Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz Cruz spoke at an anti-gay marriage rally on Thursday hosted by Steven Hotze, a controversial doctor who has told women that birth control would make them unappealing to men and has warned that equality for gays would be a stepping stone to child molestation. Hotze, who runs an alternative medicine practice in suburban Houston and is suing the Obama administration over the Affordable Care Act, organized the event through his political action committee, Conservative Republicans of Texas. Cruz was joined on stage fellow Sen. John Cornyn, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, the party's nominee for lieutenant governor.
As I reported in April, Hotze's opposition to gay rights stretches back to at least the early 1980s, when he told Third Coast magazine that gay people "proliferate by one means, and one means only, and that's recruiting. And they recruit the weak. They recruit children or young people in their formative years." With that, he was off:
Three years later, after overturning an anti-discrimination ordinance in Houston, Hotze organized a group of eight candidates he considered allies in the fight against homosexuality. He called them "the Straight Slate." His preferred mayoral candidate said that the best way to fight AIDS was to "shoot the queers." Hotze told a local newspaper reporter that he cased out restaurants before making reservations to make sure they didn't have any gay employees and became such a divisive figure in local politics that for a brief period the Harris County Republican Party cleaved in two.
More recently, his PAC spent big bucks to oppose Annise Parker, a Democratic candidate who would become Houston's first openly gay mayor in 2009. On Thursday, Cruz also signed onto an amicus brief in support of Hotze's lawsuit against Obamacare, which he contends is unconstitutional because it did not originate in the House. But Hotze is an unusual mascot for politicians who fear Obamacare has ruined the health care system, because he operates largely outside of it. An investigation by the Houston Press raised questions about his medical practice, noting that he had inflated his credentials and touted the healing powers of treatments such as colloidal silver—which can turn patients' skin permanently blue—which are not covered by health insurance and not backed up by studies.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has a new health care reform plan, a new political non-profit, and dreams of running for president in two years. But for the time being, he's still governor of Louisiana.
Even as the legislature wrestles over hot-button issues—including a bill to rein in the Common Core math and English standards and a proposal to prevent parishes from suing oil companies for coastal land loss—the second-term governor has been largely AWOL from Baton Rouge. He's as likely to pop up at the DC speech circuit (or in an early 2016 primary state) as he is to pick up the phone to hammer out legislation. And according to Louisiana-based investigative reporting site The Lens, Republicans back home are starting to take it personally:
Pearson said he finds Jindal's detachment "a little disheartening." The Slidell Republican said he has seen the governor twice this session: on opening day and at a committee chairman’s lunch.
"We have big problems with the budget. It looks like we're kicking the can down the road for the next one or two years," Pearson said, adding, "God, it would be nice to see his face on the [House] floor.
"He's the governor, the leader of the state. It's like being on a battlefield and seeing your general to know he's there and cares about the troops," Pearson added. "He should want to be here, be engaged. I don't see any evidence that he is."
Unease over Jindal's frequent out-of-state visits has been simmering for a while now among conservative allies. (Previously, TheLens explored the governor's failure to build to relationships with GOP lawmakers, with more than a dozen on-the-record critiques.) When I profiled Jindal for the magazine in March, I was struck by just how little love was lost between the boy-genius governor and the rank-and-file of his state party. As GOP presidential primary season creeps closer, those tensions aren't likely to go away.
Georgia congressional candidate Jody Hice, in a 2010 campaign image.
Update, July 23: On Tuesday, Hice breezed past Michael Collins to win the Republican nomination and all but guarantee a trip to Washington in January.
In his seven years in Congress, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) distinguished himself by calling biology "lies straight from the pit of hell" and accusing President Barack Obama of establishing a secret national police force to push a Marxist dictatorship. But the man who may replace Broun in Washington could outdo him.
In a 2012 book, that candidate—pastor and talk radio host Jody Hice—alleges the gay community has a secret plot to recruit and sodomize children. In It's Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America, Hice also asserts that supporters of abortion rights are worse than Hitler and compares gay relationships to bestiality and incest. He proposes that Muslims be stripped of their First Amendment rights.
On Tuesday, Hice clinched a spot in the runoff to replace Broun, who declined to run for re-election in order to run for Senate. Hice will face businessman Michael Collins in the July 22 runoff. In a district that gave 62 percent of the vote to Mitt Romney two years ago, Hice, the leading vote-getter in the first round of balloting, stands a good chance of being elected to Congress.
Idaho Republican Gov. Butch Otter (no relation) is facing a primary challenge this year from Russ Fulcher, a conservative state senator. Idaho is a really conservative place and Otter has angered his party's base by supporting the Common Core math and English standards, so the incumbent isn't taking any chances. When it came time for Otter and Fulcher to debate, the governor insisted on opening up the floor. He argued that all candidates should be allowed on stage, which sounds nice and democratic in theory, but in practice meant that Fulcher had to split time with two people who will never be governor—also-rans Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.
Even before Wednesday's debate started, Idaho Public Television announced that it would broadcast the event on a 30-second delay in anticipation of rampant cussin'. Brown—who wore his customary leather vest and leather hat, has the presidential seal tattooed on his shoulder, two cigars in his right breast pocket, and is missing several prominent teeth—used his closing argument to wave a signed certificate from a "Masai prophet" that confirmed that he would one day be president of the United States. Brown revealed that he supports gay marriage because as a cab driver in Boise he discovered that gay people "love each other more than I love my motorcycle." His closing argument was blunt: "You have your choice, folks: A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or a normal guy. Take your pick… We're leaving it up to you."
Bayes, who has a beard that extends halfway down his ribcage and resembles a 19th-century gold prospector, also wanted to talk about Biblical prophecy, but mostly just abortion. His credentials for governor are that he once went to jail for homeschooling his 16 children, five of whom went on to become rodeo cowboys. "Everybody, thanks everybody, okay?," he said during his closing statements.
Most of all, he wanted to thank Gov. Otter: "Butch, I want to thank you for making it possible for me to be here tonight. He kind of insisted that me and this other un-normal person could be here tonight."
This exactly the kind of circus the United States tried to break away from:
Correction: This post misstated the components of the Common Core State Standards.
On Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz released "The Legal Limit Report No. 4," a comprehensive report on the Obama administration's "persistent power of lawlessness" and abuses of power. "In the more than two centuries of our nation's history," Cruz wrote—outlining a period in which American citizens were rounded up and put in camps, deprived of habeas corpus, and routinely denied basic rights on the basis of race—"there is simply no precedent for the White House wantonly ignoring federal law and asking others to do the same."
Given those stakes, much of what's on Cruz's list is pretty trivial. Not only are many of the abuses several dozen bureaucratic rungs beneath the president's purview, but there's no real explanation of how they might be remotely classified as lawless abuses. Here are the eight silliest items on the list:
"Spent $205,075 in "stimulus" funds to relocate a shrub that sells for $16." An American Recovery and Reinvestment Project in San Francisco spent big bucks to remove a patch of Arctostaphylos franciscana that was blocking a construction project in the Presidio. On the other hand, Arctostaphylos franciscana is an endangered species and the specimen in San Francisco was the very last remaining plant in the wild. Besides, people have gone to much greater lengths in pursuit of shrubberies:
"Spent $7 million per household in 'stimulus funds' to connect a few Montana households to the Internet." Wow that is expensive. But fully enabled by the law.
"Cancelled all White House tours after sequestration—purportedly saving $18,000 per week—even though President Obama had spent more than $1 million in tax money to golf with Tiger Woods one weekend a few weeks before." Cruz is right that some things are more expensive than other things, but the Woods golf outing occurred before sequestration was even in effect.
"Actively, aided in George Zimmerman protests." Right-wingers alleged that a "little-known" Department of Justice office was helping to organize protests after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. That was false. The Community Relations Service, a program created by the Civil Rights Act, set up shop in Sanford, Fla. to ensure that the protests, which had been happening for weeks, remained peaceful.
"Former 'safe schools czar' has written about his past drug abuse and advocated promoting homosexuality in schools." Although conservatives like Sean Hannity accused him (without basis) of supporting the North American Man Boy Love Association, in reality, Kevin Jenning, head of the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, "advocated promoting homosexuality" by organizing an anti-bullying program for bus drivers.
"Argued for expansive federal powers in the Supreme Court, which has rejected the Administration's arguments unanimously 9 times since January 2012." Pleading your case to the Supreme Court is the exact opposite of a lawless activity. (Ted Cruz himself did it nine times as solicitor general of Texas.)
"Shut down an Amish farm for selling fresh unpasteurized milk across state lines." In 2012, a federal judge ruled that Kinzer, Penn., farmer Daniel Allgyer was acting in deliberate violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the Public Health Services Act, by continuing to illegally sell raw milk after a warning from the Food and Drug Administration. Maybe Cruz thinks we should be drinking more raw milk. (We shouldn't be.) But he appears to be arguing for deliberate non-enforcement of the law, putting Cruz at odds with the author of the "Legal Limit Report No. 4," one Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who argued that "when a president can pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore, he is no longer a president." Ergo, Ted Cruz is a dictator.