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In the sixth GOP debate, Ted Cruz said that stopping violent crime was simple: “You prosecute criminals. You target the bad guys.” That does seem simple – why didn’t anybody think of this before? Ted Cruz has enlightened us all! Oh wait, no he didn’t. In fact, he could potentially be brutal when it comes to prosecuting crime, and in other ways as well.

David Brooks, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, dug up this little tidbit on Ted Cruz’ past:

“In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.

Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.”

Yes, you read that right, Ted Cruz tried to keep an incorrectly-sentenced man in prison for his full sentence over a stolen calculator from Walmart. Haley should not have served more than two years, and despite the state acknowledging a mistake, Cruz tried to get the Supreme Court to let him make Haley serve out his full, 16-year sentence. Some of the justices on the Supreme Court were skeptical of this. In fact, Brooks’ piece quotes Justice Anthony Kennedy as saying:

“Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?”

It would certainly seem that way – Republicans almost never admit to being wrong. They think it looks like weakness. Unfortunately, in this case, refusing to admit to an error hurt a real person. Brooks brought this up in his op-ed because he believes it puts Cruz’s character into an interesting light. Cruz polls very well among the powerful evangelical voting bloc because he portrays himself as this awesome, wholehearted, God-fearing Christian. However, as Brooks puts it:

“Cruz is a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace.”

Brooks goes on to explain:

“Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy.”

Bill Maher says that Cruz is evil. He says that Ted Cruz is scarier than Donald Trump because he’s smart, and he’s using it to serve evil purposes. He’s ambitious and he loves power, according to Maher, and certainly, the Haley case is strong evidence of that. Ted Cruz does not have the best interests of Americans at heart, because he’s power-hungry. Cruz doesn’t talk much about mercy, grace, or compassion the way other evangelicals do (at least somewhat). As Brooks puts it, “He lays down an atmosphere of apocalyptic fear.” He makes statements that are intentionally crafted to tap into anger and fear.

During the debate, he also said that Washington was a cartel. He likened Washington to the brutality of the Mexican drug cartels that have ravaged the southern border, and Mexico itself. In other words, Cruz’s history, when put together with what he says today, paints a very grim picture. He’s the other frontrunner in the GOP clown car. If anyone’s capable of turning us into a quivering, terrified mess in the Oval Office, it’s likely Cruz.

Image via Fox Business GOP prime-time debate

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