Wednesday News: Voucher madness continues


NC REPUBLICANS PUSH TO INCREASE ELIGIBILITY AND PAYMENTS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS: The state House voted 69-49 on Tuesday to approve legislation that would increase the $4,200 annual amount provided to students who receive school vouchers, or Opportunity Scholarships. Senate Bill 671 would increase the income eligibility to 175% of the amount required for a family to be eligible for a free- or reduced-price lunch. That works out to a family income up to $56,400 for a two-person household and up to $85,794 for a family of four. The legislation also would raise the voucher amount to a maximum of $6,500 a year, according to bill sponsors. The bill ties the voucher amount to the average amount spent by the state per student each year. Republicans are expected to try work out a compromise between the two bills to see if it will get enough Democratic support to override a potential veto from Cooper.

MCCRORY WILL LIKELY ANNOUNCE FOR 2022 US SENATE RACE THIS WEEK: Former Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to announce a run this week for U.S. Senate, according to a source familiar with his plans. "I expect him to announce later this week, and all indicators at this point in time are positive," the source said Monday afternoon, via text message. McCrory himself declined comment when reached by WRAL News. Politico had reported earlier in the day, also based on anonymous sourcing, that McCrory planned to launch his campaign this week. The Carolina Journal followed that up Monday afternoon, in a report filed by former North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse, to say McCrory planned to announce his bid Wednesday morning on his Charlotte-area talk radio show. “With taking back the Senate majority hinging on our success in North Carolina, why would we gamble on Pat McCrory – a career politician who has lost more statewide races than he’s won?" Walker said in a statement.

MADISON CAWTHORN WANTS TO MAKE TRUMP'S FAILED BORDER WALL A NATIONAL MONUMENT: Rep. Madison Cawthorn has a new idea for protecting the still-unfinished border wall championed by former President Donald Trump: Turn any part of the wall into a national monument. Cawthorn, a first-term Republican who represents far-western North Carolina, even wants to honor Trump with the bill. He’s a calling it “Donument.” Cawthorn introduced the legislation last week. “The Donument Act establishes the southern border wall as the “Southern Border Wall National Monument,” and gives the monument permanent protection from alteration,” Cawthorn said in a statement promoting the bill. Trump did not endorse Cawthorn in the GOP primary in the 11th Congressional District in 2020. But once Cawthorn won the primary, Trump embraced him and gave him a primetime speaking spot at the Republican National Convention. Cawthorn has been the lead sponsor of nine bills in his first months in the U.S. House, including one to make daylight savings time permanent.

CAPITOL POLICE WERE TOLD NOT TO USE STUN GRENADES ON JAN 6 INSURRECTIONISTS: The Capitol Police had clearer advance warnings about the Jan. 6 attack than were previously known, including the potential for violence in which “Congress itself is the target.” But officers were instructed by their leaders not to use their most aggressive tactics to hold off the mob, according to a scathing new report by the agency’s internal investigator. In a 104-page document, the inspector general, Michael A. Bolton, criticized the way the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the mob violence on Jan. 6. The report was reviewed by The New York Times and will be the subject of a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday. Mr. Bolton found that the agency’s leaders failed to adequately prepare despite explicit warnings that pro-Trump extremists posed a threat to law enforcement and civilians and that the police used defective protective equipment. He also found that the leaders ordered their Civil Disturbance Unit to refrain from using its most powerful crowd-control tools — like stun grenades — to put down the onslaught. That failure conspired with other lapses inside the Capitol Police force to create a dangerous situation on Jan. 6, according to his account. The agency’s Civil Disturbance Unit, which specializes in handling large groups of protesters, was not allowed to use some of its most powerful tools and techniques against the crowd, on the orders of supervisors. “Heavier, less-lethal weapons,” including stun grenades, “were not used that day because of orders from leadership,” Mr. Bolton wrote. Officials on duty on Jan. 6 told him that such equipment could have helped the police to “push back the rioters.” Mr. Bolton’s findings are scheduled to be discussed on Thursday afternoon, when he is set to testify before the House Administration Committee. He has issued two investigative reports — both classified as “law enforcement sensitive” and not publicly released — about the agency’s shortcomings on Jan. 6. He is also planning a third report.

PRESIDENT BIDEN VOWS TO WITHDRAW ALL TROOPS FROM AFGHANISTAN BY SEPTEMBER 11: Biden sees the war against the Taliban as a drag on the need to deal with bigger threats like China, climate change, the coronavirus pandemic — and even a terrorism menace that has mutated significantly in the two decades since the attacks that launched the Afghan war to begin with. He is also focused on threats from Russia and the decline of U.S. influence abroad. Biden will lay out plans Wednesday to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks on the United States that were planned from Afghan soil. The announcement makes good on Biden’s campaign promise to close down the nation’s longest war and is in keeping with his view that wars become self-perpetuating if the generals call the shots. “The president has been consistent in his view that there’s not a military solution to Afghanistan, that we have been there for far too long,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday, adding that “he also believes we need to focus our resources on fighting the threats we face today, 20 years — almost 20 years — after the war began.” Biden in coming days and weeks is starkly signaling his belief that the United States needs to shift its focus to other parts of the globe, especially Asia. Three presidents tried and failed to dig out of the war in Afghanistan, and Biden was vice president when one of them, Barack Obama, ended up significantly expanding it instead. Biden had opposed the Pentagon’s plan to begin adding forces in 2009, the first year of the Obama-Biden administration, and maintained his suspicion as the war swelled. Now Biden has the chance to act on his long-held views, and he is taking it less than three months into his administration.



Iraq needs to come next

Keeping a skeletal military presence there is just begging for an escalation. When we were working hard to contain ISIS, including assisting Kurds in Iraq and Syria, there was some value in our presence. But our recent clashes with Iranian-backed militias (who also fight ISIS) have nullified that aspect.