Tag Archives: Republican National Party
President Trump with Republican National Convention Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Michigan Republican Party Cochair Terry Bowman in 2019. Photo by Max Elram
“If you donate to our Save America PAC at (DonaldJTrumpDOTcom), you are helping the America First movement and doing it right. We will WIN, and we will WIN BIG! Our Country is being destroyed by the Democrats!”
Former President Donald Trump, pleading for donations to his new political action committee
“The RNC, NRSC and NRCC are grateful for President Trump’s support, both past and future. Through his powerful agenda, we were able to break fundraising records and elect Republicans up and down the ballot. Together, we look forward to working with President Trump to retake our congressional majorities and deliver results for the American people.”
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC); Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC); and Tom Emmer, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), responding to Trump’s pitch above
“Everything in this bill is rotten to the core. This is a bill as if written in hell by the devil himself.”
“There’s a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats value as many people as possible voting and they’re willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don’t mind putting security measures in that won’t let everybody vote – but everybody shouldn’t be voting.”
“Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military. While China’s military becomes more masculine as it’s assembled the world’s largest navy, our military needs to become, as Joe Biden says, ‘more feminine’ – whatever ‘feminine’ means anymore, since men and women no longer exist.”
Tucker Carlson, criticizing new uniform designs for pregnant female military personnel
Carlson’s lament has drawn sharp rebuke from military veterans, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) who lost both of her lower legs while serving as a combat pilot in Iraq in 2004. Duckworth tweeted this about Carlson.
Texas, we could have had Beto O’Rourke as U.S. Senator. Instead, a slight majority voted to keep Ted Cruz in office in 2018. I emphasize “slight majority” because – unlike his 2012 victory over Paul Sadler – Cruz didn’t well…cruise to a reelection win.
In the summer of 2018, O’Rourke, then a U.S. House Representative, shocked the Texas Republican Party and political observers alike when he raised several million dollars in a very short time. It was no minor feat; accomplished by literally cold-calling people and pounding the pavement all over the state, gathering small amount donations from average citizens. O’Rourke also did something no other Texas candidate for the U.S. Senate had done: he visited every single county in the state. Some residents were stunned upon his arrival, as their county had no record of such a candidate stopping by. Again, this was no minor task. Texas boasts 267 counties in roughly 268,597 square miles (695,663 sq. km). It’s half the size of Alaska and as big as some of Europe’s largest countries, such as Spain and France. So, O’Rourke disturbed the evangelical conservative force that’s dominated Texas politics for generations; first as Democrats and now as Republicans.
For many Texas Hispanics – especially someone like me whose ancestry in this state goes back before there was a United States – Cruz’s win in 2012 was a distinct insult. Cruz, a Canadian-born Cuban-Italian, was lauded as the state’s first Hispanic senator. Cruz is to Hispanics what I am to Nigerians.
More significantly, though, Cruz is known for his antagonistic approach to political navigations once he got to Washington, as well as his failed 2016 presidential bid. He and Donald Trump ended up battling for the final nomination. In what I considered a case of choosing the lesser of two evils, Cruz would have been that lesser one. But, I’ve only voted Republican once in my life and have let myself live to regret it; thus I don’t know what shenanigans rumbled through the brains of Trump acolytes. The animosity between Cruz and Trump became even more palpable during the 2016 Republican National Convention, when the Texan gave his speech and did everything he could NOT to say the name Donald Trump, as the crowd booed and jeered. The tension was so high that Secret Service agents removed Cruz’s wife, Heidi, from the convention floor.
By 2018, though, Cruz had done little to advance a pro-citizen agenda. In all fairness, O’Rourke had no significant legislative achievements during his tenure either. I guess I was mistaken in believing we elect people to such prestigious positions to actually…you know, do something. I must be a damn fool! But that year I eagerly jumped on the O’Rourke train, donating money and proudly voting for him.
Alas, it was for naught. Cruz squeezed into another term, sweating and hyperventilating all the way. It was enough to upset that right-wing force in Texas politics, but Cruz made it back to Washington anyway.
Then came the ice. Like a herd of Central American immigrants carrying loads of bananas stuffed with cocaine (a conservative’s second worst nightmare after queer marriage), Winter Storm Uri ambushed Texas. Meteorologists had warned state and energy industry officials about its strength. When most Texans think of hurricanes, they conjure images of Katrina and Harvey, not a snow-laden monstrosity from the Pacific or (hah-ha) Canada.
As millions of Texans found themselves without power – and, in some cases, water – state leaders began blaming liberals and their green energy ideas for the catastrophe. And Ted Cruz left his comfortable Houston abode to jet to Cancun because his 2 daughters wanted to go. He was there for all of one day before the angry heat from his constituents melted his margarita and his resolve and he scurried back to Houston; hoping no one would notice.
We noticed. We also noticed that at least 80 Texans died last week directly as a result of the ice storm.
Cruz hopscotched across the stage of excuses to explain his sudden departure and miraculous return. Meanwhile, Beto O’Rourke began raising money for Texans stranded in their darkened homes and even made calls to some of them. He got help from one of the most demonized figures among conservatives in American politics: New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Now, as Texas state leaders continue blaming everyone else for the catastrophe, Ted Cruz left Texas again and headed for Orlando, Florida to attend the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC). In summation it’s a yearly festival where right-wingers trash anyone even slightly to the left of their narrow-minded ideology. At this year’s escapade, a gold-colored figure of Trump has taken center stage.
And so has Cruz. Making light of his Cancun trip, he quipped: “I’ve got to say, Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice.”
Oh, ha-ha! HURK!
Fuck you, Cruz. Fuck you and your conservative philosophies. Fuck you and the Texas Republican “leaders” who can’t admit their pro-business, anti-regulation antics over the past decades put us into this quagmire. People suffered and people died during this mess! One of the wealthiest states in the richest nation on Earth in the third decade of the 21st century should not have experienced such a calamity!
But I’m just venting. Texas, we could’ve had Beto.
Image: Mike Luckovich
The Lincoln Project is a political action committee comprised of current and former Republicans established in 2019 to prevent the reelection of Donald Trump.
On Thursday, November 19, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and several Trump campaign officials staged a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters to denounce the outcome of the presidential elections. It was roughly 90 minutes of conspiracy theories and fact-smashing.
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
Both the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions have come to an end, and I couldn’t be happier. Last week former Vice-President Joe Biden accepted the Democrat’s nomination for president, while Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the vice-presidential role. And, over the last few days, incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence accepted their respective nominations from the GOP. Aside from watching these political love fests conclude, the only thing that excites me more about this entire process is that the demise of the 2020 presidential race is in sight. I feel even more disenfranchised than I did four years ago.
Okay, one other thing that truly excites me is the prospect that Donald Trump will be voted out of office in November. But I have to concede that I’m not too thrilled with the idea of a Biden presidency. Joe Biden was good as vice-president, but I feel less secure with him in the role of Chief Executive. I’m certain, though, he’ll be much better than Trump. Hell, a stray dog would be better than Trump!
In 2016 I voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. A physician, Stein had been the Green Party’s candidate four years earlier. I knew Iceland would see 80-degree temperatures on Christmas Day before Stein would win the U.S. presidency. But I didn’t like either Trump or the Democratic choice of Hillary Clinton. Clinton supporters blamed people like me for Clinton’s loss in 2016. But we didn’t cause Hillary Clinton to lose the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton caused Hillary Clinton to lose the 2016 presidential election. Her and the Russians. As we now know, Russia essentially elected Trump; just like the U.S. Supreme Court elected George W. Bush in 2000. America’s role as the beacon of democracy seems to have been shredded over the past 20 years.
I just never liked Hillary Clinton. I loved Bill (Whose Your Daddy?) Clinton, but I never took a liking to Hillary. By 2016, she had acquired top much baggage; more baggage than a Samsonite warehouse or a Lufthansa flight fresh in from Berlin.
And I definitely didn’t like Trump. Donald Trump had been running for president for some 30 years by the time he made it official in 2015. The idea had arisen back in the 1980s, when his name and persona first became public, and much of the nation had grown enamored with the concept of rapid-fire wealth and public prestige. As AIDS and cocaine rampaged, many in the U.S. found the likes of Trump appealing. He survived the collapse of the financial industry related to the savings-and-loan crisis and the string of high-profile prosecutions that ensued. It seemed there was a price to pay for fiduciary recklessness. No one knew at the time, though, that Trump was actually a womanizing failed businessman and tax cheat. We know that well enough now. But he’s president. And, as another massive health crisis grips the nation and the world, we see how incompetent and ineffective Donald Trump really is.
I’m sure Joe Biden can do better. But I keep thinking Biden should have called it a political life after his vice-presidency ended in January of 2017. He should have retired to his estate in Delaware to consult on other political campaigns, give speeches and write books. He’d served his time in office; he’d done his duty.
For the Democratic Party, the 2020 presidential campaign had started with high promises and an extraordinarily bright future. The field of candidates was the most diverse that had ever existed among any political party. But, by March, we’d ended up with two old White guys: Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Kind of like the Republican Party. And I say this with all due respect to old White men. I mean, I’m a mostly White man myself – in the golden days of middle age. And, as I’ve declared before, White men aren’t the nexus of evil in America they’re often portrayed to be. But I personally had hoped Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be the Democrats’ choice. I would definitely be more excited with her at the head of the ticket.
As usual, there has been no real mention of either the Green or Libertarian Parties. They’ve essentially been locked out of the convention hall – again. And Americans are overwhelmed by the demagoguery of the Democratic and Republican Parties – again. Indeed, the U.S. is becoming less and less like a democracy and more like an oligarchy. Does my vote – or the vote of any individual – truly count? Throughout the year the U.S. has seen covert attempts by the Trump Administration to thwart the right to vote – one of the foundational pillars of any free society. That’s typical of social and political conservatives. While the Republican Party of the 19th century pushed for the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it was the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that propelled many conservatives into the arms of the GOP. Recent efforts to enforce voter identifications, calls for limiting early voting days and ongoing battles to undermine mail-in voting prove that conservatives – the ones who will move Heaven and Earth to protect their sacred gun rights – will do anything possible to circumvent the voting process.
And here we are: stuck with two old men who represent more of America’s past than its future. I was enthralled with Bill Clinton and I liked Barack Obama. Yet, I just can’t bring myself to get excited with the current campaign.
My two biggest fears? If Trump is reelected, the nation will descend further into social chaos and economic madness. If Biden is elected, he may die in office, which will send the nation into equally unending chaos.
I know I will vote nonetheless. People have fought and died for this right – even within the past 100 years. There are literally millions of people across the globe who would relish the chance to choose between the lesser of two or three evils. The people of Belarus certainly wish they had that opportunity now. Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic and a rash of voter suppression tactics, I will stand in line to select a candidate for the U.S. presidency. It’s my right and my obligation. Besides, I have nothing else to do two days before my 57th birthday.
“I checked my watch. Yep, it was 2020. We were supposed to have flying cars by now. Instead, gay Republicans can’t even get a booth at their own convention.”
– Marco Roberts, secretary of the Texas Log Cabin Republicans, lamenting how the Texas Republican Party has – once again – refused to grant the Texas LCR (an openly GLBT group) a booth at this year’s state convention.
Damnit! They paid for their tickets, but they still can’t get in through those steel doors! They wear the red, white and blue; display their guns; mock affirmative action; and say they hate immigrants. But, the ballroom guards just won’t let them get beyond the entrance threshold. What’s a queer Republican have to do to get noticed in the state of Texas?
Apparently, nothing. Once again, the Texas GOP has locked out their smidgen of homosexual brethren; refusing to acknowledge they even exist, much less grant them any speaking privileges. As the Texas Republican Party continues along its rightward path, that’s not surprising. Recently they rejected – yet again – the Log Cabin Republicans’ request for a booth at the state convention, denouncing the group as “perverted”. LCR is a political organization that advocates equality for the queer community; essentially a political home for conservative gays and lesbians. They admire Ronald Reagan and oppose the usual “liberal agenda”: big government, taxes, affirmative action, abortion, Mexicans, Muslims and Bill Clinton. One aspect of the liberal agenda they can’t bring themselves to oppose is…well, themselves! Homos, queers, fags, dikes…you know – perverted folks. It’s the oddest of all symbiotic relationships. From the national level on down, the Republican Party has not hidden its animosity towards the queer community. They despise homosexuals more than agnostics and uppity (meaning educated) Latinos and Negroes.
Conservative queers often mirror the general conservative population: mostly White and male. I’ve known a few conservative queers – emphasis on “few”. Literally just one woman and a handful of men. Queer conservatives are a little like snow leopards – rare and practically endangered. The major difference of course is that snow leopards are stunningly beautiful and more deserving of their niche in the world.
Two queer conservatives I knew had been good friends of mine nearly 20 years ago. One was Jewish and a native Texan; the other was Native American from Arkansas and an Army veteran with cheek bones high enough to set Jell-O shots. Together they owned a chain of men’s clothing stores throughout Texas and were, therefore, staunchly pro-business. They eagerly supported Republican Party ideology of low business taxes and few regulations. They didn’t care very much about the environment and – more astonishingly – they didn’t worry how fellow conservatives viewed them. The Jewish guy literally told me that one day! “I don’t really care how they look at me,” he stated nonchalantly. He and his partner were more concerned about the overall welfare of the nation; they stood alongside the party’s general message without hesitation or regret. Their business acumen was so intense that the Jewish guy once dismissed my unemployment status around 2002 in that “you only represent about 6% of the population.” In an interview with the “Dallas Voice” several years later, the Jewish guy openly declared his opposition to diversity in the workplace; admitting he believed businesses should have the right NOT to hire people of a certain race, ethnicity or religion simply because they didn’t like the people within that group. I noticed he didn’t include sexuality in that group of undesirables. I remember thinking, ‘How could someone hate themselves THAT much?’
Indeed, how could anyone with at least half a brain and some semblance of a conscious willingly accept the bigoted philosophy of others among them? Of course, some Republicans didn’t mind if queers loiter among them; as long as they kept quiet and vocalize their support for the party’s agenda. After all, there were some Native Americans in the ranks of the U.S. Army and Jews among the Nazi guard. My two aforementioned friends noted change often comes from within. But, I realized after listening to them, so does support.
Among the many items on the Texas GOP agenda, one in particular has gained national notoriety: support of “reparative therapy” for gays and lesbians. Reparative or conversion therapy is a concerted psychological attempt to change someone’s sexuality from homosexual to heterosexual. (There’s no such thing as reverse therapy, unless you count visiting a gay bar.) Doctors, clerics and various others have tried to “cure” queer people of their “affliction” for centuries, usually through religious means. But, in its present form, conversion therapy has existed since the 1960s. Early attempts often used electroshock therapy; the same kind previously used on the mentally ill. And, of course, queer folks have always been considered mentally ill by many in both the general population and the medical community. Some in both camps still hold that assessment. But, contemporary reparative therapy is generally more psychological in its approach, with a good dose of theological rigor thrown into the cocktail.
Response to the inclusion of conversion therapy has been met with the usual vitriol from gay rights groups and medical professionals. No concrete proof exists that such methods actually succeed, even though there are plenty of people willing to testify otherwise. If anything, the process can be deadly. People who undergo such treatments usually don’t notice a change in their same-gender attractions and – feeling like utter failures – sometimes hurt themselves, often fatally. I don’t think it bothers the likes of Texas Governor Greg Abbott or Senator Ted Cruz that a depressed queer kills themselves. To them, that’s one less degenerate off the streets.
That the Texas GOP should include this mess in their agenda shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the party, or with the antagonism queer folks feel when confronted by them. But, what of gay Republicans? How exactly do they regard this mess? Well, for starters, Log Cain Republicans has officially denounced the reparative therapy. In that regard, they’re in line with the general queer community.
LCR’s battle with their Republican brethren in Texas is not new. They’ve tried unsuccessfully to become part of the mainstream Republican dialogue. In 1996, when Bob Dole ran for president on the Republican ticket, the national GOP created ruckus within its own ranks when it initially refused to accept a $1,000 donation from LCR. Then, it changed course and asked LCR to resubmit the money, which LCR did. But, responding to internal pressure, the GOP returned the donation. After the very public squabble, LCR officially declared itself neutral in that year’s presidential campaign. They damn well couldn’t support incumbent Bill Clinton. That would – as one LCR official declared – “undermine our credibility.” But, it still couldn’t bring itself to support Dole. It was left holding that $1,000 check and its support, like a teenage boy left holding a pair of tickets and box of Trojans outside the prom venue. And, it’s been that way ever since.
Change may come from within a particular group, but at what point do you finally get it that some folks within that group just won’t change? Steven Hotze, the leader of an anti-LGBTQ religious organization and Republican kingmaker, sent emails to board members decrying the “immoral and perverted sexual proclivities” of gay people.
State Sen. Rob Hall (R) accused the group’s members of promoting “unnatural sex.” Speaking of Log Cabin Republicans, he added, “They don’t have the basic belief in the God of the Bible that we are founded on. I could not find anywhere on their website an expression of their faith in God like you will find on a Republican website.”
Not to be defeated or deterred, a representative from LCR tried to remake the vitriolic rhetoric by saying the number of people who spoke in support of accepting the group’s money to buy booth space was encouraging. Relatively speaking, it was a huge win.
Yes, a win for the party at a state and even a national level. But when will the queers in the trenches finally get it that they’re really not wanted? When will they understand that, no matter how much they try, they still won’t be allowed into the dance hall?
In some paranormal circles, “dead time” refers to the period when otherworldly spirits are most likely to be active. Even though it’s not official – and really, nothing in the paranormal realm is considered official – it’s generally believed to occur between midnight and 5 a.m., with the two to four o’clock hours considered the key time. Nothing in the political arena – especially here in the U.S. – is considered normal either. But, for those who didn’t vote for Donald Trump in last fall’s presidential elections, dead time started materializing just as Tuesday, November 8 was turning into Wednesday, the 9th, and it appeared the bombastic real estate magnate was going to be our nation’s 45th Chief Executive. Trump’s entry into the race nearly two years ago surprised few; his name had arisen more than once since the late 1980s as a potential candidate. But, as he marched forward – taking out one competitor after another – the mainstream Republican Party stood dumbfounded; recoiling as each individual dropped from the race quicker than a Texan would drop a bottle of warm beer.
And, for the second time in sixteen years, Americans found themselves with a president-elect who didn’t win the majority of the popular, but still managed to garner most of the electoral votes. The vast majority of liberals and moderates were shocked – and appalled – that such an event could happen again within so short a period of time. As the Democratic National Party scratched its head, people began to question the validity of the Electoral College system that original framers of the U.S. Constitution had created as a means of spreading the generosity of power.
U.S. intelligence had surmised last summer that Russian hackers were trying to infiltrate our voting system. Now comes proof they actually did manage to sneak their way into it. Exactly how they were able to do that remains uncertain. Were votes eliminated, or were votes added? Was someone in the Electoral College bribed? Even if no one hacked into the system, would Trump have won anyway?
It’s bad enough that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump garnered their respective party’s nominations last summer. But they plowed through the campaigns with the lowest favorability ratings of any presidential candidates in U.S. history. In other words, no one really liked either of those fuckers, but felt compelled to vote nonetheless. Voting is more of a right and a civic duty than it is a privilege or an inconvenience. I have to admit that – for the first time since I began voting in 1992 – I went rogue and selected Green Party candidate Jill Stein. I knew Stein had as much of a chance of getting into the White House as I do of going a month without a mixed drink or a glass of wine. But it’s always the thought that counts, right?
I’ve always liked Bill Clinton, but Hillary never had much appeal to me. Most of my friends and relatives voted for her. A few criticized me for choosing Stein over Clinton; emphasizing that I was inadvertently voting for Trump instead. I don’t care. Opting for the lesser of two evils isn’t much of a choice. I did that in 2004, when I voted for John Kerry. Regardless, I wasn’t going to be swayed by party loyalists this time. While Trump is atrocious, Clinton is as hollow as the empty bottles of hair dye she leaves on the bathroom floor.
Yet, as the world looks at the United States – that self-proclaimed beacon of democracy and freedom – with a mix of horror and amusement, the Democrats are still patching up their emotional scars and sorting through the morass. But let’s pretend for a moment that no one had hacked into our voting system, or that any such attempts were successfully uncovered and squelched months before election day and that Trump still managed to win. The Democratic National Party would still have to undergo some serious soul-searching and understand what they did wrong. I can help and have narrowed the fiasco down to three primary issues.
Affordable Care Act (ACA) – While millions of average Americans were losing their jobs, their homes and their life savings because of the 2008 economic meltdown, the Democrats curiously focused their efforts on one issue: health care. Yes, it’s great if people don’t have to choose between a flu shot and the light bill. But ensuring that citizens will have adequate health care is not nearly as significant as ensuring they have gainful employment. I don’t know why the Democrats went off into an ideological black hole with this issue. That Democrats seemed more concerned with the ACA than boosting the economy was matched only by the Republicans’ determination to destroy the program. Both parties operated within a vacuum. Nothing else – mainly that economic thing – seemed to matter.
Inequality – The “Great Recession” almost completely destroyed the U.S. economy. So many factors contributed to the calamity, but the USD 8 trillion housing bubble burst was the primary culprit. More people than ever before were buying homes, which would normally be a good thing. But, in this case, people were getting into homes with little or sometimes zero money down. How reasonable does it sound for someone earning roughly USD 30,000 a year to buy a USD 500,000 house without making a down payment of even 5% of the structure’s value? Such a practice was inconceivable two decades ago. But that’s exactly what people were doing. And both financial institutions and homebuilders were part of the fiasco.
When I got laid off in the fall of 2010 (in the midst of a fragile recovery), my top concern was the job market; not whether I could afford to get my teeth cleaned. By the end of that year, the “Great Recession” was, from a purely technical standpoint, over. But to those of us trapped in its putrid residue, it was alive and well and sucking up our savings and maxing out our credit cards.
Between the fall of 2008 and the summer of 2009, the U.S. economy lost 8.4 million jobs, or 6.1% of all payroll employment. It was the worst job loss since the Great Depression. When people mention inequality, they’re not referring to racial or gender disparities. They’re talking about the wealth gap; that ever-widening abyss that separates the middle class from the upper class. After-tax income has been shrinking for the past three decades, while the cost of living has been increasing. Sen. Bernie Sanders made this a key point of his own bid for the presidency last year, and it certainly gained a great deal of attention. But the Democrats seemed more intent on denigrating Donald Trump’s character and highlighting his personal foibles. People working two or three jobs just to stay afloat financially don’t really care if the real estate mogul fondled a young woman at a beauty contest. They want to know if they’ll ever be able to stop working so hard for so little.
Illegal immigration – For decades politicians have said, if they want to appeal to Hispanics, they have to devise a comprehensive immigration plan; meaning that illegal immigrants from anywhere in Latin America must be treated better than others. This ideology assumes two things: that most Hispanic-Americans are immigrants and that we only care about providing sanctuary for people who emigrate to the U.S. illegally from Latin America. Immigration – legal or illegal – is NOT the top priority for most Hispanic-Americans. As a group we’re concerned about the same things most other Americans are concerned about: jobs and the economy.
Obama’s demeanor – Barack Obama is one of the smartest and most verbally gifted men ever to ascend to the nation’s highest elected office. He had the right message with the right tone. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. His demeanor is as remarkable as it is unimposing. It’s one of his greatest attributes. But, once in the White House, it became one of his greatest faults. You’d think someone who came of age in the rugged world of Chicago politics would be a little more forceful. But I felt Obama was too conciliatory, too nice, and too willing to compromise. The Republicans made it clear from the moment he won the 2008 contest they were determined to ensure he wouldn’t garner a second term. Their efforts didn’t pay off: Obama won again four years later. And, as Obama himself stated in his 2016 ‘State of the Union’ address, there was never any doubt he actually won. But the level of disrespect and recalcitrance the GOP displayed towards Obama has been unprecedented. From Rep. Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” at Obama during the 2009 State of the Union address to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer jutting her finger into Obama’s face (later claiming he intimidated her), I can say without a doubt Obama endured more shit than any of his predecessors.
I’m certain race played a major factor in their behavior. A gaggle of (mostly) old, White men just couldn’t fathom that a half-blooded Negro actually won the presidency. So, instead of working on behalf of their constituents (that is, doing their jobs), they opted for the asshole category and tried to stifle Obama at every turn. If he tried to compromise, he’d be viewed as weak; if he talked back, they’d consider him uppity. He just couldn’t win no matter what he did. And I know he could see this. Therefore, he should have responded accordingly.
Politics in any nation is a blood sport, and the United States leads in the sanguinary nature of this. Obama needed to get ugly with those clowns. And not just ugly, but fuck ugly; telling them, ‘Look, I’m president and I run this joint. You either work with me, or I’ll use my executive powers to slaughter your ass.’ That wouldn’t have earned him any fans among the right-wing crowd. But he might have earned their respect. I’ve learned that the hard way; sometimes you just have to stand up and scream at people to get their attention and make them bestow upon you the dignity and deference you deserve. It’ll definitely piss off some people. But in politics, like in business, you have to draw the line somewhere and tell people to shut the hell up and listen. It’s just the nature of both realms. You may not win any friends like that, but you’ll generally get the job done.
Overall, though, I’m satisfied with the Obama years. One person – even the President of the United States – can only do so much. History will be kinder to him than his contemporaries. It’s already treating George W. Bush with more compassion than he deserves. If the Democratic Party intends to remain relevant in the future, they need to be tougher with their opponents. But they also need to be more forward-looking and emphasize that we can’t go back in time when things seemed simpler and calmer. Otherwise, they’ll be digging an early grave for themselves, and only their most devout followers will be in attendance.
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.
It’s been one month since the midterm elections, and a lot of people are still smarting from the results. But several folks saw this coming. As expected, the Republican Party has retained control of the House of Representatives and taken the Senate. But, few anticipated the GOP would garner such high numbers. Moreover, Republicans have attained most of the state governorships. Here in Texas, the GOP has won every major state-level office for the fifth consecutive election cycle. A Democrat hasn’t won a state-wide office since 1994, when Garry Mauro won reelection as State Treasurer. By the time the current crop of officeholders finish their respective terms, Democrats will have been shut out of state-level offices for two decades.
Texas Democrats had hoped this year would be theirs; that they would recapture at least one office, preferably the governorship, but at least maybe attorney general or state treasurer. But they didn’t. They lost – in the worst way. As usual, most voting-eligible Texans failed to turn up at the voting booths this year. In fact, Texas had the lowest rate of voter turnout than any state in the union – roughly 4.75 million people, or 28.5% of the vote-eligible population. In the Dallas – Fort Worth metropolitan area, some local officials blamed the damp, cold weather for the dismal response. Really? I recall an election in India several years ago where some people were being carried in on their deathbeds – literally! – to cast a ballot. Overall this year’s midterm produced the worst voter turnout since 1942. That particular year was understandable: the U.S. had just entered World War II, when many young men had already joined the fight overseas. Men were much more likely to vote than women back then, plus there were a slew of voter restriction laws – especially in the Southeast – to keep poor and non-White voters from casting ballots. But that was then; things have changed considerably in 70 years. I don’t just find the low voter response appalling. I find it disgusting. What happened?
After the 2007 – 2008 financial downturn – a period in which the U.S. came as close to a completed and total economic collapse – people felt their elected officials simply weren’t responding to their needs. President Obama and the Democrats inexplicably focused their energy on passing a healthcare bill and reforming the immigration system. The latter was labeled an attempt to appeal to Hispanics; once again, assuming Hispanics only care about immigration in the same way women only care about abortion and gays and lesbians only care about same-sex marriage. Sweeping assumptions like that are an insult and always dangerous. It’s bad enough, though, the Republican Party was determined from the moment Obama won the 2008 presidential elections to obstruct his agenda. Every conservative lout from Dick Cheney to Mitch McConnell stated publicly and emphatically they wanted to make Obama a “one-term president.” Fortunately, they failed. But they and the Democrats have failed miserably over just about everything, mainly the economy.
My gripe with Obama is his overt willingness to compromise. His first major capitulation to the Republicans came in December 2010, as the Bush-era tax cuts were due to expire. The GOP literally threatened to withhold votes on extending benefits for the long-term unemployed, if tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens and largest corporations weren’t kept in place. Obama bowed to them; declaring openly that he didn’t want “the hostages” to be harmed. In December 2010, the Democrats still held majorities in both houses of Congress, and the President could have very well issued an executive order extending the benefits in question. But he backed down. And that’s when I began to lose respect for him – in the same way I’d long lost respect for most elected officials.
In 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt realized just how bad the Great Depression really was, he made the bold – and shocking – decision to raise taxes on the wealthiest citizens and largest corporations (the same ones who benefited from hefty Republican-spawned tax breaks the previous decade) to stimulate the economy. He convinced these people that such hikes would benefit them, too, in that more Americans would be able to enter the workforce and pay their own taxes, plus have money left over to buy goods produced by a variety of industries. It made sense. The policy worked to some extent, but the 1929 collapse had been so bad, the positive effects weren’t immediate. Thus, economists and the politicians who think they know so much have been debating the logic of this move ever since.
The Democrats failed on another front regarding the economy. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder never indicted anyone in connection with the recent financial calamity. Anyone with at least half a brain knows it didn’t happen by chance. It wasn’t the inevitable result of market ups and downs. Major banking entities such as Citigroup and Fannie Mae were key players in the debacle. Both helped to create the massive housing bubble at the turn of the century, replete with outrageous features such as zero-down purchases and mortgage-backed securities. As the crisis worsened towards the end of 2008, Citigroup managed to convince the federal government to give it a life-saving multi-billion-dollar loan. But it also began laying off people at its various offices across the globe. Fannie Mae, along with Freddie Mac, also received a multi-billion-dollar, taxpayer-funded bailout; this one in 2009. Yet that investment didn’t become profitable for taxpayers until this year. The average American worker hasn’t seen a lot of positive returns on their “investments” to save the “too-big-to-fail” banks. Those lounging in the economic ivory tower certainly have. For example, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, received a $16.2 million compensation package for 2011, despite a serious drop in corporate profits. The following year Blankfein urged Americans to consider a later retirement age.
“You can look at history of these things,” he told CBS News, “and Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career. … So there will be things that, you know, the retirement age has to be changed, maybe some of the benefits have to be affected, maybe some of the inflation adjustments have to be revised. But in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.”
How thoughtful. In February of 2009, two months after I earned my college degree, the engineering company where I worked held their annuals employee reviews. Due to budget crunches, my then-manager told me, they couldn’t afford significant salary increases. So, while my living expenses continued to rise, my salary essentially remained flat. I was laid off the following year.
People like Blankfein are part of the current problem of wealth inequality in America. That the Obama Administration neglected to prosecute the scoundrels responsible for all those business closings and job losses – again, this didn’t happen by accident – is reprehensible. If I rob a convenience store of a hundred bucks and get caught, I’d be sure to serve some serious prison time. Hedge-fund managers who manipulated the stock market seem immune to the most egregious of financial indiscretions.
Still, the economy has rebounded since Obama first took office. The unemployment rate, which reached a high of 9.9% in April 2010, now stands at 5.8%. GDP growth stood at negative 5.4% in the first quarter of 2009 and is now at 3.9%. The national deficit was $1.4 trillion in 2009 and now is $564 billion. That all brings up yet another complaint. Why didn’t the Democrats highlight those facts? In his 2012 reelection bid, Obama proclaimed, “Bin Laden is dead, and GM is alive.”
It was simple, yet effective. For many of us, though, the economy really hasn’t recovered. Wages remain stagnant, and jobs are tenuous. We’ve become a contract society.
Moreover, I don’t really blame many people for not voting. I understand the frustration with the hollow words and obstinacy of some candidates. Wendy Davis, for example, began her campaign for Texas governor by attacking her opponent, Greg Abbott, instead of highlighting her own accomplishments. I think it was about 6 months into the campaign before she ran a more positive ad; one telling her life story. Voters really get put off by such animosity from the start. Criticizing the opposition is a dubious tactic. It’s almost as if the individual is hiding something nefarious about their own past. That’s essentially how George W. Bush won his two presidential terms: he had no redeeming qualities, so his campaign team attacked the other guys. And some voters fell for it.
I don’t know what the immediate future holds for this country. With Republicans now in control of the U.S. Congress, I foresee further adolescent bickering between people who are otherwise educated business professionals. I don’t envision economic improvements or tax relief for us regular folks. It’s depressing. That Mars One venture is looking more and more attractive.