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.

Sina-cism: It’s the economy, smarty, so get to work

Cook cited the ratio of 1:2:7 in the popular video “Success in the New Economy” — for every job requiring a master’s degree there are two requiring a bachelor’s degree and seven requiring a certificate or training program that might take just one or two years.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

If you are still blaming racism, Russia or Viking runes for Donald Trump’s victory, let me remind you of James Carville’s phrase that helped Bill Clinton unseat President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election: “The economy, stupid.”

In spite of all that was said and done over the last year, the 2016 election was tipped Trump’s way by blue-collar voters in Middle America dissatisfied with the nation’s overall economic growth and frustrated by the stagnation, decline or disappearance of their wages and jobs.

The narrowness of Trump’s win — and Hillary Clinton’s loss — had something to do with their personal shortcomings. It had far more to do with the uneasiness of voters who wanted change, but who were not fully convinced Trump can deliver that change.

After all, the U.S. economy is complex beyond imagining, its course determined by more factors that any single person — or presidential Cabinet — can hope to comprehend. At best, leaders can take a few modest steps in what they hope is the right direction.

More Sinacola: Some of last year’s top Sina-cism

Sina-cism: When Nikola Tesla didn’t come to Worcester

“In hopes of tracking down evidence of Tesla’s Worcester visit, I scoured microfilm for September 1931. I read about a great many horrific car crashes, some sensational murders, and the Worcester County agricultural fair section.”
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

I recently read Marc J. Seifer’s disjointed and suspect “Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Telsa, Biography of a Genius.”

Through more than 400 pages of Seifer’s speculations and demonstrably shoddy research, I sought to better understand one of the most inventive and imaginative minds of the last century. Alas, I learned very little about alternating current, Tesla coils, or exactly what the Serbian-born genius contributed to science.

Then, on page 419, I found a potential Worcester connection. If nothing else, Tesla could take his place in Central Massachusetts history!

Sina-cism: Muzzling the First Amendment on campus

When I last took the temperature of free speech in America about a year ago, the nation was running a slight fever.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

A year ago, there was discussion about — and some support for — the University of Chicago’s January 2015 statement on behalf of intellectual liberty on campus. The nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) had noted a slight decline in the number of colleges and universities earning “red light” ratings because of speech codes or other restrictions on what students may think, say, write and do.

On the other hand, we were already well into the 2016 presidential campaign, during which partisans on all sides would plumb previously unexplored rhetorical depths. Many a hyperventilating columnist would come dangerously close to wearing out the H, I, T, L, E and R keys on their laptop.

The news reached such heights of erudition that I canceled cable.

A year later, as the nation heads for a close encounter of the Trump kind, it’s time for our annual free speech checkup. The news is not great.

Sina-cism: Time for Jill Stein to go back to Town Meeting

As a fundamentally friendly and open-minded guy, I really wanted to like Jill Stein and her Green Party. I favor competition, whether in business, life, sports or politics. Many, myself included, had hoped for a viable third party in the recent election.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Moreover, I view candidates and parties as continuing forces whose fortunes and ideas rise and fall. Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater stood no chance in 1964, for example, but played a huge role in shaping Ronald Reagan’s victory 16 years later.

But I am done flirting with Jill Stein — and I’ve never even met the woman. At least, I don’t think I have. At some point during my tenure as a mild-mannered reporter, columnist and editorial writer for a once-great metropolitan newspaper I may have crossed paths with her. If so, neither database nor diary hints of it.

The end of the would-be intellectual affair was confirmed by the recount debacle that Stein engineered in the wake of the 2016 election. But the warning signs have been there for some time.

Sina-cism: DACA is no way to reform immigration

The current debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — called into existence by a whim of President Obama in 2012 — illustrates the confusion many Americans have regarding civics.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

DACA permits illegal immigrants, including many who were brought to the United States as children, to remain here, provided they pay an application fee, have completed high school, are not convicted of felonies or serious misdemeanors, and meet several other requirements.

Many of those who qualify happen to be college students. And since president-elect Donald Trump has expressed opposition to DACA, there is a growing chorus of support for the program being heard on college campuses.

Related Sina-cism: The real line on immigration, and how Obama crossed it

More than 500 college presidents nationwide — including the presidents of Clark University, WPI and the College of the Holy Cross — have signed a letter to leaders in Washington, D.C., declaring in part:

“Since the advent of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, we have seen the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities. DACA beneficiaries on our campuses have been exemplary student scholars and student leaders, working across campus and in the community … To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity …”