Legal desk: Harvard’s Tortured Logic
A federal court recently ruled that Harvard doesn’t discriminate against Asian-American applicants by favoring other minorities, buying the Ivy’s claim that “race, when considered in admissions, can only help, not hurt, a student’s chances of getting in.” That reasoning is patently absurd, scoffs Bloomberg’s Ramesh Ponnuru. “If a particular racial or ethnic background is a plus, then another background must be a ‘minus.’ … Putting a thumb on the scales for certain racial minorities means putting a thumb on the scales against everyone else.” But don’t blame the judge — blame the Supreme Court’s convoluted affirmative-action jurisprudence going back to the 1978 Bakke decision, which held that the “law permits the use of race as a ‘plus’ to attain racial diversity so long as it is not ‘decisive’ ” (whatever that means). Which is why, Ponnuru concludes, the Supremes “should take the Harvard case on appeal and use it to affirm” colorblind civil rights.
Libertarian: Delete Your Post, She Argued
Beware of badmouthing Austrian Green Party politician Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek on Facebook, warns Reason’s Scott Shackford. Probably, “you have no idea who Glawischnig-Piesczek even is” — but her victory last week in a European Court of Justice defamation case “impacts your ability to express your opinions about politicians online.” Glawischnig-Piesczek sued Facebook for not deleting posts critical of her, and the court ruled that Facebook was required to take down those posts worldwide — and any post that “duplicates or repeats” any supposedly defamatory statements. This blatant “political censorship of criticism” shows why we need to resist American politicians who want the government to decide what social media “prohibit on their platforms”: It will only end up “censoring speech that critiques those in power.”
From the left: Beware President Pence
If the Senate voted to impeach President Trump, the “reward” would be a President Mike Pence, notes Politico’s Bill Scher. And that should worry Democrats, because “Pence’s net favorability, while underwater, is better than Trump’s,” and Pence might “restore calm and soothe an exhausted electorate.” Plus, Pence unlike his boss is a “conventional Republican,” which means he would render moot Joe Biden’s vow to “return us to normalcy.” Liz Warren might suffer, too: “Without Trump as a foil, and as long as Pence is perceived as having restored, in the post-Clinton impeachment words of George W. Bush, ‘honor and dignity’ to the White House, Warren’s crusade against corruption might feel outdated.” Democrats should be careful what they wish for.
Conservative: Reform Amid Impeachments
Even “underneath the clash and clang” of impeachment controversies, reformers can “seemingly imperceptibly improve life,” observes syndicated columnist Michael Barone. Take President Bill Clinton’s 1998-1999 impeachment process: While his presidency teetered, the nation was “reducing — far more than their advocates had expected — welfare dependency and crime in America’s central cities.” There’s “evidence of unexpected improvement” even during the impeachment push today, from diminishing inequality to rising blue-collar wages. Meanwhile, “the incarceration rate for black men” aged 18 to 29 has dropped, and black life expectancy has jumped. It all goes to show that, with “good policies and motivated personal effort,” Americans’ lives “can get better, indeed much better” — no matter “how nasty politics gets.”
Spending watch: Eye on Medicare Waste
In 2010, Congress allowed Medicare and Medicaid to use private contractors to investigate wrongdoers — with the stipulation that the programs send annual reports to Congress. These reports, writes Leslie Paige at The Washington Examiner, provided “excellent, in-depth data” on “improper payments in general,” “the identity of providers filing them” and “how much money the program had recovered.” Yet today “providers pocket tens of billions in improper payments” — because members of Congress “lost interest” in the reports, with the last complete one focusing on 2016. This means “hospitals have been granted a holiday from oversight,” and “Congress has permitted tens of billions in improper payments to continue to hemorrhage out of Medicare.” For the sake of “taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries,” Congress should reinforce the reporting rule.
— Compiled by Karl Salzmann & Sohrab Ahmari