Bob Schwartz

Tag: Ted Cruz

Stale Donuts: What I Share with Ted Cruz


This is a true and inconsequential story.

I may not be as smart as Ted Cruz. But he and I share something important.

Ted has said he loves donuts. I love donuts.

Donuts get stale, somewhat quickly. Donut lovers devise ways to freshen stale donuts.

On the campaign trail, Ted has talked about refreshing stale donuts (really). He says he puts them in a microwave for 12 seconds.

I also have a technique for refreshing stale donuts. I put them in a microwave for 10 seconds. (Too much microwaving can destroy their delicate texture.)

So while he and I share this love, we disagree slightly on this. We have bigger disagreements on other matters, of course.

I did not clerk for a Supreme Court Justice. I am not running for President. Etc. So maybe Ted’s 12 seconds are better than my 10 seconds. If you’d like, you can try it for yourself.

Trump: Who’s the Wack Job Now?

Yesterday Donald Trump called U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders “a wack job.” He has also called U.S. Senator Ted Cruz “wacko” multiple times. Along with all his other free association invective, versions of “crazy” seem to be Trump favorites.

Back in November I wrote a post gently inquiring about Trump’s mental health. Now I discover that at the same time, actual psychiatrists and psychologists were considering the same thing.

Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In! appeared in Vanity Fair. Professionals raised genuine concerns that Trump’s history and his behavior during the campaign reflect a psychological shortfall, not an ideological or policy one. A shortfall big enough to put in question his fitness for the job he is seeking (and that he believes only he can succeed at).

As an observer, it isn’t hard to see some projection possibly going on here. Setting aside the lack of civility or respect in these accusations, neither Sanders nor Cruz nor any of the other “wack jobs” Trump finds are actually mentally unhealthy. Extreme, maybe, and not to Trump’s liking, but not crazy. Trump, on the other hand, may be revealing what he sees in the mirror. Besides a President.

Why should the President be born in the United States anyway?

We are asking the wrong and less interesting question about the Constitution and presidential qualification.

A lot of people are talking about Ted Cruz’s birth (the place, not the biological event). The better question is whether the requirement, however interpreted, is in our best interest.

It isn’t. There are plenty of brilliant and capable non-native American citizens who would be terrific at trying to run this country with some vision and imagination. (Though most of them are too smart to want to get involved in the thankless insanity we are now witnessing.)

We have rules, and if any rules deserve respect, the constitutional ones do. But just because it’s in the Constitution doesn’t mean it’s the best idea.

I am not suggesting that we amend the Constitution, especially not for Ted Cruz. But we should at least be talking about maybe expanding the talent pool. Because if most of the current crop of candidates is what we get when we limit ourselves to natural born Americans, we could definitely do much better.

Bacon and Ribs Illegal in America When Jews and Muslims Take Over

When Orthodox Jews or Muslims are in charge, bacon, ribs, and all sorts of other things will be made illegal.

Of course, that will never happen. Not because Orthodox Jews or Muslims will never take control of American democracy (anything’s possible). But because the U.S. Constitution—that imperfectly perfect protector of individual rights—would not permit it.

In the secular sphere, there is no higher law than the Constitution. Beyond being the law of the land, it is the law of the law of the land. Those who study it in the context of world history and politics recognize that it is a one-of-a-kind, no-other-time-or-place achievement.

Those who say there is some kind of higher law than that in the civic arena are misinformed, or in some cases, such as Ted Cruz who should know better, strategically mistaken. The question those folks have to answer is this: If there is higher law than the Constitution, whose law is it? If it’s “God’s” law, recall that God talks to lots of people in lots of religious traditions, and apparently isn’t always heard to say the same thing to everyone. It will shock some Christians to learn that God has been speaking to Jews for thousands more years, and while there seemed to have been plenty of talk about a messiah, nothing to indicate that one actually arrived. Or asked county clerks in Kentucky to stop issuing marriage licenses. Or told presidential candidates who claim to believe in law and order to defy the law of the law of the land. In his name. Amen.

How Much Is That in Harvard Years?: Why Ted Cruz Thinks He Is Leader of the Senate

Ted Cruz - Double Harvard
One of the puzzles of the current political situation is how a U.S. Senator with less than a year in Congress believes he is the leader of his party—if not of the nation.

One theory is that Ted Cruz was born in Canada, and therefore doesn’t completely understand the American political system. But that would make him more reasonable, conciliatory and polite, so that has been rejected.

Another possibility is that the sudden disappearance of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has left a vacuum that the party is scrambling to fill. In the chaos of the relentless search for the Kentucky Senator, Sen. Cruz has leapt into the breach.

The best explanation is a bit esoteric, but if you attended one of the “major” Ivy League colleges, as Ted Cruz did, you should have no trouble following. (Note: This writer, as a graduate of what Ted Cruz considers a “lesser” Ivy, is still struggling with the theory. Hopefully there is a Harvard, Princeton or Yale grad out there to help.)

Just as there are “dog years,” there are also, at least in the mind of Ted Cruz, “Harvard Years.” The exact numbers aren’t clear, but on a one-for-one basis, this means that the seven years he spent at Harvard (College and Law School) is the equivalent of seven years in Congress. If it is two-for-one, he has been there for fourteen years. And if it is a canine calculus, Ted Cruz has been in Congress for 49 years! That is a near record achievement that should put complaints of his inexperience to rest, though other concerns won’t go away so easily.

Note: The Ivy League colleges are famous (at least among their attendees) for their mottos. These are in Latin, because at the time the schools were founded, Latin was the lingua franca of the intelligentsia. (And yes, of course, Ted Cruz probably speaks Latin, along with French and Spanish.)  For all his Haravardian pride, he should pay closer attention to the motto of his alma mater: Veritas (truth).

Even closer to home for Ted Cruz, if he would deign to consider the motto of one of those lesser Ivies, is this: Leges Sine Moribus Vanae—laws without morals are in vain.

History’s Goat

John Boehner
If, as expected, the government shutdown is protracted, bleeding into the debt ceiling crisis, the cool eyes of history will judge Speaker of the House John Boehner to be the goat. Not the President, not extremist Republicans in the House, not Ted Cruz or anyone in the Senate. Almost everyone on both sides of the aisle either knows it is John Boehner’s fault or believes in any case that he will be blamed and take the fall.

It is his responsibility because he could have brought a “clean” Continuing Resolution to a vote in the House—and he still can. All indications are that enough Republicans would vote for it—and still would. This would not solve any other crises or disagreements, but all those could then proceed under the simple everyday circumstance of the government running. That would be a good thing by almost all lights.

The reasons John Boehner doesn’t do this are many and complex. He is appropriately loyal to what was, and will hopefully be again, a great political party. The demands on his Speakership are as difficult as any in modern history; it is possibly a job that no one could do perfectly or even well. The extremist Republicans in the House have not so much discovered political extortion—an ancient practice—as fallen in love with it, become obsessed with it. They have aimed their threats at the nation, the President, and reasonable members of their own party in primary after primary.

The extremist threat against John Boehner is not that he will lose his secure Ohio House seat—he won’t—or even that he will lose his Speaker post—he probably will, if they can find anybody else courageous or stupid enough to try to “lead” these House Republicans. The threat hanging over John Boehner, a man who loves his country and his Congress, is that he will be humiliated by failing miserably, rather than just not succeeding.

John Boehner is making a classic mistake, one that competitors in all fields, including sports, business and politics, should know. To win, you have to play aggressively and by the rules, but you have to play to win according to your best inner guidance. Because when you play not to lose, you already have.

Right now, John Boehner knows he isn’t winning, but he could, if he would just end this shutdown. Instead, he has retreated to a haven of rhetoric and finger-pointing that he knows is not right. That’s why every evaluation of his performance, even by some friends and moderate Republicans, begins with “He is a nice guy, a good man, but…”

Right now, whatever the consequences, he could do the right thing, pay whatever price there is to pay, and be a hero. But right now, and in the historian’s rear view mirror, that isn’t how it looks.

Barbara Jordan v. Ted Cruz

Barbara Jordan - Ted Cruz
Regular readers of this blog know about the late Representative Barbara Jordan, one of the great speakers in modern American history, and one of the most distinguished members of Congress in her generation. We have seen few like her in recent years—because there have been few like her at all.

She shares one thing and one thing only with Ted Cruz: both represented Texas citizens in Congress. Besides that, they might as well be from different planets—politically, morally, intellectually, rhetorically, in just about any category you can name.

Barbara Jordan was born and raised in a black district of Houston. To say that she transcended any challenges she faced is saying nothing: her talents and compassion took her to the height of American political respect and significance. Ted Cruz was born in Canada, an apparent embarrassment for him, given that he has renounced his Canadian citizenship. He was raised somewhere, though there is no way to tell that he is “from” Texas other than the designation on his office. He has probably visited Houston, though it doesn’t seem his kind of place.

While at Harvard Law School, Ted Cruz reportedly refused to study with students who did not have undergraduate degrees from Harvard, Princeton or Yale. Even the “minor” Ivy League schools like Penn or Columbia weren’t good enough. Barbara Jordan attended Texas Southern University and then Boston University Law School. Well below minor status. However, she was a national champion debater at Texas Southern, where she beat Yale and Brown, and tied Harvard. And, presumably, would beat Ted Cruz in debate too.

Barbara Jordan was a model of intelligent political pragmatism, toughness tempered by compassion. She believed that character was paramount. Her rhetoric, rated in the range of FDR, JFK and MLK, could be uplifting or withering. She never spoke for twenty-one hours straight because she never had to. But if she had, it might be mesmerizing, start to finish. Ted Cruz is the model of something.

A Senate filled with one hundred Barbara Jordans would not be to everyone’s ideological taste, but no one would worry that they were being hoodwinked or being used as part of someone’s ambitious scheme, or that the country was in existential peril. The nation would be better for it. A Senate filled with one hundred Ted Cruzes is something else—perhaps a sign that beyond just shutting down the government, we should just close the doors on the American enterprise entirely.

We miss you Barbara. And we need you.

Ted Cruz and Joe McCarthy

Ted Cruz - Joe McCarthy
For a while now, virulent anti-Obamaism has looked a lot like the anti-Communist vendetta of McCarthyism in the 1950s. Barack Obama is in fact the scary culmination of the fear that swept the nation fifty years ago. Not only are there Communist infiltrators in government offices; the White House itself is in the hands of a godless liberty-taker—or so it seems to millions.

U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy from Wisconsin did not invent this brand of hate and paranoia. He just perfected it through a combination of extreme showboating, angry rhetoric and, most of all, fear. Nothing could be worse than to be branded an enemy of the state (in McCarthyist terms), which might lead to a loss of a citizen’s reputation, job and career or, more to the point, to a politician’s losing office.

This week, Ted Cruz’s attempt to hog the American stage with his fauxbuster (media are still working on a term for a filibuster that isn’t one) has had a notable effect on some of his Republican Congressional colleagues. Since the 2010 elections, and certainly in the 2012 presidential campaign, there has been a reluctance to publicly break ranks and call an ambitious, self-absorbed blowhard that (e.g., Donald Trump) or a fool a fool (take your pick). In recent days, a few Republican Senators have stopped holding back, realizing that as much as they agree in their opposition to Obama policies, this is not a constructive way to proceed, governmentally or politically. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, a loyal Republican and unassailable conservative, said that it appears that to Cruz and others of that ilk, he is just not conservative enough.

This is the Ted Cruz/Joe McCarthy strategy: if you are not with me, you are against America. To torture a quote from King Louis XIV, “America c’est moi.” (I am America). And if you are not for my definition of America, you are an enemy of the state—even if you purport to be a Republican, even if you are a Senator with many more years than my nine months in the Senate. And if you are an enemy of the state, I and my millions of like-minded Americans will destroy you. That is my mission.

Joe McCarthy’s brief demagogic career ended in ignominy (and ill health from his alcoholism). He went from holding center stage to banishment when more and more of his colleagues and the media stood up to his bullying. It wasn’t that anti-Communism went away; it remained a force for years to come and, as pointed out, lives still even in the post-Cold War era. It was that serious people put up with over-ambitious clowns as long as a common agenda is advanced, but at some point even the threat of losing office takes second place to what’s good for America.

In the end, McCarthyism lost to Americanism. Let’s hope that Cruzism suffers the same fate.

Obama Must Renounce His Hawaiian Citizenship

Ted Cruz Birth Certificate

Now that we’ve (mostly) agreed that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, there’s one final step: he must renounce his Hawaiian citizenship to legitimately serve as President of the United States.

That’s actually not right. Hawaii was a state when Obama was born there, and before that, it was an American territory (remember Pearl Harbor?).

But it is a splashy way to introduce the latest chapter in the story of Ted Cruz as possible presidential candidate.

Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator from Texas, was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to an American mother. The question of whether he is qualified to be President arises from Article Two, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which restricts the presidency to “natural born Citizen[s]”. Even though there has been a colloquial understanding that this means “born in the U.S.A.”, the point has never been litigated, and there is a growing sense that it simply means born American, rather than naturalized.

There is no dispute that Cruz was an American citizen at birth, being born of an American citizen, even if abroad. But after he released his birth certificate this weekend (see above), to answer speculation that he might not be qualified, a new wrinkle has cropped up. As indisputably as he is an American citizen, it now appears that he is—at this very moment—also a Canadian citizen. A number of experts on Canadian law are making it clear that when you are born in Canada, citizenship is automatic. You can renounce it later on if you choose, as some do. But right now, Cruz is both an American and Canadian citizen, able to vote in Canadian elections and even run for office there. (Note how weirdly complicated this would have been had he been born there before 1947, when his birth would have made him both an American citizen and a British subject: God Save the Queen.)

It isn’t clear whether Cruz has long known he was also a Canadian citizen, whether he secretly participates in Canadian ceremonies, whether he privately exhibits the legendary Canadian civility and sensibility, whether his support of the XL Pipeline was specially motivated, whether his plan to bring the U.S. government to a halt is meant to make his Canadian homeland look better by comparison, whether he still has feelings for Her Royal Highness, given that he is a citizen of the Commonwealth, if not the United Kingdom.

There is a political issue here, though one that Cruz might be able to turn to his advantage. He might be able to continue his Senate role as a dual citizen (at least it’s Canada, not Russia), but the presidency is another matter. If he does choose to renounce, he could do it on an ideological basis, pointing out how the socialist leanings of his homeland to the north have left it far behind the achievements of free market America, and how, unless America is careful, it will end up exactly like Canada—the land he chose to leave at the age of four, precisely because he knew that America was the true land of freedom and opportunity. Not to mention a whole lot warmer, particularly in Texas.