Jeffrey Epstein: Let The Conspiracy Theories Begin!

Jeffrey Epstein:  Let The Conspiracy Theories Begin!

I’m old enough to have been around when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, on November 22, 1963. The suspected assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was caught by Dallas police within about an hour after the shooting. They initially put him in a lock-up at Dallas police headquarters, where Oswald instantly became the highest-profile prisoner in the country. Just two days later, on November 24, the police undertook to transfer Oswald from the police headquarters to the county jail. They allowed a group of reporters into the basement of the police headquarters to observe as they escorted Oswald out to a waiting armored car to take him to the jail. Suddenly, with TV cameras rolling, a guy named Jack Ruby emerged from the group of reporters and shot Oswald dead at point blank range. By the end of the day, pretty much everybody in the country (myself included) had seen the clip of the shooting.

Who was this Ruby? He owned a couple of nightclubs in Dallas, but had a highly sketchy background that included alleged mob ties and involvement in drug dealing. No direct links between him and Oswald were ever revealed. His motive for killing Oswald? Excellent question. . . .

You can easily understand why there has been an endless profusion of alternatives to the official “lone gunman” theory of the Kennedy assassination. If Oswald had been working with or backed by some powerful interests, they would clearly want him disposed of as soon as possible once he was arrested. Now Oswald had been silenced before ever saying a word. Ruby had no obvious personal motive for the shooting, and was just the kind of guy who might be carrying out a “hit.” And the Ruby hit doesn’t gibe very well with the “lone gunman” hypothesis of the Kennedy assassination. Thus we have had half a century of theories — officially going by the name “conspiracy theories” — as to who might have been working with Oswald to kill Kennedy, and why. Multiple official inquiries, most notably the Warren Commission, have tried to put these speculations to rest, but have never fully succeeded.

And now once again, in the person of Jeffrey Epstein, the highest profile prisoner in the country has died while in official custody, this time of the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the Manhattan Correctional Center.

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Should We Be Optimistic About The Future Of The United States?

At the Manhattan Contrarian family dinner table the other day, the subject of conversation turned to this question: Should we be optimistic about the future of the United States? Good and valid points were made on both sides of the issue. But the most important point weighed for the side of optimism. That point was that, of all the countries in the world, the United States is the place where the people — rather than the government — really run the country. Here, more than anyplace else, people can pursue their own initiatives and dreams without the government having the ability to obstruct and stymie private efforts, and force resources into pathways chosen by elite government functionaries.

Why does this matter? It’s not complicated. From the perspective of aggregate economic performance, the simple answer is that a trial-and-error process with hundreds of millions of participants will come up with much better and more numerous solutions to human problems than the small number of the very smartest people with government authority can ever come up with. From the perspective of the individual, the answer is that the only worthwhile life to lead is the life of freedom, where you make your own choices and take responsibility for your own success or failure. . . .

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Trump Has Some Basic Knowledge About Negotiation; Maybe Boris Johnson Does Too

Say what you will about Donald Trump, here’s one thing you have to give him: he has some basic knowledge — or maybe it’s just instinct — of how to go about negotiating a deal. This is in great contrast to others you see on the world stage, including people in the office of U.S. President or British Prime Minister. You would think that knowing the fundamentals about how to negotiate with other world leaders would be a basic requirement for either of those jobs, but of course that is not true. The voters don’t know much about this subject, and can’t be expected to. As to the U.S. presidency, other than Trump, I can’t think of any other candidate who has even put forward high-level negotiating skills as part of the campaign pitch.

I’m not saying that I agree with every tactic that Trump has employed in his various negotiations as President, let alone with all of the goals that he has pursued. Rather, I’m talking here only about basic negotiating strategy, where at its core there is only one point that is important among all others. Here it is: If you want to get your best deal in a negotiation, you must be willing to walk away, and you must demonstrate that willingness to your negotiating counterparty. . . .

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Every Redistricting Map Is A "Gerrymander" From Somebody's Perspective

Every Redistricting Map Is A "Gerrymander" From Somebody's Perspective

How do you tell a perfectly fair and neutral congressional redistricting map from a “gerrymander”? You might think that the answer to the question can be found by looking at the map. If you see sprawling and oddly-shaped districts, whose outlines in some cases resemble the form of a salamander, then obviously this is a “gerrymander.” But then you look at the maps that were at issue in yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, and you are not so sure. In the case of North Carolina, the outlines of the districts in question — drawn by partisan Republicans allegedly to maximize their advantage — look relatively compact and normal, mostly following county boundaries, and not particularly unusual in any way. Here is the North Carolina map that was at issue: . . .

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Manhattan Contrarian Public Service: The Easy Solution To "Surprise" Medical Bills

In the long list of unintended consequences of Obamacare, the latest one to attract attention is the so-called “surprise medical bill.” They have given you to think that your all-beneficent government has bestowed upon you that holy grail of healthcare “coverage.” Then you have to go to the hospital. No problem — you have “coverage.” But upon getting home you suddenly get hit with a completely unexpected bill for $2000 or $5000, or even $10,000 or more, and you are told that it is not covered by the “coverage.” What the hell is going on here?

I guess you didn’t read the fine print. The geniuses behind the design of Obamacare insisted that they could mandate both “affordable” premiums, and simultaneously third-party payment for every conceivable health issue (e.g., free birth control for eighty-year-olds). But something had to give. The remaining escape valves have turned out to be high deductibles and narrow networks in the healthcare policies. Thus, for your hospital visit, you may find that your deductible makes you responsible for the first $3000, or even $5000, of the bills. Or, even worse, you may find that even though you carefully selected a hospital that was “in network,” the doctor who treated you was “out of network,” and sends you a bill for $6000 that your “coverage” won’t pay.

This “surprise medical bill” issue has recently attracted enough attention that the Congress has swung into action. When Congress swings into action, it follows the fundamental principal that all human problems are to be solved by some kind of program, regulation, or mandate emanating from the federal government. This principal applies most particularly to solutions to those human problems that were caused by the last round of programs, regulations and mandates emanating from the federal government. And thus we have something called the Lower Health Care Costs Act, recently introduced in the Senate by Lamar Alexander (Republican of Tennessee) and Patty Murray (Democrat of Washington). Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, in a piece titled “Get Rid of Surprise Medical Bills” (probably behind pay wall), Benedic Ippolito of the American Enterprise Institute calls the proposed LHCCA the “most consequential bipartisan health-care reform of the ObamaCare era.” . . .

As a public service to our readers and to the Congress, the Manhattan Contrarian wishes to state that there is a far, far better and easier solution to this “surprise medical bills” thing than any of the three proposals in the LHCCA. And it is a solution that is already present in existing law. The solution is, . . .

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Can Anybody Around Here Admit Out Loud That The Federal Government Cannot Fix Every Human Problem With Another New Program?

When you get right down to it, the fundamental fallacy of the progressive movement is the idea that the central government can fix every human problem by just creating some new programs and spending some new money. And the most important theme of this blog is showing by a thousand examples how that effort always fails.

That’s why one of my favorite recent posts is the one of the past November 23, titled “The Idea That Just Won’t Die: The Right Federal Program Can Solve Any Human Problem.” Key quote:

Take a some of our very brightest thinkers. Send them to some top Ivy League or equivalent schools to get the very best educations. Then turn them loose into the policy arena, full of moral righteousness and energy and a burning passion to fix the world. And what will emerge? Remarkably, in every case you can find, what will emerge will be the exact same thing: a proposal for some new government “program” and spending that supposedly will fix whatever problem the particular guru may focus on at the moment.

That particular post focused on federal job training programs. Federal job training programs are perhaps the very best illustration of the fallacy that some new federal program and spending could possibly be the solution to a human problem at hand, since by now there are around 50 of them, all of which continue to fail utterly. Yet despite that incredible track record, every time a government official or policy wonk looks at an issue of job lay-offs or high unemployment, the proposed solution is always another federal job training program. The failure of the previous 50 or so of them is never mentioned. That would just be too impolite. Nor does anyone ever suggest cutting back, much less eliminating any of the 50 failures. That’s just not how this game is played. Instead, one more program is added, and this one is really, really going to work this time. . . .

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