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We heard a lot this election cycle, from the Democrats especially, about making college education affordable if not free. And it seems the media is full of stories of students graduating with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, and in this economy, no clear job path to allow them to pay it off. Meanwhile, public university tuitions are rising to unprecedented levels, levels on par with their private counterparts, while private institutions around the country are going belly up. How do we fix this?

Jason Delisle is a resident fellow at AEI where he studies higher education financing with an emphasis on student loan programs. He started out on Capitol Hill, working for Representative Thomas Petri and then the Senate Committee on the Budget. Before joining AEI, he was the director of the Federal Education Budget Project at New America.


John Timoney, RIP


49068935It crossed my mind last week to add my humble voice to the chorus of appreciations of the life of John Timoney, the one-time first deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department and former chief of police in Miami and Philadelphia. Timoney died this month—far too young at 68—after a battle with lung cancer.

I hesitated to chime in, in part because so many worthy tributes found their way online and into print. A New York Times obituary called him “a swaggering cop, straight out of central casting, with a Bronx brogue.” What could I possibly add? I only met him once. I thought it best to keep my thoughts to myself.


In a sampling of recent news stories, Richard Epstein tackles the NLRB’s ruling allowing graduate students to unionize, a federal judge’s injunction against the Obama Administration’s transgender restroom regulations, and a move to restore voting rights for ex-cons in Virginia.


What a Time to Be Alive. Really. Why Don’t We Believe It?


twenty20_f3243af1-5703-4d84-b4cb-16583a79e80e_tunnel_light_optimism_pessimism-e1471985273737An excellent piece in the UK Spectator by Johan Norberg tackles one of my favorite issues: Why are we so pessimistic these days? After making the case that advanced economy citizens live in a veritable “golden age,” Norberg tries to explain why so many disagree:

In almost every way human beings today lead more prosperous, safer and longer lives – and we have all the data we need to prove it. So why does everybody remain convinced that the world is going to the dogs? Because that is what we pay attention to, as the thoroughbred fretters we are. The psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have shown that people do not base their assumptions on how frequently something happens, but on how easy it is to recall examples. This ‘availability heuristic’ means that the more memorable an incident is, the more probable we think it is. And what is more memorable than horror? What do you remember best – your neighbour’s story about a decent restaurant which serves excellent lamb stew, or his warning about the place where he was poisoned and threw up all over his boss’s wife?


“Put not your trust in Princes,” says the Bible. You shoulda listened to the Bible! The last podcast before the Klavanless Weekend begins…


Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America dissect Donald Trump’s massive shift on immigration policy towards allowing the “terrific” illegal immigrants to stay if they go through a process – the very policy he blasted during the primaries – and they marvel that many of his strongest supporters are perfectly fine with it. They also hammer Hillary Clinton for saying there is a lot of smoke but no fire behind evidence a majority of her private meetings while at the State Department were with big Clinton Foundation donors. And we unload on the Republican Louisiana lawmaker who wants to force people to be certified and pay a permit fee to rescue their neighbors during natural disasters.


Trump Softens on Immigration, Coulter Follows Suit

Coulter Trump Book Sm
My slight edit of Coulter’s book cover.

Talk about bad timing. Wednesday night at the Breitbart Embassy in DC, Ann Coulter held a book signing for In God We Trus… oops, I mean In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome. Earlier that day, Donald Trump told Sean Hannity that he was “softening” his position on immigration, the main issue that made Coulter and a plurality of primary voters select him as the GOP nominee. Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that confab.

Coulter’s book makes the argument that “[T]here’s nothing Trump can do that won’t be forgiven. Except change his immigration policies.” On MSNBC’s “Hardball” she said, “This could be the shortest book tour ever if he’s really softening his position on immigration.” So there’s absolutely no way the passionately anti-immigration author could support her candidate’s flip-flop, right? Sorry, but we’ve got books to move:


Why Are We So Dumb About Healthcare?


Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 11.20.03 AMWhen Sarah Palin first started talking about “Death Panels,” I cringed: Not because the prospect of a government panel empowered to make medical decisions on citizens’ behalf wasn’t totally creepy (it was) but because private insurance does the same thing. Now, I’d argue that a system based on free-market, private insurance has, regardless, enormous advantages to the alternatives, but this doesn’t mean that private insurers don’t sometimes need to be cold-hearted bastards. The sad fact of life is that there’s no way to pay for top-end medical care for everyone, so some form of rationing (even the free-market kind) is inevitable.

But for some reason, nearly every society tries to pretend otherwise. Some of this can be explained away as leftism, but it always seems to hit healthcare the hardest? Consider, for example, how Senator Bernie Sanders made “Medicare for All” a major part of his platform, but not “SNAP for All.” Via Megan McArdle, part of the answer may be that human beings are hard-wired to see providing healthcare as a social good in itself, rather than treating the matter as service we trade for. From a paper by economist Robin Hanson, whom McArdle cites, this may explain many of our irrationalities regarding health care:

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Simple Life


wedding ringsI am a monogamous married man. I am not a romantic person, but I do love my wife dearly. I enjoy a simple life with her.

I do not have an ex. No ex-wife, no ex-in-laws, no alimony, no child support, no lawyer. My wife is the mother of my children, which also simplifies their lives. Our kids never had to keep a personal scheduler to know which home to go to after school. They never had to do that blended family thing.

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A turning point on “trigger warnings”?


I’ve spent a lot of time on university campuses. I arrived at my first a month shy of my 18th birthday, and though I’ve changed positions and locations since then, I have essentially never left the university environment. My father, who took a jaded view of my career path, was once asked during a prospective juror interview if he had any children. He dryly informed the judge that his elder son was “still in college”. I was, at the time, in my early 40s and an associate professor. And yet, to him, I was “still in college”.

Over my forty years “in college”, I’ve witnessed the unmistakable and enervating shift of campus discourse towards groupthink. The modern terms are “microaggressions” and “privilege”. Diversity means embracing people who look different, but only if think precisely the same way. Haters that see hate in everyone except themselves. Orwell himself would recognized what the political correctors have done to the concept of “tolerance”.


No Is Not Enough



Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving. It may succeed by its resistance to current tendencies in slowing down undesirable developments, but, since it does not indicate another direction, it cannot prevent their continuance. It has, for this reason, invariably been the fate of conservatism to be dragged along a path not of its own choosing. — F.A. Hayek

I come to praise conservatism, not to bury it. For as much as I tussle with my fellow conservatives on Ricochet, as a conservative libertarian, I consider myself a fellow traveler and a member of the tribe.


The Core Dilemma of Immigration


shutterstock_220487467On the Corner, Mark Krikorian writes:

[T]he disposition of the 12 million illegals already here is not the core dilemma we face. The core dilemma is how to we make sure we don’t end up with another 12 million illegal aliens. The very act of accepting the anti-borders crowd’s version of the “core dilemma” represents a surrender – once you’ve bought into their proposition, you’re left only to negotiate the price. (Fred Bauer makes a similar point about the “Amnesty Trap.”) As NR’s editorial put it: “Once the illegal population has measurably diminished, then we can have a discussion about what to do with the balance of the illegal population.” In other words, this is a secondary question, not the “core dilemma.” Until Republican politicians – all of them, not just Trump – internalize that fact, they’re going to remain at a disadvantage, always in the defensive when discussing illegal immigration. “Enforcement First” isn’t just a slogan – it’s a strategy.


This Might Hurt A Little


shutterstock_367395575The cost of living is going up. That is, the cost of staying alive if you’re someone who carries an EpiPen. Epinephrine is used for severe allergic reactions and if you don’t have it in some situations you’ll die. I can get a vial with 2-3 doses and some needles for a couple dollars and I hand these out to my flock for home use but the portable auto-injector now runs $550 (more according to the WSJ). These pens were over-priced at $100 nine years ago, but the price rose steadily and a competitor vanished.

Commercially insured patients have 80 percent of out-of-pocket costs covered (by the nasty crony manufacturer) while the company sticks it to the insurance carriers, who stick it to the patients and the doctors. This idiocy known as coupons partially allows for inflated costs and the rest is cronyism and a failing medical system.


Why Texas Is the New Golden State (As if We Needed More Evidence)


shutterstock_174277178Over dinner yesterday evening with an entrepreneur in the medical devices business, I learned yet another lesson in the difference between the Golden and the Lone Star states.

One of his new products requires silicon chips, the entrepreneur explained, and, because he was able to purchase a small plant that had already received the necessary permits, he’s able to produce the chips right here in California.


This week, the Mad Dog and Englishman (that’s Kevin Williamson and Charles C.W. Cooke) brave questions from their Twitter followers. Topics include campus carry, rollercoasters, Walt Disney, and the life of writers.


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Renewable Energy Is Killing the Environment


IVANPAH_solar_plant_green_builderA lot has been made of California’s government-funded embrace of so-called green energy. Driving from the Arizona border to LA, you’ll be hypnotized by hundreds of whirring windmills littering Coachella Valley and distracted by the blindingly bright light generated by vast new solar arrays.

A bit north in the Mojave Desert lies the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, wedged into the public land between the Mojave National Preserve, Mesquite Wilderness, and Stateline Wilderness. In its first year, it produced just 40 percent of the promised energy, greatly improved in its second year, then was knocked offline after a misalignment of solar panels caused the central collector to burst into flames.


That would be a good name for a show, and it’s a good idea for a show: “Ask Dan” – Dan being Daniel Hannan, the distinguished British writer, and member of the European Parliament. You can ask him virtually anything, and he will give you a good, well-informed answer, beautifully expressed.

This is essentially what Jay does in this “Q&A”: He asks Hannan about Britain and America and some other things. British questions include Brexit, the color of passports, and the Bolshevikation of the Labour party. American questions include – well, guess who? Trump ’n’ Hillary.


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You don’t have to love Donald Trump to gag on the veritable miasma of dishonesty and corruption that emanates from the Clintons, spreads through the media, and fills the air of our political discourse. Thank heavens it’s Mailbag Day so we can spend part of the podcast discussing other things!


Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud the Associated Press for discovering that more than half of Hillary Clinton’s nongovernmental meetings as secretary of state were with Clinton Foundation donors. They also unload on Venezuela’s socialist government for trying to end bread lines – by fining bakeries if the lines go outside. And they discuss Dr. Ben Carson getting involved in the debate over Hillary’s health.


The Best Chance for Reform in Decades?


In his column in the Wall Street Journal today, Holman Jenkins argues, to quote the headline, that “Trump Wins Even if He Loses.” Although the GOP standard bearer wouldn’t object to winning the election, he’s savoring the media exposure for its own sake. The candidate, Jenkins says, is smart enough to see the campaign for exactly what it is: “a giant gift of free capital, tens of billions of dollars in free media exposure that can pay off under many different scenarios.”

Disconcerted? Even depressed? Me too.


In this week’s COMMENTARY Podcast, Noah Rothman and Abe Greenberg join John Podhoretz (as usual) to dilate upon the outrageous cascade of new Hillary Clinton lies and the fact that the email scandal and the Clinton Foundation scandal have now become one and the same.

It would be enough to warm the cockles of any conservative’s heart, given its potential to up-end the results in November, were it not for the fact that Donald Trump isn’t rising because of it but rather continues his decline. Why? You’ll have to listen.


How the American Department Store Advanced Democratic Capitalism

Marshall Field and Company.

“Palaces of consumption” is what historian Daniel Boorstin calls those large, urban retail stores that emerged in the latter half of the 19th century. Among them: R.H. Macy’s in New York, Jordan Marsh in Boston, Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago. The great department stores, which — as Boorstin writes in The Americans: The Democratic Experience “gave dignity, importance, and publicity to the acts of shopping and buying — new communal acts in a new America.

It was a revolution, one that expanded “shop” from just a noun into a verb, as well. Previously, especially in the Old World, stores were small and specialized. The best of them were hardly open to the general public. Only “people of quality” need walk though their doors. “Common citizens might spent their lives without ever seeing a wide array of the fancy goods that they could not afford, ” Boorstin writes, and continues: