• ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, September 28

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

    Republican Tax Plan: The Essential Features

    The details still need to be worked out through negotiations.

    It is a 9-page framework at this stage, more detailed than previous releases but still not a fleshed-out bill.

    Key features:

    • Lower corporate tax rates: Nominal rates cut significantly–to 20%
      • Whether actual rates for Company X or Company Y are lowered depend on whether previous deductions are eliminated.
    • Fewer personal brackets
    • Much bigger standard deduction for each individual or family
      • Big benefit to lower-income earners
    • Many fewer deductions
    • Keeps big deductions for mortgages, charity, and medical
    • Repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax,
      • Initially meant for a few rich individuals but now affects millions of taxpayers
    • Eliminates the Estate Tax (“death tax”)
    • Repeals deduction for state and local taxes (very contentious)
    • Keeps a special carve-out for hedge fund called “carried interest” (very contentious)

    ◆ The Essential Politics 

    First, the goal is growth, even if it raises projected budget deficits.

    Second, everybody is making hypocritical arguments.

    • The Democrats doubled the country’s debt over the Obama Administration. Now, they are complaining about deficits.
    • The Republicans screamed about debt and deficits during the Obama Administration. Now, most of them say deficits are less important than growth

    Third, the main political arguments are conventional and obvious for both sides.

    • Democrats: “This will only help the rich” (redistribution argument)”
    • Republicans: “Everybody wins when the economy grows faster” (growth argument)

    The New York Times weights in reliably with this analysis headline: Trump Tax Plan Benefits Wealthy, Including Trump. Most analysts agree with this regressive-distribution effect, at least in the initial proposal.

    Big Court Threat to Public Employee Unions (USA Today)

    The Supreme Court agreed Thursday to hear a challenge to the so-called “fair share” fees public employee unions collect from non-members, posing a major threat to organized labor.

    Unlike the past three times the court has considered similar cases, its five-member conservative majority appears poised to rule that workers opposed to union representation cannot be forced to pay for collective bargaining and other benefits. –USA Today

    Comment: The Republicans really want to weaken the public unions, as Scott Walker’s campaign in Wisconsin showed.

    The unions know it and uniformly support Democratic candidates.

    The legal argument by conservative and moderate union members is that so much of what these unions do is inherently political that the members’ free-speech rights are trampled by forcing them to pay union dues as a compulsory aspect of working at, say, a public school or Department of Motor Vehicles.

    My guess: Compulsory union fees will be ruled unconstitutional violations and national membership in public-employee unions will drop significantly, following the Wisconsin pattern.

    The biggest impact will be on K-12 school policy in the states.

    There will be a longer-term impact in other areas since weaker unions cannot stop the rise of autonomous busses or autonomous lawnmowers and floor cleaners, which will give cities and states more service for less money.

    Megyn Kelly: No thanks, say critics and potential guests, after her terrible start (Washington Post)

    Stars now shying away from interviews after Jane Fonda mess

    Megyn Kelly said on the first episode of her new NBC morning show, which aired Monday, that for years she’d “dreamed of hosting an uplifting show.”

    But just three episodes in, her celebrity guests seem to find the show anything but uplifting. Kelly’s penchant for speaking her mind, regardless of how her words might be perceived, caused two of her celebrity guests to speak out against the host after their respective appearances.

    The most recent was Jane Fonda, whom Kelly pressed to discuss her plastic surgery. –Washington Post

    Comment: One problem is that Fox viewers think she “betrayed” her network and thus her “side.”

    A second is that she was always better at hard-news interviews than soft-focus ones. But her new time slot is tailored for morning uplift, not hard news.

    Third, some media critics have said that she is the kind of woman who appeals more to male viewers than female viewers. But the morning audience is heavily female.

    NBC gave her bucket loads of cash and removed a steady program to give her a slot. They must be slashing their wrists.



  • ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, June 18

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

     Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs hotly-contested education bill (Orlando Sentinel)

    The major bill

    tackles everything from recess to teacher bonuses to testing. Backers called it “landmark” and “transformational” legislation, while critics said it will harm public schools and their most vulnerable students. . . . .

    The measure includes the “schools of hope” provision [House Speaker Richard] Corcoran championed, which will use state money to lure high-performing charter schools to neighborhoods where students in traditional schools have struggled academically.

    “These are kids who are being robbed of dignity and hope,” Corcoran said. “We want every single child to have an opportunity to get a world-class education.”

    The bill’s provisions related to charter schools — privately run public institutions — have prompted some of the biggest outcry, with many educators and school advocates urging Scott to veto the bill because they think it will reduce funding for traditional public schools.

    Comment: The bill was strongly opposed by teachers’ unions and other supporters of traditional public schools, strongly supported by proponents of charters and private schools.

     Carol Felsenthal has a thoughtful, succinct opinion piece at ZipDialog: Will Trump Ax Mueller?

    She thinks there is an excellent chance he will and that the political consequences will be very serious.

     Illinois state comptroller says she cannot pay the bills. State finances are in a “crisis mode” (Associate Press)

    [Comptroller Susana] Mendoza says a recent court order regarding money owed for Medicaid bills means mandated payments will eat up 100 percent of Illinois’ monthly revenue.

    There would be no money left for so-called “discretionary” spending – a category that in Illinois includes school buses, domestic violence shelters and some ambulance services. –Associated Press

    Comment: For years, the state spent lavishly on pensions for unionized state employees, who were so beloved by legislators that they actually wrote into the state constitution that pensions can never be reduced.

    On those rare occasions when the Democrats and Republicans agreed on budget cuts, they were struck down by the courts because they reduced future pension benefits, which violates the constitution.

    For years, the state has been deep blue, with House Majority Leader Mike Madigan (of Chicago) as the most powerful figure. Several years ago, a tough-minded Republican (Bruce Rauner) won the governorship, but he and Madigan have not been able to strike a deal. 

    Unlike Puerto Rico, Illinois and other US states cannot seek bankruptcy protection. But lots of city and state agencies can, and there is a real prospect that some will have to do so if the state cannot pay its share of their budget.

    You can easily imagine what the D’s and R’s say. “The other side is intransigent, and what we need to do is (a) raise taxes or (b) cut services.” You can guess who says A and who says B. (The one quirk is that not all Republicans favor being hard on unionized state employees. In some downstate districts, they are vote in large numbers, often for Republicans.)

     “Put down you make-up kit, m’am, and come out of the beauty shop with your hands up.”

    Idaho governor vetoed legislation to make it easier to work in cosmetology  (FEE, Foundation for Economic Education) Then, his wife called and asked her usual, unlicensed make-up artist to come and do some work. The make-up artist, Sherry Japhet, told her no.   

    Here’s what Ms. Japhet said on Facebook:

    Got a call to do [First Lady] Lori Otter’s makeup for a commercial on location and I said…

    “I would be more than happy to do it but her husband [Gov. Butch Otter, R] vetoed a bill to make it legal for me or any other makeup artist and stylist to do so. She will have to go to a salon or do it all herself.”

    She added in the Facebook post: “That felt so damn good.” –FEE

    Comment: Too many people need costly, time-consuming, irrelevant licenses.

    Bureaucracies love imposing them. That’s what they live to do. Professionals already in the field often favor them to prevent competition.

    So, who loses? Consumers lose, unless the licenses protect health and safety.

    Licenses for commercial truck drivers and food handlers are obviously necessary. But many others are unnecessary or are saddled with lots of unnecessary classroom hours. They raise costs and force people to go to unlicensed or blackmarket providers–or do without.

     The answer, my friend, is blowing in the . . . Spark Notes???  (Slate)

    Slate asks, “Did the singer-songwriter take portions of his Nobel lecture from SparkNotes?”

    Sounds like their lawyer went over that headline, doesn’t it? Anyway, they note the following:

    Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages (such as “Ahab’s lust for vengeance” in the above lines) do not appear in the novel Moby-Dick at all. –Slate

     Bodies of missing US sailors found in ship’s flooded compartment  (New York Times)

    The collision occurred in a  crowded shipping lane and the cause of the accident has not yet been determined.



  • 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.




  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, January 16, the day honoring Dr. Martin Luther King

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

     The Strategy of Delegitimating Trump  Rep. John Lewis, civil-rights leader from the MLK days, calls Trump’s presidency illegitimate because of Russian hacking. Republicans disagree, predictably. The New York Times, predictably, runs an article headlined: “In Trump’s Feud With John Lewis, Blacks Perceive a Callous Rival”

    The Congressional Black Caucus, whose motto is “The Conscience of the Congress,” is, predictably, lining up with Lewis, providing a strong invitation for more democrats to join in the claim that Donald Trump is not the legitimate president.

    Days before his inauguration, President-elect Donald J. Trump is engaged in a high-profile feud with some of the country’s most prominent African-American leaders, setting off anger in a constituency already wary of him after a contentious presidential campaign.

    Mr. Trump’s criticism of Representative John Lewis of Georgia, a widely admired leader of the civil rights movement, has prompted a number of Democratic lawmakers to say they will not attend his inauguration on Friday. –New York Times


     Trump blames “all those illegals” from the Middle East for troubles in the European Union.  Interviewed by the Times of London and Germany’s Bild, Trump says

    People, countries, want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity. But, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it … entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit. -Donald Trump interview

    The Los Angeles Times story about the interview and aides’ comments is here.

     Drumbeat of Teachers’ Unions against Trump’s nominee for Education  Expect plenty of headlines like this one in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pa. educators have ‘worries’ about Trump’s Cabinet nominee

    Comment: In this news article, the word “wallet” appears in the second sentence and “billionaire” in the third. The first quote is from the state teacher’s union. In my opinion, the article is closer to an opinion piece than straight news.


     How American Charities Fund Terrorism  Interesting investigative report in National Review, focusing on American charities connected to Hamas.

    Some of the conclusions are debatable, though.

    By providing social services, Islamist terror groups gain political and moral legitimacy among the people under their control as well as among their supporters abroad. –Sam Westrop in National Review

    Comment: That’s an understandable position, but there is another view about these “indirect” benefits. It argues that, because Hamas completely controls Gaza, the provision of almost any social services to ordinary people there would count as benefiting Hamas, according to Westrop’s logic. That may be true politically, but it may cast too broad a net if it includes independent charities that do not work closely with Hamas. 

     Why Women Are Colder than Men  The science behind that common difference. (Glamour Health)

     Political Correctness: so pervasive at American universities that German publications are running major series about it.  Spiegel has a thoughtful, two-part investigation in English (part 1 here), concluding that many campuses are utterly disconnected from ordinary citizens’ views and experiences. That disconnection and the excesses of the PC movement helped Trump win, they argue.

    Comment: I would add that what makes PC movements so troubling is their willingness to shut down others’ speech and their condescending sense that they are morally superior.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Timothy Favero
     for the Der Spiegel article, which I would not have seen without his suggestion


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Friday, January 13

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

     Barone on Trump and the Intelligence Community  Michael Barone, always worth reading, has a nicely-balanced opinion piece on Trump, Russia, and the intel community. Pressing Trump hard to clarify his views about Russia are absolutely “in bounds” for serious journalists and policymakers. But it should be out of bounds to circulate sleazy, unverified dossiers about him. News organizations should first do what the reputable ones are doing: investigate and see if the allegations can be substantiated.  If they cannot be substantiated, don’t publish. And don’t spread gossip.

    It’s Barone’s second point that is so troubling. There is a real possibility that the intelligence community is behind the leaked document. If so–and they have vigorously denied it–then that is very disturbing.

    I lack knowledge of just how the 35-page dodgy dossier found its way into the computerized hands of BuzzFeed. But what we’re seeing looks an awful lot like an attempt to intelligence officials, probably including presidential employees, to delegitimize the president-elect and his administration. It’s in line with the warnings to Trump by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer not to tangle with the intelligence community.

    That’s disturbing, even if you are troubled also, as I am, by Trump’s persistent unwillingness to criticize and persistent propensity to praise Vladimir Putin. –Michael Barone

     Touching: Pres. Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joe Biden, who is overcome with emotion  A wonderful gesture by Pres. Obama, in recognition of Joe Biden’s decades in public service.

     Strong appearance by James Mattis, nominee for Sec. of Defense  He sailed through the confirmation-hearing questions and presented a strong, thoughtful analysis of US strategic posture and military preparedness. The Financial Times headline: “James Mattis calls Vladimir Putin a threat to global order”

    ⇒ The NYT Take is characteristically snarky: Latest to Disagree With Donald Trump: His Cabinet Nominees

     Sen. Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, and Dems to vote against Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. They oppose him on a wide range of civil-rights issue. (New York Daily News)

    Other Democrats weighed in against Sessions throughout the day, highlighting concerns about his controversial views on immigrants, civil rights, voting rights, disability rights, LGBTQ rights and women’s rights.

     “Trump’s Pick for Education Could Face Unusually Stiff Resistance,” says NYT. The story (here) focuses on potential conflicts of interest related to Betsy DeVos’s $5 billion fortune. She has not yet completed her ethics forms and the Democrats are complaining.

    Comment: That’s the issue the Times and Democrats are focusing on today, but it is a side-show. The real issue–the one that should be joined as a public-policy debate–is about increasing school choice via charters, vouchers, and other approaches. The problem for Democrats is that, even in today’s hyperpartisan environment, the rule is normally “the President gets his cabinet choices unless they have legal or ethical problems.” The policy debates come afterwards.

    But Education, Justice, and Environmental Protection are departments so central to the Democrats’ agenda and so vital to their donors that they will tooth and nail to kill these nominations

     Plunging costs for solar energy leads to greater use in Arab Gulf  CNBC reports the surprising rise of solar energy in the land of oil.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Michael Lipson
     for the Biden story


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, January 2, 2017

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

    ◆ If I wrote checks . . .  I would undoubtedly be writing 2016 on them and then crossing it out. Actually, I would probably be putting 1996 on them.

    ◆ You know the country is goin’ to hell when . . . a waitress gets fired from the Waffle House for shooting at robbers. (Newnan Times-Herald in Georgia)

    Comment: I thought shooting at robbers outside a Waffle House made you employee of the month.

    ◆ Minimum Wage Hikes in 20 States. California, for instance, raised it 50¢ to $10.50. Gov. Jerry Brown fought for $15 but couldn’t get it. The story is here. (Daily Caller)

    Comment: In Austin, Texas, the starting wage at Dairy Queen is $12/hour. That’s because Austin is at full employment and every business there has a “help wanted” sign. As it turns out, higher demand for entry-level workers is a better route to raising their incomes than passing laws.

    Why? Because Dairy Queen knows that it can make money from new workers of average skills at that rate. Jerry Brown and the legislature don’t know. The rate that works in San Francisco might–just might–be too high in Stanislaus or Shasta, California. If so, then businesses will employ fewer workers (taking those with more skills) or not hire anyone at all. As Tom Sowell once wisely observed, “The effective minimum wage is $0.”

    ◆ Stronger together, sinking into oblivion. Minyon Moore writes an opinion piece entitled “Hillary Clinton is Not Done Making History Yet!”

    Comment: Wrong. Hillary is extinct, gone to meet her maker, joined the choir invisible. She is toast. 

    As for Ms. Moore, you can read her piece as, “please, Bill and Hill, put me on your payroll.” Moore is a Democratic “strategist” who was named in court documents as putting together an illegal campaign fund for Hillary Clinton in 2008.

    Related StoryVan Jones says “Clinton days are over,” and enthusiastically says the days of the Democrats being a moderate party are over, too. (CNN) He has endorsed Keith Ellison as a great progressive leader for the Democratic Party.
    Comment: When Jones says the days of moderation are over and touts Keith Ellison, every Republican shouts “Hallelujah” from the rooftops. Most would even be willing to tell Democrats what that word means.

    ◆ Guardian names Hillary their “person of the year.” Story here. 

    Comment: These people are idiots. Did they go on vacation in early November?

    ◆ School choice saves money, says a study of Wisconsin schools. Jason Riley writes about it in the Wall Street Journal.

    Comment: America has one of the highest per student expenditures in the world and is still getting mediocre outcomes. My own sense is that people are much more worried about schools’ poor performance than their cost. The costs become more irritating when we see generations of students leave urban schools with minimum skills.



  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . .Thursday, December 22

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

    ◆ Job losses in manufacturing overwhelmingly caused by automation, not trade, according to studies. (NY Times)

    Comment: The pain is just as bad for displaced workers, but the solutions are a lot harder than “blame China.”

    ◆Illinois, poorly governed for decades, lost more residents than any other state in 2016. (WGN via AP)

    Comment: The state bird is a U-Haul

    ◆ Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Sec. of Education, is a billionaire who is passionate and well-informed about school choice. Go ahead and guess how the media has greeted that choice. You are correct. The National Review Online has the story here.

    ◆ A serious attack on the deconstruction and debunking destructiveness of modern literary criticism by a UVa literary scholar who wants to see the field restored, recharged, and renewed. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

    ⇒Related Story at ZipDialog: Shakespeare portrait ripped down by English majors at Ivy-league school

    ◆ A scientific study offers new clues about why Stradivarius and Guarneri violins sound so much bettter (to professionals) than other instruments. (NYT)

    ◆ The other day, I wrote on the still-unfolding scandal over Flint, Michigan’s water. Dave Schuler has a valuable post on it here, ranking it among the country’s worst scandals. (The Glittering Eye)


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Scott Lincicome
     for NYT story on trade






  • Trump’s Cabinet Picks Do Not ♥ Their Agencies: Good

    The Washington Post is shocked, shocked to discover that Donald Trump’s cabinet picks are not always enamored of the departments they are picked to lead.

    Here’s a clue: Trump ran on that platform, and he will be judged on how well he delivers. What counts is not delivery on the specific points of his platform. What counts is delivering results on the group–practical results for voters, many of whom see centralized, bureaucratic government as a meddlesome, deep-pocketed adversary.

    Philip Bump, a senior reporter for the WaPo, begins his analysis with  the snarky (but correct) point that former Texas Governor Rick Perry is best remembered for his “oops” moment, when he could not remember one of the three big bureaucracies he would eliminate if elected president. Turns out it was the Department of Energy. Today, Donald Trump selected him to head that department. (Washington Post)

    Scott Pruitt has spent a lot of time as Oklahoma’s Attorney General suing the Environmental Protection Agency for overstepping its regulatory authority. Now, he will take the helm of the EPA. But if the Washington Post thinks that’s a contradiction, they are mistaken. Pruitt may be right or wrong about the EPA’s overreach, but what better way to restrain it than by appointing a restrainer-in-chief to head it.

    Betsy DeVos undoubtedly plans to eviscerate the Department of Education’s programs that have not produced results and to launch others to support school choice. I urge reporter Bump to walk around the WaPo newsroom and find anybody, aside from the janitorial staff, sending their kids to the District’s everyday public schools. (I am leaving aside magnet schools.) When Pres. and Mrs. Obama had to make that choice for their own daughters, they moved them from a private school in Chicago to a private school in Washington, even as they were guillotining the District’s successful school-choice plan for impoverished families.

    Tom Price, who will head Health and Human Services, has been among the sharpest critics of Obamacare and among the best-informed.

    Bottom line: If things were working well in Washington’s bureaucracies, then fine; stay the course. If things were working well in Washington, Trump wouldn’t have been elected, either.

    He was. They aren’t. And his appointments say he intends to shake up the status quo.



  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, Nov. 28

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

    ◆ ISIS retreat “reveals terror plots against Europe,” according to senior western military officials. (Telegraph)

    The capture of the Syrian town of Manbij, which acted as a gateway for jihadists travelling into Turkey and on to Europe, was an intelligence breakthrough, [British Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones] said. But he warned the militants would still be able to direct plots while they remained in their capital, Raqqa. –Ben Farmer, reporting for the Telegraph

    evaluating-the-obama-presidency-version-2-201px-no-margins◆ A final thought on those fraught family get-togethers, this one from Maureen Dowd.  Actually, it is written by Dowd’s brother, a well-educated suburbanite who supported Trump. (New York Times)

    The election was a complete repudiation of Barack Obama: his fantasy world of political correctness, the politicization of the Justice Department and the I.R.S., an out-of-control E.P.A., his neutering of the military, his nonsupport of the police and his fixation on things like transgender bathrooms. Since he became president, his party has lost 63 House seats, 10 Senate seats and 14 governorships.

    The country had signaled strongly in the last two midterms that they were not happy. The Dems’ answer was to give them more of the same from a person they did not like or trust. –brother of Maureen Dowd, writing in her column

    ◆ Finally, a solution to the pothole problem by the English street artist, “Wanksy.” (Reddit)

    The name Wanksy is a sexual allusion to the English graffiti artist, Banksy. (Banksy, in Smithsonian Magazine)

    keith-ellison-labeled-300px-no-margins Keith Ellison admired Louis Farrakhan and supported boycotting Israel. Why are Jewish Democrats supporting Ellison for Chairman of the Dem. National Committee, asks Tablet Magazine. “The people who vouched for Obama to the American Jewish community are now vouching for Rep. Ellison,” writes Jeff Ballabon, whose strong criticism of Ellison is based on years of personal knowledge. (Tablet Magazine)

    Comment: “Go for it, Keith. We’re all for you,” says every Republican I know. They would love to see the Democrats tap a candidate whose political base is the party’s extreme left and the Nation of Islam.

    hampshire-college-flag-on-fire◆ Hampshire College: Recently, students at Hampshire burned the American flag. The college administrators, showing the backbone of overcooked vermicelli, immediately decided to remove all US flags. Because: America’s history. Today, veterans peacefully protested the college’s policy. (WWLP, News 22 in western Massachusetts)

    The [veterans] protests remained peaceful with the exception of one incident, when the protesters went to take a group photo one man sat in the middle of everyone making obscene gestures. That man wouldn’t confirm if he was a student. The college’s president did not attend the demonstration. –WWLP, News 22

    ⇒ Back in Texas, the Governor tweeted his response:hampshire-tweet-by-greg-abbott2


    south-china-sea-map-300px-no-margins◆ China’s expansion in the South China Sea: a valuable summary of recent developments (AP report at Fox)

    ◆ School choice: Betsy DeVos, a strong proponent of school choice and Trump’s nominee for next Sec. of Education, is interviewed by John Stossel. She speaks courteously as she slices and dices an anti-choice guy who makes the conventional arguments. The interview is a couple of years old, but it is very relevant today.

    As you might expect, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, is not a happy camper about the DeVos appointment. Her job is to protect unionized teachers. Turns out, all they need is more money, and everything will be just dandy. Here’s her interview this week at MSNBC.


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Josh Kantrow
     for the Maureen Dowd piece
    ◆ Bob Lieber for Keith Ellison story
    ◆ Timothy Favero for the story about veterans at Hampshire College
    ◆ Tweeter extraordinaire Belladonna Rogers for retweeting Greg Abbott

    Seen any interesting news or commentary? I welcome your suggestions. Charles (dot) Lipson at Gmail (dot) com

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Wed., Nov. 2

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

    ◆ The Daily Mail reports that the FBI has separate investigations going on virtually all the people closest to Bill and Hillary.

    clintons-are-the-clintons-corrupt-300px-no-margins◆ Victor Davis Hanson offers a powerful cri de coeur about the Clintons and their corruption. (National Review) His conclusion:

    Epic greed, power, and pride: Where’s the bottom? With Bill and Hillary, there’s no telling. … The Hillary/Bill fortune — generated by pay-for-play influence peddling on the proposition that Bill would return to the White House under Hillary’s aegis and reward friends while punishing enemies — hit a reported $150 million some time ago, a fortune built not on farming, mining, insurance, finance, high-tech, or manufacturing, but on skimming off money. The Clintons are simply grifters whose insider access to government gave them the power to make rich people richer. –VDH in the National Review

    ◆ How does China see nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation? Carnegie Endowment associate Tong Zhao offers concise insights. His two key points:

    Chinese analysts consider nuclear deterrence and compellence to be indistinguishable in most cases, and thus often criticize the offensive implications of some U.S. nuclear deterrence policies. …. China views nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism as growing national security challenges.  –Tong Zhao of Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy

    ⇒ Comment: If China really does think it has a big stake in preventing nuclear proliferation, that would be a major step in slowing the spread of these weapons. Second, the US (and virtually all serious nuclear analysts in the West) think that nuclear weapons can be used to deter attacks by other countries but cannot be used as a club to make those countries do things (compellence). Prof. Zhao says Chinese leaders still believe compellance can work–which opens the door to dangerous nuclear threats. (Charles Lipson comment)

    school-choice-200px-no-margins◆ School choice is on the ballot in Georgia, reports Kemberlee Kaye at Legal Insurrection.

    On the ballot this year is a constitutional amendment that would create a statewide “Opportunity School District”. In 2012, Georgia passed an amendment creating its charter school program. Opportunity School District (OSD) is one of the last remaining pieces of Georgia Governor Deal’s education reform initiative. Its function? To assist in the turnaround of failing schools.  …. The National Education Association (NEA) — one of the largest labor unions in the country– [is] dumping millions into Georgia’s election cycle, hoping to kill Governor Deal’s education reforms. –Kemberlee Kaye at Legal Insurrection

    Gov. Nathan Deal was originally a Democrat; he switched to the Republican Party in 1995.

    ◆ Photo of the day. “Well, that’s didn’t work out, did it?”  Signed, your lovin’ dog.



    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Clarice Feldman
     for the Victor Davis Hanson article
    ◆ Michael Lipson for the Photo of the Day. I love him like a son