ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, November 20

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

Merkel’s Troubles–and Germany’s After her narrow election win, she cannot form a coalition government. Prefers new election (Deutsche Welle, in English)

The coalition problem was that she needed support from the leftist Greens and pro-market Free Democrats.

She couldn’t find common ground between them.

Comment: Her larger problem is that she’s past her “sell-by” date and has a tin-ear for ordinary Germans’ disgust with open borders, which have led to millions of immigrants and serious problems with unassimilated Muslim populations.

 Charles Manson dead at 83. Remembering his victims: Rich, famous, fringe, and random (Los Angeles Times)

Comment: Unspeakable evil–with the power to persuade others to join his malign fantasy.

US designates North Korea as state sponsor of terrorism (Politico)

Iran, Sudan, and Syria are already on the list. It had been placed on the list in 1988 and removed by George W. Bush in 2008 as a carrot during failed nuclear negotiations.

“This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime.

Should have happened years ago. –Pres. Trump (quote at Reuters, link here)

Comment: The big question remains: Will China adhere to US-imposed sanctions or call our bluff by cheating on them?

 Sen. Franken: Second woman accuses of “inappropriate touching” (New York Times)

He won’t resign, says his hometown paper, the Star-Tribune.

 Roy Moore: Obstinate denials despite mounting evidence, stays in the race

Comment: His refusal to withdraw leaves Senate Republicans in a world of hurt.

Meanwhile, Moore received support at a press conference, featuring women who have worked with him.

Unfortunately, all these women have the same drawback. They are adults.

 

 

ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, November 14: All Sleaze Edition

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

Roy Moore abandoned by national Republicans as more women accuse him

Comment: With such a thin margin in the Senate, Republicans need the Alabama seat to pass legislation (not that they have done so, yet), but individual office holders cannot afford to back him. And they are absolutely right, ethically, to back away from this sleazebag.

Unfortunately for Republicans, Moore owes them nothing, so they have no leverage to force him out of the race.

Trump and his Press Secretary will have to answer the question, an awkward prospect.

A write-in candidacy might win, but it’s a long shot.

The New York Sun notes the precedent of the Adam Clayton Powell case, where the House refused to seat the long-time congressman in 1966 because of corruption. He took the case to the Supreme Court and won. In other words, Congress can remove people from office after giving them hearings but cannot refuse to seat them.

That would mean immediate and nasty hearings to unseat Moore, with the prospect of further public humiliation. When he contemplates that, he might decide to back out. If he does, the Governor would probably postpone the election–over strenuous Democratic objections and lawsuits.

 AG Sessions testifies before Congress on Russia, Clintons, Roy Moore (New York Times)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, showed selective recall on the Trump campaign’s Russia contacts.

Mr. Sessions said he had “no reason to doubt these women” who have accused the man who wants his old Senate seat, Roy S. Moore, of seeking sexual or romantic favors from them as teenagers. –New York Times

Sessions floats prospect of a Special Counsel to Investigate Uranium One, Clinton Foundation (Washington Post)

The New York Times reports the same thing.

Comment: There seems to be enough smoke here to warrant a serious investigation. If so, then it should be conducted by a Special Counsel, not the DOJ for several reasons. The most important, by far, is this:

Any investigation of political opponents by law enforcement carries the heavy burden of perceived unfairness. Supporters of the opposing party (or candidate) will fear that the state’s power to investigate and punish is being used to crush opposition. That should never happen in a democracy. Even if the investigation is fair, it must be perceived as fair.

While Sessions and other political appointees could–and would–say that the task has been delegated to “career professionals,” they would have to sign off on any recommendations to charge. Again, their opponents could not be confident the process was fair and impartial.

Bottom line: Appoint a Special Counsel to investigate Uranium One, the Clinton Foundation, and the botched FBI investigation of the Clinton email server, including James Comey and Loretta Lynch’s roles.

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Moore Troubling Stories: Reports from Alabama’s leading papers

ZipDialog readers know that, when stories about cities or states break, I turn to the best local news sources.

They have better local contacts and often know more than the media who fly in for the day.

In the case of Roy Moore, the national media are best covering how the Republican Senate and the White House are responding.

The Alabama media is best on what locals know and how they are responding.

Today’s lead webpage from AL.com, a consortium of Alabama’s largest papers, is dominated by the Moore story. (The page is below)

The most interesting new information is (a) Sen. Shelby (R-AL) suggesting a Moore “consider” withdrawing, and (b) Reports from Gadsden, where Moore was living as a young prosecutor, that his interest in young girls was well-known. (It speaks of “flirting,” not assault.)

Here is the lead page of AL.com, dominated by the Moore stories.

 

Moore’s side is looking into allegations that the accusers were “paid to come forward.” If that is true, it would cloud their motives but not the substance of their charges.

The same is true about the Washington Post; its motives may be partisan (as we know Gloria Allred’s are), and that always merits skeptical scrutiny, but it is the substance of these serious charges that really matters here.

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VERY disturbing allegations about Rep. nominee for Senate, Roy Moore, and sexual encounters with underage girls

Moore–whose candidacy is disturbing for many other reasons as well–denies the accusations, made in the Washington Post (link here).

He claims it is just smear tactics by the WaPo and the Democrats.

Unfortunately for Moore (and the Republicans), the Post article names four separate accusers. No anonymous charges.

No one says they had coitus with Moore.

Three of the four say the encounters were only kissing. One says Moore provided alcohol, though she was underage.

The most overt sexual encounter was between 32-year-old Moore and 14-year-old Leigh Corfman:

Of the four women, the youngest at the time was Corfman, who is the only one who says she had sexual contact with Moore that went beyond kissing. She says they did not have intercourse.

In a written statement, Moore denied the allegations.

“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign,” Moore, now 70, said.

The campaign said in a subsequent statement that if the allegations were true they would have surfaced during his previous campaigns, adding “this garbage is the very definition of fake news.” –Washington Post

Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), said the obvious: Moore should step aside if the allegations are true. (The Hill)

Alabama laws complicate any effort to step aside.

It’s unclear whether the Alabama state party will stand by the nominee, but Alabama law bars any candidate from withdrawing their name within 76 days of an election. That could present a situation where Moore’s name is on the ballot but he cannot be certified the winner if he wins, according to Alabama state law.  –The Hill

The legal status of a write-in candidate is unclear, according to The Hill.

In short, this scandal involves

  • Serious allegations
  • Multiple named sources
  • Denial by Moore
  • No easy solutions for the Republicans, even if Moore withdraws

Comment: With such a thin majority in the Senate, the Republicans’ loss here would imperil their already-tottering legislative program.

Moore was a terrible candidate before this. Rude, crude, and utterly ignorant of policy issues, as I wrote about him after he won the Republican primary (link here). Of course, I knew nothing then about these disturbing allegations, which seem credible.

This story will move rapidly, I’m sure. It’s cannot sit where it is now, after the Post story. Others will investigate, and the pressure on Moore will be enormous.

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US Senate Race in Alabama: Roy Moore Wins Republican Primary

Defeats incumbent Senatorial appointee, Luther Strange, despite Trump’s endorsement

“Big Luther,” as Trump nicknamed him, was saddled with trouble from the beginning.

He was appointed to office and many Alabama voters thought the decision was corrupt.

It was made by the embattled, embarrassed, and now-departed Gov. Bentley.

Somehow, the investigation of Bentley was stopped by the State AG’s office, headed by Strange. It’s not hard to figure what most people thought of that.

Still, Strange was the incumbent, was endorsed and funded by Sen. Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and, thanks to McConnell, received Trump’s endorsement.

Trump and Pence made trips to Alabama but never attacked Moore and, in fact, said they would support him in the general election. Moore is not so appealing to a general population but is still likely to win in a Deep Red State.

Backed by Steve Bannon and the populist wing, Moore’s win is a “victory for Trumpism but not for Trump.” The president will take some (small) comfort from that. And he’ll be leery of opposing that movement again at the ballot box.

Who is the Big Loser, Besides Luther Strange?

Who is the big loser? Mitch McConnell.

He loses twice over. First, he loses a reliable vote in the Senate. Roy Moore is a loose cannon (though he lacks much firepower). Assuming he wins the seat, he won’t be a reliable vote any more than Mike Lee or Susan Collins.

Second, ole Mitch is not going to enjoy his talks with Trump. He got Trump to endorse a loser. Trump is gonna love that. Mitch couldn’t get his own guy over the finish line and managed to associate Trump with the thing he hates most: losing. And, of course, Mitch cannot get key legislation passed. Trump is gonna treat him like road kill, restrained only by his desperate need to pay tax cuts and tax reform.

Moore is Less

As for Moore, he is

  • Dumb as a box of rocks, which doesn’t seem to faze Alabama Republican voters
  • Knows nothing about public policy, which takes some doing for a man who has been in public office for years
  • Considered by Alabama Republicans to be the authentic voice of populist anger and religious fervor.

It was this last point–populist fury and Moore’s identification with it–that led to his victory.

Expect to hear plenty from the Democrats about the “rule of law” in our country. They will move to exploit Moore’s flat refusal to remove the Ten Commandments from a court building, despite being to do so by a Federal Court. We’ve been through that issue before in our country. It was decided right the first two times. Moore’s refusal to obey a legitimate court order is despicable. It got him booted off the Alabama State Supreme Court but was apparently a feather in his cap politically. Uggh.

With all those deficits, it tells you a lot about the primary electorate’s mood that he won. And it tells you a lot about how conservative Alabama is that Moore is favored to win the General Election.

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ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, Nov. 24, Thanksgiving

Hand-picked for Thanksgiving–
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ Why People Lost Their Minds When A Brooklyn Store Played ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ (The Federalist)

It would be just plain wrong to write about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s iconic hit without hearing Ronnie Van Zant sing “Big Wheels Keep on Turning, Carry Me Home to My Kin . . . ”


◆ Now’s the season for buying jewelry, and there’s something new on the market: man-made diamonds
. They cannot match the quality of natural diamonds–at least, not yet–but they are much cheaper. The Chicago Tribune reports on who is buying and the need to verify whether the stones are natural or synthetic.

◆ Trump’s new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is a strong advocate of school choice. (Well, school choice for the poor. Parents wealthy enough to afford private schools already have choice.)

charter-schools-described-350px-no-marginsMs. DeVos is a billionaire philanthropist and major GOP donor, an heir to her own family’s fortune (self-made, in automobile parts) and her husband’s (Amway, founded by his father). The former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, she has long been one of the country’s leading advocates for vouchers and charter schools.

As the Detroit Free Press puts it, Betsy DeVos

will either be a strong fighter for the education of kids or destroy public education.

That about sums up the strong opinions about president-elect Donald Trump’s decision Wednesday to appoint DeVos to the highest education role in the nation. School choice and charter advocates praised her appointment. Union officials, Democratic activists and public school advocates slammed it. –Detroit Free Press

The best brief overview of charters–and the differences between charter schools and vouchers–is this article at the Weekly Standard: A Quiet Revolution: Charter Schooling’s First 25 Years by Andy Smarick

◆ How a Chicago rapper sacrificed fame to help poor Chicago kids. Ben Austen writes about Rhymefest. (Billboard)

keith_ellison-labeled-small Every Republican I’ve read or spoken with says, “Please elect Keith Ellison to head the Democratic National Committee.” His election would signal the rump party is moving hard left. Not a national party.

◆ For anyone who followed baseball in the 1950s, one home run stood out above all others. It was “the shot heard ’round the world,” a walk-off homer by the NY Giants’ Bobby Thomson that defeated their city rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers, to win a one-game playoff and a trip to the World Series. The ill-fated pitcher for the Dodgers was Ralph Branca, who just died, aged 90.  Here’s the ESPN obituary.  And here’s the electrifying call of that pitch and that hit by Giants’ announcer, Russ Hodges.

 

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♥ Happy Thanksgiving, with marshmallows on top, to one and all.