• ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, March 23

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

     Health Care Bill in the Intensive Care Unit.

    Doubts Ryan and Trump have the votes to pass the bill in the House, but the arm twisting continues to move Freedom Caucus members to the “yes” side.

    If the vote is postponed, you will know Ryan did not convince enough members on the party’s right.

    The New York Times has the most accurate headline: Leaders Struggle to Unite House Republicans Behind Health Bill. The words in the article are “uncertain fate.”

     Islamist attack near Big Ben and Parliament kills 5, including a police officer, and injures dozens

    The extent of the terrorist’s support network and connections are being investigated urgently by British police and intelligence units.

    Prime Minister Theresa May was resolute in response, saying Parliament would not postpone its Thursday session.

    Comment: Before becoming PM, May was in charge of Britain’s homeland security and was highly regarded in the position. She’s the ideal politician to lead her country through this difficult time.

     “House Intelligence chair says Trump campaign officials were ensnared in surveillance operations” (Washington Post)

    The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday accused U.S. spy agencies of abusing their surveillance powers by gathering and sharing information about President Trump and his transition team, an unproven charge that was quickly embraced by the White House but threatened to derail the committee’s investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

    Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), one of Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill, said he was alarmed after seeing intelligence reports disseminated after the Nov. 8 election that made references to U.S. citizens affiliated with Trump, and possibly the president-elect himself. –Washington Post

    His Democratic counterpart on the committee, Adam Schiff, immediately blasted Nunes for revealing this to Trump and to the public before disclosing it privately to fellow committee members.

    Comment: I watched CNN’s take on this. It skimmed over the issue headlined in the Washington Post and, instead, emphasized Adam Schiff’s position that Nunes had destroyed the investigation and that an independent commission was now needed. The cable channel virtually ignored the substance of Nunes’ comments, which implied that some intelligence agencies did collect information on Trump campaign officials and might have shared it within the Obama White House, a serious charge.

    CNN panelists kept emphasizing the Russia investigation and suggesting that Trump’s impeachment was a real possibility if collusion was found. The CNN story is here.

     “Iran Charges Russia with Selling Out its Air Defense Secrets to Israel” (Popular Mechanics)

    An engineer with Tehran’s Ministry of Defense alleged that codes forcing anti-aircraft missiles to treat hostile Israeli fighters as friendly were sold to Tel Aviv, effectively neutralizing Syria and Iran’s S-300 surface-to-air missile systems.

    An Iranian official, described by the Jerusalem Post as a senior member of Iran’s Defense Ministry, told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida that Russia had sold “codes” to Israel that identified Israeli aircraft as friendly. The codes were used by Israel to prevent its aircraft from being targeted. Israel has flown dozens of air raids over Syria, and despite advanced air defenses, only the latest raid, flown last Friday, involved an actual missile launch. –Popular Mechanics

    Comment: Well, those allies in the Syrian fight seem to have some differences.

    Hard to know if the Iranian charges are true, but it is known that the Israelis generally have good relations with Russia and have worked assiduously to make sure Israeli planes do not create problems for Moscow when they fly over Syria to interdict Tehran’s shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah is a client Iran supplies with lethal tools to threaten Israel. Israel, in turn, tries to prevent those ships as they transit Syria, and it wants to do so without creating conflicts with Moscow.

     “New research identifies a ‘sea of despair’ among white, working-class Americans”  (Washington Post)

    Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists [Anne Case and Nobel-prize-winner Angus Deaton] –Washington Post

    Comment: This confirms what Charles Murray wrote in his pathbreaking book, Coming Apart. Murray, you will recall, is the scholar whose presence at Middlebury College set off left-wing students, who rioted, prevented him from speaking, and injured Prof. Allison Stanger, who was escorting him.



  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Saturday, January 14

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

     The House embarks on the politically-fraught task of repealing and replacing Obamacare  The vote was almost entirely along party lines. The New York Times story is here.

    While their party is far from a consensus on how to replace the health care law — under which more than 20 million Americans have gained health insurance — they will need votes from Democrats in the Senate to enact a robust replacement plan.

    Republicans have argued that Americans have been crushed by soaring premiums and other unintended effects of the law, which was adopted without any Republican votes. –New York Times

     CNN gets half the story  The cable channel goes with the headline, “Donald Trump’s top team don’t all agree with him on Russia” They highlight the testimony of James Mattis (for Defense) and Mike Pompeo (for CIA), both of whom spoke in hard edges about Russia’s geopolitical ambitions and said they had no doubts that the Kremlin was behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee and others.

    Comment: When CNN’s report is accurate and important, but it misses something else important. Trump has signaled how he intends to manage. CNN includes the Tweet, but doesn’t appreciate its meaning. Trump is saying he intends to give his key people considerable authority, and he wants to hear their genuine views. If he follows his approach at the Trump Organization, he will reconcile conflicts among them and hold them responsible for their decisions, firing them for falling short. (A deficiency in the George W. Bush presidency, where loyalty to subordinates kept them in office, failing.). 

    We do not know if Trump will actually stick to this approach, but that is what he is signaling.

     Protests shut down invited speakers at University of California-Davis The story is here (NBC)

    Comment: I did not name the two speakers because their names and views should not matter.

    They were invited by a campus organization; they posed no imminent danger to anyone; that should be the end of the story.

    If you don’t like them, then march around and protest, if you wish. Hold a counter-meeting.

    But you should not prevent these people from speaking and, if you do, you should face serious consequences.

    As it happens, I consider both speakers deeply unpleasant, or worse, and would never invite them to speak. But that’s not the issue. Someone else did invite them, and no one should have a heckler’s veto.

     VERY positive review of Google’s new phone, the Pixel XL  It “is as good as the iPhone 7 Plus and makes jumping to Android painless,” says FoxNews Tech. It costs a little over $750.

     Syria Says Israel Attacked Military Airport, Warns Of ‘Repercussions’  Israel’s goal was to stop Iran’s supply of heavy weapons to Hezbollah, which controls southern Lebanon (on Israel’s northern border). The Iranian weapons are temporarily stored in Syria en route. Their destruction caused huge explosions at the Damascus Airport, controlled by Iranian military and Assad’s regime. Israel declined comment, its standard practice in these matters. (The story is here, at NPR.)

    Comment: Lost in the daily cesspool of Iranian actions is the failure of Pres. Obama’s grand strategy, designed to bring Iran back into the international system as a more moderate, benign actor. He and John Kerry touted that as one goal of their dealings with the Mullahs. The counter-argument at the time was that they would simply use the monetary windfall to fund aggressive actions throughout the region. The counter-argument proved correct. 



  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Sunday, Dec. 4

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

    ◆ Can Trump simply cancel Obama’s Executive Actions? It’s harder and slower than it sounds, says Andrew Rudalevige in the Washington Post.

    The items in [President-elect Trump’s] list range from things clearly within the president’s unilateral authority to those that will require a fair bit of cooperation from others.

    For instance, rolling back federal regulations may be slow going because of legal requirements.regulations-labeled-200px-no-margins

    Repealing an existing regulation requires a rulemaking process of its own, subject to the Administrative Procedure Act — this can take months or years. The Supreme Court has held that a rule can’t be rescinded simply to reduce regulation; there has to be “a reasoned basis for the agency’s action.” . . .

    More important, the issuance of regulations is often required by law — and the power to write those regulations is normally vested in a given department or agency, not in the White House. Presidents cannot unilaterally veto a regulation that an agency is determined to issue, or repeal one an agency is determined to keep. –Andrew Rudalevige in the Washington Post

    ◆ Jonah Goldberg on what Trump’s intervention at Carrier portends (National Review Online) Goldberg reiterates his previous stance that Trump’s populism is not traditional conservative.trump-carrier-200px

    The more traction Trump got, the weaker the grip traditional conservative ideology had on quite a few famous ideologues. [Goldberg is not apologizing.] It would be weird for me to apologize for telling the truth as I see it about Trump — and then continuing to do it.

    But this Carrier decision shows that the damage will not be nearly so surgical. The rot is already setting in. … the White House is going to pick winners and losers, that it can be rolled, that industrial policy is back, that Trump cares more about seeming like a savior than sticking to clear and universal rules, and that there is now no major political party in America that rejects crony capitalism as a matter of principle. –Jonah Goldberg at NRO

    Actual CNN op-ed: “Why sex is about to get a lot less fun” under Donald Trump.

    Comment: The double-entendre is just too rich.

    ◆ Striking economic comparison:
    California [Russia + Saudi + Iran + South Africa].

    California’s economy is $2.5 trillion (International Spectator)

    ◆ Tweets of Note



    ◆ Apple gives a strong hint it is working on a self-driving car (The Verge)

    ◆ Yet another troubling dimension of the Syrian tragedy: Russian soldiers pal around with Hezbollah (Liveuamap)



    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Tom Elia
     for story about sex being “less fun” under Trump
    ◆ Blake Fleisher for the Hezbollah-Russian story



    ◆ Send interesting stories to
    Charles (dot) Lipson at Gmail (dot) com