Known By the Company One Keeps


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Glenn Beck announces his endorsement of Senator Ted Cruz during a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa 23 January 2016 (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

‘Twas an evening in November, as I very well remember,

I was walking down the street in drunken pride.

But my knees went all a-flutter, so I rested in a gutter,

And a pig came ‘round and laid down by my side.

Yes I laid there in the gutter thinking thoughts I could not utter

When a colleen passing by did softly say: “You can tell a man that boozes by the company he chooses”

And then the pig got up and walked away!

So goes an old Irish poem. I cite it not because it is Irish, but because of its sentiment: One is judged by the company one keeps. In the political arena, Senator Ted Cruz is positioning himself as the alternative to Donald Trump who can “unify” the Republican Party, but who has he brought into his campaign thus far?

One of my favorite poets/philosophers is Ralph Waldo Emerson who once wrote these words: “Show me who a man’s friends are and I will tell you who he is.” Now, just for the sake of being open-minded, substitute “man” and replace it with “person.” It still translates the same. You really can tell who a person is and what his beliefs are by the people he chooses as friends.   People do not choose to stay with other people whose beliefs are in direct opposition to their own beliefs and character.

By the way, Emerson also once said of a dinner guest at his home: “The more he talked of his honor, the faster I counted my spoons.”

Well, who are Ted Cruz’s friends? Who has endorsed Cruz? Whose support will he tout on the trail? What is the company that he is keeping?

Here are just a few of those who are aligned with his campaign. I leave it to you to make the judgement as to whether this is a person who should bear the title of President of the United States.

Phil Robertson, Duck Dynasty star who calls marriage equality evil and thinks black people were happy during Jim Crow.

Mike Bickle, evangelical pastor who has said that Adolph Hitler was sent by God to hunt Jews, believes homosexuality “opens the door to the demonic realm,” and believes Oprah Winfrey is the precursor to the Antichrist.

Troy Newman, president of OPERATION RESCUE, board member of the center for medical progress (under indictment for secretly filming meetings with planned parenthood), who praises killing abortion doctors and believes women who have abortions are murderers.

Glen Beck, conservative media personality, known for his paranoid, anti-government rhetoric, who has compared Al Gore to the Nazis, called President Obama a racist, believes health care reform will end the Constitution, believes the government uses the census to “increase slavery,” and that White Americans are pretty much toast.

Carly Fiorina, a Libertarian-Leaning Conservative and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who believes the Supreme Court overstepped its boundaries when it ruled that same-sex marriage should be allowed in all fifty states. She has not indicated yet if she believes the issue is settled law or if she would push for a Constitutional amendment to reverse the court decision, supports the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which bans abortions twenty weeks after fertilization, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother, would overturn Roe v. Wade, opposes prohibiting human embryonic stem cell research, supports giving legal protection to unborn children, believes ObamaCare is failing and would replace it with state-managed high-risk pools, and opposes Common Core.

That is just some of those who have endorsed Ted Cruz.

Cruz recently announced his foreign policy advisers and the list thus far includes some very controversial figures.

Cruz has previously called for carper-bombing the Middle East to combat ISIS, said the United States should send troops to Iraq and Syria, and said something is torture only when it causes “pain equivalent to losing organs and systems.” Still, the list of advisers were surprising to many.

Here are three of the most shocking names:

Frank Gaffney, who served in the Department of Defense under President Reagan, was named as a foreign policy adviser for Cruz. Gaffney is a major proponent of conspiracy theories, and has been described as “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Perhaps one of Gaffney’s favorite theories is the connection of politicians to the Muslim Brotherhood. In the past, he has accused Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, as well as President Obama, of having connections to the group. In an interview with The Daily Beast in July 2012, Gaffney said the Muslim Brotherhood was waiting to seize power in Washington, D.C., a moment which he called “zero hour.” He also told the publication that President Obama, whose citizenship and religion he has questioned in the past, is not Muslim but is “sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood supremacist agenda — I think that is now beyond dispute.”

A year earlier, Gaffney had called for a new House committee, modeled on Senator Joseph McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities, dedicated to investigating “the extent to which the Obama administration’s anti-American activities reflect the success of the toxic Muslim Brotherhood… in penetrating and subverting both U.S. government agencies and civil institutions.”

According to a Bloomberg report, three of Gaffney’s colleagues at the Center for Security Policy are also on Cruz’s list of foreign policy advisers: former CIA officers Fred Fleitz and Clare Lopez as well as former Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Jim Hanson. Like their boss, all three believe in the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of the U.S. government, and have even connected the non-profit Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to the organization.

Michael Ledeen, a former Reagan administration official involved in the Iran-contra scandal, publicly endorsed Cruz recently. “We’re at war with a coalition of radical Islamists and radical secularists. It’s not all one thing, nor is Islam all one thing.”

Ledeen is a current Freedom Scholar at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and a former scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, whose involvement with Islamophobic ideologues involvement.

He has been an avid supporter of United States military action and before 2003, he was a vocal supporter of regime change in various countries in the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Just months before the United States invasion of Iraq, he published a piece in The Wall Street Journal entitled “The War on Terror Won’t End in Bagdad” in which he called for the “liberation” of people in those four countries and described the invasion of Iraq as a “just war.” “If we come to Baghdad, Damascus and Tehran as liberators, we can expect overwhelming popular support,” he wrote, before praising Donald Rumsfeld, a key architect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Ledeen’s support for military action is overwhelming. The bedrock tenet of the “Ledeen Doctrine,” is that every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.(Ledeen’s words, not mine) Ledeen has focused specifically on regime change in Iran throughout his career. He previously served on the board of the Coalition for Democracy in Iran, an organization which worked with members of Congress to pass resolutions calling for regime change in the country in 2003 and 2004 and which blamed Iran for the insurgency in Iraq. Ledeen has also believed in and spread strange fabrications about the country.

And lastly, Elliott Abrams, a leading neoconservative who served as Deputy Special to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser under President George W. Bush, another shocking name on Cruz’s list of advisers.

A former Reagan administration official, Abrams was at the forefront of United States anti-Communist activities in Central America, which were plagued with human rights violations. In Nicaragua in particular, the International Court of Justice found the United States support of anti-communist rebels, as well as the mining of the country’s ports and waters, during the Reagan administration was a violation of international law. Still, Abrams defended United States intervention in the region years later. “The violence [in the region] is ending now in part because of the collapse of Communism throughout the world, but more because Communist efforts to take power by force were resisted and defeated,” he wrote in an article in the National Review. “In this small corner of the Cold War, American policy was right, and it was successful.”

Heavily involved in the Iran-contra scandal, Abrams was indicted for his role in illegally raising money for the Nicaraguan Contras, and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor for withholding information from Congress as part of a plea deal. He was later pardoned by President George Herbert Walker Bush.

Abrams was also a  key architect of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. “We recognize that military action in Iraq, if necessary, will have adverse humanitarian consequences,” he told CNN less than a month before the invasion. “We have been planning over the last several months, across all relevant agencies, to limit any such consequences and provide relief quickly.”

As a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Abrams often comments on Islam and the Middle East – which may be why he was picked by Cruz. He has been a vocal critic of the Iran nuclear deal and has previously blamed the rise of ISIS on President Obama’s decision to withdraw United States troops from Iraq.

So there you have just some of the folks who surround Ted Cruz either as supporters or as advisers. They all sound pretty scary to me.

But have no fears. Donald Trump says that he is going to win the nomination and eventually the election of 2016. And we do not have to worry about Donald Trump’s advisors. Apparently he has none.

In a recent interview, “The Donald” was asked why he has long shied away from naming any foreign policy advisors. He responded that he was his own top consultant on the issue. “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain, and I’ve said a lot of things,” Trump said during a telephone interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. (You can’t make this stuff up, folks. He really said that! At least part of what he said is true – he has said a lot of things.) Trump then pointed to his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, in which he made a reference to Osama bin Laden before the 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks as evidence of this seemingly obvious truth – at least a truth in his own mind. “I know what I’m doing, and I listen to a lot of people, I talk to a lot of people, and at the appropriate time I’ll tell you who the people are,” Trump said. “But I speak to a lot of people, but my primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff,” he added. Well, I can tell you that makes me feel a lot safer! (You will have to excuse my sarcasm. I just could not control myself.)

I began by saying you are known by the company you keep. Enough said?