Patterico's Pontifications


Jazz Shaw of Hot Air Accuses Ted Cruz of Flip-Flop for Saying What He Has Always Said

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:26 pm

Jazz Shaw has an inexcusably sloppy post at Hot Air bearing the misleading title Don’t look now, but Ted Cruz just caved on ethanol (Updated). As I will show in detail, Cruz has done no such thing — but Shaw, with his perch at Hot Air, is misleading an awful lot of people with his nonsensical post. What’s more, many people have called him on it, and he still has not retracted. It’s an important issue, at an important time, and he is giving aid and comfort to those who seek to bring down the best hope we have for limited government. So I’m not inclined to be kind.

Shaw starts off with a bit of unintended irony:

You know, it was just the other day when I was telling you about how effective Ted Cruz has been in Iowa in spite of his opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard and related mandates by the government, particularly in the energy sector. I seem to recall using words like brave, or perhaps heroic. It was, I concluded, a potential game changer in terms of the power of King Corn and the ethanol lobby.

Well, there’s a sucker born every minute and apparently this time it was me.

Yes, Mr. Shaw, you certainly are playing a sucker — but not in the way you think.

The link goes to a post titled SENATOR TED CRUZ LISTENS TO IOWA FARMERS, SUPPORTS RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD THROUGH 2022. The post is by “America’s Renewable Future,” a pro-ethanol political organization. Confronted with the fact that Cruz is probably going to win Iowa, despite opposing their agenda, these folks do what all good lobbyists do: spin a loss to look like a win. In order to do that, they have to pretend Cruz’s position just changed to favor them.

Let’s do what Shaw didn’t bother to do, and see what Cruz actually said. The audio, oddly enough, is right there at the link that Shaw provides. For those who can’t handle listening to a short audio clip (like Shaw), I am going to provide a complete transcription — to my knowledge, the first time that has been done since the story broke. (There is a very partial and inaccurate transcript at this Washington Examiner post, but mine is complete.)

CRUZ: …expand its penetration, which is what I expect to happen when I’m elected president.

VOTER: But you also know that the RFS was created and put with a time limit of 2022. And that was to give us the confidence to invest in our local plants, which we have done. So are you planning to jerk the rug right out from underneath us, or are you going to let it expire in 2022 like it should, and then stand on its own? And corn ethanol does not get any subsidies. Steve King, you know that.

CRUZ: Maggie, you rightly noted that the RFS is scheduled to expire in 2022. When I said we should phase it out, I said it should be a five-year phaseout–a phaseout from 2017 to 2022, is five years. I do believe there should be a gradual phaseout, because there have been investment-backed expectations. But let me tell you: look, the lobbyists are trying the best they can to snooker the people of Iowa, and convince the people of Iowa that a government mandate is the only way for ethanol to survive. Look, the problem is, the government is blocking ethanol. And they’re trying to convince you that a mandate is the way to go. I don’t want Iowa dependent on Washington. I don’t think Iowa farmers want to be dependent on Washington. Because you know what that boils down to? That boils down to a bunch of politicians shaking the voters down over and over and over again. It’s the Washington Cartel. And what I want to do is remove the barriers and allow the farmers and ethanol producers in Iowa in the marketplace to expand their penetration. And as you rightly noted, there have been no more ferocious defender of Iowa farmers than Steve King and there’s a reason Steve is standing with me in this campaign. Because he understands that I believe passionately in a free and fair and open energy marketplace.

In other words, he has always said he was for a five-year phaseout of a mandate, and wants to remove any government-imposed restrictions on ethanol (or any energy source) competing in the open market. Sounds reasonable enough.

And what’s more, that is what he has said since 2014. Amanda Carpenter pointed this out on Twitter:

And indeed, if you go to the relevant March 27, 2014 press release from Senator Cruz, it contains the following proposal:

Phase out and repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) over five years. The RFS has proven unworkable and costly. Its mandate that an increasing percentage of renewable biofuels be blended into gasoline and diesel each year ignores the reality there are insufficient amounts of some biofuels to meet the standard. It imposes significant costs, and offers few, if any, benefits. The RFS should be phased out so producers and refiners can focus on maximizing domestic resource potential.

So in 2014, Cruz supported a phase out of the RFS over five years. But now that he has to pander to Iowa voters, all of a sudden he supports a phaseout of the RFS over five years. Well, no wonder Jazz Shaw accuses him of a “cave” on ethanol!

The idiocy continues as Shaw breathlessly gasps:

And it wasn’t just the RFS. Oh no! Ted came out with a promise to break the blendwall. Limiting the total blending of ethanol to 10% is the only thing keeping the flood gates partially shut on this mess as it is. What are you talking about Senator Cruz?

The “blend wall” is an artificial governmentally imposed limitation on the percentage of ethanol in gasoline. As Cruz explained in a quote from the America’s Renewable Future post:

That blendwall makes it illegal for ethanol to expand its market penetration, and I intend to eliminate the EPA blendwall to get rid of that barrier, which will enable ethanol to expand in the marketplace to a much larger penetration to sell more ethanol….

But as long as government is not mandating ethanol blends, there is no reason that government needs to set an artificial limit on the percentage of ethanol comprising a fuel. If cars can be designed that run on 100% ethanol (and that is technologically possible) then let it compete in the market. That is all Cruz is saying. (And, by the way, it is not the type of thing that a politician would say if they were in the pocket of Big Oil, as Cruz’s critics claim he is.)

Shaw is hopelessly confusing government mandates with market possibilities. It is one thing to say “government should not mandate any amount of ethanol in gasoline, and if it does let’s stop it at 10%” and quite another to say “government should not limit the amount of ethanol to 10%.”

“Limit” is not the same word as “mandate.” It is not even close to the same word.

Shaw then says:

At first I thought such a stark reversal of the Senator’s previous position on the RFS might be a mistake. But just to make sure I’d gotten the message, Cruz penned an editorial for the des [sic] Moines Register further clarifying his position.

Of course we have seen that the “stark reversal” is anything but. Worse, this becomes painfully even more evident when you actually read Cruz’s op-ed — or even just the part that Shaw quotes:

By this point in the campaign, many readers will have seen the furious coordinated effort being waged by Democrats and big-money lobbyists, who are together spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to convince Iowans that I oppose ethanol. Their charges are utter nonsense.

One of the reasons that Iowa’s own Rep. Steve King — a ferocious advocate for Iowa farmers — is enthusiastically supporting my campaign is because, although I oppose government subsidies, I am a passionate supporter of a free and fair energy marketplace…

The lobbyists’ sole focus is on the RFS, because as long as there is a federal government mandate, Washington remains front and center. Under a Cruz administration, that would change.

I tried to simplify this on Twitter:

Shaw’s logic is the same sort of pablum we routinely hear from brainless leftists: if we oppose the government doing x (feeding people) then we oppose x (people being fed). If Cruz opposes subsidies for ethanol than he must oppose ethanol. If Cruz says he supports ethanol competing on the market, that must be a flip-flop! The fallacies here are really easy enough for a fifth-grader to understand.

Amid an explosion of verbal diarrhea Shaw squirts out this:

So Ted wants to just “extend” the RFS to 2022, eh?

No, you can’t “extend” something that was already set to last until at least 2022. It’s almost as if Shaw has absolutely no clue what the law is, what Cruz’s position is, what the op-ed says, or what Cruz has said on the campaign trail.

I could go on and on fisking this thing, but I am already frustrated to no end, and Shaw says nothing else that isn’t already refuted by the logic above. There’s only one more point to add: when he got eviscerated on Twitter for his absurd post, he issues an “update” which acknowledges none of the distortions of the main post, and essentially criticizes Cruz for saying

the E10 blend mandate should be removed, not just because mandates are bad, but because ethanol can be problematic, and so people could easily get ethanol free gas if they wanted it.

Both the bold and the italics are Shaw’s. Shaw doesn’t understand that you can argue against a mandate by saying that ethanol can be problematic for current automobiles, and yet argue that ethanol sold on the free market could be popular and effective, if engines are built to accommodate them. Again, mandates are different from the market. In the latter, people are free to choose and to innovate. In the former, they are not. Opposition to the former does not require opposition to the latter.

The enemy here is not ethanol per se, but government mandates and restrictions — whether for or against ethanol. This has nothing whatsoever to do with a particular fuel additive, and everything to do with the operation of a free market.

But Shaw’s wretched understanding of the importance of the marketplace is a secondary consideration. What continues to gall me is that at Hot Air — still my favorite blog and a wildly influential site — there continues to be a headline that says “Ted Cruz just caved on ethanol.” That headline is a misrepresentation, and its continued existence is the result of pride and pigheadedness. What’s more, Shaw’s “update” in which he pretends to have accurately represented Cruz’s position all along (“I already noted in the original article here that Cruz was talking about a five year sunset”) fails to acknowledge that Cruz’s position in 2014 was the exact same position he takes today. Shaw tries to defend his “STARK REVERSAL!!!!” freakout by asserting that at CPAC, Cruz talked about a “repeal” and not a “phase out” which are TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT!!!!!1!!1! Even if it’s true that at CPAC Cruz did not use the term “phase out” — and I don’t trust Jazz Shaw to have grasped the subtleties, and to have accurately reported Cruz’s statements — this is just not a “stark reversal.” If you talk about getting rid of a very popular program immediately or phasing it by dropping the mandated level by 20% each year over five years (which is Cruz’s proposal) — it’s essentially the same thing.

It’s a bold proposal and a courageous stance to take in Iowa. And it’s no different from what Cruz has been saying for almost two years.

Many people have acknowledged this, even after they initially got fooled by the crowing of the lobbyists. For example, Gabriel Malor initially said:

and (due to my rage over the Shaw post) I was kind of a jerk to him, not realizing that he had already corrected himself:

Similarly, Tim Carney initially said:

but then corrected himself:

I’m not happy that these people fell for the lobbyists’ spin, but I’m glad they had the intellectual honesty and courage to admit they were wrong.

Shaw needs to do the same. He needs to correct that misleading headline and retract his post in its entirety.

It’s time for Jazz Shaw to admit that he was a chump sucker.

Florence King, 1936-2016

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:34 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Back in the days of the original Clintonian Ascendency, I took out a subscription to National Review, hoping to expand my conservative worldview beyond the horizons of The American Spectator, which I mostly read because P.J. O’Rourke was a contributing editor. When my first issue of NR arrived in my mailbox I immediately starting poring through it. Eventually I came to the backpage column, cheekily titled “The Misanthrope’s Corner” and written by this incredibly informative, astonishingly perceptive, and irascibly witty writer named Florence King. I have no recollection of which column it was, but it could have been this one or any of her similarly delightful offerings:

Real humanitarians tend to be curmudgeons because they must deal with bureaucratic blockheads. One of the shortest fuses in history belonged to its foremost angel of mercy, Florence Nightingale, who was also a foremost female misogynist. Admonished by a do-gooder about the dangers of exposing patients to night air, she exploded: “It’s the only kind of air there is at night!”

Miss King died earlier today, one day after her eightieth birthday. Fiercely independent her entire life, she had until her final months lived on her own in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Jack Fowler, the publisher of NR, has written a lovely remembrance which captures her distinct style and her maddening yet endearing idiosyncrasies. She was famous among her editors for eschewing email and only reluctantly using the telephone, preferring the old-fashioned method of communicating via U.S. Mail. Her P.O. Box address in Fredericksburg was always listed at the end of her column for people who wanted to contact her. Yet somehow, as her editors could attest, her submissions always arrived before the deadline fell. She was also famous for fighting tooth-and-nail against attempts to edit her prose, leading to the book volume of a collection of her columns being titled STET, damnit!, with stet, Latin for “let it stand,” being a publishing notation to ignore a copy editor’s suggested change.

Once Miss King (naturally she disdained the modern substitution of “Ms.”) retired from the back column in the magazine (the page was renamed “The Happy Warrior” and helmed by Mark Steyn until his unhappy fallout with the magazine), she continued to contribute occasional book reviews for NR (before her retirement she had been a longtime reviewer for The American Spectator as well). In an age where younger reviewers wrap their cynicism up in snark and attempt to pass it off as sophistication, Miss King revived the Menckenian tradition of cultured — even vaguely aristocratic — scorn for the ephemeralness of popular sensibilities and faddish intellectualism. Here she is nearly a quarter-century ago excoriating Gloria Steinem’s self-help book, Revolution from Within: a Book of Self-Esteem:

Much of the book reads like the content of a 1972 time capsule. Early Women’s Lib themes such as Chinese bound feet continue to haunt her, and the clitoris remains the whistlestop between maidenhood and personhood on her train of thought. Clitoridectomy among the Bantu is still happening, and Miss Steinem [note that she won’t extend “Ms.” even to the founder of the magazine bearing that name] is still against it. . . .

Self-esteem takes many forms. I read this mewling, puking book, but I’m still vertical and able to quote back. When Samuel Johnson was asked to comment on the plot of Cymbeline, he replied: “It is impossible to criticize unresisting imbecility.” My sentiments exactly.

Her reviews are anthologized in two marvelous volumes: Deja Reviews, a collection from 1991-2002, and Withering Slights, a collection of reviews from 2007 to 2012. Both are well-worth the purchase price and investment in reading time.

She wrote several other books, most if not all of which are still in print, but let me mention one that led to a semi-famous dust-up between conservative Virginia writer Florence King and liberal Texas writer Molly Ivins. In 1975, Miss King published Southern Ladies and Gentlemen, which 30 years later remains in print. It included this classic observation:

The typical Southerner:
—Brags about what a conservative he is and then votes for Franklin D. Roosevelt.
—Or brags about what an isolationist he is and then votes for Richard Nixon.
—Or brags about what a populist he is and then votes for Barry Goldwater.
—Or brags about what an aristocrat he is and then votes for George Wallace.
—And is able to say with a straight face that he sees nothing peculiar about any of the above.

Seventeen years later, Miss Ivins published her best-seller, Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?, which included this entirely unattributed passage: “Keep in mind that Southerners are so conservative they voted for Franklin Roosevelt, so isolationist they voted for Richard Nixon, so populist they voted for Barry Goldwater, so aristocratic they voted for George Wallace, and that they see nothing peculiar in any of this.” Reviewing the book a few years later, Miss King came across this quote along with a another very similar observation that Miss Ivins appropriated without attribution, and it led her to write an article for The American Enterprise titled, simply, “Molly Ivins, Plagarist.” A letter from Miss Ivins which apologized for being “sloppy” prompted this properly haughty admonition from Miss King:

August 24, 1995

Dear Miss Ivins:

Rather than rehash what I call plagiarism and you call careless attribution, I will speak in general terms.

First, the Washington Post, in breaking this story, referred to your “side” and my “side.” How can there be a “side” in this when everyone involved is either a writer or an editor? All of us, by definition, are on the same side—the word side. Every word I write is a piece of my heart, and I presume you feel the same way.

Second, I’m wondering how you managed to recycle me unchanged from the 1988 Mother Jones article into the 1991 book. When I compiled The Florence King Reader, I reread everything I’ve published over the last 20 years. I polished, revised, even rewrote some of the early selections to bring them up to my present standards, and I also prepared a fresh manuscript. This is how you catch mistakes. Anthologies are harder than they look, so please look next time.

Third, your publisher contends that I am seeking publicity by “attempting to hang onto the cape of Molly’s notoriety.” (You may want to take issue with him over his choice of words.) I have no need or wish for “notoriety”; celebrity is bad enough. I already have the only thing I want: the admiration and respect of people who know good writing and love the English language as I do.

Finally, it’s a shame this had to happen because you and I are such a pair of old rips that we probably would have gotten along like gangbusters. Please don’t spoil any more potential friendships.

Florence King

She was prickly, she was grouchy, she was stuffy, and she was old-fashioned. But she was also a supremely talented writer, a throwback to the Southern prose stylists like Faulkner or O’Connor in an era when most bloviators are thoroughly indoctrinated dilettantes and schnooks from the Columbia Journalism School factory. I hope there are typewriters in Heaven.


MSM Partisan Hack: Ted Cruz Is A Nazi

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:39 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In the wee hours of the morning, Alexander Nazaryan, a senior writer at Newsweek, tweeted this:


After receiving substantial condemnation for the tweet, Nazaryan later deleted it. He offered no apology to Cruz, nor made any effort to walk back the comparison. However, in explaining why he deleted the tweet, he ended up smearing and wholly insulting Cruz supporters everywhere:


Oh, just stop it. You’re not fooling anyone with your professional journalistic gymnastics. If Cruz were a Nazi, then it logically follows that his supporters would also be Nazis. And at the very least, they would be anything but totally decent people.

Erik Wemple, of the Washington Post, took a stroll through Nazaryan’s twitter feed, and it’s rather easy to see that Nazaryan, whose reporting includes writing about the GOP, is clearly unable to be unbiased and objective in any coverage of Republicans. Especially that Republican Nazi, Ted Cruz:


The reason Nazaryan didn’t walk back the Cruz is a Nazi accusation? Because he really believes he is one. Just as much as he really doesn’t believe his supporters are “totally decent” people.

Newsweek has since issued an apology:

“I would like to express on behalf of Newsweek our disappointment that this occurred and reiterate that this does not align with our editorial values,” Newsweek’s editor-in-chief, Jim Impoco, told the Washington Examiner in a statement.

“I apologize for any doubt that this might have cast on Newsweek’s editorial integrity or credibility. We’ve addressed the situation with Alexander and the rest of the staff and will be reviewing and reiterating our social media policy in coming days.”


Kruse Hit Piece on Cruz

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am

A guy named Michael Kruse has a very tendentious piece about Ted Cruz’s tenure as Solicitor General of Texas — part of the Politico hit piece series on Cruz. In the piece (safe Web cache link; no links for bullies!) Kruse first chides Cruz for getting involved in Heller despite the”fact” that “Texas had no direct stake” in the case. Kruse thinks this is so important that he says it twice, elsewhere saying that Cruz “was wading into a case that had no immediate connection to Texas at all.”

Of course, Texas had a very real interest in the case, as did the 30 other states that signed the brief: protecting the Second Amendment rights of its citizens.

I don’t have time to pick apart the article point by point, but if you want to look further into Cruz’s record before the Supreme Court, details are available here. It’s an impressive record, including Heller, the famous Medellin case about the Vienna convention, and an argument to retain the death penalty for child rape.

Here’s how Kruse describes Cruz’s performance in the child rape case: “[he] invoked 13th-century ‘Saxon law’ and the practice of cutting off testicles to justify harsher punishments in a rape case.”

My, oh my, how bloodthirsty! Kruse fails to note it was a child rape case — but more importantly, he fails to note that Cruz was responding to a question. This is from Jeff Toobin’s 2014 profile of Cruz in the New Yorker:

Cruz became so comfortable before the Justices that he even employed a touch of humor, which is always risky at the Supreme Court. In 2008, the Justices invited Cruz to argue in support of Louisiana’s position that the Constitution permitted the execution of an individual who raped a child. (To be asked to argue a case as a friend of the court is itself a significant honor for a lawyer.) At one point, Justice Stevens asked whether any country had ever made punishments for rape more draconian. “It’s interesting if you look at the history in England,” Cruz said. “Blackstone actually talks about how rape under Saxon law was punishable by death, and then there was a period—1285—where the punishment was ‘relaxed’ to loss of the eyes and testicles. That was William the Conqueror’s kinder, gentler version.” Laughter followed. Still, the court ruled that Louisiana could not execute the defendant.

Kruse also complains that Cruz “referred to a late-term abortion technique as ‘infanticide.'” That “late-term abortion procedure” was partial-birth abortion, in which a baby is partially delivered, and a “doctor” sticks scissors in the baby’s skull and then vacuums out the brains.

If the world were a fair place, someone would do a review of Michael Kruse’s career and use the same dirty technique of slanting material and removing context.

Thing is, Kruse is not worth the time or effort. Just another hack ankle-biting the constitutionalist candidate for President.

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