Tag Archives: Ted Cruz

The Democratic Contest Begins…

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) speaks on his agenda for America during a news conference on Capitol Hill April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Sanders sent out an e-mail earlier to announce that he will run for U.S. president. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Whether you support former First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Senator (and gasp!) self-avowed Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, there is no doubt that the vote in the Michigan Democratic Primary has turned the 2016 Presidential nominating contest into a hotly contested race.

michiganTonight’s results from the great state of Michigan haven’t changed my mind. I’ve always loved me some Bernie Sanders. (I still remember “Brunch with Bernie” on Thom Hartman’s radio show – and all of his appearances on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program.)

To be sure, I’m feeling the Bern all the way to the Democratic Convention. But if Hillary somehow ultimately prevails in the delegate count – I’m 100% with her against whatever monstrosity the GOP nominates: whether it’s Trump or Cruz or some lousy, GOP establishment option they manage to cobble together at a brokered (okay, “open”) convention.Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.31.37 PM

So, my progressive friends – this was a great night.

Those of us who are progressive Democrats are in a great position. Bernie Sanders is leading in the right direction. If Hillary Clinton hopes to compete for the Democratic nomination, she must embrace Bernie’s populist, idealistic, progressive platform – and outflank him on the left.

Either way, we win.Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 9.39.07 PM

Go ahead, GOP. Give us Trump or Cruz.

Can’t wait.

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You Know The Candidates – Now Meet The Can’t-idates!

Banner 1Banner 2Banner 3As crazy as the 2016 Presidential election cycle has been, my friend Craig Tomashoff’s new book proves that it’s actually crazier than you realize.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 9.38.30 AMIn an election year that features a billionaire tycoon/reality show star at the top of the GOP polls — The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name introduces us to a cast of candidates whose kookiness trumps Trump.

Craig has spent much of the past year getting to know the people he calls “The Can’t-idates” — some of the wildest dreamers and iconoclasts that have ever (somehow) gotten their names on a Presidential ballot. Can’t-idates like Pamela Pinkney Butts…

imrs.phpVermin Supreme…

…and Sydney’s Voluptuous Buttocks.

The folks in Craig’s book are definitely not contenders – unless they’re contending for the title of Most Improbable Candidacy of 2016. (A title that, come to think of it, The Donald has already locked up.)

But whatever their chances, whatever their motivations, the author treats all his “Can’t-idates” with dignity and respect — allowing them to tell their stories and reveal themselves in an entertaining and enlightening way.

IMG_3794You can get your copy of the book – and meet the author — at a book-signing party on Friday, March 25 at 7 pm at Book Soup in West Hollywood, CA. Craig assures me that daughter-made cookies will be provided, and that he will be happy to personally describe what it feels like to have Ted Cruz hug you, be interviewed with a pig, and stand five feet away from Donald Trump — not necessarily in that order.

For the book-signing, RSVP to ctomashoff@gmail.com or at this link.

More information on the book is available here.

The following are some excerpts from Craig’s press release…

Usera.Still002This country has long craved a non-politician who would campaign for president, a freewheeling dreamer not bound by conventional political wisdom. Who cares that, other than the need for oxygen to stay alive, Trump has little in common with most of his supporters? They still perceive him to be the only candidate bold enough to buck the system they despise. The thing is, he’s not. As you will learn in The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name, there are a lot of real real people campaigning to be Commander in Chief. If only somebody would listen to them…

2a90584Pundits also like to complain that our political system just produces the same old faces, yet they’re ignoring the hundreds of candidates who file every four years to run for president. The 2016 election has already produced more than double the number of “citizen candidates” than the 2012 election did – nearly 1,300 compared to 500.

So what keeps these people clinging against all odds to the ultimate American Dream? The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name has the amazing, inspiring and sometimes amusing answers.

To research this new book, award-winning journalist Craig Tomashoff spoke with more than 100 ordinary Americans attempting to accomplish the extraordinary – get elected to the highest office in the land without any political experience whatsoever. Out of those interviews, he found 15 unforgettable citizens who are running for the highest office in the land not just to make their country a better place. They’re also doing it to find something that’s been missing from their personal lives.

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No, that’s not Sydney’s Voluptuous Buttocks. It’s that woman who ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground.

Tomashoff traveled 10,000 miles in three weeks to meet these 15 people. There’s Harley Brown, the Hell’s Angel in Idaho whose job used to be informing military families that they’re loved ones had died. Until God told him to run. There’s Josh Usera, the ex-MMA fighter from South Dakota, who hopes his campaign will redeem his hometown reputation after several brushes with the law. And there’s Vermin Supreme, the Massachusetts political prankster who is back for a seventh run at the White House by promising free candy and ponies in exchange for votes.

The Can’t-idates: Running For President When Nobody Knows Your Name offers a lively, loving look at a collection of misfits, ne’er-do-wells and American dreamers who still believe in something the rest of us have long since forgotten.

People.Cantidates

 

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Vote for Bernie (& Hillary, Too!)

635501804068694446-2016IowaCaucus-720x163Iowa Banner 2Iowa Banner 3Tonight, Americans will begin the process of choosing their next President when voters across the state of Iowa gather to participate in a strange democratic ritual known as the Iowa Caucuses.

iowa-county-mapRepublicans and Democrats (and Independents joining one of the two major parties for the night) will get the electoral ball rolling just as a major winter storm threatens to keep them from congregating in large numbers at the 1,681 caucuses across the state.

I understand there will also be one Democratic telecaucus. I have no idea what a “telecaucus” is. (Sounds like a dinosaur.) I’m surprised I haven’t heard Rachel Maddow try to explain it to me dozens of times in the past two weeks.

For the Republicans, the caucus is a relatively simple affair: show up, register your vote, and go home to your warm hearth and home.

web1_0_no_image_title_151Democrats, however, will play an oddball game of musical chairs – herding themselves into “Presidential preference groups” supporting the candidate of their choice. Candidates who don’t garner the support of at least 15 percent of the folks in the room are no longer “viable” and their supporters can either “acquire people into their group to become viable” — or switch chairs and join another viable candidate’s herd. Sort of like a Midwestern political mating ritual.

screen-shot-2016-01-31-at-8-31-17-pmThen, in order to determine which candidate has won the most delegates at the caucus, the Democratic Party of Iowa uses this simple equation:

“(Attendees in preference group × Total delegates the caucus elects) ÷ Total number of eligible attendees = Delegates for group to elect”

Math was never my favorite subject, but I’m sure Iowa Democratic Party officials will eventually determine who came out on top in the Iowa Caucuses – and then the Presidential pageant will move on to New Hampshire and beyond.

bernie_2It’s my hope that Senator Bernie Sanders will emerge from the Iowa Caucuses with a victory – and that he’ll score another win in New Hampshire. I’ve been listening to Bernie for years, and I like his vote against the Iraq War, his passion for advancing the interests of the poor and middle class, and his refusal to accept Wall Street greed and rapacity.

I hope Bernie continues to mount a positive, uplifting and inspiring state-by-state primary challenge. I want to see him come to the convention with a ton of delegates. I’d love to see him become the Democratic nominee.

And I think Senator Sanders will mop the floor with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz or anyone else the Republicans serve up. (Plus, it’ll be fun to keep watching Larry David’s Bernie imitation on SNL.)

081815_otr_panelBut if Bernie doesn’t win the nomination – I will happily support Hillary Clinton.

And every progressive in America should do the same.

Alas, I’m starting to hear the same kind of “cut off your nose to spite your face” foolishness among some liberal friends about how they just can’t support Hillary. They’ll sit this one out if Bernie isn’t the nominee. Or they’ll vote third party. Yeah. Just like the Naderites couldn’t support Al Gore, spouting the nonsense that “both parties are the same.”

300px-2000aWe can thank such high-minded yet unimaginative progressives for the slim electoral margin that gave the GOP the White House in 2000 and the 8-year fiasco that was George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Don’t believe it? Here’s a quick history lesson. Bush won with 271 electoral votes. Gore had 266. New Hampshire was worth 4 electoral votes.

And here’s what happened in New Hampshire:NH

Do the math. If the progressives backing Nader had voted for Gore — Gore would’ve taken the Presidency 270-267.

Both parties are the same? Really?

140416_POL_BarackObama.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlargeDo my well-meaning pro-Bernie/anti-Hillary progressive friends actually believe that Al Gore and George W. Bush are both climate change deniers? That President Obama and George W. Bush are the same on LGBT issues, a woman’s right to choose, and voting rights? Do they really feel that President Hillary Clinton and President Cruz or Trump will make appoint the same type of Justices to the Supreme Court? I could go on and on.

bernie-sandersI love me some Bernie Sanders. I really do. But if you think there’s no real difference between the Republican and Democratic parties then show me a self-avowed Socialist running in GOP primaries and calling for a political revolution in a GOP debate?

Senator Bernie Sander is not only welcome in the Democratic Party – he has a puncher’s chance of winning the Democratic nomination for President. And I hope he does.

But if he doesn’t – I’ll be a happy warrior for Hillary.

Let’s keep the “progress” in progressive.

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Joe, George & Ted…

Cruz banner 1Cruzbanner2Does the equation above seem too glib? Senate Republicans Speak To The Press After Weekly Policy Meetings

Do Senator Joe McCarthy and Governor George Wallace really add up to Senator Ted Cruz? That’s been my knee-jerk reaction. Watching Ted Cruz engage in his demagogic shenanigans over The Affordable Care Act and the Tea Party’s government shutdown, images of McCarthy and Wallace kept coming to mind. Yet, after looking into the history of both men — the infamous ‘50s Red baiter and ‘60s race baiter – I’ve come to the conclusion that my impulsive equation adds up. Unfortunately.

Unfortunately for public discourse, our political process, the American economy and working people.

And ultimately, perhaps most unfortunately for the Republican Party…

Let’s take a look back at Joe and George and see what their political careers tell us about Ted – and the prospects for the future of Senator Cruz and the Grand Old Party he’s driving hard right into the ditch. joseph-mccarthy-demagogue

Joe McCarthy served as a Republican Senator from Wisconsin from 1947 until his death from acute hepatitis – aggravated by his alcoholism — in 1957. Like Ted Cruz, McCarthy was a junior Senator who latched onto a hot button issue and quickly rode it to prominence. Less than three years after taking his back bench in the Senate, “Tail Gunner Joe” was the face of his party — and his reckless, bullying, blacklisting anti-Communist crusade gave birth to a noun that still casts a dark shadow over American politics to this day. “McCarthyism”

It’s important to note that Senator Joe McCarthy was, first and foremost, a liar. He lied early and often.

mccarthy-the-fight-for-america-senator-joe-mccarthyTo begin with, McCarthy lied about his war record. Despite the clearly recorded fact that, as a sitting judge at the time of his enlistment, he received an automatic commission as a lieutenant in the intelligence service, McCarthy liked to claim that he enlisted as a buck private.

McCarthy’s twelve combat missions as a gunner-observer earned him his nickname, “Tail-Gunner Joe,” but he later claimed 32 missions in order to qualify for the Distinguished Flying Cross, which he was awarded in 1952. This was also based on a lie. McCarthy claimed his letter of commendation had been signed by his commanding officer and countersigned by Admiral Nimitz. But, alas, McCarthy wrote that letter of commendation himself: a relatively easy subterfuge for an unscrupulous intelligence officer like himself.

mccarthyism-3McCarthy’s willingness to lie boldly and baldly made him nationally famous in 1950 — when he asserted in a thunderous speech that he had a list of “members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring” who worked in the State Department. He was never able to prove his sensational charge.

Not being in possession of the facts didn’t stop McCarthy from making more incendiary accusations. Not only had Communists infiltrated the State Department, he warned, there were Commies inside the Truman administration, the Voice of America, Hollywood — and even the U.S. Army.

joseph_mccarthy-1The McCarthy witch-hunts were on. Armed with the kind of faux populist righteousness and fanatical zeal that animates so many Tea Party advocates, McCarthy used the harsh spotlight of his Senate hearings (and behind-the-scenes strong-arming) to hound those he deemed to be Communists, communist sympathizers, disloyal Americans and – gasp! – homosexuals inside and outside of government.

McCarthy’s scorched Earth political tactics made him a fearsome, polarizing household name – but his hubris and recklessness kept him at arm’s length from most of his senior GOP colleagues, especially Truman’s successor, President Eisenhower, who considered Tail Gunner Joe’s demagoguery reprehensible.

JoeHowever — and today’s Republican leaders should take note vis a vis Ted Cruz – Ike had a chance to torpedo McCarthy’s rising star, but failed to do it. Well aware of McCarthy’s base of support inside the GOP, Eisenhower bowed to the demands of electoral politics during the Presidential election of 1952, and tempered his disdain for the blustering, bullying junior Senator from the dairy state. The peerless soldier who, as the Supreme Allied Commander, conquered North Africa, liberated Sicily, and invaded Fortress Europe to defeat the Nazi horde hedged his bets as a Presidential candidate in ’52 to avoid a political confrontation with a pompous, prevaricating poltroon who hadn’t even served one term in the Senate.

Ike regretted his lack of political courage at that pivotal moment for the rest of his life. Today’s Republican leaders may well look back at this moment in political time with the same stinging regret.

It took another Joe to shoot down Tail Gunner Joe. On June 9, 1954, during the Army–McCarthy hearings, the Army’s lawyer, Joseph Welch, finally fired a shot below McCarthy’s waterline and sent him sinking to the bottom.

Before a nationwide television audience, Welch finally said what today’s GOP leaders should be saying to Ted Cruz: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness… You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Joseph_McCarthyNot long after that principled stand by one honest, courageous man, McCarthy’s support and popularity evaporated — and on December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67 to 22: one of the few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. He died less than three years later at the age of 48 — a man whose name will live in infamy.

Sadly, I fear there are many Ted Cruz fans in the Tea Party who still look upon Joe McCarthy as an American hero.

And what about the notorious segregationist, George Wallace? How does his tragic political career relate to Ted Cruz?

Can anyone say “Third Party”?

WALLACEGeorge Wallace became Alabama’s longest-serving Governor, spending 16 years in that office largely because he was an unabashed, belligerent champion of state’s rights, white supremacy and segregation.

Can anyone say “Tea Party”?

Wallace took the oath of office as Alabama’s governor on January 14, 1963, standing on the exact spot where, nearly 102 years before, Jeff Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy. That same year, in an attempt to keep black students Vivian Malone and James Hood from enrolling at the University of Alabama, George Wallace took his famous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.” Wallace, of course, lost that fight before the year was out. His was a futile stand against progress, against history, against humanity. It was destined to fail – but it won Wallace a fervent following among Southern racists and those who hated the Federal government. (Wallace would have been a Tea Party god.)

george-wallaceIt may seem strange to younger Americans, but George Wallace was a member of the Democratic Party.

Before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, populist economic policy and Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation kept much of the South in the Democrat’s corner. (The GOP was considered the party of Big Business.) After signing the Civil Rights Act in ‘64, President Lyndon Johnson – himself a Deep South Democrat — confessed, “We have lost the South for a generation.”

Johnson’s progressive Democratic Party certainly lost George Wallace.

gwallaceoldThough, at first Wallace challenged the Democrats from within the party. In the Democratic Presidential primary season of 1964, Wallace campaigned on his opposition on integration and a tough approach to crime and did surprisingly well in Maryland, Indiana and Wisconsin (the home of Joe McCarthy). Johnson ultimately retained the Presidency in a landslide – and Wallace took that as his cue to split from the Democrats and run the next time of a Third Party ticket.

Are you studying your history, GOP?

George_WallaceWallace ran for President in 1968 as the candidate of The American Independent Party. His platform was a mix of populism and racism. He ran on ending federal efforts at desegregation, yet he also advocated generous increases for beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare. If the Vietnam War wasn’t winnable within 90 days of his taking office, he pledged an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops. An isolationist in the Rand Paul mode, Wallace asserted that foreign aid was money “poured down a rat hole”. Wallace’s appeal in the South and to blue-collar workers in the industrial North drew votes from the Democratic candidate, Hubert Humphrey in northern states like Ohio, New Jersey and Michigan.

131013_confederate_flag_white_house_rtrWallace received the support of extremist groups like the White Citizens’ Councils. While Wallace didn’t openly seek their support, he didn’t refuse it. (Have either Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin denounced the man who waved the Confederate battle flag in front of the White House?)

Wallace carried five Southern states in ’68 and won almost ten million popular votes — and 46 electoral votes. And while the loss of those votes weren’t the margin of Humphrey’s landslide loss to Richard Nixon, it can be argued that Wallace’s third party run and his split from the Democrats exacerbated the fatal fissure in the party that Johnson has prophesied when he signed the Voting Rights Act four years earlier.

According to Wikipedia: “In Wallace’s 1998 obituary, The Huntsville Times political editor John Anderson summarized the impact from the 1968 campaign: ‘His startling appeal to millions of alienated white voters was not lost on Richard Nixon and other GOP strategists. First Nixon, then Ronald Reagan, and finally George Herbert Walker Bush successfully adopted toned-down versions of Wallace’s anti-busing, anti-federal government platform to pry low and middle-income whites from the Democratic New Deal coalition.’ Dan Carter, a professor of history at Emory University in Atlanta added: ‘George Wallace laid the foundation for the dominance of the Republican Party in American society through the manipulation of racial and social issues in the 1960s and 1970s. He was the master teacher, and Richard Nixon and the Republican leadership that followed were his students.’”

6236983860_981919646d_zSince the end of World War Two, the Republican Party has pursued (or allowed elements of their party to pursue) the same toxic racist, anti-government base that McCarthy and Wallace courted. The GOP has used hot button social wedge issues like war, abortion, gay marriage and gun control to keep blue-collar working class voters – who would actually be helped by the Democratic Party’s economic policies – in the Republican Party’s big tent.

The problem for the GOP now is that their big tent may not be big enough for Ted Cruz and his Tea Party zealots.

tedcruzThe current self-inflicted government shutdown and debt limit crises are an historic moment of truth for the Republicans. Either Ted will crash and burn like Joe McCarthy, taking the Republican Party’s reputation down with him. Or Ted will, like George Wallace, split the GOP and take his Tea Party acolytes with him. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Time marches on – and so does social progress. There are only so many racist, anti-government, neo-Confederate dead-enders left.

Does John Boehner understand that?

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