“First Amendment is first for a reason,” notes comedian Dave Chappelle, “Second Amendment is just in case the first one doesn’t work.” California politicians are attacking both amendments, in reverse order.
As America remains girded against religious fundamentalism in Iran and elsewhere around the world, consider that American democracy itself constitutes a fundamentalist religion.
Writing at the Washington Post, economics columnist Robert J. Samuelson considers the president’s track record on his deregulatory agenda and sees slower progress ahead. First, though, he notes several successes of deregulation:
Saxophonist, composer, and arranger Jimmy Heath has passed away at 93, one of the last jazz artists going back to the 1940s. Heath played with many of the greats, including Miles Davis, James Moody, and John Coltrane, according to Heath a man capable of focusing on his musical difficulties. That was also true of Jimmy Heath and all jazz artists. Even the most naturally gifted must work hard to learn harmony and master an instrument. That done, in the midst of a performance, the artist must compose something that works rhythmically and harmonically, and is also hip and memorable. Only a few can do that consistently and make a career of it. Jimmy Heath was one of them, and the music he played has a political back story.
1917 has become a front runner in the race for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Indeed, the epic movie featuring the brutal trench warfare of World War I is grand in scope and should be experienced, not just watched. Few films are as clearly and convincingly made for the big screens of movie theaters as this one directed by Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition, Skyfall, Spectre).
Back in 2012, Anthony Gregory wrote “Lessons From Ruby Ridge” on the infamous bloody siege from 1992. Gregory charted the federal efforts to entrap military veteran Randy Weaver, who had opted to live in a remote corner of Idaho. When the entrapment went awry, the FBI brought in massive military force against a single-family, resulting in the deaths of Weaver’s wife and son.
As Gregory notes, the issue was not the left versus right but the militarized central state versus individual life and liberty. The lessons are painfully evident in a Fox News documentary aired on January 19.
California’s State Controller, Betty Yee, is responsible for paying each of the state’s bills. Unfortunately for Californians, she may have just bought the state a costly lawsuit because she has refused to account for any of the 49 million checks her office writes each year, covering $320 billion in payments.
Over the past year, the Food and Drug Administration has seemed determined to “wipe out the entire vaping industry.” As former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who spearheaded much of the current anti-vaping movement,” notes: “the FDA is so concerned about the dangerous effects of e-cigarettes on American youth that the products may have to be pulled from stores.”
The government-run U.S. Postal Service began in 2020 with a dubious track record. It has lost money in each of the past 13 years.
In 2019, USPS made $514 million more in revenue than it did in its previous fiscal year, thanks to increases in postage rates and its package delivery business. But the agency also recorded a net loss of $8.8 billion, with 80 percent of that loss attributable to employees’ health-care benefits after retirement.
As this column has often noted, the 2004 ballot measure Proposition 71, the $3 billion California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act, promised life-saving cures for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other diseases, plus a steady stream of royalties for state coffers.
In 2020, a ballpark estimate for the promised cures and therapies is zero, and the royalties fail to surpass the annual salary of Art Torres, the former state senator the government hired to help oversee the stem cell agency. Even so, Americans for Cures, a non-profit headed by original Proposition 71 backer Robert Klein, is floating the California Stem Cell Research, Treatments, and Cures Initiative of 2020.