• 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

     

  • Welcome News: German TV will finally air a documentary on Anti-Semitism in Europe. It had been withheld

     Good News: Germany’s widely respected public television broadcaster, WDR, will finally telecast this documentary on Wednesday night.

    The film, entitled, “Chosen and Excluded – The Hate for Jews in Europe” had been withheld, allegedly on the grounds that it was factually incorrect or not up to professional standards.

    It had been commissioned by ARD and the French-German ARTE.

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    Why Was the Documentary Withheld?

     The official grounds for withholding–that the film was inaccurate and unprofessional–do not hold water.

    The more plausible explanation was the kind of fear of stemming from the terrorist massacre at Charlie Hebdo and other radical Islamist attacks on outspoken journalists in Denmark, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Short article on the controversy at the Jerusalem Post (link here) 

    The JPost includes this important comment from Volker Beck, a Green Party deputy in the Bundestag:

    Beck also said that on Wednesday, the Bundestag will discuss a report on antisemitism from an independent expert commission that revealed that “40% of Germans hold modern anti-Israel, antisemitic views. We must face this problem.” –Volker Beck, German Green Party, quoted in the Jerusalem Post

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Robert Lieber, a professor at Georgetown, is one of the country’s leading analysts of US foreign policy, with special interests in the Middle East, Europe, and energy.

    His most recent book is Retreat and Its Consequences: American Foreign Policy and the Problem of World Order (Cambridge University Press).

  • Extraordinary Blinders: The WaPo looks back on the Orlando Massacre a year later. . . and omits the source of terror, calling it only “a madman with a gun”

    Here is the Washington Post headline:

    “A year ago, 49 people died at Pulse nightclub. Today, Orlando remembers”

    Perfectly appropriate headline for a sad, human-interest story.

    Their emphasis on remembering and mourning is good. That’s important for all of us.

    What’s not good is the Post’s deliberately omitting the source of terror.

    When they finally mention that a killer came to the Pulse nightclub, they intentionally mislabel as a “madman with a gun.”

    That’s political spin–and it tarnishes serious reporting.

    Here is the Post’s mischaracterization:

    For 12 years, the club grew into an integral space for the gay community, one shattered within a matter of minutes by a madman with a gun–Washington Post

    ♦♦♦♦♦

    Comment: I understand the focus of the article is on “remembering,” not analysis.

    But they do mention the attack–and, when they do, they deliberately mischaracterize it.

    It was not a “madman.” He had a purpose–a political/religious one.

    He came to kill infidels in the name of Islam, as his terrorist movement interpretted it.

    We need to speak clearly about that.

    At the same time, we must not tar Muslims (or members of any religion) who go about their lives peacefully and honorably.

    I write about these issues at Real Clear Politics: An Islamic Terrorist by Any Other Name (link here)

     

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, June 10

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

     The aftermath of Comey remains “He said. He said.” One he is Comey, the other is Trump.

    Other than Trump’s foolhardy bravado in offering to testify under oath to Mueller, nothing really happened.

    The newspapers generally covered the testimony honestly. The outlier was the New York Times. Here’s my blog post on that:

    How Five Newspapers Headline Comey’s Testimony: Four are Fair, One is Not

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    Comment on Conspiracy Theories: The Comey testimony and its aftermath underscore and reinforce a larger shift in public discourse that is very troubling: the rise of conspiracy theories.

    America’s media in tandem with the Democratic party and progressives are now playing a constant drumbeat of conspiracy theories, mostly about secret collaboration between the Kremlin and Trump to throw the 2016 election.

    We haven’t seen anything like that since Joe McCarthy.

    Trump does not come to this with clean hands. His claims about Barack Obama’s birth certificate were a major conspiracy theory for years.

     Britain’s Tories face a trainwreck. Their call for a snap election has produced a hung Parliament and likely a shaky coalition government

    The headline in The Independent: Theresa May tries to move on after humiliating result as critics begin to circle

    A chastened Theresa May is attempting to move on from her botched election gamble, under intense pressure from members of her own cabinet and Tory backbenchers to dramatically improve her game. . . .

    Ahead of what is promising to be a bruising meeting with Tory backbenchers next week, MPs publicly questioned Ms May’s position and her campaign, with one even branding it “madness”, while others demanded changes to her Brexit strategy and raised concerns about a deal with the Northern Irish DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] . –The Independent

    May met with the Queen and said she intends to form a government. But there is considerable question about her future.

    The Tories could toss her out before the next election, which is likely to come fairly soon.

    Meanwhile, here are the main effects of the British election. It

    • Requires Conservatives to partner with a small party (DUP) from Northern Ireland to form a government
    • Shows the failure of Theresa May’s campaign; she was a bad candidate who ran on her personality, not future policy
    • Rejects the Conservatives positioning themselves as mushy, big-state centrists, far away from Thatcher’s free-market policies.
    • Gives Labour its biggest gains since late 1940s, even though (or perhaps because) the party is headed by a very, very far leftist.
      • Labour’s huge gains under Jeremy Corbyn, an unabashed socialist who supports a number of terrorist regimes, mark a major political shift in the electorate.

     Spain’s Catalonia region (Barcelona and surrounding area) will hold a referendum on leaving Spain (NPR)

    The Spanish central government sees the vote as illegal, so this sets up a confrontation.

    The Washington Post story is here.

    “There is not going to be any illegal referendum that goes against the Constitution,” the government’s spokesman . . . said after a weekly cabinet meeting. “We are facing an increasingly radical strategy that has less and less support.”

    [But Catalonia’s regional president] Carles Puigdemont said the decision to call for the vote was reached after more than 18 months of efforts failed to establish a dialogue with Madrid.

    He also said the vote was nonnegotiable because Catalans backed his plan for secession by voting for his coalition of pro-independence parties at the end of 2015. –Washington Post

    Comment: The region has a long history and its own language, Catalan, that is related to Spanish but different.

     Repealing Obamacare puts the Senate’s centrist Republicans in a bind. An example from Ohio, in his USA Today story:

    Rob Portman’s dilemma: How to repeal Obamacare without undermining opioid fight

    The key problem: any cutbacks in Medicaid, which Ohio expanded as part of the ACA, would harm addicts’ ability to get care.

    Comment: Repealing and Replacing Obamacare depends on solving very hard problems like this. 

     Meanwhile, Politico reports that “Conservatives near revolt on Senate health care negotiations”

    Comment: Staunchest opponents appear to be Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT).

    Skepticism about the bill voiced by Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) 

    Republicans have 52 votes. They would need 50 votes plus the Vice President to pass a bill and send it to a reconciliation committee with the House.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • How Five Newspapers Headline Comey’s Testimony: Four are Fair, One is Not

    I have written a separate post summarizing Comey’s testimony: what he said, what he didn’t, what he implied, and what I think is significant about it.

    Comey’s testimony lacerated the president and laid the basis for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate obstruction of justice. That and self-justification were his main goals, and he succeeded.

    But Comey’s testimony was careful.

    Here are some fair representations of it.

    The best, I think, is the Wall Street Journal’s because it

    • Puts Comey’s accusation against Trump in the headline
    • Gives it the most prominent place on the front page without stretching it to World War III headline size
    • Makes clear that Comey is saying how he “felt.” The WSJ is not taking a hard-news stance that he is correct or incorrect in that interpretation

    The Chicago Tribune is fair, too. It gives the story more prominence (a perfectly reasonable decision) and puts the hard news in the subheader.

    The headline merely says what we all know: he testified.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Here are two more, equally fair and tough.

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Now, the New York Times.

    The Times’ headline represents everything that is wrong with mainstream media.

    It is an editorial without saying so.

    Why? Because Comey did not testify that Trump tried to “sink” the inquiry.  He was more careful, more lawyers, more “touchy-feely” about what he “felt” (which, of course, is entirely subjective and so cannot be refuted).

    Comey did not say Trump tried to stop the inquiry.

    He didn’t say Trump ordered him to do anything.

    He didn’t report anything like obstruction of justice at the time, as he would have been required to do.

    What he testified was that he felt pressured.

    Comey may be exactly right–or not. We can make our own judgments, but we don’t know for sure.

    His testimony was a lawyerly self-defense, designed to help himself and get revenge on Trump.

    But he did not testify, under oath, that Trump “tried to sink” the investigation. That’s the NYT’s editorial spin.

    Their interpretation may be exactly right, but it belongs on the editorial pages.

    All the other stories above the fold are designed–and headlined–to reinforce the NYT’s editorial viewpoint.

    Their headline should be hard news, and it should be accurate.

    That would be a refreshing change. 

  • What matters in Comey’s Testimony . . . and what doesn’t

    What was in the brew Comey stirred up and served to the world on Thursday?

    There was some red meat for both Democrats and Republicans. So you can expect them to emphasize different things.

    • In the media world, that means ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and others will see it one way.
    • Fox News commentators will see it another. Fox News’ flagship program, Special Report with Bret Baier, plays it straight. The other shows feature a lot more conservative, pro-Trump commentary.

    The Washington Post thinks the big news is Comey’s statement that “Trump lied” about the reasons for Comey’s firing since he, Comey was doing a great job and the FBI was not demoralized, as the president said. That was Trump’s lie, said Comey.

    That is a headline grabbing statement. But it is not what’s important.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Remember, there are ultimately two big legal issues:

    1. Did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians to throw the 2016 election?
    2. Did Pres. Trump obstruct justice in the FBI’s investigation of the Russian matter, Michael Flynn, or any other politically-sensitive issue

    There is one big political issue: Can the Democrats damage the Trump Administration? 

    • To do that, they need to find enough material to keep Trump on the defensive.
    • While Trump is on the defensive, he’s have a harder time moving appointments and legislative agenda (a gain for the Democrats)

    A weakened and vulnerable President will increase the Democrats’ chances of winning the House in 2018.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Turning to Comey’s testimony. . . he

     Confirmed that Trump has never been the subject of an FBI investigation and said he told that to Trump several times (as Trump claimed)

    Effectively stirred up the Russia issue again without offering anything substantive

    • Comey simply said what he now thinks 

    “It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired, in some way, to change — or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

    Comey’s testimony threatened to deepen the legal and political crisis engulfing the White House, which has struggled to respond to growing questions about the president’s conduct. -Washington Post (link here)

     Said Trump did not try to slow or stop the FBI’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 US election

    Comey declined to say whether he thought the president had obstructed justice, saying that was a determination to be made by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

    In response to Comey’s testimony, Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, released a statement saying the president “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.” –Washington Post

    • Comey offered no evidence of obstruction, which he would have been legally required to report contemporaneously.
    • He tried to square the circle by saying he now thought it might be obstruction
    • And, by raising the issue’s profile, he made set it high on Mueller’s agenda (and gave the Democrats talking points)

    ◆ Reaffirmed the leaks of “people familiar with Comey’s thinking” that Trump had privately told him he “hoped” Comey would be able to conclude the Flynn investigation and clear Flynn. But he did not order him to end the investigation.

    • At the time, he did not think that was obstruction, did not tell the President he was uncomfortable or that the conversation should end, but he did feel some pressure

    Confirmed that, in one disputed conversation, Trump asked AG Sessions to leave the room. 

    • Trump’s desire for secrecy supports those who think he was doing something improper. (Note, however, that improper is not the same as illegal.)

    ◆ But–and this is crucial–Comey changed his mind after being fired: now Trump was “directing” him to end the investigation of Flynn

    • His public statements about this pressure and his carefully chosen term, “directed” will force Special Counsel Mueller to look at the matter as possible obstruction
    • Mueller might have done that anyway
    • It won’t come to anything legally, but Democrats will seize on “possible obstruction” as a political hammer

    ◆ Admitted that he had orchestrated leaks of his private conversations, as FBI director, with the President.  

    • These documents almost certainly did not belong to Comey but to the government (but that is a legal matter)
    • He lacked the courage to leak the documents himself or simply disclose them in a press conference. He gave them to a “cutout,” a friendly law professor at Columbia and had him leak them to the New York Times.
    • Under questioning from Congress, he effectively outed the professor without naming him directly. NBC names the professor as Daniel Richman. (NBC)
    • Comey’s statement that he took the memoranda, which belong to the government, and converted them to private use is potentially a legal violation in its own right.

    Claimed his leaks were done for an explicitly political reason: to get a special counsel appointed. An extraordinary admission

    Admitted that Attorney General Loretta Lynch (in Obama’s final years) ordered him not to call an ongoing criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails what it was: “an investigation.” She told him to call it only a “matter.”

    • Comey said he knew Lynch’s terminology was deliberately false and misleading,
    • Comey acknowledges bowing to this order. Apparently, he did not push back.
    • Comey thinks Lynch’s order was to ensure the DOJ and FBI used the same language the Clinton Campaign was using, even though they knew it was false.
    • This is clear evidence that Lynch was using her office to try and influence the 2016 election.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    The most interesting comment on the Comey-Trump fight

     Matthew Continetti writes a fascinating opinion column in the Washington Free Beacon, entitled:

    This One Tweet May Lead to Donald Trump’s Impeachment

    The logic is this:

    • A Trump tweet after firing Comey further angers the former director; this is the one that said Comey better hope there are no “tapes.”
    • Comey decides to leak his Cover Your Ass memos (via a friend) with the goal of getting a Special Counsel
    • He succeeds
    • The investigation by that Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, could ultimately undermine the Trump administration and even lead to impeachment

    Continetti writes:

    It now looks like the most consequential Tweet of his presidency to date came a few days after he fired James Comey as FBI director. At 8:26 a.m. on Friday, May 12, Trump wrote: “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

    That tweet, Comey told the Senate, prompted the now-private citizen to instruct a friend, Columbia Law professor Daniel Richman, to share with the New York Times the contents of contemporaneous memos he had written describing his interactions with the president. The article, published a week to the day Comey was fired, revealed that the president had asked the FBI director to end the criminal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    Why did Comey have Richman call the Times? Because, he told the Senate, he hoped that the disclosure of the memo would prompt the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and possible collusion with associates of the president’s campaign. That is exactly what happened May 17, the day after the Times piece, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein named as counsel former FBI director Robert Mueller. –Continetti in the Washington Free Beacon

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