Mandela memorial snub. Nelson Mandela is credited with making South Africa tolerant and inclusive. But that tolerance apparently does not extend to the Dalai Lama. He missed Mandela’s memorial service yesterday, apparently because South Africa wouldn’t grant him a visa. The Dalai Lama and his “Free Tibet” movement has been an embarrassment to China. And China has become a major trading partner with most of Africa. This ABC News story suggests that China had enough influence with South Africa to keep the Dalai Lama away. If true, the episode highlights China’s increasing economic clout in Africa.
Stockman vs. Cornyn. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, surprised many when just minutes before the filing deadline he submitted papers to run against incumbent Republican Sen. John Cornyn. Stockman served in Congress in the 1990s, left and did other things for nearly 20 years, and was reelected in the last election. He is one of the most conservative members of Congress and he will, of course, say he is following in the footsteps of Sen. Ted Cruz, the state’s junior senator. But Stockman is not the campaigner Cruz is, nor does he have the personal story like Cruz. Also, Cruz was running for an open seat against a well-financed but moderate opponent. Cornyn rarely takes a leadership role on the issues that conservatives care about, but his voting record is one of the most conservative in the Senate. It will be tough to paint him as a liberal. But Stockman has several qualities that will likely make this a wildly entertaining race: He is very witty, and he is outspoken. He is not afraid to say and do things that are on people’s minds but are afraid to say out loud. Of course, that means that the liberal media will follow him everywhere with cameras and digital recorders running, gleefully broadcasting any gaffe or outrageous comment.
GOP civil wars. The Cornyn vs. Stockman race highlights the fight going on now “for the soul of the Republican Party,” as the pundits are fond of calling it. A key funder of the liberal/moderate wing of the GOP is the Main Street Partnership and its Super PAC Defending Main Street. According to National Journal, MSP has “emerged as an outspoken, deep-pocketed player in pro-business GOP plans to beat back tea-party challengers next year.” The same National Journal article says the MSP has an important funding source not normally associated with Republicans: labor unions. According to documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Laborers’ International Union of North America have contributed at least $400,000 to Defending Main Street. It is not unprecedented for unions to give money to Republicans, but it is unusual. Whether the Main Street Partnership becomes a real force remains to be seen. So far, it has raised about $2 million with plans to get involved in only about 10 races in 2014.
More marriages childless. According to the Los Angeles Times: “The percentage of married women ages 40 to 44 who had no biological children and no other kids in the household, such as adopted children or stepkids, reached 6 percent in the period between 2006 and 2010. That’s a small but statistically significant jump since 1988,” when that number was 4.5 percent. One reason for the decline: Young women want to have children but want to delay having them. When they are ready to have them, they find they are unable to.