It’s always tough to return from a nice beach vacation. It’s nice to be back home, but we’re already missing the sand and blue sky and bright colors. Sigh.
I’m one of those people who think Ted Cruz is not “likable.” In fact, he looks and often sounds like the kind of guy who is so single-minded about succeeding that he would happily climb over the bodies of his former allies to get to the top. Anyone who has gone to law school knows that personality type and shudders when they think of it.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the Cruz campaign in Iowa would do something like obtain voting data — which is available a matter of public record in Iowa — and then prepare individualized mailings headed “VOTING VIOLATION” and designed to look like official citations from state voting officials. The mailing lists the name of the recipient and the percentage of times they have voted and gives them a “grade,” and — even worse — names the recipient’s neighbors and gives their voting percentages and “grades,” too.
Iowa’s Secretary of State, Paul D. Pate, has strongly criticized the mailing, calling it misleading. “Accusing citizens of Iowa of a ‘voting violation’ based on Iowa caucus participation, or lack thereof, is false representation of an official act,” Mr. Pate said. “There is no such thing as an election violation related to frequency of voting. Any insinuation or statement to the contrary is wrong and I believe it is not in keeping in the spirit of the Iowa caucuses.” The Cruz campaign, for its part, pooh-poohs the issue and says that such a mailing is “common practice,” and Ted Cruz himself said he would “apologize to nobody for using every tool we can to encourage Iowa voters to come out and vote.” (Why does that reaction not surprise me?)
Some people — like the guy who tweeted his mailing, shown above, and declared he was now caucusing for Marco Rubio — have reacted negatively to the mailing, which they think is trying to shame them, in front of their neighbors, into participating in the Iowa caucuses on Monday. I’m not surprised. Such a mailing would piss me off, too, and I vote in every election and therefore presumably should get a good voting “grade.”
I think, for Ted Cruz, this kind of mailing strikes at the deeper issue of just what kind of jerk he seems to be. If Cruz is willing to try to publicly embarrass average people to try to get what he wants, where would he draw the line — if anywhere — if he were elected President? People like to believe they can live their private lives without being put under a microscope or having their actions held up for ridicule by politicians who are already far too intrusive in our everyday affairs. Now Ted Cruz thinks it is okay to try to shame people to their neighbors? If I were an Iowan, it would definitely be something I would think about come caucus time.
Our plane arrived in balmy Columbus on time last night, we hopped onto the shuttle that takes patrons out to the Green Lot — the lot with the cheapest daily rate — and were looking forward to getting back home, seeing an excited Kasey, and vegging out.
After the shuttle dropped us off we walked to our car, commenting on the nice weather, and I pulled out the keys with the automatic door opener, pushed the button, and got . . . nothing. No short beep, no flash of tail lights . . . nothing.
So with sinking feeling I got into the car by using a key the old-fashioned way, tried the ignition, and the car was totally dead. And, because married couples always do this, Kish then got into the car, tried the ignition, and got the same result as I beat myself up about apparently leaving some light on or some door ajar, even though I know that I checked twice when we locked the car up. So we briefly debated about whether to just take a cab home, or call AAA and wait in the parking lot until they showed up.
But, as Kish called AAA, I saw a pick-up truck, with what appeared to be a snow plow on the front, far down our parking row. Maybe this guy could give me a jump? As I walked down to his truck, I noticed that he was giving a jump to another car, and my spirits rose. When he was done, I asked if he could give us a jump, too, and he said sure.
It turns out this jovial fellow worked for Port Columbus and was roaming the parking lots, helping out travelers like us. He explained that, while we were gone, the temperatures at the airport lots had fallen to around zero overnight, which took its toll on car batteries and the air in tires. In short, our dead battery wasn’t our fault. (Hooray!) And sure enough, as he prepared to help us out, another Green Lot patron sheepishly walked up and asked for a jump, too.
We filled out a form as the Port Columbus Good Samaritan used a little gizmo that fired up our battery and brought our car roaring to life — no need for jumper cables in these modern times, apparently — and we gratefully gave him the last five dollars in our collective wallets, which he initially tried to refuse. We insisted that he accept it, though, because his presence and helped allowed our vacation to end on a high note.
Thanks to Port Columbus for its foresight in employing the Good Samaritan, and thanks to the Good Samaritan for giving us weary travelers a hand in a time of need.
I have a bowl in my office, on a table between two chairs. Every time I take a trip to a beach, I bring back a shell (or three) to add to the bowl. It’s a little bit of whimsy in an otherwise functional office, and a pleasant, physical reminder of relaxed, carefree times.
I don’t try to bring back perfect shells — that would be frustrating and defeat the purpose — but rather shells that, because of their color or texture or shape, just caught my eye as I walked on the sand. This trip it’s a coral theme, with a ridged piece of brain coral, a reddish piece that is shot through with holes, and a globby item that somehow reminds me of a ghost.
It turns out that Trump’s absence affected the debate in a lot of interesting ways. Obviously, he wasn’t physically on stage, taking the polling leader’s share of the questions or mugging and frowning for the cameras at every turn. Without Trump’s glitz, bombast, insults, and obvious lack of homework on certain issues, the substantive content of the debate clearly was raised a few notches.
Even more interesting was the candidates’ effort to fill the perceived leadership vacuum left by Trump’s decision to skip the debate. Ted Cruz clearly wanted to present himself as the big dog, but we didn’t think it worked out very well for him. It’s as if Trump’s antics in prior debates gave some cover to Cruz’s persona, and without Trump there Cruz was finally alone in the spotlight. He’s not really ready for prime time.
Why? Cruz reminds me of the time Uncle Mack, Dad and I went to buy a casket after Gramma Webner died, years ago. For all of his wooden expressions of sympathy, the guy who sold the casket was shameless in trying to play on guilt to unload the most expensive casket he could. Cruz has the same unctuousness, the same practiced mannerisms, the same scripted responses, and the same inert sense of humor. His attempts to act as if the other candidates were ganging up on him, and that the moderators weren’t being fair with him, all fell flat. Some people say Cruz isn’t likeable, but I would describe it more as not being genuine. He was the most contrived guy on the stage — and that’s not a good thing.
I don’t know how Trump’s power play with Fox News will work out for The Donald, but I think it really hurt Cruz.
When you get to the tropics, you get bright sunshine — and bright colors. The brighter the better! No boring beige here, thank you very much! We’ll go for lurid pinks and purples, lemons and greens, and pastels as far as the eye can see. They are a better match for the aquamarine water and green plants and deep blue sky.
Whether it’s a seaside beer joint or a resort like Old Bahama Bay, everyone adheres to the Bahamas palette. The color scheme is so prevalent that, when we walked past a house painted a staid gray yesterday we shook our heads and thought: “What were they thinking?”
Hey, Dr. Z! Look, I took your instruction that I need to eat more fish, and had some absolutely fresh off the boat grouper for lunch. It made me realize, once again, what a difference freshness makes.
I feel so much healthier now! Of course, I had French fries and a few beers with the fish, and the fish was fried . . . but hey, it’s a start!
I am incapable of predicting whether Donald Trump’s actions are savvy or suicidal. Every time he makes a boorish statement or engages in bullying behavior that I am sure will backfire, he comes through with higher poll numbers than ever. And I’m not alone in this — the punditry has predicted Trump’s demise at every turn, and he’s still here.
So don’t ask me if Trump’s decision to skip the next Republican debate and get into a public catfight with Fox News will hurt him. It seems like a silly gamble to me; why miss out on the free air time and let your fellow contenders point to your empty lectern all night long? But Trump’s gut may be telling him something else — that his supporters like his unconventional approach and are as happy to watch him ripping big media as they are to see him cutting down boring politicians. Perhaps they see a missed debate as the ultimate thumb in the eye to the establishment and are thrilled he’s doing it.
One thing is clear: right now Trump dominates the news cycle and sets the story line, and the others are just reacting and always a move behind. And responses like Ted Cruz’s — that if Trump is afraid of Megyn Kelly, how will he stand up to Hillary Clinton or Vladimir Putin — no doubt seem feeble to Trump’s supporters. They no doubt see Trump, after six debates, not as afraid but as fed up, just like they are.
If Trump in fact skips the next debate — and that’s a big if, given his mercurial tendencies — he will be going all in on one of the biggest gambles American politics has seen in a long time.
We took a boat trip with friends yesterday, and I realized that boating technology has progressed about as rapidly as cell phone technology. The boat’s instrument panel featured RPM monitors, fuel gauges, depth finders, fish finders, engine monitors, more buttons and lights and switched than you could shake a stick at, a GPS link and map that could be scrolled up or down or in or out — and Sirius XM radio.
It all looked so complicated, like the cockpit of a plane, that I wondered if you needed a Ph.D to operate it. That turns out to be a slight exaggeration — our friends only took a week-long course to get up to speed.