Ted Cruz Is Attacking Obama for Relocating a Shrubbery

| Fri May 9, 2014 11:30 AM EDT

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:

  1. "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:
  2. "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.
  3. "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.
  4. "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.
  5. "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.
  6. "President Obama told NASA administrator to 'find a way to reach out to the Muslim world.'" This listed as an abuse of power, although Cruz, who can recite the Enumerated Powers of the Constitution from memory, doesn't specify which powers are being violated by a call for scientific collaboration.
  7. "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.)
  8. "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.
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