Saturday, November 21, 2015

A follow-up

My most recent post was harshly critical of Obama's handling of our problems with terrorism, and my criticism was largely about what America should not be doing rather than what it should be doing.

As I said during the post, I do not pretend to have all the answers. One of the reasons I'm leery about suggesting specific military actions is that my military expertise, such as it is, does not come from military experience and shouldn't be called expertise. Another reason is that I am not privy to any of the intelligence that goes into military decision-making.

Nonetheless, after being so critical, I do feel compelled to discuss some things we should be doing as a matter of general policy, and here they are:

Secure the borderS
It is inarguable that having an open unchecked border is a recipe for disaster against the kinds of enemies who wage jihad against us. The situation in Europe demonstrates this.

Republicans have been Some conservatives have long been saying that border security should be made part of our national defense policy. They have been right to do so, but haven't been 100% right because they use the word "border" in its singular phase, though in reality our nation has not one, not two, but three borders -- and the one everybody stresses about happens to be the one which is least concerning.

Our border with Mexico is less than 2,000 miles long and passes almost entirely through barren desert. This makes people walking or motoring across it extremely visible; and if they are walking, the aridity of the desert makes them extremely vulnerable to dehydration, which can be fatal and is thus a major impediment to entering successfully.

Conversely, the border between our Lower 48 states and Canada is almost 4,000 miles long and thickly forested for much of that distance. This means that people sneaking across are extremely difficult to see and under little to no risk of dehydration.

Meanwhile, the border between Alaska and Canada stretches more than 1,500 miles; and while its northern reaches are inhospitable due to Arctic cold, its southern ones are forested and have a comparatively mild climate. In other words, this border also offers up vast areas where people sneaking across would be difficult to detect and under little to no risk of dehydration. Further, terrorists could use it in one of two ways: to sneak into Alaska so as to carry out attacks against civilians, oil fields, and military bases; or to sneak into Canada so as to later sneak across the other U.S.-Canada border with the purpose of carrying out attacks in the Lower 48.

Securing our southern border should not be overly difficult because we can easily surveille it both electronically and manually, using drones and satellites and helicopters. Based on what we see, we can then direct various authorities -- Border Patrol, National Guard, sheriff's departments, whatever -- to intercede and turn people back. If we do so forcefully and publicize it, the flow will slow. We don't need a wall (sorry Trump) but even that idea is not far-fetched when you remember that the Chinese built one two centuries before Jesus walked the earth. Securing the southern border would be challenging but the challenges would be far from overwhelming.

On the other hand, securing our northern borders presents challenges so enormous they cause migraines when you try to figure out how to meet them. Those borders are where terrorists are more likely to try to enter (they're not stupid) and therefore it would be a colossal mistake to forget about them while focusing our energies on the southern border. It would be like a football coach telling his offensive linemen to block only one side of the line of scrimmage when he calls for a drop-back pass.

Just say no
You can probably tell from the above segment that I don't believe we should accept the wave of Syrian refugees we are being prodded to take in. What you might not be able to tell is that I'm unhappy about turning them back.

The bleeding heart impulse to provide shelter to the weary and assistance to the impoverished is admirable, and is enshrined in American culture from the Underground Railroad to "The New Colossus." Based on first-hand accounts written by people who have actually walked among the Syrian refugees in Europe, I have no doubt that the majority of them do not mean us harm.

Unfortunately, there is no credible doubt that terrorists are among them, posing as refugees specifically so they can reach our soil and kill innocent people once they are here. Even if only one percent of the 10,000 people we are being asked to accept turn out to be terrorists, that means 100 terrorists will be here. Need I remind you that it took only 19 to pull off 9/11, and 8 to carry off last week's Paris attacks, and 4 to carry off 2005's London bombings? Need I remind you that it takes just one suicide bomber to rip apart diners at a sidewalk cafe and close down entire sections of a city?

Again, there is no credible doubt that there are terrorists ensconced among the refugees, and may I add that there is no credible reason to believe we can weed them out by "vetting" them? Nidal Hassan was cleared by our vetting process, but went on to become the Fort Hood Killer. Two Iraqi "refugees" were cleared by the process and later found to be members of al Qaeda. In Colorado Springs, more Iraqi "refugees" who were cleared by the process went on to gang rape a woman in 2012.

Officials from the FBI, CIA, and DHS acknowledge that our multi-layered vetting process is essentially useless against people coming from a nation like Syria. Last month, Michael Steinbach (Assistant Director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division) testified before Congress that in Syria "there is a lack of information" and "all of the data sets, the police, the intel services that normally you would go (to) and seek that information don't exist."

Yes, we should do what we can to help innocents in dire straits -- but not by knowingly endangering our own citizens who are also innocent. People who are unmoved by that argument should still take a moment to consider that simple math and basic logic make it clear we can not allow everyone who claims refugee status to enter this country and reside here.

We have plenty of space and plenty of heart, but we are suffering from a shortage of jobs to begin with, and lots of us who do have jobs are suffering from long-term wage stagnation. Plus, our population is saddled with a mountainous aggregation of consumer debt; our federal government is running deficits that are flagrantly unsustainable; and plenty of our state and municipal governments are on the same bad track as our federal government. So, whence comes the resources to pay for all the costs related to housing, clothing and feeding these refugees for an indefinite period of time?

Like Rich Lowry pointed out over at Politico, as recently as 2014 there were 410,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and we accepted just 25 of them (0.006 of one percent); there were 610,000 from South Sudan and we accepted only 52 (0.009 of one percent); and there were 2.5 million from Afghanistan and we took in only 789 (0.03 of one percent). So what makes Syria so special that POTUS insists we take in 10,000 of its refugees (10.0 percent) even though we routinely take in far fewer from other nations, in terms of both percentages and raw numbers? Has POTUS forgotten that he himself once stopped accepting any refugees whatsoever from Iraq?

Fight alongside
Based at least partly (and probably largely) on information provided by us, France has been bombing ISIS near its nerve centers within the borders of Syria. And Russia has joined them while we have not, which is shameful. It makes us look tentative and weak in a part of the world where looks are of tantamount importance.

Of late, our Islamist enemies have watched our words and actions, judged them against one another, and concluded that we are a toothless tiger with a spine made of soggy linguine. From the phantom red line regarding Assad, to "leading from behind" in North Africa, to supinely accepting our ass-kicking in Benghazi, to giving nuclear-horny Iran everything it wanted in what were laughably called "negotiations" concerning its nuclear program, we have demonstrated time and again that we are ripe to be punched and unwilling to stop anyone from punching us. That is a major part of the reason the world is so unsafe and unsettled right now.

We have ambiguously said we "stand" with France. Well, to Hell with that. Instead, let's say we are going to kick ass with France and then let's promptly follow that up by bombing the everlasting crap out of ISIS and saturating the media with video and photographs. The complicated, convoluted War on Terror will not be won solely by bombing ISIS -- but for us to finally say we are going to do something and then follow.the.fuck.through on what we say will make things much better and greatly increase our chances of winning.

Pivot to Iran
Contact the the Islamists in Tehran, point out how mercilessly we just bombed ISIS, and let them know that such bombing is the bare minimum they will face if they are ever caught attempting to develop nuclear weapons or are ever detected launching any objects toward the South Pole (such launches are the route that would be taken to cripple us with a nuclear EMP).

Meanwhile, restructure our missile defense systems to cover objects launched toward the South Pole (which they currently do not) and tell the Islamists that if we ever see something launched in that direction, we will shoot it down in addition to bombing the crap out of them.

Embrace the good Muslims
While making it clear that jihadist Islam is our enemy and that we will stamp it out without pity, we should also make it clear that those who practice peacefully and with tolerance for other faiths are our friends.

We should publicly champion Raif Badawi (who I wrote about at the end of this post) and publicly pressure the Saudis to set him free. We should offer as much sympathy and mercy for the victims of Beirut's November 12th attacks as we do for the victims of Paris's November 13th attacks. We should express regret that we did not stand behind the Lebanese citizens who, in the so-called Cedar Revolution, sought to overthrow their country's Syrian-controlled dictatorship ten years ago. And we should express regret that we did not stand behind the Iranian citizens who sought to overthrow their country's murderous dictatorship in the so-called Green Revolution of 2009-2010.

...I do not expect that any of this will happen under our current president, but one can still hope.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


With the November 13th massacres in Paris still fresh, a small part of me wonders if it seems wrong to mention the politics involved. But again, it's only a small part, because the massacres were political and that was the terrorists' choice, not mine.

To nobody's surprise, the terrorists belonged to the religion of Islam and were either affiliated with ISIS or part of ISIS. At least one of them is reported to have entered the European continent as part of the refugee wave that has recently been gobbling up news space.

Over in France, President Francois Hollande responded by declaring that his nation is "going to lead a war which will be pitiless," and has followed up by launching air strikes against jihad training grounds in an ISIS-controlled part of Syria.

Meanwhile, Marine Le Pen -- the allegedly xenophobic leader of France's National Front -- has called for "urgent action" to "ban Islamist organizations, close radical mosques and expel foreigners who preach hatred," all while declaring it "absolutely necessary that France regains control of its borders."

Over here in America, one can practically hear the rattling of Donald Trump's keyboard as he hammers out a speech explaining how the massacres prove it is: 1) necessary to erect a wall along our Southern border all the way from Chula Vista, CA to Brownsville, TX; and 2) necessary for our federal government to undertake the kinds of mass deportations it proactively carried out in the 1940's and 1950's.

Also over here, President Barack Obama, par for his course, floats around looking clueless and impotent in the face of evil.

Oh, all right. To his credit, Obama apparently green-lighted the sharing of intelligence that showed the French where they should bomb, but that only begs the question of why we never took action against those targets ourselves before it was too late. After all, ISIS declared war on us quite some time ago and has been targeting our interests,  assaulting our creed, and carrying out jihad against Western civilization in general.

Plus, intelligence-sharing does not change the fact that in Obama's public statements, all he does is refer to the massacres as a "crime" and mutter vaguely about helping bring the perps "to justice," whatever that means.

In legalese, terrorism and mass murder fall under the broad and nebulous umbrella of the word "crime," but in reality, which is all that matters, they are not mere crimes and should not be described as such. To puff on a joint while walking alone in the woods is a crime. To receive cash tips while working as a waitress and under-report their total by a couple hundred bucks is a crime. To place a $25 bet on Thursday's Titans-Jags game is a crime, assuming you do so with your local bookie instead of the officially smiled-upon Vegas sports books.

When a statesman takes the same word that is used to describe those things and publicly uses it to describe wanton killings that are based on bigotry, and which are intended to terrify the remaining innocents into relinquishing their freedom, it represents a dereliction of duty.

Keep in mind that Obama continues to assert his nonsensical claim that we "have contained" ISIS -- a claim which, ironically enough, he made just hours before the massacres.

The problem is this: Although ISIS existed a few years ago only in the Western Asian countries of Iraq and Syria, it now exists in Africa and Europe as well and is credited with mass murder in all of those places. The murders include a slew of beheadings of non-Muslims that neither we nor any other Western nation tried to avenge. In other words, ISIS has extended its reach from one continent to three; commenced genocide using the most barbaric of means; and struck a blow to the heart of a city that is arguably the most prominent in Western civilization. Does this sound like an organization that has been contained?

A major reason for the spread of ISIS in particular, and violent jihad in general, goes back to the old saw about power abhorring a vacuum. The United States has essentially removed itself from one of the most consequential confrontations of the last 2,000 years, and therefore others have maneuvered to take its place. Bad actors are seeking to fill the void because that is what bad actors do, and unless they are stopped they will eventually be calling the shots at everyone else's expense.

The United States has been far from perfect at many turns in its history and at some points has behaved outright bad. But compared to any other powerful nation (and in my opinion, compared to any other nation at all), it has been by far the greatest force for good in the history of the world. Remove our hand from the last 400 years (which includes the long run between the Pilgrims arriving and the colonies declaring their independence) and today's world would be far grimmer than it is.

Without the United States, most Enlightenment ideals (individual liberty, individual property, religious freedom, not being subservient to other humans who are no better than you) would likely have remained confined to the dusty writings of John Locke. But with the advent of the United States they became enshrined in men's souls and put into practice, and thus freedom has become reality on Earth and continued to expand its reach.

Without the United States embracing and enacting those ideals -- and taking them seriously enough to tear itself asunder and engage in a war that pitted half of itself against the other -- slavery would have continued on our shores. Those who consider slavery a particularly American evil should bear in mind that slavery was the world norm until recently and is still practiced in many parts of the planet.

Without the United States, Japan's military dictatorship would likely have won the Pacific Theater in World War II, and Hitler and Mussolini would have had at least an even shot of winning the European Theater. If either or both of those outcomes had come to pass, what would the state of the human race be like today?

For the last few generations France has been the butt of jokes when it comes to military endeavors, and God knows I have enjoyed participating in the mockery. But the truth is that its behavior over the last decade or so diverts from the "Arc de Capitulation" storyline that has dominated since World War II.

Through much of the War on Terror, France has operated as one of our most dependable allies and provided more than mere moral support. It has honored NATO's precept that an attack against one NATO nation is an attack against all, and that the "all" must work to defend the "one." This should remind us that it is our oldest ally and that it gave the Statue of Liberty to us as a gift.

In short, we have a moral obligation to get deeply involved in the response to November 13th and in helping crush ISIS. After all, ISIS is our enemy as well as France's, so acting alongside France has a practical aim as well as an ethical one.

I do not pretend to know precisely what "deeply involved" means in this context, but I do know that semantic blubbering about "crime" when we're dealing with terrorism will backfire... I also know that dispatching 50 military men to Syria -- not even to fight, but to "advise" -- looks flaccid and will therefore embolden an already emboldened enemy... I know that hamstringing our troops with politically correct rules of engagement (which we have been doing for some time) increases the risk to their lives and decreases our chances of victory... And while I am not calling for us to press the nuclear button tomorrow morning, I know that declaring in advance that we won't use nukes against our enemies (a declaration we've been making for some time) not only lessens our chances of victory, but increases the chances of bigger and deadlier terrorist acts being inflicted on our civilian population.

I know that when an American president faced with an existential crisis against an evil adversary publicly says he is "not interested in pursuing some notion of 'American leadership' or 'America winning,'" that president has placed our soldiers afield at greater risk; and placed our homeland at greater risk; and told the country he leads that he doesn't give a crap about it; and signaled to our allies that he doesn't give a crap if they lose their sovereignty and freedom, nor does he care if their citizens get slaughtered.

Obama spoke the above words yesterday. I hope he is engaging in some grand rope-a-dope which echoes Churchill's warning that "in war, truth is so precious she must always be protected by a bodyguard of lies." If that is not the case, I hope sounder minds and stronger hearts are able and willing to prevail upon him to change course. Otherwise, it is almost inevitable that civilian death tolls will continue to rise not only in other civilized nations, but in ours as well.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

et ceteras

The results of Tuesday's off-year elections should warm conservative hearts across the fruited plain, so I feel like I should lead by talking about those results. However, I will wait until later in this post because first I want to comment on the following disaster:

If you recall, Obama & Co. claimed that their laughably misnamed Affordable Care Act (ACA) would reduce costs, add "not one dime" to the national debt, and result in as many as 40 million people obtaining medical insurance who did not have it before. And don't forget, there were also those assertions that people would be able to keep their doctor and keep their current insurance plan. As of today, all five of those claims have been proved bogus.

It was originally forecast that there would be 21 million people enrolled in ACA programs come 2016. However, now that 2016 is nigh, even Obama's own administration is predicting that the real number will be less than half of that.

And don't forget that many of the people enrolled in ACA programs had coverage they liked prior to ACA being implemented, only to wind up losing it because of ACA -- so it's not like they were "rescued" from the ranks of those who were uninsured prior to Obama's ascendancy. In reality, Obama & Co. forced them into the ranks of the uninsured and then forced them into health plans that charge higher premiums and provide fewer benefits.

Rather than allow health insurance companies to compete in a free market -- which would, by nature, dictate that they respond to consumer demands -- the ACA conjured up regional co-ops which could only offer specific types of policies and would be propped up by federal funding to protect against any financial losses they incurred... Twenty-three such co-ops were created and eleven of them have already failed, with seven of those failures having occurred in the past month, and they went under despite receiving more than $1.1 billion in federal subsidies... Plus, various news reports indicate that up to nine of the twelve remaining co-ops are showing warning signs of impending failure.

Health care? My ass.

Affordable? My ass.

Let the record show that many Republicans predicted these failures would occur because of the ACA's nonsensical incentives. Let it also show that many Republicans warned that Obama & Co.'s promises were actually lies, and that not a single Republican voted for the ACA.

What will happen to the people who lose their ACA coverage because the ACA's own programs collapse? Let me hazard a guess that the same federal government which created the failure will use it as an excuse to "fix" things by taking control of everyone's health care under the euphemism "universal coverage." And let the record show that many Republicans have been saying all along that Obama & Co. set the ACA up to fail precisey to bring about that end game.

Remember these things when you go to the polls next year.

Which brings me to Tuesday's elections. From coast to coast, politicians who support the ACA were hoisted out of office on their petards, while those who oppose it were voted into office. In other words, the public is still not falling for Obamacare's lies.

But the elections were about many things, not just Obamacare, and the results were pro-conservative almost every way you look at them.

There was even an election result for conservatives to like in San Francisco, where incumbent Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, whose claim to fame is his passionate support for Frisco's sanctuary city status, got swept out of office by a 2-to-1 margin.

In Virginia, a state many believed had transitioned from red to blue, the GOP maintained control of the state senate without conceding a seat despite a furious push by the Democrats. It is worth noting that Virginia's Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe (a longtime Clinton ally and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee) had publicly encouraged the public to vote Democrat by saying that a senate takeover was needed for him to enact his agenda.

It is also worth noting that Virginia's results represented a solid slap-down of America's gun control nuts advocates. Having identified two particular senate seats they thought were especially ripe for the taking, and expecting that they would be able to exploit capitalize on emotions following the August slayings of TV journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the advocates invested more that $2,200,000 into advertisements in those races, versus only about $110,000 spent by the NRA. If you do the math, that means the NRA spent only five percent of what its opponents spent. Yet it was the NRA's preferred candidates who won.

Then there is that city in southeast Texas...

Houston voters overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have allowed transgender people to use the opposite sex's bathrooms, and which by some readings would have also allowed them to use the opposite sex's locker rooms and showers.

Keep in mind that transgender is not transsexual. The former means people who "identify as" the opposite sex, whereas transsexual means people who have undergone a sex change operation. Therefore, had it been allowed to stand, the HOPE Act would have forced the city's women to share public bathrooms (and probably locker rooms and showers) with strangers who are equipped with penises, so long as the penis-equipped strangers said they felt like a woman that day.

I ask feminists, i.e. liberals, to imagine the possibilities the HOPE Act would have opened up for perverted heterosexual men and hormonally cresting teenage males to get close to unwanting women -- and then consider the fact that the act was loudly supported by Houston's liberal and presumably feminist mayor Annise Parker. (If her name sounds familiar, it might be because she previously gained fame when she threatened the First Amendment by demanding that the city's pastors turn copies of their sermons over to the authorities.)

Lest you be tempted to believe that Houston voters' defeat of HOPE and rebuke of Parker were a given because, you know, Houston is in Texas, you might want to keep the following in mind: 1) Parker has been elected mayor of Houston not once, not twice, but thrice; 2) white voters (those most likely to be Republicans) make up just one-fourth of the city's population; 3) roughly 62 percent of the city's Hispanics are Democrats; and 4) roughly 90 percent of its blacks are Democrats.

Then there is that state with mountains in the east, bluegrass in the middle, and Churchill Downs in the west...

Kentucky has been a state since 1792. It has had 61 governors, only 8 of whom have been Republicans, and it has had a Republican governor for only 8 of the 86 years since FDR became president. Yet on Tuesday, Republican Matt Bevin defeated Democrat Jack Conway by a margin of almost 9 points -- despite the fact that Bevin is an unapologetic tea partier, not one of those milquetoast moderates.

On top of that, Tuesday's election increased the number of statewide offices held by Republicans from one of six to four of six.

Tellingly, one out of every four Kentuckians receives federally paid health care, yet Bevin still won while being openly opposed to Obamacare in particular and to federally provided health care in general.

And for those who believe the words "conservative" and "Tea Party" and "Republican" are somehow synonymous with "racist" and "sexist," you might want to chew on the fact that Bevin's running mate, Jenean Hampton, is an avowed conservative black woman born in Detroit. Tuesday's election made her the first black person ever to be elected to statewide office in Kentucky.

...Although if hasn't gotten much media attention, the latest nationwide Quinnipiac poll shows Ben Carson beating Hillary Clinton by a margin of 50-40, Rubio beating her 46-41, and both Cruz and Christie beating her 46-43. So things are looking promising for the GOP.

...don't read too much into that. I happen to believe Hillary is imminently beatable and have been saying so for some time, but a great deal can change between now and then and turnout (approximately twenty percent on Tuesday) is always a big question mark.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A (semi) wrap-up

If I could wait four days to post something about Hillary's testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi, then I can wait five days to post something about the Republican debate that CNBC hosted last Wednesday.

After all, waiting a while makes your comments more thought-out than when you fire them off in haste. Or maybe it just means you were stuck somewhere between "busy" and "lazy." But either way, here I go, and be warned that the thoughts you are about to read are coming in no particular order.

*     *     *     *     *

Carly Fiorina once again had the best overall performance and once again showcased her leadership bona fides. Yes, other candidates had more singularly memorable moments -- see my upcoming remarks about Cruz's and Rubio's positive moments plus Bush's negative one -- but Fiorina was best overall and in my opinion that makes her three for three in this year's debates.

However, in a field so crowded, it remains to be seen whether her debating prowess will be enough for her to reclaim and retain one of the top spots.

*     *     *     *     *

I understand that last week's debate was supposed to be about the economy, and thus the questions were supposed to be about economic and tax policies. But since the moderators asked very little about those things, and instead posed asinine and irrelevant queries about fantasy football and about whether one of the candidates is running "a comic book version of a presidential campaign," surely they could have bothered to ask the candidates where they stand on such issues as fidelity to the Constitution, separation of powers, protecting our national defense systems against hackers, and protecting our electric grid against a nuclear EMP. Would that have been too much to ask? (Apparently, it would have.)

*     *     *     *     * 

Speaking of the moderators, yes, they were as horrible as everyone said and it was good that the candidates fought back so forcefully. However, it looked kind of adolescent when the Republican National Committee responded by suspending its agreement to have NBC televise a debate in February.

Bullshit questions being asked of Republicans is par for the course and has been for as long as my brain has been functioning. If nothing else, having our candidates face bullshit questions in the primary -- and thereby cut their teeth on how to deal with such absurdity -- should help them when the general election comes around.

Or how about this, RNC: Insist on specific types of questions that are not to be asked, rather than simply agreeing to general categories of questions that can be asked. Also, insist on specific moderators who are known for keeping their biases in check. With a clear stipulation that if the questioning again goes off the rails, then NBC will be kept from hosting such events in the future. Those demands may or may not work out, but cancelling the debate makes you look like a collective eunuch who's prone to collapse on a fainting couch when exposed to words you don't like (and I'm quite sure the Democrats will point that out).

*     *     *     *     *

Jeb Bush's campaign is on life support and its chances of walking again are slim to none.

This is partly because of how smoothly and surely Marco Rubio handled Bush's right hook about missed Senate votes. By flipping the cards back to Bush's non-criticism of McCain's missed votes in '08 and Bush's recent praise of McCain's '08 campaign, Rubio eluded the hook and counter-punched with a devastating uppercut to the chin. It made him look like the verbal equivalent of Sugar Ray Robinson going up against the verbal equivalent of Robin Deakin.

Nonetheless, Bush's campaign was already a hopeless fool's errand and has been from day one. His record as governor of Florida is sterling and I have no doubt that he possesses the skills and dedication needed to be one of America's better presidents; but with his last name being poison among the entire Left and iffy among a significant part of the Right, Bush has never had the slightest chance of becoming president. It's not fair, but it is what it is, and it's so obvious that I've never understood why he threw his hat in the ring to begin with.

*     *     *     *     *

Speaking of hopeless fool's errands, why are we still having "undercard" debates and why haven't more people dropped out of the race?

Actually, I know why. With the field having so many names, those who are still polling around two to five percent (i.e., most of them) are convinced that voters will start supporting them once others drop out or once the support for Trump and/or Carson starts to decline (assuming it actually does). Since the Iowa caucus is so far away and the New Hampshire and SEC primaries are even farther away, they believe they can wait it out and reap a windfall down the line.

But seriously, some of you two- to five-percenters need to accept reality and get out of the way because there ain't no way you're gonna win no matter what. All you are doing is wasting air time and flushing resources down the toilet. I am talking to you, Mike Huckabee, George Pataki, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham (seriously?), Rick Santorum, and Chris Christie.

*     *     *     *     *

Because Rand Paul's campaign has been circling the drain for months and his national security uncertainties are even more of a drag with Iran and ISIS and Russia and China on the march, I could have put his name on the above list. Not gonna do it, however. Not yet.

Paul neither will nor can win, but his voice belongs to be in the forefront as we decide what kind of party we will have going forward. It was he who turned the tables in the abortion narrative months before the Center for Medical Progress appeared on the radar. It is he who most credibly espouses free market economic philosophies, and who most credibly espouses suspicion of government involvement in our affairs.

We conservatives claim to champion personal morality and private acts of charity. Well, Paul is a board-certified ophthalmologist and despite the fact that he has a full-time "day job" as a U.S. Senator, he continues to personally provide no-charge eye surgeries to impoverished people in the Caribbean and Latin America, and also to poor people in his home state of Kentucky.

It's a disgrace that last week's debate (and the two that came before) have kept him in the margins by giving him minimal air time. That needs to change.

*     *     *     *     *

Much of the punditry's post-debate chatter centered around Rubio having had such a strong performance that he is starting to look like someone who can win it all. And there are reasons for that, one of which I indicated above when talking about the knockout blow he delivered to Jeb Bush.

But I think Ted Cruz looked even better. It was Cruz who was first to call out the moderators (and thereby the media) for asking bullshit questions, and he called them out fearlessly and vigorously. Had he not done so in the manner he did, it is questionable whether the other candidates would have felt comfortable criticizing the MSM types whose approval they weirdly crave. As such, Cruz acted as the party's leader.

Rubio's line about the media being the Democrat Party's Super PAC was awesome, and was so obviously focus-grouped that he may have worked it in even if Cruz hadn't led the charge in declaring war against the media. But the focus-grouped sound of that line points to one of Rubio's Achilles' heels, which is that his words seem just polished enough and his policy positions just vague enough to make one wonder how much substance lies beneath. Republican primary voters are seeking unquestionable authenticity, and in that department, Cruz has a leg up over Rubio whether it's fair or not.

Then again, Rubio's optimism could win the day over Cruz's less-smiley and more-detail-oriented approach. People often place more weight on personality than ideological purity when they decide who to vote for, and if 2016 brings out more of them than it does purists, Rubio has a leg up whether that's fair or not.

*     *     *     *     *

The good news for Republicans, even the more conservative among us, is that all of the GOP's candidates have many pluses -- and all but one (Trump) have far more pluses than minuses. Even John Kasich, who has taken quite a few jabs from the Right, brings a lot of positives to the table.

In other words, as far as presidential possibilities are concerned, we are entering an election year in better shape that we've been in for years.

Now if only our incumbent Republican Congress would get its act together...