• ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, April 18

    Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

     The big news continues to be tension in Korea, where Vice President Pence is visiting and told the North Koreans not to mistake the president’s resolve

    Comment: This is a crisis of choice, in a sense. Trump, like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, could have kicked it down the road. All those presidents tried and failed to resolve the issue.

    Delay is not always a bad solution, but it’s not always a good one, either. You have to figure out whether time is on your side or your adversary’s.

    The problem here is that North Korea is making steady progress on two deadly fronts, and it is no longer willing to delay them for small bribes, like those paid by previous administrations.

    North Korea is getting better at building nuclear bombs. It is trying hard to make them smaller, so they can fit on a missile, and it is trying to build a hydrogen bomb. Second, it is making steady progress building medium-range missiles and is seeking to build an ICBM. The combination of small nukes and long-range missiles would put the US within range of nuclear attack by a hyper-dangerous regime whose leader does not appear to be calm, steady, and rational.

    The US has long said a North Korean nuclear threat to the US was unacceptable. Saying it, as several presidents have, is a far cry from making it an effective policy. That is what none have been able to do, and not for lack of trying. Trump seems to be doing something. We don’t know exactly what and we don’t know how effective he and his team will be. We do know it is risky to try; the Trump team has calculated that it is far more dangerous in the long run to sit and wait.

    Over the longer horizon, then, it is Pyongyang’s policies and erratic, bellicose pronouncements that created the crisis.

    Over the short term, though, the crisis was initiated by the US.

    My interpretation: Trump, Mattis, Tillerson, and McMaster (and probably Coats and Pompeo) looked that North Korea’s military program and asked themselves a fundamental question: Is time on our side or theirs? If it is on ours, then delay. If it is on their’s, then force the issue. We can see first-hand what their strategic assessment is.

    The hard part now is to force the issue with threats and not the actual use of force, which could lead to vast casualties. 

    In using threats, Trump has a huge advantage over Obama. Trump’s threats to use force are credible. The Chinese and North Koreans–and America’s friends in the region–have to take that seriously for the first time in years.

     “Calexit” supporters drop their secession bid . . . for now (Washington Post)

    Comment: Ken Burns is particularly disappointed.  His proposed PBS series began with a letter,

    My dearest Tiffany–
    If we should lose tomorrow’s battle, if I should die far from the gnarly waves of Newport Beach, I want you to know . . . .

     New York Times runs op-ed by “a leader and parliamentarian.”  That’s what the NYT calls him–and that’s all they say.

    The paper overlooked his day job: he’s a convicted terrorist who murdered five Israelis.

    Comment: You really can’t blame the Times if a writer omits a detail from their résumé.  

    Of course, the writer is the most prominent Palestinian terrorist in jail. The NYT deliberately hid the crucial information about his murders from readers.

    To compound this nasty piece of work, the Times ran it to gin up American public support for a hunger strike by jailed Palestinians.

    The Daily Caller excoriates the paper, rightly.

    And Elliott Abrams, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations blog, rips the Times a new one. Well worth reading. His conclusion nails a crucial point: the readers deserve the information.

     Shocking News: The US economy keeps growing but electricity use is flat. That’s what Bloomberg says. Per capita, it has fallen for six straight years.

     Lawsuit of the Day:

    • Professor comes into Wal-Mart to get fishing license
    • Get license but finds his employment listed as “toilet cleaner”
    • Humorless fisherman files suit

    The AP story is here.

    Comment: According to the lawsuit, the professor feared mockery every time he yelled “I caught another big one.”

     A serious story on the sexual-harrassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly  (Washington Post)

    A key part of the story is the allegation by a Los Angeles author and radio personality, Wendy Walsh, who is not seeking money, which then led to an independent investigation by the prominent NYC law firm. It was the law firm’s negative findings on Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes that led to his departure.

    As the Washington Post puts it:

    A similar fate [to Ailes] could await O’Reilly; a negative finding by the law firm could force the hands of Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, who run Fox’s parent company.–Washington Post

     Here is tomorrow’s Washington Post opinion page. Notice a pattern?

    The list continues beyond this screenshot. It is, as the mathematicians say, “finite but large.”


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Robert Lieber and Ed Lasky
    for different reports on the New York Times‘ hiding the background of a Palestinian terrorist.


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, February 16

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump’s Budget Chief finally Approved; Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) has been a Tea Party favorite  (Washington Post)

    Comment: His position is a hot seat and will be difficult for him to manage politically. The difficulty, fundamentally, is that Trump’s spending and tax-cutting plans and his refusal to tackle entitlements are very different from the Tea Party’s and the House Freedom Caucus. Mulvaney will not only have to reconcile those vast differences, he will have to convince some of his former colleagues in the House–or be read out of their church.

     Alexander Acosta, nominated as Labor Sec. He is an experienced lawyer, who served in several positions in GW Bush administration, including National Labor Relations Board, and is chairman of a Hispanic community bank in Florida (Fox)

    Comment: Presumably better vetted than Andrew Puzder, who withdrew his nomination, and should be a straightforward approval. That won’t stop Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats from slow-walking it. Vetting is fine. Slow walking is just gamesmanship.

     US Sec. of State Rex Tillerson meets his Russian counterpart. So far, no real news about what has become an increasingly conflictual relationship (New York Times)

     US Sec. of Defense reassures NATO that it will not cozy up to Russia No closer military ties between US-Russia, Mattis says  (New York Times)

     Senate to grill Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Israel  (CNN)

    Comment: David Friedman has supported settlements so he is reviled by the left. The Democrats will focus on Trump’s “abandonment of the two-state solution.” But that’s misleading. What Trump really did was say, correctly, the parties themselves have to strike a mutually-acceptable deal. We (the US) won’t constrain that. Smart, as a negotiating tactic.

    Of course, there will be no agreement because

    • The Palestinians do not have stable governance
    • One of their territories is rules by corrupt terrorists, the other by dead-ender terrorists, part of a larger Muslim Brotherhood movement, bent on overthrowing regimes across the Arab-Muslim world; and
    • The Palestinian people have not even begun to discuss the nature of the compromises that would be essential in a peace treaty. The Israelis did discuss those issues and were ready for compromise during the Clinton Administration.

    They have now given up on that possibility and are reluctantly moving forward to preserve their security without much cooperation from the Palestinians.




  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, January 19

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

     Clinton Global Initiative closing down, all world’s pressing problems solved  The story is here. (National Review)

    Two Comments First, when you rake in money by selling proximity to power, then you go broke when you don’t have anything to sell. It was all about access to the Secretary of State and the future President. Once she’s out of office with no prospect of returning, why would a hard-nosed sheik or kleptocrat give money to Clinton? If Trump had kept his faux-foundation open, they would have given it to him.

    Second, look who did not bother to cover the story.

     Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue picked as Agriculture Secretary The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

    And Trump went down to the wire with the Perdue pick, making him his last Cabinet selection before he is sworn into office Friday. The choice was mired in political wrangling, with some factions pushing Trump to opt for someone from the Midwest or to diversify his Cabinet by naming a Hispanic official.

    If confirmed, Perdue would become the new head of the $140 billion agency, which dictates the nation’s farm policy and also oversees the food stamp program. He would be the first agriculture secretary from a Southern state since Mike Espy of Mississippi headed the department in the early 1990s. …

    A native of Perry, Ga., Perdue helped craft the state’s agriculture policy in the 1990s as a Democratic state senator from Houston County before switching to the GOP in 1998. –Atlanta Journal Constitution

     Headline of the Day: “The French Version of SNL’s “More Cowbell” Sketch is an Insult to Our National Honor

    I have watched the French version so you do not have to. It is an insult to the great Will Ferrell-Christopher Walken version.

    Comment: I put my pants on just like the rest of you, one leg at a time. Then I make gold records.

     Schumer finally picks his target: The hit will be on Dr. Tom Price, nominee for HHS.  Schumer could not figure out which nomination to kill (until now, he had 8 possibilities), but now he has settled on Price, who will shape health care reform. Schumer has found an issue, too, if it proves out. He is raising questions about some trades Price made in health care stocks. Now the Senate Minority leader says “there is a very good chance Price won’t be confirmed,” according to The Hill.

    CNN reported on Monday that Price invested in a medical device company shortly before introducing legislation that benefited the company.

    President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has dismissed the CNN report, noting that a broker made the investment and Price wasn’t aware of it until after he introduced the legislation.

    But Schumer floated Tuesday that Price may have broken the law if he knew about the investment.

    “That cries out for an investigation,” Schumer told CNN. “If he knew about it, it could very well be a violation of the law.”

    Three Comments: (1) At the very least, Schumer will call for a lengthy investigation to slow-walk the confirmation. Predictably, Senators Franken, Warren, and Baldwin were shocked, shocked and called for delay on any hearings.

    If Price really violated the law, then the delay is justified and will sink the nomination. If not, not. Schumer has to convince some Republicans to join him; he can’t do that without real evidence.

    (2) The damaging report came from CNN, which was the first mainstream media outlet to report an unverified Buzzfeed story on possible Trump blackmail by Russia over a honeytrap sex sting. The story has not been confirmed since then and major news organizations have tried mightily and failed. If CNN stepped in it a second time, heads should roll and the channel’s remaining viewers should flee.

    (3) Price is a crucial appointment for the new Trump cabinet. None is more important.

     Obama’s Labor Department Sues Oracle for job discrimination  Says it pays white men more and–stop the presses–favors Asian people for “technical roles.” Oracle denies everything and says the lawsuit is political payback. The story is here. (Engadget)


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Randi Belisomo
     for the Clinton Global Initiative story. The comments are my own, of course. (Charles L.)


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, Dec. 19

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Home construction has lagged the rest of the US recovery. (Wall Street Journal)

    ◆ Before the Kardashians, there was Zsa Zsa Gabor. The same idea: bling, glamor, strange voice, no talent except for publicity. Now Zsa Zsa is dead dead.  She was 99. (LA Times)

    ◆ It is with great personal pleasure I announce the following: my spellcheck does not recognize the word “Kardashian.”

    ◆ Most reports about Trump’s nominee to be US ambassador to Israel have been critical, emphasizing his conservative views and lack of foreign policy experience. Elliott Abrams has a far more positive view of the nominee, David Friedman. (Abrams’ blog at the Council on Foreign Relations)

    ◆ Well, that was a bad idea, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says of her meeting with Bill Clinton. Jake Tapper of CNN does a fine job bringing out her views. (CNN)

    ◆ For years, Middle East Studies departments in US universities have been cesspools of hatred for Israel and for anyone (Jewish, Evangelical, or other) who supports Israel. They have received no pushback from university administrators or faculty. The federal government has funded them for language training, even though the departments’ hatred of the US government is strong and deep. Now, Middle East Studies Departments across the country are lashing out at the prospect of a Trump presidency, using the language of victimization they have taught students for years, writes Cinnamon Stillwell and Michael Lumish at Campus Watch.

    ◆ GQ has an article entitled “Mitch McConnell is the Real Evil One.” The subtitle is equally subtle, “Where Do You Think Trump Learned to Gaslight America?”

    I am not being hyperbolic when I say that Mitch McConnell is evil. The coming Trump Presidency is already an assembly line of shitty, apocalyptic consequences getting cranked out 24/7, and the fact that McConnell now holds near-total power over Congress is perhaps the most unbearable side effect of them all. –Drew Magary in GQ

    Comment: When I need political analysis, I go to GQ for fashion advice.



  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Wed., Nov. 16

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    thomas-jefferson-labeled◆ The latest in Campus Crazies comes from the University of Virginia. Some students–and, incredibly, some faculty–criticize the university’s president for quoting Thomas Jefferson, who actually founded the university. They say, accurately, that he owned slaves. They omit that he also played a vital role in creating religious liberty and forging a constitutional order based on the idea that “all men are created equal,” an idea that ultimately helped abolish slavery.  The story is here at Reason.

    ⇒ I have posted the story and a comment separately at ZipDialog: Quoting Jefferson at His Own University Can Create a “Hostile Environment”

    giuliani-labeled-300px-no-margins◆ To read something truly rich, try this New York Times article: Rudolph Giuliani’s Business Ties Viewed as Red Flag for Secretary of State Job. The Times says that Giuliani made speeches for as much as $200,000 each and made “extravagant demands,” such as private planes of a certain size.  They are shocked, shocked.

    Comment: Shame of the Times: You will search in vain for the NYT’s anguish over one presidential candidate’s higher speaking fees, more extravagant demands, and huge fees for family members doing international business work while the candidate was in office as Sec. of State. If you think those fees to Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea were not “option purchases” on their future favors, just ask yourself: What is Bill Clinton’s speaking fee today, now that they are out of office forever? My guess is that “he’s got some dates available” and the prices are a tad lower than the $750,000 he earned for some previous speeches. Nor will he be receiving $16+ million for being an “honorary chancellor” of a for-profit university, either. The point here is simple: the NYT is not an equal-opportunity crusader against corruption. The Times’ discovery is reminiscent of Xi Jinping’s crusade against corruption: it always seems to be his enemies, and never his friends, who are accused of it.

    ◆ CNN reports terror attacks in the developing world were up 650% last year.

    pelosi-labeled-250px-no-margins◆ Until this week, everyone expected the Democrats to reelect Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader. But she had to postpone the vote, suggesting the peasants are restless. The Hill’s story is here.

    ◆ Bloomberg has a short, snappy piece with graphs showing the steady rise of global interconnections, despite the rising pushback.

    ◆ How will China’s economy fare after Trump’s victory? CNBC reports.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Dan Miller
     for the Thomas Jefferson story

  • Can the Democrats Talk Honestly About What Went Wrong?

    hillary-clinton-labeled-red-300px-no-margins◆ Comment on the Democratic Party’s troubles: How long before Democrats recognize that it wasn’t just Hillary Clinton’s atrocious campaign that left the Democratic Party in deep difficulty? It was also the enormous damage done to the party by the Obama Presidency.

    The damage was done by the President’s policies, widely seen as ineffective and too centralized, and by the coalition he forged, not by the President’s personality.

    The President himself is well liked. He and his family are very appealing. The President is recognized as one of the great campaigners of the modern era, someone who connects with crowds and loves being on the stump . The polls show him at very high levels of personal popularity late in his presidency, when most presidents are roundly disliked.

    What voters are unhappy about is not the Obama personality but the Obama policies. The rejection of those policies showed up with stark clarity in off-year elections.

    • Barack Obama at Oval phone call April 28, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

      Barack Obama at Oval phone call April 28, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

      It was under Obama that the Democrats lost the Senate and House. Politicians associated with the Affordable Care Act still cannot escape the damage.

    • It was under Obama that Republicans won most governorships.
    • It was under Obama that the Democratic Party completed its shift to a party of the coastal elites, urban minorities, and public-sector unions. The party’s traditional working-class base, which Bill Clinton struggled to retain, is now gone.

    In the non-Presidential election years, 2010 and 2012, the next generation of rising Democrats was wiped out at the polls.

    Who was left? People like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, aging leaders, Washington lifers, the detritus of a bloated central government. The voters didn’t like them any more than they like their Republican counterparts at the US Chamber of Commerce.

    Why can’t the Democrats talk honestly about these problems?

    pelosi-labeled-250px-no-marginsFirst, the party leaders are part of the problem–and naturally they cannot say so. The party is still run by the old guard, leaders like Nancy Pelosi. She raises too much money (all of it from coastal elites) to be pushed aside.

    Second, they cannot criticize the Obama years without alienating African-Americans, who are essential to the Democratic coalition and are understandably very proud of the first African-American president. Any Democrat who is seen tarnishing his legacy would be committing professional suicide. Politicians don’t do that. Neither do liberal columnists, who are also part of the coalition.

    The Democrats soul-searching cannot be about personalities, then; nor should it be. It must be about policies. Democrats have to ask why their hold on the House, the Senate, the Governorships, and State Legislatures has slipped so profoundly. They cannot blame all that on Hillary’s wooden style and lack of authenticity.

    The party’s most likely answer will be “we were too centrist.”

    That will certainly be Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s answer. (The Republican right gave the same answer to why McCain and Romney lost.)

    That answer spells electoral doom.

    A Democratic Party that moves hard left and pushes for more high-tax, high-regulation, statist solutions will win Oberlin, but it won’t win Ohio.

    They will Occupy Wall Street. But they won’t occupy the White House. (Charles Lipson comment)

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Friday, Nov 11

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ November 11: Veterans Dayveterans-day-300px-no-margins


    A serious analysis of why the polls got it wrong. 

    zd-polling-201px-w-marginsThe author, Milt Rosenberg, is known by millions for hosting one of the country’s most interesting talk shows. But his “day job” was always as a professor of social pyschology, with special expertise on polling bias. His analysis emphasizes “evaluation apprehension,” in which respondents fail to report their views accurately to pollsters for fear they will be judged negatively. (American Spectator)

    ◆ ‘Not my president’: Thousands protest Trump in rallies across the US (Washington Post)

     NY Daily News, which hates Trump, runs this headline: President-elect Donald Trump complains about ‘unfair’ protesters

    clinton-foundation-300px-no-margins◆ IRS sued for Clinton Foundation Documents (Fox)

    Comment on the Foundation: The Clinton Foundation is extremely vulnerable to a thorough, honest investigation by a neutral DOJ. But it is vital that a Trump Administration act with probity. If this investigation looks like vengeance or retribution, it will be as bad as the Obama DOJ.

    Comment on the Clintons’ Personal Enrichment: For anyone who thought it was not influence buying to hire Bill and Hillary for speaking fees of $400k-$750k, or hiring Bill as an “honorary chancellor” of a private university for $16 million, ask yourself this:

    Is anybody willing to pay the Clintons those astronomical rates now? Why not? Because the Clintons are out of power for good. Not temporarily. They are never coming back.

    No investor buys an option that will expire worthless. And people paying them those fees were “investing” in the Clintons. (Charles Lipson comment)

    energy-composite-solar-coal-nat-gas-oil-fracking-labeled-300-no-margins◆ What will a Trump Presidency Mean for Energy? Good News for Oil and Gas. Bad News for Solar  (Buffalo News, republished in GovTech) Growth was already slowing in the solar industry, but Trump’s recognition that low BTU prices mean economic growth translates into pro-oil and gas policies, not subsidies for higher cost renewables.

    ◆ Thanks to so many of you for reading my op-ed at Real Clear Politics: What Happens After the Electoral Earthquake?



  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, Oct. 27

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ Clinton Foundation’s Fundraisers Pressed Donors to Steer Business to Former President.  WikiLeaks has provided the sordid details. (Wall Street Journal)

    bill-clinton-labeled-as-former-pres-2016-300-no-marginsComment: That violates the most fundamental laws about how foundations must operate and, in particular, must avoid personal enrichment. I’m sure James Comey and Loretta Lynch are all over this one, ensuring we live in a government of laws. (PS, I’ve heard that the Clinton transition team is quietly vetting Inspector Clouseau for Attorney General. Insiders say that “his being dead is considered a plus.”) (Charles Lipson comment)

    ◆ Now that all the overblown praise for Tom Hayden has subsided, Ron Radosh writes about the radical zealot behind the glossy coverage. (PJ Media)

    hayden-smallNewspapers now have produced glowing and inaccurate accounts of Hayden’s life and politics. Most egregious was The New York Times . . . The worst claim in the Times’ obituary is that Hayden was a “peace activist” who “opposed violent protests but backed militant demonstrations.” He could be called a peace activist only if one views someone who supported a Communist victory in Vietnam as a proponent of “peace.” –Ron Radosh in PJ Media

    ◆ The kind of bizarre story I love. The headline: “Protest paralyzes NY-New Jersey bridge; drivers outraged.” But here’s what makes it special:

    It wasn’t immediately clear what the protest was about. The Daily News says some outraged commuters — delayed over an hour — tried to pull down protesters’ banners. –Associated Press


    title-ix-logo◆ “Colleges Enlist Growing Army of Title IX Enforcers,” reads the headline in The American Interest. Harvard Law School profs coined an apt phrase for it: “Bureaucratic Sex Creep.” Here’s what they mean:

    Not content with enlarging their ranks of diversity bureaucrats and Title IX officers, colleges are enlisting student resident assistants (typically, senior students who live in lower-class dorms) as “mandatory reporters” of possible Title IX violations, including “harassing remarks” they might hear.  …   This is not good training for life in a free society. –post in The American Interest

    solar-200px-right-margin◆ From AEI, a skeptical view of solar energy, saying that it still needs massive subsidies to compete. (Benjamin Zycher, published at The Hill)

    Cubs logo w baseball 201px◆ Chicago media–TV, newspapers, radio, smoke signals–are completely devoted to the World Series. If other news is happening in the US or the world, journalists in other cities will have to cover it. Right now, Chicago has only one interest: the Cubbies.



    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Tom Elia
     for the American Interest article on Title IX enforcement

  • Madonna makes an offer. Bill Clinton wants to vote twice

    In an effort to limbo beneath the bar of this year’s sleazy campaign, Madonna tells an amphitheater that  “If you vote for Hillary Clinton, I will give you a blowjob, OK?”

    I see a couple of problem here.

    First, the offer comes from Madonna. (Her lawyers could defend against the charge that it is a bribe by noting that very few would consider it “a thing of value.”)

    Second, normally, it is not the pro-Clinton folks who raise this topic.

    Still, it has moved old dog Bill Clinton out of the “undecided” column.bill-clinton-labeled-as-former-pres-2016-300-no-margins


  • Zip Daily: News Beyond the Headlines . . Tuesday, September 6

    Always being updated

    ♦ Powerful article in New York Times over rising ethnic-religious tensions in Europe prompted by the refugee crisis. The article is about Denmark but it applies far more broadly. Its subtitle captures the central point: “The thousands of Muslim asylum seekers pouring into Denmark have spawned a backlash, and questions over whether the country has a latent racial hostility at its core.”  Kudos to Abigail Esman, who wrote me about the article and has published on these issues herself:

    This has been coming for a long time, and the Netherlands led the way. For Europeans (or Americans, for that matter) to expect their citizens to embrace immigrants who refuse to embrace them is both blind and unreasonable.  So what now?

    Abigail Esman, private communication
    Esman is author of Radical State:
    How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger)


    ♦ Dumb, Dumber, Duterte. “Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte expresses regret that his “son of a bitch” remark came across as personal attack on Obama.” (AP) Other news organizations report he called Obama the “son of a whore.” Oh, come on, Rodrigo, I’m sure no one dreamed it was meant as a personal insult.

    ♦ Richard Fernandez offers a withering, insightful look into Putin and his governing elite (PJ Media)

    The paradox that Putin exemplifies is that while factions breed formidable conspirators, they also create poisonous leaders. They succeed in themselves but cause the society around them to fail.  That is because they dispense a favoritism which is ultimately ruinous for the nation. The result is a self-vetoing enterprise.

    ♦ Rising national demand for rental housing, analyzed by Gail MarksJarvisUntil recently, America led nearly all countries in home ownership. Now, after housing bubble burst and the Great Recession hit, American home ownership is about average among advanced economies. Rental costs are pinching, too.

    During the decade that began in 2005, renter households grew 9 million to 43 million households. The combination of 8 million homeowners losing homes to foreclosure and the resulting damage to credit scores kept millions from buying again and forced people into rentals. [According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, the] surge in demand has sparked large price increases, and high rents have been especially brutal for people with low incomes.

    About 1/3 of families devote half their income to rental costs. (Chicago Tribune)

    ♦ Duke University sets aside a room as a permanent “safe space,” complete with its own soothing professional. (Reason) Why not provide them with normal professional services at Student Mental Health? This is all theater–and it is theater of the absurd. Just wait til these delicate flowers get a job and are summoned into the boss’s office to hear the dreaded words, “We’ve decided to go in another direction.” Oh, the humanity. (Reason)

    When your honorific job earns you $18 million, then you must be married to the Secretary of State. The Washington Post investigates Bill Clinton’s lucrative job with a for-profit university. The money graf:

    There is no evidence that Laureate [International Universities] received special favors from the State Department in direct exchange for hiring Bill Clinton, but the Baltimore-based company had much to gain from an association with a globally connected ex-president and, indirectly, the United States’ chief diplomat. Being included at the 2009 dinner, shoulder to shoulder with leaders from internationally renowned universities for a discussion about the role of higher education in global diplomacy, provided an added level of credibility for the business as it pursued an aggressive expansion strategy overseas, occasionally tangling with foreign regulators. . . .  A close examination of the Laureate deal reveals how Bill Clinton leveraged the couple’s connections during that time to enhance their personal wealth — potentially providing another avenue for supporters to gain access to the family.

    Proving, once again, why Hillary’s campaign slogan is the inspiring “Hey, nobody can prove a quid pro quo!!”

    ♦ And now for the best entry I’ve ever seen in a book index. Retire the prize; none will ever top it.Funny index entry2 350px