“It is a Woodstock of the mentally impaired.”
Maher identified Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Lauren Boebert and Donald Trump, Jr.
“It is a Woodstock of the mentally impaired.”
Maher identified Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Lauren Boebert and Donald Trump, Jr.
I’ve often noted that conservatives can be incredible hypocrites. For years they said no divorcee would be elected to the presidency. Then they got Ronald Reagan, the nation’s first divorced Chief Executive, whose wife was the nation’s first divorced First Lady. They dubbed Bill Clinton a draft dodger and condemned him for protesting against the Vietnam War while he was in college. Then they elected George W. Bush who earned a comfortable spot in the Texas National Guard in 1968 and failed to complete his tenure. They also elected Dick Cheney who claimed he had “other priorities” during the 1960s.
Conservative hypocrisy has reared its bigoted head once again – this time in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rick Scott and Tommy Tuberville submitted the correspondence to Garland complaining about what they perceive to be a double standard in punishment by the U.S. Department of Justice against the January 6 Capitol Hill rioters. In contrast, they declare, many of the various protestors to the George Floyd killing who became violent haven’t met the same degree of discipline.
In part, the letter states:
“DOJ’s (U.S. Department of Justice) apparent unwillingness to punish these individuals who allegedly committed crimes during the spring and summer 2020 protests stands in stark contrast to the harsher treatment of the individuals charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. To date, DOJ has charged 510 individuals stemming from Capitol breach. DOJ maintains and updates a webpage that lists the defendants charged with crimes committed at the Capitol. This database includes information such as the defendant’s name, charge(s), case number, case documents, location of arrest, case status, and informs readers when the entry was last updated. No such database exists for alleged perpetrators of crimes associated with the spring and summer 2020 protests. It is unclear whether any defendants charged with crimes in connection with the Capitol breach have received deferred resolution agreements.”
Please. Spare me the anxiety.
The five angry White male senators don’t seem to understand the difference in the two events. While some of the Floyd protestors devolved into rioting and vandalism, the original intent was to demonstrate against police violence; a recurring dilemma in the U.S. The intent of the Capitol Hill rioters, however, was to disrupt congressional business and kill someone – most notably Vice-President Mike Pence.
Conservatives have warned about threats to national security posed by Islamic vigilantes and illegal immigrants for as long as I can remember. But, these weren’t the people who stormed Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, as Pence oversaw certification of the 2020 presidential election. The rioters were mostly White people – many of them former military and/or law enforcement – from across the country who felt their dear leader, Donald Trump, had been cheated out of a second term by a corrupt electoral system. I can almost hear Al Gore and Hillary Clinton laughing.
But I don’t recall bands of angry liberals storming Capitol Hill in January 2001, demanding Al Gore be lynched. I also don’t remember seeing similar renegades bursting into Capitol Hill in January 2017, calling for Joe Biden’s head. And it’s obvious to most of us with more than half a brain that the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections were fraudulent. Yet conservatives denounced anyone voicing their disdain to those two events as whiners and sore losers. We were justified, though, in protesting. But we never got violent. No one smashed windows, kicked in doors and hollered for blood to be spilled. Neither Al Gore nor Hillary Clinton stood before angry supporters, urging for violent retribution against Congress.
It’s ironic, however, that Merrick Garland is in a leadership position. Five years ago President Obama nominated him to replace Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans – who held a majority in the Senate – refused to grant Garland the decency of a fair hearing. Yet, they rushed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett last year, following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Again – hypocrisy in action.
“This is an issue that galvanizes, particularly minority voters, and speaking as a Black American, someone who lived through the age of Jim Crow segregation, someone who has seen court challenges where African Americans have had to use the Supreme Court … people have fought and lost their lives to have access to the ballot, to vote. There should be no retrogression in terms of making sure people have access to the franchise and unfettered access.”
Michael Adams, a professor of political science at Texas Southern University, about the Texas Legislature’s stringent voting regulations
“I think we’re doing a great job in terms of recruiting the right kinds of people, providing access to people from every corner, every walk of life in this country.”
Austin also insisted that diversity “must be a part of who we are.”
“This sacred right is under assault … with an intensity and aggressiveness we have not seen in a long, long time. It is simply un-American. It’s not, however, sadly, unprecedented.”
President Joe Biden, on efforts by Republican-dominated state legislatures’ to limit voting rights
“Holy crap. Perhaps a U.S. Senator shouldn’t suggest that the Russian military is better than the American military that protected him from an insurrection he helped foment?”
“We can’t even imagine the thinking behind Gov. Abbott’s callous decision to strip the remaining federal unemployment insurance benefits out of the pockets of Texas working families. If he took the time or had any interest in understanding the challenges working people face, Gov. Abbott would see clearly that folks across Texas desperately need these funds as they try to navigate their way through the economic carnage of the pandemic.”
Rick Levy, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, reacting to Gov. Abbott’s decision to opt out of federal unemployment benefits extensions
“The Big Pharma fairy tale is one of groundbreaking R&D that justifies astronomical prices. But the pharma reality is that you spend most of your company’s money making money for yourself and your shareholders.”
During the U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing, Porter also declared, “You lie to patients when you charge them twice as much for an unimproved drug, and then you lie to policymakers when you tell us that R&D justifies those price increases.”
Gonzalez’s 2020 total compensation topped USD 24 million.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared to doze off during President Biden’s State of the Union address Wednesday evening; prompting him later to tell FOX News, “Joe is deliberately being boring, but the substance of what he’s saying is radical.”
I know the feeling, Ted. I used to get sleepy during long meetings at work. It happens, and I feel your “pain”. Now stop playing the victim and get your fat ass to work! The nation is still in crisis!
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
“He will go down in history as the worst president ever.”
“But maybe, just maybe, Mr. Cruz has finally overreached with this latest power grab, which is correctly seen as an attempt to corral Mr. Trump’s base for his own 2024 presidential ambitions. This time, however, Mr. Cruz was spinning, obfuscating and demagoguing to assist in efforts to overturn the will of the voters for his own ends.”
“The White man’s audacity does not concede; it coerces; it demands.”
“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”
– Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), February 14, 2016, “Meet the Press”
“The court — we are one vote away from losing our fundamental constitutional liberties, and I believe that the president should next week nominate a successor to the court, and I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Cruz said. “This nomination is why Donald Trump was elected. This confirmation is why the voters voted for a Republican majority in the Senate.”
– Cruz, September 18, 2020, hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
If hypocrisy was a virtue, many politicians would be among the most honorable of citizens. Sadly, political environments seem to have no room for such people. Hypocrisy reigns, as U.S. Senate Republicans rammed through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week, in order to fill the seat left by the death Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month. Ginsburg’s failing health and ultimate death had been the subject for years among Supreme Court watchers. Liberals and even moderates feared her death would come at such a pivotal moment in U.S. history as we’re in now.
Allegations of a double standard aside, my biggest concern with Barrett is her unwillingness to answer questions regarding one particular issue, the most sacred element of democracy: voting. I’ve always found it odd that conservatives will move mountains to protect gun rights, but unleash similar amounts of energy to thwart voting rights. It’s obvious this matter is critical because we are on the cusp of a presidential election. Yet, the right to cast a ballot has come under threat since Barack Obama fairly and legitimately won his first election in 2008. (Understand there’s never been any question of the validity of Obama’s elections.) States with predominantly Republican legislatures suddenly became concerned with voter fraud and began implementing measures to combat it. Similar reactions erupted after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and ratification of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1971.
My home state of Texas, for example, was among the first to tighten voter identification. College ids and utility bills were nearly eliminated as proof of one’s existence or residency, but they retain their positions as supplemental forms of identification. Other measures, such as fingerprints and retina scans were proposed – all in a futile attempt to combat the mystical voter fraud; much the same way Ted Cruz managed to fight off myriad communist sympathizers on the manicured grounds of Princeton University.
In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of standing in crowded places to cast a ballot made many people shudder. Generally, senior citizens and the disabled were among the few granted the privilege of mail-in voting. But, as the novel coronavirus remains highly contagious, mail-in voting became more palatable. Then, as if on cue, President Donald Trump and other right-wing sycophants raised the ugly specter of voter fraud. And, of course, mail-in voting – just like the overall right granted by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – was in jeopardy.
When voting rights advocates tried to compromise by pushing for drop-off ballot boxes, conservatives again balked. On October 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott mandated that only one drop-off box would be acceptable per county. That works great for tiny Loving County (pop. 169), but not for massive Harris County (pop. 4.7 million). U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman overruled Abbott; denouncing the governor’s proclamation as “myopically” focused. But the governor persisted, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him.
Earlier this week, however, Judge Barrett couldn’t seem to bring herself to declare the importance and value of voting rights. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked Barrett about the freedom of the formerly incarcerated to regain their voting rights. She highlighted one of Barrett’s 2019 dissent in Kanter v. Barr that voting should be granted only to “virtuous citizens.” In the Kanter case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it reasonable that the litigant, Rickey Kanter, lose his right to own firearms after a felony conviction for mail fraud. Barrett was the only member of the 3-judge panel to resist and brought up the “virtuous citizens” remark, which subsequently invoked discussions of what constitutes virtuous. As with any moral declaration, the concept of virtue can be purely subjective. Yet Barrett didn’t stop there. In her dissent, she went on to write that the application of virtue should limit the right of citizens to vote and serve on juries.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard conservative political figures announce their support for ex-convicts to regain their right to bear arms, if they’ve served their full sentences. None, however, have expressed similarly ardent advocacy for the same ex-convicts to earn back their right to vote. I suspect this is because they all realize the significance of the power of voting and the power it gives even to the poor and disenfranchised. Hence, measures in the past with poll taxes and “grandfather clauses”.
Barrett still wouldn’t clarify what she meant by “virtuous”. In response to Klobuchar, she said, “Okay. Well, senator, I want to be clear that that is not in the opinion designed to denigrate the right to vote, which is fundamental … The virtuous citizenry idea is a historical and jurisprudential one. It certainly does not mean that I think that anybody gets a measure of virtue and whether they’re good or not, and whether they’re allowed to vote. That’s not what I said.”
Klobuchar persisted. In citing Justice Ginsburg’s writing in the landmark voting rights case Shelby County v. Holder, she asked, “Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg’s conclusion that the Constitution clearly empowers Congress to protect the right to vote?”
Shelby County v. Holder was crucial in the contemporary assault on voting rights. It addressed Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting. The seminal 1965 act was not-so-subtly aimed at southern states. When the case arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, where a 5-4 ruling declared Section 4(b) unconstitutional because it was based on data over 40 years old. The high court didn’t strike down Section 5. Previous research had showed that both sections had led to increases in minority voting since the 1960s. Contemporary voting advocates, however, claimed that recent efforts – especially after Obama’s 2008 victory and mainly in the South – made it easier for election officials to impose greater restrictions on voting.
Again, Barrett just couldn’t (more likely wouldn’t) bring herself to state her position clearly. “Well, Senator, that would be eliciting an opinion from me on whether the dissent or the majority was right in Shelby County,” she told Klobuchar, “and I can’t express a view on that, as I’ve said, because it would be inconsistent with the judicial role.”
Klobuchar then brought up alarming news that Atlas Aegis, a Tennessee-based company, was trying to recruit former members of the U.S. military to show up at various polling places while armed; all in a supposed effort to ensure the security of voting. The image of such activity has become plausible as even President Trump advocates for armed poll-watchers to prevent voter fraud. Whether these people should be armed with bazookas or cell phones hasn’t been made clear, but the threat is obvious.
“Judge Barrett,” asked Klobuchar, “under federal law, is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls?”
“Sen. Klobuchar, I can’t characterize the facts in a hypothetical situation and I can’t apply the law to a hypothetical set of facts,” Barrett said.
Well, that’s a nice, safe response. And I have to concede it’s only proper in such a setting. A fair jurist can’t logically state a position without knowing the facts. As the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s self-admitted idol, once declared, “I want to hear your argument.” But that should apply only to specific cases. There should be no doubt about the concept of voting.
Barrett was also evasive in answers to other questions, such as abortion – the perennially key issue among conservatives – and the Affordable Care Act. Trump had made it clear from the start of his presidential campaign that he wanted to overturn both the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the ACA. While he and social and religious conservatives offer no concessions for Roe, the president often mentioned a replacement for ACA, which has yet to materialize and – as far as I’m concerned – doesn’t exist. Roe will always remain a thorn in the fragile ribs of conservatives, but the idea of eliminating health care coverage for all citizens – particularly while we remain mired in this pandemic and flu season already underway – is infuriating. Not-so-ironically the high court is set to review the validity of the ACA next month. As with the upcoming election, Trump wants to ensure a conservative majority on the court before both events.
Trump has already stated – as he did in 2016 – that he will only accept the results of the election if he wins. Whatever fool is surprised, please raise your hand now, so we full-brain folks can laugh at you! Loudly. Yet it’s clear: Trump realizes this election could end up like 2000, when the Supreme Court ordered the state of Florida to stop its ballot recount and thereby hand the presidency to George W. Bush. That Bush’s younger brother, Jeb, was governor of Florida in 2000 wasn’t lost on most. The “good-old-boy” network was alive and well at the turn of the century!
And it thrives in the anti-First Amendment actions of Republican governors across the nation. I feel that Barrett is basically their puppet; their tool in resolutions to ensure a conservative majority in the Supreme Court. As with any justice, Barrett’s place on the court could impact generations of people. As a writer, I’m a strong free speech advocate, which equals the right to vote. They’re intertwined. And I feel that many conservatives view the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as available to only a handful – people like them. People who share their narrow view of the world and what is appropriate in order to function within it.
Thus, the U.S. Senate’s kangaroo confirmation hearings for Barrett are ominous.
Well, hell! God must have, considering the gallery of lunatics the Lone Star State has put into public office in recent years! I can honestly say I’ve never been more embarrassed to be a Texan (or an American, if you look at the current presidential race) than I am now. I opined two years ago that I hope Ted Cruz runs for president and gets his ass slaughtered in the process. So far, he’s one of only three survivors in the Republican field. I eagerly await the political bloodbath at the GOP convention in Cleveland this summer. I have a perverted fascination with seeing arrogance publicly butchered. Cruz has made a number of incendiary comments, including that the United States will collapse into the fires of Satan’s lair because gay marriage is now legal – as opposed to the centuries of European-induced Indian genocide and Negro slavery where nothing so calamitous occurred. There are too many idiocies that came from his mouth to highlight here. I mean, I wouldn’t know where to begin! But one recent revelation is that he tried to uphold a state law banning the sale of sex toys, which he said safeguards “public morals”; adding that “police-power interests” are a tool (pun intended) in “discouraging prurient interests in sexual gratification, combating the commercial sale of sex, and protecting minors.” That’s right. Cruz believes police have the power to invade your home and yank a dildo out of your ass or vagina! All in the name of protecting children, of course. Like so many right-wingers here in Texas, Cruz is willing to move heaven and Earth to protect children from wayward sexuality, while ignoring the fact most of those children are uninsured. Priorities, people! Priorities!
Canadian-born, Cuban-Italian Cruz certainly isn’t the first Texas official to spout out such twisted logic. This state has a long history of generating some colorful characters. During the 1990 governor’s race, Republican oilman Clayton Williams said, among other gaffes, that bad weather was like rape; it’s inevitable, so you might as well lay back and enjoy it. As you might expect, the old bastard also insulted Blacks and Hispanics. But here’s the sad part: he garnered nearly 40% of the votes. Fortunately State Treasurer Ann Richards won. Unfortunately, she lost four years later to the grandest of all Texas political goofballs: George W. Bush. It’s around that time when Texas politics began sliding into the surreal – enough to make Salvador Dalí jealous.
But the past decade alone has seen the dramatic rise of Texas’ quirkiest politics stars. I now present the following three jewels of cluelessness.
Ken Paxton – The state Attorney General has been in legal trouble almost from the moment he was sworn into office. In July 2015, Paxton was indicted on felony charges for repeatedly breaking state securities laws during his tenure as a state lawmaker. Then a new charge that he deliberately misled investors in a technology company arose. Amid raising thousands of dollars from the investors, Paxton supposedly also received commissions – something he didn’t reveal and something that’s, you know, kind of illegal. His attorneys tried to get all the charges dropped, but the judge handling the matter refused and ordered Paxton to be arrested in Collin County, just north of Dallas. Paxton had to undergo the usual rigmarole of fingerprints and mug shots. Whenever people in Collin County, Texas are arrested, officials wrap a white towel around their necks before taking the requisite glory shot. But, because Paxton is a high-ranking state figure, he got the anticipated special treatment and was photographed sans towel. (Trying to be discreet, Paxton had met with William Mapp, one of the energy company’s co-founders at a Dairy Queen in McKinney, which is in Collin County, in the summer of 2011. According to most Texans, Dairy Queen is a step above Burger King.) While Paxton is currently trying to stop a group called Exxotica from staging a sexually-oriented exposition in Dallas this summer, news reports now reveal that Paxton is still paying top aides who left the attorney general’s office more than a month ago. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating the investment deal, and Exxotica is threatening to sue the city of Dallas, if it violates their contract to proceed with the exposition. I truly hope the SEC wins, and then, I’ll join them at the Exxotica convention.
Louie Gohmert – The East Texas congressman takes outlandishness to a new level. As with most right-wing political figures, Gohmert doesn’t want anyone telling him what to do with their guns, but he feels the urge to tell people what to do in their own bedrooms. Aside from his staunch opposition to abortion (a given trait among conservatives), he’s compared limiting the size of ammunition magazines to bestiality and opposes gays from serving in the military because they’d spend more time giving each other massages on the front lines than fighting. (What the hell’s wrong with massages?!) In light of President Obama’s election wins, Gohmert has co-sponsored a “birther” bill that would require presidential candidates to submit their birth certificates as proof of eligibility to run for the White House. Recently he opposed a bill that would have directed education funding to recruiter more women in the sciences by claiming it’s gender-biased and that even Martin Luther King would have opposed it. Not knowing when to shut the hell up, Gohmert went on to add that such a bill would have distracted Marie Curie’s research and put “millions and millions of lives” in jeopardy.
Sid Miller – Like most politicians, the state’s Agriculture Commissioner has a penchant for travel. And, like most politicians, he claims it’s all done in the name of state business, and therefore, he’s justified in charging taxpayers for his expenses. But the $2,000 he spent on a 2015 trip to Mississippi to compete in a rodeo for prize money probably doesn’t fall into the business category. He engaged in calf-roping events and won $880. He tried to explain the trip’s importance by claiming he had set up a “work meeting” with Mississippi’s agriculture commissioner and other business people. But wait! It gets weirder. Miller also may have charged Texas taxpayers the $1,000 it cost to fly to Oklahoma to visit an old friend, Michael Lonergan, a discredited Ohio doctor, for a “Jesus shot.” Yes, Miller – who apparently suffers from chronic back pain – needed the spirit of the Lord pumped into his tired body via a concoction of unknown ingredients that’s injected into the upper arm. Lonergan served prison time in Ohio for tax evasion and mail fraud, before relocating to Edmond, Oklahoma. Miller is reimbursing the state of Texas for the trip “out of an abundance of caution,” according to his spokeswoman. But the Texas Rangers, a state police agency, is still investigating. My idea of a “Jesus shot” is a heavy duty screwdriver made with Smirnoff citron vodka and a bottle of baby oil; then shouting, “Jesus!” as I wipe my face. I have videos in exchange for contributions to a charity of my choice – mainly my freelance writing fund.
Mary Lou Bruner – The 69-year-old retired teacher is seeking to be the next president of the Texas State School Board, the entity that has made all of Texas the literal laughingstock of the nation. Bruner subscribes to the usual right-wing ideology: the Earth is only about 6,000 years old; there was a man named Noah who built a massive ark and that dinosaurs were among its passengers; climate change science is leftist bullshit; and 20th century liberals rewrote the history of the Civil War only to make it look like slavery was the root cause.
But, among her myriad Facebook rants is this lovely tidbit: “Obama has a soft spot for homosexuals because of the years he spent as a male prostitute in his twenties. That is how he paid for his drugs. He has admitted he was addicted to drugs when he was young, and he is sympathetic to homosexuals; but he hasn’t come out of the closet about his own homosexual / bisexual background. He hasn’t quite evolved that much! Since he supports gay marriage, he should be proud of his background as a homosexual/bisexual. He is against everything else Christians stand for, he might as well be for infidelity.”
Facebook forcibly deleted that post, and even some of Obama’s most ardent critics here and across the country thought that went too far. Of all the disrespectful crap lodged at our first biracial president, that’s the most slanderous. As far as I can tell, though, she’s never apologized for it. A spokeswoman for the Cherokee County, Texas Republican Party dismissed the response to Bruner as excessive; describing her as “a nice older lady who doesn’t understand social media and the impact that it can have.”
No one has to “understand social media” to realize calling somebody a prostitute and a drug addict is offensive and just plain stupid. Do you need a PhD in astronomy to understand that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west? What’s worst, however, is that – given Texas’ dismal voting record – Bruner stands a good chance of actually winning that coveted seat on the school board.
There’s also a good chance Paxton and Miller will both remain in office. In the U.S., a true double standard exists when it comes to elected officials facing criminal charges. People are routinely thrown in jail for possessing a pinch of marijuana or talking back to a police officer. Sandra Bland, anyone? But use your official power to skirt the system? Well… that’s up for discussion. I have no hope for the future, but will keep writing to avoid a visit from the FBI.
Although Texas gave the nation – and the world – Dick Cheney and Enron, it also produced the U.S. space program, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, ZZ Top, Beyoncé, Eva Longoria, frozen margaritas, Shiner Bock, Whole Foods Market, silicone breast implants and, of course, Chief Writing Wolf. So, things aren’t that bad down here!
On a side note, I really do plan to patronize Exxotica and display my version of the “Jesus shot”: a bathtub filled with Mike’s HARD Lemonade; a liter of Red Bull; a sounding rod; heated Vaseline and a high-definition video camera. I’ll email copies to Bruner and Cruz to show what they’re missing while campaigning. After all, politics is bad for both body and soul. Yee-hah!
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.