Wednesday, March 24, 2021


 Daylight Time is the least worst option

Daylight saving time is a problem we shouldn’t fix.  Most people gripe when setting back their clocks and losing an hour every spring, as we did last week.  New legislation introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) would address this irritation by making daylight saving time (DST) permanent.  But of our three “imperfect alternatives”—permanent DST, permanent standard time (ST) and our current combination—the status quo “remains the best available compromise.”  Daylight saving time was designed to align the hours of daylight with the hours that people are awake, particularly in the summer. Permanent DST would mean that during the winter months, the sun wouldn’t rise in many cities before 8:30 or 9 a.m., forcing people to commute to work or school in nighttime darkness.  During the 1974 oil crisis, Congress moved the country onto permanent DST for two years, but an angry backlash over dark winter mornings ended that experiment after one. 

Permanent ST, on the other hand, would mean hours of wasted sunshine on summer mornings, with earlier summer sunsets. Yes, changing the clocks can have sleep and health costs.  But eight months of getting an extra hour of sunshine while we’re awake is better than the alternatives.

--Binyamin Applebaum, New York Times

The filibuster: A crossroads for Congress

Democrats face a choice--democracy or the filibuster. It’s no exaggeration to say that this single Senate rule will determine the fate of President Biden’s agenda and the future of U.S. majority rule. Republican-controlled states are now racing to pass an avalanche of new restrictions on voting to prevent the massive 2020 turnout from ever happening again, so they can win back Congress and the White House.  The Senate is considering two landmark voting rights bills that would establish national standards for access to the polls, but passage would require 60 votes to overcome an inevitable GOP filibuster.  To eliminate or reform the filibuster, Democrats need all 50 of their senators to sign on.

--Ezra Klein, New York Times

***Centrist holdouts Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) claim the filibuster fosters bipartisan legislation.  Like what?  For two decades, the filibuster has led to nothing but legislative gridlock.

--Paul Waldman,

***Gridlock is preferable to the tyranny of the majority. Allowing just 50 Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaking vote, to ram through their “hyperpartisan” wish list would be a nightmare.  Without a single Republican vote, Democrats would ban states from checking voters’ IDs at the polls and force through new gun restrictions.

--Robert Verbruggen,

***Under pressure, Manchin may not stand up to the Democrats’ radical agenda.  Democrats will try to convince him to reform the filibuster by exempting the type of legislation they most want to pass, such as their voting bills or granting statehood to the District of Columbia.

--Marc Thiessen, Washington Post

***Let’s remember that the modern filibuster isn’t actually a tradition.  Only in the last two decades has a single senator been able to block legislation without even getting on the floor. That change turned the filibuster from a rare, difficult delaying tactic to an automatic legislation-killer used 263 times in 2020. Now all legislation must get a supermajority of 60 votes to pass—which was never the Framers’ intent.  Senate rules should be changed so that the filibuster would return to the limited role it had through most of the 20th Century. That would really be a way of respecting long-standing Senate traditions.

--Eric Levitz,

 A drug to fight obesity

In what scientists say is a “game changer” for obesity, an appetite-suppressing drug has helped people lose up to 20 percent of their body weight.  The treatment, semaglutide, is already used for Type 2 diabetes.  It is a synthetic version of GLP-1, a naturally occurring hormone released by the body after a filling meal.  In a new trial involving 2,000 people in 16 countries, scientists administered a much higher dose of semaglutide to people wanting to lose weight.  Over 15 months, the participants who received the drug lost an average of almost 15 percent of their body weight compared with only 2.4 percent for those who got a placebo.  Almost a third of recipients lost 20 percent of their weight.  Those who lost weight also saw substantial reductions in risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, such as high blood-pressure and blood-sugar levels.  Lead author Robert Kushner, from Northwestern University, tells the New York Times the findings mark “the start of a new era of effective treatments for obesity.”

--The Week

When every white person is a racist 

To see how “woke” culture has transformed American universities consider a recent incident at Smith College. Student Oumou Kanoute was eating lunch in an empty dorm lounge when campus security told her to leave.  Kanoute alleged racism, saying in a Facebook post that started a national firestorm, “All I did was be black.”  A white janitor she blamed for summoning security was put on leave, the university president issued profuse apologies, and the college required staff to take anti-racism training.   

But as a story in the Times detailed last week, the narrative of racist harassment of a minority student at an elitist white institution turned out to be comprehensively false.  Kanoute had gone into a dorm that was closed for the summer, and security had been told to tell all unauthorized people to leave.  Nonetheless, anti-racism consultants hired by Smith pressed all white employees to confess their bigotry and asked them intrusive questions about their parents’ racial attitudes.  One administrator quit in protest.  Why have racial tensions boiled over at so many of the nation’s liberal arts colleges?  When students are steeped in “critical race theory” and “microaggressions,” it’s not surprising they see racism everywhere.

--Bret Stephens, New York Times

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