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 …”

Sina-cism: Do ballot questions matter much?

There wasn’t much drama in Massachusetts on Election Day. As expected, Democrat Hillary Clinton easily won our deep-as-the-deep-blue-sea state. No incumbent state representative or state senator, Democrat or Republican, was unseated.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

About the only excitement was generated by four ballot questions.

About $50 million — much of it dark money, and from out-of-state — was spent on those four questions. About 80 percent of that, some $40 million, was spent on Question 2, which would have allowed for an increase in public charter school enrollments. Another $5 million or so was spent trying to persuade or dissuade voters on the legalization of marijuana for personal adult use. A little more than $1 million was wasted in a doomed effort to obtain a slots license for one particular proposal associated with Suffolk Downs — an obvious abuse of the initiative process. And about another million dollars was expended on Question 3, regarding the treatment of certain farm animals.

So, $50 million spent, and for what? Not much.

Sina-cism: Alexander Hamilton’s message for those Worcester Trump protesters

On the Saturday following Election Day, hundreds gathered in downtown Worcester to protest President-elect Donald Trump. They marched about, spoke with the press and expressed their displeasure.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

I’m sure the participants and organizers, the Worcester Socialist Alternative, found the event therapeutic and helpful. I’ll grant that the amalgam of liberal, humanitarian and ecological causes that flavored the event won the popular vote, so to speak.

But speaking of popular votes, I took exception to the words of one protester, 31-year-old Terrance Ford, who told the Telegram & Gazette, “… it’s repulsive we have the Electoral College where the popular vote doesn’t matter.”

This is akin to saying that it’s repulsive that we have a bicameral legislature, or three branches of government, or that Marbury v. Madison secured the principle of judicial review.

The Electoral College (EC) is simply how we elect the president. It has been so, with slight amendment, from the moment the Constitution was ratified. In this nation, “winning the popular vote” is an empty phrase.

Sina-cism: They shoot horse tracks, don’t they?

And down the stretch they come! It’s Patronage on the inside, half a length ahead of Gerrymandering, with Jobs, Jobs, Jobs on the outside. And here’s Special Interest making a run. Patronage and Gerrymandering are neck and neck, with Special Interest closing fast. And at the wire, it’s —

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

It’s another absurd Massachusetts ballot question!

Question 1 on the November ballot, “Expanded Slot-Machine Gaming,” asks voters to approve one additional category 2 license to permit “… the operation of a gaming establishment with no table games and not more than 1,250 slot machines.”

Lest you think this license would be open to anyone, remember that this is Massachusetts.

Sinacola is off to the races -- try to keep up ...

Wikimedia Commons / Suffolk Downs

Sinacola is off to the races — try to keep up …

Sina-cism: A cannabis ‘solution’ we can do without

The libertarian inside me says that Question 4 on this fall’s state ballot — “Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana” — ought to pass.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

We are, after all, talking about an herb that, if not harmless, has done far less harm to human society than alcohol, cocaine and heroin. Heck, if one accounts for the costs of dental disease, obesity and diabetes, a case can be made that refined sugar is a greater scourge on our society than pot.

Marijuana, moreover, has long been known to have beneficial effects.

In her 1931 book “A Modern Herbal,” British botanical guru Sophia Emma Magdalene Grieve wrote that “The principal use of Hemp in medicine is for easing pain and inducing sleep, and for a soothing influence in nervous disorders.”

Smoke all you want, but let's think about this ...

Flickr/Martin Alonso

Smoke all you want, but let’s think about this …

Grieve cited uses of cannabis for “neuralgia, gout, rheumatism, delirium tremens, insanity, infantile convulsions, insomnia, etc.” Childbirth, painful urination, and even gonorrhea also made the list of circumstances where a bit of cannabis can help out.

Then there are the practical considerations. Why should society spend billions in a mostly futile effort to proscribe its use — including prosecuting citizens who are doing little or no harm to anyone — when we could regulate and tax it?


More Election Day musings from Chris Sinacola:

Save Our Public Schools website (screenshot)

Save Our Public Schools website (screenshot)

Save Our Sanity — anti-charter school lies and distortion

On Trump vs. Clinton, round 1


Sina-cism: When government misfires

As an opening salvo, let me make clear that I am not writing to change anyone’s mind about guns or gun ownership. I support the Second Amendment. I believe the right to keep and bear firearms is an individual right, as the Supreme Court affirmed in the landmark cases District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010).

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

You may, or may not, agree. Thanks to the Second Amendment, we Americans are free to hold and express the opinions enumerated in the First Amendment.

But no one is free to violate the Constitution, due process and the rights of their fellow citizens. Yet that is exactly what Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey did on July 20, when she issued an interpretation of the state’s 1998 “assault weapons” ban.

I add the quotes because, while any weapon in the wrong hands can be deadly, there is no such thing as an assault weapon per se. Rather, there are politicians who seek to restrict weapons which they find distasteful or believe to be particularly dangerous. By creating labels and definitions, they are able to enact restrictions without violating the Second Amendment.

Attoney General Maura Healey

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Attoney General Maura Healey


More Sina-cism: Save Our Sanity — anti-charter schools lies and distortion


Sina-cism: A bigly and braggadocious brawl

Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” I said to myself (with huge apologies to William Hazlitt) as I drove up Route 12, about 8 o’clock on Monday the 26th of September, to inquire at West Boylston’s The Manor where the fight was to be.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

This wasn’t an actual case of fisticuffs such as Hazlitt describes in his 1822 essay “The Fight,” but the first debate between the Democrat and Republican nominees for the highest office in our land.

While I recognize subtle variations in the two contending creatures, I prefer to label them as one: Occupant Clinton/Trump, Office of President of the United States, primarily because the OCTOPUS acronym expresses the horror we Americans have brought upon ourselves.

Can you tell me why this man has an excellent chance to be the next president of the United States? A trio of professors speaking at Clark this week think they have an explanation.

Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump

Octopuses are venomous, leave trails of ink in their wake, and arrange their suckers in rows, just like Congress.


Sinacola on Worcester: Protests, Michael Oppong and old New England skeptics


Sina-cism: On protests, Michael Oppong and old-fashioned New England skepticism

It is a distinctively American impulse that has caused some football players to take a knee this fall. That distinctiveness is in part thanks to a Constitution that jealously guards free speech — which is decidedly not the case in much of our illiberal world today.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

But the distinctiveness of the protests this fall has other roots as well.

Even if those refusing to stand for the national anthem cannot fully articulate the reasons for their protests, their dissent is in keeping with a long and venerable American tradition of reflexively questioning authority. Sometimes we protest because it feels like the right thing to do.

Such contrariness — as was seen Sept. 9 at Foley Stadium when Doherty football player Michael Oppong knelt during the anthem; he’s been joined by teammates since — has often offered important correctives to a restless nation.

oppong


Last week’s Sina-cism: Save Our Sanity — anti-charter school lies and distortion


Sina-cism: Save Our Sanity — anti-charter school lies and distortion

As if the presidential candidates on offer this November were not already sufficiently painful to the human spirit, Massachusetts voters over the next seven weeks are in for additional lies and insults from Save Our Public Schools Massachusetts, a coalition of parents, unionized teachers and activists who have taken it upon themselves to oppose ballot Question 2, which would provide for additional public charter schools and enrollment.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

No sooner had the school buses and crisp autumn air returned than SOPS began distributing garish blue-and-yellow signs declaring “No on 2 / Bad for Our Schools,” thus planting the notion that the only schools worth the name are district public schools.

There is a still more offensive website, saveourpublicschoolsma.com, which alleges “privately operated charter schools” “siphon off” some $450 million in funds annually.

Never mind that public charter schools are public, and arguably more accountable than district public schools. Charters, after all, must defend their performance every five years in order to have their charter renewed, whereas district public schools that fail to make the grade simply get more funding and sometimes new leaders.

Save Our Public Schools website (screenshot)

Save Our Public Schools website (screenshot)


Last week’s Sina-cism: Foreclosure myths WAFT through Worcester