Posts Tagged ‘Bob Gaydos’

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.

A 12-Step Program for Republicans

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

38E746B5-A254-42AA-9A6F-7683C3D4A74C     Denial is the first, big obstacle. Until and unless they can admit they were powerless over Donald Trump, Republicans have no hope of recovering. They will be forever known as Trumpaholics, people addicted to avoiding reality and destined for a life that is, by any reasonable measure, unmanageable. I cite the last five years as evidence.

      But, as they say, there is a solution, one that has changed lives for the better for millions of people worldwide — a 12-Step program. It has worked miracles for alcoholics; it can work for Trumpaholics.

       I’ve written on addiction and recovery for more than a dozen years. One of the recurring stories I’ve heard over that time is that the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are not just a proven way to stop drinking, but also an excellent formula for living a good life. Getting rid of the booze — or in this case, the Donald — is only the beginning. Republicans can reap these rewards, individually or as a party … but only if they really want to change.

        So, with a deep bow to Bill Wilson and A.A. and adapted in all humility, here are the 12 Steps of Recovery for Republicans:

 

    1. We admitted we were powerless over Trump, that our party had become unmanageable.  This state of affairs is usually evident to non-addicts of the individual’s acquaintance well before that aha! moment arrives, if it does. Members of A.A. say this is the only step they have to get perfect, for obvious reasons. If a Republican can’t admit — still — that Trump dominates his or her every political thought or action, there’s no sense going on to Step 2. Denial. However, if Republicans can look at the past five years of saying yes to virtually everything Trump did or said and acknowledge the trouble that this blind obedience, this dependence, has caused in Republicans’ lives (broken relationships, lost jobs and opportunities, ruined reputations, trouble with the law) as well as the pain it inflicted on the lives of many others, there is hope.
    2. Came to believe that a power greater than Trump or Mitch McConnell could restore us to sanity. (No one said this was easy.) No, this does not mean everyone becoming Evangelical Christians. Quite the opposite. That would simply be swapping blind faith in Trump for blind faith in other con men and women. Give me your money and you will be saved. For a party that professes a belief in strong family values and makes a public display of respecting religious (well, Christian) teachings, this should not be a problem. Theoretically. However, I think it could be challenging to many Republicans who have become used to giving lip service to their professed religious beliefs. Skeptical alcoholics are sometimes advised to pick a higher power of their own choosing or at least to believe that someone whose sobriety they admire has such a belief. Instead of putting their hands on some charlatan’s shoulders and bowing their heads, supposedly in prayer, Republicans should look within the ranks (or without) for a source of strength, hope and faith and emulate that person. It should be someone with a sincere, demonstrated, spiritual footing. Hint: it’s not Ted Cruz. Not a Koch brother or Rupert Murdoch either. Keep looking. Someone more like Lincoln, remember? It may take a little time. That’s OK.
    3. Made a decision to turn our will, our money and our platform over to the care of whatever power we came up with in Step 2.  A key step. Last time out, Republicans did this almost accidentally with Trump. That was blind, misplaced faith in the flashy guy. No willpower, true, but no sense of shared responsibility to the greater good. This time, they need to decide to follow the lead of someone with sound moral principles and then lead their political lives accordingly. That is, decide to do the rest of the steps.
    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. This step could be a problem for a lot of Republicans because it requires honesty. But if they want to change, they need a list of the things they want to change. For example, lying that the presidential election was stolen while knowing there was never any proof of this would be something to put high on the list. Lying is bad, even in politics. Hypocrisy is just a fancy word for lying. Also, stealing and harming others so as to benefit yourself. Breaking the law, too. All Trump’s pardons did not remove the guilt, they merely freed the guilty.
    5. Shared with that higher power from step two, with ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. In other words, look in the mirror and say, “I have been a self-serving, lying, backstabbing, selfish, hypocritical, cowardly son-of-a-bitch for the past four years,“ and then release a statement to that affect — in detail — on social media. Get Liz Cheney or Lisa Murkowski to pose in the picture with you. Piece of cake.
    6. 6. Were entirely ready to have my higher power (with the help of a new party leader of sound moral standing) remove these defects of character. Basically, Republicans must resign themselves to the fact that they have been a group of self-serving, lying, cowardly, etc. since they chose Trump as their leader. This is the truth, the real news. When and if they accept it, they can move on to Step 7.
    7. Humbly asked him or her to remove our shortcomings. Harder than it sounds. First of all, shortcomings seldom ever really go away. They find new hiding places. Republicans will have to become aware of them and try to avoid them. Stop lying about the deficit, That’s a lifetime of work and will require humility. Good luck finding someone to explain that concept to Republicans. Again, not Ted Cruz, who confuses humiliation with humility.
    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Really. You don’t get to totally screw up a country and just walk away like nothing happened. Not if you want to change. Start with the kids in the cages.
    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others. Again, start with the kids in the cages. That last part lets Republicans stay out of jail and not hurt their own family by admitting how they routinely cheated minority voters with sketchy redistricting plans and harsh voter registration laws.
    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when wrong promptly admitted it. This is the new way of living part of it. “I’m sorry; I was wrong.” Try not to abuse this step.
    11.  Sought through regular meetings and work sessions, at which an honest exchange of ideas is encouraged and welcomed, to maintain contact with our new party leader seeking only to learn what the new Republican Party stands for and the power and courage to carry that out. Prayer and meditation wouldn’t hurt either.
    12. Having had a major reprieve and possibly a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry the new Republican Party message to Trumpaholics and others and to practice its new principles in all our affairs. One day at a time.

   That’s it. The formula for recovery for the Republican Party. But there is one thing more. With alcoholics, the drinking is just a symptom of the disease. When the drinking stops, the disease (much of the behavior) doesn’t go away. That’s why recovery is a daily practice. To avoid relapse.

   The real question for Republicans is what made them Trumpaholics in the first place.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

Dear Mr. President, We’re With You

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

    Dear Mr. President, sir, Mr. Biden, Joe … 

 President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden

   Wow, this is harder than I thought it was going to be. After four, really almost five, years of writing virtually nothing but columns of anger, fear, shame, bewilderment, outrage or embarrassment, writing a simple note of congratulations and best wishes is proving to be a challenge.

      But it is the necessary and proper thing to do. Already, that’s a change.

      I guess I wanted to start by saying that it’s not every presidential election in this country that is greeted with a huge, “Thank God!” when the final result is announced. Even atheists, maybe especially atheists, had that reaction when you were pronounced the winner last November. Yes, I know and recent days have demonstrated that not everyone was pleased with the result. But I for one have sensed a profound feeling of relief and hope arise in this country, “Joe won!”

       Thank God.

       The final weeks before your inauguration were … frightening I guess is the appropriate word. The assault on the Capitol by racist Trump loyalists shook America and the world. But, as you and others have noted, we survived. Democracy survived. I always felt we would, but then I did not think it would ever come to that horrifying scene of Jan. 6.

       Yet here we are. No subsequent violence, as warned against. Instead, many calls for unity, some certainly motivated by self-preservation. There is, I think, a palpable calm across the country, a result of being rid of the chaos and anger of the last four years.

       I do not envy you your challenges, but I do have faith that you understand them and will not seek to avoid or downplay them. I look forward to a measure of decorum and honesty that had all but disappeared from the White House. I also look forward to an opportunity for another era of growth in America. It is my sense that millions of my fellow citizens, including many who did not vote for you, are grateful to have survived an attempt to dismantle our democratic republic and are more than willing to do what is necessary to fix what we learned was broken.

       To me, this means holding those responsible for assaulting our laws and principles accountable for their actions as well as initiating a comprehensive effort to re-educate many Americans on what Lady Liberty stands for in the New York harbor, what “liberty and justice for all” really means in the Pledge of Allegiance.

        It will not be easy and many will resist at first. But sending the truly traitorous to prison will undoubtedly get the attention of many of the merely ignorant. As always, hope lies with the new generation.

        Mr. President, I know you know all this, but I think it’s important you know how many of us are with you in confronting this challenge. There are actually happy memes on Facebook again. I will undoubtedly disagree with you on some policy or another, but I don’t expect to be slandered on Twitter because of it. For my part, I will try to go back to my professional approach of not using profanity to express my opinion. I will also write a more specific letter in the near future on actions I think need to be considered. (Your executive orders undoing much of the damage of the past four years and your plan for dealing with Covid are a great beginning, by the way.)

      In closing, as someone who is a few months older than you, let me say I hope you get plenty of rest, pay attention to what you eat, exercise regularly and maybe give Kamala Harris more to do than most vice presidents typically get. It couldn’t hurt.

      Again, congratulations and be well.

Bob Gaydos

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

A Quiet Walk Midst an Insurrection

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos   

The insurrection.

The insurrection.

  I took a walk around the pond  Wednesday afternoon, January 6, a little before 4:30. It was cold, but still light out. The sun had just begun to set. As I walked I thought about how lucky — privileged — I was to be able to enjoy such a quiet moment in such a beautiful place in such a shithole country.

    No, friends and family, I haven’t moved. I still live in America, in a particularly scenic part of it, I think. For new readers, that place is upstate New York. It’s a place where a man can be alone to enjoy nature, if the man turns off his electronic devices.

     Two hours of watching live news reports out of Washington, D.C., had made me feel something I had never felt before — a combination of fear, anger, sadness, shame and profound outrage. The calming words and presence of President-elect Joe Biden had finally broken the spell the scenes of chaos had cast on me. It will end, I told myself. It will not succeed. There aren’t enough of them. They are all fury and delusion, taking selfies as they lay waste to the seat of government of the country they profess to love. Ignorance and arrogance, the Trump formula. In the end, it fails, but oh the harm it does. He doesn’t care. They, the rioters, are too dumb to know. That’s the nicest way I can put it. Or they are racists. Or both.

       Those are the facts. And for several hours on a Wednesday afternoon, as our Congress was attempting to perform its constitutional duty of confirming a new president,  these “Make America Great Again” terrorists made it look like one of those “shithole countries“ their leader once referred to with intent to insult. Yep, that’s what it looked like to me. …

                                                        ***.                                     

        … As I resume writing, it is now a week later. Trump has been impeached, again. Incitement to insurrection. Five people died in the attempted coup on The Capitol, including a police officer who was beaten to death by the rioters. White rterrorists carrying a Blue Lives Matter flag killed a Capitol police officer. They spread feces and urine throughout the building. They ransacked offices and went looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. The whole time, the rioters took selfies of themselves. Eventually, they went home or some D.C. bar, apparently thinking that would be the end of it. Just a friendly little failed insurrection in the nation’s capital, broadcast live around the world.

           If you stop to think about it – and apparently the rioters did not — the ignorance is astounding. It is surpassed only by the hypocrisy of the Republican members of Congress who encouraged and invited the assault and who voted against seating Biden as the duly elected president, even after the insurrection had been quelled. They stuck to the lies of the election being stolen from Trump, even though every one of them – except for perhaps a couple of conspiracy lunatics — knows that that is a lie. It was Trump’s biggest and most dangerous lie. In truth, a treasonous lie.

         Since that now infamous Wednesday, much more has been revealed about the attack on the Capitol. It wasn’t as innocent as it first appeared. There was a plan. There may have been inside help from some Republican members of Congress. Maybe even from the Capitol police, who were woefully unprepared for a massive event that was announced well in advance. There was a delay in getting National Guard troops to the scene, perhaps caused by someone in the Defense Department.

          There will be investigations. May they go on for as long as necessary and bring to justice all those who we’re involved in this assault on America. Every last one of them. Homegrown terrorists. White supremacists. Members of Congress. Conspiracy nuts. Nazis. Klansmen. Racists. Pick a name. The list includes police and ex-military members as well. The attackers were virtually all white, which is why they are still alive. Lock them all up. People who bring swastikas and Confederate flags to attack the seat of the government of the United States of America deserve no mercy.

           Trump now stands accused by Congress and convicted by the majority of the American people and the rest of the world of Inciting an attempted overthrow of a duly elected government. But his accomplices in the Republican Party are also guilty. They have ignored his assault on democratic principles for four years, out of fear or for their own gain or because they agreed with him. They deserve what they’re reaping. The party deserves to die. May it be reborn in some semblance of a responsible political party, perhaps including those Republicans who had the courage to speak out publicly and fight against Trumpism.

            America has been put on notice. There are those among us, appearing publicly as patriotic citizens, but operating out of hate and fear that their dream of a white, Christian nation with everyone else second-class citizens, is about to die. And in their foolhardy effort to avoid that fate, they may have actually hastened it. Republicans who remained silent, evangelicals who remained silent as Trump ravaged democracy, all stand indicted. Those who supported him financially along the way and now seek to distance themselves, all stand indicted. Rupert Murdoch and Fox News stand indicted. 

            In a country Trump would call a “shithole,” those seeking to overthrow the government usually try to get the military on their side if they hope to succeed. When they don’t, they don’t. As I watched with Lester Holt on NBC News as the idiots stormed the Capitol, I kept thinking, well, sooner or later troops with weapons and bullets will arrive. Hopefully, with orders to shoot. I also was dumbfounded that people were posting images of themselves on the Internet as they perpetrated this terrorist attack against this nation and gave no thought to the fact that this would make it easy to track them down and arrest them. Ignorance and arrogance.

              Yes, we have a lot of work to do, but the first thing is not to give into Republican pleas of coming together for the good of the country. They spent four years quietly watching Trump tearing the country apart. They must pay the price. I repeat, there are many more of us than them and what is necessary now is for all who know and love and respect what this nation is about to speak out forcefully in defense of it. Bring to justice those responsible. Convict Trump. Convict him again and again on whatever charges may be filed when he leaves office. Teach young people that actions have accountability. When we get around to it, teach young people about civics and government and history in school again. Clearly a lot of Americans slept through those classes. Evangelical Christians are on their own in this one.

           Joe Biden faces a monumental task when he becomes president on January 20, but he will have full control of the Congress to back him up and, I believe, fervent support of a vast majority of Americans as well. That white mob that assaulted the Capitol was an embarrassment to this nation, but maybe a lesson as well. American exceptionalism was put to the lie.

            No, this is not a “shithole” country, yet. I can still take a quiet walk around the pond every day. But those who would take the right to feel that safe and at home in this country away from anyone whose skin color or nationality or religion or politics they find fault with must know there can be no healing until the wounds are closed, Not until the guilty are prosecuted and those who aided and abetted admit their guilt. Not until journalists are not casually referred to as “enemies of the people.” Not until children are not put in cages. Not until all lives truly matter.                      

            Enough.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

         

           

            

         

          

Streaming My Way Through a Pandemic

Friday, January 1st, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

 

George Clooney and Brad Pitt, streaming in one of the “Ocean’s” movies.

George Clooney and Brad Pitt, streaming in one of the “Ocean’s” movies.

    Apropos of nothing, the list below represents a significant portion of my at-home viewing entertainment in 2020, the year of the pandemic. If it’s representative of anything, it’s what I did when I wasn’t writing about you know who.

      I don’t see any pattern in the list, except maybe that George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Paul Newman, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington all appear more than once. What the offerings all have in common is that they were not on television. All were streamed, thanks to Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Disney Plus. If the stock market is reflective of anything, it appears a lot of other folks were passing the time streaming 2020 as well.

      Everything on the list is a movie, not a series. (I’m counting “Mangrove” as a stand-alone.) There were a few of those, too, as well as varied educational offerings, which I have been told will help to keep my mind razor sharp.

      But these are all one-shot features, some old, some new. I’m not critiquing any, but I do welcome any comments or questions you may have on the list as well as recommendations for 2021. I’m serious. I found this to be one of the few things that people could talk about last year without arguing and that I could write about without using the word, “Dotard.” …

     Darn. Habit. Happy New Year and happy streaming.

The List:

The Laundromat

The Pianist

The Commuter

Book Club

Julie/Julia

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Philadelphia 

The Danish Girl

The Peacemaker

The Coldest Game

Ladies in Lavender

A Serious Man

An Inspector Calls

The Rainmaker

Where the Money Is

Hail, Caesar!

The Double

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

Nobody’s Fool

Quartet

Minority Report

Rocket Man 

To Catch a Thief

The Gardener

Ocean’s Twelve

Ocean’s Thirteen

The Social Dilemma

Secret in Their Eyes

Cafe Society

The Departed

Halston 

My Octopus Teacher 

Hank

Man of the Year

Mangrove

The Dressmaker

Cookie’s Fortune

Greyhound

Margot Fonteyn

Uncle Frank

Bombshell

Deja Vu

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Bikram

Diana: The Royal Truth

Pippin

Amazon Empire

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

There Will be a Dr. in the White House

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

By Bob Gaydos   

Dr Jill Biden, a working teacher and soon to be First Lady.

Dr. Jill Biden, a working teacher and soon to be First Lady.

  Where to begin?

     With the sophomoric hit job by someone who obviously considers himself to be a man of letters?

     With the preening joy in gratuitously insulting the future First Lady of the United States by calling her “kiddo”?

     With the utterly unconvincing “argument” offered in defense of his “point”?

     With the clear anti-elitist snobbery of the author?

     With the decision by the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editor to print the column?

     With the subsequent decision by that editor, Paul Gigot, to defend his decision by insulting those who objected to it?

     With Gigot’s belittling of the criticism — of which there was plenty — by dismissing it as political and “playing the race or gender card”?

     With the obvious problem many conservatives in this country have with intelligent, accomplished women?

     With the problem many conservatives have with higher education in general?

     With The Wall Street Journal perhaps confusing itself with its neighbor and sister Murdoch paper, The New York Post?

     With the egotistical “old fart” attitude of the author who obviously feels he can say whatever he pleases as.long as he drops a name and mentions a fact or two about himself that he thinks will establish him as a modest, if brilliant, regular guy?

       Yes, I’m talking about the opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal encouraging soon-to-be First Lady Jill Biden to drop the “Dr.” in front of her name. The author, Joseph Epstein, wrote: “Madame First Lady—Mrs. Biden—Jill—kiddo: a bit of advice on what may seem like a small but I think is a not unimportant matter. Any chance you might drop the ‘Dr.’ before your name? ‘Dr. Jill Biden’ sounds and feels fraudulent, not to say a touch comic.” He also called the title of Biden’s dissertation that led to a doctor of education degree from the University of Delaware “unpromising.”

        A real charmer, this Epstein. So let’s start with the old fart, who has apparently made a career of insulting women, gays and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to his narrow, exclusionary, view of the world. I feel qualified to toss the “old fart” label around since, at 79, I am a mere four years younger than Epstein and have been called the same. Takes one to know one.

      His basic argument about the use of the Doctor title by Biden is that today it doesn’t mean anything, unless you’re a medical doctor. He says. He says the honorific has been cheapened by relaxed requirements. He just says these things with only anecdotal comments to support them while also noting “modestly” that he didn’t have what it took to attain a doctorate back in the day. Since Epstein is 83, the day was, well, way back.  

     There’s a lot of “just one of the guys” shtick in the column as he tries to justify the rudeness and crudeness of his approach. (Kind of reminds one of a certain orange-haired president.) For example, Epstein writes: “I taught at Northwestern University for 30 years without a doctorate or any advanced degree. I have only a B.A. in absentia from the University of Chicago—in absentia because I took my final examination on a pool table at Headquarters Company, Fort Hood, Texas, while serving in the peacetime Army in the late 1950s.”

      Swell. Well, I was a reporter and editor on daily newspapers for more than 40 years, including 23 years of writing daily editorials and I have only a B.A. in English, from Adelphi University, which I received six months before reporting in December of 1963 for basic training to Fort Dix, N.J., where I drank 3.2 beer. It was a stint that was delayed by the assassination of John F. Kennedy during the Vietnam War era. So what?

      Epstein again: “I do have an honorary doctorate, though I have to report that the president of the school that awarded it was fired the year after I received it, not, I hope, for allowing my honorary doctorate.” (That doctorate was from, I believe,  none other than my Adelphi University, which fired Peter Diamandopoulos in 1997 for conflicts of interest and lavish. lifestyle.) Epstein then goes on at length to ridicule the excesses of schools awarding honorary doctorates, which is a valid point, but has nothing to do with Dr. Biden’s doctorate, which was more than honorable. 

       Epstein also “casually” drops the name of his “friend,” the late Sol Linowitz, as an example of someone who had a huge collection of honorary doctorates, dismissing the possibility that perhaps Linowitz, a man of many accomplishments, deserved all the honors. I can’t match that super friend connection, but, like Epstein, apropos of nothing, I once shook hands with Jackie Robinson and Jesse Jackson (different times and places) and they had major impacts on society, too. Maybe even honorary doctorates.

       Just a brief research on Epstein (Wikipedia) revealed that he was eventually fired from his job as editor of The American Scholar, the magazine for Phi Beta Kappas, for his unrelenting anti-feminist views and refusal to allow any counter arguments to the arch-conservative writers he welcomed to his editorial page. He once called feminist scholars “dykes on bikes.” He was editor of the magazine for 21 years and, if anything, one might wonder how such smart people put up with him for so long. 

        Epstein also wrote a piece in 1970 for Harpers Magazine in which he called homosexuality “a curse, in a literal sense.” If he could, he said, “I would wish homosexuality off the face of the earth.”

        So this is the expert Gigot chose to attack Jill Biden in The Wall Street Journal, maybe feeling the Fox News loudmouths we’re getting too much love from the uber-conservative audience. But then Gigot, criticized mercilessly on social media, inexplicably feels he must defend his decision to publish Epstein’s hit job and to use Epstein’s favorite weapon — claiming “identity politics” — in dismissing comments from the Biden campaign critical of the piece. Gigot: “My guess is that the Biden team concluded it was a chance to use the big gun of identity politics to send a message to critics as it prepares to take power. There’s nothing like playing the race or gender card to stifle criticism.”

        Nonsense. First of all, if Gigot thought Epstein made a legitimate point and decided to run the column, then he should simply have stood by his decision. Period. That’s why he’s the editor. The column may have been insulting, but it wasn’t libelous. (I have a little experience in this regard. Once upon a time, Rupert Murdoch also owned the paper for which I worked. He left us pretty much alone because we made money. As editor of the editorial page, I was called a left-wing, pinko more times than I can remember, but people still managed to find their way to the opinion section.)

        Of course, Gigot also had the option to simply say, “I don’t know what I was thinking. I had a brain freeze. The guy is a jerk. I’ll try not to do that again.“

        But he didn’t. Instead, he chose to go along with the currently popular Republican position that higher education is something to be mocked and accomplished people, including a future First Lady, are to be subjects of ridicule. How he feels this plays to the resumes and prejudices of readers of The Wall Street Journal is beyond me. 

       In the fallout from the article, Northwestern University and its English Department have apparently condemned Mr. non-PhD Epstein and the university removed him from its page of emeritus professors. Gigot called called it an example of “cancel culture,” another phrase conservatives like to throw around these days. But since Epstein doesn’t think much of titles, he shouldn’t mind.

        Of Biden, Epstein wrote, “A wise man once said that no one should call himself “Dr.” unless he has delivered a child. Think about it, Dr. Jill, and forthwith drop the doc.”

        Well, Joe, another wise man (an uncharacteristically unhumble me) once said, “There’s nothing so unappealing and unconvincing as a whiny, old, misogynistic homophobe full of regret that he didn’t achieve a distinction that he might have and envious of a classy woman who did.” Think about it, kiddo, and drop the act.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

At parties, even in the age of Covid 19, “No thank you“ is a complete sentence

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos
4435B31C-C139-4733-A848-5B49FD50C6EE  I’ve written a column on addiction and recovery for more than a dozen years. A staple of the column has been a sort of “word to the wise“ on how to survive the holidays for those in recovery. It also serves as a guide to party hosts who may not be in recovery.
This year, things are more complicated. For starters, the parties have to be much smaller and confined to people you have good reason to believe are Covid free. Large parties, especially with strangers, are out. Hopefully the vaccines work and we can return to bigger gatherings next year. But even at small gatherings, the risks to those in recovery are real. So listen up.

This is a treacherous time of year for people in early recovery from addiction. People who have found their way to recovery, be it via a 12-step program or otherwise, have been given suggestions on how to survive the season of temptation without relapse. If they use these tools, with practice, they can even enjoy the season.

It’s the rest of you I’m mainly talking to here. You hosts, family members, well-meaning friends who want to be supportive and do the right thing, but aren’t sure what that is. And yes, to those who don’t get the concept of addiction at all, but can still avoid harming a relationship by following a few basic suggestions. So, some coping tools for the non-addicted, if you will:

“No thank you” is a complete sentence and perfectly acceptable answer. It should not require any further explanation. “One drink won’t hurt you” is a dangerously ill-informed reply. The same goes for, “A few butter cookies won’t hurt. C’mon, it’s Christmas.” Or, “Get the dress, Put it on your credit card. You’ll feel better.” Not really.

By the way, “No thank you” is an acceptable answer even for people not in recovery. Not everyone who turns down a second helping of stuffing or a piece of pumpkin pie is a member of Overeaters Anonymous. Not everyone who prefers a ginger ale rather than a beer is a member of AA. Not everyone who won’t go into hock for an expensive New Year’s Eve party is a compulsive debtor. But some of them may be.

If you’re hosting a party to which people in recovery have been invited, have some non-alcoholic beverages available. Not just water. Don’t make a big deal about having them, just let your guests know they are available. The same goes for food. Have some appetizing low-calorie dishes and healthful desserts on hand. Don’t point out that they’re there because so-and-so is watching his weight. Just serve them. You’ll be surprised how many guests enjoy them and comment on what a good host you are.

If you’re honestly concerned about how the person in recovery is doing, approach him or her privately. He or she might not feel comfortable discussing it in front of other guests. If you’re just curious, keep it to yourself.

Honoring a guest’s wishes is a sign of respect. Anticipating them in advance is even better. Encouraging someone to eat, drink or spend money when they don’t want to is, at the very least, not gracious. Pressuring someone to partake of something when you know he or she is trying hard to avoid it is a good way to lose a friend. Addictions are not trivial matters. “No, thank you,” is a perfectly good answer. Members of AA, OA and DA will be especially appreciative if you remember that.

And for those in recovery, remember to bring a phone with plenty of numbers and have a way to leave the party if you become too uncomfortable. There will be other parties, but there may not be another recovery.

Be smart and enjoy. Have a mask handy or, if need be, make a virtual appearance this year. Happy holidays.

rjgaydos@gmail.com
Bob Gaydos is writer in residence at zestoforange.com.

Wear a Mask; Don’t be Like Rudy

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

 

  By Bob Gaydos

   Rudy’s got Covid.

Rudy Giuliani has no use for masks. Rudy got Covid.

Rudy Giuliani has no use for masks. Rudy got Covid.

  “Hallelujah!” Scream millions on Facebook and Twitter. Also, “Karma;” “Serves him right;” “He probably spread it over half the country;” “Stupid spreader;” and, “I don’t wish anybody dead, but …”

      How far the mighty have fallen. How sad the daily sight of the onetime “America’s Mayor” making a fool of himself in court and anywhere he can arrange an audience in public in order to symbolically and delusionally prostrate himself at the feet of a man who doesn’t care about him and who will never pay his legal fees.

      And all without a mask. Everywhere. Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, the White House. Rudy’s got it. Jenna Ellis, one of his equally delusional “co-counsels,” has it as well. Where’d they get it? Who knows? Who’d they give it to? No idea. No contact tracing as well as no social distancing.

      And no masks.

      What is it with Americans — especially a lot of Republicans — who won’t wear a mask? It’s the easiest and best way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, along with proper social distancing. If everybody does it, fewer people get it, fewer people die, the sooner we can go back to work and we don’t have to wear masks. That’s not even new math. It’s just common sense and decency.

     We’re approaching 300,000 dead from Covid-19 in this country, a great many of those deaths the result of a total lack of planning and caring by the Trump administration. Criminal negligence writ large. Trump doesn’t care anymore. He’s focused on raising as much money as he can with his phony “the election was rigged” campaign. The one Rudy was in charge of until he got Covid. Inconvenient.

      Also embarrassing: The world found out about Rudy and Covid in a tweet from Trump. It’s a surprise the news didn’t get lost in that Twitter chaos.

      It’s hard to know what happened to Rudy. He took his 9/11 fame and prominence, conducted a half-hearted campaign for president a while back, then apparently decided to be a lackey and legal errand boy for Donald Trump, a job with great visibility and occasional perks, until you cross him. Spread the conspiracy theories. Make up new ones every day. Ukraine today, Philadelphia tomorrow.

       And whatever you do, don’t wear a mask. Not because there is no Covid. We know there’s a virus — Trump even got it — but because we can’t let all those people coming to our rallies know that it’s real. We can’t let them know that we ignored it and let tens of thousands of people die. We don’t wear masks whatever Fauci says. We were robbed! Help us fight it! Give us money! Don’t wear a mask! Only liberals, Democrats, socialists, communists and coastal elites wear masks! Real Americans don’t wear masks!

        Tell them, Rudy.

        So Rudy’s got Covid. I don’t wish him dead, but a little suffering might be good for him.

        Once upon a time I might’ve started this column by writing, “Rudolph Giuliani, lawyer for President Donald Trump, has contracted the COVID-19 virus. The former New York City mayor apparently was exposed to the virus in the midst of his last-minute campaign to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election, which was won by Joe Biden.”

          But I spent four decades writing for tabloid newspapers and when a once-prominent political figure makes a fool of himself on a daily basis, that boils down to, “Rudy got Covid.” In bold type. He’s got the notoriety, but no longer the respect. He didn’t wear a mask.

         Now, I am not a Covid guerilla. In fact, I have even been chastised for occasionally being a little too casual in my own mask-wearing and social distancing. But I am of an age and I don’t like being considered expendable to the rest of the herd. So I learned. I try always to wear my mask properly (over the nose) and insist on social distancing. I even wear gloves. Also, my hands have never been cleaner. I also take vitamin D supplements and have type O blood, both of which have been reported as good things to have to avoid Covid-19. But if I’ve got it without symptoms, I don’t want to pass it on to you and, in return, I don’t want you to pass it on to me. It’s pretty simple. Science and respect. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be like Rudy.

       Wear a mask.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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