• ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, April 23

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

     French head to polls in first round of Presidential election amid tight security. (France 24) The four candidates offer starkly different paths forward. ZipDialog will discuss the two finalists after they are chosen.

    Comment: The stakes go well beyond France. They involve the future of the EU, NATO, immigration, and the economy. Several candidates have ties to Vladimir Putin and Russia, as well.

     A memory from the 1950s: Producer who rigged quiz shows dies at age 95  (New York Times) Now, for $64,000, can you name that producer?

    Albert Freedman, the producer who was pushed by a competing program’s sponsor (Geritol), to find a more appealing figure to appear as winner. He found Charles Van Doren, told him how the scheme would work, and got him to come on Freedman’s program, “Twenty-One.”

    Comment: What Freedman and Van Doren did was standard show biz tinsel–costume jewelry presented as diamonds. But it was the honest 1950s and the quiz shows were being presented as authentic, so its discovery created a huge national scandal.

     In a successful operation, the Surgeon General is removed, replaced temporarily by his deputy  (Washington Post) No side effects.

    The removed physician, Vivek Murthy, was a controversial appointment because the biggest item on his c.v. was his political support for Obama.

    The interim replacement is Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams.

    Comment: Trump’s political opponents think the frontrunner is Dr. Nick Riviera.

     Headline of the Day: “Florida state senator who resigned over racial slur hired former Playboy, Hooters models (Fox News)

    The Florida state senator who resigned this week after using a racial slur previously hired a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model with no political experience to be consultants for his political action committee.

    The PAC for Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican, hired the women last year and paid them a total $3,500, The Miami Herald reported Saturday, based on state records. –Fox News, based on Miami Herald reporting

    Comment: Gee, I wonder why you would hire the beautiful women with no political experience as consultants? Hmmmm.

     The Palestinian Authority pays a monthly salary to the families of terrorists who kill innocents. It is their standard policy. Their favorite targets are Jews. The money, of course, comes from western donor governments, who have not insisted that this stop or that their official school textbooks stop their deadly incitement and remove vicious anti-Semitic materials.

    Comment: Beyond shameful. Morally disgusting–both for the Palestinian Authority (of course) and for the donor governments who say nothing. They know their money is fungible, and they know the P.A. is directly subsidizing terrorism, yet they say little and do not insist on a change.

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     Much appreciation to Israel Pickholtz for his information about the Quiz Show Scandals (now updated) and his clarifying question about the Palestinian Authority’s payments to terrorists.

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, April 18

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

     The big news continues to be tension in Korea, where Vice President Pence is visiting and told the North Koreans not to mistake the president’s resolve

    Comment: This is a crisis of choice, in a sense. Trump, like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, could have kicked it down the road. All those presidents tried and failed to resolve the issue.

    Delay is not always a bad solution, but it’s not always a good one, either. You have to figure out whether time is on your side or your adversary’s.

    The problem here is that North Korea is making steady progress on two deadly fronts, and it is no longer willing to delay them for small bribes, like those paid by previous administrations.

    North Korea is getting better at building nuclear bombs. It is trying hard to make them smaller, so they can fit on a missile, and it is trying to build a hydrogen bomb. Second, it is making steady progress building medium-range missiles and is seeking to build an ICBM. The combination of small nukes and long-range missiles would put the US within range of nuclear attack by a hyper-dangerous regime whose leader does not appear to be calm, steady, and rational.

    The US has long said a North Korean nuclear threat to the US was unacceptable. Saying it, as several presidents have, is a far cry from making it an effective policy. That is what none have been able to do, and not for lack of trying. Trump seems to be doing something. We don’t know exactly what and we don’t know how effective he and his team will be. We do know it is risky to try; the Trump team has calculated that it is far more dangerous in the long run to sit and wait.

    Over the longer horizon, then, it is Pyongyang’s policies and erratic, bellicose pronouncements that created the crisis.

    Over the short term, though, the crisis was initiated by the US.

    My interpretation: Trump, Mattis, Tillerson, and McMaster (and probably Coats and Pompeo) looked that North Korea’s military program and asked themselves a fundamental question: Is time on our side or theirs? If it is on ours, then delay. If it is on their’s, then force the issue. We can see first-hand what their strategic assessment is.

    The hard part now is to force the issue with threats and not the actual use of force, which could lead to vast casualties. 

    In using threats, Trump has a huge advantage over Obama. Trump’s threats to use force are credible. The Chinese and North Koreans–and America’s friends in the region–have to take that seriously for the first time in years.

     “Calexit” supporters drop their secession bid . . . for now (Washington Post)

    Comment: Ken Burns is particularly disappointed.  His proposed PBS series began with a letter,

    My dearest Tiffany–
    If we should lose tomorrow’s battle, if I should die far from the gnarly waves of Newport Beach, I want you to know . . . .

     New York Times runs op-ed by “a leader and parliamentarian.”  That’s what the NYT calls him–and that’s all they say.

    The paper overlooked his day job: he’s a convicted terrorist who murdered five Israelis.

    Comment: You really can’t blame the Times if a writer omits a detail from their résumé.  

    Of course, the writer is the most prominent Palestinian terrorist in jail. The NYT deliberately hid the crucial information about his murders from readers.

    To compound this nasty piece of work, the Times ran it to gin up American public support for a hunger strike by jailed Palestinians.

    The Daily Caller excoriates the paper, rightly.

    And Elliott Abrams, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations blog, rips the Times a new one. Well worth reading. His conclusion nails a crucial point: the readers deserve the information.

     Shocking News: The US economy keeps growing but electricity use is flat. That’s what Bloomberg says. Per capita, it has fallen for six straight years.

     Lawsuit of the Day:

    • Professor comes into Wal-Mart to get fishing license
    • Get license but finds his employment listed as “toilet cleaner”
    • Humorless fisherman files suit

    The AP story is here.

    Comment: According to the lawsuit, the professor feared mockery every time he yelled “I caught another big one.”

     A serious story on the sexual-harrassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly  (Washington Post)

    A key part of the story is the allegation by a Los Angeles author and radio personality, Wendy Walsh, who is not seeking money, which then led to an independent investigation by the prominent NYC law firm. It was the law firm’s negative findings on Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes that led to his departure.

    As the Washington Post puts it:

    A similar fate [to Ailes] could await O’Reilly; a negative finding by the law firm could force the hands of Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, who run Fox’s parent company.–Washington Post

     Here is tomorrow’s Washington Post opinion page. Notice a pattern?

    The list continues beyond this screenshot. It is, as the mathematicians say, “finite but large.”

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Robert Lieber and Ed Lasky
    for different reports on the New York Times‘ hiding the background of a Palestinian terrorist.

     

  • Amb. Nikki Haley at UN: Palestinians, stop your incitement so we can move forward

    US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley: Palestinians Must Stop Incitement, Engage in Direct Peace Talks With Israel (Algemeiner)

    The Palestinian Authority must “stop its incitement to violence” and engage with Israel in “direct peace negotiations, rather than looking to the UN,” a top American diplomatic official said on Tuesday.

    US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley made the statement after meeting with her Palestinian counterpart, Riyad Mansour — an encounter she described as “productive.”

    “The US is committed to supporting a true peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” she said.

    Last month, Haley received warm praise from the pro-Israel community in both the US and abroad after taking the UN Security Council to task for its double standards when it comes to its treatment of the Jewish state. –Algemeiner

    What does this incitement look like? The examples are too numerous to cite, but here’s a recent one.

    Palestine Liberation Organization names children’s camp for terrorist bomber who killed 37, including a dozen children  (Palestinian Media Watch)

    Terrorist bomber families are also compensated by the Palestinian Authority, which money that comes indirectly from Western donor states.

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, March 8

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

     Murderer released from jail because he was not given a speedy trial in Chicago

    • The good news (for him) is that he was released
    • The bad news (for him) is that he left this mortal coil on his ride home.

    Chicago man accused of murder who beat his case when prosecutors couldn’t give him a speedy trial was killed after leaving Cook County Jail on Monday night, according to authorities.

    Kamari Belmont, 23, was being held on separate murder and robbery cases stemming from a single night in 2015 in which he was accused of shooting one man during a robbery who later died and robbing another man a couple of hours later. Chicago Tribune story here

    Belmont’s attorney, who advised him to get out of his neighborhood immediately, said “Unfortunately this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this.”

     Roger L. Simon: WikiLeaks’ CIA Download Confirms Everybody’s Tapped, Including Trump (PJ Media)

    The WikiLeaks documents (everyone believes their downloads now) show how the CIA, via their eerily named “Weeping Angel” program, has devised a method of listening to us through our smart TVs.  Even when we think they’re off, they are able to keep them on — and recording — through a “fake-off” program. –Roger Simon at PJ Media

    Related Article: How CIA allegedly turns everyday devices into high-tech spy weapons (New York Post)

     “US and North Korea set for ‘head-on collision’, China warns  (CNN)

    In a week of heightened tensions in the region, Foreign Minister Wang Li cautioned the US in unusually frank language against the deployment of a controversial missile defense system in South Korea, which is vehemently opposed by China.
    But he also had strong words for North Korea, saying Pyongyang should suspend its nuclear weapons program. –CNN

    Comment: China has misplayed this badly. Beijing has done nothing to corral its reckless client.

     Washington Post highlights Freedom Caucus opposition to Trump/Price/Ryan Bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

    Comment: Since the WaPo is itself such an active player opposing the Trump agenda, it’s hard to know how much weight to give their assessment.

     Comment: China keeps lowering its economic growth targets (now 6.5%). But

    • Nobody believes their numbers
    • Achieving even these lower numbers requires lots of exports to the US. Bad time for that strategy.

     Standard operating procedure: Palestine Liberation Organization names children’s camp for terrorist bomber who killed 37, including a dozen children  (Palestinian Media Watch)

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Fred Lawson
     for Chicago murder story
    ◆ Martin Kramer for PLO children’s camp

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, February 16

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

     Trump’s Budget Chief finally Approved; Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) has been a Tea Party favorite  (Washington Post)

    Comment: His position is a hot seat and will be difficult for him to manage politically. The difficulty, fundamentally, is that Trump’s spending and tax-cutting plans and his refusal to tackle entitlements are very different from the Tea Party’s and the House Freedom Caucus. Mulvaney will not only have to reconcile those vast differences, he will have to convince some of his former colleagues in the House–or be read out of their church.

     Alexander Acosta, nominated as Labor Sec. He is an experienced lawyer, who served in several positions in GW Bush administration, including National Labor Relations Board, and is chairman of a Hispanic community bank in Florida (Fox)

    Comment: Presumably better vetted than Andrew Puzder, who withdrew his nomination, and should be a straightforward approval. That won’t stop Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats from slow-walking it. Vetting is fine. Slow walking is just gamesmanship.

     US Sec. of State Rex Tillerson meets his Russian counterpart. So far, no real news about what has become an increasingly conflictual relationship (New York Times)

     US Sec. of Defense reassures NATO that it will not cozy up to Russia No closer military ties between US-Russia, Mattis says  (New York Times)

     Senate to grill Trump’s nominee for US Ambassador to Israel  (CNN)

    Comment: David Friedman has supported settlements so he is reviled by the left. The Democrats will focus on Trump’s “abandonment of the two-state solution.” But that’s misleading. What Trump really did was say, correctly, the parties themselves have to strike a mutually-acceptable deal. We (the US) won’t constrain that. Smart, as a negotiating tactic.

    Of course, there will be no agreement because

    • The Palestinians do not have stable governance
    • One of their territories is rules by corrupt terrorists, the other by dead-ender terrorists, part of a larger Muslim Brotherhood movement, bent on overthrowing regimes across the Arab-Muslim world; and
    • The Palestinian people have not even begun to discuss the nature of the compromises that would be essential in a peace treaty. The Israelis did discuss those issues and were ready for compromise during the Clinton Administration.

    They have now given up on that possibility and are reluctantly moving forward to preserve their security without much cooperation from the Palestinians.

     

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  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, January 26

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

     RIP MTM  Love the quote from James L. Brooks, who co-produced the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

    She was brilliant. Nobody Ever Found the Thing She Couldn’t Do. –James L. Brooks in the Hollywood Reporter

    The New York Times obituary is here, with the headline that Moore “Incarnated the Modern Woman on TV.

     Sanctuary Cities to Trump: Drop Dead, Keep Sending Money  The NBC story doesn’t have that tone, but that’s the message. Trump’s response is predictably blunt. (Here)

    Two Comments: First, Trump made a very smart move on this issue early. Until then, the narrative had been “be empathetic with the striving, yearning immigrants.” Trump reversed it: “Be empathetic with the victims of violent illegal immigrants.” He was predictably hyperbolic, of course, and the narrative does not easily generalize to non-violent illegal immigrants, but it was a shrewd political reimagining of the issue.

    Second, a fight with Trump over immigration is one many sanctuary-city mayors and sheriffs relish . . . until the money pinches. Chicago will be a particularly hard fight because Mayor Rahm Emanuel depends on support from Hispanic voters to offset his unpopularity among African-Americans. If he backs down without a smack-down, he’ll lose a key support group.

     Quote of the Day  When asked what he thinks about General Mattis when he was being considered for Secretary of Defense, Rob O’Neill (the man who killed Bin Laden) said:

    General Mattis has a bear rug in his home, but the bear’s not dead. It’s just afraid to move.

     Trump blocks Obama/Kerry transfer of $221 million to Palestinian Authority

    The Trump administration has informed the Palestinian Authority that it is freezing the transfer of $221 million which was quietly authorized by the Obama administration in its final hours on January 20, a senior Palestinian source has told The Times of Israel.

    US officials conveyed to PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday that the funds were not expected to be handed over in the immediate future, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. –AP and Times of Israel

     AP: “Trump intends to announce his Supreme Court pick on Feb. 2”

    Comment: If the nominee sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.

     Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR): Refusing Refugee Admissions is Equivalent to Slavery  (Daily Caller) Trump has issued a temporary stay on visas from several countries with major terror problems, all predominantly Muslim.

    Nihad Awad, CAIR’s national executive director, called the proposed border wall a “multi-billion dollar monument to racism.” Awad went on to say that President Trump’s proposal has nothing to do with national security and is strictly an “Islamophobic” proposal. –Daily Caller

    Comment: An extreme left-wing rabbi, involved in many anti-Israeli causes, appeared at the same news conference and said barring refugees from Syria and Somalia is an “affront to God.”

     

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Sam Stubbs
     for the great quote about Gen. Mattis
    ◆ Ed Lasky for US funding for Palestinians; the story on that yesterday came thanks to Marcia Sukenik Weiss

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Wednesday, January 25

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

    ◆ Comment: No university president should ask students to lobby for a law. It is simply inappropriate. But that is exactly what Rutgers University president Robert Barchi did. (Campus Reform)

    Further Comment: Rutgers’ Board of Governors should formally reprimand Barchi for this serious misuse of his authority.

    Whether the law itself is good or bad is irrelevant. That is why I didn’t mention the substance of the law; all you need to know is that it is politically controversial to know Barchi was seriously wrong. Asking students to engage in a politically-controversial act (as opposed to urging them to vote) oversteps the proper bounds of any university official. To his credit, Barchi said that his request was purely optional. But he should never have made the request at all.

    A university president should understand the proper bounds of his or her authority. Requesting students take a specific political position puts the university in a position of backing one view and opposing another. Generally, speaking, the university as an institution should remain neutral so the individual students, faculty, and staff can take any position they wish. If the university does wish to take an institutional position, it should do so but it should never urge students or faculty to support its position.

     Obama and Kerry gave $221 million to Palestinian political groups on his final hours in office (New York Post) Congress had tried to block the transfer, largely because so much of the money is divided between corrupt officials in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, direct payment to families of terrorists, who are treated as heroic martyrs, and to Hamas itself, which the US has deemed a terrorist organization.

     More obstruction and slow-walking: “Dems Force Trump’s Ed. Nominee to Answer 1,397 Questions in Writing–Obama’s TWO (nominees) had 109, Combined”  (Daily Caller)

    Arne Duncan, Pres. Obama’s first Sec. of Ed., had 53 follow-up questions. His successor, John King, Jr., had 56. Trump’s nominee, Betsy DeVos, has been flooded with 25 times as many.

    Comment: This “flood the zone” strategy is effectively “lawfare,” in which political opponents use lawsuits and bureaucratic manuevers to tie up their opponents. If you oppose Betsy DeVos, vote against her. Stop playing these destructive, delaying games. They are why the House and Senate have lower popular support than used-car dealers.

     Trump says he will announce his Supreme Court nominee next week. Expect fireworks.

    Comment: Trump’s nominee will inevitably be conservative, but there are different flavors that could please (or repel) different segments of the party.  What you can be certain of, in the post-Bork era, is that most Democrats will staunchly oppose.

    What we don’t know yet–this will depend on the nominee–is whether some Democrats will support the nomination, perhaps because they are in states Trump carried and facing election themselves soon. Nor do we know if Mitch McConnell will decide to change the rules so the nominee needs 50 votes (plus the Vice-President), rather than 60.

    Harry Reid opened the door when he changed the tradition Senate rules, but he did not include the Supreme Court. That exclusion, the Republicans will argue, was arbitrary and, now that Democrats are blocking the nominee, the rules need to change.

    With so many elderly Justices, this fight could be repeated going forward, with Trump having a real chance to shape the court for years to come. It was a major issue for many voters, one that helped Trump and hurt Clinton, according to exit polls.

     Nikki Haley, Gov. of South Carolina until recently, confirmed as UN Ambassador with significant Democratic support, partly because she was so frank about where she disagreed with the President who appointed her. (Washington Post)

     Trump expected to sign Executive Orders for a border wall and against sanctuary cities. More on this as the orders emerge.  (Washington Post)

    Beijing continues to warn Washington over the South China Sea (Time)

     

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Marcia Sukenik Weiss
     for the story on money given to Palestinian Authority
    ◆ Michael Lipson on Trump’s forthcoming Executive Orders

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Wednesday, January 18

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

     German court rules burning a synagogue is a justified expression of criticism of Israel

    The article in the Jerusalem Post says

    A regional court in Germany has decided that a brutal attempt to set fire to a local synagogue in 2014 was an act meant to express criticism against Israel’s conduct in its ongoing conflict with Hamas.

    A German regional court in the city of Wuppertal affirmed a lower court decision last Friday stating that a violent attempt to burn the city’s Bergische Synagogue by three men in 2014 was a justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.

    The court sentenced the three men – Muhammad E., 31, Ismail A., 26, and Muhammad A., 20 – to suspended sentences for tossing firebombs at the synagogue. and causing €800 worth of damage.

    The original synagogue in Wuppertal was burned by Nazis during the Kristallnacht pogroms in 1938. –Jerusalem Post

     Betsy DeVos survives tough questioning, on path to confirmation as Sec. of Education according to Politico. (Story here.)

    Comment: Listening to Sen. Elizabeth Warren ask DeVos if she or her children had taken out student loans to go to college left me embarrassed as a fellow human being. When DeVos said “no,” that she and her family had been fortunate but that she had worked with children who had experienced student debt, Warren could see the answer was going in a bad direction and immediately cut off DeVos. Whether you agree with Warren’s views or not, this is demagoguery masquerading as inquiry.

     Samantha Power’s exit speech is a blistering attack on Russia  Time magazine has the story.

    Comment: It is a very strange world, indeed, to see a Republican president-to-be so restrained about Russia and to see the Democrats so hawkish.

    ◆ Related Story: NYT Editorial headlined, “Russia Gains When Donald Trump Trashes NATO”  Editorial here.

    Comment: The Times is absolutely right. Although NATO has serious flaws, including free-loading by allies, it is the lynchpin of US international relationships. Trump’s comments create serious dangers for America, particularly if they encourage Putin to think he can push harder against Russia’s European neighbors. 

     State Department sends $500 million to UN Climate Fund this week, just beating the change of administration  Obama had pledged $3 billion; he send $500 million in March, and now this next $500 million, according to the Washington Post. (Story here)

    Comment: I am sure Kerry and Obama are correct in thinking, “no one’s going to cut that check next week.”

     Why aren’t any Senators boycotting the Trump Inauguration, as more than 50 Congressmen are?  Simple, says the Washington Post. They are looking at broader constituencies, including lots of people who voted for the President-elect. For some, that’s people in their own state. For others, that’s a national electorate for a future presidential run.

    Senate Democrats represent far broader numbers of people and have to be respectable and responsive to, in most cases, millions of their constituents who voted for Trump. And 25 of them are up for reelection in 2018. “So there are 25 senators who probably think it’s risky,” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), who will join [Rep. John] Lewis’s boycott. –Washington Post

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    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Seth Charnes
     for the disturbing story about the firebombing of a German synagogue

    ◆ Andrew Aronson for the Betsy DeVos hearings

     

  • Tweets of Note: Reporter calls out fellow reporter on live TV, Palestinians promise violence, China threatens US over Taiwan

    • Andrea Mitchell attacked for bias (by fellow reporter, live on Meet the Press)

    • Palestinians promise violence over US embassy

    • China threatens US over any move to a “two-China” policy