A break from daily horrors to think about Ted Cruz being humiliated


Image result for ted cruz trump phone call

I would like every day to be as happy as this picture once made me.


I think tomorrow we’ll get closer to being on pace. Working on a long post about Saudi Arabia and Iran, as it looks more and more like we’re heading toward a catastrophic mid-major power war, one in which the US will either be drawn in or let Saudi Arabia get annihilated (guess which!).

But for now, a quick happy thought about Ted Cruz being embarrassed.

538 has a fun chat about the Democrats taking back the Senate, and there is some back and forth about Texas being in play next year.

micah: But here’s my argument for buying Democrats at 30 percent: They basically need one seat in addition to Arizona and Nevada. They might get that in a month. And even if they don’t, if it’s a super Democratic-leaning year, as we think it will be, I’d bet Democrats in red states will be mostly safe.

Moreover! I think people think too narrowly about what states could be in play.

Like, if Democrats have a +10 advantage on the generic ballot and it’s an anti-incumbent year, who’s to say Ted Cruz won’t be in trouble in Texas?

Now, I’m not betting on this (and neither are they). But it’s not impossible to squint and see Ted Cruz in real trouble, considering that he is still somehow more unlikeable (though not as hatable and truly deeply loathsome) as Donald Trump.

However, it’s also easy to see Ted Cruz sort of wanting to lose in a Democratic landslide year.

It’s this here blog’s long-standing contention that Ted Cruz is running in 2020. He was planning to whether Trump won or lost. It’s why he’s been so fiercely loyal to the man who insulted his wife’s appearance and accused his father of murdering JFK.  I have no doubt he was going to run “more in sorrow than anger” against a man who betrayed conservatives.

(Note: the casus belli would probably be that Trump didn’t have Hillary Clinton executed or something. It isn’t like Cruz would go against Trump for any decent reasons.)

So losing in 2018 would help this case. Trump was such a bad conservative he lost the Senate, and gave it to hated Chuck Schumer. We hates the New York…elite, don’t we? Very tricksy.

This also has the benefit of letting Cruz off the hook. He’d have to start running for President right about the same second his term would begin. While running for re-election, he certainly won’t admit that he has no interest in being a Senator. Indeed, he’d be indignant that anyone would even ask him about that (no one does hypocritical indignation better than Cruz, except maybe Newt).

If he lost, he wouldn’t have to pretend that, like, God got on the horn with him a few days after the election and told him that, on second thought, he should run for President. Even for Cruz, that would look bad.

The best part is that it wouldn’t work. He’d get blown out in the GOP primary by Trump (or anyone else if Trump is gone by then, which: oh god please), win or lose his seat. He’ll be humiliated. Remember, Ted Cruz is nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is. He miscalculates all the damn time. I just hope he gets humiliated in the primary after being humiliated in his Senate race.

Just the thought of it is already making me smile. And in these dark days, we’ll take what imaginary pleasures we may.

Ted Cruz’s “El Chapo Act” Is Peak Ted Cruz


“Let me tell you about my acrostics”

Here at Shooting Irrelevance, we’ve long held that Ted Cruz is more clever than smart, and more of a short-term tactician than a strategist. He moves in short bursts to get his name in the spotlight, but usually ends up shooting himself in the foot. That might be slightly unfair, as he’s managed to come this far while being spectacularly and almost supernaturally unlikeable, but I think it is still pretty true.

Another long-held belief is that all of his smart things are actually dumb (which is really another aspect of his being more clever than smart), and that cleverness doesn’t always hold up. That said, this is pretty ingenious, at least on the surface. From Real Clear Politics

Sen. Ted Cruz joins ‘Fox & Friends’ to discuss his fun plan to pay for the Mexican border wall with money seized from Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo.’ Apparently, up to $14 billion have been seized from his gang.

The Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (E.L.C.H.A.P.O.) Act would use fund confiscated from drug dealers and traffickers to pay for border security.

“So Mexico would end up paying for the wall,” host Steve Doocy commented. “That’s pure genius on your part!”

“El Chapo led the Sinaloa drug cartel,” Cruz explained. “There is a sense of justice. A sense of, this is what is right, that the people who are violating the border like crazy, we should use their ill-gotten gains to finally build the wall, and to finally ensure we have the assets to secure the border.”

A couple of thoughts on this.

  1. If El Chapo was rich from selling drugs to America, it is because we, as a nation, were voraciously hoovering down his drugs while shoveling him money in exchange for drugs. If we weren’t getting them from El Chapo, it would be someone else.
  2. Arguably (or really inarguably), El Chapo’s biggest victims were Mexicans. The scope of suffering inflicted by the drug gangs is enormous and terrifying. Tens of thousands killed, corruption and murder made institutional. That’s not even counting the disappeared women of Juarez. Even if that wasn’t directly connected to the drug trade, it is part of a society ripped apart by violence.
  3. And again, this was done by Mexicans, to Mexicans, but it was done because America loves drugs. The suffering of Mexico is in so, so many ways an outcome of being neighbors with a rich drug-addicted country.
  4. So maybe we’re not the real victims, and maybe that $14 billion doesn’t belong to us.
  5. And even if it does, it certainly shouldn’t be used to build a wall that is steeped in racism and will do nothing to stop the drug trade (because where there is a market, which America is, drugs will find a way) and will continue to make life harder for el Chapo’s real victims.
  6. So it’s perfect. Like with wall-caused floodings, it is a perfect representation of our imperialistic indifference toward Mexico and our refusal to see them as real people. “Our bottomless appetite for drugs ravaged your country? Well, we’ll take the gains and use them to wall you off. Maybe that’ll teach you a lesson, Mexico.”
  7. That said, it is pretty smart, on one level. Idiots like Doocey love it (and a quick trip around Twitter showed me that people inclined to like the wall were going nuts over it). It is on the surface very satisfying, and even seemingly airtight. People for whom the only objection to the wall was its cost could be persuaded.  Especially if you accept that El Chapo’s money somehow belongs to us.
  8. But, as the arguments above said, I don’t think it does, and more to the point, having a smart way to pay for a dumb idea is still dumb. The objection to the wall wasn’t primarily cost, it was that the wall was an astronomical cost for a terrible and stupid objective. Ted Cruz’s smart plan is still in favor of something incredibly terrible.
  9. Also, it’s just stupid. You know his staffers were high-fiving when they made that acrostic. But it isn’t “Ensuring Lawful Collection”; that’s already ensured. And “Provide Order” is just creepy. And since when do we name bills after bad guys? I don’t think the end of Prohibition was marked by the “Concerning Alcohol: Perhaps nOw aNd thEn Act”
  10. In short, Ted Cruz is more clever than smart.

Honestly, I’m not totally sure Ted Cruz’s game here. I can’t imagine him waiting til 2024 to run for President. There’s no doubt he was rooting for Hillary (only Jason Chaffetz was screwed over more by her loss*), but he was going to run either way. I assumed he was running in 2020 against Hillary or against the fake conservative Donald Trump who hijacked the party.

He’s been a very vocal defender of Trump, supporting and even outflanking his racist cruelty, but I assume he is doing that so he has bona-fides to run against him. “I supported the President but now he betrayed us.” The problem is that no one will believe that, since he famously didn’t endorse Trump at the convention, and because his naked ambition and backstabbery has always been palpable. Again, more clever than smart.

But hot damn, do I look forward to that race!

*Ok, Hillary as well. And literally everyone who isn’t a rich white man. But beside them.

Trump in Mexico and Rubio on the Ineffability of Life: Campaign Quick Hits


Image result for trump taco bowl



Trump in Mexico

I’ve always thought that one of the worst aspects of being the leader of a country that wasn’t America was having to meet with every mouth-breathing midwest governor who was once called “Presidential material” by David Broder. They’d want to burnish their foreign policy cred, so they’d travel to the Czech Republic for a meet-and-greet where they’d discuss the “bilateral cooperation and trade opportunities between Oshkosh and the good people of Czechistan”, mouth fumbling over “bilateral”, clearly the first time they’d ever pronounced it. But the foreign leader couldn’t say no, because what happens if Scott Walker wins, you know?

It has to be even worse with Donald Trump, whom every single person outside the US (except for Nigel Farage and Hungarian neo-nazis) knows will be an absolute disaster, and a repulsive one at that. What do you say when you meet him? Well, that’s what will be on the mind of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto today when he meets with Trump, who accepted at the last minute a long-standing invitation.

On the one hand, this could be a disaster for Trump. It’s pretty clear he has never really studied the issues of trade or immigration, his two main topics regarding Mexico, and obviously has no clue about any other topics of concern the two countries might share (indeed, he is probably ignorant to the idea that there could be topics other than “stealing our jobs” and “sending rapists”). And the country is pretty hostile to him.  There is a good chance this turns out poorly.

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Cruz Starts The Great Hijacking Myth


“You’re mad now, but have I told you about my grades?”

So, I didn’t watch last night, but obviously caught up on Ted Cruz’s refusal to endorse, and the delicious chaos that followed. Cruz looks bad, and is hated, and his good buddies are turning their back on him. But this was peak Cruz. He knew what would happen, and still did so. Here’s why.

Cruz is betting on a huge Trump loss, and wants to position himself for 2020. That’s pretty obvious. But the way he’s doing it is to lay the groundwork for The Great Hijacking narrative that will be the Republican story after the loss. The nativists and racists in the party will claim betrayal by the elites, of course, and there will be opportunistic politicians who try to attract them, but what’s left of the Party (not much!) will try to rally around the idea that they were hijacked and bamboozled by a New York billionaire, and that conservative ideas weren’t represented.

Cruz is in a perfect position to do this. On immigration, on Muslims, and on the red-meat social issues, he’s no less and often more hideous than Trump. He can appeal to all sides of the party and its fractured remnants. So he takes the heat now, but then seems like the only person who had the sheer balls to stand up to Trump. So when the party is dazed after their drubbing (this is the theory; not a prediction), Cruz can be the one they turn to.

Paul Ryan is trying the same thing. But as much of a piece of work he is, he’s still slightly more responsible and party-oriented. For Cruz, the GOP has always just been the best avenue for his Messianic outlet. He’s a true believer, but only in himself. He’s willing to break the party if he thinks he can collect the shards into his own basket. I think that’s his plan here. He might be overplaying his hand; he is, as we’ve talked about, more clever than actually smart, more of a striker than a strategist. In four years (or two, really) the nativist wing might, in their anger and betrayal, suddenly remember that he’s a goddamn Mexican or whatever, and the what’s left of the Establishment might try to freeze him out.

But don’t count him out. He is still a good politician, and got hundreds of delegates despite being one of the most unlikable men in America. In it’s own way, it was more remarkable than what Trump did.

What’ll be interesting is when he’s up for reelection in 2018. Who knows if this will hurt him or not. But how can he possibly run and even pretend that he has any interest in serving as a Senator? He’ll be running for President the day his second term starts in 2019. He might not even stop in Washington on his way to Iowa. At least Rubio has two years to pretend to be a Senator. Cruz will run for President regardless of if Trump wins or loses. He’s not waiting another eight years. He’ll do what Reagan did to Ford and Teddy Kennedy did to Carter. That’s a prediction.

The last note is that Cruz did the impossible last night. For literally anyone else, not endorsing Donald Trump would be a sign of character and of decency, of principle and, if you are a Republican, of sacrifice. Only Ted Cruz can make doing the right thing self-serving and selfish. He’s a remarkable man.

Day 1 Quote of the Day: Ted Cruz Might Be Lacking In Self-Awareness



America’s Sweetheart


Politico has a long interview with Ted Cruz, who raised more money than Donald Trump and had a much stronger ground game, but still lost. He has a theory, though, on why that’d happen.  And you’d never believe it, but it was a media-driven conspiracy against the most likeable man in America.

Cruz himself doesn’t exude bitterness or regret — he literally calls himself a “happy warrior” — but he has a deeply jaundiced view of the process that ended with him suspending his campaign after Trump’s big victory in the Indiana primary in May. He sees collusion, if not an outright conspiracy, between the reality TV candidate and the titans of cable news: Their goal, he told me, was to elevate a hard-to-elect Republican nominee while shoving aside more appealing candidates like himself.

First of all, Cruz can go jump for giving himself the same nickname as Hubert Humphery.  Secondly, if you are describing yourself as “the happy warrior” even though literally everyone you’ve ever worked with despises you, and your whole campaign is built on anger and lies, you might not be accurate. And third…I mean…

shoving aside more appealing candidates like himself

shoving aside more appealing candidates like himself

shoving aside more appealing candidates like himself

I think Ted Cruz might be overestimating the idea of himself as appealing. He’s loathed outside his family, and even that demographic is questionable. He’s a nasally, self-righteous hyper-conservative hateful regressive little prick, whose entire career has been self-serving nihilism. The more you get to know him, the more you hate him, and just a glance at his face makes you hate him from the jump.

Look, Donald Trump is literally the worst. But I don’t think that the imaginary liberal media cabal got together and said, “guys, America loves Ted Cruz. I mean, loves him. Like, enough that it’s a pretty sure thing he’ll win every state against Hillary Clinton. We have to act quickly!”

Ted Cruz will have his moment on Wednesday, and it will be glorious. It’ll make Donald Trump look humble. And Cruz will be back: he’s running in 2020 whether Trump wins or loses, I bet. There’s no limit to his ambition, and to his political skills, though they run against the natural limit of his personal and political appeal. Because no matter how many lies he tells, I doubt presented a greater one than the image of himself as being appealing.

A New Definition of Hell


From The Guardian, about Ted Cruz’s very bad day.

“You’ll find out tomorrow,” the Trump supporter said. “Indiana don’t want you.”

The Princeton alumnus and champion debater tried to engage. “The question everyone here should ask … ”

“Are you Canadian?” the voter asked, to titters from the crowd. Then: “Where’s your Goldman Sachs jacket?” an allusion to the employer of Cruz’s wife.

Always a lawyer – and one who has argued successfully before the supreme court – Cruz tried a different tack: an appeal to civility. “If I were Donald Trump, I wouldn’t have come over to talk to you,” he said. “Sir, America is a better country … ”

“Without you!”

“Thank you for those kind sentiments,” he said. “I respect your right to speak but I’m also going to say in America we are a nation that is better than anger and insults and cursing and rage. And I believe the people in Indiana have common sense and good judgement and want real solu – ”

“Woo! Vote Trump! Woo!” the voter screamed, followed by others in the crowd. Cruz spun on his heels and walked away.

Hell is not other people, per se. Hell is having to watch Ted Cruz, whose only applause line lately has been to paint transgender rights as nothing more than a crossdressing Rocky Horrorshow of his putrid imagination, pretend to care about civility as a way to lecture a hooting semi-literate Trump supporter, whose only knowledge of issues regard Cruz’s birthplace and his wife’s old job.

Being stuck in a loop of that is worse than any portrait of hell that the most Joycean of old Irish priests could ever dream up.

Indiana Tuesday: It’s All Over But The Guttural Howling of Diseased Sewer Rats

On most mornings, if I’m not feeling too lazy, I have the privilege of walking along Lake Michigan, up here in Evanston, where the southernmost portion of this vast and ferocious lake system begins its final curve. This morning it was incredibly clear and impossibly still, where there isn’t the slightest movement in the air, nothing to stop the rising sun from gently pushing away the final hint of the dawn’s early chill.

On a morning like today, Chicago’s stunning skyline looms in all its roaring glory. And past that, further southeast, where the lake curves, you can make out the hulking outline of one of the giant Great Lakes freight ships, leaving the port on the far south side. And beyond that, beyond what is usually hidden by clouds, you can just barely make out a puff of smoke rising from the sprawling industrial areas of Indiana, that bizarre and wrecked land where hints of ancient prairie still poke out among the post-industrial poverty, the rows of tumbledown houses and cracked roads, the cheap glitz of casinos, the belching smokestacks, and the sunshine, normally shrouded by haze, that glints and shatters on dirty rivers. It’s here, the far bitter end of the rust belt, where the American dream first crashed and broke, where the horrible forces of the global economy first poisoned then wrecked a land and people. And it’s here, in Indiana, where Donald Trump, the gaseous avatar of America’s inchoate anger, can all but clinch the most terrifying nomination in our nation’s history.


“Is this hell?” “No, it’s Indiana”

Read more about Indiana and the end of the line

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Like Reagan With Schweiker, Cruz VP Pick Shows Again He’s More Clever Than Smart

(12:10 CST, so things can change, but the point remains)

The political world is abuzz with the speculation that Ted Cruz, fresh off devastating losses last night, and looking to change the conversation away from Trump’s supposed inevitability, is just a few hours away from announcing his Vice President.

There is some precedence to this. In 1976, locked in a tight race with the incumbent Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan surprised everyone by announcing a VP pick, a hapless liberal Republican named Richard Schweiker, who died just last year. This was a disaster of a move, and many of the far-right movement which helped push him so close to the nomination felt betrayed.

(That this is largely unknown is because history has scrubbed how a greedy Reagan attacked Ford throughout a contentious primary, helping to elect Jimmy Carter. His “11th Commandment” apparently didn’t cover the incumbent President.)

Reagan had what seemed like a good reason for it. Ford had dropped Nelson Rockefeller, the VP he chosen after he was appointed President following Watergate, who was despised by the right. He had yet to say who Rocky’s replacement would be, and so Reagan hoped to either back him into a corner or make him look like he had something to hide. Conservatives, the thinking went, shouldn’t back him if he just might appoint another liberal. That Reagan picked a liberal was spun as just an opportunity for the Great Communicator to convert young Schweiker to conservativism, because, as always, Reagan was an incredible liar and self-mythologizer.

I think Cruz will do the same thing, self-righteously spin this to say that he is the principled one, and who knows who the liberal Donald Trump will pick, probably a tranny, you know? He’s standing up for people, and giving voters the right information, because he’s the only one with real values.

Ted Cruz’s gift is being able to convince himself that whatever craven move he’s making is one of unassailable principle, a trait he shares with Reagan. Reagan could convince them with charm. Cruz doesn’t have that, so his abilities speak more of his audience than it does of his innate gifts. But this move, like the Kasich alignment, is nothing more than a desperate move to change the headlines.

And the thing is, it will sort of work: it will change the headlines to talk about what a desperate clown he is, just like with Kasich. Because Cruz, for all his campaign’s organizational prowess, is a debater, not a strategist. He thinks in quips and believes that a clever move can carry the day. His soundbites sound good, and he is generally good with a zinger, if you are already in the tribe, but he trips over himself too much (to say nothing of when he calls a hoop a “basketball ring” in goddamn Indiana).  His line about transgendered bathrooms was a perfect example of this.

“Let me make this real real simple for folks in the media who find this conversation very confusing,” he said. “If Donald Trump dresses up as Hillary Clinton, he still can’t go to the girls’ bathroom!”

It works on the surface because it sounds simple, and makes the whole enterprise sound threatening, and mocks the media, and most importantly makes people think of Donald Trump in a dress like a girl or a queer, and somehow mocks Hillary Clinton, but it elides the point, ignores the real issue, and makes him seem like an idiot. It’s clever without being smart.

That’s what will happen here. He’ll sneer about how he’s standing up for people, but it won’t work. It will make him look desperate, and there is no real pick, outside of maybe a David Petreaus (who wouldn’t do it) who won’t make things even worse. It’s the flopsweat move of a man who thinks he’s twice as smart as he really is.

Especially if it is Carly Fiorina. Man, I’d laugh my ass off. That’d be great.

Why Losing New York Won’t Bother Ted Cruz

The brutal and terrifying interrogation scenes in Koestler’s Darkness at Noon are, in some ways, a generational clash. Rubashov, the old revolutionary, is interrogated primarily by two men, Ivanov and Gletkin. Ivanov is a contemporary, a former running mate, and has some sympathy for Rubashov, if not for his apostasy. This sympathy and inability (or unwillingness) to get a confession by any means necessary leads to Ivanov’s own execution. Gletkin has no such hangups, and not out of fear. He’s a child of the Revolution, essentially born into it, and has had his moral compass shaped entirely by the revolutionary rhetoric. He doesn’t just force Rubashov to confess. As Hitchens put it, “Orwell’s more widely read Nineteen Eighty Four, which has many points of similarity with Darkness at Noon, makes the same terrifying point that the fanatics don’t just want you to obey them: They want you to agree with them.”

Anyway, long story short, I think Ted Cruz is actually pretty happy he’s going to lose New York today.


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