Posts Tagged ‘Ted Cruz’

The Messenger is the Message

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

By Jeffrey Page

Close to 2 million people gathered in Paris on Sunday to condemn the murderous attacks on the staff of Charlie Hebdo and on a kosher supermarket that resulted in the deaths of 17 people. One of those attending the march was David Cameron, the British prime minister. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as there. So was Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi were there as well.

Oh, and Jane D. Hartley was there to represent us. Hartley is the United States ambassador to France, and probably known to as many Frenchmen and women as the French ambassador to the United States is known to Americans. You know; whatsisname, Gérard Araud.

But President Obama couldn’t make it. Nor could Vice President Joe Biden. Nor could Secretary of State John Kerry. Apparently nobody from America could make it, so we sent Jane D. Hartley.

And in doing so, Obama revealed an insensitivity not worthy of a world leader. France, after all, is America’s oldest ally, and you just don’t treat old friends quite as shabbily as Obama has with France and its people.

While President Obama may have been too busy to travel to Paris, his counterpart, François Hollande, took the American disrespect gracefully and, speaking through a spokeswoman, declared that he had not been offended. “President Obama supported France in their common struggle against terrorism,” he said.

As though imitating a Ringling Bros. clown stepping into a bucket, Obama caused further embarrassment to himself by giving some of his sharpest critics a free ride for a couple of news cycles.

–Sending Jane D. Hartley to the Paris march was “beyond crass, even for this administration,” said Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

–“Our president should have been there,” Senator Ted Cruz wrote in Time Magazine.

–Obama is “a failure when it comes to fighting Islamic jihadists,” said Mike Huckabee.

–“Skipping this rally will be remembered as a new low in American diplomacy,” said Rick Perry.

–“There’s a plethora of people they could have sent,” said Senator Marco Rubio.

They’re right.

No one would remember “Ich bin ein Berliner” if John Kennedy had ordered some deputy assistant secretary of state no one ever heard of to deliver it. Nor would anyone recall “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” if it had been uttered by anyone but Ronald Reagan.

Sometimes the messenger is the message.

Rumsfeld Again

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld

After several years out of the public eye Donald Rumsfeld – genius of all geniuses of the war in Iraq – returns.

Nowadays, Rumsfeld is being “courted” by some possible Republican presidential candidates. One such matchup is Ted Cruz’s hiring of Victoria Coates to be his foreign policy adviser. Victoria Coates? She was an aide to Rumsfeld when he ran the Pentagon for George W. Bush. Additionally, The Washington Post recently noted that several Republicans are reaching out to policy makers from past GOP administrations. Cruz, for example, has a sit-down scheduled with Rumsfeld himself.

Donald Henry Rumsfeld. As secretary of defense he gave us the misery of a war fought for dubious purposes and based on alleged evidence of Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. Thousands dead and wounded, a treasure’s worth of funds spent, and we never found those weapons.

It took a while, but Rumsfeld finally was shown the door. Between his performance at the Pentagon and some of his bizarre comments over the years, the door should have opened sooner, and you wonder why anyone would “court” him today. But, he left and did what people like him do all the time – he vanished, rose briefly with the publication of his book, and then seemed to disappear again. And now he might return – again.

Think back. Recall Rumsfeld as an alumnus of the Wiseacre School of Political Oratory with a major in condescension. In 2003 there were reports that some troops in Iraq had engaged in looting. Of course Rumsfeld was asked about this and sneeringly responded: “Freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.”

Got that?

There was always more when it came to Rumsfeld. Sure, his Pentagon might have misled Bush about the war and its progress. That’s one form of disrespect. But Rumsfeld dissed the troops themselves.

Do you remember this? Late in 2004, Rumsfeld paid a Christmas visit to U.S. forces in Kuwait. He praised the troops, and then took questions. Specialist Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National Guard asked why he and his fellow soldiers had been equipped with light vehicles that lacked proper shielding. (Remember, this was a time when roadside bombings were killing and maiming troops regularly.)

Wilson also asked why, in order to protect their own lives, the troops were forced to scrounge through Kuwaiti landfills for scrap metal, fashion it into substandard shields, and attach them to their light vehicles.

Rumsfeld asked for a repeat of the question and you knew he had been snared. Wilson complied, adding, “We do not have the proper armored vehicles to carry us north.” The troops applauded.

Rumsfeld’s response will live forever as something you simply don’t say to the people who actually do your fighting. “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have,” Rumsfeld said.

Which was verbal trash.

Because if you plan a war for months before you intend to wage it – as the Bush Administration had – you use the time to supply your army with the proper equipment in big numbers. I noted in a column for The Record in 2004 that the only time you’re forced “to go to war with the army you have” is when the enemy is landing in the Bronx and time is precious.

There was more. Soon after Rumsfeld’s appearance in Kuwait, the Pentagon announced it was “aggressively” addressing Wilson’s complaint.”

But then the Associated Press reported it had interviewed another soldier who had expressed the very same complaint of substandard shielding to Rumsfeld – 15 months earlier – during the secretary’s visit with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital. The soldier who spoke with AP recalled that Rumsfeld said at the time of his visit, around September of 2003, that he was working on the problem of the missing armor shields.

Which proves the old adage that I just made up: “You go to war with the secretary of defense who stands behind for his troops, not the secretary of defense who can’t equip his army properly and who sneers when he hears complaints.”

‘There’s a Bunch of Idiots Out There’

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

By Michael Kaufman

Before the days of E-ZPass it was not uncommon to see toll booths marked “Exact Change Lane” or “Exact Change Only.” One such booth, at exit 11 of the NJ Turnpike, where the Turnpike intersects with the Garden State Parkway, featured an additional hand-made sign: “NO DIRECTIONS.” The idea was to create a lane at the busy toll plaza where traffic could move quickly for drivers who had the exact amount ready and knew how to get where they were going. The lane was much appreciated by people on their way to work or to the shore, and it usually worked well. But not always.

One morning on my way to work my car was third from the booth when traffic came to a halt. I could see the toll collector, a short, gray-haired man who had been at the job for years, gesturing angrily at the driver of the car at the booth, and pointing to the “Exact Change” sign. But now there was no other place for the driver to go, and the toll collector eventually gave up the argument and made the necessary change.

Then the driver of the next car asked for directions. Again the exasperated toll collector pointed, this time to his hand-made “NO DIRECTIONS” sign. And again he had no choice but to provide directions in order to get traffic moving again.

When it was my turn and I handed him the exact change, he looked around, then at me, and said sadly, “There’s a bunch of idiots out there.” I have been using the line ever since, particularly with regard to family members whenever they get on my nerves. My children have all come to regard “bunch of idiots,” or simply the singular, “idiot,” as terms of endearment. Fortunately, they were able to explain this to their cousins the first time I affectionately referred to them as a bunch of idiots. “That means he really likes you a lot,” I heard  Gahlia tell Olivia. Or maybe it was Sydney. I know it was one of those idiots.

But aside from family members, those words are reserved for people I truly think worthy of the name. I’ve noticed quite a few in recent weeks. Remember the rally in Albany to protest the new gun-control law in New York State? I’m not saying all of the reported 7,000 people who were there are idiots. (I can say that all the people I saw in the newspaper photo are white….but that is a topic for a column itself.) One guy had a sign, “I don’t need an AK-47, but I want one.” Another nitwit thought it would be amusing to use his sign to poke fun at some immigrants: “My guns aren’t illegal, they’re just undocumented.”

I don’t really think that Warwick Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton is an idiot. But he is acting like one by going to all the pro-gun rallies and pandering for votes in his bid to become the Republican candidate for Orange County executive. Sweeton has now been quoted in several newspaper articles, saying of the law, “It is unconstitutional.” Since when did he become Oliver Wendell Holmes?

Then there’s the guy who wrote a letter to the editor after the Boston Marathon bombings, echoing the oft-expressed sentiment of his fellow idiots that people in Boston and surrounding areas would have felt a lot safer if they all had guns during the time the suspects were at large. Notice that you never heard of many (if any) people from Boston make such a statement. That includes the police officers and other law enforcement workers, whose jobs would have been made immeasurably more difficult if a bunch of idiots (or even just plain frightened citizens) were running around with guns. Remember when John King told CNN viewers that a reliable source told him the bomber was a “dark-skinned male?” Or when the NY Post put a picture of a backpack-toting high-school kid on the front page? Do these people not remember what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?

I haven’t even gotten to Ted Cruz or some of the other wackola Republicans in Congress but I think the point has been made well enough: There’s a bunch of idiots out there. Feel free to comment and add your own.

Michael can be reached at



Why Wingnut Wit? ‘Because Stupid’

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Alaska's lone congressman, Don Young, was forced to apologize for referring to Latino farm workers as 'wetbacks' during a recent interview. Photo by Dennis Zaki/

By Emily Theroux

“Stupid is as stupid does,” said Forrest Gump’s mother, who almost had it right. “Stupid is as stupid says” might be a more accurate watchword for the recent surge in wingnut imbecility.

Governor Bobby Jindal’s “Stupid Party” has been on a tear during the past few months, ever since losing the 2012 election caused widespread existential angst among the Freeperati. What should have been a time for sober introspection has devolved into a blabfest of ideological inanity, as Republicans try to one-up each other in some cosmic open-mic Battle of the Booboisie.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

You want stupid? I’ll give you stupid — “biologically stupid,” as RNC Chairman Reince Preibus* put it during an interview with Radio Iowa. “Listen, I don’t think our platform is the issue,” opined “R-r-r-r-r-r-reince” (as Rachel Maddow calls him, with an obligatory tongue roll). “I think a lot of times it’s some of these biologically stupid things that people say, you know, that I believe caused a lot of the problems.”

Yes, Freeper fans and foes, teabaggers like Todd “RapePublican” Akin say the dumbest things, to paraphrase the late Art Linkletter — and lose elections for it. I’m sure you have a few G(ullible) O(btuse) P(arty) favorites of your own.

Just humor me, and I’ll see your “asinine” and raise you two “moronics.” (“Mindlesses”? “Myopics”? “Whacko birds?” Never mind, as Emily Litella used to say. Andiamo!)


Texas Teddy’s ‘Cruzin’ for a bruisin’ ‘ by parroting the guv

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas

“Senator Ted Cruz isn’t going to let all the stupid in Texas belong to Gov. Rick Perry,” wrote Joan McCarter of Daily Kos, on the occasion of what she called “Dumb Pronouncements from Texas About Medicaid Day.” Good ol’ boy “N*****head Rick” got the ball rolling with the following April Fool’s Day bluster about expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act:

“Texas will not be held hostage to the Obama administration’s attempt to force us into this fool’s errand.”

And how, exactly, will three years’ worth of free Medicaid funding hurt the state’s 2,036,000 uninsured adults — at 33 percent of the population, the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation?

Allow Cruz the Crusader to explain:

“Our friends who are saying they want health care do not realize that expanding Medicaid will worsen health care options for the most vulnerable among us in Texas. … If you want state funds to provide for our prisons and law enforcement to incarcerate violent criminals and keep them off the streets, you should be glad we’re not signing up for this Medicaid expansion … because the pressure is going to crowd out just about every other priority in the budget.”

Oh, really, Senator Newbie? You forgot to mention that the very Medicaid expansion your team turned down would have significantly increased total spending in your state’s economy, as well as real gross product, personal income, and retail sales — and saved 2,938 lives in the bargain.


Gohmert leaps from guns to gay marriage to bestiality

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert

Let’s hear it again for Texas, where Rep. Louie Gohmert had the huevos to compare limiting the number of rounds in a gun magazine to expanding the definition of marriage to include LGBT couples. “(W)hy would you draw the line at 10 (bullets — or one spouse)? And the problem is once you draw that limit, it’s kind of like marriage when you say, (if) it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?”

As the congressman noted when rejecting a hate crimes bill in 2009:

“If you’re oriented toward animals — bestiality — that’s not something that can be held against you … Which means you’d have to strike any laws against bestiality. If you’re oriented toward corpses, toward children — you know, there are all kinds of perversions — pedophiles or necrophiliacs or what most would say is perverse sexual orientations.”

Do tell. Sounds like a 14th-inning stretch, if you don’t mind mixing your bestiality metaphors with a little baseball.


Why not ‘marry gay’ to scam government benefits?

Sue Everhart (Photo by Marietta Daily Journal)

“You may be as straight as an arrow, and you may have a friend that is as straight as an arrow,” said Georgia GOP Chairwoman Sue Everhart.

“Say you had a great job with the government where you had this wonderful health plan. I mean, what would prohibit you from saying that you’re gay, and y’all get married and still live as separate, but you get all the benefits? I just see so much abuse in this it’s unreal. I believe a husband and a wife should be a man and a woman, the benefits should be for a man and a woman. There is no way that this is about equality. To me, it’s all about a free ride.”

Incredible! Why pretend you’re gay to “get all the benefits” of marriage? You can already score the same perks by getting hitched to someone of the opposite sex — you know, the time-honored “one man, one woman” route.


Religious rightie: ‘The gay’ behind N. Korean belligerence

Radio talker Rick Wiles

Right-wing radio haranguer Rick Wiles went all “Kim Jong-un” on marriage equality last week on his Trunews talk show.

“You know, at precisely the same time the Supreme Court is hearing these arguments on same-sex marriage, in Asia a crazy man in possession of nuclear weapons is openly saying: I have ordered our military to position our rockets on U.S. targets in Hawaii, Japan, Guam and the mainland of the United States. Could our slide into immorality be what is unleashing this madman over here in Asia to punish us? You got this happening over here and you got this happening over here: Could the two be connected?

PFAW’s has been all over this story, as well as the one about Wiles making his case to the fundies that the actor playing Satan on the History Channel’s The Bible series is a dead ringer for President Obama. “God guided the hand of the makeup artist and blinded the eyes of everybody on the movie set while it was being recorded” so no one would notice the resemblance — which just goes to show you, Wiles concludes, that “the man in the White House is a devil from hell.”

A month ago, Wiles sounded the tocsin to fellow Obamaphobes: “Let me remind the gay rights fanatics, North Korea plans to send a nuclear warhead our way. There’s a terrible price to pay for outright rebellion against the holy God of Israel, and your sins are going to get us all killed.”

As my friend Jim would say, “I’m sick and effin’ tired of being blamed for wars and natural disasters.”


And out of his mouth comes a-bubblin’ crude — Texas tea’

Texas Rep. Steve Stockman

They sure do make ’em witless in the Lone Star state! From freshman congressman Steve Stockman‘s Twitter feed gushed the following “Texas crude”:

“The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.”

Later, Stockman topped off a string of snarky oil-themed tweets with this trenchant observation:

“Energy-rich oil propelled civilization into the 21st century. But liberals want to turn back the clock to inefficient Bronze Age wind power.”

These witticisms don’t seem so slick when you consider last weekend’s pipeline leak in suburban Mayflower, Arkansas. If enough of that “black gold” wells up out of the ground, from enough hidden pipelines, under enough subdivisions whose residents were never informed the pipelines were there, Stockman’s “civilization” is going to wind up blasted back to the Stone Age.

* * *

See more “fun Freeper facts” below:


* Reince Priebus, according to fallen Fox News pundit Dick Morris, will be featured in a new “outreach” ad targeting Latino voters. Priebus is expected to thank “those Latin Americans who’ve come to the United States to help us build our country, to help harvest our food, to help make our economy work (italics mine).” Forget “biological stupidity” — how about “ethnic stereotype stupidity”?


GOP Comes Up Short

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

There is something laughable in the breast beating and soul searching of the Republican Party as it tries to figure out how to remain opposed to immigration while trying to persuade Latinos that it loves them, wants them and welcomes them.

Following President Obama’s reelection, the GOP has backed itself into many corners. There was immigration. Then came the matter of what women should or should not be allowed to do with their own bodies. The Republicans want lots more young people to join their ranks, but many younger people, according to most polls, are pro-choice. Still, the Tea Drinkers who have taken over the party are pro-life and unwilling to give an inch.

This is what caused Jeb Bush to declare, in a moment of self-examination at the recently concluded Conservative Political Action Conference: “All too often we’re associated with being ‘anti’ everything. Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker, and the list goes on and on and on. Many voters are simply unwilling to choose our candidates even though they share our core beliefs, because those voters feel unloved, unwanted and unwelcome in our party.” The response was tepid.

Modern day Republicans – with their birther madness, their eagerness to scrap the Voting Rights Act, their refusal to recognize the equality of their gay and straight members – remind me of the way Groucho Marx sang about the character he played in the movie “Horse Feathers” 81 years ago:

“I don’t know what they have to say./ It makes no difference anyway./Whatever it is, I’m against it./No matter what it is or who commenced it,/I’m against it.”

The Republicans want to freshen their image? If the response to Bush was lukewarm, the keynote speaker got a standing ovation when he declared in classic demagoguery, “We saw every single Republican in the Senate vote unanimously to defund Obamacare. Every Democrat voted together to maintain Obamacare funding, even if it pushes us into a recession [emphasis added].”

The speaker was Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. If the Republicans are looking to clean up their image, they’re going to have trouble with people like Cruz and the former one-term House member Allen West of Florida. Both have shown themselves to be the reincarnation of Joe McCarthy.

In 1950, McCarthy went from Senate back bencher to overnight sensation when he held up a piece of paper at a speaking engagement in West Virginia and declared that he had a list of 205 State Department employees who were communists.

In his book “Proofiness,” Charles Seife posits that allegations take on important believability when preceded by a number – McCarthy remained unknown the first time he alleged there were communists working at the State Department. But he started to be taken seriously when he said there were “205” communists at State. What apparently escaped notice 63 years ago was the fact that not long after, McCarthy said his list of subversives bore the names of 207 [sic] people at the State. The very next day he wrote to President Truman to complain that little was being done about those 57 [sic] security risks. Later, Seife reports, the number rose to 81[sic].

In fine McCarthy fashion three years ago, Ted Cruz charged that there were 12 communists on the Harvard Law School faculty. He didn’t name them. More recently, when Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense ran into a GOP roadblock, Cruz came close to questioning Hagel’s loyalty.

Before Cruz there was Allen West of Florida – elected in 2010 with 54.3 percent of the vote and defeated in 2012 with 49.6 percent. In that one term, West told a gathering in Florida that he had “heard” there were about 80 communists serving in the House of Representatives. And wouldn’t you know it, all 80 were Democrats.

West also said: “If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine.”

If the GOP has any hope of becoming a majority party it needs to disassociate itself its own demagogues and hate mongers.