This week Capitol Hill police officer Brian D. Sicknick was honored in the Capitol Rotunda. Sicknick was caught up in the January 6 riots where he sustained serious injuries and died later.
Tag Archives: extremism
“This categorical statement surely would have surprised the Framers of the First Amendment, who believed in freedom of speech but not so much in democracy. The Framers of our constitutional system thought they were building a ‘republic,’ with limited suffrage and many checks on ‘democracy.”
Alan Dershowitz, claiming that the current impeachment of Donald Trump is an attack on free speech and arguing that freedom of speech is “essential to keeping it a republic, but not necessarily a democracy.”
“If you’re going to pursue this, and you wanna start calling witnesses, and you want to drag this thing out, it would be fair to have Kamala Harris’ tape play where she bailed people out of jail. What more could you do to incite future violence, than to pay the bail of the people who broke up the shops and beat up the cops. How’s that not inciting future violence? Be careful what you wish for my Democratic colleagues; be careful what you wish for.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, on the current impeachment of former President Donald Trump
“I haven’t even looked at what all she’s done. I’d have to hold back a statement on that. Travel in this weather it’s been a little rough looking at any news or whatever.”
“When we defend equal rights of the people the world over, of women and girls, of LGBTQ individuals, indigenous communities and people with disabilities, the people of every ethnic background and religion, we also ensure that those rights are protected for our own children here in America.”
President Joe Biden, upon issuing a memorandum to protect LGBTQ rights as part of a human rights agenda for the United States
“There were a lot more Republican leaders, and their constituents, who attempted to push back then than there are now. To a large extent, the people who have inherited the Birch legacy today, I think, are more empowered [and] more visible within the Republican Party. There is much less criticism; there is much less of an effort to drum them out; there is a much greater fear of antagonizing them. They are the so-called Republican base.”
Matthew Dallek, political historian at George Washington University and author of an upcoming history of the John Birch Society, on the growing acceptance of extremism in the Republican Party
Texas Senator Ted Cruz splashed onto the political scene two years ago when he easily won the seat vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Well-educated and highly intellectual, Cruz was a championship debater at Harvard University and, in 2003, became the youngest Solicitor General in the state of Texas; a role he served in until 2008. Unlike many first-year senators, Cruz quickly established himself as a rugged individualist by being blunt and outspoken. He held true to his base by bashing anyone and anything that didn’t fit his narrow agenda: taxes, regulation, the federal government, and, of course, President Obama. While the Republican National Party was already moving in a more staunchly conservative direction, Cruz seemed to break off his own small faction that slid even further to the right; making Hitler and Stalin look like tree-hugging liberals.
In September of 2013, Cruz incited a shutdown of the entire federal government over funding for the Affordable Care Act. He spoke on the Senate floor for 21 uninterrupted hours and was hailed as a hero by his “Tea Party” acolytes. Cruz and his Republican cohorts were unwilling to reach even a modest agreement with Democrats and Independents on funding the government; so on October 1, 2013, it essentially shut down. Approximately 850,000 workers were furloughed, and another 1.3 million were required to report for work with paycheck dates. The 16-day stalemate was the third-longest government shutdown in U.S. history and cost about $24 billion. As usual, whenever government officials skirmish, average citizens bore the brunt of the shutdown.
Now that Republicans are scheduled to take control of both houses of Congress next month, Cruz is demanding that funding for any of Obama’s programs – namely the ACA – be severed and any presidential appointments be thwarted. In other words, Cruz is pushing for nothing to get done so he can prove his point.
For all of these reasons, I sincerely hope Cruz runs for president in 2016. Not because I like and admire him. I want to see his arrogance get shoved down his throat.
Cruz is already positioning himself for a run. He’s engaged in the vital prerequisites: he’s visited the state of Iowa several times (Iowa is where the nation’s first voting primaries are held each election cycle); he’s solicited a bevy of affluent donors; and he’s expressed his unmitigated support for Israel. All he has to do is give a speech at Bob Jones University saying he doesn’t think Negro slavery was all that bad, and he’ll be good for the Republican Party’s nomination.
But I think once Cruz enters onto that stage, spouting off his vitriolic rhetoric and twisted views on American values, he’ll be shocked to learn not everyone loves him. His right-wing extremism will become apparent. Politics has a way of cutting people down to size. I sincerely feel Cruz will get diced up quicker than squid at a sushi restaurant.
A brief examination of Cruz’s voting record shows his true dimension. Among other things, he’s voted against funding for highways and transportation (three times); the “Bring Jobs Home Act”; the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act”; “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act”; the “Minimum Wage Fairness Act”; the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act”; the 2014 “Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act”; the 2013 “Employment Non-Discrimination Act”; and the 2013 “Student Loan Affordability Act.”
There is one seemingly innocuous fact about Cruz that may play into the hands of his opponents: he wasn’t born in the U.S. He was born in Canada; something from which he doesn’t shy away. Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, was born in Cuba and lived under the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. In 1957, Cruz managed to escape Cuba and arrive in Texas with only 100 U.S. dollars and the clothes on his back. He had supported Fidel Castro, but now claims he didn’t know at the time that Castro was a communist. There’s a politician, if I’ve ever heard one! In the 1960s, Cruz met and married Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson. Eleanor was born in Delaware to Irish- and Italian-American parents. Rafael and Eleanor Cruz moved to Alberta, Canada where they worked in the oil industry. In 1974, the Cruz family (now including little Ted) moved back to Texas. Rafael and Eleanor divorced several years later. Why they abruptly relocated to Canada in the first place and when exactly they were married and divorced remains unclear. But doubts about Sen. Cruz’s citizenship keep surfacing.
In order to qualify to be President, the U.S. Constitution states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
The precise definition of “natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States” has confounded plenty of legal scholars and amateurs. To many of us, it simply means that you were born in one of the 50 United States, a U.S. territory, or a U.S. military base. But, if at least one of your parents was born in the U.S., then you are a U.S. citizen. My mother, for example, was born just outside of México City in 1932; yet she and her three siblings were U.S. citizens because their father was born in Michigan in 1902. Does that mean she’s qualified to run for U.S. president? I’m not certain. I don’t think she’d want the job anyway; she’d scare the crap out of too many people.
The issue of U.S. citizenship in relation to the presidency has come up before. In 1964, when Barry Goldwater garnered the Republican Party’s nomination for president, some speculated he wasn’t qualified, since he’d been born in Arizona, three years before it became a state. In 1968, when George Romney sought the Republican nomination, he didn’t avoid the fact he had been born in México in 1907. Both of his parents had been born in the U.S. and allegedly fled religious persecution by relocating to México where they and fellow Mormons set up a Mormon colony that still exists. (In reality, the Romneys wanted to maintain their polygamous lifestyle.)
The right-wing hysteria surrounding President Obama’s birthplace and birth certificate is well-documented. The self-righteous “birther” gang maintains that Obama was born in Kenya, like his father, and not in Hawaii, as the president’s birth certificate declares. Some people still don’t realize Hawaii is one of the United States. When I worked for the wire transfer division of a bank in the 1990s, we’d invariably get calls from branch offices asking if a transfer to Hawaii was domestic or international. Not much was made of the fact Senator John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936, when it was still a U.S. territory.
Ted Cruz tackled his own citizenship last year when he released his official Canadian birth certificate and then renounced his Canadian citizenship. I’m sure Canada was heartbroken.
Citizenship matters aside, Cruz may feel self-assured about a presidential run. Anyone who dares to tackle such an office has to be extremely self-confident and just a little bit arrogant. Cruz will find, though, that he has to appeal to a much larger base of people than the gaggle of conservative hardliners that orgasm with his every word. For one thing, he’ll have to appeal to Hispanics. That’ll be especially tough. I guess you have to understand the Hispanic identity in the U.S. Cuban-Americans don’t like to be dubbed “Hispanic” or “Latino” because that places them in the same category as Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, etc. For some ungodly reason, some Cuban-Americans – Rafael Cruz among them – think they’re superior to other Spanish-surnamed peoples in the Western Hemisphere. As comedian Paul Rodriguez once noted, “When Mexicans enter the U.S. illegally, they take them to jail. When Cubans enter the U.S. illegally, they take them to Disney World.”
Ted Cruz will have no choice but to court Hispanics – and everyone else, regardless of ethnicity – if he wants to live in the White House and be considered the “Leader of the Free World.” It won’t be easy for him; not at all. He won’t be able to justify his extremist views to a broader audience. Then he’ll find himself on that sushi board. And me, personally, I think sushi is disgusting.
Okay, I know the title of this essay is a bad play on the name of Ted Cruz, the former Solicitor General of Texas, who hopes to replace Kay Bailey-Hutchison in the U.S. Senate this year. He’s a Republican, of course, and since I’m not too fond of Republican politicians – especially the species creeping out of Texas – I have to criticize him. Cruz isn’t just a Republican; he’s a “Tea Party” Republican – that wacky band of closet Nazis who emerged after our biracial president took office. The “Tea Party” clan has grabbed the GOP by the throat and wants to send America back to the good old days of the 19th century, when only White heterosexual Christian males had power.
Cruz has been playing right into the gnarly hands of the far right; placating them with a variety of outrageous claims and blatant lies. For example, he thinks billionaire businessman George Soros and the United Nations are conspiring to eliminate golf in the U.S. As if that would be a bad thing. Cruz also apparently adheres to the growing reemergence of nullification; a 19th century philosophy that states can invalidate any federal laws they don’t like. The Affordable Health Care Act has become their favorite target. In his first campaign ad, Cruz states, in his role as Solicitor General, he made it easier for Texas to kill an “illegal alien.” It’s a reference to a 2008 case, Medellin vs. Texas, in which the state argued that it shouldn’t have to comply with the Vienna Convention. The Vienna Convention is a 1969 treaty requiring countries to inform foreign nationals who are arrested that they have the right to legal counsel from their home country. As of 2010, 112 states had signed it, including North Korea, which even honored it when it captured 2 American journalists in 2009.
Cruz has an apparent disdain for illegal immigrants – which I do, as well, to some extent. But, from a cultural standpoint, you have to understand where this could lead. Cruz hopes to appeal to Texas’ growing Hispanic population – most of whom are of Mexican or Central American extraction. Most of them – despite what you may hear on FOX News – are either native born residents or legal immigrants who don’t commit crimes. Here’s where it gets really interesting and personal. Cruz is only half-Hispanic; his father was born and raised in Cuba where he had fought against and been tortured under the brutal regime of Fulgencio Batista. Batista had come to power in 1933 and ruled Cuba until Fidel Castro led a successful coup in 1959. Batista was an anti-communist ideologue, which endeared him to the U.S. But, he revoked many personal liberties, such as the right to strike. His secret police force allegedly killed thousands of people on the island nation. Under his command, only a handful of families owned most of the land and therefore, held the bulk of the wealth and power. As in most Latin American nations at the time, a wide gap existed between the wealthy and the poor; kind of like how the U.S. is becoming now. Cruz’s father fled to the U.S. in 1957, arriving in Austin, Texas with $100. But, Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, that bastion of socialist anxiety right-wing extremists generally hate so much. The “Tea Party” crowd frequently compares the Affordable Health Care Act to Canada’s universal health care policies – e.g. socialism.
Back to the Hispanic thing. While most Hispanics trend Democratic when voting, Cuban-Americans, in particular, lean Republican. And, as a group, Cubans seem to despise other Hispanics, mainly Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. I don’t know why, but I’ve seen it and felt in the overall Hispanic community in Dallas. I think it’s because Cuba is such a devoutly communist country; one of the last remaining bastions of Marxist theology in the world and the only one in the Western Hemisphere. Therefore, when its residents flee to the United States, they are truly running for their lives. But, no such compassion lands upon the shoulders of refugees from war-torn nations elsewhere in Latin America. To paraphrase comedian Paul Rodriguez, ‘when Mexicans come here illegally, they take them to jail; when Cubans come here illegally, they take them to Disney World.’
Like any good Republican extremist, Cruz despises Barack Obama; believing the President is collaborating with Soros and others to turn the U.S. into a “European socialist union.” He wants to gut both Social Security and Medicaid, feeling they have already pushed the U.S. towards that dreaded socialist state. It doesn’t seem to matter that those programs have prevented millions of elderly and / or disabled people from slipping into poverty. Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan feels the same way. Neither will probably get much of the Hispanic vote and will have a tough time sweet-talking senior citizens.
Cruz is facing Democrat Paul Sadler, an attorney and member of the Texas House of Representatives. Surprisingly, the Dallas Morning News endorsed Sadler for the U.S. Senate; amazing in that the paper has almost always recommended the Republican candidate. That’s why I scratch my head in confusion every time some local right-winger hollers like a cow going into labor that the News has a leftist agenda.
Alas, I’m afraid Ted Cruz will win that coveted Senate seat next month. When many Texans go to the polls, they seem to leave their brains in their vehicles, while making sure they have their guns. It’s getting dangerous even for us moderates here in Texas. And, the fact that a far-right fundamentalist like Ted Cruz could end up in such a powerful position doesn’t bode well for the United States as a whole.