RIP Andrew Breitbart: He had vision and he skated on rollerblades

Woke up yesterday to the news of Andrew Breitbart’s death. There’s been a lot written and a lot of it is memorable. I remember seeing this speech not long after it was given at CPAC. A true warrior! Here, after facing down the Occupy crowd outside CPAC who were busy hassling people entering the convention, Breitbart relates his recent dinner with ex-domestic terrorists Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers (the Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson had won a dinner with them and invited him along) and his greater vision regarding the far and hard left’s agenda of intolerance and tyranny (they call it “revolution”). I think Breitbart was an ex-leftist himself and knew them well. Once, he skated over on rollerblades to the site of an Occupy Wallstreet demo and ended up taking them all out to Appleby’s. No doubt, they still disagreed, but apparently, the intrepid Occupiers were charmed, and — for once, opposing sides met as people with disagreements and ideas, instead of as cartoon opponents. He was funny, fearless and passionate — and he knew the stakes are high.

Breitbart at CPAC 2012

Other bloggers have amazing links and testimony on knowing him or seeing him work, here from Pamela Geller: BREITBART: BIG, BIGGER THAN LIFE

Here, neo-neocon: Devasting news: Andrew Breitbart dead at 43

And, from The National Review, Here from Michael Walsh:

“In the war against the institutional Left, Andrew Breitbart was the Right’s Achilles; the bravest of all the warriors, now fallen on the plain. There was no combat in which he would not engage, no battle — however small — he would not join with glee, and no outcome acceptable except total victory. His unexpected death last night at the young age of 43 is not the end of his crusade, but its beginning.

No figure on our side was more despised in the whited sepulchers of the media/academic/political Left, and Breitbart wore their loathing as a daily badge of honor. His refusal to grant even a glimmer of moral absolution constantly enraged them, and his very existence was an affront to their carefully constructed — to use one of Andrew’s favorite words — “narrative” of moral superiority. Naturally, they are already dancing on his grave, with the manic joy of being suddenly and miraculously delivered from one of their most potent enemies.

Breitbart’s death is a tragedy, not only for those who delighted in following him into battle but for those who cheered him on as well. Andrew was larger than life, a charismatic natural leader, a big man in every way — physically, spiritually, and intellectually. He would meet a total stranger and immediately try to enlist him or her into his army, railing against the Left’s mendacity and misdeeds. He would practically pick you up by the lapels and shake you in order to make you understand the furious, urgent necessity of his fight.

Confrontation was his métier, and he routinely and gleefully waded into groups of lefties to challenge them face to face. Puckish humor was his stock-in-trade, and he would often disarm opponents with his boyish, goofy side. He was a virtuoso of the Twitterverse, a master of multi-tasking, and would think nothing of having a meeting with colleagues in his Westwood home while talking on the phone to someone else and working his Twitter feed. He joked that he had ADD, but what he really had was an outsized heart, fueled by courage and passion and, as the title of his recent book had it, by Righteous Indignation.

That indignation came to Breitbart in mid-life. A bluff Irishman who had been adopted as a baby by a Jewish couple in Brentwood (one of L.A.’s tonier neighborhoods), he moved to the right in college, at Tulane University in New Orleans, and crossed over completely with the Clarence Thomas hearings, which fueled his rage against the Left for their hypocritical treatment of American blacks. I can personally attest that no cause fired his righteous indignation more than the Left’s plantation attitude toward African-Americans. ”

From here: Goodbye Andrew

And, here, about Breitbart’s quest to create “punk rock” Republicans…

“The left is smart enough to understand that the way to change a political system is through its cultural systems,” he told The New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead in 2010. “So you look at the conservative movement — working the levers of power, creating think tanks, and trying to get people elected in different places — while the left is taking over Hollywood, the music industry, the churches.”

His project was to take that cultural space back for free market conservatives. To make his brand of economic freedom cool.

He was often disheveled, unshaven, and looked more like a wild eyed provocateur than a button down and mild mannered conservative. He wanted more conservative (classic liberal) artists and writers who had edge and who understood pop culture. He was supportive of gay and lesbian people being invited into the larger tent of conservatism and supported the inclusion of GOProud at CPAC. Here:

Breitbart, who had joined the advisory board of GOProud in January 2011, hosted a party for the organization at CPAC that year.

When the presence of GOProud at CPAC in 2011 was questioned by some on the right, it was Breitbart who told Metro Weekly, “If being conservative means rejecting gay conservatives because they are gay, then fine, I’m not a conservative.”

He will be missed, but his example leads all of us with similar values and principals onward. In my own quest to find and embody the spirit of — “Punk Rock Republicans”, I guess I can start by stepping out a bit more on the ledge that he loved to dance on. I did some battle on FB with a post on his death, and in the ensuing dialogue I ended up inadvertently and with some specific intent — coming out! Coming out on FB. And, people actually go there in larger quantity than here (most unfortunately). I guess, that is the most fitting tribute I could begin to give.

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Obamacare dictating FREE anything is weird — and election observations

The recent brouhaha around birth control and Catholic institutions appears to be dying down, although the “solution” that Obama has come up with strikes me as entirely insane. I mean, he is now telling insurance companies, by presidential fiat, to provide a product FREE of charge to certain types of institutions? There must be some outcry about this. Not because it is or is not birth control, but because — since when can the President of the United States determine what an insurance provider charges for anything? Anything at all?

I sense that this Obamacare, while not being out-and-out “socialized” medicine, certainly is similar to that looming behemoth. The insurance companies now appear to be mere utilities to the government. The government sets so much of the cost and risk and charges under Obamacare — that they are no longer independent, free market, competing entities. Here, from Charles Krauthammer, he says it better than me:

From – The Obamacare Trifecta
Where is the opposition’s argument against government health-care control?
By Charles Krauthammer

“Under Obamacare, the state treats private insurers the way it does government-regulated monopolies and utilities. It determines everything of importance. Insurers, by definition, set premiums according to risk. Not anymore. The risk ratios (for age, gender, smoking, etc.) are decreed by Washington. This is nationalization in all but name. The insurer is turned into a middleman, subject to state control — and presidential whim.

Third, the assault on individual autonomy. Every citizen without insurance is ordered to buy it, again under penalty of law. This so-called individual mandate is now before the Supreme Court — because never before has the already-inflated Commerce Clause been used to compel a citizen to enter into a private contract with a private company by mere fact of his existence.

This constitutional trifecta — the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies, and the individual citizen — should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.”

Obamacare Trifecta

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And, yes, religious institutions should be allowed to not have anything to do with providing birth control or “morning after” pills to their employees. Not even “free” (and nothing is ever truly free, somewhere the price will be raised to cover the cost) birth control! Why? The first amendment keeps the government from dictating to religious institutions what they should do in matters of personal morality or belief. Unless of course, a church or temple wants to sacrifice babies to Odin, and then, we might have an issue. There are certainly restrictions on religious institutions doing criminal activities. In any event, this whole mess strikes me as being not about women’s health, but as a power grab by the government. It must be unconstitutional and I would hope that it is challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.

I support women’s perogative (not a “right” since the government strictly speaking does not give “rights” in the US, but a perogative) — to obtain birth control and even, an abortion within the first trimester — but certainly, religious institutions that provide care, often for poor women and children, or homeless men, like the Catholic church through its Catholic hospitals – deserve to have their right of conscience respected. It is in the First Amendment, it is that simple and straightforward.

The media, which is often driven by progressive or at least, Democratic party bias, keeps focusing on this controversy as a sign that the right “hates women”. Of course, Santorum, plays into this meme with his personal beliefs about birth control being unacceptable. Although I actually don’t believe that all people who think birth control is wrong, also hate women. That’s like saying that people who support abortion, hate children. What is interesting about Santorum however, is that he does support the government ponying up for birth control when it is not being done by a religious institution. He did support the Federal government providing birth control through Title X. Yes, he actually supported giving Federal money to Family planning clinics for poor people here:

Title X Family Planning
” History of Title X
The Title X Family Planning program [“Population Research and Voluntary Family Planning Programs” (Public Law 91-572)], was enacted in 1970 as Title X of the Public Health Service Act. Title X is the only Federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.

That’s from the HHS page on Title X.
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So there is more to Santorum than meets the eye. Santorum is more of a populist, and less of a fiscal conservative than he appears. He is a stalwart social conservative yes, but as Ann Coulter observed, “Santorum is not a conservative, he’s a Catholic.” Here from her column “IOWA SHOWS REPUBLICANS DETERMINED TO BEAT OBAMA”
January 4, 2012:

“Santorum is not as conservative as his social-issues credentials suggest. He is more of a Catholic than a conservative, which means he’s good on 60 percent of the issues, but bad on others, such as big government social programs. He’d be Ted Kennedy if he didn’t believe in God.

Santorum may not be a big spender as far as professional politicians go, but he is still a professional politician. In 2005, one of his former aides described him as “a Catholic missionary who happens to be in the Senate.”

The Catholic missionary was fantastic on issues like partial-birth abortion, but more like a Catholic bishop in his support for No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug entitlement program (now costing taxpayers more than $60 billion a year), and a highway bill with a Christmas tree of earmarks, including the famous “bridge to nowhere.”

Santorum cites his father’s admonition to put any extra money in the poor box at church to explain his wanting to use the federal government to help the poor. ”

Read the whole thing here: Coulter on Santorum and Iowa Caucus
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I am not in the bag for Santorum. He is waaaay too mouthy about his social conservatism for me. I prefer those beliefs to be more understated. I certainly agree that it is preferable that people marry before they have children (how can this be controversial?) but I also am in favor of people living their lives as they see fit. In this country, we do have a measure of personal freedom and choice and I like that. In Santorum, I sense an authoritarian streak just beneath the surface. And, he exhibits a tangible disdain for gay and lesbian people. That distaste alone, which feels palpable, makes me uncomfortable. However, I will say that once I heard him through an entire speech, sat and listened all the way through — I also sensed a nearly earnest sincerity. A boyish Eagle Scout streak that felt a bit guileless in a politician, and — I realized that in spite of our very serious disagreements, Santorum is actually a good man. I believe he is strongly mistaken in some of his beliefs, but he is a good man nonetheless. In other words, when he is not exhorting homosexuals or homosexuality as inferior and sinful, Santorum is actually kind of likable. But, no. I am still in the corner for Gingrich and I will accept Romney. In fact, Romney is starting to look better all the time. He is not an extremist, he is a fiscal conservative, he is competent, he gets it on Iran (though they all appear to) and his moderation is appealing to more voters than Santorum’s bona fide social conservatism which feels, in this day and age, shrill and extreme.

I am watching everything in the election very closely now. Time will tell! My favorite, Newt, may yet pull something out of his hat. He can get things done (budget balancing, welfare reform), he’s fearless, he’s smart and — he’s sharp and angry enough to take on Obama’s smooth-talking sleight of hand, his large and hollow rhetorical flotsam. He means business. So, I do hope…

But I digress… what I really meant to write about was this strange new directive of Obamacare, telling an insurance company to provide something for FREE. Dictating a price to a private entity. So, is an insurance company then still an independent private company — or an arm of the state?

Seems like those “crazy” Tea Partiers screaming about “socialized medicine being Obamacare” were not so far off after all. I think they were downright prescient.