Tag Archives | political history

Exhibit Review: American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

I was excited to happen upon the final scheduled tour stop of an exhibit titled “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” at Pittsburgh’s Heinz History Center in the strip district last week. I had seen the PBS documentary on Prohibition’s history, which is very good. With resurgent Puritanism in today’s Me, Too hysteria and emotional calls for government-controlled drugs and drug addiction treatment, I was ready for an account of how America had fallen for, and ultimately rejected, a band of hysterical women and preachers railing against consumption of alcohol.

The exhibit is clear, concise and comprehensive. It flows from an area designed to resemble a church in which the hysterical pleas, denunciations and propaganda of America’s thugs and religionists, and some were both, are excerpted and displayed to sections detailing passage of the Constitutional amendment to ban alcohol. The exhibit moves from there to a replicated speakeasy, followed by an area devoted to exploring the criminalization of alcohol and its impact, turning gangs, thugs and mobs into sources for pleasure, release and self-medication, and the Roosevelt administration’s push for total government control. “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” concludes with the triumphant effort to repeal the amendment and restore sanity, justice and individual rights to American law, reminding those of us opposed to the surveillance state, ObamaCare and the TSA that bad laws, contrary to the Trump administration’s pathetic excuses for not draining the swamp, have been and can be overturned. Repeal is part of our history.

Indeed, “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” demonstrates how. But it begins with an extensive display examining the very real problem of alcohol consumption in America at the turn of the previous century. The Industrial Revolution cannot be understated in terms of liberating and enlightening the world. By then, alcohol consumption was high; Americans were already drinking to excess. Accordingly, the most productive single period of history exacerbated the downsides of a magnificent leap in human progress. One of them is alcoholism. This exhibit tells the truth about what went on; like today’s rampant hedonism and drug abuse, drunkenness infected the young nation:

By 1830…[o]n average, Americans over the age of 15 were guzzling seven gallons of pure alcohol each year. This was the equivalent of 90 bottles of 80-proof liquor – or about four shots every day. Three times greater than current levels, it remains the highest measured volume of consumption in U.S. history. The consequences of this national binge would be severe.”

Enter the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), which became a 250,000-women army led by Francis Willard whose wooden gavel with white ribbon, with white symbolizing purity, was used to run the group’s meetings. Exhibit materials report that religious denominations that forbade alcohol consumption, such as Baptists and Methodists, led the siege and, in 1893, in Oberlin, Ohio, the Anti-Saloon League (ASL), led entirely by Protestant ministers, was born. As with today’s Me, Too harridans, religionists exploited the problem and distorted facts, grafting themselves onto the scourge of alcoholism while leading a religious crusade for Puritanism in the American republic.

They won.

Again, “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” shows how. With an accelerated campaign of lies, smears and insinuations, fringe figures, such as WCTU chieftain Francis Willard, war veteran Richmond P. Hobson, who became an Alabama congressman, Democrat populist and Christian fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan, a Trump-like figure who’d testified against teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in the Scopes monkey trial and became Woodrow Wilson’s secretary of state, and the nation’s most famous religious evangelist, Reverend Billy Sunday, gained power through guilt and intimidation. Railing against the undeniable problem of alcohol consumption and public drunkenness, including fights, absent fathers and husbands and moral decline, they spoke, wrote and organized the campaign based on faith, half-truths, commandments and raw, unfiltered emotions. Reading their pledges, speeches and posters, it is clearly emotionalism. Americans took what they ranted on faith.

The religionists attacked private property. They indoctrinated youths with distortions of medical and scientific data in textbooks distributed through public schools. They invoked sobriety pledges. In fact, the WCTU succeeded in getting every state in the U.S. to require “temperance education in public schools”. The Woman’s Christian pressure group created a Department of Scientific Instruction which produced textbooks and instruction manuals and asked teachers to fill out report cards on how they encouraged temperance in their classrooms. A WCTU textbook, report card, and temperance lesson manual are on display in the exhibit, which reports that an estimated 50 percent of American schools carried the false and misleading religious propaganda. Scientists and doctors cited in the children’s textbooks altered the facts to suit Woman’s Christian Temperance Union dictates.

Visitors can read, listen and re-create excerpts from the anti-American speeches, including Reverend Billy Sunday’s 1916 “booze speech” (“The saloonkeeper is worse than a thief and a murderer…the saloon is an infidel”). A copy of the sermon with handwritten notes appears under his portrait, which hangs above the recreated wooden pulpit. Reverend Sunday believed that liquor was “God’s worst enemy” and “Hell’s best friend.” Willard invoked militant opposition to alcohol. William Jennings Bryan comes off as easily the most persuasive, reasonable evangelist, talking about the downsides of alcohol consumption and downplaying the hellfire and damnation in this particular excerpt. According to the exhibit, Bryan believed:

that Prohibition could improve the lives of ordinary Americans. He also was a supporter of the amendments to establish the income tax, provide for the direct election of senators, and grant the vote to women. Bryan ran for president three times on the Democratic ticket, but lost each time…Later, while serving as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, he lived out his temperance beliefs by serving grape juice instead of wine at formal functions.

Carrie Nation’s weapon to destroy private property

If Bryan was one of the more convincing Prohibition advocates, the most belligerent leader was a religious thug named Carrie Nation, who mostly went by ‘Carry Nation’ for publicity purposes. Beneath this crusading woman’s portrait, a glass case displays the oak and steel hatchet she wielded when she broke into a bar to smash a wall mirror during one of her infamous raids. On her picture, which shows the miserable-looking woman posed for battle, exhibitors report that:

Carrie Amelia Nation was six feet tall, with the biceps of a stevedore, the face of a prison warden, and the persistence of a toothache. Using these assets to promote her cause, Nation became famous when she strode into a saloon in Topeka, Kansas, and pulled out a hatchet, smashing all the bottles and the mirror behind the bar. Nation called her raids on saloons “hatchetations.”

The rest of “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” bears out the truth about America’s alcohol ban, though this central question of how a civilized nation elected to impose an applied, total government control on itself remains the most pressing, relevant and timely. This also makes the first section on pre-Prohibition quietly disturbing. As if to underscore this point, the exhibit in this area includes an iPad questionnaire to determine whether you’re what was then referred to as either a wet or a dry. By judging answers to questions about the proper role of government, for instance, including the emerging and rising welfare state, visitors might be surprised to see which side they end up on.

The “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” exhibition, which includes a full accounting of the horrors of this wicked law and its impact, from state-sponsored alcohol spies to the many Americans who died because the ban existed, is presented by the Bognar Family and sponsored by Robert J. and Bonnie Cindrich and Latasha Wilson Batch; with support from local government, the Heinz Endowments and Richard King Mellon Foundation. Pittsburgh is the last scheduled stop on the tour for this exhibit, which runs until June of this year. With a fresh dusting of snow after a winter storm, downtown Pittsburgh was wet, cold and icy during my stay at the Fairmont Pittsburgh, though the weather had warmed to the low forties by Saturday, so I took the bellman up on his suggestion to walk along Penn to Heinz History Center. It’s interesting that the city of bridges is the Prohibition exhibit’s last stop because Pittsburgh is packed with Catholics who drink … a lot. And they’re still saddled with Prohibition’s outrageous regulations.

“Pennsylvania was one of many states where it ultimately became harder to buy alcohol after Repeal than during the 1920s, thanks to laws and controls put in place in 1933,” the exhibit’s lead curator, Leslie Przybylek, told the museum’s communications director in an interview. “American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” was originally curated by Daniel Okrent, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. These final months are the last call for an outstanding exhibition about an American injustice.

Roy Moore Looms

Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate from Alabama, may be elected to the U.S. Congress one month from today. This is an alarming prospect for many reasons. Recent claims reported by the Washington Post are the weakest reasons to reject Moore’s candidacy and I fear that the Post, in pursuing the apparently well-researched story in the wake of recently lowered journalistic standards by the New York Times and the New Yorker — hit pieces which launched a wave of articles about unconfirmed sex claims and unsubstantiated allegations, leading to a purge of powerful men — diverts attention from Moore’s worst ideas. But that’s another topic.

Moore is the judge who was essentially removed from Alabama’s State Supreme Court twice when he violated American law; in 2003 when he refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the courthouse and earlier this year when Moore urged judges to defy federal orders regarding same-sex marriage, which Roy Moore has stated he regards as worse than slavery.

Moore has also asserted in 2005 that homosexuality should be against the law.

As founder and president of the Foundation for Moral Law, a religious charity from which he arranged to collect $1 million in payments from 2007 through 2012, the religious fundamentalist has been nicknamed the “Ayatollah of Alabama” for actively seeking to impose religion in government. Moore, who won a kickboxing championship, went to work in Australia on a cattle ranch and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, admitted in his autobiography that he was so reviled by his fellow U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War that he slept on sandbags to avoid having explosives tossed under his cot.

Like President Trump, who has endorsed the former judge, Moore was a lifelong Democrat until he switched parties and became a Republican.

Unlike the president, however, the Alabama native is a religionist who consistently advocates mixing government in religion and religion in government. When Moore installed a Ten Commandments plaque behind his judicial bench, he did so on the grounds that, as he later told The Atlantic, he wanted to establish his religion, Christianity, as the moral foundation of U.S. law. Then-Judge Moore also began court sessions with a prayer. Moore’s illegal actions lead to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenging Moore’s courtroom prayers and Ten Commandments display as unconstitutional.

When Moore later unveiled a Ten Commandments monument, he praised: “…God upon whom this nation and our laws were founded” which is totally false. A lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court asking that the monument be removed because it “sends a message to all who enter the State Judicial Building that the government encourages and endorses the practice of religion in general and Judeo-Christianity in particular”. But Moore insisted that he would not remove the Ten Commandments monument. Moore was ultimately removed from the judiciary.

In the defeat, on November 18, 2002, federal U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson had made his decision that the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, declaring Roy Moore’s religious monument unconstitutional:

If all Chief Justice Moore had done were to emphasize the Ten Commandments’ historical and educational importance… or their importance as a model code for good citizenship … this court would have a much different case before it. But the Chief Justice did not limit himself to this; he went far, far beyond. He installed a two-and-a-half ton monument in the most prominent place in a government building, managed with dollars from all state taxpayers, with the specific purpose and effect of establishing a permanent recognition of the ‘sovereignty of God,’ the Judeo-Christian God, over all citizens in this country, regardless of each taxpaying citizen’s individual personal beliefs or lack thereof. To this, the Establishment Clause says no.”

The judge’s correct ruling, serious flaws aside, merely inflamed the wrath of Roy Moore’s faith and, this summer, Moore suggested that the September 11, 2001 attack by Islamic terrorists was God’s punishment for Americans losing faith, though he’s also blamed sodomy and abortion for Americans’ suffering. Roy Moore reserves a particular disdain for homosexuality, which he regards as an evil which should be illegal. “Homosexual behavior is … a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.” When asked in 2015 whether he believes that sex between persons of the same sex should be punished by death, Roy Moore declined to provide an explicit answer, equivocating with: “Well I don’t, you know, I’m not here to outline any punishments for sodomy.”

Any serious candidate who would leave doubt as to whether he seeks to enact laws to put adults to death for having consensual sex is a monster deserving total and absolute scorn and the most emphatic denunciation from statesmen, intellectuals and every moral American. Insinuating that he thinks gays deserve to die and stating clearly and explicitly that he aims to enact a religious government disqualify Moore from political office. Whatever moral transgressions he’s made in his sexual past, including his alleged assault and proclivity for sex with children, Roy Moore’s election to the Senate on December 12, 2017, would mark a black day in U.S. history. If Moore wins, his election will be a victory for religious statism and another chilling step toward dictatorship.

Transitional Trump

The deed is done and whim-worshipping Nationalist Donald Trump has been elected America’s president. So, Election Day 2016 bestows the inheritance of “hope and change” that Barack H. Obama spoke about eight years ago upon Donald J. Trump; he represents real, immediate and alarming change from bad to worse in terms of republican government based on individual rights—and leaves his followers and supporters to hope for better days. Transformational Obama, who did fundamental damage to the republic, met with transitional Trump on Thursday at the White House for 90 minutes and came away impressed. So says Obama.

1-g-v_nmlqohhxir2l2q_eyqGrasping the chance for mutual aggrandizement, Trump returned the compliment and added that he’s willing to back off his promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare after listening to President Obama. Trump promptly told 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl that he will keep at least two major dictates in ObamaCare including the provision forcing insurers to insure anyone who’s already sick. Trump’s vulgar “art” of dealmaking has begun.

This week of his historic upset victory provides a telling, leading indicator that Trump’s dealmaking is the path to crazymaking. Soon, the seething, volatile, malicious intents of this insecure president-elect shall erupt in a daily American meltdown that exacerbates the nation’s perilous problems.

I think it’s important to contemplate how Trump came to power. Sniveling, cynical media dilettantes (pseudo-intellectuals such as Bill Maher, Greg Gutfeld, Dennis Miller, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart and their brethren) made any type of vulgar, unprincipled sneering for or against the Obama administration acceptable. Despite the laughter and ratings, annoyance at the smugness accumulated and eventually, it rightly revolted decent Americans, whose anger was compounded by the day-to-day pain and suffering experienced in hidden inflation, unemployment, loss of free choice in medicine, loss of privacy and freedom to travel unmolested by the state and chronic attack by Islamic terrorists whose state sponsors and motivation the government refuses to name, identify and bring to an end.

Being subjected to today’s incessant snideness contrasts with the spreading poverty, despair and suffering of these post-crash years since Barack Obama was elected. Ostentatious, cavalier Obama was a constant and chronic reminder of this contrast, which Americans experience as a widening gap between the favored and the disfavored with persons of state and ivory tower determining the difference. Cavorting Obamas, Bushes and Clintons heightened the divide. The Hunger Games dramatized it. Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements crested around it. Americans need only examine the changes and loss of hopes in their own households to take stock of the undeniable failure of the Obama presidency. Despondent adults and deflated youths—not everyone, but many Americans—could no longer deny the sense that America as a surveillance-welfare state is going dark, as Leonard Peikoff has observed and thoroughly, thoughtfully examined.

e20d0725-51e4-4fb4-b966-df4b23235a19In short, Obama made Trump possible, as his predecessor made Obama possible, too. This—with the horrifying prospect of a President Pence ominously awaiting the nation—is why I regard the native New Yorker as a transitional figure. To paraphrase trader and Fox Business analyst Jonathan Hoenig, whose courageous crusade against Trump was foremost among capitalists, worry above all about what comes after President Trump. Strive to understand what got Trump elected.

Brace in the meantime for an onslaught of favor-trading (Ayn Rand, whose philosophy, Objectivism, is the salve for Trump’s politics, called it pull peddling in Atlas Shrugged), corruption, fear-mongering and cronyism, especially familialism. Now, Americans get to live under the uncertainty that comes from not thinking about what comes next—the momentary thrill of going by whim—the true meaning of taking matters on faith, having hope and being charitable without discrimination—as America comes apart. The left had their own brand of a hateful, hostile candidate of the past, Bernie Sanders, the socialist to Trump’s nationalist but essentially for total government control of the individual, with shrewd Hillary Clinton posing as the candidate of the future while representing the status quo. The right offered more of the same religionists, traditionalists and pragmatists and wound up with a shrewd strongman as the last candidate standing (Libertarian Gary Johnson abandoned all pretense to taking a presidential candidacy seriously early in the campaign). The media, led by Fox News celebrity Megyn Kelly despite appearances to the contrary, catered to Trump’s every whim and fed his rise to power.

Not knowing the extent of the damage to come while knowing that there will be damage and, likely deeper division and possible bloodshed, makes it impossible to prepare. Bracing for President Trump’s worst case scenario is like dealing with an overstimulated addict: you have to be on vigilant, guarded, nonstop defense and never let up on defending your rights and your life. The coming presidential term is likely to be disturbing, exhausting and shocking, like time spent with a jacked up addict who’s out of control. But it is an opportunity to learn, to resolve and make peace with the fact that you’re fighting for your life.

And to unite with others to save, not consent to destroy, what remains of the free republic.

Book Review: A Time for Truth by Ted Cruz


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A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America by Texas Senator Ted Cruz is as generic as its main title, which is also the title of 1978’s A Time for Truth by former Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon, a Republican like Cruz (Simon followed up in 1980 with A Time for Action). There’s also an interesting detail about the book’s title. More on that later.

Ted Cruz does give a general sense of himself and his ideas in this 2015 memoir. Though reading political memoirs is generally a slog and this one is no exception, the first-term senator comes across as generally authentic if calculated. As with Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father, he writes in the spirit of guarded disclosure, as if he’s telling tales from the past in a way that’s designed to conceal and protect as much as to reveal and inform.

The approach is a compartmentalized, not really integrated, political career chronology more or less aligned with Cruz’s personal life. By now, most readers know his basic biography, the fact of his becoming a Christian, his father from Communist Cuba, his working mother, his wife and daughters, the Ivy League education and legal career before being elected U.S. senator from the Lone Star state. I do not get a strong sense of his character from the biographical writing. He does, however, express a particular view of the world.

Judging by A Time for Truth, Cruz seems primarily moved by a desire to become influential in some meaningful sense, and everything here indicates that he very much wants to become president of the United States. Whether he’s a zealot or an idealist is hard to tell, and in either case he writes like he’s a missionary. Certain positives and negatives emerge and the whole exercise of reading political memoir for scrutiny of a man’s true intentions and character is part of what makes it exhausting and tedious; the reader ought to be able to access and become acquainted with the presidential candidate’s character and views in the most naturally affirming and embracing way. All I can tell from this book is that he thinks he’s here to realize his mission, such as he defines it, and that, during his first elected term as a senator, he thinks he should be president. But so did Barack Obama.

I do appreciate that Sen. Cruz takes stock of President Obama’s basic value proposition back in 2008. Too many on the right dismiss those who considered voting for then-Sen. Obama as simple-minded because, they argue, it was obvious from the start that he was out to destroy America. Cruz rightly argues otherwise, writing that “[i]n 2006, Obama had declared that ‘increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally.’ [Obama] added at one point that ‘Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.’ This seemingly principled position changed dramatically when Obama won the presidency.”

Noting Obama’s early deception is important because it differentiates Cruz from Obama. Like Fidel Castro before he seized power in Cuba, Obama had defined himself in 2008 by platitudes. There was nothing clear and obvious about Obama’s plans to change, by which he meant destroy, America. Leonard Peikoff observed in late 2008 that Obama is dishonest, yet the full extent was not clear to most until he was elected. By then, damage was being done, leaving a lone outcry from the floor of Congress during an Obama speech: “He lies!”

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, gets right to naming his beliefs. Writing about his father’s conversion to Christianity, Cruz writes:

shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, April 15, 1975, he dropped to his knees and surrendered his life to Jesus. That day changed his life, and mine as well. The following Sunday, he made a public profession of faith at Clay Road, a small church in the suburbs of Houston. And the next week, he went to the airport, bought a ticket, and flew back to Canada, returning to my mother and me. He asked my mom to forgive him, and for them to start over. Five years later, in 1979, I too asked Jesus to be my savior at Clay Road Baptist Church.”

Cruz’s profession of faith is, as I wrote a few years ago (“Ted Cruz and Praying for Time”), disturbing to any advocate for reason. Throughout A Time for Truth, it is clear that faith affects, impacts and contaminates Cruz’s ability to think. Cruz does not hide this fact. He relishes it, as one would expect. For example, he wrongly concludes that the United States is founded as a Judeo-Christian nation as he recalls a college professor who also influenced a fellow famous Texan in media:

I had wonderful professors in college, most notably Robby George, one of the leading conservative thinkers in the nation. Learning from Professor George was one of the best things about Princeton. The New York Times has called him the ‘country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker.’ As Glenn Beck has observed, George is ‘one of the biggest brains in America.’ From abortion to marriage to the natural rights of men and women, George is a sometimes lonely but always powerful voice within academia for the Judeo-Christian values on which this country was founded.”

For those concerned about the future of the Supreme Court, it’s worth noting that Cruz, who proposed having an elected Supreme Court, also admits to being “strongly influenced by Robert Bork’s 1978 classic, The Antitrust Paradox.” Like Ronald Reagan, whom he also admires, Ted Cruz expresses an American sense of life, observing that “[u]ntil the time of the American experiment, much of human existence had been, as Hobbes famously observed, ‘nasty, brutish and short.’ Now, with American free enterprise, the possibilities were endless—not guaranteed, but also not limited.” Quoting Reagan, he praises “individual freedom and the profit motive”.

But what constitutes freedom to Ted Cruz is always contradicted by his faith. For instance, he argues that “[t]he First Amendment was not adopted to create government hostility to religion; rather, the First Amendment exists to protect the religious liberty of every American.” This of course is not true. The freedom of speech is inalienable and it exists as recognition that man is free to express himself, not as a means to protecting liberty—let alone “religious liberty”, a confused, meaningless term—but as an example of liberty. Cruz is a typical conservative, too, arguing for anti-obscenity laws. He is not an advocate of freedom of speech, he totally fails to hold the Obama administration to account on this crucial issue and he concludes that the freedom of speech “can be prohibited.” It is good to know that Cruz opposes free speech and may as president, like Obama, seek to impose censorship.

In chapter after chapter of his memoir, Ted Cruz, who I think is tragically the best among the current field of major 2016 presidential candidates (as I wrote in “The Iowa Caucuses”) demonstrates a failure to grasp man’s rights and the nature of government. On ObamaCare, which he correctly denounces for “[d]enying individual choice and freedom”, he opposes the government takeover of the medical profession and insurance industry as “antithetical to the American way and our tradition of liberty.” But ObamaCare is a law, not a lifestyle choice, and it is important to know that this six-year-old law violates the rights of every American to choose, practice and contract for health care. Cruz, citing tradition and the American way, makes it sound like ObamaCare’s worst transgression is its newness. Liberty is the American birthright. Of course, this deficit in his understanding applies to his refusal to recognize a woman’s right to abortion. So, while he rightly derides ObamaCare as denying the individual’s free choice, he makes the same mistake.

Cruz’s flaws are serious. He pledges to “[p]reserve and reform our entitlements…”, supports a Constitutional amendment to force upon the country a balanced budget, a terrifying prospect for the future of freedom in what is now an entrenched welfare state, he wants to impose government term limits, which is also incompatible with liberty, and he proposes a “lifetime ban on former members of Congress ever lobbying”, which again raises questons about his inclination to censorship. Additionally, he wrongly labels Democrats as “the party of government”, failing to distinguish what he means by government and explain that Democrats are the party of big government, and he writes that he thinks government should “foster productivity”, which is also not the proper role for the state. State-sponsored fostering of productivity has led to countless American dangers and disasters, from the 1930s Depression and TARP, stimulus and bailouts to statist Donald Trump.

But Sen. Cruz, who was recently endorsed by economist Thomas Sowell, has also proven himself to be capable of bold, independent, rational thought and action. He opposes government subsidies for ethanol, yet he decisively won last month’s Iowa caucuses. He seeks to repeal ObamaCare, a monstrosity that deserves to have been abolished years ago. He pledges to take a measured, cautious approach to foreign policy, resisting the altruistic approach of Bush in Iraq, and vows to wipe out the Islamic jihad. And, most important in an election year with a Bush, a Bush wannabe, a Clinton, a socialist and a fascist, Cruz demonstrates a serious, scholarly grasp of the enormous challenges that lie ahead.

In A Time for Truth, for example, Cruz puts Obama’s presidency in perspective:

The [press], despite its overwhelming support for the president and his policies, has also been the target of harassment. Two years ago, without bothering even to reveal its reasons, the administration secretly collected two months of phone records from the staff of the Associated Press, which called the action ‘a massive and unprecedented intrusion into how news organizations gather news.’ That same year, they targeted James Rosen, a reporter at Fox News, by labeling him a possible ‘co-conspirator’ in a leak investigation. To quote the New York Times editorial board—not something I expect to make a habit of—the Obama administration, with its abuse of Rosen, ‘moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news.’

In our history presidents of both parties have at times abused their power and exceeded their constitutional authority. But in the past, members of the president’s own party—in Congress, in his cabinet, and among independent groups—have shown the courage and principle to stand up to him.

What is unprecedented is the remarkable silence of Democrats in the face of Barack Obama’s lawlessness and massive expansion of federal power. The sad fact is that for the Democrats in Washington—and for far too many in my own party as well—politics comes before principle. Electoral considerations come before country. And no offense perpetrated by a party’s leader is too outrageous for them to defend.

When President Bush exceeded his constitutional authority and attempted to order the state courts to obey the World Court, I was proud to go before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Texas and defend the Constitution. The Court struck down his unconstitutional order, 6–3. Where are the Democrats willing to do the same to stop their party’s abuse of power?

An executive’s defiance of the rule of law ought to trouble every American—if only because Barack Obama will not be president forever. Even if you agree with Obama’s policies, if this president has the power to ignore the law, then so do his successors—including successors from the opposing party.

This is not what our Founders hoped for. This is not the vision for our country that millions of Americans share. And it does not have to be this way. The genius of the Constitution is that it protects our country from executive branch excesses through the system of checks and balances. The legislative and judicial branches can impose limits on the executive’s assertion of power—provided we as public officials have the political will to do it. With the proper leadership, we can restore the purpose and vision behind the American experiment.”

Notably, and disconcertingly, Ted Cruz’s A Time for Truth also neglects to mention the September 11, 2001 Islamic attack on America in a chapter on the Bush administration, for whom he once worked. Worse, Cruz writes that he thinks “God knew what He was doing in 2001.” This really calls his rationality into question. Today, Cruz agreed with the Obama administration forcing Apple to decode its own iPhone in the name of national security.

Whether President Cruz would be as good or as bad as his best and worst qualities suggest remains, as with pre-election Barack Obama, unknown. I know that his competition in the presidential contest is atrocious. I also know that some of his positions are excellent and some of his positions are terrible. After reading A Time for Truth and trying to take a measure of the man and his character, I think it’s a positive sign of self-awareness that he recalls excelling in the classroom, being too competitive and cocky and being lousy at sports. He also remembers pulling what he calls a teenage prank at Christmastime which involves taking lights from several houses and decorating another house with them, which strikes me as quite elaborate for a prank.

In preparation for this review, I came across an alternate and apparently rejected book cover art which replaced the book’s current subtitle, Reigniting the Promise of America, with the subtitle: Reigniting the Miracle of America. This may be a sign that Cruz either ditched or dodged his faith for a less mystical, more secular tone. Whatever the case, and whether Ted Cruz is nominated and elected the 45th president of the United States, A Time for Truth contains evidence of both.

Buy A Time for Truth by Ted Cruz


The 2012 Republicans

The 2012 Democrats

Ted Cruz and Praying for Time (2013)

The Iowa Caucuses (2016)

Victory in Virginia

ECofficialRepublican Eric Cantor has served Virginia’s 7th Congressional district since the turn of the century. Today, in a stern rejection of Cantor’s moderate views, voters of his own party chose to terminate his service. It’s the American way. But the historic defeat – Cantor is the first House Majority Leader to lose his party’s primary – represents a fundamental repudiation of the status quo, left and right, Republican and Democrat.

The GOP challenger, an economics professor who claims to have been influenced by Ayn Rand but quoted the Bible in his victory speech, Dave Brat, co-wrote a paper titled “An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand.” Whether devout Catholic Brat takes Rand’s Objectivism seriously or not (remember when Objectivsts were excited that Paul Ryan had praised Rand?) what matters most is that Brat beat Cantor based on his assertion that Cantor was a moderate and, in this assertion, he is right on. Cantor is soft on Big Government at almost every pivotal and procedural turn as President Obama dismantles the law and destroys the nation, from ObamaCare to compromise with the White House over immigration. Brat (read more about him here) didn’t convince voters that he deserved to win as much as persuade them that Cantor deserved to lose. As CNN’s John King observed, it’s not just that Tea Party types trounced Congressman Cantor, who is as oily as Clinton and Gingrich; a key part of the defeat is caused by Cantor’s usual rank and file conservatives not showing up to vote. The status quo defenders – the knee-jerk Bush sycophants that wink, nudge and sidewind about opposing ObamaCare while muttering in mock confidentiality that no one can really expect to repeal ObamaCare – gave up the fight, stayed home and lost. This indicates a weakening of the entrenched welfare state mentality that feeds the Washington beast.

It is crucial to understand this aspect of Brat’s victory; that the win is less a galvanizing of support for Dave Brat for Congress than it is an exhausted abandonment by Republicans of fraudulent figures like Cantor pretending to be opposed to Big Government. As John Cassidy writes in the New Yorker, Brat “kept hacking away on the immigration issue, saying, “A vote for Eric Cantor is a vote for open borders. A vote for Eric Cantor is a vote for amnesty.” This is true, too, and what is obvious to anyone watching Cantor, who with his fake smile embodies the worst of Washington politicians, was made explicit by voters in his district, who could no longer ignore or evade Cantor’s complicity in aiding Obama. Brat may be an honest, conservative Catholic who once sought to understand Ayn Rand’s ethics of egoism, and now he will be up against another college professor from the same faculty and voters may get an intellectual contest between a Christian professor whose program was funded by the head of the Cato Institute and a sociologist Democrat.

In the victory speech, Brat quoted the Bible and exclaimed that: “This is a miracle from God!” Lest apologists interpret this as an aberrant outburst, he later told Sean Hannity on Fox News that he is “humbled that God gave us this win.” On his Web site, Brat describes himself as “a man of deep faith” and it will be easy to challenge a professed advocate of capitalism on religious grounds because pure capitalism is based on an egoistic, not altruistic, premise. But, unlike Cantor and the Washington establishment, Brat opposes the NSA’s indiscriminate mass surveillance and he made a point to differentiate himself from Cantor on this issue. Unlike Cantor, Brat vows to repeal ObamaCare.

Dave Brat, like most Americans, holds mixed premises. Whether Brat thinks he is a vessel of God, and the anti-abortion conservative wrongly claims that “[o]ur fundamental rights … come from God, the Author of Nature”, there is no denying that Cantor’s defeat is a blow to Big Government’s establishment. Thus, today’s electoral end of the House Majority Leader is a victory for America. It may be too late to save the nation. It may be too soon for an American renewal of our founding principles. But Eric Cantor was an obstacle to liberating Americans from what’s becoming a totalitarian state and that makes his decisive defeat a timely and welcome result.