“So why did U.S. life expectancy trends slow and then peak in 2014? And what, if anything, can policy makers and politicians realistically do to make increasing it a priority? As noted above, the big recent dip largely resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2023 Scientific Reports article “estimated that US life expectancy at birth dropped by 3.08 years due to the million COVID-19 deaths” between February 2020 and May 2022. But let’s set aside that steep post-2020 downtick in life expectancy resulting from nearly 1.2 million Americans dying of COVID-19 infections.
A 2020 study in Health Affairs chiefly attributed the 3.3-year increase in U.S. life expectancy between 1990 and 2015 to public health, better pharmaceuticals, and improvements in medical care. By public health, the authors meant such things as campaigns to reduce smoking, increase cancer screenings and seat belt usage, improve auto and traffic safety, and increase awareness of the danger of stomach sleep for infants. With respect to pharmaceuticals, they cited the significant reduction in cardiovascular diseases that resulted from the introduction of effective drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
So a big part of what propelled increases in U.S. life expectancy is the fact that the percentage of Americans who smoke has fallen from 43 percent in the 1970s to 16 percent now. Smoking is associated with higher risks of cardiovascular diseases and cancers, rates of which have been dropping for decades. In addition, the rising percentage of Americans who are college graduates correlated with increasing life expectancy.
However, since the 2004 peak, countervailing increases in the death rates from drug overdoses, firearms, traffic accidents, and diseases associated with obesity contributed to the flattening of U.S. life expectancy trends.
A 2021 comprehensive analysis of the recent stagnation and decline in U.S. life expectancy in the Annual Review of Public Health (ARPH) largely concurs, finding that “the proximate causes of the decline are increases in opioid overdose deaths, suicide, homicide, and Alzheimer’s disease.” Interestingly, the U.S. trend in Alzheimer’s disease prevalence has been downward since 2011. In addition, the ARPH review noted that “a slowdown in the long-term decline in mortality from cardiovascular diseases has also prevented life expectancy from improving further.” So enabling and persuading more properly diagnosed Americans to take blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering medications would likely boost overall life expectancy.”
“Documents shared with Reason show the rents paid by several New York City tenants at their rent-stabilized apartments. Other documents shared with Reason, as well as public property information, show the same tenants own additional property worth north of $1 million. Some of these rent-stabilized tenants are themselves landlords who rent out their properties for more than what their rent-stabilized apartments cost.
That includes a married couple with a four-bedroom home in the tony community of East Hampton, New York. The husband is a wine broker. The wife is a real estate associate with Sotheby’s International Realty. A county document show their East Hampton property has an appraised value of $2 million.
The couple’s address on that same document is a rent-stabilized apartment in Lower Manhattan where the legal rent as of September 2023 is $931 a month. Online rental listings show market-rate one-bedroom apartments in the same neighborhood renting for anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000.
Another woman, an anthropologist with her own consultancy firm, is listed as the lessee of a Brooklyn Heights apartment with a legal monthly rent of $2,436. Market-rate one-bedroom apartments in the same neighborhood go from $4,000 to $5,000 a month.
County property records show that the same woman owns a home in the Long Island community of Greenport, New York. She advertises it as a vacation home for rent on her personal website, and it’s listed on several rental websites with a quoted monthly rental price of $12,000.”
“This is all perfectly legal. New York’s rent stabilization law has no means-testing requirements. That means people of any income can benefit from its suppressed rents.
Wealthy tenants are getting some of the best deals out of the state’s rent stabilization law. An in-depth Wall Street Journal analysis from 2019 found that regulated rents in richer Manhattan are around half that of market-rate rents. Regulated rents in working-class areas of Queens and the Bronx are at most few hundred dollars less than market rents.
Higher-income rent-stabilized tenants were paying 39 percent less rent on average than their peers in market-rate apartments. Lower-income rent-stabilized tenants were paying only 15 percent less than their peers in market-rate apartments.”
“The Commerce Department has officially declared a trade war on cheap tin cans.
Last week, the department gave a green light to placing new tariffs on tinplate steel—the metal used to manufacture tin cans and a wide variety of other consumer goods—imported from Canada, China, Germany, and South Korea. While the new tariffs are far less extensive than the absurdly high trade barriers originally requested by Cleveland-Cliffs, an Ohio-based steel company that is one of the few companies in America to make tinplate steel, the tariff decision once again underlines the arbitrary and cronyist nature of federal trade policy.”
“Because the tariff-petition process is heavily skewed in favor of companies seeking protectionism—among other things, the Commerce Department is forbidden from considering how higher tariffs might impact other parts of the economy, including consumers—industries that need reliable access to tinplate steel were prepared to take a hit.
The Consumer Brands Association (CBA), which represents more than 2,000 companies including Campbell Soup Company and other brands that stood to be harmed by the tariffs, estimated that Cleveland-Cliffs’ proposed tariffs would have added about 58 cents to the cost of the average canned food product. A separate study by the Trade Partnership Worldwide LLC, a pro-trade think tank, found that 600 jobs would be put at risk for every steel-making job protected by the proposed tariffs.”
“A single American company was able to file a petition asking unelected bureaucrats to punish its competitors (along with many downstream businesses and consumers) in order to goose its bottom line, triggering a review process that cost taxpayer resources and forced other businesses to play defense in a game that’s deliberately rigged against them.”
“U.S. policymakers, therefore, have a choice to make. They can continue the status-quo policy, which amounts to being a willing hostage to an indefinite mission and carrying on with the delusion that any Iraqi prime minister has the power to do much of anything about the militias. Or they can finally admit that the U.S. has succeeded in doing what it set out to do—eliminating ISIS’s proton-state—and extricate the U.S. military from a mess only the Iraqis have the ability to clean up.”
“The governors and Abbott claim that states have a “right of self-defense” under Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution (which guarantees that the federal government will “protect each [state] against Invasion”) and Article 1, Section 10, Clause 3 (which allows states to “engage in War” if “actually invaded,” which Abbott says gives Texas the “constitutional authority to defend and protect itself”).
This argument misunderstands the long-established legal and practical definitions of an “invasion.” It also misconstrues the nature of unauthorized migration.
James Madison and other drafters of the Constitution, Abbott argued, “foresaw that States should not be left to the mercy of a lawless president who does nothing to stop external threats like cartels smuggling millions of illegal immigrants across the border.” But “those who cite Madison in support of equating immigration and invasion ignore the one time he directly addressed this very question,” writes the George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy, a group blog hosted by Reason. Madison did so in “the Report of 1800, which rebutted claims that the Alien Friends Act of 1798 (which gave the president broad power to expel non-citizens) was authorized by the Invasion Clause.”
“Invasion is an operation of war,” declared Madison. “To protect against invasion is an exercise of the power of war. A power therefore not incident to war, cannot be incident to a particular modification of war. And as the removal of alien friends has appeared to be no incident to a general state of war, it cannot be incident to a partial state, or a particular modification of war.”
“Every court that has reviewed the question” of what qualifies as an invasion has interpreted it as “an ‘armed hostility from another political entity,'” wrote the Cato Institute’s David J. Bier for Reason in 2021. In 1996, California made the same argument as Abbott, saying that the federal government had failed to protect it against an “invasion” of “illegal aliens.” But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected that: “Even if the issue were properly within the Court’s constitutional responsibility, there are no manageable standards to ascertain whether or when an influx of illegal immigrants should be said to constitute an invasion.” Besides, the 9th Circuit said, California ignored Madison’s conclusion in Federalist No. 43 that the Invasion Clause affords “protection in situations wherein a state is exposed to armed hostility from another political entity.”
This is where Abbott runs into another issue: Undocumented immigrants bear little resemblance to an invading foreign army. Despite the constant invocations of “military-age” men crossing the border (the fearmonger’s favorite way of saying “young men”), there has also been a historic influx of migrant families. Large groups of border crossers marching through the Sonoran Desert or trudging across the Rio Grande may make good footage for media outlets intent on fearmongering, but the overwhelming majority are coming here for economic or humanitarian reasons, not to commit crimes or sow chaos.”
“By and large, people are happy to go through the legal immigration process if the steps are clear and accessible—but right now, they tend not to be. It’s up to Congress to pass immigration reforms that recognize these realities. Abbott’s misrepresentation of the Constitution does nothing to help.”
“After more than 170 attempts since October, the proxies of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have succeeded in killing three US soldiers and injuring 25 in on the Jordan-Syria border. The US must respond now, and it must hold the IRGC directly accountable. Washington should conduct targeted strikes against senior IRGC commanders – a course of action that would send a clear message to the regime in Iran and make it think twice about escalating further.
For decades, the mainstream view among so-called policy “experts” in the Washington and Westminster bubble has been that targeted strikes against the IRGC increases the chance of all-out war with Tehran. This popular narrative that such action will lead to “World War 3” has shaped the Biden administration’s reluctance to respond to Tehran’s consistent acts of aggression since October 7, including sponsored attacks on US forces. But is the fear of what the IRGC would do in such a scenario worse than the reality? Past experiences seem to suggest so.
Since at least 2008 different US and Israeli administrations have conducted high value targeted strikes against the IRGC and its key proxies. The list of those struck reads like a terrorist all-star roster: Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s terror chief, killed in 2008; Hassan Shateri, the Quds Force general suspected of being behind Hezbollah’s underground missile infrastructure, killed in 2013; Qasem Soleimani, the second-most powerful man in Iran, killed in 2020; Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the IRGC’s nuclear weapons scientist, killed in the same year; and, more recently, Sadegh Omidzadeh, head of the Quds Force intelligence unit in Syria, killed last week.
In each case, Khamenei’s regime has vowed “harsh revenge”; in practice, each strike has degraded his regime’s ability to inflict violence on America and its allies. Perhaps the best example was the regime’s so-called “Operation Martyr Soleimani”. After the assassination of the IRGC commander – itself a response to a string of Iranian backed attacks on Western interests – Tehran launched a series of ballistic missiles at al-Asad Airbase and Erbil International Airport in Iraq. But as it pulled the trigger, it simultaneously announced that it had given advance warning to the Iraqi government, which in turn had passed this warning to American forces.
This is how Tehran responded to the killing of its most senior and valuable commander. Not the outbreak of World War 3, but a carefully choreographed display. And it was no exception to the general rule: whenever America and its allies have conducted high value targeted strikes against the Iranian regime, they have deterred further action rather than encouraged it.”
“A spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, said at a news conference in Tehran, Iran, on Monday that the militias “do not take orders” from Iran and act independently. It is a convenient argument, one that preserves some sense of deniability for Iran.
But the speed at which Iran tried to distance itself from the strike, rather than embrace it, underscored that the downside of using proxies is the same as the upside: Iran will be blamed for everything the militias do, even acts the Iranians believe are too provocative.
“This is the inherent risk in Iran’s proxy-war strategy,” said Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It has been brilliantly successful, but only if the retaliation focuses on proxies and not on Iran’s own territory. Now there is a real risk of things getting even more out of hand in the region.”
Biden is running out of middle-ground options. Sanctions have been exhausted; there is barely a sector of the Iranian economy that the United States and Europe are not already punishing, and China continues to buy up Iranian oil. He could approve “strike packages” against a variety of proxies, but that would embolden some of them, and give some of them the status they crave as legitimate U.S. enemies.
And, following Stavridis’ suggestion, it could look to cyberattacks, more stealthy, deniable ways to make a point. But the lesson of the past decade of cyberconflict with Iran — in both directions — is that it looks easier in the movies than in reality. Gaining access to critical networks is hard, and having lasting impact is even harder. The most famous American-Israeli cyberattack on Iran, aimed at its nuclear centrifuges 15 years ago, slowed the nuclear program for a year or two but did not put it out of business.
And that is Biden’s challenge now: In the middle of an election, with two wars underway, he needs to put Iran’s sponsorship of attacks on Americans out of business — without starting another war.”
“During the Constitutional Convention in 1787, the framers debated how to allocate military and war powers among the branches of government. Some, like Pierce Butler of South Carolina, thought that power should lie with the president, while most others, including Elbridge Gerry, “never expected to hear in a Republic a motion to empower the Executive alone to declare war.” (Emphasis added.) Reflecting this consensus, James Madison successfully moved to change a draft sentence that empowered Congress to “make” war to language empowering it to “declare” war — the implication being that “the Executive should be able to repel and not commence, war,” in the words of Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman.”
“Convinced that paying off the pirates was both costly and without an end in sight, Jefferson resolved to take military action. For weeks, his cabinet debated whether the president had sole authority as commander-in-chief to send naval forces to the Mediterranean in a defensive posture. Only one, Attorney General Levi Lincoln, argued that he needed congressional approval even for this limited measure. But the cabinet’s general consensus held that Jefferson enjoyed some prerogative.
Jefferson agreed. Without congressional approval, he sent an American fleet to the Mediterranean, with detailed instructions of what to do — and what not to do. Commodore Richard Dale, the officer in charge, was ordered to “sink, burn, capture, or destroy vessels attacking those of the United States.” But his men were not to initiate combat or step foot on Barbary land. Only after the Republican Congress authorized “warlike operations against the regency of Tripoli, or any other of the Barbary powers,” did Dale’s forces proactively attack the pirate states on their own land. Ultimately, American military success, particularly at the Battle of Derna in 1805, convinced the Barbary authorities that it was time to call a truce. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed the same year, effectively drew a close on Jefferson’s Barbary wars.”
“Contrary to the assertions of progressives like Jayapal and conservatives like Greene, presidents since the founding have affirmed their authority and responsibility to deploy military forces defensively without congressional approval.
To date, Biden has unilaterally ordered targeted strikes against Houthi military targets to diminish the terrorists’ ability to persist in their piracy. He hasn’t ordered a ground invasion of Yemen, a wider offensive against civil and governmental assets or an initiative to depose the Houthi government. He has followed closely in Jefferson’s footsteps, even if 250 years of evolution in technology and warfare make a direct comparison complicated.”
“The European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) reports that 2023 was the hottest year in the instrumental temperature record. That’s in part because global temperatures were boosted by the El Niño phenomenon in which the eastern Pacific Ocean surface temperature periodically surges higher.”
“”Not only is 2023 the warmest year on record, it is also the first year with all days over 1°C warmer than the pre-industrial period. Temperatures during 2023 likely exceed those of any period in at least the last 100,000 years,” noted Samantha Burgess, deputy director of C3S, in a press release.”
“The satellite temperature series run by climatologists Roy Spencer and John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) also basically concurs, reporting that 2023 is the hottest year in its 45-year record.”
“The C3S report observed that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations reached the highest levels ever recorded, 419 parts per million for carbon dioxide and 1902 parts per billion for methane. UAH’s Christy cautiously concedes that the “background climate-trend is about +0.1 °C per decade and could represent the warming effect of the extra greenhouse gases that are being added to the atmosphere as human development progresses.””