• ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, August 15

    Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
    Linked articles in bold purple

    The aftershocks of Charlottesville continue

    The main story is the fallout from Pres. Trump’s initial failure to single out the instigators of the fatal attack. He has since issued a full-throated condemnation of the white nationalists, but not until he incurred serious political damage.

    The Washington Post makes an important point: “Turmoil in Virginia touches a nerve across the country

     Kim Jong Un backs down from his threat to Guam.  (Story here)

    Comment: The Chinese probably told him he went too far, but we don’t know the next shoe to fall. Kim has not been seen recently, which may indicate another test is near. In any case, the main problem remains, and there is no indication yet that China intends to resolve it.

    Henry Kissinger, writing an op-ed in the WSJ over the weekend, says the only solution lies in the US and China working out a joint plan to deal with North Korea. The incentive for China is that North Korea’s provocative behavior could lead to nuclear proliferation in the region, which would be very bad for China. (Op-ed in WSJ, subscription)

    Iran announces that it could restart its nuclear program within hours if the US pulls out of the agreement (BBC)

    Comment: Another problem with pulling out: Obama front-loaded all the benefits–ace negotiators, eh?–so the Iranians have already received them.

    Democratic Party flailing: Four-state tour to reconnect with workers (New York Times)

    The need for the Democratic Party and the labor movement to take stock of their historically close alliance became clear after November’s election when Hillary Clinton’s support among union voters declined by 7 percentage points from 2012 when former President Barack Obama was re-elected.

    For months, Democrats have been grappling with how to reconnect with the union and working class vote they once considered their base, prompting former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to lament after the election that “my party did not talk about what it always stood for.” –New York Times

    Comment: For the party of Nancy Pelosi, Tom Steyer, and Keith Ellison to connect with workers, they will need to hire an anthropologist.

    China’s economy continues to cool as Trump Administration looks into its unfair trade practices (US News and World Report)

    Comment: The investigation could lead to tariffs or other punishment. As for Chinese economic performance, it is hard to assess because no serious economist trusts Beijing’s official data.

    Today in teaching

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  • ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, June 22

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump proposes major change in immigration policy, barring new immigrants from public aid for 5 years  (Fox News)

    Trump’s proposal would build on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which allows federal authorities to deport immigrants who become public dependents within five years of their arrival. Many of that law’s provisions were rolled back during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, but Trump’s proposal would make more categories of federal benefits off-limits to immigrants.

    Currently,states typically have the authority to determine eligibility for local public assistance programs. –Fox News

    Those who are here on non-immigrant visas or who are not here legally are already barred in most cases.

    The White House is citing studies that show half the families headed by new immigrants are on welfare, compared to 30 percent of non-immigrant families.

    Comment: Expect a firestorm.

     The Banana Republic of Illinois. The Wall Street Journal writes a withering editorial: “The Illinois Capitulation: Gov. Bruce Rauner cries uncle on taxes and economic reform” (WSJ subscription)

    My friend, Joe Morris, quotes that editorial, writing that Rauner decided to

    accede to Democratic legislators’ demands that he “accept a four-year increase in the flat state income tax to 4.95% from the current 3.75%, expand the sales tax and implement a cable and satellite TV tax” is “a political defeat by any definition since Mr. Rauner campaigned on lowering the income tax to 3%, not on restoring the rate close to what it was under the last Democratic Governor” but that “the citizens of Illinois will suffer the most.” –Joe Morris, quoting the WSJ editorial

    Comment: Rauner won a rare Republican victory in Illinois by promising to “shake up Springfield,” as his campaign slogan had it. Instead, Springfield, controlled by Boss Mike Madigan, shook him up. It’s hard to see how Rauner can win reelection against strong Democratic contenders, who are salivating.

     Remembering a Federal judge who blazed a trail for women: Phyllis Kravitch  (New York Times)

    Broke barriers in Georgia in the 1940s and became the third woman on the US Court of Appeals in the 1979.

    Judge Kravitch embarked on her legal career in Savannah, Ga., her hometown, in 1944, more than a decade before women were allowed to sit on juries in the state. Though she had graduated second in her law school class at the University of Pennsylvania, she said in an interview with the American Bar Association in 2013, she was turned down when she applied for a clerkship with a justice of the United States Supreme Court. He told her that no woman had ever clerked at the court, she recalled, and that he did not want to break with precedent.

    She was also turned down for jobs at one law firm after another, at least one of which explicitly refused to hire Jews. So she returned to Savannah to practice law with her father, Aaron, who represented black and indigent clients struggling to find legal counsel. –New York Times

     Nancy Pelosi takes the heat for Democratic loss in Georgia special election  (Washington Post)

    Comment: ZipDialog made the same point as soon as the election results were in. Pelosi was an albatross for the local candidate. She is for every House Democrat outside the coasts and college towns.

    But the WaPo and others who focus on Nancy and Chuck miss the larger point. The Democrats have no positive message. Their negative message is simple: Trump bad.

    Bernie had an affirmative message. It was unrealistic, unaffordable, and, if it were ever adopted, catastrophic. But Hillary had no message, and neither does the national party. They are running on the charred remains of social programs begun by FDR and LBJ, plus identity politics.

     Black Lives Matter try to block a Gay Pride Parade in Columbus, OH. Virtually no media coverage despite arrests and injured police.  (ABC6 in Ohio) PJ Media and Heat Street also reported it. No one else.

    BLM was protesting a police shooting in another town. Unclear why they decided to use that issue to block a gay parade in Ohio.

    Comment: Why does the story matter? Because the left makes a big, big deal out of “intersectionality,” which means all progressive groups must support each other. That’s an old-fashioned strategy (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours), dressed up in fancy words. But BLM’s action shows its limits. The left knows it cannot easily criticize them (because they would be called the worst word in the lexicon); BLM knows that and exploits it.  

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Joe Morris
     for Wall Street Journal editorial on Illinois
    ◆ A friend for the Columbus, Ohio, Gay pride versus BLM protest

     

  • Nancy Pelosi Takes another Deep Dive into the Shallow End

    We need more and more and more investigations, says Minority Leader Pelosi. Here’s how she justifies her clarion call, according to The Hill

    While calling [newly-appointed Special Counsel Robert] Mueller a “respected public servant of the highest integrity, [he] will still be in the chain of command under the Trump-appointed leadership of the Justice Department,” Pelosi said. “He cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump Administration’s meddling.” –The Hill

    Comment: Her idea of an independent commission would have been good–earlier. I supported it myself in the aftermath of the election since we need to understand how Russia meddled here and in Europe so we can deter future attempts.

    But that moment faded, not because the need for inquiry went away but because it is already being done.

    • There are several serious investigations underway,
    • The Senate investigation is moving forward in a bipartisan way,
    • Robert Mueller will lead another one that has won bipartisan support, and
    • Rod Rosenstein is in place at DOJ (again with bipartisan support) to oversee the FBI as it moves forward. 

    Nancy Pelosi wants something that is no longer needed and justifies it with a rationale no one believes.

    I’m not sure any of these overlapping investigations will be forward-looking, developing ways to limit future meddling. That’s unfortunate, but Nancy’s plan wouldn’t address that problem, either.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, May 1. . . May Day! May Day!

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

     Government to stay open through September, thanks to bipartisan agreement over a Continuing Resolution (Washington Post)

    The bipartisan agreement includes policy victories for Democrats, whose votes will be necessary to pass the measure in the Senate, as well as $12.5 billion in new military spending and $1.5 billion more for border security requested by Republican leaders in Congress. –Washington Post

    Comment: Rare agreement–on anything.

     Bret Stephens’s first NYT column just ran. It said some climate science findings are clear-cut, others less so. HERETIC ALERT!!! NYT readers immediately began cancelling their subscriptions.

    You can agree or disagree with Bret’s views, which are balanced and presented with supporting data. But heads exploded all over Cambridge, Berkeley, Ann Arbor, and the Upper West Side.

    Anyone who has read the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change knows that, while the modest (0.85 degrees Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming of the Northern Hemisphere since 1880 is indisputable, as is the human influence on that warming, much else that passes as accepted fact is really a matter of probabilities. That’s especially true of the sophisticated but fallible models and simulations by which scientists attempt to peer into the climate future. To say this isn’t to deny science. It’s to acknowledge it honestly.

    By now I can almost hear the heads exploding. . . .

    Let me put it another way. Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.

    None of this is to deny climate change or the possible severity of its consequences. But ordinary citizens also have a right to be skeptical of an overweening scientism. –Bret Stephens in the NYT

    For this kind of wild-and-crazy talk, CNN reports “NYT subscribers dropping paper over climate column” Here’s just one example:

    Comment: Who says religion is dead? The Times’ readers reaction is roughly the same as citizens in Calvin’s Geneva if you had said, “Let’s discuss whether to keep one or two Saints’ Days.” 

     The impact of ISIS terror attacks on Europe’s “state of mind”  (Dr. Tsilla Hersco at Begin-Sadat Center, Bar-Ilan Univ., Israel)

    EU now favors discreet cooperation with Israel to combat terror, while still opposing Israel’s own measures to combat Islamic terrorism

    The appalling terrorist assaults perpetrated by ISIS in Europe have led to significant changes in the European state of mind. By exposing the vulnerability of EU state borders, they have prompted rudimentary initiatives to secure those borders and increase counter-terror cooperation among EU member states, while also boosting the popularity of far-right parties.

    The attacks have given rise to a discreet cooperation between EU member states and Israel in dealing with the terrorist threat, but have not prompted the EU to change its critical position regarding Israel’s defensive measures against Palestinian terror. The moral double standard of the EU on this issue might undermine its own fight against Islamist terrorism. –Dr. Tsilla Hersco at BESA Center

     Nancy Pelosi to face primary opponent associated with Bernie Sanders  (The Observers) Her adversary, Stephen Jaffe, is a prominent SF lawyer, specializing in discrimination, sexual harassment, and whistleblowers.

    Comment: Pelosi will be wading in campaign cash, but she won’t be able to run on a record of recent achievements. There aren’t any.

    Larger issue: The prospect of being “primaried” from the left could become a major obstacle for any Democrats who want to work with Trump, and vice versa. My guess is that it already affected Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who voted to filibuster Neil Gorsuch even though Trump easily won Missouri.

     Here are two words I’ve never seen before in one sentence: “accordion heartthrob” But that is the NYT headline for Dick Contino’s obituary. His career in B-Movies also inspired novel by James Ellroy (who also wrote L.A. Confidential).

     Sure hope he likes irony: Chicago Police Chief’s SUV broken into during a ‘crime of opportunity’  (Chicago Tribune)

    Comment: Imagine, if you will, breaking into Al Capone’s car by accident. What’s the over/under on how long you live? One day?

    In today’s Chicago, what’s the likelihood they’ll even find the perps?

     Macron (leading Le Pen in the French election runoff) is right about this. It’s not just France that will want out if the EU if it doesn’t reform. BBC article here.

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    Hat tip to Ed Vidal for the CNN story about NYT cancellations.

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, March 24

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

     Repeal and Replace goes down to the wire. Vote postponed Thursday, will happen Friday

    The Washington Post reports the President gave holdouts a clear choice: “Trump delivers ultimatum to House Republicans: Pass health-care measure on Friday or he’ll move on”

    The move was a high-risk gamble for the president and the speaker, who have invested significant political capital in passing legislation that would replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. For Trump, who campaigned as a skilled negotiator capable of forging a good deal on behalf of Americans, it could either vindicate or undercut one of his signature claims. If the measure fails, it would be a defeat for Trump in his first effort to help pass major legislation and it may also jeopardize other items on his wish list, including a tax overhaul and infrastructure spending.

    Defeat would also mean that Obamacare — something that congressional Republicans have railed against for seven years — would remain in place. –Washington Post

     Democrats Plan to Filibuster Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch  (New York Times)

    To break the filibuster, the Republicans need 60 votes and, according to the NYT, they don’t have the 8 Democrats they need to do that.

    Comment: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is playing to his enraged, activist base. I see two main consequences, one for elections, two for the Senate.

    1. D’s from states Trump won by significant margins are made much more vulnerable. They will have to vote with the party base or the larger electorate in their states.
    2. Mitch McConnell will toss out the 60 vote filibuster rule for Supreme Court  nominees, following Harry Reid’s precedent in overturning it for all other federal appointments.
      • McConnell didn’t hold this position open–blocking hearings for Obama nominee, Merrick Garland–to let the Democrats block this appointment.
    3. The change in Senate rules, executed mostly by Reid, alters that body in fundamental ways. It now looks much more like the House, where a simple majority is enough to ram through legislation if you can whip your party in line.

     The NYT’s spin misses the main story:

    Their headline: Devin Nunes Puts Credibility of House Panel He Leads in Doubt

    The real headline story:  Devin Nunes says he has hard evidence the Trump Transition team was spied on; Hints at “smoking gun” connecting spying to Obama Administration (ZipDialog post)

    Nancy Pelosi clearly did not like Nunes’ doing this. She called him a stooge. Presumable the 4th one.

     London’s terror killer identified as Khalid Masood  Now, the Brits want to know how he slipped through their net (Independent, UK)

    Comment: Actually, he slipped through the net twice. The intel services didn’t connect his name to terrorism; they just knew him as a criminal. At this point, nobody knows whether he was connected to a wider network or not. Second, Masood slipped through an open gate and got very near Parliament itself.

    That said, British and European counter-terrorism services face overwhelming tasks. Decades of anti-Western immigrants, who have failed to assimilate, have been systematically ignored by political leaders who thought–quite wrongly–that “nobody would come to Britain [or Belgium or France or ….] unless they wanted to become like us.” Nope. And simply celebrating it as “multiculturalism” turned out to be a catastrophic failure, as Theresa May has recognized.  

    This problem goes far beyond beefing up domestic intelligence and policing. That’s part of the answer, but the problem is much larger.

     Former Russian lawmaker, critical of Putin, gunned down in broad daylight in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev. (CNN) Denis Voronenkov joins a long line of former Putin critics. The suspected killer was himself killed by Voronenkov’s bodyguard.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called Thursday’s killing a “Russian state terrorist act” on Twitter, and described Voronenkov as “one of the key witnesses of the Russian aggression against Ukraine” — referring to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and a subsequent war with pro-Russian rebels. –CNN

    Ukraine’s president called it an “act of terrorism.”

    Comment: This killing makes Pres.-elect Trump’s excuses for Putin, especially those in his 2017 Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly, all the more noxious (Transcript here)

    “But he’s a killer though,” O’Reilly said. “Putin’s a killer.”

    “There are a lot of killers,” Trump responded. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent.”

     Bright Future for Solar Energy in India: Hopes for a booming domestic market and exports of solar panels manufactured there (Business Insider) PM Narendra Modi wants to spend over $3 billion aiding the industry. In a country where some 300 million are not connected to the grid, the government hopes to draw 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.

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  • Nancy Pelosi calls chairman of House Intel Committee a “stooge of the President”

    The chair in question is Devin Nunes. 

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the minority leader on the committee is Adam Schiff. All are from California.

    The two Democrats, Pelosi and Schiff, are now going after Nunes with both guns blazing.

    Here’s Pelosi’s latest, quoted in The Hill:

    By being a stooge of the president of the United States, he has demonstrated very clearly that there is no way there can be an impartial investigation under his leadership on that committee. –Nancy Pelosi

    Pelosi’s vitriol has a purpose. She and other Democrats want to convene a special committee or, if possible, an independent counsel, to investigate Trump. Anything they can do to undermine Nunes advances that goal. She added,

    Chairman Nunes acted outside the circle of respect [for his committee by talking with President Trump about these issues.]

    Chairman Nunes is deeply compromised, and he cannot possibly lead an honest investigation. –Pelosi

    See?

    Comment: The “circle of respect” is a concept previously unknown in Washington.

    Sources close to Nancy Pelosi were shocked to hear her associated with “respect” in any way. She had previously avoided any contact with it.

    Fortunately, ZipDialog’s artists were able to capture a picture.

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    Hat tip to Tom Elia for the Nancy Pelosi quotation

     

     

     

  • President Trump’s Address to Congress: Thoughtful in tone, Effective in selling a big agenda

    (Note: When I comment on events like this, I watch the event itself but not the commentators so I can avoid the “echo chamber” effect.)

    Bottom Line: The speech was quite good, both as a performance and as an outline of Pres. Trump’s policy agenda.

    • You can like the agenda, or loathe it, but he put its best foot forward.
    • Most of all, the speech was “Presidential” and far more effective than the sharp tone of his Inaugural Address.

    As a performance, it was serious but uplifting, outlining his big agenda in affirmative terms.

    His decision to begin by condemning racial and religious hatred, and doing so with a bow to Black History Month, was perfect. It set the right tone.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The most riveting moment, one that brought together this deeply divided audience, was the President’s recognition of the widow of U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens. It was heart-wrenching to watch her stand there, crying over her loss and visibly praying for strength. Pres. Trump’s phrase that his sacrifice for our country is “etched into eternity” was perfect.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The most disheartening moments, at least for me, came when the Democrats refused to stand for even the most banal and uncontroversial applause lines. Why sit on their hands? Part of it, naturally, is policy. But part is politics, a party base seething over all-things-Trump and demanding full-frontal opposition from their representatives. Democrats who stand and clap do so at their electoral peril.

    I was even more disheartened by the gasps, thumbs down, and even a few boos that came when Trump laid out the more contentious elements of his agenda, particular his plans to recognize and help victims of immigrant violence. The Democrats hated his reference to “draining the swamp,” and made that plain. I’m sure many Republicans did, too, but they were smart enough to shut up.

    Again, my objection here is not to the Democrats’ substantive views here (though I do disagree with them). I simply wish they had listened respectfully in the chamber and then expressed their opposition outside it.

    Along the same lines, I did not like the one or two moments when President Trump seemed to point out House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. At least he didn’t repeat her infamous line about needing to pass Obamacare to find out what was in the bill. In this setting, it’s unfair of the President, just as it was unfair of Pres. Obama to attack the Supreme Court Justices sitting in front of him. Pelosi had no chance to respond to Trump’s attacks during the speech. All she can do is sit there. She did, grumbling and visibly fuming.

    Related point: I am not sure about the appropriateness of female representatives wearing “suffragette white,” which was done to support a variety of feminist political issues and take some attention away from the President. I can see both sides of the “appropriateness argument.” Again, the issue is the time and place, not the substance. It was a very visible political gesture, meant to counter the President. I couldn’t help but think that, grouped together, they looked like a church choir.

    This hostile gesture will surely initiate a tit-for-tat spiral of clothing to indicate political stances at future addresses. I much prefer those statements to come before and after the speech, not during the speech itself.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Substantively, the most important takeaway is Trump’s embrace of the Paul Ryan approach to health-care reform. The package will emphasize market-oriented solutions, insurance sales across state lines, and health savings accounts. Trump made clear that he would include (costly) coverage for pre-existing conditions, though he did not say how he intends to pay for it. He underscored that there would be no mandates and that consumers could buy whatever plans they want. These health-care issues will be on the front burner for the next month and Trump turned up the heat.

    Other issues were treated in broad terms, with a big emphasis on patriotism, “America First,” and (alas) economic nationalism. He underscored that he was elected President of the United States, not the world, but explicitly said that the US was committed to NATO and would remain engaged abroad.

    As Trump laid out his agenda, he repeatedly said he is keeping promises made during the campaign.  That’s smart politically, not only because it buttresses his reputation but because it tells Congress, “I ran specifically on these promises and won.” It tells them he has a mandate to accomplish these policy goals.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Trump’s plea for bipartisanship will fall unheeded, of course, but the Democrats will have to determine whether they are more endangered by their “hell no” base or by a “get something done” general public. My hunch: the base wins.

    ⇒ For Trump and his Republican allies, the speech was a strong, effective performance. They’ll need it for the coming battles on health care and taxes, battles within the party and with Democrats.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, February 28

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

     Man, that seemed like a short month

     NY Teamsters were promised excellent retirement benefits by the unions that handled the pension funds. Now, the pensions are running dry  (New York Daily News)

    [Tim] Chmil is one of roughly 4,000 retired Teamsters across New York State suffering a fate that could soon hit millions of working-class Americans — the loss of their union pensions.

    Teamsters Local 707’s pension fund is the first to officially bottom out financially — which happened this month.

    “I had a union job for 30 years,” Chmil said. “We had collectively bargained contracts that promised us a pension. I paid into it with every paycheck. Everyone told us, ‘Don’t worry, you have a union job, your pension is guaranteed.’ Well, so much for that.” –New York Daily News

    Comment: This is a tragic story. The only silver lining would be to learn from it. Workers’ retirement funds are their own in 401k plans so they cannot be lost like this. The downside is that workers (like me) have to invest their own money and never make as much as the “defined benefit” plans like those promised by the Teamster Local 707.

    But union leader will never, ever, never allow 401k plans if they can prevent them. Why? Because the unions themselves can determine who gets the heavy fees associated with their union funds. Because so much money is sloshing around, the chances for corruption are great. Those who control the pension money can direct it to their brother-in-law or to a friend who promises kickbacks. (Companies used to be able to do the same thing and often invested the money in those own company’s stock to raise the price. That is now illegal.) By contrast, 401k plans are normally very cheap to operate. Unions that control their own pension money can also determine which investments to fund. How do you think Las Vegas casinos were financed in the 1950s? 

    Among the few defined benefit plans still around are those of government employees. After all, the taxpayers have to pay them and, at the state level, cannot lessen the burden by bankruptcy.

    Well-governed states like Indiana have already converted all employees to 401k’s. Some states are unwilling to go that far but are at least putting all new public employees on 401k’s. And then there are Deep Blue states like Illinois, headed for a dumpster fire.

     “With Obamacare in jeopardy, California considers going it alone with ‘single-payer’ system”  (Los Angeles Times)

    The problem, in a nutshell, is that this program would be enormously expensive and California is already in financial trouble.

    In a single-payer system, residents would pay into a state agency that essentially functions as an insurance company. The agency would pay doctors and hospitals when people sought treatment.

    Single-payer has a long, troubled history in California. Bills made it through the Legislature in 2006 and 2008 only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    But advocates say Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) increased support for single-payer by championing it on the national stage last year while vying to become the Democratic presidential nominee.

    New York state unveiled single-payer legislation earlier this month. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced a similar bill in Congress that would expand Medicare to cover all Americans.

    But a 2008 report from California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office found that even with a tax on Californians and the state’s pooled healthcare funds, the state would still be short more than $40 billion in the first full year of single-payer implementation.

    “Where were they going to come up with the $40 billion?” said Micah Weinberg, president of the Economic Institute at the Bay Area Council. “It’s just not feasible to do as a state.”

    Weinberg pointed out that a single-payer initiative was scrapped in a state as liberal and small as Vermont. A single-payer measure on Colorado’s November ballot also failed.

    Comment: The proponents are California Dreamin’ on a winter’s day.

     Tom Perez, new head of Democratic National Committee, must rebuild his party from the bottom up. Opinion writer James Downie says “Tom Perez’s biggest problem as DNC chair: His backers” (Washington Post)

    [The] reason for Perez’s entry and victory was simple: In defeating Ellison, the establishment wanted to rebuke the progressive wing and retain control of the party.

    Therein lies Perez’s — and the party’s — biggest problem. The Democratic Party needs the progressive wing’s energy and new ideas if it is to recover. . . . The fact is that the party establishment doesn’t want to admit its failings. –James Downie in the Washington Post

    Downie’s conclusion:

    Rescuing the Democrats from this deep hole requires grass-roots energy — energy that clearly is most prevalent in the more liberal wing of the party, as seen in the surprisingly successful campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Capturing it means working with outside groups and listening to new ideas, not doubling down on establishment control.–James Downie in the Washington Post

    Comment: Perez is whip-smart, well-educated, and skilled at insider politics.

    He has only a slim chance of winning the Senate. He has a better chance of winning back the House, though he will have to do so with Nancy Pelosi as the facelift of the Party.

    His biggest challenges:

    • Recovering some heft in state politics
    • Integrating the Sanders/Warren/socialist wing of the party without alienated more centrist voters. That would normally be impossible, but their shared opposition to Trump personally and to his agenda will help.

    The oddity here is that Perez is on the party’s far left wing. It’s just that he is not as far left as Bernie Sanders, who, after all, is a self-declared socialist and not a member of the Democratic Party. (He joined only for the presidential race and resigned after it ended.)

     Bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, vandalism in Jewish cemeteries, and no arrests yet

    These threats are becoming regular events, as the Washington Post reports.

    It was the fifth round of bomb threats against Jewish institutions since January, prompting outrage and exasperation among Jewish leaders as well as calls for an aggressive federal response to put a stop to it. –Washington Post

    In addition to these bomb threats, Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized. Several hundred tombstones were pushed over in Philadelphia, on top of a similar attack last week in St. Louis.

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Tom Elia
     for the NY union pension story
    ◆ Ron Hassner for list of Jewish Community Centers dealing with bomb threats