Another One Bites the Dust

Decades of Democratic politicians accepting the role of being the Washington Generals of politics, and generally being spineless cowards have lulled Republican politicians into false confidence in their intelligence. They’ve bought into their own hype about their success being a result of their cleverness and hard work, and not the result of being sellouts to the highest bidder.

How else to explain Republicans continued attempts to dunk on New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez only to be embarrassed when she effortlessly outmaneuvers them? Despite her undefeated record against Fox News, Right-wing twitter, and Republican politicians, they just keep lining up to take un-advised shots at the title, only to end up owning themselves half of the time.

Enter Ted Cruz, Republican Senator from Texas most famous for being a servile lapdog to a man who publicly insulted his wife and slandered his father.

It all started Monday when Ocasio-Cortez posted this tweet lamenting the cost of the buttery, flaky pastries at New York’s LaGuardia Airport:

When AOC tweeted about the high price of airport croissants as compared to the low wages of employees, Cruz thought he saw a perfect chance to score political points.

Fortunately for AOC, Ted Cruz is an idiot:

Not only did he faceplant in making SOCIALISM seem scary, but he even went the extra mile confirming AOC’s point that the GOP doesn’t care about workers. Maybe by backing hikes in the minimum wage so they can earn enough money to buy fancy rolls?

Needless to say, AOC was not put in her place:

Muslims Condemn Paris Violence While Ted Cruz Calls for Tolerance…of Killing Civilians

One CIA estimate puts ISIS’ total manpower at 31,500, about one-third the capacity of Rose Bowl stadium, or roughly, 0.0019% of the world’s total Muslim population when you round down to 1.6 billion. The idea that the remaining 1,599,965,000 Muslims ought to immediately jump on Twitter and condemn ISIS isn’t just silly, it’s the definition of prejudice. But here we are. Another attack, another round of people calling on moderate Muslims to condemn something they had nothing to do with. Or as Mohamed Ghilan tweeted last year:

Asking me to condemn the obviously condemnable presumes my basic moral code is in question. I refuse to take part in this,

Nevertheless, Muslims from around the world are making it clear ISIS does not represent their values. Iran’s Supreme Leader Hassan Rouhani denounced the attacks, postponing his trip to Europe to renew peace talks on the Syrian conflict. Iran and Iran-backed Hezbollah fight ISIS and other extremists in Syria (as well as non-Salafists). The day before the Paris attacks, militants claiming allegiance to ISIS bombed a civilian area of Beirut in an effort to undermine Hezbollah’s support there.

Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia, the largest Muslim country on earth, roundly condemned the attacks, telling reporters, “Indonesia condemns the violence that took place in Paris.” In a now-viral video on YouTube, a Moroccan man expressed his condolences to the victims, saying, “These so-called jihadists only represent themselves.”

The governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt have all condemned the attacks, though it should be noted, the unelected rulers who run the Saudi Kingdom and Qatar have themselves routinely funded and armed jihadists in Syria and elsewhere.

The largest Muslim group in the United States, CAIR, quickly condemned the attacks, insisting,

These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are outrageous and without justification.

The US Council of Muslim Organizations released a statement also condemning the attack.

Thousands more Muslims took to Twitter to express sorrow, solidarity and solace. A good breakdown can be seen here and here.

Meanwhile, human-shaped pile of shit Ted Cruz wasted no time after the attacks in Paris to issue a bellicose statement insisting President Obama is a little too concerned with civilian casualties in Syria.

It will not be appeased by outreach or declarations of tolerance. It will not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties, when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life. We must make it crystal clear that affiliation with ISIS and related terrorist groups brings with it the undying enmity of America—that it is, in effect, signing your own death warrant.

Cruz also took time to go on Fox News last night to demagogue against Syrian refugees seeking asylum. He also pushed for an Expatriate Act that automatically strips any American of citizenship if they are accused of joining ISIS or other extremist groups. The idea of “returning foreign fighters” committing acts of terrorism in the United States remains entirely hypothetical since it has never happened or even been attempted.

So there you have it, Muslims around the world nearly universally condemning an act of terrible violence while right-wingers in America call for more violence with even less regard for civilian deaths, which is the exact over-reaction the terrorists wanted incidentally.

Myth of the Christian Nation

One of the more enduring myths on the religious right is the notion that America is a “Christian” nation, or at the very least a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Despite having no basis in fact or history this has become central to conservative mythology. One hears it from virtually every Republican politician, and it’s always accepted uncritically by conservative commentators and audiences.

Earlier this week, Republican candidate for president Ben Carson repeated this on Fox News, and he did it in typical nonchalant fashion, as though it were a truism. Near the end of a rambling interview about traditional marriage and religious liberty, Carson said: “This is a Judeo-Christian nation, in the sense that a lot of our values are based on a Judeo-Christian faith.”

This statement isn’t remotely true but it reflects a widespread ignorance about American history. America is currently populated by a majority of Christians, but this isn’t a Christian nation in any meaningful or legal sense. This inconvenient distinction is often lost on conservatives, and it’s why they’re under the impression that the government should respect their religious morality at the expense of all others (i.e., Kim Davis/Mike Huckabee).

There are two primary ways to argue that America is a Christian nation: One is to claim that our laws and Constitution are grounded in Christian values. The other is to say that the Founders of the country were Christians and that they conceived the government on the basis of those beliefs.

Both of these arguments are patently false.

First, the Constitution, which is sacrosanct in conservative circles (the parts they like anyway), makes no mention of Jesus, the Bible, Christianity or even God. In fact, when it does mention religion, it’s to prohibit the state from favoring one over another. When confronted with this fact, Christians eagerly point to the Declaration of Independence, particularly the part that reads “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

But again, with no mention of the Bible, Jesus, etc. that statement in no way justifies the view that America is a specifically Christian nation. Nearly all religious traditions have a “Creator.” Plus, even a casual reading of the Bible reveals that “all men are created equal” and posses “inalienable rights” are not values that the writers and early (or even many current) practitioners held.

As for the Founders themselves, many of them were deists, not Christians and certainly not Christians in the sense that Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz or Bobby Jindal are. John Adams, for instance, the principal author of the Massachusetts constitution and our second president, signed the Treaty of Tripoli, which stated that “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” Thomas Jefferson, the main author of the Declaration of the Independence and our third president, wrote in the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom (the precursor to the First Amendment) “That our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.”

There is nothing unclear about the Founders’ intentions in other words. America’s political roots are decidedly secular, only fundamentalists are confused about this.

The irony of all this is that the Founders (most of them, at least) are precisely the kind of people modern conservatives openly hate. They were elitist European-style intellectuals who were inspired by the (for the time) progressive ideals of the Enlightenment. They looked to history and Western philosophy for guidance, not to the Bible. They wanted to create a government based on classical republican principles not divine-right monarchy, the preferred method of government found in the Bible. No objective or disinterested analysis of our founding documents suggests otherwise.

Conservatives can (and almost certainly will) ignore this, but that doesn’t change the fact that America is and was intended to be a secular republic, not a Christian theocracy. If the myth of America as a Christian nation endures among conservatives, it’s because people like Ben Carson repeat it endlessly without evidence and for political purposes.

A Quick Guide to Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz

The first GOP candidate to declare their intentions to run for president was Dr. Ben Carson, who followed his announcement with a disastrous interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio show during in which he erroneously cited the origins of Islam and suggested the Baltics weren’t part of NATO. Not a very strong start for the first candidate to hop into the clown car.

Next up: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is set to ride shotgun, announcing his candidacy on Monday at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Let’s talk about Cruz by way of a refresher on what he’s all about.

Doh! Canada

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1970 to an American mother and a (insane) Cuban father. Sound familiar? The only difference between the presidency-related birth circumstances of President Obama and Ted Cruz is that Obama was actually born in the United States and Ted Cruz was not.

Of course this doesn’t matter because Obama is black with a funny-sounding name and Cruz is a white guy named “Ted,” so it’ll be assumed that Cruz is totally a natural born citizen while Obama isn’t. That seems fair.

Legally-speaking, Ted Cruz is perfectly eligible to be president based on the citizenship status of his mother, just like Barack Obama, especially given how the latter was born in Hawaii. But don’t expect a (fake) investigation by Donald Trump or any mass freakouts by a legion of conspiracy theorists over Cruz’s eligibility to be president because, again, he’s a white Republican. Anything is okay if you’re a white Republican.

No Experience Necessary

We have to wonder whether the GOP will retract its argument that a first term senator with no business experience shouldn’t be president. Cruz just completed his second year in the U.S. Senate, almost exactly the same amount of time Barack Obama had served before declaring his campaign for the Democratic nomination back in 2007.

Furthermore, Cruz has roughly the same private sector experience as Obama, having worked in law before entering public service. Beyond that he has no business experience to speak of, which is pretty astonishing given how Obama was relentlessly attacked in 2008 for only serving in Washington for two years and not accumulating any business management experience.

Green Eggs and (Very) Stupid

Ted Cruz’s biggest claim to fame came when he filibustered the removal of Obamacare de-funding language from a continuing resolution to fund the government. During the all-night self-beclowning, Cruz famously read the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham, obviously for the “I do not like it” line, correlating it to how he doesn’t like Obamacare.

He read it cover-to-cover, and must’ve been shocked by the ending when the main character ends up (whoops!) loving green eggs and ham after finally trying it. That’s right, Cruz fumbled a Dr. Seuss metaphor. Put another way: screw the 3 a.m. phone call litmus test, we now have to ask whether our presidential candidates can accurately comprehend the moral of a children’s book.

Ted Cruz the Prop Comic

Last year, Ted Cruz went on rampage against net neutrality. I know. Yawn. But in lockstep with the conservative entertainment complex, Cruz repeated all of the opposite-day lies about how net neutrality would lead to something, something, government tyranny.

One day, he decided to start his very own talking point, rather than just robotically repeating the off-the-shelf talking points. Cruz suggested that net neutrality would somehow restrict technological expansion and innovation, and used the iPhone as an example of technology that wouldn’t have been discovered if it had been regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. He even held up an iPhone as a prop during a speech to a group of young people and said:

When you regulate a public utility, it calcifies it — it freezes it in place. Let’s give a simple contrast. The Telecommunications Act of 1934 was adopted to regulate these [brings out an old rotary-dial phone]. To put regulations in place and what happened? It froze everything in place. This is regulated by Title II. [pulls out an iPhone] This is not.

Again, Cruz fumbled the demonstration. Of course the iPhone is regulated by the federal government. How do we know this? Look at the back of your iPhone and you’ll see several logos including an Apple logo and, yes, an FCC logo.

Reckless Ted

According to the Republicans and the press during the Ebola scare last year, we should all be dead now. The fact that we’re not is enough evidence that the panic was falsely amplified for the sake of dramatic flair. At one point CNN even hosted a medical-fiction author to discuss how quickly Ebola would become airborne and kill everyone.

In terms of the Republicans, it became abundantly clear that they were exaggerating the threat as a means of attacking the Obama administration for not, I don’t know, not exercising enough big government? That moment of clarity came when the Senate Republicans refused to approve Obama’s nominee for surgeon general in the middle of what we were being told was a massive public health crisis.

Leading the charge against the nominee was Ted Cruz. And why was Cruz holding up the nomination in the midst of the Ebola “crisis?” Because Dr. Vivek Murthy, who was eventually confirmed, once tweeted something about gun control. Cruz said:

Of course we should have a surgeon general in place. And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist.

In other words, screw the (alleged) Ebola threat while we genuflect before the altar of Wayne LaPierre and the NRA. Priorities, right?

Clairvoyant Ted

Ted Cruz has his own coloring book just in case your kids are creepily into coloring a doughy tea party homophobe who knows less about the moral of Green Eggs and Ham than they do.

One of the pages features the following line:

Speaking with clairvoyant precision, it was as if Ted could see the immediate future of the quickly approaching Obama Care disaster.

Now, I know it’ll be difficult, but make sure your kids don’t fight over this page too viciously. But yeah, Cruz is apparently clairvoyant. You know how I know he’s not? Because Obamacare isn’t a disaster at all, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

For one, it’s responsible for the fewest uninsured Americans in 40 years. Costs are being controlled. The exchanges, including the Healthcare.gov exchange, are working fine and the second open enrollment period went off without a hitch, even though we didn’t hear much from the “liberal media” about it. Cruz is no more clairvoyant than a “guess your age and weight” carnie, and the carnies are right a lot more often.

No One’s Forcing Ted Cruz to Marry a Guy

Finally, Ted Cruz is leading marketer of the “same-sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty” nonsense. Simply put, Cruz believes that marriage equality will strip anti-gay religious people of their First Amendment rights. Cruz and others believe that, for example, a business should be able to refuse service to gay people because the Bible forbids homosexuality. Just a few days ago, Cruz said:

[T]he federal government and unelected judges cannot set aside the democratically-elected legislatures’ reasonable decisions to enact and protect traditional marriage. […] If the courts were following the Constitution, we shouldn’t need a new amendment, but they are, as you put it quite rightly, making it up right now and it’s a real danger to our liberty.

It’s a wafer-thin argument that we’ve seen before. First of all, the Bible forbids a lot of mundane things (eating shellfish, trimming your beard), and permits a lot of really awful things (slavery, child abuse).

Furthermore, no judge or lawmaker is pushing a law that mandates Christian men to have sex with other men, the so-called “abomination” that the Bible forbids. Conversely, there’s nothing in the Bible that forbids Christians from selling cakes or otherwise doing business with homosexual people. So anti-discrimination laws aren’t forcing Christians to violate biblical dogma in any way, thus these rulings aren’t violations of religious liberty. And Ted Cruz is an idiot.

Anything Else?

Yes, he’s also an insane conspiracy theorist:

Ted Cruz is a hardlined paleoconservative who represents the GOP’s harrowing conjugal union with the tea party. He’s a political demon whose soft-spoken persona and sad-clown eyebrows allow him to get away with the most poisonous Obama Derangement Syndrome fappery in Congress. He represents the new GOP cynicism, elevating anti-Obama pandering to his unglued base above actual governing.

But worry not. Ted Cruz isn’t win a damn thing other than a bump in his speaking fees due to his newly ordained status as a “presidential candidate” which is why he’s running in the first place.

 

The Worst of all Possible Worlds

The Republican Senate shake-up has landed Sen. Ted Cruz of all people at the helm of the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness.

This means, in effect, that Ted freaking Cruz is now in charge of NASA.

The obvious problem with this, as many are pointing out, is that the Texas senator is not a huge fan of the space agency or science in general and holds many aggressively anti-science views, particularity when it comes to climate change.

While he says that it’s “critical that the United States ensure its continued leadership in space,” his infamous hours-long non-filibusterer in September 2013 led to a 16-day government shutdown barring 97 percent of NASA employees from appearing for work. Interns at the agency were displaced when the NASA-provided housing was closed during the shutdown, and many have said the agency suffered lasting damage due to the freeze.

NASA, alas, has been training its satellites and other monitoring equipment on Earth and our climate system, helping collect data on everything from sea level rise to air pollution to ice melt. The agency credits itself with helping the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change reach the conclusion that human-generated greenhouse gas emissions are likely responsible for the rise in global temperatures, a phenomenon that Cruz still won‘t even acknowledge is happening.

Cruz is joined in his terrifying position of power by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who also doesn’t “believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate” and who now heads up the subcommittee overseeing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and, of course, by Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who is likely the most fervent climate denier ever to be put in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.

So…strap in kids, shit’s about to get dumb.