Lose Rhymes with Cruz

So, let’s make it official: Ted Cruz is a loser.

He dropped out of the Republican presidential race tonight in the wake of a humiliating defeat in Indiana. Actually, the wake had hardly started when Cruz announced he is a loser (in so many words) and will no longer be a candidate.

That leaves John Kasich as the sole remaining opponent for Trump. I expect there will be a cry from the GOP establishment for him to pull out, though my feeling is that Kasich is likely to slog on even without money or hope. Much as Bernie Sanders plods along without even the remote prospect of derailing Hillary Clinton.

It’s likely you’ll see Clinton putting Bernie in the rear-view mirror as she pivots to the general election concerns. And it’s almost certain you’ll see Republicans
scrambling to make sense out of what has happened to the party. I think there’s a good chance the GOP will fracture. It’s hard to see many in the establishment agreeing to back Trump with money and enthusiasm. And I’ll bet there are many hedging their bets to focus on what will be done after Trump loses and the party falls apart.

Fun times ahead…..

Flying and Cruising

So, enough about the Republicans for a moment. Let’s look at a couple of other matters, starting with the only organization that may rival Ted Cruz for being despised intensely. I’m talking, of course, about the airlines.

Recently JetBlue publicly hailed itself for major renovations in its cabins including better wifi, new seats, attractive colors, etc. It all sounds great. Except for the fat that what the airline didn’t announce was the addition of more seats in its planes and the resulting takeaways in space for passengers. JetBlue upped the number of seats ton 162 from 150, which apparently means everyone loses two inches of room.

Now, JetBlue only reluctantly admits this, asserting that it still offers more room than other airlines. And for the most part that is accurate. But it’s all relative, and the bottom line is that every airline is cheating on it space for passengers (at least the ones who fly coach). There is no airline that offers living space for coach travelers. Not one.

And then there’s this: JetBlue has begun charging a fee for a first checked bag. that’s not very friendly, either.

Still, sometimes you have to fly, and you try to make the best of it. We managed a first class domestic flight on American Airlines recently, and much to our surprise the seat was actually spacious, recalling what first class used to be like. And American served a pretty darned good meal in first class as well, even though the flight was just three hours. (Hear that, Delta?)

And finally, a travel writer for the Boston newspaper wrote about a cruise along the Canadian Maritime provinces, observing how wonderful it was the see lovely, interesting cities and get to really know other places without having to put up with lots of traffic.

Really? You get to know other places with 6-hour shore excursions? And hey, there really isn’t a lot of traffic in the Maritimes. And if you drive there and spend a few days, you might actually have a chance to get to know the place a bit. Not a lot; just a bit. But a bit longer than hopping off and on your luxury cruise ship allows you.

Ah, well, any more and this will get to sound like a rant.

Breaking News

Breaking news: Ted Cruz announced that if he gets the Republican presidential nomination, he will select Carly Fiorina as his running mate.

As if we needed another reason to vote against Cruz.

Incredibly, this sleazy, unprincipled loser managed to connect with an even bigger loser in Fiorina, who got out of the race earlier this year after discovering — to the surprise of only her campaign staff, apparently — that hardly anyone wanted to vote for her and even fewer liked her.

On the campaign trail, Fiorina showed herself to be an obnoxious, condescending person who could boast of little experience in government, little knowledge of it and when she was involved with politics, she was a loser. In so many words, a perfect fit for someone like Ted Cruz.

If anything was needed to shove Donald Trump over the top, this ought to do it. Thanks, Ted.

I had been hoping for Rick Santorum.

The Biggest Joke

So Ted Cruz and John Kasich struck a deal. And just when you thought the manipulation and cynicism of politicians couldn’t get any worse. This one is pretty rank, and it is already falling apart.

In their effort to deny the lazy, tiny-hands bigot Donald Trump the party’s presidential nomination, the two connived to basically take one or the other out of three upcoming primaries. Their thought was that facing opposition one-on-one and not one-on-two, Trump would have less of a chance of winning. Which could conceivably be true –on Mars.

This ignores the mockery involved in telling voters, basically, “don’t vote for me, vote for one of my opponents so Trump doesn’t win.” If you were one of those voters, how would you react? If you are a Kasich supporter, you surely would find Ted Cruz as repellant as most everyone else does and would have no thought of voting for him. Similarly, if you are so deluded as to vote for Cruz, Kasich probably seems something of a party wimp. Which maybe he is.

Anyhow, these two politicians cooked up a pretty shabby arrangement. Not unexpectedly, it took less than 24 hours for it to begin to collapse since neither man actually wanted to tell his supporters to vote for the other guy. And their respective PACs didn’t think much of it either. That really matters. And so, it’s doomed, a failure.

What remains is this: a very shabby plan by two insiders to thwart Trump that is backfiring and exposing them ever more clearly as simply selfish, manipulative, presidential wannabes. They are no more deserving of a major party nomination than lyin’ Donald.”

The whole situation stinks.

But before going, it’s worth remembering what the last week brought us: reassurances from Trump’s campaign handlers that most of what the small-minded candidate has been saying is all part of an act, just entertainment for his admirers. That thing about the wall? Not for real. Waterboard torture? Just a joke.

How does that make people who voted for him feel, I wonder? Maybe cheated? Maybe lied to? Maybe treated as patsies? Maybe laughed at?

There is a joke involved here. And it’s no what Trump says. No, it’s Trump himself.

The Truth

A few quick thoughts about the menace to America, Donald J. Trump.

Whatever bad is said of him — and most of it he has richly earned — I’ll give him this: he is not stupid. But what he is is a person who is intellectually lazy, lacks intelligence, is a poor businessman, and suffers a debilitating egotism.

Yes, of course he has a degree from he Wharton School of Business, but if you think a college degree is indicative of intelligence, please allow me to introduce you to some of my Ph.D friends. No, Donald Trump lacks intelligence because he lacks curiosity, and he lacks that because he is intellectually lazy, and he’s lazy because his egotism tells him he is all he needs.

It is a unforgiving cycle of ineptitude made worse by Trump’s overt racism and sexism and his facility at merging lies with altered truths.

And no, it doesn’t make Trump the worst person on the planet — there are plenty of others in line ahead of him — but as a potential President of the United States, it places him in a unique role to inflict enormous damage to hundreds of millions of people. That’s scary.

Just think about it.

Need a Friend?

The Republican party is not your friend. Unless, of course, you are very, very rich and mostly a white male. An older one. And maybe a short one, too.

We know this because it is the Republicans in Congress who defeated a proposal to require the airlines to stop reducing the size of their little sub-human seats in coach sections. Yes, hard to believe anyone could oppose this humane idea, but the Republicans did. And why? Because the airline industry lobbyists paid them off. We can call it “campaign contributions,” but it’s a payoff. The older rich white men who run the airlines paying the older white men who do their bidding in Congress. Thanks, buddy.

This might be news if it weren’t for the fact that it isn’t news. This is the Republican trope. This is what the party of Lincoln has come to: a group of wealthy, older white men looking out for themselves and their friends who also happen to be … well, you get it.

This is party that has tried repeatedly to kill Obamacare, depriving millions of health insurance coverage with no realistic plan to replace it. Shame on those poor people for getting sick. Or for having an illness that prohibits them from coverage otherwise.

This is a party that increasingly seeks to limit voter participation in elections, to oppose living wages for minimum wage workers, to enhance discrimination against minorities (gays, for instance, and mostly people who aren’t rich, white older men) and to do everything they can to take away women’s control over their own bodies.

They know nothing of climate change (because they aren’t scientists, you know), and they see the solutions to foreign problems resting in the idea of sending more young men and women off to fight and die. Some of them are, I confess, well-meaning; heck, some are even intelligent and reasonable older white men.

But here’s the problem: if they fall into that minority category — intelligent and reasonable, I mean — they are in fact a tiny minority in the GOP, and they lack the numbers to influence the radical right wing members of their party. So, voting for them doesn’t alter anything. The only possible solution — hope, really — is to defeat as many of the Republicans as possible. When the Democrats can claim a majority in the Congress, we are more likely to have at least a few moments of sanity in governance.

Think about it as the fall elections draw closer. Think about it carefully. Please.

Cleaning Up a Mess

The Republican Party is a mess. It’s actually much worse than that, but let’s call it a mess and move on.

This mess is not the result of Donald J. Trump’s candidacy, although he has brought the party’s worst elements to the forefront. No, the Republican Party, since the 1960s, has been the party which has built its intermittent success on a shameful combination of mostly implied racism and sexism crudely and cleverly blended with financial policies that have divided the wealthy and the middle class to the detriment of the latter. It is an ugly record of discrimination against the least and the lowest among us.

It has become the party that refuses to govern and seemingly is no longer capable of governing. That began in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama, soon followed by a declaration from GOP leaders that they would defeat the President in 2012 by denying him any legislative accomplishments. To make that work, they surrendered the responsibility to govern in favor of preventing government altogether. (It was not the success they hoped for — ObamaCare is one evidence of their failures.)

They have now become a fringe party, controlled by and lacking the will to face up to an even smaller group of radical right-wing evangelical zealots. They are now the party that belittles and denounces not just women but almost every possible minority: African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims and Asians. Have we left anyone out?

Donald Trump is the face of this party. But if you look past the morass of Trump’s bigoted, bullying, careless lies you discover truly that the Republican Party has no clothes. The rest of its candidates have no solutions to the issue of no government, only varying shades of similarities to Trump. That’s why when confronted with a choice of saying they would support Trump or not, they unanimously agree they would endorse him regardless of how crazy they may believe him to be. So much for valid differences.

And so much for the Republican Party as a valid place for American voters. And I don’t know the right response. Maybe the party needs to die and be re-born. Perhaps if its most responsible leaders — and there are a few — had any backbone, they would denounce Trump as the most venal, vile, morally corrupt and unqualified person ever to seek the presidency and move on, whether or not that might mean creating a new party.

This country needs and deserves an ideologically honest, responsible two-party system. It no longer has that, and I deeply regret that and consider it a blot on our democracy. Blame Donald Trump if you will. But the real issues lie much deeper.

No Good Choices

Who was the big winner of Thursday’s GOP debate? It had to be Dr. Ben Carson, who had the good sense not to participate. It was without doubt the best decision Dr. Ben has made in his misbegotten and now ended campaign.

The rest of the candidates were all losers. Their so-called debate was an almost unwatchable, vulgar, screamfest of lies and accusations. What a disgrace for what used to be a legitimate political party.

I credit the Fox News moderators, who asked decent questions for the most part, with pushing for real answers. But the candidates, beginning with Donald Trump, would have none of it. Trump was at his showy, whiney, name-calling worst, refusing to reply directly to dozens of questions. His partners, particularly Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were only a few steps behind. John Kasich was there, too, but it’s hard to believe he is a serious factor to survive in this nasty slugfest for the nomination.

And then there’s this: before slamming the candidates for their juvenile behavior, please remember that earlier in the day we heard from Mitt Romney, who resorted to name-calling and slurs and slams to point out that Trump is a name-caller. In other words, Romney showed himself no better than the rest. And frankly, what the heck is Romney doing getting involved in this except as a stalking horse, and a bad one, for the Republican establishment? Oh yeah — Mitt would be the establishment’s preferred candidate now … now that he’s four years away from being a loser in 2012. And by the way, that’s the bottom line for Mitt: he’s a loser.

As for the debate, well, I can’t think of any reasons to discuss it further. It was shameful, descending even to the ugly level of penis references and bathroom humor, thank you Rubio and Trump. Repulsive.

And then consider this: for everyone who wants to blame Trump for everything, look at his competitors: are Rubio and Cruz really any better? Their ideas are almost as whack-a-doodle as Trump’s, and they are personally scarcely less odious. There are no good choices here.

The Race Narrows…

Just how super was Super Tuesday? For one, it finally nudged Ben Carson to think seriously about getting out of a race he’s been out of for months. Yes, Dr. Ben announced earlier today he sees no path going forward for himself. Everyone else, of course, realized that months ago.

What else? Let’s call Marco Rubio an “almost out.” He’s hanging in on life support and spinning his victory in the Minnesota caucus to be evidence of his dramatic resurgence. In fact, it is nothing of the sort. Rubio has accumulated an almost unbroken series of third place finishes in the primaries (he’s 1 for 15 overall), and it has become spectacularly obvious that not many voters are interested in him.

By the way, Rubio says his five days of attacks on Donald Trump have resulted in trimming Trump’s victory margins. Which makes you wonder: what was Marco doing in the six months that preceded the last five days? He ever-more shows up as a boy in a man’s world, unprepared for the Presidency in just about every way.

Ted Cruz? Well, he won in his own state, the absolutely minimum essential to keep him in the race. It would have seriously mattered only had he lost. He also won in Oklahoma and Alaska but his candidacy seems no less doomed that before Super Tuesday. There aren’t enough breathing humans out there who want to cast a ballot in favor of loathsome Ted.

Which leaves John Kasich. He’s pitched himself as a calm moderate, although his record as Ohio governor is disturbingly right wing. He attracts few voters but won’t quit, claiming a victory in his home state of Ohio’s primary will propel him forward. Well, let’s put it this way: if he doesn’t win there, he’s toast, too.

Oh yeah, then there’s Trump. He took a big step toward the nomination with wins on Super Tuesday, and the prospect of someone catching him grows more distant. The noise on Republican social media about a brokered convention appears a death wish; if Trump comes to the convention with not quite enough to clinch it and is denied the nomination, there will be bloodshed. Kind fun to think about, though.

And lastly and very briefly: Super Tuesday results saw Hillary pretty much putting Bernie out in the Democrat’s battle. He will stick around, and he should, but it’s just about impossible to imagine he’ll wind up as the party nominee.

And that and a buck ought to get you a cup of coffee in most diners around here….

Coarse and Noisy

Last night’s Republican debate was noisy, rude and quite unhelpful for anyone in the party who maintains a serious interest in important issues. (Are there more than a handful of politicians and voters in the party who fall into that category?) It really amounted to a travesty and seemed once again to demonstrate all too clearly that not one of these candidates is remotely qualified to be President.

In the first place, no matter how crazy we believe Donald Trump is and what a ghastly chief executive he would be — even as that threatens to become a possibility — the truth is there’s very little difference in craziness between Trump and his two challengers, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Their policy positions, in spite of loud, meaningless insults hurled last night, are strikingly similiar.

On the matter of immigration, Trump wants to build a wall and deport 11 million illegal immigrants. Cruz wants a wall and wants to make the deportations permanent. Rubio has nothing else to offer and keeps vacillating on his positions.

The budget plans for the three candidates are whack-a-doodle and by nearly all economists’ estimates would substantially increase the national debt while benefitting mostly millionaires and above.

To cope with ISIS, Cruz wants to bomb the shit out the terrorists. Trump and Rubio want boots on the ground to destroy them. Neither of the three seems to have a clue as to how this might be realistically accomplished.

All three want to abolish Obamacare. Yet no one has a workable plan to replace it beyond generalities about interstate insurance purchases and health savings plans. Sick people are in deep trouble if one of the three makes it to the White House.

Rubio and Cruz want to do away with funding for Planned Parenthood and demand investigations, ignoring the facts that PP has been investigated on the federal and state level and been found innocent of any wrongdoing. Trump, to his credit, says he would support PP’s non-abortion health services for women. Rubio and Cruz denounce even that.

I could go on. But the point seems clear: Trump, Rubio and Cruz are philosophical brothers and differ only in some specific matters of carrying out their beliefs. I believe they are way out of touch with the American electorate, as differentiated from the Republican base, who are the mostly far-right unhinged. They create huge volumes of noise — the debate was coarse evidence of that — but it is very hard to see their largely extremist views prevailing beyond the primaries.

And one important note: today’s Trump endorsement by Chris Christie, quite unexpected, may prove to be quite significant, representing a mainstream Republican endorsement for the candidate thought to be the enemy of the GOP establishment. That is really big news, to my mind, bigger than anything that came out of the debate.

And, oh yeah, Ben Carson and John Kasich were in the debate, too. Katich mostly spoke mush, and Carson talked about fruit salad, whatever that means.