Penny Press Nevada, USA
Volume 14 Number 13 DECEMBER 8, 2016
THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 2
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Penny Press NEVADA USA
VOLUME 14 NUMBER 13
DECEMBER 8, 2016
Small Church Still Kicking Big Fed Butts By MICHAEL SCHAUS Special to the Penny Press
A small Hispanic church in rural Nevada won a major victory over the federal government Tuesday. Six years ago the U.S.
Commentary Government’s Fish & Wildlife Service illegally and deliberately diverted a spring-fed stream to which the Solid Rock Ministry in Nye County — in Spanish, Ministerio Roca Solida — had long-vested water rights. That stream, since at least as early as the late 1800s, had traversed the private property the church had purchased years before
and on which it had built its Little Patch of Heaven Church Camp. But the federal land agency — ignoring not only the ministry’s vested water rights, the federal government’s own requirements for Clean Water Act permits, Federal Emergency Management Act requirements, and the Ministry’s religious use of the water for baptisms — essentially destroyed the church camp facility. Because of the federal agency’s dangerously negligent construction of the diversion channel — never competently engineered to accommodate rain or runoff waters — “a mini-grand-canyon now cuts through what was once lush wetlands,” says Joseph Becker, director of NPRI’s Center for Justice and Constitutional Litigation. That’s because the scofflaw
water-diversion not only stripped the Ministry of its access to its “river baptism” waters. It also resulted in repeated flooding and serious erosion of the church property, carving away large swaths of the once pristine 40-acre property. Such results had been warned about years ago by the Ministry’s expert hydrologist but the Fish and Wildlife Service never heeded the warnings. Now a ruling from America’s trial court for “takings” issues under the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights has rejected arguments central to the federal government’s case. In an opinion and order filed Tuesday, November 29, U.S. Court of Claims Judge Elaine D. Kaplan denied a U.S. government motion to dismiss the Ministry’s takings
claims, stating that the government’s arguments for dismissal “lack merit.” The U.S. government had previously argued that it bears no liability for the flooding and that the church had no rights to the water that had beneficially traversed its property for decades. Recently, however, the Nevada Department of Water Resources verified that the Ministry did, in fact, have vested rights to the water. Moreover, the state has ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to return the water to its “historic path” traversing the church property within 90 days or face administrative fines of up to $10,000 per day until corrective action is taken. “Judge Kaplan’s decision is a very large step forward for the Patch of Heaven Church Camp in Continued on page4
The Conservative Weekly Voice Of Nevada Inside: What's China Gonna Do? No More iPhones? See Editorial Page 6
Penny Wisdom You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. —James "Mad Dog" Mattis
RON KNECHT FRED WEINBERG ROBERT RINGER NATALIA CASTRO PETER PITTS ROBERT ROMANO CHUCK MUTH
PAGE 5 PAGE 6 PAGE 7 PAGE 9 PAGE 10 PAGE 11 PAGE 14
THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 4
Small Church Makes Example of Rogue Feds
Continued from page 3
what has now become a five-year-plus court battle between the church and the federal government,” said Becker, representing the Ministry. While the order from state Department of Water Resources verifies the Institute’s claim that the Ministry’s vested water rights were violated, significant damage and constitutional violations continue to be suffered by the Ministry. The United States must now file an Answer to the Ministry’s Complaint within 14 days. Case History: Because the United States violated multiple constitutional rights in one fell swoop in August of 2010, the SOLID ROCK MINISTRY filed a Complaint for the tort and due process and free-exercise claims in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. The Ministry also in 2012 filed a takings claim in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims — along with a motion to stay proceedings in that court pending the outcome of the injunctive relief sought in the District Court. The UNITED STATES however, argued before the Court of Federal Claims that, pursuant to United States v. Tohono O’Odham Nation and that case’s re-interpretation of a longstanding jurisdictional statute as to what constitutes the “same claim,” Plaintiff could not pursue all its claims. The Claims Court held that the Church could not bring a takings claim in the Federal Court of Claims whilst seeking relief for other government transgressions in U.S. District Court — despite the fact that no single federal court had jurisdiction over all the claims, or could
make the Plaintiff constitutionally whole for each of the government’s constitutional violations. Because justice demands that a jurisdictional statute cannot be interpreted to force a Plaintiff to forgo one constitutional right to remedy another and armed with a sympathetic concurrence from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the church, pastored by Victor Fuentes, filed a Petition for Certiorari before the U.S. Supreme Court which, despite amicus briefs filed on the Church’s behalf by both the State of Nevada and CATO Institute, was denied. Meanwhile, because the U.S. Federal District Court moved so slowly on the Church’s remaining claims and despite surviving motions for summary judgment against it by the feds, Pastor Fuentes was left with no choice but to voluntarily dismiss claims at the District Court, simply so it could vindicate its constitutional right to be free of an uncompensated taking — a takings claim which, due to three more floods at the hands of government, has now become the legal claim by which the church can be made closest to whole. Sadly, the damage done by this repeated flooding is now so severe that no choice is left but to hold the federal government accountable for at least a temporary taking of not only the vested water rights, but the entire property for more than five years, without the availability of the tort remedy or the injunctive relief originally sought to restore the property to its pre-diversion-project condition.
THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 5
Commentary: Ron Knecht & Geoffrey Lawrence Human Progress versus Self Immolation
We are humanists and, so, optimists. Against us in the political sphere stand environmentalists and other anti-humanists. These folks see not progress, but threat, in seemingly everything done by man. We see man as being born into an uncertain and challenging world. In a state of nature, earthquakes, tornadoes and other disasters combine with infections and shortages of food, shelter and other basic resources to threaten man’s very survival. But over centuries, humans have applied
their intelligence to shape the world around them. Today, we can not only satisfy our most basic physiological needs, but we also enjoy leisure and convenience of which our ancient ancestors could never have dreamed. The human experience to us is a history of triumph built upon the gradual progress of ideas. To the anti-humanists, though, nearly every creation of man is a pollution, an insult to the pristine natural state of Earth. With their view, economic development cannot be seen as a continued upward march toward increasing fulfillment of human aspirations, but instead as a growing contamination of some prehistoric and metaphysical ideal in which humans were supposedly harmonious with Earth. Those who espouse this view are inevitably pessimists about the future, even
Tips Of Our Cap and Bronx Cheers The Penny Press Tips Its Cap To: President Elect Donald Trump for doing the taxpayers a favor and suggesting that between $3 and $4-Billion is just too much for two planes designed to function as Air Force One. The Boeing Corporation is a great American company, but the President is an elected official, not a monarch. You can’t blame every overpriced government trinket on national security. Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwartz for continuing to accept applications for Educational Savings Account participation while they search for a different funding mechanism as ordered by the Black Robed Rubes on the Nevada Supreme Court. At a minimum, the list of applicants should serve as a reminder to the teachers’ union that their product sucks.
The Penny Press Sends A Bronx Cheer And A Bouquet of Weeds To: The Pentagon, which buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post. Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results. Wait until Mad Dog Mattis is the SECDEF.
though famine, disease, and human misery were ubiquitous during the period of their conceptualized ideal. This anti-humanist theme is apparent to greater or lesser degrees in nearly all leftist policy prescriptions. Not every practitioner rises to the level of doomsayer Paul Ehrlich, whose book “The Population Bomb” either implicitly or explicitly endorses ideas like mass sterilization and genocide to drastically reduce the number of humans – although many do. For instance, HBO pundit Bill Maher says, “...the planet is too crowded and we need to promote death.” Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger said, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” Sierra Club executive director David Brower said, “Childbearing [should be] a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license.” Proponents of ObamaCare stridently made the case for death panels so bureaucrats could ration treatment – i.e., deny some care – to elderly people. So a policy agenda that ranges from health care to the environment to social issues all stems from a common motivating theme: selfimmolating resentment of humans. But we see this theme even when it is less explicit. Last week, an article in the Wall Street Journaldetailed a proposal in Virginia for a new tax on homeowners based on the area of “nonpermeable surfaces” on their property. The issue is that human structures like concrete, asphalt and roofing create streams of storm water runoff. These streams alter the pre-human pattern of water flows and therefore must be “mitigated.” Nevermind that these materials
make human life safe and better and commerce possible. Without such surfaces, there would be little wealth or income for governments to tax. When Ron was young and foolish, he acted that way and promoted many such ideas he now opposes. The turning point for him was in graduate school when he encountered “The Problem of Social Cost” by economist Ronald Coase. Coase described farmers along a railroad track who felt the railroads owed them money because of occasional field fires due to steam locomotives. The farmers believed the railroads imposed social costs on everyone else and should be forced to pay compensation. Prior to Coase, economists overwhelmingly agreed. But Coase observed that if the railroads hadn’t been built, those farms would never have existed in the first place. So, it was wrong to assume willy-nilly that the railroad owed compensation. The issue is much more complex. We believe that balance that maximizes economic growth – and thus human wellbeing – should be the heart of public policy. And the lust among our adversaries for government to regulate, tax or completely prohibit every action, creation or idea that promotes growth is wholly misguided. Most projects using steel, concrete and energy provide tremendous benefits to everyone and not just those directly involved in their creation. When we make policy on everything from population growth to water runoff restrictions, we should give full credit to the social benefits as well as the social costs of private activity. RON KNECHT and GEOFFREY LAWRENCE
THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 6
From The Publisher...
No More Cheap Chinese Crap At WalMart? Bring It!
I’m not an expert on foreign affairs. I live in rural northern Nevada likelihood a phone that was made in China? and am clearly part of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” who, as Barack Obama once said, cling to guns or religion because, as Of course, I’m just one of Hillary’s “deplorables” who knows nothing the mainstream media puts it we’re white and uneducated. of foreign affairs because I’m rural and white, but we (me and over 60,000,000 of my closest friends) know the smell of bovine feces And yet… when we step in it.
I opened my Wall Street Journal (on my iPad Air 2) last Saturday Memo to the self-appointed foreign affairs experts and their morning to see that President Elect Donald Trump had a 10-minute sycophants in the mainstream media: You lost and we won. Get phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. over it. And, because of the way college football and basketball games were Next up on the parade of deplorables will be General James “Mad slotted through the day, I was able to watch ABC, CBS and NBC’s Dog” Mattis USMC (retired). evening news. To hear the weekend anchor-twits, you’d think Trump is bringing on World War III. He is a rock star to soldiers, sailors and airmen everywhere. Over a 10 minute phone call.
And he is Trump’s Secretary of Defense Designate.
Please excuse my rural ignorance, but what, exactly, do these twits Those exploding heads you’re hearing are the same lefties who are think China is going to do by way of “revenge”? clucking about Trump’s phone call to Taiwan. •
Stop assembling our iPhones?
Stop stocking our WalMarts with cheap crap?
Make us wear shirts made in Bangladesh instead of China?
Back when Richard Nixon went to China and opened a dialog with their communist government led by Mao Tse-tung, it was most definitely NOT an economic power. It was a large group of people led by a man who famously said, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” We have turned China into an economic power which is—to a great extent—is dependent on trading with us; to the point where if we get a cold, they get pneumonia. Or, put another way, they need us to a much higher degree than we need them. Surely, its current leadership is smart enough to not jeopardize that relationship over a ten minute phone call. And then, there’s the question of exactly why we were willing— during Jimmy Carter’s failed Presidency no less—to toss aside our post World War II allies which we helped liberate from Japan.
The Atlantic—a pseudo intellectual journal of lefties—called these quotes “Hair Raising”. •
“Be the hunter, not the hunted: Never allow your unit to be caught with its guard down.”
“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I’ll kill you all”
“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
“I were to sum up what I’ve learned in 35 years of service, it’s improvise, improvise, improvise.”
“You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.”
“no war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”
As many of the people who hold themselves out as foreign affairs experts like to tell us, it’s complicated. And the left is objecting to this guy? To run the Pentagon? After eight years of Barack Obama? Of course, so is using nearly slave labor at Foxconn to assemble iPhones and getting away with it. The Chinese should be thankful that all they’re upset about is a phone call to Taiwan. The Chinese should get over it, remember that we elected Donald Trump precisely BECAUSE of their arrogance and his abundance ISIS, on the other hand, now has something to worry about. of common sense. Who do these people think they are that they can tell our President Elect who he can talk to on the phone—in all FRED WEINBERG
THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 7
Commentary: Robert Ringer
Castro: A “Towering Historic Figure?”
A couple of years ago I gave a speech in the Cayman Islands and my son accompanied me on the trip. On the day of our arrival, we had lunch at the hotel’s outside café, and it was especially enjoyable because our waitress was an intelligent, pretty young lady with an engaging personality. She introduced herself as Solana, and because she was so nice and outgoing, we hit it off with her right away. She explained that she was a Cuban citizen and that she was in the Caymans on a work visa. That surprised me because, at the time, I had no idea that Cuba allowed any of its citizens to work in foreign countries. Without giving it a thought, I jokingly asked her, “Gosh, you’re not a communist, are you?” Instantly, her beautiful smile turned to a cold, somber expression and she replied in a terse tone, “I don’t like to discuss politics.” Her response took me aback. Just like that, this charming, vivacious young lady turned into a foreign agent right out of a James Bond movie. Over the next few days, my son talked to Solana quite a bit, and I was hopeful that something serious might come of it. Unfortunately, it was not to be. But in their first conversation, she apologized for being rude to his father (I didn’t consider it to be rude, just interesting) and reiterated that she just didn’t like to get involved in political discussions. Unfortunately, my son finally lost touch with her, but I’ve never forgotten that tense exchange during our initial meeting at the hotel in Grand Cayman. To me, it underscored what it must be like to live in Cuba. About a year and a half after that encounter in the Caymans, Fidel mercifully took his last breath, and as soon as I heard the good news, Solana came to mind. I had to believe she was smiling, at least on the inside. But to the extent she heard left-wing apologists praise Castro, she must have been saddened. Geraldo Rivera is a good example of what the Radical Left’s useful idiots had to say about Castro’s death. Though I admit to having gone out of my way to avoid watching him over the years, I’ve seen enough of him to be able to say that the man never ceases to amaze me with his indefensibly ignorant comments. Thus, it didn’t surprise me when, on Hannity, he described Fidel Castro as a “towering historic figure.” At one point, Geraldo emphasized that it was beyond dispute that Castro was a charismatic leader. I can’t disagree with him on that. Oh, and by the way, so was Adolf Hitler. In fact, Hitler was the most charismatic leader of the 20th century. The man was absolutely mesmerizing, but in between his wild rants, he found time to slaughter millions of innocent people. My point is that Castro’s charisma is irrelevant. The man was a mass murderer, a kleptomaniac, and an unabashed suppressor of human rights, and that’s how he should be remembered. How well I remember him having Cuban citizens whom he judged to be enemies of the revolution tied to trees and murdered in cold blood by revolutionary firing squads. I wonder if Geraldo found those images to be “charismatic.” In trying to make the case that Castro was sadly misunderstood, Geraldo went on to say, “I think it’s very easy to have a simplistic view that he was all awful for Cuba and the world and I just don’t think that’s accurate. I think the Cubans have a tremendous sense of pride over his legacy.” He went on to say that “I think he will be remembered fondly. … There are aspects of what he left behind that I think will be remembered.” The one thing I can’t argue with is that there are aspects of what he left behind that will be remembered. Just ask any of the more than 1.5 million Cuban-Americans who live in South Florida. These are people who saw
their friends and relatives imprisoned, tortured, and executed … saw their family businesses stolen by the Cuban government … and who escaped their island prison in dangerous, makeshift boats, leaving most of their possessions behind, in an effort to reach Florida and start a new life in a foreign country. Sadly, many never made it. Geraldo’s opinions don’t mean much, as he’s finally on his way out at Fox News, where he has long been relegated to token appearances. But what is now a fixture in our wannabe socialist culture are millions of college students who buy into the absurd fiction that communist dictatorships are utopias. If I were a Cuban-American who lost family members — or most of my possessions — during Castro’s reign of terror, I would be very angry at apologists like Geraldo. After more than sixty years of oppressing an entire nation, Fidel is glorified as a “towering figure” in world history? These left-wing apologists seem to have no concern at all for the family members who were lost and the wealth that was stolen from millions of Cubans. Nor do they have any feelings for the lost years of those who have lived under Castro’s oppressive regime for more than sixty years. With Geraldo’s glowing praise of the deceased Cuban tyrant, he fell right into line with Comrade Obama and his socialist allies throughout Europe and around the world, most of whom had nothing but kind words for the Western Hemisphere’s most notorious mass murderer. In some cases, the words of journalists and foreign leaders were nothing short of outright gushing praise for the leader who brought mass poverty and tyranny to his country. The reason every communist regime in history has brought death, enslavement, and economic disaster to its people is because communism is a political and economic system that was conceived in failure. Plain and simple, it defies human nature. People — all people — seek to better their existence, and it takes the brute force of a Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, or Fidel Castro to suppress that instinct. When people are punished for producing, they simply stop producing. It’s not at all complicated. Russians discovered this simple truth the hard way. Within a few years after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, conditions were so bad in Russia that Lenin was on the verge of being confronted with a counter-revolution. To ward it off, he invited Western capitalists in to help industrialize the Soviet Union. And, sadly, many major U.S. corporations played the role of useful idiots and accommodated Lenin, thus saving him from his own communist system. Like other communist countries, it’s a virtual certainty that Cuba will increasingly implement reforms that will move it more and more in the direction of freedom and free markets. And, as in most other communist countries that have collapsed under the weight of an unworkable system, Raul, like big brother Fidel, will quietly die and be praised by socialist dictators and liberal heads of state around the world. Once Cuba embraces capitalism and a democratic political system, I’d love to have the opportunity to ask Solana the same question, and I’ll bet this time she would smile instead of frown and be perfectly willing to give her opinion of communism. Having worked at a beautiful resort hotel in the Caribbean and grown up in a prison-state like Cuba, you can bet she knows full well that communism is an anti-liberty system. ROBERT RINGER Robert Ringer (© 2016)is a New York Times #1 bestselling author who has appeared on numerous national radio and television shows, including The Tonight Show, Today, The Dennis Miller Show, Good Morning America, ABC Nightline, The Charlie Rose Show, as well as Fox News and Fox Business. To sign up for a free subscription to his mind-expanding daily insights, visit www.robertringer.com.
THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 8
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THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 9
Commentary: Natalia Castro
Recount to Nowhere
Jill Stein and the Democratic Party have not given up yet (except in Pennsylvania). The most recent push against President-elect Donald Trump has been the call for recounts in critical states, in hopes to not only delegitimize the entire election process and hopefully remove Trump from power all together. Unfortunately for Jill Stein, the leader in this effort, this charade only represents the hypocrisy and despair within a flailing opposition that cannot accept reality. Stein has tapped into a Democratic political base furious with the election results and eager to fund a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stein told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that “What we have are predictors that if tampering took place, it would be most likely to be discovered in the three states where we are looking.” This allegation of fraud has allowed Stein to raise close to $7 million in funds for recount efforts, and comes despite the fact that, for example, Michigan uses all-paper ballots or that, generally, electronic voting machines are not even connected to the Internet. However unfortunately Stein is not expanding the Democratic base at all, but rather only energizing radical Democrats unhappy with election results. These are the same Democrats who were enraged when Donald Trump warned that he might not accept the election results, now even Hillary Clinton’s team pathetically announced on Nov. 26 that they will be assisting in recount efforts. The hypocrisy within the party is clear. Despite once noting that it was “horrifying” to imagine Trump demanding a recount in the event of presumed fraud, the Clinton team is urging for a recount even after the New York Times of Nov. 2106 reported that the Clintons staff has admitted to having “little hope of success in any of the three states, and said it had seen no ‘actionable evidence’ of vote hacking that might taint the results or otherwise provide new grounds for challenging Donald J. Trump’s victory.” Unfortunately for Stein and the Democratic Party, this recount effort stains the group not just as hypocrites but as desperate as well. The three states Stein has chosen to pursue make it clear how out of touch the Democrats have become
with everyday Americans’ needs and is simply fighting for power. Pennsylvania Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren explained in the Philadelphia Inquirer that “the deadline under the law for a voter-initiated recount at the county level had been Monday, Nov. 21. Many counties missed it but nearly half have already certified their results, precluding recounts there.” Even the state’s Democratic Secretary of State Pedro Cortes has announced there is no evidence of any form of vote tampering; making a recount both unnecessary and probably impossible since Stein will lack a key witness when she lands in court. In Wisconsin, a recount was allowed but local municipalities were granted authority over the process of recounting the votes, for Stein even this was insufficient as some areas did not elect to count by hand. Now a recount could cost the state and taxpayers $3.5 million. But to further extend the election process, Stein has now place a lawsuit against both Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that could slow down the recounts, and prevent the electors from being named prior to the Electoral College’s meeting on Dec. 19. In the meantime, Michigan has finally certified its election results, declaring Donald Trump the victor, and awarding all 16 of the state’s electors to him. Stein and the Democratic Party know they need all three of these states to somehow overturn the election, and so now they are acting desperately. Even without Pennsylvania, Trump would still have the necessary electoral votes from all the other states to become President. That is why Stein’s strategy calls for halting or slowing all three states’ votes from being counted in time, denying either candidate the 270 threshold for victory on Dec. 19, and throwing the election into the House of Representatives, where Trump would likely prevail anyway. This leaves the Democrats, Clinton and Stein acting desperately. Rather than accepting the elections results like they urged Trump to, they are desperately fighting a losing battle, suing states and costing taxpayers. Stein is not acting nobly for the fervent Never Trumpers now rioting the streets, she is undermining the electoral process which has worked effectively in this country for more than 200 years. NATALIA CASTRO Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.
THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 10
Commentary: Peter Pitts
New Restrictions on Drug Coverage are a Threat to Patients Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s toughest fight wasn’t on a basketball court. In his early 60s, the six-time NBA champion was diagnosed with leukemia, the deadly blood cancer. Fortunately, Abdul-Jabbar had access to state-of-the-art medications, including the advanced drug Tasigna, which paralyzed his cancer cells and prevented further growth. Today, eight years after his initial diagnosis, Abdul-Jabbar is thriving and cancerfree. Unfortunately, many of today’s leukemia patients won’t be so lucky. CVS Health, the nation’s second largest pharmacy benefit manager that oversees 65 million Americans’ drug plans, recently rescinded coverage for Tasigna — and 130 other specialty drugs. As a result, millions of people could be denied access to drugs that could save their lives. Instead of prescribing the medicines best-suited to patient needs, physicians will be forced to recommend lower-quality treatments. Pharmacy benefit managers, or “PBMs” for short, administer the prescription drug plans used by health insurers and employers. In recent years, these organizations have gotten stingy about which drugs they cover. Back in 2012, the nation’s largest PBM, Express Scripts, excluded no medicines from its list of covered drugs, while CVS Health left off about 30. Today, they exclude over 200, including an array of popular treatments for arthritis, Hepatitis C, and various skin conditions. PBMs have also stopped paying for cutting-edge cancer treatments. In addition to Tasigna, CVS won’t cover the revolutionary prostate cancer treatment Xtandi. Meanwhile, Express Scripts just stopped covering
Zyclara, a cream that can help prevent skin cancer. PBMs are restricting drug access in other, more devious ways as well. CVS is also steering patients away from ultra-complex “biologic” drugs, forcing them to switch to lower-cost treatments the company claims are medically equivalent. But in many cases these less expensive therapies, known as “biosimilars,” aren’t approved by the FDA to be interchangeable with their brand name alternatives. Consider one study that compared the effectiveness of a Crohn’s disease treatment and its biosimilar. An alarming eight in ten patients who took the biosimilar required a hospital readmission for additional treatment, compared to only one in twenty who took the original drug. Despite these disturbing results, PBMs are comfortable forcing patients to use biosimilars and generic medications. That’s because their only concern is bringing down short-term drug spending — even if those savings come at a cost to patients’ well-being. Ironically, this strategy will end up raising healthcare costs in the long-run. If doctors can only prescribe less-effective treatments, folks will get sicker, be hospitalized more frequently, and require more expensive care. That demand will drive up overall healthcare costs and overwhelm doctors and hospitals with waves of new patients. That doesn’t matter to PBMs, though. A dollar saved by avoiding topnotch drugs is a dollar that goes into PBMs’ pockets — even if the patient becomes sicker on less effective treatments and racks up much larger hospital bills for insurers and patients to pay down the road. PBMs coverage denials are a deadly prescription for America’s patients. By shrinking coverage for cutting-edge treatments, PBMs are forcing sick people to use substandard drugs. It’s about time patients mount a full-court press against this callous behavior. PETER PITTS Peter J. Pitts, a former FDA Associate Commissioner, is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.
THE PENNY PRESS,DECEMBER 8, 2016 PAGE 11
Commentary: Robert Romano Bannon’s Movie Is Right Yet another piece from the mainstream media insinuating that Donald Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor is a closet racist. This time the hit comes from Politico’s Ben Schreckinger, writing, “Bannon’s film blamed racial-bias law for financial collapse.” The piece does not outright accuse Bannon of being a racist, of course, it quotes somebody else — that is, unnamed “top critics,” in Schreckinger’s words — saying he’s a “white nationalist.” Solid reporting there. But let’s play along. Naturally, this must have led to his views on the causes of the financial crisis, and so he wrote and directed the 2010 documentary, “Generation Zero,” that chronicles many root cause of the 2007-09 financial crisis. “The documentary argues that the subprime mortgage bubble that precipitated the crisis resulted in large part from rules in the Community Reinvestment Act against racial discrimination that led mortgage lenders to make loans to risky borrowers,” the Politico piece summarizes. Except, the documentary gave air to a multitude of viewpoints on the financial crisis, including how when the Baby Boomers — the most spoiled generation in human history — took over Washington, D.C. and Wall Street from the far more frugal Great Depression-World War II generation, and did not share those same values of risk aversion, it helped contribute to the financial crisis. The documentary looks at factors like the Bear Stearns exception on leveraging by the Securities and Exchange Commission, that helped Wall Street firms leverage borrowing upwards to as much as 40 to 1. It looks at other factors like deindustrialization and offshoring jobs and production overseas, quoting Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs and economist Peter Morici. It has former CNBC host Larry Kudlow talking about the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates too low for too long, fueling the credit bubble, laying the blame at the feet of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. It talks about the privatization of profits, the socialization of losses and moral hazard. It blasts bailing out Wall Street banks that made bad bets on mortgages, derivatives and other instruments. And yes, it features Hoover Institution Research Fellow Peter Schweizer — Schreckinger apparently could not even be bothered in his “report” to figure out who the experts were whose views he was attributing solely to Bannon — discussing the roles played on mortgage lending standards by the Community Reinvestment Act. Schweizer stated, “$4.5 trillion has been committed by banks to the Community Reinvestment Act since 1977, but roughly $4.2 trillion of that has come in the last 10 years. This has fundamentally undermined the banking system in the United States.” The documentary also covers how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac drove the mortgage market in the 1990s and 2000s. Schreckinger uses a quote from the documentary, again not attributing it to the person actually in the documentary. In this case, he was actually quoting one-time top Bill Clinton advisor Dick Morris. Heard of him? In the documentary, Morris states, “It was all like this Ponzi scheme: We have this program, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are buying and issuing mortgages. People believe the government stands behind their bonds. We need more of their resources to go to help low-income people and lower-middle-income people buy a house and live the American dream. So Fannie Mae went to the mortgage brokers around the country and said, you just make these loans, don’t ask for money down, don’t worry too much about their credit, we’ll buy the loans from you, and it’s our money that’s going to be at risk, no your money, and you go out and make loans.” Schreckinger also runs a quote from Hoover Institution Senior Fellow, Shelby Steele — or in Schreckinger’s words, “one narrator” whose name he couldn’t figure out: “This policy that led to the subprime crisis and so forth came out of the fact that the civil rights movement had claimed that blacks were being red-lined. Banks then didn’t want to lend money to them. Here is another source of black victimization. Here’s another place where this fundamentally racist society is keeping blacks down. Since the mid- sixties, white Americans have been in a position where they constantly have to prove that they are not racist. It is that phenomenon of white guilt is what pressures people in the government to say things like, ‘Everybody has a right to a house,’ and unfortunately capitalism doesn’t work that way.” Steele, who was born to a black father and a white mother, has actually written a great deal about the concept of racial guilt and how it has helped shaped public policy, for example, in 2001, he wrote, “The Double Bind of Race and Guilt,” looking at affirmative action and other policies. Yeah, real “white nationalists,” there. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Now, one can disagree with these types of analysis in an honest discussion, but that is not Politico’s not-so-subtle aim. It is to cast these views into the same old lame narrative of “white nationalism,” which has nothing to do with the documentary or the financial crisis or Stephen Bannon, for that matter, but what the heck? Just throw it in there. It’s good copy. Millennials will just share and forward and not bother with facts, right? Who’s really pushing fake news, anyway? This might fit the bill. In the meantime, history confirms that part of Bannon’s documentary. It does not cover everything, to be fair. And it doesn’t get everything right. Predictions of hyperinflation in the U.S. later in the documentary, for example, coming from the bailouts never materialized. Still, it is an interesting documentary worth watching. Nothing in it deserves the race card treatment
Politico delivers. The Community Reinvestment Act analysis part is pretty much spot on, but one part left out was the 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagall in the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law, thought in some quarters to have contributed to the financial crisis by allowing savings deposits to then be used in investment banking and insurance to satisfy capital requirements. This in turn helped provide the capital megabanks needed to blow up the credit bubble in the 1990s and 2000s that almost wrecked the economy when it popped. Perhaps that was one of the causes. Of course, the Glass-Steagall repeal almost did not occur. The hold-up? Concerns by the Clinton White House and congressional Democrats such as Senators Chuck Schumer and Chris Dodd over, you guessed it, the Community Reinvestment Act, as chronicled by the New York Times’ Stephen Labaton in 1999: “The breakthrough in Friday’s legislation came in a backroom meeting at the Capitol soon after midnight, when a group of moderate Senate Democrats — led by Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Charles E. Schumer of New York — forced a compromise between Gramm and the White House over the legislation’s effect on the Community Reinvestment Act, a 1977 anti-discrimination law intended to encourage lending to minorities and others historically denied access to credit.” The White House “wanted the legislation to prevent any bank with an unsatisfactory record of making loans to the disadvantaged from expanding into new areas, like insurance or securities.” When all was said and done, the final agreement provided that “no institution would be allowed to move into any new lines of business without a satisfactory lending record.” In other words, Democrats were okay with rolling back Glass-Steagall — the banks, investment houses, and insurance companies could merge — so long as low-income lending programs would be expanded. And with the prospect of new bank mergers on the horizon, community groups like the National Housing Institute were busy outlining plans for using the impending mergers to leverage CRA commitments from the new megabanks. In 2000, CRA loans totaled $135 billion, according a Department of Treasury report required by Gramm-Leach-Bliley. By 2007, CRA commitments from banks totaled $4.5 trillion, according to research by American Enterprise Institute’s Edward Pinto. This facilitated the production of 26.7 million risky, non-traditional mortgages — like subprime and Alt-A. Wall Street investment houses had their hands in this market, but it paled in comparison to Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and other federal agencies, which owned or guaranteed 70 percent of these risky loans, according to Pinto’s research. Pinto traced the housing bubble to federal government policies to foster home ownership to low-income Americans who, it turns out, could not afford the loans they were taking out. Specifically, it was HUD that imposed so-called “affordable housing goals” on Fannie and Freddie, which rose from 30 percent in 1993 to 56 percent by 2008. Also, the FHA helped to weaken lending standards, expanding government-held loans with down payments of 3 percent or less from $7 billion 1991 to over $174 billion in 2007, $160 billion of which were held by the GSEs. By 2008, Fannie and Freddie held $1.835 trillion in higher-risk mortgages and mortgagebacked securities: $1.646 trillion, were GSE-issued mortgage-backed securities, and $189 billion of subprime and Alt-A private mortgage-backed securities, Also, because of the implicit backing of taxpayers, Pinto notes that the GSE-issued securities were automatically granted AAA bond ratings, and the GSEs were even able to misrepresent the quality of mortgages that underlined those securities. Such leverage was made possible by congressional passage of the GSE Act of 1992, which established Fannie and Freddie’s capital requirements. Writes Pinto, “The GSEs only needed $900 in capital behind a $200,000 mortgage they guaranteed — many of which by 2004-2007 had no borrower downpayment. In order for the private sector to compete with Fannie and Freddie, it needed to find ways to increase leverage.” So, the Community Reinvestment Act did play a role in the housing crisis. So did Fannie and Freddie. And repealing Glass-Steagall. And the Fed lending money to the banks. And the SEC creating the Bear Stearns exception. And the AIG derivatives. And the credit default swaps. And so forth. It all worked together. Giving air to the Hoover Institution’s Pete Schweizer on the Community Reinvestment Act and Shelby Steele on the concept of racial guilt shaping public policy, or Dick Morris talking on Fannie and Freddie, is not “white nationalism” by any stretch of the imagination. Unless Politico’s aim is to also ascribe that racist brush on Schweizer, Steele and Morris, too, or anybody else who looks at low-income lending programs skeptically. Nor was the movie some “crazy conspiracy theory to blame poor minorities for the 2008 crash of the global financial system,” as Dennis Kelleher, president Better Markets contends in the Politico piece. Did he even watch the movie? In other words, the documentary, which you should watch, accurately reports on the combination of many factors, all working together, not a single cause, that precipitated the financial crisis. Yes, the Community Reinvestment Act was one of those factors. Get over it. It was part of the deal to repeal Glass-Steagall, the loans were real as Pinto’s research backs up Schweizer’s numbers used in the documentary. Of course it was not the only factor in the crisis. And that is what Bannon’s documentary chronicles, rather comprehensively. So, enough with the drive-bys, already. Bannon isn’t going anywhere. ROBERT ROMANO Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.
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Commentary: Chuck Muth
Suck It Up, Buttercup So a member of the Church of the Perpetually Offended in Virginia has demanded that the local school district remove from school libraries copies of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” because, as the Washington Post reported, “of the books’ use of racial slurs.” Marie Rothstein-Williams claims the books “disturbed her teenage son, a biracial student.” To which the only appropriate response should be… “Suck it up, buttercup!” Seriously, if we’re ever to make America great again it’s long past time to stop caving into and coddling these politically correct, racehustling ninnyhammers (my new favorite word for idiots). It’s time to once again teach our kids the old rule about “sticks and stones,” as well as heaping ridicule on Speech Police nannies who try to make censorship mountains out of such molehills. And, um, that includes the Washington Post. First for even reporting on this “story.” Talk about “fake news”! And secondly for being so politically correct that it wouldn’t even publish the word found in the books that Rothstein-Williams claims has so scarred her son – who, I wouldn’t be surprised, probably never even read either one. Can we all grow up here and acknowledge that the word everybody is so gingerly dancing around is “nigger”? Not “the n-word.” After all, it’s just a word. And it was used in a historically accurate context from back in a day when there was real racism in this country – unlike the manufactured faux “rampant racism” the race hustlers continue to claim exists in an era when a black man (okay, half-black) was elected president…TWICE. And it’s the same word used casually and without thought every day by millions of black youth and immortalized in thousands of rap songs. But God help any white person today who dares use it in ANY context – even to report on a ridiculous effort to censor a pair of great American classic novels. We, as a nation, need to get beyond this hypocritical foolishness. Cheers. CHUCK MUTH
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