ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, April 20

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

 Tillerson, Mattis turn up the heat on Iran. Says it is still sponsoring terrorism throughout the Middle East  (Washington Post)

But they do not want to overturn the nuclear agreement. They see cheating at the margins but not full-frontal violations

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis slammed Iran as a destabilizing influence, particularly in Yemen, during a visit to Saudi Arabia. “Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mattis told reporters.

This week, the Trump administration said it will undertake a comprehensive, 90-day review to judge whether lifting sanctions on Iran serves U.S. interests. So expect to hear more about this topic in the coming months.

In the meantime, amid all the criticism, here’s a development worth noting: Iran has met all of its commitments under the nuclear deal so far, the administration officially told Congress this week. –Washington Post

 The sheer fun of reading a slash-and-burn column. Not good as a steady diet, but, like cheese cake, great fun as an occasional treat.

Here’s Howie Carr’s take-down of Elizabeth Warren and her new book. The succession of nicknames alone is worth the read, and so is his parody of what she claims is her favorite curse word: poop. Really. That, she claims, is a f*^king curse word. (My own is “drat.”)  Howie’s column is here. (Boston Herald)

This is a rough week for Chief Spreading Bull to be starting her tour of the trustafarian gated communities and alt-left fake-news media that are her main, make that only, constituencies. The authors of the Hillary campaign post-mortem, “Shattered,” are also making the green-room rounds. Ditto Bernie Sanders and the DNC’s Dumb and Dumber — Tom Perez and Keith Ellison.

That’s a lot of poop for the non-working classes to be wading through, but nevertheless, she will persist. . . .

“Trump slammed back at me repeatedly,” she says on page 226, “hitting me over and over with his lame nicknames.”

Like, what, Liewatha? What kind of poop did he hit you with? Was it something about your, ahem, Native American heritage? Why no mention of that anymore? She’s still demanding that the president release his taxes. Maybe he should agree to — right about the time she puts out her employment applications to the two Ivy League law schools that hired her as a
“woman of color.” –Howie Carr

Comment: Cowabonga.

 Scott Walker continues policies opposing mandatory unions, this time on state construction projects (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Contractors won’t have to work with unions on taxpayer-funded building projects and parents will have an easier time getting an anti-seizure drug derived from marijuana, under legislation Gov. Scott Walker signed Monday.

The measure on labor agreements, which passed the Legislature on party-line votes, is the latest in a series of moves to roll back union power by Republican lawmakers in recent years. –Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Comment: Wisconsin rises, Indiana Rises, Illinois sinks, California Sinks. Notice a pattern? Local voters do.

◆ Terror and the Fresno Murders: A comment 

Kori Ali Muhammad has admitted killing three people–he was caught in the act–and said he wanted to kill more “white people.”

Police has said that, although he yelled “Allahu Akbar,” his crime was based solely on race, not Islamic terror.

What he did IS terrorism, in the sense that he meant to cause terror and did.

The question is whether it is connected to the broader movement of Islamic terror, included “inspired” lone-wolf actions.

Right now, it is hard to know whether he yelled the Arabic phrase as

  • A signal of black nationalism (National of Islam style),
  • Pure hatred of America,
  • Support for global terrorism, or
  • Some other motive.

Since he has already begun talking, he might say more about his motivations. We’ll gain other information, too, as police uncover his internet search history, personal and political affiliations, and more.

As Fresno police and the FBI release their findings, we will gain a sense of how these murders are is connected to the larger Islamic terrorism issue, as well as Muhammad’s hatred of white people.

 Hillary campaign working to discover who leaked embarrassing info for new book, Shattered (NY Post’s Page Six)

We’re told the details in the book, which depicts the campaign as inept, “could only have come from someone in the inner circle.” Dennis Cheng, the finance director of Clinton’s presidential campaign, has been sending out messages to determine where the leaks come from.

One source said, “The knives are out to find the people who spoke about the campaign to the authors of this book. –NY Post

Comment: In other news, the Adlai Stevenson campaign is doing a “top-to-bottom look at why we lost and what to do next.”



zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Bryan Caisse 
for the Howie Carr piece on Elizabeth Warren


ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, April 16

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

 North Korea: no nuclear test (yet), failed missile test on day of big celebration  No comment from Trump or top aides. (Washington Post)

Comment: We don’t know if North Korea simply wasn’t ready for its next nuclear test or was pressured by China. Either way, expect Kim Jong Un to continue pushing the envelope in dangerous ways. 

 Sec. of State Rex Tillerson’s stock is high and rising inside the White House. Outsiders have simply missed it  (Politico)

Tillerson has far more White House visits than other Cabinet members, as well as weekly private dinners with Trump.

Politico says Trump admires Tillerson’s skills in managing large organizations (he was superb at Exxon), and that Trump thinks, as executives do, in terms of quarterly results. And Tillerson is finishing the quarter strong, with his guidance on Syria, Iraq, and Russia.

The American Interest has a related article on Tillerson’s rise in what they call “Donald Trump’s Transactional Diplomacy.”

 Him no talk. Elizabeth Warren whines that Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to speak to her  (Washington Examiner)

Comment: Warren, you might remember, refused to shake hands with Judge Gorsuch and led the opposition to fellow Senator Jeff Sessions’ successful nomination to become Attorney General.

 Julian Assange grumpy with CIA after its head calls WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service” (Fox News)

Assange says CIA Director Mike Pompeo is trying to “subvert” his “First Amendment Rights.”

Quick Tip to Assange: Non-US citizens living in London do not have First Amendment Rights. Try a different gambit.





A Ray of Hope for Free Speech at Middlebury, after the Mob

Linked articles are in bold purple

But opposition to Middlebury’s free-speech movement shows where the opposition lies at most universities

 There is good news for open discourse at Middlebury College after the despicable violence that prevented Charles Murray from speaking and injured Prof. Allison Stanger.

 Prominent faculty there have circulated a petition for free speech and garnered lots of signatures. 

Parini and Callanan, the distinguished scholars who have headed up this effort, deserve high praise for it.

At the bottom of this blog post, I quote the exemplary principles they lay out.

 Let’s go beyond praising the free-speech petition and use the signatures to show where support free speech comes from and where the opposition lies.

 So far, 63 faculty members have signed on. More might join in the next few days.

 They come from a broad variety of departments–but not all

In fact, it is worthwhile to examine the departmental affiliations of who signed up for free speech and, on the other side, those who signed the counter-petition (prior to the speech), demanding Murray stay away and then sliming him with false allegations about his views and scholarly findings.

Most (but not all) of Allison Stanger’s colleagues in political science signed the pro-free speech petition, as did she. That’s not surprising. She was, of course, injured in the riots, and some of her friends and colleagues undoubtedly wanted to show solidarity with her.

Parini’s colleagues in English and American Literature signed in larger numbers than most departments. Support from literature departments would not happen at most universities. That it did at Middlebury may reflect the kind of department Parini helped build or simply his colleagues’ friendship.

Who signed the petition beyond faculty in Political Science and Literature? The bulk were in the “hard social sciences” (Economics, Psychology), History, Russian, Math, Chemistry, Geology, and, surprisingly, Religion.

(By “hard social sciences,” I mean those, like economics and psychology, that aspire to be sciences, emphasize large data bases, mathematical models, and empirical testing of causal models. Fields like anthropology and history certainly use data, but they are generally more interested in the actors’ mentalities, intentions, and meanings. Thus, “hard” does not mean difficult, and “soft” does not mean squishy.)

Who refused to sign? There were zero signatures from the following departments and minors:

African American Studies, African Studies, American Studies, Arabic, Comparative Literature, Dance, Education Studies, French, Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies, Global Health , Greek, Hebrew-Classical, Hebrew-Modern, International and Global Studies, International Politics and Economics, Latin, Linguistics , Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Physical Education, Physics, South Asian Studies , Spanish and Portuguese, Studio Art, and Theatre

That is based on the stated affiliations of the signatories, compared to Middlebury’s official list of its departments and majors. It is possible, of course, that some signatories have “affiliate appointments” in these departments or that the departments have no exclusive faculty of their own.

The data show

  • Supporters of free speech come disproportionately from the physical sciences, “hard” social sciences, and, to a lesser extent, the biosciences.
  • Opposition comes from the Humanities, Arts, and softer social sciences. Because social justice.

That distribution reflects my own experience across multiple universities (but is not based on systematic data).

On nearly every campus, the staunchest opponents are professors of gender, sexuality, women’s studies, race, Native American studies, education, and social work, all highly-politicized bastions of the left. American Studies is now essentially the same and so are most literature departments. (Middlebury is an outlier.)

They always lead the opposition to free speech. Because social justice.

If students don’t agree with the dominant political ideology of these departments, they leave or never enter in the first place. (It is snarky but true to add that students don’t enter them if they are thinking about building skills for future employers. My point is that they are not building skills for open-minded, critical thinking, either.)

These departments never hire professors who vary from the party line. Never.

Here, for example, are the three full-time faculty in Middlebury’s gender studies program. All three signed the “Keep Murray Away” petition. NONE signed the free speech petition. That is anecdotal, of course, but it is repeated on campus after campus. You would be hard fixed to find professors of Gender Studies, Sexuality, Race Studies, Education, or Social Work who take a strong position in favor of free speech. And they are pretty thin on the ground in theater or comparative literature. All think it would permit “oppressive” speech that hurts the weak, poor, and vulnerable. 

At Brandeis, for instance, the same department–to a person–opposed having Hirsi Ali come to campus even though she had already been invited and even though Ms. Ali is the single most important voice for women’s rights in the Muslim world. They and like-minded faculty got the spineless administration to cave in and rescind the invitation. (FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has a summary of the episode here.)

The dominant ideology of departments like these is:

  • America is an exploitative country and a malevolent force in the world;
  • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the right track but too willing to compromise, too willing to work within “the system”
  • America and our college campuses are composed of two main groups: the oppressed and the privileged. Our departments stand with the oppressed. They are simultaneously powerful and vulnerable, needing “safe spaces” to express their views unchallenged. A space is unsafe not because of any physical threat but because certain views (or even the presence of certain people) can produce psychic injury.
  • As professors are activists, inside the classroom and outside. Our teaching is explicitly designed to improve the situation of the oppressed and to assign blame to the oppressors.
  • Designated oppressors should feel guilty and can partially absolve themselves by following our movement, not by leading or questioning it.

Put differently: February is “Black History Month” only because it is the shortest month.

Their viewpoint is summarized in Bernie Sanders’ angry rejection of the idea that America is a compassionate country. His fury is brief and telling.

 Turning to the brighter side:

⇒ The Middlebury Principles are excellent.

It is hard to see why all faculty and students don’t endorse them enthusiastically.

That they do not is the tragedy of our time on campus.

Here are the principles, quoted directly:

  • Genuine higher learning is possible only where free, reasoned, and civil speech and discussion are respected.
  • Only through the contest of clashing viewpoints do we have any hope of replacing mere opinion with knowledge.
  • The incivility and coarseness that characterize so much of American politics and culture cannot justify a response of incivility and coarseness on the college campus.
  • The impossibility of attaining a perfectly egalitarian sphere of free discourse can never justify efforts to silence speech and debate.
  • Exposure to controversial points of view does not constitute violence.
  • Students have the right to challenge and to protest non-disruptively the views of their professors and guest speakers.
  • A protest that prevents campus speakers from communicating with their audience is a coercive act.
  • No group of professors or students has the right to act as final arbiter of the opinions that students may entertain.
  • No group of professors or students has the right to determine for the entire community that a question is closed for discussion.
  • The purpose of college is not to make faculty or students comfortable in their opinions and prejudices.
  • The purpose of education is not the promotion of any particular political or social agenda.
  • The primary purpose of higher education is the cultivation of the mind, thus allowing for intelligence to do the hard work of assimilating and sorting information and drawing rational conclusions.
  • A good education produces modesty with respect to our own intellectual powers and opinions as well as openness to considering contrary views.
  • All our students possess the strength, in head and in heart, to consider and evaluate challenging opinions from every quarter. –Middlebury Principles

Comment: It is hard to improve on that as a principled defense of free speech on campus.

 My own op-ed on these issues, focusing on the 3 steps needed to restore free speech at universities, is here at Real Clear Politics


Update and Correction: “Social Sciences” removed from list of Middlebury Departments without a signatory. It is a division, not a department, and many social scientists did sign.

zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Thanks for suggesting this article:
◆ Tom Elia
for sending me The American Interest piece

◆ Greg Piper of The College Fix for the correction.

ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Tuesday, February 14, Valentine’s Day

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

 What a Mess: Mike Flynn, National Security Adviser, “resigns”  Obviously, he was forced out. My hunch is that the problem was not talking with the Russians, despite the legal problems that raised and the DOJ’s suggestion, leaked to the WaPo, that it could leave Flynn open to blackmail. Nope, the real problem was lying about it to VP Mike Pence, who (in good faith) repeated the lie. Mike Flynn just learned you cannot do that and survive in this White House.

Now, the Trump White House must right this ship quickly because there is considerable pressure from America’s adversaries and hard policy choices to make–and make soon.

Flynn’s interim replacement is his number two, Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, Jr. (age 72). It is unclear if Trump considers him a possible long-term replacement.

Comment: My hunch is that Trump will turn to Mattis, Coats, and Corker, all experienced Washington hands, for advice on this choice. All are reliable, experienced hands in foreign policy who know the potential candidates and the policy issues they will face. James Mattis is Sec. of Defense; Dan Coats, a former Senator, is Director of National Intelligence, and Bob Corker is current head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Normally the Sec. of State would be involved, but Rex Tillerson is new to Washington and not yet familiar with all the candidates. Mattis, Coats, and Corker not only know the players, they know how the National Security Council should run. Trump would also be wise to turn to former Sec. of Defense Bob Gates and former Sec. of State (and NSC Adviser) Condi Rice for guidance.

The first name they will have to decide on is Gen. David Petraeus, the most effective military leader in America’s unconventional wars and then head of the CIA.  The question is whether his enormous expertise offsets his baggage from mishandling of classified documents.  Note that the National Security Adviser does not require Senate approval.

Second CommentThe talking heads will all say, “This is a huge mess this is for the new Trump Administration.” That’s right, and I have already said so myself. But the mess is only half the story. Trump has also shown that he is willing to cut his losses and make hard choices clearly, decisively, and quickly. He did it during the campaign, when he fired two successive campaign leaders who were falling short and finally got the team he wanted. He didn’t let this issue linger, either. That sends a strong message to all his senior appointments: “I hold you accountable. Produce results at the standards I expect or I will fire you.”

 One of the main security challenges for any administration is cyber. David Benson, an expert in the subject, gives a very positive review to Martin Libicki’s new book, Cyberspace in Peace and War  

Cyberspace in Peace and War is a very good book. While the disordered state of cyber-strategy makes it impossible to write the “final” work on the subject, Libicki imposes order upon an incredibly wide ranging topic. –David Benson, writing at “The Bridge”

The book treats both technical and strategic issues, but, as Benson makes clear, its focus is on international strategy.

 Dutch professor Ruud Koopmans gives the EU a deeply troubling report on Muslim views  (Daily Mail)

Koopmans said that of the 1 billion adult Muslims in the world, ‘half of them are attached to an arch-conservative Islam which places little worth on the rights of women, homosexuals, and people of other faiths’. –Ruud Koopmans in the Daily Mail

Koopmans estimates that at least 50 million are “willing to sanction violence” and thinks that is likely an underestimate.

In several Islamic countries, 14 per cent of local Muslims think suicide attacks against innocents are ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ justified to defend Islam, said Koopmans, citing a study by the US-based Pew Research Center. –Daily Mail

Koopmans, from the Netherlands, leads a major university center for migration research in Berlin.

Comment: Western governments have focused, understandably, on the problem of violent immigrants, but Koopmans is highlighting a second grave problem: large numbers of Muslims who seek to live in the West but reject its basic norms and values. The same hostile views are often held by the second and third generation of these migrants.

 True: America’s top fortune cookie writer has “writer’s block” and is stepping down after three decades (Fox News)

For 30 years, Donald Lau has been the “Chief Fortune Writer” at Wonton Foods, a manufacturer that touts itself to be one of the world’s largest producers of fortune cookies.

But now,Lau is leaving his position following a long bout of writer’s block.

According to Good Food, 4.5 million cookies are produced by Wonton Foods each day. –Fox News

Comment: No one saw it coming.

 After senseless delaying tactics by Senate Democrats, the body finally approves Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary  (New York Times)

Comment: Yeah, like the country actually needs a Treasury Secretary.

I am not arguing the merits of Mnuchin’s candidacy here. I am saying that once the Democrats had produced no information to sink the nomination and it was clear he would win Senate confirmation, dragging it out for weeks with delaying tactics is harmful to the country.  Blame Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren.




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 . . Thursday, February 9

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

 Neil Gorsuch is virtually certain to win Senate confirmation to go on the Supreme Court.

⇒Dick Durbin, #2 on the Senate Democratic side, has announced that he will not filibuster Gorsuch. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has said the same thing (State Journal Register and Daily Caller)

Comment: Those statements clinch an up-or-down vote for Gorsuch, which he will win and take a seat on the Supreme Court.

If Democrats tried to fight this to the bitter end, they would still have lost and jeopardized their most vulnerable candidates, up for election in 2018. Given those calculations and Gorsuch’s very strong résumé, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, and other Democratic leaders decided to keep their ammunition dry for a more problematic nominee.

Related Story: The Washington Post captures the Democratic leadership’s problem with this headline:

“Schumer’s dilemma: Satisfying the base while protecting his minority” (Washington Post)

 Rep. Keith Ellison, running for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, gets hit from the left. The Nation magazine says he is lying about his ties to Louis Farrakhan and black-nationalism (The Nation via Legal Insurrection blog)

 At Powerline blog: “Keith Ellison’s Back Pages” continues Scott Johnson’s fine digging into the Minnesota representative’s squirrely background 

Comment: Republicans are gleeful Ellison is a strong candidate to lead the DNC; if they had a vote, he would win in a landslide. And they laugh out loud that his opponent, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, is considered more “centrist.” That just tells you how far left the center of the party has moved. 

◆ Two more Hamas terrorists die as their tunnel collapses. (Reuters) Hmmm. Seems to happen a lot. 

 “Shutting down Speech by Elizabeth Warren, G.O.P. Amplifies Her Message,” says NYT

Comment: Exactly. The Times thinks that is awful. Nope, not for Republicans and not for the Senate.

Why did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do it? There are several possible reasons.

  • One is that McConnell wanted to cool the increasingly vitriolic language on the Senate floor and restore normal Senate rules. That is his public explanation.
  • Or McConnell might have made a mistake and amplified the voice of an opponent. The NYT likes that one.
  • Here’s my favorite: McConnell thinks Elizabeth Warren represents everything that keeps Democrats in the minority. She has a national constituency that stretches from Cambridge to Amherst to Madison to Berkeley…and that’s it. She is toxic to any Democratic effort to win back the Senate. The New York Times would miss that because she is their kind of politician. But there are not many folks in Ohio or Michigan who agree. “Let her be the shrill, elite voice of her party,” sly ole Mitch could be thinking.

 A blast from the past



zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Patrick Crane
for posting the Ovaltine Picture in “Forgotten Chicago”


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 . . Saturday, January 21

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

◆ Kudos to Hillary Clinton for attending the inauguration  No visitor’s appearance was more important than that of the defeated candidate. That is always true. Drudge mocked Bill and Hillary as “glum and glummer.” That’s true, but it misses the larger point. They showed up. They were not part of Rep. John Lewis’ boycott of a president who, he thinks, was not legitimately elected. They deserve praise. For Hillary, this must have been the hardest, most painful appearance of her political life. She deserves the standing-ovation Pres. Trump asked the luncheon at the Capitol to give her and the former president.

 Churchill bust back in Oval Office  (CNN)

Comment: Good. It’s a small symbolic step, but it says who our friends are.

 Trump has only two confirmed members of his cabinet; Obama had seven  (CNN)

The seven includes one holdover from the Bush administration, Sec. of Defense Gates.

 CIA chief confirmation delayed amid partisan quarrels (McClatchy)

Comment: The Democrats have been slowing the confirmation process as a political strategy. Politically, it is a mistake. Nationally, it is a danger since key security officials such as the head of CIA and the Director of National Intelligence are not in office. (Mattis and Kelly are the only confirmed members of the Cabinet. Flynn does not need confirmation.)

As soon as Cabinet members have turned in all their paperwork and Senators have had several days to review it, they should be voted up or down so the Executive Branch can function with departmental leadership.

Comment: Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to even shake hands with Betsy DeVos after her hearing was shameful and petty. Vote against her, if you wish, but show some common courtesy.

 China has fewer tools to sustain economic growth, as monetary easing and strong property market “peter out” (Wall Street Journal)

 Net Neutrality, passed by Obama’s FCC, could be reversed  Trump will nominate current FCC commissioner Ajit Pai to head the agency. He opposes many Obama-era policies, including “net neutrality.” (Business Insider)




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


ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Friday, Nov. 25

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

◆ Black Friday: I don’t know if the nickname is a parody of White Christmas, but what a dreadful name for the day–and what a dreadful day to shop. Far better to get together with friends, eat leftovers, and avoid any more

◆ One-quarter of homeowners have less than $1,000 in the bank. (CBC) The report is from Canada, but it undoubtedly applies to the US, as well. What could possibly go wrong.

◆ The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a new bureaucracy, but it has grown like kudzu. It was created by the Dodd-Frank Act and strongly backed by Elizabeth Warren. Now, CFPB employees’ donations to presidential campaigns have been reported and, as luck would have it, 100% went to Democrats. (Fox News) Employees said the number would have been higher, but it was mathematically impossible.

brady-bunch◆ Florence Henderson, mom on the Brady Bunch, dies at 82, surrounded by family. (Los Angeles Times)

◆ Lawrence Lessig, a law prof at Harvard, then Stanford, and now back at Harvard, has an idea: “The Constitution lets the electoral college choose the winner. They should choose Clinton.” The Washington Post, which hasn’t exactly embraced the election results, printed this tripe.

Comment: (1) If Larry paused for a moment and thought about it, he would realize that his proposal might lead to some grumpy voters. Really, really grumpy.

(2) If you ever wanted to know the contempt in which coastal elites hold ordinary people, just read this article. That, as it turns out, is one reason Trump won; he articulated many voters’ disgust with this treatment.

Prof. Lessig himself ran for president in the Democratic primary. He received the votes of most family members.

All of which shows us the wisdom of Bill Buckley’s famous quote: “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 people on the faculty of Harvard University.”

◆Forest fires all across Israel; more than half are arson. Terrorism is a possibility, according to police and security services(Jerusalem Post)

ferriss-field◆ Boo Ferriss pitched for the Red Sox for six seasons, including the 1946 World Series. But Mississippians remember him for something else. For 26 seasons, he coached Delta State and won over 600 games. He represented something good, something stable. Now, at 94, he’s gone. The Jackson Clarion-Ledger has Mississippians’ memories.


zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
◆ Michael Lipson
 for the homeowners story
◆ Vernon Shelton for letting me know about Boo Ferriss’ death.  Vernon’s Facebook page has a wonderful photo of his Dad and Boo on a semi-pro team in the mid-1940s.
◆ William Jacobson and his valuable blog, Legal Insurrection for the Buckley video