline that we were working with. We, we were constantly reviewing our financials, our enrollment data, trying to determine, you know, having all of these other options in front of us. It, it didn’t become clear until really late.”

Only a very tight circle of people knew about the discussion, Scholz said.

“The timing was really sensitive and, in the end, it happened fast,” he said. “And that’s what obviously made it so painful. But it took long because we tried every single option that we could think of. And once it was finally exhausted, we felt like we had, we had no other choice.”

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A new report indicates there have been 5,377 fewer abortions on average each month in the first six months after the U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case.

The Society of Family Planning (SFP)—a non-profit organization that studies “abortion and contraception science” and has argued (pdf) for increased access to abortion medications—published a report (pdf) on Tuesday detailing the impact that the Dobbs decision has had on abortion throughout the United States.

SFP determined there were 32,260 cumulative fewer abortions between July to December 2022, based on a comparison of abortion trends before and after the Dobbs decision. That estimated reduction in abortions comes out to approximately 5,377 fewer abortions on average each month.

The Supreme Court’s decision in the Dobbs case overturned precedents set in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case. The ruling meant that individual states could set policy on aspects of abortion that are not already specifically covered under U.S. federal law.

The SFP study placed 13 states in a category of those that implemented near-total abortion bans, with those rules in place for at least four of the six months in the study period. SFP determined that those 13 states—Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin—saw 43,410 fewer abortions in the six-month period.

Among the 37 other states and the District of Columbia, there were an estimated 11,150 more abortions than before the Dobbs decision, slightly offsetting post-Dobbs abortion reductions in the other states. Some of those 37 states have imposed greater abortion restrictions but did not implement near-total bans in the immediate aftermath of the ruling.

—NTD News

Federal Reserve economists project that the recent bank collapses will create a “mild recession” later this year, posing potential problems for President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

The Fed’s projection “included a mild recession starting later this year, with a recovery over the subsequent two years,” according to minutes released Wednesday from the central bank’s March 21-22 meeting.

Weeks before the meeting, federal regulators took control over Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Depositors pulled out billions of dollars from the banks before they collapsed, which sent tremors through the entire financial industry.

The Biden administration has been criticized for its response to bank collapses, which were among the largest in U.S. history. Some lawmakers and columnists said the administration was slow to react to the crisis and did not have enough regulators.

While President Joe Biden said he plans on running for reelection but has not made a formal announcement about his decision, a recession may hamper his chances as it did for previous presidents seeking reelection during recessions such as former President Jimmy Carter.

—Just the News

Beer Colossus Anheuser-Busch saw its value plummet more than $5 billion since the company announced its branding partnership with controversial transgender social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Since March 31, shares of Bud Light’s parent company have fallen by nearly 4% — knocking down the company’s market capitalization from $132.38 billion to $127.13 billion on Wednesday.

Anheuser-Busch stock fizzled more than 1.5% on Wednesday.

The company is dealing with the fallout from conservatives over its deal with Mulvaney, the 26-year-old transgender influencer with more than 10 million followers on social media.

Mulvaney fired back at critics Tuesday, accusing them of bullying her because she’s an “easy target.”

—NY Post

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is under fire for comparing Black conservatives to enslaved people in a re-surfaced 1992 editorial.

Titled “The Black Conservative Phenomenon,” Jeffries’s article was published in the Binghamton University newspaper while he was in college, warning readers about the “rise of the Black conservative” that “threatens to sustain the oppression of the Black masses.”

The Democrat defended his uncle, Leonard Jeffries, a professor of black studies, for making anti-Semitic comments, and Dr. Louis Farrakhan, who claimed Jewish people were like termites and called Adolf Hitler a “great man” during a news conference.

“There has been a recent trend in the Black political arena which I believe threatens to sustain the oppression of the Black masses. The phenomenon I refer to is the rise of the Black conservative,” Jeffries wrote. “The most notable indicator of this is the appointment of Justice Clarence Thomas to the United States Supreme Court.”

In one section of the article titled “White Media,” Jeffries attacked Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for “accepting” the Black conservative movement, adding that non-Blacks push for a white-power society.

“Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the rise of Black conservatives is their popular acceptance by the predominantly white media,” Jeffries wrote. “Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, and Shelby Steele are hailed as our leaders and pointed to as examples for us to follow. I find it suspect when the white power structure and their propaganda emissaries, the media, tell us who our leaders should be. Do you think that a ruling elite would promote individuals who seek to dismantle their vice-like grip on power? Of course not.”


Two House Democrats are calling on a member of their own party to resign from her Senate seat before the term ends.

Reps. Ro Khanna of California and Dean Phillips of Minnesota say Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., needs to step down. They claim the 89-year-old Feinstein, who has been in the Senate since 1992, can no longer fulfill the duties of her office.

She has been on a leave from the Senate since early March, when she was hospitalized for shingles. Feinstein has since been recovering at home.

The pushback comes as Feinstein’s prolonged absence from the Senate has delayed President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations in the chamber narrowly held by Democrats.


From kindergarteners to high school seniors, chronic absenteeism persists around the country, fueled in part by disruptions from the spread of COVID-19 in the last three years, government data shows. In some places, repeated absences are getting much worse.

“There’s a lot of different factors that contribute to absenteeism in a normal year and they’re all put on steroids with the pandemic,” said one expert, FutureEd Associate Director Phyllis Jordan.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found that chronic absenteeism — defined as missing at least 10% of the school year — has increased from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a nearly 40% spike between the 2021 and 2022 school years.

According to a report released this year by researchers from the Universities of Tennessee and California and Attendance Works, a nonprofit focused on addressing absenteeism, one in six students were chronically absent in the 2018-2019 school year.

Now, however, the report indicates chronic absenteeism has doubled to nearly one in three students.

“The pandemic really, really, broke down connections and relationships between kids and schools,” said Hedy Chang, the CEO of Attendance Works.

In 2021, the School Pulse Panel was initiated by the Biden administration: In order to determine who had been struggling with pandemic-era challenges since 2020 school closures, the Department of Education and Institute of Education Sciences (IES) collected information to better understand the impact of the virus on students and educators.

Roughly six in 10 city schools saw chronic absenteeism increase “a lot” compared to before the pandemic. More than half of West Coast schools also said chronic absenteeism increased “a lot” between pre-pandemic levels and 2022.

—ABC News

When a BBC reporter claimed that “hateful content” on Twitter has been on the rise, he couldn’t name a single example of hateful content, when pressed by the social media platform’s CEO Elon Musk, during a live interview.

On Tuesday, BBC North America technology reporter James Clayton conducted an impromptu interview with Musk live on Twitter Spaces.

Asked to define “hateful content,” Clayton first suggested that it may include content that is “slightly racist or slightly sexist,” but then backed off when asked to confirm his insinuation.

Musk asked Clayton to present one example of hateful content on Twitter, prompting the BBC reporter to admit that he couldn’t. Clayton claimed that he stopped using Twitter because of the hateful content he saw on it – and that he couldn’t cite an example of hateful content on Twitter because he stopped using it.

“You said you’ve seen more hateful content but you can’t name a single example, not even one,” Musk said. “I say sir that you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Clayton, then, tried to deny that he was the one making the accusation:

“No, what I claimed was there are many organizations that say that that kind of information is on the rise.”

“The Strategic Dialogue Institute in the UK, they will say that,” Clayton said, when Musk asked for an example of the “many organizations.”

“Look, people will say all sorts of nonsense. I’m literally asking for a single example and you can’t name one,” Musk responded, before Clayton switched to another topic.

—CNS News

In yet another cringeworthy gaffe, President Biden on Wednesday accidentally made reference to British forces that persecuted Irish people instead of a New Zealand rugby team while delivering a speech in Ireland.

Speaking about Irish former international rugby player Rob Kearney — who is the president’s fifth cousin — Biden called him “a hell of a rugby player and he beat the hell out of the Black and Tans.”

Biden appeared to have intended to say New Zealand “All Blacks” rugby squad, according to a White House transcription of his remarks at the Windsor bar in Dundalk, County Louth.

Instead, the president referenced the “Black and Tans” — the nickname for members of the notoriously brutal Royal Irish Constabulary, who were enlisted by the British to fight against Irish Republicans and committed atrocities against civilians during the Irish War of Independence over 100 years ago.

The name “Black and Tans” reflected the color of their uniforms.

—NY Post


I cannot shake the gnawing fear that the next generation of Americans — the children of today who will one day lead our nation — will reach adulthood with a set of core principles entirely different than those on which this nation was founded. And then the wheels will come off.

Sadly, that’s possible. Our children are captive to an educational system that embraces hard-left ideology and rejects all else. In many respects, the prevalent viewpoints held by American educators are out of step with mainstream American thinking and yet are likely to have outsized influence on formative young minds.

The sharp political tilt of American public education is undeniable. About 90% of American elementary and secondary school students go to public schools; 70% of American school teachers are unionized, and of those, about 90% are affiliated with either the National Education Association (NEA) or the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

These are labor unions — the NEA is the largest labor union in the United States — and labor unions are traditionally and overwhelmingly Democrat. Nearly all teachers union political support (94% of NEA and AFT contributions) go to Democrat candidates, and in return they are supported — and funded — by Democrat lawmakers.

Make no mistake, teaching is an honored, critically important calling; the teachers I know are all dedicated professionals. But most are members of bargaining units that dictate compensation, benefits, and job security, and that directly or indirectly control classroom practices and performance. As a result, most American school children are immersed in progressive thinking from pre-school through 12th grade.

Critical issues of today — abortion, racism, gun violence, immigration, and others — are also likely points of sharp disagreement between progressive educators and many Americans.

So how do we avoid my nightmare scenario of a next generation stuck in a one-dimensional worldview? A few thoughts come to mind:

1.) School choice is an obvious answer, providing parents realistic alternatives and putting in place meaningful competition among education providers.

2.) The role of teachers unions is to protect the interests of their members, NOT to achieve their preferred political ideology. As in other fields, unions that lose perspective in that respect will ultimately lose traction.

3.) Balance in education is critical. There’s nothing wrong with teachers presenting their own views (progressive or not) on controversial current issues, provided they present the counter-views as well. Parents and boards must insist on that.

4.) One non-negotiable element: teachers must provide honest, open, and full disclosure to parents on all matters affecting children’s mental and physical health.

5.) Disagreement with progressive views on LGBTQ or other matters should never open the door to prejudicial behavior. Educators and parents alike must teach our children to respect the views of others, whether we agree with them or not.

6.) Boards of Education serve as the bridge between teachers and parents, and between schools and the teachers unions. Board membership is not a symbolic position — boards must be actively engaged, open, and responsive, and voters must hold them to it.

—Jack Devine, The Patriot Post, is a retired nuclear energy executive. He is a 1965 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a nuclear submarine officer.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – 503 years ago today (1520), the final masterpiece from the Italian Renaissance painter Raphael was hung on display at the Vatican one week after the artist’s death.

The culmination of his career, The Transfiguration became one of the most famous oil paintings in the world.

Commissioned by a Catholic cardinal for a French Cathedral, Raphael worked on it until his death on April 6 at age 37—and it stood (13 feet tall) at the head of his casket.

Unusual for its simultaneous depiction of two separate stories from The Bible (Jesus’s transfiguration and the healing of a possessed boy in the lower part of the painting), it stands as an allegory of transformation. It can now be seen in the Pinacoteca Vatican Museum in Vatican City.

One thought on “NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Thursday, April 13, 2023

  1. Pingback: My Most Popular Blogs (04/17/2023) | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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