Saturday, May 16, 2015

Who is Ted Cruz and would he make a good president of the United States?

Although our political views are diametrically opposed, Ted Cruz and I have one thing in common. We were both born in Canada, albeit in different parts of the country. That's one reason why I have been following his political career with the keenest of interest.  Another is that I am curious to see the extent to which the American people would support a Tea Party favourite who holds extreme right-wing views.

Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta on December 22, 1970, where  his parents were involved in the Alberta oil business (They owned a seismic data company for oil drillers).  Ted's father, Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, was born in Cuba in 1939 and was originally a supporter of Fidel Castro's bid to overthrow the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista. Rafael later became a steadfast opponent of Castro and was forced to flee Cuba. He ended up in Austin, Texas where he graduated with a degree in mathematics at the University of Texas.

Cruz's mother, Eleanor Elizabeth Darragh Wilson, is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and is of Italian and Irish descent.  She earned a degree in mathematics from Rice University in Austin Texas and worked as a commuter programmer at Shell Oil.

The Cruz family remained in Canada until 1974 when the price of oil slumped.  Ted's parents sold their company and returned to Houston with their young son.  After attending the Faith West Academy in Katy, Texas, Ted graduated from Second Baptist High School in Houston.  He then studied at Princeton University where he graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the prestigious Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

After his graduation from Princeton, Cruz entered Harvard Law School where he graduated in 1995 with a Juris Doctor degree.  He then worked as a law clerk for J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and later for William Rehnquist, then-Chief Justice of the United States.  After completing his clerkship in 1997, the young lawyer went into private practice with the firm of Cooper, Carvin & Rosenthal.

In 2001, Cruz married California-born Heidi Suzanne Nelson.  Born August 7, 1972, Heidi is the daughter of Seventh-day Adventists.  As a child, she lived in Kenya and Nigeria with her missionary parents.  Her educational background is quite impressive. She graduated from Harvard Business School with an M.B.A. and has a a Masters of European Business from Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium.  She met Ted Cruz in Austin, Texas in 2000 when they were both policy aides on George W. Bush's presidential campaign. The couple has two young daughters: Caroline (born 2008) and Catherine (born 2011).

When George W. Bush assumed the office of the presidency in 2001, Ted Cruz became the associate deputy attorney in the United States Justice Department.and director of policy planning at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.  He decided to return to Texas, however, and served as the state's Solicitor General from January 9, 2003 until May 12, 2008.  Cruz was appointed to the office by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and was responsible for dealing with the state's appellate cases, including those headed for the Supreme Court.  According to an article by Tim Murphy in the November/December 2012 issue of Mother Jones, "Most of the cases Cruz argued before the Supreme Court shared a common theme - Texas' constitutional right to do as it pleases, free from Washington's meddling."

After leaving his position as Solicitor General of Texas, Cruz returned to private law practice in Houston.  In 2005, Heidi Cruz joined New York-based Goldman Sachs Group Inc.  In 2012, she was promoted to managing director, the company's second-highest rank.  She works as regional head of Goldman Sachs Houston office in the private wealth- management unit.  Her clients are families and individuals who have an average net worth of $40 million.

On November 6, 2012, Ted Cruz was elected to the United States Senate, representing Texas. On March 23, 2015, he announced that he would be seeking the Republican nomination for president of the United States. About twenty minutes into his speech, he made the first solid promise of his campaign. He said , "(I) imagine in 2017, a new president signing legislation repealing every word of Obamacare."

The very next day, candidate Cruz revealed that he'd be signing up for Obamacare himself. Heidi,Cruz had taken a leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs to help her husband with his presidential campaign.  That meant that Ted would no longer be covered by his spouse's Goldman Sachs health insurance plan.  “We’ll be getting new health insurance and we’ll presumably do it through my job with the Senate, and so we’ll be on the federal exchange with millions of others on the federal exchange,” Cruz said.  When questioned as to whether he would accept the government contribution available to lawmakers and congressional staffers through the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), he replied that he intended to "follow the text of the law."

Ted and Heidi Cruz

All I can say is it would be a disaster (except for the wealthiest one per cent of Americans) if Ted Cruz should ever win the 2016 presidential election.

Here's why:

* Senator Cruz has been on a mission to destroy Obamacare.  In the autumn of 2013, Cruz made headlines when he spoke for 21 hours on the Senate floor to advocate for the defunding of the Affordable Health Care Act.  Cruz's actions led the Republican Party's 16-day shutdown of the United States government. That shutdown, it should be remembered, cost the American economy an estimated $24 billion (according to the financial services company Standard & Poor's). Business leaders, including Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman Sach's chief executive (and Heidi Cruz's boss), travelled to Washington to caution lawmakers that they were jeopardizing the economic recovery if they did not raise the federal debt ceiling.

* Tea Party Ted has opposed and obstructed such beneficial measures as raising the minimum wage and immigration reform.  In April of 2014, he  was one of the GOP senators who voted against legislation that would have made it easier for U.S, women to secure equal pay for work of equal value.  There were 53 Senate votes in favour of the legislation, just seven short of the 60 required for the legislation to pass.

* Cruz advocates giving substantial tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, at the expense of ordinary working Americans.  If you wish to increase the growing gap between the haves and have-nots, Ted Cruz is your man.

*  Senator Cruz is a climate change denier.  If you are the least concerned about the environment and the devastating effects of green house gases, Ted Cruz is definitely not your man.  On March 18, 2005, Senator Cruz made the following comment to late-night television host Seth Meyers.

I just came back from New Hampshire where there's snow and ice everywhere.  And my view is actually simple.  Debates on this should follow science and should follow data.  And many of the alarmists on global warming, they've got a problem because the science doesn't back them up. And in particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years there's been zero warming, none whatsoever.  It's why, you remember how it used to be called global warming, and then magically the theory changed to climate.change.

Where do I start? I could write pages and pages debunking Ted Cruz's climate change theories. How can a man with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School make such a ridiculous statement? How can he be credible when he uses the example of some snowy weather in New Hampshire to dismiss climate change?   Cruz has earned business and law degrees, but his scientific knowledge leaves something to be desired.  Kevin Trenberth, a prominent climate scientist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, disagreed with everything it Cruz's statement except that debates about climate change should follow science and data.  Trenberth referred to the rest of the senator's remarks as "a load of claptrap . . . absolute bunk."

Other climate scientists were also highly critical of Cruz's analysis.  Ben Santer, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, said that "Lawmakers have a responsibility to understand the science, and not to embrace ignorance with open arms, as Senator Cruz is doing here,” Contrary to what Cruz says, the satellite record does show evidence of a warming trend,  It is very unfortunate that this staunch climate change denier oversees NASA.  In January of this year, due to the Republican majority in the Senate, Cruz was appointed chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness.

* Ted Cruz is a poster boy for the powerful National Rife Association and he has a Wild West mentality where guns are concerned.  He has consistently opposed gun restrictions and was honoured by the NRA in a 2008 resolution thanking him for leading the States in a Washington, D.C. gun case before the U.S, Supreme Court.  The NRA praised Cruz, declaring that his "efforts made this victory for the American people possible."

On April 16, 2015, Cruz sent an email to his supporters.  The email read:

The Second Amendment to the Constitution isn't for just protecting hunting rights, and it's not only to safeguard to target practice.  It's a Constitutional right to protect your children, your family, your home, our lives, and to serve as the ultimate check as political tyranny - for the protection of liberty.  

Will someone please inform Senator Cruz that this is not the 18th century when there were threats against the young American republic.  Will someone please tell him that gun control does not mean preventing law-abiding people of sound mental health from hunting and target shooting if they so desire?  So what if hunters and target shooters have to face more checks and restrictions! Background checks are well worth the inconvenience if they save lives by keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals and psychopaths,


* Republicans have made quite an issue out of President Barack Obama's place of birth.  They won't let the matter rest, even though his birth certificate clearly shows that he was born in Hawaii in 1961. It's their not-so-subtle way of insinuating that Obama is a foreigner and not a real American, despite the fact that he was born on American soil.  Obama's father was born in Kenya and his mother was born in the stare of Kansas.  Ted Cruz was born outside the United States to a Cuban father and an American-born mother; but what does it matter where they were born? Both men are American citizens and have lived most of their life in the United States?  What rankles me is the double standard and the hypocrisy.  Republicans and Obama haters have no problem with Cruz being born in a foreign country.  However, they have hounded Barack Obama relentlessly about his place of birth.

In Canadian politics, place of birth is not an issue at all. A Canadian prime minister can be born anywhere on the planet.

* Of his ethnic and religious background, a December 20, 2012 editorial in the Dallas Morning News
states that Ted Cruz has joked that "I'm Cuban, Irish and Italian, and yet somehow I ended up Southern Baptist."


Ted Cruz is an unabashed Tea Party conservative.  Would he make a good president of the United States?  Absolutely not - unless your fondest wish is for America to be under the complete control of Wall Street, Big Oil and the National Rife Association.  I just hope American voters remember who caused the recession of 2008 and the devastation it left behind.

- Joanne

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Some thoughts and quotes about Mother's Day

Now that the celebration of Mother's Day is over for another year, let us quietly reflect on motherhood and the concept of Mother's Day.  In Canada,, the United States, Australia, Brazil and many other countries, mother's are honoured on the second Sunday of May. The American Mother's Day holiday was first celebrated in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a service at a church in West Virginia in memory of her beloved mother, Ann.  Jarvis delivered 500 carnations, her mother's favourite flower, to that celebration.  In 1910, Mother's Day was designated as an official holiday in the state of West Virginia.  In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother's Day an official national holiday in the United.States.

As the years passed, Anna Jarvis, became increasingly disenchanted with the commercialization of Mother's Day.  Much to her dismay, candy and greeting card companies, florists and restaurants began cashing in on the holiday. In 1923, she accused the Associated Retail Confectioners of "gouging the public."  A New York Times story reported that told them that  they were "using a beautiful idea as a means of profiteering."  She was quoted as saying, "As the founder of Mother's Day, I demand that it cease. . . Mother's Day was not intended to be a source of commercial profit."

The idealistic Jarvis never intended Mother's Day to be a "Hallmark holiday."  That was not what she had envisioned when she campaigned so vigourously for a day to pay homage to mothers. She wanted Mother's Day to be a dignified tribute to the mothers of the world, untainted by what she considered to be the crassness of commercialism.  Her intention was that mothers would be honoured simply with white carnations and notes of appreciation.  She died on November 24, 1948, bitterly opposed to her own creation.  Ironically, she never had a child of her own.

Anna Jarvis

Unlike motherhood itself, the subject of Mother's Day can be a controversial.  Some, like Anne Jarvis, deplore the commercialism associated with it.  Others question whether there is a need for Mother's Day at all. They argue that we should pay tribute to mothers every single day of the year, not just on the second Sunday in May.

Some Quotations and Reflections about Mothers

My mother had a good deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.

- Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens 1835-1910 ), American writer and humourist
From Autobiography [1924]

The mother's yearning, that completest type of the life in another life which is the essence of real human love, feels the presence of the cherished child even in the debased, degraded man..

- George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans Cross 1819-1880), English novelist
From Adam Beale [1859]

All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

- Attributed to Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 16th President of the United States

According to George Alfred Townsend, author of The Real Life of Abraham Lincoln (1867), Lincoln made his comment about his "angel mother" to his law partner, William Herndonr.  When he spoke those words, Lincoln could have been referring to his biological mother or his stepmother, perhaps even both.

Lincoln's natural mother, Nancy Hank Lincoln, died in 1818 when the future American president was only nine years old.  In his May 9, 2014 article, "The Two Mothers Who Molded Lincoln," on the History Channel website, Christopher Klein makes the following statement: "Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who gave birth to the Great Emancipator on February 12, 1809, had instilled the virtues of honesty and compassion in her son and sowed the seeds of his intellectual curiosity."

On December 2, 1819, Araham Lincoln's father, Thomas, married Sarah "Sally" Bush Johnston, a widow with children with children of her own.  Lincoln had a good relationship with his stepmother. In his book Abraham Lincoln (1952), Benjamin P. Thomas writes “The boy Abraham adored her. Recollection of his own mother dimmed. And in later years he called this woman, who filled her place so well, ‘my angel mother.’”

I will give the final word to the master of wit, Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde.  Over to you, Mr. Wilde.

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his

- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish author, playwright and poet
From The Importance of Being Earnest [1895]

- Joanne