Late last month, Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin conducted a cringe-worthy interview with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The interview meandered from questions about how Cruz plans to appeal to Latino voters to what appeared to be a series of requests that Cruz, who is Cuban American, prove that he is really, truly, authentically Cuban. By the end of the interview, when Halperin asks Cruz to say a few words “en Español,” one can’t help but think that Cruz had unwittingly wandered into a minstrel show, with Halperin demanding that Cruz perform for an audience.
Though Halperin begins the interview by raising a legitimate topic — a speech Cruz gave to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce — his conversation with Cruz quickly goes off the rails. “Your last name is Cruz and you’re from Texas,” Halperin asks Cruz. “Just based on that, should you have appeal to Hispanic voters?”
Halperin’s suggestion that Hispanic voters may base their vote solely on the ethnicity of a particular candidate is actually a relative high point of the interview. The next question begins with Halperin telling Cruz that “people are really interested in you and your identity,” before Halperin asks whether Cruz listed himself as “Hispanic” when he applied to college and law school. Over the course of the next five minutes, Halperin demands that Cruz identify his “favorite Cuban food” and his “favorite “Cuban singer.”
Halperin concludes the interview with what appears to be a request that Cruz prove his Spanish-language skills: “I wanted to give you the opportunity to welcome your colleague Senator Sanders to the race and I’d like you to do it, if you would, en Español.”
The interview sparked outrage among conservative writers over the weekend. Hot Air called it a “train wreck.” Twitchy mocked “Bloomberg Politics reporter-turned-ethnic policeman Mark Halperin.” PJ Media’s Rick Moran opined that “[a]sking Cruz to say something in Spanish is akin to asking a black person to eat watermelon or start dancing.”
Though the interview originally aired on April 30, it began to attract attention after syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette criticized it in the San Jose Mercury-News. “I felt like I was watching a college fraternity have fun with racial stereotypes,” Navarrette wrote, comparing the interview to a “‘border party’ where people show up in serapes and fake mustaches.”
The conservative group Digitas Daily put together some of the lowlights of the interview:
It’s unclear what Halperin thought he was accomplishing with this line of questioning. To the extent that Halperin was probing whether Latino voters would flock to Cruz because of his ancestry, the answer to that question is already known. In 2012, when Cruz ran for Senate, a poll by the organization Latino Decisons indicated that Cruz would receive 35 percent of the Latino vote. That’s slightly less than the 36 percent that white Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) received in 2008.
To the extent that Halperin was questioning whether a right-wing politician like Cruz can also be authentically Cuban, that suggests a different kind of ignorance on Halperin’s part. Though pollsters and pundits often lump all voters who descend from Spanish-speaking cultures under the generic label of “Hispanic,” there is a great deal of diversity among these voters. Cuban Americans, for example, tend to be much more conservative than other voters who fall under the “Hispanic” umbrella. In 2012, Florida exit polls found that Cuban American voters narrowly split (49-47) their vote between President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, while non-Cuban Hispanic voters preferred Obama over Romney by a 66-34 margin.
Though polls indicate that Cuban Americans are trending Democratic, this trend is driven at least partially by generational changes — older Cuban Americans are more likely to support Republicans than younger Cuban Americans. In any event, there is nothing bizarre or even unusual about Cruz, a second-generation Cuban American, also being a conservative Republican.
Whatever drove Halperin to grill Cruz about his Cuban bona fides, however, Halperin’s critics are right to lay into him. Ted Cruz should be judged based on whether his policies will help or harm voters, not based on whether he can name his favorite Cuban musician.
Halperin released a statement responding to criticism of his interview:
We wanted to talk with Senator Cruz about his outreach to Latino voters the day after he spoke at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. My intent was to give the Senator a chance to speak further about his heritage and personal connections to the community through some casual questions. I rushed through the questions, and that was a mistake — it led to poor tone and timing. I also understand why some felt the questions were inappropriate. As for asking Senator Cruz to welcome Senator Sanders to the race in Spanish, that was meant to be the type of light-hearted banter that he’s done with us before on the show. In no way was I asking Senator Cruz to “prove” he was an “authentic” Latino. I apologize to those that were offended, and to Senator Cruz. I promise that I will work to make the tone and questions better next time.
This is a political trend I’d like to see more of: I wasn’t alive then, so don’t ask me!
[Q]: A third Texas president, L.B.J., created Medicare in themid-’60s. Your hero Ronald Reagan campaigned vigorously against that, saying it would lead to socialized medicine, would end liberty in the United States. Who was right: L.B.J. or Reagan?[Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz]: It’s not worth tilting at windmills. I don’t know. I wasn’t alive then.
Who was right? Who’s to say? That was in the before-times. I have no opinions on the before-times. Now maybe Medicare ended liberty in the United States, maybe it didn’t, let’s just leave that one to the History Channel to sort out.
The possibilities here are endless. Sen. Ted Cruz, do you think the American Revolution was a good idea or a bad one? Your party tends to mention Hitler a lot—have any thoughts on the fellow? You have spoken endlessly about your father leaving Cuba, but we cannot help but notice you were not alive then—are you sure you are qualified to discuss this?
The good news, if we can hold him to this, is that Sen. Ted Cruz has now recused himself from having any opinions on anything that happened before December 22, 1970. Not just Medicare but the civil rights struggle are out of scope, but the development of the automobile, the highway system, electrification, indoor plumbing, the Crusades, and sedimentary rocks are all off-limits. As is the Constitution, which is worth more than all the others combined; if we can convince Ted Cruz that he is no longer qualified to give his opinions on what the Constitution says or what the Founding Fathers were thinking during any given lunchtime, we could render the man nearly silent in one stroke.
Other candidates have declared that they are not scientists, recusing them from climate discussions; Ted Cruz considers anything that happened before the Earth was graced with his bare-bottomed presence to be off-limits. Now that’s dedication to not answering the question.
How very “civil” of Senator Cruz…
Politico – Dylan Byers
Disparaging the New York Times is fast becoming a rite of passage for Republican presidential candidates.
In an interview with St. Louis’s FM News Talk 97.1 on Tuesday, Ted Cruz argued that Republicans shouldn’t listen to “The New York Times and other leftist rags” when picking their presidential nominee.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie similarly lashed out at America’s paper of record during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. “I don’t care what they write about me in The New York Times, they can keep it,” he said. “I don’t subscribe.”
Note: As other GOP Presidential candidates announce their intention to run, TFC will have less news on Ted Cruz.
Sen. Ted Cruz was the first candidate to announce his intention to run for the presidency, hence the incessant coverage from all news outlets…
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is a master at what Al Franken used to call “weasel words” — talking points that are carefully constructed to sound legitimate but really aren’t at all. Come to think of it, Stephen Colbert famously referred to this sort of thing as “truthiness.” Cruz is especially on his game when the topic of the complicated Affordable Care Act comes up because even top-shelf reporters don’t quite grasp all of the ins and outs of Obamacare and, frankly, the administration hasn’t been very strong at educating the public about what the law covers. And Cruz is exploiting every square mile of this supercolossal Obamacare ignorance gap.
For the last two days or so, Ted Cruz has repeatedly said that 1) as a member of the Senate, he’s required to have an Obamacare policy, 2) in spite of this requirement he was on his wife’s insurance policy until just recently, and 3) Congress is exempt from Obamacare because of an illegal move by the president. So, Obamacare is mandatory now, but it wasn’t before, and it’s actually not any more because of the allegedly “illegal” Obama exemption.
On Wednesday, Cruz sat down with a reporter from an outfit called The Daily Signal and delivered this troika of nonsense once again.
1) First, Cruz again described how for two years he’s been on his wife’s insurance — not an apparently mandatory congressional Obamacare plan.
When I announced the campaign, my wife also decided to take an unpaid leave of absence from her job. We have been for the past couple of years covered on my wife’s health insurance. When she took an unpaid leave of absence, it means that she’s also losing her benefits. And so we’re gonna do what anyone else would do, which is take their health insurance from their employer. So, in all likelihood, we’ll go on the exchange.
2) After discussing so-called “Obama subsidies,” Cruz then described why Obamacare is a requirement for members of Congress.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley introduced an amendment to Obamacare that said members of Congress have to be on the exchanges with no subsidies just like millions of Americans.
So, the “amendment” stipulates that members “have to be on the exchanges with no subsidies.” When he first mentioned this to CNN’s Dana Bash on Tuesday, he said it was “one of the great things about Obamacare.” Then why is he still not on the exchange? It’s because members of Congress really don’t “have to” use Obamacare — unless they choose employer-based health insurance from the government. If they do, the government’s plan is now the Healthcare.gov exchange rather than the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. If members and staffers don’t want employer coverage, they can buy a plan directly from a provider or go without insurance. On top of all that, there’s absolutely nothing in the Affordable Care Act that says Congress isn’t permitted to receive subsidies or premium-sharing. Nothing. Cruz lied.
3) Next, even though he said he plans to follow the law (he hasn’t for two years now, but okay) which he claims features an Obamacare requirement, he goes on to say that Congress doesn’t have to use Obamacare after all because the White House carved out an exemption for Congress.
Now, Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats when this passed were horrified. They didn’t wanna be under Obamacare. They went to Obama and said, “Give us a special exemption.” And Barack Obama did, and his administration ignored the plain text of the statute and created an illegal exemption. I have no intention of using that illegal exemption. I’m gonna follow the law.
Inexplicably, he wants viewers to think Congress is no longer mandated to be on Obamacare (it never was) — that Congress has an “illegal” waiver to get around Grassley’s amendment. In fact, the spirit of Grassley’s language is still intact and in effect. The “exemption” is, in reality, the Office of Personnel Management’s decision to continue to cover 72 percent of the premium costs for Congress and its staffers — just like both the government and private businesses alike always have. There was no “plain text of the statute” to ignore because, to repeat, there’s nothing in the law that says Congress can’t have a premium sharing employer benefit.
While we’re here, let’s get to the bottom of who lobbied the administration for this so-called “exemption.” Politico reported that it was a collaboration between Harry Reid and Senate Democrat John Boehner. Wait. Boehner’s not a Senate Democrat like Cruz said. He’s the Republican Speaker of the House. It was a completely bipartisan move that included both the White House and congressional leaders. Let’s clear another thing up. Grassley merely proposed an amendment that failed. The Democrats later resurrected and adapted the idea and wrote it into the body of the law. Grassley only deserves partial credit for the rule, since it was ultimately a Democratic decision.
More weasel words from Cruz:
So suddenly the media goes, “Hahahaha! Gotcha!” Because Cruz is now signing up for Obamacare. Listen, I have zero intention of take any government subsidy or Obama subsidy. Rather, what I’m gonna do is pay on the marketplace for health insurance for my family, just like millions of Americans.
Well, he won’t get a subsidy because he earns significantly more than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level — the upper limit to receive premium subsidies. Notice, though, that he didn’t say “premium sharing” or “cost sharing” or “employer contribution.” He said “subsidy.” Why would he go on the Obamacare exchange, a politically dangerous move, other than for the better deal: comparable benefits and continued employer premium sharing, just like his wife’s old plan? If he intends, on the other hand, to pay his premium dues entirely out-of-pocket without any premium sharing, why didn’t he just enroll in COBRA through Goldman Sachs or buy insurance directly from a provider, sidestepping the political mess he’s in? Obviously because he wants the premium sharing, which technically isn’t a subsidy but rather a employee benefit — just like millions of Americans receive through their employers.
It’s one thing to abide by a law you don’t like, which happens all the time, but it’s another thing entirely to abide by a law you don’t like even though you have numerous alternative options to choose from. Instead, he chose Obamacare, which he hates, and, worse, he clearly plans to accept the premium sharing “exemption” that he keeps saying was an illegal plot by the Senate Democrats. Why is he doing this? Because it’s a fantastic deal and, financially, he’d be insane not to take it. Politically, however, it was a massive blunder. You know why the press is saying “gotcha!” right now? Because Cruz just blindly derped his way into a gigantic bear trap — an unforced error — and now he’s trying to weasel out of it.
On one hand, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) signing up for an Obamacare health insurance policy is fantastic news. As we discussed yesterday, Cruz had a number of options at his disposal after losing his health insurance coverage due to his wife taking a leave of absence from Goldman Sachs. And no, he isn’t required to buy an Obamacare policy, so he absolutely had options.
But before we recap his options, it’s important to underscore that contrary to what many observers were suggesting throughout the day Tuesday, no — the law does not mandate that all members of Congress and their staffers enroll in an Obamacare exchange plan. Or else. The law merely states that exchange plans are the only plans offered to congressional employees, including members of Congress. Here’s the text from the ACA (emphasis mine):
SEC. 1312. CONSUMER CHOICE. (d)(3)(D) MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN THE EXCHANGE-
(i) REQUIREMENT- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, after the effective date of this subtitle, the only health plans that the Federal Government may make available to Members of Congress and congressional staff with respect to their service as a Member of Congress or congressional staff shall be health plans that are–
(I) created under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act); or
(II) offered through an Exchange established under this Act (or an amendment made by this Act).
In other words, members of Congress can do whatever they want, but the government is no longer offering the old Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) to members and their staff — only the exchange plans under Obamacare. And since the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is continuing to pay 72 percent of the premiums (the truth behind the so-called “Obamacare exemption for Congress”), the best value for members and especially staffers is to sign up for an Obamacare plan.
If Cruz doesn’t have to sign up for an Obamacare plan, what were Cruz’s other non-Obamacare options?
He could’ve immediately enrolled in COBRA, which would’ve allowed Cruz and his wife to keep their existing policy. He could’ve signed up for an Obamacare policy as an individual, like some members of Congress are doing to sidestep the so-called “illegal” premium sharing plan implemented by the OPM (continuing the policy of premium sharing from Congress’ previous health insurance program). Or he could’ve simply enrolled directly with an insurance provider in his state.
And what did Cruz choose instead of all of these alternatives? He chose his arch-nemesis: Obamacare. Why? Because none of the above options would’ve included the 72 percent premium sharing from the government. And the plans offers, probably one of the Gold-level plans is likely comparable to his wife’s Goldman Sachs plan. So, not only did Cruz basically endorse the Obamacare option, but he did so in part because of Obama’s allegedly impeachment-worthy decision to continue the premium sharing plan for Congress.
All told, this was almost a de facto endorsement of Obamacare. Ted Cruz, of all people, thinks Obamacare is the best deal for his family. The hypocrisy angle is almost a sideshow compared with this. Cruz filibustered Obamacare. He helped force a government shutdown over Obamacare. He’s lied dozens of times about Obamacare. And now he’s basically saying, “Hey, this Obamacare thing and the employer premium thing that I’m opposed to — really great deal!” So, again, for a rabid Obamacare enemy to pull off an inadvertent Nixon-to-China moment is a huge endorsement of the law.
On the other hand, it should also infuriate anyone who has an insurance policy due to or via Obamacare.
I’m personally just now reaching the contemptuous anger stage in my coverage of Ted Cruz this week, precisely because of this story. If Cruz makes it all the way to the White House (he won’t, but let’s — cough — imagine) one of the first things he’ll do is to repeal Obamacare, thus stripping me and 16+ million other Americans of our insurance policies. Repealing “every word” of the law also means repealing the part about pre-existing conditions, which would subsequently allow my insurance company to either dump me or to jack up my premiums beyond affordability.
Meanwhile, Cruz won’t have to worry about his current Obamacare plan once he’s president. Why? Because he’ll be covered by the other government-run health insurance program, FEHBP — the aforementioned Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. There’s something wickedly unfair about this scenario, not that it’ll ever happen but that he’d jump at the chance if he got it. It’s like blowing up a bridge just after he’s managed to make it across. Screw everyone still on the bridge.
You know what this is like? President Glenn Greenwald ordering a series of drone strikes. It’s like Ayn Rand receiving Social Security and — wait, never mind. She did. Someone said to me yesterday that I probably didn’t return any of the money I saved from the Bush tax cuts. Well, no, I didn’t. I also didn’t oppose the tax cuts for middle class earners (my income level at the time), going so far as to filibuster those cuts on the Senate floor and voting dozens of times to repeal them. It’s more than hypocrisy. It’s about the decision to sign up for something he’s all along claimed to hate, but now thinks is a pretty good deal — only after misleading millions of Americans into hating the bill and therefore electing more lawmakers who want to kill it.
Ultimately, though, I’m filing this particular chapter in the Ted Cruz saga into the same folder with stories about radically anti-gay Christian evangelists getting caught having same-sex affairs. Hypocrites, yes. But also iron-fisted persuaders who influenced and indoctrinated millions before committing their hypocritical deeds. The hate lives on.
I know I’ve come down hard on this cretin already but this just came across my desk and I had to share…
The Republican [Senator] of Texas, Ted Cruz, has launched his 2016 Presidential campaign from a Creationist college that teaches American children the world is just 6,000 years old. If that isn’t reason enough to keep him out of the White House, this 46-second compilation of Cruz stupidity provides many more.
After announcing his 2016 plans on Twitter, Cruz formally launched his campaign at Liberty University, a college for Evangelical Christians in the state of Virginia that claims to be the largest Christian university in the world.
He told the assembled audience:
“God has blessed America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet.”
He then promised to abolish the IRS and repeal the Affordable Care Act which has provided healthcare for 20 million previously uninsured Americans.
Nearby, in the University’s “Creation Hall,” students were being taught the biblically literal idea that God created the world in seven days. This includes the teaching of Noah and the flood as an actual historical event, and that today’s species of animals are all descended from the pairs of animals saved on the Ark.
One display contains Noah’s Ark as a scale model next to a Boeing 747 and the US space shuttle, explaining in detail how all the animals had fitted in.
One display states that there is a:
Another claims that evolutionary theory has already been destroyed by the discovery of the coelacanth “fossil-fish.”
According to the display, sharks did not evolve 400 million years ago (as evidenced by science), but were designed by God just 6,000 years ago. It reads:
“Sharks are not primitive remnants of pre-history, but are acutely fine-tuned organisms that defy Darwinian evolution.”
No evidence is presented to justify these new versions of history.
Does America really want a man who believes the Earth is just 6,000 years old to be sitting in the White House?
Sadly, a Gallup Poll last year revealed that a stunning 42% of Americans also believe Creationism over science. The choice of location was designed to appeal to those people – the christian conservative, pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-science vote.
With this in mind, that remaining 58% of America, which is forward thinking, progressive, and rational needs to get out and vote in 2016.
Featured Image via The Daily Banter
Some folks are gonna have some fun with this. It’s starting already.
The fact is, to my knowledge and according to the Constitution, Cruz is legally able to run for the Presidency.
— bennydiego (@bennydiego) March 22, 2015
He blasted Cruz’s comment during a late-night television appearance that climate change “alarmists” have a problem.
“The science doesn’t back them up,” Cruz had said on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”
Brown accused Cruz of “such a level of ignorance and a direct falsification” of scientific evidence in deeming him unfit. He was discussing a drought that has left some regions of California woefully short on water headed into the summer.
“What he said is absolutely false,” Brown said. “Over 90% of the scientists who deal with climate are absolutely convinced that the humans’ activity, industrial activity … are building up in the atmosphere, they’re heat trapping, and they’re causing not just one drought in California but severe storms and cold on the East Coast.”
Washington (CNN)Sen. Ted Cruz has “rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office” — let alone president — by insisting that humans aren’t to blame for global warming, California Gov. Jerry Brown says.
Brown, a Democrat, took aim at Cruz during a Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the day before Cruz is expected to announce his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a speech at Liberty University in Virginia.
On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz — who is exploring a run for president — tweeted that he would “repeal every word” of Common Core.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 15, 2015
We reported on the fundamental problem with this tweet: Common core is not a federal law and, therefore, cannot be repealed by the federal government.
Common Core is a federally created curriculum that the state’s ‘Race to the Top’ grants are tied to. So if the state does not adopt the standards, it gives up the grant money. But since the federal government created this mess, there should be a way to undo it.
Literally every claim in that statement is false.
First, Common Core is not “federally created.” It was created by the states, on a voluntary basis. As NPR reported, “the federal government played no role in creating the standards, nor did it require that states adopt them.”
Second, Common Core is not a “curriculum.” Federal law actually prohibits the federal government to “to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in an elementary school or secondary school.” Common Core is a set of math and English guidelines that outline a set of skills one should have at the end of each grade. The curriculum used to obtain those skills is left to school districts, schools and teachers.
Third, “Race To The Top” grants were never tied to the adoption of Common Core. Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan explained in a June 2013 speech:
Our big competitive reform fund, Race to the Top, awarded points—40 points out of 500—to states that were collaborating to create common college- and career-ready standards.
It was voluntary—we didn’t mandate it—but we absolutely encouraged this state-led work because it is good for kids and good for the country.
And at the time, no one knew how many groups of states would come together to create their own set of common standards. It turned out to be one big group of 46—but it could have been several, or even many, groups of states uniting around different sets of standards. So this notion of our pushing for one set of standards was never correct. In fact, we were totally agnostic on the number of state consortia. We just didn’t want 50 states to continue to work in complete isolation from each other.
In other words, states were not required or even incentivized to create a unified “Common Core” — they chose to do so.
It’s also worth noting that the Race To The Top funding has already been distributed. So whatever modest incentives existed to adopt standards — whether they were Common Core standards or otherwise — is largely dissipated. Only 20 states received any funding and, at this point, most of that money has been spent.