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The Obama Watch

Some People Choose to Be Homeless

By 8.18.15

The Obama Department of Justice argued last week that a Boise, Idaho, law against “public sleeping in a city without adequate shelter space constitutes criminalizing homelessness itself, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.” In a statement of interest filed in federal court, the Obama administration asserted that banning sleeping and camping in public places constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” Republican candidates, please take note.

Mike Journee, spokesman for Boise Mayor David Bieter, described his city as “a fairly progressive island in a deeply red state.” Bieter is trying to address homelessness, Journee told me, “from a holistic standpoint” — and with compassion. That said, the Obama statement is “misguided” in that it is based on a notion that “those experiencing homelessness have no recourse and we are willy-nilly criminalizing this by writing tickets for people who have no options. That is not the case.”

Homeless advocates have a mantra: No one chooses to be homeless.

I’m sure that’s true for some people, but there are homeless individuals who make a series of self-destructive choices that inevitably lead them to homelessness.

Campaign Crawlers

Republican Candidates Matter

By 8.18.15

Black Lives Matter has made its presence felt in the early stages of the 2016 election. 

Last week, BLM activists successfully forced Jeb Bush to shut down a rally in Las Vegas and forced Bernie Sanders offstage at a rally in Seattle. Sanders is rewarding this behavior by offering to meet with them.

In July, when Martin O’Malley had the temerity to say “All Lives Matter,” Black Lives Matter forced O’Malley to apologize. Not only did this apology expose BLM’s racist ideology and O’Malley’s spinelessness, but it also demonstrated its growing power. 

Political Hay

Hannity Answers Beck on Trump

By 8.18.15

Glenn Beck doesn’t get it.

Specifically, Beck turned to a lengthy post on his Facebook page and asked (in part here) this about conservatives and Donald Trump:

This is not an attack, this is an honest question….

I really want to understand.

I get that Trump is reflective of what people are feeling; secure the border; fight to win; don't give in to china etc. I really do understand that he is saying things that people are feeling. Justifiably.

I get the fact that he is saying that America is a great place and that we can be great again. That is rare and refreshing.

I understand that he is seen and has the proof in New York City, as a guy who can get things done.

I understand and like the fact that he just says what he is thinking. No politically correct bs; no focus groups and he does it with out apologizing.

But here is what I don't understand.

Special Report

Will EPA Benefit From Its Own Mistake?

By 8.18.15

When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) literally popped the cap holding back toxics-filled water at the Gold King Mine above Silverton and Durango, Colorado, it really messed up.

Here’s what we know: The Gold King Mine had been closed and plugged since 1923. Behind the plug were several million gallons of tainted water laced with toxins and heavy metals. Among the potential toxins in the mine were lead, sulfuric acid, dissolved iron and copper, zinc, beryllium, cadmium, and arsenic. Note I said potential toxins. Any of these chemicals or metals alone, or combined as they were in the waters in the Gold King Mine, could be dangerous, but only if a person were exposed to them in particular ways and in sufficient amounts.

Even before there was mining in the area, Cement Creek—the stream first hit with three million gallons of sludge released by EPA’s snafu at Gold King—had been declared undrinkable as far back as 1876. Nature was poisoning the water even before humans got involved. Mining exacerbated the problem. Tainted water had been seeping out of abandoned or closed mines near Gold King for decades.

The Nation's Pulse

Random Thoughts

By 8.18.15

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

Stupid people can cause problems, but it usually takes brilliant people to create a real catastrophe.

President Obama’s “agreement” with Iran looks very much like “the emperor’s new clothes.” We are supposed to pretend that there is something there, when there is nothing there that will stop, or even slow down, Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb.

The endlessly repeated argument that most Americans are the descendants of immigrants ignores the fact that most Americans are NOT the descendants of ILLEGAL immigrants. Millions of immigrants from Europe had to stop at Ellis Island, and had to meet medical and other criteria before being allowed to go any further.

Governor Bobby Jindal: “I realize that the best way to make news is to mention Donald Trump.… So, I’ve decided to randomly put his name into my remarks at various points, thereby ensuring that the news media will cover what I have to say.” Governor Jindal’s outstanding record in Louisiana should have gotten him far more attention from the media than Trump’s bombast.

Serve and Volley

Racquets and Words

By 8.17.15

Nick Kyrgios, 20-year-old Australian tennis player, beat this year’s French Open champ, 30-year-old Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland, in an early round in the Canada Open, more formally known as the Rogers Cup and, bilingual correctness oblige, the Coupe Rogers. The men’s competition takes place in Montreal, the women’s in Toronto, but they alternate year by year. This may be on instructions from the meddlesome federal government in Ottawa, which is mindful of spreading the wealth — the sports-tourism wealth — between the neighboring provinces of Ontario (Toronto) and Quebec (Montreal.)

The Canadian Open enjoys Masters 1000 status (ATP, men’s tour) and Premier 5 (WTA, women). It is a significant event for anyone who follows tennis. The No. 1 seeds at the tournaments were Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, both of whom are having sensational seasons and will doubtless be the No 1 seeds at the U.S. Open, which begins August 31.

The Obama Watch

Iran and the Roots of Obama’s Rage

By 8.17.15

Was Dinesh D’Souza right? Mr. D’Souza is a political commentator who proposed that the best explanation of President Obama’s behavior was not to be found in Obama’s seeming embrace of the radical socialism of Saul Alinsky but in the anti-colonialism of his father. Mr. D’Souza’s theory has been heatedly dismissed by the White House with the admonition that in America we do not judge people by their father’s political beliefs and that Ronald Reagan’s father was an alcoholic.

Fair enough, but then Ronald Reagan never wrote a memoir titled, Dreams from My Father, in which he measured his own life by both the achievements and failures of an alcoholic father that had abandoned him.

The reason that Mr. D’Souza’s 2010 book comes back into focus is Mr. Obama’s Iran deal. If we had doubts about Mr. D’Souza’s hypothesis before, Mr. Obama in recent weeks has gone a long way toward lending confirmation to it.

The Right Prescription

Medicaid: A Fifty-Year-Old Flimflam

By 8.17.15

Recently, while most of the media obsessed over the antics of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the nation passed a significant milestone. Medicaid, the federal-state program meant to provide a medical safety net for the poor, turned 50. This anniversary was celebrated by progressives as proof that government-run health care really works. Few of these cheerleaders noted, however, that this once modest program has morphed into a budget-busting behemoth most of whose expenditures go to the middle class. They also neglected to mention the difficulties Medicaid patients face accessing care or that they experience worse health outcomes than the uninsured.

Free Market Accountability Project

Why Are Miracle Drugs So Few and So Expensive?

By 8.17.15

Most people don’t realize how much our government intrudes into every market. For example, I saw a drug company pitch recently. The company has a drug that helps cure cancer, and which may also have other life-promoting uses (I am obscuring non-essential details to protect the innocent). Let’s look at this company, to see how the capital and drug markets are both harmed by government interference.

Like all angel investor pitches, this was a closed meeting. Angel investment groups are not open to the public. They are exclusive clubs, restricted to Accredited Investors only. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defines several ways for an investor to be Accredited, but the two most important are: $1M net worth or $300K annual income.

Angel groups generally grow only by personal referrals, since it has not been possible to advertise to the general public (recent rule changes allow advertising in theory, but in practice I am not aware of any doing it). This SEC regulation further restricts the number of people who invest in startups. By clamping down on angel investing, the SEC reduces the capital available to startup companies.

Political Hay

Trump Derangement Syndrome

By 8.17.15

Thursday morning I prepared a lovely prune-based compote. My husband adores this dessert, but I wondered if I shouldn’t send it over to George Will’s house, as an act of mercy. For Will has never before seemed as constipated as he did in his Thursday morning column on Donald Trump, whom he describes as “an unprecedentedly and incorrigibly vulgar presidential candidate.”

What exactly does Will mean by “vulgar”? Is it an epithet that Washington arbiters of taste use to describe the regular vernacular and humor of everyday Americans? If you eschew complex ambiguity in favor of language that everyone can understand, does that make you vulgar?