Posted tagged ‘ted cruz’

Another Helping Of Hypocrisy, Please

September 2, 2017

In the coming days, Congress will take up the matter of emergency relief funding for the Hurricane devastation in Texas. There is no question about whether there is unprecedented damage and loss of both personal and public property. There is a question on how large the loss dollar value might be but there is no question that it will be a big number.

And the bank of last resort (?), Who will pay for the damage? Why, of course, the US tax payers.

Frankly, tax payer funded, Federal Government administered, relief is not unreasonable and certainly not unprecedented. Only a few years ago, the Federal Government shelled out $50 billion in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy for damages in New Jersey and New York. So why shouldn’t those Americans impacted in Texas not expect similar treatment?

Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn see Hurricane Harvey differently. These distinguished hypocrites somehow see death and destruction in Texas as a real assault on real people while Hurricane Sandy and its path of destruction in New Jersey and New York as a non-event.

I wonder whether blue States had anything to anything to influence their vision?

Ideological favoritism, and possibly, dependency, however, seems clearly involved. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn pander to ideologues with a voracious appetite.

And votes count, not to mention campaign donations are important. You just wonder how these two plus the other 18 Texas Congress members can look in a mirror and not have their stomachs turn.

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Primary Dynamics?

May 9, 2015

Have you noticed that the usually outspoken GOP Sunday Talk Show participants have been reserved and many are keeping out of the national spot light? It could be that President Obama has taken his sail out of their wind. Or, it could be that the high pollen count has put each of these candidates off their mark. Or, is it related to primary dynamics and the long odds strategies each must be considering if they really are serious about winning the GOP nomination?

Before the quadrennial primary season, GOP hopefuls like Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, or Rick Perry wanted to attract attention and make the public realize they were “players”. With their advisors, each picked issues and venues where they could be interviewed and make some audacious statement.  Their words were designed to project them as decisive, experienced, and destined for greatness. It mattered less whether their position was actionable or whether real events would produce superior or completely contrary results. The point of these public statements was to create an “impression” and hope that the public would forget the details.

So now the GOP is about to gather over a dozen Presidential hopefuls into a primary process. Strangely the process begins with three totally unrepresentative States (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina). In past times, these States were important despite their lack of resemblance to national demographic…  they were the path to funding.

Win in one or more of these States and your campaign stood a great chance to attract big money. Big money might then help the candidate win States with more convention votes. Hmmm.

In 2015, big money has pretty much already sought out their candidates (preferred and at least one back up). So what might the strategy be for a Ted Cruz, a Carly Fiorina, a Rand Paul, or a Lindsay Graham who aren’t the likely preferred candidates?

This group plus Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and John Kasick must realize that there is almost no chance they can win the nomination. They are still relatively unknown nationally and they lack the really big money.

On the other hand, as long as they stay in the race they allow for the chance that something strange could happen. Leading candidates could go bust or a second coming might pick one of the second tier candidates out of the crowd (less likely).

Most probable is the notion that the longer they last as a candidate, the better the offer they will get from the ultimate GOP nominee, the offer being tied to one of the also rans withdrawing and throwing support to the ultimate winner.

In a strange turn of events, it seems that leaders such as Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and even Marco Rubio find it to their advantage to remain relatively quiet in terms of audacious statements and stick to “chicken in every pot” type promises. “Obama is bad”, “Hillary is an insider”, and “no new taxes” are all safe statements. What the “leaders” do is what the second tier think they should do too.

Sooner or later the gloves will come off. For now, however, standing tall and looking wise is a better strategy than opening one’s mouth and proving otherwise.  Enjoy the relative peace and quiet for a while.

An Anxious Waiting

July 28, 2014

The fall elections cannot come soon enough for 2016 potential Presidential candidates.   There are so many juicy events, both domestically and international, which Presidential demagogues could jaw about but they, for the most part, are resisting the urge to brag the limelight. I wonder why?

Why, for instance, does a Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio not wax eloquently (on national TV) contrasting what the Obama Administration is doing (or not doing) with what a Cruz or Rubio Administration would do?

Or, why hasn’t Chris Christie or Rick Perry not sold their children in order to raise funds for Israel in its latest Palestinian clash?

And, although not 2016 candidates, why hasn’t John McCain or Lindsay Graham lectured the President on how he has lost the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

Why, indeed, when these subjects still make the front page with one headline after another? Are these suddenly mute GOP leaders wasting an opportunity?

It is, of course, summer and vacation time. Accordingly, it could be that relaxing, recharging the batteries, and keeping off the national stage might be a sufficient answer. Hmmm, maybe not.

And it could be that none of these candidates has a better idea (almost assuredly true). Hmmm. I don’t think that excuse has prevented them from “speaking to Americans” in the past.

I would suggest a more basic motive. From poling data, the GOP has a definite chance of capturing both the House and the Senate this fall. Why take a chance by pontificating on one of these issues and un-intendedly turn voters against the party?

All of the issues facing the President these days are complex, thorny, and nuanced.  These issues require careful analysis and mostly require long term strategies for which there is no national consensus. Efforts to build a national consensus does not fit 10 second sound bites. Worse, any serious recommendation ties the candidate to a position which can be later evaluated.  Hmmm.

Latin American immigration, support for Israel, and the Middle East (including Afghanistan) are all issues which are not new. The GOP learned as recently as 2012 what a hard line on immigration reform would bring. And while 2016 will see both parties stand up to say how much a friend of Israel they are, the American public can count and know the difference between 800+ and 2 civilian deaths in the current Gaza crisis. And strangely, most Americans have had a stomach full of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Sunni-Shiite-Taliban craziness.

The 2016 hopefuls could turn their attention to jobs but there is a reasonable chance that after a slow but steady decline in unemployment that the percentage might fall below 6%.  Think about these previous hot button topics… debt, deficit, jobs, tax cuts, and healthcare.  Only healthcare has not had enough time to play out and undermine the conservative position.

There is for sure plenty of room for GOP candidates to offer alternative routes to achieve debt reduction or balancing the budget.  There is plenty of room for creative ideas on job creation and tax code reform.  And there is an ocean of room for how to bring US healthcare into the 21st century.  Among the many thoughtful proposals, however, one would not find “leave it to the States” or “cut taxes and cut social network spending” or “increase defense spending while decreasing any other spending”.

So, come Thanksgiving, I wonder what we will hear from these now silent candidates?

It Would Be A Hoot If It Wasn’t So Serious

April 14, 2014

Over the weekend, GOP conservative Presidential hopefuls gathered in New Hampshire. Notably, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie were not invited. (That’s a snub when you consider Donald Trump was in attendance.) But who was invited was not the news, rather it was what Rand Paul and Ted Cruz said.

These Tea Party favorites made speeches that included appeals that the GOP needed to broaden its base. What?

Certainly if the GOP wishes to win the White House it is a no brainer that current demographics are not very favorable to their crusade.

Paul tossed out civil rights using the example of disproportionate criminal convictions for drug possession. He urged fellow GOP members to recognize this injustice. Was he trying to stretch the traditional GOP “law and order” theme?

Cruz chose to demagogue the wealthy. “Republicans can no longer be seen as the party of Wall Street and the super rich”, Cruz said. He went on to say that income inequality has become the widest since 1928… under President Obama’s economic policies. If truth were words, and Cruz was forced to eat his words, he would have choke to death on the spot.

The GOP is well established as the party of no new taxes. Their voting record since 2008 is quite clear on the subject of taxes, especially increasing taxes on the wealthy. Now I suppose it is possible that Cruz and Paul’s words are the beginning of a total rethinking of what makes sense to the GOP. I wonder whether this rethink includes the Affordable Care Act?

To be sure there is plenty of landing ground for the GOP to change its tune. For starters, the GOP could simply say they favor a narrowing of income distribution inequality, or that all Americans are entitled to basic healthcare in a dignified way. What would follow next would confirm whether these were words or in fact a commitment.

It seems impossible to be for narrowing income inequality and at the same time be against raising the minimum wage and increasing taxes on the very wealthy. Repealing the Affordable Care Act seems equally inconsistent without a plan that also assures coverage.

There are many steps the GOP could propose to narrow income inequality. These would involve training and education, infrastructure development and maintenance, and disincentives for those who are gathering disproportionate shares of wealth (like hedge fund executives, large corporation CEOs, and those who take advantage of off shore tax holidays).

The core nature of healthcare involves availability and payment of service provided. Here too there are numerous areas where the GOP could propose how to make basic (emphasis on preventive) care available and a comprehensive method to pay for it. Almost certainly these proposals would include methods to cap fees the medical industry charges as well as broad based tax revenue to back up fees individuals paid (in a system where no one is ever denied service due to ability to pay).

Wouldn’t it be nice if Paul and Cruz were just writing the first chapter in this new GOP playbook?

Love Him or Leave Him

September 24, 2013

Senator Ted Cruz is just where he wants to be.  (Maybe if he knew what was good for himself, he would not want to be where he is.)  Never the less, Cruz’s supporters and fellow Senate Republicans are faced with the proposition, “love him or leave him”.  We may learn in the next few days which verdict is made.

Cruz has been very vocal, for a long time, that the debt limit should not be increased.  Others feel that way too.  Cruz’s view, however, is that the debt limit should not be increased unless there is some large tribute paid.

Previous Republican demands were any debt limit increases must be accompanied with equal or greater offsetting budget decreases.  On the surface this made sense.  The subsequent problem has been Congress (as well as Republicans) cannot agree on where to cut.  Rejection of any new tax revenue has made these decisions much more difficult.

Cruz now portrays himself as the defender of job creators.  In his anthem, “defund Obamacare”, he suggests this answer should be tied to both the continuing budget resolution and any increase in the debt limit.

As a notion of “one man, one vote”, one might accept Cruz’s right for this demand.  The notion, however, that “I” will not allow any other option by blocking a vote departs from the realm of democratic process.

Republicans in general, and specifically those Republicans who must run for re-election in 2014 have been reluctant to take Cruz on publicly.  Pundits claim these GOP members fear a Tea Party primary challenge.  As self interest goes, this is easy to believe.  To the GOP regret, however, they are beginning to realize they have made a deal with the devil.

Were the GOP leaders insist that all caucus members following “Party” policies, the Tea Party members would bolt.  Without the Tea Party members the current majority Republican Party would fail to have a majority.  Bingo, Democrats back in charge.

So what is a self respecting Republican to do?

The GOP seems comfortable with its immigration, no new taxes, and anti woman’s rights positions.

Without the Tea Party, the GOP majority prospects do not look promising.  A split with the Tea Party would likely ensure a decade or more of Democrat rule.  Staying with the Tea Party, might offer the GOP a few more years of shared rule, but without enormous changes in GOP policies, demographics coupled with the lack of Washington action will doom them anyways.

So who will be the big losers?

Without a strong loyal opposition, the American people will be the losers.  Democrat support for all sorts of social issues are usually unsupported with sound financial measures.  Healthcare, protecting the environment, regulating banks and commerce, affirmative action, and immigration are all worthy goals.  Without two constructive Parties, it is unreasonable to expect effective and efficient solutions will be found.

Senator Cruz is clearly a self centered promoter.  Sooner or later, the GOP will figure out how to deal with him and others who think the same but are not so in your face.  The GOP’s recovery, however, will only have just begun when the GOP revisits its list of priorities.

Love him or leave him.  That’s the first step.

Shut It Down, Shut It Up

August 2, 2013

Senator Ted Cruz wants to “shut the government down” and Senator Rand Paul wants Governor Chris Christie to “shut up”.  What a classy group of new conservative Senators Congress can now boast.  Hmmm.

Most likely Cruz does not really want to shut the government down.  For reasons that aren’t quite clear, he says he really wants instead to shut down “Obamacare”, the Affordable Care Act.  Paul probably really didn’t think Governor Christie was hoarding Federal funds that could instead have gone to national security.  Instead both Cruz and Paul are saying controversial things they hope will identify them as future leaders of a Republican Party.

Christie and other more moderate Republicans are saying “not so fast”.  These Republicans are pointing out that Cruz and Paul have not thought through the consequences of their proposals.  And in the opinion of these moderates, the consequences will be bad for the GOP.  (What about the country?)

Pause…  Let’s catch our collective breath.

The national economy is slowly but steadily recovering.  Most everyone wishes it was recovering faster and unemployment was lower.  The national debt is shrinking but not very quickly and with a balanced budget not in sight.  Most everyone intuitively believes the US should balance its budget.  While there is argument over the roll of tax increases, no one foresees balancing the budget with taxes increases alone or with 100% budget cuts.  Most economists, however, worry that a sharp increase in taxes and a proportionate reduction in government spending will bring our economic expansion to a halt.  Hmmm.

So what should our politicians be telling us we should do?

A slow but steady recovery has the advantage of lessening the chances for creating dangerous “bubbles” like we saw in 2007 with the housing industry and the derivative trades.  Small to moderate tax increases (like income tax code reform) and small to moderate reductions in government spending (like the size of the sequester) every one to two years might actual make progress.  But balancing the budget?  Not in the cards.

Why?

Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense Spending.

These three Federal expenditures are huge and growing.  Progress made with small to moderate increases in taxes and/or reductions in spending will be eroded with sucking sound of increased Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense spending.

Obamacare is a red herring.  It has nothing to do with the deficit by itself.  Shutting down the Government has nothing to do with the deficit (the money is already spent, the bills are already owed).

Healthcare and what is defined as “our national interests” has everything to do with the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense spending.  Any politician who cries out to repeal, roll back, or defund Obamacare (ACA) is disingenuous unless he/she offers a detailed alternative which offers the same coverage and does it at a lower cost.

Our national interest is a harder question to answer.  Since George W Bush (read Dick Cheney) lead America off its course and into endless wars in the Middle East, we have seen a world community only too happy to see America act as the world’s policeman.  Where is our national interest?

By the same token, an isolationist US would most likely produce a world where regional conflicts were numerous and international trade was severely restricted.  One can imagine a very dysfunctional world.  Hmmm.

I am getting the feeling that small to moderate change is actually a very prudent approach.  Whether some politicians like it or not, the current (and likely future) demographics, call for the US to work hard and cleverly towards an “inclusive” society.  What we might have thought was an inclusive society in the past, may not fill the bill in the future.  Senators Cruz and Paul (and all the others shouting to be heard) ought think about where the US is really headed and what internal changes will be necessary to meet the needs of that population.

Once the country pragmatically focuses on the future, then these spokesmen can more clearly see whre our national interests really are and what policies best serve them.

It won’t be “Shut Down” or “Shut Up”.

When The Small Get Smaller

February 1, 2013

Yesterday, a Senate subcommittee held hearing on President Obama’s nomination for the next Secretary of Defense.  If the Country (or the world) needed a new and lower standard for Senate behavior, the hearings were a success.

Chuck Hagel, himself a former Republican Senator from Nebraska, was the nominee.  Center stage for the “anti Hagel” crowd were Senators Lindsay Graham, John McCain, and Ted Cruz.  Behind this stage,  and filling the airways was anonymous Super Pac money.  Hmmm.

Let’s be clear these hearings were not about whether Hagel is qualified to be in charge of an over $600 billion a year budget.  Nor was it whether Hagel would work well with the rest of the President’s staff and with Congress.  Rather these hearings were to provide an opportunity for certain Republicans to trash the President (via repudiation of his nominee) and pander to certain influential constituents.

Hagel was grilled on a number of statements he made in the past.  “The Jewish lobby” which more accurately should have been called “the Pro-Israel lobby” was an anti-Hagel favorite.  Lindsay Graham had the audacity to look down at Hagel and ask him to name one Senator who had been “intimidated” by these lobbies, or one action the Senate took because of these lobby’s influence.  Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of Washington knows AIPAC would not spend the money it does if it did not feel its influence was being felt.

John McCain might have been the saddest example.  Clinging to his misguided (but well intended) support of the Iraq War and in particular, the Surge, pounded Hagel with “was the surge successful or not, yes or no”.  Hagel said he would let history decide but there were greater issues involved.  According to Hagel, the US lost over 1000 soldiers during the surge and the gains must be viewed in that context too.  History surprisingly also contains the fact that coincident with the extra 20,000 troops, the military began paying certain militias not to make trouble.  Many now believe these payments were more important than pure feet on the ground.

Ted Cruz is the new Senator from Texas.  Cruz brought forward 2009 interviews with Al Jazeera.  On two occasions, provocative questions were asked (had Israel committed war crimes and has the US acted like a bully) and to both questions Hagel did not respond (either endorsing or denouncing).  This Cruz said was not actions of someone who should be Secretary of Defense.  In an insightful way, Cruz might just have it backwards.

Former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and current Secretary Leon Panetta were both successful leaders as best we can judge.  Both got along with Congress and both seemed to work well with other White House staff.  Neither of them, however, would give President Bush (aka Cheney) a free pass on Iraq.  Neither would avoid expressing frustrations with Israel although neither would be likely to do it in public.

Foreign policy and defense policy which is derived from it are the policies the President selects.  Chuck Hagel certainly will input to policy development as will the Joint Chiefs.  At the end of the day, the Policy will be the President’s.

Hagel brings a special knowledge about what it is like to be a soldier.  Hagel volunteered for duty in the Vietnam War as an enlisted man, a grunt.  When wars are fought, it is the common person who dies the most often. 

War should be the last resort and not a tactical ploy which supports some dubious foreign policy.  Hagel’s past comments signal someone who does not parrot the standard neoconservative line.

Strangely, Hagel’s views are legitimate points where persons of good faith could differ.  Denigrating Hagel, however, makes the denigrators appear even smaller than they were.