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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?

Another Perspective

In the Wake of Proposition 47, California Sees a Crime Wave

By 8.17.15

“The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” isn’t living up to its promise. Also known as Proposition 47, the California ballot initiative, which was approved in November 2014 with 60 percent of the vote, downgraded drug possession and many property crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor. Proponents argued that lesser punishment for low-level offenders would enhance public safety. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon was the rare prosecutor who pushed for its approval. He told the San Francisco Chronicle, “What we have been doing hasn’t worked, frankly.”

Ben Stein's Diary

A Tough Act to Swallow

By 8.14.15

In the course of the super lie-a-thon that was the Senate testimony of Wendy Sherman, the cry baby former community organizer who was the lead negotiator with the Iranians over nuclear arms, and that of her junior partner, Adam Szubin, the mysterious Orthodox Jew turned advocate for Iran, several super lies came out, as they had to.

One of the worst was about how long it would take Iran to get back to its nuclear arms production schedule if the U.S. bombed Iran’s facilities. “A few months,” was the basic answer. After all, said these two witnesses, the knowledge was already in the heads of the Iranians. “You can’t bomb that away,” said the testificants, or words to that effect.

But how can that be true? Doesn’t that depend on the scope and scale of the bombing? If we used bunker busters or even atom bombs against the facilities, and if we kept on using them until the Iranians didn’t have a day without bombing of their facilities, wouldn’t that delay the production of the weapons by more or less forever?

The Hillary Watch

Term(agant) Limits on Mrs. Clinton

By 8.14.15

Comedienne Elizabeth Woolf opened for Jon Lovitz at the Hard Rock in Fort Lauderdale the other night, and she demolished Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for President in one line.

“I am really happy that Hillary Clinton is favored to win the Presidency. This will send a powerful message to every young girl in this country that you could potentially reach any level or attain any position in this country…” Here came a long pause.

“… provided your husband does it first!” Checkmate! Absolutely brilliant.

I thoroughly enjoyed her approach, that the whole point of “the first woman President” is undermined by the fact that we could not find a woman to blaze her own trail to the door of the White House. But in my view the whole business is moot, because I think Hillary’s candidacy is unconstitutional. That is correct: I believe that the type of intent-of-the-law spirit-of-the-law constitutional interpretation Anthony Kennedy and his fellow Justices have been practicing leads inexorably to the conclusion that the Constitution of the United States forbids Hillary Clinton to run for President.


Bernie Sanders, Weirdo in Chief

By 8.14.15

Senator Bernie Sanders tops former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 44-37 in a poll of likely Democratic voters in the New Hampshire primary. A proud socialist in the driver’s seat in a state where they inscribe “live free or die” on the license plates speaks to what a long, strange trip it’s been.

Socialists normally run for president. They rarely call themselves socialists. The novelty of “Bernie Sanders for President” stems from his truth in advertising. But some truths one never prefers to advertise.

Political Hay

Common Core, Idiocracy, and the Great Unlearning

By 8.14.15

If you’re not spending your Thursdays surfing YouTube in search of the latest tutorial in conservatism from PJTV’s Bill Whittle, you are doing yourself a disservice by omission. Whittle, a Hollywood writer, amateur pilot, blogger and impresario of American liberty — he’s one of the best public speakers you’ll ever hear — does a weekly segment called Afterburner that makes its way onto the PJ Media YouTube channel, and this week’s is well worth a watch.

In it, Whittle bemoans what he calls The Great Unlearning — a rapid and pronounced dumbing-down of American society that manifests itself in conspiracy theories (often the 21st century’s version of the silly superstitions of medieval villagers), video voyeurism and other passively depraved practices emblematic of a culture of spectators rather than doers and dunces rather than experts.

The Marital Spectator

How the Supreme Court Abolished Article V of the Constitution

By 8.14.15

On July 31 at the American Bar Association’s International Human Rights Award Luncheon, former Justice John Paul Stevens declared that, while the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment establishes a right to “gay marriage,” it does not protect an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

Now when it comes to the issue of “gun rights” I have no personal dog in the hunt (so to speak). I’m not a gun owner. In most circumstances I wouldn’t recommend keeping a gun at home because I think statistically a gun kept at home is more likely to be used on someone in the home than on an intruder (though I wouldn’t want an intruder to know that I don’t have a gun at home).

Still, I marvel at Stevens’ ability to reject an application of the Fourteenth Amendment to a right clearly enumerated elsewhere in the Constitution (viz., “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” in the Second Amendment) while affirming its application to a supposed right not elsewhere even remotely alluded to in the Constitution (viz., the right of a person to marry a person of the same sex).

Sanctuary City Watch

Sanctuary State Is a Haven for Criminals

By 8.13.15

“I am not remiss to say that from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento, there is a blood trail to Marilyn Pharis’ bedroom,” Santa Maria, California police Chief Ralph Martin charged last week. On July 24, two burglars allegedly broke in to Pharis’ home as she slept. They sexually assaulted and beat her. Pharis, 64, a U.S. Air Force veteran, died in the hospital Aug. 1. It turns out that one of the two men charged for the crime, Victor Aureliano Martinez Ramirez, 29, is an undocumented immigrant against whom Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer in 2014. Ramirez has pleaded not guilty.

The case seems like Kate Steinle all over again. On July 1, Steinle was strolling on Pier 14 in San Francisco with her father, when a bullet pierced her heart. Authorities charged Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, a seven-time convicted felon and undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times, with murder. He pleaded not guilty. If the San Francisco sheriff had honored an ICE detainer, Lopez-Sanchez would not have been in San Francisco on July 1.