Seven years is a long time in politics. So I’ll forgive you, dear reader, if you don’t remember the heady days of 2009, when — in the face of a major banking crisis, economic recession and job losses — our brave President thought it best to spend his time and efforts reforming our health insurance markets. Because reasons, as the young people say these days. Or: Never let a good crisis go to waste, as Hizzoner Rahm Emmanuel is supposed to have said. (Speaking of which — how’s the skyrocketing murder rate crisis working out for you in Chicago this year, Mr. Mayor? Taking the opportunity to reform the water and sewer board? Rewriting the municipal parking regulations?)
At first, one of the key selling points of health insurance reform was the idea that health care costs in America were very high, relative to other First World countries, and had been growing strongly year after year. People believed that market reforms could increase efficiency, cut costs and save money. This may or may not have been true: The French may on average spend far less on health care per person and have slightly better life expectancies than Americans, but then the French traditionally haven’t had to deal with the trouble and expense of patching up perforated inner city “youths” on a wholesale basis, for example. It ain’t cheap. The point being, there may be good reasons why Americans need to spend more than the French. Still, given the crazy-quilt patchwork of the American healthcare delivery and payment systems, it seemed more than plausible that there was money to be saved; it still seems plausible. Some of the old-timers here might remember this being summed up as “bending the cost curve” to increase efficiency and affordability.
Like many people in the criminal justice system, John Chisholm, the District Attorney in Milwaukee County, has been concerned for a long time about the racial imbalance in American prisons…
Chisholm decided to let independent researchers examine how he used his prosecutorial discretion…
Chisholm took office and commissioned this study in in 2007.
According to the Vera study, prosecutors in Milwaukee declined to prosecute forty-one per cent of whites arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia, compared with twenty-seven per cent of blacks; in cases involving prostitution, black female defendants were likelier to be charged than white defendants; in cases that involved resisting or obstructing an officer, most of the defendants charged were black (seventy-seven per cent), male (seventy-nine per cent), and already in custody (eighty per cent of blacks versus sixty-six per cent of whites).
I’m an unabashed fan of classical music. While my tastes tend to run towards pieces with a hummable tune — meaning I stick largely to the 18th and 19th century repertoires — there is some 20th century “modern” classical music which I actually enjoy. I suppose that Mozart and Beethoven need no hard-sell among my readership, so I’ll take the time here to dwell on something a little more niche.
I am quite a fan of the expression “Narrative Collapse” — a handy way of saying that most politically correct martyrdom stories you hear hyped up in the press these day turn out, when the facts are in, to be nearly the opposite of what they were initially represented to be. Curiously, years of this dynamic has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of the left-wing for agitation over these stories.
An oldie-but-goodie is the University of Virginia gang-rape hoax, where one Jackie Coakley catfished into existence a made-up suitor named Haven Monahan with suspiciously white-bread characteristics, and went on to claim that this non-existent man and his equally non-existent frat buddies gang-raped her on a bed of broken glass in some kind of freaky initiation ritual. Naturally, this was nothing more than sheer fantasy; the yarn was spun out of thin air in a hyper-dramatic attempt to win the affections of another boy in her class. That university officials coddled Jackie in her delusions, and that her tall tale was reported as fact in a major national publication and gained much serious hand-wringing attention in the weeks before its debunking only goes to show how unmoored from reality are our intellectual gatekeepers have become, and how credulous the goodthinking public is. Even ordinarily sensible people were taken in: When my wife asked me back in November 2014, with a very serious expression on her face, what I thought of the matter, I replied that the crucial parts of the narrative were clearly single-sourced in Rolling Stone article and frankly unbelievable without some kind of independent check. I said the whole account read like a tawdry re-telling of The Crucible, and was very pleased to be vindicated within a matter of weeks. Let me add: Anyone who expresses disappointment at that outcome is, by the way, an obvious sociopath and a sadist — who wouldn’t rejoice to learn that a distressingly brutal and violent rape that one had heard about didn’t, technically, happen?
A few days ago I came across an interesting test case for my recently-promulgated Leaded Law of Race and Marksmanship: A gunman shoots up a house party in a Seattle suburb, leaving three dead and one wounded, as well as some national headlines in his wake. The initial reports did not specify the race of the shooter, but based on the killed-to-wounded ratio I speculated that he was likely White or Asian.
As usual, I stand vindicated. Below is a photo of the suspect at his initial court appearance: