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Uninsured Balk At Obamacare Bite

By 2.2.15

When it became obvious a couple of years ago that Obamacare would accelerate health care inflation, the law’s boosters began claiming that cost control was never its primary goal. PPACA’s promoters had previously promised that it would reduce annual health care expenses by $2,500 per family while improving access and quality of care. But the facts forced them to abandon that pledge and adopt a safer party line. As expressed by the New York Times, the new story goes thus: “At its most basic level, the Affordable Care Act was intended to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance.”

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Special Report

Main Street Challenges Dodd-Frank’s Chipping Away at the Constitution

By 2.2.15

“Wall Street Chips Away at Dodd-Frank,” blared a recent front-page headline in the New York Times about bipartisan measures that have passed the U.S. House of Representatives and/or been signed into law that ever-so-slightly lighten the burden of the so-called financial reform rammed through Congress in 2010. “GOP Pushes More Perks For Wall Street...” reads the home page of the Huffington Post under the picture of establishment pillar Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase.

Yet, what these articles don’t say is that the firms putting their resources on the line to challenge Dodd-Frank in court are the furthest thing from Wall Street high rollers. They are decades-old firms selling stable, time-tested financial products to everyday consumers.

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Letter From San Francisco

Black Friday 14 Demand ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ Cards

By 2.2.15

“Many people were inconvenienced by the Montgomery bus boycotts. Do you think Rosa Parks should pay restitution for that?” Mollie Costello hectored the Bay Area Rapid Transit board at a recent hearing. Costello is one of the Black Friday 14 — fourteen protesters arrested November 28 for shutting down the West Oakland BART station and four of five transit lines for three hours to protest the killing of unarmed black men by police officers.

Protesters of those arrests, with the slogan “No Business As Usual,” have three demands:

1. The BART board drop criminal charges against Costello and her 13 cohorts.

2. The BART police force dissolve itself.

3. The board provide cheap fares for low-income riders.

Apparently, “black lives matter” activists believe they should be able to break the law and not face criminal charges. They think they have a right to trample on the rights of others to use public transportation to go home, get to work, visit friends, and go shopping. And after police go through the hassle of arresting them, they believe they are owed a speedy release.

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Amelia's Kitchen

RECIPE: Sarah Palin Moose Track Cookies

By 2.2.15

In this installment of Amelia’s Kitchen, we'll take on Sarah Palin, another of the early contenders making noises about a potential run for the White House. The former governor of Alaska burst onto the political scene in 2008, and has been playing presidential peek-a-boo ever since. Some may say that after giving a rambling, poorly received speech in Iowa last month her political prospects are dead meat...but the mama grizzly might not go down without one last fight.

Palin has become synonymous with Alaska — and, let's be honest, with terminating delicious animals from long range. She's practically the Chris Kyle of arctic mammals. So, without further ado, I bring you:

SARAH PALIN MOOSE TRACK COOKIES

What You'll Need

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Eminentoes

Disgracefully Betrayed by Robert Kagan

By 1.31.15

Many on the right will have shared my shock and astonishment at Robert Kagan’s advice to Bibi Netanyahu to “Bow Out Gracefully” (from addressing Congress) displayed prominently on the opinion page of Friday’s Washington Post.

Robert never displayed the breath-taking scope of scholarship and depth of thought of his famous father, Donald Kagan, with whom I had the honor of having dinner several years ago. We discussed Robert’s silly little book, Of Paradise (Europe—peaceful, harmonious, negotiation-oriented, post-historical) and Power (America—power-hungry, Hobbesian, bellicose, hopelessly mired in history), and the senior Kagan quietly assented that Robert’s suggestion that America put its military might in the hands of the Europeans was, well, silly.

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Special Report

Super Bowls and the Super Rich: A Tale of Two Cities

By 1.30.15

On this Super Bowl weekend, let us pause to consider a stunning example of how games and stadiums were financed in the distant past.

In ancient Athens, the richest citizens often paid for gymnasiums and the staging of athletic events. They also paid for roads, bridges, and theaters, and, in times of peril, they built and donated warships to the city.

These were voluntary contributions — a gift, not a tax or confiscation. They served to maximize freedom, reduce the need for government, and reinforce a powerful sense of Athenian exceptionalism.

In his famous funeral oration in 431 B.C., Pericles departed from the usual practice of praising those who had fallen in battle and lamenting their deaths. Just as Abraham Lincoln would later do in the Gettysburg Address, he turned a mass funeral for war dead into a celebration of the most precious of human values: a paean to liberty.

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The Nation's Pulse

The Copycat Culture

By 1.30.15

Sam Smith backed down.

The current Rolling Stone coverboy agreed that his testosterone-free #2 hit “Stay with Me” sounded enough like Tom Petty’s #12 charting “I Won’t Back Down” to give the frontman of the Heartbreakers and collaborator Jeff Lynne songwriting credit. Smith’s camp claims his youth and ignorance of a song born three years before him make the similarities purely coincidental.

The age, rather than the singer’s, seems a more plausible excuse. We live in retread times.

Remakes, sequels, and films based on old comic books, fairy tales, and toys comprised fourteen of the fifteen top box-office draws for 2014. Hollywood sells brands, not entertainment.

The outlier, American Sniper, demonstrates the jonesing for anything remotely different. And the fact that films grossed less last year than they did five years before should shake Tinseltown into the epiphany that the formula for success for an individual movie drives down the entire industry. But it won’t.

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The Obama Watch

Condolence Diplomacy and American Respect

By 1.30.15

It is nice to see Michelle Obama sticking up for women’s rights in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The First Lady, accompanying her husband on a condolence call at the Saud’s for the lately departed King Abdullah, wore a decidedly unorthodox outfit, by the standards of the Wahhabi religious branch of Islam which prevails in the kingdom and, with regard to ordinary residents, is enforced with some rigor. Your average Saudi woman could set herself up for a legal whipping if she went outside dressed like Mrs. Obama.

Observe that in our country women have been known to set themselves up for whupping for comparable offenses, as well as for other reasons. I happen to know a woman of the same ethnocultural background as the First Lady, whose husband disapproved of her wedding attire, perhaps a bit provocative but then she had the assets. He wrecked their marriage right then and there.

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Eminentoes

The Hiss Conviction Turns 65

By 1.30.15

Sixty-five years ago last week, Alger Hiss—the protégé of Oliver Wendell Holmes, a rising star in the State Department, and a Soviet agent code-named “Ales”—was convicted of perjury for denying any involvement in Soviet espionage. This should have forever closed the case. For, as Sam Tanenhaus, the biographer of Hiss’s main accuser, Whittaker Chambers, stated, every mystery had been answered. There was compelling evidence, in the form of documents Chambers said had been given to him by Hiss, which were in Hiss’s handwriting, and those summarized by typing them had matched the “type” of the machine. This was enough to sway juries.

But not all mysteries had been answered. There was the question of motive. Whittaker Chambers was never able to supply this, for he was friends with Hiss well after Hiss joined Soviet intelligence. The most Chambers could offer involved tantalizing tidbits about Hiss’s personality, such as Hiss being a rather “romantic communist.” But his other offerings showed a cold blooded figure: mocking FDR’s polio as symbolic of democracy decaying, and reacting to Stalin’s Purge Trials by stating “that Joe Stalin plays for keeps.”

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Among the Intellectualoids

Decoding the Left

By 1.30.15

IRS records will note that as a child I was the founder of two clubs, the first of which was an acronym of friends’ first names and the second of which was called the Junior Killers, later changed to Junior Spies after an intervention from an agitated Mrs. Purple. Half the point of these secret societies, of course, was devising a secret code. Like most young boys we reveled in this stuff, aided by monthly suggestions from the “Codemaster” section of Boys’ Life magazine. And woe to the member who suggested the shopworn “One means A, two means B” trick.

I bring this up because Jonathan Chait recently wrote a piece for New York magazine that suggests academic liberals have taken up my childhood diversion—and their codes are far more impenetrable than anything I ever invented.

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