ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, October 12

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

◆ With Obamacare failing and no repeal-and-replace, Trump starts “workarounds”

First on the agenda: allowing insurers to compete across state lines and allowing employees (and employers) to form voluntary groups to buy insurance

Here’s one story on it. Executive orders and regulations from HHS will help, but laws will be needed, too.

 Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, unhappy with disaster relief, accuses Trump of “genocide” (Washington Times)

Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz is on the far left and sent the message via text to Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL, himself of Puerto Rican heritage). She asked Gutierrez to publicize the message.

She and Mr. Trump have been feuding for weeks, with the president saying the federal government is fully invested, and saying the hurdles to recovery are on the island itself.

Earlier Thursday Mr. Trump, in a Twitter post, warned that federal help couldn’t go on indefinitely. –Washington Times

Comment: This may build political support for the Mayor in San Juan, but it won’t in Washington.

◆ Trump Threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery effort (headline in Washington Post)

Declaring the U.S. territory’s electrical grid and infrastructure to have been a “disaster before hurricanes,” Trump wrote Thursday that it will be up to Congress how much federal money to appropriate to the island for its recovery efforts and that relief workers will not stay “forever.” –Washington Post

Comment: Improvements to infrastructure, as opposed to immediate relief, should be a question for standard lawmaking, not Presidential fiat (for or against).

 The damage of opioid addition isn’t limited to rural areas. It’s a major problem in cities, as this article about the Bronx explains (New York Times)

Here [in New York City], the reports about the epidemic and its ravages have mostly centered on Staten Island, where the rate of deaths per person is the highest of the five boroughs. But perhaps nowhere in the city has the trajectory of opioid addiction been as complex as in the Bronx, where overdose deaths were declining until a new surge began at the turn of the decade, and where more residents are lost to overdoses than anywhere else in the city. On Bronx streets, the epidemic’s devastation is next door, down the street, all around. –New York Times

Sharyl Attkisson, a first-rate investigative reporter, says “Weinstein allegations are not the first stories ‘spiked’ by media” (The Hill)

She explains in detail how spinners, ideologues, and legal threats kill stories.

Comment: Attkison, you may recall, was fired by CBS for her tenacious investigation of stories that network wanted to kill.



Student Fair at Oxford Univ bans Christian group over fears that it might “offend”

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Here’s the story (link here)

A college of Oxford University banned a student Christian group from appearing at a freshman fair out of fear it would lead to “alienating” students who practice other religions.

The Christian Union of Oxford’s Balliol College was initially banned by an event organizer who felt students might feel “unwelcome” due to what he calls the Christian religion being “an excuse for homophobia and neo-colonialism,” The Times of London reported (link here)–Fox News and Times of London


Why this story matters



First, this rationale for banning a religious group is bullshit on steroids. It’s not an argument. It’s the cry of a bully in the guise of a victim.

Second, the ban perfectly illustrates the intimate connection between “fear of offense” and the suppression of free speech and the voluntary assembly of free people.

  • Knowing that any assertion of “I’m offended” can be used to suppress speech encourages a cult of offendedness, some real, some pretend.

Although England does not have a codified First Amendment right to free speech, it has a long–and once-proud–tradition of permitting free speech.

Now, the Social Justice Warriors, at once ferocious and too-delicate to be offended, are smashing it.

Finally, the story matters because far-left attitudes and actions in Europe soon find their copy-cats among American intellectuals and, from there, seep into the wider culture.

This attack on free speech and the right to assemble deserves hard pushback.

When the attack is against a religion, it deserves pushback from people of other faiths. It shouldn’t just be Catholics defending the rights of Catholics, Mormons defending the rights of Mormons, Jews defending the rights of Jews. These rights belong to all of us and should be defended by all of us.

Didn’t Perry Mason use this defense once? Man arrested for drunkenness claims he “time traveled to warn of aliens”

The AP news story is here.

He [claimed he] was from the year 2048.

The man told police that he wanted to warn the people of Casper [Wyoming] that aliens will arrive next year, and that they should leave as soon as possible. ….

The man told police he was only able to time travel because aliens filled his body with alcohol. He noted that he was supposed to be transported to the year 2018, not this year. –Associated Press

Since I have extensive connections with the constabulary, I was able to secure a photograph of the defendant.


Trump threatens network licenses over “fake news”

False news is bad and fake news is ever worse.

But, in this case, Pres. Trump’s counterpunch against NBC crosses a line.

It’s a line we need to uphold to ensure powerful state actors squelch a free press.


Why is Pres. Trump’s tweet so objectionable?

Because it threatens to use the state’s vast powers against his political opponents.

That threat is the antithesis of constitutional, democratic governance.

That was the essence of the charge against the IRS during the Obama years: weaponize the IRS.

That’s the essence of the charges against the Deep State.

And that is what Trump is doing now (Fox News)

It is perfectly fine for him to say the news report about his wanting more nuclear weapons is completely wrong. (Link to NBC story here.)

  • The story certainly appears to be false. Gen. Mattis has backed up the President on that point. Mattis’ word is good enough for me.
  • By Wednesday evening, NBC News had not corrected or withdrawn its “exclusive report.”

It is fine for the President to call this report and others “fake news,” although his repeated use of the term and his broad brush raise troubling questions, both about Trump and about the media.

But, unless there is direct evidence that the media have knowingly falsified news reports to damage their political foes, the President should never threaten them with loss of their license.

That’s an abuse of executive power.

Threats like that from the powerful perch of the Oval Office should be called out for what they are: threats to an open, democratic, constitutional government of laws.


Trump Campaign worker, Carter Page, Won’t Talk to Senate Intel Committee

Politico reports that Page will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

He was a low-level aide in the Trump Campaign and never met the boss. He did, however, have connections with Russia, though he has repeatedly denied he did their bidding.

A former naval-officer-turned-energy consultant, Page came under fire last year after reports emerged that he had met with high-level associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2016. While Page denied those meetings occurred, the Trump campaign distanced itself from the adviser not long after, with former officials saying that Page and Trump had never met. –Politico

Comment:  It is unclear if his refusal is related to the Mueller investigation, but it could well be. Page, Mike Flynn, and Paul Manafort are all in the crosshairs, according to media reports.

Anybody facing potential indictments would be advised by lawyers not to say anything.

Page is a small fish. Presumably, Mueller’s team would want information from him, but it is not clear if he has any or knows about others approached by the Russians.

ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, October 11

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

◆ The devastation–human and material–keeps growing from California wildfires


Stand and Deliver: Goodell send letter telling NFL players he wants them to stand during anthem(ESPN)

No specifics on how the league plans to ensure it or act toward players who do not stand.

Comment #1: ESPN broke into their political coverage to cover this sports story.

Comment #2 re Trump vs NFL kneelers: ZipDialog predicted

(a) the league would cave after seeing the fans’ and advertisers’ reactions,
(b) Trump was politically smart to make this an issue; most people respect the flag, and ALL his base does; and
(c) when Trump won on this issue, he wouldn’t be shy about saying so.

 Horny Harvey and Hollywood Hypocrisy

Harvey Weinstein’s Behavior Was ‘Worst Kept Secret in Hollywood,” says actor (Fox News)

Comment: Now that he has been destroyed, the powerful people and institutions will finally speak.

I completely understand why the weak and vulnerable kept quiet; they are victims. But the powerful and well-entrenched who knew about this have no such excuses.

 The next phases of the Weinstein story, as I see it

Comment: Here are some obvious angles. The question is whether the media wants to investigate, given that they are directly implicated, along with their powerful friends:

  • Democrats who were close to him will have to defend themselves and offer stories about their ignorance (some true, some false)
    • Many are now saying they are “shocked, shocked” to find out this about Mr. Weinstein. Gimme a break.
    • Why did Hillary, Barack, and all the others wait five days after the NYT broke the story before commenting?
    • Why did all the late-night comedians (except John Oliver) maintain radio silence, as Saturday Night Live did? They will jump on Weinstein’s figurative corpse now, but where were they after the story broke?
  • The media will be all over the Weinstein story but they will downplay or ignore the media’s complicity or the Democrats role in it (just as the conservative media will harp on it)
    • The NYT, the most MSM of MSM outlets, deserves lots of credit for breaking the story. But they need to explain why they didn’t dig further a decade ago, when they first had the story. Lots of women were harmed in the intervening years.
  • What about the media outlets, like the NYT and NBC, that had the story and didn’t run it?  What about the gossip sites like TMZ? Why didn’t they investigate this well-known rumor?
  • What about the others sexual harassment and exploitation in Hollywood? Will the media investigate or wait for Gloria Allred? There have been rumors for years about pedophilia, but no real reporting.

Henry Kissinger meets with Trump. What’s that about?

Comment: Kissinger  has made one of the most sensible and serious proposals about working with China to resolve the North Korean crisis. He is also the most trusted intermediary to broker a deal between Beijing and Washington and to carry back-channel messages between the two. (Kissinger’s proposal was contained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, subscription)

My guess: Trump listened to Kissinger, said “great, if Xi is willing to do it. But if he won’t or it doesn’t work, tell him the US will act unilaterally in a wide variety of ways that the Chinese won’t like.”


Hat Tip to

◆ Randy Helm for pointing out that the NYT deserves credit for breaking the story

How the NSA Found Out the Russians had Hacked It

Israel hacked Russia’s Kaspersky cyber labs, found code that could only have come from the NSA, then told the Americans (Washington Post)

In 2015, Israeli government hackers saw something suspicious in the computers of a Moscow-based cybersecurity firm: hacking tools that could only have come from the National Security Agency.

Israel notified the NSA, where alarmed officials immediately began a hunt for the breach, according to people familiar with the matter, who said an investigation by the agency revealed that the tools were in the possession of the Russian government.

Israeli spies had found the hacking material on the network of Kaspersky Lab, the global anti-virus firm under a spotlight in the United States because of suspicions that its products facilitate Russian espionage –Washington Post

ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, October 10

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

◆ Massive Wildfires across Northern California. Blazes in Sonoma’s wine country have not been contained(New York Times)

At least 10 dead so far, 1500 buildings destroyed.

Comment: There are other fires in Southern California. Together, they challenge the state’s ability to respond.

 Tennessee’s centrist Republican Senator, Bob Corker, doubles down on his accusations against Trump

The New York Times broke the news and did an in-depth interview with Corker, whose attacks on Trump are as personal as DJT’s angry tweets at Corker. The Times’ latest article is here.

Comment: Corker’s attacks are important for three reasons

  • First, according to NYT reporters, Corker’s criticisms are merely the public voice of what most Senate Republicans say. Steve Bannon has said the same thing: establishment Republicans hate Trump and want to sink his agenda.
  • Second, since the Democrats oppose every Trump legislative initiative, he only chance to pass legislation is to hold together a narrow Republican majority. Now, Corker and McCain seem determined to oppose Trump. Add Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski to that grouping and you fall well short of 50 votes. (And most legislation will require 60.)
  • Third, Corker, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is privy to the highest-levels of US intel and diplomacy. He has recently said that Trump could be leading the US into World War III.

The husband-and-wife team indicted in the Democratic Congressional IT scandal have now turned on each other (Daily Caller)

The indicted husband-and-wife team of former IT aides to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz sat directly across from each other at the defendants’ table in federal court Friday in Washington, D.C., but refused to look at each other.

Even as they are co-defendants in a U.S. case, Imran Awan’s own wife, Hina Alvi, has become the latest person to accuse him of fraud, filing papers against him in Pakistani court, according to Pakistani news channel ARY.

Awan, his wife and two brothers — all previously on the payroll of House Democrats — became subjects of a Capitol Police investigation last year after investigators concluded they were submitting falsified invoices for equipment and had transferred “massive” data off a House server. After he was banned from the House network, Awan left a laptop with the username RepDWS in a Capitol Hill phone booth.

Although The Washington Post has reported that investigators found that Awan and his relatives made unauthorized access to a congressional server 5,400 times, Wasserman Schultz has said concern about the matter was the stuff of the “right-wing media circus fringe.” –Daily Caller

Comment: Whenever the defendants turn on each other, the prosecution benefits.

What do we need to know?

  • Were the Democrats’ confidential information shared with outsiders, including foreign actors?
  • Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz stick by her accused aide for so long? Did he have anything on her?
  • How deep and wide does this scandal go?

Comment #2: Mainstream media has shown zero interest in this massive scandal.

Today’s “WTF” story

Comment: No matter how fearsome your school’s mascot, I’m betting that “Radioactive Wild Boars” is scarier.

The University of Arkansas should really consider upgrading their Razorback symbol.