Author: Steve Prestegard

A tale of two areas

Michael Smith:

There sure seems to be an undercurrent of worry that the more sparsely populated areas of this country might advance economically while the more densely populated cities languish as a result of the physical reality of disease transmission.Cities have a transmission modality that simply cannot be overcome absent a vaccine for this virus. The reality is that the only reason any “curve flattening” is happening today is that the virus is being deprived of fresh victims, that solution provides little more than a temporary respite and a false sense of security – because the underlying condition promoting spread – the population density – has not changed.

National policy is being driven by a fear that originated in our major population centers.

I get it. Nobody wants to spread this disease – but the fact is that New York state’s 2900 deaths would have to increase by 27 times to equal the 79,000 annual deaths due to heart disease and cancer the CDC reported for the state in 2017 (the latest I could find at the CDC website).

At 7900 deaths nationwide so far, this pandemic doesn’t crack the top 50 for mortality classifications in the nation.

I understand the pandemic deaths are concentrated in a short period of time and when things happen over a short period, they have more impact – but I still question the need for Kansas or Utah to be driven by situations in New York.

The real pandemic is not the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it’s fear.

Wisconsin is a perfect example of what Smith is talking about. As of Friday out of Wisconsin’s 1,916 cases, 955 are in Milwaukee County and 244 are in Dane County. Some counties have not had a single case, and other counties’ measure in the single digits. Yet state government is stupidly treating every part of Wisconsin the same, mandating, for instance, statewide school closings when school administrators could have told you that was a really bad idea.

If politicians weren’t being profiles in cowardice maybe after this ends they could figure out that the state should not treat, for instance, Milwaukee and Marathon the same. And perhaps small towns could market themselves as superior places to live over crime-plagued and now disease-riddled urban areas.

When you’ve lost your own party

Politico Thursday:

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ refusal to push for a delay of his state’s Tuesday primary has infuriated fellow Democrats in the state, who are now openly accusing him of failing to prevent an impending train wreck.

As the nation hurtles toward 5,000 coronavirus deaths and governors across the country take extreme steps to keep people at home, Wisconsin is forging ahead with the election despite having its own stay-at-home order. The likely outcome is that Wisconsinites will wake up on election day being told to stay put at the same time they’re greenlighted to head to crowded polling sites.

Other Democrats in the state say the conflicting signals will disenfranchise voters. Already, the sanctity of the vote has been called into question by snafus with early voting: In Milwaukee, some voting sites were closed for a period of the designated voting before being reopened.

“There’s this enormous conflict between what we need to do in a democracy in the midst of a pandemic. You can’t have a stay-at-home order but then tell millions of people to go stand in line and congregate near one another across the state,” said Racine Mayor Cory Mason. “Having an election in the middle of a stay-at-home order makes no sense. It did not have to be this way.”

The intraparty conflict in Wisconsin is a bad look in a state that’s central to the party’s hopes of beating President Donald Trump in November. It also doesn’t bode well for a unified message in the run-up to the Democratic convention in Milwaukee, an event that was just pushed back a month to August.

While Democrats across Wisconsin have called for postponing the election, pointing to health concerns and the inability to staff polling sites, Evers has cited his limited authority to impose a delay against Republican resistance in the Legislature.

Evers has advocated that residents vote by mail and called on lawmakers to ease up on election day requirements to allow more flexibility on when ballots could be turned in and counted.

On Thursday, a federal judge provided some relief. While refusing to move the primary, U.S. District Judge William Conley extended the deadline by one day to request absentee ballots and is allowing voters six additional days after Election Day to return them. Conley in a Wednesday ruling said his hands were tied to postpone the election and called out both Evers and the legislature for not taking the action themselves.

Presty the DJ for April 3

Today in 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on ABC-TV’s “Milton Berle Show” live from the flight deck of the U.S.S. Hancock, moored off San Diego.

An estimated one of every four Americans watched, probably making it ABC’s most watched show in its history to then, and probably for several years after that.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for April 3”

How to avoid a fiscal pandemic

David Fladeboe:

Wisconsin, like the rest of the nation, is facing an unprecedented crisis as we battle COVID-19. With large swaths of the economy shut down or reduced to fight the pandemic, governments at all levels are working to address the fallout. Now that Congress has passed a series of bills to address the emergency, Wisconsin lawmakers are considering next steps.

Gov. Tony Evers released proposed legislation at the end of March and asked legislators to act quickly. While the Badger Institute has already pointed out positive policy prescriptions in his executive orders and proposed legislation, Wisconsin lawmakers need to ensure that the cure isn’t worse than the disease.

Below are a series of guiding principles that should act as a framework for the coming Extraordinary Session of the Legislature.

First, lawmakers should hesitate to take any actions that grow the size and scope of government permanently. Ongoing appropriations, permanent full-time equivalent positions and new layers of red tape should be avoided at all costs.

While the structures of government can help fight a crisis, policymakers need to avoid new layers of bureaucracy that can be just as damaging to public and economic wellbeing. Numerous states and the federal government have been relaxing requirements, regulations and licensing complications to help combat the coronavirus, and these efforts should be continued. Too often the tool created to help serves only to tie our hands in the future.

Next, elected officials need to be careful not to create a long-lasting, one-size-fits-all solution for future health emergencies. Recent policy statements from Wisconsin lawmakers indicate a desire to extend changes made to fight COVID-19 to future crises. But each challenge brings its own unanticipated difficulties, requiring unique approaches and tools.

Future policymakers, communities, businesses and residents will need the flexibility to respond to emergency situations without encountering rigid, imposed “solutions” that could make problems worse. Be wary of policies that automatically trigger the next time an emergency is declared.

Finally, don’t plunge the state into a sea of debt that might make matters worse over the long term. Responsible policies contributed to a state budget surplus that has helped soften the blow of this economic crisis. We need to maintain sound economic thinking and fiscal prudence while supporting those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. New spending must be weighed against the reality that tax revenues are going to be down sharply in 2020 and possibly beyond.

The Badger Institute estimates that Wisconsin could face a $100 million deficit in the transportation budget alone due to a decrease in gas tax collections. Reductions in sales and income tax revenues could be even more severe. Wisconsin’s economy will recover, but before we know the true cost and recovery curve, legislators need to be cautious about signing a check they can’t cash. The empty promises of a bankrupt government won’t help anyone.

If lawmakers keep in mind the long-term consequences of their actions, they can help Wisconsin navigate this storm. Significant policy reforms will be needed, but they can’t come at the expense of our future. A lot of damage already has been done to try to stop the spread of COVID-19; now is our opportunity to stem the tide and prepare ourselves for a vibrant and lasting recovery.

A small voice of sanity in Madison

Vicki McKenna, whose on-air presence in Madison and Milwaukee must infuriate their liberals:

How is everyone doing in this time of The Great Pandemic?

I am not taking this coercion well at all. And it’s just beginning.

Now despite what you may think, I am NOT “low risk” for coronavirus complications or death. I am considered moderate risk to ‘at risk’ depending on the “expert” opining. So even though I am a natural skeptic (and cynic) about the press, when I read the stories, occasionally it scares the hell out of me. I am not cavalier about this disease.

But I still want my freedom. I want it more than I ever have. I confess, it never dawned on me how physical my desire for freedom really was — until I started seeing taken away, little by little, piece by piece.

I also never had to fathom the real meaning of “the economy is life” until I saw our government rip it apart business by business, job by job and family by family.

Destroying our economy destroys our nation because it destroys our people’s ability to be free. No amount of “for your own good” proselytizing changes that reality. Freedom isn’t transactional.

How much more can we take before America doesn’t look much like America any longer? I don’t know. We’re a resilient bunch, but every nation has a breaking point. Taking away the choice to live free, even if it’s little by little surely doesn’t make us stronger.

Right now, we’re all slaves to fear. For how long?

Our families must be able to choose to be together. Our citizens must be able to choose to continue their civil and social lives.

I want to choose for myself whether to risk shaking someone’s hand, or seeing my family and friends. I want to choose for myself take the risk of going to church and taking Holy Communion. If I choose poorly, that’s on me. If you choose to reject my handshake, that’s OK, too.

The longer this goes on with no end in sight, the harder it is to see a future unblemished by the soft tyranny we’ve invited into our lives. And it’s only been a month. Imagine 6 months. 12 months.

I want to see kids running around in the neighborhoods again and shrieking in glee so loud the sound pierces through my windows. I want to see groups of friends smiling and laughing as they walk into the local pub on a Friday night after work. I want my best friend’s elderly mom not to be lonely anymore. I want to see my family. I want to go to church.

One thing I can say about this awful mess is that it focused my mind on the things I used to take for granted about this amazing experiment in ordered LIBERTY.

I am not a child in need of protection from the idiocracy we call government. I am grown woman with more than 5 decades of life behind me. I know how to wash my hands and sanitize my environment.

I want to be free to choose–and I trust others to choose as well. Some choose poorly, some choose well. But it’s the freedom to choose in the first place that makes us America. The Great American Experiment CAN fail. It just depends on whether we are willing to let it fail.

Let’s not let “for your own good” become our new motto.

Presty the DJ for April 1

Today is April Fool’s Day. Which John Lennon and Yoko Ono celebrated in 1970 by announcing they were having sex-change operations.

Today in 1972, the Mar y Sol festival began in Puerto Rico. The concert’s location simplified security — it was on an island accessible only by those with tickets.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for April 1”

50 state dictators

Howie Carr:

Some of these politicians have become way too intoxicated with this sudden power they’re brandishing like a club over the heads of their fellow citizens — I’m talking about you, Charlie Baker, and Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island makes two.

Check out the stories from around the country — two (Democrat) governors have taken to threatening physicians and pharmacists who dispense legal anti-malarial drugs to coronavirus victims.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen “Half” Whitmer is openly calling for “professional consequences” for any health care professionals who defy her edict, a directive the Detroit News said “deviates into open threats.”

Other Democrats are setting up snitch lines to report “non-essential” businesses.

On Friday night, the mayor of Los Angeles admitted to one of his comrades on CNN that they’re tracking cellphone data to keep tabs on the movements of citizens.

This Democrat has also threatened to cut off electricity and water to any businesses that won’t obey. All of this is going on in a jurisdiction where 1,700 prisoners have been cut loose … and the gun stores have been threatened with shut downs (as in Delaware, by yet another Democrat).

In Laguna Beach, where drones are outlawed for private use, law enforcement are using their drones to enforce “social distancing” on public beaches. In Lakewood, N.J., on Thursday, cops broke up a wedding — per orders of the governor, they claimed.

Closer to home, Tall Deval — or, if you prefer his newer nickname, Charlie Parker — wants to “ramp up” tracking those of us who will not obey his high-handed orders.

Yardbird now demands that everyone coming into the state “self-quarantine” for two weeks. Really? As one of my listeners asked Friday:

“I work in Massachusetts — you know, I pay taxes — and I live in New Hampshire. So do I have to ‘self-quarantine’ every morning for two weeks when I cross the border into Mass?”

Then there’s Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“In a move without precedent in state history,” as the Providence Journal described it, she ordered that “anyone entering Rhode Island from New York state by any means of grounds transportation — passenger vehicle, bus or train — must provide personal information to authorities and self-quarantine for 14 days.”

So … being in an automobile with NY license plates is now considered “probable cause” for a police stop? I have a question: surely this doesn’t apply to illegal immigrants? I mean, after all, Rhode Island is for all intents and purposes a sanctuary state for criminal illegals.

According to the RI state police, New Yorkers who are stopped — citizens, anyway — will be asked their plans.

“If the response is ‘passing through,’ we will send them on their way.”

The paper continued, “Those responding that their destination is somewhere in Rhode Island will be asked for their information and will be ordered to self-quarantine.”

Asked for information? Sounds like something out of an old World War II movie, in which the Nazi guards were always demanding to see “your papers.”

The Rhode Island ACLU pointed out the existence of something called the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits illegal search and seizure, even of taxpaying citizens.

If that’s not enough, let us turn to Article 4, Section 2 of the Constitution:

“The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”

In other words, a New Yorker has as much right to be in Rhode Island as a Rhode Islander.

You may notice that the two New England governors who seem most eager to stomp on their fellow citizens’ rights are the same two who have been desperately trying to impose an unconstitutional gasoline tax on motorists under the guise of “climate change.”

Coincidence?

Down in Virginia, Gov. Ralph “Blackface” Northam is one of many who has banned gatherings of more than 10 people. In the Old Dominion, some deplorables are asking the obvious follow-up question: in addition to proscribing Christian services, will the newly woke Gov. Blackface also be breaking up religious gatherings at, say, mosques?

That’s about as likely, of course, as a Muslim baker being sued for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake.

Just a month ago, most of these same hacks were wringing their hands and calling President Trump a “fascist” or a “dictator.” Now the mayor of LA is organizing vigilante groups in the city’s neighborhoods, calling them, in his best Orwellian speak, “the Safer at Home Business Ambassadors Program.”

Meanwhile, not a single shiftless hack on the Massachusetts state payroll has been laid off, not even at UMass or Massport or at the deserted courthouses. That’s coming next, right, Tall Deval? We’re all in this together, aren’t we? Right? Right?

Much of what you read there — statewide gathering bans, businesses arbitrarily classified as “essential” and “nonessential,” and threats of jail for such horrible activities as going to church — have taken place in Wisconsin with Gov. Tony Evers (or his handlers, such as his chief of staff and chief legal counsel) and his Safer at Home order. (George Orwell would appreciate that doublespeak.)

Once this ends, the Legislature should immediately change the law to require legislative approval of governor-proclaimed states of emergency. And the Legislature should vote on Safer at Home and all his other edicts.

There used to be such a thing as separation of powers, checks and balances, and constitutional rights.

 

Trump vs. the coronavirus, not Democrats

Politico:

For many Democrats, it’s the election of a lifetime. Yet the question preoccupying the party for several days this month was whether their presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden, could get the webcast working in his rec room.

It was a telling obsession, one that revealed the extent of the party’s anxiety as it comes to a nail-biting conclusion: Despite all the arguments Democrats have crafted and all the evidence they have amassed against Donald Trump, his reelection is likely to rise or fall on his handling of the coronavirus crisis and its fallout alone.

“It’s the most dramatic example I can think of in my lifetime about how you cannot control the agenda,” said Les Francis, a Democratic strategist and former deputy White House chief of staff in the Carter administration.

“If life were fair,” he said, Trump would already be paying a price for his chaotic handling of the pandemic. Instead, the president’s approval rating has not taken a hit, and the dominant images are of him “at the podium in the White House, quote, in charge,” Francis said. “If those stick and they’re not countered effectively, he could get reelected.”

The effect of the coronavirus on Trump’s popularity will not become clear for weeks or months. But the pandemic’s impact on the Democratic Party has already been severe. Primary elections are being postponed, allowing Bernie Sanders to linger in the race and delay until June the ability of Biden to mathematically clinch the nomination and fully turn his focus to Trump.

The public’s unbreakable focus on the virus is narrowing the range of issues on which Democrats can effectively draw contrasts with Trump — temporarily sidelining a broader agenda involving once-pressing issues such as climate change and gun control.

“It was always going to be a referendum on Trump,” said Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor who ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004. “But the referendum was going to be about things like climate change and how you want to reform health care and all these other things. Now it’s only going to be about this one thing — whether Trump is competent and sane.”

Trump, he said, is “a deeply disturbed narcissist who is incapable of being a leader, and that’s what the referendum is going to be on.”

Most Democratic strategists believe, like Dean, that Trump’s reelection prospects will be diminished by the pandemic, with its rising death toll and ruinous effect on the economy. But the general election is more than seven months away and Trump’s public approval rating has ticked up as the coronavirus has spread — though not nearly as high as the last Republican president, George W. Bush, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks,

Scott Brennan, an Iowa Democratic National Committee member and a former state party chairman, said, “If the economy pops back … it’s hard to know what people are going to think.”

In an effort to influence those voters, Biden has resolved the technological difficulties that marred his earliest appearances from his home in Wilmington, Del. He is now making regular appearances, via webcast, to speak about the coronavirus pandemic, including town hall meetings and a rush of TV interviews.

But the effectiveness of his counterprogramming is unclear, as Biden competes for attention not only with Trump, but with high-profile Democratic governors such as California’s Gavin Newsom, New York’s Andrew Cuomo and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, who — unlike Biden — are sitting executives involved in the coronavirus response.

Biden, said Darry Sragow, a longtime California Democratic strategist, “has no control over this at all.”

“To me, it’s like you’re in a bar and a brawl breaks out,” Sragow said. “You’ve got to park your immediate instinct. You have no control over the immediate outcome of the brawl.”

One problem for Democrats is that the nation’s battle with coronavirus — and Trump’s position at the center of it — may go on for months. The party’s marquee political event, the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for July, is the subject of contingency planning in case the coronavirus still precludes large crowds from gathering. DNC officials said last week that planning is moving forward for the Milwaukee event. But many Democrats are doubtful — and fearful of a worst-case scenario in which the pandemic upends the Democratic convention, but not the Republican gathering the following month.

“It matters for this reason,” said Bob Mulholland, a DNC member from California. “That Thursday night speech by our nominee could be seen by 50 to 60 million Americans, most of them who haven’t paid a minute of attention to the primary. That’s the conversation that takes us to winning.”

He said, “If we have to cancel and Trump has a convention with 40,000 people screaming and yelling … that’s an advantage to Trump, because nobody saw us except some text they got, and then they watched Trump.”

Jay Jacobs, chairman of the New York Democratic Party, suggested last week that Democrats should at least consider putting their convention off until late August. Even if the coronavirus pandemic has eased by late spring, he said, “everybody’s going to be absolutely exhausted.”

At a minimum, the pandemic is shortening the time frame with which Democrats will run their fall campaign. And it is changing expectations about the resonance of any issue other than the coronavirus.

Advocates of “Medicare for All” have seized on the pandemic as a way to highlight their concerns about health care. Gun control activists have drawn connections to the crisis, raising alarms about domestic violence and unsafe gun storage with Americans spending far more hours at home. Climate change activists have advanced the “Green New Deal” as a tool for economic recovery, while also pointing to the world’s massive response to the coronavirus as a template for climate mobilization.

Peter Ambler, executive director of the gun control group Giffords, said gun control — which was once a major focus of the Democratic primary — is “baked into our politics and our culture in a way that’s not going to evaporate.”

“I do think it’s important at a time like this for people who care about climate to keep on fighting for climate change solutions, because that challenge isn’t going to go away, the people who care about immigration reform to keep on having that conversation because clearly our immigration system is in need of reform, and likewise when it comes to gun violence,” he said.

Yet there’s little evidence to date that the coronavirus crisis is altering those debates in a material way.

As one strategist who has worked on climate change for several years said, “None of that stuff is happening right now. … It looks tone deaf to not be focused on the thing that’s gripping and changing people’s lives in a once-in-a-lifetime way.”