Cruz may bruise

Born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father who fought both for and against Fidel Castro, freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz wants to be the Republican party’s presidential nominee in 2016.

There is some debate over whether his having been born abroad might render  him ineligible for the top job. The constitution requires presidents to be “natural born citizens”. Mr Cruz says it’s enough that his mother is American and that location of birth does not matter. Asked whether he believes President Obama is a “natural born citizen”, Mr Cruz  refuses to give a straight answer.

To succeed, he needs to win Republican presidential primaries. He has been making the obligatory piligrimage to Iowa, site of the first presidential nominating heat.  His strategy is to get himself  nationally known and loved by voters who think Mr Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim Marxist and reviled by what is left of the grown-up Republican establishment. He is doing well on all counts. Continue reading “Cruz may bruise”

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Land seizure, US-style

Richmond is a heavily working class, Latino and African-American community of 106,000 across the bay from San Francisco, north of Berkeley. During the second world war, its shipyards set records for the speed with which they turned out the Liberty supply ships that made Allied victory possible.

Today, the city is in the news for the potentially precedent-setting tactics it has adopted to reduce the mortgage debt of homeowners who bought at the top of the market on the theory it would go up forever and now owe considerably more than their properties are worth.

The median Richmond house price having fallen from $450,000 in January 2006 to $220,000 currently, just over half of all mortgage bonds in the city are said to be underwater. The city’s management, led by the only mayor in the country who is a member of the Green party, has said that if lenders are not willing to restructure mortgages to reflect current property values, Richmond will do the job for them through compulsory purchase of the bonds at “fair market prices”. Continue reading “Land seizure, US-style”