Patterico's Pontifications


Noah Rothman Falsely Claims Accuracy on Cruz and Ethanol

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:57 pm

In my battle against people who have been distorting Ted Cruz’s position on ethanol, I took on Noah Rothman on Twitter this morning. Noah rather sanctimoniously proclaimed that his recent piece on Cruz and ethanol was accurate:

Well. There’s not enough room on Twitter to list all the problems with Rothman’s piece. Thank goodness for blogs, where I have all the space I need to debunk the notion that his piece is “perfectly accurate.”

In short, a lobbying group desperate to sound effective pretended that Cruz had recently flip-flopped on ethanol. But Cruz did not change his position recently, at all. I’m not going to rehash the details of Cruz’s ethanol position at length in this post. I already did so last night. If you need those details, they’re all available right here. I will merely summarize them here, along with the fundamental problem with Rothman’s piece:

  • In 2013, Cruz sponsored a bill to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard immediately.
  • In March 2014, Cruz moderated his position to one of a gradual phase-out over five years. Under his March 2014 plan, each year for five years, the ethanol mandate would be reduced by 1/5, until it was gone by 2022.
  • Throughout 2015 and the beginning of 2016, Cruz was absolutely consistent with his March 2014 position.
  • Yesterday, pro-ethanol lobbyists tried to snooker gullible pundits into thinking Cruz had recently flip-flopped on the issue.

Chump suckers like Jazz Shaw and Noah Rothman raced to their keyboards to denounce Cruz. Later in the day, it became clear to the sheep in the conservative commentariat herd that they had screwed up. Apparently, a couple of people in the herd accidentally listened to the 90-second audio of Cruz actually explaining his position — something I did the moment I heard about it (imagine! going to the primary source before making up my mind!) — and people started retracting their breathlessly inaccurate pieces. By the end of the day, the herd had finally realized its error, and only stubborn people like Jazz Shaw were refusing to correct their error.

When I criticized Rothman for this on Twitter, he tried to pretend that he never claimed that Cruz flip-flopped since 2014:

That is horseshit, as I am about to show you in loving detail. Rothman repeatedly suggested, over and over and over, that Cruz had just flip-flopped in very recent times . . . not in 2014 as he tried to claim on Twitter.

Let’s look at Rothman’s contribution to yesterday’s storm of misinformation. First, look at the title of Rothman’s hit piece:

Ted Cruz Passes on Principle

The use of the present tense is a device that headline writers use to report news — i.e., things that happened in the last 24-48 hours. You don’t say “Truman drops atomic bomb” or “Wilson pushes U.S. into World War I” because those events happened long ago. If you were referring to something that happened in 2014, you would not say Cruz “passes” on principle.

But maybe Rothman does not write his own headlines, so let’s look at the content of his actual piece, to see if he ever implies that Cruz recently changed his position on ethanol, rather than changed it in 2014, as he now claims he was saying all along.

The piece opens with Cruz’s very effective invocation of sugar subsidies in the November 2015 debate. Many noticed that this was a subtle attack on Marco Rubio, who is wholly owned by sugar magnate Jose “Pepe” Fanjul, who has been Rubio’s sugar daddy (thank you! I did intend that) from Day One. Keep that November 2015 date in mind, now. Now Rothman says:

In the intervening weeks, Cruz has presented himself as a rock-ribbed figure beholden only to the Constitution and conservative dogma, a governing program that, in theory, rejects corporate subsidies for well-connected industries. No exceptions. And Cruz generally held to this courageous stand, even when it negatively affected his electoral prospects in a crucial primary state, one that the Texas senator needs to emerge from victorious: Iowa. For a state with a strong farming economy that benefits substantially from taxpayer-provided subsidies for alternative fuels, the 2005 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is sacred. Cruz declined to pander to the Iowa corn farmer when he refused to endorse the RFS – a program that mandates American transportation fuels contain a certain portion of renewables, including corn-based ethanol.

Again, keep the timeline (as portrayed by Rothman) in mind here. “In the intervening weeks” since November 2015, “Cruz declined to pander to the Iowa corn farmer.” Keep in mind that he had already supported a phase-out in March 2014, and has been consistent on that point throughout 2015.

Then Rothman describes how Cruz penned an op-ed in the Des Moines Register which (as I described in last night’s post) says what Cruz has been saying all along: that he supports a phase-out of ethanol subsidies as well as an end to any other government restrictions on ethanol. Rothman says (accurately, as far as it goes) that Cruz supported a bill for total and instant repeal in 2013, but now supports a gradual five-year phase-out.

Rothman immediately resumes dishonestly suggesting that Cruz only recently changed his position. Read these passages and see if you believe for one second that Rothman is talking about a nearly two-year-old compromise on timing, as opposed to what he is really trying to suggest: that Cruz recently flip-flopped.

Cruz’s stand against the RFS was a noble one. . . . That Cruz could back this policy and remain at the top of the polls in the Hawkeye State suggested that the fever associated with addiction to federal subsidies was breaking, and Iowans were ready to commit to treatment. This climb down from Cruz suggests he’s willing to play the enabler so long as there is some associated political benefit.

I dare Noah Rothman to claim he is here talking about Cruz’s change from 2013 to early 2014 when he talks about “this climb down.” What Iowa polls did Cruz remain “at the top of” before March 2014? None that I am aware of! Rothman is here clearly claiming that Cruz did a “climb down” after he had led polls over the last few weeks while refusing to pander until this week. This makes it clear that Rothman is not talking about Cruz’s early 2014 moderation on timing. He is a sheep bleating out yesterday’s herd-wail about Cruz suddenly reversing himself.

Rothman points to his next sentence as evidence that he was up-front with his readers:

Cruz’s clarification on the RFS isn’t exactly an about-face aimed entirely at 2016 (he committed to supporting a phased retirement of the RFS in 2014), but it is a setback for his campaign.

Frankly, this has the feel of a sentence tossed into an already written piece, just after seeing Tim Carney’s retraction. Rothman was clearly unwilling to trash the whole post (which he should have), so he inserted here a true fact that is undercut by nearly everything else he says in the piece. Regardless, the reader can see that in the very next sentence, Rothman returns to Dishonest Insinuation Mode:

To the extent that you believe Cruz can, as president, force Congress to pass a five-year phase out of the RFS in his first year in office so that it expires by the time it is already set to expire, it is the extent to which you have faith in Cruz’s commitment to his word. With this latest maneuver, some of the faithful may be experiencing a bit of a crisis.

“This latest maneuver” obviously does not refer to a moderation on timing between 2013 and March 2014. With the language “[t]his latest maneuver,” Rothman is, beyond all doubt, suggesting that Cruz just changed his position.

Let’s sum up. Cruz changed nothing about his position between March 2014 and today. Nothing at all. Yet Rothman insinuates that he did in the following ways:

  • Publishing a piece under the headline “Ted Cruz Passes on Principle” (present tense).
  • Rothman refers to “[t]his climb down from Cruz” which he clearly says occurred after November 2015.
  • Rothman talks about “this latest maneuver” as reason to question Cruz’s word.

Then Rothman tries to tell us he was talking about Cruz’s moderation of a timeline in March 2014.


Now. It’s not part of the piece, but I did my best to confront Rothman about this on Twitter, and the closest he came to justifying a claim that Cruz has abandoned his principles recently is this:

Christ on a popsicle stick! This is not an argument about whether ethanol is good or bad, but whether government should pass laws either restricting or mandating the use or sale of ethanol. Thus, if Cruz says he supports ethanol, that does not mean he supports ethanol mandates. If Cruz opposes ethanol mandates, that does not mean he is anti-ethanol. This becomes important because Rothman and Shaw keep conflating the two.

Ted Cruz never had an “anti-ethanol position.” He had an anti-government mandate position. Please, please try to understand that very simple point, will you, Jazz Shaw and Noah Rothman?

Just admit it, Noah. You got snookered. You decided to stick with your narrative even after you learned it was wrong. You got caught. Quit pretending your post was “perfectly accurate.”

P.S. Rothman, clearly referring to me, insinuated that I am a cultist:

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 8.27.09 PM

Note how that first reference to cults came immediately after his response to me.

So I thought this might be a good place to criticize Cruz. Yesterday Rich Lowry wrote:

During the Gang of Eight debate, Cruz made stirring, table-thumping professions of his profound support for legal immigration, demonstrated by his advocacy for drastic increases in the H1B visa program. As soon as Trump released his immigration plan attacking H1Bs last August, the odds of Cruz changing on the issue were quite high. Sure enough, he now opposes greater legal immigration and wants a moratorium on H1Bs.

Lowry’s right. Cruz’s support for increased legal immigration was one of the things I liked about him. He has changed that, as a review of his current plan shows. He says it’s because of the low labor participation rate. But that rate has been low forever, and it’s not low due to a glut of legal immigrants. It’s low because of Obama’s policies (including ObamaCare’s threatened employer mandate, together with an explosion of SSI and food stamp benefits and repeated extensions of unemployment benefits).

Cruz deserves criticism for that.

I am not a cultist, Noah Rothman. I just don’t like it when people are the victims of distortion. This time, you’re doing the distorting. Stop it. Retract the false insinuations in your piece.

Charlie Hebdo Commemorates Anniversary of Attack By Smearing All Religions

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:08 pm

[guest post by JVW]

One year ago today, Islamofascist terrorists attacked the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo killing eleven magazine staffers and one policeman. Today, the magazine has published an issue commemorating the massacre:


If you are confused by the cover, please try to understand the reigning progressive mindset: When radical jihadists kill innocent people it is entirely unfair to place the blame on the peaceful religion of Islam, but when whackadoodles from a religion historically prone to violence kill innocent people then it is completely appropriate to blame all religions for the violence.

But I still think it’s really racist and sexist of them to portray the Almighty as a white male.


World Claims Cruz Not Natural Born Citizen on Same Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 am

It’s because the Giant Blowhard did another flip-flop, but now Rand Paul and John McCain are taking up the phony argument, each for their petty, personal, unprincipled reasons. (Too busy to give you the links, but they’re everywhere.)

These people disgust me utterly.

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