Panic Rooms, Birth Certificates and the Birth of GOP Paranoia

“In the 2010 midterm election, voters from all over the place gave President Obama what he himself called “a shellacking.” And oh boy, was it ever. You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name—and that year, by the way, we did pick up a fair number in that category.

Retaking control of the House of Representatives put me in line to be the next Speaker of the House over the largest freshman Republican class in history: 87 newly elected members of the GOP. Since I was presiding over a large group of people who’d never sat in Congress, I felt I owed them a little tutorial on governing. I had to explain how to actually get things done. A lot of that went straight through the ears of most of them, especially the ones who didn’t have brains that got in the way. Incrementalism? Compromise? That wasn’t their thing. A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington. That’s why they thought they were elected.

Some of them, well, you could tell they weren’t paying attention because they were just thinking of how to fundraise off of outrage or how they could get on Hannity that night. Ronald Reagan used to say something to the effect that if I get 80 or 90 percent of what I want, that’s a win. These guys wanted 100 percent every time. In fact, I don’t think that would satisfy them, because they didn’t really want legislative victories. They wanted wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades.”

“There is nothing more dangerous than a reckless asshole who thinks he is smarter than everyone else. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Senator Ted Cruz.”

Why Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton Are Like Trump Cover Bands

“Nobody expected the mob of bands that followed the Beatles’ early success would replicate the lads’ triumphs just because they wore their hair long, sported the same suits and drew on the same musical influences. And they didn’t. The imitators wrote hits, filled theaters and even caused young girls to scream, but Beatlemania—almost a mass delusion, a form of ecstatic consciousness provoked just by the toss of a mop-topped head, or an arrival on an airport tarmac—remained highly specific to the actual Beatles.

The Donald Trump phenomenon is the closest thing we’ve seen in American politics, with the Republican base standing in for smitten teenagers in 1964. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that when the base gathered for its annual conclave at CPAC last week, none of Trump’s would-be successors roused more of a response than a group of Fab Four impersonators at a sock hop.

They tried—boy, did they try. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), trying to boost his anti-immigration credentials, dropped a quip about the Biden administration’s border policy—“That’s not catch-and-release,” he said, “that’s recruit-and-release!”—at which point a “few polite titters rippled through the ballroom,” reporter Elaina Plott observed in the New York Times. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) bombed, too, as he tried to out-Trump Trump with an anti-China line that zinged Hunter Biden. (He “paused for a reaction that never came,” wrote Plott.) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the college debate champion and one-time Tea Party darling, treated the session like a stand-up comedy gig, drawing only scattered applause. The only Cruz line that made the crowd roar was one in praise of Dear Leader Trump, the Texas Monthly reported.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Trump impressions did better, but the winners of the battle of the bands were Govs. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), both of whom ranked second and third to Trump in CPAC’s 2024 straw presidential poll—but more from their resistance to the pandemic lockdown than their evocation of Trump himself.

Can nobody in the GOP wear the big man’s big suit and endless red tie? Trump himself got a decent response from the “ebullient crowd” (Washington Post) when he spoke at CPAC, so the base hasn’t tired of his jokes, insults, grievances and bombast. They just needed to hear the original hits as performed by the original hit-maker.”

Ted Cruz, Chinese Communist Party Agree: Keep Hongkongers Trapped in China

“More than most members of Congress, Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) understands the desperation of individuals fleeing autocratic communist regimes.
Cruz’s father, Rafael, fled Cuba in 1957 with little more than a student visa and $100 sewn into his underwear—an oft-repeated detail that effectively conveys both the fear and hopefulness of the refugee experience. The other details in the story are familiar to anyone who has followed Cruz’s career, even in passing, given the prominence of those personal details in the senator’s speeches. Rafael bribed his way out of Cuba, reached the United States, enrolled in college, worked as a dishwasher, earned his degree, and eventually started a successful business. Importantly, he was granted political asylum when his student visa expired.

If not for that last detail, it’s highly unlikely that Rafael’s son would have ever had the chance to stand on the floor of the U.S. Senate and declare, as he did on Friday, that America ought to make it more difficult for individuals and families to flee other oppressive communist regimes. In blocking the passage of a bill that would have granted political asylum to anyone fleeing Hong Kong due to the Chinese government’s takeover of the formerly semi-autonomous city, Cruz not only dimmed America’s status as a bastion of freedom for the world’s oppressed people, but spat upon his own heritage as the son of a political refugee.”

“In remarks delivered on the Senate floor Friday, Cruz outlined two objections to the bill. Both are misleading, at best.

First, Cruz politicized the attempt to provide an exit strategy for Hongkongers, calling the bill a Democratic plot to “advance their long-standing goals on changing immigration laws.” But the bill has a bipartisan list of cosponsors and passed the House earlier this month by a voice vote—usually an indicator of such broad support that no roll call is demanded.

Second, Cruz maligned Hong Kong refugees as potential spies, arguing that China would use the special immigration status to slip its agents into the United States. Except, well, China doesn’t seem to have any trouble doing that already, and recipients of political asylum would have to undergo a background check before their status is granted. If anything, the bill’s passage would ensure that immigrants from Hong Kong to America are subject to more vetting than they might otherwise receive.

Again, Cruz’s father’s story stands in stark contrast. Prior to fleeing to America, Rafael Cruz had worked for the Castro government in Cuba. If Ted were a member of the U.S. Senate at the time, would he have viewed his own father as a potential spy who should not be trusted with political asylum?”

“Cruz’s biography aside, there is a more important and obvious point. Granting political asylum to Hongkongers looking to flee China is absolutely the right thing for the United States to do, politically and economically.

Politically, the image of tens of thousands of Hongkongers fleeing China’s takeover of the city by relocating to the United States would be an international humiliation for the regime in Beijing. That’s why China has tried to stop the United Kingdom from extending special immigration status to residents of Hong Kong—and the U.K. has responded, correctly, by turning its passport-making machines up to 11.

Economically, China’s loss would be America’s gain. An influx of people from Hong Kong—and the knowledge, skills, money, and entrepreneurship they would bring—would be an economic boon for the United States, particularly if they resettle in areas where the population is stagnant or declining.”

147 Republican lawmakers still objected to the election results after the Capitol attack

“Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Steve Daines (R-MT), and James Lankford (R-OK) are among the Republicans no longer objecting to the results of the presidential election following a day of violence and destruction by President Donald Trump’s supporters at the Capitol — but not everyone has changed their minds.

In a vote Wednesday evening, six Republican senators and 121 House Republicans still backed objections to certifying the electoral outcome in Arizona, a surprising result in the wake of the violence that occurred earlier in the day.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Roger Marshall (R-KS), maintained their objections — even though they’re unfounded, won’t be going anywhere, and further amplify lies about a rigged election. (The objection did not obtain a majority of votes in either chamber, and failed.)

“This is the appropriate place for these concerns to be raised,” Hawley said in a floor speech, highlighting questions he still had about Pennsylvania election laws.

Their decisions to uphold these objections suggests that some are still shockingly comfortable undermining the democratic process even after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol to contest the validity of the election results.

It’s an attack that Republican lawmakers’ actions helped stoke, given their willingness to support Trump’s repeated, unproven claims about a fraudulent election.”

Ted Cruz and His Pals Are Responsible for Wednesday’s Carnage and Mayhem

“What happens when political parties reject elections and delegitimize democracy? American history tells us clearly: violence and bloodshed. Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol may seem unprecedented, but it was utterly predictable. On Sunday, I tweeted this thread on how attempts to steal American elections almost inevitably lead to violence, and I drafted much of this essay on Monday. While Wednesday’s violence was foreseeable, the question now is what Congress should do about the national leaders who enabled and inflamed this crisis.

Even after Wednesday’s literal assault on democracy, a significant number of Republicans continue to spread baseless conspiracy theories. Indeed, these members cited the spread of those theories in order to justify their decision to object to Wednesday’s Electoral College count, the precipitating event for all of this madness. As a pro-Trump mob was marching to the Capitol right on cue, Sen. Ted Cruz led the objections, swooning that “39 percent of Americans say the election was rigged. … You might disagree, but it is a profound danger to our democracy.” Yes, Ted Cruz spreading these baseless concerns, and then citing those concerns, is indeed a profound danger to our democracy.”

Ted Cruz is spearheading a new GOP effort to overturn the 2020 election

“the “electoral commission” plan backed by Cruz and 10 of his colleagues is nonsense. For one, the commission they demand has no precedent in the modern era and no realistic prospects of being convened. What’s more, the statement is predicated on a series of spurious claims by Cruz and his colleagues that echo similar — and equally baseless — election fraud rhetoric to that heard repeatedly from Trump.

Election Day — November 3, 2020 — is now 60 days in the past. In that time, Trump and his Republican allies have filed and lost at least 60 election-related lawsuits at all levels of the state and federal court systems alleging voter fraud and other improprieties — and they have failed to prove their case at every turn.

Recounts in battleground states like Georgia and Wisconsin — both won by Biden — have turned up no evidence of large-scale fraud or irregularities that could have affected the results of the election. And in all 50 states and Washington, DC, the election results have been carefully reviewed by state officials and certified as accurate.

In short, 60 days of intense scrutiny have turned up exactly zero reasons to believe the letter’s false claim that “the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election” are worrying — and there’s no reason to believe that an “electoral commission” would turn up a different result.

That there have been allegations of fraud as never before is true, but as MSNBC’s Chris Hayes pointed out on Sunday, these have been misleading efforts led by Trump, and bolstered by his allies, like Cruz, to overturn the election’s rightful results.

Cruz and his allies cite the results of this effort in their statement Saturday that widespread belief in the existence of voter fraud — a sort of warped “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” argument — necessitates the creation of an election commission.

“Reuters/Ipsos polling, tragically, shows that 39% of Americans believe ‘the election was rigged’,” the group said Saturday. “That belief is held by Republicans (67%), Democrats (17%), and Independents (31%).”

That’s an accurate reporting of the poll’s results — but it does conveniently leave out the likely reason for that widespread belief.

In reality, the Republican base has been inundated with evidence-free voter fraud rhetoric from every corner of the right-wing universe — from Trump’s Twitter feed to Fox News to stump speeches by Republican senators — almost nonstop since Trump’s election defeat. There’s a direct line between Cruz’s rhetoric and the problem he diagnoses: As Hayes put it on Twitter, “They’ve spent months lying to people, telling them the election was stolen and now turn around and cite the fact that many people believe them as evidence!””

Ted Cruz’s Eagerness To Fight Trump’s Legal Battles Epitomizes the GOP’s Complete Lack of Principles

“Ted Cruz will not get a chance to argue that the Supreme Court should stop Joe Biden from taking office by overriding the presidential election results in four battleground states. But the Texas senator’s eagerness to do so speaks volumes about the extent to which the Republican Party has abandoned the principles it once claimed to defend”

“Both of those lawsuits, which relied on seemingly contradictory legal theories, were unanimously rejected by a Supreme Court that includes six Republican appointees, half of them nominated by Trump himself.”

“Election law expert Rick Hasen called Paxton’s case “a press release masquerading as a lawsuit.” A brief from conservative legal scholars and Republican politicians condemned it as “a mockery of federalism and separation of powers.” Case Western Reserve law professor Jonathan Adler warned that Paxton was pushing “a radical argument that would make a mockery of Article II’s delegation of power to state legislatures and upend core elements of our federal system.” Princeton political scientist Keith Whittington worried that Republican officials who backed the lawsuit were “rushing to throw over constitutional and democratic principles in an effort to curry favor with a president who refuses to accept the reality of an electoral loss.””

“17 other Republican attorneys general, and more than 100 Republican members of Congress joined Trump in backing Paxton’s lawsuit. But Cruz’s eagerness to jump on this batty bandwagon is especially striking because of his legal background, his pose as a diehard defender of the Constitution, and his personal history with Trump.”

“Cruz’s current role as a Trump toady stands in sharp contrast with his criticism of Trump in 2016. After Trump claimed that Cruz, who was then vying with him for the Republican presidential nomination, “stole” the Iowa caucus through “fraud,” Cruz dismissed that fact-free accusation as “yet another #Trumpertantrum.” Yet here he is lending credence to the even wilder, equally unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that Trump has been pushing for more than a month.

After Trump, who had dubbed Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” implicated the senator’s father in John F. Kennedy’s assassination (yes, that really happened), Cruz was notably angrier. “I’m going to do something I haven’t done for the entire campaign,” he said in May 2016. “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….Whatever he does, he accuses everybody 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 has ever seen…..Everything in Donald’s world is about Donald….The man is utterly amoral. Morality does not exist for him….Donald is a bully….Donald is cynically exploiting that anger [at the political establishment], and he is lying to his supporters. Donald will betray his supporters on every issue.””

“By his own account, Cruz is now committed to defending an amoral, narcissistic, unprincipled, utterly dishonest bully, even when that means reinforcing the fantasy that Trump won the election and backing constitutionally reckless efforts to override the actual result. Whatever credit the Cruz of 2016 deserved for telling the truth about Trump has dissolved in a bath of cowardly sycophancy drawn by a politician who is terrified of alienating the president’s supporters.
Cruz, who is up for reelection in 2024 and may seek his party’s presidential nomination that year, has a strong political interest in placating Trump fans. But if voters took to heart Cruz’s advice about supporting candidates they trust to defend the Constitution, he would lose handily in either race.”