• ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, September 6

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Hurricane Irma, with 185 mph winds, predicted to turn due north.

    Forecasts show it moving up Florida’s heavily-populated East Coast.

    Evacuations expected soon

    The company that commissioned the unverified Trump-Russia dossier is stonewalling Senate investigators (Fox News)

    The company, Fusion GPS, has no attorney-client privilege but it is simply giving the committee thousands of blank pages.

    Comment: Delay, delay, delay and hope the Senate gets tired of the investigation. It won’t. They will threatened contempt, which Sessions’ DOJ, unlike Holder’s, will take to court.

    Trump’s 6-month pause on DACA expiration leaves everything in Congress’ hands (Washington Post)

    The Democrats are united, so far. The Republicans are split, naturally.

    Comment: Don’t know if the D’s will stick together if funding the wall is part of the ultimate deal.

    Don’t know if the Congress can act on this at all.

    If they don’t, it will be a problem for Pres. Trump to simply extend DACA because the original act by Pres. Obama won’t pass constitutional muster (as Obama himself noted for years before he actually did it).

    Trump sides with D’s on debt ceiling, throwing R plans into chaos (Washington Post)

    Wants three-month extension plus Harvey relief, agreeing with Schumer and Pelosi, just as Ryan was panning the idea.

    US now knows the name of North Korea’s top military scientist, heading Kim’s programs (Washington Post)

    Comment: That doesn’t matter unless they have a way to “neutralize” him. Meanwhile, he’ll be living underground.

    How local housing restrictions strangle the US economy. Op-ed in the NYT, of all places

    If you live in a coastal city like New York, Boston or San Francisco, you know that the cost of housing has skyrocketed. This housing crisis did not happen by chance: Increasingly restrictive land-use regulations in the last half-century contributed to it.

    But what appears to be several local housing crises is actually a much more alarming national crisis: Land-use restrictions are a significant drag on economic growth in the United States. –Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti, op-ed in the NYT

    Comment: So obvious, even the NYT editorial page noticed, perhaps because New York City is one of the worst cities for housing restrictions.

    Uncertain if they will ever discover which political party controls all those cities with heavy restrictions.

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  • How to know when gov’t regulations go too far? When they ban GRITS

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    A silly story with a deeper meaning

    The silly part:

    Federal regulations effectively prevent schools from serving grits, which Southern kids enjoy eating. I sure do.

    The deeper meaning part:

    How a good-hearted program to help feed school children morphed into complete Washington control over all school lunches, with no federal laws ever making that explicit choice.

    Read and Enjoy the story and a lagniappe–the Perfect Blues Song (about Grits) at the bottom

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    First the came for the grits. And I said nothing.

    Then they came for the biscuits and gravy,

    And there was no one left at Waffle House to defend me.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Todd Starnes writes

    When President Obama promised to fundamentally transform America, we had no idea he was secretly plotting to ban biscuits and grits.

    The 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act strictly limited calories, fat, salt, sugar and just about everything else that makes food edible – including grits. . . .

    We could originally serve half whole grains but that changed in 2012 when we had to start serving 100 percent whole grains,” said Stephanie Dillard, the child nutrition director for Geneva County Schools in Alabama.

    That meant no more grits.

    “And grits are a staple in the South,” Ms. Dillard told me. “Students really want to eat their grits.” –Todd Starnes

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    Comment: Here’s a genuine question–and an important one politically. When, exactly, did the United States make an explicit political decision that Washington and not local schools should decide what all children eat?

    Answer: We never made such a self-conscious decision.

    This was the creeping effect of Washington control. It always works the same way.

    Here is the generic sequence by which local control is eliminated and moved to Washington without the peoples’ representatives ever making an explicit democratic decision to do so 

    1. The country perceives a problem, such as poor kids needing additional nutrition
      • We make a political decision to solve or manage the problem by passing a law and appropriating funding.
    2. Congress passes a general law saying, “Here’s some money for these kids’ nutrition.”
      • The goal, we hypothesize here, is worthy. In this case, it certainly is.
      • The President and his staff, who helped write the law sign it.
    3. Because the law needs implementation, a federal agency sets out rules and regulations with explicit criteria for key terms such as
      • Who is eligible? (“All children whose families are less than 4 (or 6 or 8) times the poverty level.”
        • Many of the key terms, such as “poverty level in 2017,” are defined by another bureaucracy
      • How much money goes to each school district
      • What foods the district has to serve to receive the money–and what foods it cannot serve. This restriction will apply to ALL their federal funds
    4. QED: All control over school lunches has been snatched away from local control without Congress and the President explicitly deciding on this change.

    To put it another way, this is how the country ends up being ruled by mid-level bureaucrats, whose regulatory control has grown exponentially.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Here’s the music to accompany the story: “If I don’t love you baby, grits ain’t groceries.” Little Milton and Bonnie Raitt do it right. Stay around for Little Milton’s interview about the early days at Sun Records.

  • Dumb Rules plus Dumb Enforcement, British edition

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    Retired British Civil Servant orders coffee, drinks most of it but has a little left.

    As a good citizen, she puts the paper cup in a garbage can. But, because the coffee would make a liquid mess in the garbage, she does the right thing and pours the remainder down the street drain.

    Up marches a “council enforcement officer” and gives her a ticket for $100 (£ 80) for pouring the coffee down the drain. (Daily Mail)

    However, Miss Peckitt, 65, was shocked by what happened next – to her disbelief she was stopped by three council enforcement officers and issued with an £80 on-the-spot fine for littering.

    When the retired civil servant appealed to the council in Ealing, West London, she was told the fine would not be revoked.

    ‘I think there is a big problem with litter but it is bizarre, I had put this coffee down the drain because it was the safe and environmentally friendly thing to do,’ she said.

    ‘The reason I didn’t dispose of the cup and the liquid in the bin was that I didn’t want to turn the contents of the bin into a soggy mess.’ –Daily Mail