Leading Presidential Candidates get an enormous amount of press. Major U.S. elections are a media spectacle, where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on advertising. harmless feels that all the Republican candidates would benefit from a more empathetic and socially considerate perspective in their campaigns. Harmless wants to advise and ‘treat’ those needy candidates.
“Let’s start with Bush, Rubio, and Cruz,” Bill offered. “They are likely to be in the news at least until the 2016 GOP Convention.”
“And one of them is likely to be the Republican nominee,” Jay said. “And each has an interesting wife and lives in a climate-impacted state.”
“And two of the three are not total nuts,” Bill noted.
“Two? You left Cruz out – the total nut?”
“Yep – together with Donald Trump and a dozen or so others.”
“Scott Walker is now out – so I don’t have to read his Unintimidated,” I said.
“The lack of money must have intimidated him,” Bill smiled. “The Kochs must have read the writing on the wall.”
“And let’s look at Rand Paul, too,” Jay said. “At least he’s consistent and interesting.”
“Business darlings Trump and Carly were in the lead – or was it Carson?”
“Business failings, you mean.”
“At least Carly is a woman. She’s struggled with breast cancer, and she lost a stepdaughter to drug addiction. Some of this is in her memoir Best Choices. There may be a hint of empathy there.”
“Hillary’s memoir is called Hard Choices,” Bill said.
“Carly may have trouble with the truth,” I said. “The Times’ Charles Blow quoted Josh Marshall as saying: ‘Fiorina has a habit of simply making things up’.”
“Which makes her a typical, main-stream GOP candidate,” Jay added.
“Sometimes you have to do that – make things up – to make sense of philosophy and medieval history,” I smiled.
“What?” Jay asked, annoyingly.
“Those are Carly’s undergraduate degrees from Stanford,” I said. “I was sort of joking.”
“Sort of,” Bill noted.
“Here’s a Carly quote,” Jay said:
I feel empathy with every woman who is working really hard and giving it all they’ve got – and Hillary is.
“Fiorina claims to have empathy for Hillary – and perhaps vice versa. Some Fiorina empathy enhancement could prove helpful.”
“David Brooks suggested earlier, perhaps tongue in cheek, a Rubio – Fiorina ticket, saying they are the ‘best positioned’,” I added.
“That’s scary,” Bill said.
“OK, for now let’s just consider these four: Bush, Rubio, Cruz – and Paul,” I said. “First Jeb!”
“Not yet,” I said. “I imagine he’ll burn out soon.”
That was in late 2015 – I was wrong, of course, about Trump. The harmless team had been doing their homework on and planning for the treatment of leading GOP presidential candidates long before Rand Paul and Jeb! Bush dropped out of the race – and before the strong rise of Donald Trump. As Bush and Paul are young and likely to continue to pursue their presidential ambitions, they are of continued relevance to harmless and are worthy of treatment – as now is Donald Trump.
Homework: Jeb! Bush for President
Jeb likes exclamation marks – or his campaign managers liked them. JEB is composed of his initials John Ellis Bush. He was Governor of Florida for two terms – 1999-2007. He is the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush. He grew up with two younger brothers, Neil and Marvin, one younger sister, Dorothy, and an older brother, ex-President George W, seven years older.
He attended the elite Phillips Academy high school in Andover. He taught English as a second language and assisted in the building of a school in Ibarrilla, a village near Guanajuato, Mexico, when he was 17, via Andover’s summer program. He met Columba Garnica Gallo, his future wife, while working in Ibarilla. Their children are George Noelle and John Jr. Jeb and Columba reside in Coral Gables. He converted from Anglicanism and became a Catholic in 1995. He speaks fluent Spanish.
Jeb attended the University of Texas, earning a B.A. in Latin American studies. Unlike older brother George W, he did well in school. He became a Florida real estate developer and then, in 1986, Florida’s Secretary of Commerce. In 1988 he worked on his father’s Presidential campaign.
He ran for Governor of Florida in 1994, barely loosing, partly due to ignoring environmental issues deemed important to Florida’s electorate. He learned that lesson, ran again in 1998 with specific plans to protect the environment, and won. He was reelected in 2002, becoming Florida’s first two-term Republican governor. He was a very conservative governor, cutting and slashing taxes in many areas. He received mainly A and B grades from the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, during his Governorship.
He became a candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination in mid-2015. Earlier, in 2013, his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, said:
There are other people out there that are very qualified … we’ve had enough Bushes.
Jeb Bush characterizes himself as a moderate Republican with conservative principles. He has promised immigration reform – saying illegals should have a path to legal status, but not a path to citizenship. Although his 1998 platform suggested concern for Florida’s environment, he supports offshore drilling outside of Florida, supported the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and supports fracking. He questions the scientific opinion on climate change, stating
I think global warming may be real [but] …It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade.
In 2000 he and the Florida legislature entered into an agreement with the Federal government to protect and save the Everglades. Dexter Filkin’s New Yorker article, Swamped, documents Jeb’s reneging on that agreement when it became clear that the only way to meet its requirements was to take sugar producing lands out of production. He was called in by the Fanjul family, a very large sugar producer and political donor in Florida. The Fanjuls and other sugar manufacturers drafted a bill to essentially pull out of much of the year 2000 agreement, thus unsaving the Everglades. Plutocracy won again. According to Filkins, even the
G.O.P.’s libertarian wing, which sees propping up sugar prices as corporate welfare, was angered by his work on behalf of Big Sugar. Bush has been trying to square the circle. His Super PAC, Right to Rise, received half a million dollars from U.S. Sugar in the first half of this year. But in October his campaign announced that the candidate now favored a ‘phase-out’ of the price-support system.
The sugar-Everglades issue played out recently via a full page New York Times ad by The Everglades Trust – a full page letter to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which is apparently partially funded by sugar-derived money.
Jeb Bush is a gun guy. He is for expanding gun owners’ rights and, as Governor, supported more than a dozen new protections for gun owners. The NRA has called the six pro-gun and pro-hunting laws he signed into law in 2006 ‘the six pack of freedom’. He has spoken at NRA National Conferences and is considered a good friend of the organization. In 2005, he signed Florida’s stand-your-ground law, the first such state law in the United States. He advocates capital punishment; 21 prisoners were executed during his terms.
Although he says he supports cutting taxes for all Americans, he supports decreasing capital gains taxes and property taxes and supports welfare restrictions, actions that would preferentially benefit the wealthy and increase financial inequality. He favors gradually raising the retirement age from 65 to 68 or 70. Bush is a frequent critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform. Although there doesn’t seem to be a strong Koch interest in Jeb, he has spoken at Koch-sponsored LIBRE events. He’s clearly very conservative.
Bush was involved in the Terri Schiavo case, involving a woman with massive brain damage, who was on a feeding tube for over 15 years, and whose husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, wished to remove the tube. This move was opposed by Terri Schiavo’s parents in the courts. Bush signed ‘Terri’s Law’, legislation passed by the Florida legislature that authorized him, as Governor, to keep Schiavo on life support. The law was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court; the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus allowing the Florida court’s ruling to stand.
In 2014, Bush said illegal immigration
is an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.
“I’ve done some homework on Columba,” Bill said. “She is sometimes called Colu. She gave a Bush #1 seconding nomination speech – in Spanish – at the 1988 Republican Convention. She’s also done Florida Governor’s mansion tours – it’s all on YouTube.”
Columba and Jeb met while he was working and teaching English in Mexico. They were married in 1974, in Austin. Their three children are George, Noelle, and John. George has a law degree from the University of Texas. He is the Texas Land Commissioner, an elected position. Noelle was born 1977 in Texas. John Ellis Bush, Jr., born 1983 in Miami, is in Florida commercial real estate. Jeb and Columba have four grandchildren, two via George, and two via John Ellis.
Columba’s interests appear to be family, domestic violence, addiction and substance abuse.
Their daughter Noelle has struggled with drug abuse. Jeb said recently:
I can look in people’s eyes and I know that they’ve gone through the same thing that Columba and I have – referring to his daughter Noelle’s drug issues.
“Colu is also interested in Latin art and Mariachi bands, according to an Atlantic piece,” Bill continued. “As a teen-age bride from Mexico, she gave Jeb a peace-symbol ring and is reported to have great instinctive insights into life.”
“We’ll need to know more before we can conclude if she might be helpful in facilitating a Jeb Bush revelation,” I said. “I understand she’s quite Catholic and is why Jeb converted. Maybe the Pope’s visit and climate encyclical is helping steer her in the right direction.”
“She’s been very quiet about Jeb and the campaign so far,” Bill said.
“And now with Jeb out of the race, she’s probably one of the happiest Latinas in the state,” Jay suggested.
“My wife’s worked in Colombia and has a number of Latina friends. They don’t muzzle easily,” I said. “And neither do Chicanas. We may hear more from her.”
“There seems to be a hint of empathy,” Jay said. “He’s worked in Mexico, speaks Spanish, has a kid with drug issues – maybe he’s not a total hard-nosed Libertarian.”
“Columba may also help him with empathy,” I suggested. “Remember Sotomayor’s little statement:
I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
“Yes, but Columba was still a teenager when she married Jeb and relocated with him to the United States. Her Latina/Chicana perspectives may be somewhat dimmed by the decades.”
“Diana has lots of Latina friends who’ve been in the States for long times. Their emotions and perspectives haven’t ‘dimmed’ much,” I said.
“Maybe we could also involve Jeanette Rubio in the discussion?” Bill smiled.
“NPR just noted that there is even some Latino political activity in New Hampshire – someone is on the street talking to Latinos, distributing a sheet saying, in Spanish, ‘Don’t be invisible. Be active’.”
“The Latinos could have significant political clout, if only they’d get more active,” Jay added. “I just saw that the TV group Univision may start playing a stronger political awareness role.”
Homework: Marco Rubio for President
Marco Rubio, born 1971 in Miami, is the third of four children of Cuban immigrants; his parents, Mario and Oriales, migrated in 1956, three years before Castro assumed power. Batista was dictator at the time. Rubio’s dad was a bartender, his mom a maid. He has two sisters, Barbara and Veronica, who live in Miami. His older brother was a city official in Jacksonville. Marco attended South Miami Senior High, graduating in 1989. He earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Florida in 1993, and his law degree from the University of Miami in 1996. Rubio has said that his education required $100,000 in student loans, which he paid off in 2012. Rubio’s parents were Mormon converts for three years while residing in Las Vegas; Rubio at age 12 asked them to convert to Catholicism; they did.
Marco and Jeanette were married in 1998; they have four children: Amanda, Anthony, Daniella and Dominic. They live in West Miami. The Rubios attend Christ Fellowship, a Southern Baptist Church, as well as Catholic services.
Rubio served in Florida’s House of Representatives for nearly nine years. Speaker-Designate Rubio, in September 2005, challenged his House colleagues to help write 100 Innovative Ideas For Florida’s Future. He had distributed a hardback book of that title to his fellow legislators – the pages were blank. He later published the book after fact-finding and discussion events throughout Florida. About 24 of the ideas became law, while another 10 were partially enacted.
“That was a cool approach – and strategy,” Bill said.
“Yes – and his fellow legislators apparently really participated, as did citizens throughout the state.”
“It shows Rubio has some creativity and leadership skills,” Jay said. “Maybe there’s hope for him.”
At the time Rubio took office as speaker, Jeb Bush was completing his term as governor. Rubio hired 18 Bush aides. Rubio’s style was very different from Bush’s – Rubio delegated certain powers, relinquished others, and invited former political rivals into his inner circle. The Governor at the time, Charlie Crist, had a strategy to fight climate change through executive orders – creating new automobile and utility emissions standards. The legislature under Rubio’s leadership weakened Crist’s climate change initiative, saying his approach would harm consumers by driving up utility bills without having much effect upon the environment. Rubio said a better approach would be to promote biofuel (e.g. ethanol), solar panels, and energy efficiency.
Rubio was elected Senator in 2010 after serving as Speaker of the Florida State House. One of his major financial backers was and is Norman Braman, a billionaire auto dealer and former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles. They met during Rubio’s nearly nine year service in the Florida legislature; Braman later backed his Senate race. They traveled together to Israel in late 2010. Braman is expected to donate over $10 million to Rubio’s Presidential campaign and super PAC.
Rubio, a major advocate of Florida’s ‘pioneering’ stand-your-ground law during Governor Bush’s administration, was given an A rating in 2015 by the National Rifle Association (NRA) for his stance on gun control issues and a nearly 99% rating by the American Conservative Union, based on his lifetime voting record in the Senate. Two other senators were tied with Rubio, and only two were rated as having more conservative ratings.
“I just read American Dreams – his second book,” I said. “He’s a good writer.”
“And his first book?” Jay asked.
“It was just three years earlier, a memoir called An American Son. I haven’t read it.”
“Hey, we now have our ‘favorite’ Utah Congressman, Chris Stewart, endorsing Rubio, and pontificating: ‘I believe our nation is at a tipping point in our history’,” Jay said.
“A fracking, fossil fuel tipping point,” Bill added. “Rubio just gave a major speech promoting drilling and fracking.”
“Perhaps because two of Cruz’s major donors, the Wilks, recently sold their fracking company to Koch Industries.”
“Rubio wants to be next in line for major Koch dollars, I’ll bet,” Bill said.
“Did you see the Times write ‘Mr. Rubio is radiating machismo on the campaign trail lately’?” Jay asked.
“He was showing off his new boots and rifle at campaign stops, trying to compete in manliness with Cruz and Trump,” Bill said. “And because Christie said Marco’s so weak that Hillary would beat him up.”
“Whatever happened to substance?” I asked.
“Oh, you’ve been tuning in to the wrong debates,” Jay smiled.
“Rubio was criticized by his own kids for being mean and demeaning at a recent debate,” Bill said. “Ouch!”
“He was also criticized in the Florida press for shirking his Senate duties because of his intensive campaigning,” I reported.
The press quoted
You are paid $174,000 per year to represent us, to fight for us, to solve our problems. Plus you take a $10,000 federal subsidy— declined by some in the Senate — to participate in one of the Obamacare health plans, though you are a big critic of Obamacare…
… you took to the Senate floor to excoriate federal workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs for failing to do their jobs. You said, ‘there is really no other job in the country where if you don’t do your job, you don’t get fired.’ With the exception of your Senate job, right?
“Rubio’s clearly special. Attendance rules and mores don’t apply to him,” Jay smiled. “And maybe Trump’s getting ready to fire him!”
“Evan Osnos, in the New Yorker, said ‘Rubio has succeeded in politics by straddling as many positions as possible’. The title of the Osnos story is The Opportunist.”
“Interesting,” Bill said.
“Osnos further noted that Rubio read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged twice in his first term [in the Florida House].”
“More intellectual adolescence,” Bill said.
In 2008 Rubio began teaching under a fellowship appointment at Florida International University (FIU) as an adjunct professor. In 2011, he rejoined the FIU faculty after entering the U.S. Senate. He teaches, when the Senate is not in session, in the Department of Politics and International Relations – up to four undergraduate courses per year on Florida politics, political parties, and legislative politics. His Wikipedia profile reports that his student reviews have been positive, even from students who disagree with him politically. He generally gives the impression of being unbiased and nonpartisan, and when offering his own opinion identifies it as such. Rubio says that he wants students, when they watch the news, to have an appreciation for what is really going on behind the scenes, and says that teaching ‘forces me to stop sometimes and analyze things.’ Most of the funding for his FIU position is apparently from private sources. A major contributor has been billionaire Norman Braman,
“Perhaps reading Ayn Rand augmented his qualifications for the Florida International U faculty position?” I suggested.
The Osnos story said that Reagan’s election and Rubio’s grandfather’s allegiance to Reagan were defining influences on him. Rubio mentions this in An American Son. Rubio also mentioned to Osnos that he was rereading Bill Manchester’s The Last Lion, saying:
It’s this book about Churchill. It’s really long. Only because I’m just so fascinated by the leadership he provided. Churchill was a guy who was largely ignored through much of the thirties as a warmonger, and a guy that was crying wolf, and Chamberlain was this heroic figure that was going to achieve peace in our time by diplomacy. And I think, in many cases, we’re kind of at a similar moment…
“Churchill was no intellectual adolescent,” Jay said. “And he didn’t mind reading – or writing – ‘really long’ books, unlike Rubio.”
“Interesting. When will one of Rubio’s competitors paraphrase Lloyd Bentzen’s 1988 rejoinder to Dan Quayle, by saying ‘Senator, you’re no Winston Churchill’?”
“It is interesting that Rubio’s Iowa campaign pretty much copied the Obama 2008 strategy in Iowa.”
“The Opportunist,” Jay recalled.
Miami-Dade County is, on average, just six feet above sea level. While in the State legislature, Rubio’s own district included Miami’s flood-vulnerable airport.
The county’s highest natural point is only about twenty-five feet, according to Kolbert’s The Siege of Miami in The New Yorker. She wrote that South Florida has been called
ground zero when it comes to sea-level rise … the poster child for the impacts of climate change … the epicenter for studying the effects of sea-level rise, a disaster scenario, and the New Atlantis.
She quoted local residents as saying Dios mío! El cambio climático!
On Face the Nation Rubio said, in response to a question:
What I said is, humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason: I believe that climate is changing because there’s never been a moment where the climate is not changing.
“Is that a Q.E.D. statement?” Bill asked.
“No, it’s an opportunist politician’s semantics to satisfy everyone, by speaking nonsense generalities,” I said.
Al Gore once suggested that Florida ought to join
with the Maldives and some of the small island states that are urging the world to adopt
stronger restrictions on global-warming pollution,
recommending that Florida-based politicians use the Sea Level Rise Toolbox, created by their own students and professors at Florida International University.
Annika Barth, a New Hampshire resident and freshman at American University, asked Rubio, during one of his New Hampshire campaign stops, if he would support a Department of Justice investigation on all that Exxon knew about climate change. Rubio referred to the investigation as ‘nothing but a leftwing effort to demonize industries in America’.
In response to Pope Francis’ Laudato si encyclical in 2015, in which the Pope warns of the dangers of climate change, Rubio said:
I have no problem with what the Pope did … He is a moral authority and as a moral authority is reminding us of our obligation to be good caretakers to the planet. I’m a political leader. And my job as a policymaker is to act in the common good. And I do believe it’s in the common good to protect our environment, but I also believe it’s in the common good to protect our economy.
“He is an opportunist – and that may be connected to his current pro-fossil fuel energy positioning. If he was running for the Demo nomination, he’d be arguing for energy plans like he did in the Florida House back in 2008,” I said.
“Interesting. Fill us in,” Jay said.
I did. A recent piece by Bruce Ritchie contrasted the 2007-8 Florida House discussions with Rubio’s current positions:
As speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2008, Marco Rubio helped pass a sweeping energy bill — backed by a number of environmentalists — that seemed to reflect a bipartisan interest in renewable energy, climate change and the environment.
In 2007 Rubio said:
This nation and ultimately the world is headed for an emissions tax and energy diversification … Those changes will require technological advances that make those measures cost effective. The demand for such advances will create an industry to meet it. Florida should become the Silicon Valley of that industry.
An environmental advocate for the 2008 Florida legislation, Susan Glickman, said:
From my perspective Marco Rubio completely switched gears and went from someone who looked for positive solutions that created jobs and developed smart technology to someone whose head is in the sand about the reality of rising sea levels that are already impacting his home state.
Miami mayor, Republican Tomás Regalado, a Rubio supporter, told the Miami Herald
We are in ground zero, and we need to have our candidates from Florida address the issue. He was one of a group of South Florida mayors who sent letters to Rubio and Bush on the need for action to address climate change. Their letter to Rubio:
We are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate. Sea levels off the coast of South Florida rose about eight inches in the twentieth century. … we have seen more tidal flooding, more severe storm surges, and more saltwater intrusion into aquifers. By 2050, mean sea level around Florida is expected to rise about a foot, a shift which could wipe out as much as $4 billion in taxable real estate in the four-county region of Southeast Florida. At three feet of sea level rise, the loss could total $31 billion, with large sections of the Everglades, the Florida Keys and the Miami metropolitan region under water.
A later paragraph continues:
We need a realistic national plan to slow global warming emissions and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The science is well established: protecting the long-term future of our cities must include preventing global temperatures from rising above the internationally recognized target of two degrees Celsius above preindustrial policies that reduce global warming emissions at home and global leadership to ensure other countries are doing their part. The U.S. should be at the forefront of the transition to clean energy, creating jobs for Americans while conserving our environment for future generations.
In December, in New Hampshire, with Jeanette and their four kids in tow, Rubio lamented the unseasonably warm New Hampshire weather: ‘[The kids] were hoping to see snow. What happened?’ [he and family got snow in spades later in NH campaign, he saying, via a Trumpism line: ‘I’ll make America snow again!’]
“Well, Rubio is an ex-Mormon, you know,” Jay said. “He can reset, recalibrate at any time!”
“If he senses a political advantage in getting his head out of the energy sands,” I suggested, ‘he may be very responsive to some chocolate therapy.”
“He is definitely an opportunist,” Bill said. “Right after the Paris massacre he issues a video on a ‘clash of civilizations’.”
“Yes, one minute long,” I said. “And actually very perceptive, I think. He even acts and looks ‘presidential’ in it.”
“A day or two earlier, at Florida’s Sunshine Summit, he spoke very effectively, arguing for the American Dream and that the 2016 election is a generational change,” Jay added. “But everything he says is based on Libertarian economic assumptions.”
“We really have to get to him before his youthful positions become overly hard-wired,” I said.
“Romney’s Utah fund-raising clout just helped in Rubio’s visit to Salt Lake City, touting vocational education and ‘generational choice’.
“Interesting speeches,” Jay said. “Chris Stewart blathered completely uncritical support.”
“Just as he did for Romney in 2012,” I recalled. “Remember his support of the Romney energy plan: drill here, drill everywhere?”
“Sure – it was a part of your campaign against Stewart. Did you hear Rubio say ‘…a welder makes a lot more than a philosopher’, touting his support for increasing vocational education?”
“Yes, I heard it,” Bill said. “Why can’t we have welders who have read a little philosophy – and have enough education to be responsible citizens and voters?”
“What are you smoking?” Jay asked. “This is America – land of entertainment, banned books, and the banning of common core educational standards.”
“But it’s also the land of John W. Gardner and his beautiful little classic Excellence. Every elected official should have their own well read copy.”
“Perhaps make it part of the Ananda’s Chocolates package for some,” Bill suggested.
“Rubio’s ‘philosophy is irrelevant’ comment generated a response from some philosophers,” I noted.
“Cool. Go on.”
“An Arizona State University professor said philosophy is about critical thinking – about thinking and writing skills – and that new philosophy graduates are paid roughly the same as the average for all welders.”
“I wouldn’t have expected that,” Jay said.
“There’s more. The same Times story quoted a Ph.D. philosopher who became a mechanic – and welder. He said the trades are not mindless – they require critical thinking as well as good hands.”
“Rubio – and the rest of the GOP lineup, don’t seem to be fond of critical thinking,” Bill added.
“Nor are any of them likely skilled enough to function as a decent welder,” Jay smiled.
“And now Rubio is talking about dismantling the ‘overpriced higher education system’.”
“He may be on to something – much of it is indeed overpriced, perhaps attracting overly coddled and overly comfort-seeking students,” I added.
“Rubio’s trying to appeal to the young – and to youth. But Jeremy Peters noted recently in the Times:
Being young is one thing. Being the candidate whose ideas seem fresh and appeal to younger voters is another.
Most of the young know Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything – Capitalism versus the Climate, so even if Marco changes his 2008 mind to pander to the conservative GOP wishful thinkers, youth will likely know better.”
“He keeps getting questions as to how he’s like Obama – young and naive and inexperienced,” Bill said. ”His response in New Hampshire was:
The reason why Barack Obama failed is because his ideas don’t work. It’s not that he didn’t have the experience. It’s that his ideas were the wrong ones.”
“No,” I said. “Obama partially failed because he was indeed young, naive, and inexperienced. And so is Rubio. In fact he has much less perspective, vision, education, and brains than Obama.”
“Enough,” Jay said. “I can get to Rubio via the $500 per person ‘reception’ at the home of the Kellers in nearby Bountiful – former Romney supporters. We can’t afford the $2,700 per person discussion session.”
“Great. I’ll kick in a major chunk,” I said.
“Peter Keller is President/CEO of Keller Investment Properties. They operate apartment complexes in four western states, including Utah,” Jay noted.
“Compliment Rubio – and the Kellers – on Marco’s redesigned campaign website – and on his ‘clash of civilizations’ video. And on the prominent MEET JEANETTE label at the top of his site’s Home Page. She’s an asset.”
“I hope she’s into chocolates,” Jay smiled. “I’ll see if I can engage him in a brief higher education discussion.”
“And ask him if Romney may actually be thinking of running – or perhaps serving as his VP,” I suggested, “or Secretary of Defense.”
“The Times photo of Rubio’s banner in lights on a theatre marque in Iowa – ‘Marco Rubio … A New American Century’ – encapsulates his basic problem: he operates from the assumptions of the early 19th century, ignorant of – or at least ignoring – the realities of our current twenty first,” I noted.
“Like all the other pseudo-libertarians, he has no concept of sustainability, atmospheric and oceanic constraints, or resource limitations: he thinks, like the others, that we can grow our way out of any problems,” Bill added.
“Yes, and now given Romney’s Washington Post op-ed, they want us to wage all out war against ISIS,” Jay said. “And so does Jeb Bush.”
“As long as it’s a ‘volunteer’ military, it’s not their kids and grandkids that Republicans want to commit to killing and dying,” Bill said, bitterly.
When asked by a Fox News anchor about Black Lives Matter Rubio told the story of an African American friend of his whom police had stopped eight or nine times over the previous 18 months even though he had never broken the law. ‘This is a problem our nation has to confront, he declared. He also recounted young African Americans who get arrested for nonviolent
offenses and pushed into plea deals by overworked public defenders. He said we must
… look for ways to divert people from going to jail…so that you don’t get people stigmatized early in life.
Rubio was one of the bipartisan Gang of Eight early in his Senate term, co-authoring the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 to give illegal immigrants a pathway to legal status. His proposal contrasted with the Republican party’s long-held view that offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants is virtually the same as amnesty But four months after the Senate passed the bill he co-authored, Rubio publicly opposed its passage in the House.
“When you’re running for President, you have to be an opportunist – you take the positions which – at that time – generate the greatest support – votes and dollars,” Jay said, bitterly. “You convince yourself that it’s just temporary – that after you’re elected, you can then do the right thing.”
“That’s exactly what Nixon thought,” I said. “Whatever keeps me in office is what’s best, because I’m so good for the Country.”
“And Nixon did do a lot of good – before he resigned in disgrace,” Bill added.
“But the ends do not justify the means,” I said.
“Remember Jeb Bush, the poor Everglades, and the sugar dollars that bought Jeb’s reneging on an Everglades agreement?” Jay asked. “Well, according to Filkins, the same sugar magnates, the Fanjuls,
hosted a fund-raiser for Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, another candidate for President and, despite his ties to the Tea Party, a staunch backer of price supports for sugar. The cost of entry was twenty-seven hundred dollars a person.”
“Plutocracy is alive and well in Florida,” Bill said. “I understand Cubans have a sweet tooth.”
“Especially when the sweets come dripping with money,” Jay smiled.
“And he’s now getting some support from a popular Iowa senator, Joni Ernst,” I reported. ”She recently joined him for a rally in Des Moines, shortly after the Des Moines Register endorsed him.”
“Joni is a Koch favorite.”
“Gail Collin is after Marco now, based on his Iowa talks,” Jay said, “writing
Rubio, who used to be sort of the Boy Scout of the pack, has been getting more and more irritating with every passing day.”
“And more and more religious, especially in Iowa,” Jay continued. “In response to a question, Rubio said:
I pray for wisdom. The presidency of the United States is an extraordinary burden and you look at some of the greatest presidents in American history. They were very clear. They were on their knees all the time asking for God, asking God for the wisdom to solve, for the strength to persevere incredible tests.”
“I’d rather he used his kneeling time to read the New York Times,” Bill said.
“Bruni said basically the same thing,
I’m less interested in whether a president kneels down than in whether he or she stands up for the important values that many religions teach — altruism, mercy, sacrifice…”
“His recent hyper-criticism of Obama really bothers me,” Jay said. “He said in West Des Moines
… this president has been a disaster … Obama believes … America is an arrogant global power that needs to be cut down to size. …I’m going to say it again…These things [Barack Obama’s] done to America are not accidents.
“Enough,” Bill said. “Let’s talk about Jeanette – maybe she’s more reasonable. Her parents are originally from Colombia, she leads a bible study group, and she is interested in human trafficking.”
“And, thanks to Kay’s work, I’ve learned that her parents divorced when she was only six. I don’t know yet what her Latin interests and connections might be. I did see an earlier ABCNews family clip. They seem like a solid, grounded family. She works part-time for the Braman Foundation, funded by a billionaire largely bankrolling Rubio’s campaign. Their oldest, Amanda, goes to a Catholic high school – so perhaps there’s another potential Pope-climate connection.”
“Perhaps Amanda might be interested in Ananda’s Chocolates? And they live in Miami,” Bill said. “That ought to be a strong climate change connection.”
“And a very strong Pope connection. Bush and Rubio both attend Miami’s Catholic archbishop Thomas G. Wenski’s mass and sermons,” I noted. “Wenski’s already said, via the Times, that he hopes the encyclical has resonated with Jeb and Marco. Another point: Wenski chairs the committee on domestic justice and human development at the U.S. Conference of Bishops, a historically very conservative group. Interesting.”
“Jeanette and Marco are apparently lousy drivers – especially Jeanette,” Bill said. “Lots of traffic citations and mandatory driving school attendance. And they have trouble with budgets and arithmetic.”
“And credit cards,” I added. “A short Times story discussed Rubio finances. Either he can’t count or he can’t live within a budget. The Times reported on his ‘financial struggles’, including one of those mid-life crises purchases – a luxury speedboat!”
“It wasn’t a speedboat – apparently a recreation boat that’s fairly popular with middle class Floridians,” Bill said. “He got a substantive advance on his book and felt like spending part of it, I guess.”
“He is in his forties,” Jay said. “That’s when men start to succumb to testosterone urges – mid-life crisis.”
“Voice of experience?” Bill asked.
“No – just a well known weakness of men approaching middle age.”
“All four of their kids are in private, parochial school – that costs,” I said. “What could be the problem with free public schools in Florida?”
“Hey, it’s not about education, it’s about indoctrination,” Jay concluded.
“And now Jeanette’s apparently become a Baptist – or at least going to a Baptist church, with Marco in tow.”
“Interesting. Did that have anything to do with the Iowa primary: Iowa – the Evangelical State?” Jay smiled.
“Jeanette is a social conservative and has deepened her husband’s conservatism,” I said.
“Her influence has likely reinforced his outspoken opposition to abortion in almost all cases.”
“Let’s keep searching and thinking. Maybe we can find a Florida GOP or philanthropic event where we can connect with the Bushes and the Rubios.”
“Maybe a Miami Christmas party,” Bill said. “Or a performance art exhibit reception!”
“You saw that piece on Miami performance art,” I said. “It’s tailor-made for Floridians who need to be aware of rising ocean levels!”
“Rubio’s comments to the Fox News guy and his Gang of Eight early actions – and the 2007-08 Florida legislature energy-climate actions – that all suggests that there is hope for him,” I said.
“Yes, Mr. Optimist,” Jay smiled, “With a little help from Ananda.”
“And maybe Jeanette – and their kids. The kids are old enough now to start thinking for themselves.”
Homework: Ted Cruz for President
Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to an American mother and Cuban father.
His mother earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Rice University in the 1950s. Eleanor and Rafael Cruz divorced in 1997. Cruz has said, ‘I’m the son of two mathematicians/computer programmers.’
He attended Second Baptist High School in Houston, graduating in 1988; he was valedictorian.
While in high school he learned of free market economics, including Hayek and von Mises, via a group called the Free Market Education Foundation. He received a B.A. in Public Policy from Princeton University. He participated in various debating championships and was U.S. National Speaker of the Year in 1992. He went to Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He was the first Hispanic to clerk for the Chief Justice. While serving as Solicitor General of Texas he authored more than 80 U.S. Supreme Court briefs and argued 43 oral arguments, including nine before the Supreme Court. From 2004-09, he taught Supreme Court Litigation as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas School of Law.
He married Heidi in 2001; they have two daughters – Catherine 5, Caroline 7. The Cruz’s live in his hometown of Houston, Texas. Cruz has said, ‘I’m Cuban, Irish, and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist’.
Cruz was elected as Senator from Texas in 2012. He is a climate change denier, strongly pro-life, and opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions. He is an adamant opponent of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran, and a critic of the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States.
“If his mother was a mathematician, how come he can’t count – or add or subtract?” Jay asked.
“Guess he wasn’t a good student,” Bill said.
“He gave the commencement speech – and collected an honorary degree – a year or so ago at the Southwestern Adventist University, saying:
If you ever hope to persuade another…you’ve got to understand how another person of good morals and good intentions can look at the exact same issue you are passionate about, and come to precisely the opposite conclusion.
“Isn’t that related to empathy,” Jay smiled. “I hope that means he, too, can be ‘persuaded’.
“Well, he also quoted Churchill: ‘Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never, never give in’.”
“A recent interview of Cruz notes he thinks of himself as more of a ‘Spider-Man Guy’. And he’s a Star-Trek fan,” Bill said. “He identifies more with Captain Kirk rather than Captain Picard.”
“Given that, according to Heidi Cruz, The Princess Bride is his favorite movie – and that he and Heidi have two young daughters – as a family they’re likely to be watching Dread Pirate Roberts in action on a semi-regular basis,” I suggested.
“You think they’ll tell the little girls that Cruz’s Libertarian soul-mate Ross Ulbricht, alias the dark web’s Dread Pirate Roberts, was given a life sentence for, according to the judge, doing things ‘…terribly destructive to our social fabric’?” Jay asked.
“Not likely,” Bill said. “Ted himself did and is doing terrible things to our national social fabric by working to shut down the government.”
“Ulbricht wanted to empower people to be able to make their own choices – to have privacy and anonymity as they desired – a standard Libertarian ideology,” Jay said.
“And isn’t that part of Cruz’s ideology and stand?” Bill asked.
“Yes,” Jay said. “But I don’t think Cruz extended that to illegal drugs – at least not yet.”
“Wired Magazine did a comprehensive two part story on how Ulbricht and his Silk Road started unraveling,” I said, “and how the FBI-DEA finally caught him. A good read.”
“The Times recently ran a story on the DEA agent who fairly early on suspected Ulbricht, a Gary Alford. He was following a
… young man from Texas who, just like Dread Pirate Roberts, admired the free-market economist Ludwig von Mises and the libertarian politician Ron Paul.
That was the key clue,” Bill noted. “But that wasn’t Ted Cruz.”
“Ulbricht held out for three years,” Jay said. “But he got arrogant and sloppy.”
“And started having online conversations because he was lonely,” I said. “He had trouble really keeping it all to himself. And, according to the Wired story, he was careless at the very beginning: ‘… in the era of informational perpetuity, you only have to be careless once’.”
“Shhh – and Amen,” Bill smiled.
“Ted Cruz used his Princess Bride acting skills during the Iowa campaign,” I said. “And then prayed with a pastor who said he was a ‘biblically qualified’ candidate.”
“What an endorsement!” Jay said.
The Economist recently noted that Cruz
…has built his campaign around a simple pitch: assuring the most conservative third of the Republican electorate, from born again Christian voters to hardline members of the Tea Party, that they form a natural majority of the conservative movement, and indeed would decide general elections if they would only turn out and vote….The 2016 presidential primary calendar is front-loaded with conservative, pious states, many in the South, allowing Cruz strategists to dream of swiftly dominating the ‘very conservative ‘ lane of the race…
But the story goes on to say that the argument didn’t play out in the 2012 election results.
Cruz worked as a policy adviser for George Bush’s 2000 campaign, but George recently said ‘I just don’t like the guy.’ The Times’ Bruni noted that George thinks Cruz is ‘cynically opportunistic and self-serving’; Bruni concludes the column with ‘…he’s frightening’.
Cindy Casares, in The Guardian:
Cruz’s father, Rafael, has been brainwashing his son since he was about four years old to believe he’s ‘gifted above any man he knows’ and ‘destined by God for greatness’.
“Such a supportive evangelical father,” Jay smiled.
“ … 2016 is going to be a religious liberty election, according to Ted at a Plano, Texas meeting,” I said.
“Maybe he’s channeling his crazy father,” Bill observed. “Raphael is a pastor who directs Grace for America, whose goal is to restore the traditional family throughout America.”
”I didn’t realize we’d outlawed the traditional family,’ Jay said. “What’s the big deal – you are free to be traditional – and free to be non-traditional.”
“We know that – and perhaps Ted knows that, but Papa Cruz doesn’t want to accept it.”
“His speech to the World Council on Families meeting in Salt Lake was so powerful that he got a standing ovation.”
“Maybe Cruz’s father should run for president – he’d be in the Huckabee – Carson mold, “ I suggested.
“He can’t – he’s an immigrant from Cuba – not born here,” Bill said. “He claims he fought for Castro and against Battista during the revolution.”
“Claims?” Jay asked.
“Yes – and Ted parrots the story, but … the New York Times recently ran a full page investigative story on Rafael – the ‘elder Cruz’ they call him.”
“And?” Jay, again.
“They quoted a compatriot as saying elder Cruz was – or is – a ojaletero – a wishful thinker – that he was making up the exploits he recounted.”
“I also saw the story. The writer says something that could have come right from Mark Twain: ‘The fog of almost 60 years can cloud even the clearest of memories …’.”
“Especially if you’re an ojaletero,” Bill smiled.
“Ted, in his recent book, propagates Rafael’s mis-memories.”
“Well, Ted isn’t known for asking critical questions.”
“I had assumed that Ted was trying to distance himself from Rafael’s ultra-right, evangelical ravings,” I said, “but apparently not. He seems to be using his father to whip up the crowds, at least in certain venues.”
“One of our local papers interviewed a Jill Love at the World Council conference. She said she felt just like Rafael Cruz did – until she learned one of her six kids was gay.”
“Revelations happen,” I said.
“Bruni has torn into Cruz – ‘Anyone but Ted Cruz’ is one of his NY Times headlines. He’s talked with people who’ve worked with him:
They loathe him…. His thirst for the spotlight is unquenchable. His arrogance is unalloyed. He actually takes pride in being abrasive…”
“I read that, too,” Bill added. “Bruni also said that when asked about Cruz at a fund-raiser, former Speaker John Boehner gave him the middle finger!”
“So would I,” Jay said.
One commentator said Cruz ‘is a master at channeling indignation’.
David Brooks has noted that ‘Ted Cruz has always stood out for being nakedly ambitious for himself.’
“Sure sounds like Cruz should be the subject of a Pat Bagley cartoon book,” Bill suggested. “Clueless Cruz could compete with Pat’s Clueless George.”
“I think we’d each buy several.”
Casares also tracked down his freshman roommate, Craig Mazin, at Princeton, who told her:
I begged them for a different room or roommate. Begged. They didn’t understand then. They do now…I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States. Anyone.
But a recent Economist story said that David Panton, a Princeton and Harvard roommate, called him ‘a loyal friend … polite, kind and respectful’. The piece also said that ‘Mr. Cruz’s Christianity is profound and sincere’. So, somewhat mixed reviews.
“And Cruz is very strategic. I just saw that he and his plutocrat supporter, Robert Mercer, are spending loads of money engaging Cambridge Analytica – a ‘psychographic profiling’ firm which uses Facebook-derived data – to target potential new supporters.”
“Cruz’s politics and perspectives may be rooted in the early 19th century, but his campaign tactics are definitely 21st century,” I said. “That’s a very dangerous combination.”
“There is a small positive side to his ‘win’ over Trump and Rubio in Iowa,” Jay said.
“Ethanol subsidies. Andrew Revkin wrote in the Times that
Cruz … withstood the perennial temptation — among Republicans
and Democrats alike — to bow down to Big Corn and the federal mandate for
ethanol that has been such a boon to Iowa corn farmers.
Nearly half of all the corn grown in Iowa is made into ethanol.”
“That is huge. Libertarians are supposed to be against all business subsidies, but then they all cave in when campaigning in Iowa,” I said.
“Except Cruz,” Jay said.
“Hey, it’s not that simple,” Bill corrected. “Mooney’s piece in the Washington Post was more informative. Cruz wasn’t so much anti-ethanol subsidy as he was anti-EPA. He reframed the issue to appeal to his evangelical audience. I don’t hold out any hope that he’d be consistent and be against all energy subsidies.”
“Interesting,” I said. “And here’s some real bad news. Cruz is accepting campaign help from some really horrible people. Remember the saying ‘…you are the company you keep’, and if Ted Cruz is the company he keeps, that’s downright terrifying – according to an online piece. It went through and described a slate of people working very closely with his campaign who are outright fascist. You could even say that some of them are as horrible as ISIS.”
There’s been considerable discussion and comment on Cruz’s ‘brutalism’, ‘obnoxiousness’, and ‘meanness’ by Brooks, Bruni, and several others. David Brooks wrote that when Cruz was Solicitor General of Texas he took a case to the Supreme Court to keep a man in prison who should have been freed. Even the Justices were skeptical and critical. ‘Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?’ Justice Kennedy asked. Brooks wrote that Cruz
… is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace… [his] overzealous application of the letter of the law … violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.
And Brooks goes on:
[His] speeches are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism. There is not a hint of compassion, gentleness and mercy. Instead, his speeches are marked by a long list of enemies, and vows to crush, shred, destroy, bomb them. When he is speaking in a church the contrast between the setting and the emotional tone he sets is jarring.
“You might think he’s being ‘brutal’ to appeal to God-fearing evangelicals in Iowa,” I said. “But some of the actions Brooks cites are from nearly two decades ago – he wasn’t campaigning and pandering to evangelicals then.”
“I guess he just likes being a super-powerful hard-ass asshole,” Jay said. “suffering from Empathy Deficit Disorder – big time.”
“Amen,” added Bill
Cruz lays down an atmosphere of apocalyptic fear. America is heading off ‘the cliff to oblivion’ … [He’s] always been good at tearing things down but incompetent
when it comes to putting things together.
But Cruz may be the best thing going for the other GOP candidates, says Gail Collins:
Cruz is the No. 2 every politician dreams of being stacked up against in a
contest where the road is long and, sooner or later, everybody needs a friend.
It’s fascinating how much his fellow Republicans hate this guy.
Shenkman, a psychologist, recently referred to Cruz’s ‘stone-age brain’ in discussing his statements on ‘carpet bombing’ and his obvious lack of empathy. Shenkman refers to Cruz’s ‘cognitive dissonance’. His new book Political Animals is subtitled: How our Stone-Age Brain gets in the way of Smart Politics, although he takes particular aim at Ted Cruz, for obvious reasons.
At a campaign event in Iowa, one of the audience interviewed, Jon Lubecky, 39, an Army
You’ve got Cruz saying he’s going to carpet bomb the Middle East. Rubio
saying he’d torture people. And Trump who wants to nuke everybody.
Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, says Cruz is the most dangerous candidate, because
He’s more fanatical;
He’s a true believer;
He’s more disciplined and strategic;
He’s a loner who’s willing to destroy institutions.
“Actually – he and Trump are, to me, tied in being dangerous and ignorant,” I said.
“It’s all about apocalyptic fear and paranoia,” Jay said. “That’s what resonates among the 50 percent of the country that are hardcore believers – especially in Iowa and, I guess, Texas.”
“Let’s consider Heidi – she may be more promising,” Bill suggested.
“I’ve done some homework on Cruz’s Heidi – I like the name.”
“She’s been on the campaign trail for Ted in Iowa,” Bill said.
“Yes,” Jay added, reading from his smart phone: “The Financial Times recently did a story on her, noting that
…it was originally Mrs Cruz who was seen as the real star of the couple, according to people who knew them when they met on the 2000 George W Bush campaign 15 years ago … She is intense and as ambitious as they come…If her husband hadn’t become a senator, she would be the famous one.”
“Heidi has quite a resume. She worked for Bush-Cheney in 2000. She’s been at Goldman Sachs since 2005, now on leave for the campaign.”
“I wonder what Elizabeth Warren thinks of her,” Jay mused.
“Heidi lists her occupation as ‘wealth manager’, according to Wikipedia – and her religion as Southern Baptist.”
“Interesting, because she grew up as a Seventh Day Adventist,” Jay said.
“I wonder what Heidi thinks of her own father-in-law preacher Rafael, who’s said gay marriage is a government conspiracy and called President Barack Obama a Marxist who should ‘go back to Kenya’ – that’s according to the Daily Mail. How’s that for a father-in-law?”
“She should have known better,” Bill smiled – “especially knowing that Ted attended white Christian schools in Houston. No surprise that Ted’s more evangelical than Catholic. He’s so anti-Latino that he changed his name from Rafael to Ted, at the time infuriating his father.”
I continued: “She was at Harvard Business School for two years and received a Master of Business degree from Solvay Brussels (Belgium) in 1995.”
“When Diana and I were in Morro Bay some years ago, we came across a Fresno Bee report about her,” I recalled. “She was born and grew up in San Luis Obispo, had a bread stand, and became interested in politics. She went on to become a Capitol Hill intern, a policy aide on the George W. Bush campaign and economic director for the Western Hemisphere with the National Security Council.”
“She is very interesting,” Jay said. “Her Wikipedia entry says her folks were medical-dental Seventh Day Adventist missionaries in Africa. She studied at an Adventist church school in Monterey, got an economics degree from Claremont, two MBAs, and then met Ted in 2000 – they were both working on the Bush campaign.”
“I did some Adventist homework. The Adventists have 28 fundamental beliefs,” I said, “including:
We are God’s stewards entrusted by Him with time and opportunities, abilities and possessions, and the blessing of the earth and its resources. We are responsible to Him for their proper use.”
“That may be just as helpful as Francis’ encyclical,” added Bill.
“Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon Islamophobe former candidate, is also a Seventh Day Adventist, I understand. Perhaps they could meet and talk, but as she’s now a Baptist, maybe that wouldn’t be so helpful.”
“The Cruzs have two young daughters,” Bill noted. “So they should be interested in the future of the planet – for their sake.”
“Cruz is such a manipulator interested in his own success that he used his two young daughters in ‘a twisted Christmas ad’,” I reported. “ – a political ad ‘to go after Mrs. Clinton’s private email account’, according to Elizabeth Williamson in the Times. Williamson’s online editorial has a picture of Ted and Heidi with Catherine and Caroline holding US flags – the whole family so sweet and having fun.”
“I can’t believe Heidi let him get away with that,” Bill complained. “Two very young, sweet kids being roped into an egomaniac’s quest for power.”
“Maybe Heidi’s starting to have second thoughts,” Jay said.
“Don’t bet on it. She may be just as bad – just as much a fanatical evangelist,” Bill added.
“How so?” I asked.
“I saw a Daily Kos piece quoting her and Ted’s views on church and state – frightening:
Heidi Cruz says her husband’s campaign, and, if elected, presidency,
exist ‘… to show this country the face of the God that we serve’ … She went on to say that, ‘I think that’s something that this country really needs to be reminded of, is that Christians are loving people, are nonjudgmental people, but there is right and wrong, we have a country of law and order, there are consequences to actions and we must all live peaceably in our own faiths under the Constitution. And Ted is uniquely able to deliver on that combination of the law and religion’.”
“I heard something like that from the Taliban – or was it ISIS?” Jay said.
“That was the Daily Kos comment as well,” Bill smiled.
“I hope she takes to chocolate,” I added.
Steve Eder’s New York Times article on Heidi’s ‘sacrifices’ may be relevant to harmless’ strategy.
She had a good career in Washington, but decided to move to Texas to be with Ted, then the state’s new Solicitor General. The transition affected her greatly – perhaps culture shock was part of the stress. Eder wrote that in August 2005 an Austin police officer found her, with her head in her hands, sitting beside an expressway onramp. Although she has avoided using the word ‘depression’, in his own book, A Time for Truth, Ted Cruz wrote that her move to Texas ‘led to her facing a period of depression.’ Mrs. Cruz obviously rebounded, recovered with the aid of ‘spiritual counseling’ via a Christian song she heard on her car radio. A decade later, she was a successful executive for Goldman Sachs and a force in Cruz’s presidential campaign. She did say in an interview: ‘God leads you to where he can use you the most. And it may not look exactly like you’d expect.’
“That’s a bit too much Christian optimism for me,” Bill said.
“Gail Collins has written about the candidates putting their immediate family and relatives on the campaign stage, including Cruz’s young kids, saying:
Leave the kids alone. When they’re teenagers, they’ll figure out their own ways to get
“I hope Heidi finally wakes up, well before her kids become teenagers, and do take revenge,” Bill said. “Maybe we can help them help their father to have a revelation.”
“Her brother is an orthopedic surgeon,” Jay said. “Perhaps there’s some critical thinking on her side of the family.”
“Perhaps, but remember engineers and physicians – especially surgeons – often tend to be conservative – they like things simple.”
“I’m not optimistic. She seems to be acting as a ‘stand by your man’ type.” Jay attempted to sing the Tammy Wynette lyric, not very successfully.
“Stand by Bill sort of backfired on Hillary – or was it her comment on baking cookies?” Bill asked.
“Heidi did agree, according to Ted, to mortgage their house and spend their savings on his first campaign.”
“Let’s hope she starts questioning him a bit. She does seem to be a competent, grown up woman who should be able to think and question for herself,” I said.
“And there you go again, Mr. Optimist,” Bill chided.
Katie Zezima of the Washington Post wrote
…few political spouses have redirected their own ambitions to the degree that Heidi Cruz has… Welcome Wilson Sr., a wealthy Cruz donor…‘She is the most dynamic female I have ever met, and I mean that’, he said. ‘She is on point and relentless’.
“Heidi is now chairing – or at least headlining – $1,000 a plate fundraising lunches in Los Angeles,
Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Birmingham, and Seattle. She knows how to ask for money – or investments,” I smiled. “She is a wealth manager.”
“And perhaps a wealth protector – via plutocratic ‘investments’.” Bill said.
Homework: Rand Paul for President
Although Paul dropped out of the presidential race recently, he is likely to be reelected to the Senate. harmless has kept him on its patient list.
Rand Paul was born January 7, 1963 in Pittsburgh. He is the middle child of five; his four siblings are Ronald “Ronnie” Paul Jr., Lori Paul Pyeatt, Robert Paul, and Joy Paul-LeBlanc. He identified as a practicing Christian as a teenager. Ron Paul, his father, is a former U.S. Representative and Presidential candidate from Texas. Paul attended Baylor University and Duke University, receiving the M.D. in 1988; he finished a residency in 1993. He then began practicing ophthalmology in Bowling Green, Kentucky, establishing his own clinic in 2007. He specializes in corneal, cataract and glaucoma treatments.
He regularly volunteered for his father’s campaigns. He ran for Kentucky’s Senate seat in 2010, won, and has served in the Senate since 2011. He describes himself as a Constitutional conservative and a supporter of the Tea Party, advocating for a balanced budget amendment, term limits, and privacy reform. Paul is Presbyterian.
He and Kelley Ashby were married in 1990. They have three children – boys: Duncan, Robert, William. Rand has been their soccer coach. The two oldest currently attend the University of Kentucky, the youngest attends a private school in the Washington, D.C. area.
Paul is co-author of a book entitled The Tea Party Goes to Washington (2011) and Government Bullies: How Everyday Americans Are Being Harassed, Abused, and Imprisoned by the Feds (2012).
Despite his father’s libertarian views and strong support for individual rights, Ayn Rand was not the inspiration for his first name. But, in his teenage years, Rand did study the Austrian economists that his father respected, as well as Ayn Rand’s writings.
In February 2014, Paul joined the Tea Party-affiliated conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks in filing a class-action lawsuit charging that the federal government’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records metadata is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Commenting on the lawsuit, Paul said
I’m not against the NSA, I’m not against spying. I’m not against looking at phone records…. I just want you to go to a judge, have an individual’s name and [get] a warrant. That’s what the Fourth Amendment says.
In May, 2015, Paul spoke for ten and a half hours in opposition to the reauthorization of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, resulting in sections of the Act not being reauthorized.
Although he describes himself as a ‘constitutional conservative’, he is generally described as a libertarian. He supports term limits, a balanced budget amendment, and reduction of federal spending and taxation. He favors a flat tax for individuals and business, while eliminating taxes on inheritance, gifts, capital gains, dividends, and interest. His tax plan benefits the wealthy and contributes to growing financial inequality.
He is ‘100% pro life’, believing that legal personhood begins at fertilization, and personally feels same-sex marriage is offensive. He does believe the issue should be left to the states to decide.
Unlike many libertarians, he does not believe in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana but does not support jailing marijuana users. He opposes all forms of gun control or restriction.
He advocates restricting the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency and other Federal agencies to ‘impinge upon states’ power over land and water use.’ In an interview some years ago with Bill Maher, Paul said
I’m not against regulation. I think the environment has been cleaned up dramatically through regulations on emissions…
He’s said that conservative donors Charles and David Koch have ‘always stood for freedom, equality and opportunity’ in a tribute published by Time.
“But he seems to be dropping fast in support – there’s also the issue he’s up for reelection to the Senate.” I said.
“I think he’ll hang in there for a while,” Jay said. “And he’s an important Senator. Paul Ryan listens to him.”
“And vice versa.”
Paul’s wife, Kelley, is a free lance writer and has worked as a political consultant for The Strategy Group for Media, one of whose clients was then Senate candidate Ted Cruz. She is a Rhodes College graduate, focusing on communication and English. In 2015 she published the book True and Constant Friends: Love and Inspiration from Our Grandmothers, Mothers, and Friends. She was born in 1963 in Kentucky. Her parents are Hilton and Lillian Ashby; her father was with the Air Force – the family traveled regularly. One of her greatest influences is her Irish grandmother.
Kelley played a key role in Rand Paul’s decision to run for President, noting that it was an easier decision than his deciding to run for the Senate in mid-2009. She reviews many of his speeches and, according to Rand, ‘always makes them better’. She speaks to Republican women’s groups, and participates in commercial advertisements on behalf of his campaign.
Many political consultants have referred to Kelley Paul as Rand Paul’s ‘secret weapon’. She has been described as’… a very confident person, very comfortable, and she complements [Rand] well’.
Homework: Trump for President
“And then there’s Trump,” Bill said.
“Trump’s sons are now working on his campaign,” Jay said.
The candidate said last spring that he was now ready to hand his company over to Donald Jr., Eric, and his daughter, Ivanka.
Donald J. Trump Jr. and his younger brother Eric have been traveling on behalf of their father, and making news media appearances on his behalf. The two men have drawn criticism in the past for big-game hunting in Africa. Donny, Jr. was a recent deer hunting guest of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
The Junior said:
For a guy like me from New York, where we don’t have quite the quality that you guys have, I wanted to come out early and make sure we got a few good days in there. If you don’t put in the time, you’re not going to do well…[he said] hunting is relaxing….Being from my family and New York, in a city like that, I think the fact that I was in a tree stand or a duck blind on many mornings probably kept me out of a lot of other trouble I would have gotten into growing up, and I love the lifestyle … [ hunting is] an important tradition, a very American position.
“Sounds like The Donald, Jr. is quite a panderer,” Jay smiled.
“And an opportunist – just like Daddy Donald,” Bill added.
“Maybe they could ask Cheney to hunt with them?” I suggested.
Collins: Besides his talent for not being Ted Cruz, Trump’s other strong suit for
Republican leaders is the suspicion that he doesn’t particularly believe anything he says. It’s not that he disbelieves it. His positions are more like thoughts of the moment, or opening bids.
David Rennie, with The Economist, on the Diane Rehm Show said that Republicans supporters know that both Trump and Cruz are liars, but Trump is a more pragmatic and flexible liar; Cruz is an ideological liar.
“Some one on NPR referred to the Trump – Cruz choice as like choosing between Hitler and Stalin,” Bill said. “But I’m not sure that’s any choice at all.”
“Did you see the Times’ 95,000 Words story – analyzing most of Trump’s talks? It quoted a Texas A&M expert as saying: ‘Part of his argument is that if you believe in American exceptionalism,
you should vote for me, [meaning him]’. The story continued:
It is the sort of trust me and only me rhetoric that, according to historians, demagogues have used to insist that they have unique qualities that can lead the country through turmoil.”
“He keeps getting worse and worse,” Jay said. “The Times Editorial – The Trump Effect – mentioned his ‘faith-based wall around the country’ and the Republican governors’ ‘axis of ignorance’.”
“The editorial’s last paragraph says it all,” Bill added, “reading:
The racism behind the agenda of the right wing on immigrants and foreigners has long been plain as day. Mr. Trump makes it even plainer. After his remarks on Muslims, how many of Mr. Trump’s rivals have said they would reject his candidacy if he won the nomination? … none.”
A recent Syrian refugee from Aleppo discussed her conversations with her five year old about moving to the US – the land of refugees. ‘My daughter wants to be the Statue of Liberty next Halloween,’ she reported.
“They must be two of only some 2,700 who made it to the US,” Bill said, “out of over four and a half million who left Syria.”
“So much for being the land referred to in the Statue of Liberty,” Jay added.
“And Kristof recently said, via his column on religion,” I said:
ISIS empowers Trump, who inadvertently empowers ISIS. He’s not confronting a national security threat; he’s creating one.
“Cruz earlier avoided criticizing or taking on Trump,” I continued, “because he wants to inherit Trump’s supporters when he finally drops out.”
“He’s doing much better than anyone ever expected, but…he’s so dimwitted, ignorant, and egocentric that it’s unlikely our treatment would have any significant effect,” Jay said.
“I agree. Let’s treat if it’s convenient – and let’s stay up to date on his antics and progress – but let’s not spend any of our precious time trying to get to him.”
“Maybe he’ll be a candidate for Act II?” Jay asked.
Bill and Jake had continued working on their web projects – completely unrelated to harmless. They met regularly at Cucina’s, in the Avenues near the U. This time I joined them, because Jake said he had something he wanted to share with us. He’d been involved with another U professor, setting up a site for a class related to morality, ethics, and evil.
We sat down with our various sandwiches. I asked Jake about his new, little 200 square foot home on a trailer. We talked sustainability, carbon footprints, and The Leonardo’s new exhibit on the UN Charter on Human Rights.
“So what’s with this class?” Bill asked.
“I’ve set up a little demonstration,” Jake said. “I’ve edited some stuff I saw and read in the class materials. The prof is having the students do some play-acting – and getting phenomenal results. She has the students involved, motivated, and asking for more.”
“Go on,” I said.
“I want to do a little performance. I want to recite this piece I edited for you, because it relates to our earlier conversations on evil and morality.”
Bill and I looked at each other. In the many years we each had worked with Jake, this was the first time we saw him so excited about a project, except perhaps when he was protesting the Tim DeChristopher decision and sentencing some five years ago.
Jake stood up, with his notes in hand:
There is a fever over our land.
A fever of disgrace, of indignity, of hunger.
We have a democracy, yes,
But it is torn by elements within.
Above all, there is fear:
Fear of today, fear of tomorrow…
fear of our neighbors…
and fear of ourselves.
We want to be told:
Lift your heads, be proud –
yes, there are devils among us –
but once these devils are destroyed,
your misery will be destroyed.
We love our country.
What difference does it make…
if a few political extremists lose their rights?
What difference does it make
if a few racial minorities lose their rights?
It is only a passing phase.
It is only a stage we must go through.
It will be discarded later.
The country is in danger.
We will march out of the shadows.
We will go forward.
Our land will be great again!
Jake sat down, saying “Have you heard that before?”
“No, but it sounds like I should have,” I said.
“It sure sounds familiar,” Bill said. “I’m sure I heard something like it before.”
“It’s based on a three hour black and white film from the early sixties,” Jake hinted. “Required viewing in the class I’m helping with.”
“It almost sounds like Hitler,” Bill said, “or perhaps Mussolini.”
“Or Trump,” I said.
“You’re close. It’s based on the confessional testimony of one of the four Hitler-era German judges tried in the film Judgment at Nuremberg. One of them, Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster, gave this incredible speech.”
“I did see that,” Bill said. “A terrific film. The chief trial judge was Spencer Tracy, right?”
“Yep,” Jake said. “It really gets to the question of evil – and Man’s great weaknesses. Here’s a bit more, a little less edited by me:
Forward was the great password….
The … message … swept over the land like a raging, roaring disease.
What was going to be a passing phase… had become the way of life.
It was being done…for love of country.
Were we deaf? Dumb? Blind?
Maybe we didn’t know the details.
But if we didn’t know, it was because we didn’t want to know.
“Wow. I will see it,” I said.
“It’s in the U film library,” Jake said. “The class is now largely over – you shouldn’t have any trouble getting access to it.”
We thanked Jake for the input – it was indeed very relevant to nearly all aspects of harmless and State Change. He said goodbye and left.
I looked at Bill. “Trump, the new Hitler?”
“And Cruz, his loyal assistant?” Bill added.
“Mankind is so stupid.”
“And so fragile.”
I checked out Judgment at Nuremberg from the U library. Diana and I watched it. In one of the special features on the DVD, Abby Mann, who wrote the screenplay, said ‘…the villain of Judgment at Nuremberg is patriotism.”