American Spectator

  • How Much Do Canadians Really Pay for Health Care?
    A recent survey conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 51 percent of U.S. adults support single-payer health care. This isn’t a poll of actual voters, of course, but it does suggest that the propaganda campaign conducted by the Democrats and the “news” media is having an effect. The system they most often hold up as a paragon of the single-payer approach to health care is, of course, Canada’s “Medicare” program. But, before deciding to emulate the Canucks, we should consider what they really pay for health care and what they get for their money. The usual talking point single-payer advocates trot out when asked about this goes thus: According to OECD, health care in the U.S. costs about twice what Canadians pay. If the single-payer advocate is uncharacteristically articulate for a lefty, they will quote another OECD canard about life expectancy to show that we are paying more money, yet receiving worse overall care. As it happens, both of these talking points are meaningless. Canadians pay far more for health care than is commonly believed and life expectancy is useless in determining the quality of a health care system. Let’s start with how much Canadians actually pay. The OECD arrives at its figures by the hopelessly simplistic method of dividing a nation’s total health care expenditure by its population. Thus, Canadians pay about $5,500 a head while we pay a little over $10,000 apiece for our system. But these figures are meaningless to actual Canadian families. What matters to them is how much they pay for coverage, via taxation. The Fraser Institute, a non-partisan think tank based in British Columbia, reports that the average two-adult family pays more than $12K annually. And it gets worse: Between 1997 and 2017, the average Canadian family’s cash income increased by 96.6%.… Over that two decades, the cost of health care insurance for the average Canadian family (all family types) increased by 173.6%. Canada really knows how to do health care inflation: For the average Canadian family, between 1997 and 2017, the cost of public health care insurance increased 3.2 times as fast as the cost of food, 2.7 times as fast as the cost of clothing, 1.9 times as fast as the cost of shelter, and 1.8 times faster than average income. Here’s how the cost of coverage increased by family type: • 2% for the average family consisting of 2 adults and no children (from $6,893 to $12,283); • 7% for the average family consisting of 2 parents and 1 child (from $7,103 to $12,410); • 6% for the average family consisting of 2 parents and 2 children (from $7,152 to $12,057); • 0% for the average unattached individual (from $2,276 to $4,596); • 6% for the average family consisting of 1 parent and 1 child (from $2,108 to $4,693); • 8% for the average family consisting of 1 parent and 2 children (from $2,061 to $3,994). And, like all social democracies, Canada punishes success. If your family is fortunate ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, April 23, 2018By David Catron
    14 hours ago
  • Making a Federal Case Out of Eye Drop Dribble?
    Eye drop users everywhere have had it happen. Tilt your head back, drip a drop in your eye, and part of that drop always seems to dribble down your cheek. But, what most people see as an annoyance, some prescription drop users lawyers say is grounds for a huge class action lawsuit. Drug companies’ bottles dispense drops that are too large, leaving wasted medication running down their faces, they say. In those tears plaintiffs’ lawyers see lotto-size verdicts for consumer fraud. Good grief! The drug companies have argued the patients shouldn’t be able to sue in federal court because their argument they would have paid less for treatment is based on a bottle that doesn’t exist and speculation about how it would affect their costs if it did. They point out that the size of their drops was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and redesigned bottles would require FDA approval. The cost of changes could be passed on to patients, possibly resulting in treatment that would cost more. The federal courts haven’t seen eye to eye on whether patients should be able to sue. That’s why the drug makers are asking the Supreme Court to step in. A federal appeals court in Chicago last year threw out one lawsuit over drop size. But the federal appeals court in Philadelphia let the similar case now before the Supreme Court go forward. That kind of disagreement often tends to get the Supreme Court’s attention. Judge Richard Posner, writing for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in dismissing the class action consumer fraud case against the drug companies, reasoned that: You cannot sue a company and argue only — “it could do better by us” — which is all they are arguing. The fact that a seller does not sell the product that you want, or at the price you’d like to pay, is not an actionable injury; it is just a regret or disappointment — which is all we have here, the class having failed to allege “an invasion of a legally protected interest.” Patients see the case differently. A person’s eye can only hold a certain amount of liquid, they say. And they point to research showing that drug makers’ drops come out of their bottles at a much larger size and that at least half of every drop of medication goes to waste. Patients say they’re entitled to the full use of the entire amount of liquid they purchase. In the tears of medicine running down their cheeks they envision a systemic consumer fraud worth millions. In response, Judge Posner concludes that since the FDA has approved the packaging of the eye drops, … this court cannot bypass the agency and make its own evaluation of the safety and efficacy of an unconventionally sized eye drop for treatment of glaucoma. Not that the class members are likely to get far with the FDA. They don’t want the agency to rescind its approval of the large drops ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, April 23, 2018By Gerald D. Skoning
    14 hours ago
  • Why Iran Doesn’t Attack
    For more than a year, Iran has been building permanent military bases in Syria close to the Israeli border. Since the first reports of this activity were published in November 2017, Israel has made it clear that it would not permit the Iranians to do so because the threat to Israel is far too great. From these bases, Iran has been operating drones over Israeli airspace. It has dozens, perhaps hundreds, of its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps troops operating from those bases. On at least four occasions — from February 10 to April 17 — Israel has attacked those bases. Israel’s April 9 strike on the “T-4” base near Homs killed about seven Iranian officials or soldiers, including an IRGC colonel commanding the drone operations. Though several Iranian leaders have spoken in terms of an imminent war with Israel, Iran has not even conducted any small attacks in response to Israel’s attacks on its bases. Why? Some, including the analysts at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), assert that by its military strikes on Iranian bases, Israel is asserting that it is ready for an all-out war with Iran. That is consistent with statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. He said, “We hear the threats from Iran, and the IDF and security forces are prepared for every possible Iranian move. We will fight whoever tries to harm us. We will not shy away from action against those who threaten our security. They will pay a heavy price.” Many Iranian government-controlled newspapers and lower-level Iranian officials, such as Gen. Salami, deputy commander of the IRGC, have responded in kind, warning that Israeli airbases are within range of Iranian missiles which are ready to be launched at any provocation. April 18, the day Israel celebrated the 70th anniversary of its independence, was also Iran’s “army day.” Then, the commander of Iran’s ground forces in Syria, IRGC Brigadier General Kiumars Heidari, said that Israel can no longer threaten Iran. But, as MEMRI reports, Iran’s “supreme leader” Ayatollah Khamenei and his principal operative, IRGC commander Ali Jafari, have remained silent about any counterattack against the Israelis. Both are usually very vocal with threats against Israel, which they call “the little Satan.” (“Big Satan, of course, is us.) Regardless of how ready they may be, the Israelis clearly don’t want a general war with Iran. In such a conflict, even if Iran hasn’t yet developed nuclear weapons, Israel would suffer masses of casualties. Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, the terrorist network Hizballah, has thousands of short-range rockets and long-range missiles that would be fired at Israel. Israel’s missile defense systems — “Iron Dome,” “Magic Wand,” and “Arrow” — are designed to shoot down incoming rockets and missiles, but they can be overcome by mass salvos of incoming missiles and rockets. Hizballah would also try to capture and hold — even for a short time — Israeli towns on the Lebanese border. (I use the term “Hizballah” rather than the bowdlerized “Hezbollah” because that is ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, April 23, 2018By Jed Babbin
    14 hours ago
  • Trump, Ryan, and the American Character
    After Paul Ryan announced he wouldn’t seek re-election this fall, I had an interesting conversation online with an old friend I hadn’t talked to in more than a decade. My prodigal partner in correspondence, an old politico who fought the good fight for many years before retiring to a sailboat and itinerantly plying the Gulf Coast, said something I both agreed with and disagreed with, and I’ve been chewing on his statement ever since. “I can’t take any delight in Trump’s accomplishments,” he said, “though I don’t oppose most of what he’s doing policy-wise.” My friend’s complaint was that while the President has already embarked on the most ambitious conservative agenda since Reagan despite not actually possessing much in the way of conservative bona fides — he said that’s a nice surprise he wouldn’t have counted on — Trump’s style is, he thinks, toxic for the country. He made sure to let me know he’s no NeverTrumper. He agreed that the Republicans had long needed to find a way to ditch their reputation as the Stupid Party. He just believes there will ultimately be a steep price to pay for the President’s bombast, and what he called the “insufferable childishness” Trump displays on his Twitter and elsewhere. As someone who looks at the President as a guy we hired to do a job, and is so far satisfied, on balance, at the quality of work he’s doing, my response was that what my friend was complaining about isn’t Trump. Trump is a symptom, not the disease. Which brings us to Paul Ryan, who my friend admires greatly. Ryan is many things, but above all he’s civil. He’s also a “policy conservative” whose vision for taxes, entitlement reform, and other big reform items would certainly move the country forward. What Ryan, whose short tenure as House speaker is likely to be judged as something of a failure when he gives up the gavel in December, is not is a salesman. And he’s definitely no political force of nature who can threaten and cajole his way to the legislative finish line. Ryan’s House led the way in passing that federal tax reform bill last year, and that is a signature achievement of which he can be proud. But some 140 House-passed bills languish in the Senate — standing as the mark of governmental gridlock which indicts the Speaker as a bit player on the national political stage. He’s leaving more or less in disgust, because he can’t lead the GOP’s legislative agenda to passage in the face of a dysfunctional Senate. And because Ryan and Trump are oil and water — as are so many of the Republican Establishment figures in Washington the President has alienated. I would concede that Trump is often much too crass for my liking, just as I would confess his relationships with the Roger Stones, Michael Cohens, and Paul Manaforts of the world make me nervous. But I would argue this — those Establishment types on the ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, April 23, 2018By Scott McKay
    14 hours ago
  • James and the Giant Preach
    James Comey loves to preach to us lesser mortals about ethics and such. Like Jimmy Carter before him, James Comey has let the J.C. initials get to his head and thinks he can walk on water. Now that he is trying to plug a book at the same time, he is in danger of electrocution. Comey’s contribution to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, for now, is this classic: “No reasonable prosecutor would bring such charges.” The idea that Comey has a clue of what defines reasonableness is itself impugned each time he opens his mouth. His new book, A Higher Loyalty, is subtitled “Truth, Lies and Leadership.” In it he offers a bit of the first, a lot of the second, and none of the third. The usual suspects have come out in favor of Comey, hoping in some way to shine more darkness into Donald Trump’s life, and the other set of usual suspects have come out in opposition. This partisan divide gives a momentary false impression. One viewing from the outside, with no horse in the race or ox being gored, may be pardoned for thinking Comey has committed liberal virtue and conservative vice, that on the left he is in the right. In fact, he is guilty by whatever standard one cares to apply. And he is hoist on his own petard, condemned by his own confession. Here is my point. Comey says in his magnum opus that the reason he allowed himself to send a letter to Congress in October 2016 to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation was that he thought she was safely ahead and this development would not prove disruptive. The critics of this statement on the Republican side have bemoaned his politicization of the investigative process. FBI Directors are not supposed to base law enforcement decisions on the conditions of electoral polls. These critics are right, of course, but they are missing the forest for the trees. Much more is at stake here than cops looking over their shoulder to stay in step with political trends. This is a confession of actual crime. Let us recall the events that precipitated the Comey letter to Congress. Anthony Weiner, the disgraced former Congressman from New York, had just been arrested for improper sexual advances to a minor over the Internet. Pursuant to that event, police had confiscated all of Mister Weiner’s computers. Upon examining their contents, police discovered that Weiner was receiving on a regular basis copies of emails his wife Huma Abedin, personal assistant to Hillary Clinton, was sending to and receiving from her boss. As Comey himself repeated as recently as last week’s ABC interview, there were “hundreds of thousands” of such emails, which obviously had to be vetted for classified material. The letter to Congress said it was necessary to reopen the investigation because those newly discovered emails potentially contained incriminating information. Now he is telling us he sent the letter because Hillary was safely in the lead. How can that ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, April 23, 2018By Jay D. Homnick
    14 hours ago
  • Trump’s Below the Surface Strength
    Generally seen as underwater, below the surface things are very different for Trump. President Trump elicits strong reactions from two-thirds of America’s electorate. Yet among the one-third in neither camp, the president is quietly doing quite well. Rasmussen’s 4/16 daily tracking poll, the same polling closest to 2016’s popular vote, gave interesting insight into President Trump’s support. Overall, Trump’s job approval rating was 51 percent (48 percent disapproval). Among the hardcore, his strong support was 35 percent; his strong disapproval: 39 percent. On the surface, these results are unexciting… until compared to 2016’s actual results. In 2016, Trump received just 46.1 percent of the popular vote. Rasmussen’s 4/16 results put him five percent ahead of what won him the presidency. Also, Rasmussen’s 4/16 hardcore results closely mimic 2016 exit polling. Trump’s 35 percent strong approval surpasses the 33 percent of 2016 voters identifying as Republicans. His 39 percent of strong disapproval is extremely close to 2016’s 36 percent identifying as Democrats, and the remaining 26 percent without strong feelings approximates 2016’s 31 percent identifying as Independents. Compared to 2016 exit polling, Trump is growing his base supporters and his base opposition. Yet among those without strong feelings, he is winning 2-1. In 2016, Trump won Independents by just 46 to 42 percent. What Trump is losing to strong opposition, he is more than making up for in softer support. Trump’s critics will question these comparisons; however, there are strong answers. Yes, it is just a one-day result, but the trend is the story. Trump has markedly recovered from his Rasmussen 8/2/17 low of 38/62 percent approval/disapproval and 25/50 percent strong approval/strong disapproval. Admittedly, strong approval, strong disapproval, and the “not strong” remainder are just proxies for political affiliation. Still, they are important in themselves. After all, Trump is more sui generis than defined by partisan pigeonholing. Critics will say Trump drew to an “inside straight” in 2016; in poker and politics, you do not win that bet twice. True, he did… in 2016. He may not need such breaks in 2020. On approval/disapproval, he is ahead of his 2016 position, and doing very well among the non-aligned, where he most needed improvement. Hardcore voters may dominate less-attended midterm elections, non-hardcore voters decide more broadly-attended general elections. They are not the “Silent Majority,” but the “deciding minority.” Trump also benefited from facing Hillary Clinton; Democrats may nominate a stronger 2020 candidate. Undoubtedly Hillary Clinton had a magician’s touch of turning two political unknowns (Obama and Trump) into presidents. However, Democrats may nominate a weaker one too. The Democratic establishment foisted Clinton on the party. It is doubtful they can do this with another establishment Democrat. If not, recall who finished second for their 2016 nomination. Could a hard-left 2020 nominee actually outperform Hillary 2016 in a race against Trump? The real question is whether Trump’s trend can continue. Three powerful things underlie it: Peace, prosperity, and incumbency. Barring sudden change, America is at peace abroad and without obvious sources of potential foreign ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Monday, April 23, 2018By J.T. Young
    14 hours ago
  • The Trade War That Isn’t Keeps Escalating
    It’s not a trade war. Remember that. Lots of terms have been coined to avoid using that ugly phrase. You can call it a “trade battle.” “Trade skirmish” is just fine. “Trade dance” gives it a more lighthearted feel. Even my personal favorite, a “slap-fight,” works. All of those phrases have sprung up to describe escalations in retaliatory tariffs between China and the United States while avoiding using the phrase “trade war.” The word “war” is carefully avoided, because wars have victims that are not involved in the conflict. The latest salvo in this non-trade war opened with the President banning Chinese tech company ZTE from purchasing American products or services for seven years in response to illegal shipments ZTE made to Iran and North Korea. In response, China imposed a 179 percent tariff on American sorghum—China being the largest buyer of American sorghum exports. ZTE is an excellent example of how tariffs can harm Americans even when they are the right course of action. ZTE pled guilty a year ago to conspiracy to violate international sanctions, and has failed to crack down on the employees involved. But ZTE is the fourth-largest telecom business worldwide, and these sanctions are likely to essentially bankrupt it. It is unsurprising that, in the context of an ongoing trade battle, China is viewing this as just another attempt to weaken the Chinese export economy. China’s steep sorghum tariffs were announced the day after the Trump administration cracked down on ZTE. The retaliatory tariffs that have resulted from Trump’s trade actions have repeatedly targeted farmers from Middle America. Sorghum exporting businesses have nothing to do with ZTE, but wars have collateral damage. Of course, this isn’t a trade war. It’s a trade fracas. There are other ways to address trade disputes. Despite Trump’s insistence that the World Trade Organization (WTO) is unfair to the United States, the U.S. wins 91 percent of adjudicated cases that it brings before the WTO. Unfortunately, the WTO was not a possibility for this kind of remedy. In the future, the emphasis should be on strengthening the WTO to allow issues such as this to be resolved in the courts. Tariffs were likely the only viable means of addressing ZTE’s actions in this case, but the goal should be to change that. Sorghum should not have to pay the price for ZTE’s malfeasance. The post The Trade War That Isn’t Keeps Escalating appeared first on The American Spectator. ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, April 22, 2018By Andrew Wilford
    16 hours ago
  • Is Trump Deceiving the Media About a Russian Deal?
    Sun Tzu said that “all warfare is based on deception.” War is, therefore, about the management of perceptions. Given this, what if the recent American airstrike in Syria, and the Russian cyber attacks earlier this week, were a way for both countries to manage public perceptions, while Presidents Trump and Putin prepare to make a deal? And, rather than America and Russia being the enemies, what if the real enemy — the group that needs their perceptions most managed — is the American media establishment? Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump expressed a desire to stabilize relations between the United States and Russian Federation. After winning the presidency, virtually every foreign policy adviser to the president who shared this view has been conveniently removed from power. The president himself has been subject to one of the most invasive, politically charged investigations into his purported illicit ties to Russia. So, in the current political environment, President Trump cannot simply make a deal with Putin. Rather than go directly to Vladimir Putin, could it be that President Trump is engaging in this brouhaha over a purported Syrian chemical weapons attack to distract the easily distracted mainstream media? The Syrian Sideshow Shortly after President Trump expressed a desire to draw down American forces from Syria, a chemical weapons attack was reported in the jihadist-held Damascus suburb of Douma. Almost immediately, President Trump took to Twitter and expressed his disgust at the situation, blaming both the “Animal Assad” and Vladimir Putin for the horrific attacks. The Russians cried “foul!” Assad denied the attack even happened. Although the president had almost instantly promised retaliation against Assad, and even though American allies had either struck Syria or were preparing to, there was little indication that the United States itself was going to conduct a retaliatory strike there. A great show was put on by the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, in which she publicly excoriated the Russians and Iranians for their support of Assad. By that point, though, a full 96 hours had passed from the president’s tweet to the moment in which the bombs started falling. In that time span, the Syrians had moved their personnel and air force away from their air bases and into Russian-controlled bases, knowing full well that the Americans would not strike at Russian bases, and risk an escalation with the Russians. After the attack, only three of the five key Syrian military bases were targeted. Despite the massive barrage, no Syrian military personnel were killed and no serious damage was done to Assad’s ability to launch further chemical weapons attacks. The Russians, naturally, claimed they shot down the bulk of the American cruise missiles fired at Syria. But, in truth, Russian coastal S-400 batteries were in standby mode for the duration of the predictable American-led attack. In fact, there is little evidence that the Russians did anything other than observe the attack while it occurred. The American attack was nothing but a public spectacle. Several days after the American airstrike in ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, April 22, 2018By Brandon J. Weichert
    2 days ago
  • A Funny Thing Happens to Trump’s Rivals — They Start Turning Into Trump
    An odd thing is happening in President Donald Trump’s America. Over time, his rivals turn into their own versions of The Donald. No greater example exists than James Comey, the FBI chief whom Trump fired last year. Trump canned Comey in a spectacularly brutal and public way. Not in person, but on camera, as if the FBI top gun were a contestant on his erstwhile reality show, The Apprentice. As Comey wrote in his book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, he learned he had been fired in Los Angeles in front of a room of potential FBI recruits when the words “Comey resigns” flashed across TV screens along a back wall. At first, Comey laughed off what he thought was a joke. Then he saw the headline, “Comey fired,” and he wasn’t laughing anymore. News crews in helicopters captured his car ride to the airport as if Comey were O.J. Simpson on the run. A month later, Comey charmed the Senate Intelligence Committee with his aw-shucks demeanor, and phrases like, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes” — a response to a Trump tweet that suggested the commander in chief might have taped their talks. On his book tour, Comey is Mr. Nice Guy no more. He has outgrown his “Leave It to Beaver” lexicon and replaced it with the sort of trash talk that served Trump so well on the campaign trail. Comey seemed like such a gentleman — not so now with his swipes at Trump’s physical appearance. Comey writes of his first meeting with Trump: “His face appeared slightly orange, with bright white half-moons under his eyes where I assumed he places small tanning goggles, and impressively coiffed, bright blond hair, which upon close inspection looked to be all his.” Trump likes to brag about his big hands, and how his crowd-size, poll numbers or whatever are bigger than anyone else’s. In that department, Comey out-Trumped Trump when he revealed details of his first meeting with the then-president elect. Comey wrote that as Trump “extended his hand, I made a mental note to check its size. It was smaller than mine, but did not seem unusually so.” During the 2016 GOP primary, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — whom Trump dubbed “Little Marco” — tried the same gambit, as he talked about Trump’s “small hands” and “spray tan.” Alas, for Rubio, Trump’s tactics don’t transfer well to others. Rubio’s rhetoric didn’t dent Trump’s hold on Florida voters, who favored the New York real estate developer to their homegrown native son. Both Trump and Comey are known leakers who have no problem trashing others for doing what they’ve been doing. A master at self-promotion, Trump famously talked off the record to reporters under the phony name John Barron years ago when he was hyping his net worth. Comey has leaked as well. He admitted that, after Trump fired him, he gave a law school professor an unclassified memo about a meeting with Trump and instructions that the professor ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Sunday, April 22, 2018By Debra J. Saunders
    2 days ago
  • Bigmouth Strikes Again
    When Morrissey wrote songs such as “Margaret on the Guillotine” and “Meat Is Murder,” the music press adored him. Now that he supports Brexit, calls the “racist” tag a way of tapping out on a debate, and laments London becoming Londonistan, the critics not only criticize — they want to press the mute button for the benefit of us all. Hang the DJ, indeed. The former Smiths singer posted an interview on his website that outraged the perpetually outraged. Here are a few of the prime cuts: • “Accused is the correct word! It isn’t possible to be congratulated for supporting Brexit, is it? That should tell you all you need to know about the outstanding lack of neutrality within the British press. It’s all a pointless argument anyway because, as you’ve surely noticed, Brexit did not happen. The EU wouldn’t allow it to happen. It is now a dead issue.” • “London is second only to Bangladesh for acid attacks. All of the attacks are non-white, and so they cannot be truthfully addressed by the British government or the Met Police or the BBC because of political correctness. What this means is that the perpetrator is considered to be as much of a victim as the actual victim. We live in the Age of Atrocity.” • “And as far as racism goes, the modern Loony Left seem to forget that Hitler was Left wing! But of course, we are all called racist now, and the word is actually meaningless. It’s just a way of changing the subject. When someone calls you racist, what they are saying is ‘hmm, you actually have a point, and I don’t know how to answer it, so perhaps if I distract you by calling you a bigot we’ll both forget how enlightened your comment was.’” • “London is debased. The Mayor of London tells us about ‘Neighborhood policin’ — what is ‘policin’? He tells us London is an ‘amazin’ city. What is ‘amazin’? This is the Mayor of London! And he cannot talk properly! I saw an interview where he was discussing mental health, and he repeatedly said ‘men’el’ … he could not say the words ‘mental health.’ The Mayor of London! Civilisation is over!” Over a quarter-century ago, Morrissey proclaimed “London is dead.” So, his recent remarks should not come as a surprise. Such songs as “Bengali in Platforms” certainly hinted at his thoughts about unfettered immigration. And if any of the Twittericans denouncing Morrissey think he cares that they have switched their allegiance to Robert Smith, they should listen to “The World Is Full of Bores,” “I’m Okay by Myself,” or “I’m Not Sorry” — or at least ponder the titles. “Irish blood, English heart I am made of/There is no one on Earth I’m afraid of.” One guesses that those he does not fear include people hiding behind anonymous online handles. Morrissey owns some complex views. He despises the monarchy but loves England. The thoroughly English son of Irish parents criticizes ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Saturday, April 21, 2018By Dan Flynn
    3 days ago
  • What Cowardice Looks Like: More on the Philadelphia Starbucks Controversy
    There will be time, there will be timeTo prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet. — T.S. Eliot  …And the comedy goes on. Behold, dear reader, Rachel Siegel writing Act Two in theWashington Post: “When asked what the company’s policy is about making purchases, a Starbucks spokesperson said: ‘In this particular store, the guidelines were that partners must ask unpaying customers to leave the store, and police were to be called if they refused.’” Then — in the next paragraph! —we read: “‘In this situation,’ the spokesperson said, ‘the police should never have been called. And we know we have to review the practices and guidelines to help ensure it never happens again.’” This obvious contradiction Siegel passes over in silence. Well, why not? After all, the real purpose of the globalist Jeff Bezos’ newspaper is to hasten democracy’s death by darkness, there being so much lucre in it. Although Starbucks has long been a hangout space, before there was an indignant mob disrupting the store and complaining on social media, nobody ever pretended that there was such a thing as “unpaying customers.” The phrase is no more accurate or honest than “undocumented immigrants,” and indeed, it serves the same sort of deceitful purpose. It is as if we are all customers, whether paying or no. To be is to be a consumer. How wonderfully inclusive! And yet the game is clear: Starbucks is trying to evade the reality that it is not your adoring grandmother or local community center, but a business, which, as such, cannot afford a policy of accommodating “unpaying customers” — that is, loiterers or trespassers. Greedy, dishonest, and cowardly, Starbucks is unwilling to concede that it expects you to spend at least two bucks on a cup of coffee before you spend the afternoon basking in its sublimely progressive atmosphere. Predictably, the moneymen at the top of the politically correct food chain saw fit to make a scapegoat of the manager, reportedly a left-wing feminist named Holly. Here, righteous wolves, feed on this wicked flesh; you are so very deserving! Starbucks Executive Chairman Howard Shultz, by way of justifying the firing of a person who would seem rather unlikely to be a racist, told the faithful on Wednesday, “I think you have to say in looking at the tape that she demonstrated her own level of unconscious bias.” Now it doesn’t take a logician to perceive that unconscious bias, by its very nature, is the easiest and most convenient of explanations. Logically, it is like the non-existence of God in that you cannot disprove it; it’s an assumed negative, so there is quite literally nothing to disprove. Therefore, you can employ unconscious bias to “explain” virtually any phenomena, even though from a logical point of view the concept is akin to the statement: “I think you have to say, in looking at the matter, that Pee-wee Herman is President of Neptune; after all, I cannot prove that he is not.” We now know more about Holly’s interaction with the two ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, April 20, 2018By Christopher DeGroot
    3 days ago
  • California NIMBYs Kill Effort to Make Housing Affordable
    California’s housing market faces challenges that have been building for decades. The median home price in the state has increased at several times the rate of median home prices across the country, leading to lower-income Californians fleeing the state in droves. One analysis estimated that housing problems cost California $140 billion annually in lost economic output. Faced with a means of addressing this issue, these activists pressured California legislators into killing reform legislation in its first committee hearing. California suffers from a severe housing shortage, as the state ranks 49th in housing density. Local governments have failed to allow sufficient home-building, and zoning requirements often prevent high-rise apartments in expensive cities with large populations like San Francisco and Los Angeles. San Francisco in particular has been hard-hit by a lack of housing — one report found that residents need to make more than $300,000 a year just to afford the median home in the city. Fortunately, some California legislators recognized the severity of the crisis and took action to address the root cause. SB 827, introduced by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), aimed to limit local governments’ abilities to restrict housing. Under SB 827, developers across the state would have been able to ignore local zoning rules on height, density, and parking near transit hubs. Doing so would have allowed the supply of housing to increase while simultaneously encouraging methods of transportation that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion. The introduction of legislation that eliminates burdensome regulation while making housing more available to low-income Californians and addressing climate change seems like a positive development regardless of one’s political persuasion. Unfortunately, while data wonks from the typical free-market crowd to the more left-leaning like Matt Yglesias (who makes an excellent analogy to a hypothetical cap on automobile production here) vocally supported SB 827, the idea drew the ire of a broad array of opponents. “Not In My Back Yard” activists (NIMBYs) teamed up with localists and “Public Housing in My Back Yard” (PHIMBYs) activists to oppose the “Yes In My Back Yard” (YIMBYs) supporting SB 827. Yet behind the whimsical acronyms is a serious coalition that aimed to prevent the unleashing of the California housing market. Localists feared SB 827’s pre-emption of local zoning regulation, PHIMBYs worried that SB 827 would replace efforts to build more public housing, and NIMBYs often just didn’t want poor people moving in near them. Of course, these concerns pale in comparison to the housing crisis that California faces. Fear of state pre-emption is understandable, since housing decisions are typically made at the local level. However, it was the need to override the irresponsible behavior of localities that drove California citizens to enact Propositions 13 and 218, which established statewide limits on property taxes and other local taxes. Fears that public housing would have been sidelined are unfounded. Progressive solutions to housing policy like low-income housing subsidies and rent control have not solved the problem yet; but even if one thinks that’s the solution, ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, April 20, 2018By Andrew Wilford
    4 days ago
  • The Left’s Latest Creepy, Orwellian Education Tactic
    It sounds like a sci-fi movie: altering behavior and personality by surreptitiously embedding psychologically manipulative messages into a computer platform. But according to Education Weekthat’s what mega-publisher Pearson did in 2017 to over 9,000 unwitting college students. And this episode foreshadows what’s coming soon to a K-12 classroom near you. Pearson’s project used “social-psychological interventions,” which roughly equate to the “social emotional learning” (SEL) being implemented at breakneck pace in K-12 schools. Rather than putting more effort into teaching genuine academic content (which might be recommended in light of the wheel-spinning that’s occurring with student achievement nationally), many schools — plus the global education establishment — are concentrating instead on probing children’s personalities. The students can then be shaped into the kind of people the government thinks they should be. As an experiment in people-shaping, last year Pearson “embedded ‘growth-mindset’ and other psychological messaging” into some versions of software used in college computer science classes. For example, the software might feed users who missed a problem a chirpy message exhorting them to keep trying. Pearson distributed its software randomly to 165 colleges and universities. The goal was to “track whether students who received the messages attempted and completed more problems than their counterparts at other institutions.” The minor takeaway from this experiment is that the manipulative messages had only modest effect (the guinea-pig students successfully solved somewhat more problems than did the control-group students, although the control group actually attempted to solve significantly more problems than did the guinea pigs). This is in keeping with research showing that schemes to instill “growth mindsets” in students have little benefit. But the vastly more important questions are how a corporate researcher and its education-establishment cheerleaders can justify this type of manipulative experimentation on human beings — without their consent — and what this portends for the future of education and student privacy. The report Pearson presented apparently didn’t mention the ethical violation of ignoring the consent requirement applicable to psychological research. Nor did SEL proponent Joshua Starr, who voiced concern only about the effectiveness of Pearson’s tricks: “‘In a narrow way, it’s great if kids are getting these kinds of messages, and that’s leading to greater persistence,’ said Starr of Phi Delta Kappan. ‘But it’s certainly not sufficient.’” The only commenter Education Week found who flagged the absence of consent was Ben Williamson, a lecturer at a British university: “‘It’s especially troubling… that the company did not seek informed consent from the young people who became subjects in their study.’” The failure to obtain consent from the research subjects — a tactic that SEL proponents didn’t deem even worth mentioning — illustrates the dangerous road that lies ahead for students from pre-K through college. The SEL pushers seem to simply assume that corporations and their allied government schools have the right to conduct psychological experiments on unsuspecting students. The point of the Pearson experiment, as well as other SEL schemes, isn’t just to help students do their best — it’s to change their behavior and indeed their ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, April 20, 2018By Jane Robbins
    4 days ago
  • Speaking Well of the President
    fine article by Conrad Black suggests the anti-Trump factions lost rounds last week. While the Mueller investigation has yet to produce any evidence of illicit campaign “collusion” with the treacherous Russians, one of the leaders of the disputationists, former FBI director James Comey, appears to be caught in a credibility gap of his own making, and may find himself following his former deputy Andrew McCabe, since discharged, in the crosshairs of the fearsome federal Savonarola, the Justice Department’s Inspector General. Black has been a consistently sensible anti-anti-Trump writer since 2016, cutting through the hysteria that turned the campaign into a circus. He continued in this vein as the new administration moved in, lancing the serial distractions whose purpose he views as psycho-neurotic. There are professionals who can help with this condition. In the political realm, there comes a point when their crankiness upsets the conduct of sound government, and civic minded men must put on their gray flannel and navy blue suits, don hats, and make a stand for order. Because even if the winners in ’16 were, then or after they took charge, guilty of malfeasance, the government of the United States must function. The duty of responsible and moderate and patriotic oppositionists would be to build their case, without obstruction and without fanfare (though of course not surreptitiously), and then go through proper forms and channels to request that consequences be faced legally and soberly. They have, of course, done nothing of the kind, behaving instead like carnival barkers and coup plotters and giving our great Republic the semblance of a banana republic. It has to be said in passing that it is to National Review’s credit that it kept publishing Conrad Black even as the magazine’s editorial leaders made it the headquarters of conservative anti-Trumpism. There is no reason to object to conservative anti-Trumpism. Conservatives are not temperamentally suited to faction-hatred and should welcome debate, even acrimonious debate, inside their several tents, since they are united on fundamentals. Nevertheless, NR treated the candidate as an enemy even after he secured the nomination — at which point one would think the time comes to tone it down and, with no lessening of spirited argument, make it known that, as William Buckley Jr. said, just make sure that at election time you get behind the candidate with the best chance of beating the liberal. So in this respect, it has to be said the editors were big, big hearted, big souled, big brained, in letting the Canadian newspaper tycoon and elegant biographer and author, profound student of American political mores, to keep having his say. Conservatives — and the country — benefited. As at home, on the frontier: even in an atmosphere of polarized political debate politics should stop at the water’s edge. Unfortunately to think they will any time soon is to indulge in fantasies. In foreign policy, security policy specifically, there is a national interest that must be kept in mind. It is an area where partisan passions must give way ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, April 20, 2018By Roger Kaplan
    4 days ago
  • Comey’s Complexes
    Jim Comey’s entire shtick now consists of violating the proprieties expected of a former FBI director. But even as he turns up on late-night gag shows to profit off betrayed confidences, he presents himself as the custodian of America’s “norms.” In between complaining about how his job “sucked” at times and how he felt “pissed” off, he likes to play the holier-than-thou scold. His constant invoking of “values” is an attempt to prettify his plunge into low politics and unprincipled profiteering. Much of his “moral” case against Trump turns not on Trump’s moral behavior or any supposed rejection of fundamental American values by Trump but on a politics Comey finds distasteful. So in the end Comey is just pandering to liberalism’s claimed monopoly on “decency” and its treatment of any deviation from that willful claim as the ultimate character defect. That is why Trump’s comparing of left-wing thugs to white supremacists stands at the top of Comey’s bill of indictment. Comey has never outgrown the adolescent politics that led him to do his senior college thesis at William and Mary on the troubling “nationalism” of Jerry Falwell, contrasted with what he saw as the measured wisdom of Reinhold Niebuhr. Anybody who bothers to slog through that thesis will understand how Donald “Make America Great Again” Trump inflamed Comey’s various complexes. Long before he saw Trump’s nationalism as vulgar, Comey found Falwell’s Reaganite patriotism distasteful. In the paper, Comey cites against Falwell Niebuhr’s warnings about the “idolatry” of nationalism. Comey praises Niebuhr for his skeptical view of nationalism and the danger of “pride” to which it can lead. It is not hard to read into Niebuhr’s quotes Comey’s dim view of Trump’s nationalism. Comey quotes Niebuhr as saying that America’s patriotism can turn national virtues into vices and lead to gauche boasting. “According to Niebuhr, Americans are surprised at the world’s criticism of America because they rest too complacently in their own sense of virtue,” writes Comey. No doubt Comey sees Trump as the realization of Niebuhr’s fears. Comey faults Falwell for grounding his patriotism in “questionable” Christian claims and says that Niebuhr would “condemn” Falwell’s view of an America exalted through obedience to God as false prophecy: “For Niebuhr, true religion must be prophetic religion; religion that avoids the lure of prejudicial nationalism, selfishness and pride…” (Comey’s dislike for the Trump-supporting religious right can be read into that remark.) It is clear from the paper that Comey’s caricaturing of Falwell’s patriotism was motivated by an annoyance at Falwell’s enthusiasm for Reagan and his anti-communism. Falwell is reluctant to play the “prophet” against his own country, Comey complains, which is an odd and unfair criticism given that whenever Falwell did censure America’s moral failings the ruling class would give him a drubbing. All in all, the paper is a pretty tendentious pitting of Niebuhr against Falwell, with all the usual “social justice” conceits about the narrowness of traditional Christian morality and other cheap shots about the religious right. It is full ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, April 20, 2018By George Neumayr
    4 days ago
  • Child Safety Accounts: Protecting Our Children With Freedom
    Safety is schools has become of paramount concern to students and parents, especially on days like today, the nineteenth anniversary of the horrific Columbine school shooting. It’s not just school shootings causing this concern, however. It is the bullying, sexual harassment, and assaults many students deal with on a daily basis. With the rise of smartphones and social media, the bullying suffered at school can now follow children anywhere, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Parents of children with special needs or health issues also must have concerns about whether their child’s school is equipped to keep them safe. Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent fortheAtlantic, explained in a recent talk the struggles many students now face: “I grew up in West Baltimore… so when you went out into the world, you had to negotiate a different kind of logic, and that logic often had to do with making yourself safe. It wasn’t just enough to do X, Y, and Z in school, you had to always think about making yourself safe… I would say each day a third of my brain was dedicated to negotiating violence.” When so much energy is spent on figuring out how to keep yourself safe justgettingto school, you can imagine the sense of exhaustion setting in on a child even before they crack open their first book in the morning. No wonder then, after negotiating this violent maze day in and day out, that many students aren’t performing well in class. Scores on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) tests, colloquially known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” continue to be stagnant, even though there has been a significant increase in recent decades in school funding and regulations passed in the name of creating better education outcomes. School safety isn’t a problem for just a tiny minority of students anymore, either. Nearly 21 percent of all students ages 12 to 18 report being bullied at school. While that statistic represents important progress since 2005, when 28 percent of middle- and high-school students reported being bullied, it’s little consolation to the estimated 6.1 million students who are being bullied today. Close to one-third (31 percent) of 6th grade students say they have been bullied, as well as 25 percent of 7th graders. Around one in five 8th, 9th, and 10th graders also report being bullied, along with 15 percent of high school juniors and seniors. Findings from the CDC indicate that the overall high-school bullying rate is 20 percent. Students should not have to wait years at a time or become victims of violent crime before their parents are allowed to transfer them to safer schools. That is why the Heartland Institute is currently working on a proposal for states to create a Child Safety Account (CSA) program that would allow parents to immediately have their child moved to a safe school — be it private, parochial, or a different public school — as soon as they feel the public school their child is currently attending ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, April 20, 2018By Lennie Jarratt
    4 days ago
  • Of Heroes and Whores
    It’s a pretty safe bet that, with the possible exception of former First Lady Barbara Bush, the two private citizens who most dominated the legacy news media this week were Southwest pilot Tammie Jo Shults and former FBI director James Comey. Both have occupied positions of trust for decades, but it’s pretty clear that only one is actually trustworthy. Read the following and try to decide which of the two possesses genuine character: On Tuesday Captain Shults contacted air traffic control shortly after 11AM and, after identifying her Boeing 737 as Southwest 1380 and noting that it was carrying “149 souls,” she calmly advised them that she had a serious in-flight emergency that required her to put the plane on the ground immediately. ATC then asked, “Where would you like to go? Which airport?” The following is a condensed version of Captain Shults’ response: The closest one, Philadelphia. We’re single-engine descending… We have a part of the aircraft missing… If you would have them roll the emergency trucks. It’s on engine number 1, captain’s side… could you have the medical meet us there on the runway, as well? We’ve got injured passengers. Shults conveyed all of this in the same unemotional tones most people would use to order a ham sandwich. She then landed the plane as smoothly as if she were putting it down after a routine flight. Her next act, after graciously thanking the ATC guys for their help, was to go back and speak with each of the passengers as she and the rest of the crew helped them off the aircraft. Then she went back to work without a single word to the media. Now to Mr. Comey: That gentleman began his week with former Clinton lackey, George Stephanopoulos, discussing his self-aggrandizing and incredibly disingenuous book, A Higher Loyalty, comparing the President of the United States unfavorably to himself. Then, evidently not satisfied with that grotesque display of perfidy and moral preening, he published an op-ed column in which he delivered himself of the following assertion: Trump is a liar and morally unfit for office.… Leaders make hard decisions by drawing upon external reference points, usually a combination of things. Some draw on religious traditions, some draw on logic or philosophy, some on history, some on tradition. Trump’s only reference point appeared to be internal; He is driven by what decision, what course of action will get him the affirmation he so craves. Comey clearly has a gift for unintentional irony. This character has spent the last eighteen months attempting to convince the nation that he is a cross between Nathan Hale and Socrates. Indeed, since amateur psychoanalysis seems to be in fashion, it is difficult to think of any public figure with a more obvious martyr complex than James Comey. And, the combination of pomposity and hypocrisy of his advice to the President is breathtaking: I’m trying to tell the truth, including about myself. And as for Trump, if he reads my book I would ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, April 20, 2018By David Catron
    4 days ago
  • Media Matters Silent on Chuck Todd Conflicts
    The agenda driven far-left wing Media Matters launched a torpedo at Sean Hannity and Fox News — and wound up targeting one liberal media figure after another for conflicts of interest. So what to do? Why, say nothing of course. In a stunning development, in the midst of accusing Fox’s Sean Hannity of a conflict of interest because it was revealed in a Court hearing that Hannity was a “client” of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, the Media Matters standard was quickly applied in various outlets to Hannity’s liberal media critics — with devastating results. (And full disclosure: I write columns over there at Hannity’s website.) Hannity had repeatedly identified Cohen as a friend in the latter’s occasional appearances on Hannity’s radio show. So it came as no surprise to his audience that Hannity, like anyone else, would occasionally discuss legal matters with a lawyer friend. In the noise partly generated by Media Matters the conservative talk host and opinion journalist made his relationship with Cohen crystal clear for the record, saying here: Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees. I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective. I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third-party. But the controversy quickly turned the spotlight on liberal media figures. Over at the Daily Caller the fact that one-time Clinton lawyer Bob Barnett has represented loads of journalists. A demand arose that the “Sean Hannity Standard” (as coined byBreitbart’s John Nolte) be applied to Hannity’s critics. With the spotlight turned on, it quickly came clear the number of conflicts of interest in the liberal media could sink the Sixth Fleet, they were both so numerous and compelling. And Media Matters, after calling attention to Hannity, quickly determined to go dark on the subject of liberal media conflicts. Make that continues to go dark. How does Media Matters play this typically deceptive game? There are plenty of examples of how it ignores conflicts with liberal media figures, but let’s take just one to show how Media Matters plays the game. NBC’s Chuck Todd repeatedly hosted Virginia Democratic Senators Jim Webb and Tim Kaine (the latter the 2016 Democratic vice-presidential nominee) on Meet the Press, along with Vermont Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. At no time did Todd notify viewers that he had a conflict with all three because of his wife, a longtime Democratic consultant. The Webb story was headlined here in Politico in 2014: Chuck Todd’s wife aiding Jim Webb The story: That Kristian Denny Todd — aka Mrs. Chuck Todd — “served as the communications director for Webb’s 2006 Senate campaign in Virginia” and was in 2014 “helping and advising” Webb as he geared up for what would be his short-lived 2016 presidential campaign that started and ended in 2015. When Webb appeared on Todd’s show in ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Friday, April 20, 2018By Jeffrey Lord
    4 days ago
  • Andrew McCabe Is Going to Have to Cut a Deal
    Today, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) referred former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, with a recommendation that he should be criminally prosecuted for causing sensitive law enforcement information to be leaked to the Wall Street Journal and then repeatedly telling lies to investigators and former FBI Director James Comey about having done so. The OIG’s previous report detailed how McCabe authorized an anonymous leak calculated to make it appear that he had resisted pressure by Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department to close down the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton Foundation during the 2016 presidential election campaign and then proceeded to cover his tracks with lies. The report stated that, three times under oath, McCabe “lacked candor” (i.e., lied). The OIG also concluded that McCabe had lied to Comey when he denied any responsibility for the leak, and then lied to investigators when he claimed that he had kept Comey fully informed about his dealings with the Journal. Yesterday, Comey appeared on ABC’s The View to promote his new book, A Higher Loyalty. When asked by host Megan McCain how he thought the public was supposed to have confidence in the FBI amid revelations that McCabe lied about the leak, Comey replied, “The inspector general found that he lied, and there are severe consequences in the Justice Department for lying as there should be throughout the government.” Comey added that McCabe’s situation highlighted the degree to which the FBI was devoted to holding those in power accountable. “The McCabe case illustrates what an organization that’s committed to the truth looks like,” he said. “I ordered that investigation. We investigate and hold people accountable.” [Emphasis added] Last evening, McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, hit back by publishing a statement arguing that both Comey and the OIG’s report mischaracterized the extent to which his client had kept Comey apprised of his interactions with the Journal. In his statement, Bromwich said that “the report fails to adequately address the evidence (including sworn testimony) and documents that prove that Mr. McCabe advised Director Comey repeatedly that he was working with the Wall Street Journal on the stories in question prior to publication.” Now that the OIG has referred McCabe to the U.S. Attorney for criminal action, the dispute between the former Deputy Director and Comey should reach critical mass. In his appearance on The View, Comey, in his sanctimonious way, condescended to grant McCabe absolution of a sort when he said that “Andy is still a good person” even though the OIG found that he had lied. It is doubtful that, as the noose tightens around his neck, McCabe feels the same way about Comey. Compare and contrast. McCabe has been fired, the OIG has branded him a liar, and now he appears to be headed for criminal prosecution. Meanwhile, his friend Comey is on a nationwide self-adoration tour promoting his best-selling self-aggrandizing account of how he repeatedly saved America from the forces of darkness thanks to his moral superiority. And, oh-by-the-way, Andy’s a liar. I wouldn’t be surprised if, under these ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, April 19, 2018By George Parry
    4 days ago
  • Starbucks Philadelphia: Controversies Without Nuance
    In an interview that he was gracious enough to grant me recently, Frederick Schiff, Patrol Lieutenant of the San Francisco Police Department, remarked that “it is the perceived extreme nature of our profession that attracts attention and generates emotion.” “Sometimes,” according to Schiff, “an incident is expanded out of context and made into a racial issue, when in fact race had nothing to do with it. The media survives on soundbites. There are limited attention spans, so it’s limited information that is communicated. That is almost always adverse to us [police] because very few of our explanations fit into soundbites.” The present controversy at the Starbucks in Philadelphia is a representative example of the problem Schiff deftly describes. Whether it is “a racial issue” or no, there is no doubt that, as so often happens today, the progressive media has grossly distorted the context, reducing the incident to “limited information” and “soundbites”: “racism,” “implicit bias,” and all the predictable rest. Last Thursday, two young black men, who were reportedly waiting to meet with a family friend to discuss a business matter, were arrested at a busy Starbucks in Rittenhouse Square. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, in a video published on Sunday, explained that the police officers did nothing wrong. According to Starbucks employees, he said, the two men, after having been seated for some time, requested to use the restroom, which, like many private restrooms these days, is kept locked. The employees informed the men of the company policy, namely, that only customers may use the restroom. Since the men, rather strangely, had not purchased anything, the employees then asked them to leave. The men refused, so the store manager called the police. Two police came, but the men still did not yield. So several more police were called to the scene, and at length the men were arrested, although not, said Ross, before making an insult: “You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re only a $45,000 a year employee.” Whether this was directed at the police officers or the Starbucks employees it is not clear. While the men were in custody, Starbucks, having (of course) immediately gone into PR damage control mode, informed the police that it did not want to prosecute the men, and so they were released. There is a person who, more than anyone, has made understanding what happened with any nuance exceedingly difficult. A local writer named Melissa DePino, having observed the tail end of the incident, posted her video of it on Twitter along with the words: “The police were called because these men hadn’t ordered anything. They were waiting for a friend to show up, who did as they were taken out in handcuffs for doing nothing. All the other white ppl are wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.” While there is perhaps some justice in DePino’s last sentence, on the whole this account is quite inadequate. DePino does not mention the bathroom request, which was apparently what ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, April 19, 2018By Christopher DeGroot
    4 days ago
  • Healthcare’s Disrupters
    U.S. healthcare spending increased to $3.6 trillion annually in the year preceding February to exceed 19 percent of growth domestic product. Annual healthcare spending growth rose to 4.9 percent by February. The Altarum report providing this data notes that increases came across the board. HealthcareFinanceNews.com explains, “Year-over-year spending increased in all major categories. Nursing home care grew the fastest at 7.9 percent and prescription drugs the slowest at 4.2 percent, the report said, and national health spending grew by almost 5 percent in February 2018 to $3.6 trillion.” All that money, one guesses, inspired those with money to bet it on healthcare. Venture capitalists, perhaps buoyed by the spending, invested more in healthcare than any other sector, including tech, in the first quarter of this year. More than a quarter of all investment — $6.85 billion — went into healthcare. GeekWire.com notes, “That’s a 21 percent increase from the quarter before and a more modest four percent rise from the same time period in 2017.” It’s easy to connect the dots between the two developments. Money follows money. But that maxim conveys something complex beneath the surface simplicity. Yes, the investment boom follows the spending boom for the obvious reason that more money spent means greater profits. The spending also likely strikes investors as unsustainable. They invest because they know that healthcare appears as a sector in rapid, violent flux. Many of the companies that remain standing after it all ends figure to be ones that do not currently stand tall in the sector. Walmart, the country’s largest private employer, reportedly began talks last month to acquire Humana, the nation’s third largest insurer. Might the retail behemoth’s venture into healthcare represent a move to eliminate the middleman? Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan already launched a project to do just that. “The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy,” Warren Buffett sagely noted upon the announcement of the venture. Along the same lines, Apple opens several healthcare facilities this spring in Santa Clara County, California. The primary care group serves Apple employees. But one could envision Apple, like Walmart or the Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-JP Morgan group, going large here. Companies without the name recognition of the tech and retail giants also see ways to make money by saving consumers money. Business Insider details the growth direct primary care businesses that charge a flat fee of $50 to $150 a month that offer basic care without the bureaucracy of insurance companies inflating costs. CNBC reports on micro-hospitals, which deliver babies, replace knees, and much more at streamlined costs to the consumer. Various tech companies offer wearables and health apps that save trips to the doctor’s office. All of this activity figures to move the sclerotic sector to a place very different from the bureaucratized, expensive real estate it now occupies. “Healthcare providers, like retailers and other traditionally in-person businesses, need to prepare for a future where technology companies, focused solely on delivering care virtually, increasingly meet ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, April 19, 2018By Hunt Flynn
    5 days ago
  • Surprise! Legislature Won’t Unionize Its Staff
    Sacramento During the 1994 midterm elections, Republicans vowed to implement a “Contract with America” if they could recapture both houses of Congress. They grabbed 54 House seats that year and nine Senate seats and wrested control of Congress from Democrats for the first time in 53 years. It was an impressive victory. My favorite element from the contract was its first promise: “Require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply to the Congress.” There’s no point rehashing all the many disappointments that followed, but — as Republicans struggle to fend off a possible Democratic wave electionin November — it’s worth remembering the value of detailing a short and specific agenda. I had long forgotten that election actually, until noticing a hearing Wednesday in the California Capitol on a bill introduced by a liberal Democratic lawmaker who specializes in promoting union causes. Assembly Bill 2048, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of San Diego, would have enacted“the Legislature Employer-Employee Relations Act, to provide employees of the Legislature, including some supervisory and managerial employees, the right to form, join, and participate in the activities of employee organizations of their own choosing for the purpose of representation on all matters of employer-employee relations.” In other words, it would let lawmakers’ staffers choose to be represented by a union. Not surprisingly, the bill died in committee, but the idea is worth pondering for reasons noted in that first promise in the “Contract with America.” Practically speaking, the bill is a mess. Public-sector unions have destroyed practically everything in this state. Local governments are slashing public services because of the pension debts that are the direct result of union muscle-flexing. The state government is awash in superfluous employeeswho can never be fired. This drains the budget and creates a constant push for higher taxes. Our services are dreadful and the cost to provide them are far higher than in other states. Yet I thought back to those Gingrich-era congressional measures. The California Legislature constantly does the bidding of public-sector and private unions,and imposes wage rules and work laws that make it difficult to do business here. Why shouldn’t lawmakers have to deal with the same laws themselves? Nothing would accomplish that more successfully than allowing their own employees to unionize. What’s good enough for us should be good enough for them. “Many California labor laws don’t apply to legislative employees,” Gonzalez Fletcher explained in a Sacramento Beecolumnthis week. She pointed to the way the “#MeToo movement hit the Capitol and we saw how selective discipline, retaliation and fear of retaliation have contributed to a workplace that doesn’t protect employees.” Most other Californians have a right to join a union, so “it makes no sense that we withhold this from our own legislative employees.” Think of the possibilities here. Staff unions could slow the entire legislative process by miring it in bureaucracy and work rules. How could that be bad given that most of the bills that make their way to the ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, April 19, 2018By Steven Greenhut
    5 days ago
  • Earth Day 2018: Bring Environmental Policy Into the 21st Century
    For many Americans watching left-wing environmentalists march this Earth Day, the response will be mixed. They will agree with the goal of protecting the environment, but Americans won’t trust the environmental left. They don’t hear conservatives offering an alternative environmental approach either. In fact, the best environmental solutions are coming from entrepreneurs and individuals using the power of the markets to do more with less. In the same way Uber changed taxi services, smartphones give us the opportunity to reduce our environmental impact in a way that transfers power from bureaucracies to people. Smartphones allow us to harness personal freedom and innovation to be good stewards of the environment, giving us access to information to use resources like energy and water more efficiently. Homeowners, looking to save water and money, can install a new product called Buoy that connects to the water main. Using artificial intelligence, users can see when and how much water is being used on their smartphone. Upset by drought in California, Buoy’s inventor Keri Waters wanted to find ways to save water. Admitting that showers are “one of the pleasures of my day,” she looked for ways to help people reduce the ten percent of water lost to leaks. Buoy can identify leaks and send a message to your phone in under a minute. When Buoy senses a huge break, it allows users to shut the water off right from their phone. Catastrophic leaks affect about two percent of homes each year, typically costing $10,000 in repairs. Buoy is just one example of how smartphone environmentalism empowers people to do what politicians cannot. A device called Sense sends my home’s electricity data to my phone. The data led me to replace my kitchen lights with LEDs. My Nest thermostat uses artificial intelligence to reduce my heating bill. Smartphone technology does more than provide information to save energy and water. In a fundamental way, it is changing how we address environmental concerns. Smartphones dramatically reduce what Nobel Prize winning economist Ronald Coase called “transaction costs.” Collaboration among many people can be difficult and costly. In 1972, when the EPA was created, this was the case, making government solutions a reasonable choice. Nearly fifty years later, however, people can organize in a way that was not possible then. As the cost of coordination declines, there are new opportunities to replace regulation with approaches that emerge organically. Earlier this year, I was a mentor to app developers participating in the Fishackathon, where programmers worked to address difficult fisheries problems using mobile devices. Some teams developed an app to help fishers find the best market when they returned to shore, ensuring they didn’t waste any fish and earned a good living. Using sales data from different cities, the app aggregated the information for fishers. Market prices send a signal about resource scarcity and where those resources can be used most efficiently. Smartphones make it easier to harness the value of those market signals. Smartphones also aggregate the choices of many individuals to share ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, April 19, 2018By Todd Myers
    5 days ago
  • Zuckerberg Has a Problem, And So Does His Industry
    Picture the following scenario: Imagine that the CEO of a major firearms manufacturer had been invited to Capitol Hill to answer questions about their guns being used by foreign insurgents who had attacked the United States. Imagine that the CEO in question had given evasive non-answers to the questions posed, and made a series of declarations and promises that sounded good, but ultimately meant nothing and flew in the face of widely reported facts. And, imagine that after that hearing, the NRA had sneered that of coursethe CEO had given non-answers. None of the committee members understood firearms well enough to really get it, anyway. Would that give anti-gun liberals even the slightest pause, or would they be more likely to dismiss it as “gunsplaining” nonsense used to bully reformers? To ask the question is to answer it. Yet, immediately after the testimony of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, this was one of the major defenses being given for Zuckerberg’s evasive, shifting, often contradictory performance under questioning both from the House and Senate. And in fairness, Zuckerberg did face some odd questions in the process, but he also received penetrating and informed grillings from the likes of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), and from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). In particular, questions about Facebook’s seemingly extremely biased algorithm for detecting trending news stories, and about its selective, even capricious enforcement of its own rules, largely against conservatives, came away with either platitudinous non-answers, or no answer at all. Likewise, the stunning admission by former Obama for America staffer Carol Davidsen that Facebook had permitted the Obama campaign to do things at least as bad as pro-Trump data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, purely because they [Facebook] were on Obama’s “side,” was incredibly dismissed by Zuckerberg as a pure fabrication. Which must be the first time that Facebook has ever called a mainstream liberal a liar, so… baby steps, I guess. But Zuckerberg’s floundering, while entertaining, should not be taken as merely reflecting the travails of one deeply unpopular company. Rather, it is about something much bigger than Zuckerberg himself – namely, the fact that the tech industry’s age old strategy for repelling incoming fire over its flagrant political favoritism, and the dorm room amateurishness of its business operations, is rapidly running out of life. To boil that strategy down to its essentials, the tech industry relies on an obscurantist mystique that treats its practices as both inherently incomprehensible to, and presumptively benevolent toward, the average person. It hides bias behind the seeming neutrality of inaccessible topics, when in fact, its choices are deeply political. Thus, Zuckerberg can jerry-rig a trending news algorithm that, while not explicitly biased toward liberals, sorts for big, corporate publications that are overwhelmingly liberal in their orientation, and punishes smaller publications and blogs that the Right relies on. While not explicitly biased, the intent is obvious to anyone with even a cursory grasp of U.S. media. Or, Twitter can cloak its censorship of conservative views under the name of “trust and safety” and preventing ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, April 19, 2018By Mytheos Holt
    5 days ago
  • Many Dems Can’t Forgive ‘Renegade’ James Comey for Clinton’s Loss
    Lanny Davis, the former White House counsel to President Bill Clinton and avid supporter of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, was just finishing his book, The Unmaking of the President 2016: How FBI Director James Comey Cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency, when President Donald Trump fired Comey. “I just lost my book,” Davis remembers thinking. Overnight Comey had become the left’s lanky lawman hero who stood up to the sharp-elbowed president’s efforts to get him to back off the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But a lot has changed in 11 months. As Comey’s book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, hits bookstores, reading devices and the New York Timesbest-seller list, high profile Democrats interviewed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal said they continue to see Comey as a deeply flawed FBI chief. And while others might be buying Comey’s book, these partisans aren’t buying Comey’s self-portrait. Like many Clinton supporters and some legal observers, Davis faults Comey’s decision to announce at a July 2016 news conference that the FBI would not recommend criminal charges against the former secretary of state for sending sensitive emails via a private server in her home. While eliminating that cloud hanging over Clinton’s Democratic presidential bid, he also described her behavior as “extremely careless.” “He put the stink on her,” Ellen Tauscher, under secretary of state under former President Barack Obama, said of the press conference. Later, Comey did it again. Davis, a frequent Fox News commentator, made the case in his book that Comey’s Oct. 28 letter informing Congress that he was reopening the Clinton investigation because of emails found in the laptop of Anthony Weiner, the disgraced congressman then married to Clinton aide Huma Abedin, led to a precipitous drop in Clinton’s poll numbers. He has developed a more nuanced view of the former FBI director since then, but he’s still no fan. “I thought he showed fortitude in standing up to Donald Trump” by refusing to pledge loyalty or drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, but “it doesn’t change my mind that he was a dangerous renegade,” Davis said. “I don’t think he’s evil like (late FBI chief J. Edgar) Hoover, but he had the sense of himself, the narcissism of J. Edgar Hoover,” he added. The ghost of Hoover seems to also have colored other people’s impressions of Comey. Trump clearly was suspicious of Comey’s motive for remaining behind at a Trump Tower intelligence briefing to inform the president about a so-called dossier written by a former British intelligence operative that alleged the Kremlin had been supporting Trump for years. It also contained an unverified account that the Russians had observed — and possibly videotaped — Trump with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room in 2013. Comey writes that Trump seemed to fear that the FBI director was “pulling a J. Edgar Hoover” by “dangling the prostitute thing over him to jam him, to gain leverage.” But author Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone, says ... read more
    Source: American SpectatorPublished on Thursday, April 19, 2018By Debra J. Saunders
    5 days ago