Trump Or Cruz: Who’d You Rather Face? 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the GOP nominee is going to be either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz (or as the Post recently referred to them, syphillis or gonorrhea). So from the perspective of Democrats, who’d make the more favorable opponent? I vote for Trump. Ted Cruz may be unpleasant but he knows what it’s like to be a candidate, how it feels to be the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism. Trump doesn’t - at some point, he’s likely to simply lose his shit under the glare of the lights of a national campaign.

Dave Asche has a different view. Despite his being wrong, he’s a really good guy. Here’s his take on why Cruz is the opponent of choice.
I was talking with a friend the other night about a laundry list of issues before it eventually, of course, turned into a conversation about the current race for the White House. Of all the different topics we discussed about the election, one in particular stuck in my mind. And it is the question of whether Democrats would rather face Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in the general election.

 The first answer to pop in many people’s heads, is likely Trump. All Hillary (or Bernie) would have to do is play all of the offensive comments he has made about women, African Americans, Mexicans, Muslims, and POW’s, to name a few, on a loop throughout the summer and fall. But even with all of that in mind, I am coming around to the opinion that Trump would present a unique danger to the Democratic nominee and Cruz would be the easier opponent.

 Bear with me here. Donald Trump has almost unanimous name recognition. I realize Hillary Clinton is well known too, but if you were to ask the average American voter if they have heard of Trump or Clinton, my guess is Trump wins out. For better or worse, name recognition is major factor in winning elections.

 Second, Trump has an ingenious way of knowing how to probe for weakness in his opponents, and applying the pressure if and when the story starts to get legs. In the early part of the campaign, Trump hammered Jeb Bush for being weak, “low energy,” and simply not up to the job of being president. Primary voters started buying into the argument and, well, we have all seen Jeb’s poll numbers lately. He responded to Hillary’s charge of sexism by linking her to Bill Clinton’s well documented foibles and completely turned the story around on her. And he turned what most of us thought was a ridiculous issue about Ted Cruz’s eligibility, and put Cruz on the defensive for weeks. And he managed to reign in Cruz’s momentum in Iowa in the process.

 He knows how to get stories into the media, and thus, into the mainstream. He has very effective skills as an offensive puncher and a counterpuncher. Just imagine the effectiveness he will have attacking Hillary over sticking up for her husband during his affairs, Benghazi, and her email server at the State Department.

 Third, and perhaps most important, is while Trump is a billionaire CEO, it will be very hard to paint him as the 2016 version of Mitt Romney. Trump is not campaigning as the rich oligarch who bashes the poor or calls for privatizing entitlement programs. Yes, he is proposing massive tax cuts on the wealthy. He is a Republican afterall. But during this campaign he has railed against proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare. He even went as far as to say he and other rich people around the country should sacrifice their benefits so they go to working people.

 Trump has also been an opponent of free trade agreements. When he talks about how bad these agreements have been for the country and how they ship blue collar jobs overseas, Trump sounds more like Bernie Sanders than he does a rich conservative. His rantings against illegal immigration are tied to the same theme. That illegal immigrants are flocking across the border and taking good jobs away from hard working Americans. He is tapping into the populist, blue collar anger better than anybody in the GOP field right now and it is resonating with people. Does he sound like George Wallace while doing it? Yes. But to many people, it doesn’t matter.

 Ted Cruz on the other hand is the face of everything that is wrong with Washington. He led the government shutdown in 2013 and has been a lead GOP obstructionist on just about every piece of legislation making its way through Congress. The American people are tired of gridlock, and Ted Cruz is the best guy to link to it.

 In June of 2015 when the Supreme Court decided same sex marriage was legal, he called it one of the darkest days in American History. He is far to the right on other issues such as women’s health, taxes, regulations, guns, and to top it all off, he is a proud denier of the science behind climate change. An issue more and more Americans are seeing as a major problem.

 And while Trump is far from likeable, he can come off as affable and charming at times. Ted Cruz does not. He isn’t even liked by his colleagues in the Senate.

 Cruz has also shown he can be rattled when attacked. Aside from his response to Trump on the birther issue, in the last debate, Cruz was thrown off message and on the defensive when he was directly challenged. It was apparent as soon as Trump backhanded him on his New York values comments. His response to Marco Rubio’s opposition research on his immigration record come off as him being annoyed and again, on defense. The same goes for his answer to the questions about the undisclosed loans from his 2012 Senate campaign. Attacks on Cruz are far more effective than they are on Trump.

 None of this is to suggest I think Trump would definitely beat Clinton or Sanders in the general election. But if people really sit down and think about it, they should come to the realization that facing Trump would not be the cakewalk they have been led to believe it would be.

 Ted Cruz is the opponent the Democratic nominee should most want to face off against in November.

Ted Cruz Is Not A Natural Born Citizen

I’m not a birther, but as the Cruz situation has evolved, as a lawyer I’ve been uncomfortable with the arguments put forth asserting that “of course” Cruz is eligible to be president. The term “natural born citizen,” used in the Constitution, but not in any immigration or naturalization statute since 1795, has to mean something different than “citizen” or “naturalized citizen,” because after the Constitution was established, it was recognized that  a child born abroad to one or even two US citizen parents still needed to be naturalized before accruing all the rights of citizenship. While this is not true anymore, it shows that in the early years of this country, the only way to be a citizen at birth was to be born here. 

Finally, someone has put forth a coherent and persuasive legal argument picking up the points I mention above, as well as several more. Is Ted Cruz a citizen? Yes. Was he a citizen at birth? By way of the laws enacted on the subject beginning in the 19th century, yes. Was he a “natural born citizen” for purposes of the constitutional requirement to be president? No. Thus says Widener University’s Delaware Law School constitutional law professor Mary Brigid McManamon.

Donald Trump is actually right about something: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is not a natural-born citizen and therefore is not eligible to be president or vice president of the United States.

The Constitution provides that “No person except a natural born Citizen . . . shall be eligible to the Office of President.” The concept of “natural born” comes from common law, and it is that law the Supreme Court has said we must turn to for the concept’s definition. On this subject, common law is clear and unambiguous. The 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, the preeminent authority on it, declared natural-born citizens are “such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England,” while aliens are “such as are born out of it.” The key to this division is the assumption of allegiance to one’s country of birth. The Americans who drafted the Constitution adopted this principle for the United States. James Madison, known as the “father of the Constitution,” stated, “It is an established maxim that birth is a criterion of allegiance. . . . [And] place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States.”

For those of you who are gluttons for detailed legal wankery, the op-ed in the Post is based on and drawn from the author’s 2014 law review article on the subject. By the standards of law review articles, I will say that it is one of the more accessible, and understandable to a lay audience, articles I have ever read.

Full disclosure: for those who want to read the earlier article that McManamon (convincingly in my view) disagrees with, it is here. One of the things that disturbed me as this issue bubbled up was the vehemence with which so many commentators rushed to judgment - see Jonathan Adler last week here (only “folks on the fringe” question Cruz’s eligibility and “there is no question about” his eligibility). This is what happens when uncomfortable questions arise that “respectable” journalists and others don’t want to be taken seriously. Define the questioners as “out of bounds” for even asking the question and hope like hell the issue goes away.

I’ll say this - as a lawyer, I’ve won far worse legal arguments than this one. I’d be more than comfortable walking into a courtroom with McManamon’s article as my argument. I can’t promise I’d win - there would be an enormous interest in defining the problem away for many like Adler and others - but it’s a solid, well-grounded and well-reasoned argument. And I for one happen to think it’s the better argument.

Hillary Clinton Rakes It In

Earlier in the week, the media was abuzz with news that Ted Cruz raised $19 million in the fourth quarter of 2015. Hillary Clinton has a comment: “Dude, that’s like a rounding error for my fundraising.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced Friday that it raised $55 million in the final fundraising period of 2015, and $112 million in primary-election funds for the year. Clinton brought in $37 million in money specifically for use in the primary during the fourth quarter of 2015.

Clinton also raised $3 million for the general election. Her annual total is the most for any non-incumbent in a non-election year and roughly equal to what President Obama raised as a sitting president ahead of the 2012 election, the campaign said.

I’m beginning to like this whole Year of the Woman thing. Except for Carly Fiorina’s shameless pandering on the Rose Bowl yesterday, which backfired horribly.

Seriously, Clinton raised more money than incumbent Barack Obama in 2012. Think about that. And then gaze in glassy-eyed stupefaction at moron Chris Cillizza’s having awarded Clinton the Worst Year of 2015, along with Jeb Bush. That’s 55 million new reasons why Cillizza is a pathetic joke. I also highly recommend this screed listing by month all the incisive and prescient analysis conducted by Cillizza throughout 2015. What’s even more pathetic is Cillizza’s effort just this week to defend (after a month of savage attacks) his lumping the presumptive Democratic nominee with the latest failed Bush family scion.

Another emerging narrative for the New Year: just how much will the Washington Post embarrass itself in 2016? The Bezos Boys are off to a flying start so far.

The GOP’s Problems Are Worse Than You Think

I’ve been thinking for a while that there was a clear disconnect between the opinions of the Republican establishment and, y’know, reality. First they believed for months that Jeb! would eventually turn it around and save the day, and more recently, there’s an impatient foot-tapping about Marco Rubio. It’s clear that a lot of leaders simply switched from one to the other and waited for the voters to figure out how great Rubio is.

Hasn’t happened. And now Rubio’s out in Iowa touting an endorsement from Trey Gowdy, who ran those brilliant BENGHAZI!! hearings. Paul Waldman at the Post has a brilliant assessment of how that’s going to work out.

Believe it or not, the Iowa caucuses are just over a month away. And Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — establishment darling and the cognoscenti’s assumed front-runner — is heading to Iowa for a bus tour, bringing along a shiny new endorsement from Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, head of the special committee on Benghazi. Can you feel the excitement?

Probably not, which is why this is an excellent demonstration of Rubio’s problem, and the problem the GOP is facing as the actual voting approaches. While everyone waits for the voters to finally figure out that they ought to be supporting Rubio, the only candidate who at the moment looks like he might be able to defeat Donald Trump is Ted Cruz. From the perspective of the party’s fortunes in the general election, that would be sort of like being cured of your electoral syphilis by contracting gonorrhea.

Go read the rest - I’d post the whole thing, it’s that good, but that’s generally considered uncool.

“Being cured of your electoral syphillis by contracting gonorrhea.” That right there is some serious comedy gold, my friends. Wins the Internet for, like, eternity.

Prediction: Ted Cruz Will Win The Iowa Caucuses

You didn’t actually hear it here first, but it’s two months out and the momentum is huge, or should I say “yuuuuuuuge.” The latest Monmouth University poll is out and Cruz is, well, cruising.

Stoked by evangelical and tea-party support, Ted Cruz has surged to first place in Iowa, according to the results of a Monmouth University poll released Monday surveying voters likely to participate in the Republican caucus on Feb. 1.

Cruz earned 24 percent of support among likely caucus-goers, with 19 percent opting for Donald Trump, whose polling advantage in the state has dwindled in recent weeks. In a Quinnipiac University survey conducted in mid-November, Trump held a slim 25 percent to 23 percent advantage over Cruz, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson finished with 18 percent.

In this survey, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio finished third with 17 percent, followed by 13 percent for Carson (a 19-point drop from October), 6 percent for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 4 percent for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, 3 percent for former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and 2 percent for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. All other candidates finished with 1 percent or less support, with 4 percent undecided and 1 percent describing themselves as “uncommitted.”

Look at the three month October-November-December shifts. November is a Quinnipiac poll, the other two are Monmouth. 

Cruz 10-23-24
Trump 18-25-19
Rubio 10-13-17
Carson 32-18-13
Bush 8-4-6
Trump is treading water, the Quinnipiac November poll appears to be an outlier. Cruz is surging, Rubio is steadily gaining ground and Carson has crashed and burned.

Cruz will likely win Iowa. If Trump holds second place, he remains viable and significant. If, however, Rubio edges him out, then Trump will be damaged badly, and the long-awaited Rubio vs. Cruz cage match will commence. Bush has to hope that doesn’t happen, because if it does it leaves no room for a Lazarus-McCain rise from the dead play for Jeb! If Trump holds off Rubio and Bush beats Carson (probably unlikely, but this is Iowa we’re talking about, so who knows) Bush will be primed for a possible comeback. Then on to New Hampshire.

Less than two months to go! Boy do I love primary season.

Can’t Even One Republican Tell An Honest Origin Story?

Ben Carson is a pathological liar who probably couldn’t pass a polygraph even if he was telling the truth. Carly Fiorina’s first speech at HP was a complete fabrication. Marco Rubio has issues with honesty and consistency. Chris Christie has seen God alone knows how many aides go to jail over BridgeGate. Jeb Bush denies having said nice things about Rubio, when it’s already out there. And Donald Trump denies referring to Marco Rubio as Mark Zuckerberg’s “personal senator” when the words are on Trump’s own website.

The one guy who’d managed to avoid the Big Fat Liar award was Ted Cruz. Not anymore.

Since he was a boy, Senator Ted Cruz has said, all he wanted to do was “fight for liberty” — a yearning that he says was first kindled when he heard his father’s tales of fighting as a rebel leader in Cuba in the 1950s, throwing firebombs, running guns and surviving torture.

Those stories, retold by Mr. Cruz and by his father, Rafael, have hooked Republican audiences and given emotional power to the message that the Texas senator is pushing as a contender for the party’s presidential nomination. In their telling, the father’s experience in Cuba — when the country was swept up by the charismatic young Fidel Castro, only to see him become a repressive Communist dictator — becomes a parable for the son’s nightmarish vision of government overreach under President Obama.

But the family narrative that has provided such inspirational fire to Mr. Cruz’s speeches, debate performances and a recently published memoir is, his father’s Cuban contemporaries say, an embroidered one.

This is appalling. Next thing you’re going to tell me, George Washington didn’t chop down the cherry tree, Abe Lincoln wasn’t born in a log cabin, and Bill Clinton actually did have sexual relations with that woman. Uh, wait, never mind about that last one. Whoops. 😉

Pro tip to GOP candidates: If you’re compelled to make up heroic stories about yourself, at least keep them vague enough that nobody can really contradict you.

Kim Davis Released From Jail

New right wing martyr Kim Davis was released from jail today, on the condition that she not interfere with the issuance of marriage licenses by her deputies to all eligible couples. The Post:

Five of the six clerks who work under Davis swore under oath last week that they could comply with the court’s order to issue marriage licenses. In a status report filed to Bunning’s court Tuesday, the couples who had filed suit against Davis after she first denied them marriage licenses said they were able to obtain them.

[Ted Cruz travels to Kentucky to support Kim Davis]

In Tuesday’s two-page order, Bunning said he is satisfied that the county clerk’s office is now complying with the court’s ruling.

He also ordered that Davis “shall not interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples” in Rowan County. If she does interfere, Bunning wrote, the court will consider “appropriate sanctions.”

Legally, this was the right decision. The objective was to get marriage licenses issued. Thefts now happening. So long as she doesn’t screw with that process, there’s no appropriate basis for continuing her incarceration.

Politically, you’d think the Carter County Detention Center was the Birmingham Jail or some such bullshit. Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz were falling all over themselves to get to Davis before  she got released.

Davis’ defiance has made her a hero in the eyes of her supporters. And the escalating drama has also drawn the attention of two Republican presidential contenders, Mike Huckabee and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who rushed to the jail Tuesday morning, shortly before Davis was released.

“I just want to give God the glory,” said Davis, who walked onto the stage as “Eye of the Tiger” blasted out on loudspeakers and the crowd cheered. “Keep on pressing, don’t let down because He is here.”

Before introducing her, Huckabee called Davis a representative from God sent to lead the charge against “judicial tyranny.”

“God showed up,” Huckabee said. “He showed up in the form of an elected Democrat named Kim Davis.”

Wait, what? “Eye of the Tiger”? We’ve officially moved from tragedy to farce. Somebody needs to license some slightly more current music than a hackneyed and cliched song from freaking 1982. Hell, I was still a freshman in college when that song came out. And Kim Davis hadn’t married even once back then.


I’m Off The Scott Walker Bus

Since the early days of the 2016 campaign, I was concerned about the appeal of Scott Walker to the Republican squads of flying monkeys. He’s crazy and dangerous and corrupt, but he’s managed to keep a lot of his worst crazy under the radar. And he looks and talks like a sane and rational guy to the average voter with a 10 second attention span. As the governor of a Midwestern swing state, he’d have appeal all across the rust belt, in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota, key linchpins of recent Democratic presidential wins.

Boy, was I wrong. If Donald Trump can claim one scalp so far, it is definitely the Walker campaign. One of Walker’s rules is never to let anyone get to his right. Trying to get to Trump’s right in 2015 has been a fool’s errand, and Walker has often looked like a fool with his trying to out-Trump Trump. Walker has cratered in the polls, falling in Iowa from the mid-teens to the mid-single digits.

Today, he may have etched the tombstone of his campaign. Appearing on Meet the Press, Walker decided that building a wall along the Mexico border wasn’t enough.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is putting a new twist on the topic of securing the border, a staple among the GOP candidates running for president, by pointing north.

Walker said in an interview that aired Sunday that building a wall along the country’s northern border with Canada is a legitimate issue that merits further review.
Republican candidates for president have often taken a get-tough approach on deterring illegal immigration, but they usually focus on the border with Mexico. Walker was asked Sunday morning on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether he wanted to build a wall on the northern border too. Walker said some people in New Hampshire have asked the campaign about the topic.

“They raised some very legitimate concerns, including some law enforcement folks that brought that up to me at one of our town hall meetings about a week and a half ago. So that is a legitimate issue for us to look at,” Walker said.

Thanks for playing, Governor Walker. Why don’t you go with these gentlemen in the white uniforms to a nice quiet place for a little rest?

I’m off the Walker bus. To regular readers, this will come as no surprise, but I’m a Tailgunner Ted Cruz guy now. Even if he believes that as a Jew, I’m only here to serve as cannon fodder for the apocalypse and ensuing rapture. Hey, at least I had the good sense to marry a Texan, right?

I think Ted Cruz has got what it takes to win over the delusional rabble that is what’s left of the once-great Republican Party.