ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, July 10

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

 Healthcare repeal-and-replace still on life support as Senate returns after break. They got an earful–very little of it good.

Comment: Obamacare is in lousy shape financially, and there are plenty of folks unhappy with the coverage, deductibles, and choices of insurers and networks. Pres. Obama’s promises that you could keep your doctor and your health plan were false–and he knew they were false when he made them, but he had to do so to sell the program. It passed on a party-line vote and many of the Democrats who voted for it were themselves voted out of office.

So, why can’t the Republicans get rid of it, as they repeatedly promised?

The short answer is that Obamacare:

  • Included several costly provisions that beneficiaries liked, especially “no caps” on medical payouts and coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • Provided lots of free insurance (of low quality) to people who couldn’t pay at all

Republican lawmakers, especially those with lots of low-income constituents, fear that rolling back those provisions means political suicide.

On the other hand, keeping those provisions is costly, requires keeping Obamacare’s taxes, and alienates some conservatives who say (correctly) that it locks in an entitlement forever.

Why does a reform bill still have any chance? Because Republicans recognize two ominous risks: failure will bring disaster to the US health insurance markets and, second, they will be held accountable for that mess.

 Donald Trump, Jr., and other top aides met with Russian lawyer who promised information on Hillary (BBC)

The brief meeting occurred in Trump Tower on June 9, 2016; no information was actually provided. Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were also in the meeting, which was not initially disclosed on their forms covering all foreign contacts upon entering government.

The FBI and Congress are both looking at whether Trump campaign officials colluded with an alleged Kremlin plot to undermine Mrs Clinton’s campaign. The inquiries have yet to show evidence of collusion. –BBC

Comment: The bad news for Jr. is not only that he failed to disclose the meeting when he should have. It’s also that when he did finally disclose it, he lied about the purpose, saying it was about Russian adoptions. Presumably, he didn’t want to say they were fishing for information about Hillary in Russian waters. Not good at all.

The Daily Beast reported that a Democratic oppo group was the hidden hand behind the group. But that information is sketchy. Donald Jr. now says the contact came from someone he meeting at a Trump-sponsored beauty pageant in Russia several years earlier.

Democratic-affiliated media (which is to say, almost all media) are treating this as very big news: proof positive of collusion with the Russians.

Not exactly. First, it was an attempt to get information. More important, if the Trump campaign was actually talking with a person they didn’t really know (a private citizen) in June 2016, one obvious conclusion is that Trump’s team did not already have access to good Russian information–information they would have had if they were already colluding.

More on this will obviously come out, and you can assume that Robert Mueller will investigate this thoroughly.

 Iraqi PM arrives in Mosul to Declare Victory over ISIS (NBC)

There are still small pockets of fighting in the city, but nearly all has been cleared of ISIS, which has used human shields throughout the fighting.

ISIS seized the city in 2014.

Comment: The problem now is how to govern this destroyed city and fractured country, where Obama’s decision to withdraw left the regime in Baghdad free to act like a purely Shiite sectarian government and to invite Iran in for support. Turning that around will be very difficult.

 Chuck Schumer zeroes in on America’s biggest problem: Snortable Chocolate. Calls for crackdown (New York Post)

There seems to be very little medical evidence so far, and Schumer said so.

Plus, the FDA doesn’t know if it has authority to regulate the stuff.

Comment: Research on its effects: good idea. But what’s the basis to regulate and restrict before any evidence, one way or the other? 





ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Thursday, January 5

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

◆ Republicans pick their first deregulation targets. The story is here. (Fox News)

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Republicans would roll back one rule reducing methane emissions and another meant to ease the environmental impact of coal mining on streams. McCarthy argued the regulations limit the nation’s energy production, and said the GOP-controlled Congress will seek to invalidate the rules starting at month’s end. –Fox News

◆ Turkey issues veiled threat to NATO. Back our fight against ISIS if you want to keep the major air base at Incirlik (New York Times)

◆ Iraqi forces gaining in Mosul. That’s what the US commander there says, adding that forces are coordinating better and fighting more effectively. (Reuters via Yahoo News)

◆ Trump may shake up US intel agencies, and could leave the relatively-new post of Director of National Intelligence vacant.  That’s what CBS News is reporting. The move could reflect Trump’s distrust of the agencies, concern about their politicization, and skepticism about their analysis, doubtless fueled by his incoming National Security Adviser, Gen. Flynn, himself an experienced hand in intelligence work.

◆ Supreme Court Showdown Before Trump Makes Nomination. Sen. Democratic leader Chuck Schumer promises to block anyone acceptable to Senate Republicans. (NY Post) Mitch McConnell says the American public won’t tolerate that. (Huffington Post) Meanwhile, pro-life groups are firing shots across Trump’s bow, saying some of  his potential nominees may not be strong backers of their position. Looks like everyone is gearing up for a knock-down fight.

◆ The depths of depravity, streaming live. To quote the Chicago Tribune headline:  “4 held in attack broadcast on Facebook that included anti-Trump profanities.”

Four people are in custody for allegedly being involved in the attack of a mentally disabled man broadcast on Facebook Live that included obscenities about Donald Trump, authorities said. –Chicago Tribune

◆ Beijing censorship. China’s government requires Apple to remove an app for the New York Times. (The Verge)  The NYT’s own report is here.