Time to regulate Facebook, Twitter like the publishers they are

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I know what you’re thinking… what the heck did President Hayes do to make the news this week? You’ll have to read and see.

In the 20th century the common carrier that dominated technology for the better part of 70 years was AT& T. In exchange for a monopoly on long-distance lines and the ability to use eminent domain, AT&T agreed to let the government regulate their rates and, what was critical, to not discriminate against what was said on those lines. This was a stark contrast to the great monopoly of the telegraph, Western Union, which might have helped sway the presidential election of 1876 to Rutherford B. Hayes by secretly providing the Hayes campaign the Democrats’ telegrams and suppressing others. AT& T’s great bargain was to agree to be regulated in exchange for a monopoly.

Judge Reinstates Evers’ Illegal Order

Again, the legislature can act if they have the will to do so.

MADISON – A Barron County judge has revived Gov. Tony Evers’ order limiting public gatherings, including the number of customers who may visit bars and restaurants at one time.

Judge James Babler denied a motion from the Tavern League of Wisconsin and two bars to continue to block the Evers administration’s latest health emergency order after a ruling last week by a Sawyer County judge that prevented enforcement of the order temporarily.

Babler said the plaintiffs could not show they were complying with the order and therefore hadn’t proven they were harmed by it.

He also said the May state Supreme Court ruling that knocked down Evers’ stay-at-home order did not make clear what authority the administration has in placing such limits, despite the plaintiffs arguing the decision prevents Evers from issuing the latest order.

I thought this was an interesting take:

Babler said the plaintiffs could not show they were complying with the order and therefore hadn’t proven they were harmed by it.

So if the order is useless because nobody is complying with it, then why bother having it?

Eight Million More Americans in Poverty

Remember that COVID-19 didn’t close our economies. State and local leaders did.

Some eight million Americans have fallen below the poverty level since May after federal stimulus money dried up and Congress did not follow up with more relief legislation, according to a new study.

Meanwhile, the economic recovery has slowed down as more than 55 million Americans are now earning less than $26,200 a year – which is what the federal government considers the poverty line.

Researchers at Columbia University tracked poverty levels from before the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a devastating blow to the US economy in spring, forcing businesses across many industries to shut down.

Wisconsin Public School Enrolment Declines 3%

Ouch

Enrollment in public school districts dropped 3 percent from September 2019 to September 2020, compared to a 0.4 percent drop in the previous 12-month period.

School enrollment in Wisconsin, and in other parts of the country, has been on the decline since the late 1990s, when the children of baby boomers — who themselves drove record enrollment numbers — were in their peak schooling years. However, amid uncertainty and near-constant changes in plans because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools around the country have been seeing larger enrollment drops, especially in 4K and kindergarten classes.The 4K enrollment drop is particularly significant, as the introduction of 4K programs at more Wisconsin schools helped offset the decline in enrollment numbers for many school districts during the post-millennium decline. September 2020 numbers show a 15.8 percent decline in4K and preschool special education, as well as a 4.9 percent decline in kindergarten enrollment.

Because attendance is not legally required for4K and kindergarten, DPI School Financial Services Director Dan Bush noted the drop in enrollment for those two age groups could reflect more families choosing to keep kids home, possibly out of health or school safety concerns surrounding COVID-19.

The enrolment data indicates that a lot of parents are choosing to keep their kids home or just get them out of traditional public schools.

Independent charter schools saw an increase in enrollment, but a smaller one than previous years. Enrollment was up 1.6 percent in September 2020, compared to 2.8 percent the year before. Their 4K enrollment decreased by 16.7 percent, while kindergarten enrollment decreased by 0.1 percent. Grades 1 through 12 drove the increase, with enrollment growing 3.9 percent from the preceding year.

Wisconsin has four private school parental choice programs, which reported a 5.9 percent increase from September 2019 to September 2020, compared to 8.3 percent from 2018 to 2019. Enrollment increased by 2,577 students and 26 schools over last year. Like the independent charters, they saw a drop in 4K enrollment by 3.5 percent, though kindergarten enrollment increased by 5.1 percent. Grades 1-12 saw a 6.7 percent increase.

UK Calls off Trade Talks with EU

It’s hard to tell if this is a negotiating ploy or more substantive.

“There is only any point in Michel Barnier coming to London next week if he’s prepared to address all the issues on the basis of a legal text in an accelerated way, without the UK required to make all the moves or to discuss the practicalities of travel and haulage,” the prime minister’s official spokesman said.

“If not there is no point in coming.”

He added: “Trade talks are over. The EU have effectively ended them by saying they do not want to change their negotiating position.”

Speaking in Downing Street earlier, Mr Johnson suggested the EU was unwilling to seriously consider the UK’s preferred option of a comprehensive free trade agreement based on the bloc’s existing arrangement with Canada.

The UK, he added, must look at the “alternative” – which he suggested was Australia’s much-more limited set of agreements with the EU.

[…]

Boris Johnson’s public declaration that the UK should prepare for No Deal did not cause great concern within EU circles.

The immediate response came in a tweet from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who said it was full steam ahead for trade talks next week and that EU negotiators would be getting on their Eurostar to London as planned.

But the subsequent statement from the prime minister’s official spokesman – off-camera, but on-the-record – that the “trade talks are over” has left senior diplomats “deeply unimpressed”, as one put it to me.

Although “we’re getting used to being part of Johnson’s pantomime”, they added.

Some EU figures fear Boris Johnson still doesn’t know if he actually wants a deal and is trying to buy time while be grapples with the Covid crisis.

Following the hardening the British position by Number 10, France’s President Macron called on the prime minister to make up his mind, while there was still time.

Many in Brussels remain “cautiously optimistic” some sort of deal can be agreed but any route there is now even harder to see.

Wisconsinites Getting Back to Work

Great news.

Wisconsin added 23,800 total non-farm and 13,700 private-sector jobs in the month of September. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate for September was 5.4 percent, down from August’s revised rate of 6.3 percent.

Biden Supports Court Packing

After all of the blather about the integrity of the court and a return to normal, Biden is open to one of the most radical power grabs from another branch of government in the modern era.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden opened the door to expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court, depending on how the rest of Judge Amy Coney Barrett‘s confirmation process is handled.

‘I have not been a fan of court-packing because it generates, whoever wins it just keeps moving in a way that is inconsistent with what is going to be manageable,’ Biden said Thursday night at an ABC News townhall.

But with prodding from George Stephanopoulos, Biden said it would be something he’d consider though it ‘depends on how this turns out,’ telling the ABC News anchor he would announce a clear position by the November 3 presidential election.

Judge Temporarily Blocks Evers’ Illegal Order

Some good news. Let’s hope the ruling matches.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked an order from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration limiting the number of people who can gather in bars, restaurants and other indoor places, a move that comes as the state breaks records for new coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations.

[…]

A GOP-controlled legislative committee on Monday met to begin the process of creating the rule, which would then allow the Legislature to strike it down.

Sawyer County Circuit Judge John Yackel, who blocked the order a day after the Tavern League of Wisconsin sued, set a court date for Monday. He said the hearing will give attorneys for the Evers administration a chance to argue why the order should not be put on hold while the lawsuit plays out.

Appleton Public School Sees Enrolment Decline

We’re seeing this all over. What we are seeing is parents make choices for their kids based on their learning style.

APPLETON, Wis. (WLUK) — It has been a frustrating start to the year for many parents in the Appleton School District.

The district says enrollment is down almost 400 students this year. Some parents say it’s because of the district’s decision to continue all virtual learning.

George Brown and Keith Doszak say all-virtual learning wasn’t working for their kids.

“We felt we had to do something,” Brown said. “Now, she’s enrolled at Little Chute, and it’s been a complete 180.”

[…]

According to the Appleton Area School District, 916 open enrolled students have transferred out of the district.

[…]

Overall enrollment dropped from 16,067 students last year down to 15,690 this year. The district says 220 of these students are in 4K.

Actions matter

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Note that I wrote this before the judge ruled in favor of letting Evers continue with perpetual emergency orders. Here’s a part:

In my column last week explaining why I will be unreservedly voting for President Trump, I reiterated the old axiom that actions matter more than words. One might further truncate that statement to just “actions matter.” The Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature should take note.

[…]

When Evers issued his mask order, the Republicans issued scathing press releases and did nothing. The mask order was politically popular and rarely enforced in Republican areas, so several Republican legislators decided to sacrifice good government to political convenience.

Now Evers has ordered restaurants and bars to limit capacity to 25%. This will be the death knell to numerous small-business owners who will not survive another forced restraint of their trade. Again, legislative Republicans are issuing stirring press releases, but they are doing nothing. Fearful of political retribution in a few Assembly swing districts, Republicans have ceded their power to the governor. If they are unwilling to use the power granted to them by their supporters when it is needed most, then their supporters should look for someone who will.

Disney Reorganizes Around Streaming Content

The world has changed.

Seemingly absorbing some growing advice from industry pros, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is announcing a major reorganization where it will be making streaming its “primary focus” for entertainment.

Shares are up 3.1% after hours.

The company will rearrange its media and entertainment divisions into a single organization responsible for content distribution, ad sales, and Disney Plus.

[…]

“Under the new structure, Disney’s world-class creative engines will focus on developing and producing original content for the Company’s streaming services, as well as for legacy platforms, while distribution and commercialization activities will be centralized into a single, global Media and Entertainment Distribution organization,” the company says.

Evers Administration Reneges on Foxconn Deal

So much for any other large business trusting the WEDC in a deal.

(The Center Square) – The state of Wisconsin is continuing to take a hard line on Foxconn and the billions of dollars in state tax credits the company thought it was receiving.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation said in a letter Monday Foxconn will not get any tax credits for it’s being-built plant in Mt. Pleasant until the company agrees to a new contract with the state.

“Foxconn’s activities and investments in Wisconsin to date are not eligible for credit,” WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes said in the letter.

Hughes said Foxconn’s decision to shrink the size of its plant led to WEDC’s decision to refuse the company tax breaks.

Foxconn’s deal, signed under Gov. Scott Walker, promised up to $3 billion if Foxconn met its jobs and construction goals.

Foxconn has fallen short of all of those goals, but the company said it had hired enough people by the end of 2019 to qualify for some tax incentives.

Hughes, in her letter, said that is not enough. She wants either a new contract, or she said Wisconsin could take back some of the money already paid to Foxconn.

The State of Wisconsin made a deal with Foxconn. If Foxconn doesn’t live up to their side, then don’t give them the tax breaks. But to withhold those tax breaks to force a new deal is just scummy. If I were Foxconn, I’d walk. Why bother making another deal with a state that welched on the first one? Rerun the math and see if it still makes sense to keep building in Wisconsin.

Judge Allows Executive Tyranny to Continue Because Legislature Fails to Act

While I think the ruling is wrong on the law, I understand the deference to the separation of powers issue.

MADISON – A Wisconsin judge has blocked an effort by Republicans to end Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate at a time when coronavirus cases are surging.

St. Croix County judge R. Michael Waterman on Monday denied the request by plaintiffs represented by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty legal firm — an effort that was backed up in court by Republican lawmakers — and ruled the governor has the power to issue multiple health emergency orders over the same pandemic.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they will appeal the decision.

Eldercare Advocates Look for Compromise

Watching these stories over the past few months have been some of the most heart-wrenching moments. Isolating the elderly from their families in the waning days of their lives is cruel and accelerates their decline. We don’t want to throw the doors open, but there is a way to allow families to be with their parents and grandparents while mitigating the risk.

Now, a grassroots movement of families is demanding compromise on nursing home lockdowns, arguing that social isolation for nursing home residents is nearly as deadly as the virus that sent their facilities into lockdown. The calls come amid uneasiness from eldercare advocates and as rapid Covid-19 tests are only beginning to reach nursing homes.

“Many of these facilities’ families haven’t been in there in months, and they can see their family members dwindling away, and they’re losing days they can never get back,” said Dave Bruns, a spokesperson for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) of Florida. Nevertheless, they face a “lose-lose” proposition.

“Just the isolation caused by the shutdown order is literally killing people,” he said. “If you don’t reopen them, that’s definitely going to kill some people, and if you do open them it’s definitely going to kill some people.”

Window visits and Facetime, caregivers argue, are insufficient and can be actively distressing to some patients. Further, they argue lockdowns have allowed asymptomatic staff members with Covid-19 into nursing homes, but allowed “no room for error” for family members.

Trump has earned this conservative’s vote

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week.

In 2016, disillusioned with the Republican Party, distrustful of Donald Trump’s agenda, and fearful of the rise of populism in America, I cast my vote for a third-party candidate. I strive to not repeat mistakes. This year, I will cast my vote without reservation for President Trump. He has earned this conservative’s vote by advancing and defending issues about which I have deeply cared for my entire adult life.

In politics, as in life, it is more imperative to judge people on what they do rather than on what they say. In most cases, this advice is a lesson to watch for oily people who say what you want to hear while doing the opposite. In the case of Trump, you have to sometimes ignore his ramblings and bombast to see that he has a record of conservative accomplishments strong enough to rival any president.

In the modern era where we have allowed our federal government to reach into the smallest crevices of our lives, federal court judges and justices have become critical to preserving our liberties — particularly those continuously threatened liberties enumerated in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Amendments to the Constitution. Supreme Court Justices get all the press, and rightfully so. For the high court, Trump is 3 for 3 in appointing superb judicial conservatives. He has strengthened the Supreme Court and helped protect our civil liberties.

Only a small percentage of federal cases, however, ever end up at the Supreme Court. The vast majority of cases are decided in the Appeals Courts. Trump has appointed 53 mostly conservative Appeals Court Justices. In doing so, he has even begun to turn the heretofore rogue 9th Circuit Court of Appeals into a court that is more balanced and constructionist. Combined with the 161 federal District Court judges that Trump has appointed, Trump has significantly shifted the federal judicial branch to one that is more conservative and more protective of individual liberties.

Beyond shaping the judicial branch, Trump has advanced many conservative domestic policies. The Trump-Ryan tax bill was a landmark piece of tax reform. It decreased the corporate tax rate to be more competitive with the world. It lowered individual tax rates until 2025. It reformed tax perks, incentivized companies to repatriate their foreign profits, and cut the death tax. Importantly, it also ended the unconstitutional individual mandate provision of Obamacare that forced people to buy health insurance.

On foreign policy, Trump strengthened our nation’s border. He removed the United States from the destructive Paris Climate Agreement and from President Obama’s dangerous Iran nuclear deal. Trump unleashed our military to defeat ISIS and moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem to strengthen our ally Israel. Despite liberal prophecies of Middle East doom, Trump helped negotiate the normalization of relations between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Israel, thus ushering in the promise of stability in the region. It also signals the realignment of the region against America’s most volatile enemy in the region, terrorist-exporting Iran.

The big policy items necessarily get the attention, but the Trump administration’s unrelenting push to the right has racked up hundreds of successes that get overlooked in the mix. Bureaucracies are slashing regulations to let Americans and their businesses breathe and thrive. The Department of Education is encouraging school choice and rejecting the socialist indoctrination that has permeated public education. Trump reformed Veterans Affairs to bring accountability and more health care choices — including telehealth technology — to give our veterans more and better health care.

I have only begun to scratch the surface of Trump’s conservative record. Sure, Trump still spends too much, supports tariffs, and supported weakening our criminal justice system, but for conservatives who purport to care about protecting unborn lives, the 2nd Amendment, free speech, lower taxes, less regulation, an America-centric foreign policy, and a love of country, President Trump has made more tangible movement in advancing and protecting those principles than any other president in my lifetime. He is not the perfect conservative messenger, but he sure is an effective conservative doer.

As I pray for the speedy recovery of our president and those close to him, I also look forward to casting my vote for his re-election.

WHO: Lockdowns Make “Poor People and Awful Lot Poorer”

Some of us have been saying this for going on eight months now.

The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its original COVID-19 stance after calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies.

Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus.

He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved.

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

Big 10 and Pac-12 Teams Shouldn’t Be Eligible for Championship

Since I’ve enjoyed a watching some really great college football games this weekend – including watching my Aggies upset the Florida Gators – it really annoys me that the Big 10 and Pac 12 are starting their truncated seasons nearly a full month after the other conferences, will play fewer games, but are still eligible for the national championship playoffs. Injuries and weariness weigh heavily in the playoffs of any sports league. It is rarely the best team at the beginning of the season that wins it all. It’s usually the team that has the best players left playing at the end of the season. In this case, teams like Ohio State will end their season with two or more fewer games than the teams they might be playing. When the Big 10 and Pac 12 decided to not have a season, they should have been excluded from playoff contention. The fact that they decided to have a season after all is good for their players and their schools, but they made their choice.

On another note, I think I like the teams playing only conference games. Every game matters and there are much fewer lopsided games.

Pay TV Revenue is Steadily Declining

As this happens and ad spending continues to spread out into the web, the downstream economic effects will be significant.

A new forecast suggests U.S. pay TV revenue will drop to $56B in 2025, and global pay TV revenue is headed for a 15-year low by then.

Digital TV Research says that U.S. figure will have declined from a peak of $105B in 2015.

And the global number will drop to $152B in 2025 – below even 2010’s $175B. That’s despite the fact that pay TV subscribers will have risen by 345M in that 15-year span.

And the revenue drop despite rising subscribers is due to the declines coming in mature, high-priced markets. The U.S. projected figure of $56B is still far higher than anywhere else.

Fight the Virus, Not the People

Indeed.

Thousands of scientists and health experts have joined a global movement warning of “grave concerns” about Covid-19 lockdown policies.

Nearly 6,000 experts, including dozens from the UK, say the approach is having a devastating impact on physical and mental health as well as society.

They are calling for protection to be focused on the vulnerable, while healthy people get on with their lives.

[…]

But the movement – known as the Great Barrington Declaration – mirrors some of the warnings in a letter signed by a group of GPs in the UK.

Sixty-six GPs, including TV doctors Dr Phil Hammond and Dr Rosemary Leonard and a number of medics who have held senior roles at the British Medical Association, have written to the health secretary, saying there is insufficient emphasis on “non-Covid harms” in the decision-making.

Protester Killed by BLM Counterprotester

Again.

A person reported to be a supporter of the Patriot Muster militia has been shot and killed at a protest in Denver, allegedly by a counterprotester with the BLM-Antifa rally.

The militia supporter maced a counterprotester, who then pulled out his handgun and shot dead the militia supporter, the Denver Post reported.

Rival rallies had been called for Saturday afternoon by the two opposing groups.

In case you were wondering, yes, they are communists and fascists. And yes, they do intentionally put hearts and soup drive BS on their propaganda to fool the stupid. These are violent radicals intent on overthrowing our representative Republic.