Ted Cruz defends Alex Jones’ free speech; praises Trump for having `permanently unmasked the media’

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Alex Jones catches Ted Cruz in an elevator in Washington, D.C. after President Trump’s inauguration.

Good Monday Austin:

U.S. Ted Cruz spoke at Erick Erickson’s Resurgent Gathering in Austin on Saturday.

Early on in their conversation, Cruz was interrupted by a protester.

A protestor interrupts U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as he is escorted out of the Resurgent Gathering at the Capitol Sheraton, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

From my story in Sunday’s American-Statesman:

Holding up a cardboard sign with the words, “Cruz: Russian bootlicker,” a young man stood and shouted toward the podium, “You’re a coward, Ted. Fight the trade war. Stand up to Russia. Stand up for all Texans.”

As he was being hooted at by the audience and led out of the hall, the young man chanted, “Beto, Beto, Beto,” a reference to Cruz’s Senate campaign rival, Democrat O’Rourke of El Paso.

xxxxx

In his immediate response to the protester’s outburst Saturday, Cruz said, “What you saw there, it’s not about Russia. That young man, bless his heart, couldn’t tell you a thing about Russia — has no idea.”

“He’s just angry, and Russia’s the latest thing they’re screaming,” he said.“That anger, by the way, is dangerous.”

Then Cruz said something that I found troubling.

There’s a rage on the left and it’s being irresponsibly stoked. It’s being stoked by the media. I will say one of the greatest blessings of the Trump presidency is he has finally and I think permanently unmasked the media.

Do you remember when there used to be people who would get on TV and try to argue in a gravelly voice, “There’s no bias in media.” No one even says that any more. They don’t even try it. They are so foaming at the mouth, unhinged. I was with the president a few weeks back, I told him, I said, “Listen, I think you’re greatest friends ironically are the media because they’re so deranged about you, the American people turn on the TV, they see that and say, `If those nuts are that mad, you’ve got to be doing something right’.”

I don’t think this is healthy advice to give President Trump, especially coming from Cruz, who knows firsthand the hurt that Trump’s loose attachment to the truth can cause and how that loose attachment has long been at the core of Trump’s nature.

I understand the political necessity for Cruz to make his political peace with the president, even to become his staunch ally, but I think he would be doing himself, the country and even President Trump a service to not encourage the president’s pernicious presentation of the news media – i.e. Fake News, which is simply any reporting the president doesn’t like – as the enemy of the people.

And I think Ted Cruz is uniquely qualified to provide the president with advice that would be infinitely more useful to the  president – even if the president is unlikely to take the advice and even if offering the advice is unlikely to improve Cruz’s chances of being re-elected.

Then, in the wake of Facebook temporarily suspending Alex Jones’ personal Facebook account, and YouTube taking down his videos and Spotify taking down his podcasts, there was this.

I spent much of last week covering two defamation suits against Jones in Travis County District Court, and Jones, who thrives on adversity, heralded Cruz’s defense of his right to be heard.

In his conversation with Erickson, Cruz decried the ugly state of political discourse.

CRUZ:

It’s not healthy in our culture for these divisions to be as ugly, to be as nasty, to be as hateful as they were. Listen, all of us gathered together when  Obama was president, we disagree with what Obama was doing, but you know, I remember Trump’s inauguration, all the young people with hats and shirts that said, “not my president.”

As much as a I disagreed with Barack Obama, as much as I thought his policies were harmful, he was always my president, every day he served in office he was he president of the United States and I respect the office and the democratic process that elected him. And you see the fever pitch to impeach the president. Listen, as bad as I thought Obama was, I didn’t call for him to be impeached. I wanted him to be defeated in the ballot box.

CRUZ: You know when Trump went to Helsinki and did a press conference with Putin, now I think that press conference was a mistake, I don’t think he handled it well. I think we’ve seen good policies on Russia, I think the sanctions put in place have been a good thing. I think providing lethal weapons to Ukraine to stand up and resist the Russians have been a good thing, but I think that press conference was a mistake, I don’t think the American president ought to be apologizing for Russian aggression.

That being said, the Democratic response to it was thoroughly unhinged. It was most captured by John Brennan who began  bellowing that Trump committed treason. Now Brennan is not just a fly-by-night individual, he is the former head of the CIA,  Treason is a capital crime defined in the United States code and punishable by death. Now having a foolish press conference with the head of Russia is not treason and for the former Democratic officials ratcheting  it up to that rhetoric, listen it contributes to that environment, it is not good for our country, and I’ll tell you, on our part, we have a responsibility not to respond in kind, not to respond with the same anger and hatred back but to instead respond with reason, with facts.

After that, Cruz, typical for him, did a 26-minute gaggle, providing long and detailed answers that suggest that Cruz actually respects the press and its obligations and his obligations, and that perhaps, for the same reason that he has agreed to five debates with O’Rourke, he also out of ego, confidence, delight in intellectual sparring, and genuine commitment to the democratic process, enjoys and embraces these opportunities.

He was asked a question about his concerns with censorship on social media.

CRUZ: I have deep concerns about social media and Big Tech. We have a concentration of  power in a handful of giant tech companies that are controlling a vast proportion of political discourse in this country and these companies have a degree of power and an ability to censor that William Randolph Hearst at the height of yellow journalism could never have imagined.

They have the ability  if there is a speaker who is disfavored simply to silence the speaker, to shadow ban them. You might speak but  your words float off into oblivion and nobody hears them.

And what’s so pernicious about that is it’s invisible. You might never know you’re shadow-banned. You might just think no one seems to be responding to what you’re saying because no one is in fact hearing what you’re saying.

On the flip side, they have the ability to curate your feed so that every piece of news you hear is news they approve of. Every piece of news you  hear conforms with their political ideology.

A couple of months ago, Mark Zuckerberg testified  before the Senate and I engaged in pretty vigorous questioning with Mr. Zuckerberg. The first question I asked him was whether Facebook considers itself a neutral public fora. He didn’t really answer that question and I have asked numerous representatives of Facebook that question. They’ve given multiple and contradictory answers.

The reason that  question matters so much is under current federal law – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – Facebook and other social media companies, have an exemption from liability. And the predicate, the reasoning behind Congress passing that exemption, was that they were neutral public fora, that if someone says something slanderous or libelous that  it wasn’t fair for Facebook or the social media site to be liable for it because it was not their speech, it was whoever was posting.

And so there’s a special exemption from liability.

Well, my question to Zuckerberg was, are you in  fact a neutral public fora. If you are than the reason behind that immunity from liability under the CDA is still sound. If you’re not, if you’re in fact a First Amendment speaker, if you’re engaged in politics, if you’re espousing your views, you have a right to do that, everybody has a First Amendment right, but  you  don’t have an entitlement to a special immunity from liability.

If (Patrick) Svitek (who was part of the gaggle) writes something in the Texas Tribune that is libelous, he can be sued, he doesn’t have an immunity from liability. There’s no reason Facebook or Twitter should get a special immunity that Pat doesn’t get, and that  question is a question that’s got the tech companies very nervous because they like their immunity from liability but at the same time they have demonstrated a pattern of bias that is deeply concerning and one of the most maddening aspects of it is there are actually no clear and objective data.

So I went through a number of anecdotes, examples, where they had silenced conservatives.

Now look, reasoning  by anecdote is not the most reliable way to reason, it’s not the most satisfying way to reason, but  it’s the only choice we have because all of the data are controlled by Facebook and Twitter and Google and YouTube and it’s completely opaque, it’s not remotely transparent, so we don’t know how many people Twitter has shadow-banned, how many conservatives, how many liberals, how many Republicans, how many Democrats. We don’t know. We have no idea.

That lack of transparency is dangerous, particularly when combined with a heavy ideological skew to the left, and I think it poses a real threat to our democracy.

I followed up:

FR: Senator, substituting Alex Jones for Patrick Svitek in that example …

CRUZ: They are very similar.

FR: You  were critical of Facebook, saying, what made them the arbiter. (Alex Jones) has been in court this week defending himself against defamation suits and the argument (his lawyer is making) is he can’t be held liable because he’s not a journalist, what he presents as facts are merely his opinions and are protected. Is there a line there and does Facebook have any responsibility to police it?

CRUZ: Look Alex Jones, I don’t listen to his show. I don’t know what he says. I  do know that he has this odd fixation with spreading lies about my dad and accusing him of killing JFK and I would encourage him while he’s at it, he also buried Jimmy Hoffa in the backyard and is, in fact, Elvis.

Look those theories are nutty, they’re fringe and they’re nutty.

The reason I sent out the tweets I did defending someone whose defamed my own family, is I actually believe in the First Amendment. I believe in the First Amendment. It protects the right of people to be nutty. It protects the right of people to say things that are dumb.

And I think the right solution to bad speech, john Stuart Mill told us the solution to bad speech is more speech. Censorship is profoundly dangerous and it’s wrong. And if Facebook or anyone else thinks that what Alex Jones is saying is wrong, is nutty, the right way to respond to it is lay out, here’s why you’re wrong, to engage it on the merits. It’s not simply to say, we’re banning you from speaking and we, the Star Chamber – mind you, this is one company but it is a company that is the portal of communication for the vast majority of Americans. It is a company with power – by any measure the big tech companies today, they are bigger and control more market than Standard Oil did when the federal government broke them up under the anti-trust laws. They are bigger and have more power than AT&T had when the federal government broke them up under the antitrust laws.

Q – Are you proposing to break them up?

TC: I think it’s an issue that policymakers are looking at seriously. We have existing anti-trust laws that protect against monopolies, and part of the reason is monopolies’ history has shown they abuse their power, and in this instance, I have to say I watched a lot of the Twitter response when I sent out the tweet on Alex Jones. I wasn’t surprised to see a lot of Democrats attacking me. I was sad though to not see any liberals willing to make the same point. And for a long time I’ve wondered what’s happened to real liberals. There was a time not that long ago when liberals defended free speech.

By the way, free speech, the First Amendment is all about offensive speech, bad speech, stupid speech. One of the big First Amendment cases before the Supreme Court out of Skokie, Illinois, was the right  of the Nazis to march in protest. Now Nazis are vile, despicable idiots and bigots, which means I’m not remotely scared to have Nazis protest and speak. Now I think we should speak out and respond to them, that the answer to that kind of stupidity is to counter it with truth, but the Supreme Court rightly said that even Nazis have a right to speak.

When I sent the tweet on Alex Jones it was striking how all – I did not see any liberals saying, “Like Cruz, I don’t like Jones either, but  I do believe in free speech and we shouldn’t be censoring speech we don’t agree with,” and it’s worrisome that the left, so much of the left, and for that matter, so many in the media – look there were reporters who took a lot of shots at me for that.

There used to be a time when reporters were big supporters of the First Amendment. And you know as the poem goes, ‘First they came for Alex Jones…

That doesn’t end well.

There is a reason I have picked someone who has been nasty to me. To illustrate this is not about defending someone I agree with, this is about a First Amendment principle that everyone has a right to speak and the people can sort out those who are making sense from those who are full of crap.

A few things here.

It is fine to say that you are defending Alex Jones’ right to say despicable things not because you agree with him but precisely because you don’t agree with him. Cruz was, in fact, victimized as he says he was by InfoWars.

But it is inconsistent to encourage President Trump in his war on the media when it was in fact Trump, and not Alex Jones, who most publicly said those despicable things about your father, which you denounced in no uncertain terms at the time. Furthermore, what Trump said about your father was a blip on the radar screen of Trump’s dabbling in fake news. His dissertation was the birther movement, which he carried for years based on even less evidence than that grainy photo of Lee Harvey Oswald and some guy purported to be Rafael Cruz in New Orleans and, contrary to Cruz’s assertion that Republicans like himself didn’t ever question whether Obama was “our president,” Trump successfully helped persuade a sizable chunk of Republicans that Obama was not a a bona fide American and was fraudulently elected.

In their approach to news, there is very little daylight at this point between the Alex Jones approach – his lawyer argued in court last week that Jones’ speech is protected because it is simply his opinion, even if it is sometimes “opinion masquerading as fact”- and the Donald Trump approach, and for Cruz to denounce Jones while defending his First Amendment rights, seems inconsistent with encouraging Trump’s Jones-like devotion to conspiracy theories – only in the president’s case there seems even less reason to believe he pursues them for anything but politically transactional reasons and the stakes are immensely higher.

I doubt that President Trump ever doubted that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii or ever thought, or cared, whether Rafael Cruz was involved with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Cruz’s JFK/Jimmy Hoffa/Elvis comment Saturday was verbatim what he said when the accusation about his father went national, not because of anything Alex Jones said or did, but because of what Donald Trump said and did on the day of the crucial Indiana primary that ended Cruz’s challenge to Trump.

From May 3, 2016, the day of the Indiana primary.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning, Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father.

Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Now, let’s be clear. This is nuts. This is not a reasonable position. This is just kooky. And while I’m at it, I guess I should go ahead and admit, yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.

You know, Donald’s source for this is “The National Enquirer.” “The National Enquirer” is tabloid trash. But it’s run by his good friend David Pecker, the CEO, who has endorsed Donald Trump. And so “The National Enquirer” has become his hit piece that he uses to smear anybody and everybody.

And this is not the first time Donald Trump has used David Pecker’s “National Enquirer” to go after my family. It was also “The National Enquirer” that went after my wife, Heidi, that just spread lies, blatant lies.

But I guess Donald was dismayed, because it was a couple of weeks ago “The Enquirer” wrote this idiotic story about JFK. And Donald was dismayed that the folks in the media weren’t repeating this latest idiocy, so he figured he would have to do it himself. He would have to go on national television and accuse my dad of that.

Listen, my father is has been my hero my whole life. My dad was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba. And when he came to America, he had nothing. He had $100 in his underwear. He washed dishes making 50 cents an hour. You know, he is exactly the kind of person Donald Trump looks down on.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign. For those of you all who have traveled with me all across the country, I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.

This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.

He accuses everybody on that debate stage of lying. And it’s simply a mindless yell. Whatever he does, he accuses everyone else of doing. The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist, a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.

Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, dude, what’s your problem? Everything in Donald’s world is about Donald. And he combines being a pathological liar — and I say pathological because I actually think Donald, if you hooked him up to a lie detector test, he could say one thing in the morning, one thing at noon, and one thing in the evening, all contradictory, and he would pass the lie detector test each time.

Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute, he believes it. But the man is utterly amoral.

And Trump didn’t let it rest.

The day after the Republican National Convention in July 2017, at which Cruz refused to endorse Trump, Trump revisited the  issue.

Is it true that Cruz didn’t deny that his father was involved in the Kennedy assassination?

Well, according to Politi-Opinion, err PolitiFact, no.

From Dylan Baddour at PolitiFact on July 22,2016:

Donald Trump, fresh off triumphantly accepting the Republican presidential nomination in Cleveland, surprisingly revived an explosive unfounded tale related to someone with no chance of beating him in November.

The day after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Trump said his vanquished Republican rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, had never denied that his father was in a 1963 photo with Lee Harvey Oswald, who went on to assassinate President John F. Kennedy that November.

At a rally, Trump initially told supporters he doesn’t want the backing of Cruz, whose convention speech two days earlier drew boos for not including a Trump endorsement; the Texan did offer congratulations. Next, Trump resurrected his unconfirmed claim about Oswald and Rafael Cruz, the senator’s father, possibly knowing one another.

Trump said: “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast. Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, ‘Donald Trump.’ I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.”

In May 2016, PolitiFact found incorrect and ridiculous–Pants on Fire–Trump’s claim that Cruz’s father was with Oswald before Kennedy’s assassination.

There was no evidence the man next to Oswald in the black-and-white photo published in the Enquirer was the elder Cruz. Notably, facial recognition experts advised that no such match could be made; meantime, historians found no corroborating records. The Enquirer never said how it determined the man in the photo with Oswald was Rafael Cruz.

Could it still be that Sen. Cruz never denied his father was in the photo?

To our inquiry on this point, Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier pointed out a statement the Cruz campaign gave to the McClatchy News Service in April 2016 at the time the photo in question was printed on the Enquirer’s cover.  

The Cruz campaign’s communications director, Alice Stewart, said then: “The story is false; that is not Rafael in the picture,”according to the Miami Herald’s April 22, 2016 news story.

Stewart’s “not Rafael” declaration appears to have gotten play. We found it in stories or web posts on the McClatchy website and for the conservative web network The Blaze plus in the International Business Times, on the FactCheck.org fact-checking site and on sites for Yahoo! News, The Hill, Gawker, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Trump first cited the Enquirer article during a May 3, 2016, telephone interview with the Fox News program, Fox and Friends. Later that day, at an Indiana campaign event, Cruz spoke to reporters, saying: “This morning Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father. Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Let’s be clear, this is nuts. This is not a reasonable position, this is just kooky.”

Cruz said the Enquirer “just spread lies, blatant lies” and described the article as “this idiotic story about JFK.”

Also,  on May 3, 2016, Ben Jacobs, political reporter for the Guardian, tweeted a statement regarding the claim that Jacobs generally attributed to the Cruz campaign. It said: “It’s embarrassing that anyone would enable Trump to discuss this. It’s a garbage story and clearly Donald wants to talk about garbage.”

The same day, Rafael Cruz told ABC News in a TV interview that the links insinuated between him and Oswald were “ludicrous.”

“I was never in New Orleans at that time,” he said.

Our ruling

Trump said the day after the Republican convention that Cruz “never denied” his father was pictured with Oswald before Kennedy’s assassination.

This spring, Cruz called the National Enquirer story “lies.”  Earlier, a Cruz camp spokeswoman said outright the elder Cruz wasn’t in the published photo.

That’s far enough from “never denied,” it makes Trump’s claim incorrect and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!

PANTS ON FIRE – The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim. Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.

For what it’s worth, PolitiFact had also offered a negative judgment on the original claim linking Rafael Cruz and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Of course, that’s just PolitiFact’s opinion. It’s a circumstantial case built on reasonable assumptions.

But, to InfoWars, that’s fake news.

From October 26, 2017, via InfoWarrior/Alex Jones political guru/ Trump’s political brain, Roger Stone:

Of course, Cruz and Trump eventually reconciled, which Jones celebrated when he ran into Cruz in an elevator after the inauguration.

In the meantime, Big Tech continues its assault on Alex Jones.

Which will give Cruz more reason to press his, “I don’t like what Alex Jones says but I will fight to the death defending his right to say it,” which will be well good enough for Jones, who will tout Cruz’s stout defense of him against the Big Tech/Deep State to his legion of listeners who in 2016 proved they could help elect a president,and in 2018 could help re-elect a Texas senator.

 

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks to supporters during the Resurgent Gathering at the Capitol Sheraton, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

 

 

 

 

 

`The blue wave has a physics all its own.’ On electoralizing the Indivisible resistance.

Good Monday Austin:

Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg, the married couple, co-founders and co-executive directors of Indivisible, the network of grassroots organization founded to resist the Trump presidency in the immediate aftermath of his election as president, returned this weekend to Levin’s hometown of Austin, where the idea of Indivisible was born over drinks at DrinkWell, 100 days out from the election where the success of their efforts to electoralize the resistance will be tested.

I first wrote about Indivisible on Jan. 18, 2017, two days before Trump’s inauguration as president. Here’s the top of the story:

WASHINGTON, DC – When the history of grass-roots resistance to President Donald Trump is written, it might be recorded that the movement was born in Austin – prefigured at the Randalls supermarket on Brodie Lane in the summer of 2009, conceived at a North Loop neighborhood bar over Thanksgiving weekend 2016, and crafted in great part by battle-tested veterans of the office of U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett.

It was at Randalls in the first summer of the Obama administration that Doggett, the longtime Austin Democrat, was besieged by tea party protesters chanting “Just Say No” to the health care reform that would come to be known as Obamacare. It was a jarring scene that set the tone for what would be a dreadful August recess for Democratic members of Congress at bitterly contentious town hall meetings across the country and presaged an Obama presidency to which the tea party and Republican Party just said “no.”

Seven years later, in the aftermath of Trump’s election, Ezra Levin, who grew up in Austin and Buda and worked for Doggett in Washington from 2008 to 2011, was back in Austin for the Thanksgiving holiday with his wife, Leah Greenberg, another Capitol Hill veteran. They got together at Drink.Well. on East 53rd Street with an old friend who was leading a new progressive group in Austin, to talk about how to channel their mutual despair and knowledge of congressional politics into effectively doing to the Trump presidency what the tea party did to the Obama presidency.

“We knew how Congress works and we knew how a pretty darn small group relative to the total population came together and implemented a very thoughtful strategy with very specific concrete tactics to resist an administration and a Congress that they didn’t agree with, and that was the tea party,” Levin said. They left Drink.Well. with a plan to draft a manual to replicate the tea party strategy — stripped, of course, of what they considered its noxious ideology and mean streak.

Three weeks later, on the evening of Dec. 15, Levin, 31, tweeted out a link to a Google Doc: “Indivisible: A practical guide for resisting the Trump agenda. Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.”

“The tea party implemented a two-pronged strategy, and that was very locally focused, focused on their members of the Senate and their one member of Congress, and then they consciously chose to be defensive and almost exclusively defensive,” said Levin, who now lives in Washington.

“And they also understood that they weren’t setting the agenda, that at that time Democrats controlled the House and the Senate and the presidency, so what they could do is simply respond to it,” he said. “And they did that in a few concrete, not rocket science kinds of way. They showed up in person at public events, at town halls, at district offices and then called in response to whatever new thing President Obama or the Congress was trying to do.”

“We started out writing a practical guide for progressives who find themselves in kind of the same situation now, with a president we believe is illegitimate and is looking to destroy some key tenets of American democracy, and who controls the Senate and the House,” he said.

The response from across the country was swift and overwhelming: high-profile coverage in mainstream and progressive magazines, two segments on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show,” an op-ed in The New York Times, and a tsunami of grass-roots interest.

I spoke with Levin and Greenberg, who are 33 and 32 respectively, just before they spoke to a phone bank training attended by about 40 folks in a room at the Austin History Center on Guadalupe Street.

“We are at 100 days until the election. Literally it’s 99 days and nine hours,” Levin said. “This was the weekend of action pivoting directly into electoral activity.”

“Indivisible began as an advocacy, talking about how to pressure their member of Congress, whoever that was, and then whoever their elected officials were at the local and state level,” he said. “That’s a great strategy in off years. When an election is coming up, a great way to build power is to change who that member of Congress is, or to change who the senator is, or change who the state rep or state senator it.”

“What we’ve been doing at the national level, is preparing to pivot folks in that direction.”

“n the same way that we provided call scripts on Trumpcare in Ohio or national days of action to do sit-ins or die-ins at congressional offices against Trumpcare, we’re trying to help the groups now register voters, endorse  candidates, get out the vote, phone bank, text, all the nuts and bolts of electoral politics, is where we have the most power now.

“What we’ve seen over the last 16, 17, 18 months is in the special elections, in the primary elections, in the off-year elections, they don’t get won on Election Day,  they get won by boots on the ground doing the work, day in, day out leading up tot that.  So we’re building the blue wave. That’s what the groups  are doing.”

Why spend pivot weekend in Texas, which still seems an uphill climb for electorialization?

“I think the story of the last 18 months has been surprises. We’ve seen 3, 6, 9, 12-point swings against Trump in competitive races, places that traditionally political prognosticators in Washington, D.C., say, “Oh they’re not winnable.

“But then we win in rural Virginia. We win an Alabama Senate race. We win special elections w. we win a plus-Republican district in Pennsylvania, Conor Lamb. ”

“The blue wave has a physics all its own and it’s going to come crashing down in places that traditionally don’t see this kind of progressive power. So Texas is fertile ground for that because the powers-that-be in Texas, for instance, have used redistricting to gerrymander themselves a whole bunch of districts that are gerrymandered for traditional election years, not for wave election years.”

“And when you have a candidate that’s  as hated as Ted Cruz going for re-election you even have a shot of going statewide, even tough Democrats haven’t won a statewide election since the mid-90s. This year could be different.”

” A year ago the question was, is it even possible we could take the House back,” Greenberg said. “We were very optimistic because of what we were seeing on the ground level. Already people were doing the work at the ground level in places where nobody was expecting a victory.”

“We’ve actually focused on Texas,” Greenberg said. : We have a statewide organizer for Texas in part because we think there is real potential here.”

Let us pause here for a moment, and fast forward a few hours to the latest in a series of Walk the Lines events organized by Justin Nelson’s campaign for attorney general against Ken Paxton as a critique of gerrymandering, which is nowhere more obvious than in Austin, which has been carved up into six congressional districts leaving Austin votes the master of none of those districts and leaving Austin the largest city in the country without a congressional district to call its own.

From a June 15 story by Chuck Lindell on how Nelson and Paxton are on opposite sides of the gerrymandering debate:

Before they became election foes, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Democratic challenger Justin Nelson landed on opposite sides of a U.S. Supreme Court fight over the ability of politicians to gerrymander political districts to give one party a distinct advantage in future elections.

In one of this term’s most eagerly awaited cases at the high court, Paxton came down on the side of Wisconsin Republicans who are defending state Assembly districts that were ruled unconstitutional for giving the GOP a disproportionate advantage at the polls.

Because redrawing political districts after each census is an inherently partisan task, Paxton told the Supreme Court in an August brief joined by 15 other Republican-led states, there is nothing “invidious or irrational” about having a partisan political purpose in preparing new maps.

Paxton also warned about letting judges decide when the quest for partisan advantage goes too ggfar, saying it would create legal standards so vague that every state would be exposed to lawsuits, giving the losing political party a “plausible chance” of overriding the will of a majority of lawmakers.

Nelson, on the other hand, argued that allowing the party in power to gain an outsized electoral advantage undermines democracy and improperly dilutes votes.

“The foundation of American democracy rests on ‘the consent of the governed.’ When lawmakers engage in partisan gerrymandering, they corrode this consent by punishing groups on the basis of their political beliefs in an effort to deprive them of equal representation,” Nelson wrote as the lead lawyer for a Supreme Court brief on behalf of two voter advocacy groups, FairVote and One Nation One Vote.

Here’s some of what went on last night, at an event attended by Nelson and four of the six Democratic candidates representing pieces and shards of Austin: Longtime gerrymander survivor Lloyd Doggett, the only incumbent in the bunch; Julie Oliver, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, and would count Dogged as a constituent if she is elected; Joseph Kopser, who is facing Republican Chip Roy in the campaign to succeed U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, who is retiring, and Mike Siegel. Siegel is challenging U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who, living with his family at the intersection of great wealth and bad pipes, consumes more water than any other family in the city of Austin.

Here’s a litte of what they had to say at the event, held upstairs at Antone’s, a classy venue, albeit the Home of the Blues, and not House of the Blue Wave.

Also in attendance last night were the Lafairs, who have created a gerrymandering board game, Mapmaker.

Becca Lafair, left, Josh Lafair, her younger, taller brother, and Louis Lafair, Becca’s twin.

Louis just graduated from Stanford University, and Becca is entering her fifth year at Northeastern University in Boston (a school where the normal course of study is five years, as students alternate academic and real world experience.) Josh is a senior in high school.

Josh: “We grew up in a gerrymandered district in Austin.” They were formerly represented by Doggett, now represented by McCaul.

The Lafairs took moral umbrage at this.

“Voters should be choosing their politicians, but what’s happening is politicians are choosing their voters, and that’s just not right.”

And, Louis said, “we’ve always loved playing board games with each other.”

“I invented a board game when I was 11, that was my first board game,” said Louis.

Well, that explains Stanford.

What was that?

“I was called Pathwayz, spelled with a z, because I was 11.”

“It was published eight years later.”

More Louis: “We researched it. There weren’t any other gerrymandering games out there.:

The goal of the game is to win the most districts.

Louis: “The real reason we’re doing this is to start a conversation about gerrymandering.”

In other words, the goal is to win, but feel bad about it.

Louis: “We have a proclamation inside every box – gerrymandering is not a game.”

But Louis said, “We spent a lot of time making sure it was a really fun game. There’s the whole anti-gerrrymandering community and there’s the whole board game community.”

In the meantime, the game, which will be available shortly is  being sent to the Supreme Court, governors and others, and has been endorsed by notables like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lawrence Lessig and Doggett.

Back to Levin and Greenberg.

I wondered why they chose to spend pivot weekend Texas, not necessarily the ripest for victory.

“I think the story of the last 18 months has been surprises. We’ve 3, 6, 9, 12-point swings against Trump in competitive races, places that traditionally political prognosticators in Washington, D.C., say, “Oh they’re not winnable.'”

I asked them how they would counsel Democratic candidates to talk about impeachment.

This was apropos a recent back-and-forth on impeachment between the O’Rourke and Cruz campaigns via Gardner Selby at PolitiFact Texas.

Cruz’s campaign said in a July 17, 2018, press release that O’Rourke “continued today his reckless and radical Senate campaign based on impeaching Pres. Donald Trump. He is the only candidate to the U.S. Senate to call for impeachment,” the release said.

We wondered: Is O’Rourke alone among Senate hopefuls in advocating the Republican president’s impeachment?

Not so, we found, though it looks like he’s the only Senate nominee to date to say he’d vote to launch impeachment proceedings.

xxxx

Our search of the Nexis news database showed that as early as August 2017, O’Rourke said he’d vote for Trump’s impeachment. Most recently, the Dallas Morning News quoted O’Rourke saying in July 2018 that Trump merited impeachment for his performance in the just-completed summit with Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin.

O’Rourke responded to a News reporter: “Standing on stage in another country with the leader of another country who wants to and has sought to undermine this country, and to side with him over the United States — if I were asked to vote on this I would vote to impeach the president. Impeachment, much like an indictment, shows that there is enough there for the case to proceed and at this point there is certainly enough there for the case to proceed.”

Then again, O’Rourke in December 2017 was among 364 House members to vote for tabling a proposal by Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, to impeach Trump, records show. Before that vote, Democratic leaders released a statement referring to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry that said impeachment wasn’t timely.

When we asked Cruz’s campaign how the senator determined that O’Rourke was alone among Senate candidates calling for impeachment, spokeswoman Catherine Frazier pointed out by email that the News story noting O’Rourke’s willingness to vote for impeachment quoted Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, leveling a more limited claim. Roe called O’Rourke “the only major-party candidate in America to call for impeachment.”

Another Cruz contact, Emily Miller, emailed us a web link to a November 2017 Reuters news story describing O’Rourke saying that Trump’s racially charged rhetoric and divisive governing style had led O’Rourke to support impeachment. O’Rourke was quoted saying: “I’m now convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that Donald Trump is unfit for that office.”

O’Rourke spokesman says he’s not ‘called’ for impeaching Trump

When we reached out to O’Rourke about Cruz calling him the only Senate candidate to call for impeachment, campaign spokesman Chris Evans said by email: “Beto has never called for the impeachment of President Trump.”

Evans maintained that O’Rourke’s responses to reporters and voters about voting in favor of impeachment weren’t the same as the candidate calling for impeachment. Evans elaborated that O’Rourke hasn’t brought up impeachment “at town halls or rallies, has not sent fundraising or petition emails on it, has not posted social media advocating for it, and has not used his current position of public trust to do so through floor speeches, letters or resolutions.”

Evans also pointed out an interview we’d missed. For an episode of Showtime’s “The Circus,” posted online in May 2018, O’Rourke replied that as a member of the House, he’d vote right then to impeach Trump. Asked if he’d vote as a senator to convict Trump, O’Rourke replied: “Until I’m in that position and am able to hear the case made by each side, all the facts laid out, I can’t give you an answer on that–nor would you want me to.”

xxxxx

Our ruling

Cruz said O’Rourke is “the only candidate to the U.S. Senate to call for” impeaching Trump.

Since August 2017, O’Rourke has been saying that he’d vote to impeach Trump, which would start with a vote in the House, where he serves. O’Rourke might be the only Senate nominee to say as much. However, Democratic Senate contenders in Minnesota and California also have talked up Trump’s impeachment.

We rate this claim about O’Rourke’s uniqueness False.

“Our network got involved in response to Trump. They want to resist the Trump agenda. So this is something that animates them,” Levin said. “I will say that impeachment is a political process. It’s something where you need not just vote to impeach in the House but convict in the Senate. You need Republican votes, by definition. You are not going to get two-thirds of the Senate just from Democratic hands, so you need Republican votes. So, it’s a process.

“On the first day of Congress, if we take the House or the Senate, we can get Donald Trump’s tax returns, we can launch investigations, we can get more information, we can get the smoking gun that is out there. To say you will vote for impeachment right now – it is a fine line to walk when folks are not putting it front and center, or when they’re saying they’ll re-evaluate – that’s actually the right move. We need more information, we need investigations.

“And the things that Texans care about when we talk to them in Wimberley, is they care about the state of democracy, they care about democratic institutions, like voting, like redistricting, like money in politics. They worry that it’s being taken over by a small segment of society. They care about health care. They care about families being detained and separated and put in cages along the border and elsewhere. These are the things that we see getting a lot of folks out.

“And I think it’s smart for candidates like Beto and others to be talking about those issues. We will get to the questions of what is going on in the Trump campaign and this administration, and the only way we will get there is if we retake the majority and force them to give reveal that information.”

“We were both congressional staffers, we both worked for Democratic members of Congress,” Levin said. “I didn’t have a super high opinion of Republican members of Congress, but I would not have accused them of doing essentially what they’ve done, which is turn a complete blind eye to what this administration does. They have proven again and again and again that they are not willing to act as a check on this administration, which is their constitutional duty, so the only answer in this moment is,we need to retake power so that we can start having a Congress that acts as a check on this administration.

“And then what comes from that, will come from that.

“We are in favor of impeachment proceedings, but the way impeachment works is to start investigations and you get information, and it’s worth noting that the Senate doesn’t vote to impeach, the Senate votes to convict, so that is going to be the question put before Sen. O’Rourke, and that will come after a long series of investigations that reveal exactly what’s going on.”

(*in the realm of phone banking on a summer Sunday in Austin, ginormous is defined as around 40.)

“The only question we get asked again and again is, “Yeah but, can the resistance be electoralized, can you actually win elections?” Levin said. “The rule of the last 20 months has been surprise wins by anti-Trump forces all over the country. Is it a sure thing? A Democrat hasn’t won statewide in Texas in over 20 years. And yet we  were out in freakin’ Beaumont Texas on a Friday night and there were 15 people phone-banking for Beto O’Rourke.

“This is everywhere.

“It’s going to be won if people put in the work day after day from now until Election Day, and so far we’re seeing the energy out there.”

 

 

xxx

Did Jimmy Kimmel set the shot clock for Ted Cruz to act on family separations at the border?

 

Good day Austin:

Until just about five-to-five yesterday, Ted Cruz was the ultimate, tougher-than Trump, immigration hardliner.

From Sahil Kapur at Bloomberg in January

Senator Ted Cruz blasted the idea of giving young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, a day after President Donald Trump said he was open to the idea as part of immigration legislation being negotiated in Congress.

“I do not believe we should be granting a path to citizenship to anybody here illegally,” the Texas Republican said in the Capitol. “Doing so is inconsistent with the promises we made to the men and women who elected us.”

Cruz didn’t mention the president in his remarks, but they resurfaced some of the bitterness still left over from the presidential campaign. Trump fought Cruz for the Republican nomination and won with a hardline immigration stance that rejected “amnesty” for anyone in the country illegally. During the primaries, Cruz also took a strong stance on immigration and came out firmly against legalizing undocumented immigrants.

But on Wednesday, with negotiations on immigration legislation in Congress moving slowly, Trump indicated he was willing to be flexible.

“It’s gonna happen at some point in the future, over a period of 10-12 years,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I think it’s a nice thing to have the incentive of after a period of years being able to become a citizen.”

Cruz said that President Barack Obama’s 2012 creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which included temporary work permits and deportation relief for young people that met certain criteria, didn’t provide a path to citizenship.

“For some reason that to me is utterly inexplicable, we see Republicans falling all over themselves to gallop to the left of Obama in a way that is contrary to the promises made to the voters who elected us,” Cruz said. “We need to honor the promises we made. And that is what I am energetically urging my colleagues to do.”

And here was Cruz from an interview with KERA for the June 11 edition of the show, Think.

On separating detained parents from their children …

Cruz: “There’s a reason why under the Obama administration that often didn’t happen. Because when they apprehended people here illegally, they just let them go. And when you let them go, you didn’t separate children from parents. You know, you think about it, if someone gets arrested for a crime – let’s say an American citizen … you’re separated from your children – you’re put in prison. If you’re the only caregiver for that child, then you’ve got to find alternative care for those children. … This is an issue that I think the media has largely constructed, because what’s shifted is that the Trump administration is endeavoring when people cross illegally to arrest them, not to let them go. And so if they have kids, you know there’s actually a court order that prevents keeping the kids with the parents when you put the parents in jail. So when you see reporters, when you see Democrats saying, ‘Don’t separate kids from their parent,’ what they’re really saying is, ‘Don’t arrest illegal aliens’.”

But by Friday he had this to say to KTSA:

Texas Senator Ted Cruz tells KTSA News he is horrified by the images of children being separated from their parents who are suspected of being illegal immigrants.

“One of the tragic consequences of illegal immigration is that often it is children who pay the biggest prices,” Cruz told KTSA in an exclusive interview Friday night.  “I would like to see an outcome where we endeavor to keep family units together — to keep mom and dad with their kids.”

The Texas Republican — who is up for reelection against Rep. Beto O’Rourke — said illegal immigration usually does not end well for children.

On one hand, Cruz said they are often abused on their journey to the U.S., sometimes caught up in drug cartels that exploit them. On the other, the end up getting split up from their parents when they get to the U.S.

The biggest thing the nation needs to do, he said, is secure the border to stop illegal immigration and help families looking to come here do so legally.  But until then, the processing for migrants needs to improve.

“What I think makes a lot more sense is that we need a lot more funding for immigration judges so that if a family comes with a credible claim of asylum, rather than having them wait weeks or months for that to be heard, that should be heard immediately,” Cruz said.  He added that those without a credible claim would be sent back sooner, keeping families out of detention facilities.

On Saturday, Cruz addressed the Republican State Convention, which did not appear to be torn up about the images at the border. As he always does, Cruz identified his rival, Beto O’Rourke, as an out-of-touch supporter of open borders.

Cruz left the convention early to participate in a charity basketball game with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, which was all really a fairly clever maneuver by Cruz to humanize himself.

Kimmel: It’s been my ambition since I was a little boy to play basketball against the least popular member of the United States Senate.

It proved successful.

But I think it might not have been, that the effort at humanization would have curdled, if Cruz had not done something a few hours before the show aired that enabled him to answer the critical question Kimmel posed early in their encounter.

Kimmel: The ref is having mercy on this. See this is a good lesson for you and those kids in that detention center.

The juxtaposition of Cruz clowning with Kimmel Saturday and O’Rourke leading a march Sunday morning on the border to protest separating children from their parents was not a good one.

But, at five minutes to five yesterday, just hours before the show as to air, Cruz’s office released this statement.

Sen. Cruz Introducing Emergency Legislation to Keep Illegal Immigrant Families Together

WILL CREATE NEW TEMPORARY SHELTERS – KEEPING FAMILIES INTACT – FUND NEW IMMIGRATION JUDGES, GUARANTEE REVIEW BY AN IMMIGRATION JUDGE WITHIN 72 HOURS, AND RETURN THOSE DENIED ASYLUM TO THEIR HOME COUNTRIES WITHIN 14 DAYS

June 18, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), issued the following statement:

“All Americans are rightly horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers. This must stop. Now. We can end this crisis by passing the legislation I am introducing this week.

“Repeatedly, I have visited detention facilities tragically housing young children.  For far too long, children have been the greatest victims of our broken immigration system, with tens of thousands of children who were detained under the Obama Administration and continuing through today, and with far too many of those children facing horrific physical or sexual assault from criminal human traffickers. 

“The answer is not what congressional Democrats are proposing: simply releasing illegal aliens and returning to the failed policy of ‘catch and release.’ Rather, we should fix the backlog in immigration cases, remove the legal barriers to swift processing, and resolve asylum cases on an expedited basis.

“While these cases are pending, families should stay together. Children belong with their mothers and fathers. Once their cases have been adjudicated – under my legislation, in no longer than 14 days – those who meet the legal standard should be granted asylum and those who don’t should be immediately returned to their home country.

“We can fix this. If my Democratic colleagues will join me, not play politics but work to solve the problem, we can start to end family separation this week. And, we can honor the rule of law.”

This week, Sen. Cruz is introducing the Protect Kids and Parents Act, which will: 

  • Double the number of federal immigration judges, from roughly 375 to 750.
  • Authorize new temporary shelters, with accommodations to keep families together.
  • Mandate that illegal immigrant families must be kept together, absent aggravated criminal conduct or threat of harm to the children.
  • Provide for expedited processing and review of asylum cases, so that—within 14 days—those who meet the legal standards will be granted asylum, and those who do not will be immediately returned to their home countries.

Cruz could have announced his plan in his speech at the state convention. But reaction there would have been uncertain.

From Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman  The New York Time

WASHINGTON — As Republicans try to keep their midterm election strategy focused on the economy, tax cuts and falling unemployment, President Trump sent his clearest signal yet on Monday that he intends to make divisive, racially charged issues like immigration central going into the campaign season.

Facing bipartisan criticism over his administration’s family separation practice on the border, Mr. Trump renewed the sort of bald and demagogic attacks on undocumented immigrants that worked well for him politically in his 2016 presidential campaign. He inveighed against “the death and destruction that’s been caused by people coming into this country” and vowed that “the United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility.”

Republicans typically handle immigration gingerly in an election year, as they try to appeal to Hispanic voters, independents and moderates across divergent districts. But with more Americans still opposing the tax measure than supporting it, Mr. Trump’s allies believe that trying to link Democrats to crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and gangs like MS-13 will do more to galvanize Republican voters and get them to the polls in November than emphasizing economic issues.

“People don’t turn out to say thank you,” said Corey Lewandowski, one of the president’s top political advisers. “If you want to get people motivated, you’ve got to give them a reason to vote. Saying ‘build the wall and stop illegals from coming in and killing American citizens’ gives them an important issue.”

xxxxxx

Further, some in the party believe that by pursuing a hard-line approach to families at the border — a policy that is deeply unpopular among independent voters, according to polls — Mr. Trump is handing Democrats the high ground on immigration instead of making them defend their support for less popular immigrant protections like sanctuary cities.

“Somehow I don’t think that putting kids in cages is likely to go over very well with suburban moms,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster uneasy about running on the culture wars. Mr. Ayres said his party should campaign on “the concrete accomplishments of a Republican-held government.”

“A fabulously strong economy, a record stock market, ISIS defeated and a world without any major wars that are killing lots of Americans on a weekly basis,” he said, laying out the case.

Cruz is going to want to have it both ways – to maintain a hardline that will allow him, like Trump, to polarize the electorate and, in his case, leave O’Rourke looking weak – while at the same time not appearing simply inhumane.

One will notice that,in his press release about his new legislation, in which he describes being “horrified by the images we are seeing on the news, children in tears pulled away from their mothers and fathers,” he sticks strictly to the nomenclature of “illegal immigrant families,” and “illegal aliens.”

No humanizing there.

And, if some are suggesting that his plan really is an iron fist in a velvet glove, that may be OK with the Cruz campaign as well.

Some condemnation on the left is most desirable for Cruz.

And, in the meantime, he mostly got exactly the reaction he wanted – that moved by a morally intolerable situation he was bravely standing up to the president and offering a thoughtful and reasonable response.

 

From David French:

Cruz’s bill enjoys the considerable virtue of focus. By banning family separation, it deals with the immediate crisis. By increasing the number of judges, authorizing new shelters, and providing for expedited processing, it can increase comfort for families, reduce the length of their detention, and ease the backlog. There’s a modest fiscal cost, of course, but it’s a price worth paying to end a broken policy.

The primary critique I’m seeing online is aimed at the 14 day asylum processing provision. Constructing a solid asylum case often takes time, and I’d be concerned about that provision as well if it didn’t ultimately allow for generous extensions when good cause is shown. But that seems like a point that can and should be quickly negotiated with input from experienced asylum attorneys.

Yes, it punts on immigration reform, the wall, and other legislative fixes, but Cruz is wise to do so. Each additional substantive provision increases controversy and complexity. Let’s save the grand bargains for another day.

Right now, the public debate is dominated by finger-pointing. Members of Congress are calling on Trump to make immediate, unilateral changes. Trump is demanding that Congress act, but with a bill that meets his requirements. Yet he doesn’t have to be (and given the conflicting and often trollish messages coming from the White House, shouldn’t be) in charge of this process. One of the many beauties of our constitutional system is that the branch closest to the people — the legislature — can override the president. It’s time to send exactly that message. Cruz’s legislation is a solid start.

All that and beating Jimmy Kimmel one-on-one.

At Maverick PAC he founded, Ted Cruz finds himself amid a younger Hurd’s herd of less polarizing politicians

Good Monday Austin:

I spent Friday and Saturday night at the Maverick PAC Mavericks Conference.

Traveling back from Dallas, I arrived just in time Friday night.

There were protesters outside Brazos Hall who had marched up from a rally at Republic Square protesting the separation of immigrant families at the border.

Maverick PAC appeared well-heeled. They had Brazos Hall Friday night and the Moody Theater at Austin City Limits. There was food. There was an open bar.

And the protesters – or at any rate their presence outside – got shout-outs from the stage, a kind of satisfied recognition that their gathering was significant enough to merit pickets.

This was not a Texas tea party audience. The several hundred attendants were generally young, successful businesspeople from around country who, collectively, contribute about a quarter million dollars through the PAC to help other young Republican candidates like themselves win election to Congress.

While now national, Maverick PAC got its start 15 years ago with young alumni of the George W. Bush presidential campaign in Texas, starting with Cruz and George P. Bush, now Texas land commissioner, way before either of them had run for anything.

On Friday night, Cruz and Maverick co-chairs Morgan Outages and Fritz Brogan answered a few questions from reporters, including Stephanie Hamill of the Daily Caller in D.C.

Hamill asked Cruz about the importance of MavPAC.

I wanted to follow-up on what Cruz had told Patrick Svitek earlier in the day, during an appearance in Cedar Park, about his role in the pardon of Dinesh D’Souza – Dartmouth’s answer to Joe Arpaio.

And then, like a Russian nesting doll of credit-claiming, there is this.

ALEX JONES (HOST): ​You know, we really pushed it to Trump. He didn’t even know that [former sheriff Joe] Arpaio had been “convicted” by a judge of contempt and was facing a year in prison. And I know a lot of folks pushed [Dinesh] D’Souza. In fact, I personally pushed [Roger] Stone — I’m just bragging, this is true, I know other people did it, other people did as well — D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza, D’Souza. Because that will bring all that up and show the hypocrisy. I know for a fact Stone brought that up to Trump because he told me he did.

 

I asked about Cruz to review his role in the Dinesh D’Souza pardon.

CRUZ: I’m very glad the president chose to pardon Dinesh D’Souza because I think the Obama administration’s prosecution of him was incredibly unfair. It was political persecution is what it is. The crime he was charged of was an offense that typically is handled with a civil fine and it’s typically handled with a slap on the wrist but because he was a such a prominent  critic of Barack Obama, the Obama administration targeted him and charged him with a felony.

It was an abuse of power. It was abuse of power when it happened. I spoke out against it then and in fact it was right about the same time you may recall, when the Obama administration targeted a filmmaker right after the Benghazi attack happened, and they tried to blame the Benghazi attack on a filmmaker. Turned out that was not true but they went back and put that filmmaker in jail, a year in jail on unrelated charges.

Listen, I don’t think we should countenance the administration of justice being used for political and partisan ends. That’s what was done under the Obama administration.

So I had the opportunity to raise the issue with President Trump, I encouraged him to pardon Dinesh D’Souza and I’m very grateful the president made the decision to do so.

I asked Sen. Cruz if he considered D’Souza a friend and an ideological soul mate.

CRUZ:  Dinesh and I are friends.

CRUZ:  I think he has been very effective tearing down many of the lies of the far left.

CRUZ: You know it’s interesting. You see liberals on Twitter  going crazy that they’re so upset he was pardoned.

What’s interesting  is, just a few weeks ago we saw revelations that Rosie O’Donnell  apparently committed the same offense five times, five times, when she broke the identical law that Dinesh was prosecuted for.  I don’t recall any of those liberal activists on Twitter calling for Rose O’Donnell to be prosecuted.

The Department of Justice and the criminal justice system should not be used as a partisan tool and the Obama administration far too often put politics ahead of the rule of law so I am glad that President Trump made the decision  to issue the pardon.

I think the pardon furthers justice because criminal prosecutions shouldn’t be used to score partisan ends.

I asked if Sen. Cruz thought Trump was sending a message about his use of the pardon.

CRUZ: I  think the message of the pardon is very simple, which is that justice should be served and political prosecutions are not just and that’s exactly  what happened with Dinesh D’Souza.

And by the way, none of the people who are decrying – I read some of the editorials saying how terrible it was  he was pardoned – no one takes issue with the fact that his prosecution and his sentence were grossly disproportionate to  just about anybody else who had committed the exact same offense.

Imagine the reaction Jonathan,  during he Bush years, imagine if the George W. Bush  Justice Department had gone out there and  prosecuted Michael Moore or Alec Baldwin or any of the other liberals in Hollywood who criticize the president. That would have ben obviously wrong.  The press would have been completely against it.

And yet when the Obama administration targeted a conservative filmmaker, you didn’t get the same outcry. I’m glad the president stood up and stood for the principles of juice by pardoning what aw an unfair political prosecution.

For an alternative view, here is Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times.

During Barack Obama’s administration, the conservative author and activist Dinesh D’Souza wrote a book, “Obama’s America,” full of gross speculations about the sex life of the president’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who was a pioneering anthropologist. “Ann’s sexual adventuring may seem a little surprising in view of the fact that she was a large woman who kept getting larger,” wrote D’Souza. He described her as a “playgirl” who used “her American background and economic and social power to purchase the romantic attention of third-world men.”

D’Souza’s insinuations had little to do with his ostensible thesis, which was that Obama sought to undermine America. It was simply a timeworn insult — calling someone’s mom fat and promiscuous — that tells us nothing about Obama’s family, but a lot about D’Souza’s character.

Besides being a huckster and a sexist weasel, D’Souza is a felon who, in 2014, pleaded guilty to routing illegal campaign donations through a woman he was having an affair with, and the woman’s husband. (At the time, D’Souza was married and serving as president of the evangelical King’s College. His ex-wife would later accuse him of physical abuse.) For his crime, he spent eight months in a halfway house. On Thursday, Donald Trump gave him a full pardon, tweeting that D’Souza had been “treated very unfairly by our government.”

Trump’s action, a clear abuse of his pardoning power for political ends, serves several purposes. Most seriously, the D’Souza pardon, like those of the former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and the former Dick Cheney aide Scooter Libby, is a message to Trump confederates facing legal trouble. It says that if they stay strong, he’ll take care of them. As a former federal prosecutor, Joyce Alene, pointed out on Twitter, D’Souza was convicted of one of the same crimes, a campaign finance violation, that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen is now being investigated for.

The pardon is also a culture war smoke bomb, distracting from manifold other scandals and disasters: the study estimating that around 4,600 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria; outrage over migrant children ripped from their parents’ arms at the border; and an incipient trade war with our allies. Adding to the diversionary spectacle, on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he was considering commuting the sentence of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, a onetime contestant on Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” and pardoning Martha Stewart, who hosted a “Celebrity Apprentice” spinoff.

D’Souza, who made his name in the 1990s fighting campus political correctness, once had a reputation as a middlebrow conservative provocateur, but he’s really more gutter-dwelling troll. His 1995 book “The End of Racism” argued, “In summary, the American slave was treated like property, which is to say, pretty well,” and called for the repeal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. D’Souza wrote a bizarre book blaming the “cultural left” for provoking the jihadists who struck America on Sept. 11 and arguing for an alliance of the American right and conservative Muslims in “opposition to American social and cultural depravity.” During the Obama years he, like Trump, became a full-bore conspiracy theorist, accusing the president of spearheading a third-world scheme to subvert America.

In the Trump era, he’s become even worse. He mocked survivors of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting who cried after the Florida Legislature voted down an assault weapons ban, tweeting, “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs.” (He later apologized.)

He described Rosa Parks as an “overrated” Democrat. He played a major role in spreading the lie — which Barr tweeted on Tuesday — that the billionaire financier George Soros, who was a Jewish child in Nazi-occupied Hungary, was really a Nazi collaborator.

And now Trump has singled this man out for grace. One former White House official, speaking to BuzzFeed News, denied that there was “any grand strategic reasoning” behind the pardon, which may well be true. But even if Trump was acting out of instinct rather than calculation, he has an intuitive ability to speak to his supporters’ dark impulses, and an insatiable need to smash boundaries that constrained his predecessors.

The fact that D’Souza is utterly undeserving of a pardon might be part of the point; it signals that fealty to the president transcends all other values. In his new book “The Road to Unfreedom,” the historian Timothy Snyder quotes the Russian fascist philosopher Ivan Ilyin, who is beloved by Putin’s circle. Fascism, Ilyin wrote approvingly, is “a redemptive excess of patriotic arbitrariness.” Trump has almost certainly never read this line, but he understands it.

Not all critics of the pardon are on the left.

Back to the MAVPAC press gaggle Friday night with Cruz:

Stephanie Hamill: Your opponent. His real name is Robert, correct, not Beto, and you released an ad and you highlighted the absurdity of a white man using the nickname Beto. As  Latina and a daughter of an immigrant, I’m kind of in the same boat as you, so when I hear somebody using that name, and to me I find that pandering for votes.

What’s you reaction to the criticism of  left over the ad that you put out.

Cruz: Well, we had some fun, I actually think in campaigning, it’s important to have some fun.

In it included a line, “Lberal Robert wanted to fit in so he changed his name to Beto and did it with a grin.”

That was done to be light, to have fun. But I’ve got to say the reaction of some Democrats, the reaction of some folks in the media was predictable. They stamped their feet they were so upset. How dare you point out that his name is Robert Francis.

And was also quite amusing  to see som of the Democrats explain,  “No, no,no, you don’t understand, Congressman O”Rourke is Robert Francs, he’s not Hispanic.. He just has  an Hispanic nickname. Whereas Cruz ….  his name is Rafael, he is he son of a Cuban immigrant, he’s Hispanics, but he uses the nickname Ted, aha, we got you.”

Well, I don’t know if this counts as stamping my feet, but when the ad came out I did a First Reading in which I wrote:

I think that little ditty contains within it everything you will need to know about the Cruz campaign against O’Rourke. This is not based on anything anyone has told me. It is simply my intuition.

Ted Cruz means to do nothing less than crush Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy and do so by destroying his good name, or at least, his first name, by turning BETO into a four-letter word, an epithet to be spit out in anger or, better yet, derision, the telling diminutive of a liberal beguiler, imposter and poseur, who is either an opportunist trying to fool Hispanic voters into thinking he is, at least in part, one of them, or, some kind of deluded, self-hating Anglo (albeit Irish-American Anglo), whose sentimental, fuzzy-headed, liberal notions of bi-nationalism and multiculturalism have robbed him of the most basic understanding that what makes Texas Texas is a strong border and unfettered access to guns.

The jingle, and Cruz’s follow-up comments, send the message to his voters that Cruz — the Hispanic son of an immigrant — is, by taking the name “Ted,” assimilating the way it’s supposed to be done, while O’Rourke, by calling himself Beto, is going weirdly the other way, undermining what made America great.

Little Beto, in the photo at the top of First Reading, may look innocent, but, Cruz’s jingle tells us, don’t believe it.

And, one would think, if O”Rourke’s parents were planning a pander knowing that he would one day be running for Senate on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert Francis Kennedy – that Irish Catholic Democrat with famous appeal to Hispanic voters and who, in hair and teeth and general affect, O’Rourke is already frequently likened to – they would have stitched Robert Francis on his pre-school sweater.

For the record, here is what O’Rourke told me about his the derivation of his nickname.

My grandfather, Robert V. Williams, who passed away when I was 4 years old, but when I was little, my mom tells me, that since there were two Roberts around, so such a little guy, look, we weren’t going to also call you Robert, because that was confusing, and in El Paso, if you’re not Robert, you’re Beto, if you’re not Albert, you’re Beto, if you’re not Umberto, you’re Beto. Beto is as common in El Paso as Bob might be in Dallas. There’s Beto’s Tacos. Wood Floors by Beto. Beto, your mailman. Beto, your congressman.

But, back to Hamill’s give-and-take with Cruz on whether O’Rourke is Beto-worthy”

HAMILL:  Yeah, but you’re bicultural, aren’t you? So you can technically go either way, but it’s absolutely absurd  for a white man to use the nickname Beto.

Cruz: Well he’s entitled to call himself anything he wants but I will say that  we had poll just this week a Quinnipiac Poll, and I don’t put a lot of stock in good polls or bad polls,  but the thing that was interesting, this poll showed me beating congressman O’Rourke among Hispanic voters in Texas. I think the reason is our values are commonsense conservative values.

 

CRUZ:  If  you look at what Hispanics want – we want jobs, we want opportunities. What resonates in our community is faith, family, patriotism, hard work, the American dream. Those are the values of Texas Republicans and those  are the values of most Hispanics voters in Texas.

HAMILL: He’s promoting illegal immigration, people that are in this country illegally, 

Immigrants from Mexico, from everywhere else, they want the border wall, they want border security.

I saw signs downstairs (of the protesters outside the window) that said “No borders,” “Love,” all these things … they said, “Defund ICE, CBP.”

It’s an outrage.”

 

CRUZ: Usually, in a general election in Texas a Democrat runs to the middle, at least pretends to.  Congressman O’Rourke isn’t doing that.

He is running hard left, just like Bernie Sanders. He is running on rising your taxes and  repealing the tax cuts.  He is running on more job-killing regulations. He is running on expanding Obamacare and socialized medicine.

You’re right. On immigration, he is running on defending sanctuary cities, not only opposing a wall, he says there are too many walls, too many fences, tear down what we have.

And he’s running also on aggressive gun control, and impeaching Donald Trump.

Now those are great campaign issues if he were running to be the senator from the state of Massachusetts People running Elizabeth Warren might have a problem with  Congressman O’Rourke attacking from her left flank.

But those aren’t the values in Texas  – low taxes, low regulation, more jobs,  border security. We want the rule of law respected … legal immigrants like my father when he came from Cuba in 1957 right here to Austin, he came with a student visa … It’s legal immigrants who find their jobs are lost and wages are driven down by illegal immigrants.

j

CRUZ: You know if you want to know what someone’s values are see what they stand for.

The State of the Union, every member of Congress gets to invite one guest. The last State of the Union, Congressman O’Rourke chose to invite an illegal immigrant. That’s what he wants to highlight – that he’s fighting for illegal immigrants.

On the other hand, at the State of the Union, I joined with Congressman Henry Cuellar, a Democrat, and the two of us together invited  Stephen and Pamela Willeford.

Stephen was the hero of Sutherland Springs who risked his life saving people and you know I think  between Congressman O’Rourke’s invitation and mine we illustrated  who it is we are fighting for every day.  He chose,  his number one priority according  to the State of the Union is illegal immigrants. My number one priority is standing up and fighting for Texas and defending our Constitution.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

Official blog of the US Representative for El Paso, TX
Jan 29

My Guest For Tomorrow’s State of the Union

Meet Daisy Arvizu, my guest to this year’s State of the Union Address. I first met Daisy in 2016 at a Dreamers town hall we held in El Paso that brought together Dreamers in our community and those who support them.

Daisy was brought to this country at the tender age of one year and eight months. She grew up in our community; she works two jobs; she’s a student at the El Paso Community College; and she’s hoping to continue on to UTEP. In every way that’s meaningful, Daisy is every bit as American as my three kids. We need to do right by Daisy and the 800,000 Dreamers in Texas and across the country who are contributing so much to our communities — making us stronger and safer and more successful every day.

I’m grateful that Daisy is able to join me for the State of the Union, and I’m going to keep doing everything I can to ensure that she and Dreamers across the country can continue contributing their full potential to the only country they’ve ever known — as citizens.
 

Daisy Arvizu after the State of the Union

On Saturday night, in addition to panels that included George P. Bush Gov. Greg Abbott Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchison, there was also a panel of young Republican members Congress, the oldest of whom, at 40, was Rep. Will Hurd, who is seeking a third term in the swing 23rd Congressional District, that stretches from San Antonio to the outskirts of El Paso.

The next morning, Hurd was interviewed by Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation.

BRENNAN: We turn now to Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He sits on Intelligence and Homeland Security Committees. And he joins us live from San Antonio.

Congressman, good morning to you.

I want to quickly ask you this “New York Times”-obtained letter from the president’s attorneys laying out their arguments, saying, he as president has complete control over federal investigations, cannot be compelled to testify, and could not have obstructed the FBI’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sitting on House Intelligence, as do you, what do you make of this argument?

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Well, this is going to be something that is going to be sorted out through the judicial system.

And I’m not a lawyer. But one of the things I have learned is, if you are innocent, act like you’re innocent. And Bob Mueller should be allowed to continue his investigation and turn over any stone and pursue any lead.

BRENNAN: Should the president be compelled to testify to Bob Mueller, the special counsel?

HURD: Again, I think this is going to be a judicial issue that — to figure out what is, what can he be compelled to do?

Again, if you don’t have anything to hide, why wouldn’t you testify? Because I think that would help get — close this investigation quicker, which I think that is something this administration wants to see.

But one of the things that I’m focused on is on issues that is firmly in the responsibility of Congress. And that’s trade, that’s immigration, and these are big issues that are going to be coming to the forefront over the next few days and weeks.

BRENNAN: And I do want to ask you about trade, but just to button this up, the president’s attorney said this morning the president probably has the power to pardon himself, though doing so would be unthinkable.

What would happen in the House if the president tried to do that? What would the political ramification be?

HURD: Look, I think that would be a terrible move. I think people would erupt.

I think even thinking about trying to fire Mueller is a bad move politically. So, I hope we don’t have to get to that point. And it’s hard to predict what would happen. But that would — that would be — that would create outrage on both sides of the political aisle.

BRENNAN: But let’s get to that issue of trade you brought up there.

Would there be support in the House, where you sit, for legislation that would require the president to get congressional approval before putting on tariffs? There’s talk in the Senate about doing it. Would you support something in the House?

HURD: Absolutely.

The Congress has shared our responsibility when it comes to trade with the executive branch over the last couple of decades. And I think that is something that we need to reevaluate. One of the things that — as you know, Margaret, I spent nine-and-a-half years as an undercover officer in the CIA.

I was the dude in the back alleys at 4:00 in the morning. One of the things I learned is, be nice with nice guys and tough with tough guys. Make sure your allies know you have their back.

BRENNAN: So, Canada, Mexico and European Union are not national security threats, from your point of view, which is the authority the president used here?

HURD: No, they’re not. No, we are lucky to have Canada and Mexico as our neighbors.

Imagine what some of our other allies have to deal with. A sound foreign policy, sound trade policy does not mean penalizing your allies while you’re rescuing a Chinese company that firmly and clearly violated U.S. sanctions. And I’m speaking about ZTE.

So, let’s address the real problem. China is dumping steel on the world markets. Let’s address that. China is stealing intellectual property. Let’s address that. Let’s not help one Chinese company continue to sell their widgets all around the world, while we’re going to ultimately impact the American consumer.

Why should my fellow Americans compare about this? Here in South Texas, it’s hot. And if you like a drink, a cold beer on a hot day, it’s going to be more expensive. If you have got to fill up your car with gasoline, it’s going to be more expensive.

If you have to buy clothes, it’s going to be more expensive. If you buy food in a grocery store, it’s going to be more expensive. And so this makes absolutely no sense. And to say that this is going to create jobs in the United States of America, we are celebrating 3.8 percent unemployment.

That is the best it’s ever been in almost half-a-century. So where — what jobs is this going to be bringing back? It’s only going to impact jobs. And so that’s why most of us, a lot of us in Congress thinks this is not the way you handle trade, this is not the way you deal with your allies.

BRENNAN: On the issue of immigration, the majority of Americans polled seem to support some kind of protection for dreamers, so-called DACA recipients.

But your bosses in Congress have tried to block a vote on this. Do you have a surefire way to force a vote in the House and get a bill to the president’s desk?

HURD: Margaret, let me correct you for a second. They’re not my bosses. My bosses are the 800,000 people that I represent in the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.

And that’s why I’m working on this issue with friends like Jeff Denham from California, Carlos Curbelo from Florida, Elise Stefanik from New York, in order to force this vote.

This is this discharge petition, where it’s saying, hey, we’re going to bring multiple bills to the floor on immigration and have that vote. I hope teachers are still teaching in school that having a public conversation and discourse is still important to keeping democracy alive and thriving in the United States of America. And that’s what we’re trying to push.

BRENNAN: Well, Speaker Ryan — Speaker Ryan and his whip and everyone with him are trying to block this vote from happening.

Do you have the votes to force this to the floor?

HURD: We do. And we’re adding votes every single day.

We’re engaged in conversations to figure out, is there another path? I don’t believe that there is. And the time has come. It’s 2018. We don’t have operational control of our border. We have a million-plus young men and women who have only known the United States of America as their home that are in this uncertainty period. They don’t know about their future.

Now is the time to solve this problem and do it once and for all.

And guess what?

BRENNAN: You expect that vote this month?

HURD: Yes, this month of June.

BRENNAN: All right, Congressman, thank you very much.

HURD: Always a pleasure.

Hurd, 40, Curbelo, 38, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsoin, is 34, and Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress in 2014, is 33, were all on a panel together moderated by Hamill. (Cruz is 46, and O’Rourke is 45.)

Here is something about the members of the panel.

Stefanik Selected as Co-Chair of Republican Tuesday Group

January 11, 2017

Press Release

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) has been selected as Co-Chair of the House Republican Tuesday Group, a policy caucus within the House Republican Conference.

“I am honored to be selected by my Tuesday Group colleagues for this important opportunity,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “The Tuesday Group is comprised of Members who are willing to work across the aisle to advance policy solutions for their constituents, and I look forward to working on critical issues facing our nation in this important role.”

“Representative Stefanik is an outstandingly talented and dedicated member of the Republican Conference,” said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA-15), Co-Chair of the Tuesday Group. “As a millennial, Elise brings a fresh perspective to a number of issues. The Tuesday Group is fortunate to have her in a leadership role as one of our co-chairs.”

And Carlos Curbelo.

A Miami Republican makes enemies in Washington
By Alex Daugherty
November 26, 2017
WASHINGTON Carlos Curbelo is picking fights.

He attacked the NRA for opposing his bill to ban a firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatics. He attacked the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, currently made up of all Democrats, for denying his membership application.

And he is attacking the Trump administration and fellow Republicans who oppose efforts to combat climate change.

These spats give the second-term Republican congressman from Miami ground to criticize both sides of the political spectrum for unyielding partisanship, and they allow Curbelo to deliver a message to his constituents and voters that the right and the left are both responsible for Washington’s dysfunction

 

According to Bipartisan Index ranking of bipartisanship in the last Congress, Curbelo ranked 11, Stefanik, 31, O’Rourke, 77,  and Hurd 112.

In 2017, Curbelo ranked 4, Stefanik, 27, Hurd, 49, and O’Rourke, 93.

In the Senate, Cruz ranked 85, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, was 30. Bernie Sanders was last. In the last Congress, Cruz was next to last, ahead only of Sanders.

Oh, and there’s this, a press release from Curbelo’s office.

South Florida DACA Recipient To Join Curbelo at State of the Union

Washington, D.C., January 26, 2018 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | 0comments
On Tuesday, South Florida DACA recipient Adrian Escarate will join Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) at the State of the Union.

“I’m honored to have Adrian be my guest for the State of the Union,” Curbelo said. “One of my chief legislative priorities this Congress and the last has been to forge a compromise on immigration that delivers a fair, permanent solution for young immigrants like him. I was encouraged by the immigration outline the White House released yesterday, and look forward to working with colleagues from both sides of the aisle next week to make sure Congress fully recognizes America’s Children – young men and women like Adrian who are contributing greatly to our country.”

Escarate was born in Santiago, Chile and was brought to the United States when he was 3 years old. Initially, his parents had only intended to live in Miami for five years, but after assimiliating, South Florida became their permanent home. Growing up, Adrian played competitive tennis while also achieving great academic accolades during his primary schooling. Adrian was also able to attend the University of North Florida and St. Thomas University as a student-athlete by playing on the men’s tennis team at both universities. Although undocumented, he was able to attend school with private scholarships and graduated Cum Laude from St. Thomas University in 2011 with a Degree in Communications Arts and a minor in Psychology. It was a great accomplishment, but unfortunately he could not exercise his degree because of his undocumented status. When Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) went into effect, Adrian was able to acquire a work permit, social security number, and a Florida Driver’s License.

Curbelo first met Escarate when he was advocating for a DACA solution in Washington. Since then, they’ve met on several occasions in Washington and in South Florida.

Curbelo and Escarate are available for interviews together from Washington, D.C. Tuesday and Wednesday.

BACKGROUND

One of the key players in congressional negotiations on immigration, Curbelo has consistently made Dreamers a priority. Curbelo introduced the bipartisan Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act, which would provide three paths to legal status for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, last year and in the 114th Congress. The RAC Act was the first permanent legislative solution for the DACA population introduced in this Congress and the only one introduced in the 114th Congress.

According to a Niskanen Center report,  passage of the RAC Act would increase gross domestic product (GDP) by $79 billion over ten years and create 115,000 new jobs. 

Curbelo has stated he would support any legislation that offers a permanent solution for the DACA population.

And, finally, Mike Gallagher.

How to make it as a maverick from Trump country
By Katie Glueck at McClatchy:

April 01, 2018 

He had barely been in Congress four months, but already, Mike Gallagher was being discussed as presidential ticket material.

“The Republican ticket in 2020 will be: Trump-Pence, Pence-Haley, Kasich-Martinez, Sasse-Gallagher,” read a Twitter poll posted by prominent conservative Bill Kristol one morning last May.

It was a lighthearted survey and the Gallagher option, paired with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, came in last. But it was an early sign that the freshman congressman was on the radar of high-profile Beltway Republicans.

 Nearly one year later, Gallagher, of Wisconsin, has cemented his image as a rising star — one with an unusually independent reputation in today’s Republican Party.

In an era of intense political tribalism, Gallagher is the rare House member from a strongly pro-Trump district who has broken sharply with the White House over a range of issues, including the firing of ex-FBI Director James Comey and the Russia-related investigations.

Even more rare: he has done it—so far—without sparking crippling conservative backlash.

“All Americans should want the president to be successful, right? If he’s successful, the country’s successful,” Gallagher told McClatchy in an interview in his Capitol Hill office last month.

But, he said, “It’s not my job to just salute everything the White House does.”

“He’s done a very, very good job of navigating the Trump rapids,” said Kristol, the editor at large of the Weekly Standard and a Trump critic. “Of not picking unnecessary fights with Trump and Trump supporters, but not in any way bending over backwards, as so many other Republicans have, to give up principles or…be obsequious to Trump.”

Gallagher, 34, is a Princeton- and Georgetown-educated Marine veteran with a Ph.D., and an acolyte of former Trump National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. He delights in policy wonkery, which offers some cover when he breaks with Trump: party leaders, referencing his resume, suggest that Gallagher has earned “the right to his own opinion.”

His Marine discipline shapes his personal life, too: Gallagher, one of Congress’s youngest members, sleeps in his office, works long hours and has health nut tendencies.

“Let’s get some vegetables and some protein!” he said one recent morning, unsatisfied with the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “heavily salted almond” offerings. “Let’s also install pull-up bars…if you have to endure the pain of raising money, at least you can knock out a set of pull-ups in frustration.”

Republican donors and operatives see the freshman workaholic as the next sterling-credentialed member with a maverick streak who could shape the future of their deeply divided party—if he can outlast the turbulence and tribalism of the moment.

xxxx

Gallagher presents as breezy and self-deprecating. But he is, clearly, intensely driven.

Rep. Seth Moulton, another Ivy League-educated Marine veteran who has traveled with Gallagher, called him “witty, fun, engaging,” but also “very intellectual, likes to read a lot, he tends to go to bed early, sometimes you have to work a little to get him to stay out.”

Like Gallagher, Moulton—a Democrat—is often mentioned as a future leader of his party.

“My deep hope is people like Seth and Mike…become the next generation of John Kerry and John McCain,” said McKnight, Gallagher’s friend from Iraq who also knows Moulton. “Does that mean he stays in the House for forever, becomes a senator, goes into the administration? Those people I referred to initially did all of those things.”

They also both ran for president.

“Everyone’s looking to see who the young rising stars of the party are and whether they will stick through the current turmoil and, if they do, whether they will survive and be successful,” said Jamil Jaffer, former chief counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he became friends with Gallagher.

“The answer,” he said, “is absolutely yes.”

The Mavericks Conference panel were not Hamill’s usual Daily Caller interviewees.

But she gamely sought to draw them into her worldview.

HAMILL: As a young Republican I see everything were surrounded by. We’ve got the legacy fake news media  attacking us 24/7, and then not only do we have that but we have liberal Hollywood just shoving propaganda down our throats in their movies and their late-night comedy, and our education system which has basically turned into a liberal indoctrination center.

She then segued into a truly weird person-in-the-street interview she had just done in Washington, D.C.

Now, none of this would have thrown Ted Cruz off his game. He would have offered Hamill something on the order of what she was looking for.

But the Hurd Herd simply stared at Hamill, and, then, one by one, offered what amounted to a rejoinder.

Stefanik: So, I think one of our biggest generational challenges is people are unwilling to hear or listen to people they don’t agree with. I think that is going to be a challenge for policy-makers in this country and the media exacerbates that. You don’t hear stories about bipartisan victories when the media covers what Congress is doing. The reality is 80 percent of our bills are actually bipartisan. You don’t hear about those significant legislative victories. I think the onus is on individuals to really stand up and be strong messengers about collaborative policymaking.

Curbelo: One of our flaws as a movement, as a party, as Republicans, is that we have forfeited on many issues over the decades – an agenda that helps people rise out of poverty, whether it means the environment, immigration, something that we’re trying to change now by actually having a  debate in the Congress, and be able to engage on all these issues and show a younger generation of Americans who have real concerns that we have solutions or at least are willing to listen to them and consider some of their ideas and solutions. So I would stay, stop forfeiting on ideas, engage on every issue. We have an agenda that is loyal to the founding principles of this party but also can respond to the concerns and the fears and the anxieties that a lot of people feel about the future with the new economy, with issues like sea level rise in the 26th Congressional District where everyone lives near the sea or at sea level.

HURD: If the Republican Party in Texas does not look like Texas, there will be not be a Republican Party in Texas. So we have to engage in places where most Republicans have never been. And I consider myself the vanguard of this because I’m in communities, they’ve never seen a Republican before.

GALLAGHER: At the risk of being a buzz kill, I do think we need to look at our own house. I understand that the tactics and the disinformation of the left can be frustrating at times, but they certainly don’t have a monopoly on it. I was at a Lincoln Day Dinner recently, and this has happened a thousand times and I am the least experienced member of this panel.  A lady came up to me and said, “Congressman Gallagher, you need to do something for me. There are Democrats who won’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. They’re sitting down and their protesting and they’re disrespecting our country.”

And I’m like, “I’ve never seen that,” and she said, “I’ve got proof,” and she pulled out a whole email thread chain and there’s pictures of people that look like legislators and they have names and they were sitting down and they were at desks, though, and in the House of Representatives, we don’t have desks.

“This is not the House of Representatives, we don’t have desks. Maybe it’s the Senate.”

“Oh, it’s the Senate. I think it’s the Senate. It’s the Senate.”

And I look at the names and I go, “Ma’am, I don’t know all the names of all the members of the Senate off the top of my head, but these are not the names of any U.S. Senators.”

“This could be some weird other country where they’re sitting down, but it’s not the United States of America.”

And I left there thinking just how much of this misinformation is out there, you know. And social media has made it worse. 

And I tend to think most people value honesty, and they don’t expect you to agree with them on everything, but if they just have some sense you are being honest with them and real with them, they’re willing to put up with a lot. So I just do think there’s an element of this where we can’t allow the same thing in our own party.

HURD: We all know not to get in a car with a stranger – asterisk, an Uber or Lyft driver – so why are we sharing things from people we don’t know who they are or where that information from?

As a professional intelligence officer, it really drives me crazy.

After the conference, I talked with Gallagher and with MAVPAC co-chair Fritz Brogan, who worked for Florida Gov. Jeb bush as a young man, worked in the George W. Bush White House (with Stefanik), interviewed George P. Bush at the conference Saturday night, and is now restaurateur in Washington D.C.

(Maverick PAC national co-chair Fritz Brogan and U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, at ACL Saturday night.)

I told Gallagher that I thought it admirable that he had straightened that woman out at the Lincoln Day Dinner and that he retold the story at the conference.

“It kind of reminded when McCain was running,” said Brogan, recalling that famous moment in the 2008 presidential campaign when John McCain corrected a woman at one of his rallies who said she didn’t trust Obama because he was an “Arab.”

Gallagher: There’s not common field of intellectual combat where we can keep track. What does the evidence say? What are the facts?

But, for many Republicans in our Year of Trump 2018, McCain is nothing but a throwback, a memory, and not a good one.

Cruz’s views on immigration and Dreamers are a lot harder line than those of George W. Bush or Rick Perry were.

Returning home from MAVPAC, Friday night I turned on Bill Maher who was describing the Republican Party as the conspiracy-minded, conspiracy-guided party not just of Donald Trump but Alex Jones.

And the newly-pardoned Dineh D’Souza.

 

Will Matt McCall be cast from the house of Trump for not wanting Trump to watch his daughters?

 

Matt McCall and his daughter, Antoinette

Good day Austin:

Is the Republican Party under President Trump becoming a cult?

I ask, because of late, some of the behavior seems cult-like.

Last week, the four candidates in the two party runoffs in the 21st Congressional District – Republicans Matt McCall and Chip Roy and Democrats Joseph Kopser and Mary Wilson – appeared at a League of Women Voters forum in San Marcos.

I wasn’t there, and it didn’t make the Rivard Report’s coverage of the event, but in the seven-second clip tweeted by Jason Johnson, McCall said this:

I support the president’s policies. I don’t necessarily want him to watch my daughters. But I support his policies.

It was intended, I think, as a funny line – McCall can be funny and people laughed – and perhaps as a  bit of an ice-breaker in a bipartisan setting, but also with an element of truth: You don’t have to believe that President Trump is perfect in every way to support his politics, or even have MAGA on your campaign signs.

Only, it seems in the current political climate, and amid the 2018 midterm elections, maybe you can’t.

Jason Johnson was the chief strategist for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. He is a campaign consultant for Chip Roy, Cruz’s former chief of staff and the former head of a pro-Cruz super PAC in the presidential campaign, who is the front-runner in Tuesday’s runoff election. Johnson is also an adviser to Texans ARE, a super PAC formed to advance Cruz’s re-election to the Senate.

I emailed Johnson last week to ask about the tweet, in light of what Cruz had to say about Trump on the last day of Cruz’s presidential campaign in 2016: “I will tell you, as the father of two young girls, the idea of our daughters coming home and repeating any word that man says horrifies me.”

Johnson replied:

For one, Cruz and Trump were competitors in the same race and Cruz’s comment was, to use Trump’s phrase, a counter-punch after being attacked. Furthermore, the Cruz comment referred to the possibility of his children repeating far from PG-13 language from the campaign trail. McCall is running in a GOP primary with #MAGA on his signs and for some reasons thinks it wise to talk about his discomfort with the notion of President Trump keeping watch over his daughters.

Yes, I suppose what Cruz said to reporters about Trump the morning of the May 3 Indiana primary loss to Trump that ended his candidacy was “a counter-punch.”

But it was much more than that.

It was Cruz, fueled by his own sense of honor and outrage and decency, offering a more thorough and devastating and personal attack on a political opponent than I had ever seen in politics.

As he said, prefacing his extended remarks to reporters in Evansville, Ind.: “I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign.I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.”

From Cruz on Trump and women:

He will betray you on every issue across the board. And his strategy of being a bully in particular is directed as women. Donald has a real problem with women. People who are insecure, people who are insecure about who they are — Donald is terrified by strong women.

He lashes out at them. Remember, this is the same Donald Trump who last week here in Indiana proudly touted the endorsement from Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist who served three years in prison here in Indiana for raping a 17-year-old girl. And in Donald’s world, he said Mike Tyson was a tough guy.

I don’t think rapists are tough guys. I spent a lot of years in law enforcement dealing with rapists. Rapists are weak. They’re cowards and they’re bullies. And anyone that thinks they’re a tough guy, that reveals everything about Donald Trump’s character.

Donald Trump said Bill Clinton was targeted by unattractive women. You know what? I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong women my entire life.

Today’s voting day here in Indiana. The president of the United States has a bully pulpit unlike anybody else. The president of the United States affects our culture. I ask the people of Indiana, think about the next five years if this man were to become president.

Think about the next five years, the boasting, the pathological lying, the picking up “The National Enquirer” and accusing people of killing JFK, the bullying. Think about your kids coming back and emulating this.

For people in Indiana who long for a day when we were nice to each other, when we treated people with respect, when we didn’t engage in sleaze and lies — and I would note one of the lies he engages in, listen, Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it. This is not a secret. He’s proud of being a serial philanderer.

I want everyone to think about your teenage kids. The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery, and how proud he is, describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam. That’s a quote, by the way, on the Howard Stern show.

Do you want to spend the next five years with your kids bragging about infidelity? Now, what does he do? He does the same projection. Just like a pathological liar, he accuses everyone of lying. Even though he boasts about his infidelity, he plants in David Pecker’s “National Enquirer” a lie about me and my family, attacking my family. He accuses others of doing what he is doing.

I will tell you, as the father of two young girls, the idea of our daughters coming home and repeating any word that man says horrifies me.

Trump’s defense of Mike Tyson was the focus of an ad during the Indiana primary by Trusted Leadership, a pro-Cruz super PAC.

Trump: You have a young woman who was in his room late in the evening at her own will who was seen dancing at the beauty contest, dancing with a big smile on her face.

From the Washington Post’s David Weigel on April 30, 2016:

Trusted Leadership PAC, one of the many groups backing Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign for president, has announced a six-figure online Indiana ad buy that exploits an issue Donald Trump actually introduced to the race. In 30 seconds, the spot compares the backing of Cruz (R-Tex.) by Gov. Mike Pence (R) to the friendship between Trump and Tyson — which was tested when Tyson was convicted of rape in Indiana and Trump defended him.

Tyson’s rape case dates back to July 1991, when a Miss Black America contestant was attacked by the champion boxer in an Indianapolis hotel room.One of the leaders of the effort to keep Tyson out of prison is Donald Trump.

xxxxxx

“I love it, he sent out a tweet,” Trump said. “Mike. Iron Mike. You know, all the tough guys endorse me. I like that, okay?”

Trump did not mention the context of the rape case, after which he said the boxer had been “railroaded” and suggested that the accuser had been exploitative. Still, his out-of-nowhere comment rumbled through Indiana media. Greg Garrison, who had been the lead prosecutor on the Tyson case, told audiences of his radio talk show that Trump had made an inexplicable mistake.

“Did nobody in that whole entourage of yours know that that snake raped a lovely kid in this town?” Garrison asked. “I think I’d beef up my intelligence operation a little bit.”

Carly Fiorina, Cruz’s newly minted running mate, took her own shot at Trump during a Friday news conference.

“Sorry, I don’t consider a convicted rapist a tough guy,” Fiorina told reporters. “And I think it says a lot about Donald Trump’s campaign and his character that he is standing up and cheering for an endorsement by Mike Tyson.”

The next day, Trusted Leadership PAC — which is not permitted to officially coordinate with the campaign — announced a $375,000 ad buy, of which the Mike Tyson ad, “The Company You Keep,” is part.

Chip Roy was executive director of Trusted Leadership.

That Cruz’s comments about Trump’s character were more than a counter-punch in the heat of battle is evidenced by his refusal, even under enormous pressure, to endorse Trump for more than four more months, until a Facebook post on Sept. 23, 2016 that begins as follows:

This election is unlike any other in our nation’s history. Like many other voters, I have struggled to determine the right course of action in this general election.

In Cleveland, I urged voters, “please, don’t stay home in November. Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket whom you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

I’ve made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.

Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable — that’s why I have always been #NeverHillary.

Six key policy differences inform my decision…

Nowhere in his endorsement does Cruz vouch for Trump’s character or his treatment of women.

Two weeks later, the Access Hollywood tape was made public, and it seemed possible that Cruz’s timing had been off.

Here’s the transcript from the New York Times:

Following is an unedited transcript of the tape in which Donald J. Trump repeatedly made vulgar comments about women. Mr. Trump was filmed talking to the television personality Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” on the set of “Days of Our Lives,” where Mr. Trump was making a cameo appearance. They are later joined by the actress Arianne Zucker. The transcription is by Penn Bullock of The New York Times.

Donald J. Trump: You know and …

Unknown: She used to be great. She’s still very beautiful.

Trump: I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.

Unknown: Whoa.

Trump: I did try and fuck her. She was married.

Unknown: That’s huge news.

Trump: No, no, Nancy. No, this was [unintelligible] — and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.

She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture —

I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

Billy Bush: Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.

Trump: Whoa! Whoa!

Bush: Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!

[Crosstalk]

Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy.

[Crosstalk]

Trump: All right, you and I will walk out.

[Silence]

Trump: Maybe it’s a different one.

Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s —

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

Bush: Uh, yeah, those legs, all I can see is the legs.

Trump: Oh, it looks good.

Bush: Come on shorty.

Trump: Ooh, nice legs, huh?

Bush: Oof, get out of the way, honey. Oh, that’s good legs. Go ahead.

Trump: It’s always good if you don’t fall out of the bus. Like Ford, Gerald Ford, remember?

Bush: Down below, pull the handle.

Trump: Hello, how are you? Hi!

Arianne Zucker: Hi, Mr. Trump. How are you? Pleasure to meet you.

Trump: Nice seeing you. Terrific, terrific. You know Billy Bush?

Bush: Hello, nice to see you. How you doing, Arianne?

Zucker: Doing very well, thank you. Are you ready to be a soap star?

Trump: We’re ready, let’s go. Make me a soap star.

Bush: How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus.

Zucker: Would you like a little hug, darling?

Trump: O.K., absolutely. Melania said this was O.K.

Bush: How about a little hug for the Bushy? I just got off the bus.

Trump overcame the Access Hollywood tape. He survived and thrived. He was elected president of the United States.

As Cruz recently wrote of Trump for the TIME 100:

President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature.

The same cultural safe spaces that blinkered coastal elites to candidate Trump’s popularity have rendered them blind to President Trump’s achievements on behalf of ordinary Americans. While pundits obsessed over tweets, he worked with Congress to cut taxes for struggling families. While wealthy celebrities announced that they would flee the country, he fought to bring back jobs and industries to our shores. While talking heads predicted Armageddon, President Trump’s strong stand against North Korea put Kim Jong Un back on his heels.

President Trump is doing what he was elected to do: disrupt the status quo. That scares the heck out of those who have controlled Washington for decades, but for millions of Americans, their confusion is great fun to watch.

OK. I understand the politics at work here.

But still, does this mean that Cruz is recanting those things he said about Trump’s character and his treatment of women? Does he no longer believe what he said then or think it matters?

It seemed before the midterms got into full swing that a Republican could hold the position that, Trump might not be perfect, but I love what he is doing in Washington.

But now, it seems, a Republican candidate must adopt the public posture that Trump is perfect, or suffer the consequences.

And nowhere is this more evident, or in its own way poignant, than in CD 21.

Roy and McCall are ideological twins – two peas in a Constitutional conservative pod. On the issues there is no telling them apart. Roy’s argument is that he is more experienced, battle-tested, electable and prepared to lead in Washington.

Fine.

But, in order to defeat McCall, Roy and his allies are depending on depicting McCall as insufficiently loyal to Trump, not so much on policy, but in terms of the developing cult of personality around Trump that denies that Trump has any of the flaws that Cruz and Roy were at the forefront of identifying.

Indeed, the new paradigm is that Trump’s flaws are part and parcel of what Jeff Roe, who managed Cruz’s presidential campaign and is managing his Senate campaigns, described in the New York Times in March as the maddening brilliance of Mr. Trump.

It is undoubtedly difficult to differentiate Trump policies from the Trump persona, because the Trump persona dominates news coverage. But Republican candidates for Congress have to try. Tactically, that means being laser-focused on generating local news coverage of policy accomplishments, even when the national cable news fixates on the latest Trump outrage.

And guess what? Despite breathless coverage of the daily outrage generator in the White House, the economy is improving. The tax cuts will, and in fact already are, spurring growth, freeing capital for investment, creating jobs and returning overseas profits to our shores. There is a message to sell. So sell it.

I would go further and argue that it is the Trump persona so vilified in the media that has in fact made bolder, more sweeping reforms possible than would have been conceivable under almost any other Republican who might have been elected.

Which brings us to national radio host Mark Levin and his involvement in the CD 21 runoff.

For some time, Levin has been closely allied with Cruz and Roy.

He had Roy on his show when the CD 21 field was forming.

Roy was back on last week

In this interview, Levin said, “This is a race that’s bigger than Texas, it’s a national race.” And, of Roy, “he’s one of us.”

In summing up Roy v. McCall, he said, “One is a Reagan conservative and the other is a Gerald Ford RINO as far as I’m concerned.”

“Do I have that about right?”

No, not really.

If Matt McCall is a Gerald Ford RINO, Mark Levin is Anderson Cooper.

“I guess the establishment types have thrown a lot of money into this race,” Levin said to Roy. “Are they funding a lot of your opponent’s ads?”

Roy doesn’t directly answer, but the answer is “no.”

Before closing out his interview with Roy, Levin tells his audience, ” if his weaselly opponent wants to come on, we’ll bring him on.”

“I’m a fair guy. I really am, if his weaselly opponent wants to come on, I’ll give him a shot.”

And he does. Sort of.

It’s worth listening to. Here’s just a small sampling.

LEVIN: I’ve been trying to find out about you and I really can’t find a lot.

I went into Texas often, I worked with the tea party movement in Texas often, and I just don’t remember you. Were you involved in the tea party movement?

What have you done for conservative causes?

MCCALL: What did President Trump do before he was president?

LEVIN: Now you’re President Trump?

Did you work on the Cruz campaign or the Trump campaign?

MCCALL: Why is that a prerequisite for anything?

LEVIN: I didn’t say it was a prerequisite, I asked you a question. Why are you so defensive?

And I’m trying to know you and the whole country’s trying to know you and you won’t tell me.

McCall asked Levin why he couldn’t ask him the same issue questions he posed to Roy?

LEVIN: Because I’m interviewing you and I’ll do it anyway I damn please and I don’t know who the hell you are?

Pause here to flash back to Mark Levin warning about Trump – way back in 2011.

LEVIN:

During the last two years when many of you were spending your resources and time caring about your country, engaging, trying to deal with an out-of-control president and out-of-control Congress that was destroying your country, spending your own money to go to rallies, spending your own money to set up websites, you the Paul and Paulette Reveres, what was Donald Trump doing? Did he go to a single rally? Did he contribute to a single Tea Party cause?

Well he was spreading his contributions around and we’re supposed to believe that every businessman does that. Really? Every businessman man gives money to Chuck Schumer? Anthony Weiner? Really? Every businessman. I’m not aware of that.

Well, as recently as Feb. 2010, a little over a year ago, right in the teeth of the tea party movement, Mr. Trump gave $2,000 to Anthony Weiner in his primary. In 2009, in the teeth of the tea party battle, he gave $400 to Schumer in his primary battle, and $1,600 to the Schumer campaign for the general election. In November ’09, he gave $2,300 to the Hillary Clinton campaign for president campaign, I guess to help pay off her debt, I don’t know. As well as another $1.700 the day before. He gave $2,400 in October 2009, right into teeth of the Florida battle, to Charlie Crist for Senate. I don’t see any contributions to Marco Rubio. In the primary he gave $2,400 to Charlie Crist, so he bet against Marco Rubio twice …

He goes on about other contributions Trump made, about how Trump said he supports universal health care, and how he wanted to impeach President Bush for the war in Iraq.

Levin recalled Trump saying how impressed he is by Nancy Pelosi, though he was disappointed she didn’t pursue the impeachment of President Bush.

Levin was certain in his judgment of Trump.

Five years later, here Levin was, via Real Clear Politics,on Trump.

Conservative talk radio host and Ted Cruz supporter Mark Levin devoted ten minutes of his Thursday radio program to laying out the case that Donald Trump is not a true conservative, and that his willingness to compromise on basic issues is a bad omen for a potential Trump presidency.

Levin begins describing Trump’s apathetic reaction to North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’. “Leave it the way it is,” Trump said. “People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate.”

Levin disagreed. “This should be a no brainer for a conservative,” Levin said about supporting the state bill forcing people to use the restrooms corresponding to their biological birth gender. “This should be a no brainer for any rational person.”

Ted Cruz was similarly perplexed today by Trump’s support for the transgender right to go to the bathroom of their choice, wondering: Have we gone stark raving nuts? Grown adult men, strangers, should not be alone in a bathroom with little girls…

Levin said that Trump’s willingness to compromise on such a basic issue proves that his talk about being a conservative was just an “act,” put on to win the Republican primary, and now that the primary has moved on to “liberal states” like Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania — Trump is going to start “acting” nore liberal.

“I’m just telling you folks something. Should he be the nominee, I honestly believe we’re going to get crushed. This is just my opinion. His negatives are so damn high. Even with white males… But should he win. Many of you are going to be very disappointed. He will resort to the dealmaking. And dealmaking without principles is a very dangerous thing,” Levin concluded.

From Breitbart in April 2016:

Talk radio host Mark Levin, who has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz, declared, “I am not voting for Donald Trump. Period” and “count me as never Trump” on Friday.

Well, never is a long time.

Back to Levin’s interview with Matt McCall.

LEVIN: I’m looking here. You were in front of the League of Women Voters. Did you speak in front of the League of Women Voters?

MCCALL:  (laughing a laugh of foreboding) Yes, I certainly did.

LEVIN: This is all over the internet. You know what I’m talking about.

MCCALL:  I don’t know if it’s all over the internet.

LEVIN: Oh, it’s all over the internet, I can tell you that right now.

So you’re in this liberal forum. The League of Women Voters. They don’t much like me by the way. And you say you wouldn’t want Trump to watch your daughters.

MCCALL: Yes sir.

LEVIN: Is that true? You wouldn’t’ want Trump to watch your daughters?

(Matt McCall and his 16-year-old daughter, Antoinette, at a CD 21 Indivisible candidate forum on Monday night in South Austin.)

What is remarkable here is that Levin says this with an air of incredulity, as in, how could any father not leap at the opportunity to have his daughter watched by a man who has been accused by multiple women of unwelcome sexual advances, who bragged about how one of the perks of owning beauty pageants was being able to see the contestants naked in the dressing room, who it appears had an affair with a porn star to whom he, in one way or another, paid hush money, and who has even said very odd things about his attraction to his own daughter.

In other words, how could any self-respecting defender of conservative values hoping to win a Republican seat in Congress possibly suggest that there was any plausible reason not to want his daughter to be watched by the Supreme Leader, whose virtue has been sanctified by the power he holds?

And yet, I wondered as Levin talked about this, would his daughter have any say about being presented to the Supreme Leader to be watched?

Back to the interview and McCall’s attempt to explain his blasphemy.

MCCALL: It’s kind of paraphrase of what Ted Cruz said.

LEVIN: I’m not worried about Ted Cruz, I’m talking about you.

MCCALL: Exactly right.

LEVIN: Well, what are you worried about? What are you worried about?

MCCALL: I wouldn’t want Brad Pitt watching my daughters either.

LEVIN: I didn’t ask about Brad Pitt.

What are you worried about. You think Trump would hit on your daughter?

MCCALL: Would you want Bill Clinton to watch your daughters? Do you have daughters?

LEVIN: I wouldn’t want Bill Clinton watching my daughters in any respect and yes I have a daughter and I wouldn’t mind Donald Trump watching her.

MCCALL: May I give the quote? May I give the quote?

LEVIN: Go ahead. I watched it. Right on the internet. But go ahead.

MCCALL: I said I completely support President Trump and his policies. I don’t necessarily want him to watch my daughters but I completely support the president and his policies. It was a joke, and I think the president probably has a pretty good sense of humor too.

LEVIN: I don’t think he’d care for that, but it doesn”t matter.

The Chip Roy campaign got exactly what it wanted from McCall’s interview with Mark Levin.

 

It is effective.

A frustrated McCall has given up on trying to explain to Levin what he did for the tea party movement aside from run against Lamar Smith.

And yet, one would think that Levin would have admired McCall for putting it all on the line, against all the odds, to take on, when others wouldn’t, Lamar Smith, the embodiment in both the Levin and McCall worldviews of the stayed-too long, superannuated Republican leadership that is precisely the problem in Washington.

Isn’t that a higher level of service to the movement than attending tea party rallies and posting on Facebook?

In his best moment in the interview, McCall notes for Levin that, on average, it takes a candidate two-and-a-half tries before being elected to Congress.

I don’t know if that is true, but Levin seems to buy it.

“Really,” said Levin.

If so, McCall is on his way to Congress. What is unmistakably true is that if McCall had not run twice before, he would not have emerged from the primary field of 18 to be in the runoff with Roy today.

And, of course, there are the creepy parts of the interview that are not in the clips being distributed by the Roy campaign.

But, the heavy assault on McCall is not on his disinclination to have Trump watch his daughters, but on, well, read on …

 

From my May 4 story on the race:

The Club for Growth, the limited government advocacy group that was pivotal to electing Cruz and key allies to the U.S. Senate, has poured more than half a million dollars through its super PAC, Club for Growth Action, into helping Roy, the most so far for the group in any congressional district nationally, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, with more to come.

“We think Chip will be the better, reliable conservative, both in his votes but also in his tactics, and knowing, from the day he gets to Washington, how to represent those values in Congress,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh, a former congressman, told the American-Statesman.

McIntosh said the super PAC will launch a TV ad blitz, first on satellite and then cable, starting Monday, opening with positive portrayals of Roy and then going negative on McCall as needed.

“Once we make an endorsement, the club is all in, and we’re going to support that person hopefully all the way through to victory in November,” McIntosh said. “In the closing days we’ll probably try to make the contrast that Chip can win and hold the seat, and we’re not sure with Matt’s record of losing a couple of times, he would.”

For his part, McCall says he’s being unfairly attacked.

“They just did a mailer that tried to pair me with Nancy Pelosi, which is absurd,” McCall said of a Club for Growth mailer.

The mailer features darkly sinister photos of McCall and the House Democratic leader.

“What’s the difference between Matt McCall & Nancy Pelosi,” it asks. “Nancy Pelosi is honest about being anti-Trump,” it answers.

 

On the flip side, it says, “Matt McCall claims he supports President Trump’s agenda, but on the campaign trail he cynically dredges up the same false conspiracy theories that liberals use to try to discredit Trump’s historic election victory.”

“It’s a straight-up lie that I am anti-Trump,” McCall told the Statesman. “Who would ever think that that’s ever heard me? I’ve been running on Trump’s policies since before he was running on them.”

“They just made it up out of thin air,” McCall said. “This is who they are. He is part of the swamp. This is what the swamp does. These are his supporters.”

Asked to explain the mailer, McIntosh said, “the liberal press and Nancy Pelosi were trying to lump Trump with Cambridge Analytica and all the problems they had on Facebook, and McCall had tried to do that to Chip in one of the debates, that he had worked with Cambridge Analytica, sort of taking the same kind of personal swipe at Chip the way Pelosi and liberals do every day up here in Washington against Trump.”

“It’s the type of political swamp-type maneuver that the Democrats use against Trump and it looked like McCall was willing to do that against Chip,” said McIntosh, who said he stood by the fairness of the attack on McCall.

The only clue to what the mailer is talking about is, in small print at the bottom, the citation of an April 12 tweet by Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune — which the person receiving the mailer would have to search on Twitter — in which Svitek reported an exchange between McCall and Roy, apparently informed by a Gilbert Garcia story in the San Antonio Express-News that said that, “as the person in charge of Cruz’s constellation of Super PACs at a time when Cambridge Analytica’s abuses were publicly known, he should bear some accountability for the continued funding of those abuses.”

From Garcia’s March 28 story

The company was launched on the strength of a $15 million investment by hedge fund billionaire — and Republican mega-donor — Robert Mercer. Mercer threw his support behind Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential race and served as the primary financier for the pro-Cruz Super PAC, Keep the Promise I.

The Cruz campaign organization and Keep the Promise I pumped millions into Cambridge Analytica for voter data that the campaign hailed at the time as revolutionary in its ability to micro-target potential supporters.

By late 2015, however, Cambridge Analytica faced public accusations that it harvested personal information from millions of Facebook users without their consent, using the innocuous, deceptive pretense of a personality questionnaire for which participants received a dollar.

When The Guardian approached Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler at that time, he dismissed any concerns by saying the Cruz campaign had “done our due diligence.” He added, “My understanding is all the information is acquired legally and ethically with the permission of the users when they sign up to Facebook.”

That statement was false and the scope of the problem became more obvious over the past week, with a New York Times story revealing that Cambridge Analytica’s illicit data harvesting affected more than 50 million Facebook users.

That’s where Roy comes in.

With Cruz’s network of Super PACs lacking strategic cohesion, Roy left his job in the Texas attorney general’s office in March 2016 to become executive director of Trusted Leadership, an umbrella organization that oversaw the activities of Cruz’s Super PAC network. Two months later, Cruz withdrew from the presidential race after losing the Indiana primary to Donald Trump.

Mercer shifted his support to Trump, Keep the Promise I rebranded itself Make America Number 1 and Cambridge Analytica joined a Trump digital operation led by San Antonio web consultant Brad Parscale.

The fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal has been massive and swift.

Facebook, which is facing threats of a user revolt, suspended Cambridge Analytica last Saturday. Robert Mueller, special counsel for a Justice Department investigation into Russian campaign meddling with the 2016 election, has requested the emails of Cambridge Analytica staffers who worked on the Trump campaign.

The revelations also have focused new attention on the Cruz campaign, the initial beneficiary of Cambridge Analytica’s transgressions.

Roy joined the Cruz campaign team fairly late in the game. But as the person in charge of Cruz’s constellation of Super PACs at a time when Cambridge Analytica’s abuses were publicly known, he should bear some accountability for the continued funding of those abuses.

“I think I voted for Cruz in the (2016) Texas primary,” McCall said. But he said he quickly became a “Trump guy,” unlike Cruz, who denounced Trump in those extraordinarly blunt terms on the last day of his presidential campaign, and refused to back him to a cascade of boos in his speech to the Republican Naitonal Convention in July, not endorsing him until two months later.

“I was very very turned off by what Cruz did at the convention,” McCall said. “It proved me wrong and a lot of my friends who said, `It’s all about Ted,’ right. I was trying to defend Ted as a constitutionalist, but it does seem to be all about Ted.”

Here is McCall’s response to the Pelosi mailer on Facebook.

McCall likens the Club for Growth mailers to an episode from the Cruz campaign the night of the Iowa caucuses.

From the New York Times”

As Iowa Republicans headed to the caucuses on Monday night, Senator Ted Cruz’s campaign left recorded messages for supporters with “breaking news” that Ben Carson would drop out of the race, and told them to “inform any Carson caucus-goers of this news and urge them to caucus for Ted instead.”

The false report, echoed in an email and in a text message sent to campaign volunteers, was trumpeted by at least some Cruz precinct captains when they addressed their caucuses. When Mr. Carson’s wife, Candy Carson, arrived at two precincts to speak on his behalf, she was furious to learn that speakers for Mr. Cruz had suggested moments earlier that her husband was quitting the race.

The Cruz campaign on Friday acknowledged it had made a coordinated effort to spread the story. But it defended its actions as an honest mistake based on “reports,” namely CNN anchors echoing Twitter messages from a reporter saying that Mr. Carson was heading home to Florida after Iowa, rather than to New Hampshire or South Carolina, where the next contests were to be held. However, those messages were followed almost instantly by another from one of the reporters stating that Mr. Carson would remain in the race “no matter what.” A senior strategist for Mr. Carson, Jason Osborne, had reiterated on Twitter: “Not standing down.”

The Carson campaign, which has angrily accused Mr. Cruz of dirty tricks, escalated the feud on Friday by using the audio recording of the message left by Cruz supporters in a fund-raising email. “Hello,” the call began, “this is the Cruz campaign with breaking news: Dr. Ben Carson will be suspending campaigning following tonight’s caucuses.”

Mr. Cruz, who won the Republican caucuses, apologized to Mr. Carson this week. At a news conference in Washington, Mr. Carson said that Mr. Cruz had not gone far enough in addressing the situation and called on him to fire the staff members who spread the false rumors.

Mr. Carson’s fourth-place showing in Iowa, where he got 9.3 percent of the vote, was equal to or slightly better than his support in polls before the caucuses, raising doubts about whether the Cruz disinformation swayed many voters. Nonetheless, the issue has become a distraction to Mr. Carson ahead of the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, and it has raised questions about the tactics of the Cruz campaign.

“It’s really demoralizing. People are angry,” Mr. Osborne said. “Every day, as more information comes out, he’s getting more animated about it,” he added, referring to Mr. Carson.

The Club for Growth has doubled and tripled down on its McCall-Pelosi campaign.

 

 

And from Tuesday:

Club for Growth Action Unveils “Pelosi” Ad in TX-21

Washington, DC – Today, Club for Growth Action announced the release of a 30-second ad that will begin airing on broadcast throughout Texas’s 21st Congressional district; the ad exposes the weakness of Matt McCall’s candidacy.  This is an additional $140,000 expenditure on top of an existing ad buy.

Upon release of the ad, Club for Growth Action President David McIntosh remarked, “There is a reason that Matt McCall was decimated the past two times he ran for Congress.  He has demonstrated he’s not a viable candidate.  Given how close Pelosi and the Democrats may be to gaining control of Congress, Republican voters simply cannot afford to leave this race in the hands of a weak candidate like McCall.”

Club for Growth Action
:30 TV
Pelosi

Matt McCall just might make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House.

McCall has run for Congress twice before. He got swamped.

With Democrats so close to controlling congress, if McCall loses again… Hello, Nancy.

And McCall must know he’s weak, ‘cause now he’s using the same fake news attacks against Chip Roy that liberals use against Donald Trump.

McCall for Congress? Pelosi for Speaker.

Club for Growth Action is responsible for the content of this message.

From The Hill on Oct. 21, 2016, just a couple of weeks before the presidential election (which Donald Trump won):

 Club for Growth President David McIntosh on Friday defended the conservative group’s decision to spent millions of dollars in its failed bid to defeat Donald Trump in the GOP presidential primary.

“Knowing what we know today confirms the problems we saw early on with a Trump nomination,” McIntosh said during an appearanceon C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” that will air Sunday.

McIntosh, a former GOP congressman from Indiana, was referring to recent polling that shows Democrat Hillary Clinton with an enormous advantage over Trump in the electoral college. 

“I think it was a good call,” he added. “I think we called it right on what would happen if Trump were the nominee.”

This cycle marked the first time the free-market, limited-government group had waded into a GOP presidential primary. The Club waged a $7 million assault on Trump, arguing that the Manhattan business mogul and reality TV star was no fiscal or social conservative. 

Some of that money, McIntosh argued, helped propel the club’s preferred candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), to victory in the Iowa caucuses. But the Club and other anti-Trump forces couldn’t compete with all the free air time Trump was receiving on cable TV.

David McIntosh, the group’s president, argued that “momentum is shifting away” from Trump following his losses to Sen. Ted Cruz(R-Texas) over the weekend in Kansas and Maine. Cruz and Trump also tied for delegates in Louisiana’s primary.

“Republican voters don’t want a big-government liberal like Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket,” McIntosh said. 

“They know that Trump would cost Republicans the White House, the Senate majority, and, ultimately, the Supreme Court. It will be no surprise to see the numbers tighten in tomorrow’s primaries and caucus.” 

McIntosh then called the front-runner out for his “far-left positions on taxes, health care, bailouts and the abuse of eminent domain” before making a reference to Trump’s satement in Thursday’s debate that he was changing his position on green cards for high-skilled workers.

“And now he sounds like the worst kind of politician, warning voters that he will change positions when he feels like it,” McIntosh said.

“The shell game that is the Trump candidacy needs to be stopped.”

And there’s this from FactCheck.org in April 2016:

Donald Trump repeatedly has accused Club for Growth of airing attack ads against him because he refused to give the conservative group a $1 million donation – or what Trump calls “a form of extortion.”

Club for Growth tells a much different story. It claims Trump offered to make a donation – or what the group now calls “a setup.”

It’s impossible to know for sure who is telling the truth. But at the least, those who have heard Trump’s anecdote should know there is another side to his story, and that there is more context and history to the rift than Trump lets on. We’ll lay out some of that history, and the facts where possible, and let readers make up their own minds.

I last saw McCall Monday night at a TX21 Indivisible forum in South Austin.

McCall was there, his sense of  humor dangerously intact, offering a civil defense of his Constitutional conservative values, though I am sure his very willingness to be at an Indivisible event invites suspicion from Trump cultists.

Antoinette was there, if anyone from the Austin resistance wanted a yard sign.

As we said goodnight, McCall offered a parting shot:

The Club for Growth spent $15 million attacking Trump and now they are attacking me. And Chip Roy ran the largest super PAC against Donald Trump, trying to defeat him, and now he’s after me. And he’s telling me I’m a non-Trumper. Are you friggin’ kidding me?

 

Trump-West 2020: Why Trump will dump Draggin’ Energy Mike for Dragon Energy Kanye on the ticket

 

 

 

Good day Austin:

I was there at the NRA annual meeting in Dallas Friday to hear Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump, in that order, speak.

By the time Pence and Trump were finished I wondered how Trump would deliver the news to Pence that he was replacing him as his running mate in 2020 with Kanye West.

A tweet a/la Rex Tillerson would be the traditional way to go.

But who knows with what kind of flourish Trump will send Pence back home again to Indiana.

I figure, though, that Pence has been elected to office a bunch of times. He is vice president of the United States. His political antenna must be in good working order. So I’ve got to believe that he left Dallas knowing he was doomed.

In his introduction, Pence lavished praise on President Trump, going so far as describing Ronald Reagan as “my second favorite president.”

I don’t remember what if anything Trump had to say about Pence.

But I do remember what he had to say about Kanye West.

Trump:

Kanye West must have some power because I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 [percent] to 22 in one week. Thank you, Kanye. Thank you. When I saw the number, I said, ‘That must be a mistake. How can that have happened?’ Even the pollsters thought that must be a mistake.

From The Wrap:

Kanye West’s total embrace of President Donald Trump may be starting to have real-world implications beyond Twitter.

According to the results of a Reuters weekly tracking poll released this week, support for the president among black men doubled from 11 percent, for the week ending April 22, to 22 percent, for the week ending April 29. The approval numbers are the highest Trump has enjoyed in the survey among black men all year.

The timing is noteworthy since the rapper began to go public with his pro-Trump views on April 21, first tweeting support for right-wing pundit Candace Own on April 21. Four days later, he proclaimed “love” for POTUS and his “dragon energy” — and posted a selfie in which he wore a MAGA hat.

Pence must know he’s about to go the way of  Henry Wallace and Nelson Rockefeller, vice presidents who got dumped by the presidents they served – FDR and Gerald Ford – for presumably more dependable and  useful running mates, like Harry Truman and Bob Dole, and now, Kanye West.

At first, the idea sounds cracked.

But think about it.

There is simply no reason for Trump to hang on to Pence.

He served his purpose, such as it was, but he doesn’t serve it any more.

It can be asked of Pence as it was of war –  What is it (he)  good for? And the answer is exactly the same:  Absolutely nothing.

Pence, huh, yeah.

What is he  good for?

Absolutely nothing

Pence, huh, yeah.

What is he good for?

Absolutely nothing

Say it again, y’all

Seriously.

Is there a single American voter, not named Pence, who is more likely to vote for Donald Trump for president because Mike Pence is on the ticket?

I don’t think so.

Pence was added to the ticket to assure conservative, mostly evangelical Christian voters that Trump, the candidate from Sodom and Gomorrah, could be trusted, and to keep an eye on him.

But Trump, who carried the evangelical vote running against Ted Cruz, didn’t turn out to need any vouching for.

Evangelical Christians seem, by and large, to love him.

And, ever since he’s been president he has only solidified his standing with those voters.

Every odd and aberrant aspect of Trump, right down to having an affair with a porn star and paying her hush money, is simply evidence that God works in mysterious ways.

Trump is now so secure with his base, there is nothing I can think of that would shake it.

I guess there might be some white nationalist Never-Westers, who would balk at a Trump-West ticket as a betrayal. But not too many, and many times more voters might vote for Trump with the addition of Kanye than would depart on his account.

I mean, if you’re Donald Trump, how can the draggin’ energy of Mike Pence compete with the dragon energy he shares with fellow master of the universe Kanye West?

And if you think a Trump-West ticket is just too crazy, it is clearly less crazy than Trump getting elected in the first place, and to pick, in West, his brother in narcissism and branding, is the logical, inevitable outcome of Trump’s presidency and politics.

And, have you heard Ultralight Beam?

I mean, President Obama’s Amazing Grace in Charleston, S.C., was quite something.

But West is next level, and Obama’s performance is precedent that there is no reason that Kanye couldn’t continue to tour and perform as Veep.

As West raps in Ye vs. the People:

I know Obama was heaven sent
But ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be President.

Or vice president.

In any case, you think we’re going to go through the Trump administration only to Return to Normalcy with Mike Pence, like Warren G. Harding after those chaotic Woodrow Wilson years?

Now, you might ask, will the Grand Old Party accept dumping Pence for West?

Here’s the real-time thought process on that: No, of course, well  …. Hell yeah!

Why wouldn’t they?

Apart from those scattered party poopers like Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Neocon Czar William Kristol, most of the rest of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in America has thrown its lot with Trump, overlooking every shocking and bizarre permutation of his presidency in favor of an awed allegiance to what Jeff Roe, Ted Cruz’s campaign manager for president and for re-electionto to the Senate, recently described in a New York Times op-ed, as the maddening brilliance as Trump.

If somehow Trump’s choice of a black man as his running mate is the one thing Trump has done that they don’t fall in line behind, well …  they can’t do that.

Vice does indeed do  a comprehensive job of identifying the right-wing losers who suddenly love Kanye.

The only critique I would offer is that these right-wing losers won in 2016..

 

 

On Friday, Alex Jones snuck a little time at home before the start of his daughter’s first birthday party to deconstruct what was going on with Kanye and Trump.

Jones:

I don’t pay attention to pop culture. I really should because that’s where the brainwashing is going on. And I saw like the gay fish stuff, whatever, five years ago, but I listened to (Kanye’s) music, and I’m thinking, this is some pretty good, relaxing rap. Every Kanye song is good, not great, some are great, but they’re all good. Some music, like Metallica, Led Zeppelin – some’s great, all of it’s good. Kanye’s in that class. That’s my opinion.

But I’m not into celebrities. I’ve already seen it. I’ve already done it.

OK. Let’s skip ahead.

Jones doesn’t like what Snoop Dogg had to say about Kanye.

Snoop Dogg, Jones says, is like Urkel, and a fraud.

Kanye is real folks, Urkel is not.

Jones:

You know why people love Trump so much? It’s about the energy. He doesn’t care what color you are.

Oh, if I even told you, they would go crazy with that.

Trump likes black people. He likes their energy, but I’m gonna leave it at that.

 

 

Then there’s Dilbert cartoons Scott Adams, a leading Trumpologist and the author of Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.

Scott Adams Tells You How Kanye West Showed the Way To The Golden Age

What follows are notes, not the complete text, of what is on this video:

Scott Adams:

We keep seeing things that don’t seem possible based on our old way of thinking.

We’re seeing more signs of the Golden Age  …. when all the big stuff is going right, heading in the right direction … the tealization many of our problems are psychological, not physical.

A President Trump comes on the scene. One of the things that defines him more any … he doesn’t see limits on what he can do. His marriage. What level he can rise to. How much money he can make. What he can say on Twitter.

“You can’t do that. You can’t say that.”

Hold my Diet Coke. I am going to do this in front of you. I am going to give this nickname. I am going to insult this person.

And it all seems impossible. Until it works out.

The economy is blazing. North Korea is starting to go in the right direction. And if North Korea goes it will be the biggest signal of the Golden Age. It will be the biggest success in history that was a psychological problem that was solved by psychological means, short of war.

It feels like there’s something big happening.

People are breaking out of their mental prisons, things that used to hold us back.

The best example of that recently …  Yes we are going to the white board.

President Trump is not in a mental prison. He knows that history doesn’t repeat itself. Where did he get that. Same place I did. Norman Vincent Peale and The Power of Positive Thinking.

Another mental prison – the problem has to be the solution.

With slavery, white people were the problem and white people were the solution.

Same with civil rights. White people are the problem and the solution.

But now you get to this “last mile fog,” where things are much better but could be better still, and people don’t agree what the problems are.

We are coming to the point where we are separating the problems from the solution.

And what I mean by that is you are sort of seeing the philosophy represented by Candace Owens.

And you can Google her if you’re not familiar with her. She is a conservative African-American woman who has become a very important voice, because she represents a point of view that you don’t see as much as you will in the future.

The conservative view ,which Candace holds,  is that society has done what it can do, meaning that white people have done what they can do to make the laws as close as possible, to enforce the laws, and the last mile, no matter who causes the problem – doesn’t matter whether white people are the cause or not the cause of the last-mile problem, they can’t fix it. They can do what they can do but they’re not really the solution.

So Candace’s realization is the problem and the solution are disconnected.

Only the people who have the problem can fix it. Not the people who did cause it you think they caused it. Even if they wanted to, which they probably do.

Candace says we’re in the Golden Age already, because the biggest problem is the way we think about the problem. If we think about it differently we can get to a better place.

What was the big news of the last week? Kanye West, who is famous for saying things like, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

For getting on stage with Taylor Swift and making the statement that Beyoncé  should have won and racism was probably part of the voting, somebody who has strong credentials for being an advocate for black people and against racism.

So Kanye probably has good credentials from that point of view, and what did he tweet? He tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks.” Seven words. And he ripped a hole in reality with seven words.

Because Kanye is supposed to be over here. And Candace is supposed to be over here. And they are never supposed to say the other one said something right. That’s not supposed to happen

But Kanye did it anyway. Kanye knows history doesn’t repeat. He is not a prisoner of the mind. He knows the problem is not the solution. Whatever you want to say about Kanye’s politics, and I don’t even know what his preferred politics would be, I’m not even sure what party he would run for if he ran for president at this point.

Whatever else you want to say about him, and I don’t know enough about his actual management skills or political ability, but he did something that you could rarely see. He actually just altered reality. He just made the entire conservative twittersphere go WRUMP.

What did I just see? Did I really see this?

Forget about if you think Candace has everything right or everything wrong. That’s not the story. The story is  that these two people that shouldn’t be in the same conversation, and Kanye just changed that, in seven words. And he just freed a lot of people from a mental prison. Kanye unlocked a mental prison, and is bringing you to the Golden Age.

But then, of course, there was this contribution to the public dialogue from Kanye.

A little background

The big difference between a white liberal and white conservative is the liberal has some sense of guilt.

The best thing ever for some white conservatives is when some black people say they have absolutely nothing to be guilty about.

(Maybe it’s Jewish thing, but I associate religion with guilt. Yet it seems for some, confessing sin and begging forgiveness is way better than feeling guilty about it.)

So, per Kanye, or at least the soundbite of Kanye, if slavery was a choice that slaves somehow accepted – who are white people to get all judgmental and say that black people made the wrong choice.

I am sure that a lot of people at the NRA annual meeting would have been pleased with the shorthand of what Kanye had to say.

Otherwise, they might have considered giving posthumous life memberships to John Brown and Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey who sought to use guns in the name of freedom..

Instead, here, in segments tweeted by NRA-TV, so you know they thought they were especially choice, are Trump superfans Diamond and Silk, dropping some really lame but crowd-pleasing lines of argument.

 

Kruse is a Princeton historian who is pretty active on Twitter.

In the meantime, Kanye and T.I. have put out Ye vs. the People (starring T.I. as the People), in which Kanye explains what he is up to with Trump and MAGA and is cross-examined by the rapper T.I., playing the part of the skeptical Kanye faithful.

It’s at a far higher level than Diamonds and Silk.

Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
I had for us
You turned my dreams into dust

KW: I know Obama was heaven sent
But ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be President

TI: Yeah, you can, at what cost though?
Don’t that go against the teachings that Ye taught for?

KW: Yo, Tip, I hear your side and everybody talk, though
But ain’t goin’ against the grain everything I fought for?

TI: Prolly so, Ye, but where you tryna go with this?
It’s some shit you just don’t align with and don’t go against

KW: You just readin’ the headlines, you don’t see the fine print
You on some choosin’side shit, I’m on some unified shit

TI: It’s bigger than your selfish agenda
If your election ain’t gon’ stop police from murderin’ niggas, then shit

KW: Bruh, I never ever stopped fightin’ for the people
Actually, wearin’ the hat’ll show people that we equal

TI: You gotta see the vantage point of the people
What makes you feel equal makes them feel evil

KW: See that’s the problem with this damn nation
All Blacks gotta be Democrats, man, we ain’t made it off the plantation

TI: Fuck who you choose as your political party
You representin’ dudes just seem crude and cold-hearted
With blatant disregard for the people who put you in position
Don’t you feel an obligation to them?

KW: I feel a obligation to show people new ideas
And if you wanna hear ’em, there go two right here
Make America Great Again had a negative perception
I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction
Added empathy, care and love and affection
And y’all simply questionin’ my methods

TI: What you willin’ to lose for the point to be proved?
This shit is stubborn, selfish, bullheaded, even for you
You wore a dusty-ass hat to represent the same views
As white supremacy, man, we expect better from you
All them times you sounded crazy, we defended you, homie
Not just to be let down when we depend on you, homie
That’s why it’s important to know what direction you’re goin’ now
‘Cause everything that you built can be destroyed and torn down

KW: You think I ain’t concerned about how I affect the past?
I mean, that hat stayed in my closet like ’bout a year and a half
Then one day I was like, “Fuck it, I’ma do me”
I was in the sunken place and then I found the new me
Not worried about some image that I gotta keep up
Lot of people agree with me, but they’re too scared to speak up

TI: The greater good of the people is first
Have you considered all the damage and the people you hurt?
You had a bad idea, and you’re makin’ it worse
This shit’s just as bad as Catholic preachers rapin’ in church

KW: Y’all been leadin’ with hate, see I just approach it different
Like a gang truce, the first Blood to shake the Crip’s hand
I know everybody emotional
Is it better if I rap about crack? Huh? ‘Cause it’s cultural?
Or how about I’ma shoot you, or fuck your bitch?
Or how about all this Gucci, ’cause I’m fuckin’ rich?

TI: You’ll deal with God for the lack of respect
Startin’ to make it seem like Donnie cut you a check
Now you toyin’ with hot lava, better be careful with that
What’s it mean to gain the world if you ain’t standin’ for shit?
Okay I gotta say it, Ye, you sound high as a bitch
Yeah, genocide and slavery, we should just try and forget
And all that free thought shit, find a better defense
But if Ye just stuck in his way, he can leave it at that
Fuck it

KW: Alright, Tip, we could be rappin’ about this all day, man
Why don’t we just cut the beat off and let the people talk.

Returning to Kevin Kruse, the Princeton historian, here is an extensive thread: Since @kanyewest’s tweets have apparently made this topic unavoidable, some thoughts on the history of the parties’ switch on civil rights.

First, it’s important to note that, yes, the Democrats were indeed the party of slavery and, in the early 20th century, the party of segregation, too.

(There are some pundits who claim this is some secret they’ve uncovered, but it’s long been front & center in any US history.)

Indeed, as @rauchway once noted, one could argue that *the* central story of twentieth-century American political history is basically the evolution of the Democratic Party from the party of Jim Crow to the party of civil rights.

At the start of the 20th century, the Democrats — dominated by white southern conservatives — were clearly the party of segregationists.

President Woodrow Wilson, for instance, instituted segregation in Washington and across the federal government. (See @EricSYellin’s work.)

That said, both parties in this period had their share of racists in their ranks.

When the second KKK rose to power in the 1920s, it had a strong Democratic ties in some states; strong GOP ones elsewhere.

There’s a meme purporting to show the 1924 Democratic convention was known as the “Klanbake” but — wait a second, you should sit down for this — that internet meme is not in fact historically accurate.

See @pashulman & @CleverTitleTK for a breakdown: washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-h…
This, then, was a period when the two parties’ IDs were in flux.

Democrats still had a base of segregationists in the South, but increasingly some liberals in the North.

Republicans, liberal & even radical in Lincoln’s era, had more conservatives joining, often in the West.
With the New Deal, FDR brought new big-government liberalism to the Democrats, but found sharp resistance from southern Dems on two issues: unions and civil rights.

(Among dozens and dozens of great books on this, see Ira Katznelson’s Fear Itself:
‘Fear Itself,’ by Ira KatznelsonIra Katznelson examines how Franklin D. Roosevelt won approval for the New Deal, and at what cost.https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/07/books/review/fear-itself-by-ira-katznelson.html)

Importantly, despite some small gestures, FDR’s brand of liberalism was purely focused on economic issues.

Though some in the administration (Eleanor Roosevelt, progressive Republican Harold Ickes, etc.) were racially liberal, the Democrats as a whole were not.

As Nancy Weiss Malkiel and others showed, African Americans began voting Democratic not because of the New Deal’s record on race, but in spite of it.

Blacks stayed loyal to “the party of Lincoln” in 1932, but shifted in massive numbers to FDR in 1936. (~76% of northern blacks)

Over the next two decades, Democrats had an uneasy coalition that combined white southern conservatives and African Americans in the north, plus a growing number of white liberals.

This tension came to a head in the 1948 election, under the leadership of President Harry Truman.
Outraged at reports of black WWII vets being assaulted, Truman launched a presidential commission on civil rights in 1946-7.

Then — to the nation’s shock — he pressed hard for all its recommendations, including protecting black voting rights and desegregating the military.

Liberal Democrats rallied around Truman’s call, with then-Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey urging the 1948 DNC “to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

After Humphrey’s speech, the convention adopted a strong civil rights plank.

It was a turning point for the party, the first major fight on civil rights in which northern liberals beat back southern conservatives and took control of the party on race relations.

Famously, of course, Southern Democrats bolted the party in anger, forming the States Rights Democratic Party — “the Dixiecrats” — under the leadership of avowed segregationist Strom Thurmond.

Thurmond and the Dixiecrats took four Deep South states (notably, all places where local allies kicked Truman off the ballot) but Truman still won re-election that fall.

The Dixiecrats came back into the coalition, but increasingly saw that they were on the losing end of things.

The Democratic Party was still the only party in the South, where the Republicans — “the party of Lincoln” — were still reviled and, as a result, virtually non-existent.

In his classic 1949 study, the famous political scientist V.O. Key judged that the Republican Party in the South “scarcely deserves the name of party. It wavers somewhat between an esoteric cult on the order of a lodge and a conspiracy for plunder.”

In fact, Republicans were so rare in the South that in the 1950s they told a story in East Texas about a sheriff who threw out the only two votes for a Republican candidate on the assumption that the candidate himself must have voted twice.

Both parties vied for the southern white vote during the 1950s, and thus took a fairly hands-off approach to civil rights.

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson, his Dem opponent in 1952 & 1956, both tried to duck the issue whenever possible. As president, Ike sympathized with southern whites.

After Brown v. Board, he said appointing Chief Justice Earl Warren had been “the biggest damfool mistake I ever made.” He refused to urge compliance with Brown, allowing southern Democrats to wage “massive resistance” to it.

Eisenhower reluctantly intervened in Little Rock, but only belatedly, when Democratic Governor Orval Faubus’s defiance of the Supreme Court — and, by extension, Eisenhower’s own authority — got dangerously out of hand.

JFK was a lot like Ike on civil rights. He made symbolic efforts in the 1960 campaign, calling Coretta Scott King when MLK was in jail and winning key black votes in the North.

But until the Birmingham protests in 1963 he was generally reluctant to act, just as Ike had been.
In June 1963, after the Kennedy administration secured the desegregation of the University of Alabama — over the objections of Democratic Gov. George Wallace — JFK issued this stirring call for the legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act.

When JFK was assassinated, Lyndon B. Johnson didn’t simply continue to push for the Civil Rights Act, but went further, making it even stronger than originally planned.

He signed it into law in July 1964 with Martin Luther King at his side:

Now, Republicans were pivotal in helping pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It *was* a Democratic admin’s bill, but Southern Dems in the Senate blocked it at every turn, so Democratic leaders reached out to Minority Leader Everett Dirksen to get GOP votes to help pass it.

Despite that GOP support for the Civil Rights Act, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, voted against it.

Personally, Goldwater wasn’t a bigot. He opposed not integration itself, but federal intervention to achieve it.
For most Southern whites, however, the nuances of Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he stood against it, while LBJ stood for it.

Goldwater carried four Deep South states that fall, with segregationists rallying to the GOP.
Notably, Senator Strom Thurmond — the original Dixiecrat — bolted from the Democratic Party to join the ranks of the Republicans.

Importantly, he secured a rare deal with the GOP whereby he’d keep his seniority, and all the congressional power that came with it.

The Goldwater/Thurmond moment was transformative in how Americans understood the two parties on civil rights.

Until 1964, it seemed clear that Democrats were the party of economic liberalism and the GOP economic conservatism, but civil rights had been left out of the picture.

Indeed, as @edsall has noted, as late as 1962, polls asking which political party was “more likely to see to it that Negroes get fair treatment in jobs and housing” showed that Americans saw virtually no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

But in 1964, when asked the same question, 60% said Democrats were more in favor of fair jobs and housing for blacks; just 7% said Republicans.

Asked which party was more likely to support school integration in 1964, 56% pointed to Democrats while 7% did so for the Republicans. There was a stark change in popular perception about the two parties on civil rights.

But, that said, there was *not* an immediate, massive change in party affiliations for elected officials in Washington. The “realignment” that scholars write about didn’t happen overnight.
Strom Thurmond’s deal — in which he kept his seniority and thus, in the era of strong committee chairs, his real power — proved to be a one-off.

Most of the other old Dixiecrats in Congress didn’t switch parties themselves, but oversaw a transition for the next generation.

Take former Senate Maj. Leader Trent Lott. He served as an aide to Rep. William Colmer (D-MS), head of the House Rules Committee.

When Colmer retired in 1972, he handpicked Lott to fill the seat — but told him to run as a Republican. He did & won.
 

https://twitter.com/KevinMKruse/status/991867113643143168

https://twitter.com/KevinMKruse/status/991867103241105409

https://twitter.com/KevinMKruse/status/991867105149640704

Returning to Kruse’s thread:

Or consider Jesse Helms. He’d grown up a southern Dem, getting his first taste of politics helping Democrat Willis Smith run a race-baiting campaign for a NC senate seat in 1950 (see the ad below).

 

When Helms ran on his own in 1972, though, like Lott, he ran as a Republican.

Ah yes, Jesse Helms.

From Jennifer Bendery at the Huffington Post, on September 14, 2013.

Ted Cruz: ‘We Need 100 More Like Jesse Helms’ In The Senate

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Wednesday that the country would be better off if the Senate was full of people like Jesse Helms, the late senator who was ardently opposed to all kinds of civil rights measures and even tried to block the Senate from approving a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

During remarks at a Heritage Foundation event dubbed the “Jesse Helms Lecture Series,” Cruz told a story of Helms receiving a $5,000 political donation from actor John Wayne, who apparently later told Helms he liked him because “you’re that guy saying all those crazy things” and that there needed to be 100 more of him.

“It’s every bit as true now as it was then,” Cruz said. “We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”

Helms, the conservative North Carolina Republican who served in the Senate for 30 years, was known for his efforts to stop progressive polices relating to gay rights, abortion and race. He opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he referred to as “the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.” When the Senate acted in 1983 to create a federal holiday honoring King, Helms staged a 16-day filibuster to try to block it. He ultimately caved in exchange for action on a tobacco bill.

In 1988, Helms opposed the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS bill, stating that there “is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.”

Helms passed away in 2008.

Cruz said the first political donation he ever made was to Helms — $10 — and praised the late senator for his outspokenness. If Helms were alive, Cruz said, he would be taking a more aggressive stance against “radical Islamist terrorism” than President Barack Obama has been taking.

“If Jesse Helms were still with us, he would not shy away from this fight,” Cruz said.

Cruz spoke at the NRA meeting after Pence and Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

The tone of the NRA meeting was angry and defiant, at once crowing about how gun owners have never enjoyed as many rights and privileges as they have today, thanks to the NRA, but also haranguing that gun rights have never been more imperiled and under siege.

In his column, Ken Herman, who I went to Dallas with, wrote:

The part I don’t get about gun culture is the part that says I should have one to defend myself against my government. I feel no such need.

Well, that’s easy for Ken to say.

He probably knew all along that the (Alex Jones fueled) conspiracy theory back in 2015 about the Jade Helm military exercises being a prelude to the Obama administration declaring martial law in Texas was really early evidence of beta testing by the Russians of a disinformation campaign in the United States.

But, the NRA, it seems is always on Jade Helm alert.

From Ken’s column:

dStrategically placed throughout the convention center are big (really, really big) banners featuring the meeting’s slogan — “A Show of Strength” — and a challenging, menacing, come-and-take-it oversized visage of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

His welcome message in the program reminds NRA members, “Forces from the extreme left in the political class to anti-Second Amendment extremists in the academic community to the ever more aggressive, deceitful national media have joined together in a massive conspiracy to seize control of the U.S. House and Senate in the next election.”

The goal of that cabal, he says, is nothing less than “to pervert our great nation into their European-style socialist utopia.”

It made we wonder about staunch defenders of the Second Amendment who might not necessarily buy into the whole LaPierre agenda – there must more than a few of them – which seems to go well beyond defending the Second Amendment.

If not as stern of visage as LaPierre, Cruz was also combative in his remarks:

We understand the Second Amendment right is not about hunting,” Sen. Cruz said. “It’s not about target shooting. The Second Amendment is about the fundamental, God-given right each and every one of us has to defend our lives, to defend our homes, to defend our children, to defend our family, and when the Second Amendment says ‘shall not be infringed’ it means exactly that: shall not be infringed. That’s what the men and women here are standing up and defending.

And:

In 1776, 56 patriots affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence. Signed their lives, fortunes and sacred honors. When they made that commitment those were not empty words. Those were the words that launched a revolution, the greatest experiment in freedom that the world has ever known. Today, in this gathering, we are once again in the presence of patriots. From the minutemen at Lexington and Concord to civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Americans have long understood that the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental for preserving our liberty. And the men and women here are committed to standing up for freedom..

Suffice it to say that Jesse Helms would not have thought to recruit Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, both of whom were assassinated with guns, nto the campaign against gun regulation. Nor, I suspect, would Jesse Helms have welcomed Kanye West to a national Republican ticket, as I’m sure Cruz, when the time comes, will.

Fourteen years ago, I covered Kanye West at a hip-hop political summit at Ohio State University.

Forty years after Freedom Summer and the murders of three young civil rights workers in Mississippi, there is a nascent effort to rouse a new generation to activism by transforming hip-hop from a cultural force into a political movement – to bring bling bling to the ballot box.

It was evident in early June at the celebrity-driven Hip-Hop Summit at Ohio State University, credited with adding some 10,000 new voters to the rolls. And it will be in further evidence beginning Wednesday at the three-day National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Newark, N.J., an issues-driven, grass-roots affair (delegates were required to register 50 new voters to be credentialed) that will try to define just what a hip-hop politics would look like.

“There’s a phrase in hip-hop _ `show and prove,”’ said James Bernard, 39, a pioneering figure in hip-hop journalism who is now devoted to political organizing. The field director for the Newark convention, Bernard has raised $1.4 million for the Hip-Hop Civic Engagement Project, a registration and get-out-the-vote drive that he will direct in 14 key states. “I think we are about to show and prove.”

Freedom Summer flowered amid one of the most fertile periods of social change in American history. Black voting rights were secured, and the voting age was lowered to 18. But in 2000, nearly two-thirds of blacks ages 18 to 24 did not vote, and the turnout among young whites was hardly any better (especially considering how many young black males cannot vote because they are in prison or, once out, in states that deny ex-felons the vote).

Some rappers, like Kanye West, 26, who headlined the Ohio State summit, are pointedly mindful of both the legacy and burden of history for a generation more used to commemorating the black freedom struggle than advancing it.

West’s father was a Black Panther. His mother is a professor of English at Chicago State University who, as he raps in “Never Let Me Down,” was taken by her grandfather to a sit-in where “at the tender of six she was arrested.”

“With that in my blood I was born to be different,” he continues. “Now n—-s can’t make it to ballots to choose leadership, but we can make it to Jacob and to the dealership.” (Jacob is the jeweler designing West’s line of diamond-studded Jesus pendants.)

xxxxxxx

In his own conversation with reporters at the summit, Damon Dash, co-chair of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records, the major label whose artists include West, admitted that political rap does not sell and that rappers have to slip wisdom into more commercial work.

“Sometimes it’s not in our best interests to let people know how smart we are,” Dash said.

“That says it all,” observed Mark McPhail, a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he is conducting a course on Freedom Summer on the very campus where civil rights volunteers were trained before being dispatched to Mississippi.

So, it appeared Kanye was using 400 years of slavery to sell an album by selling out his people.

As T.I., as the people, put it:

Startin’ to make it seem like Donnie cut you a check
Now you toyin’ with hot lava, better be careful with that

But, as West replies, Alright, Tip, we could be rappin’ about this all day, man.
Why don’t we just cut the beat off and let the people talk.

So maybe he is just getting the conversation going, per Scott Adams, to liberate some minds and usher in the Golden Age, though I suspect is has more to do with his own Golden Age.

For better or worse, it is world-class branding, something that Trump understands and at which Trump, like Kanye excels.

Think of the ratings potential.

A Trump-West inaugural in 2021 might actually draw the biggest crowd ever.

They are a perfect match.

Bye bye Pence.

P.S.  From PAULA ROGO at Essence:
It appears that President Donald Trump is prepared to start a national discussion on race — and he wants Colin Kaepernick and Kanye West involved.

Cleveland-based pastor Darrell Scott, who is an outside adviser to the president, told PEOPLE that the president had signed off on a series of meetings on race that will include athletes and artists.

“He is 100 percent for it,” says Scott, who said he had spoken with Trump. “He was very enthusiastic about it.”

He added: “It’s not going to be a black-only event. It will be a melting pot.”

Scott also confirmed that Kanye, who has shared his admiration for Trump, has been invited. Though the idea of the summits has been in play for a while, Kanye’s recent controversial tweets may have sped up the process, Scott says.

Kaepernick, who Trump once vilified for his position to kneel during the national anthem, has also been asked to attend. 

“Maybe he should find a country that works better for him,” Trump said of Kaepernick last year, adding that players who kneel for the anthem should be fired.

According to Scott, who will be apart of the organizing team, invitations will also be extended to Jim Brown, Evander Holyfield, Herschel Walker and Mike Tyson. 

Trump also plans to be in attendance, a move that Scott says will help people understand the president better.

“I want them to see and know the Donald Trump I know and they will say, ‘This guy isn’t who I’ve been lead to believe he is.

 

Lupe Valdez talks Latinx activists into backing the White guy for governor

(Photo by Ken Herman)

Good Monday Austin:

As of today, thanks largely to the forces of political inertia, Lupe Valdez remains the favorite to win the May 22 runoff and become the Democratic candidate for governor in 2018.

But, steadily, bit by bit, Valdez appears determined to chip away at her lead.

On Sunday it was an appearance, along with rival Andrew White, Miguel Suazo, the Democratic Party’s candidate for land commissioner, and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso,the party’s candidate for U.S. Senate, at a town hall put on by Jolt, a barely year-old organization intended to mobilize younger Latinos as a political force in Texas (note that both Suazo and O’Rourke are both running against Hispanic Republican incumbents in Land Commissioner George P. Bush and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.)

But somehow, on the strength – or weakness – of her performance, Valdez lost the endorsement of a passionate and energized group of Latinx (as I have learned, the gender-neutral term for Latinos/Latinas) Texans to a white man named White who is the son of a white man named Mark White who served as a centrist governor of Texas for one term from 1983 to 1987,  and who is running in 2018 as a centrist Democrat for governor.

(The Valdez campaign issued a statement Monday night in which she apologized for her performance at Jolt.)

Valdez ought to be worried, and if she isn’t, Texas Democrats ought to be worried about the prospect of nominating a candidate for governor on the increasingly questionable premise that her name and identity alone guarantee that she will be the stronger general election candidate or, at any rate, the candidate best able to help draw an increased Hispanic turnout in November, which is the raison d’être of Jolt.

Jolt is relatively new (here is an early story about Jolt from Gus Bova at the Texas Observer), not that well-known and has no electoral track record yet, though it has made an impression with its creative organizing efforts, including the Quinceañera at the Capitol celebration of resistance to SB 4 last year that they said reached 50 million Americans through social media.

Jolt has ambitions, according to its founder and executive director Cristina Tzintzun, of mobilizing 30,000 Hispanic voters who don’t usually vote and bringing them to the polls this year.

And, on Sunday, Jolt’s first endorsement town hall generated newspaper headlines across the state that were bad for Valdez.

There’s my story:

Young Hispanic activists ‘Jolt’ Valdez campaign by backing Andrew White

In a stunner, Jolt, a year-old organization of young Hispanic Texans with ambitions of spurring a surge in turnout this year, endorsed Andrew White over Lupe Valdez for the Democratic nomination for governor Sunday after a town hall at which Valdez failed to effectively answer questions about whether her record as Dallas County sheriff was “anti-immigrant.”

There’s Immigration questions put governor hopeful Lupe Valdez on hot seat at young Latino voters’ forum from James Barragán in the Dallas Morning News.

AUSTIN — A group of young Latino voters has endorsed Andrew White for governor instead of his opponent, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, after she struggled to answer questions about her record on immigration during a forum Sunday.

There’s Latino voting group snubs Lupe Valdez, backs Andrew White for governor by Peggy Fikac in the San Antonio Express-News.

AUSTIN — After expressing dissatisfaction with Lupe Valdez’s answer when she was quizzed about her allegedly “anti-immigrant” policies as Dallas County sheriff, a Latino voting group Sunday instead endorsed Houston businessman Andrew White in the Democratic runoff for governor.

There’s  Austin town hall turns heated for Dems Valdez, White by the Houston Chronicle’s Mike Ward.

AUSTIN – The two Democrats running for Texas governor were confronted Sunday during a town hall forum over their positions involving immigration, putting them on the defensive at an event that was expected to be friendly.

Injecting drama into a race that so far has mostly been a snoozer, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez was questioned about why she cooperated with federal immigration detainers while she was in charge of the Dallas County Jail.

The forum that attracted about 200 people was staged Sunday by Jolt The Vote, a civic-engagement organization working to mobilize Latino millennials in the 2018 elections. Only Democratic statewide candidates appeared.

Later in the day, hours after the forum, Jolt group endorsed White over Valdez, the first Latina to run for Texas governor, saying he had shown his “commitment to improving the lives of Latinos.” The group also endorsed Beto O’Rourke for Texas Senate for the same reason.

And there’s the Texas Tribune story – Democratic statewide candidates get tough questions from Latino youth – from Patrick Svitek:

 Karla Quinoñes did not mince words as she asked the first question to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez.

“Ms. Valdez, you were sheriff of Dallas County for many years, and it seems that your legacy was one of supporting anti-immigrant policies that actually expanded ICE enforcement,” said Quinoñes, a Dallas high school student, posing a series of pointed questions about Valdez’s cooperation with the federal agency and intentions if elected governor. “Why should we trust you today?” 

The less-than-direct answer that followed from Valdez did not appear to satisfy Quinoñes and the group she represents — Jolt Texas, which was created last year to mobilize young Latinos in turning the state blue. And before the end of the afternoon, Valdez had lost another endorsement to her runoff rival, Democrat Andrew White, after coming across as ill-prepared or -informed.

Ay yi yi

As Svitek wrote, the endorsement of White was probably largely due to Valdez’s inability to successfully answer the mutli-pronged question from Quinoñes.

As I wrote:

It was a question from Karla Quiñones, an 18-year-0ld senior at W.T. White High School in Dallas, that crystallized ongoing concerns about Valdez’s record in the Latino activist community, and her inability to offer a crisp and clear response.

“Miss Valdez,” said Quiñones, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who grew up watching Valdez coverage on Univision, the Spanish-language television network, “you were the sheriff of Dallas County for many years, and it seems that your legacy was one of supporting anti-immigrant policies that actually expanded ICE enforcement.”

“Given that, one, the Dallas community walked out of your forum with (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) saying that you turned your backs on them; two, you complied with every ICE request for warrantless ICE detentions even when other counties, like Travis County, were taking a courageous stand against them … why should we trust you today?”

Valdez thanked Quiñones for a “chance to explain.”

“Of course, look at me, I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can,” Valdez said, detailing her vigorous opposition to Senate Bill 4, the ban on so-called sanctuary cities passed by the Legislature and signed into law last year by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Let’s pause here.

Valdez has taken to introducing folks at her appearances to the “Greg Abbott tracker” in their midst – the young man with the nice earrings who records things she has to say that might find their way into Abbott campaign ads.

It’s a funny, and well-received, when she tells her audience to welcome him. But her generosity of spirit should not extend to giving him what he is looking for.

Of course, look at me, I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can.

One could fairly hear Abbott strategist Dave Carney’s YEEHAH! echoing from his lair in Hancock, New Hampshire, off Skatutakee Mountain, the 1667 miles to Austin, Texas, above the low hum of Abbott Oompa Loompas working through the night to churn out a new line of 100 percent cotton T-shirts with an image of Lupe Valdez and the words, Of course, look at me, I’m going to fight for as much immigration as I can.

It’s not just that that’s not a policy. It’s that it’s exactly what Texas Republicans think, or their leaders would like them to think, is the actual Democratic thought process on immigration – fight for as much immigration as possible to help turn the state blue over time.

Two weekends ago, the last time I saw Valdez in Austin, she introduced her Abbott tracker to the crowd and then, after brief remarks, had this to say in answer to a question about debates.

(Photo by AMANDA VOISARD)

Asked by a Democratic activist at a campaign event at North Austin brewpub Black Star Co-op on Friday night if she was going to debate White, Valdez replied, “I’m open to any kind of debate, but my staff are the ones who are going to take care of all of that.”

Pressed for a firmer answer, Valdez said, “You know there’s only certain decisions that they let me make, and most of them have to do with policy. … I can’t even tell you where I’ll be in the next few days. They’ll tell me. So they’re taking care of that.”

Abbott is primed to run against Valdez.

As John Moritz wrote in early April in a piece that appeared in the Caller Times under the headline, Greg Abbott declares Lupe Valdez a winner in the May 22 Democratic runoff for governor. The Democratic runoff for Texas governor is more than a month away, but the Republican incumbent is eager to cast Democrat Lupe Valdez as pro-sanctuary cities.

AUSTIN – Texas Democrats needn’t bother voting in the May 22 runoff because Republican Gov. Greg Abbott already has declared former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez the winner over Houston businessman Andrew White.

“The next 7 months will be a battle between @LupeValdez and me about whether or not Texas will secure our border and protect our sovereignty,” the governor said in a tweet Wednesday night. “It’s about whether sanctuary cities will remain banned or be allowed.”

Abbott, with the power of incumbency running in a solid red state, will be the prohibitive favorite no matter who the Democrats choose next month. But the tweet that came in response to Valdez’s statement castigating President Donald Trump’s plans for troops on the Texas-Mexico border suggests Abbott likes the idea of making sanctuary cities and illegal immigration Topic One for the general election campaign.

Valdez was happy to engage with Abbott on the issue.

The fact that Valdez find herself whipsawed between Abbott’s claims that she is too soft on immigration and the activist’s charges that she is too hard-line, is a dilemma that perhaps cannot be avoided. But she could attempt to make the case that she is charting a reasonable middle ground.

But her responses Sunday fail to reveal a coherent through-line.

Returning to Valdez’s response to Quiñones’ question Sunday, from my story:

She talked about the May 2015 community engagement meeting in Dallas at which immigrant activists confronted Sarah Saldaña, director of ICE, over what crimes constituted just cause for deportation.

“I brought in the director of ICE so they could come and explain the whole situation that was going on, and there were a couple of people who were upset with me because I couldn’t explain what was going on, and they literally got up and turned their backs and walked away,” Valdez said. “The thing that was uncomfortable about that was there were many people there that needed to hear what they needed to do, what they could do, and the director of ICE was standing right there to tell them. But because of that, they weren’t able to hear the direction that could have been given and the paths that they could take.”

OK. So in the course of providing an answer that may have figured importantly in Jolt’s turning its back on her, Valdez explained that back in 2015, there were a couple of people who were upset with me because I couldn’t explain what was going on, and they literally got up and turned their backs and walked away.” 

Things didn’t get any better after the speech when Valdez was confronted by a gaggle of reporters who wanted to follow up on Quiñones’ question.

After the town hall, Valdez was asked about Quiñones’ question suggesting she had an “anti-immigrant” record.

“I think it was one person’s opinion,” Valdez said, recalling her vocal opposition to SB 4.

“As you recall, the governor actually sent me what I call nastygrams because of my decision of defense of the people that were being deported and separated from their parents,” Valdez said.

Valdez was also asked about a 2015 federal civil rights lawsuit brought by Dallas County jail inmates against the county and her as sheriff, claiming they were being illegally detained because of “immigration holds” placed on them for ICE.

Valdez said the lawsuit was “filed against immigration being able to take people from the jail; the lawsuit was against the authority of ICE to be able to deport.”

“The lawsuit is still going on, so I have to be real careful how I discuss that,” Valdez said.

Asked about Quiñones’ question of whether she deserves the trust of the Latino community, Valdez said, “I think there’s a misunderstanding of the track record. I went to fight SB 4 way before anybody else.”

With that, Valdez told the scrum of reporters, “I’ve given you some answers. You wanted some answers, and I’ve given them to you. OK, now let us do what we love to do best and deal with some of the voters and go on to some of the other things we’ve got to do.”

The bad/good news for Valdez was that, from my limited experience, Sunday’s was one of her better performances. She was more lively and animated and had more rhetorical threads than I had seen before.

She certainly has way more endorsements than White, including at least three state senators, 24 state representatives, and U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-San Antonio.

The Democratic nomination for governor, of course, could have been Joaquín’s or his twin brother, Julián’s for the taking but Joaquín chose to stay in Congress and Julián is exploring a run for president, which is apparently less daunting than running statewide in Texas.

For her fellow Democratic politicians, endorsing Valdez is the safest course, the path-of-least-resistance option.

But, for Jolt, the political calculation is  different.

It brought to mind what Mike Webb, president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus told Ken Herman in February about the organization’s decision to endorse White, who is straight, over Valdez, who made history as a lesbian sheriff.

 

“Let’s be clear: Our members wanted to endorse Valdez,” said Mike Webb, Houston GLBT caucus president. “There’s nothing that would make us more proud than electing a member of our own community. However, we also have an expectation in our community to endorse the person who will do the best job. And our members just thought that Andrew White would do the best job.”

Webb also said, “Our members were convinced he would be best positioned to fight back hard against the aggressive bigotry we are getting from our governor” and that on “questions of deportation of immigrants, (Valdez’s) answers just weren’t very empathetic.”

Jolt’s founder, Tzintzun, who’s mother is Mexican and father is white, is originally from Columbus, Ohio, but moved to Texas when she was 21.

“My parents told me that it had the three things I love the most: year-round sunshine, lots of Mexicans and vegan food,” Tzintzun said.

The last seems a questionable draw, but she lives in Austin.

Before Jolt, Tzintzun spent 12 years building the Workers Defense Project .

Tzintzun is 36. Jolt is intended to mobilize Latinx voters younger than she is.

Founder and Executive Director Cristina Tzintzun said they chose the name Jolt “because when Latinos come out to vote, we are going to be a shock to the political system, not only of Texas but of the entire country.”

For Tzintzun and Jolt, there is little incentive to follow the safer course, the path-of-least-resistance option of endorsing Valdez if they don’t really believe she would best advance their goals.

At 18, Quiñones, grew up with Valdez as a public figure in her hometown.

“It was always good seeing her on TV. Wow, someone who looked like me was in such a high position.”

Energized to get involved in politics by the 2016 election,Quiñones got in touch with Jolt and became the  president of her high school chapter, which meant she would be among 16 leaders of the organization to vote on its endorsement this weekend.

Assigned the task of posing a question to Valdez, Quiñones did her research and delivered her accusatory question in a very even manner. When I spoke to her after the town hall, she said she didn’t think that Valdez had answered her question: “I think she kind of veered off.”

(JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

White is making the argument that he is a more capable candidate who will acquit himself better as the party’s nominee for governor, that he will stand the ticket – topped by Beto O’Rourke  and followed by the candidate for governor – in better stead. He is also making the case that, as long a shot as it may be for either of them, he stands a better chance of defeating Abbott than Valdez.

As he told the town hall Sunday, there is a blue wave building and it has already elected a moderate Democrat to the Senate in a special election in Alabama, and a moderate Democrat to Congress in a special election in Pennsylvania.

“And,” White said, “our turn is next.”

Electing a middle-of-the road white guy might not seem to be the most compelling argument to win over Latinx activists in Texas in 2018. But, on Sunday, thanks to Lupe Valdez, it carried the day.

 

 

 

 

 

I went to the Chip Roy-Matt McCall debate, and then the debate came to me.

 

Good day Austin:

Sunday night I went to a Hill Country Democratic CD 21 forum/debate at a winery in Johnson City.

Last night, I went to a Hill Country Tea Party Patriots Republican CD 21 forum/debate in a room at a senior citizen center in New Braunfels.

And then, as you will see, the debate came to me.

The tenor of the two debates was quite different.  (I’m going to call them debates even though they might not, strictly speaking, debates, because there was some opportunity for the candidates to answer questions and mix it up.)

 

Kopser and Wilson had some disagreements in tone and substance.

But, by and large it was a cordial affair in front of an up-beat crowd.

Yes, they booed and hissed at the mention of Lamar Smith, the retiring Republican incumbent whose seat Kopser and Wilson want to fill, and, of course, Sen. Ted Cruz. But they did it more in the good-natured spirit of a silent film audience watching an old movie melodrama.

On a beautiful Hill Country evening at a winery that looked like it could have been somewhere in Northern California, there wasn’t much venom in the air.

The Monday night tea party crowd, however, seemed to be, as tea party crowds tend to be, a bit more vexed, and maybe a wee bit sullen.

But don’t get me wrong, I far preferred the Monday event because rivals Chip Roy and Matt McCall, coaxed by some loaded audience questions, really did get into it and go at each other more than Wilson and Kopser did.

Conflict is news and I am a reporter.

I got video of some of the better moments.

This first clip came in response to a question from Tonya Benson of Fredericksburg, calling Roy out for a push poll his campaign conducted that she said was making misleading assertions about McCall.

(Interestingly, Kopser also drew controversy for a push poll. Kopser and Roy, unlike Wilson and McCall, have lots of money to spend and consultants to help them spend it, which, I think, leads them to spend money on things best avoided, like push polls.)

My review here is that McCall is an adept counterpuncher.

Roy, a cerebral type, may appeal to the tea party head, but McCall appeals to the tea party heart, or gut, or innards more generally.

However, McCall was less ready when asked about how he would, if elected to Congress, handle the conflict of interest inherent in his business as a government contractor, providing human tissue, mostly to U.S. military hospitals in Europe and Asia.

McCall said it was a good question, that he intended to keep his business, put it in the hands of a caretaker and return to it after six years in Congress. In the meantime, he said that he hadn’t quite figured out how to avoid the appearance of a conflict, but that he would figure out some ethical arrangement like Trump did with his business holdings – perhaps the first time Trump has been held out as an example for avoiding the appearance of a conflict of interest. Or maybe a blind trust, which might make sense with a stock portfolio but wouldn’t be terribly blinding when, of course, he would still know what his business was and how it would be affected by decisions he would make in Congress.

The question here was to Roy, asking why it would be a good idea to send a lawyer “knee-deep in politics” to D.C.

I thought McCall’s response that you shouldn’t have to be someone steeped in the ins and outs of  Washington politics, and that he represented the model of the smart and inquisitive citizen-amateur, started strong.

I think it’s a bunch of rubbish and I think it’s an unAmerican idea. It’s an unAmerican idea that we need a ruling class. I can hire staffers like you, Chip. He’s taking credit for all the things his bosses have ever done. Now I’m really irritated. He is saying that we the people aren’t smart enough to do it ourselves.

But then, around the 3:26 mark, he got a little carried away

I can figure things out. I went in six weeks from knowing absolutely nothing about medicine to teaching accomplished surgeons how to do different techniques for hernia repair in the most complicated area of the anatomy. 

I believe Roy’s eyes widened at this point, as did mine.

McCall also said he had traveled to 45 countries on business and out of personal interest, was a better negotiator than Roy would have ever encountered, and had 2 million frequent flier miles on American Airlines.

But he didn’t mention anything about piloting the planes.

As the time for questions came to an end, John Beacom, the president of the Hill Country Tea Party Patriots, asked the audience if they wanted to hear the candidates give closing statements for another couple of minutes or call it a night.

The consensus was that it was time to go home.

 

But, that’s when things got really interesting.

I approached Tonya Benson, the woman who had asked Roy about the push poll to see if she was satisfied with his answer (she wasn’t).

As we talked,  McCall joined the conversation, and brought up the circumstances surrounding Roy’s move in early 2016 from  Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office, where he was first assistant attorney general, to a super PAC supporting Ted Cruz’s candidacy for president.

McCall (to me): You should look at DoubleDipChip.com,

FR: Is that something you put together?

McCall: No it isn’t. It was sent to us yesterday and it lays out the timeline. (Texas) Senate Bill 73 is about abortion. It’s Donna Campbell’s bill. There is a little rider on there to stop this kind of stuff that he did.

FR: What kind of stuff?

McCall: Well, he was fired, he was asked to resign, he was presented a letter of resignation, and so instead, he rewrote the letter and said, “OK, today’s may last day in office but I’m taking three months of leave, paid leave.” That was on March 19 of 2016. The next day he went to work for Ted Cruz’s  super PAC. So the Texas government is paying him a salary of $16,500 a month while he was there, so he got busted by the Dallas Morning paper…

At this point, Roy, who was at the other end of the room but surmising what was going on, approached, and hearing what McCall had just said, interjected:

Roy: These are lies, I didn’t earn one dollar, not one dollar, that was not earned vacation, and this matters, this matters a lot because my wife recognized the $15,000 I gave up, turned down from the PAC , while I was on the payroll of the state, that’s the way the state lawyers gave it, I did not earn one dollar, not one, that was not vacation or comp time. Period

McCall: Well, I think that is probably true it you let me finish what I was saying before you interrupted my conversation, thank you very much, Chip. I guess it’s a weak hand. But he went back and changed his letter of resignation when he was busted by the Dallas paper on it. The next day, after they wrote an article he went out and made his resignation immediate and not in June, and then it probably did work out and I assume what he just said is absolutely true, but that wasn’t what was going on.

Roy: That’s not true.

McCall: And Senate Bill 73 is to end that.

Roy: That’s not true.

McCall: That’s what it appears, anyway, and I’m not claiming to be an expert, but that’s what’s out there, that’s the record, I don’t know why you didn’t sue for defamation if it was. Now Donna Campbell is trying to change those rules so people can’t take three months of severance when they retire and work for someplace else. It’s actually against the law to be on the state payroll and working in politics, from what I understand.

Roy: The fact of the matter, the truth is that when I left the AG’s office, I went to work for Sen. Cruz … the next day, I did that under the state law that was given to me by the state lawyers, that I would off my vacation time and my comp time, and when I said in the press at the time when I was asked about it, people asked questions about it when I was with Sen. Cruz’s super PAC, I didn’t take any pay, not one dollar, from the PAC while I was still on the state payroll, as the state lawyers had given me as the exit (method) from the state.

And I said that I had cancer scans with my oncologist the week of April 7th, 8th, whatever it was, so I went and got the scans and was essentially waiting for the results of the scans to know whether or not I was staying with the PAC or thinking of coming back to the state. I was still on the payroll, under the law, as they said when I left, I would be paid for the days that I earned, so that’s what I did, that’s what I was told.

So I’m over working over here (for the PAC), not earning any money.

McCall: Which I didn’t say that you were.

Roy: But what I’m saying is that when I left, I  got a clear review by my oncologist and I said, Ok, I will now make this official, and it was all within the window of this earned time. That’s what happened, that’s what the News reflects, that’s what the Tribune reported on.

(In other words, and quite reasonably, Roy wanted the state health coverage if he were still going to be dealing with cancer.)

McCall: I’m not trying to be mean but when I was running against Lamar and I said something that wasn’t true I called Logan, and I said, “Logan, I found out something I said wasn’t rue and I won’t do it again.” And I said, “Logan, please call me if you find something I said that’s not true, because I think the facts are bad enough about his voting record.’

But I’ve had five different people, who don’t know each other, that all say that you were handed a letter of resignation and you were fired, so you really didn’t have an opportunity to go back to the AG’s office.

Roy: When I left the AG’s office, what was discussed was whether or not, if I were leaving to go to work for the senator, and whether or not I might potentially come back to the state at some point.

McCall: Not the AG’s office, because they had invited you to be successful someplace else.

Roy: Here’s the bottom line.

McCall: Tell me that that’s …

Roy: When I left the state and left the state to work for the PAC, I didn’t know what the health situation was at the time.

McCall: I’m not trying to be argumentative. I’m trying to understand. You went to Washington, D.C., on a weekend trip with Paxton, whatever happened, you came home, the next morning at the office you were presented with a letter of resignation. They expected you to sign it.

Roy: That’s not true. None of that is true and I can’t talk about …

McCall: You were basically fired.

Roy: That’s not true, and I can’t talk about what went on n the AG’s office.

McCall: There’s a bunch of people who say that, and none of them were my  personal friends before.

Roy: When I left the AG’s office I went to the work the very next day for the PAC. We announced it and put it out in a press release.

McCall: Yeah, but you didn’t leave the AG’s office because of that. You left that job because you’ve been fired.

Roy: No, I will not talk about what went on the AG’s office because it is not appropriate for me to do so.

When I resigned, I resigned to go work for Sen. Cruz the very next day. And for the time I was with Sen. Cruz, the lawyers in the AG’s office said, this is how we run off your vacation and your comp time. So that’s what I did. That’s the bottom line.

FR: But is it not appropriate because of a settlement or just because of your own sense of what’s appropriate or what’s not appropriate?

Roy: The point about my departure from the AG’s office and what I earned or didn’t earn, I only got paid dollars that I earned, and I turned down pay that I didn’t have to legally, I turned down pay from the PAC to avoid any hint of impropriety, even though there wasn’t any, because I was waiting to find out what the results might be before deciding whether to go back to the state for state benefits. I never had a conversation about the specifics of that. I had any number of options that were on the table.

McCall: Chip, I think you have a history of doing what’s legal and wrong.

Roy: Legal and what?

McCall: Legal and wrong.

Roy: Wrong?

McCall: Legal and wrong. Just because something’s legal doesn’t make it right.

Roy: What was wrong?

McCall: And I think you got caught.

Roy: What was wrong?

McCall: What?

Roy: What was wrong?

McCall: Well, I think you left the state because you got forced to. They handed you a letter for resignation. And you then, while you were collecting money from the state, you were working for a super PAC, which is against the law and you signed a statement saying that you wouldn’t do that.

Roy: What’s against the law?

McCall:  Huh?

Roy: What’s against the law?

McCall:  Using state funds, which that’s what it would be, to do political work.

Roy: It’s illegal to work in a political environment when you are on the state payroll. It’s not. They do it all the time.

McCall: The next day you changed your letter of resignation.

Roy: No.

McCall:  I’ve seen it. It’s actually on-line. It’s not me doing it. It was sent to me – DoubleDipChip.com.

Roy: We changed it when we got the reports back from the oncologist.

McCall: Which just happened to be, shazam, happened to be the day after.

FR: Changed it to what?

Roy: We terminated my being on the payroll when I got my report back from the oncologist.

FR: But then back to the circumstances of your leaving the AG’s office, was there some legal settlement that does not allow you to talk about that, or is it not in the nature of anything like that?

McCall:  I have to run – in the interests of truth, that’s all I am trying to dig for here. And it does really look like, just like you don’t live in the district, it’s legal but it’s not right. What happened there looks like it’s legal but it’s not right, it looks like you got busted on it, and that’s just the way it looks.

Roy: It’s just not true.

McCall: I don’t know that its’ not true and there’s a lot of other people who don’t think that, who think that’s what happened. I tell you that people just walked up to me that I don’t know and they’re like, this is bad and this is why Donna Campbell has the provision in an abortion bill ending this nonsense. It’s complete abuse of the…

Roy: No, the reason she has that bill is because of the nature of the system that has been used in many, many, many instances.

McCall: Which you were using because it was legal, and it’s wrong.

Roy: It’s what the AG’s office gave me as the exit.

McCall: I respectfully disagree?

FR: Are you guy’s doing this again tomorrow?

(Yes)

At this point McCall departed, and Roy offered his summation.

Roy: The important part in my view, because it matters, and what I told the Tribune at the time, is that when I left, what I was told by the lawyers was, this is how you burn your vacation and your comp time, and they set it out at some point in the future.

xxxxxxx

I was told here’s how you burn your time and then when I left and went over and then had blood work that came back a little screwy, so I was scheduling scans with my oncologist, I was then holding on setting the date of the final burn of the time while I was working for the PAC, turning back the pay for the PAC, so that was what was happening.

Kellyanne Conway, and Dave Carney and the people working at the PAC know that I turned down that pay even though legally I could have it. I did that because, while that time was going and I thought that there was at least a chance that if there was a bad report or a bad result that I would have a conversation at that point with the AG or the governor or other people, “Hey, is there a job I can do with the state and be on state benefits if the cancer comes back, because I was sitting on COBRA at $1,900 a month while working for the PAC.

So in the interests of my family, I said, well I will see what happens with the scans, I will burn my vacation and comp time, and then when I get to the scans, which was April 6th, 7th of 8th, whenever it was, that first week of April, it was about a month after I left the AG’s office, I’ll see what the result is. Got the result back and the very next day did that.

The reason this is frustrating to me is that I literally did nothing in any of that that had me getting any benefit from the state that was not earned.

Now had I gone past April, whatever the date was, and then not gone back to the state – and now by the way, I was still given that by the state, people took that, whether that was right or not under the law, that is what the lawyers in the state  were saying, this is how we set that up – I reckon  I would have been within my rights to do that, but what I would have chosen to do is to go back to the attorney general, go back to the state leaders I know and say, “Hey, I’m probably not going to be able to be able to go work for the PAC now, I’ve got to go battle cancer, is there something I could do here at the state like I did for Gov. Perry.”

I might have stayed on COBRA, I might have chosen not to. I was waiting for that timeline before cutting off state insurance until I got through this.

FR: What about Obamacare?

(Roy emitted a negative noise.)

And the PAC job wasn’t one with benefits?

Roy: No because you’re an independent contract.

FR: Which PAC was this?

Roy: Trusted Leadership. There were like four PACs. We formed that one as I left the AG office, which, by the way, had been a six-month long conversation of people saying, “We need you to go do this for Ted,” some friends and donors and supporters out there. And I had been saying “no,” because I had an obligation to people in the AG’s office when they hired me, so when I left it was just in the heat of he battle in 2016 and I needed to do that so I went and did it.

FR: Thanks.

Roy: Thanks.

Meanwhile, the Baker Institute at Rice University at the end  of March held the inaugural conference of its Presidential Elections Program with a panel discussion, moderated by Major Garrett and featuring David Axelrod and Karl Rove.

I have not had a chance to listen to the whole thing yet but, beginning at the 48:50 mark, you can hear some spectacularly misinformed analysis of the CD 23 Democratic race by Rove.

Rove: Each party has its own unique challenge.

The Republican Party. Look Donald Trump owns the Republican Party today, but there is no coherent Trumpism. The Republican Party remains a center-right party governed by somebody who thinks that (Friedrich) Hayek owns a bar on the Upper East Side, who has not read  (Ludwig) Von Mises, and Bill Buckley, well he had a cute wife, and, this is not a guy who is ideologically sound … or grounded, and he’ll be the first to admit it. But he’s got a sense of what the, quote, base needs, and as long as it’s conservative judges and Second Amendment rights, and tax cuts and strong military, they’re going to be with him.

And look, we’re at tribal, a moment of tribalism in American politics. I see this in my party. I can remember people in my party tell me, “I’m offended that the president of the United States would have sex with an intern in the Oval Office, and today it’s, “God I love Donald Trump and who cares about the porn star.” And similarly Democrats – “My God, sex is a private matter and we should not criticize the president,” and, “My God, we’ve got to impeach that son of a bitch.”

So we got to the point of tribalism where everybody’s this way. And so Trump right now is the beneficiary of that tribalism. The Democrats have the tribalism of, “We hate that guy.” and resistance and rage is ultimately going to drive, in my opinion, too many Democrat primaries this year. We’re seeing it right here in  Texas … to the party’s detriment. You saw it here in CD 7, which is yet to play out.

Well, the better example is CD 23 out in West Texas where the Democrats all got behind former U.S Attorney Jay Hulings and the Castro brothers endorsed him and he’s a Marine and he has like $500,000, and he comes in fourth behind a woman who spends $34,000 on her first race for office and a guy who spends twenty grand on like his 50th race for office because he shares the name of a famous Tejano music star, Rick Treviño, a former high school teacher, and the first-place finisher hasn’t lived in Texas for 20 years but, by God, she speaks to all the anger of the Democratic hard left, and both parties are going to have to work their way through this.

Wow. that last paragraph is teeming with misinformation.

OK. He’s close to the mark on Hulings’ money.

But he’s completely off on Gina Ortiz Jones’ money. Totally off.

 

 

He also seems offended that the money wasn’t entirely decisive.

And he also expects us to believe that if Huling had won he would have proclaimed it a victory for the eminently reasonable, non-Trump-hating Castro brothers.

Not likely.

What’s more, the last time he attacked Jones, on FOX News Sunday, (though he got her last name wrong ), it was not that she was a hard-left hater but an identity politics special pleader.

From the Fox News Sunday transcript:

ROVE: Twenty-third district of Texas, one Democratic nominee is Gina Ortiz Turner (sic).

CHRIS WALLACE: OK.

ROVE: Who has never used the word Ortiz ever in her professional life and probably doesn’t — that’s not her real middle name. Why? Identity politics.

Meanwhile, as far as I know, Jay Hulings was not a Marine. Rove is probably confusing him with Joseph Kopser, who spent 20 years in the Army, or Gina Ortiz Jones, who was an Air Force intelligence officer.

And his point about Treviño, is exactly what?

He calls him a “guy who spends twenty grand on like his 50th race for office because he shares the name of a famous Tejano music star, Rick Treviño.”

A couple of days before Rove’s appearance at Rice, I wrote a First Reading on Treviño, To `catch some lightning.’ On Rick Treviño’s perhaps not entirely impossible CD-23 dream.

For starters, this is not Treviño’s 50th race. It is his second.

In May of 2017, Treviño had, by fewer than 30 votes, missed making a runoff for a seat on the San Antonio City Council … 

One would think that Rove would more mindful that a lot of candidates lose the first time out – even with a more famous name and more money than Treviño.

From CBS Newsin 2014.

AUSTIN, Texas — George P. Bush was elected Texas land commissioner in a landslide Tuesday, winning a little-known but powerful post that could eventually lead to higher offices and becoming the first in his family’s political dynasty to win his first race.

Bush, a 38-year-old Fort Worth attorney and energy consultant, raised more than $3 million against his little-known Democratic opponent, former El Paso Mayor John Cook. Nonetheless, he spent months crisscrossing the state in a campaign bus adorned with his towering, grinning face.

Bush is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of President George W. Bush, who was Texas governor before taking the White House. His father, Jeb, is a former Florida governor who is considering a presidential run in 2016.

But none of them–nor the family patriarch and source of George P.’s middle name, long-serving Connecticut Sen. Prescott Bush–won their first races. His grandfather lost a U.S. Senate race in Texas in 1964, while his uncle lost his 1978 congressional bid. Jeb Bush wasn’t elected Florida governor until his second try, and Prescott Bush, George P.’s great-grandfather, came up short in his first Senate race in 1950.

And anyway, how exactly is Treviño winning votes on the strength of his shared name with a popular performer  evidence of the “anger of the Democratic hard left?”

And by the way, for those not obsessed with identity politics, Treviño, who grew up loathing his father’s Tejano music, is better described as a country singer.

From Federico Martinez in a 2017 story in the San Angelo Standard-Times

His first label, Colombia Nashville, had him record a country album, which is the music genre Trevino is most comfortable. The company also insisted that he record a Spanish country album, even though Trevino wasn’t fluent in the language. He needed to take Spanish lessons to make the album.

“The record company decided to release the Spanish album first, which I thought was a mistake,” Trevino said. “My concern at the time was that people would perceive me as a Tejano artist trying to crossover to country.

“I understood Colombia’s decision. They saw a money-making opportunity and a chance to tap into the Hispanic/Latino market.”

The album, “Dos Mundos,” sold more than 500,000 copies and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. Trevino says his concerns proved accurate when his self-titled second album was released in 1994. It took time for the English-language country album to find an audience.

“Music fans were confused,” he said. “Is he a country artist? Is he a Tejano singer?”

Only more recently – heavens to Trump – has Treviño, the performer, returned to his Latino roots

“My Granddaddy’s daddy crossed the Rio Grande, trying to find a better life than what he had; to plant the strongest seeds to grow the family tree for cowboys like me.”

Those semi-autobiographical lyrics are the opening lines from “Cowboys Like Me,” the first single from Grammy Award-winner Rick Trevino’s upcoming album, “Long Coyote Gone.”

Trevino’s eighth studio album since 1993, it includes some of his most personal lyrics to date. The second single, “I’m a Mexican,” which he recorded with legendary Tejano artist Flaco Jimenez, is an unflinching declaration of Trevino’s cultural heritage and a story about the struggles of an undocumented immigrant working in the U.S.

“Some of the songs are more personal, provocative and political than anything else I’ve ever done,” the country star said. “I’ve been singing “I’m a Mexican” for the past three years.

“Initially, I was concerned about how people would react. Let’s face it, 70-80 percent of my audiences in the dance halls I perform in have a more conservative view of immigration. But the audience response has been great.”

As for the other Treviño, the one running for Congress in the 23rd Congressional District, he is angry, but, as a devoted Bernie guy, that has more to do with the concentration of wealth and power in the United States than Trump per se, who he saw coming.

Flash-bang grenades: On Ted Cruz’s incendiary political rhetoric.

Poster by SABO

 

Good Friday Austin:

The TIME 100 is supposed to be a list of the 100 most influential people of 2018.

Each of the hundred gets a little write-up by some other pretty influential person.

And so our own Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did the blurb for President Trump.

Here is what Cruz wrote:

President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature.

The same cultural safe spaces that blinkered coastal elites to candidate Trump’s popularity have rendered them blind to President Trump’s achievements on behalf of ordinary Americans. While pundits obsessed over tweets, he worked with Congress to cut taxes for struggling families. While wealthy celebrities announced that they would flee the country, he fought to bring back jobs and industries to our shores. While talking heads predicted Armageddon, President Trump’s strong stand against North Korea put Kim Jong Un back on his heels.

President Trump is doing what he was elected to do: disrupt the status quo. That scares the heck out of those who have controlled Washington for decades, but for millions of Americans, their confusion is great fun to watch.

Cruz is a U.S. Senator from Texas

Well, what could be greater fun than watching the merry mayhem that ensues when a a flash-bang grenade is tossed by some forgotten men and women into a crowd of media and political types in Washington.

Am I right?

Actually, I will confess that, up until a couple of weeks ago I didn’t know what a flash-bang grenade was.

Then I spent some time working on a story on the 25th anniversary of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco that ended the lives of 82 Branch Davidians – including many children – and four agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

At a 1995 Congressional hearing, Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin, who represented David Koresh, the Branch Davidian leader who died amid he fire that consumed Mount Carmel, their communal residence, 25 years ago Thursday, testified that, “I did see some grenades that the ATF had thrown in.”

Chuck Schumer, then a congressman, was outraged by that insinuation.

“What do you mean thrown in?” he asked DeGuerin.

DeGuerin: The ATF threw in grenades in their dynamic entry.

Schumer: They didn’t throw in any grenades as I understand it. They were flash-bangs.

DeGuerin: Did you ever see what a flash-bang can do to somebody? They’re grenades. There’s an explosive charge in it. It’s very dangerous. It can blow your hand off. It can blow your face off. It can kill.

The next day, Schumer returned to the question of flash-bang grenades.

Schumer: And coup de grâce, Mr. DeGeurin says that flash-bangers can kill, injure, maim. Anyone who knows anything knows they can’t.

Thus spake the munitions expert from Brooklyn, though a subsequent witness, ATF Special Agent Jim Cavanaugh, said that, per DeGeurin, flash-bang grenades can be very dangerous.

If this goes off in your hand, they will call you stumpy.

And, form Pro Publica:

Hotter Than Lava
Every day, cops toss dangerous military-style flashbang grenades during raids, with little oversight and horrifying results.
by Julia Angwin and Abbie Nehring, ProPublicaJanuary 12, 2015

Cruz’s encomium to Trump won predictable criticism for all too obvious reasons.

Including from his Democratic rival:

O’Rourke said he would vote to impeach Trump as a member of the House, but couldn’t say whether he would vote to convict if he were a member of the Senate, which would hold a trial if the House were to, in effect, indict the president for high crimes and misdemenanors.

But, that said, Ted Cruz has has said worse things about Donald Trump than Beto O’Rourke ever has. Way worse. Way, way worse.

From May 2016.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This morning, Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father.

Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Now, let’s be clear. This is nuts. This is not a reasonable position. This is just kooky. And while I’m at it, I guess I should go ahead and admit, yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.

You know, Donald’s source for this is “The National Enquirer.” “The National Enquirer” is tabloid trash. But it’s run by his good friend David Pecker, the CEO, who has endorsed Donald Trump. And so “The National Enquirer” has become his hit piece that he uses to smear anybody and everybody.

And this is not the first time Donald Trump has used David Pecker’s “National Enquirer” to go after my family. It was also “The National Enquirer” that went after my wife, Heidi, that just spread lies, blatant lies.

But I guess Donald was dismayed, because it was a couple of weeks ago “The Enquirer” wrote this idiotic story about JFK. And Donald was dismayed that the folks in the media weren’t repeating this latest idiocy, so he figured he would have to do it himself. He would have to go on national television and accuse my dad of that.

Listen, my father is has been my hero my whole life. My dad was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba. And when he came to America, he had nothing. He had $100 in his underwear. He washed dishes making 50 cents an hour. You know, he is exactly the kind of person Donald Trump looks down on.

I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign. For those of you all who have traveled with me all across the country, I’m going to tell you what I really think of Donald Trump.

This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everybody else of lying.

He accuses everybody on that debate stage of lying. And it’s simply a mindless yell. Whatever he does, he accuses everyone else of doing. The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist, a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.

Donald Trump is such a narcissist that Barack Obama looks at him and goes, dude, what’s your problem? Everything in Donald’s world is about Donald. And he combines being a pathological liar — and I say pathological because I actually think Donald, if you hooked him up to a lie detector test, he could say one thing in the morning, one thing at noon, and one thing in the evening, all contradictory, and he would pass the lie detector test each time.

Whatever lie he’s telling, at that minute, he believes it. But the man is utterly amoral.

CRUZ: Let me finish this, please.

The man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him. It’s why he went after Heidi directly and smeared my wife, attacked her. Apparently, she’s not pretty enough for Donald Trump. I may be biased, but I think, if he’s making that allegation, he is also legally blind.

But Donald is a bully. You know, we just visited with fifth-graders. Every one of us knew bullies in elementary school. Bullies don’t come from strength. Bullies come from weakness. Bullies come from a deep, yawning cavern of insecurity. There’s a reason Donald builds giant buildings and puts his name on them everywhere he goes.

And I will say there are millions of people in this country who are angry. They’re angry at Washington. They’re angry at politicians who have lied to them. I understand that anger. I share that anger. And Donald is cynically exploiting that anger. And he is lying to his supporters.

Donald will betray his supporters on every issue. If you care about immigration, Donald is laughing at you. And he’s telling the moneyed elites he doesn’t believe what he’s saying, he’s not going to build a wall. That’s what he told “The New York Times.”

He will betray you on every issue across the board. And his strategy of being a bully in particular is directed as women. Donald has a real problem with women. People who are insecure, people who are insecure about who they are — Donald is terrified by strong women.

He lashes out at them. Remember, this is the same Donald Trump who last week here in Indiana proudly touted the endorsement from Mike Tyson, a convicted rapist who served three years in prison here in Indiana for raping a 17-year-old girl. And in Donald’s world, he said Mike Tyson was a tough guy.

I don’t think rapists are tough guys. I spent a lot of years in law enforcement dealing with rapists. Rapists are weak. They’re cowards and they’re bullies. And anyone that thinks they’re a tough guy, that reveals everything about Donald Trump’s character.

Donald Trump said Bill Clinton was targeted by unattractive women. You know what? I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong women my entire life.

Today’s voting day here in Indiana. The president of the United States has a bully pulpit unlike anybody else. The president of the United States affects our culture. I ask the people of Indiana, think about the next five years if this man were to become president.

Think about the next five years, the boasting, the pathological lying, the picking up “The National Enquirer” and accusing people of killing JFK, the bullying. Think about your kids coming back and emulating this.

For people in Indiana who long for a day when we were nice to each other, when we treated people with respect, when we didn’t engage in sleaze and lies — and I would note one of the lies he engages in, listen, Donald Trump is a serial philanderer, and he boasts about it. This is not a secret. He’s proud of being a serial philanderer.

I want everyone to think about your teenage kids. The president of the United States talks about how great it is to commit adultery, and how proud he is, describes his battles with venereal disease as his own personal Vietnam. That’s a quote, by the way, on the Howard Stern show.

Do you want to spend the next five years with your kids bragging about infidelity? Now, what does he do? He does the same projection. Just like a pathological liar, he accuses everyone of lying. Even though he boasts about his infidelity, he plants in David Pecker’s “National Enquirer” a lie about me and my family, attacking my family. He accuses others of doing what he is doing. I will tell you, as the father of two young girls, the idea of our daughters coming home and repeating any word that man says horrifies me.

That is not who America is. And I would say to the Hoosier State, the entire country’s depending on you. The entire country is looking to you right now. It is only Indiana that can pull us back. It is only the good sense and good judgment of Indiana that can pull us back. We are staring at the abyss.

CRUZ: There is a broader dynamic at work, which is network executives have made a decision to get behind Donald Trump. Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes at FOX News have turned FOX News into the Donald Trump network. Rupert Murdoch is used to picking world leaders in Australia and the United Kingdom running tabloids, and we’re seeing it here at home with the consequences for this nation. Media executives are trying to convince Hoosiers, trying to convince Americans the race is decided. You have no choice. You are stuck between Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, either one of which is a horrific choice for this country.

And I will say the cynicism — and Donald is playing on the cynicism. He lets the media echo he cannot be beat. Hoosiers can prove that wrong. The people of Indiana can prove that wrong, and the country is depending on Indiana. If Indiana does not act, this country could well plunge into the abyss. I don’t believe that’s who we are. We are not a proud, boastful, self-centered, mean-spirited, hateful, bullying nation.

If you want to understand Donald Trump, look no further than the interview he did a few months ago in Iowa when he was asked a very simple question — when is the last time you asked god for forgiveness? And Donald Trump said he had never asked God for forgiveness for anything. I want you to think about that. What does that say about a person? I have asked God for forgiveness three times today. Your children, do you want your children coming home and saying, mommy, I don’t need to ask God for forgiveness for anything. Why? Because Donald Trump doesn’t, and he if he doesn’t, and everyone likes him, all the media praises him, I don’t need to either.

I love this nation with all my heart. I love the people of this country. This is not who we are. These are not our values. If anyone has seen the movie “Back to the Future II,” the screenwriter says that he based the character Biff Tannen on Donald Trump. A caricature of a braggadocious, arrogant buffoon who builds giant casinos with giant pictures of him everywhere he looks. We are looking potentially at the Biff Tannen presidency. I don’t think the people of America want that. I don’t think we deserve that. I don’t think Hoosiers want that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, these are some of the strongest words you’ve used against Donald Trump yet. You know I have been with you, I heard you talk about him. Today feels different for you. I’m going to ask you a question and you’re going to say I sound like a broken record —

CRUZ: You sound like a broken record.

CRUZ: Does someone else have a record?

CRUZ: You have asked one already, Hallie.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Will you support him as the nominee. I don’t understand why you won’t answer the question, Senator. If you say he’s a liar — if you say he’s a pathological liar —

CRUZ: Hallie, you have asked one already.

CRUZ: Go ahead, Jessica.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, when you talk about Midwestern values and the common sense and good judgment, if Hoosiers don’t pick you today, does that mean they consider things a different way when the northeast voted and you could say those are Trump’s neighbors?

CRUZ: There is no doubt this Indiana primary has national significance. The media is trying desperately to convince you it’s over, I’ll tell you if Hoosiers come out and vote, if you pick up the phone and you call your friends, you call your neighbors, if Hoosiers come out today and vote and say no, this is not who we are, this is not America, that will change the entire trajectory of this campaign, of this primary. It will pull us back from the cliff. Indiana can do it. Indiana can pull us back, but it takes Hoosiers showing up and voting today. And the country is looking to Indiana. It’s looking to the judgment of the good men and women of this state.

Heidi and I and Carly, we have traveled the state showing Hoosiers respect, asking for their support, answering their questions, all the while Donald Trump laughs at the people of this state, laughs, bullies, attacks, insults, I don’t believe that’s America, and it is my hope, it is my prayer, that Hoosiers will come out and vote today in record numbers to say to this who we are. We are a people who believe in goodness. We are a people who believe in manners. We are a people who believe in generosity. We are a people who believe in honesty. We are a people who believe in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is America. That is the America I love. It’s the America my father fled Cuba to come to. We’re fighting for this nation. We’re fighting for who we are for the very soul and character of this nation, and it is quite literally in the hands Hoosiers across this state.

Well, I guess it all depends on who is on the receiving end of the flash-bang.

What will now be Cruz’s timeless TIME 100 flattery of Trump, certainly is an invitation to this, Friday, from Progress Texas’ Humans Against Ted Cruz project.

But, putting aside Cruz’s fulsome act of forgiveness of his former tormentor, what interested me was his use, in a world beset by terror, of the flash-bang metaphor, and what seems to me to be his consistent, and I think unique at his level, delight in using the most vividly  violent metaphors in his political rhetoric.

As I wrote in March 2015:

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz roused the hundreds of young people who packed the “Big Government Sucks” reception Thursday night at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference with a typically provocative appeal.

“Each of you has an ability to spread a fire; I am asking you to be an arsonist,” Cruz said. “I encourage you to light fire of liberty in other young people, so it burns and rages and spreads from one young person to another. That is how we turn the country around.”

“Now listen,” Cruz said to his young audience, explaining of his choice of imagery. “This may be a particular predilection because I am the son of a Cuban guerrilla.”

“My dad grew up in Cuba,” said Cruz. “When my dad was 14-years old he began fighting in the Cuban revolution, he began fighting alongside Fidel Castro. Now, he didn’t know Castro was a communist. None of the kids knew.”

But, he said, what they did know was that Batista, the Cuban dictator who Castro was seeking to overthrow, was cruel, oppressive and corrupt, and so, at 14, Cruz’s father “began throwing Molotov cocktails.”

On the campaign trail for president Cruz would describe his political allies – like U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, as political “knife fighter.”

When Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick endorsed Cruz in October 2015, Cruz praised  Patrick as an ally who would  “crawl through broken glass with a knife between his teeth.”

This year he has described the Democratic base as having such a hate for Trump, “They will crawl over broken glass in November to vote.”

Does painting these kind of word-pictures matter?

From LSU political scientist Nathan Kalmoe:

Fueling the Fire: Violent Metaphors, Trait Aggression, and Support for Political Violence
Article in Political Communication 31(4) · October 2014 

Abstract:

The recent concurrence of violent political rhetoric and violence against political targets in the U.S. and abroad has raised public concern about the effects of language on citizens. Building from theoretical foundations in aggression research, I fielded two nationally representative survey experiments and a third local experiment preceding the 2010 midterm elections to investigate support for violence against political authority. Subjects were randomly assigned to view one of two forms of the same political advertisements. Across all three experiments, mild violent metaphors multiply support for political violence among aggressive citizens, especially among young adults. Aggressive personality traits also predict support for political violence in both national studies. This work identifies dynamic roots of violent political orientations and reveals for the first time surprising interactions between this elite discourse and personality traits in citizens.

Here are some graphics from Kalmoe’s dissertation on the subject.

 

But Kalmoe’s examples of violent language are tepid compared to Cruz’s.

They use the language of war, battle, enemy, crusade.

Cruz uses the far more vivid imagery of flash-bang grenades, molotov cocktails, arson, broken glass and knives.

I’ can’t think of another major American politician who compares.

And, where it may matter is in his contest with O’Rourke, who, rhetorically, comes to the campaign trail in peace.

Cruz is as polarizing a figure as there is in American politics. He knows that, and I assume, he believes, in its ability to rouse the base, this is the way for him to go.

From Jeff Roe on March 17 in the New York Times.

President Trump may not be on the ballot in November, but the election will be a referendum on him, as 2010 was on President Barack Obama and 2006 was on President George W. Bush. We will lose seats. The only question is this: Will these losses be catastrophic or manageable?

That will be determined by a very specific choice: Will the party retreat from its leader or fix bayonets and storm to the front with him?

No one fought Mr. Trump harder and longer than I did, as the campaign manager for Ted Cruz’s 2016 campaign for the Republican nomination. I know the maddening brilliance of Mr. Trump. I also know history doesn’t favor the president’s party in midterm elections. With the election of a Democrat in the 18th Congressional District of Pennsylvania — a district Mr. Trump carried by 20 percentage points, but which also has tens of thousands more registered Democrats than Republicans — it has become media gospel that the president is toxic and that Republican candidates will have to distance themselves from him. That narrative is wrong.

xxxxxx

While some Republican candidates, in swing seats, may benefit from creating distance from Mr. Trump, a strategic retreat will work only in rare instances. The myth that midterms are decided by swing voters ignores the prevailing reality that large midterm electoral shifts are driven by shifts in base motivation.

xxxxx

It is undoubtedly difficult to differentiate Trump policies from the Trump persona, because the Trump persona dominates news coverage. But Republican candidates for Congress have to try. Tactically, that means being laser-focused on generating local news coverage of policy accomplishments, even when the national cable news fixates on the latest Trump outrage.

And guess what? Despite breathless coverage of the daily outrage generator in the White House, the economy is improving. The tax cuts will, and in fact already are, spurring growth, freeing capital for investment, creating jobs and returning overseas profits to our shores. There is a message to sell. So sell it.

I would go further and argue that it is the Trump persona so vilified in the media that has in fact made bolder, more sweeping reforms possible than would have been conceivable under almost any other Republican who might have been elected.

Would a President Jeb Bush have signed a strong executive order on religious liberty, or would a President Marco Rubio have started construction of a wall? Would President John Kasich have had the intestinal fortitude to execute such a huge reorganization of the Environmental Protection Agency, dismantling the liberal bureaucracy that with its deeply embedded biases harms our economy? Would President Mitt Romney have pushed through such a major tax overhaul? No way. What makes Mr. Trump different is that he just doesn’t care what the bed-wetting caucus says about his policies.

(I think bed-wetting caucus counts as fighting words.)

Meanwhile, Cruz’s contribution last year to last year’s TIME100 was his blurb on “warrior and patriot” Rebekah Mercer:

Rebekah Mercer is a warrior and a patriot. She is the daughter of a brilliant mathematician and tremendously successful investor, and blessed with her own deep intelligence and intuitive insight, and it would have been simple for her to have settled into a life of comfort and ease. But Bekah cares too much about freedom and our nation to do so.

Instead, she and her father, Bob, have invested generously in helping fuel a political revolution. Their approach is multi­faceted. From think tanks to public-policy organizations to online media to path-breaking data analytics, Bekah has helped transform the world of politics. She understands the populist frustration with the bipartisan corruption in Washington, and she is one of the strongest champions of draining the swamp.

And she has helped fund upstart campaigns and underdog candidates, including my own Senate and presidential campaigns. When Donald Trump won the nomination, Bekah played a pivotal role in helping assemble the team and strategy that shocked the world in November.

From Maggie Haberman in the New York Times in July 2016.

In an extraordinary public rebuke, two influential donors who were among the biggest supporters of Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign excoriated Mr. Cruz on Saturday for his decision not to endorse Donald J. Trump at the Republican National Convention.

The remarks from Robert Mercer of Long Island and his daughter Rebekah Mercer suggest widening fallout over Mr. Cruz’s convention speech, in which he did not endorse his former rival and, instead, suggested that Republicans should “vote your conscience” for candidates “up and down the ticket.”

“Last summer and again this year, Senator Ted Cruz pledged to support the candidacy of the nominee of the Republican Party, whomever that nominee might be,” the Mercers, who rarely comment in the news media, said in the statement to The New York Times. “We are profoundly disappointed that on Wednesday night he chose to disregard this pledge.”

The statement continued: “The Democratic Party will soon choose as their nominee a candidate who would repeal both the First and Second Amendments of the Bill of Rights, a nominee who would remake the Supreme Court in her own image. We need ‘all hands on deck’ to ensure that Mr. Trump prevails.”

“Unfortunately,” the statement added, “Senator Cruz has chosen to remain in his bunk below, a decision both regrettable and revealing.”

The Mercers invested at least $11 million in Keep the Promise I, one of a group of interlocked “super PACs” that supported Mr. Cruz in his presidential run. During the contentious primary race, Mr. Cruz had early praise for Mr. Trump on the belief that his candidacy would eventually fade and that Mr. Trump’s voters would move over to the senator’s camp.

Instead, Mr. Trump’s candidacy endured and the race between the men grew increasingly rancorous.

Mr. Cruz is up for re-election in 2018 and is said to be looking at a second campaign for president in 2020, should Mr. Trump lose in November. But, in both cases, he will need his donor base to stay with him.

After Mr. Cruz’s speech at the convention in Cleveland, Sheldon G. Adelson, the casino magnate who was an early admirer of Mr. Cruz in the primaries, blocked him from his suite. (A friend of Mr. Adelson’s, claiming to represent him, insisted after the fact that he was not trying to disrespect the senator.)

The next morning, Mr. Cruz was booed by members of the Texas delegation at a breakfast.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Cruz, Catherine Frazier, said on Saturday: “Senator Cruz considers Bob and Rebekah to be patriots ad friends. As Senator Cruz urged in Cleveland, Hillary Clinton would be a disaster for America. Republicans need to unite, and the only way to unite is behind shared principles. His speech laid out a path — vigorously defending freedom and the Constitution — for our nominee to unite the party and for Republicans to win up and down the ticket.”

Mr. Mercer in recent weeks has helped fund a new effort for donors who want to defeat Mrs. Clinton, but who do not want to donate to a group that is openly supporting Mr. Trump. That group is being operated by David Bossie, the president of the group Citizens United.

Kellyanne Conway, who was the president of a pro-Cruz super PAC and now is an adviser to Mr. Trump, said the statement reflects the Mercers’ feelings about defeating Mrs. Clinton in the fall and “how grievously piqued they were to watch Ted’s convention stunt on Wednesday night.”

Ms. Conway added, “They supported Ted because they thought he was a man of his word who, like them, would place love of country over personal feelings or political ambition.”

As for Rebekah Mercer’s “path-breaking data analytics,” here from the New York Times on March 17:
How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions

LONDON — As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 American midterm elections, it had a problem.

The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.

So the firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge employees, associates and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history. The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the American electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.

An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

xxxxxx

In Britain, Cambridge Analytica is facing intertwined investigations by Parliament and government regulators into allegations that it performed illegal work on the “Brexit” campaign. The country has strict privacy laws, and its information commissioner announced on Saturday that she was looking into whether the Facebook data was “illegally acquired and used.”

In the United States, Mr. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, a board member, Mr. Bannon and Mr. Nix received warnings from their lawyer that it was illegal to employ foreigners in political campaigns, according to company documents and former employees.

From the Texas Tribune on March 20:

“Cambridge Analytica was an outside vendor that the campaign hired to assist in data analysis and online advertising, and they worked for the campaign, pursuant to contract,” Cruz told The Texas Tribune. “Cambridge Analytica represented to the campaign that all data in their possession were legally obtained and that they were in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, and the campaign relied on those representations.”

 

 

 

A farewell to Hope: My email correspondence with Hope Hicks.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks listens in as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state and local officials on school safety inside the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Feb. 22, 2018. Hicks, one of President Donald Trump’s longest-serving advisers, said on Feb. 28, that she was resigning. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

Good day Austin:

Did I suck you in with that headline? I hope so, because once I have your click, you can’t ever have it back.

But, in the interests of transparency, my email exchanges with Hicks mostly consisted of me confirming that I was on the press list for a Trump campaign rally, or asking for then-Mr. Trump’s reaction to something Ted Cruz was up to.

That said, I was very appreciative and a bit awestruck at her competence, and thankful that there was someone in the ultra-skeletal Trump campaign that one could have an email exchange with.

For example, an a Feb. 23, 2016, attempt to get in touch with his Texas campaign yielded this response:

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin),

A customer support staff member has replied to your support request, #237794 with the following response:

Mr. Tilove,

Thank you for reaching out to us. Please direct any media inquiries to Hope Hicks, who you can reach at hhicks@donaldtrump.com

Thank you.

We hope this response has sufficiently answered your questions. If not, please do not send another email. Instead, reply to this email or login to your account for a complete archive of all your support requests and responses.

https://help.djttechops.com/tickets.php?e=jtilove@statesman.com&t=237794

By that time I had, since the fall of 2015, been emailing Hicks, who, as near as I could tell, was one of three people running the Trump campaign.

They were:

1- Donald Trump.

2 – Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski.

3 – Hope Hicks.

FILE– Hope Hicks, then a spokeswoman for President-elect Donald Trump, in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, Dec. 12, 2016. (Sam Hodgson/The New York Times)

Somehow, I had figured that as the campaign grew, that circle would grow. But, not so much.

And why should it. Hicks’ operation was model of competence.

She would send out a schedule of Trump rallies – and really the campaign was just a series of rallies and the coverage that attended them.

A reporter could click on the rallies you wanted to attend. You would receive a confirmation email. You would show up at the rally. Your name would be on the list. And you’d be there for Trump pointing to the bad people in the back from the Fake News media.

If, for some reason, you didn’t get your confirmation email, you could check with Hicks and she would fix it.

It sounds simple, and it was, but I’d never run into a campaign that operated so flawlessly.

Well, as you know, Hicks joined President Trump in the White House, ended up as his communications director and then, poof, as of yesterday she announced she was leaving

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 27: White House Communications Director and presidential advisor Hope Hicks (2nd L) arrives at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

I knew something bad was afoot when I saw this photo of her with Robert Trout, the gentleman by her side.

Trout is a great guy and a wonderful attorney, just the right person to have by your side if, for example, the FBI finds $90,000 in marked bills in your freezer – as was the case with former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson of New Orleans – or if, as in the case of Hicks, you may have told some “white lies” on behalf of President Trump.

Along with my colleague, Bruce Alpert, in 2009 I covered the eight-week corruption  trial of Jefferson in Alexandria, Va., that led to a 13-year prison sentence.

On Dec. 1, Bruce and I went back to the courtroom to see U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III re-sentence Jefferson, with Trout once again at his side, to time served.

I was saddened by Hicks’ departure, and annoyed by some of the coverage, especially  Lawrence O’Donnell’s ultra-snide report  on his MSNBC show.

The white liar is out.

She has now made Sean Spicer look like a master by comparison.

Yeah, right.

 

She now takes her place in history as both the youngest and the worst communications director in history.

Really? I heard that Andrew Johnson’s press shop really sucked.

And, as I recall, Hicks never became the object of a Sean Spicer/Sarah Huckabee Sanders mockable character on SNL.

She’s 29-years-old and showed the colossally bad judgment and utter lack of professionalism to become romantically involved with White House aide, Rob Porter who two previous wives accused of domestic violence … She fought to save her boyfriend’s job … No White House communications director has ever had a worse episode on the job than that.

x

Well, OK. Nobody’s perfect.

(During the campaign) She actually got caught by reporters on the streets of Manhattan having a lover’s quarrel with the married man (Lewandowski) she was having an affair with.

Well, yeah, campaigns are tough on marriages.

Then, O’Donnell said Hicks lasted as long as she did because the White House press corps “fell for her.”

x

Hope Hicks cast a special spell on White House reporters.

 

You will not see a moment like this with Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Ok, enough with sourpuss O’Donnell.

Far better to read Olivia Nuzzi.

And, for the record, I have never kissed Hope Hicks. I have never hugged Hope Hicks. I have never even met Hope Hicks or spoken to her on the phone.

Our relationship has entirely been by email, and for most of our relationship I had never seen a photo of her or had any idea of what she looked like.

x
FILE– White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, left, and Dina Powell, a deputy national security advisor, step off Air Force One upon arrival to Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, N.J., Sept. 15, 2017.

However, we did once share holiday greetings.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Fri 1/1/2016 12:37 PM

To: hhicks@donaldtrump.com;
 
Hope:
Hi. Happy New Year.
Just wanted to make sure I’m on your press list.
Heading up to Iowa tomorrow and will be there much of the month so want to make sure I know about any appearances there, and who is handling communications for the campaign in Iowa.
Thanks very much.
Jonathan Tilove

On Jan 1, 2016, at 12:38 PM, Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com> wrote:

You will be added if you are not already.

Sent from my iPhone

FILE– Hope Hicks, then a spokeswoman for President-elect Donald Trump’s transition office, arrives at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, Jan. 2, 2017.
Ten days later there was this email, on which I coped Katrina Pierson, but that’s a whole other story.
Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Mon 1/11/2016 8:09 PM
 
To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
kpierson@donaldtrump.com;
 
Hope,  Katrina:

I interviewed William Johnson, the gentleman behind the white nationalist robocalls in Iowa supporting Mr. Trump.

Just checking if you had any comment on the calls.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

I don’t think I got a response to that one.

A couple of weeks later, there was this inquiry.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Mon 1/25/2016 12:53 PM
 
To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
 
Hope:

I called Sam Clovis to talk to him about Mr. Trump’s conservative credentials and he said I should clear it first with you. Is it OK to talk with Sam?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

I can’t find her answer, but I remember that she promptly responded in the affirmative and the next day I wrote a First Reading that included an interview with Clovis, who in August 2015 had gone from being the chairman of Rick Perry’s campaign in Iowa to the national co-chair of Trump’s presidential campaign.

 

As I wrote then:

Clovis is a big man with a big, infectious laugh, and it is plain that he has no regrets about signing on with Trump.

Of Trump, Clovis said, “He has reached deep within the soul of the American people.”

Of those who claim that Trump will under-perform in the caucuses because his fans, many of whom have never participated before, are unlikely to turn out, Clovis says:

They’re going to stand in line in subzero – not subfreezing but in subzero temperatures — for five hours to get into a gymnasium to wait two more hours to hear people talk for another hour and a half, you’re going to tell me they are not going to come out to caucus? I think we are going to have such a huge night it will be historic.

I’ve been watching politics since I was 7 years old, and I’ve never seen anything like this. This is not your father’s campaign, and I couldn’t be happier, and I couldn’t be prouder. We’re changing politics in America, and I think that’s something we’ve needed for a long time.

After Perry’s bid fizzled, Clovis said, “I had seen the last straw with a classic politician. I just felt like Mr. Trump was different. I felt that if we went with another traditional politician, we weren’t going to see anything change, and I honestly don’t think we will, if anyone other than Donald Trump wins.”

Clovis dismisses the idea that Trump should be more specific. He said Cruz put out a 17-page tax plan and he hasn’t found anyone who knows what’s in it. He says a lot of the other candidate’s issue foreign policy threats that are premature and ill-advised.

“We’re going to defend the national interest,” he said, but with a “more deliberative approach.”

Of Cruz’s criticism that Trump’s readiness to make deals means he will forsake conservative principles as president, Clovis said, “God love him, Sen. Cruz is a good guy, but’”with how his Senate colleagues perceive him, I think it would be difficult for him to get anything done. I think Mr. Trump is a very tough negotiator.”

Trump’s deal-making will be about giving in but about getting things done.

(Trump struck this theme relentlessly on Morning Joe this morning. Of Cruz, “I don’t think anybody likes him … he’s a whack job … Ted’s a nasty guy … he won’t get anything done … he’s a more strident loner than Obama.” Trump even boasted of his good relationship with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, not a usual Republican talking point.)

I asked Clovis if there are a lot of people who don’t talk to him any more since he went with Trump.

Some, he said, but there are others who talk to him now who didn’t used to.

“It’s zero sum,” said Clovis, an economics professor at Morningside College.

But Clovis said, “I don’t have to keep score. Here’s the thing. I’m too old to care anymore. Either they get me or they don’t get me.”

Well, just as for Hicks, things for Clovis didn’t end well.

From the New York Times Eileen Sullivan on Nov. 2: Trump Nominee Sam Clovis Withdraws From Consideration for Agriculture Department Post

A former Trump campaign aide dropped out of the running on Thursday for a senior position at the Department of Agriculture three days after his name was tied to a former campaign foreign policy adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. over his contacts with Russia.

The campaign aide, Sam Clovis, told President Trump that he decided to withdraw from consideration to be the chief scientist at the Department of Agriculture, the White House said.

“The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a letter on Wednesday to Mr. Trump. Mr. Clovis’s qualifications to be the chief scientist at the department have been questioned, as he is not a scientist himself. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day.”

Mr. Clovis’s request to drop out of consideration is the latest blow to the Trump administration that for months has been dogged by the special counsel investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Clovis, an early campaign adviser, has met with the special counsel’s team.

On Monday, it was disclosed that Mr. Clovis discussed the Trump campaign’s priorities for relations with Russia with the foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last month to lying to the F.B.I. about his communications with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to interviews and court papers.

Mr. Clovis was among the Trump campaign officials who knew that Mr. Papadopoulos was developing contacts in Moscow and trying to to arrange a meeting for Mr. Trump in Russia.

“Great work,” Mr. Clovis wrote in a March 2016 email to Mr. Papadopoulos. Mr. Clovis, an economics professor, Tea Party activist and Air Force veteran, helped supervise the foreign policy team.

My best exchange with Hicks came in response to this cover story in the National Enquirer.

 

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)

Fri 3/25/2016 1:07 PM

Sent Items

To:

hhicks@donaldtrump.com;

Hope –

Hi. Sen. Cruz blames the Enquirer story on Mr. Trump and “his henchmen.”

Is there any truth to that?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

Thirty-five minutes I had my answer.

From: Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2016 1:42 PM
To: Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Subject: Re: Enquirer story

Donald J. Trump Responds to Cruz Accusations on National Enquirer Story

“I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week’s issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it.  I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer and unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman and then pretend total innocence. Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz. I look forward to spending the week in Wisconsin, winning the Republican nomination and ultimately the Presidency in order to Make America Great Again. “

– Donald J. Trump

And, at  2:22 pm. I posted my story:

The nasty Republican campaign for president took an even more bitter personal turn Friday with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz blasting a National Enquirer story insinuating that he had a series of extramarital affairs as “garbage,” and blaming “Sleazy Donald,” as he dubbed Donald Trump, for planting it.

“Let me be clear: This National Enquirer story is garbage. It is complete and utter lies,” Cruz said while campaigning in Wisconsin, which votes April 5 and where polls indicate he is locked in a tight race with Trump.

“It is a tabloid smear, and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen,” Cruz said.

Trump denied any involvement, issuing a statement with a trademark dose of mock empathy.

Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz,” Trump said.

At a news conference, Cruz said the Enquirer story was choreographed to cap a couple of days of Trump tweets targeting Cruz’s wife, Heidi. Those tweets were in retaliation for a Facebook ad by an anti-Trump super PAC unaffiliated with the Cruz campaign featuring a risque British GQ cover photo of Trump’s wife, Melania, from her days as a model.

Trump tweeted, “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” and, the next day, retweeted a meme with an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz next to a flattering photo of his wife.

“Donald, you’re a sniveling coward and leave Heidi the hell alone,” Cruz said Thursday in Wisconsin.

The Enquirer that hit newsstands Friday included lurid headlines about Cruz’s alleged five affairs, but the story was built entirely on rumors.

“Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is the target of a vicious `dirty tricks’ campaign!” the story begins. “Political operatives are compiling an explosive `dirt file’ on the finger-wagging, conservative senator from Texas, the National Enquirer has learned.”

The story had been promoted in advance, but, after a day bouncing around the Twitter-sphere without gaining mainstream traction, Cruz brought up the story with reporters Friday.

“One question Americans are asking all over this country is, `How low will Donald go, is there not a level to which he is unwilling to stoop?’” Cruz asked. “To date we have not seen it.”Cruz said that David Pecker, CEO of American Media Inc., the owner of Star Magazine and the National Enquirer, backs Trump’s presidential bid, and, “it is a story that quoted one source on the record: Roger Stone, Donald Trump’s chief political adviser.

“And what is striking is Donald’s henchman, Roger Stone, had for months been foreshadowing that this attack was coming,” Cruz said.

“One man’s dirty trick is another man’s quest for the truth,” Stone told the American-Statesman. Stone long has been close to Trump, but he left the campaign in August and has no formal role, though he and Trump still talk and, in a variety of ways, he looks out for Trump’s interests.

In a March 14 interview with Austin-based broadcaster Alex Jones, Stone talked about a coming Cruz sex scandal.

Stone is also the author of recent books arguing that Lyndon B. Johnson had John F. Kennedy killed, that the Bushes are a “crime family,” and that Bill Clinton was a sexual abuser and Hillary Clinton his enabler, that last book co-written with Austin’s Robert Morrow, the profane conspiracy theorist whose recent surprise election as Travis County Republican Party chairman drew national attention.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, right, speaks his campaign communications manager Hope Hicks, left, as he arrives for service at First Presbyterian Church in Muscatine, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016.

I asked Hicks other questions, most of which she didn’t reply to.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Tue 3/29/2016 12:44 PM
 
To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
 
Hope:

I am writing something about the attempt by Cruz to fill Trump delegate slots with folks loyal to them and secure spots on the Rules/Credentials/Platform committees.

Who would be best for me to talk with about efforts to secure those delegate slots for Mr. Trump – Barry Bennett, Ed Brookover, Paul Manafort?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan

Don’t think I got a reply to that, but I ended up talking to Barry Bennett for my story.

FILE — Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, during a news conference in Tokyo, Nov. 6, 2017.

I don’t think she replied to this one either.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Wed 4/27/2016 3:16 PM
 
 To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
 
Hope –

Any comment on Cruz’s choice of Carly Fiorina?

Thanks,

Jonathan

Don’t think I got a reply on that.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Thu 5/26/2016 11:27 AM

Or this one:

To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
kpierson@donaldtrump.com;
 
Hope, Katrina:

I am writing something looking forward to the convention and the role that Sen. Cruz and his delegates may play.

It appears that Cruz is continuing to accumulate delegates, as at Washington State’s convention last week, even though, as per the Washington primary results Tuesday, those delegates are bound to vote for Mr. Trump. Is that continuing effort a source of concern?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz’s name to be placed in nomination at the convention and his votes counted on the first ballot?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz to speak at the convention?

Do you expect Sen. Cruz to endorse Mr. Trump?

Thanks very much,
Jonathan Tilove
Austin American-Statesman

Or this one to Hicks and Josh Jones, the Trump campaign’s man in Texas.

George P. Bush as Texas Victory chairman

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Thu 6/9/2016 11:08 AM
 
 To:pressoffice@donaldrump.com;
jjones@donaldtrump.com;
Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
 
Hope, Josh:

Hi. I’m writing a story about Texas Republican State Party Chair Tom Mechler naming Land Commissioner George P. Bush to be 2016 Victory Chairman, which means he and his top aide will be leading the fundraising and directing the party’s statewide campaign activities for the general election. Tom Pauken, who is a Trump delegate from Texas and former party chairman, thought it was an odd choice because he would be relying on Bush networks that might not give it their all for Mr. Trump, and that he thought Mechler should  have consulted with the Trump campaign and perhaps made a better choice.

I didn’t know whether the campaign shared this concern.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

There were as flurry of emailed questions when Trump came to Austin to campaign in August 2016, including a request for a one-on-one interview, but I don’t recall interviewing Trump, so I think that came to naught.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin
Mon 8/22/2016 11:46 AM
 
 To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
 
Hope –

Thanks.

The message I received from Ashley said to check with you about Mr. Trump’s availability. So yes, if he is available at any point during his Texas visit for an interview, please let me know.

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

It appears that my last missive to Hicks was about Alex Jones.

Tilove, Jonathan (CMG-Austin)
Wed 10/19/2016 8:39 AM
 
 To:Hope Hicks <hhicks@donaldtrump.com>;
 
Hope:

Hi. I’m writing about Austin’s Alex Jones and the influence he has had on Mr. Trump in the campaign, an influence that  the Clinton campaign has assailed.

Any comment?

Thanks very much,

Jonathan Tilove

Austin American-Statesman

So that’s it, except to say so long, Hope. Good luck. And thanks.