Sina-cism: Holy Cross should continue its crusade

Whatever the proximate cause for the Holy Cross community’s Crusader debate, it is possible (and to be hoped) that students and faculty will have a meaningful debate.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

More than half a century ago, when editors at the student newspaper at Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross decided to change the name of their publication from The Tomahawk to The Crusader, it must have seemed a safe enough move.

But college campuses back in 1955 were nothing like college campuses in 2017, where almost any word or action, no matter how innocuous, can cause an individual or group to take offense, launch a protest, or issue a cry for discussions regarding diversity and respect.

Related Sina-cism: The trouble with trigger warnings

It is hardly surprising that faculty and students at Holy Cross have decided to discuss the name of their newspaper. The crusader is, after all, an unmistakably Christian image that belongs to a particularly sanguinary period of world history, the 175 or so years from 1095 to 1272, when Christian kings and nobles in Europe organized military campaigns to wrest back control of the Holy Land from Muslim conquerors.

Perhaps only divine protection can explain how an image so historically burdened has managed to survive this long. Imagine the microaggressions Holy Cross students have suffered during these last six decades.

If only their consciousness had been raised years ago!

Sina-cism: Warren prescribes a liberal dose of ‘No’

Since January 3, 2013 — the day Elizabeth Warren put former Sen. Scott Brown in his pickup for his puzzling and peripatetic post-political pilgrimage — I have been watching the state’s allegedly senior senator for any hint of moderation.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

As compelling as Brown’s underdog story was, Massachusetts mythology includes demigod status for the Kennedy clan. The late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat was fit only for a liberal Democrat.

But does Warren represent anyone outside Boston or the Berkshires?

Consider that in 18 nomination votes taken to date on President Trump’s Cabinet picks, Warren has voted “no” 15 times. And it’s easy to understand why Warren would oppose some of Trump’s more right-leaning choices, such as Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary or Scott Pruitt at EPA.

But Elaine Chao? She served as Peace Corps director under George H.W. Bush, Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush, and led the United Way.

Apparently, being married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is Chao’s unpardonable offense, for Warren articulated no legitimate reason to oppose Chao.

Warren was also among 11 senators to oppose John F. Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security. Heck, even Bernie Sanders voted for Kelly.

Sina-cism: Among the true-blue believers

They say Massachusetts is the bluest state, but Washington can’t be far behind.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

While I haven’t yet perfected my Liberal-O-Meter, preliminary readings from the prototype recently were of a magnitude never yet recorded.

The first signals were received shortly after we left Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and saw the first of many billboards touting the best cannabis in town. Smaller versions of these ads can be found in various publications, such as Seattle Weekly, the Feb. 22 issue of which carried a back-cover ad for Dutchy (“Fine cannabis. Pass it to the left.”)

Based on limited research — a couple hours of walking around the University District, downtown and Pioneer Square neighborhoods — it appears impossible to go more than one block in any direction in Seattle without seeing a poster, sign or handbill urging solidarity against the fascist dictator now occupying the White House.

Many restaurants and retail shops display posters declaring they are “no place for hate” and that refugees and immigrants are welcome. Such posters are common in parts of Massachusetts, as well, but in Seattle they are ubiquitous and inescapable.

I was even offered a bumper sticker urging the immediate impeachment of the aforementioned fascist dictator. I declined, since my car’s bumper is no place for hate.

Sina-cism: On healthcare reform, Baker earns his ‘D’

Massachusetts residents have now had two full years to evaluate the leadership of Gov. Charlie Baker, whose victory over Democrat Martha Coakley in the fall of 2014 restored what passes for balance in the Bay State — a moderate Republican governor working side-by-side with a Legislature just to the right of Vladimir Lenin.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

In evaluating Baker, only one measure matters, and it isn’t the price of lobster or the fortunes of the New England Patriots.

Thanks to former Gov. Mitt Romney, what matters most for any Massachusetts governor in the early 21st century is how he or she handles the cost of health insurance.

By that measure, Charlie Baker simply isn’t a moderate Republican. He’s a Democrat.

Baker earns his “D” not because the cost of the MassHealth program is skyrocketing, to an estimated $16.2 billion, or about 40 percent of Baker’s proposed $40.5 billion budget, in fiscal 2018. It is unfair to hold Baker responsible for a decade of healthcare history in the United States and Massachusetts.

Rather, Baker earns the “D” — and should earn a “D” among Massachusetts’ perennially disappointed Republicans — because his approach to controlling costs is indistinguishable from that of Democrats.

Sina-cism: Oh, but it’s for the children, after all

A recent story leaves no doubt that the schools are starved for funds, a complaint which has been voiced by urban public schools for about the last 50 years.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

According to a report in last week’s Telegram & Gazette, Worcester Superintendent of Schools Maureen Binienda is spending about one-fifth of her time pursuing private funds to bolster the city’s public school budget.

As the story puts it:

“From the development of a district strategic plan to pencils for the PSAT, Ms. Binienda has sought the help of local businesses and groups to provide what her system’s own slim budget can’t …”

It’s not clear who’s calling the WPS budget slim, but the story leaves no doubt that the schools are starved for funds, a complaint which has been voiced by urban public schools for about the last 50 years, ever since post-World War II America ran into the financial realities of financing the Great Society welfare state.

Before we examine the finances, one general observation: While advocates for district public schools object vociferously to every dollar “drained” by public charter schools — which, in their illogic, amounts to the “privatization” of public education — no one seems to mind when public schools pursue actual private funding.

Not that I blame Binienda for seeking more money. Most organizations prefer more money to less, and the stuff does come in handy.

Sina-cism: Hating Trump no substitute for a real policy

Before you head out to your next anti-Trump parade or party, ask yourself whether you agree with this:

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

“The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own), or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender or sexual orientation.”

If you agree, how would you fashion policy to achieve these goals? If you disagree, what standard (if any) would you use to decide who enters the United States?

The passage above is from Section 1 of President Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration. This is no trick. You can agree with that section while disagreeing with the balance of the order.

Related Sina-cism: The real danger in sanctuary city debate

Sina-cism: Sanctuary city debate a dangerous distraction

America cannot afford an impasse on immigration. President Obama failed for eight years to produce comprehensive immigration reform.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Among the least enlightening debates in recent Worcester history is that over the idea of a sanctuary city, a term with no legal force and little practical application.

The most recent standard-bearers in this debate are City Councilor-at-Large Michael Gaffney and Mayor Joseph Petty.

Gaffney pushed a resolution, defeated 9-2 by the City Council last Tuesday night, that would have made clear Worcester is not a sanctuary city. If it were seen as one, he argued, Worcester might lose federal funding.

Petty argued that Gaffney was stirring fear unnecessarily. As the mayor told the Telegram & Gazette: “I’m going to have everyone’s back. If we aren’t going to protect our immigrants, then you may as well take the Statue of Liberty, pack it up and send it back to France.”

Well, the city’s money is safe and France can cancel that incoming shipment, because neither man’s fears are likely to be realized.

Sina-cism: With Bob Nemeth, in spirit, in Budapest

While socialists and would-be socialists in Worcester and elsewhere were marching out of their left-wing universities on Inauguration Day to resist a supposedly right-wing president, my wife and I were exploring the capital of Hungary, where anyone over 30 can tell you how socialism works in the real world.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Budapest is a city of beauty and bitterness, remembrance and forgetfulness.

Seven bridges link hilly Buda on the Danube River’s western shore with Pest on the eastern floodplain. Ice floes drift past the Parliament, or Országház, a Gothic masterpiece that has witnessed Hapsburg hegemony, the Soviet heel and 1989’s joyous birth of the Third Republic.

The Great Market Hall at the southern end of Váci utca, the famous pedestrian shopping mall, oozes with riotous reds of paprika and sausages, pale plum fire of pálinka, and delectable dreams layered in chocolate, nuts and poppy seeds. Bars and coffeehouses abound, where cheap, satisfying beer and conversation flow freely.

Courtesy Chris Sinacola

Great Market at south end of Váci utca

It was not always so.

As we enjoyed the city, I kept thinking of the late Robert Nemeth, who fled following the Soviet Union’s 1956 invasion to crush the rebellion. Bob and his family settled in the United States, where he mastered English and rose to become the Telegram & Gazette’s chief editorial writer.

Sina-cism: Confess your sins, Comrade DeVos

Surely you understand that every ruble the citizens of our great land contribute to the education of the rising generations must be carefully held within the established system of state-sponsored education.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

On Jan. 9, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a 16-page letter to Betsy DeVos, nominee for secretary of education.

The Senate held hearings for DeVos last Tuesday and is slated to vote on her nomination this Tuesday. The full text of Warren’s letter is here.

Here is a heavily edited version:

9 January 1937

Betsy DeVos
People’s Commissariat for Education
Moscow, USSR

Dear Comrade DeVos,

Congratulations on your nomination to serve as the People’s Commissar of Education. I look forward to your “testimony” before the Politburo.

The People’s Commissar of Education is responsible for enforcing the Party’s critical laws and protections for pre-K through 12 students throughout our glorious motherland.

Unfortunately, your work in the Michigan Soviet Socialist Republic during the last two Five Year Plans has raised disturbing questions about your understanding of the duties of a state servant.

Sina-cism: 2017 minimum wage increase raises false hopes

It remains true that millions of Americans who lack sufficient education and training find themselves stuck in minimum-wage jobs for years. But their American Nightmare cannot be ended by increasing pay to levels that exceed their productivity.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

With the arrival of the new year, Massachusetts increased its minimum wage to $11 an hour. Liberals and the working poor are celebrating, claiming it will make a real difference for low-wage workers, and brings them closer to the fabled $15 per hour wage that is already law in some places, including Seattle and San Francisco.

Their celebrations would be much quieter if they understood the real effects that minimum-wage increases have on employment.

There are three such effects that must be examined: Immediate, long-term and psychological.

An enormous amount has been written about whether minimum-wage hikes increase, decrease or have no effect on employment. The effect, it turns out, is mostly a function of politics.

I’m only half-kidding.