Sunday, January 9, 2022

Your January 9th Sunday Summary ...

Dear Friend of TJI,
Derided as “a million-dollar shoeshine boy” by activists on the Left for seeking parts in which his skin color was incidental, Sidney Poitier explained that he hoped a race-neutral approach to casting would change perceptions in the film industry. That his 1964 Oscar broke the tradition of limiting black actors to stereotypes and supporting roles suggests he succeeded. That it failed to increase the number of black performers in film suggests that that industry remained resistant to the principles on which it lectures others. Lost in the debate of politics was the skill of a powerful actor creating believable and memorable portrayals. For us, he’ll always be Mr. Tibbs. Dead at age 94. RIP.
Meanwhile …
1.)  Snow shut down I-95, leaving thousands stuck on the interstate for up to 27 hours. Governor Ralph Northam blamed the drivers (here), and was initially unresponsive to House Speaker-designee Todd Gilbert’s call to bring out the National Guard (here) and rescue stranded motorists (here).
2.) Northam has been unrelenting in advocating Virginia’s move to the Green New Deal. Tony Heller, of Real Climate Science, explains in a video what the consequences of the snow storm would have been if the policies of Northam and the Democratic General Assembly were already in effect (here). Over at The Washington Post, editorial writer Charles Lane asks us to imagine the icy roads of I-95 if all we had were electric vehicles (here) -- a goal of the Left. Jim Bacon, of Bacons Rebellion, raises the same points here.
3.) These green policies are fostered by those who want America to look like Europe. Over in Bacon’s Rebellion, Bill O’Keefe notes the consequences of that (here). Those polities include Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) but, based on his appointments and decision to withdraw from RGGI, Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin is having none of it. Writing in the Virginian-Pilot, Gabriella Hoffman explains why getting out is a good thing (here).
4.) And Northam’s state agency ban on single-use plastics isn’t working out too well, either. In The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Virginia Artesian founder Steve Brown explains why, and what a better answer might look like (here).
5.) Meanwhile, out in Chicago, public schools were canceled for the third day as union teachers went on strike (here). Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot accuses the union of holding students “hostage” (here). There are relevant lessons for Virginia, where the Arlington County teachers union also called for everyone to be tested for Covid or close the schools – although it did so in a semi-literate letter to the Superintendent reported in Bacon’s Rebellion (here). Chicago has a collective bargaining agreement, where union demands can be enforced on union and non-union teachers. And while Arlington does not, the union seeks one, and the consequences for students will be significant (it also won’t improve the union president’s grammar). Coming to your local school system.
6.) This is one reason the new Youngkin Administration, and particularly the new Lt. Governor, Winsome Sears (here) are such fans of creating new educational opportunities for children, causing the progressive Virginia Mercury to ask “How far can Youngkin’s school-choice push go?” (here). The Mercury also reports that a consequence of Covid and the school systems’ response to it has been a 40 percent increase in home schoolers since fall of 2019 – and the movement crosses cultural and political lines (here).
7.) But it is not just teacher union activity and Covid causing parents to walk. The state Department of Education’s insistence on incorporating critical race theory as a way of informing instruction has had an impact. In Arlington County, led by Francisco Durán, a member of the state Board of Education, plans are afoot to eliminate “implicit bias” among its teachers by eliminating graded homework, deadlines and extra credit (here). National education columnist Jay Mathews points out that Arlington’s action will hurt the neediest kids at a time they need a good education the most (here). Arlington parent Hans Bader makes the same point about the value of homework here.
8.) Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe made the closing argument for Youngkin when he said parents shouldn’t be telling schools what to teach. New York Times’ 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones made the same argument here. Writing in RealClearEducation, Sarah Lawrence College professor of politics Samuel J. Abrams points out that both are on the wrong side of public opinion, noting that 77 percent of Americans want parents to have the same level of influence as teachers (here).
9.)  In what may help restore a semblance of balance, the Bill of Rights Institute has launched a national civics contest called MyImpactChallenge, with $40,000 in cash prizes. Students must align their project to constitutional principles (what a refreshing concept!) and submit evidence of how they impacted their communities. Live webinars and support staff to help students will be provided. Applications must be received by May 16. Students should consult the submission guidelines and rubric (here) before submitting. More general information can be found here.
10.)               In the spirit of the 1619 Project, National Public Radio felt it necessary to include a “trigger warning” before their annual reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, tweeting that it is “a document with flaws and deeply ingrained hypocrisies.” (hereThe Washington Post now reports about a series of “grievances from within NPR about its treatment of minority journalists.” (here) We trust NPR will now begin its daily broadcast with a “trigger warning.”
11.)               It’s official:  More people have died from covid under Joe Biden than under Donald Trump (here).
12.)               Youngkin and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares have announced they will join in the challenge of President Biden’s vaccine mandate on large employers. At the US Supreme Court, the majority have expressed doubt about the legality of mandates on employers (here). Meanwhile, The New York Times observes that the Omicron virus is milder, with less hospitalization, milder hospitalization and a trailing death count much lower than in the past (here). In today's Washington Post, two infectious disease physicians and the chair of research, respectively at Harvard Medical School, Tuft School of Medicine and Boston University School of Medicine argue that "School closures are not an effective measure for controlling spread, they hurt children, and they limit our ability to keep the hospitals open (here).

13.) For many, the issue comes down to a reminder that to be pro-vaccine does not necessarily require one to be pro-mandate. Jim Bacon reminds us that Omicron has spread faster and wider – and that there is no ambiguity about the fact that vaccinations mitigate the virus’ effects, calling not for a mandate but for the exercise of common sense (here). Ronald Bailey at the libertarian Reason Foundation makes the same point here.
Finally … Did anyone else notice that Governor Northam’s excuse for Administration misadventures is always the same?
Happy Sunday, Everyone!
It ain’t ours either.

Chris Braunlich
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The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

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