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Ted Cruz is brilliantly positioning himself to run in 2016 as the true leader of the party's conservative wing: a Spanish-surnamed Princeton grad and Harvard lawyer who checks all the ideological boxes, who stood apart from the Gang of Eight immigration deal and by the general weirdness of the Paul family's conspiracy-mongering.

Yet … there is something about him that even the hardest-liners just cannot accept. First Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post and now today Kimberley Strassel in the Wall Street Journal have each thrown their full weight at the Texas senator.

The dishonest part is the way in which today's self-anointed arbiters of "conservatism" cast these disputes over strategy in ideological terms. The vast majority of today's Republicans are in fact ardent defenders of the Second Amendment, passionate about repealing ObamaCare, in favor of lower taxes. The big disagreements are over how best to accomplish these aims.

Well...

Is Grover Norquist Powerful?

Noam Sheiber takes up the age-old Beltway question:

Pundits and wishful-thinking Democrats have been predicting Norquist’s obsolescence for the better part of a decade. But the idea of Norquist losing influence misses the point. Norquist has never been powerful, at least not in the sense of commanding divisions or cracking heads on close votes. His talent has always been for creating the illusion of influence. For the 25 years in which anti-tax orthodoxy has reigned supreme in the Republican ranks, Norquist has distinguished himself mainly through his savvy at associating himself with the trend. Not surprisingly, now that some in the GOP periodically question the party’s anti-tax catechism (though they stop well short of abandoning it), Norquist’s chief preoccupation isn’t defending the faith. It’s protecting his image as a leader of the faithful.

But really, power is just:

All You Need to Know

Jobs Numbers

165,000 more non-farm jobs, unemployment rate now at 7.5%, February numbers revised up from 268,000 to 332,000, and March from 88,000 to 138,000.

Not bad, but an achingly long way to go to full employment.

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Jonathan Rauch's 'Denial', Part 3

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The third installment of Jonathan Rauch's memoir, Denial, has just posted on the HuffPo site.

That's the end of the serialization. You must buy the book to read the rest.

I am always bitterly amused when I hear people say that homosexuality is a choice. Even many otherwise thoughtful people maintain that the homosexual is a heterosexual who perversely ignores, or at least somehow represses, his natural cravings. I say "otherwise thoughtful" because I know of no position which collapses more quickly, under even a moment's examination, than this one.

Never mind the obvious question of why anyone would choose homosexuality, with all the inconveniences and confusions and difficulties it poses.

Hehe

Cosmarxpolitan

Your humorous Tumblr blog of the day:

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Margaret Trudeau, the former wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, has a message for Canada's political meanies: stop bullying my son.

NORTH BAY – Margaret Trudeau, speaking on mental health awareness in North Bay earlier this week said one of the strategies for her continued wellness is not getting angry.

“But someone is bullying my Justin and that makes me mad,” she said to rousing applause from the packed audience at the Capitol Centre.

Though Trudeau said she steers away from making political appearances for fear of saying the wrong thing, she couldn’t resist commenting on the recent ads on her son, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. She called attack ads an American practice that “unfortunately works,” and said she would like to see all parties get back to debating policy not personality. “We have to get rid of bullying in politics,” Trudeau said, “ and focus on what we can do for each other.”

Go read William Schambra on why conservative donors should refocus their efforts on localized, apolitical groups that shape policy in favor of a stronger civil society:

Conservative donors would turn to established groups like Robert Woodson’s Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (full disclosure: I serve on its board), or new groups based on Mr. Kuo’s American Compass to find, screen, and provide back-office support for grass-roots leaders who offer the best first-hand lessons in how to reshape public policy so that it supported, rather than undercut, our “little platoons.”

When politicians come calling on this new breed of conservative donors, they wouldn’t get any money until the politicos, too, proved willing to spend considerable time learning from the grass roots.

Poverty Has Consequences

Egypt's Ticking Population Bomb

1952. Gamal Nasser seizes power in Egypt. Egypt's population: ~20 million.

1981. Anwar Sadat assassinated; Hosni Mubarak succeeds him. Egypt's population: ~40 million.

2011. Mubarak overthrown. Egypt's population, over 80 million.

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Awful

The Oxycontin Plague

A Mississippi friend writes about the oxycontin plague:

I have some experience with "pain clinics" myself. Swear to God I've never personally patronized one myself, but I do know some people who have, and I accompanied them once on one of their "doctor's visits".

The location was an office park situated next to an upscale residential area in a Mississippi Gulf Coast community. I'm still kind of shocked that such an establishment dared to operate in this State - where the authorities pointedly do not make nice with drug crime - but I suppose attitudes are more lax down there.

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We're All Reactionaries Now

At the New Republic, Tod Lindberg has a fascinating essay on slippery-slope politics:

A liberal staunchly opposed to a ban on late-term abortions on grounds that such a ban would open the door to additional restrictions on abortion rights is every bit as reactionary in defense of a status quo perceived to be favorable as a conservative who opposes broader background checks on grounds that more restrictions on guns will follow. Move to “chained CPI” for cost-of-living increases in Social Security payments? Absolutely out of the question for the Left, a first step toward dismantling the program altogether. (Here, it looks like Hirschman actually does have the “slippery slope” argument covered, in his category of “jeopardy.”)

Well... ya. When I've proposed payroll tax cuts to help the working class, the response is quite often that I clearly want to destory Social Security. Even proposing to shift funding for entitlements from payroll to consumption based taxes meets vehement opposition.

Tsars

A Romanov Goes to Israel

One of the last of the Romanov dynasty comes to dinner in Israel. He's certainly a part of the story of the country: it was a century of persecution by the Tsarist government of Russia that created the clamor for the return to Zion.

Prince Dimitri Romanov was born in 1926, [8] years after Bolshevik revolutionaries murdered the last czar of Russia and his family at Ekaterinburg and threw their bodies into an abandoned mine shaft. The surviving Romanov duchesses and grand dukes and the rest of the extended royal family, including Dimitri’s father, Prince Roman Petrovich, fled Russia, never to return.

Romanov and his wife, Princess Dorrit, who wore an elegant salmon dress and golden slippers, were early in a 36-hour sojourn in the country …. They were being given a whirlwind tour of which the dinner — at an unmarked and luxurious establishment called Spoons, near Montefiore’s windmill — was part.

By the way, I've had dinner at Spoons myself and must salute the dynasty's fine culinary taste.

Western World

America's European Allies Drop the Ball

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I've been harping on this theme for nearly a decade now, and now it's time to harp again. America needs a strategy to adapt to the faltering strength of its most important and congenial allies. The New York Times reported Tuesday on the next phase of that decline.

A new French defense white paper

foresees a reduction of at least 24,000 jobs in addition to the 54,000 announced in the last white paper in 2008, written under the former president, Nicolas Sarkozy. The current white paper also suggests a reduction in rapid deployment forces from 30,000 to between 15,000 and 20,000.

Meanwhile Britain is reducing its military force to 82,000 persons. To meet their budget targets, European allies are gutting already eviscerated military budgets. The casualties of the Euro policy include not only millions of unemployed young, but the last strength and sinew of what remains of the Western defense alliance.

Time for a new public service campaign, this one directed at members of Congress: "It gets worse." From POLITICO today:

Leadership is talking past each other. The conference is split by warring factions. And influential outside groups are fighting them.

The chaos has led to a sense of stalemate ...

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Calm Down

The Cicadas are Coming!

The New York Times reminds us of the horrible pests known as cicadas:

Their buzzing can reach 90 decibels, equivalent to some power motors. They have been seen in clusters of up to 1.5 million per acre. As if from some horror movie, cicada nymphs have been described as “boiling out of the ground.” Snow shovels are sometimes employed to clear them away.

But there is no reason to fear these insects, which grow to about 1.5 inches in length, with big red compound eyes. Cicadas don’t bite. And don’t worry about your plants. They’ll be fine. There’s no need to reach for the bug spray.

About the Author

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David Frum

David Frum is a contributing editor at The Daily Beast and a CNN contributor. He is the author of eight books, including most recently the e-book WHY ROMNEY LOST and his first novel Patriots, published in April 2012.

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