Archive for February, 2021

For GOP, Lying is Easier Than Governing

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Frozen wind turbines were blamed for Texas’ power outage. Another Republican lie.

Frozen wind turbines were blamed for Texas’ power outage. Another Republican lie.

      “That’s the problem with the media today is they say all Republicans are liars, and everything we say is a lie. There are two sides to every story …”

     I began writing a column about this statement made by Rand Paul, the Republican-sort-of-Libertarian senator from Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, focusing on its fundamental absurdity. That it was, in fact, a lie in itself. The professionally run media never say that stuff.

       As days passed and events unfolded, I kept rewriting the column until it hit me like a bolt. There it was, every day, just waiting for me to hear it or read it. In his feigned outrage at ABC-TV’s George Stephanopoulos, Paul had inadvertently disclosed the underlying truth about today’s Republican Party: All Republicans are liars and everything they say is a lie.

     And, for Paul’s and other Republicans’ edification, a lie does not qualify as the other side to a story.

     Before I go any further, let me say that I am excluding from this declaration the roughly 10 percent of Republicans who were honest enough to say that Joe Biden was lawfully elected president and the handful who voted to convict Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection. But Trump is right when he says they are Republicans in name only (RINOs), because today’s card-carrying Republican is duty-bound to lie, or perish.

      After four years of daily lying, Trump came up with the Big Lie — the election was stolen from him. Every court and state rejected his lawyers’ pathetic efforts to prove otherwise. Every single one. But, and here’s where Paul and the rest of the gang come in, Republicans throughout Congress and coast-to-coast repeated the lie (and many still do), even though I am certain a good percentage do not believe it, because they feared the wrath of Trump and his more avid followers.

      Also, they discovered it was easier than actually governing and, since Republicans do not like government to begin with, they had no alternative plan. In Trump’s GOP, lying is the party platform. They as much as said so in nominating Trump last year to seek another term. There was nothing else offered. Not even a Wall. We stand by the liar. Period.

      Now, this can get complicated when there are other sources of information than Republicans and a lot of sensible people around who can spot BS when they hear it.

        Following Paul’s TV appearance, 43 Republican senators voted to acquit Trump at his Senate impeachment trial despite having been witnesses, some even accomplices, in inciting the riot at The Capitol. Mitch McConnell tried to refine the art of two sides to every story by arguing, first, that Trump could not be convicted because he was still president (as majority leader, McConnell delayed the trial a week), and then arguing (when demoted to minority leader) that Trump could not be convicted because he was no longer president. McConnell topped this off by saying, after voting to acquit, that Trump was indeed responsible for inciting the insurrection and someone should hold him accountable. That’s three sides, I think.

      So, McConnell lied twice, then sort of told the truth while, in true Republican fashion, passing the buck, basically to try to preserve his leadership role in the GOP without doing any of the dirty work, like maybe voting to convict Trump.

      It’s easier to lie than actually govern — Republicans might want to make that their motto. Now McConnell’s at war with Trump over control of the party. The suspicion is McConnell doesn’t plan to run for re-election in six years so he’s not worried about occasionally flirting with the truth and as a result having to buck a Trump candidate. 

        Which brings me to Texas, where the GOP platform of simply lying has been on display for the world to see. It has not been pretty. Texas, which has been run by Republicans for decades, recently nearly froze to death as an entire state due to the party’s aversion to actually governing. When temperatures plummeted and the snow fell, the lights went out all over the state. No power. No water. No heat. No help from the governor in Austin. Nothing from legislative leaders. Just excuses. Frozen windmills, they said. See, solar doesn’t work, they said. They even blamed the proposed Green Energy Deal, which has never even been voted on. Lies.

       They lied about the cause — the state’s refusal to join a regional energy grid for protection in emergencies and the failure of big energy companies to winterize their equipment because it cost too much and Texas did not require them to do so. Too much government regulation, you know? And while blaming solar and wind energy sources, they ignored the fact that 70 percent of Texas’s power comes from carbon fuels and their providers had lobbied hard against regulation, had donated heavily to Republican governors and had jacked their prices drastically when the deep freeze hit. An investigation is in order.

        This is what happens when lying is easier than governing. People suffer. People die. Yet Texas Republicans and their shills on Fox News kept up the lies. And their senator, Ted Cruz, headed with his family to Mexico where it was warm and there was plenty of water and electricity. When he was caught, he blamed it on his daughters. Said he was just being a good father. That was a lie. Reluctantly, he finally said it was “a mistake” to go on a Cancun vacation while people he ostensibly represented were dying in their beds, were desperate for clean water, were living for days in homes with no heat in temperatures well below freezing.

    Yes, it was a mistake, like his vigorous insistence without proof that the election was stolen from Trump and his equally vigorous opposition to impeaching Trump for inciting an insurrection. The Trump base — much of it anyway — bought those lies. But in Texas, that same base was getting electric bills for thousands of dollars from companies that neglected to prepare their facilities for cold weather and saw the freak storm as “a windfall.” Cruz couldn’t lie his way out it.

       Without demanding some apology from Trump supporters who didn’t vote for him, President Biden declared a state of emergency in the state and sent industrial generators, food, blankets and other supplies to suffering Texans, many of whom had bought the Republican lie that global warming was a hoax and oil and gas was still the future for proudly independent Texas.

       That’s the “other” side to this story. In truth, the only side.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

 

The Heart of the GOP: It’s Not Pretty

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Rep. Liz Cheney ... says she doesn’t recognize today’s Republicans.

Rep. Liz Cheney … says she doesn’t recognize today’s Republicans.

  While sitting around waiting for the Super Bowl to begin, I stumbled upon this interesting tidbit of news: Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said in a TV interview, “We are the party of Lincoln, we are not the party of QAnon or anti-Semitism or Holocaust-deniers, or white supremacy or conspiracy theories. That’s not who we are.”

     To which I immediately said to myself, “Umm, yes you are. In fact, that’s precisely who you are.”

     Then I wondered how someone with such an impeccable Republican pedigree could have become so out of touch with her colleagues. After all, her father, Dick, was also a congressman and served key roles in Republican administrations. As George W  Bush‘s vice president, he was a key member of the cast that lied the United States into a war with Iraq. Remember? And, staunch Second Amendment man that he is, her dad also managed to shoot a hunting partner accidentally. Plus they’re from Wyoming. Republican through and through, for Pete’s sake.

       So what has Ms. Cheney been doing the last four, eight, 12, 16, 20 years that she did not notice the GOP morph into the QOP? Methinks, what the rest of her Republican colleagues have been doing — closing their eyes, covering their ears, holding their noses and crossing their fingers as all those people she says aren’t Republicans joined the party in such numbers that, when lumped into one, united, bigoted bunch, they represent a major voting bloc. In fact, a career-threatening voting bloc for those who dare to cross it, as Republican office-holders, including Cheney, are now finding out. Did she really think Tea Party members held traditional, conservative Republican views?

         Desperate to achieve and maintain power, if not necessarily govern, the Republican Party needs numbers because there are more Democrats in this country than Republicans. That should be a message. But instead of trying to adapt their party to represent the changing face of America, Republican leaders took what they must have thought was the easier way out — welcome all the fringy groups who can’t stand those libtard, multi-cultural Democrats.

         Welcome heck, have them run for office as Republicans. Put big money behind them. Re-draw election districts to help them get elected.Tell them to criticize budget deficits and promise tax cuts. And to say that Democrats will take away your guns. Say that a lot. Also, God bless America.

         It kind of worked, but America kept changing. And even elected a black president. All those people Cheney talked about in her TV interview had no one to speak for them politically. So the GOP reconfigured its big tent and said, “Come on in. Turn on Fox News and turn off the rest of the world. Vote for Republicans and we will save you from those  book-reading, God-hating, science-believing, socialist  Democrats. And we’ll let you keep your guns.”

         Cheney is one of the few Republicans in Congress who had the guts to speak the truth, finally, about Trump — that he incited the insurrection at the Capitol and deserved to be impeached. She backed up her words with her vote, being one of only 10 House Republicans to do so. For that, Republicans in her home state voted to censure her and called for her to resign.

        Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, an example of what you get when you let anyone into your house, asked her to tone down the truth-telling. She refused, but still managed to hold onto her third-in-line leadership post among the House GOP. McCarthy also had a talk with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, the Trump-loving Quanon conspiracy queen, who has denied the Parkland school shooting, supported executing Democrats, defended the Capitol attack and said California wildfires were started by a Jewish family with lasers. (Hey! Who let her in?)

       She “apologized” for a whole raft of hateful nonsense she’s been spewing, said she was allowed to believe lies spread by the media and was allowed by McCarthy to keep her committee assignments, until Democrats, who control this House, took them away. (Cheney said McCarthy should have taken Greene’s committee posts from her.)

        Yes, this is definitely where the Republican Party is today: Stuck between members who still believe in a former president who was super-cozy with Russia, robbed Americans blind, lied constantly and tried to stay in power with a coup and a bunch of self-seeking, gutless members of Congress who knew what was going on, but let it happen. See anything Lincolnesque in there?

        When Cheney says of Republicans, it’s “not who we are,” she is really pleading for others to finally show some courage and admit they have been complicit, either through greed or cowardice, in allowing Trump’s transformation of the party into an organization that seeks power above all else and will do whatever is necessary to obtain and keep it.

         To do that, he only needed to tap in to the fears, ignorance and biases of all those anti-Semites, Holocaust-deniers, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists who somehow snuck into the GOP when Cheney and the rest apparently weren’t looking.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com

 

 

Baseball, bigots and the Hall of Fame

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Curt Schilling ... never one to hide his feelings

Curt Schilling … never one to hide his feelings

It’s time for my annual turn from the front page to the back page (sports page) for some message on the meaning of life. Also, pitchers and catchers report any day now. 

  Typically, late January offers baseball fans an opportunity to argue (we don’t debate) about who got into the Hall of Fame and who didn’t and why. Last year was pretty mild, the only question being how one spiteful sports writer could’ve left Derek Jeter off his ballot, keeping the Yankee great from being named to the Hall unanimously of his first try. Baseball made up for that lack of drama when, in the same week, the Mets fired Carlos Beltran as their manager before he ever managed a game because he was part of a cheating scandal as a coach with the Houston Astros. Karma. So there was a lesson in good and evil on the back page.

     This year, the January controversy revolved around Curt Schilling, who wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame, even though he and 71.1% of the 401 sports writers who voted thought he belonged. A player needs 75% of the ballots to get in. Schilling needed 16 more votes. A star pitcher for Arizona and Boston, he fancies himself as a bit of an outspoken character. As fate would have it, he seems to have run afoul of baseball’s “character” clause. That is, he probably didn’t get enough votes not because he wasn’t a good enough player, but rather, because his presence in the Hall of Fame would somehow tarnish the name of Major League Baseball. He wasn’t a good enough person.

      A little about Schilling: His pitching credentials, in my opinion, are borderline Hall of Fame. He was a star in postseason play. I wouldn’t be too put out if he got in. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of his human-being credentials. He has espoused far-right conspiracy theories, compared Muslims to Nazis, said Hillary Clinton should “be buried under a jail somewhere“ and has spoken out vigorously against transgender people, among other things. He also enthusiastically endorsed a suggestion posted on social media that sports writers be hanged. (Since that’s who votes on Hall of Fame candidates, this was also a stupid thing to do, in my opinion.)

       But should stupidity or bigotry be reasons for disqualification from the Hall of Fame? (History says no.) And should baseball writers be the ones making that decision? These are the questions to ponder while waiting for the impeachment trial.

       Schilling has asked that his name be taken off the list of next year’s candidates. It would be his tenth and final year of eligibility and there’s been a lot of speculation, based on the history of other players, that he probably would manage to eke out that 75%. Schilling said he’d rather put his fate in the hands of another committee, which considers umpires, managers and other non-players as well as those who did not make the hall during their eligibility period. Apparently, he feels this group wouldn’t care how much he mouthed off about hanging sports writers or how much he hates Hillary and loves Donald Trump. The Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame said they would consider Schilling’s request.

        Of course, Schilling isn’t the only one of current Hall-eligible players running up against the “character” issue. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two dominant players whose Hall of Fame credentials are beyond question, also did not receive enough votes. That’s because they were part of baseballs “juicing era,“ when many players used steroids and other substances to enhance their performances on the field. To me, this would come under the heading of cheating, which one would think would qualify as being harmful to the image of baseball. Being not of good character. But neither man was penalized by major league baseball for using performance enhancing drugs and both have been on the Hall of Fame eligibility list for nine years, just like Schilling.

     It would seem to me, if baseball wants to have a character clause in deciding who gets into the Hall of Fame, it should apply that clause beforehand and decide which players do not even belong on the annual list, rather than leaving it to sportswriters. (I can’t think of a more qualified group to do the actual voting, as has been suggested.) That makes the writers’ task much simpler. If he’s on the list, just judge him on his on-field performance and nothing else. His character is OK with us. In that case, Bonds and Clemens would be shoe-ins. 

      Schilling to me would still remain borderline, a man with far-right extremist views who was also a very good pitcher. Someone who, ironically, was removed by ESPN as its commentator on the 2015 Little League World Series because he posted something on social media comparing Muslims to Nazis and who the next year was fired by ESPN for an anti-transgender post on social media. In those cases, I think ESPN made the right decision, for the good name of baseball and for them as journalists.

      So, this year’s lesson from the sports pages: If you want to be fussy about what kind of people can come into your home, you set the rules and you make the decision. Don’t give some strangers that responsibility. Also, if you’re going to shoot your mouth off with hateful nonsense, be prepared for the consequences.

      For me, Schilling can go to Cooperstown or not, just don’t ask me to have lunch with that bigoted, loudmouth jerk.

rjgaydos@gmail,com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.