• ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, March 14

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

     CBO projects Trump/Ryan Obamacare replacement would save money but that 24 million fewer people would be covered  (Washington Post)

    The analysis, released late Monday afternoon by the Congressional Budget Office, predicts that 24 million fewer people would have coverage a decade from now than if the Affordable Care Act remains intact, nearly doubling the share of Americans who are uninsured from 10 percent to 19 percent. The office projects the number of uninsured people would jump 14 million after the first year –Washington Post

     CBO ignites firestorm with ObamaCare repeal score, reports The Hill

    Democrats highlighted President Trump’s campaign promises to provide “insurance for everybody,” saying the bill falls woefully short.

    “The CBO’s estimate makes clear that TrumpCare will cause serious harm to millions of American families,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said in a statement. –The Hill

    How does the CBO get these numbers?

    The CBO estimated that 24 million people would become uninsured by 2026 under the bill, largely due to the proposed changes to Medicaid. Seven million fewer people would be insured through their employers over that same time frame because some people would choose not to get coverage and some employers would decline to offer it. –The Hill

    Comment: The numbers create obvious political problems for Republicans, and the Democrats will exploit them.

    Here is how I figure Republicans will respond, at least publicly:

    1. The basic problem with the CBO score is that it compares the new program to Obamacare, as if the ACA will continue to exist and cover people. But it won’t. Obamacare is collapsing financially, so those people will actually lose coverage if we don’t repeal it and replace it with something sustainable. Even if Obamacare totters on for another year or two, insurers are dropping out and, as they do, monopoly providers will raise rates, forcing more people off Obamacare insurance.
    2. CBO projections are often wrong, and they certainly have been about healthcare costs and coverage.
    3. Even if 24 million fewer are covered, some of them may choose not to buy coverage since, unlike Obamacare, it is not mandated.
    4. By law, the CBO can only score the bill in front of them. For technical reasons (related to Senate reconciliation rules), we cannot include key measures that will reduce insurance costs and thus attract some of those 24 million to purchase insurance. The main measure will be sale of insurance across state lines and, secondarily, reform of costly tort laws.

     A quote to celebrate spring training: Bob Uecker’s thoughts on catching Phil Niekro’s knuckleball:

    The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up. –Bob Uecker

     The “progressive left” makes a regressive argument for stamping out speech…and they get to decide which speech.

    Here’s Slate’s cover story:  “The Kids Are Right: There’s nothing outrageous about stamping out bigoted speech

    Comment: The article is an artful scam, making its argument by allusion and demonization, without confronting serious counter-arguments.

    It says some speech is bad and “informal rules” ought to limit it, without explaining who gets to set those rules and what criteria should be used. Then, it notes that our Constitution does permit some restrictions on speech. That’s right, but it is a good reason to say, “Let the First Amendment set the restrictions, not Slate magazine writers.”

    The article goes on to attack Trump, Bannon (whom it explicitly calls racist), William Buckley (too religious), and others loathed by Slate readers.

    It concludes, “The purveyors of logic, of facts dutifully checked and delivered to the public, lost big league in November.”

    Why is that an argument for shouting down Charles Murray? It’s not. 

     Two airlines cancel routes to Cuba. Too little demand. Other airlines are cutting back flights and using smaller planes  (Miami Herald)

    Comment: Fortunately, one airline is still flying to Cuba, and doing it on their terms.

     EU’s top court rules employers may prohibit staff from wearing visible religious symbols, such as Islamic headscarves, at work (Reuters)

     Democrats cannot figure out how–or whether–to oppose Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch (Politico)

    Comment: He’ll win easily in the Senate and go onto the Court. The only question is how quickly Sen. leader McConnell will move.



    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Ed Vidal
     for the airlines cancelling flights to Cuba and the story at Slate favoring speech suppression.


  • A high-school basketball coach who has made his players better people . . . for over four decades

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    Gene Pingatore–“Ping” to generations of players–has coached some greats, such as Isaiah Thomas.

    Working for decades at St. Joseph High School in suburban Chicago, he has won two state championships and is now approaching his 1000th win. Only 14 high school coaches have ever done that.

    But what makes his story so compelling is his lasting impact on the young men in his program.

    He thinks of himself, rightly, as a teacher.

    David Haugh tells the story beautifully in the Chicago Tribune. Here’s a sample:

    [Pingatore] always will cherish the experience of one team manager, in particular, 1986 graduate Ravi Rao. With uncommon confidence, Rao charged into practice one day and delivered Pingatore advice about a drill.

    “I said, ‘Would you like to be a manager?'” Pingatore recalled. “He said, ‘Yes,’ so I said, ‘Great, now get out of my gym and come back tomorrow.'”

    Over the next three years, Rao developed habits under Pingatore he believes helped him on the way to becoming a pediatric neurosurgeon after obtaining advanced degrees from Johns Hopkins and Virginia. Rao wrote Pingatore a note that maintains a special place in his heart.

    “It said, ‘I am successful because I was part of your program,'” Pingatore said. “Teachers get that all the time. Don’t forget I’m a teacher. I’m a high school coach, but this is my classroom. … This whole thing here is more than just basketball. That’s what I want to call my book: ‘More than Basketball.'” –David Haugh, writing about Coach Gene Pingatore at St. Joseph High School

  • Best College Mascot, bar none

    There are some great names for sports teams.

    Image resultI’ve always loved the “Toledo Mud Hens,” for instance. I also like the Wichita Wingnuts, the Topeka Train Robbers, the Akron Rubber Ducks, and the Hartford Yard Goats.  Impressive and goofy names, to be sure.

    Yesterday, a friend told me the Albuquerque minor league team was the “Isotopes,” honoring the Simpsons’ team of the same name at Monty Burns’ Nuclear Plant.

    But for college teams, I’m partial to one from Delta State University, in my home state of Mississippi. For a long time, their nickname was “The Statesmen,” and it is still their official name. It’s hard to think of a more boring one. So, they asked the students for suggestions and the winner was spectacular: the Fighting Okra. Everyone calls them that and uses the phrase, “Fear the Okra.”


    Kudos to Delta State.


  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Tuesday, January 9

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

    ◆ Axelrod urges Democrats to avoid obstructionism He was speaking to a politically-savvy group in Chicago. (Chicago Tribune)

    Comment: When David Axelrod talks political strategy, he is giving very valuable advice. I think he is here, too, both for Democrats and the country. As a political strategy, D’s should (and I think will) focus on a few targets. Their problem is that so many Trump nominees are ripe targets for the Democratic base: Sessions at Justice, Pruitt at EPA, DeVos at Education, Tillerson at State, and Puzder at Labor, plus whoever Trump nominates for the Supreme Court.

    ◆ Main Democratic Targets among Trump Nominees

    Comment: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has spoken of at least eight targets. Unless some damaging information, not currently known, emerges about them, each has enough votes for confirmation. The Democrats’ goals are to

    • Put up a strong fight to please their base
    • Damage Trump, his nominees, and their agenda
    • See which nominees are most vulnerable to assault and then focus their fire heavily on them

    There is actually a ninth target. The Democrats are certain to fight against Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Schumer has already said as much.

    ◆ WSJ says the Trump Economic Team has different perspectives on trade. Not everyone is a protectionist, they say. (Wall Street Journal) 

    Donald Trump is rounding out an economic team with competing power centers and contrasting views that could lead the White House in unpredictable directions as it tries to steer the U.S. toward faster growth.

    Several selections reinforce the basic split that permeated Mr.Trump’s campaign, with market-oriented advisers from the Washington and Wall Street establishment on one side and free-trade adversaries on the other. –Wall Street Journal

    Comment: One other division is likely to emerge.  Some, led by Mulvaney, are budget hawks. (Mulvaney was a member of the House Freedom Caucus, associated with the Tea Party.) Others, including Trump himself, have spoken of major infrastructure spending and shown no willingness to cut major entitlement programs, aside from Obamacare.

    ◆ Ryan, Trump economic team working together on tax overhaul, reports Fox Business.

    ◆ Related Story: Small Business optimism greatest since Reagan era Bloomberg reports here.

    Comment: The prospect of tax cuts and relief from burdensome Washington regulations are driving the animal spirits.

    ◆ Congratulations to Clemson for winning a great game against Alabama to become national college champions. It literally went down to the last second, which Clemson’s great QB connected for a short touchdown pass. Alabama played a great game, as well, but Clemson matched them stride for stride and ultimately had one stride more.


    ◆ To Rick Santelli and producer Lesley McKeigue for hosting me on CNBC Tuesday morning.
    People are still talking about Rick’s appearance Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, when he criticized Andrea Mitchell’s biased coverage. “On election night, I never saw you so unhappy,” he told her.
    Honesty is such a rare and refreshing approach.


  • Clemson played the best football game of the day

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    They will be a strong contender in the national championship game against Alabama

    Earlier, I joked about Alabama cruising to the national title. Clemson will have something to say about that.

    Alabama played an excellent defensive game against Washington and a so-so offensive one.

    Clemson, on the other hand, dominated its playoff game against Ohio State. It crushed a good Ohio State team, from the start of the game to the finish.

    They shut out an Urban Meyer team for the first time in that coach’s career. Clemson did it with physical play up front and the most innovative defensive alignments I’ve seen in college ball.

    The Clemson offense, led by their outstanding quarterback, Deshaun Watson, mixed running and passing to keep the Ohio State defense on the field all night.

    Clemson’s coach, with the wonderful name of Dabo Swinney, has a long pedigree with….Alabama, and now he’ll be playing them again for a national championship.

    They are a worthy opponent, ranked #2 in the nation and fully deserving of that high ranking.

    In a week, they have a chance to prove they should move up one notch.

    But, first, they have to get past the #1 team and the reigning champs, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

  • Those Damned Corporate Names on College Bowl Games

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    How about the Rectogesic Rectal Ointment Rose Bowl?

    I hate corporate names on each bowl game.

    My guess is that NCAA executives would pick up dimes with their butt-cheeks if there were any lying loose on the floor.

    And they would put any name on a bowl game if there was enough cash in it.


    Thank heavens. The Peach Bowl found a sponsor who will pay even more!

  • I don’t care what people say: Alabama should still be required to play the national championship game before receiving the trophy

    Alabama is a juggernaut under Nick Saban, and they proved it again tonight against PAC-10 conference winner, the University of Washington Huskies.

    The Huskies were worthy opponents and kept the game tight until a crucial series in the third quarter.

    The Crimson Tide Produce Extraordinary Football Teams, Year In, Year Out

    Aside from winning a national championship, The hardest thing to do in any sport is to repeat.

    That is what Saban teams do. They win championship after championship in the toughest conference in the country (well, the toughest every year but 2016).

    Most impressive of all, Alabama wins national championships with different personnel. They have new stars, news assistant coaches and coordinators, and still keep rolling. These are not championships won on the back on one extraordinary player. They are team efforts, and the team changes every year or two.

    Tonight’s Game: Bama’s Great Defense, Sloppy Offense

    The offense was relatively weak and sloppy tonight, evident in all those penalties.

    But those two runs by Bo Scarborough were daggers.

    If you keep running at the other guys and you are moderately successful in the first half, you’ll wear your opponents down, even if they have a strong defense, as Washington does. The passing game will open up, too, as the defense has to commit to stopping the run.

    Washington normally has a strong offense, but Alabama’s was in a different category.

    Now, on to Clemson or Ohio State.