Dingus of the Week: Ted Cruz

Plus, a fundraiser for the people of Texas

This week’s newsletter is devoted to the state of Texas. I grew up in Texas and my parents live there now, where they are huddled inside their house with my little brother, sick with Covid, boiling what little water they have and just so happy they still have heat. At the end of this newsletter is a list of places to donate to help Texans in need, since apparently their government is going to do shit for them. And while I believe in the power of democracy and change, I also believe that when shit gets rough, we have to help each other out. And all too often, the people who suffer most in tragedies like this are the ones most disenfranchised. I did a little giveaway of my audiobook to help raise money for Texas, but it’s over. Thank you so much for your generosity. If you want to know more about what’s going on in Texas, read this.

This week’s dingus would have been Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Abbott went on Fox News, while people in his state were dying from cold and carbon monoxide poisoning because of his deregulated power grid, to talk about the real problem: windmills.

That’s right, Abbott was blaming windmills for Texas’s problems with power, while people are dying. Apparently, Abbott has never heard of Iowa, where 42% of our power grid uses wind energy and we’ve had three weeks of sub-zero temperatures and we’re doing just fine. Well, actually, our power grid is fine. The rest of the state is not doing just fine, but that has nothing to do with windmills and everything to do with government mismanagement, corruption, and political leaders who care more about trying to end tenure or telling a woman what she can do with her body than ending hunger. Which is actually Texas’s problem, too.

But like I said, Abbott would have been the Dingus of the Week had not Texas state senator Ted Cruz boarded a plane to Cancun during the middle of the storm. Conservative commentator Erick Erickson noted on Twitter, “I’m sorry Ted Cruz is not there to emote with you people.”

This has nothing to do with political optics, but rather with basic human decency. That simple little thing everybody keeps forgetting: when people are in pain, or hurting, or are dying, you care. You do what you can. And if you can’t do anything, you bring a casserole and hold their hands. People are dying in Texas because of the pandemic and a storm that everyone saw coming and no one did anything to prepare for. And Cruz did worse than nothing; he flew to a beach to sit and drink a margarita.

Cruz was elected to office to help the people of Texas. But when the people of Texas needed the most help, Cruz ran away. Another great Texan, Molly Ivins, explained it this way: “The amazing thing about what happens when you hold people with real power in this society responsible for the way it’s run is that they, each and every one, will then begin to explain to you how powerless they are.”

Cruz is a state senator who has proven himself to be without a soul but is still in possession of what I assume are two working hands and feet and access to places and people who have resources who can give those resources to people without resources. In a crisis, he literally couldn’t think of one thing to do that wasn’t: get yourself warm. And the sheer number of pundits defending him shows you how deep the idiocy goes. I know 78-year-old women who were housebound who helped their neighbors more during the derecho in Iowa than a sitting senator, with money and access to power could think of to do for his own constituents in a crisis of his own making. And of course, in his defense, he uses his wife and children as a shield.

I don’t mean to get Biblical, okay, I mean to get Biblical, but, like, Luke 12:48 states, “To whom much is given much is required.” And Cruz, who could presumably start driving people from their homes to warming shelters, drove his own ass to the airport. To get even more Biblical, when I asked my friend the Texan and writer Kelsey McKinney about all this, she said, “My statement on Ted Cruz is that I hope hell is real so I can beat his ass when we get there.”

(You can read her very good article about Texas right here.)

Texas isn’t the only state that has been completely abandoned by its elected leaders during the pandemic. I would certainly know what it feels like to be completely abandoned, left helpless, and then expected to be grateful when 10 full days after the storm, the president decides to approve our FEMA disaster aid. And we won’t be the last. 

Right now, the only accountability that’s happened is that Cruz had to come home from Cancun. So that’s one sunburn on a weak chin that’s never going to happen. But as much as we want to get through these hard times, it’s important that we remember. We remember who failed us. We remember who was there. We remember who offered help and who got on a plane and who decided that windmills were the enemies.

A Cocktail Recipe from a Texan:

I’ve known Rachelle since I was nine years old. We became friends when our parents decided to live together in a ranch house in Allen, Texas. At first, we were mortal enemies. Rachelle is very clean. I was the kind of kid who’d hide the carcass of a dead crawdad inside the dresser. But one day after we came to fisticuffs over our differences (specifically, the rotting crawdad, which I’d dressed up in Barbie clothes), her mom decided that we had to be “stuck together like glue” for the entire day. We’ve been friends ever since. Rachelle is a particularly incredible person, who is still very clean, and knows how to make a drink. Here’s her cocktail recipe:

This week has been nothing short of a nightmare for the state of Texas. Our winters typically consist of a few mostly cool months with a handful of random 80-degree days sprinkled in. You’re unlikely to find sleds in our garages and our kids definitely do not own snow-appropriate footwear. These things aren’t usually a problem, though. A snow day for us is often one single day, deep into winter, in which we get maybe an inch of snow. Our sneakers work just fine for running around trying to gather enough powder for a snowman. I don’t want to brag, but my siblings and I once built a snowman that was a solid eight inches tall. We were so proud. He melted by 10am the next morning.

This past week has been nothing like that. We saw snow on nearly every inch of Texas terrain. From up in the panhandle, where they’re a little more accustomed to it, all the way down to the beaches in Galveston, where they had to scoop up the sea turtles and give them a place to stay. There is a lot to say about this crisis. There are issues with the power grid and the people who control it. Stories of people who are suffering. But there are also countless stories of people taking care of their neighbors. They’re sharing firewood and food. They are opening their homes.

It’s in this spirit I’d like to offer up a cocktail recipe. A drink that is bright like the fires keeping us warm, a little bitter like our souls, and effervescent like our dreams of summertime drinks on patios. Texans may not be able to drive in snow, but we are very, very good at drinks on patios.

So, here’s my twist on the always appropriate Aperol Spritz.

You will need:

  • 1 oz Aperol

  • 1 oz Campari

  • Approx. 2 oz of prosecco

  • A splash of club soda

I like to build this in a large red wine glass, the biggest one I’ve got. Fill the glass about halfway with ice. Pour in about 2 oz of prosecco. It doesn’t have to be exact; this is a very forgiving drink. Then add 1 oz each of the Aperol and Campari. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with a slice of orange if you’ve got it. Admire the fiery color, take a sip, and feel that patio happy hour vibe.

Some notes: Usually, you’d just use 2 oz of Aperol for this recipe, but once upon a time I read about using a combination of both of these famous aperitifs in this drink, and I was intrigued. I tried it, and I’ve never looked back. Aperol is lighter and sweeter. Campari is darker and more bitter. I like the bitter edge the Campari brings, and I think it makes the cocktail more luscious and interesting.

If you do not already own both of these liqueurs, you might hesitate to buy two such similar items for one drink. However, you can use both of them in lots of other great cocktail recipes or just drink them over ice topped with tonic or club soda. If I’m out of prosecco, I will happily drink a Campari and tonic with a wedge of lime.

Places to Donate (a Little Fundraiser)

I did a little giveaway of my audiobook to help raise money for Texas, but it’s over. Thank you so much for your generosity. But don’t let that stop you!

This list is not exhaustive. You can check out this thread on Twitter or this Google doc has resources and places to donate.

Roasting Ted Cruz to Stay Warm:

Last night, Twitter was in incredible form making fun of Ted Cruz. Here are some of my favorite jokes. And normally, I only have comments open to subscribers, but I’m opening them to everyone, so you can post your own favorite Cruz jokes below.

Remember, you aren’t from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.

Normally this weekend newsletter is only for subscribers only and runs on Saturdays. I made it open for everyone this week, so maybe we can help just one more person. I don’t know. Thank you for reading.