• ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, July 8

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

     The main stories come out of the G20 meetings in Hamburg.

    • Anti-capitalist riots in the street by extreme left and anarchists
      • Comment: Idiots with nihilist agenda
    • Trump has very long 1-on-1 with Putin
      • Full range of issues, beyond US election meddling, with focus on Syrian cease-fire and division of territory there after ISIS defeat
    • Trump has China’s Xi on schedule on 1-on-1 today
      • North Korea is top of the agenda, of course, but also trade
    • Ivanka briefly sits in for Pres at G20 meeting on Africa alongside world leaders  (Washington Post) (Comment: A nothingburger; still, it should have been the Sec. of State sitting there)

    Comment: We won’t know the results (as opposed to the agendas) of the Putin and Xi meetings until the effects on the ground are seen, beginning next week. The fact that Putin and Trump met without advisors is interesting, too. It indicates how serious the leaks are. The US cannot trust anybody to be in room.

    Comment on Silences at G20: This was supposed to be a showcase for German leader, Angela Merkel. She has been overshadowed by Putin, Xi, Trump, and rioters. Second, we have heard little so far about the shared challenges of Islamic terrorism and vast immigration flows from North Africa and the Middle East.

     US B1 bombers fly over South Korea as heads-up to North Korea after its ICBM test  (CNN)

    Comment: The signal is “the US can easily can incinerate you.” The problem is, if we launch a military attack, the North Koreans can kill large numbers in Seoul. Moreover, the Chinese might come in to prevent a Korea unified under American leadership.

    There are no good US options here. My guess is that the US starts to up financial sanctions on all North Korean trading partners, including Chinese banks.

     Venezuela’s top opposition leader released from prison to house arrest  (CNN)

    Comment: The country is tottering toward civil war, and oppo leader Leopoldo Lopez is a threat to the regime. The surprise here is that he did not die in prison.

     Chuck Schumer skewers Rex Tillerson over Russian meddling in US election  (The Hill)

    “For Secretary Tillerson to say that this issue will remain unresolved is disgraceful,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “To give equal credence to the findings of the American Intelligence Community and the assertion by Mr. Putin is a grave dereliction of duty and will only encourage Russia to further interfere in our elections in the future.” –The Hill

    Comment: Schumer is correct. This issue is not “unresolved.” His base loves it; it reinforces their view that Trump is illegitimate. But voters are interested in forward-looking solutions to real problems in the economy, foreign policy, etc. Schumer knows that, of course, but he has to toss red meat to the base. 

     Morgan Stanley: Renewables will be the cheapest power source within three years (Business Insider)

    Numerous key markets recently reached an inflection point where renewables have become the cheapest form of new power generation.

    A dynamic we see spreading to nearly every country we cover by 2020. The price of solar panels has fallen 50% in less than two years (2016-17). –Morgan Stanley via Business Insider

     K-12 Education: Betsy DeVos takes hard line on enforcing federal laws, surprising states who thought she would support local control (New York Times)

    The basic issue is an Obama-era law, replacing No Child Left Behind, that requires “ambitious” educational goals to meet federal standards. How much latitude will the Washington’s Dept. of Ed. give states to determine for themselves what it “ambitious”?

    “It is mind-boggling that the department could decide that it’s going to challenge them on what’s ambitious,” said Michael J. Petrilli, the president of the conservative-leaning Thomas B. Fordham Institute, who worked in the Education Department under President George W. Bush. He called the letter “directly in opposition to the rhetoric and the promises of DeVos.” –quoted in New York Times

    Comment: Conservatives as well as liberals are concerned about this issue. They weren’t surprised by Washington’s heavy hand under Obama; they don’t expect it under DeVos and fear they may be getting it.

    Alternative possibilities are that

    • Lower-level officials did this without DeVos’ approval (the person who wrote it is a Democratic advocate for charter schools, appointed by DeVos)
    • The Dept. is actually enforcing the law, as written, until Congress rewrites it

    José Luis Cuevas, a Dark Master of Mexican Art, Dies at 83 (New York Times)

    Comment: He was continually greeted by folks at the bar singing: 

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

     

  • 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.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

     

  • Students Boo Betsy DeVos at College Graduation: My Take (UPDATED)

    The story is here: “Students boo Betsy DeVos as commencement speaker at historically black university” (Washington Post)

    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Students booed, and many turned their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she gave the keynote address at Bethune-Cookman University’s commencement Wednesday afternoon.

    The speech was part of an ongoing effort by President Trump and DeVos to reach out to historically black schools. But many students and alumni had objected to having DeVos as speaker in part because they said that outreach is an empty gesture. But the president of the university defended her work as a philanthropist and her commitment to education.

    –Washington Post

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Comment: I want to offer a both a defense and criticism of the students.

    I make that defense even though I disagree with their political view and consider their behavior discourteous.

    Still, as long as they did not disrupt the speech itself, threaten others, or use violence, their protest is within their free-speech rights.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    UPDATE and CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE:

    I have now listened to several tapes of DeVos trying to speak. The student boos drowned out her calm speech and seemed like a clear attempt to prevent her from speaking and others from hearing her. THAT IS SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Let’s consider a harder case. What if the students stood silently, perhaps with signs, perhaps simply with their backs turned, during the speech?

    To me, there are a couple of issues here. One is whether the actions made it difficult for others to listen to the talk. Those other people have rights, too, and so does the speaker. Second, is the talk essentially a voluntary-attendance event. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go inside. Almost all college events are like that. When they are, it violates others’ rights and tramples on free speech to go inside the auditorium and make it difficult for others to listen quietly. It is fine to protest peacefully outside the event. A brief, peaceful protest within the event might be okay, too. For example, students could stand and leave en masse.

    But this was not an ordinary, come-if-you-want speech. It was a commencement talk, which all graduating students wish to attend, not stand outside.

    A brief protest that did not affect others would have been fine. Booing when she was introduced would have been within their rights, however rude. But shouting over her is simply wrong.

    That said, these Bethune-Cookman students are far superior to the thugs at Middlebury, Berkeley, and other universities who deliberately shut down all speech they don’t agree with. The left-wing hecklers always get a veto.

    The Bethune-Cookman students also deserve censure for attempting to squelch the talk before it happened. According to the Washington Post:

    Here at Bethune-Cookman, alumni and others delivered petitions this week to administrators with thousands of signatures demanding that DeVos not be allowed to speak. The state’s NAACP chapter called on the university president to resign, and a national teachers’ union amplified the opposition, as well. –Washington Post

    Interesting to see the NAACP is in the pocket of the teachers’ union, but, hey, solidarity forever and the kids’ education be damned.

    The college itself also deserves credit for going beyond the usual list of speakers to pick Sec. DeVos. Why Brandeis tried to do that by inviting Ayaan Hirsi Ali to speak at commencement, the anti-free speech crowd forced a spineless administration to back down and disinvite her.

    The administrators at Bethune-Cookman stood up to the bullies. Good for them.

    Bottom lines:

    • Fine: Peaceful protests that allow others to speak and listen.
    • Not fine: Violence, threats of violence, and active disruption
    • Not fine: Attempting to block speakers from appearing because you don’t like their views.
    • Kudos: to Bethune-Cookman administrators for inviting somebody whose views are different from the standard list of graduation speakers and for standing up to the bullies
      • You won’t find that sort of apostacy at Wellesley, Wesleyan, Brown, or Brandeis. Only approved, politically-correct views–and they call that an education.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, March 25

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

     House Republicans cannot pass healthcare. What happens to the rest of their agenda? 

    The proposed reforms were blocked by fiscal conservatives.

    Big loss for Ryan, Trump.

    Americans now stuck with Obamacare as it implodes.

    Comment: Like a major earthquake, this will come with big aftershocks. The most important are 

    • Will voters go berserk over the Republicans’ failure to carry out their biggest promise over the past seven years?
    • How weakened are Ryan and Trump? Will R’s start eating their own?
    • How will this affect Trump’s proposed tax reforms, on which there are also big splits among Republicans, especially over the “border adjustment tax”?
    • What will happen to Obamacare, now that America is stuck with this clunker for the foreseeable future?

    Count on this: Republicans will do nothing to save the Affordable Care Act from self-destruction.

    Democrats will then blame R’s for not fixing the law (“every law needs a little tweaking,” they will say, disingenuously).

    Then, everybody blames everybody for the resulting mess and real pain as insurers pull out of the market, rates go up, and so on.

     Aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal:  Jury finds Penn State ex-president Graham Spanier guilty on one count of child endangerment (Morning Call, Allentown, PA)

    Spanier was acquitted of the more serious felony charges, but the jury said he still did not do enough to stop Jerry Sandusky’s predations. He could face up to 5 years in prison.

    Note to ZipDialog readers: When stories have strong local content, as this one does, I look for the best local news sources. Their reporters know the stories in more depth.

     Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos touts affordable higher education during visit to Orlando community college  (Naples Daily News, FL)

    Comment: This story has a personal meaning for me. My son, Jon, graduated from this college, Valencia, and transferred his credits to the University of Central Florida, also in Orlando.

    I completely agree with DeVos’ point about affordability, not only because tuition is low but also because students often live at home and work part-time.

     A Federal judge in VA rules Trump’s travel ban is constitutional. No practical effect since two other judges have ruled the other way. (CNN)

    California Upholds Auto Emissions Standards, Setting Up Face-Off With Trump  (New York Times)

    Mr. Trump, backing industry over environmental concerns, said easing emissions rules would help stimulate auto manufacturing. He vowed last week to loosen the regulations. . . . .

    But California can write its own standards because of a longstanding waiver granted under the Clean Air Act, giving the state — the country’s biggest auto market — major sway over the auto industry. Twelve other states, including New York and Pennsylvania, as well as Washington, D.C., follow California’s standards . . . .

    Now, the question is how — or whether — the Trump administration will handle California’s dissent. The administration could choose to revoke California’s waiver, at which point experts expect the state would sue. –New York Times

     Next month, Tesla will start taking orders for its new solar roof tiles  (Bloomberg) Will look like regular tiles from most angles. Likely to be a premium product since they mimic terra cotta and slate.

    The roof tiles are made of textured glass. From most viewing angles, they look just like ordinary shingles, but they allow light to pass through from above onto a standard flat solar cell. The plan is for Panasonic Corp. to produce the solar cells at Tesla’s factory in Buffalo and for Tesla to put together the glass tiles and everything that goes along with them. –Bloomberg

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Monday, February 13

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

     China says it is futile for US to pressure North Korea without addressing Pyongyang’s “concerns” (Fox)

    Translation: Beijing is not going to help Washington deal with North Korea, at least not without getting something in return.

    Comment: This is the Trump Administration’s first test and North Korea did it deliberately to poke a finger in the eye of the US and Japan while Japan’s Prime Minister was visiting Trump. My expectation is that the Trump Administration will ramp up support for Japanese defense and add whatever sanctions it can to North Korea. The more the US supports South Korea and Japan, the worse things are for China’s security. That may cause Beijing to recalculate, but likely not.

     Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser, in deep trouble; White House declines to defend him publicly (Time)

    A top White House aide sidestepped repeated chances Sunday to publicly defend embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn following reports that he engaged in conversations with a Russian diplomat about U.S. sanctions before Trump’s inauguration.

    The move, or lack thereof, added uncertainty as Trump dealt with North Korea’s apparent first missile launch of the year and his presidency. The president was also welcoming the leaders of Israel and Canada this week. –Time

    Comment: WHere’s my guess: Trump will cut you some slack when you are talking to the public, but the reports are that Flynn lied to VP Mike Pence, who went out and repeated Flynn’s story to the public. So, Pence is now embarrassed, through no fault of his own.

    Why not bring in Petraeus? It would be an upgrade.

     Angela Merkel, the most stable political figure in a shaky Europe, is now being squeezed by left and right (New York Times)

    She is considered the indispensable European, yet one of the biggest questions looming over the Continent’s crucial elections this year is whether Germany still regards Angela Merkel as indispensable, too.

    Seven months before national elections in Germany, the prevailing wisdom has held that Ms. Merkel, now seeking a fourth four-year term as chancellor, is most vulnerable to the rising popularity of the country’s far right, just as other populist, far-right parties are gaining in coming elections in the Netherlands and France.

    Yet suddenly, Germany’s left has unexpectedly resurged, prompting Der Spiegel magazine this weekend to pose a question on its cover: “Will She Fall?” –New York Times

    Comment: Her disastrously bad idea, as far as the German electorate is concerned: letting 1 million Middle-East immigrants into the country over the citizens’ vocal objections.

     Media Jerks attack Betsy DeVos for Tweet that misspells “W.E.B. Du Bois” name

    Typical is Esquire headline: “Our New Department of Education Can’t Spell Good”

    Comment: Turns out the Tweet was written by a career employee at the  Department of Education. In any case, the employee was trying to do something decent–unlike the execrable Esquire writer, Peter Wade, who was merely showing his contempt for lesser mortals.

     “McConnell’s remark boosts Warren’s profile as Democrats look for new leader” (Washington Times)

    With President Obama out of the picture, Democrats are in the market for a new leader, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren has catapulted to the top of the list of contenders for many progressive Democrats, courtesy of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

    Last week’s high-profile dust-up with Mr. McConnell on the Senate floor — the Massachusetts Democrat was silenced after Republicans found her in violation of a little-used rule against insulting other senators — has bolstered Ms. Warren’s image in the eyes of voters who range from die-hard party activists to Republicans searching for a new allegiance after the presidential election of Donald Trump.

    “I think that there was something kind of galvanizing about that moment — having an old white guy shut up a woman,” said Kristen Corcoran, a 37-year-old Indiana native who lives in the District of Columbia. “As a woman, it is like, ‘Yeah, we have all been there,’ and I think that is going to strike a chord with people.” –Washington Times

    Comment: It is hard to know whether McConnell’s motive was to

    1. restore some level of comity on the Senate floor or
    2. promote Elizabeth Warren and help her become the face of the Democratic Party

    But if his goal was to raise Warren’s profile and put at the forefront of the national Democratic Party. . . he is very, very smart. She can carry the college towns and wealthy suburbs. Period.

    ◆ Speaking of education working, or not working

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

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

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Saturday, February 11

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

     Trump rejects Tillerson’s choice for No. 2 at State, Elliott Abrams  Tillerson wanted Abrams, an experienced strategist who had served in the Reagan Administration and in a more senior position under George W. Bush. Abrams had attracted opposition from both left (predictably) and some on the right for too close to neoconservatives and interventionists. (New York Times)

    Mr. Trump had a productive meeting with Mr. Abrams on Tuesday, according to a White House official and a person close to Mr. Abrams. But after it took place, Mr. Trump learned of Mr. Abrams’s pointed criticisms of the president when he was running for president, the administration official said. Among those criticisms was a column headlined “When You Can’t Stand Your Candidate,” which appeared in May 2016 in The Weekly Standard.  –New York Times

    Comment: Trump’s decision appears to be based on personal pique and disloyalty, not policy issues, but we will learn more over the next few days.

     Newly-confirmed Sec. of Education, Betsy DeVos physically blocked from entering Washington, DC, elementary school (WJLA, ABC7)

    The Washington Teacher’s Union organized a gathering outside of the school, but were not among the protesters who blocked her. –WJLA

    She eventually made it into the school.

    Comment: The Teacher’s Union peaceful protests are fully protected by the First Amendment. They are fine, whether you agree with their viewpoint or not. By contrast, the others, who tried to block DeVos entry and enter her car, deserve full-throated condemnation.

     Trump has very positive meeting with Japanese PM Abe, says US committed to defense of Japan (Reuters via CNBC) The US defense commitment represents a significant change from Trump’s rhetoric as a candidate

    At the same time, Pres. Trump had a positive phone call with China’s leader, Xi, reaffirming Washington’s traditional “one-China” policy.

    Comment: These are significant, positive steps to stabilize both deterrence (protecting Japan) and diplomacy (discussions with China).

     Michael Barone is worried–and for good reason–that liberals are not condemning street violence in the US

    The response of liberal politicians? So far as I know, there has been almost none. At the Powerline blog John Hinderaker links to a Grabien video showing Democratic politicians and celebrities making statements that some may take as endorsements of violence, such as Sen. Tim Kaine’s urging followers to “fight in the streets.” I suspect he would claim that he was speaking metaphorically and only urging peaceful protest. But it would be nice if he could find time to condemn the violence we have seen at Berkeley — and which is increasingly unsurprising on our college and university campuses, which have become the part of our society most hostile to free speech. Michael Barone on Berkeley riots in the Washington Examiner

    Comment: My answer to Barone’s question: Liberal politicians probably do care, but they care more about their political standing. That means they do not want to alienate the highly-mobilized left, much of which supports the violence or is simply too cowardly to speak out again it.

     To help build its self-driving cars, Ford spends $1 Billion to buy majority stake in Silicon Valley startup (Detroit Free Press)

    Comment: Ford is buying the expertise of Argo AI’s founders and their robotics expertise. Ford has already made considerable progress on its “virtual driver system”

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Wednesday, February 8

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

     After a bruising battle over Betsy DeVos for Sec. of Education (DeVos was finally confirmed), The Hill reports “Democrats seek new targets

    Comment: Seek and ye shall find. Next in Chuck Schumer’s sights is Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the nominee for Attorney General. Then Scott Pruitt for the EPA, Dr. Tom Price at HHS, and Andy Puzder for Labor. The Democrats will drag these out and then lose the votes. The electoral-politics question is whether these slash-and-burn tactics build their base or simply please the existing one.

    Republicans say, rightly, that these Democratic tactics play to that party’s activists and donors and that the minority party can only delay, not stop, the nominations.

    Democrats say, rightly, that they oppose these candidates because of profound policy differences. These nominees will directly attack core Democratic policies; it is hardly surprising that the constituencies built around them are fighting like feral cats.

     Related story: Democrats show fierce anger at Republican lawmakers in town halls  (The Hill)

     “Homeland Security Chief Admits Travel Ban Was Rushed” (NYT headline) 

     This is the kind of innovative cost-savings the private sector can bring to government  (The Postillon, Link here)

     Why Children Ask “Why” and What Makes a Good Explanation  (Aeon)

    Giving a good answer to a ‘Why?’ question is not just a philosophical abstraction. An explanation has cognitive, real-world functions. It promotes learning and discovery, and good explanatory theories are vital to smoothly navigating the environment.

    Results from psychology . . . expose a striking similarity between children’s and scientists’ explanatory reasoning. Both children and scientists look out in the world, trying to find patterns, searching for surprising violations of those patterns, and attempting to make sense of them based on explanatory and probabilistic considerations. Children’s explanatory practices offer unique insight into the nature of good explanation. –Matteo Colombo, writing in Aeon

     “Paul Ryan says Obamacare replacement bill will be completed this year” (Reuters via CNBC)

    Doing that, major tax reform, and something permanent about immigration–all of them demanded by Trump voters–will strain the White House and Congress to the limit, especially because the Democrats will fight them hard.

     The World Foremost Authority, Prof. Irwin Corey, has died, still speaking gibberish at age 102 Prof. Corey was a staple of variety shows in the 1950s and 1960s, his disheveled hair pointing in all directions as he mumbled academic-sounding phrases that went nowhere (but pointed the way toward post-modernism).

    The high-point of his career, at least for us academics, was when he fooled the 1974 National Book Awards into thinking he was Thomas Pynchon, accepting the award for Gravity’s Rainbow.

    No one in the crowd had any idea what the reclusive Mr. Pynchon looked like, and when Mr. Corey arrived to accept the award for him (the novelist had approved the stunt), many people thought they were getting their first look at Mr. Pynchon.

    They soon learned otherwise. Beginning his remarks, as he often did, “However,” Mr. Corey referred to the author as “Richard Python” and said, “Today we must all be aware that protocol takes precedence over procedure.” He continued: “Marx, Groucho Marx, once said that religion is the opiate of the people. I say that when religion outlives its usefulness, then opium will be the opiate. Ah, that’s not a bad idea.” NYT obituary for Prof. Irwin Corey

    Here is a 1-minute glimpse of Prof. Corey doing his shtick.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ David Wayne Henley
     for the IKEA border wall
    ◆ Harry Bushwitz for “Why Children Ask Why?”

     

  • Here’s a shocker: Eliz. Warren to oppose Trump’s Sec. of Education pick

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) called Trump’s nominee for Sec. of Education, Betsy DeVos, “dangerous” and announced that she will lead opposition against her confirmation. (The Hill)

    For me, the certainty that Warren would oppose DeVos came during her hostile questioning at the confirmation hearing, followed by moments after the hearing ended. The nominees always walk around, shake hands with the Senators, and chat informally.  Warren refused to shake hands with Betsy DeVos, a standard courtesy that all other Senators observed, including those who will vote against her.

     

  • 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)

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    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

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    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