• ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, September 19

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

    ◆ Trump’s campaign manager wiretapped. That’s a big deal.

    The story was broken by CNN: Exclusive: US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman, starting in 2014 and continuing, off an on, until this year. The tap, authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), would include periods when he was known to speak with Donald Trump. (Manafort also owned an apartment in Trump Tower; that might be relevant because Trump spoke of wiretaps in Trump Tower.)

    There is increasingly strong public speculation that Manafort will be indicted by Robert Mueller’s office.

    At this point, we do not know who the FISA warrant(s) targeted.

    Comment: At this point, we simply don’t know enough about this surveillance. (In fact, the information released to CNN was almost certainly a felony violation of secret proceedings.)

    • Anti-Trump people think the fact that a federal judge would authorize surveillance on such a senior figure in the Trump campaign suggests something very bad was afoot and that collaboration with the Russians may have been Manafort’s aim (if not necessarily that of others in the campaign).
    • Pro-Trump people think this information vindicates his repeated claims that he was wiretapped.
    • And, of course, a lot of people, myself included, want to know more before they reach a conclusion.

    I think a lot of people will agree with Dan Drezner (a centrist and no friend of Trump’s):

    Trump at the UN: Very tough talk. Threatens to “totally destroy” North Korea, calls Kim “rocket man,” and labels Iran a “rogue nation” (New York Times)

    He included terms he had seldom used recently: “radical Islamic terrorism.”

    The full speech is available here on YouTube.

    Comment: Trump’s speech was an unusually blunt, full-throated defense of America’s interests, as opposed to globalism, and included particularly sharp and detailed attacks on Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela.

    Critical responses to the speech line up as expected.

    More censorship calls on campus, this time because a professor wrote a scholarly article called “The Case for Colonialism” 

    The article, by Prof. Bruce Gilley of Portland State, was published in a peer-reviewed journal that is very anti-colonial, which presumably thought the piece was serious, well-researched, and would spark scholarly debate. The basic argument does not deny the evils of colonialism but says they must be balanced against the benefits and that anti-colonialism has itself carried high costs.

    Recently, Gilley publicly resigned from the American Political Science Association for its ideological bias.

    Here’s the report at Legal Insurrection.

    Comment: Given the political climate on today’s campuses, especially those on the coasts, what Gilley’s article sparked was not discussion but calls for him to be fired, censured, and tarred-and-feathered.

    Will the End of Syria’s civil war spell disaster in Europe as battle-hardened terrorist fighters return? (BESA Center)

    Mordechai Kedar says “yes” and adds that Iran has now effectively taken over Syria, strengthened Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and given a free hand to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

    Comment: Iran’s expansion across the region was facilitated by the Obama administration and will cause death and destruction for years to come.



  • ZipDialog Roundup for September 2

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

    ◆ Melania Trump–to her great credit–wore high heels to Texas today. 

    Comment: I normally would not comment on such trivia. But the haters in Manhattan, Cambridge, and San Francisco and their fellow travelers in the media made it a big deal on Melania’s trip earlier this week.

    It was their behavior, not her’s, that was disgusting.

    By wearing high heels today instead of sneaker, she effectively gave the finger to the haters. This from the NY Post:

    Btw, you might not remember that the media said nothing about Michelle Obama’s shoes or outfit during the Hurricane Sandy relief.

    Know why?

    She didn’t bother to visit.

    ◆ Corrupt justice? Comey wrote his “no charges against Hillary and friends” memo long before the FBI interviewed all the key witnesses

    He will wriggle out of any legal trouble. He told Congress he did not make a decision until after the interviews. That now seems like perjury. But he will claim that the memo was merely a draft.

    Equally damning was his decision to let two people who demanded immunity in the investigation sit in on Hillary’s interview. No prosecutors ever do that.

    Comment: This whole thing stinks.

    California prosecutor, leading a murder trial against a gang, beaten unconscious “Buckets of blood” from her (CBS Los Angeles)

    No robbery. No sexual assault. Just a beating.

    Comment: Sounds like a message.

     Good News in Higher Ed: Turns out parents and students shy away from colleges that cave to far-left demonstrators. Mizzou and Evergreen State pay the price. (Fox News)


    The University of Missouri had to temporarily close seven dormitories – renting them out for special events, such as homecoming games – and planned to cut 400 jobs. –Fox News

    Bad news: The level of political correctness has reach ridiculous levels: Students at the Univ of Minnesota vote down remembrance of 9/11 out of fear it would “incite racism” and “offend Muslim students” (Minneapolis Star Tribune) 

    Comment: The refusal of students to attend schools without robust free speech is the best sanction of all.

    Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of administrators like the loss of revenue.

    Meanwhile, the locust-plague of social justice warriors continues on many campuses, shutting down free speech, often with help from the university administration.

    Judge Richard Posner retires from senior status. Most important judge in US not on Supreme Court (Chicago Tribune)

    Posner [age 78] said in a statement he has written more than 3,300 opinions in his time on the bench and is “proud to have promoted a pragmatic approach to judging.” He said he spent his career applying his view that “judicial opinions should be easy to understand and that judges should focus on the right and wrong in every case.”

    Posner’s biting and often brilliant written opinions as well as his unrelenting questioning from the bench have made him an icon of the court for years.

    Known as a conservative at the time of his appointment, Posner’s views skewed more libertarian through the years, and he often came down in favor of more liberal issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights. –Chicago Tribune

    Comment: I have known Judge Posner for many years, as a neighbor and a colleague. And, man oh man, do the lawyers who appear before him tell stories bout his razor-sharp tongue on the bench and his penetrating questions.

    In every generation, there are one or two judges not on SCOTUS who have enormous impact because of their clear thinking and writing. Judge Posner was the one of his generation. His academic impact was equally vast since he helped forge the entire field of “law and economics” (essentially the application of microeconomic logic to a wide range of legal issues).





  • ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, June 4

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

     England’s third major terror attack in 10 weeks raises fundamental questions about how to prevent these assaults

    Comment: Kudos to the London police for their immediate response. It was swift, sure, and effective. 8 minutes from first incident to squads arriving in force. Their swift action prevented countless additional casualties.


    The problem is how to prevent these attacks, both in the short run (surveillance, arrests, etc.) and long run (tougher restrictions on immigration and rethinking the obvious failure to integrate the communities into the liberal west).

    All Europe is facing a high threat from Islamic extremists, many (like the Manchester bomber) born in the very Western countries they are terrorizing.

    As ISIS is squeezed abroad, they will try to revive their organization by killing in Europe.

    Ordinary Europeans will refuse to live in perpetual terror and demand answers from their failing political leaders.

     US media reported the London attack, wall-to-wall, but buried one aspect of the story. Any guesses? You are correct.

    I explain the MSM’s fecklessness, and illustrate it concretely, in a separate post, here. I call it PC BS.

     In happier news, one of baseball’s all-time greats, Albert Pujols become the 9th player to hit 600 homers. (ESPN) The cherry on top: it was a grand slam. Another cherry: it comes in the post-steroid era. His head and arms actually look human. 

     Japan holds evacuation drills as North Korea’s nuclear program advances  (Reuters)

    Comment: The Japanese navy is also conducting joint exercises with the US fleet.

    My sense is that the Chinese are playing rope-a-dope, doing a little to slow down Pyongyang but not nearly enough. That is simply unsustainable for the US and Japan.

     Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell hopeful on tax cuts, less so on healthcare  (Reuters)

    Comment: Tax reform is essential, and the Republicans know it, not just for the economy but for their reelection.

    On healthcare, the pressure in late autumn, when next year’s premium notices go out, will be enormous. Obamacare is melting down, and that means suffering. The Republicans will point at Obama and the D’s. But that won’t cut it. People elected the R’s to fix it.

     California progressives really, really want single-payer, and they want their state to provide it. (Fortune)

    The state Senate, with a big Democratic majority, passed it easily. They skipped over the pesky problem of paying for it. (Honestly, they did absolutely nothing about funding it.)

    How expensive would it be? $400 billion. That’s huge. More than twice as big as the entire state budget today.

    No one knows if the State Assembly will pass it or if Gov. Jerry Brown will sign it.

    Naturally, they would need to heft tax hikes to pay for it, but economic studies show there is still a big shortfall. (ABC News)

    Comment: The leading Democratic contender for Governor, Gavin Newsom (former mayor of S.F.), put on his tin-foil hat and strongly backed the single-payer plan.

     Another “can you top this” in college crazies: Black students at Evergreen State U. in Olympia, WA, demand all white people leave the campus for a day.  (Washington Post) 

    Their demands managed to close the entire school for a day.

    For some reason, not everyone thought this white-leave-campus thing was a good idea.

    One long-time progressive, Prof. Bret Weinstein, did not favor it. And he didn’t like the students’ demands that new academic hires deemphasize academic ability and focus on race/gender/undocumented/social justice/etc.

    As you can imagine, those opposed to Weinstein were not looking for a debate.

    The were looking for blood.

    In fact, the other professors at Evergreen State also turned on Weinstein. (National Review Online)

    It’s so nasty, so crazy that even the NYT’s Frank Bruni writes a column against it. Naturally, he begins by condemning the US, thus establishing his bona fides as a morally superior person, but he still doesn’t like the ideas out in Olympia. It’s a strong column–and one the NYT readership needed to see.

    There are names for people like Frank Bruni. Fascist. Racist. Sexist. Columnist.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Richard Siegler
     and Tom Wyckoff for the Frank Bruni column.


  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, May 23

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

    ◆ My comment on the vile terror bombing in Manchester is posted separately (here).

    May the innocents rest in peace.

    May the wounded recover fully, in body and mind.

    May the police be safe as they root out the terrorists who prepared and executed this heinous act.

    These prayers have been said far too many times. And we fear this will not be the last time.

     Academic malpractice: Highly-esteemed professor at Duke Divinity School resigns after being attacked for not attending the university’s re-education and training camp for diversity.

    The story is here at The Weekly Standard.

    When Prof. Paul Griffiths refused to attend the “Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training” (it must have been named by Orwell) and explained his reasons, the Dean of the Divinity school attacked with full fury. According to Griffiths, Dean Elaine Heath

    initiates financial and administrative reprisals against Griffiths. Those reprisals ban him from faculty meetings, and, thereby, from voting in faculty affairs; and promise (contra the conditions stated in his letter of appointment) to ban him from future access to research or travel funds. –The Weekly Standard

    The faculty member who runs the re-education and peasant labor camp “launched her own disciplinary proceeding against Griffiths with Duke’s Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).”

    Griffiths’ refusal to attend and his explanation made her workplace “hostile,” naturally. If the PC deans and faculty had their way, Griffiths would be sent to the countryside to plant and harvest rice and learn from the honest peasants.

    The article concludes with a powerful comment by the author, Charlotte Allen:

    It’s hard to figure out what’s more appalling about this episode: the ease with which powerful faculty members can strip their colleagues of their ability to do their jobs just because those colleagues exercise free speech and don’t sign on to their ideological priorities—or the increasing power of bloated university bureaucracies, especially “diversity” bureaucracies over every facet of existence at a university that is supposed to be devoted to the life of the mind. –Charlotte Allen in The Weekly Standard

    Peter Berkowitz, another acute observer of academic follies, has an excellent piece on this Duke fiasco at the Wall Street Journal.

    Comment: Shame on Duke, a school repeatedly cloaked in politically-motivated misdeeds. They seem to learn nothing from their mistakes.

    Bravo to Paul Griffiths, distinguished professor of Catholic theology, who deserves a badge for his intellectual courage. I hope he retains counsel and goes after the malefactors.

     At Dartmouth, somewhat better news

    First the bad news: the university selected as its new dean of the faculty a professor (N. Bruce Duthu) who helped lead his professional association to boycott and sanction all Israeli universities and the professors who work there.

    This sort of thing passes virtually unnoticed among university administrators, who probably missed it when they reviewed Duthu’s qualifications.

    But outside the ivied walls, people did notice it. The university defended him, said he was a swell fellow, and, after some hesitation, he eventually said he had changed his mind about boycotting and sanctioning everything from Israel.

    The good news: after national publicity about his anti-Israel views, Duthu has decided that he shouldn’t take accept the Deanship after all.

    Here’s the story at the Observer.

    Comment: Kudos to Paul Miller and Haym Salomon Center for publicizing Duthu’s role in the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement. Ultimately, what Prof. Duthu did behind closed academic doors couldn’t be justified to a larger audience of Dartmouth faculty, alums, trustees, donors, and others. 

     World’s first operational robot-cop has started work in Dubai. They want them to make up about 1/3 of their police force by 2030. (Daily Mirror, UK)

    Fox News also has a report:

    The Robocop, five feet five inches tall and weighing 220 pounds, speaks six languages and reads facial expressions.

    “He can chat and interact, respond to public queries, shake hands and offer a military salute,” Brigadier-General Khalid Nasser Al Razzouqi, Director-General of Smart Services with the Dubai Police told the Mirror.

    Residents can use the Robocop to pay fines or report crimes, and it also can transmit and receive messages from police headquarters. –Fox News

     Chicago clinches spot as great food city: America’s first Nutella Cafe to open in City of Big Stomachs next week  (Chicago Eater)

     Metaphor alert: Huge sinkhole forms near Trump’s Mar-A-Lago (Forbes)

     The headlines about Betsy DeVos’ speech focused on her promise that “more school choice is coming.” That’s big, if vague.

    But she said something equally important: education should not be run from Washington (USA Today)

    Comment: Exactly right, she, Trump, and the Republicans are beginning to turn around decades of increasing centralization of educational decisionmaking in DC.

    Washington can help by allowing all kinds of experimentation. Let cities and states figure out what works and what fits best in different locales.




  • When “I’m Offended” Spells the End of Free Speech

    I recommend Ira Wells’ wonderful discussion, “The Age of Offence: The Politics of Outrage and the Crisis of Free Speech on Campus”,  in the Literary Review of Canada.

    As Wells observes, the assault on free speech at Canadian universities is similar to that in the US:

    An increasingly sensitive and fine-grained vocabulary for registering and opposing forms of sexism, racism, ableism and religious intolerance has undeniably been developing within higher education. Recent events in Canadian universities suggest not only that freedom of speech does not include the freedom to offend, but that those who position themselves as “offence takers” currently hold the balance of power at all levels of campus politics. –Ira Wells

    One example: A professor who directs a major institute at McGill University in Montreal had the temerity to suggest that Quebec suffers from the lower levels of trust among residents than other provinces. The Québécois, who apparently do not trust the polling data, cried foul. The professor was stripped of his directorship before you could say “merde.”

    The problem is that “being offended” is a proposition that cannot be rebutted. It is, after all, your subjective emotion (or, rather, it is one you say you feel, perhaps sincerely, perhaps not).

    If you couple that subjective feeling with the proposition that “the offended must always be shielded from talk that bothers them,” then you have arrived at speech suppression.

    You have accomplished that feat in two easy steps. “I’m offended” + “I must be protected against offense” = “You must shut up.”

    Sometimes, there is an intermediate step:

    “I’m offended” + “I am from a special group” + “People in special groups must be protected against offense” = “You must shut up.”

    In these cases, which are common on college campuses, only approved victims groups are allowed to be offended.

    So, Palestinian students can be offended by anyone who thinks Israel should exist. But there is no symmetry. Israelis cannot be offended by apologists for terrorism (or, rather, they can be offended but no administrators care). Believe it or not, that is actually how many campuses operate.


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . .Monday, Dec. 26

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

    ◆ The Future of TransportationThe Washington Post has a story saying that Elon Musk’s super-fast hyperloop is not so far away as a practical option. The article offers no real evidence of the technological breakthroughs needed to achieve those 750 mph speeds. But it makes another very interesting point:

    By 2020, self-driving cars will have progressed so far that they can drive safely at speeds as fast as 200 mph in their own partitioned lanes on highways. In these circumstances, the commute to Los Angeles from San Francisco would take only an hour and a half — without the need to catch a connection to a [hyperloop] supersonic pod. –Washington Post

    ◆ Trump and the Composition of Federal Courts. The focus, understandably, has been on how Trump will handle the Supreme Court vacancy. But, notes the WaPo, the incoming president has over 100 vacancies to fill on federal district and appellate courts, which will allow him to have a powerful impact on the judiciary very quickly.

    ⇒ Comment: Yet another devastating legacy Harry Reid left for his Democratic Party. Until Reid blew up the longstanding Senate rules, these nominations could have been filibustered, which would have forced the majority party to look for nominees with some bipartisan support. No more. Reid pushed through the “nuclear option,” so his thin majority could push through Obama’s nominees. Now, with the Republicans in charge, they will use their majority to fill all those vacations but one of those vacancies with conservative jurists. The one remaining exception is the Supreme Court, which still requires a supermajority vote.

    ◆ Bullies at chic liberal arts college Student at prestigious liberal-arts college called “white supremacist,” “fascist,” and more by cyberbullies at her school. Her crime was asking for a shared ride to a Trump event. She was distraught enough by the harassment to call the suicide hotline before dropping out of Bryn Mawr college, a all-women’s school with strong Quaker roots. (Philly.com)

    ⇒ Comment: If you believe the school will do anything to the bullies, then you still believe in the tooth fairy.

    ◆ Christmas in North Korea: Kim Jong Un orders country to celebrate his grandmother on the holiday. (Fox News)

    ⇒ Comment: If you leave out any cookies, Kim will come down the chimney himself and eat them. Then kill you for having cookies.



  • I Wish They All Could Be California Girls….and other phrases deemed sexual harassment

    ◆ “Singing a Beach Boys’ tune got me punished for ‘sexual misconduct’,” says University of Kentucky professor (Lexington, KY, Herald-Leader) (link in bold above)

    Headlines do not much stranger, nor our country’s laws and their interpretation by our hypersensitive universities.

    ◆ To quote from the news article (which abbreviates University of Kentucky as “UK”):

    Under Administrative Regulation 6:1, Discrimination and Harassment, UK’s Title IX coordinator ruled that the song, “California Girls,” included “language of a sexual nature” and was somehow offensive, though no victims were identified. –Lexington Herald-Leader

    ◆ Dumb doesn’t get any dumber.

    ◆ Why was the professor singing? A perfect innocent reason.

    The occasion for the song was the closing ceremonies for an inaugural Education Week at a Chinese university as part of a UK program. I taught a class, “Storytelling: Exploring China’s Art and Culture.”

    For my Chinese students, I sang a song to teach the many differences in Chinese and American culture. The Beach Boys riff was one of three takeoffs of popular songs (Sting, Wizard of Oz) that I sang in my closing remarks.

    ◆ Did any student complain? No

    ◆ Did the professor have a problematic record? No. No complaints in 30 years of teaching.

    ◆ Would the university even tell him what he was accused of? No. They denied his request.

    ◆ Did he have any due process rights? No. The university told him he had none at all.

    ◆ Was he found guilty? YES. Here is what the professor says:

    I was convicted without trial of inappropriate behavior, which never occurred, with two women students. They wanted to defend me, but they were never interviewed by university officials. –Prof. Buck Ryan in the Lexington Herald-Leader

    The university told him that, if he didn’t like it, he could try suing them.
    To add to the irony, Prof. Ryan directs the University of Kentucky’s First Amendment Center.
    ◆ University of Kentucky officials refused to confirm the rumor that a student who hummed Donna Summer’s 1975 hit, “Love to Love You Baby” was put to death by public stoning. The stoning was supervised by the University’s Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.
    ◆ And now, I risk my academic career to post this wonderful, exuberant tune.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Tom McCauley
     for this story





  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Wed., Dec. 14

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

    ◆ Abortion laws and court cases have moved back to the front burner. They will be a prominent issues in vetting a Supreme Court nominee, and they have been prominent recently in Ohio, where a lame-duck GOP legislature put two bills on Gov. John Kasich’s desk. He signed one, which bans abortions after 20 weeks except to save the mother’s life. He vetoed one that would have banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat was heard. The Columbus Dispatch reports, noting that 21,000 abortions were performed in Ohio last year, but only 145 after 20 weeks gestation.

    ◆ Congress cannot agree on how to investigate Russian hacking. (Washington Post)

    ⇒ A blue-ribbon commission could avoid such wrangling and think about how to protect future elections. My article making that argument is here at Real Clear Politics.

    ◆ A Saudi woman tweeted a photo of herself without a hijab. Now, the police have arrested her.  (Washington Post)

    ◆ Asian markets expect the US Federal Reserve to raise interests, which will raise the dollar, as well. (Reuters)

    ◆ China warns Trump over Taiwan. (AP) 

    Comment: My sense is that threatening Trump doesn’t work well.

    ◆ Reed College (Oregon) dean “ashamed” after gay leftists shout down and shut down a speech by the director of a sympathetic film about a transgender boy. The bullies’ objections: (1) a non-transgender person was cast in the lead and (2) the director hoped to make money from the film.  (Legal Insurrection blog)

    Comment: First, the dean’s state is a solid one. Kudos. Second, if the college does not impose serious punishments on these bullies, then the statement is hot air. Third, Reed has spent years fostering this climate of “social justice vigilantes,” and the adults there should reflect on the toxic sense of moral entitlement it has wrought.