Ted Cruz’s Dark, Twisted World: Why His Far-Right Social Views Are Even Scarier Than You Think

It will come as no shock that the Texas senator is an extremist. But it might surprise to learn just how extreme he is.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Heather Digby parton

Emphasis Mine

Probably one of the most unlikely scandalettes of the 2016 primary has to be the National Enquirer “exposé ” of Senator Ted Cruz’s alleged serial infidelity. Nobody knows to this day where the story originated, although some reporters suggested after it was run that the Rubio campaign had shopped it to them earlier in the cycle. But Donald Trump is known to be quite close to the publisher of the Enquirer (a man aptly named David Pecker) so it’s always possible the story was run for his benefit. Cruz denied it and it faded in the excitement of the campaign, at least for now.

But whatever its provenance, the story was interesting not so much because it’s unbelievable that any politician might have a zipper problem (it’s almost a requirement for office) but because it was the very pious Cruz being accused. This is the man, after all, whose first victory speech began with “God bless the great state of Iowa, let me first of all say, to God be the glory.”

Cruz announced his candidacy at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University where he laid out his vision for the country. And he told a story that he tells on the trail all the time:

When my dad came to America in 1957, he could not have imagined what lay in store for him. Imagine a young married couple, living together in the 1970s, neither one of them has a personal relationship with Jesus. They have a little boy and they are both drinking far too much. They are living a fast life.

When I was three, my father decided to leave my mother and me. We were living in Calgary at the time, he got on a plane and he flew back to Texas, and he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore and he didn’t want to be a father to his 3-year-old son. And yet when he was in Houston, a friend, a colleague from the oil and gas business invited him to a Bible study, invited him to Clay Road (ph) Baptist Church, and there my father gave his life to Jesus Christ.

And God transformed his heart. And he drove to the airport, he bought a plane ticket, and he flew back to be with my mother and me.

There are people who wonder if faith is real. I can tell you, in my family there’s not a second of doubt, because were it not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ, I would not have been saved and I would have been raised by a single mom without my father in the household.

It may seem odd that his “testimony” is his father’s story but it makes sense. Cruz himself was a very smart kid who grew up in Texas and went to Princeton and then Harvard Law which doesn’t provide quite the same pathos as his daddy’s tale of sin and redemption. And his dad is definitely important to his career—he’s a genuine evangelical preacher and wingnut firebrand, well known on the conservative speaking circuit. He brings with him all the authentic street cred his son could possibly need in this crowd.

Cruz’s campaign strategy was built on the foundation of support from the ultra-conservative evangelical base of the Republican partythis recent Pew Poll shows that nearly half of his total voters are white observant evangelical Christians, most of whom attend Church at least weekly. By contrast Trump gets a share of evangelicals but more mainline protestants and Catholics who attend church less than once a week. (This article by Jeff Sharlet in the New York Times Magazine about Trump and prosperity gospel types is fascinating. I’m not even sure they’re really social conservatives.)

I wrote about Cruz’s original strategy (based upon Carter’s peanut brigade) a while back, in which he had planned to sweep the southern states and build up a big lead, just as Hillary Clinton has done on the Democratic side. It didn’t work out for him because it turns out that a lot of the southern conservatives he was counting on were mesmerized by a decadent, thrice married New Yorker. Who would have ever guessed? But he has shown tremendous tenacity, hanging on long after all the Big Boys of the Deep Bench fell by the wayside and it’s now a two man race to the finish.

The adultery accusations don’t seem to have hurt Cruz with his base voters, although it’s possible we haven’t yet seen the effects in more socially conservative states. But Cruz has built up a lot of credibility in that crowd over the years. He’s won the straw poll at the Values Voter Summit three years in a row. Two years ago he made a huge splash in anticipation of announcing his run for president by giving a rousing speech in which he declared, “We stand for life. We stand for marriage. We stand for Israel!” which sums up the foundation of the evangelical right’s philosophy.

Cruz is an anti-abortion warrior of the most strident kind. He wants to ban abortion with no exception for rape or incest. He unctuously explains it this way:

“When it comes to rape, rape is a horrific crime against the humanity of a person, and needs to be punished and punished severely. But at the same time, as horrible as that crime is, I don’t believe it’s the child’s fault. And we weep at the crime, we want to do everything we can to prevent the crime on the front end, and to punish the criminal, but I don’t believe it makes sense to blame the child.”

He holds the same view of a 12-year-old girl being forced to give birth to her own sister: tough luck.

He has led the charge against Planned Parenthood in the Senate, urging a government shutdown if the president didn’t agree to defund it. And he’s gone farther than that:

“If I’m elected president, let me tell you about my first day in office. The first thing I intend to do is to rescind every illegal and unconstitutional executive action taken by Barack Obama. The next thing I intend to do is instruct the Department of Justice to open an investigation into these videos and to prosecute Planned Parenthood for any criminal violations.”

Ted Cruz is a lawyer and ex-attorney general of Texas who has argued cases before the Supreme Court. Unlike Donald Trump when, he makes a statement like this, he cannot claim to be ignorant of the fact that the president instructing the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation on anyone would be the very definition of abuse of power and quite likely an impeachable offense.

His dismissive comments on contraception, meanwhile, are insulting to every woman:

“Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America. Look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila. So, yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them.”

He’s equally adamant about gay marriage, and insists that he will work to overturn last year’s landmark Obergefell ruling, which legalized same-sex marriage across the country, just as he will work to overturn Roe vs Wade. He says:

“It’s not the law of the land. It’s not the Constitution. It’s not legitimate, and we will stand and fight.”

Again, this is a man who argued cases before the Supreme Court and presumably knows very well that marriage equality is the law of the land.

He has defended a ban on late term-abortions and a display of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the state capitol. He argued that the pledge of allegiance should include the words “Under God.”  According to this astonishing article by David Corn in Mother Jones, he even defended a state ban on dildos, arguing the state had an interest in “discouraging…autonomous sex,” comparing masturbation to hiring a prostitute or committing bigamy and declaring that no right exists for people to “stimulate their genitals.” (His college roommate tweeted a hilarious reaction to that story yesterday.)

He’s all in on the “religious liberty” legal theory as defined by the Manhattan Declaration and enjoys keeping company with some of the most radical dominionists in the nation, including David Bartonthe junk historian who also runs Cruz’s number one super PAC, Keep the Promise. That super PAC is funded by a couple of Cruz’s megabucks donors, Texas energy barons Farris and Dan Wilks, both of whom are ultra conservative Christians. He’s even tight with the bigots who spearheaded the recent sweeping anti-LGBT legislation in North Carolina, congressional candidate and evangelical pastor Mark Harris and the former HGTV twins the Benham brothers, whose show was cancelled over their anti-gay activities. And then there is his father Rafael Cruz, who is counted among the most militant extremist preachers in the country and who believes his son was sent by God to turn America into a theocracy.

Ted Cruz’s confrontational political philosophy is revolutionary. His policy agenda is at the farthest edge of conservative movement thinking, even including gold buggery and the abolition of the IRS and half a dozen other agencies and functions of the federal government. His foreign policy advisers include anti-Muslim cranks like Frank Gaffney. His ideology is doctrinaire right wing conservative. And he is a fanatical conservative evangelical Christian whose beliefs place him at the fringe of an already non-mainstream worldview.

It’s not surprising that people would have a hard time believing that such a man would be a serial adulterer. But when you think about it, he would hardly be the first conservative Christian leader to be undone in such a way. (In fact, it’s so common you have to wonder if it isn’t an occupational hazard.) So far, he’s weathered the storm. But he is a fully realized right wing radical deeply embedded in the conservative Christian right.  If any of it turns out to be true, Cruz will have a very long way to fall.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

See: http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/ted-cruzs-dark-twisted-world-why-his-far-right-social-views-are-even-scarier-you-think?akid=14170.123424.9lSTbc&rd=1&src=newsletter1054631&t=18

Anti-Abortion One-Upsmanship Will Haunt Republicans in the Election

They’re handing the future Democratic nominee a mighty large sword to wield against them in the general election.

Source: The Guardian, via AlterNet

Author: Jessica Valenti

Emphasis Mine

If 2012 was the year of Republican men saying stupid things – from “legitimate rape” to pregnancy from rape being something “God intended”this must be the year of Republican men simply being stupid. There’s no other way to account for the complete meltdown that the party’s presidential hopefuls are having over abortion, racing to the right in a short-sighted effort to win the nomination while leaving themselves high and dry for the general election.

Marco Rubio, who supported a bill in 2013 that included exceptions for rape and incest, flat-out denied as much during the Republican debate earlier this month, saying, “I have never advocated that.” Later, when caught in his lie,Rubio said he only supported the bill because “it prevents abortions” and doubled down on his extreme position: “While I think [pregnancy from rape and incest] are horrifying…I personally believe you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy.”

When Ben Carson was asked if he supported rape and incest exceptions,Slate writer Amanda Marcotte pointed out that he claimed exceptions aren’t really necessary because women can just stop the pregnancy before it starts: “I would hope that they would very quickly avail themselves of [an] emergency room, and in the emergency room, they have the ability to administer, you know, RU-486, other possibilities, before you have a developing fetus.” Leaving aside the fact that not all rape victims are able to get to an emergency room – especially if the rapist is a family member – RU-486 is not the morning-after pill; it’s an abortion-inducing pill you take to end an established pregnancy. Perhaps a doctor should know this?

Scott Walker says that women don’t really ever need abortions to save their lives, and Mike Huckabee – the gift who keeps on gaffing – is out there actually arguing that 10-year-old rape victims should be forced to give birth. Have you ever met a 10-year-old girl, Mr Huckabee?

As I find myself (almost) speechless in response to all of these men, I think Sen. Elizabeth Warren said it best: “Did you fall down, hit your head and think you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor?”

Republicans vying for their party’s endorsement seem to forget that women’s votes exist. And that while this anti-choice posturing may be beneficial in the primaries, they are handing Hillary Clinton – or whoever the Democratic nominee may be – a mighty large sword to wield against them in the general election.

Jess McIntosh, vice president of communications at EMILY’s List, told me, “They’re so extreme it almost forecloses the possibility of a campaign. No persuadable voters want to hear about your plan to force raped children to give birth. It sounds as monstrous as it is.”

“And how do you argue about parental consent, when if you had your way the wishes of the parents would be meaningless?” she continued, “since every accidental teen and pre-teen pregnancy would be forced to result in birth?”

The GOP contenders are ignoring the fact that one in three American women will have an abortion and that 95% of them will not regret it. Do they think those women will be voting for the candidate who would try to have that decision taken away?

It’s well-established that extreme positions against abortion simply don’t fly with American voters. Measures to give zygotes personhood rights have failed again and again, the majority of Americans don’t want to see Roe v Wade overturned, and most people believe in abortion exceptions. Jocelyn Kiley, associate director at the Pew Research Center, told me that about 75% of Americans believe abortions should be possible in the case of rape. “For and health and life exceptions,” she says, “there’s a broad majority of more than 80%.”

 

Jessica Valenti is a daily columnist for the Guardian US. She is the author of four books on feminism, politics and culture, and founder of Feministing.com

See: http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/anti-abortion-one-upsmanship-will-haunt-republicans-election?akid=13398.123424.Hd8xrT&rd=1&src=newsletter1041176&t=10

Libertarians Go After So-Called ‘Vagina Voters’: With Which Body Part Are They Thinking ?

many libertarian and conservative men who bray about freedom do not seem to be in favor of a world in which women are free to decide what to do with their bodies

Source: AlterNet

Author: Lynn Stuart Parramore

Emphasis Mine

From polls, libertarians are known to be a fairly homogenous group that skews white, male, young, affluent (i.e. college-educated), and has a reputation for not being particularly gender-inclusive. Far more identify with the Republican party (43 percent) than the Democratic party (5 percent). Is it surprising that they get anxious on the subject of people with vaginas who vote for liberal/progressive candidates?

The latest freak-out comes from libertarian blogger-controversialist Brendan O’Neill, who warns in Reason magazine that “women voting for Hillary because she’s a woman are setting back feminism a hundred years,” hyperventilating that such nefarious activity “confirm[s] the descent of feminism into the cesspool of identity politics.” (In the past, Mr. O’Neill has expressed his concern for feminism by comparing it to radical Islam  and opining that “stupid men, drunken men, thoughtless men and idiotic men” should not be considered rapists if they have sex with non-consenting women; clearly in his view, being a libertarian feminist would be akin to being a theological atheist.)

O’Neill warns ominously of a tsunami of so-called “vagina voters” on the basis of a single blog by Kate Harding who justifies her own vote for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in 2008 by pointing to Clinton’s superior experience and the fact that she is female. Harding explains that she felt it unfair she was expected to disregard the candidate’s gender in her selection, “just as those who were excited to vote for an African-American person in the primaries were supposed to pretend they never noticed the color of the candidates’ skin.” Harding acknowledges that while she would prefer Bernie Sanders in 2016, she would ultimately vote for Hillary Clinton against a Republican because she found the Democratic party “less odious” than the other, and she figured that since we’ve had 220 years of white, male presidents, it might be a good thing to have a president who understood the experience of half the population. Shocking!

As Harding put it, we have “the first fucking woman who can win…running for president, and she is at least nominally a liberal! Can we not allow ourselves to get excited about just that?”

Certainly not all women are excited about that; some sense that Hillary Clinton is not the person to challenge the largely unimpeded advance of the oligarchy, vagina or not. But to imagine that many women — and men, for that matter — should not feel that the election of a female president would be a positive sign of political inclusion is both disingenuous and stupid. The cries of vagina voting, of course, also raise the question of whether the nearly 40 percent of men polled who say they would vote for Clinton in 2016 are somehow voting against their penises. Or whether women who vote libertarian are anti-vagina.

Perhaps the vagina voter freak-out is only meant to distract us from that fact that many conservatives and libertarians have a great deal of trouble with women in general and females daring to assert themselves in positions of power in particular. Such a figure is libertarian presidential candidate Rand Paul, often hard-pressed to keep his woman-anxiety in check, whether he is making dismissive, sexist remarks to female television personalities, mocking Hillary Clinton with a Valentine’s Day tweet directing readers to a Pinterest page imagining a White House redecorated with pink hearts and girly furniture, or suggesting that low-income, unmarried women should just stop having kids if they don’t want to be poor.

This last bit is especially hypocritical, considering that Rand Paul has described himself as “100 percent pro-life” and introduced the Life at Conception Act in 2013, which “declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being beginning at the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being.” In this assertion, he follows in the footsteps of his rabidly anti-choice father, Ron Paul, who once described abortion as the “ultimate State tyranny” and compared federal support of the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy to Hitler’s gassing of Jews. Ron Paul is known for pronouncing that the “rights of unborn people” is the “greatest moral issue of our time,” despite the fact that libertarian guru Ayn Rand stated that abortion is a moral right, end of story.

Dealing with people who possess vaginas is clearly a dilemma for would-be anti-government crusaders. As many as 40 percent of the libertarian-leaning can’t seem to reconcile their political philosophy with the horrifying specter of female autonomy and frequently resort to preposterous arguments about embryonic emancipation to justify their belief that freedom is okay as long as it does not extend to women. For all their posturing about rationality, many libertarians are clearly irrational on the subject of women, their vaginas and their freedom. Dare we say they are thinking with some other part of their body than their brains?

Libertarians tend to embrace a tired strain of 19th-century economic thought that correlates with 19th-century attitudes concerning women (witness the libertarian-leaning James Poulous making a Victorian argument that the “purpose” of women is to temper the barbaric tendencies of men). Such positions, of course, crumble when confronted with the real exigencies of the modern world. Libertarians love to talk about free markets and rational economic actors, and yet show them a woman who makes a rational decision to keep herself and her family from sliding into poverty by terminating a pregnancy and many will respond with fits of patriarchal moralistic frenzy. They have a hard time recognizing that abortion is an economic issue, even thoughpolling shows that the public increasingly understands it is.

Many Americans living in the real world, especially those who are not wealthy, get it that a woman cannot effectively participate in the modern workforce without being able to plan pregnancies and limit the number of children she bears. Ongoing pregnancy discrimination on the job, inadequate family leave, and unaffordable child and healthcare (the U.S. is the most expensive place in the world to give birth) are among the many reasons that a woman, acting rationally, would decide to terminate a pregnancy.

Quite rationally, women tend to support candidates who appreciate their economic and social concerns, as do many men who understand that the wellbeing of women extends to their families and the rest of society. They do not appear to be lining up behind female candidates like Carly Fiorina, who do not (Fiorina is anti-choice and does not tend to support equal pay). That’s in part why Republican men, after losing ground among women voters in the 2012 elections, are scrambling to change/soften their positions on issues like abortion. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who once opposed legal abortion even in cases of rape and incest, has lately been backtracking, telling Fox News that he “cannot change the federal law that gives women the choice whether or not to have an abortion,” a view which angered anti-choice activists. Is Walker a vagina campaigner?

It is too bad that so many libertarian and conservative men who bray about freedom do not seem to be in favor of a world in which women are free to decide what to do with their bodies without being coerced by a largely male government, or free to get the affordable access to childcare or healthcare that would certainly expand their possibilities in the world. By treating women as brainless “vagina voters,they reveal the contempt for anyone who is not, well, exactly like them.

Lynn Parramore is contributing editor at AlterNet. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of “Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.” She received her Ph.D. in English and cultural theory from NYU. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/libertarian-go-after-so-called-vagina-voters-which-body-part-are-they-thinking?akid=13115.123424.SbweAy&rd=1&src=newsletter1036527&t=1

Mike Huckabee, and why Republicans have trouble talking to and about women

Source: Washington Post

Authors: Aaron Blake and Sean Sullivan

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) had a challenge for Democrats on Thursday.

If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it,” Huckabee said at the RNC winter meeting. “Let’s take that discussion all across America.”

As it turns out, Democrats are  quite happy to oblige.

Shortly after Huckabee’s “libido” comments, Democrats distributed them far and wide, rehashing the so-called GOP “war on women” and accusing Huckabee of insensitivity. Some enterprising campaigns even sought to tie their Republican opponents to the former presidential candidate, hoping Huckabee’s controversy would also play a bit part in their own races.

In the end, Huckabee’s comments are likely to be soon forgotten, but they do reflect a broader problem the Republican Party has when it comes to women.

Basically, the party has a very difficult time talking about these issues without opening itself up to such attacks.

Let’s explain:

Huckabee was not saying himself that women have uncontrollable libidos and need birth control; he was saying Democrats make women believe this so that they vote Democratic.

There are a few problems with his approach, though.

1) Huckabee’s 54-word sentence — which includes a 50-word dependent clause — was initially so confusing that several reporters thought Huckabee was attributing the “libido” idea to himself. (Now, we’re sure some Democrats think Huckabee wastalking about himself, but do you really think he’s that stupid?)

2) Even as the sentence reads today, it still could sound as if Huckabee thinks certain women need to “control their libido” — though that doesn’t seem to be his intention.

3) The contraception issue is, quite frankly, not the GOP’s friend.

That last statement might surprise some folks, particularly on the right, who can rightly point out that some polls show a slight majority of the American people thinks religious institutions should be exempt from covering birth control.

But while polling on a federal contraception mandate varies — and depends a lot on how you ask the question — the enthusiasm is certainly on the pro-mandate side. That, and Democrats are much better at controlling the message on this issue.

A March 2012 Washington Post-ABC poll showed Americans favored mandating contraception coverage by a margin of 61-35. Those who felt strongly in favor of the mandate outnumbered those who strongly opposed it nearly two to one, 50-27.

The numbers were much closer when it asked specifically whether religious institutions should be exempted (the crux of the current debate). In that case, 49 percent thought it should be mandated, while 46 percent thought it should not. But, again, strong supporters trumped strong opponents — by around eight or nine points.

In other words, the passion is clearly more on one side of this issue, and if Democrats can define this issue along the lines of the first polling question rather than the second — the one bringing religious institutions into the mix — they’re clearly fighting a winning battle.

As it happens, Democrats have been quite successful at doing just that, just as they did Thursday with Huckabee. In fact, if you look at Huckabee’s comments, he made no mention of religion and contraception at all.

None of this is to say that Huckabee committed a huge gaffe that will hurt Republicans significantly going forward. But, clearly, whatever point he was trying to make was lost thanks to a poor choice of words — a cautionary tale to a party that has all too often found its members doing much the same thing (think “legitimate rape”).

Huckabee is generally one of the GOP’s most gifted messengers. If even he is falling into this kind of a rathole, that doesn’t suggest great things ahead for his party.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/01/24/mike-huckabee-and-why-republicans-have-trouble-talking-to-and-about-women/?wpisrc=nl_pmpol