Friday, January 15, 2016

Ted Cruz Links

As Ted Cruz emerges as the only GOP primary candidate in a clutch of a dozen or so with the nerve to challenge The Donald, the media is bursting with a sting of vignettes from his backstory. Too many to count, I'm collecting them here.

When Ted Cruz Argued at SCOTUS
He has argued nine cases before the high court, defending the death penalty and butting heads with a Republican president.

Sam Baker
March 23, 2015
Cruz, who on Monday be­came the first of­fi­cial can­did­ate of 2016, has ar­gued nine cases be­fore the high court. And those ar­gu­ments have a lot in com­mon with his time in elec­ted of­fice””namely, ag­gress­ively con­ser­vat­ive po­s­i­tions, some­times chal­len­ging the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, with de­cidedly un­even res­ults.
Cruz spent most of his time be­fore the Su­preme Court de­fend­ing tough crim­in­al sen­tences, in­clud­ing the death pen­alty (not too sur­pris­ing, for the Texas so­li­cit­or gen­er­al).
The death pen­alty was the cent­ral is­sue in Cruz’s last case as so­li­cit­or gen­er­al, in which he and oth­er at­tor­neys on his side missed a crit­ic­al fact that might have swung the case their way.
Cruz jumped in­to a 2008 case over a Louisi­ana law that sen­tenced child rap­ists to death. The Court ul­ti­mately ruled that the sen­tence was un­con­sti­tu­tion­al, re­ly­ing in part on the fact that only a small hand­ful of states al­lowed it. 
Dur­ing or­al ar­gu­ments, Cruz urged the justices to de­fer to those states, and said that more jur­is­dic­tions might ad­opt pen­al­ties sim­il­ar to Louisi­ana’s. 
“What we are ad­voc­at­ing is that there is an evolving un­der­stand­ing of the enorm­ous, unique, ir­re­par­able harms to chil­dren, and it’s elec­ted le­gis­latures that can sit and listen to those ad­voc­ates from the groups, listen to the em­pir­ic­al data, con­sider the de­terrence ef­fect””con­sider all of these and de­cide one way or the oth­er,” Cruz said. “I would fully ex­pect, in time, some states would act to es­tab­lish cap­it­al pun­ish­ment and oth­ers would not. And that that’s pre­cisely how the labor­at­or­ies of demo­cracy should op­er­ate.” 
But the law­yers ar­guing in fa­vor of the death pen­alty missed a po­ten­tially im­port­ant fact: The U.S. mil­it­ary had changed its code to al­low cap­it­al pun­ish­ment for child rape. The fact that the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment had ac­cep­ted the pen­alty might have un­der­cut Kennedy’s ar­gu­ment that it fell out­side the “evolving stand­ards of de­cency” by which cap­it­al pun­ish­ment is judged. 
Cruz told The New York Times after the rul­ing that the change in mil­it­ary rules had “eluded every­one’s re­search,” and that he didn’t think the Court would change its un­der­ly­ing de­cision, even if the over­sight was cor­rec­ted.
Every voter needs to know this about Ted Cruz
By Ian Reifowitz
Tuesday Jan 12, 2016 

Given how closely I follow politics and the news, I can’t believe this is the first time I’m hearing this story about Ted Cruz. Kudos to David Brooks for bringing it to light:[article below]  
During the Supreme Court hearing, Justice Anthony Kennedy—left incredulous by Cruz’s position—asked him: “Is there some rule that you can't confess error in your state?” 
Brooks’s article is titled “The Brutalism of Ted Cruz.” An apt description indeed. 
Would hearing this story undercut Cruz’s support among Republican primary voters? I really don’t know. I do know that a person who would fight such a case all the way to the Supreme Court is lacking something very basic—something important not only for Christians, but for any of us, and certainly for anyone seeking to become the most powerful individual in the world. That thing is judgment.
The Brutalism of Ted Cruz
David Brooks 
JAN. 12, 2016
In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years. 
Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.
Some justices were skeptical. “Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked. The court system did finally let Haley out of prison, after six years
The case reveals something interesting about Cruz’s character. Ted Cruz is now running strongly among evangelical voters, especially in Iowa. But in his career and public presentation Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy. 
Traditionally, candidates who have attracted strong evangelical support have in part emphasized the need to lend a helping hand to the economically stressed and the least fortunate among us. Such candidates include George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum. 
But Cruz’s speeches are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism. There is not a hint of compassion, gentleness and mercy. Instead, his speeches are marked by a long list of enemies, and vows to crush, shred, destroy, bomb them. When he is speaking in a church the contrast between the setting and the emotional tone he sets is jarring. 
Evangelicals and other conservatives have had their best influence on American politics when they have proceeded in a spirit of personalism — when they have answered hostility with service and emphasized the infinite dignity of each person. They have won elections as happy and hopeful warriors. Ted Cruz’s brutal, fear-driven, apocalypse-based approach is the antithesis of that.
[For the sake of balance here is a link to a WSJ rejoinder from James Taranto taking Brooks to task for "Borking" Cruz. I would call this a journalistic double-technicality whiplash, beginning with Cruz enabling a miscarriage of justice on a technicality, then getting a pass himself (with Brooks' criticism) thanks to another technicality concocted by Taranto. But that's just my biased opinion.

Mr. Taranto seeks to keep his hands clean with the "I report -- you decide" dodge (see below). I'm familiar with that ploy having used it myself on occasion. But in this case it reveals as much about the writer as the subject he seeks to salvage. Sorry, I'm not buying it.]

Brooks Borks Cruz
A deceptive attack on the former solicitor general.
Jan. 12, 2016
Yesterday we had a mischievous thought: What if Donald Trump, on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, were to announce (or merely suggest) that if elected, he would nominate Ted Cruz to the next vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court? Such a move would give some Cruz supporters a reason to switch while reassuring other conservatives nervous about the soundness of a President Trump’s judicial nominees. 
Trump could even use the occasion to reinforce his current Cruz-directed mischief. After all, nobody can claim that Cruz’s Canadian birth would pose an obstacle to a Supreme Court appointment. Several early justices were born in England and vicinity; Justice Felix Frankfurter was a naturalized immigrant from Vienna; and Justice David Brewer was born as far away as Turkey.
Is David Brooks thinking along similar lines? We ask because his New York Times column today looks an awful lot like a pre-emptive borking. 
...what led us to think Brooks probably wasn’t shooting straight here—is his unexplained segue from the skepticism of “some justices,” including Kennedy, to Haley’s release thanks to “the court system.” We inferred that Cruz had won the case, and we inferred correctly. The vote was 6-3, with Kennedy among the dissenters. The majority opinion was written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and joined by, among others, Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. 
If arguing against Haley’s legal position “reveals something interesting about Cruz’s character,” what does deciding against it reveal about the character of O’Connor, Ginsburg, Breyer and the others in the majority? Don’t worry, there won’t be a test. The answer is nada; the question is rhetorical and demonstrates the falsity of Brooks’s premise. 
That is not the limit of Brooks’s deception, which begins in the very first paragraph with the assertion that “prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law.” We naturally read that to mean Haley was doing time for a crime he didn’t commit—that he was harshly sentenced under a “three strikes” law but had been convicted for only one prior felony (or none). 
In fact, Haley did have the requisite two prior felony convictions. From the syllabus: “As it turned out, the evidence presented at the penalty phase showed that respondent [Haley] had committed his second offense three days before his first conviction became final, meaning that he was not eligible for the habitual offender enhancement.”

Thus the error here was procedural, not substantive: Haley had been duly convicted of three felonies, but because of an accident of timing, the second one should not have counted under Texas law. He was, in other words, trying to get off on a technicality.
That is not to say he should not have. The law is the law, and there was no dispute that Texas officials erred. They too were pleading a technicality: “that respondent had procedurally defaulted his sufficiency of the evidence claim.” The question before the court was whether “the actual innocence exception applies to noncapital sentencing procedures involving career offenders and habitual felony offenders.”

This columnist does not have a firm opinion as to whether three-strikes laws are prudent or just (a policy question), much less on the legal question whether the actual innocence exception applies to noncapital sentencing procedures involving career offenders and habitual felony offenders. (A layman’s simplification of the court’s answer to the latter question: Maybe, but not in this case.) 
Cruz’s successful appeal in Haley tells us nothing about him except that he was a competent solicitor general. His job was to make legal arguments, not moral judgments about crime and punishment or personal ones about particular criminal defendants. If Brooks thinks Haley’s punishment was unjust—and there is nothing to suggest he has an informed view of the matter at all—he can fault the legislators who passed the three-strikes law, the prosecutors who applied (and misapplied) it, and the trial judge who imposed the sentence. 
Brooks means to denounce Cruz, not to vindicate Haley. Criticizing politicians, even denouncing them, is part of the job of an opinion columnist. But Brooks’s treatment of this case is either deliberately deceptive or recklessly ignorant. It may raise questions of character, but not Ted Cruz’s.
The famous birther question is once again rearing it's ugly Constitutional head. My opinion is that it's a remnant of our colonial past that needs to be tossed aside. But that is not going to happen. In the meantime it is being used yet again to malign a candidate for a reason having zero to do with his eligibility to be president of the United States. I don't even like Ted Cruz as this collection of links makes clear, but the birther issue, in my opinion, is thin gruel indeed. And this is not a new issue in the history of presidential elections, it seems. Wikipedia has one of those shaggy-dog endless articles about the subject. I learned that Barry Goldwater was born in Arizona Territory before it was made a state!

My own opinion is that it's time to toss that requirement with a corrective amendment. Birthright citizenship is no guarantee of anything, and we have a couple centuries of evidence as proof. As for the constitution, it was that document that produced our first president via the electoral college, at a time when only male white property owners could vote. No poor people. No slaves. No freedmen of color. No women. No newcomers. We have come a long way since then, and we still have a way to go.

As for Ted Cruz, he is one of the most dangerous people ever to run for president. His birthright as the offspring of am extreme right-wing Bircher is far more troubling than where he might have been born. He's a manipulative, power-hungry, sneaky little man with the markings of a Uriah Heep. It was said of Hillary Clinton that she doesn't lie but she handles the truth very carefully. But Cruz puts her management of the truth look amateurish by comparison. He doesn't lie, but he handles the truth like a deck of cards in the hands of a gifted magician. Cruz and a few others display an artful use of rhetoric that has not been heard for years.

Moving right along...
Ted Cruz’s birther problem grows as more constitutional law scholars say he can’t be president
14 JAN 2016

A growing number of constitutional law scholars are arguing that Ted Cruz’s birth in Canada makes him ineligible to become president. Their argument could prove a thorn in the side of the senator, who is a zealous originalist on most constitutional questions—with what seems like a notable exception. 
The issue has moved to the center of the presidential campaign, with Cruz’s rise in the polls and Donald Trump claiming that Cruz needs to prove he’s eligible to run by getting a declaratory judgment in federal court. 
There is some ambiguity in the question of eligibility. The Constitution sets down three requirements to assume the nation's highest office: one must be at least 35 years old, have been a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years (though whether those years must be consecutive or can be cumulative is a question up for debate) and must be a "natural-born citizen" of the United States. But the founders did not explicitly define "natural-born citizen," leaving room for doubt and debate. 
While Cruz has told reporters his eligibility to become president is "settled law" because his mother was an American citizen when he was born and never renounced her American citizenship while she was a Canadian resident. Many constitutional theorists agree with Cruz that it's not really up for debate. 
But it’s hardly unanimous. An increasing number of high-profile constitutional law professors, including one of Cruz's own professors from Harvard Law School, have in recent days argued publicly that Cruz's birth disqualifies him.
More details at the link. The reader is welcome to go down that rabbit hole without further encouragement from me.

How Ted Cruz’s best friend drew him into Jamaican politics and business
By Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger 
January 22
Kingston, Jamaica — The ambitious young men sat for hours at a restaurant here to map out plans for a business venture that could make them millions.
In a group that included three Jamaican entrepreneurs, one participant seemed out of place — a 27-year-old former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk of Cuban descent who was visiting from Washington. 
Ted Cruz had been invited by his roommate from Princeton and Harvard Law, David Panton, who was eager for the group to win the rights to manage a new Caribbean-focused investment enterprise launched by one of the island’s most prominent executives. 
The idea was modeled after U.S. private equity companies that made fortunes by using investor dollars to remake underperforming companies. The Caribbean concept came with a twist — the investor dollars would be drawn in part from governments, including from the United States, leveraging funds intended to boost the developing world. 
It was an odd fit for Cruz, who as early as high school and college expressed a strong belief in limited government. But the plan held potential for big profits. And Cruz was welcomed by Panton’s fellow Jamaican partners as a skilled negotiator well suited to help hone their pitch for managing the new firm. 
“A good devil’s advocate,” said Jeffrey Hall, one of the partners at the meeting.
With Cruz’s help, they won the right to control what they hoped would be a $150 million fund. The firm, founded in 1998, lost its contract within five years, in part because of a dispute over an investment decision, and was soon shuttered. 
Nevertheless, it provided a tidy sum for Cruz. He initially pitched in $6,000 for start-up costs and exited the partnership shortly before it disintegrated with a payout of $25,000, plus a promise of an additional $75,000 to come later, according to Panton.
The episode is one part of an unusual chapter in Cruz’s life — a foray into Jamaican society and politics amid his otherwise straightforward rise from the Ivy League to coveted clerkships to the U.S. Senate and, now, the top tier of the Republican presidential field. 
Ted and David
At the heart of it all was Cruz’s long and enduring bond with Panton. The two college buddies had each been destined for high-profile success, the Canadian-born Cruz as a constitutional lawyer in the United States and Panton, son of prominent Jamaican parents, as a potential prime minister of his native country. 
When their business dissolved in 2003, Panton seemed to stumble — through a very public divorce from a former Miss World and a romance with a former Miss Universe that provided tabloid fodder across the Caribbean. Panton has said that Cruz provided emotional support through some of those difficult times. 
Cruz’s loyalty over many years to Panton, who he has said is “like a brother,” shows a different side of a politician who has developed a reputation for being abrasive, even unlikable. Panton, in turn, has been one of Cruz’s most enthusiastic political supporters, helping launch the first super PAC backing the senator’s White House bid. 
Cruz declined to be interviewed for this article, and a campaign spokesman did not respond to detailed written questions. Panton agreed to answer questions only via email.
[More at the link. The reader can take it from here.]
Here are a few links regarding Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz.  The headlines speak for themselves and the contents are easy to grasp. 

Ted Cruz’s dad is even more frightening than Ted Cruz
The wingnut didn't fall far from the tree. We followed Pastor Rafael Cruz to Iowa and heard some full-on crazy

Robert Leonard
Sept. 26, 2015

Why Ted Cruz’s father could become a campaign liability
03/23/15 -- UPDATED 03/24/15

By Adam Howard

Rafael Cruz Right Wing Watch Posts Archive

Ted Cruz Out To Reflect God’s Love, Punish Supreme Court for Marriage Equality Ruling
SUBMITTED BY Peter Montgomery on Friday, 1/29/2016
Ted Cruz, his father Rafael, and supporters like Glenn Beck and David Barton all believe that Cruz is on a divine mission to save America. As we have been reporting, Cruz’s campaign has been celebrating near-dailyendorsements from some of the most extreme characters in the Religious Right. Just before yesterday’s Republican presidential debate, the Focus on the Family-affiliated group CitizenLink released audio clips of conference calls the group has been holding with conservative candidates. The clips of Ted Cruz’s remarks include repeats of much of his standard campaign rhetoric, with a particular focus on the religious rhetoric Cruz has made central to his campaign. He said, for example, that a president who does not begin each day on his knees in prayer is not fit to be commander-in-chief 
On the CitizenLink call, Cruz reiterated his campaign’s foundational premise that he can win the White House not by appealing to some mushy middle but by promoting conservative values with a “joyful spirit” that will energize the right-wing base. “There are more of us than there are of them and if we simply stand up and vote our values we can turn this country around.” Cruz said his prayer for his campaign was not “God help us win,” but that “God’s love will be reflected and seen in how we conducted this campaign.”
I almost forgot about this collection of responses Senator Cruz received at his Facebook page when he said a few respectful words about Nelson Mandela when he died in 2013. I collected them at a blog post in case they were later deleted, but as of this writing over two years later they remain part of the record.

This brief, respectful, almost perfunctory statement from a US Senator borders on bland to the point of being disrespectful. Read for yourself. Then go to the link and see the avalanche of outrage it received -- apparently from the Senator's constituents and followers.
Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, 'Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.' Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free. 
We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.
At this writing (2/6/16) Senator Cruz' Facebook page cites 1.4k comments.
First three top comments are...
This is the reason you sir, will never be elected President. Your base is made up of a bunch of racist, uninformed idiots who know nothing about basic history. Reading these comments make me shocked at how many people in this country are so hateful and just outright stupid (550 likes) 
As a South African, I just want to say that our country is a much better place for the existence of Mr Mandela. On nearly every indicator, South Africa and its people are better off than in 1994. Mandela was flawed, as are we all, but he was a great man, and ensured that South Africa became a democracy and a place where all its people can live in peace. I feel sorry for the many bigots that have posted on this page. Their intolerance and racism is a horrible thing to see. (616 likes) 
These are exactly the comments I would expect from supporters of Ted Cruz. Dimwit, hateful, ignorant comments. (378 likes)
Here is a snip from the New Hampshire Republican Debate  (2/6/16) indicating Senator Cruz has no reservations about waterboarding. He's riffing here on something said earlier by Trump who had said "I would bring back waterboarding and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

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