ZipDialog Roundup for Saturday, September 23

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

◆ John McCain puts a dagger in the heart of “repeal and replace.” Won’t support bill of his close friend, Lindsey Graham (New York Times)

Comment: There is still a thin path, but it is only a sliver since several Republicans are likely “no” votes.

Even if the Senate passes something, it might not make it through the House.

If this bill fails, as expected, then Congress will move onto tax reform and tax cuts.

Trump in his element: Gives a rousing speech to enthusiastic crowd in Alabama, offers strong support to underdog Senate candidate, Luther Strange (Al.com)

Comment: Strange is running behind former Alabama state judge, Roy Moore, who redefines the word “controversial.”

Besides the usual kind words for “Big Luther,” Trump underscored two points.

  1. Strange had given him crucial support on legislation without making demands (Trump emphasized the Senator’s loyalty to him, Trump, and not to Mitch McConnell).
  2. Strange is sure to win in the General Election; Moore is far less certain to win, though Trump said he would back him in the general.

Handling Sexual Assault Investigations on Campus: Sec. of Ed. Betsy DeVos Reverses Obama-Era Policy (New York Times)

The nub of the matter: Under Obama, standards of proof were lowered significantly. DeVos is allowing colleges to raise the standard, once again, to “clear and convincing evidence.”

DeVos on Friday scrapped a key part of government policy on campus sexual assault, saying she was giving colleges more freedom to balance the rights of accused students with the need to crack down on serious misconduct.

The move, which involved rescinding two sets of guidelines several years old, was part of one of the fiercest battles in higher education today…

The most controversial portion of the Obama-era guidelines had demanded colleges use the lowest standard of proof, “preponderance of the evidence,” in deciding whether a student is responsible for sexual assault, a verdict that can lead to discipline and even expulsion. On Friday, the Education Department said colleges were free to abandon that standard and raise it to a higher standard known as “clear and convincing evidence.” –New York Times

The Obama Administration lowered the standard unilaterally, without the normal discussion associated with regulatory changes. They simply sent colleges a “dear colleagues” letter of advice that effectively told them what they had to do to keep their federal funds.

FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, hailed DeVos’ decision: “Dear Colleague: It’s over! Education Department rescinds controversial 2011 letter”

Comment: It is fitting that the Obama Administration skirted all procedural restrictions to impose its policy. That’s exactly what Campus Kangaroo Courts do.

Second, since colleges can now set their own standards of proof, expect the battle to shift there. Administrators are in total control of these campus investigations, so the wrongly-accused students’ main hope will be federal courts.

Responding to the Opioid Crisis: CVS will limit prescriptions to 7-day supply (CNN)

Comment: The scale of the emergency is staggering.

Every three weeks, the number of Americans who die from drug overdoses equals the deaths in the Twin Towers.

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Let’s Have Real Conversation on Internet Threads

Commentators so Angry they can’t even agree without going off the deep end

I saw the problem today on a Facebook page I sometimes visit and often enjoy.

I visit political sites with various perspectives, and this one had a lot of Trump supporters. But the problem is not a partisan one. It could have been on any political page, left, right, or center, and probably on pages discussing non-political issues.

In this case, the lead post featured an article in which Sen. John McCain said Trump should release his taxes. Perfectly reasonable, whether you agree or not.

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You might expect most Trump supporters to say, “Bad idea because it will dominate the airways and give the Democrats an advantage.”

A minority might respond, “I wish he would release his taxes because, whether they help him politically or not, our government needs more transparency.”

Both are reasonable positions, worth discussing.

Nobody made either argument.

EVERY single comment was a personal attack on Sen. McCain.

No discussion of the underlying issue at all.

So far, he only thing McCain has not been accused of is incest.

He’s a coward, said one, and had been a coward has been since the First Gulf War.

(My comment: Sen. McCain is actually one of the bravest, most patriotic Americans of the past 50 years. That assessment ought to be completely separate from whether you agree or disagree with his policy stances.)

Lots of commenters say McCain is angry that Trump is president and he is not.

One said he is angry because he has to ask his wife for money.

Some said he used to be a good person (presumably at times when they agreed with him) but he is now a very bad one. Others responded that he was never any good.

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What is wrong with this thread, besides the vitriol?

It is all about who Sen. McCain is and how much the commentators dislike him.

But the question posed by the article is whether Pres. Trump should release his taxes, as McCain urges.

None of the commentators even bothered to talk about that.

In fact, none even bothered to talk about the secondary issue: should McCain have asked him publicly to release his taxes.

They went straight for McCain himself, and slimed him with ad hominem attacks.

These arguments are the same as those of the knight in Monty Python and Holy Grail:

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Why Even Mention this Problem?

Because it briefly illustrates a problem we can–and should–correct

We should all begin with ourselves.

  • Listen to what the other person says.
  • If it is worth answering–agreeing with it, disagreeing, or taking a different approach–then do so.
  • Address the subject, not the person who said it
  • Don’t sink to personal attacks unless the person’s comments reveal something truly low and ugly

Remember: If you do not follow my sage advice, your mother is a hamster and your father smells of elderberries.

Which Democrats Will Filibuster Gorsuch?

To break a Senate filibuster once required 60 votes. No longer. Now, nearly all nominees require only a simple majority. The one exception: Supreme Court appointments.

Why Did the Senate Rules Change?

Former Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), with only a slim majority but determined to confirm Pres. Obama’s appointments to federal district and appeals courts, changed Senate rules so that only a simple majority was needed. Now, his slim majority was enough, and the President used it to reshape the federal bench over 8 years.

Reid did not have to change the rules for Supreme Court nominations–Republicans voted for Sotomayor and Kagan–so he didn’t.

Why the Rule Change Matters

Although Reid got his lower-court appointments, he changed the Senate in a fundamental way.

That’s because the president’s need for a supermajority pushes him to find nominees that can win broad support.

If he needs only a simple majority, he can ignore the minority party in the Senate.

We will see the consequences this week, as the Senate debates and votes on the nomination of Federal Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch for a seat on the Supreme Court.

The Filibuster To Come . . . and to Go

Senator Minority leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), will pay for Reid’s changes this week, and the Republicans will benefit.

Schumer, responding to his outraged voter and donor base, has said he will not only vote against Gorsuch, he will organize a filibuster.

Nearly all Senate Democrats have fallen in line, including two are facing reelection in states Trump carried easily. Senators like Missouri’s Claire McCaskill will have a much harder path in the 2018 general election after this filibuster. The political logic behind their position has to be fear of a primary opponent on their left, who might defeat them within a shrinking Democratic base.

The Republicans Will Blow Up the Filibuster if They Need To

Faced with the prospect of losing the Gorsuch nomination, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), will surely propose to change the Senate rules and demand an up-or-down majority vote on Gorsuch. Even defenders of Senate traditions, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, know they cannot let the Democrats block this nomination.

By Friday, the Senate will have shed another of its traditions, and Judge Gorsuch will become Justice Gorsuch.  

 

Distinguish real racism from political smears

Guest Author: Josh Kantrow

[Editor’s note: ZipDialog is delighted to include this post. The opinions are those of the guest author. Readers are invited to respond. At ZipDialog, we take dialog seriously.]

As we consider the charges or racism being made against various individuals President-elect Trump is appointing or considering, let’s keep in mind that this tactic is nothing new for the left.

george-w-bush-as-pres-purple-background-200px-no-marginsLeading Democratic figures and their mainstream media supporters charged George W. Bush with:

  1. Not caring “about black people,”
  2. Being our modern-day “Bull Connor” (the racist Birmingham Democratic police commissioner who in 1963 turned fire hoses and attack dogs on civil rights protesters),
  3. Using “Nazi tactics and propaganda,”
  4. Working with “digital brown shirts,”
  5. Being a “fascist” and the closest thing in a long time to dictator of the world,” and
  6. Targeting Holocaust victims.

geo-bush-equals-hitlerAntiwar demonstrations routinely featured “Bush as Hitler” imagery. Journalists spoke about trying the administration Nuremberg-style for waging the Iraq War. Especially rich is the frequency with which Dem. Sen. Robert Byrd, ironically a former Klansman, launched such attacks. A book featured a jacket with Dick Cheney sporting a Hitler-esque mustache made of oil.

The loathsome and smug New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called Mitt Romney a “charlatan,” pathologically dishonest, and untrustworthy. He said Romney doesn’t even pretend to care about poor people and wants people to die so that the rich could get richer. Romney is “completely amoral,” “a dangerous fool,” “ignorant as well as uncaring,” said Krugman.

krugman-hitler-cheney-book-jacketAnother commentator deemed Romney “dangerous” and “scary,” and a celebrity said “If you’re a woman, you should be very, very scared.” President Obama ran an ad against him portraying Romney as uniquely dangerous for women. “I’ve never felt this way before, but it’s a scary time to be a woman,” said a woman in the ad. Romney was frequently called a “bully,” “anti-immigrant,” “racist,” “stupid,” and “unfit” to be president.

mccain-200px-no-marginsJohn McCain’s rallies were alleged to be similar to those held by George Wallace. A McCain campaign video was compared to “an over-the-top parody of fascist campaign propaganda from a movie, and sounds like Triumph of the Will.” The Obama campaign claimed that McCain was playing racial politics for daring to suggest that Obama was preemptively accusing him and the GOP generally of racism.

Conclusion

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. Racism, of course, should never be tolerated. I do not want any racists in government, including the Trump Administration. I would encourage the President-elect to choose advisors and a cabinet that reflects our country’s great diversity. I’d like to even see him pick a few Democrats. So far I am seeing too many white men. But perhaps our liberal friends have been crying wolf for a bit too long for us to take their overblown charges of racism seriously.

The opinions in this post are those of the guest author. He and ZipDialog welcome your response.

Josh M. Kantrow is an attorney, a vice-chair of his firm’s national Professional Liability Practice, an AV® Preeminent™ peer review rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell, a Chicago “Top Rated Lawyer,” and a frequent speaker at legal, insurance and cyber security conferences in the United States, Britain, and Israel. Josh is active in Chicago’s Jewish community, where he has taken leadership positions. He lives in Chicago with his wife and three children.