Ted Cruz

Desperate to Keep His Seat, Ted Cruz Gets Dumber and Dumber on Criminal Justice

The Texas senator's authoritarian attacks on Beto O'Rourke short-circuit rational discussion of police shootings, drug policy, and sentencing reform.



When Ted Cruz ran for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, he executed a striking about-face on sentencing reform, opposing legislation that was less ambitious than a bill he had cosponsored just eight months before. The Texas senator's explanation, which featured the sort of tough-on-crime demagoguery he had previously resisted, was utterly illogical but made political sense as part of an effort to attract conservative primary voters. Now that he is running a surprisingly close re-election campaign against Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, who supports marijuana legalization as well as sentencing reform, Cruz is doubling down on the dumb authoritarian rhetoric in the hope of motivating his supporters to vote by painting O'Rourke as a dangerous radical.

Last month Cruz, who boasts about his support among cops, claimed on Twitter that O'Rourke "sides against the police" at every opportunity. Nine minutes later, Cruz posted a video of O'Rourke speaking at a Dallas church after the September 6 shooting of Botham Shem Jean. Amber Guyger, the off-duty Dallas police officer who shot Jean, said she mistook him for a burglar after mistaking his apartment for hers. Here is what O'Rourke had to say about the incident:

How can it be, in this day and age, in this very year, in this community, that a young man, African American, in his own apartment is shot and killed by a police officer? And when we all want justice and the facts and the information to make an informed decision, what is released to the public? That he had a small amount of marijuana in his kitchen. How can that be just in this country? How can we continue to lose the lives of unarmed black men in the United States of America at the hands of white police officers? That is not justice. That is not us. That can and must change. Are you with me on this?

Cruz, who captioned the video "In Beto O'Rourke's own words," clearly was presenting it as evidence of his opponent's anti-cop bias. That's absolutely bonkers, given that Guyger's shooting of Jean was so egregious that it was condemned by commentators across the political spectrum. Even if you take her account of the shooting at face value, she was guilty of deadly carelessness at the very least.

Cruz's tweet about the Jean shooting cannot be dismissed as a one-time gaffe. A week before, he had told a local TV station that O'Rourke was jumping to conclusions when he said the Dallas Police Department should fire Guyger. While Jean's death was a "tragic situation where everyone is horrified by what happened," Cruz said six days after Guyger was arrested for manslaughter, "I wish Beto O'Rourke and Democrats weren't so quick to always blame the police officer." Not to put too fine a point on it, but when a cop enters someone's home with no legal justification and shoots him dead, there is no mystery about who is to blame.

"If there was ever a justified national WTF moment regarding police brutality, the Botham Shem Jean shooting was it," Jack Hunter observes at The American Conservative. "O'Rourke was right to call for the officer's firing. How many times have conservative Republicans called for government bureaucrats to be fired for basic incompetence? (And they should!) A government agent who happens to wear a badge unquestionably deserves due process but not special treatment."

Cruz also has attacked O'Rourke for his critique of mass incarceration and racial bias in the criminal justice system. During a September 19 campaign event, O'Rourke alluded to Michelle Alexander's book on that subject, The New Jim Crow, calling the phrase "an apt description." As the Houston Chronicle noted in an editorial, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Cruz's erstwhile ally on sentencing reform, has used similar language. Yet at a September 21 debate, Cruz presented O'Rourke's comments as further evidence that he hates cops, falsely claiming that "Congressman O'Rourke described law enforcement, described police officers, as modern-day Jim Crow," adding, "That is not Texas."

Cruz's criticism of O'Rourke's views on drug policy have been only slightly more nuanced. To his credit, Cruz still takes a federalist approach to marijuana, saying states should be free to legalize it without interference from Washington. That stance is consistent with Cruz's avowed respect for the Constitution and with public opinion. Last year a Quinnipiac University poll found that 75 percent of Americans, including 59 percent of Republicans, opposed "enforcing federal laws against marijuana" in the 29 states that "have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana." Another Quinnipiac survey conducted last April found that 61 percent of Texas voters think recreational use of marijuana should be legal. Even the Texas Republican Party has endorsed eliminating criminal penalties for marijuana possession.

Rather than swimming against the marijuana tide, Cruz portrays O'Rourke as a crazy extremist who wants to legalize all drugs. "Reasonable minds, perhaps, can differ on whether marijuana should be illegal," Cruz told reporters in May, "but what Congressman O'Rourke introduced was a resolution for the City Council to take up legalizing all narcotics, legalizing everything, legalizing heroin, legalizing deadly opioids….This country is facing a crisis—an opioid crisis…and in light of that growing tragedy, Congressman O'Rourke's radical proposal to legalize all narcotics is a suggestion that might be very popular up at Berkeley. It might be popular in far-left circles, but it doesn't reflect the values of Texans. Texans don't want to see heroin and deadly opioids legalized and our kids able to just walk in to the corner store and buy them."

Cruz was referring to O'Rourke's support, as an El Paso city councilman, for an "honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics." O'Rourke added that recommendation to a 2009 resolution about drug war violence, and here is how he explained it at the time: "I'm not saying that we need to do that—to end the prohibition. I think we need to have a serious discussion about doing that, and that may, in the end, be the right course of action." In his 2011 book Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico, O'Rourke claimed he mainly had in mind marijuana, which he erroneously referred to as a "narcotic" (consistent with longtime government practice). Although I wish O'Rourke were mounting a broader critique of the war on drugs, it clearly is not accurate to say he wants to "legalize all narcotics," and Cruz's bit about kids buying heroin at the corner store makes him sound like a mindless drug warrior circa 1985.

This sort of cheap fearmongering is not just disappointing from a politician who has shown he is capable of discussing criminal justice in a more thoughtful way. Attacks like these can have a real impact on the prospects for reform, already threatened by an administration that is more interested in ratcheting up penalties than in making the system less mindlessly punitive.

"While they may address the issues from different perspectives, Democrats and Republicans have worked together in fighting mass incarceration and refocusing efforts toward rehabilitation," the Chronicle notes. "This cooperation included an unspoken detente on scaremongering and race-baiting campaigns. Without the fear of cheap attacks, politicians and policymakers have been free to discuss the failings of our criminal justice system in stark, earnest terms. Historically low crime rates certainly contributed to that political truce. In his campaign for re-election, Cruz has shattered that truce."

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  1. Beto ain’t winning no matter how hard the Reason propaganda machine tries.

    1. But yeah, Cruz is bad on multiple Libertarian issues.

      Its why I was glad Trump won over Ted Cruz.

      Trump is Libertarian-ish on some Libertarian issues.

      1. Ted Cruz is no Tom Woods.

        1. Ted Druz is also no Tom Wopat.

      2. At the time, before Trump won, I actually felt bad for Cruz and thought he would have been a better choice than Trump. Boy, how wrong I was.

    2. Beto will beat Cruz, and it will be one of the victories that helps flip the Senate.


      1. OBL, come on – you know that Beto is creepy, almost as much as the creepy porn lawyer.



        1. Yes, but he is unashamedly open borders.

          1. Another negative.

        2. Creepy? Actually, it’s the opposite ? Beto has effortless charisma and charm. There’s a reason he’s one of the true rockstar candidates of this election cycle.

          1. #Beto’sababe?

          2. OpenBordersLiberal-tarian = Beto has effortless charisma and charm. There’s a reason he’s one of the true rockstar candidates of this election cycle.

            I can clearly see you’re sexually attracted to Beto and find this fascinating as prior you professed undying devotion to Hillary Clinton.

      2. LMAO!! Beto is losing more ground every day, A week ago the RCP average was 4.5 points, now it is 6.6 The last poll has Cruz up by 9 pts. I think it is ironic that a “Libertarian” website is pushing the election of a hard left progressive democrat. When did Libertarians embrace big government and Federal regulation of everything? Beto is as hard left as you can get. He has totally embraced the Democrat platform and pledged his support to progressive positions when he was fundraising in California. His chances of winning are nothing but wishful thinking and pot induced fantasy.

      3. While your entitled to your opinion it would be to your advantage to read up on this guy before sticking a LibertariansForBeto sticker on this creep. He is far more dangerous to civil liberties than Cruz. If you want to count your allies idiots like Bloomberg then by all means promote this totalitarian shill.

    3. How far up your ass is Trump’s cock right now, LoveConstipation1789?

      1. How far up your ass is Bloomberg and his MONEY, socialist shill?

  2. Cruz is up by 6 pts. Sorry to disappoint you, but no Blue Wave is coming to turn this country into Free Minds and Free Markets Venezuela like you want.

    1. Instead, we’ll get Free Minds and Free Markets, Ted Cruz style!

      1. Oh Little Jeffy……….

        You’re one stupid kid.

      2. Better than some progressive social justice warrior halfway on the path to socialism. But good on you and Reason for carrying this worthless progressives water.

        Reason is trash. Libertarian my ass, fuck these hit pieces on Cruz and puff pieces on Orurke. What is this like at least 3 nice articles on him now?

        1. I know, right? Why can’t Reason finally realize their proper place in the world and turn into the good little Republican footsoldiers that they are supposed to be, amirite?

    2. If the residual racists of Texas need to spend tens of millions of dollars to preserve a Senate seat for an authoritarian, backward Republican such as Ted “Feel Free To Call My Wife A Pig” Cruz, America is continuing to head in the proper (liberal-libertarian) direction.

      1. Professor Dershowitz regards Cruz as one of the smartest students he’s ever had.

        How does that assessment comport with your characterization of Cruz as ‘backward?”

        1. Not every stale-thinking, intolerant, authoritarian right-winger is a dullard. Not nearly.

          One might get the wrong impression from right-wingers’ tendency to avoid modern, successful communities and modern thinking. Some superstitious bigots are smart.

          1. If someone is smart, they wouldn’t be superstitious or a bigot without cause. Fool.

          2. Your rejection of God betrays what a weak little mind you have Arty. You probably can’t evendefine what you don’t believe in.

            Typical bitter atheist.

            1. You can stop humping your bible, Last of the Shitferbrains. Nobody around here is buying your Gawd act.

      2. Retrograde retard hicks like you should have the ever living shit stomped out of you repeatedly.

        1. Open wider, Jack. More progress on the way!

          1. You’ll find the national guard shooting into the crowd at said progressives soon enough.

            1. Still pining for a shootig war, I see, LastoftheShitferbrain.

      3. When you resort to calling people you do not know racists because of how they vote or what they believe alone, it is you who is the actual bigot. If expecting our elected officials to represent interests of Texas instead of the RNC, DNC or the Federal government is “racist”, then I happily accept the label. I also fully embrace the label of redneck because the opposite would be you and I would rather hit myself in the face with a hammer than endure that pain.

    3. Latest poll has him up by 9 and new RCP average is 6.6,

  3. Beto supports police. He wants to ban AR-15s.

    “There is no reason an AR-15, a weapon of war designed for the sole purpose of taking lives as effectively and as efficiently and [in] as great a number as possible should be sold to civilians to be used in our schools, in our churches, in our concerts, in public life in this country,” said O’Rourke.

    “I have no idea how that polls, and I could give a s*** what the NRA thinks about it because it’s the right thing to do,” he added.

    1. “I have no idea how that polls, and I could give a s*** what the NRA thinks about it because it’s the right thing to do,” he added.

      A) It polls poorly, especially in, say, Texas.

      B) Well, if you do “give a shit”, it means you still care somewhat. I believe the word you’re looking for is ‘shouldn’t’, Beto…if that is your real name!

      1. Beto isn’t running to win. He is running to fund raise for something he actually wants down the road.

        1. Perhaps a fair trade, locally-sourced Irish-tinged cantina?

          *jazzy stock commercial midi* So, come on down to Beto O’Rourke’s in Austin, near the Dreadlock District, where everyone’s a little Irish, except for the Italians and the gays!

      2. “Beto” is a misspelling of “Beta.”

        1. In the o,ed days we called them ‘pussies’.

          1. In the current times, we call you Contard fuckwits.

    2. “There is no reason an AR-15, a weapon of war designed for the sole purpose of taking lives…..”

      As opposed to what other purpose?

      Progtards be progtardin’.

      1. Keep fapping to your ammo pile, Last of the Shitferbrains.

    3. And this is why he will lose. Gun Control in Texas is a death certificate for a politician. Police in Texas do not support gun control outside of the liberal enclaves of Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston and El Paso. We you realize that 75% of the population of Texas lives outside the large cities, you understand why Democrats are a shrinking force in Texas politics.

    4. He lost the moment he said this at SXSW back in April. Texas is not a state where gun control will ever be a winning issue. In Texas you can carry a handgun concealed or open, a long gun can be carried openly, a bowie knife or a sword can be carried openly, and you can carry a handgun concealed on college campuses. In a state that allows such freedom with firearms, do you really expect the residents to embrace gun bans of any sort?

  4. Even if you take her account of the shooting at face value, she was guilty of deadly carelessness at the very least.

    Cruz doesn’t think it’s quite fair to condemn the whole program because of a single slip up.

  5. Patrick “Please, for the love of God call me Beto and not Patrick Because Some People Might Actually Think I Am Latino” O’Rouke, like perhaps most politicians, cannot be counted upon to not-shill for the DNC, and any ideology he might have will be consumed by the hive mind.

    1. Beto has made a personal crusade of kicking latinos out of office and trying to bulldoze barrios through eminent domain.

      A Republican named Patrick who did the same things…

      1. If you substitute the word latinos with blacks, it describes a politican named Barack.

    2. His actual name is Robert Francis O’Rourke. However, you are correct in his use of Beto is to con people into thinking he is actually Latino when he is in fact 100% White and Irish.

  6. If the polls tighten up, expect Ted to don an orange comb-over wig and start talking about locking up Hillary Clinton.

    1. The spread in the polls will not tighten, they will expand. Cruz received 1.5 million votes in the GOP primary running against 4 other candidates. O’Rourke and the other 6 Democratic candidates COMBINED on got 648K votes. Cruz alone got more than twice as many votes. In addition, the recent fiasco of the Kavanagh hearing did not help Dems in Texas one iota. Texans saw it for exactly what it was, partisan politics of the lowest form.

  7. I don’t like Cruz and I don’t like O’Rouke.

    Wonder if there is someone else a Libertarian could vote for? Oh yeah, that guy, what’s his name, Neal Dikeman! Yep, this Texan will vote for the Dikeman.

    1. “That name is a bit sexist. Can we just change it to the Dykes?”

      1. Dude, vote for the Dyke, man.

    2. Why not vote for Mickey Mouse? It will do as much good. Of course it’s still better than voting for a socialist.

  8. They’re both thugs.
    Cruz is about as libertarian as Genghis Khan.
    Beto is closer to Emperor Maximilian.
    They both disgust me.

    1. Ted Cruz and Genghis Kahn in a sentence?

      I wonder whether Genghis Khan would have watched some doughy, vainglorious slob call a woman Khan cared about a pig, then invite the slob over for a gathering that did not involve prolonged humiliation and disembowelment.

      Tough as Texas? Yeah, probably.

    2. Is there any way they could BOTH lose?

  9. The Jack Hunter piece is good. He notes how Cruz has changed his position on criminal justice reform rather quickly. And Hunter’s criticism is more valid, because he’s not a Beto Booster

    1. Hell, Cruz voted for more spending. Looks like his supposed tea party roots were for show and political gain. I won’t vote for more spending, which of course means I can’t vote for either option. Ah, democracy!

  10. Hmmm. Who was it that said, “Ted Cruz is a liar? You mean, the Cruz that people associate with “a used car salesman?” You mean, the Cruz who would feed his mother to the feral hogs, which roam Texas, to win this election?

    Answer: DJT

    That would be the same DJT who has engineered and unleashed the pernicious TDS that afflicts the weak of mind.

    Ted’s cred has taken a hit, with me at least, with this counter-productive pandering. Ted’s consultants must have some big concern that the pro-drug war contingent was going to sit-out this election so dutiful Ted go behind the garage and fire it up.

    Terrible Tact Ted missed a chance to recruit new supporters with his previous statements about letting states decide weed legalization. And to be intellectually honest, should have added, that despite his reservations, he would work to get the feds out so the states could do it unfettered by federal prohibition out of respect for states’ rights. But, no. Instead he leads with this BS misrepresentation of Beto. Fail. Sad.

    1. Ted Cruz mewed when Trump called Mrs. Cruz hideously ugly, then obsequiously invited Trump to a campaign event because he’s worried there might not be enough residual bigotry in Texas to buoy a Republican’s candidacy this year.

      No wonder the all-talk conservative malcontents and disaffected incels who embrace faux libertarianism fall in line for Cruz.

      1. *yawn*

        That all you got, bitch?

        1. that one cut a little close to home, didn’t it, Last of the Shitferbrains.

      2. residual bigotry? I love it when progressives throw around accusations of bigotry when they themselves are the real bigots and racists (yes they is actually two different issues)

  11. Beto is a dangerous radical, it’s just that Cruz is a lying bastard. Oh, what a choice my fellow Texans…

    1. If the election is tight then the choice is an obvious one.

      1. Stay home, since Cruz will win without me.

        1. Some polls have had it very close.
          Though in honesty, I think Ted’s gonna win.
          If Beto wins it would be a fucking disaster for Texas.

    2. Hahahaaaaaahaha. You obvs have no idea what a “dangerous radical” is.

      1. I’d say it’s someone that thinks an AR-15 is a military weapon that needs to be banned, for one thing. Maybe not a dangerous radical, I can concede that perhaps he’s just a dangerous idiot.

        1. You mean the weapon that people have ready access to only in terrorist-run shitstain countries?

          1. Surely you aren’t confusing an AR-15, which requires frequent cleaning and proper handling, with an AK-47, which can be approximately 100% out of alignment and still fire? I believe the Shitstainians prefer the latter.

          2. You don’t need to know much about firearms to know what semi-automatic means, idiot.

          3. Tony! You should have your own gun. So you can commit suicide with it.

          4. Your comment only proves you are an idiot. First, in most 3rd world countries you will find AK47s, not AR15s. Second, the civilian ARs in the US are semi auto rifles, not full auto rifles. The only kind of person who runs into a military firefight with a semi auto rifle is called DEAD guy.

            1. So name another country you’d set foot in that has ready access to AR15s.

  12. And he’s the head of an upper middle class, white, Catholic family of merchants, business owners and professionals who, if not universally revered, are widely liked in the only Texas metropolis on Mountain time.


    1. It is a feel good story to see a Hispanic family prosper after crossing the Rio Grande. Now his Hispanic surname, O’Rourke, is as American as Smith

      1. O’Rourke is not Hispanic at all. He is 100% Irish, His use of the name Beto is to do EXACTLY what your comment reflects, con people into thinking he is of Spanish descent when he is as Spanish as Trump.

      2. O’Rourke is not Hispanic at all. He is 100% Irish, His use of the name Beto is to do EXACTLY what your comment reflects, con people into thinking he is of Spanish descent when he is as Spanish as Trump.

    2. El Paso is a Mexican suburb that should be part of New Mexico.

    3. “he’s now in his 17th year as paterfamilias”

      lol. Now I associate him with a shyster in O Brother Where Art Thou?

  13. “Cruz is doubling down on the dumb authoritarian rhetoric in the hope of motivating his supporters to vote by painting O’Rourke as a dangerous radical”

    …he is.

    1. Of course he is! That’s the duopoly playbook. Stake out a “reasonable” position, and then everyone who is on the left/right of your “reasonable” position is a “dangerous radical”. That way, you downplay how radical your own views are, and you whip up hysterical fears about the other team that they are some sort of mortal threat to the Republic.

      How many times are people going to fall for this lame song-and-dance show before they realize it is all entirely bullshit?

  14. It’s been my experience that a lot of people on the left side of the political spectrum who talk police reform eventually run face-first into a thing called The Union, and the any proposed reforms wither on the vine.

    I honestly wonder if our best bet is to vote for the anti-union guy and convince him that police reform is the right thing to do.

    I’m not saying Cruz is that guy.

    1. No. But do keep coming up with excuses to support Republicans. Maybe one day it will start to seem like thoughtfulness rather than a deep, abiding addiction to right-wing propaganda.

      When exactly do you think the party whose core voters are racist crackers is going to embrace black lives mattering?

      1. The single, best, and perhaps only reason to vote for Republicans is: Democrats
        See: Tony, Rev, etc

      2. When exactly do you think the party whose core voters are racist crackers is going to embrace black lives mattering?

        The Democrats embraced BLM right away. Why do you ask?

      3. Tomy, you democrats are pure evil. All of you need to go away, forever.

  15. Ah…the typical Reason double standard: Republicans are always evil and calculating, Democrats always have the best of intentions and motives. They are just misguided. This is sickening. Both are calculating, duplicitous politicians. One wants a police state and is open about it. The other wants a different form of police state with a disarmed populace. Neither is a good choice.

  16. Ted Cruz is a psychotic opportunistic unpleasant narc, story at 11.

    1. We’re tou confused by looking in a mirror when you typed that?

  17. Ted Cruz, prime example of today’s rogue Republican!

  18. disappointing that Cruz is getting less and less libertarian. Dikeman will get my vote.

    1. I was going to vote libertarian until the confirmation hearings.

      Now I will vote straight ticket libertarian except for Cruz.

  19. Cruz is a fat-assed bible-humper who will be remembered by history as one of the fools who got his pants taken down by Trumplethinskin in the 2016 primaries.

  20. Cruz is wrong for Texas but Beto is not the answer.

    This Texas resident will be using the “no incumbent gets my vote” method. I’ll punch the Libertarian box on the straight ticket option.

    1. Feel free. Cruz will win without your vote because there are plenty of us smart enough to realize the importance of the GOP holding the Senate. Cruz was attacked by RINOs like McCain, Flake and others because he did as he promised and attempted to defund Obamacare. He was vilified in the press. The RINO led – GOP considered him such a threat in 2016, they convinced Kasich to act as spoiler thinking President Trump would lose to Hillary and the status quo in DC would be maintained. When President Trump entered the WH, like a real conservative and a true statesman, Cruz began to work to support the President and his agenda. Beto is a leftist who would become part of the resistance which might make idiots in the communist corridor between Austin and San Antonio happy, but the rest of Texas will reject him and he will lose BIG.

  21. Not being libertarian enough should be illegal.

  22. > Cruz is doubling down on the dumb authoritarian rhetoric

    I stopped reading here, because any writer should be able to make valid points without resorting to personal attacks and insults.

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