Pundit Wire

The True Believer, Revisited

15916The New York Times ran a front page article on February 18, chronicling the lives of three Egyptian youths, one of whom turned jihadist and went to fight for ISIS in Syria.

The three young men were friends. All of them came from middle-class backgrounds. All of them were devout Muslims, and all of them struggled to square the strictures of puritanical Islam with the attractions of the secular world—in particular, the sexual impulses they shared as normal young men. All of them had difficulty finding work in Egypt’s uncertain economy, and all of them were disillusioned when Egypt’s army took power and suppressed the militant Islamic Brotherhood.

Photo: Harper & Brothers

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The war to reform American medicine has been won.

LyndonJohnsonSigningMedicareBillThe transformation began with the enactment of Medicare and medicaid during the Johnson years — which allowed prices to be contained as a growing percentage of bills were paid by large entities, especially the government — and the HMO act during the Nixon years — which endorsed the idea of an efficient system where experts decided on how to treat any problem,  effectively setting limits on volume.

Once the tools were in place to control both price and volume, the rest was just fine tuning,  which is still ongoing.  The basic principles were ratified in Obamacare and are no longer under serious challenge.  The change hasn’t relied entirely on government action, but reflects private sector movement in the same direction.

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Hollywood’s necessary not-niceness

db_amy-pascal_010915_584_539_360_c1The billion people who will watch the 2015 Academy Awards got a great gift last week from Amy Pascal, the recently fired co-chair of Sony Pictures, who said this to Tina Brown at a Women in the World conference in San Francisco:

“We all live in this weird thing called Hollywood. If we all actually were nice, it wouldn’t work.”

Photo: Amy Pascal. Image via Sony Pictures Studios

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We Hold These Truths to be Inconvenient

CAN-ON-PetroCanada-7314MarkhamRd-FuelPump11b-2005Jun12The Congressional Republicans’ willingness to turn their backs on the sanctity of private property rights demonstrates a lack of genuine belief in anything beyond “feed the kitty.”

Among the most sacred rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution is the ownership and control of private property. It’s not quite as sacred as our God-given right to cruise Main Street with military-style automatic weapons, of course, but still pretty sacred.

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Guerrilla Warfare Against Gay Marriage

imagesThe chief justice of the state of Alabama, Roy S. Moore, has ordered the state’s probate judges to defy a federal district court ruling and refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The result is that some judges in Alabama are issuing licenses and some are not. The confusion may continue until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of gay marriage in June.

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Winning!

Unknown-16Partisan political rhetoric is constantly drawing lines in the dirt.

You’re on one side or the other.

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A Half-Finished State of Our Union

Unknown-15When President Obama delivered his State of the Union speech on January 20, he addressed Republican House members holding the largest majority since Herbert Hoover was president.

A record number of Americans believe the legislative process in Washington is, for all intent and purposes, broken. Political discord rules the day. Cooperation is a sign of weakness.

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Sandra’s Moment (Part One)

Sandra_Day_O'Connor_1982Nineteen ninety-three.  I sat in my cubicle, the window over my back facing the opposite wall without character.

Back in the days of phones, mine rang. It was a friend who was a clerk of a clerk of a clerk of a Supreme court Justice.

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