Monthly Archives: December 2013

My 10 Favorite Posts From 2013 By My Favorite Writer: Me

Well, none of you are going to do it, so if it must be done, it falls to me.

And it must be done.

Because.

Number 10:  5 Reasons I’m OK With The Rangers Losing To The Bruins

Yes, we begin with a hockey post. It hasn’t worked out exactly how I imagined it, what with Torts enjoying success in Vancouver and the Rangers….not enjoying success in Vancouver. Or anywhere. Still,  I continue to dream of a Canucks-Rangers Stanley Cup Final to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of “This one will last a lifetime“. Damn you Sam Rosen!

Number 9:Jennifer Rubin: Don’t Reward The Defunder Nut Jobs With Donations. John Boehner: Hey We’re Going To Defund ObamaCare, How About Throwing Us Some Coin?

Not a particularly deep post but I really loathe Jennifer Rubin. Catching her play the hack, while rather common, is always fun.

Number 8:What Is Holding The GOP Coalition Together?

It’s been a rough year for the GOP and conservatives (it’ll be a recurring theme in this list) but the basic problem is the common bonds that held the GOP coalition dating back to Reagan in 1980 have been ripped apart.

Right now people think we can do addition by subtraction. They are willing to throw ‘the other guys” overboard in hopes of bringing in new voters in greater numbers than we might lose. We need to find a way to add by adding.

It’s time we accept that our problems require more than tinkering and do major surgery. If those of us opposed to amnesty don’t come up with a better plan, it will happen and we’ll be in even deeper trouble.

Number 7:Yes, It’s Amnesty

The first in my series about  the GOP’s love affair with “comprehensive immigration reform”.

Language is very important in politics. The earliest stage of a political fight is often the fight to gain control of the terms used in the debate. Supporters of the bland sounding “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” really don’t like it when opponents call their various schemes “amnesty”. Why? No one wants to be seen as rewarding criminal behavior even when that’s EXACTLY what they are doing. So supporters of amnesty will go to great lengths and intellectual contortions to make sure no one dares use that term.

Bonus link: When Paul Ryan said he’d debate anyone about why it’s not amnesty, I took him up on his offer and dissect why it really, really is amnesty.

Number 6:Amnesty, Compassion, And Immorality

My concern and compassion is for the sucker (sic) who have and continue to play by the rules we’ve set up. Does the process we’ve set up need reform? Desperately. But the fact that we didn’t come up with a plan that would enable anyone who wants to come here to just walk on in mean that people are entitled to walk on in.

Currently there’s something like 4 million people waiting to come to this country by legal means. No matter what amnesty supporters say about illegals going to “the back of the line”, the truth is those who get the provisional legal status BEFORE any border security actually happens will be here and will have the ability to work and travel freely. I’m sure the people on that years long line would love to pay a $1,000 dollars and presto! have legal residency here. But they aren’t offered that chance, only those that broke our laws get that easy and instant path. Where’s the morality in that?

Number 5: In Support Of Immigration Reform

Team Amnesty will insist otherwise but opposing amnesty isn’t the same as opposing immigration or immigration reform.

Reforming the legal immigration process by rationalizing our system for selecting immigrants. Right now most immigrants come here because they are sponsored by a family member, someone who is often a naturalized US citizen. This “chain-migration” system makes family relation a key decider in who comes to this country. For the most part it doesn’t take into account the needs of the country or what skills the perspective immigrant brings to the table. We need to adopt a system along the lines of Canada or Australia that takes into account the needs of the country and matches the type of people they admit into the country. Obviously if you bring in someone like a doctor you will also need to let them bring their spouse and children but you don’t have to give priority to their 3rd cousin’s husband just because they are all related.

Number 4:The GOP Civil War…The Role Of Outside Groups And The Empire Strikes Back

Much of the year was spent arguing over the role of outside groups who are riding herd on Republicans and the “establishment” who wants to be left alone to do what it is they do.

I’m on Team Rebel

The fact of the matter is, given past performance, Republican office holders do need an enforcer looking over their shoulders. I like to think of these groups not as “the enemy within” but as the “motivation squad”. If you aren’t a self-motivator, most people will take the path of least resistance. For Republican officeholders, that often means giving in to the DC mindset that their job is to manage the train and keep it running to the benefit of those who pay the freight. Well, these conservative groups are serving as the eyes and ears (and occasionally the clinched fist) of conservative voters back home who sent people to DC to slow the train down and eventually put it on a different track.

Number 3:Is Mike Lee The Better Liar I’ve Been Waiting For?

I’ve long argued that the GOP needs to adopt a tactic the Democrats are good at…sound moderate at home and vote like a hard core ideologue in DC. Could Mike Lee lead the way?

I think my ambivalence about the speech, in particular the transportation example (which is a stand-in for how to deal with other policy issues, talk big, act small) is that I want someone to have a national fight about the role and scope of government. I want to take the ObamaCare debacle and discredit the notion of big government paternalism for the ages! In short I want to crush the Democrats, see them driven before us, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

Lee’s approach isn’t as satisfying as Rand Paul’s slash and burn approach (which Lee supported) but it’s likely to be more politically effective.

Number 2:Getting Mandela Wrong: When A Conservative Juiceboxer Attacks

The death of Nelson Mandela generated a lot of reaction with commentators writing whole swaths of his life out of the picture if it didn’t fit their narrative.

In the end the story of Mandela is that he wasn’t like almost all men. He wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t without sin (almost no one in South Africa was). However, he changed and grew. When he lacked the power to change his country he used violent means to attempt to get it. But once he had the power, he eschewed violence. That is not the typical tale of history. He did not crush those who had crushed him and his people. Instead he recognized that no one would benefit from that and more to the point, it was morally reprehensible to him to do so.

Mandela was a complex and imperfect man but when he faced the choice of violence on an awesome scale, a violence he could have turned lose with a single sentence, he said no. He used the moral authority that had been invested in him not simply to sweep away a racist regime but also to control his former comrades, including his own wife, who wanted to change South Africa with blood.

That is the man the world rightly mourns the passing of.

And finally….

My Number 1 post of 2013 by me: “It’s Not The GOP’s Fault It Is Useless But It Is Useless”

From January 16th, it really set the tone for the year.

It’s simply too much to expect a political party to stand up to voters and say, “no”. Politics is a market and voters have become consumers. If the GOP as a whole or an individual candidate won’t give the customer what they want, they will find someone else to do business with. Consumers don’t care about the health of the places they shop, they care that they get what they want. If Brand A doesn’t have it but Brand B does, who cares so long as their needs are met.

What America needs is a movement that will not just tell people “no” but also convince them to stop being a consumer of government and look at themselves as they were meant to…an owner of the government. Once you own something your value set shifts. Owners care about efficiency, quality and the long term survival of the organization. Owners invest not simply take out.
No political party is set up to do this. It’s irrational for someone selling a product to ask their customers to take on the responsibilities of ownership. Selling is about making things easier, ownership is about hard work.

The goal we as conservatives should have…the long term health of the country, is simply incompatible with the current mindset of the American people. You can get mad at the GOP for not being evangelical for small government values but there aren’t enough of us to make it worth their while to cater to us.

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NY Times Big Benghazi Story: Assertions And Dogs That Didn’t Bark

This story is getting a lot of play today as moving the ball forward on the Benghazi story because of the number of interviews with Benghazi militia figures it includes.

Here’s what writer David Kirkpatrick claims:

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

Let’s take the video angle first and see how little there is to back up this assertion.

Credit where it’s due: the story is remarkably well sourced. There are at least half a dozen Libyans with senior level roles in various Benghazi militias quoted by name.

That strength is also a great weakness. For all the people on record in the story, none of them say that the video was the motivation for the attack.

After running down the Egyptian TV networks available in Benghazi that covered the video and a Libyan website that featured the story the only on the record comments about the role of the video in the attack is this:

Hussein Abu Hamida, the acting chief of Benghazi’s informal police force, saw the growing furor and feared new violence against Western interests. He conferred with Abdul Salam Bargathi of the Preventive Security Brigade, an Islamist militia with a grandiose name, each recalled separately, and they increased security outside a United Nations office. But they said nothing to the Americans.

In an interview, Mr. Gharabi [leader of the Benghazi’s Rafallah al-Sehati Brigade] said that he had known about the building rage in Egypt over the video, but that, “We did not know if it was going to reach us here.”

Based on that information, Kirkpatrick asserts:

There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers. A Libyan journalist working for The New York Times was blocked from entering by the sentries outside, and he learned of the film from the fighters who stopped him. Other Libyan witnesses, too, said they received lectures from the attackers about the evil of the film and the virtue of defending the prophet.

So none of the leaders of the militias would say the attack was due to a video. Instead we’re supposed to accept some 3rd hand accounts about “the evil of the film”.

For a story so well sourced, the attribution for this key claim is notably weaker than one finds in the rest of the piece. At other points when Libyans aren’t willing to go on the record Kirkpatrick offers far more precise attributions…

“a young Islamist who had joined the pillaging said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution”

“A self-described jihadi commander..said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.”

But for support for one of the key assertions of the story the only sourcing we are given are generic “guards” and “witnesses” who are never directly quoted as individuals, just lumped together to support the narrative.

Even if you accept this weak sourcing as definitive, that the guards knew of the film the night of the attack and others heard lectures about how “evil” it was, that’s not the same as saying they were motivated by those thoughts to commit the attack. The Times is simply making that leap and insisting we do as well.

The second key claim of the piece is that it undermines Republican claims that al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack.

“What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video.”

Republicans, pouncing on the misstatement, have argued that the Obama administration was trying to cover up Al Qaeda’s role. “It was very clear to the individuals on the ground that this was an Al Qaeda-led event,” Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said last month on Fox News.

Actually, no.

Rice’s “misstatements”, or lies depending on your degree of charity, were not simply about al-Qaeda involvement but rather about the implication this was simply a “spontaneous” attack that could not have been predicted or prepared for by the Obama Administration, specifically Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

While the story mentions in passing several earlier attacks on US and western interests in Benghazi, nowhere in this supposedly exhaustive report is their mention that  Ambassador Chris Stevens and his security staff repeatedly warned of the deteriorating security situation and the need for additional security assets. The story quotes an optimistic cable from Stevens but does not delve into main State’s refusal to provide the requested help.

Whether or not al-Qaeda was involved in the attack is another question the story claims to answer but to the extent it does provide an answer, it’s simply by assertion.

But the Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with Al Qaeda’s international terrorist network. The only intelligence connecting Al Qaeda to the attack was an intercepted phone call that night from a participant in the first wave of the attack to a friend in another African country who had ties to members of Al Qaeda, according to several officials briefed on the call. But when the friend heard the attacker’s boasts, he sounded astonished, the officials said, suggesting he had no prior knowledge of the assault.

Is this really “the only intelligence” making the connection? I don’t know and my guess is neither does the author. It’s simply what an administration official told him. Color me skeptical of an official with a vested interest in this being true or at least what the public believes to be true.

I’d say at best the question is open whether or not there was al-Qaeda involvement in the planning of the attack.

Added: Maybe not so open. Democrat reacts to this story:

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a senior member of the [House Intelligence] committee, also said al Qaeda was involved. “I agree with Mike [Rogers] that … the intelligence indicates that al Qaeda was involved,” he said.

Again, none of Kirkpatrick’s source go on record one way or the other about al-qaeda. Do you really expect one to say, “oh yeah, we totally worked with al-Qaeda on this”? They have heard of armed drones in Libya you know.

End of addition

Kirkpatrick’s story certainly adds something,, though not as much as is being claimed, to the understandings of the crosscurrents and multiple agendas at play in post-Ghadaffi Benghazi. It does nothing to definitively answer the questions it claims to. But it has already done one important job…Republicans are not official “on defense” over their charges against Obama and Clinton.

The media will insist this closes the book on Benghazi (to the extent it was ever open in the main stream media) but nothing in it absolves the Obama administration of the main charges: that officials, including Obama, claimed this attack was the result of a protest over a video and not what it really was…a planned attack that occurred in an increasingly dangerous city on an American facility that the administration repeatedly failed to reinforce despite warnings from officials on the ground.

That’s a story the media still isn’t interested in and they never will be.

Santa Is White. It’s Ok To Think Homsexuality Is A Sin. Ripping Off Amazon Is Not Honorable. And Die Hard Is A Christmas Movie

This is what passes for news around the holidays but I think there’s a broader an important point underlying these silly stories.

Let’s start with Santa’s race. He’s white. He’s mythical but he’s always been portrayed as whiteand guess what? That’s ok. This notion that black, Asian, Latino or whatever else can’t related to Santa and the values he supposedly represents (beyond presents) is dangerous to a society trying to move beyond race.

Do Martin Luther King Jr or Nelson Mandela have nothing to teach non-black children because they don’t look like him? I find it hard to believe that people advocating for “Santa has to look like me” would find that a palatable notion. I certainly don’t think it’s true.

So if heroic black men can serve as role models for children of all races, why can’t Santa maintain his traditional appearance as a jolly-fat white guy while representing the values of love and sharing?

This is not to say that only white people can’t dress up in Santa suits anytime they want, even if it’s to make fools of themselves. But the image of Santa as we know him in America, while commercialized and more recent than most people may think, does have its roots in northern Europe. This is a fact. True self-esteem can not be built on lies simply because it’s convenient and feels good.

As for Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson’s comments…they were not hateful. They were not threatening. They were not demeaning. They were simply an accurate recitation of traditional Christian (and just about every other religion’s) teachings on homosexuality. You may not agree with them, and I as a non-religious person don’t, but that doesn’t mean what he said isn’t an accurate reflection of long held beliefs.

Personally I’m glad society in general has gone from treating gays as mentally ill to perfectly normal members of the community in such a relatively short period of time. What I’m not glad we’ve done is created a social standard where we must pretend the past doesn’t exist and that society has always been this way.

Gays have fought long and hard for acceptance in society as a whole. What no one should insist upon is that others be ostracized for not celebrating their sexual orientation. The same behavior gay activists abhor, an intolerance for who they are, is what they are now trying to impose on others.

I hate to break it to people but being gay isn’t the highest value in life. In fact, like everyone’s sexuality, it’s rather uninteresting to most everyone else. Please get over yourselves and grow up.

You should note that Robertson also included straight people who sleep around in his list of people who are sinners and damaging the culture. Not to get too personal but as a non-celibate single man, I’m guessing I was included in that. My reaction? Vast and overwhelming disinterest in his opinion. I have zero interest in what he thinks about me or in seeing him condemned for it. We’d all benefit from gay activists taking a similar attitude.

No matter who you are, there will be people in this world who won’t love you or like the things you do. Accept this and move on. You want people to take a live and live attitude towards you? You better show the same courtesy to them.

Which brings us to Matt Yglesias and Josh Barro arguing that it’s ok to pretend to be a parent to get a discount from Amazon.

Let me say upfront I don’t think this scam is a great moral outrage. If Amazon really cared they’d have some sort of verification system in place. That doesn’t make lying right or noble, it just doesn’t signal to me some sort of decline of society as we know it. People cheat. The world goes on.

My problem is with these two nitwits is they are elevating their dishonesty to some sort of noble action. Yglesias’ original column on it is like a kid who pulled one over on his parents but he’s too stupid to pocket the win. He has to let everyone know how clever and bold he is. Ooooohhhhh…fake baby name! Matty you’re so edgy! And look you outsmarted the big bad corporate behemoth, oh aren’t you the tough guy!

Opening an unlocked door with a big sign on that says “Howdy! Come on in” doesn’t make you a world class jewel thief. In this case bragging about your supposed exploit makes you dishonest AND a schmuck who doesn’t have enough class or common sense to keep your mouth shut about your dishonest activities.

Meanwhile, Barro writes a long column about how scamming a discount is actual the mark of economic realist. Nonsense. If you’re upset that you’re not eligible for a discount from a retailer because you aren’t in their targeted demographic the rationale and honest thing is to shop at retailer who either caters to your demographic or does not price discriminate against you.

That you do not have the decency to either suck up the fact that Amazon didn’t offer you a discount or shop somewhere else, doesn’t elevate your dishonest workaround to acceptable or intellectually praise worthy. You’re a cheat. Worse than that, you’re too stupid to realize that bragging about your cheating makes you look like a fool and diminishes any credibility you have.

Or it should. And that’s what these stories have in common. We are elevating new values, unattached to any morality beyond the power to enforce them through the infliction of social punishment over longstanding societal norms.

You may think that these longstanding societal norms are antiquated and should be replaced but don’t complain when people push-back. One of the biggest myths is that conservatives are the aggressors in the so-called culture wars. From Christmas traditions and expressions of religious faith to family structure and basic honesty, the left is constantly working to rewrite the rules. They have turned calls for tolerance into a campaign of conquest. Too many people who might be predisposed to traditional values laugh off these individual challenges as inconsequential. But as each inch of ground is ceded the territory conquered by the left continues to grow. By the time some find a battle they think worthy of fighting, the war will be lost.

As for Die Hard being a Christmas movie. The science is settled.

 

It’s Imperative For Conservatives Who Want To Move The GOP To The Right That Matt Bevin Defeat Mitch McConnell

Let me start out by saying a few things I like about Mitch McConnell…

His dedication to the First Amendment is outstanding and in stark contrast to a lot of politicians, including Republicans.

He’s done a good job as Minority Leader. He’s mostly held his caucus together and he’s done what he could where he could to advance conservative policies.

I would not have picked him as a target of the effort to push the GOP to the right. I think this is far too personal between Jim DeMint and his supporters and McConnell. Moving the GOP to the right has to be about business and personal fights are bad for business.

That said, if you care about putting pressure on the GOP from the right, McConnell has to go. The fight is ill conceived in my opinion but once made, it has to be won.

The GOP “establishment” (as always, for want of a better term) is feeling pretty good about the recent push-back against conservative insurgents and interest groups trying to force the GOP to match its actions and words. The only way to get the GOP back in its box is to actually take some of them out.

If your main weapon to keep officeholders in line is mobilizing voters against them in primaries, you have to actually deliver votes against them. If targeted members win even though they are voting against the interests of conservatives, the fear will be gone. The leftward drift we’ve seen from the House this year will only get worse and Senate Republicans will know the leash has been removed and a full-fledged stampede to “moderation” and “bi-partisanship” will ensue.

Once threats are made and challenges issued, no matter how ill-advised some might be, the only option is victory.

Denying profligate spender Thad Cochran renomination in Mississippi or ensuring that Rob Maness defeats “establishment” choice Bill Cassidy in Louisiana would be great news, it won’t have the same impact as defeating the incumbent Senate Minority Leader.

Notice  I haven’t said anything about McConnell’s challenger Matt Bevin. I honestly don’t know anything about him. Ideally politics is about issues and candidates but sometimes it’s just about tactics. The McConnell-Bevin race is about much more than the GOP nomination for Senate in Kentucky. It’s a proxy fight that is greater than either of the candidates individually.

I think it’s the wrong fight at the wrong time but as the saying goes, ”When you strike at a king you must kill him.” Do that and you will do a great deal to ensure that the GOP is responsive to the right.  Fail in this fight and the forces of moderation and compromise in the GOP will be emboldened.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Hey, Now Is A Good Time For The Government To Start Up A New Insurance Program

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is talked about as a dark-horse 2016 presidential candidate (if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run). She’s clearly keeping her options open and laying some preliminary groundwork by getting some attention for her American Opportunity Agenda. Mostly it’s a list of warmed over big government ideas that liberals, especially women, love.

Today E.J. Dionne promotes one of her originalish ideas…government administered paid maternity/family leave.

For all these reasons, it was exciting last week to see Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduce the FAMILY Act, the acronym standing for their Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. The bill would provide partial income for up to 12 weeks of leave for new parents and for other family demands, such as care for a sick family member, including a domestic partner.

The usual knock on proposals of this sort is that they would put an excessive economic burden on employers — or cost the federal government money it doesn’t have. Gillibrand and DeLauro, both Democrats, solve this problem by establishing FAMILY as an insurance program. Premiums would range from about $72 to $227 a year, depending on a person’s income. The maximum benefit is capped at $4,000 a month. They expect the average monthly benefit to be less than half that.

Yes, fresh off the launch of ObamaCare, liberals are back at it.

How would this new government insurance scheme be funded? By a tax or a penalty or whatever Chief Justice Roberts calls it.

This trust would be funded by employee and employer contributions of 0.2 percent of wages each, creating a self-sufficient program that would not add to the federal budget.

We’ll I’m sure their projections would be totally right and there’d never be any upward pressure on the system to pay more than it took in because there’s no history of the government setting up an unsustainable insurance program.

They never learn and they never stop.

This of course is the danger of getting into a bidding war with Democrats over “small” government programs aimed at buying people’s votes with their own money. ..they will always find a way to up the ante. That’s a lesson the GOP never learns and never stops trying to do.

Oh by the way, this exciting new idea? You can already buy this kind of coverage on the private market. But unless the government is running something, liberals don’t think it exists.

The Problem With The GOP’S, “Cave Now, Win Later” Promises

Republicans are rejoicing that Paul Ryan has cut a deal with Patty Murray to end the fighting with the Obama Administration over the budget for the next two years.

Generally an opposition party does not celebrate giving up a hammer with which to beat up the majority it is opposing but the GOP is an inept and dysfunctional organization.

Let me run through a number of reason why this deal is no cause for celebration.

In 2010 the GOP rallied from the dead because of a national uprising over Democratic overreach after two years in control of both the White House and Congress. This was a gift given to a party that had been run out of any power and thought to be headed for a long trip into the wilderness.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 was the GOP’s victory over Obama and the Democrats. It was the tangible (though imperfect) sign that the GOP “got it” and was going to mend the ways that led to it being turned out in 2008.

Now, a scant two years after demonstrating that maybe, just maybe the GOP was worth a second look from voters in the future, they have tossed away their one positive legislative victory (as opposed to simply not passing something Obama wanted).

And they are celebrating it!

Yes, the apologists will say, we had to cut this deal so that we can win the Senate in the future And then the White House! And then, boy then, we’ll be a budget slashing machine!

But why would anyone believe it? The GOP is running around now saying how great it is that they are spending more. When they were in power, along with a Republican Senate and President, they spent through the roof (their outrageous spending habits only seem mild when you compare them to the Reid-Pelosi-Obama years). When they had the hammer of the sequester they…spent more.

You can rest assured that once the GOP wins all the elections they tell you they need, they won’t cut a thing. In fact, they’ll spend more. There’s always another mid-term coming up and a Republican President to reelect. The excuses to spend will always be there. And let’s be honest, they don’t need an excuse to spend, they WANT to spend your money. It’s fun, it’s political profitable and it’s a sure way to land a cushy post-congressional gig at a lobbying firm.

You’re free to believe the GOP’s promises about how tough they will be once they are returned to power but I think it’s pretty clear that their actions tell a different story.

If you buy into their promises, you will have no one to blame but yourself when they inevitably break those promises.

Republicans are lying to conservatives, like the scorpion, it’s their nature. You don’t have to give them a chance to sting you. I fear many will fall for the “but the Democrats are worse!” excuse. That unfortunately is the nature of too many self-described conservatives.

So go ahead and keep supporting a party that cheers on members who break their promises. Vote for people who will say what you want to hear but act in direct opposition to what you want. Just don’t wonder why government keeps growing, debt keeps being added and the economy crawls along.

The problem isn’t the politicians, it’s the voters who let them get away with it.

Are you?

Reagan Was Wrong

As GOP primary fights continue to pop up there’s going to be a lot of talk of who is sufficiently conservative and who isn’t. Like many things involving the GOP people will often seek to invoke the authority of Ronald Reagan.

Senator John Cornyn fresh off finding himself in a primary against longshot opponent Congress Steve Stockman, does just this.

I don’t know how we got off on this track, where some people are welcome in our party and some people are not. Hence my reference to Ronald Reagan’s line, “What do you call someone who agrees with you eight times out of ten? An ally, not a twenty-percent traitor.” Well, we’re at a point where you can agree with someone 98 percent of the time, but they think of you as a 2 percent traitor, which is just an impossible standard.

Put aside Cornyn’s implied purity for a moment, the underlying Reagan position is just wrong.

The Supreme Court issues a lot of 9-0, 8-1, 7-2 decisions. It’s the 20-30% of cases that are 5-4 that are the ones that generally hold the greatest importance to most people.

Am I supposed to consider that because 70 or 80% of the time Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy agree that they are equally reliable and useful to conservatives? Of course not.

It’s when and how you break ranks that determines if you are an ally or someone who needs to be replaced. Someone like Lindsey Graham who goes out of his way to make life difficult for conservatives may vote with them 80 or even 90% of the time but the damage he does on those other occasions outweighs the rest. The same goes for Senators like Alexander and Corker who openly work with Democrats against to interests of the majority of Republicans on many issues.

And sometimes a single vote carries so much weight, that yes, it can be the basis of a primary challenge.

I don’t know that primarying Conyers is a wise choice (I also don’t think it will come to much) but let’s not pretend that meeting the bare minimum standards of acceptability should be enough if you can do better.

Getting Mandela Wrong: When A Conservative Juiceboxer Attacks.

There are many ways to react to the death of Nelson Mandela.

Personally I muted “Mandela” on my Twitter feed because I think that’s about the worst possible way to react to someone’s death and most people posting on it were simply trying to insert themselves into a larger event.

Others unfortunately decide to write a post entitled “Communist Icon Nelson Mandela Dead at 95“.

This was the path David Swindle (I originally misspelled Mr. Swindle’s name. I apologize and regret the error) of PJ Media went down.

Swindle apparently thinks the most important facts to consider upon Mandela’s death are stories of Mandela’s deeds as a member of the African National Congress’ armed resistance to South Africa’s apartheid regime. This choice is a stupid one.

Yes, many of the mainstream remembrances of Mandela will gloss over the man’s earlier years but that doesn’t give anyone licence to gloss over the much more important later years.

All people’s lives are complex and this is especially true of people who play on the largest stages of all. Their stories will be complex and often contradictory. Hacks will focus on either solely the existence of contradictions or ignore them entirely.

Yes, Mandela was a Communist who used violence in an attempt to overthrow one of the most vicious and ugly political regimes in history. The nature of the regime Mandela fought does not excuse the tactics he used but it does place them in context.

And context and appreciation for complexity are what Swindle piece is sorely lacking.

It’s hard to imagine that one could write a piece attacking others for leaving out important details of Mandela’s story while omitting  the word “apartheid” in one’s own story.

Swindle includes a video of Mandela singing the ANC anthem which has lyrics that speak of killing white oppressors. Inconveniently, though plan for all to see, is that there are whites with Mandela singing the same words. It’s clear that the song has a specific cultural and political meaning in that context that Swindle either doesn’t understand or simply ignores.

This leads to the most glaring omission in Swindle’s telling of the story…if Nelson Mandela really wanted whites dead he could have had them killed by the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. If Mandela really was simply a communist thug he would have done what communist thugs have done from day one…have their enemies rounded up and killed. He would have used the anger of his followers (in this case perfectly legitimate) and divided the country to rule unchecked by fear and force.

Like countless post-colonial African despots, Mandela could have bought off his supporters by stealing the resources of those he replaced to enrich himself and his followers. He could have done what almost all men who have nearly unlimited political power have done with it…kept it and ruthlessly used it.

But he didn’t.

In the end the story of Mandela is that he wasn’t like almost all men. He wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t without sin (almost no one in South Africa was). However, he changed and grew. When he lacked the power to change his country he used violent means to attempt to get it. But once he had the power, he eschewed violence. That is not the typical tale of history. He did not crush those who had crushed him and his people. Instead he recognized that no one would benefit from that and more to the point, it was morally reprehensible to him to do so.

Mandela was a complex and imperfect man but when he faced the choice of violence on an awesome scale, a violence he could have turned lose with a single sentence, he said no. He used the moral authority that had been invested in him not simply to sweep away a racist regime but also to control his former comrades, including his own wife, who wanted to change South Africa with blood.

That is the man the world rightly mourns the passing of.

The subheading of Swindle ‘s piece includes a quote from Andrew Breitbart, “Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.” That’s absolutely right. The problem is Swindle’s piece isn’t the truth. It’s simply contrarian nonsense that lacks any appreciation for history, complexity and in the end, the truth.

So yes, let us remember that Mandela was a violent Communist in his early years. It only makes the transformation he underwent and what he was able to accomplish in his later years all the more remarkable.

People Don’t Understand What Insurance Is Or How It Works…A Never Ending Story

Behold:

She’s right, C-Sections aren’t “conditions”. A C-Section is however a procedure that once a woman has one, they are likely to require again should they have another child due to risk factors.

C-Sections also cost more than traditional birth.

Across the U.S., many families know firsthand how high maternity care costs are. As noted in The Times recently, giving birth in the U.S. is more expensive than any other country in the world. Total costs average $18,329 for a vaginal delivery and $27,866 for a C-section, with the bulk of the bill going to insurers. However, families with insurance still have to pay about $3400 out of pocket.

Should a woman who previously had a C-Section elect to have a natural birth in later pregnancies face additional risk factors.

Insurance companies manage risk. It’s the only way they can stay in business.

Of course that’s all just fancy mumbo-jumbo for their real motivation…they hate women.

And this kind of ignorance is how liberals pass ridiculous and unworkable laws.