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A neurologist explains why it’s so difficult to look at Ted Cruz’s creepy ‘unsettling’ face

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As the 2018 midterms heat up, Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) is once again making waves as he faces a fierce challenge from Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) who has amassed a impressive war-chest to take on the firebrand Republican.

With O’Rourke pulling in $6.7 million for his U.S. Senate bid in the first quarter of 2018, he has positioned himself to make a serious run at Cruz in the conservative state, where the GOP senator’s star has been eclipsed by the much more inflammatory President Donald Trump.

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What hasn’t changed for Cruz is that the senator is still viewed with unease by some voters because they flat out don’t like the way he looks.

The answer as to why so many people dislike the Texas Republican instinctively is one that intrigued Dr. Richard E. Cytowic, a professor of neurology at George Washington University.

Writing in Psychology Today,  Cytowic noted that Cruz’s “atypical expressions” left him “uneasy,” and that he was not alone among people who have watched Cruz up-close and from afar.

“Note how many colleagues and former associates ‘loathe’ him. A Bush alumnus told the New York Times’ Frank Bruni, ‘Why do people take such an instant dislike to Ted Cruz? It just saves time.’ Former Senate Majority leader Bob Dole says, ‘Nobody likes him,’ while Rep. Peter King sees ‘malice.'” Cytowic wrote. “According to The Washington Post, screenwriter Craig Mazin, Cruz’s former Princeton roommate, has called him a ‘huge asshole,’ and ‘creepy.’ He’s Tweeted, ‘Getting emails blaming me for not smothering Ted Cruz in his sleep in 1988.’ The distaste for Cruz even extends beyond the US: Germans say Backpfeifengesicht, meaning a face in need of a good punch.”

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According to Cytowic, the distaste for Cruz’s face starts with his smile.

“As a neurologist it is my business to notice things out of the ordinary and probe them,” he wrote. “Senator Cruz’s countenance doesn’t shift the way I expect typical faces to move. Human faces can’t help but broadcast what we feel, what we may be thinking, and even what we may intend.”

“I have rarely, if ever, seen a conventional smile from Senator Cruz. In a natural smile the corners of the mouth go up; these muscles we can control voluntarily as well. But muscles circling the eyes are involuntary only; they make the eyes narrow, forming crow’s feet at the outside corners,” he continued. “No matter the emotional coloring of Senator Cruz’s outward rhetoric, his mouth typically tightens into the same straight line. If it deviates from this, the corners of his mouth bend down, not upwards.”

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“Downturned expressions usually signal disagreeableness or disgust. But I honestly don’t know because such an expression is rare in the context of public presentations that are meant to win people over. He may well be unaware that the message of his body language is incongruent with his words,” he said before concluding, “Google ‘Ted Cruz smiling,’ and judge for yourself. For the record I am not a Democrat. I’m at a loss to verbalize what unsettles me so when I watch the freshman senator. But it leaves me cold.”


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Republicans lack the ‘moxie’ to defend America’s Kurdish allies in Syria: Ex-RNC Chair

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Republicans will criticize President Donald Trump on foreign policy, but lack the nerve to do anything meaningful to protect America's Kurdish allies in northern Syria, the former chair of the Republican Party explained on MSNBC on Wednesday.

MSNBC's Chuck Todd interviewed Steele about what it would take for Republicans to serve as a check on the president.

"I think the only way to make him change his mind is -- he’s got to think they might walk," Todd said.

"Well, that would require a level of moxie that we haven’t seen from the leadership," Steele replied.

"On the foreign policy space, I think that’s the one area where we’ve seen people actually start to push back rhetorically," he noted. "But I don’t know if internally they’ve really sat down with the president and go, 'This is how damaging this is, this is how troublesome it is, and this is the problem you’re having inside the caucus.' I just don’t — at least from the folks I’ve talked to, I haven’t gotten the sense they’ve gone there yet."

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Here are the two Trump claims that the Pentagon chief refused to vouch for

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The White House meeting Wednesday afternoon didn't go well for either party, according to their counterparts. Both sides are dishing on details, including a Democratic aide who said that there were two of President Donald Trump's claims that his own Pentagon chief wouldn't vouch for.

At the onset of the meeting, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) began by reading a quote from Gen. James Mattis, who briefly served in Trump's administration.

"But POTUS cut Schumer off," reported PBS News correspondent Lisa Desjardins. Trump then "said that Gen Mattis was: 'the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take 2 yrs. I captured them in 1 month."

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Former Clinton lawyer scolds Trump’s White House counsel on impeachment: ‘we never considered’ behaving this way

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On Tuesday, Lanny Breuer, a special counsel who worked for President Bill Clinton's White House, wrote an open letter in the Washington Post to President Donald Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — telling him that, while he understands an impeachment is a horrible thing for an administration to go through, Clinton and his lawyers would never have behaved the way Trump is now.

"In 1998, we felt under siege," wrote Breuer. "We argued at the time, as you do in your letter, that Congress should provide additional procedural protections to the president ... For example, instead of conducting its own investigation, the committee relied almost exclusively on [independent counsel Ken] Starr’s report, which had serious flaws. The House took only three months to adopt articles of impeachment, and we had only two days to present our witnesses. The president’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, had only 30 minutes to question Starr. We felt this was deeply unfair and a derogation of the House’s constitutional duty to investigate thoroughly whether impeachment was warranted."

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