The Cruz Prototype (updated)

DDUnlike movies or television, print close-ups should have context. The intellectual appeal of print is the ease with which it shows connections and reasons missing in a visual world, because print can find and express a hidden interior, and show how it is shared and developed.

Immediately, it’s easy to realize Ted Cruz is a national prototype that fits Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Allen West. The prototype loves to play dare, shames anyone who doesn’t adopt its ideological and self-righteous line, and except as space fantasies, the prototype has no plan for progress. Its working models are extortioners and exhorters. They are empty of compassion and confuse fantasy and ideas. They are media masters. They lie easily. They feign outrage.

They think they are gods.

They are not statesmen.

It is their marginality that makes possible their outsized impact of their singular acts.

We look at their views on issues like healthcare, but that is the wrong place to find their passion, which is a repeated faith in a self-directed belief in the importance of their own ideas. Cruz doesn’t care about healthcare, is no expert on the legislation. Cruz is having himself a grand time at the expense of the nation.

He’s an outlier. The outlier’s most dangerous trait is the refusal, within society, by law or morality, to recognize the value of permission. Outliers do not discuss, negotiate, reach out; they are tone deaf when it comes to others’ views. They overturn the idea and stand against compromise. Outliers make self-evident references to their own will.

Without permission, as they break old limits, be aware that anything goes, not all of it radical. Some of it’s worse.

Nikki Haley is genteel and mean, inept, but by South Carolina’s system of home rule, in which local authority derives from the state legislature, minor and unimportant. Michele Bachmann, a rhetorical flamethrower, is a dismal, ineffective legislator. Remember her Tea Party televised answer to a State of the Union Address, in which she spoke to the wrong camera? Bobby Jindal also failed the green light test. Sarah Palin passed.

Governors Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Representatives past and present Jim DeMint, Anthony Weiner, Scott Desjarlais, the entire Republican caucus of North Carolina’s General Assembly, Virginia’s GOP candidates for governor and lieutenant governor (noteworthy for ideological extremes which are really personal beliefs they seek to impose on society) have more in common with the outlier world view than conservative ideology.

In fact, conservative principles mask their deep, personal investment in seeking and wielding power, their desire to hold the absolute ability to bend communities—the world—to their will and fancy. I haven’t yet seen this in Tim Scott, but Jeff Sessions shape-shifts on judicial votes (the result of his unforgiven slight at being refused decades ago a seat on the Federal bench). Marco Rubio lacks sea legs, but doesn’t rise to the level of the outlier; he lacks the desire, the inner drive.

The outlier embraces the secret zeitgeist of every generation, the sci-fi kid who could beam up into a magic world and owns the tractor beam.

But Cruz is singular. By the speech of the 1950s, Cruz is gone: he is journeying inside of his own noise: he offers no reasons to end Obamacare. So fixed on its collapse, he has no alternative. And standing in the well of the Senate, reading Green Eggs and Ham, a children’s book about the folly of resisting things you haven’t tried, is not compelling or proof.

As Cruz read Dr. Seuss, the world’s leaders gathered in New York to make remarkable speeches about their national priorities and their concerns about the state of the world; also available, like Cruz’s grandstanding, on live media.

Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, especially, was compelling as she talked about war and peace. As Cruz meandered, she recalled the gripping 41-year old portrait from Vietnam of the young girl running down a highway, naked, her clothes burned off, her face in an anguished silent scream, just after an Air Force bomber dropped napalm on her and other fleeing villagers by mistake.

Note that Fernández de Kirchner and every world leader who stepped forward to speak (they continue today!) cited expanding and improving healthcare as a major national goal, whether improving sanitation, nutrition and creating ample clean water, or fighting contagious diseases or domestic violence. The leaders of the world, in every continent and corner, in nations rich and poor, in every climate region, from islands to arid plains and broad forests, viewed healthcare as vital to their national prosperity and stability, to their country’s growth and freedom, to improving the lot of the poor—as most of America saw and heard Ted Cruz read Dr. Seuss, without a mention or peep about what the rest of the world was doing and saying about healthcare, or war and peace. Continue reading The Cruz Prototype (updated)

The Bad News Is There Is No Rock Bottom

When things are going bad, people often set out in the wrong direction. It happens all the time and it only makes things worse. The Justice Department’s decision to fine HSBC, a British bank that is Europe’s largest, $1.92 billion was enough to show how wrongheaded American policy is putting belief before truth.

If we believe as hard as we can, and say something over and over while we hide the process from the public, we can rob the country blind, dominate the Congress, and even bring shame to a wounded veteran and former Presidential candidate and Senate leader who, in a wheel chair at age 89, asked the Senate to vote to approve a UN treaty establishing a pledge to full rights for the disabled. This no-brainer only requested the US approve something it had already done; in fact, the US Disabilities Act was the model for the UN treaty. But instead of watching the Senate endorse a treaty that reflects established success in global leadership for the disabled, Bob Dole, former senator from Kansas, watched from the Senate floor as the members of his own party voted the treaty down.

The reason? The fear that the UN treaty with no enforcement or monitoring power, which calls each nation to review its progress for an annual report, would impose yet-to-be-expressed and completely unrelated standards for home schooling on American families. The treaty’s opponents claimed that US honor would obligate the country—each state, city, hamlet and home–to voluntarily submit to the treaty’s principles (whose goals have nothing to do with home schooling!) even if we disagreed. Except that we had agreed to the goals and signed the treaty, but it had not been approved by the Senate.

So an imaginary commitment was used to bring shame to a man who had served his party and his country with real commitment and honor. The imagined idea trumped the real ideals and practices firmly in place, without threat to hamlet or home. Bob Dole, a disabled veteran, watched the Senate vote use the idea of honor to bring shame to the US, before the world.

But things got worse quickly, in the name of justice. The British chartered Hong Kong bank, HSBC, agreed to the US Justice Department’s imposition of $1.92 billion in fines and penalties for the bank’s actions in financing terrorism and crime. HSBC had thousands of violations of the US’ Trading With The Enemy Act. HSBC moved trillions by wire transfers and other means for groups including al-Qaeda and Colombian and Mexican drug cartels for over a decade. The bank’s actions were so far out of control that the Justice Department claimed that no pattern of individual behavior could be established, so egregiously was the total institutional default on every standard and regulation aimed at denying legitimate banking services to global terrorism and crime. Shades of Catch-22! The Justice Department is claiming so many people were engaged in providing traditional banking to criminals and terrorists that it is impossible to tell who was at fault because the entire sphere of activity became routine practice,with its own procedures and rules! In other words, the bank was too big and too greedy to be bad! Continue reading The Bad News Is There Is No Rock Bottom