OSHA’s Big “Oops!”

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The bureaucracy’s reversal on the vaccine mandate for businesses is a win for state sovereignty, not to mention the American people

After delaying two months before producing a rule pursuant to the White House’s September announcement that businesses with 100 employees or more would have to require the Covid-19 vaccine, the Department of Labor has now suspended enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for private businesses.

The rule was initially challenged by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, who filed a lawsuit requesting a preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to stop the mandate from being enforced. A total of 12 states are suing to block the federal vaccine mandate for employers. After the federal appeals court temporarily halted the order, the Department of Justice requested the halt to be lifted, but the appeals court upheld the stay.

The court’s shutdown confirms what many suspected when OSHA delayed for weeks before publishing the rule: The legal grounds for enforcing a federal vaccine mandate on private businesses seems to be shaky at best. And yet, does it matter? Plenty of private businesses have already required their employees to take the shot, and are unlikely to roll that back, even in the wake of OSHA’s reversal. The Biden administration, too, is still pushing ahead, urging businesses to continue to implement an employee mandate, even if the state lacks the power to enforce it. Besides, how many people, besides those who are paid to read the news, are paying close enough attention to know the difference?

Once again, what matters seems less and less to be the actual tenets of law, and more and more to be who holds the reigns of power. Like with the eviction moratorium extension, the Biden administration has effectively said “maybe it’s illegal, but we’re going to try anyway.” Except this time, a few states rattled the cage.

The key silver lining here, thus, is a glimmer of state sovereignty. The pressure of a handful of states saying no, thank you, we’ll decide if we want to mandate a vaccine in our state, is significant, whether it weighed directly or indirectly on the decision. This was a win for localism, and it can and should be the model for governors and state legislatures going forward. Appeals to constitutionalism may fall on deaf ears, but four states—or 12—can keep the bureaucratic arm of the federal government out of local affairs if they have the courage to take serious action.

*****

This article was published on November 18, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The American Conservative.

Phoenix City Council Could Shoot Down COVID Vaccination Mandate

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Members of the Phoenix City Council are demanding a vote on a previous decision to adhere to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

In response to City Manager Jeff Barton’s decision the city is considered a federal contractor and must adhere to Biden’s mandate, Councilwoman Ann O’Brien wrote Mayor Kate Gallego to demand the council has a say on the matter.

The mayor agreed with O’Brien and added the issue for consideration at a future meeting.

“I am not anti-vaccine; I am anti-mandates,” O’Brien said in her Nov. 24 announcement. “I am pro-personal choice and I believe that Phoenix employees will do the right thing and make decisions that are right for them and their families.”

Barton used the significant amount of federal dollars the city received to justify the decision to implement the Jan. 18 vaccination deadline.

“Due to the number of federal contracts held by the city of Phoenix, we are considered a federal contractor,” a letter from Barton read. “As such, all city employees are subject to the provisions outlined in the Executive Order, which requires all employees, regardless of telework status or if you previously tested positive for COVID-19, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 18, 2022, except in limited circumstances where an employee is legally entitled to an accommodation.”

In reaction to Barton’s edict, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) and the United Phoenix Firefighters Association Local 493 (UPFA) joined Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lawsuit against Biden’s vaccination mandate. The addition of the unions expanded the legal challenge to include federal contractors.

Unless the federal contractors or employees prevail in their legal challenge to Biden’s mandate, vaccination holdouts among the city’s 13,000 workers – including police and firefighters – who do not receive an exemption face suspension and eventual termination. 

In a Nov. 22 letter to Barton, Councilman Sal DiCiccio warned the mandate would lead to a severe worker shortage that could put residents in danger.

“The decision will compromise vital city-wide services to our residents, including public safety, which this Council has been aware of the alarming crime data and how the city is struggling to hire and retain personnel,” DiCiccio wrote.

*****

This article was published on November 29, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

Zuckerberg’s Election Meddling Could Be Emulated by Foreign Interests

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Facebook might be a cesspool filled with lies, vitriol, and organized disinformation campaigns, but is it more frightening than a billionaire-funded political consultant with, quite literally, the keys to an election?

 

Mark Zuckerberg’s invention opened U.S. elections up to manipulation by foreign powers that everyone should be aware of.

No, not Facebook. His other invention. The private funding of public election offices.

When Zuckerberg contributed roughly $400 million to the Center for Tech and Civic Life to privately finance public election offices, he was the first person ever to do so. It was a strategy simply unheard of before 2020. And this second invention of the billionaire, who became famous for his serious effect on tech, had a serious effect on elections.

But, while speaking out against Facebook and the damage it’s done to democracy earns a segment on 60 Minutes, speaking out about Zuckerberg and his “zuckbucks” might find one labeled a conspiracy theorist.

The idea that Zuckerberg impacted elections in partisan ways through Facebook is almost universally accepted, but strangely the idea he did the same through the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) is somehow too farfetched. The reality is that CTCL impacted the 2020 election in ways Facebook never could, and legislators should be just as anxious to address “zuckbucks” as they are Facebook.

For proof, look no further than Wisconsin, where, in true Facebook fashion, one of CTCL’s “grant advisers” leveraged the terms and conditions of Zuckerberg’s funding to access information they had no right to see.

Reports show that Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein, CTCL’s Wisconsin “grant adviser” who once worked as a Democratic consultant in New York, became “de facto elections chief” for Wisconsin’s five largest cities despite holding no office.

Spitzer-Rubenstein re-wrote the rules for ballot curing in Milwaukee, requested to be allowed to personally cure ballots in Green Bay, helped election administrators decide how ballots would be transported, rented the room where ballots were to be stored in Green Bay, and as was given the keys to the hotel convention room where absentee ballots in Green Bay were stored “days in advance” of the election. In fact, Spitzer-Rubenstein was so intrusive and domineering that the Green Bay City Clerk resigned just before the election in disgust after her superiors ignored repeated email complaints questioning the legality and ethics of Spitzer-Rubenstein’s involvement.

Facebook might be a cesspool filled with lies, vitriol, and organized disinformation campaigns, but is it more frightening than a billionaire-funded political consultant with, quite literally, the keys to an election?

The details of how CTCL funds were used in Wisconsin are disturbing, but more disturbing is the fact that it was all legal. Most disturbing is that anybody else is now free to do the same. Anybody.

Oil tycoons, hedge fund managers, banking executives, literally anybody can fund 501(c)(3) nonprofits like the Center for Tech and Civic Life, and they can do it anonymously since 501(c)(3)’s are not legally required to disclose their donors. Worse yet, they wouldn’t even have to be a U.S. citizen because there are no rules against foreign donors either.

A Russian oil-oligarch looking to cripple his U.S. competitors could create a charitable front-group to disproportionately fund election offices of more environmentally conscious counties in hopes they would shut down drilling. A foreign dictator hoping to lift economic sanctions could use a nonprofit cultural center to pay for an election office’s voter outreach campaign but provide much more money to counties where a senator or presidential candidate sympathetic to their plight is winning.

This may sound like modern day McCarthyism, but there are numerous examples of foreign actors influencing U.S. elections in both 2016 and 2020.

Hansjörg Wyss, for example, is a little-known Swiss billionaire who illegally gave thousands to PACs (which non-citizens are not allowed to do) more than 30 times over several years before the FEC caught on. In 2021, the New York Times called Wyss an “influential force among Democrats,” despite the fact that he can’t contribute to candidates or political parties, because he uses his private foundation to funnel tens-of-millions of dollars into “nonpartisan” political advocacy groups each year, many of them 501(c)(3)’s just like CTCL.

Just this year, accusations surfaced that Wyss once again broke election law due to his involvement with the Arabella Advisors network, along with reports that he attempted to purchase numerous U.S. newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and the Daily News. Furthermore, leaked internal memos show that the Wyss Foundation developed a  $100 million “Democracy Strategy” that included funding get-out-the-vote drives and lobbying to change election laws, and shared it directly with John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, just before the 2016 election.

Wyss has no qualms about intervening in U.S. elections, and now that Zuckerberg has paved the way, Wyss might attempt to use his dark money network to follow suit. The same goes for the Russian government who famously tried to influence elections using targeted misinformation campaigns on Facebook in 2016, and the Iranian and Chinese governments who reportedly attempted to do the same in 2020.

It’s far from a conspiracy theory to say that “zuckbucks” gave Mark Zuckerberg a concerning level of influence over the 2020 election, and it’s just as reasonable to be worried that foreign interests will attempt to mimic Zuckerberg in the future. Luckily, dozens of states have put forward legislation to ban further private funding of election offices, but dozens more have yet to act. With 2022 fast approaching, time is running out for state legislatures to act, and if they don’t, our elections could be open to more interference and manipulation than ever before.

*****

This article was published on November 23, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from Capital Research Center.

Taking the Booster

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I dutifully took the Moderna COVID vaccine booster on Nov. 5 at the advice of my younger brother, who practices medicine. Two hours after this ordeal, I began to feel chills and suffer from a very upset stomach. These symptoms vanished two days later, and I resumed my normal routine, which includes jogging.

However, a week ago the unpleasant symptoms that I thought I was rid of returned, and I have been dealing with them ever since.

Some family members insist that it’s all in my imagination and I am not really feeling sick. If I am, the symptoms are from a low-grade flu that I picked up somewhere—perhaps while walking out of the pharmacy where I received the booster shot. There is no way, I have been assured, that the booster could have occasioned this degree of discomfort because that’s not supposed to happen. If I listened to National Public Radio, I would know that the booster has only minor side effects and that dwelling on them is characteristic of right-wing extremists, who are probably fascists and support the Jan. 6 “insurrection.” But of course, a million illegals crossing our Southern borders, Black Lives Matter protests in densely populated urban centers, and planeloads of unidentified Afghan “refugees” can do nothing to raise our infection totals because President Biden is okay with these developments.

I can no longer abide by the craziness unleashed by the nonstop politicization of the COVID epidemic. On one side I receive messages from agitated correspondents who tell me that the vaccine is being used to exterminate white people since blacks are mostly reluctant to receive the jab. I’m also told that the vaccine is causing the rapid spread of COVID, and so we should daily gorge ourselves on towering heaps of vitamins to protect ourselves from the disease-bearing recipients of the vaccines, who are making everyone else sick before dropping dead.

On the other side we have the leftist true believers who sound equally insane. From the moment the present salvific administration took over in Washington, taking the vaccine became a sacrament, like having a late-term abortion, teaching Critical Race Theory, or undergoing sex-change treatment. Although Joe and Kamala were vaccine-skeptics until they took office, the entire world must now be vaccinated, even those who have already had COVID and consequently built-up natural immunity.

I have heard leftist true believers insist that those who have not received the Biden—no longer Trump—vaccine should not be treated if these miscreants take sick. They should be allowed to waste away in the hovels inhabited by Deplorables, although those who rail against them would not have demanded this course of action when Biden and Harris were wary of the vaccine last year.

Allow me to make my own position on this matter unmistakably clear. Despite all the unpleasantness that came out of my decision to take the booster, I would do it again because of the limited degree of immunity that it affords senior citizens like me. I ascribe the after affects entirely to the jab and find ample confirmation daily for my assumption. I know of many others who are complaining about the same symptoms after having received the booster, and those who have communicated this information to me are entirely reliable sources, not anti-vaccine zealots.

That said, I am utterly exasperated by those who push the leftist party line about the vaccine. They blithely go on denying that a procedure Joe, Kamala, the media magnates, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stand behind cannot have the unpleasant consequences from which I am obviously suffering. I am supposed to believe that there is no causal relation between two temporally contiguous happenings that I have experienced, receiving the booster, and then coming down with symptoms that I’m still trying to shake. It is insisted that the two are not related, because if they are, then that would contradict an ideologically determined narrative.

Meanwhile, I continue to receive messages from the other extreme, suggesting that I have taken a catastrophic step by being injected with a fake vaccine serum that could kill me. But I may have a chance of surviving if I start swallowing loads of dietary supplements. Is there any way to make both hysterical sides disappear?

*****

This article was published on November 17, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from Chronicles.

Pushing Back Against The Big Banks

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According to Bloomberg.com, three of Wall Street’s biggest municipal-bond underwriters have seen business grind to a halt in Texas after the state enacted a law that blocks governments from working with banks that have curtailed ties to the gun industry. Since the law took effect on September 1, 2021, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have not managed a single municipal-bond sale in the state, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Is your state doing enough to fight for your gun rights? This is how it gets done.

Currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen will, perhaps, decide whether the Second Amendment allows the government to prohibit ordinary law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense. On its face, this is simple. New York has had a handgun licensing system for more than 100 years. New York prohibits its citizens from carrying a handgun outside of their home without a license, and it requires permit applicants to convince a licensing officer they have “proper cause” to carry a concealed firearm. Petitioners Robert Nash and Brendan Koch argued that the New York law violates their constitutional right to bear arms. They lost at the district court level, wherein that court said: “Nash and Koch do not satisfy the ‘proper cause’ requirement because they do not ‘face any special or unique danger to [their] life.’” Eight other states have similar “show cause” laws: California, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. All of their laws will be affected by the decision — hopefully, negatively. The U.S. Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments on Nov. 3.

Hit back twice as hard. A federal judge has found the Washington, D.C. city government liable for wrongfully arresting six people between 2012 and 2014 who were accused of violating its ban on carrying handguns in public. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth’s decision could clear the way for claims for damages by as many as 4,500 people similarly arrested under the law the courts overturned in 2014, according to court filings. The Supreme Court struck down the District’s long-standing ban on handguns in a landmark 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which found that the Second Amendment protected individuals’ right to own a gun in the home. “The District violated the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights by arresting them, detaining them, prosecuting them, and seizing their guns based on an unconstitutional set of D.C. laws,” Lamberth wrote.

Yes, yes D.C. did that, plain as day. We’ll see if Lamberth’s well-thought-out legal reasoning can stand scrutiny by judges above him who hate the Second Amendment.

*****

This article was published in the November issues of Gun Tests, and is reproduced with permission of the author.

A Different Perspective: How Threat-Free Are Americans from Covid-19?

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At present, based on the most recent government data, only about three Americans in a thousand could conceivably transmit Covid-19 to someone. In other words, nearly 99.7 percent of people in the United States are currently no threat to anyone of spreading the virus. And despite the large case count, 24 out of every 25 cases are recovered, meaning not only that those people are no longer threats, but also that they now have the strongest form of immunity against Covid-19.

Those numbers may sound counterintuitive — or at least counter to the usual presentation of official Covid numbers. From the outset, media reports on Covid-19 have been calculated to stoke fear. Whether out of sensationalism for clicks, desire to shape political outcomes or panic in the pressrooms, media have offered an unrelenting diet of terror about the pandemic with little to no context. Experts spoke with impressive unanimity; anyone who dissented, regardless of impressive credentials, was quickly canceled. Economists who could discuss tradeoffs in policy choices were made especially scarce. For the 24-hour, round-the-clock news consumer (an incredibly self-defeating habit for anyone concerned about health), it would be impossible to escape the conclusion that death stalked us at every corner, let alone every restaurant table and school desk.

Adding to the panic is the problem of big numbers. Very big numbers sound daunting, but at some point, numbers get so big that people can no longer conceptualize them. For example, we are upset at now having to pay twice as much for a gallon of gasoline, and we worry the price could triple. But it’s difficult to wrap our heads around how many trillions of dollars are involved in congressional debates for President Joe Biden’s hazy plans.

Early on, international number-crunching outfits gobsmacked us all with enormous numbers of projected deaths. In turn, public health officials everywhere laid it on thick with talk of field hospitals soon to be set up everywhere, bandying about huge projections of people who would need hospitalization and warning that, at the very least, we would run out of ventilators and have to choose which of our neighbors deserved saving. Fear compounded upon fear as we consented to lockdowns and tried to figure out which Hollywood pandemic movie we were in for.

We were conditioned for the worst, and when the projections proved to be buncombe, our relief never progressed into righteous anger at having been played. Anyone who pointed out the massive disparity between the projections and reality was absurdly accused of not taking the virus seriously and trying to get people killed. In the meantime, the steady doom-drums of daily updated, ever-rising case and death counts constantly reinforced the perception of imminent threat.

The idea that nearly everyone recovers from this virus, as from other illnesses, rarely entered the news stories, let alone the minds of the terrified populace. As the total case numbers rose, quietly so did the number of those who had recovered and now were immune. Case numbers were also never placed in the context of an even much larger number: the population.

In short, people were vastly overexaggerating the number of their fellow citizens who had the virus as well as their own risk of contracting it and dying. People’s faces showed this terror when they ventured out, from wearing masks alone in their cars, dodging and staring at each other at grocery stores, even avoiding family and friends and forbidding their children from play. I’ll never forget the mountain hikers hastily pulling up masks whenever another human bounded into view, as if the old expression “fresh mountain air” had lost all meaning.

This over inflamed fear is itself unhealthy. People need a dispassionate assessment of risk in order to weigh their choices correctly. To listen to media and public-health bureaucrats, one would think that the threat of death and severe life impacts from Covid-19 is the only threat worth avoiding, but that was never true. Nevertheless, we have seen — and too many people have allowed — unprecedented government interventions aimed at managing the Covid threat to the exclusion of all others.

Those other threats had expanded, meanwhile, to include the deadly unintended consequences of lockdowns and other extreme government orders. They also included withheld but necessary medical treatments, either from non-Covid treatments being suspended or people being too afraid to seek treatment, which has been especially bad for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, but also bad for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and stroke. These other threats, furthermore, included increases in substance abuse, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and deaths of despair. Job loss, as well as school closings and isolation of young children, contributed to them, and all these carry long-term health implications, too.

For all those reasons, back in the summer of 2020 I started producing contextualized looks at Covid case numbers in my home state that I later started calling the “NC Threat-Free Index.” The idea was simply to offer context to the big, raw numbers and tamp down people’s fears to a healthy, warranted respect for the virus rather than unhealthy, unwarranted abject terror. Normally such a service would have been performed by media and government officials trying to stave off a panic.

Here I offer a threat-free index for the nation as a whole. There are several components, all easily derived from official government data. They include:

Presumed recovered: the number of convalescent people who have had a lab-confirmed case of Covid-19 and are no longer sick and infectious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers recovery to be generally 10 days post infection. For my index I have been rounding that to two weeks (14 days). The number of presumed recovered is generated, then, by taking the total number of cases from two weeks prior and subtracting out all deaths from or with Covid-19.

Active cases: the number of people currently with lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19. These are the people who could conceivably transmit the virus to others. The number of active cases is generated by taking the total number of cases and subtracting out presumed recoveries and deaths.

Deaths: the number of people who have died either from or with Covid-19.

Population: the daily U.S. population estimate provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. The index states the above numbers also as proportions of the U.S. population.

Here are the threat-free index estimates as of November 15:

  • Presumed recovered: 45,265,569
  • Active cases: 1,118,866
  • Percent of total cases presumed recovered: 96.0%
  • Percent of total cases that are active: 2.4%
  • Percent of the total U.S. population with active cases of Covid: over 0.3%
  • Percent of the U.S. population to have died with or from Covid-19: over 0.2%
  • Percent of the U.S. population posing no threat of passing along COVID-19: nearly 99.7%
  • These are estimates, of course, and the data are incomplete. Also, the estimates will vary regionally, though not by much. Nevertheless, they give a close approximation of the current risk to a hypothetical person going out in public somewhere in the United States of encountering someone with a transmissible Covid infection.

    It’s a risk decidedly lower than what people have been made to believe. This belief, unhealthy in and of itself, has given way to tolerating dangerous government edicts while forestalling a grounded approach to individual risk assessment and management.

    Media-fed mass hysterias should remain the province of Orson Welles, which is to say, history.

    *****

    This article was published on November 26, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from AIER, American Institute for Economic Research.

    Fatal Drug Overdoses Are on the Rise in Arizona

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    More Americans are dying from drug overdoses than ever before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were an estimated 100,306 fatal overdoses over the 12 months through April 2021 — the most ever reported in a 12-month period and double the annual number of car accidents and firearm deaths combined.

    The record number of deadly overdoses marks a 29% increase from the same period a year earlier and is more than double the number reported as recently as 2014. Public health experts attribute the surge to the proliferation of fentanyl — a synthetic opioid reported to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine — as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has isolated many Americans struggling with addiction while reducing their treatment options and care resources.

    Of all drug classifications identified by the CDC, including synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids, cocaine, heroin, psychostimulants like methamphetamine, and methadone (a drug used to treat heroin and opioid addiction), synthetic opioids had the largest increase in fatalities in the state, up 59.8% from a year earlier.

    The fatal drug overdose rate in Arizona now stands at 38.7 deaths for every 100,000 people, the 12th highest among all states. Nationwide, the per capita fatality rate stands at 30.3 per 100,000.

    All overdose data used in this story are from the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC. To account for pending investigations and incomplete counts, the numbers reported are estimates calculated by the NCHS. Population-adjusted fatality rates were calculated using population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Decennial Census.

     

    Rank State 1-yr change in fatal overdoses Drug OD deaths, 12 mos. ending April 2021 Deaths per 100,000 people, 2021 Drug OD deaths, 12 mos. ending April 2020 Deaths per 100,000 people 2020
    1 Vermont 69.9% 209 32.5 123 19.1
    2 West Virginia 62.2% 1,607 89.6 991 55.2
    3 Kentucky 54.5% 2,319 51.5 1,501 33.3
    4 Louisiana 51.6% 2,218 47.6 1,463 31.4
    5 Tennessee 50.1% 3,581 51.8 2,385 34.5
    6 Mississippi 49.9% 637 21.5 425 14.4
    7 California 47.8% 10,585 26.8 7,162 18.1
    8 Alaska 46.7% 176 24.0 120 16.4
    9 Kansas 45.7% 558 19.0 383 13.0
    10 South Carolina 45.4% 1,907 37.3 1,312 25.6
    11 Oregon 45.1% 940 22.2 648 15.3
    12 Minnesota 38.5% 1,188 20.8 858 15.0
    13 New Mexico 37.0% 893 42.2 652 30.8
    14 North Carolina 36.9% 3,526 33.8 2,576 24.7
    15 Texas 36.4% 4,687 16.1 3,437 11.8
    16 Georgia 36.3% 2,086 19.5 1,530 14.3
    17 Washington 35.7% 1,892 24.6 1,394 18.1
    18 Nevada 35.7% 992 32.0 731 23.5
    19 Virginia 35.5% 2,262 26.2 1,669 19.3
    20 Colorado 34.6% 1,655 28.7 1,230 21.3
    21 Arkansas 33.0% 536 17.8 403 13.4
    22 Indiana 32.4% 2,487 36.7 1,878 27.7
    23 Alabama 31.4% 1,110 22.1 845 16.8
    24 New York 29.3% 5,496 27.2 4,252 21.0
    25 Arizona 28.5% 2,768 38.7 2,154 30.1
    26 Nebraska 27.9% 211 10.8 165 8.4
    27 Ohio 26.6% 5,585 47.3 4,410 37.4
    28 Florida 26.2% 7,892 36.6 6,256 29.0
    29 Maine 24.2% 528 38.8 425 31.2
    30 Wisconsin 21.8% 1,599 27.1 1,313 22.3
    31 Maryland 21.0% 2,876 46.6 2,376 38.5
    32 Oklahoma 20.2% 798 20.2 664 16.8
    33 Michigan 19.3% 2,952 29.3 2,474 24.6
    34 Idaho 18.8% 297 16.1 250 13.6
    35 Utah 18.5% 674 20.6 569 17.4
    36 Rhode Island 17.5% 409 37.3 348 31.7
    37 Wyoming 16.9% 97 16.8 83 14.4
    38 Missouri 14.6% 2,004 32.6 1,749 28.4
    39 Pennsylvania 13.1% 5,410 41.6 4,784 36.8
    40 Illinois 12.6% 3,601 28.1 3,197 25.0
    41 North Dakota 11.9% 122 15.7 109 14.0
    42 Iowa 9.5% 426 13.4 389 12.2
    43 Montana 6.6% 161 14.8 151 13.9
    44 Hawaii 6.3% 268 18.4 252 17.3
    45 Massachusetts 5.8% 2,419 34.4 2,286 32.5
    46 Connecticut 4.4% 1,409 39.1 1,350 37.4
    47 New Jersey -1.0% 2,918 31.4 2,948 31.7
    48 Delaware -1.7% 459 46.4 467 47.2
    49 New Hampshire -7.2% 372 27.0 401 29.1
    50 South Dakota -19.8% 77 8.7 96 10.8

     

    *****
    This article was published on November 23, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Center Square.

    Horrific Waukesha Deaths Preventable Result of Ill-Considered Bail Policies

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    After a summer of wildly destructive civil unrest followed by the looming shadow of the high-profile trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, residents of Wisconsin suffered another blow in the form of unspeakable tragedy.

    Five people were killed and more than 40 injured when a driver plowed through participants of an annual holiday parade, appearing to intentionally speed up and swerve into lines of marchers, before speeding off.

    Hours later, police arrested 39-year-old Darrell Brooks as the suspected driver of the vehicle. He is charged with five counts of homicide.

    Investigators are still looking into possible motives, including, according to some reports, the possibility that Brooks did not necessarily target the parade but was instead attempting to flee from a knife fight.

    Whether the act was intentional or merely reckless and without regard to others, one thing is already clear—what happened in Waukesha was entirely preventable.

    Darrell Brooks should have been in jail several times over. The devastation he wrought happened only because grossly reckless bail policies touted by local officials enabled the release of an unrepentantly violent man whose actions routinely placed members of the community in serious danger.

    Brooks is a career criminal with a long rap sheet. His history of violence—including violence toward women—is well documented, and wide-ranging.

    In 1999, Brooks pled guilty to felony battery with intent to cause bodily harm, and was sentenced to six months in jail and three years’ probation. Over the next seven years, Brooks had a series of short stints in jail for various drug and obstruction charges.

    In 2006, he was convicted of felony statutory sexual seduction for impregnating a 15-year-old girl. Brooks was 24 years old at the time. He was sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender.

    In 2010, Brooks pled no contest to felony strangulation and suffocation charges, as well as to violating the terms of his probation. He was sentenced to 11 months in jail and three more years of probation.

    Brooks spent much of 2011 and 2012 in jail, serving two separate 180-day sentences for charges of drug possession and bail jumping, and a 37-day sentence for misdemeanor resisting arrest.

    In 2016, Brooks was arrested and charged with failing to obey Nevada’s sex offender registration laws. He posted bail, then fled the state and never returned to court. He still has an active warrant out for his arrest in Nevada.

    In July 2020, Brooks was again arrested after allegedly getting into a fist fight with his nephew over a cellphone and then firing a gun at the nephew’s car as the nephew drove away. Arresting officers found Brooks still in possession of the firearm as well as a small amount of meth. He was charged with a slew of serious felonies, including possession of a firearm as a firearm and two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering public safety with the use of a firearm.

    Brooks’ bond was initially set at $10,000 but was quickly lowered to $7,500. He remained in custody until his Feb. 9 trial was postponed. His attorney then successfully argued for Brooks’ bail to be dropped even lower, and on Feb. 21, Brooks posted $500 bond and was released.

    On Nov. 5, with his 2020 charges still pending, Brooks was again arrested and charged with several serious felony offenses after a woman—reportedly the mother of Brooks’ children—told police that he purposefully ran her over with a vehicle after an argument. According to reports, the vehicular assault left tire marks on the woman’s pants and injured her so severely that she was hospitalized.

    Incredibly, despite two decades of violent behavior, an open felony warrant in Nevada, routine failures to abide by his probation or bond conditions, and an active case involving the violent use of a weapon, Brooks was allowed to post $1,000 cash bail. By Nov. 11, he was back in the community.

    When all relevant information comes to light about possible motive or premeditation, it seems incredible that no one could have reasonably foreseen that Brooks would commit this specific type of violence and leave this amount of carnage in his wake.

    Brooks’ propensity for violence and his lifetime spent disregarding the safety of others made a violent tragedy anything but unforeseeable.

    It also could have been foreseen that this kind of tragedy would inevitably occur as a result of the well-intentioned but ill-thought-out and poorly executed bail reform policies that progressives are putting into effect across the country.

    In fact, John Chisholm, the rogue George Soros-backed prosecutor in Milwaukee County who released Brooks when he should have sought no bail, issued a prophetic statement in 2007. He said: “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into [a] treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? … You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen.” He went on to argue, though, that “does not invalidate the overall approach.”

    We disagree. And now that the dire consequences of these rogue prosecutors’ policies are sparking public backlash, Chisholm has called for an investigation into Brooks’ “inappropriately low” bond.

    Unfortunately, this is emblematic of the rogue prosecutor movement more generally. They take a criminal-first, victim-last, passing-the-blame approach.

    And while the consequences here were undoubtedly tragic, it’s far from the only example of rogue prosecutors’ lax bond policies wreaking havoc on their communities.

    In Philadelphia, for example, rogue District Attorney Larry Krasner’s policies led to the murder of Philadelphia Police Cpl. James O’Connor by an individual whom Krasner released through his lenient policies. Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain said, “The murder was the direct result of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s pro-violent defendant policies.”

    In Chicago, police have pointed to the “skyrocketing use of electronic monitoring as a key factor in the city’s shocking 50% rise in killings” last year.

    And no wonder. In Kim Foxx’s Chicago, there are apparently no consequences for violating bail terms. According to the Chicago Tribune, “About 400 people are charged every year with felony escape. During [her predecessor’s] last three years in office, she dropped a total of 55 such cases, compared with 420 for Foxx.”

    And then there’s San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin. As two of us (Cully and Zack) have previously written, “Since taking office, Boudin has also been criticized for releasing suspects with long criminal records who have gone on—surprise, surprise—to commit other crimes.”

    The events in Wisconsin were tragic. But the nightmare was a completely avoidable consequence of a criminal justice system run by Soros’ rogue prosecutors.

    *****

    This article was published on November 23, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from The Daily Signal.

    Medicare Ads And Other Inane Policies

    Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

    We’ve all seen them, the Medicare TV ads exhorting seniors to apply for enhanced benefits. The government appears to be coaxing often reluctant retirees into greater dependence.

    But this is a colossally bad idea, even for those of us who support helping citizens in their sunset years. It stimulates greed (it’s freeeee!) and entitlement in the demographic which government programs have already made into the most wealthy. It expands the reach of government into our lives.

    But it’s worse than that. The ads are pitching benefits in a program already teetering on bankruptcy.  Americans were told that their mandatory payroll contributions were put in a fund to finance payouts in retirement, but that was a lie. Politicians raided the trust long ago and today’s retirees are dependent on the (inadequate) contributions of today’s payers – yes, like any other welfare program.

    The rational response would be reforms that include reducing expenses where possible. Instead, we spend untold millions to pump up program outlays. Not smart. Consequences to follow.

    But screeching Medicare ads aren’t the only government initiative which, partisan disagreements aside, simply don’t make sense. Take electric cars. They’re touted as a big key to a carbon-free future. We’re pouring public funds into subsidies, charging stations and other enticements for owners.

    We may disagree over the feasibility of carbon reduction strategies to ultimately reduce climate change, but it doesn’t matter. Electric cars aren’t the answer. They still require energy that must be produced somehow.

    The pollutants may come from an electricity generating plant instead of a car’s exhaust, but the damage done isn’t greatly different. The environmental costs of battery production and disposal as well as the extra power sources needed to service a national fleet of autos make EVs an environmental loser.

    But politicians use them anyway to bolster green credentials. Buyers like the subsidies, the perks, and driving a cool car. Manufacturers are joining the ranks of the uber-rich. So the beat goes on.

    EVs could have some environmental benefit if nuclear generation sourced their electricity. Once again, stupidity intervenes.

    The environmental Left decreed long ago that nuclear was off-limits. Nuclear power plants would henceforth be discouraged by excessive regulation and harassment. The strategy has basically worked, but it’s a shame.

    It’s still true that nuclear is by far the most environmentally friendly, non-emitting energy source available. Nuclear-producing France pays 50% less for energy with 10% the amount of pollution experienced by Germany, which sanctimoniously exited the nuclear market years ago.

    Here’s more lunacy. A year ago, America had finally achieved energy independence, after decades of kowtowing to Arab sheiks and oil-rich autocrats. Within days, the Biden administration returned us to supplicant status. Pipeline permits were canceled, offshore drilling cut back and even the remote ANWR oil deposits were shut down.

    Meanwhile, with our consent, Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline was approved, which will dominate Western Europe’s natural gas supplies. Biden unsuccessfully begged OPEC to increase oil production, so US gas prices have predictably skyrocketed and a cold winter looms.

    Again, the environmental benefits of our foolishness are nil. Pipelines are the most environmentally safe way of transporting natural gas. The fuels from Russia and the Middle East are no cleaner than ours.

    We have more inane policies. Children too young to vote, drink, smoke, or drive are now permitted to change their socially constructed gender by irreversibly altering their bodies-without parental consent.

    $450,000 payouts are seriously proposed for illegal immigrants who were separated from their children in a humane effort to avoid mixing children with adults during detention. In spite of causing no known harm, GMO bans limit the amount of food available to starving Africans.

    The driving force for these nutty, harmful policies is the relentless pursuit of electoral success by pandering to special interest groups. We’ve come a long way from Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a “wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another…“.

    Listen to political analysts uncritically predicting the fate of multi-trillion-dollar spending bills based solely on how the vote would affect legislators’ prospects for remaining in office another term.

    It’s disgraceful, but we expect no more, so that’s what we get.

    ****

    Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute

     

    Comrade Down: Senate Forces Biden to Dump OCC Nominee, Lenin Scholar

    Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

    Five Senate Democrats tell Biden they won’t back Lenin scholarship winner Saule Omarova

    Five Senate Democrats told the White House late Wednesday they will not support Lenin scholarship recipient Saule Omarova to serve as Comptroller of the Currency, nuking her chances to serve as the country’s bank regulator.

    The Democrats—Sens. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.), Mark Kelly (D., Ariz.), Mark Warner (D., Va.), and John Hickenlooper (D., Colo.)—join all Senate Republicans in opposition to Omarova, who came under scrutiny over her proposals to use the banking system to “bankrupt” the oil and gas industry and her education in the Soviet Union. Axios reported Wednesday that the Democrats informed the White House they will not support Biden’s nominee.

    The failed nomination marks a major setback for progressives, who championed Omarova over her criticism of big banks and fossil fuel companies. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) hailed Omarova’s nomination as “tremendous news.” The left-wing Sierra Club touted Omarova as a bulwark against “climate chaos” and hoped she would set up “guardrails against Wall Street’s risky fossil fuel investments.”

    *****