Patterico's Pontifications


Trump and Democrats Agree on Big Spending

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 8:05 pm

[Headline from DRJ]

While Trump has focused his base on The Squad, Trump, Democrats clinch two-year budget deal:

“I am pleased to announce that a deal has been struck with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — on a two-year Budget and Debt Ceiling, with no poison pills,” Trump tweeted.
“If this deal passes, President Trump will have increased discretionary spending by as much as 22 percent over his first term and enshrine trillion-dollar deficits into law,” said CRFB President Maya MacGuineas.

CRFB estimated that the deal could add as much as $2 trillion to deficits over the decade.


Rep. Rashida Tlaib: Paging Bernie Sanders!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:05 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week, JVW wrote about Bernie Sanders’ unionized staffers demanding a “living wage” of $15 per hour. Today, Rep. Rashida Tlaib upped the ante:

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) called for a $20 federal minimum wage less than a week after the House of Representatives voted to raise the wage to $15 over the next six years.

A video from America Rising shows Tlaib making the remarks at an event for One Fair Wage, an organization that lobbies to raise the federal minimum tipped wage. Tlaib said the $15 minimum wage demand needs to be updated to reflect the rising price of food.

“By the way, when we started it, it should have been $15. Now I think it should be $20,” she said.

“It should be $20 an hour, $18 to $20 at this point,” she repeated, continuing to claim that the price of food such as milk and eggs has increased.

Reality bites:

Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, told the Free Beacon, “America can’t afford a $15 minimum wage, never mind $20.”

Ortiz also pointed to recent move by the Bernie Sanders campaign to cut hours for its staff as an example of the economic impact wage increases have.

“It’s a shame Rep. Tlaib didn’t hear that Bernie Sanders is cutting his staff’s hours to meet their demands for a $15 minimum wage,” Ortiz said. “If she won’t listen to job creators about the unintended consequences of a higher minimum wage, maybe she’ll listen to a socialist politician.”

We’ve seen how mandatory wage hikes have forced layoffs, reduction in work hours, businesses closing their doors, and an ever-increasing focus on developing automation to replace the live worker. This in turn leaves the once employed low-skilled worker now unemployed. Here’s a look at the real life consequences of raising the minimum wage.

Last week, House Democrats passed the “Raise the Wage Act”, which would increase the federal minimum to $15 an hour by 2024, and after 2025 the minimum wage would be tied to inflation.

My question as well, especially as the next round of debates are just a week away. Tlaib’s timing couldn’t be better:

Democratic candidates, including the relative centrist Joe Biden, have come out in favor of a $15 minimum wage. But given how in the previous debate Democrats came out in favor of radical proposals including providing free health insurance to illegal immigrants that had never really been part of the national conversation, it would be interesting to see if any of the candidates would feel the need to join Tlaib’s call for a $20 per hour. If they do not support a $20 minimum wage, it would be interesting to hear all of them articulate on what basis they support a $15 minimum wage while believing a $20 minimum wage would be too high.

[I]s there a level at which Democrats believe the government could set a minimum wage that would be so high that the negative effects would outweigh the positive effects?

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


President Trump Quadruples Down On The “Squad”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:54 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Staying the course:


From today’s Rasmussen Reports:

The…daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 49% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Forty-nine percent (49%) disapprove.

The latest figures include 33% who Strongly Approve of the job Trump is doing and 43% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -10

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Oregon: New Law Allows Students To Take “Mental Health Days”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:35 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The idea behind the law is to help change the stigma of mental health in Oregon:

Oregon will allow students to take “mental health days” just as they would sick days, expanding the reasons for excused school absences to include mental or behavioral health under a new law that experts say is one of the first of its kind in the U.S.

But don’t call it coddling. The students behind the measure say it’s meant to change the stigma around mental health in a state that has some of the United States’ highest suicide rates. Mental health experts say it is one of the first state laws to explicitly instruct schools to treat mental health and physical health equally, and it comes at a time educators are increasingly considering the emotional health of students. Utah passed a similar law last year.

Oregon’s bill, signed by Gov. Kate Brown last month, also represents one of the few wins for youth activistsfrom around the state who were unusually active at the Capitol this year. Along with expanded mental health services, they lobbied for legislation to strengthen gun control and lower the voting age, both of which failed.

Oregon has some of the highest suicide rates of young people in the nation:

Suicide is Oregon’s second leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 34, according to data from the state Health Authority. Nearly 17% of eighth-graders reported seriously contemplating taking their lives within the past 12 months.

And it’s not just an Oregon problem, although the state does have a suicide rate 40% higher than the national average. The national suicide rate has also been on the rise and recently hit a 50-year high, climbing more than 30% since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opponents to the law argued that:

…the legislation wasn’t necessary, as students can already take mental health days by lying or pretending to be sick. Other opponents have said the law will encourage students to find more excuses to miss school in a state that also suffers from one of the worst absenteeism rates in the nation. More than 1 in 6 children missed at least 10% of school days in the 2015-2016 school year, according to state data.

Students who helped champion the mental health bill pushed back on the opposition’s argument:

Why should we encourage lying to our parents and teachers? Being open to adults about our mental health promotes positive dialogue that could help kids get the help they need.

Last year, during the month of February alone, five teens died by suicide in the Oregon city of Eugene.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Overlooking Jeffrey Epstein’s Behavior Because Money Talks

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:24 am

[guest post by Dana]

The more we find out, the more horrible it gets:

[O]n nearby St. Thomas, locals say Epstein continued to bring underage girls to the island as recently as this year—a decade after he was forced to register as a convicted sex offender—and that authorities did nothing to stop him.

…“On multiple occasions I saw Epstein exit his helicopter, stand on the tarmac in full view of my tower, and board his private jet with children—female children,” says a former air traffic controller at the airstrip who asked to remain anonymous.

Another employee at the airstrip, who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak about travelers in his official capacity, says Epstein would land at St. Thomas twice a month on average. “There’d be girls that look like they could be in high school,” the employee recalls. “They looked very young…

The employee adds that he and his co-workers would joke around about what they were seeing. “Every time he landed or took off, it was always brought up. We’d always be joking, ‘How many kids are on board this time?’”

No worries though. In spite of their joking about it, they were nonetheless disturbed by Epstein arriving with young girls in tow. Just not disturbed enough to do anything about it:

…the employee also says he felt “pure disgust,” calling it “absolutely insane” that a convicted sex offender was able to move around so openly in the era of MeToo.

“I could see him with my own eyes,” the employee says. “I compared it to seeing a serial killer in broad daylight. I called it the face of evil.”

Everything was happening in plain sight. Everyone knew. But apparently remaining silent was worth it:

Epstein apparently made no attempt to hide his travels with young girls. The airstrip in St. Thomas sits in plain sight of a central highway, and a nearby parking lot at the University of the Virgin Islands provides a complete view of the tarmac and almost every aircraft on the ground. When he’s “home” on Little St. James, Epstein’s plane is always parked right in front of the control tower.

“The fact that young girls were getting out of his helicopter and getting into his plane, it was like he was flaunting it,” the employee says. “But it was said that he always tipped really well, so everyone overlooked it.

Says the former air traffic controller:

My colleagues and I definitely talked about how we didn’t understand how this guy was still allowed to be around children… We didn’t say anything because we figured law enforcement was doing their job. I have to say that that is regrettable, but we really didn’t even know who to tell, or if anyone really cared.

Wealthy billionaire pulls out a $100 bill, points to the ocean: Hey, look over there!

Air traffic enabler: What a view!

It’s sadly ironic that the air traffic controllers questioned whether anyone would care, because clearly they didn’t. Not enough to do anything about it. But, hey, the chief of police didn’t care either:

In fact, it appears that local authorities did nothing to investigate Epstein’s repeated trips with young girls—let alone intervene—despite the fact that he was listed on the island’s registry of sex offenders. Chief William Harvey, a veteran of the Virgin Islands police department, tells Vanity Fair that he does not know who Epstein is, and is unaware of any investigation into him.

But airport employees and employees at Epstein’s compound knew who Epstein was and what he was up to. Yet we are to believe that the police chief, who could access the sex registry database at any time and had access to the internet, was the only one who didn’t know? Right.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Trump Administration Is Revising U.S. Citizenship Test

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:52 am

[guest post by Dana]


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a statement about the upcoming revision. In part:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising the current naturalization test with improvements to ensure it continues to serve as an accurate measure of a naturalization applicant’s civics knowledge and that it reflects best practices in adult education assessments. The goal is to create a meaningful, uniform, and efficient test that will assess applicants’ knowledge and understanding of U.S. history, government and values.

The test was introduced in 1986, and had previously been revised in 2008. USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli commented about the current revision:

The Trump administration on Friday announced it will revise the U.S. citizenship test to help make a “meaningful, uniform, and efficient test.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it had formed a naturalization test revision working group in December 2018 with “members from across the agency.”

The agency added that it is “soliciting the input of experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent.”

“Granting U. S. citizenship is the highest honor our nation bestows,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

“Updating, maintaining, and improving a test that is current and relevant is our responsibility as an agency in order to help potential new citizens fully understand the meaning of U.S. citizenship and the values that unite all Americans.”

“Isn’t everybody always paranoid that this is used for ulterior purposes?” the immigration hardliner told the outlet on Thursday.

“Of course they’re going to be sorely disappointed when it just looks like another version of a civics exam. I mean that’s pretty much how it’s going to look.”

Perhaps that’s the problem: it’s a civics exam. Consider surveyed rates of failure by Americans on the current exam:

A majority of Americans in every state except Vermont would fail a test based on the questions in the U.S. citizenship test…

People did relatively well on the most basic questions. Seven out of 10 knew that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and that Franklin Roosevelt was president during World War II.

But only 43% knew that Woodrow Wilson was president during World War I (nearly one out of four thought it was Roosevelt), and only 56% knew which countries we fought in World War II.

Fewer than a third could correctly name three of the original states.

More than six out of 10 incorrectly thought the Constitution was written in 1776. (It wasn’t written until 1787.)

Nearly four out of 10 thought Benjamin Franklin invented the light bulb.

Should we really be surprised at the results:

Civic knowledge and public engagement are at an all-time low. A 2016 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government, which was a significant decline from previous years.1

Only nine states and the District of Columbia require one year of U.S. government or civics, while 30 states require a half year and the other 11 states have no civics requirement. While federal education policy has focused on improving academic achievement in reading and math, this has come at the expense of a broader curriculum. Most states have dedicated insufficient class time to understanding the basic functions of government.11

The report notes that the increased time and focus on math and reading has resulted in the elimination of civics (and other important) classes.

Most interestingly, with regard to the U.S. citizenship exam:

The policy solution that has garnered the most momentum to improve civics in recent years is a standard that requires high school students to pass the U.S. citizenship exam before graduation.6 According to our analysis, 17 states have taken this path.7 Yet, critics of a mandatory civics exam argue that the citizenship test does nothing to measure comprehension of the material8 and creates an additional barrier to high school graduation.9 Other states have adopted civics as a requirement for high school graduation, provided teachers with detailed civics curricula, provided community service as a part of a graduation requirement, and increased the availability of Advanced Placement (AP) United States Government and Politics classes.10

Immigrants must pass the citizenship test to become U.S. citizens. The test has 100 civics questions, and immigrants are asked up to 10 of these during an interview. They must answer six correctly to pass.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Iran claims it has arrested 17 CIA Spies (Updated x2)

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 7:41 am

[Headline from DRJ]

Iran says it has arrested CIA spies; UK to unveil response to ship crisis:

Iran said on Monday it had captured 17 spies working for the CIA and sentenced some of them to death, an announcement President Donald Trump dismissed as “totally false” amid an escalating international crisis over tankers in the Gulf.

The Iranian announcement came hours before Britain was due to unveil its response to Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker, a move that has escalated a three-month confrontation that nearly drew the United States and Iran into a shooting war.

“The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot-down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!” tweeted Trump.

The “spies” were reportedly arrested from April 2018 to March 2019 but this escalation seems like an attempt to drag in the US.

UPDATE: Britain to seek European maritime mission to counter Iran’s ‘piracy’.

UPDATE 2: I doubt Spain will be joining the “European maritime mission.”


It’s Hot in NY and 20k don’t have Power

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:08 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

A dangerous weekend heat wave unfolded over the Northeast, at one point leaving 50,000 without power in NYC. Power was restored to all but 20,000 customers in Brooklyn. Now NYC mayor calls for probe as many wait for power in the heat:

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an investigation Monday of power outages that came at the end of this weekend’s oppressive heat, saying he no longer trusts utility Con Edison after it decided to turn off power to thousands of customers.

Around 30,000 customers in Brooklyn were taken off power Sunday, so the utility could make repairs and prevent a bigger outage, de Blasio had said earlier.

On Monday, he offered a blistering assessment of that decision. “This should not have happened,” he told reporters, “and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Ny Governor Andrew Cuomo also blamed Con Ed:

We’ve been through this situation w ConEd time & again & they should have been better prepared—period.

Last week, after an earlier outage, Mayor de Blasio asked residents and businesses not to go overboard on air conditioning to avoid straining the grid.

People die in heat waves like this. Now what, New York? New York politicians can pontificate or even increase regulations so they can claim they are doing something about grid problems, or they can build more power plants so there are reserves for times of extraordinary demand, or they can make it even worse: New York adopts rules to phase out coal power plants by 2020.

I hope they get power restored soon and there are no more heat-related deaths.


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