ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, June 22

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 Trump proposes major change in immigration policy, barring new immigrants from public aid for 5 years  (Fox News)

Trump’s proposal would build on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which allows federal authorities to deport immigrants who become public dependents within five years of their arrival. Many of that law’s provisions were rolled back during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, but Trump’s proposal would make more categories of federal benefits off-limits to immigrants.

Currently,states typically have the authority to determine eligibility for local public assistance programs. –Fox News

Those who are here on non-immigrant visas or who are not here legally are already barred in most cases.

The White House is citing studies that show half the families headed by new immigrants are on welfare, compared to 30 percent of non-immigrant families.

Comment: Expect a firestorm.

 The Banana Republic of Illinois. The Wall Street Journal writes a withering editorial: “The Illinois Capitulation: Gov. Bruce Rauner cries uncle on taxes and economic reform” (WSJ subscription)

My friend, Joe Morris, quotes that editorial, writing that Rauner decided to

accede to Democratic legislators’ demands that he “accept a four-year increase in the flat state income tax to 4.95% from the current 3.75%, expand the sales tax and implement a cable and satellite TV tax” is “a political defeat by any definition since Mr. Rauner campaigned on lowering the income tax to 3%, not on restoring the rate close to what it was under the last Democratic Governor” but that “the citizens of Illinois will suffer the most.” –Joe Morris, quoting the WSJ editorial

Comment: Rauner won a rare Republican victory in Illinois by promising to “shake up Springfield,” as his campaign slogan had it. Instead, Springfield, controlled by Boss Mike Madigan, shook him up. It’s hard to see how Rauner can win reelection against strong Democratic contenders, who are salivating.

 Remembering a Federal judge who blazed a trail for women: Phyllis Kravitch  (New York Times)

Broke barriers in Georgia in the 1940s and became the third woman on the US Court of Appeals in the 1979.

Judge Kravitch embarked on her legal career in Savannah, Ga., her hometown, in 1944, more than a decade before women were allowed to sit on juries in the state. Though she had graduated second in her law school class at the University of Pennsylvania, she said in an interview with the American Bar Association in 2013, she was turned down when she applied for a clerkship with a justice of the United States Supreme Court. He told her that no woman had ever clerked at the court, she recalled, and that he did not want to break with precedent.

She was also turned down for jobs at one law firm after another, at least one of which explicitly refused to hire Jews. So she returned to Savannah to practice law with her father, Aaron, who represented black and indigent clients struggling to find legal counsel. –New York Times

 Nancy Pelosi takes the heat for Democratic loss in Georgia special election  (Washington Post)

Comment: ZipDialog made the same point as soon as the election results were in. Pelosi was an albatross for the local candidate. She is for every House Democrat outside the coasts and college towns.

But the WaPo and others who focus on Nancy and Chuck miss the larger point. The Democrats have no positive message. Their negative message is simple: Trump bad.

Bernie had an affirmative message. It was unrealistic, unaffordable, and, if it were ever adopted, catastrophic. But Hillary had no message, and neither does the national party. They are running on the charred remains of social programs begun by FDR and LBJ, plus identity politics.

 Black Lives Matter try to block a Gay Pride Parade in Columbus, OH. Virtually no media coverage despite arrests and injured police.  (ABC6 in Ohio) PJ Media and Heat Street also reported it. No one else.

BLM was protesting a police shooting in another town. Unclear why they decided to use that issue to block a gay parade in Ohio.

Comment: Why does the story matter? Because the left makes a big, big deal out of “intersectionality,” which means all progressive groups must support each other. That’s an old-fashioned strategy (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours), dressed up in fancy words. But BLM’s action shows its limits. The left knows it cannot easily criticize them (because they would be called the worst word in the lexicon); BLM knows that and exploits it.  

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zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Joe Morris
 for Wall Street Journal editorial on Illinois
◆ A friend for the Columbus, Ohio, Gay pride versus BLM protest

 

ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, June 18

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs hotly-contested education bill (Orlando Sentinel)

The major bill

tackles everything from recess to teacher bonuses to testing. Backers called it “landmark” and “transformational” legislation, while critics said it will harm public schools and their most vulnerable students. . . . .

The measure includes the “schools of hope” provision [House Speaker Richard] Corcoran championed, which will use state money to lure high-performing charter schools to neighborhoods where students in traditional schools have struggled academically.

“These are kids who are being robbed of dignity and hope,” Corcoran said. “We want every single child to have an opportunity to get a world-class education.”

The bill’s provisions related to charter schools — privately run public institutions — have prompted some of the biggest outcry, with many educators and school advocates urging Scott to veto the bill because they think it will reduce funding for traditional public schools.

Comment: The bill was strongly opposed by teachers’ unions and other supporters of traditional public schools, strongly supported by proponents of charters and private schools.

 Carol Felsenthal has a thoughtful, succinct opinion piece at ZipDialog: Will Trump Ax Mueller?

She thinks there is an excellent chance he will and that the political consequences will be very serious.

 Illinois state comptroller says she cannot pay the bills. State finances are in a “crisis mode” (Associate Press)

[Comptroller Susana] Mendoza says a recent court order regarding money owed for Medicaid bills means mandated payments will eat up 100 percent of Illinois’ monthly revenue.

There would be no money left for so-called “discretionary” spending – a category that in Illinois includes school buses, domestic violence shelters and some ambulance services. –Associated Press

Comment: For years, the state spent lavishly on pensions for unionized state employees, who were so beloved by legislators that they actually wrote into the state constitution that pensions can never be reduced.

On those rare occasions when the Democrats and Republicans agreed on budget cuts, they were struck down by the courts because they reduced future pension benefits, which violates the constitution.

For years, the state has been deep blue, with House Majority Leader Mike Madigan (of Chicago) as the most powerful figure. Several years ago, a tough-minded Republican (Bruce Rauner) won the governorship, but he and Madigan have not been able to strike a deal. 

Unlike Puerto Rico, Illinois and other US states cannot seek bankruptcy protection. But lots of city and state agencies can, and there is a real prospect that some will have to do so if the state cannot pay its share of their budget.

You can easily imagine what the D’s and R’s say. “The other side is intransigent, and what we need to do is (a) raise taxes or (b) cut services.” You can guess who says A and who says B. (The one quirk is that not all Republicans favor being hard on unionized state employees. In some downstate districts, they are vote in large numbers, often for Republicans.)

 “Put down you make-up kit, m’am, and come out of the beauty shop with your hands up.”

Idaho governor vetoed legislation to make it easier to work in cosmetology  (FEE, Foundation for Economic Education) Then, his wife called and asked her usual, unlicensed make-up artist to come and do some work. The make-up artist, Sherry Japhet, told her no.   

Here’s what Ms. Japhet said on Facebook:

Got a call to do [First Lady] Lori Otter’s makeup for a commercial on location and I said…

“I would be more than happy to do it but her husband [Gov. Butch Otter, R] vetoed a bill to make it legal for me or any other makeup artist and stylist to do so. She will have to go to a salon or do it all herself.”

She added in the Facebook post: “That felt so damn good.” –FEE

Comment: Too many people need costly, time-consuming, irrelevant licenses.

Bureaucracies love imposing them. That’s what they live to do. Professionals already in the field often favor them to prevent competition.

So, who loses? Consumers lose, unless the licenses protect health and safety.

Licenses for commercial truck drivers and food handlers are obviously necessary. But many others are unnecessary or are saddled with lots of unnecessary classroom hours. They raise costs and force people to go to unlicensed or blackmarket providers–or do without.

 The answer, my friend, is blowing in the . . . Spark Notes???  (Slate)

Slate asks, “Did the singer-songwriter take portions of his Nobel lecture from SparkNotes?”

Sounds like their lawyer went over that headline, doesn’t it? Anyway, they note the following:

Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages (such as “Ahab’s lust for vengeance” in the above lines) do not appear in the novel Moby-Dick at all. –Slate

 Bodies of missing US sailors found in ship’s flooded compartment  (New York Times)

The collision occurred in a  crowded shipping lane and the cause of the accident has not yet been determined.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, May 31

Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

 US anti-missile success over Pacific is a huge technological achievement. 

The tasks now: keep improving the technology, keep testing, and start producing them for deployment

These anti-missile systems are not designed to deal with a massive attack, such as one China or Russia could launch.

They are meant to deal with rogue nations or, conceivably, an accidental launch.

Snarky Comment about those who fought hard to stop these systems: I don’t agree with those who say that the West Coast and Hawaii should not be protected since their Senators and Congressman–and their voters–have opposed missile defense every step of the way for 35 years. True, if they had succeeded, their cities would be the first ones at risk. But leaving them defenseless, as they actually wished to be, would be very ungenerous. 

Still, it will be interesting to see if their Senators and House members will vote for these systems even now. After all, they might end up voting for a defense bill.

And while the folks on Nob Hill and Pacific Palisades look down their noses at the rest of America, they might want to pause and remember who worked so hard to save their sorry butts from their ill-considered judgments.

 Illinois, which models its finances on Greece and Puerto Rico, enters the last day of the legislative session without a budget. This is getting to be a habit.  (Chicago Tribune story here.)

Comment: You can guess the story. Who controls the legislature? Mike Madigan and the Democrats. Who is the governor? A republican. Who wants few cuts, big tax increases, and no reforms to a system that has been running on fumes for years? Oh, go ahead, guess.

Odd, isn’t it, how the low-tax states now have public services as least as good as the high-tax states? What that means is that you don’t get more potholes fixed if you pay higher taxes. You just get the same number fixed but pay higher wages and benefits to public-sector unions and to a paving contractor who knows a guy.

Meanwhile, Illinois’ neighboring states of Wisconsin and Indiana have put their financial houses in order. Indiana is especially well run and has been for years.

 “Kathy Griffin apologizes for severed Donald Trump head photo after backlash  (Washington Post)

Would she have apologized if Hollywood applauded (as they may well have done, privately)?

In fact, everybody condemns it, as they should. It is disgusting. And it shows how low our public mudslinging has gotten.

Even CNN is “rethinking” Ms. Griffin’s participation in their cash-cow show on New Year’s Eve.

Comment: But I was more struck by how CNN presented the episode on its main web page. It illustrates what corporate fecklessness truly is.

Here is the ONLY thing CNN has to say about Kathy Griffin there (early morning 5/31/17). She’s just “political.” Gosh. And we learn that she begs forgiveness (from whom, I wonder?).

A reputable news organization would have headlined the vile act, not the apology, and they would not have worked so hard to protect their asset by spinning it as “political.” But then again, they are CNN.

Kudos to Anderson Cooper, who did the right thing. Griffin’s co-host on New Year’s Eve publicly tweeted that he found it disgusting and unacceptable. Exactly right.

Btw, ask yourself what would have happened if she had done this with the head of Pres. Obama. I can tell you. She would never work another day in her life. And she would never attend another dinner party or reception. For Trump’s head, she will suffer some, especially on TV, where advertisers will shy away. But she won’t miss a single cocktail party in Hollywood and, after a month of apologies, she’ll be working again and telling funny stories about how “shocked” people were but were privately giving her high-fives.

 Opioid Epidemic spurs race to find safer painkillers  (ScienceNews.org)

The need for new pain medicines is “urgent,” says Nora Volkow [director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse].

Scientists have been searching for effective alternatives for years without success. But a better understanding of the way the brain sends and receives specific chemical messages may finally boost progress.

Scientists are designing new, more targeted molecules that might kill pain as well as today’s opioids do — with fewer side effects. Others are exploring the potential of tweaking existing opioid molecules to skip the negative effects. And some researchers are steering clear of opioids entirely, testing molecules in marijuana to ease chronic pain.

Comment: Lots of research but no breakthroughs, so far. US prescriptions for opioids have fallen a bit since 2012 but are still around 250 million annually and have been since 2006.

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ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . .Thursday, December 22

Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ Job losses in manufacturing overwhelmingly caused by automation, not trade, according to studies. (NY Times)

Comment: The pain is just as bad for displaced workers, but the solutions are a lot harder than “blame China.”

◆Illinois, poorly governed for decades, lost more residents than any other state in 2016. (WGN via AP)

Comment: The state bird is a U-Haul

◆ Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Sec. of Education, is a billionaire who is passionate and well-informed about school choice. Go ahead and guess how the media has greeted that choice. You are correct. The National Review Online has the story here.

◆ A serious attack on the deconstruction and debunking destructiveness of modern literary criticism by a UVa literary scholar who wants to see the field restored, recharged, and renewed. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

⇒Related Story at ZipDialog: Shakespeare portrait ripped down by English majors at Ivy-league school

◆ A scientific study offers new clues about why Stradivarius and Guarneri violins sound so much bettter (to professionals) than other instruments. (NYT)

◆ The other day, I wrote on the still-unfolding scandal over Flint, Michigan’s water. Dave Schuler has a valuable post on it here, ranking it among the country’s worst scandals. (The Glittering Eye)

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zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Scott Lincicome
 for NYT story on trade