Thursday, June 27, 2019

SCOTUS backs out of settling gerrymandering, so it continues; census citizenship question dead

The Supreme Court has ruled that the courts have no role in stopping gerrymandering or drawing districts, and that this is a political process. Devan Cole et al has a detailed story on CNN. 

The cases were in North Carolina and Maryland, and the decision will reinforce political polarization, often to the artificial benefit of Republicans.

The case was Rucho v. Common Cause, pdf. 
Jeffrey Toobin noted that Roberts had suggested that states (like California) could set up independent commissions to challenges district boundaries, but that idea has been called unconstitutional in the past.

You can't gerrymander on the basis of race, but you can on the basis of political affiliation, which is not a protected class by itself. Gerrymandering is like trying to win all the one-run ball games and finishing ahead in the standing of a team with more blowout wins. 
The Court also struck down the Trump administration’s adding of a citizenship question to the Census, 5-4     Roberts sided with the liberal majority after the Commerce Department expressed concerns. 

Trump has said he may delay the Census.  Can he do that? 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Warren, Sanders, and various other House members "flaunt" student loan erasure programs -- and they could come out of estates some day

There are some student loan forgiveness programs (for federal loans) in place now.  For example, you can check into this here

Bernie Sanders wants to wipe out student loan debt.  It seems like all debt.  Maybe it will just be public universities. Ilhan Oman (D-MN) and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) join in with different proposals.  The most important idea seems to be a tax on Wall Street transactions. 

Elizabeth Warren wants to pay for this with wealth taxes, probably only on larger estates. Hers might not be available to higher income earners.

This is turning into generational conflict.
It would be possible, however, to turn attention to inherited estates on a more modest scale,  and encourage them to use “special needs” setasides for educational purposes.
And Beto O’Rourke wants a “war tax” to pay for veterans.

Update: June 26

Matthew Zeitlin of Vox writes that "wonks" complain that Sanders's debt relief plan would help too many rich people by accident.  Maybe that's the point? 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Extinction Rebellion disrupts NYC with massive die-in near NYTimes over climate change; Journalist Michael Nigro arrested photographing it from PA bus terminal

A journalist, Michael Nigro, was arrested while photographing an energetic protest by a group called Extinction Rebellion, in New York City Saturday afternoon.  He was filming from a plank in the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd St.  It is not clear what the legal situation is.  News2Share has an account of his arrest and of the demonstrations.

Ford Fischer has a long Twitter thread showing much more of the demonstrations. 
Here is the central website for the Extinction Rebellion.

The group apparently plans a major demonstration at noon on June 24 at New York City hall.

The group contents that mainstream media, especially the New York Times, downplays the seriousness of climate change in order to get along with the establishment. Trump, of course, calls the mainstream “fake news media”.  I could say the same thing about the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat, but no one is organizing protests over that.

Here is CNN’s account (Madeleine Thompson et al). 

The New York Times does not seem to have a finable story yet on the protesters, but here is a May 1 account of the XR group by David Graeber.  The group is international and all over the world. 

Update: June 24

A different (American) journalist describes unwarranted search by US authorities when returning from Mexico, on the Intercept, here

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Law firm starts project to monitor inappropriate behavior of police on social media, which may discourage lawful protesters

This morning, attorney Emily Baker-White from the Plainview Project discussed police making inappropriate posts about protesters on social media, on Smerconish’s Saturday morning program on CNN.  In some cases police have promoted bigotry and violence, as in this story from Pennsylvania. 

The point was well taken, that a fear of profiling or inappropriate action by police may prevent legitimate public protests and freedom of assembly.

 Later Saturday, CNN interviewed (in Philadelphia) Rick Tulsky, with this report

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The idea of reparations is starting to get some real traction

How would reparations be assessed on people and redistributed?

Suddenly, the idea seems to have some traction with Cory Booker’s House Judiciary hearings.

It may be a long way off.  Generally, there could be various tax credits or extensions of some of Elizabeth Warren’s ideas and they would not necessarily have to be race dependent.

It’s also apparent there could be increased taxes on inherited wealth. 

On the other hand, suing families for the part of their ancestors in slavery would pretty obviously run into constitutional problems of due process (ironically).  I don’t think the Constitution allows penalty for something ancestors did. 

Mitch McConnell said as much yesterday – “there is not a person alive who is responsible for this.”  But many people may be privileged.

Should reparations include covering native Americans too if it were done at all? 

Quartz, in a series “The Power of the Past”, has an instructive analysis “This is what reparations could actually look like in America”. 

CNN has a similar article by Doug Criss.  

Update: June 22

David Hogg had said that the concept of illegal alien made no sense in a country who had stolen land from natives, back in January 2019.  That would argue for reparations for Native Americans (beyond the reservation system).  Of course, there is the fact of the casinos. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Should people risk jail to assist undocumented migrants? (Should people be expected to by SJW's?)

Here’s a story on Christian or faith-based service where the person assisting migrants knows he is breaking the law and is willing to go to jail.

It concerns a rather complicated trial in Tucson, AZ of aid worker Scott Warren with his group “No More Deaths.”  

The USA Today story is rather convoluted, but the Tucson story is more detailed.

Here is a bizarre story by James Allsup of an Uber driver fired and sued for refusing to help with an abortion. “Woke capitalism”.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Tucson suburbs, p.d.  I visited the city in January 1980. 

Update: June 23

Here's a story about the arrest of an Arizona immigrant rights volunteer. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Would ending summer break improve relative STEM test scores for lower income people?

John Fish, the 19-year-old Harvard Undergrad from Canada with 500000 subscribers and helpful videos about college and sometimes free speech, has a very interesting presentation on why the learning achievement of minorities and from parents with lower income gets farther behind every year of life.

He presents material from some peer-reviewed papers, and makes the argument that children of wealthier parents simply keep learning more during summer break.  I can remember summers in Ohio:  Pennsylvania Turnpike and tunnel trips, visits to father’s glass factory, Indians baseball games in Cleveland, and farmyard baseball and whiffleball (very creative rule making to make the scores come out to be reasonable).  All real world, physical, but pertinent stuff.  I remember a trip to Lorain Ohio on the Lake to watch coal being loaded from railroad cars to ships. Sometimes similar stuff to father’s relatives in Iowa and near St. Louis. 

So John makes the case for eliminating summer break and making the school year run continuously.  That would make it easier for less privileged kids to catch up.  But of course, longer breaks means opportunities for longer periods away from home, which were very good for me.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Charitable giving is becoming politicized and coercive

The Washington Examiner this week has a big piece by James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley, “Injustice Finders: A left-wing protection racket is strangling philanthropy.” 

The article points out that in 2008 California’s house passed a bill (The Foundation Diversity and Transparency Act) requiring (or at least shaming) large foundations to pay attention to minority groups (as such).  The Senate backed down but only when some philanthropies agreed to follow political correctness voluntarily. But the legislation also wanted foundation board members to disclose race, age, gender, and particularly sexual orientation or gender status. 

There's another problem, too.  There are signs that social media companies, at least Facebook, want to prod users into public fundraising for obviously recognizable non-profits or causes as a condition for speaking. Here's a Twitter thread of my experience. 

What happened to privacy?

Friday, June 07, 2019

Wall Street Journal: strengthening health savings accounts and publishing prices could help lower health care costs.

The Wall Street Journal has a useful article on how to reduce health care costs:  allow prices of meds to be shown to patients if they pay out-of-pocket, and make Health Savings Accounts even more portable to other family members, and available to seniors.

Scott W. Atlas provides the article here. He also thinks we can have more less specialized doctors again. 

The video above shows we have something to learn from European health care systems, which are not as totally single payor as the public thinks.  I remember asking this question in Toulouse in 2001 of a family at a train station, and they said they liked the system they had. "It works for us." 

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Security Officer in Parkland case arrested essentially for "cowardice"

The former security guard Scott Peterson for major felonies for failing to respond properly to the shooter in the building during the Parkland shooting on Feb. 14, 2018, has led to legal controversy and raised ethical questions about the obligations of people to take risks to protect others – reminding me of the military draft controversy of the Vietnam era.
The NBC News story is by Corky Siemaszko, says that the Florida law usually applies to parents, not to law enforcement officials.

The law as written applies to “caregivers”.  But it is easy to imagine that having such a law might encourage gun ownership and proficiency by families and parents.  Could it apply to siblings, or to adult children with elderly parents?
There was a lively discussion on Chris Cuomo’s show on CNN last night. There’s no link to it yet on Cuomo Prime Time.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

House passes a form of DACA. but right now the Senate won't act on it

The House of Representatives passed a Dream Act, 237-187.  It had seven Republican votes.

The Senate is unlikely to consider it, and Trump would veto it “unless he gets what he wants” (like the wall, Mexico to stop illegal migrants, etc).

The bill would also make ending TPS (Temporary Protected Status) for certain Central American migrants harder. 

It is the first such measure since 2010 under Obama.

DACA recipients would be allowed to stay ten years if they met certain criteria, and would have pathways to citizenship through military service or some college or some employment.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Pakman provides a deeper perspective on the race and IQ "pseudo-controversy"

Tonight, The David Pakman Show did a very constructive followup on the race and IQ question, “The Final, Absolute Truth about Race and IQ

Pakman notes that comparing arguments about athletic ability may not be useful in evaluating claims about race and intelligence, because the latter would have much more dire consequences in affecting employment opportunities when evaluated for groups (generally).

Pakman notes that low IQ scores do predict problems in performing many jobs, but once you get to around 100 or higher, they don’t predict much.

He also noted you cannot identify race by appearance or amount of skin pigment alone.

Update: June 11, 2019

"The Alternative Hypothesis" in an hour long video offers "Refuting a Bigot: David Pakman on Race and I.Q.", link.  At 29:00 to about 39:00 it gets important;  it is politically OK to say that individual IQ is inherited, but not group. 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Candidate Eric Swalwell proposes assault weapons buyback, national service to deal with student loans

In a spirited town hall Sunday night in Monterey, CA, Rep Eric Swalwell, D-CA and presidential candidate, proposed re-imposing an assault and military weapons ban, and in instituting a buyback program for banned weapons, prosecuting any found later to have them.

He mentioned Australia’s 1996 buyback, but his proposal does not apply to legally owned handguns.

He also proposed expanding national service as a way for college students to pay off college debt or avoid it. You wonder if such proposals could be lifelong, or apply to able seniors collecting Social Security.

Swalwell, 38, says he is still paying off his own loan.  He is only one year older than Pete Buttigieg.  
Will Chris Hughes (35) step up?  Maybe we really will see David Hogg in 2016.  Hogg plans a die-in demonstration in Washington DC June 12.  This is in memory of the Pulse shooting in Orlando in 2016, and such an event supports “conservative” views of who the enemies are (radical Islam).