He heard an old man speak to students–and he did something wonderful for him

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Drew Principe, 17, was one of the California high school students who recently heard Henry Oster’s talk about surviving the Holocaust. They listened as Oster described the depths of despair, his fear and loss, and finally his survival.

Dr. Oster, who is now nearing 90, explained that he had been on the eve of celebrating his Bar Mitzvah when the Nazis rounded up–and killed–his family at Auschwitz. (His father starved to death in the ghetto.)

Somehow, he alone survived.

After the war, he moved to California, became a doctor, and lived out his life there.

That’s the story of loss and survival Dr. Oster told the high school students.

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Reaching out to help

Then, young Mr. Principe did something extraordinary:

When Principe learned that Oster had never been to Israel, he started a fundraising effort for the once-in-a-lifetime trip [to visit Oster’s last living relative there]. –Daily Mail

Principe raised $15,000 to fund Mr. Oster’s trip.

On Monday, 89-year-old Henry Oster left for that dreamed-of trip to visit his last living relative.

Drew Principe and his family are tagging along to share the joy.

The story and picture of Principe and Oster are here. (Daily Mail)

ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, June 20

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

 American Otto Warmbier dies after being imprisoned in North Korea. Pres. Trump condemns it as “a brutal regime” and adds “we’ll be able to handle it.” (Fox News)

Sec. of State Rex Tillerson referred to Warmbier’s “unjust imprisonment” and called for the release of 3 other Americans held there.

Now, China’s tour agency that takes Americans to North Korea says it will stop those tours. (Fox)

Comment: The brutality of the North Korean regime is well known. The question is how to constrain the danger they pose to South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

Russia Warns Washington after US fighter downs a Syrian Warplane. (New York Times)

Long-running tensions between the United States and Russia erupted publicly on Monday as Moscow condemned the American military’s downing of a Syrian warplane and threatened to target aircraft flown by the United States and its allies west of the Euphrates.

The Russians also said they had suspended their use of a hotline that the American and Russian militaries used to avoid collisions of their aircraft in Syrian airspace.

The episode was the first time the United States downed a Syrian plane since the civil war began there in 2011 and came after the SU-22 jet dropped bombs on Sunday near American-backed fighters combating the Islamic State. It followed another major American military action against the Syrian government: a cruise missile strike to punish a nerve gas attack that killed civilians in April. –New York Times

That’s not the only major development.  

The latest escalation comes as competing forces converge on ungoverned swaths of Syria amid the country’s six-year civil war. Syrian forces and Iranian-backed militias that support them are extending their reach east closer to American-backed fighters, including forces that the Pentagon hopes will pursue the militants into the Euphrates River valley after they take the Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa. The collision of the disparate forces has, in effect, created a war within a war. –New York Times

Comment: With so many factions fighting in close proximity, there is a huge risk of unintended engagement among the states backing different groups. That, of course, could lead to escalation.

 Theresa May’s weakness casts shadow over Brexit negotiations (Financial Times)

Britain began the long process of leaving Europe on Monday, but many Conservative MPs are privately speculating whether Theresa May can make it as prime minister through the next few months. –Financial Times

Comment: May is now deeply unpopular–she’s been called a “dead woman walking”–and leading Tories are trying to find a consensus candidate to replace her as Prime Minister.

As far as Brexit goes, the PM has also replaced many of the negotiators; the new ones are in disarray. No one knows what Britain’s goal in the negotiations really are.

 Today in European terror: A car with an armed terrorist (he was on France’s watch list) rammed a police car on the Champs-Élysée in Paris. The terrorist’s car burst into flames on the busy street and he later died.  (CNN story here)

According to the BBC:

Police found a Kalashnikov rifle, handguns and gas bottles in the car.

“Security forces have been targeted in France once again,” Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said, calling it an “attempted attack”. –BBC

Comment: This problem goes beyond police and intelligence work, although it certainly calls for that. As long as Europe is filled large numbers of unassimilated Muslims, attracted to extreme ideologies, this problem will continue. The key is to work on assimilation, restrictions on new immigration, and more intense intel work.

 Well, at least she didn’t waste the money she stole  Report: Stolen city funds paid for her ‘Brazilian butt lift’ (Gainesville Sun)

Natwaina Clark’s 177 bogus purchases — totaling more than $93,000 — included cosmetic surgery, SunPass and PayPal.

An investigative report released Wednesday shows a former city of Gainesville employee, accused of stealing more than $93,000 from the city, spent some of it on a Brazilian butt lift. –Gainesville Sun

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Democrats Latest Strategy on Repeal-and-Replace: Shut Down the Entire Senate

To show they are grumpy about the Republicans’ negotiations to repeal-and-replace ObamaCare, the Democrats have a new idea.

They plan to halt all business in the Senate, even the most routine measures.

Those normally pass unanimously without objection.

That is what CNN is reporting.

Senate Democrats will move to bring the chamber to a halt Monday night to protest the Republicans’ closed-door process to gut Obamacare in the coming days, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Democrats plan to object to routine requests to let the chamber operate — whether it’s scheduling votes or allowing committees to meet for extended hearings — in a move aimed at escalating the fight over health care. –CNN

CNN reports the Democratic base is enthusiastic about the strategy.

It is not clear if the Democrats plan to continue the strategy after Monday’s protest.

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Comment: Rachel Maddow, Elizabeth Warren, and Tom Steyer might like it, but ordinary people won’t.

This is a temper tantrum wearing the thin guise of political strategy.

The correct allegation is that the Republican Senators are doing this behind closed doors.

The Republicans rightly respond that the Democrats have said they won’t agree to anything if it repeals and replaces Obamacare.

So, Republicans figure, if we can’t get their votes, why tell them in advance what we are doing?

 

Journalism Standards Collapsed in the 2016 Election. So says Michael Goodwin, one of America’s most prominent reporters

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They are not getting better after the election, either

Goodwin is the chief political columnist for the New York Post and led the editorial board of the NY Daily News to a Pulitzer. Before this, he taught at Columbia Journalism School and worked as a reporter for the NY Times.

So, he speaks about journalistic standards with deep experience–and considerable passion for what he sees as their collapse.

His article at Hillsdale College’s Imprimis magazine (link here) makes the case.

There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed. For that, we can blame the 2016 election or, more accurately, how some news organizations chose to cover it. Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close. –Michael Goodwin in Imprimis

His main point is not that journalists are generally progressives and leftists. That’s been true for a long time, he says. What shocked him was the reporters’ and editors’ “whole new approach to politics” and to reporting about it. “No one in modern times,” he says, “had seen anything like it.”

Trump was savaged like no other candidate in memory. We were watching the total collapse of standards, with fairness and balance tossed overboard. Every story was an opinion masquerading as news, and every opinion ran in the same direction—toward Clinton and away from Trump.

For the most part, I blame The New York Times and The Washington Post for causing this breakdown. The two leading liberal newspapers were trying to top each other in their demonization of Trump and his supporters. They set the tone, and most of the rest of the media followed like lemmings.

The issue, he says, is not tough scrutiny of the candidate but papers and broadcasters  that “dropped the pretense of fairness and jumped headlong into the tank for one candidate over the other.”

Now, he adds, even the “letters to the editor” they print uniformly agree with their editorial view.

These once-respected papers have reached a new low.

In the process, they have damaged journalism and civic discourse. He cites chapter and verse to prove his point. That, alas, is all too easy.

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Comment: Sadly, Goodwin is completely correct, and all news readers are worse off for it, even those who agree with the slanted coverage.

Watching the NYT morph into MSNBC is a grim spectacle.

ZipDialog has focused repeatedly on the egregious bias in news reporting at the NYT, Washington Post, and the MSM.

There’s no sign yet of any turn for the better.

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Hat tip to Clarice Feldman for Goodwin’s important article

ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, June 19

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

 Terror attack in London, killing and injuring Muslims as they left Ramadan prayers. We already know it was deliberate. We’ll know more soon about the motives. The initial indications are that the 48-year-old man wanted to kill Muslims as a hate crime. But, again, details are still sketchy.

Comment: The rise of political, religious, and ethnic hatred and killing because of that hatred is one of the most troubling developments in Europe and the US.

Democrats have no affirmative plans on health, so they turn to a familiar tactic: obstruct.

Democrats planning to slow GOP efforts to vote on ObamaCare by July 4 (Fox News)

Their complaint: the Republicans are drafting the bill behind closed doors and not allowing Democrats to participate.

Comment: They Democrats are understandably upset about being excluded. But no one on the Democratic side has said they would vote for any repeal-and-replace bill. They have said they will talk only if the R’s agree to tweak the ACA. Since the R’s are committed to replacing Obamacare, it’s hard to see why they would invite the fox into the hen house. 

◆ Washington Post editorial: “Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag”

But the government’s price tag would be astonishing. When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a “Medicare for all” health plan in his presidential campaign, the nonpartisan Urban Institute figured that it would raise government spending by $32 trillion over 10 years, requiring a tax increase so huge that even the democratic socialist Mr. Sanders did not propose anything close to it.

The goal still must be universal coverage and cost restraint. But no matter whether the government or some combination of parties is paying, that restraint will come slowly, with cuts to the rate of increase in medical costs that make the system more affordable over time. –Washington Post editorial

Comment: The standard solution to these high costs is to ration care. Typically, governments also impose cost controls which discourage innovation and channel potential doctors and nurses into other fields.

The fact that support for single-payer is now a litmus test for California Democrats is stunning. It would cost 2.5 times the current state budget.

 “Flounder” of Animal House has died Stephen Furst, who remained proud of his role as a hapless doofus, had heart problems brought on by diabetes.  He had other roles, but “Kent Dorfman” (Flounder) was his timeless one.

Comment: Flounder (the character’s name was Kent Dorfman) was less famous for the lines he said in Animal House than for something said to him. He was on the receiving end of the best advice every given by a college administrator, when Dean Vernon Wurmer told him, “Fat, Drunk, and Stupid is no way to go through life, son.” He concluded that scene famously by responding to Wurmer’s command, “Out with it.” 

He also played the central role in the “horse scene” (here). “I didn’t even point the gun at him!”

 Megyn Kelly and NBC “take the gloves off in Alex Jones interview–and now he’s mad” (Los Angeles Times)

Megyn Kelly presented a highly critical 19-minute piece on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on her NBC newsmagazine “Sunday Night” after a week of harsh criticism over the decision to present his views on network TV.

Jones is notorious for saying the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was staged to promote tougher gun control laws. Twenty-six people, including 20 children, died, making it the second-deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history at the time. –LA Times

They even brought Tom Brokaw onto the show to say the grieving Newtown parents “should not have to hear the cruel claim that it’s a lie.”

Comment: Good point, Tom. But your bosses completely undercut it by giving a platform to the man who spread this “cruel claim that it’s a lie.”

Why did NBC do it? To sell viewers’ eyeballs to advertisers, of course.

Megyn Kelly and NBC made the despicable decision to climb into this ditch. They shouldn’t be surprised they got covered in mud.

◆ Good News: Cong. Steve Scalise’s condition upgraded to “serious” after the Virginia shooting (CNN)

Comment: Great news.

 

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

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

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

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

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Why Was the Documentary Withheld?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, June 18

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

 Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signs hotly-contested education bill (Orlando Sentinel)

The major bill

tackles everything from recess to teacher bonuses to testing. Backers called it “landmark” and “transformational” legislation, while critics said it will harm public schools and their most vulnerable students. . . . .

The measure includes the “schools of hope” provision [House Speaker Richard] Corcoran championed, which will use state money to lure high-performing charter schools to neighborhoods where students in traditional schools have struggled academically.

“These are kids who are being robbed of dignity and hope,” Corcoran said. “We want every single child to have an opportunity to get a world-class education.”

The bill’s provisions related to charter schools — privately run public institutions — have prompted some of the biggest outcry, with many educators and school advocates urging Scott to veto the bill because they think it will reduce funding for traditional public schools.

Comment: The bill was strongly opposed by teachers’ unions and other supporters of traditional public schools, strongly supported by proponents of charters and private schools.

 Carol Felsenthal has a thoughtful, succinct opinion piece at ZipDialog: Will Trump Ax Mueller?

She thinks there is an excellent chance he will and that the political consequences will be very serious.

 Illinois state comptroller says she cannot pay the bills. State finances are in a “crisis mode” (Associate Press)

[Comptroller Susana] Mendoza says a recent court order regarding money owed for Medicaid bills means mandated payments will eat up 100 percent of Illinois’ monthly revenue.

There would be no money left for so-called “discretionary” spending – a category that in Illinois includes school buses, domestic violence shelters and some ambulance services. –Associated Press

Comment: For years, the state spent lavishly on pensions for unionized state employees, who were so beloved by legislators that they actually wrote into the state constitution that pensions can never be reduced.

On those rare occasions when the Democrats and Republicans agreed on budget cuts, they were struck down by the courts because they reduced future pension benefits, which violates the constitution.

For years, the state has been deep blue, with House Majority Leader Mike Madigan (of Chicago) as the most powerful figure. Several years ago, a tough-minded Republican (Bruce Rauner) won the governorship, but he and Madigan have not been able to strike a deal. 

Unlike Puerto Rico, Illinois and other US states cannot seek bankruptcy protection. But lots of city and state agencies can, and there is a real prospect that some will have to do so if the state cannot pay its share of their budget.

You can easily imagine what the D’s and R’s say. “The other side is intransigent, and what we need to do is (a) raise taxes or (b) cut services.” You can guess who says A and who says B. (The one quirk is that not all Republicans favor being hard on unionized state employees. In some downstate districts, they are vote in large numbers, often for Republicans.)

 “Put down you make-up kit, m’am, and come out of the beauty shop with your hands up.”

Idaho governor vetoed legislation to make it easier to work in cosmetology  (FEE, Foundation for Economic Education) Then, his wife called and asked her usual, unlicensed make-up artist to come and do some work. The make-up artist, Sherry Japhet, told her no.   

Here’s what Ms. Japhet said on Facebook:

Got a call to do [First Lady] Lori Otter’s makeup for a commercial on location and I said…

“I would be more than happy to do it but her husband [Gov. Butch Otter, R] vetoed a bill to make it legal for me or any other makeup artist and stylist to do so. She will have to go to a salon or do it all herself.”

She added in the Facebook post: “That felt so damn good.” –FEE

Comment: Too many people need costly, time-consuming, irrelevant licenses.

Bureaucracies love imposing them. That’s what they live to do. Professionals already in the field often favor them to prevent competition.

So, who loses? Consumers lose, unless the licenses protect health and safety.

Licenses for commercial truck drivers and food handlers are obviously necessary. But many others are unnecessary or are saddled with lots of unnecessary classroom hours. They raise costs and force people to go to unlicensed or blackmarket providers–or do without.

 The answer, my friend, is blowing in the . . . Spark Notes???  (Slate)

Slate asks, “Did the singer-songwriter take portions of his Nobel lecture from SparkNotes?”

Sounds like their lawyer went over that headline, doesn’t it? Anyway, they note the following:

Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing Moby-Dick, even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages (such as “Ahab’s lust for vengeance” in the above lines) do not appear in the novel Moby-Dick at all. –Slate

 Bodies of missing US sailors found in ship’s flooded compartment  (New York Times)

The collision occurred in a  crowded shipping lane and the cause of the accident has not yet been determined.

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Will Trump Ax Mueller?

 My Hunch: Yes, he will. And the ramifications will be huge

I’m betting Trump orders Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to ax special counsel Bob Mueller.

Trump’s reason—not that he needs one—will be the friendship between Mueller and Trump’s fired FBI chief, Jim Comey.

Trump could get that ball rolling, but then, I predict, shortly after the 2018 midterms, we’ll be calling Mike Pence, “Mr. President.”

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An Impossible Triangle?

 

◆ MY ADVICE:

If I were advising Trump, which would be about as likely as my advising Rahm Emanuel, I’d tell him, “Stick with the special counsel you’re stuck with.”

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Does Mueller Have a Conflict of Interest?

Trump’s Allies Now Say “Yes”

◆ MY ADVICE: 

Give up this charge that the friendship between Mueller and Comey represents a “conflict of interest,” especially given that one of your closest cronies (think Newt Gingrich] couldn’t praise Mueller, a 12-year veteran of the top FBI job under both W. Bush and Obama, enough when Rod Rosenstein made the appointment last month. (See The Hill’s article on Trump allies attacking the Mueller-Comey relationship (link here).)

That high praise was bestowed, of course, before leaks seemed to reveal that Mueller’s probe had morphed from Russian collusion to, reportedly, investigating Trump personally for obstruction of justice over his allegedly pressuring Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.  Not only that, but rumors are also swirling that Mueller is looking at Trump’s financial dealings and those of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

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“Bobby Three Sticks” and His Friend

Mueller will not destroy his distinguished career and reputation, even for a friend

 Robert S. Mueller III (“”Bobby Three Sticks” to his friends) is close to heading home at the close of a distinguished career.

Among other honors, Mueller, 72,  is a decorated Marine for service in Vietnam.

Mueller is not going to allow a personal friendship with Trump’s (and Hillary’s) enemy #1, Jim Comey, to sully his reputation.

One could argue that the fact that Mueller and Comey are friends will make Mueller more careful about charging Trump with obstruction of justice, etc. in the absence of a rock-solid case.

One could also argue that Mueller should have declined the appointment.   The Hill this morning quotes a “Justice Department statute that says recusal is necessary when there is the `appearance’ of a `personal’ conflict of interest.”

Looking for a way this afternoon to postpone the pain of transcribing an interview tape from last week, I started to search narrowly whether Mueller had ever expressed his affection for Comey.

It took a matter of seconds to find this quote from Mueller in a Washington Post story dated August 23, 2013. (link here). The context is Mueller reflecting on the bittersweetness of leaving the FBI and turning over the job to Comey.  Mueller called Comey a “`good friend,’  an `excellent choice’ and a `superb prosecutor.’”

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Does Anyone on Team Trump Do a Google Search?

 Mueller’s affection for Comey should have been no surprise to anyone who follows Washington politics.  Yet Gingrich tweeted that Mueller was “a superb choice…His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down.”

Did anyone on Trump’s press team research the relationship?

In 2004, the two men—Mueller then FBI chief and Comey deputy attorney general– survived the kind of experience—a civilian version of combat–that cements friendships.

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“To Be, or Not To Be . . . FBI Director”

Comey, who I think would have been better suited for a career on the stage than in law enforcement–ran up the stairs of the George Washington University Medical Center, to prevent George W. Bush’s attorney general, John Ashcroft, incapacitated after emergency surgery, from signing a reauthorization of a surveillance program.  Mueller, also on the scene, backed Comey, then serving as acting attorney general in the wake of Ashcroft’s surgery, in calling the program illegal.

More important, Mueller assisted Comey in getting to Ashcroft’s bedside by ordering Ashcroft’s FBI agents to let Comey through.  The two men, working together, thus succeeded in preventing Ashcroft from signing a document, thrust before him by W’s White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., that would have reauthorized a program of warrantless domestic eavesdropping.

Comey, showing once more his flair for the dramatic,” called the scene “an apocalyptic situation…” (Washington Post)

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◆ MY FINAL ADVICE: 

Again, if I were advising Trump, I’d tell him to keep his head down, his mouth shut and get on with the business of leading the country, so voters will care if Trump is forced from office because of  what he has described, via tweet, of course, as a “WITCH HUNT.”

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Carol Felsenthal is much-published author. Besides a long list of magazine credits, she has written a number of acclaimed biographies:

  • Citizen Newhouse: Portrait of a Media Merchant,
  • Power, Privilege, and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story,
  • Princess Alice: The Life and Times of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and
  • Clinton in Exile: A President Out of the White House, a look at Bill Clinton’s post presidency

She is also a contributing writer for Chicago Magazine and the political blogger for their website, Chicagomag.com.

She has taught biographical writing at the University of Chicago and written profiles of everyone from Ann Landers to Michelle Obama.

Occasional Quotes: Divided America

We all know how deeply divided the country is.

Sometimes, though, a small, seemingly-insignificant item can reveal the depths in a new way.

That’s how I felt when I read this.

This is a paragraph in a New York Times news article (link here) about Megyn Kelly and the controversy surrounding her bumpy rollout at NBC, most recently involving the interview with conspiracy theorist and radio personality, Alex Jones.

But the comment was not about Megyn.

It was about a small, playful incident (utterly forgotten by me) involving Jimmy Fallon and Donald Trump.

“It’s Jimmy Fallon tousling Trump’s hair,” said Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center for media and society at the University of Southern California, likening the Kelly-Jones tempest to the moment last fall that is widely considered to have caused lasting damage to Mr. Fallon, NBC’s “Tonight Show” host–New York Times

Lasting damage? Good Lord.

Apparently, even playing with and humanizing Donald Trump is unacceptable to the other side.

You do not have to support Trump–or even like him–to find that a startling piece of news about America’s divide.

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