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Fri Feb 19, 2021, 09:08 PM

Friday Talking Points -- Ted Fled!

After one short month in office, President Joe Biden has already achieved his biggest goal. The country is united again. We all universally agree on one thing, with true bipartisan spirit. What is this unifying belief which all Americans now share? That Ted Cruz is an awful excuse for a human being.

We seem to have harkened back to a simpler time. A time when political scandals didn't involve cheapening the image of America on the world stage. A time when political scandals usually didn't revolve around a blatant attack on the bedrock institutions of a free democracy -- or a direct attack on democracy itself, for that matter. A time when politicians of all stripes -- even the worst ones -- were still capable of feeling shame and embarrassment. And a time when politicians caught doing something monumentally stupid had to pay a political price.

Of course, you may argue that Ted Cruz was already pretty universally loathed before this week, and that's hard to deny. Here are just some of the things people have said about him previously (and we hasten to point out, these are all real quotes, not satire):

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner: "Lucifer in the flesh."

Senator Lindsey Graham: "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you."

Former Senator Al Franken (while still serving): "I probably like Ted Cruz more than most of my colleagues like Ted Cruz, and I hate Ted Cruz."

Ted's former college roommate: "Ted Cruz is a nightmare of a human being. I have plenty of problems with his politics, but truthfully his personality is so awful that 99 percent of why I hate him is just his personality. If he agreed with me on every issue, I would hate him only 1 percent less."

So there's a strong case to be made that this week was really nothing new, it just moved onto center stage, that's all.

If you've been in a coma or hiding under a rock all week, here is the full story: earlier in the week, a massive snowstorm knocked out the Texas power grid because Texans are so averse to regulating anything at all that they never forced their power grid infrastructure to prepare for cold weather. So natural gas plants and pipelines and nuclear plants and solar and wind turbines all essentially froze solid -- which could easily have been prevented ahead of time (indeed, a winter storm hit 10 years ago and winterization was heavily recommended at the time, but Governor Rick Perry ignored the suggestion). The current governor, Greg Abbott, went on television to blame the entire crisis on the frozen windmills and the Green New Deal. Twitter reacted instantly to this whopper by posting photos of wind turbines operating -- with no problem whatsoever -- in Antarctica.

In the midst of this storm of lies (more about that in a moment), Ted Cruz was taken to task for superciliously looking down his nose at California last summer, when wildfires were raging out of control in the state. Back then, Cruz slammed the state for being "unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity." When this snarky hypocrisy was pointed out to Cruz this week, he responded by tweeting:

I got no defense [shrugging man emoji]

A blizzard strikes Texas & our state shuts down. Not good.

Stay safe!


One day later, since his house was also without power, Cruz did the logical thing: he took his family and flew off to Cancun, Mexico, where the temperatures were reportedly in the 80s. The problem was, even though he wore a mask, he was spotted at the airport. When the news that Cruz had done a bunk to Cancun hit, the outrage was both scathing and universal. It got even angrier when a photo emerged showing the Cruz family dog (named "Snowflake" ) wistfully staring through the door from a freezing-cold and darkened house.

Cruz, true to form, then attempted to blame his 10-year-old and 12-year-old daughters for the whole thing. Almost all of what he said in his initial explanation later proved to be a big fat lie. Within 24 hours, he was home again, having been shamed into pretending to act like a human being once again. But the scorn didn't stop. When he landed in Houston, protesters were at the airport with signs saying things like "24 dead Ted!" and when he got home, more were there to greet him with even more critical signs: "TWO SUITCASES FOR ONE NIGHT?", "RESIGN", and "Did your kids also make you COMMIT TREASON?"

Online, several memes were trending: "Ted Fled," "Flyin' Ted" (updating Trump's "Lyin' Ted" moniker), and "#CancunCruz." A liberal group announced a plan to run an electronic billboard with the message: "Texans Froze. Ted Fled." Things got even snarkier in the media, with even the Drudge Report running with the headline: "Cold Cruz Flees To Cancun Amid Crisis!" The snarkiest take came from Washington Post resident humorist Alexandra Petri, who imagined what ran through Ted's mind:

Seeing Texas in crisis, my reasoning was that the last thing anyone would want would be for me to show up. I assumed that the only thing that could make everyone's experience worse would be the addition of Ted Cruz. "My power is out... I am breaking up my furniture to burn it... and Ted Cruz is here!" That third thing would be the thing that broke you, I think.

Never in my life has someone said, "What a relief! Ted Cruz is here! Now things are looking up!" My presence has the effect of extinguishing the last small bit of hope that people were unaware they still had. Considering this, I concluded that if you were already struggling, my arrival (which in the best of times drains all the joy and color from the world) would not help things along.

So I simply thought it would be best for all involved if I made certain I was somewhere else, where I would not bother the people of Texas by consuming any resources meant for them -- people always hate hearing that resources have gone to my support. Cancun seemed pretty far away, and my family happened to be planning a trip there, so I thought I'd go along.

It has been a new experience for me to see people upset that I am NOT there rather than simply upset that I am there. Indeed, seeing people roundly denouncing me for going away from them during their time of trial has been... confusing and bittersweet. It really sounds like they wish I were there, but that can't be it, can it? I know that can't be it.


What was truly ironic (after the previous four years we all had to endure) was that just about the only place any restraint was shown at all was from the White House press secretary's podium. When Jen Psaki was asked what the president thought, she demurely answered:

Well, I don't have any updates on the exact location of Senator Ted Cruz, nor does anyone at the White House. But our focus is on working directly with leadership in Texas and the surrounding states on addressing the winter storm and the crisis at hand -- the many people across the state who are without power, without the resources they need. And we expect that would be the focus of anyone in the state or surrounding states who was elected to represent them. But I don't have any update on his whereabouts.


Others weren't quite as restrained:

"As far as I'm concerned it'd be fine if he remained in Cancun," Democrat Chris Turner, a Texas state representative, said on CNN. "He doesn't do anything for us in Texas or in Washington, so I don't know that we're going to notice when he comes back."


The best wrap-up came from a Washington Post commenter, who laid out the timeline for the past month or so:

Ted's Excellent Choices

Try to overthrow government after mob tries to kill you and othersBook trip to Cancun in midst of humanitarian crisisBlame kids for trip after being bustedLeave behind pet dog in cold houseClaim you were going to work on the beachReturn within 24 hours and pretend that's part of your planThen claim you had a "bad feeling" so you returnedMake sure you ask HPD officers to escort you outGo on Hannity and blame Dems and liberal mediaSay antifa made you do it.


But, of course, Ted Cruz isn't the only lying idiot in Texas. He's not even the only Republican elected official who fits that category, either -- not by a long shot. Rick Perry, who was governor of the state when the previous winter storm crippled the power grid, and who ignored the recommendation to fix the problem, had a rather astonishing thing to say: "Texans would be without electricity for longer than three days to keep the federal government out of their business." In other words, the sanctity of the state having its own power grid -- which was specifically done to dodge federal regulations, and is the only such intrastate power grid in the entire contiguous country -- is far more important than, you know, people freezing to death. Because that's the way Republicans think.

Other Republican politicians in Texas just automatically went to their go-to explanation for any time things go wrong: it is liberals' fault, because of course it must be, somehow. The Washington Post helpfully pointed this out:

Incompetence is not the purview of one party. But when you view politics as theater and grievance-mongering, chances are you are going to shortchange governance. Elect a president with no public-sector experience, no interest in learning, no desire to hire competent people and no ability to accept responsibility, and you get something like the COVID-19 debacle. Moreover, if your party is hostile to government and exercising regulatory power because it is beholden to a donor class and right-wing ideologues, you will not be prepared for disasters when they strike.

And that brings us to Texas. The Post reports, "As millions of people across Texas struggled to stay warm Tuesday amid massive cold-weather power outages, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) directed his ire at one particular failure in the state's independent energy grid: frozen wind turbines." There is one problem: That is not remotely true (as you might have guessed from a state with an enormous oil and gas sector). "The governor's arguments were contradicted by his own energy department, which outlined how most of Texas's energy losses came from failures to winterize the power-generating systems, including fossil fuel pipelines."

In other words, rotten policy and management are to blame. "What has sent Texas reeling is not an engineering problem, nor is it the frozen wind turbines blamed by prominent Republicans," The Post reports. "It is a financial structure for power generation that offers no incentives to power plant operators to prepare for winter. In the name of deregulation and free markets, critics say, Texas has created an electric grid that puts an emphasis on cheap prices over reliable service."


In even more detail, but just as scathing:

You might think of Texas as a conservative state, one where every statewide elected official is a Republican, the GOP controls the state legislature, and the last Democratic governor left office 26 years ago.

But if you're a Fox News viewer, you have now learned that while no one was looking, hippies took over Texas and implemented the Green New Deal there, leading to the power outages that affected over four million people in the wake of a terrible snowstorm.

This is one of the most bonkers propaganda campaigns you'll ever see, and though it's centered on Fox it extends far beyond it. The purpose is to spin the tragic story unfolding in Texas into a reason to hate and fear liberal policy ideas which have absolutely nothing to do with what's happening there.

This, as the saying goes, is why we can't have nice things -- like a well-designed and reliable power grid. It's a disturbing preview of the miserable debates we'll have over restoring our infrastructure and dealing with climate change, as Democrats try to confront those problems and Republicans try to stop them from doing so.

. . .

Unfortunately, we've reached a point where pretty much every policy debate plays out that way. Democrats say, "This is a little complicated, but we think this is the most effective solution to this problem." Then Republicans respond, "Here's a bunch of insane lies about how Democratic proposals will kill you and your family."


Think this is overstating the case? We don't. Because we have to close with another Texas politician, the mayor of the small town of Colorado City, who apparently just snapped when his constituents demanded that the government actually provide services to them. He wrote a Facebook post (which I wrote about at greater length on Wednesday) to vent his rage at all those weenies out there who weren't pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, Texas-style:

No one owes you or your family anything; nor is it the local governments [sic] responsibility to support you during trying times like this [sic]! Sink or swim, it's your choice! The City and County, along with power providers or any other service owes you NOTHING! I'm sick and tired of people looking for a damn hand out [sic]! If you don't have electricity you step up and come up with a game plan to keep your family warm and safe. If you have no water you deal with out [sic] and think outside of the box to survive and supply water to your family. If you were sitting at home in the cold because you have no power and are sitting there waiting for someone to come rescue you because your [sic] lazy is direct [sic] result of your raising! Only the strong will survive and the week [sic] will perish. Folks, God Has [sic] given us the tools to support ourselves in times like this [sic]. This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW work and others will become dependent for handouts. Am I sorry that you have been dealing without electricity and water; yes! But I'll be damned if I'm going to provide for anyone that is capable of doing it themselves! We have lost sight of those in need and those that take advantage of the system and mesh them into one group!! Bottom line, quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!

Bottom line -- DON'T BE A PART OF A PROBLEM, BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION!


In a sign that the country is (thankfully) returning to sanity, he was immediately forced to resign.

As of this writing, Ted Cruz has still not done so.





Due to the Senate impeachment trial, we were on hiatus last week, but we're not even going to attempt handing out awards for that period. We give our blanket thanks and appreciation to the stellar House manager team that prosecuted the case against Trump, however, because all of them did a fantastic job (in stark contrast to Trump's defense team).

This week, however, we're going to stick to our main theme and hand two Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week awards out, to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and to now-private-citizen Beto O'Rourke.

When all the Republican politicians in Texas were either busy beclowning themselves on Fox News or pulling a Marie Antoinette impression on a warm sandy beach in Mexico, these two Democrats absolutely showed them how it is done.

O'Rourke, since he's a Texan who cares about people in his home state, leapt into action:

On Wednesday, O'Rourke set up a virtual phone bank to check in on Texas seniors, offering them advice on how to secure food, water, and transportation. "BIG THANKS to the volunteers who made over 784,000 phone calls to senior citizens in Texas today," O'Rourke tweeted on Wednesday. "You helped to connect them with water, food, transportation, and shelter. And you made sure that they knew we were thinking about them and that they matter to us."


A later tweet showed what the group of Democrats had accomplished: ""We made over 151,000 calls to senior citizens in Texas tonight. One of our [volunteers] talked to a man stranded at home w/out power in Killeen, hadn't eaten in 2 days, got him a ride to a warming center and a hot meal."

Which is what any politician with a shred of empathy or heart would have done, obviously. But the second one is even more impressive. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez represents part of New York City, yet Texas Republicans tried to make her into a scapegoat for their own shortcomings. "It's the Green New Deal," they cried. This, of course, was total bullpuckey, since the Green New Deal is just a proposal and has not been enacted at the federal level. And it certainly hasn't been enacted in Texas, where the state government has been in the hands of Republicans for a generation.

Because her idea was dragged into this frenzy of GOP scapegoating, though, A.O.C. also decided to show Texas politicians what they really should have been doing instead of lazily badmouthing her. In just four hours -- the total time an airplane takes to fly from Texas to Cancun and back -- A.O.C. had raised over a million dollars to help the Texas disaster victims. Which she will be giving to the people who best know how to effectively use it to help:

The funds will be directed to various charities -- including The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center, Ending Community Homeless Coalition (ECHO), Family Eldercare, Houston Food Bank, and Feeding Texas -- to provide food and shelter to the houseless, as well as senior citizens.


In other words, A.O.C. took the same time Ted Cruz spent on an airplane this week and put Cruz and all the other Texas Republicans to shame.

That is impressive indeed.

Which is why Beto O'Rourke and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are our dual winners this week of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. For utterly shaming the Texas GOP and for showing the public the correct response when people are in danger and in need, they are both more than well-deserving of our praise.

[Beto O'Rourke is a private citizen, and our policy is never to publish contact information for such persons. You can, however, congratulate Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on her House contact page, to let her know you appreciate her efforts.]





This one is pretty easy, this week.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been having a rough time of it ever since the story broke that New York has not been accurately reporting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. If a person living in such a facility went to the hospital and died, they weren't counted in the stats for nursing homes. This has been a rather large scandal, but what was revealed this week was even worse, because it tends to confirm an image of Cuomo that isn't a particularly good look.

Here's the secondary story:

Describing an alleged exchange with the governor that has not been previously reported, Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim told CNN that he received a call on his cell phone from the governor last week as he was bathing his children at home.

"Gov. Cuomo called me directly on Thursday to threaten my career if I did not cover up for Melissa [DeRosa] and what she said. He tried to pressure me to issue a statement, and it was a very traumatizing experience," Kim said. Cuomo proceeded to tell the assemblyman that "we're in this business together and we don't cross certain lines and he said I hadn't seen his wrath and that he can destroy me," according to Kim.

Cuomo's adviser denied that the governor threatened to destroy Kim.

DeRosa is a top aide to the governor who came under fire last week after she told state lawmakers in a private virtual meeting that the state had delayed sharing with the legislature the full scope of the COVID-related death toll of New York's nursing home residents because of concerns about a potential federal investigation by the Department of Justice. (The governor's office has since released a partial transcript of the call.)

Kim, a progressive representing Queens who has been among the most vocal critics of Cuomo's handling of nursing homes during the pandemic and believes his own uncle died from a presumed case of COVID in a nursing home last year, participated in that virtual call. During the meeting, Kim said he called on the governor to apologize to family members of those who died in assisted living facilities. When the New York Post first reported on DeRosa's controversial comments, he was one of the participants quoted in the piece criticizing those remarks.

"No man has ever spoken to me like that in my entire life," Kim said of his phone call with Cuomo. "At some point he tried to humiliate me, asking: 'Are you a lawyer? I didn't think so. You're not a lawyer.' It almost felt like in retrospect he was trying to bait me and anger me and say something inappropriate. I'm glad I didn't."

. . .

Kim is not the only lawmaker to have received fierce pushback and even threats from Cuomo and his top aides since last week, according to three additional Democratic New York lawmakers. All spoke to CNN under the condition of anonymity because they were afraid of retribution from the governor.

They said the administration had aggressively lobbied legislators to speak up in support of his handling of the nursing homes-related deaths, and that threats were made against those who are considering a vote to strip Cuomo of his emergency powers.

All three legislators said they were aware of outreach from the governor in which he clearly suggested or explicitly threatened political retaliation if they did not stand by him. One of them, a New York state senator who said they had not been contacted by Cuomo but heard directly from multiple colleagues whom Cuomo had reached out to, said the governor threatened those colleagues with retaliation -- including warning some that he could ruin their political careers if they supported weakening Cuomo's executive powers.


Now, New York is infamous for its political machines, and Cuomo is definitely a product of the Democratic machine (he's the son of another former governor, Mario). So perhaps he grew up understanding how political hardball is played a little too well, or something. But whatever the reason, it's pretty unseemly in today's political world, especially when the media and the public hear about it.

For attempting to strongarm fellow Democrats into, essentially, helping Cuomo cover his own ass in the midst of a crisis, Andrew Cuomo is easily the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Contact Governor Andrew Cuomo on his official contact page, to let him know what you think of his actions.]




Volume 606 (2/19/21)

Friday Talking Points is back, after a break for the second impeachment of the former president, and we've got a mixed bag this week. Enjoy, and as always, use responsibly.



Lesson Learned

This is an excellent point, so we decided to just run it verbatim. From a Washington Post article titled "Why Democrats Aren't Fraidy Cats Anymore":

Here's the thing about President Biden and his party in 2021: They're no longer scared.

They're not defensive, or constantly looking over their shoulders, or making preemptive concessions to Republicans.

They have learned an essential lesson. Voters always say they like bipartisanship, because most Americans prefer people to be nice to each other and work together. But what they care more about is solving problems and getting things done. If the party in charge fails in that essential duty, endless bend-over-backwards negotiations and a big, inclusive "process" won't save them.

Which explains one of Biden's most curious lines during his effective and empathetic performance during a CNN town hall event in Milwaukee on Tuesday:

"The nation is not divided."




Bipartisan Support

That last line might have surprised you, so here's a fuller explanation.

"President Biden is right -- the nation is not divided when it comes to supporting real solutions to dire problems. The COVID-19 relief bill Biden and the Democrats are pushing is a great example, and was precisely what Biden was referring to. In a recent national poll, 68 percent of the public supported the bill, while only 24 percent opposed it. The $1,400 payments polled even higher -- 78 percent for the idea, including 64 percent of Republicans, with only 18 percent against. Hiking the minimum wage is supported by 61 percent of the public, with only 36 percent against the idea. The Democratic bill is exactly what the country wants, overwhelmingly. Republican politicians should take note. When Joe Biden says the word 'bipartisan,' he speaks of bipartisan support from the American people, and not just whether a handful of Republican politicians in Congress will vote for it. And Biden is right -- the country is united behind what he's attempting to do."



The party of Limbaugh

His spirit lives on.

"Rush Limbaugh shuffled off this mortal coil this week, but his legacy will live on, because he truly remade the Republican Party in his own image. Instead of a party dedicated to certain ideological viewpoints, Limbaugh turned the party's base into an army of 'Dittoheads' who would slavishly follow a so-called 'entertainer' blindly. Rush was always all about angry grievance, the monstrous victimhood of conservatives, and -- above all else -- entertainment over substance. Before Limbaugh, Republicans were not an angry mob impervious to reason. Now they are. The likes of Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump simply would not have been taken seriously in the Republican Party before Rush Limbaugh. Now, this element owns the GOP lock, stock, and double-barrel. Limbaugh is finally gone -- but his legacy will likely live on for quite some time to come."



GOP loves cancelling its own

Even some Republicans are now sheepishly pointing this out.

"You know, Republican politicians will make stuff up when they're short on scapegoats, and their outrage at what they call 'liberal cancel culture' is a prime example. They have been ranting and raving about it for months on end, and yet when some in their own party act in ways which the mob does not approve of, their go-to answer is to cancel them out of existence. I've lost count of how many local and state Republican Party organizations have passed censure resolutions against their own state's politicians who dared stand up and say that inciting a violent insurrection against the United States Capitol was wrong and should be punished. They're all now getting censured, and it's a pretty good bet they'll face primary challengers the next time they're up for re-election. One Republican official in Pennsylvania even blurted out the honest truth, when speaking of Senator Pat Toomey: 'We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever.' And because he did do the right thing and vote his conscience, he must now be punished. That's GOP cancel culture in full swing, folks."



Winning the case in the court of public opinion

Democrats won where it really counted.

"The impeachment trial in the Senate sadly did not result in a guilty verdict from two-thirds of the senators, because too few Republicans have any sort of moral compass left any more. But the rest of the public does. By 60 percent to 34 percent, Americans think Donald Trump should no longer play a prominent role in the Republican Party. A majority of 55 percent think he should not be allowed to hold office in the future. And 54 percent think Trump was responsible for the violence at the Capitol. And a whopping 68 percent thinks Trump didn't do enough to stop the violent insurrection once it began. Trump was indeed found guilty in the court of public opinion, quite obviously."



You said it, not me

Hoo boy.

"Senator Ron Johnson apparently thinks the mob at the U.S. Capitol wasn't 'armed,' even though plenty of guns and stun guns and explosives were confiscated by the police. He summed up his disbelief with: 'If that was a planned armed insurrection, man, you had really a bunch of idiots.' Far be it for me to contradict a Republican senator calling a bunch of rabid Trump supporters 'idiots,' but I will point out that Johnson said this, not some Democrat."



Good point

And we end on a very short one, from former Housing and Urban Development secretary JuliÓn Castro, who gave some sage advice after seeing the fiasco Republicans had caused in his home state of Texas:

Don't ever put people who don't believe in government in charge of government.





Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com

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Reply Friday Talking Points -- Ted Fled! (Original post)
ChrisWeigant Feb 19 OP
underpants Feb 19 #1
flying rabbit Feb 19 #2
keithbvadu2 Feb 19 #3

Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Feb 19, 2021, 09:26 PM

1. Excellent

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Feb 19, 2021, 09:46 PM

2. K&R nt

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Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri Feb 19, 2021, 10:47 PM

3. "But our focus is on working directly with leadership in Texas..."

"But our focus is on working directly with leadership in Texas..."

Very subtle.

Look who leaves himself out of that group..

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