Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s recent foray into 9/11 trutherism has revived questions about how his fringe politics could affect his son’s presidential ambitions. But Rand Paul isn’t the only White House aspirant with a political anchor in the family.

During an August 21 meeting of the Western Williamson Republican Club, Pastor Rafael Cruz — father of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) — attempted to explain that black Americans “need to be educated” about the real history of the civil rights movement, and that “the average black” doesn’t understand the minimum wage.

Cruz ran into trouble recounting a recent conversation that he had with a black pastor.

“I said, as a matter of fact, ‘Did you know that civil rights legislation was passed by Republicans? It was passed by a Republican Senate under the threat of a filibuster by the Democrats,’” Cruz told the group, as reported by BuzzFeed. “‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’ And then I said, ‘Did you know that every member of the Ku Klux Klan were Democrats from the South?’ ‘Oh I didn’t know that.’ You know, they need to be educated.”

“Jason Riley said in an interview, Did you know before we had minimum-wage laws black unemployment and white unemployment were the same?” he added, referring to the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board member. “If we increase the minimum wage, black unemployment will skyrocket. See, he understands it, but the average black does not.”

Cruz’s assertions are riddled with factual inaccuracies. For starters, casting conservatives as the real heroes of the civil rights movement requires an absurd revisionist history (nevermind the fact that Republicans didn’t actually control the Senate in 1964).

Cruz is similarly off base on the effects of increasing the minimum wage. Both professional economists and recent history strongly dispute the notion that guaranteeing workers $10.10 per hour will cause unemployment to “skyrocket.” And, contrary to Cruz’s warning, “the average black” would actually disproportionately benefit from such an increase.

Additionally, Pastor Cruz’s riffing on the intelligence of “the average black” probably won’t help Republicans if they choose to revive their disastrously failed outreach to minorities before the 2016 presidential election. And that could be a problem for Senator Cruz.

Ted Cruz has made no apologies for his close personal and professional relationship with his father, who has been described as a “power broker” within the senator’s political organization. He has even used a Senate aide to book his father’s paid speeches, like the one given to the Western Williamson Republican Club. That means that, if Senator Cruz does pursue an oft-rumored presidential bid, he will have to answer for his father’s radical rhetoric. After all, not many serious presidential candidates have close advisors who believe that the California drought is the result of a United Nations plot to confiscate private property, or that the president is a secret Muslim who will force the elderly to undergo “suicide counseling,” or that evolution is a communist lie, among many other outrageous conspiracy theories. Cruz would have a difficult enough time convincing the electorate that he is mainstream enough to serve as president; his father’s regular outbursts will only make it harder.

Pastor Cruz believes that President Obama was “brainwashed for 18 years” by listening to the sermons of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. What does that mean for Ted Cruz, who has been listening to his father for a lifetime?

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Want more political news and analysis? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.