Monday, November 30, 2015

Cruising the Web

Obamacare is, as Shikha Dalmia in The Week writes, "quietly unraveling." If insurance companies bow out of participating in the Obamacare exchanges, how can the program continue? The economics that critics warned about are all coming to pass. Companies can not make money if they're forced to give insurance to everyone, but the predicted numbers of healthy enrollees are just not signing up. It doesn't take an economics major to realize that something has got to give. Last week, UnitedHealthcare, the largest insurer in the country and a huge ally of the Obama administration, said that it may have to quite the exchanges next year because it's losing too much money. It lost $425 million last year mostly due to Obamacare. Other commercial insurance companies are seeing similar losses and jacking up their premiums isn't going to fix their problem. Non-profit companies are seeing similar problems.
For-profit companies that have shareholders breathing down their necks don't have much latitude to absorb losses. But even companies that don't face similar profit-maximizing pressures can't escape the basic dilemma confronting the industry. For example, state filings of the non-profit Blue Cross Blue Shield show that the company barely broke even in the first half of 2015. In Texas last year, BCBS collected $2.1 billion in premiums and paid out $2.5 billion in claims. If ObamaCare's condition worsens, such companies will have to scale back their participation too.

And ObamaCare's condition will worsen. Why? Because not only are far fewer patients enrolling in the exchanges than projected, but those signing up are too old or sick for anything resembling a balanced risk pool.
And the fault lies, not in the stars, but in the way Obamacare was structured from the beginning.
The reason for this pathetic take-up rate is that the lavish benefits — in-vitro fertilization for 50-year-old women, for example — that ObamaCare mandated for qualifying plans have backfired. This mandate was intended to make sure that the young and healthy would purchase full — not bare-bones, catastrophic — coverage so that they would offset the cost of sicker patients. Instead, it has forced companies to jack up rates so much that only those eligible for full subsidies (the relatively poor) or the sick find it worth their while to buy coverage. The relatively young and healthy are opting to pay the penalty and "go naked." This, in turn, is forcing insurers to raise prices even more, which is causing more healthy people to drop out, unleashing the dreaded adverse selection spiral.
The insurance companies hoped that the government would bail them out, but Congress blocked that in 2014 by adding a rider to the budget back then forbidding the government from bailing out the insurance companies in the so-called risk-corridor programs. Marco Rubio was the one who pushed that rider onto the budget package so deserves some of the credit for hastening the death spiral of the entire program. Ed Morrissey isn't quite ready to celebrate the end of Obamacare. Who knows what extralegal actions the Obama administration will take to shovel money to insurers to keep them in business despite the actual law? And who can predict what a Hillary Clinton administration would try to do? But the spiral is continuing in a downward path because the program was always unworkable. Ed Morrissey is willing to give Rubio some of the credit.
But Rubio should get credit, at the very least, for pushing a common-sense and utterly necessary firewall to protect taxpayers from a massive and perpetual health-insurance bailout. The risk corridor program was supposed to last three years while insurers found the sweet spot on premium pricing; it lasted two. The massive payments that would have gone out in the third year without the budget neutrality requirement show that this program would never have come to an end. The fantasy of co-ops providing cheaper insurance was exposed as just a government-subsidized bait-and-switch scheme. Rubio’s intervention made it clear that ObamaCare isn’t a system just going through some learning-curve bumps in the road, but a fundamentally flawed and dishonest scheme that would have hoodwinked taxpayers on costs for decades.

If that leads to ObamaCare’s repeal and replacement with a rational, market-based reform, then Rubio will deserve credit for the win. But let’s win first before handing out the trophies.
Morrissey also links to a report by Timothy Carney of just how the administration is trying to use government funds to bail out the insurers.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had announced in October that insurers losses for 2014 entitled them to $2.87 billion in bailout payments through "risk corridors." The problem is that super-profitable insurers did not pay nearly that much into the bailout fund.

In late 2014, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., inserted into the so-called Cromnibus spending bill a provision that prohibited CMS from paying out more in risk corridor payments than it takes in. Profitable insurers — not taxpayers — must subsidize their less profitable peers.

Since insurers' excess losses in 2014 outweighed their excess profits by an 8-to-1 margin, each money-losing insurer will get only one eighth of the bailout money it would otherwise recoup.
So now the administration wants to take money from the 2015 and 2016 risk corridor payments to bail out those companies that are failing this year. Why not rob from the future to prevent embarrassing failures in an upcoming election year? And, as Carney points out, how convenient that the head of CMS is a former executive at United Healthcare.
Slavitt's appointment and management of bailout money for UHC clearly clashes with Obama's much ballyhooed ethics rules, which require appointees to swear: "I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer…" In acknowledgement of this conflict of interest, Obama issued an ethics waiver for Slavitt.

Meanwhile, the insurance lobbyist leading the industry's push for more Obamacare bailout money is Marilyn Tavenner, Obama's previous chief of CMS, now head of America's Health Insurance Plans. AHIP says risk corridors aren't the group's top focus, but Tavenner is speaking out on it.

In summary: Tavenner helped build the risk corridor program, and then went to the industry that would get the money. Slavitt left the insurer with the biggest losses, and now is the government official promising to bail out his former employer.

Rubio's provision, which requires the risk corridor program to be deficit neutral, expires along with the current government funding law on December 11. The Obamacare insiders, led by Slavitt and Tavenner, will fight to free up their bailouts and put the taxpayers on the hook for their losses caused by the law they supported.
It's crony capitalism all the way down.

Shop Amazon Fashion - Cyber Monday Savings

Shop Amazon Fashion - Cyber Monday Week

Cyber Monday - Save $25 Off $100 Bosch Orders

With the latest brouhaha over Trump's nasty impersonation of NYT reporter's Serge Kovaleski's disability, we're being told, once again, that all of us just are so stupid as to have misunderstood what Trump was saying. He tells us that he had no idea about this reporter's disability and hasn't met him despite clear evidence that the reporter had interviewed him and met him quite a few times. But we are just being too blinded by bias to understand what The Donald was saying. As Larry Thornberry points out, our misunderstanding of the brilliance that is Trump has happened over and over again. He'll say something outrageous. People will get outraged. Trump will tell us he didn't mean what he clearly meant.
After the totally deserved storm of criticism of this crude and juvenile demonstration, once again comes the Donald to say that what we saw and heard was not what we saw and heard. Just as “Look at that face” had nothing to do with La Fiorina’s looks, imitating a disabled person’s movements was not mocking the man’s disability. Right, Donald.
Add in his remarks about McCain, Megyn Kelly, or Ben Carson and a whole host of other remarks and tweets or retweets that he just blamed on an intern despite not allowing interns to have access to his Twitter account. They're all misunderstandings. And it doesn't seem to make a difference to the quarter to a third of the GOP electorate being polled who say they prefer Trump. They like him because he says tough things and because he riles up more reasonable political observers. But that isn't a reason to vote for someone for president. Give him a radio show if that's what you're looking for. As Thornberrgy writes,
Seeing through the shortcomings of the Washington establishment is no challenge. The guy who is daily on the third barstool from the left can do it without breaking a sweat or missing a round. But firmly grasping the obvious and harrumphing about it is not a qualification for high office. There must be more. A lot more. It’s called substance. In the case of the Donald, we’re waiting to see what that more might be (or not).
But for too many people, bombast seems sufficient to gain their support.

Newsbusters reminds us of when the Obama campaign mocked John McCain in an ad for not using a computer or sending email when it turns out that he didn't use a computer due to his war injuries making it too painful for him to type. There wasn't anything like the outrage we see how for Trump's brutish mocking of Kovaleski's disability. Trump is a boor who is now lying about what he meant when he said "you ought to see the guy" and then made gestures to imitate the reporter's disability. But the Obama campaign was also insensitive, but of course the media weren't going to criticize him for that back in 2008. They probably wouldn't even say anything about it today.

Charles C. W. Cooke argues that the whole back-and-forth about whether or not thousands of Muslims in Jersey City after 9/11 is an example of how Trumpism operates in an ugly feedback loop.
This affair serves as the perfect illustration of the ugly manner in which the Trump phenomenon now works. That there is no evidence of “thousands” of American Muslims cheering 9/11 from New Jersey is, frankly, immaterial. Why? Well, because Trump is playing a character on TV, and his script includes no room for error. By the rules he has set out for himself, whatever Trump says he is, he must be. As such, he can’t possibly have misremembered what happened after 9/11 — as might any human being — because he has the World’s Greatest Memory, and the guy with the World’s Greatest Memory doesn’t misremember.

This rule applies consistently. If Trump says he’s a conservative – despite holding positions that usually make conservatives shriek – then he’s a conservative. If that requires redefining conservatism, so be it. If he says he wasn’t mocking a journalist whom he was quite obviously mocking, then he wasn’t mocking that journalist. If that requires his admirers to suspend disbelief beyond all possible limits, then so be it. And if he says that he saw something of which there really is no evidence, then he must have seen it. Worse still: If you like him, then you must have seen it too.

In this late stage, Trump’s whole campaign has become a ghastly feedback loop from which there is no hope of escape. Typically, we do not accept “why wouldn’t it have happened?” as much of an argument for anything. Customarily, we would privilege the ancient principle of ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies) above an appeal to the mob. Not here, though. There’s a SuperTrump to prop up. If 2+2 has to equal 5 to annoy Chuck Todd or to stick one in the eye of the politically correct, then 2+2 is 5.

Peter Wehner rightly excoriates President Obama's hypocrisy in attacking critics from not wanting to bring in refugees that his own administration has admitted can't be vetted.
In 2012 Mr. Obama rebuffed plans to arm Syrian rebels despite the fact that his former secretaries of defense and state, his C.I.A. director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff supported them. He repeatedly insisted he would not put American soldiers in Syria or pursue a prolonged air campaign. He refused to declare safe havens or no-fly zones. And it was also in 2012 that Mr. Obama warned the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, that using chemical weapons would cross a “red line.” Yet when Mr. Assad did just that, Mr. Obama did nothing.

The president, perhaps fearful of offending the pro-Assad Iranian government with which he was trying to negotiate a nuclear arms deal, chose to sit by while a humanitarian catastrophe unfolded. As Walter Russell Mead wrote in The American Interest, “This crisis is in large part the direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to stand aside and watch Syria burn.” Some of us find it a bit nervy for the president to lecture the opposition party for heartlessness because cleaning up after his failure raises security concerns.
Obama refuses to work with the Republicans in Congress to come to a reasonable solution - to pause admitting the refugees until security can be assured. Perhaps he's worried that such security can never be assured. Instead he mounts his throne of self-righteousness and accuses the Republicans of fearing widows and orphans. As always, Obama would prefer to mischaracterize the motives of his opponents and then ridicule them. It is a far cry from the promises he made while campaigning in 2008 or in the speech that catapulted him into the public eye in 2004. His moral hypocrisy has triumphed over any good impulses he might have had.

Andrew McCarthy explains how concern over Syrian refugees ignores the fundamental question about how the refugees that are already in Europe are undermining the rule of law there and what should be done about this.
Unbound by any First Amendment, the French government exerts pressure on the media to suppress bad news. We do not hear much about the steady thrum of insurrection in the banlieues: the thousands of torched automobiles, the violence against police and other agents of the state, the pressure in Islamic enclaves to ignore the sovereignty of the Republic and conform to the rule of sharia.

What happens in France happens in Belgium. It happens in Sweden where much of Malmo, the third largest city, is controlled by Muslim immigrant gangs — emergency medical personnel attacked routinely enough that they will not respond to calls without police protection, and the police in turn unwilling to enter without back-up. Not long ago in Britain, a soldier was killed and nearly beheaded in broad daylight by jihadists known to the intelligence services; dozens of sharia courts now operate throughout the country, even as Muslim activists demand more accommodations. And it was in Germany, which green-lighted Europe’s ongoing influx of Muslim migrants, that Turkey’s Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan proclaimed that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in their new Western countries is “a crime against humanity.”
And importing this sort of lawlessness becomes more likely through efforts to bring more and more to the United States as refugees. McCarthy argues that we should be vetting to see if applicants support the establishment of sharia in the United States. This is not vetting their religion.
Unlike the Judeo-Christian principles that informed America’s founding, classical sharia does not abide a separation of spiritual from civic and political life. Therefore, to rationalize on religious-liberty grounds our conscious avoidance of Islamist ideology is to miss its thoroughgoing anti-constitutionalism.

Sharia rejects the touchstone of American democracy: the belief that the people have a right to govern themselves and chart their own destiny. In sharia governance, the people are subjects not citizens, and they are powerless to question, much less to change, Allah’s law. Sharia systematically discriminates against women and non-Muslims. It is brutal in its treatment of apostates and homosexuals. It denies freedom of conscience, free expression, property rights, economic liberty, and due process of law. It licenses wars of aggression against infidels for the purpose of establishing sharia as the law of the land.

Sharia is also heavily favored by Muslims in majority-Muslim countries. Polling consistently tells us that upwards of two-thirds of Muslims in the countries from which we are accepting refugees believe sharia should be the governing system.

Thus, since we are vetting for terrorism rather than sharia-adherence, and since we know a significant number of Muslims are sharia-adherent, we are missing the certainty that we are importing an ever-larger population hostile to our society and our Constitution — a population that has been encouraged by influential Islamist scholars and leaders to form Muslim enclaves throughout the West.
We already take more refugees than any other country on earth. McCarthy reminds us that in 2014, the U.S. took in two-thirds of the world's refugees. The question is whether we should be taking in people who do not believe in our constitutional system and seek to undermine it. If sharia is what they want, let them settle into Muslim majority countries that also support sharia.

Jay Cost writes on the same subject of the low sorts of rhetoric coming from this president. His point is that such rhetoric is especially repugnant when it comes from the president rather than from a member of Congress.
But does it have to be this way? Should we not expect more from the presidential office? It is one thing for rhetoric like this to come from members of Congress, state and local party officials, or ideologues in the media. It is quite another for it to emanate from the executive branch, including from a former first lady and senator like Clinton, who is the party’s heir apparent. The president, after all, is the one officer in the government who may claim to speak for the whole nation. The office is also endowed with enormous power, which increasingly is quasi-legislative and can be exercised without checks and balances. Moreover, the pomp and circumstance that increasingly surround the office, while muted compared with what the Bourbon Kings enjoyed, has the effect of giving the president’s words special weight.

In other words, today’s executive branch is not the place for Manichean rhetoric—at least not in a nation that fancies itself a democratic republic.
The result is that, for four or eight years, one party will fume while they are out of power and then leap for the chance to gain the White House. The cycle will continue with just different players.
Yet our politics has trended in the opposite direction—toward concentration of power in the executive office, with the president increasingly becoming the focal point of all public affairs. Our nation began with a Whiggish view of the presidential office and a decided emphasis on Congress as the main agent in the government. But since the Progressive Era, we have drifted toward a view reminiscent of the Stuart monarchs that the Whigs dispatched in the Glorious Revolution: The president should be an all-powerful, unrivaled advocate of the general welfare.

Is it any wonder that our political discourse is so dysfunctional? A single person cannot possibly embody the nation as a whole, yet our expectation is for the president to do exactly that. Should we be surprised that presidents insist upon a singular view of America that aggravates and alienates the half of the country that does not share it?

The long-term effect of this style of executive leadership is that one side feels manipulated and alienated for four or eight years, then finally has a chance to “take back America.” This in turn leaves the other side feeling manipulated and alienated, and resolving to “take back America .  .  . again.” Is this what our politics has been reduced to—constant recriminations and mutual enmity?

Michael Walsh reminds us of Hillary Clinton's many lies. It's just a small portion of her lies.

Thhese are some astounding facts about violence this year in Chicago.
As of November 23, there had been 2703 shootings which resulted in 440 deaths year-to date in heavily gun-controlled Chicago.

That is an increase of approximately 400 shootings over the same time last year.
And remember that Chicago has some of the most stringent gun control measures in the nation in a city that has been under totally Democratic control for decades.

Shop Amazon Fashion - Holiday Gift Guide

Digital Music Headquarters

Deals in Kitchen and Dining

Is Europe ready for the entire continent to become like Brussels?
For years outsiders have seen Belgium as a microcosm of Europe: first, in its expression of the dream that domestic differences can be dissolved in a federalist soup; subsequently as an example of north-south mistrust. Recent events provide a third prism: like other European countries, Belgium is floundering in the face of a domestic terror threat. Here, as elsewhere, budget cuts have left police and intelligence services short of resources, including Arabic-speakers. Security officials have a watch-list of some 800 potential or actual foreign fighters, but, like their counterparts in Britain and France, do not have anything like the manpower needed to monitor them all. More funds have lately been devoted to watching people returning from Syria, but at the expense of other intelligence concerns, such as counter-espionage.

Meanwhile, Belgium is dealing with the legacy of its failure to integrate large parts of its Muslim minority. Fairly or otherwise, Molenbeek has become a global byword for jihadism, but similar problems exist throughout the country: a clownish (and now defunct) Antwerp-based group called Sharia4Belgium inspired dozens of young Belgians to leave for Syria. Immigrants and their immediate descendants are far more likely to be unemployed than non-migrant Belgians; their children perform poorly at school. A higher share of the Belgian population has left to join the fight in Syria or Iraq than from any other EU country.
Is there any other place in Europe that has resolved these problems?

It sounds like the chief rabbi of Brussels has seen the future of Europe and also sees it following the sad path of his home city.
The chief rabbi of Brussels told an Israeli radio station Monday that there is no future for Jews in Europe, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Rabbi Avraham Gigi described the environment of fear in the Belgian capital since the city has been in lockdown following police terror raids across the country.

“There is a sense of fear in the streets, the Belgians understand that they too are targets of terror. Jews now pray in their homes [as opposed to at synagogues] and some of them are planning on emigrating,” Gigi said.

He explained, “Since Shabbat the city has been paralyzed. The synagogues were closed, something which has not happened since World War Two. People are praying alone or are holding small minyanim [small prayer groups] at private homes. Schools and theaters are closed as are most large stores and public events are not permitted. We live in fear and wait for instructions from the police or the government.”
Think of that. Jews survived in Europe after the Holocaust, but now are deciding that there is no future for them there any more.

Dan McLaughlin has a long analysis at Red State to disprove the thesis that there were millions, even 4 million, conservative voters who just didn't show up to vote in 2012. This storyline has given Republicans some measure of confidence going into 2016 that, with a more appealing candidate and without Obama on the ballot, they stand a better chance of picking up some of the swing states. If McLaughlin's argument is correct, Republicans can abandon that pipe dream.

Why is the Department of Defense wasting money to pay sports teams to pay tributes to the troops? Can't they do that on their own without soaking up taxpayer money while pretending to be patriotic supporters of our military?
Two Republican senators from Arizona -- Vietnam veteran John McCain and junior senator Jeff Flake -- recently released a report explaining the underside of stadium patriotism: For the past few years, the U.S. Department of Defense and the major sports leagues have embedded military-themed programs into the game-day experience, not for goodwill, not in support of the troops, but for money. McCain and Flake call it "paid patriotism" and say the DOD has spent at least $53 million of taxpayer money on at least 50 teams to stage these events, hoping to recruit new soldiers while duping fans into believing these gestures are voluntary expressions of teams' gratitude for returning soldiers. The two senators have drafted laws to make it stop. "It is time to allow major sports teams' legitimate tributes to our soldiers to shine with national pride rather than being cast under the pallor of marketing gimmicks paid for by American taxpayers," the 145-page report notes.
Sounds good to me.

538 had a Republican speechwriter write the perfect, poll-tested speech for an imaginary Republican presidential candidate so as to hit the right phrasing and buzzwords while angering the fewest number of voters. It's rather well-done.

I'll be looking to see if they do the same for a Democratic candidate.

The New York Post calls out the New York Times over how they cover stories of Palestinian terrorism. Somehow, it's different when terrorism is directed against Israelis.
On Sunday, a 20-year-old Israeli woman was stabbed to death, another Israeli was rammed by a car and attacked with a knife and a third was assaulted by a knife-wielding teen affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terror group.

All three assailants were killed in the course of their attacks.

But the headline to the Times’ story about Sunday’s attacks did away with cause and effect, muddled victim and aggressor: “1 Israeli, 3 Palestinians Killed in Attacks in West Bank.” The online headline was later changed, but the print headline Monday morning was equally obtuse: “West Bank Faces Spate of Assaults That Kill 4.” The “West Bank” faced nothing. It was Israelis who faced assaults.

This was par for the course — and in some ways, even mild — for how the Times has covered the so-called “stabbing intifada,” the recent spate of Arab-on-Jewish murder.
This is truly despicable journalism and represents the worst of the moral relativism that seems to permeate certain sections of our elites. It is the same sort of thinking that would cause John Kerry to talk about the Charlie Hebdo murders has having a certain "rationale" (though the word that first came to his lips was "legitimacy.") The New York Times might as well as write an editorial that it considers Palestinians who kill random Jews as having a legitimate rationale for their murders since they are as much victims as assailants.

This is the sort of lunacy we're used to from the United Nations which will ignore all other tyranny in the world, but rush to call out Israel for defending itself. Barry Shaw describes how this happens.
It may have escaped your notice but the world went completely insane in the last week of November.

In the wake of the Paris Islamic outrages that left over 130 killed and more than 300 badly injured, after the carnage in a Mali hotel, following the downing of Russian passenger and fighter planes over Sinai and Syria, and the never-ending mayhem in the Middle East with its consequential million plus refugees desperately trying to find shelter, the United Nations continued its blind hatred of Israel by passing another SIX resolutions condemning the Jewish state for all sort of alleged misdemeanors. No other country was sanctioned, only Israel.

The depravity of their anti-Israel decision making was encapsulated in one resolution that “Determines once more that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.”

They are not only blindly ill-informed at the UN, they are certifiably insane.

Someone needs to knock on their door and tell them about Islamic State, Al-Nusrah, the slaughter of Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and Kurds by international meddlers including the murderous Assad regime.

If there is anywhere on the Syrian border where peace and justice reigns, it is Israel’s presence on the Golan Heights.

If the immorality of these resolutions wasn’t bad enough, not one European nation voted against the Syria- Golan-peace resolution. Not one!

So, while the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, according to the UN it is Israel maintaining a peaceful Golan that is driving them there, and liberal democratic Europe is their navigator.

Coupons for Vitamins and Dietary Supplements

Today’s Deals at Amazon

Holiday Gifts for the Family Chef

NBC News looks at the surge that Ted Cruz is enjoying in Iowa. He seems to have picked up some of those voters peeling away from Ben Carson. However, some voters there worry that Cruz would not be electable. Cruz answers that people had the same doubts about Ronald Reagan in 1980. Well, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen. Ted Cruz is no Ronald Reagan. I like a lot of what Cruz says and positions he takes. But his attitude toward other Republicans and his insistence on shutting down the government don't do anything to indicate the sort of pragmatism Reagan demonstrated in his political career when he made deals with Democrats.
"Ted Cruz is no Reagan," said Chester Pach, a historian at Ohio University writing a book on Reagan's presidency.

"It's not that there's a lack of conviction or principle among people who hold elected office," Pach said. "But it's a struggle to find willingness to do basic things like pass a budget."

After all, Cruz was at the forefront of the government shutdown in Oct. 2013, when he and other impassioned conservative lawmakers tried to eliminate funding for the Affordable Care Act. And he played major roles in efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, repeal the president's immigration executive actions, hold-up of Chuck Hagel's nomination as Defense secretary and reject increases in the nation's debt ceiling.

Lee Edwards, a historian at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says Reagan's governing pragmatism was evident before his election as president.

"As governor of California, he was trying to get through welfare reform," Edwards said, recalling the passing of the package of reforms. "This was 1972 -- welfare reform in California -- and the only way he could do it was sitting down with the Democrat majority leader of the state legislature. He did that over a period of months and months with this guy."

On the campaign trail, Cruz is trying to dispel notions that his well-documented conflicts with members of would hinder to his ability to lead the Republican Party to victory next November.

"Sometimes people look back at Reagan with rose-colored glasses and suggest he was simply a sunny optimist who did not take on his own party - to the contrary," Cruz told NBC News. "If you want to cause Republican leadership in Washington to loathe you, come within an inch of defeating the incumbent Republican president in a primary, as Reagan did."

Indeed, Reagan challenged the incumbent, President Gerald Ford, in the 1976 race for the Republican nomination and kept the contest narrow all the way to the party's convention.

"Yes, that stung people," Edwards recalled. "There was some resentment there on the part of Ford people that he had challenged him."

But leading into 1980, Reagan's efforts to reach out to the so-called establishment changed the dynamics, Edwards said.

"The more [Reagan] campaigned, the more the establishment realized he was more than a puppet on anyone's strings," Edwards said. "When he campaigned in Washington, it was to talk to the establishment. He went to a dinner party with Katherine Graham, the owner of the Washington Post. He was reaching out to the establishment and using that charm of his to show them that he wasn't that old or dumb."

But just one year away from the general election, Cruz's hard-charging ways haven't only alienated Democrats; they've alienated Republicans, too.
Now such pragmatism and willingness to compromise might not be what voters want these days, but Cruz shouldn't try selling himself as a modern-day Reagan when his record is quite different. So I share some of these Iowa voters' concerns about Cruz's electability. I'd like to see him as a governor for a while to get a feel for how he can work with a legislature to accomplish his goals. I will admit that, if I thought he could defeat Hillary, I'd be a lot more enthusiastic about Cruz. I'm just not there yet.

I'd never heard this story before about the Pilgrim on the Mayflower who fell overboard and was rescued. He went on to have 10 children and it is now estimated that around 2 million Americans today are descended from him. The list of his descendants include three presidents as well as such disparate people as Sarah Palin and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Humphrey Bogart.