Friday, May 20, 2022
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Friday, May 20, 2022

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

EXCLUSIVE: Rebecca Kleefisch Meets With Donald Trump in Florida

Rebecca Kleefisch met with former President Donald Trump this week at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Wisconsin Right Now can exclusively report.

Kleefisch, the former lieutenant governor, is running in the Republican primary for governor. Trump has still not endorsed anyone in the Republican primary for governor. A Trump endorsement would be a game-changer in the primary race, of course.

On Friday, March 11, 2022, Wisconsin Right Now heard about the Kleefisch-Trump meeting from two well-placed sources. Our sources are not close to the Kleefisch campaign. The Kleefisch campaign could not be reached for comment. Word had already spread that Kleefisch was in Florida for a fundraiser before the sources told us that she met personally with Trump. Kleefisch’s social media has been silent on the matter.

Earlier in the year, Trump dropped a grenade into the middle of the Wisconsin governor’s race, when he openly urged former Congressman Sean Duffy to run for governor against Democrat Tony Evers. That was perceived in some corners as a sign that he wasn’t sold on Kleefisch. However, Duffy then announced that he would not be running. Another source indicated that some believe Trump wants to meet with all of the candidates and he meets with candidates all over the country a lot, and that Kleefisch was in Naples for a fundraiser first.


Trump-Kleefisch History

When he was president, Trump appointed Kleefisch to the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. In 2020, she participated in a Women for Trump bus tour. However, in 2016, Kleefisch stepped down from being a delegate at the Republican National Convention to appear in Beloit at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. Some insiders had said that raised concerns with Trump.

The other candidates for governor are former U.S. Marine Kevin Nicholson and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun. Both have been running Trump-style anti-establishment campaigns, and a Trump endorsement of Kleefisch, were it to come, would be a huge blow for either one of them. In the same light, some insiders say they believe the fact Kleefisch met with Trump means she still hasn’t sealed the deal with him. A Trump endorsement of Ramthun or Nicholson would be a huge blow for Kleefisch too, of course.

Nicholson is backed by Illinois billionaire Dick Uihlein, who is one of the nation’s most powerful conservative donors, and Ramthun is running a campaign focused on pushing decertification of the 2020 presidential election.

We are awaiting comment from the other campaigns.

Trump, if he runs in 2024, which many believe he will, has a stake in the outcome of the governor’s race because a strong pro-Trump Republican in the Wisconsin governor’s mansion could help him win the battleground state.

Trump and former Gov. Scott Walker were presidential primary rivals.

Businessman Eric Hovde, Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, and Tim Michels are still considering getting in the race for governor, sources say.

Table of Contents

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Justice Clarence Thomas: ‘We Are in Danger of Destroying The Institutions … Required For a Free Society’

(The Center Square) – It’s been two weeks and there’s still no word on who leaked the U.S. Supreme Court draft brief indicating that the court was set to overturn Roe V. Wade and returning the issue of abortion back to the states.

At a recent event in Dallas, Texas, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Manhattan Institute, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke about the leak and his concern for the rule of law and credibility of the court.

A roughly 8-minute clip of his talk was published by C-SPAN, in which he said, “I think we are in danger of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society. You can’t have a civil society, a free society without a stable legal system.

“You can’t have one without stability in things like property or interpretation and impartial judiciary. I’ve been in this business long enough to know just how fragile it is.”

Prior to the draft opinion being leaked this year, Thomas said it was impossible to think that even one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone.

“No one would ever do that,” he said. “There’s such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, belief in what we were doing, that that was beyond anyone’s understanding or at least anyone's imagination, that someone would do that.”

Now, “look where we are,” he said. “That trust and belief is gone forever. When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It's like kind of an infidelity, that you can explain it, but you can't undo it.”

New York University professor Melissa Murray holds a similar sentiment. She told the New York Times last week that the leak “violates the omertà that traditionally has shrouded the court’s deliberations. To the public, this not only looks like the kind of maneuvering that we’ve come to expect from politicians, it also strips the court of the mystique it has generally enjoyed.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts’ reputation is also at stake. He has a lot riding on whether or not the leaker is identified and punished, Dan McLaughlin at National Review Online notes.

“John Roberts’s Court is at stake here,” he argues. “If decisions can be leaked in draft form with impunity in order to influence their outcomes, this will become a regular feature of high-profile cases, placing the Court under even worse pressures and threats than already exist.”

The Supreme Court isn’t the only institution that’s changing, Thomas said. Universities, colleges, law schools have all changed over the last few decades. Today, the climate on most campuses doesn’t allow for peaceful debate of differing views, instead policies of censorship are creating a “chilling effect” on speech.

He recently met with students attending the University of Georgia, where he said students expressed that they can’t publicly affirm pro-life or traditional family views because of the climate on campus.

At Yale Law School, his alma mater, students could once freely speak about anything, “it was anything goes, you do your thing I do my thing,” he said. Now. there’s censorship, he said.

"I wonder how long we're going to have these institutions at the rate we're undermining them,” Thomas said. “And then I wonder when they're gone or they are destabilized, what we'll have as a country – and I don't think that the prospects are good if we continue to lose them."

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Biden’s DHS Disinformation Governance Board Paused After Blowback

(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden's Department of Homeland Security "Disinformation Governance Board" has been put on hold after quickly falling into controversy, according to media reports.

The Washington Post on Wednesday reported a pause for the board, which DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas announced at a Congressional hearing last month.

Mayorkas told lawmakers the board would use federal law enforcement power to address disinformation. He gave the examples of bad information given to migrants as well as Russian disinformation.

"The goal is to bring the resources of (DHS) together to address this threat," he said before Congress in April.

Soon after, videos emerged online showing the woman tapped to lead the board, Nina Jankowicz, making a series of controversial comments. News outlets reported her resignation Wednesday.

Critics also raised concerns about how such a board could be used to silence free speech. Several lawmakers took issue with the board.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., posted a video on Twitter saying the “Soviet-style censorship agency” is evidence “the Marxist left are coming after your most basic constitutional rights.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but the Department of Homeland Security just set up a new office that’s going to be a speech police,” Rubio said after the board was announced. "They’re basically going to be focused on misinformation … so instead of the Department of Homeland Security focused on stopping drugs from coming into America or securing the border, stopping illegal immigration, they’re not going to be focused on that. They’re focused on policing speech, on making sure that people cannot share information or say things that they decide is misinformation."

Walmart Earnings

Stocks Tank After Target & Walmart Earnings Plummet Because of Rising Fuel Costs, Inflation

(The Center Square) – Stocks tanked Wednesday after major retailers’ earnings reports were down significantly because of inflation, sparking a selling frenzy. Wall Street closed with the largest drop in one day since March 2020.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average drop of nearly 1,200 points was the ninth-largest single-day drop in U.S. history, Seeking Alpha reports.

The stock market began to tank by midday. By noon EST, NASDAQ was down 400 points and the DJIA was down by 800 points. Then the DJIA dropped by roughly 1,100 points after 2pm EST and closed with a near 1,200-point loss.

The market closed with the DJIA down by 3.6%, the S&P 500 down by 4% and the Nasdaq down by 4.7%.

Overall, the DJIA dropped 1,164.52 points, closing at 31,490.07. The S&P 500 dropped 165.17 points, closing at 3,923.68. The Nasdaq dropped 566.37 points, closing at 11,418.15.

Panic set in after major retail corporations like Target and Walmart reported earnings losses. Apple and Microsoft also led big tech losses.

Target shares were down by nearly 25% after reporting first-quarter results that fell far below Wall Street forecasts. Its second-quarter outlook was also weaker than expected with its quarterly gross margin dropping from 30% to 25.7%.

“We were less profitable than we expected to be or intend to be over time,” Target Chief Executive Brian Cornell said, Reuters reported. “These (costs) continue to grow almost on a daily basis and there is no sign right now … that it is going to abate over time.”

Rising fuel and freight costs will add nearly $1 billion more than originally expected in annual cost, Target said.

Wal-Mart stock fell nearly 7% after it also reported a weaker-than-expected financial outlook. It also said it was grappling with rising fuel costs and inflation eating into its profits.

Apple stock fell 5.6%, Intel lost 4.6%, Microsoft lost nearly 5% and HP dropped 7%.

Companies reporting earnings losses cited rising fuel and freight costs as primary factors.

These, coupled with supply chain issues, caused transportation costs to skyrocket in the first quarter. While companies passed on increased costs to consumers, consumers weren’t buying enough to offset company losses.

“Worries over inflation and a hawkish Fed are nothing new, but now add in worries over profit margins and the impact of inflation on the consumer and you have the recipe for a big down day,” Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, said, The Hill reported.

Normally, a drop in consumer demand would force companies to drop prices and subsequently reduce inflation. But supply chain issues, coupled with Biden administration energy policies restricting domestic production of oil and gas, are leading causes of prices skyrocketing across the board.

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(The Center Square) – Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol are not happy with the new choice for chancellor at UW-Madison.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, who is the vice chairman of the Senate’s committee for universities and technical colleges, called Dr. Jennifer Mnookin a “ridiculous choice.”

“Jennifer Mnookin has a very clear history of advocating for the forced indoctrination of college students with critical race theory. She has openly supported mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations regardless of the rights of individuals to make that healthcare determination for themselves.,” Nass said Monday. “It has also been reported that Mnookin met with the scandal plagued Hunter Biden (in 2019) and supported him joining the UCLA faculty to instruct students on drug policies.”

UW Regents unanimously chose Mnookin, who is currently the dean at UCLA’s law school. They announced her selection on Monday.

Nass said the Republican-controlled legislature should take Mnookin’s appointment as a message from the university.

“If the Board of Regents truly believes that Mnookin is the best choice, then the next Republican governor and legislature should find it impossible to provide more taxpayer dollars or allow the board to increase tuition,” Nass added.

UW Regent Karen Walsh told reporters Tuesday that she doesn’t take that threat seriously.

“I don’t think that’s realistic,” Walsh said. “I would like for those folks to meet with Chancellor Mnookin before they threaten our funding. I don’t think they intend to do that. I think they’re much more interested in sitting in a room with us and talking about our differences.”

Mnookin told the same news conference that she is waiting to get to campus, so she can meet with everyone involved with the university.

"I look forward to arriving in Madison and looking for that common ground, and higher education is a place where I hope we can come together,” Mnookin added.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Monday pushed regents to take a look at another chancellor candidate.

“We deserve campus leaders who will encourage healthy debate, diverse thoughts and freedom of expression. Given her obvious viewpoints and political donations, Dr. Mnookin needs to prove she supports free speech on campus and not politically correct ideologies,” Vos said. “After all the work of Tommy Thompson and Rebecca Blank that attempted to strengthen relationships between the university and the Legislature, this is a step backwards. I strongly hope the Board of Regents will reconsider their selection.”

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(The Center Square) – Gasoline prices hit a new high in the U.S. on Monday, with the average cost of a gallon of regular gas at $4.48.

That's an increase of 15 cents a gallon in the past week and 40 cents over this time last month. A year ago, gas prices on average were $3.04 a gallon, $1.44 cheaper.

The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel is at $5.57 a gallon, also a record high. Diesel fuel is used by truckers who transport goods across the country, contributing to 40-year-high inflation that's sending the prices of groceries and other commodities significantly higher.

In California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $5.98, highest in the U.S.

President Joe Biden has attempted to blame the rising cost of gasoline on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but prices began elevating shortly after he took office, when he canceled new oil and gas leases on federal lands and placed new restrictions on the industry.

Just last week, Biden canceled three pending oil and gas drilling leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Deer District Shootings Water Street Shooting

Republican Candidates Promise Tough On Crime Approach After Deer District Shootings

(The Center Square) – The Republicans running for governor in Wisconsin are promising more cops, more prisons, and say they'll fire prosecutors who don’t get tough on crime after a violent weekend in Milwaukee that saw more than two dozen people shot.

Milwaukee Police say Friday night’s shootings near the Deer District wounded 21 people. Another of those shootings saw 17 people shot. A string of shootings on Sunday saw another five people shot, including two people who died.

Monday saw the Republicans running for governor promising to get tougher on crime if elected.

“The simple points are to put 1,000 more cops on the street. Bail and sentencing reform to stop these bad D.A.’s and these bad judges. Fire [Milwaukee County] District Attorney John Chisholm on day one. And use the Wisconsin State Patrol to surge where violent crime is surging,” frontrunner Rebecca Kleefisch told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber Monday morning.

Kleefisch said under Democratic leadership the Deer District has become the “fear district.”

Republican Tim Michels is also promising to fire Milwaukee County’s district attorney. But he is also promising to fire other prosecutors across the state who don’t get tougher on crime.

“I will review all the D.A.s, and the ones who have an awful pattern of catch-and-release, dropping charges quickly, and letting guys out on the street, I will remove them from office,” Michels told Weber.

Michels also said he wants to build more prisons in the state, starting with a replacement for the maximum security prison in Green Bay.

Candidate Kevin Nicholson took to Twitter on Sunday to blast Chisholm and the leadership in Milwaukee.

“Twenty one shot on Friday; 3 murdered last night. Out of control car thefts. Record-breaking homicides,” Nicholson Tweeted. “We’re sick of it. Time to turn the page. We need new leaders who are serious about getting this back on track.”

Crime and public safety have been issues in the race for governor since day one. Republicans have blamed Gov. Tony Evers for the spike in violent crime during his time in office, including record years for both shootings and homicides in Milwaukee for the past two years.

The governor on Saturday offered thoughts and prayers, but didn’t offer any plans after Milwaukee’s violent weekend.

“Kathy and I are heartbroken by last night’s horrific acts of gun violence in Milwaukee. We are thinking of all the people who were injured and are praying for their full recovery, and we are thinking of the many people affected by this senseless tragedy,” the governor Tweeted.

Baby Formula Crisis Illegal Immigrants Getting Baby Formula

FDA Launches Investigation Into Baby Formula Crisis

(The Center Square) – The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday the agency will investigate the national shortage of baby formula that has left American parents concerned and frustrated.

The shortage began last year but was exacerbated after problems at a baby formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, leading the company Abbott to issue a recall on formula and shut down production in February. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told NBC in an interview Monday that there will be a “full investigation” after a whistleblower report said there were problems at that factory in October, but an FDA inspector did not look into the issue until January.

“We always want to be as fast as we can possibly be while also being diligent, remembering, as shown by this example, that if we didn’t close the plant, then we have a supply shortage so we have to get this right,” Califf said in the interview. "There will be a full investigation of the timeline, and we'll do everything possible to correct any errors in timing that we had so that we don't repeat any mistakes that may have been made."

Also Monday, Abbott said it has reached a federal consent decree with the FDA that could allow its Sturgis plant to resume production in two weeks. It would take about six to eight weeks after that for the baby formula to be available to consumers.

The data company Datasembly reported that as of the week ending May 8, the national out of stock rate for baby formula hit 43%. The company said the product was already experiencing supply issues last year before the larger issues arose.

“This issue has been compounded by supply chain challenges, product recalls and historic inflation," Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said. "The category started to see stocking challenges beginning in July 2021, and the situation has continued to worsen into 2022."

Critics have blasted the Biden administration for its response to the shortage, which has left many parents scrambling to find formula. Biden came under fire for his response to a question from a reporter asking if he should have acted more quickly to address the baby formula shortage.

“If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have, but we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us and we have to move with caution as well as fear,” Biden said.

Those comments sparked controversy and led critics to point out the recall was issued in February, giving several months to anticipate the shortage.

“I’ve been calling on the Biden admin to address America’s baby formula shortage since February,” U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on Twitter. “They did nothing.”

The Biden administration said it is working with suppliers to help solve the shortage.

"We're very close to having a path forward to safely reopening the facility," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Republicans blasted Biden for the shortage, saying his efforts have been too little too late.

“In typical fashion, the Biden administration downplayed the baby formula shortage for months,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said. “Now that it's a crisis, they're pointing the finger at anyone but themselves.”

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