ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, November 7

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

◆ Trump in South Korea: What’s on the agenda? 

Comment: Mostly North Korea but also some trade issues. The goal is to get South Korea’s leftist president to side more closely with the US, less with China.

A separate ZipDialog post, with more analysis, is here.

Texas Church Massacre: what we know

From police reports, three basic facts are emerging:

  • The shooter was angry, uncontrolled, and mentally unstable
  • Several different bureaucracies knew about the problems–the US military, a mental institution from which he escaped, and local officials who knew about violence and cruelty
  • The bureaucracies did not inform each other, so none had a full picture of the lethal danger he posed.
    • Some of this information might have blocked gun purchases

Comment: As we learned after 9/11, you can’t connect the dots if bureaucracies don’t share information. In the 9/11 case, the failure was the predictable consequence of laws blocking such sharing between the FBI (focused on domestic crime prosecution) and the CIA/NSA (focused on foreign issues, not crime, and prohibited from domestic spying). Terrorists exploited those “stovepipes” by moving across borders.

In the Texas case, it was simply the military’s failure to enter info in shared databases. In the case of the shooter’s escape from a mental hospital, we don’t know why that information was not entered into shared databases, where it could have blocked gun purchases.

Even if the information is available, there is so much of it that local law enforcement may not be able to sort through it and use it effectively.

 Very tight governor’s race in today’s Virginia election:

UPDATE: Democrat Wins

The state has been trending Democratic for some years, fueled by population growth in the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia.

Hillary won the state by 5 points and Trump’s unpopularity in North Virginia is why he didn’t campaign for the Republican, the first Presidential no-show in half a century.

That’s why the Democrat tried to make it a “national” election while the Republican tried to make it “local.”

Beyond the usual impact on policy, the winner will influence Virginia’s redistricting after the 2020 Census.

Harvey Weinstein: Two developments

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Quick tip: Normally, the Neo-Nazis are NOT the Third Rail of American Politics

How can you managed to turn a simple matter–morally and politically–into a day-after-day controversy and ultimately a political firestorm?

Good heavens, man, condemning the neo-Nazis and KKK when they instigate the event and cause a death: not a hard call.

When the anarchists or some other group lead the chaos, then condemn them.

But not now.

When progressives go too far–demanding the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson be excised from history and honored status–condemn them when they do. (The chances they will go too far? Very high.)

But not now.

Act like the President of the whole country.

Now.

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Is there anybody in the West Wing saying, “At least that got the Russia investigation off the front page”?

ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, August 16

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

Trump doubles down on moral equivalence, blaming all sides for violence in Charlottesville. 

Comment: Not just a tactical mistake, IMO–an ethical travesty.

It is a tactical mistake, of course, because it keeps this dreadful, wrenching story alive for several more days and will undoubtedly animate the crazies on the left.

It is also true that some on the far left came to fight; so did some anarchists, who sided with them.

But the main points are these:

  • The whole event occurred because the neo-Nazis and KKK came to town to “defend” the statue of Robert E. Lee
  • It was one of their number who actually killed somebody, and
  • In such times, the President’s first responsibility is to rise about partisanship and speak for the country as a whole, to act as a stabilizing presence.

Trump failed.

Speaking of failure…The American Bar Association wants undocumented/illegal immigrants to practice law (Law Newz)

On Monday, The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates passed a resolution demanding that Congress let undocumented immigrants practice law…..

A few states allow undocumented people to become lawyers. California started allowing some people to practice law thanks to a bill passed in 2013. –Law Newz

Comment: There is zero chance a Republican Congress will pass, or Pres. Trump will sign, this proposed law.

Still, the ABA’s vote is shocking, even as virtue signalling (which is what it is).

Why? Because, whatever you call these immigrants (undocumented or illegal), their first act on American soil was to break the law. They entered the country illegally. They are still here illegally. To entrust them to serve as “officers of the court,” which all lawyers are, makes a mockery of that term.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair says U.S. “Is Not the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” (CNS News)

Comment: Part of their new outreach to Middle America?

Provo, Utah, mayor John Curtis declares victory in race to success Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Salt Lake City Tribune)

He ran as a conservative Republican (though he had been a Democrat in 2000). One opponent ran to his right; the other was a relative newcomer and less well-known.

Attitudes toward Trump did not play a large role in the race, according to the Salt Lake City paper.

Alabama: Primary for US Senate to replace Jeff Sessions: Runoff next month between Republicans, winner to face Democrat (Al.com)

Roy Moore will face Luther Strange in a runoff for the Republican nomination on Sept. 26. The winner will face former U.S. attorney Doug Jones in December. –Al.com

Luther Strange is currently sitting in the Senate, appointed by the Governor. He was endorsed by Mitch McConnell (who got Trump to endorse him) and had establishment money. But he underperformed badly in the primary.

Rep. Mo Brooks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, who had support from conservative talk radio hosts, came in third–a major setback for them. Brooks will remain in the House and says he plans to run for reelection in 2018.

Roy Moore, who led the field, is a very controversial figure, best known for his refusal to remove the Ten Commandments from the state Judicial Building, despite a Federal Court order to do so. That refusal (in 2001) led to his removal from the bench; he had been Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. In 2016, when he was again Chief Justice, he was suspended (and later resigned) for ordering lower-court judges to continue enforcing the state’s ban on same-sex marriages, even though the ban had been overturned by Federal Courts.

Comment: Moore praised Brooks on election night–a smart strategic move–and is now in a strong position to garner his votes as the most anti-establishment candidate.

Because Moore is so controversial, expect this race to receive national attention.

 

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ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, August 14

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

◆ Quick Update on Charlottesville, which remains the top story.

  1. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists are now facing a federal investigation for violating civil rights.
  2. The driver of the deadly car, to be arraigned today, will be looked at closely to see if he was part of a conspiracy
  3. Pres. Trump still being excoriated (across the political spectrum) for his failure to single out the neo-Nazis and supremacists in his statement condemning the violence
  4. National Security Adviser McMaster calls the act “terrorism,” and Ivanka Trump condemns the supremacists in clear language, at the outset
  5. More attention is now focusing on the failure of the police to intervene and stand between the opposing groups. They appear to have “stood down,” much like the police in Baltimore.
    • We need to know why
    • We need to have a clear set of “best practices” for police in these dangerous confrontations

Comment: It is shameful that the President did not speak out as clearly as his daughter. Yes, the left-wing and anarchist Antifada was there and did fight, but the main responsibility for violence belongs to the extreme right in this case. In other cases, when the responsibility belongs elsewhere, the President should condemn that, too, and do so in clear language.

Today in Islamic terror: 18 killed in attack in West African state of Burkino-Faso, at restaurant frequented by foreigners (CNN)

 As part of UN sanctions, China bans North Korea iron, lead, coal imports (Washington Post)

But China also warned the US:

In an editorial, the state-owned China Daily newspaper said Trump was asking too much of China over North Korea….

Trump’s “transactional approach to foreign affairs” was unhelpful, it said, while “politicizing trade will only exacerbate the country’s economic woes, and poison the overall China-U.S. relationship.” –Washington Post

Comment: China is doing the minimum to avoid becoming the focus of international pressure, but not enough to really change North Korean policy.

 Ooooops! Next shoe drops in Google’s controversy over women in tech, and that shoe is polished with irony:

Google’s international competition for computer coders–“Google Code Jam”–has all-male finalists for 14th year in row (Daily Caller)

Google uses the event to identify candidates for potential employment, recruiting tech wizards from all over the world—from the Philippines and Japan, all the way over to Russia, Sweden, and across the ocean to Latin America and the United States….

Every year, tens of thousands of would-be programming masters sign up for the competition—solving programming puzzles in record time. Only the best of the best make it to the final stage…..

Based on merit alone, the Code Jam does not make any considerations to contestants’ race, gender, political affiliation, or social status. It’s a test of pure skill. –Daily Caller

Comment: One of the great achievements of the Enlightenment was the shift in how people are selected for top jobs and prizes–away from status and caste (are you an aristocrat? a member of the dominant race or religion?) and toward merit-based selection.

That achievement is now being challenged without intellectual clarity. That is, some favor affirmative action because it will “level the playing field” and so allow true merit to shine. Others think of it as a benefit that is owed to groups formerly discriminated again; that approach is inherently opposed to merit-based selection. So is retaining preferences well into a person’s career, by which time merit should have already been apparent.

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ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, August 13: Focus on Charlottesville’s violent protests

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

The dominating story of the day, naturally, is the deliberate automobile attack by a white nationalist on counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring scores more. Two more were killed when a police helicopter crashed near the city.

The deadly driver has been charged with serious crimes, but not with first-degree murder. We’ll know more about his connections to others on the extreme right as the investigation unfolds.

The woman killed, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was “there standing up for what was right,” said her friends and family. (Washington Post)

The US Department of Justice is now investigating the crime as a civil-rights violation.

Comment: Since this heinous act seems to be connected with the organized white-nationalist march, it might be prosecuted under Federal RICO statutes, as well, if those connections can be established.

Actually, I am surprised the Department of Justice has not looked into using these statutes for demonstrations that are clearly organized with violent purposes.

There are two important, related stories (below):

  1. The larger march and
  2. President Trump’s statement about it.

 The larger march by white nationalists and neo-Nazis and the counter-protest, which led to violent clashes.

For the Charlottesville paper’s report on the events, click here(The Daily Progress, Charlottesville)

Both sides came prepared for violence, wearing protective helmets, masks and carrying flags. When violence broke out, many of the flags were stripped from the wood handles and the handles were used as clubs.

Both sides brought street medics equipped with bandages and fluids for flushing eyes and skin afflicted with pepper spray.

Alt-right demonstrators arrived at Emancipation Park around 9 a.m. with several counter-protesters already present. While the demonstrators milled about the park waving flags, several protesters prayed nearby and others sang while state police ringed the marchers to keep the sides separate inside the park.

One right-wing group in military garb, carrying rifles and wearing pistols, stood between the pro-white demonstrators and counter-protesters….

One African-American reporter was punched by an alt-right demonstrator wearing a T-shirt with a portrait of Adolf Hitler.

Protesters pelted the alt-right marchers trying to enter the park with balloons filled with paint and both sides hurled water bottles, some with urine inside, and other makeshift missiles at each other. As more scuffles broke out, the two sides began clubbing each other with the flag poles, sticks and makeshift clubs. Others threw road flares and other items across Market Street at each other. –Daily Progress, Charlottesville

Comment: ZipDialog always tries to highlight the best local reporting. In this case, as in so many, the local journalism is more informative than the national, fly-in reporters.

President Trump’s condemnation of the violence from “many sides” has been sharply criticized (including by many Republicans) for failing to single out white nationalists.

This NYT headline is fairly typical: Trump Is Criticized for Not Calling Out White Supremacists (New York Times)

He was the only national political figure to spread blame for the “hatred, bigotry and violence” that resulted in the death of one person to “many sides.” –New York Times

A good example of the conservative criticism is this article by Weekly Standard editor, Stephen Hayes:

Why Won’t Trump Denounce White Supremacists?

Why won’t President Trump be as specifically and unequivocally critical of white supremacists as he is of the media? –Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard

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When the news breaks, take a break from TV

Rule #1 during events like those in Charlottesville: do NOT watch TV for more than a few minutes at a time.

To keep up, occasionally click on your favorite “breaking news” website.

Depending on your tastes, that could be Drudge, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or Associated Press.

Of course, once they start interpreting the story, they’ll spin it in their familiar ways.

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The current news from Charlottesville can be summarized in less than two minutes, tops, and the networks have 24 hours to fill. They will fill them with high drama, idiotic confrontations, and conjectures, mixed with hard reporting and intelligent commentary. How wild can the conjectures get? When CNN was covering the missing Malaysia airliner, they asked experts if extraterrestrials were to blame.

Intentionally or not, the cable channels heighten viewers’ anxiety with flashing alerts and breathless reporting, following by a sincere look, a bite of the lip, and a calm, “Our thoughts and prayers go out…” So do the thoughts and prayers of the extraterrestrials, I’m guessing. For more on that, tune to CNN.

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To show you how briefly the real news can be summarized, here is what we know now (as of 6:15 pm, August 12):
  1. White supremacy and neo-Nazi marchers descended on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from a public park.
  2. Counter-marchers also showed up to protest the white-supremacy types. We don’t know what kinds of groups were involved in the counter-protest.
  3. The two groups clashed violently, despite a large presence of local and state police.
  4. A car deliberately accelerated into the counter-marchers, killing one immediately and leaving about two dozen more injured.
    • The car sped away, but the driver was soon captured. His name, motivation, and organizational connections have not been disclosed.
  5. A helicopter crashed nearby but details on that are still sketchy. Two people were killed
  6. That makes three people dead (so far), according to Virginia police.
  7. Donald Trump strongly condemned the violence, urging all sides to respect each other and avoid further violence.
    • Virginia’s state officials and those from Charlottesville issued similar statements, adding that the white nationalists should “go home.”
  8. Significantly, Pres. Trump failed to single out the White nationalists in his condemnation of the violence.
    • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) immediately tweet a criticism of the President, urging Trump to condemn the white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

That’s what we know so far. A newscaster could read it, with appropriate video playing in the background, in under two minutes.

But they have hours to fill. Instead of filling it with serious and illuminating talk, they will fill it with repetition and, within a few hours, snarling political adversaries.

Skip it and keep your blood pressure down.

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