Posts Tagged ‘Bush’

The GOP’s Dying Words … Silence

Friday, May 18th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

John McCain ... not going quietly

John McCain … not going quietly

‘It doesn’t matter; he’s dying anyway.”

The words, relayed to the world via the Internet, were spoken by a White House aide about Sen. John McCain, who is stricken with brain cancer, but they could just as well have been another shovel of dirt on the remains of what once was the Republican Party,

In fact, when McCain, who is not going quietly, does succumb, it could fairly be said that any meaningful remaining link to what once was the Grand Old Party will have been lost. In truth, the party has been brain dead for years.

When I first read the comments attributed to White House special assistant Kelly Sadler I was angered, but not surprised. Not these days, not with this administration. Cruelty is a staple.

The comment was made during a staff meeting about the Dotard-in-chief’s nomination of Gina Haspel to be CIA director. McCain had voiced strong opposition to the choice even as he battled cancer at his home in Arizona. The comment was apparently intended as a joke, which did not go over well, but was quickly swept off the table.

But the telling thing about the comment is what followed from her boss and from members of the Republican Party who have known McCain for decades and who, not insignificantly, made him their presidential nominee in 2008.

Nothing. For days. Nothing. No cries of outrage at the disrespect for a party elder and the blatant lack of humanity in the remark. No thought of the impact on McCain’s family. No calls for Sadler to be fired. No call from the boss saying, “You’re fired.”

We’re told that Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary, did chew out the staff, not for the comment, but for someone leaking the comment. Someone leaked the Sanders chewing-out. Now they’re trying to fire the leakers.

This is the world of Trump, from mocking a reporter with a physical disability — at a campaign rally where it drew cheers — to declaring that McCain, a Navy pilot who was shot down, captured and endured years of torture in Vietnam, was “no hero” because he was captured.

This, from the man whose alma mater, New York Military Academy in upstate New York, makes no mention on its web site of the fact that one of its alumni is president of the United States. That would normally be considered a good recruiting tool, but there’s nothing normal — or decent — about this presidency.

Again, this speaks volumes about the Republican Party and so many who identify themselves as Republicans yet have not a word to say publicly about the man who has infused the office he holds with a level of greed, ignorance and callousness that is at times mind-numbing. It’s one thing to make a mistake, to be conned, to exercise bad judgment. It happens to everyone. It’s quite another thing to be unable to admit the mistake, to say I was conned, I was stupid, I was greedy, I was foolish, I was wrong. I’m sorry. I regret my choice.

McCain said it recently, about his fateful and perhaps politically fatal decision in 2008 to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate, instead of his good friend, Sen. Joe Lieberman. That decision did much to strengthen the wingnut, know-nothing branch of the Republican Party which gives Trump free rein today. Choices have consequences.

Lest I be accused of getting on my high horse, slinging arrows of accusation as if I had never succumbed, let me admit to a choice I unequivocally regret making — writing an editorial endorsing George W. Bush’s decision to attack Iraq. I can try to justify it by saying I had a great deal of respect for Colin Powell, who was secretary of state, and that his presentation to the United Nations claiming Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction was convincing. No matter. The fact that it was a Bush/Cheney/CIA lie did not occur to me and I let myself be convinced even though I had always believed that the United States did not, would not, should not attack another country. I wrote the editorial. I was conned. I was wrong. I regret it.

Trump, vindictive to the core, obviously resents McCain’s dramatic, late-night, thumbs-down vote that doomed the GOP effort to kill Obamacare. It was a good moment for McCain, who has had a less-than-perfect record as a senator. I have not always applauded McCain’s decisions, but in terms of statesmanship, leadership, patriotism and basic decency, he has it all over Trump. And yet, the silence persists from McCain’s Republican colleagues in Congress about a White House aide joking about him dying.

Haspel, who ran a CIA torture facility and destroyed records connected with it, was confirmed by the Senate as the new CIA director. Bad decision. McCain, who knew torture first-hand, objected strongly to her nomination. Trump thinks torture, which is illegal, is just fine. In fact, he’d like more of it. He’d probably really like to promote the female aide who joked about McCain dying, but will settle for firing the aide who leaked the comment. Having compassion is a dangerous trait in this White House. In the Republican Party, which can’t bring itself to say Donald Trump was a mistake, compassion has long ago been discarded.

May John McCain live on for days and weeks and months and even years as he valiantly battles his disease. The Republican Party for whom he once was the standard-bearer is dead and gone.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

It’s not such a grand, old party today

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

By Bob Gaydos

Donald Trump, the face of today's Republican Party?

Donald Trump, the face of today’s Republican Party?

I almost don’t know where to start with this. The disintegration of the Republican Party, from a proud political party dedicated to the advancement of its view of the American way of life into a hostile, bigoted, fearful, reactionary group beholden to wealthy forces that care only for enhancing their own way of life, has left me confused, angry, fearful and sad.

It’s not just the sorry collection of presidential candidates the party has put forth. Nor is it just the inability of a Republican-led Congress to do anything but oppose every initiative by a Democratic president and, out of pique, shut down the entire government. And it’s not just the utter disrespect the party that constantly spouts patriotism demonstrates for the Office of President at every opportunity.

What confuses and saddens me the most is the apparent willingness of rank-and-file Republicans and Republican officials at every level of government to sit quietly by as if to say that everything Trump, Carson, Cruz, Huckabee, Christie, Fiorina, Rubio, Bush, Paul, et al say is OK. No problem. So it’s a lie. So it’s hateful. So it’s racist. So it’s stupid. So it’s unconstitutional. So it’s inflammatory. So it’s really not the American way. So what? We’re okay with it.

Why do I feel this way? Because I don’t hear any Republican saying otherwise. Have you heard a Republican mayor, council member, county legislator, county executive, state legislator, governor, district attorney, etc. say publicly that Donald Trump’s utterings are racist, fascist and play to people’s fears? That they could lead to violent behavior on the part of individuals who feel justified because, after all, they are only responding to the words of the leading Republican presidential candidate?

I haven’t. Not one. Republican presidential candidates only began dumping on Trump recently when he said that all Muslims should be banned from entering the United States. Some party leaders joined them in criticizing Trump. This was apparently one Trump too much for them. It’s not what America stands for, they said. Not what the Republican party stands for, they said.

True. But Trump has been saying ugly stuff like this for weeks with no one complaining. Especially no rank-and-file Republicans. Did they expect him to stop on his own?

I know they’re out there, those rank-and-files. I live in the middle of them. And I know that some of them certainly don’t agree with much of what Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Fiorina, Paul, Bush, Carson, Christie and the rest have had to say about immigrants, guns, global warming, and Planned Parenthood, not to mention threatening Social Security.

While I have never belonged to any political party, I understand and respect their function in our society. I don’t understand how longtime Republicans have let a super-conservative, ultra-religious, anti-science, anti-education, anti-government, anti-fact fringe element take control of their party without managing so much as a murmur of disagreement.

Sarah Palin was the warning flare. She was photogenic, but embarrassingly dumb. But she was the Republican candidate for vice president. Trump, Cruz and Carson are merely the culmination of years of Obama-bashing and dancing to the orders of Fox News and the brothers Koch. As the messages grew angrier and uglier, always rooted in fear and fiction, Republicans marched merrily, unquestioningly, along.

To Donald Trump. An adolescent bigot and misogynist with a huge ego, a couple of billion dollars in the bank and no allegiance whatsoever to the Republican Party. How dumb is that?

If Republicans now blow their party up in a desperate attempt to convince Americans that the American Way is the way of old, angry, closed-minded, resentful, greedy, white men who are constantly being told the government is their enemy, Rupert Murdoch will lose no sleep. His Fox News puppets will find another flock to boost their ratings and sell their books. The Koch brothers will find others to carry their water, selling their principles for generous campaign contributions. And Trump will go on being Trump, a reality TV star divorced from reality.

A two-party political system depends on at least a minimal effort by both parties to work together for the common good. If one party is, instead, intent on opposing everything the other proposes and does so in an increasingly hostile, intractable manner, there is no governing. It’s merely making lots of noise, fueling fear and anger among voters in the hopes of gaining power. It is a cynical, dangerous philosophy that can infect the entire body politic if allowed to go unchecked. That’s why I am frightened of this unwillingness by Republicans to call out the fear-mongers in their midst.

The Republican Party has been festering for years under the threat of Tea Party retaliation for those who dare to disagree. Just look at the sorry example of former House Speaker John Boehner. That festering sore has erupted in the form of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie and all the rest.

Even George Pataki, former New York governor and comparatively sensible Republican presidential candidate, is not immune. Pataki has declared, correctly, that Trump is “unfit to be president.” But with his showing in the presidential polls at less than one percent, Pataki felt it necessary to declare war on ‘’radical Islam.” Send in the troops, kill them all, he Tweeted. His poll numbers didn’t budge.

He has obviously been in the wrong political party from the beginning of this campaign, but not to worry. Pretty soon there won’t be a Republican Party, at least not one to which he and all those other silent Republicans once belonged. That Big Tent they once spoke of has been folded and stuck in the garage. Sorry, women, Mexicans, gays, blacks, Muslims, college students, union members, atheists, scientists … Maybe some other time.

There’s nothing grand about this old party today.

 

GOP Turns Back the Clock on Women

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

By Bob Gaydos

Donald Trump gestures during GOP debate. politifact photos

Donald Trump gestures during GOP debate.
politifact photos

North Korea announced last week that it was moving its clocks back 30 minutes, thereby creating its own time zone a half hour behind Japan and South Korea, for whom North Korea has no love.

Not to be outdone, the Republican Party in the UnIted States revealed that it was turning its clocks back 60 or 70 years, creating a world in which women’s lives, health — indeed their very dignity as human beings — does not matter if it means losing votes in the party’s presidential primaries.

Since North Korea has never really left the Cold War era, the world will survive its time change with little inconvenience. It is not so easy, however, to dismiss what is happening with the Republican Party. Never mind Lincoln, this is no longer even the party of Eisenhower, Reagan or Bush the senior.

What was billed as a presidential debate last week turned out to be an all-out misogynistic effort to cast women as second-class citizens, or less. Donald Trump, who has made himself the mouth and face of today’s Republican Party, has received much of the post-debate criticism for his crude remarks about women in general and debate moderator Megyn Kelly in particular.

Kelly dared to question Trump about his at various times calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” and wondering what a women contestant on his TV show, “The Apprentice,” would “look like on her knees.” Kelly asked him if this was the kind of person who should be sitting in the Oval Office. He replied that he had no time for “political correctness.’’ After the debate, Trump called Kelly a “bimbo” on Twitter, saying she “behaved very badly” and some of her questions “were not nice.” He also said in a post-debate interview, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out her wherever.”

This, of course, is Trump and, predictably, he does not apologize for anything he said. He mistakes common decency for political correctness. He is a bully and an embarrassment as a presidential candidate for a major party, but an embarrassment created by the very Fox News network for whom Kelly works. And he gets applause and laughs from Republican audiences who come to hear him say what many of them apparently believe.

But not one of the other nine men on stage with Trump on Thursday saw fit to call him out for being a sexist pig. In fact, most of them had their own fuel to add to the anti-female furor. There was Sen. Marco Rubio insisting that women who were rape or incest victims should carry their pregnancies to term and Gov. Scott Walker refusing to make an exception on abortion if the woman’s life were at risk. Even after the debate, not one of the 16 other Republican candidates for president could simply say straight out that Trump’s remarks were crude, offensive, or, at the very least, inappropriate.

Even the lone female candidate, Carly Fiorina, relegated to the junior varsity debate of seven candidates that preceded the main event, couldn’t call Trump out by name. She only managed to say, “It’s not helpful to call people names” or “engage in personal insult.” Fiorina is a graduate of Stanford, Maryland and MIT and ran Hewlett Packard for six years. If Trump were one of her executives at HP and said the things he has said about women, you can believe he would have heard, “You’re fired!” loud and clear. But she’s running for president as a Republican and so she apparently feels she can’t afford to insult the people who show up to listen to Trump say whatever comes into his mind. By the way, she also opposes paid maternity leave.

There’s more. There’s Jeb Bush insisting that the federal government spends too much money on women’s health care and the willingness of several GOP candidates to shut down the federal government to avoid funding for Planned Parenthood, which is a vital source of health care for millions of women and, although attacked routinely by Republicans as a source of abortions, is, in fact, a major force for reducing the number of abortions.

Some Republican “strategists” say the media focus on Trump and his penchant for insulting large groups of people (Mexican immigrants are “rapists and murderers,” Sen. John McCain is “no war hero” because he was captured), will not do any lasting harm to the party because Trump will not win the nomination. That is absurd. Whether he is the eventual candidate or not, Trump has already shown the GOP for what it is — a party driven by fear. There is a pathological fear of offending the ultra-conservative, white, mostly male, “Christian” moralists who threaten to reject any Republican candidate who does not share their fears of people who are different from them, be they non-white, gay, non-Christian, young, immigrant, or even a president of the United States who happens to be black.

Now, it’s women. More than half the population of the country. Without strong support from women, no candidate can be elected president. In every presidential election since 1988, women have supported the Democratic candidate. Yet not one Republican candidate for president this year has something to offer females as a reason for deserving their votes. It is a cavalcade of clowns (Trump, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Bobby Jindal), con men (Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul), bullies (Chris Christie), religious zealots (Rick Santorum), phonies in the pocket of PACS (Bush, Walker, Rubio) and fear-mongers (too many to list).

North Korea changed its time zone because it hates Japan. However impractical the move, it won’t do serious harm and North Korea actually has some history to help justify it (World War II). Why Republicans are behaving as if they hate women is incomprehensible and possibly suicidal. And they can’t blame it all on Donald Trump.

 

George Says He Wants to Do It

Monday, June 1st, 2015

By Bob Gaydos

George Pataki ...  presidential candidate

George Pataki … presidential candidate

George Pataki is running for president. For those of you not familiar with the name, Pataki was governor of New York state for 12 years. He is the 285th announced or soon-to-be-announced candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. I exaggerate, but not by much.

Pataki is quiet and unassuming — things most of the other members of the GOP presidential gaggle are not. He also may be delusional, which does put him in good company with the rest of the crowd.

But here’s the funny thing about Pataki: He says he’s a Republican. If that’s so, it’s not any kind of Republican that Americans have been exposed to in the 21st century. The Grand Old Party is surely old, but in 2015, it is hardly grand. It is, sad to say, a party that has lost its mind and sold its soul. The onetime Party of Lincoln today is not even the Party of Ford. It’s the party of Cheney and pick-a-Bush, sponsored by the brothers Koch.

I have resisted jumping into the 2016 presidential “debate” until now, figuring it was too early. Like, a year too early. But as the body count has increased (much more modestly on the Democratic side), I started wondering if my lack of zeal for what I was witnessing would somehow risk me being left behind. Then again, I told myself, so what?

Then George Pataki, all 6 feet, 5 inches of him, pulled me in. Is this guy serious? President? Of the United States? Yeah, he’s an easygoing, likable sort. Bright. Actually grew up on a farm. Once upon a time, I even wrote editorials endorsing him for the New York State Legislature. And he was elected governor of New York three times. That’s no easy trick for  a Republican since it’s a liberal state with a Democratic voting edge. Even more impressive, Pataki beat liberal icon and incumbent governor, Mario Cuomo, the first time out. In getting re-elected twice, Pataki showed that he can work with people of differing political views to get things done.

But … George … Republicans don’t care about that today. In fact, they run away from it. Since you’ve been away from politics for eight years, maybe you haven’t noticed that the word “bipartisan” has been stricken from the party vocabulary. If Democrats like it, Republicans don’t. Period.

The real irony of the Pataki candidacy, though, centers on his positions on the issues. While he is definitely a state’s rights, low-tax, fiscal conservative in the traditional Republican mold, his views on a host of hot-button issues are simply not in sync with today’s Republican Party.

Let’s start with climate change. Republicans have fought President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat it at every turn. The GOP-dominated Senate even went so far as to vote that humans are not causing climate change and the Republican governor of Florida has actually banned state employees from using the term, “global warming.” Finally, polls regularly show that a majority of Republicans, who proudly proclaim they are not scientists, do not believe global warming is happening.

Pataki? Unlike many Republican politicians, the Columbia and Yale graduate respects science. Strike one. He believes global warming is real. Strike two. In fact, he co-chaired a 2007 blue-ribbon,  Independent Task Force on Climate Change  organized by the Council on Foreign Relations. The other co-chair was Tom Vilsack, former Democratic governor of Iowa who is President Obama’s agriculture secretary. The panel issued a thick report stating that human-caused climate change represented a world crisis that required immediate attention. Strike three.

How about abortion? Pataki is pro-choice. Enough said.

Immigration? He supports a legal path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in this country. “We can’t send 11 million people back in railroad cars and buses and trains,” he has said.

He believes the issue of same-sex marriage should be left to the states, but as governor he signed a law providing rights for gays, including benefits for same-sex couples.

He also pushed through a tough gun-control law banning some assault weapons and requiring ballistic fingerprinting for weapons as well as raising the legal age to own a gun from 18 to 21. And he thinks it should be up to each state to decide whether to legalize marijuana.

For good measure, the former mayor of Peekskill thinks the nation should invest billions into building a first-class rail system.

Does that sound like a Republican to you?

Yes, he rips Obamacare and thinks the president hasn’t been militarily aggressive enough with ISIS and shouldn’t be negotiating with Iran on nuclear power. But virtually all the Republican candidates say those things, whether they believe them or not.

The point is, Pataki, who turns 70 this month, offers a bipartisan governing approach and reasonable views on some emotional issues in a party virtually devoid of such. In a general election against Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, that might sway some Democratic voters of a more conservative bent. But first he’s got to get through the Republican primaries and emerge victorious over the likes of : Ted (I will renounce my Canadian citizenship) Cruz; Marco (I’m young, Cuban and have a sugar daddy) Rubio; Rand (every citizen for himself) Paul; Ben (the perfect prescription for the Tea Party) Carson; Carly (I’m as wacky as any of the guys) Fiorina; Mike (the huckster) Huckabee; Rick (one more time) Santorum; Lindsay (I’m the most conservative of them all) Graham; Jeb (it’s my turn) Bush; Scott (fire the unions) Walker; Chris (I didn’t close the bridge) Christie; Rick (I can count to three now) Perry; Bobby (I really messed up Louisiana) Jindal; John (who?) Kasich; and Donald (oh shut up) Trump. Sarah Palin, where are you?

Fox News, the mouthpiece of the Republican Party, says it’s only going to put 10 candidates on stage for its televised GOP debates. Pataki might have trouble just cracking the starting lineup, which tells you where reasonableness, a respect for science and a willingness to compromise in governing get you today in the GOP.

In reporting on his decision to run for president, the Wall Street Journal described Pataki as a “centrist.” Talk about the kiss of death. They might just as well have called him a socialist, as far as today’s Republicans are concerned. It’s enough to make a guy want to switch parties.

Whaddaya think, George?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Hillary and a Bunch of GOP Wanna-bes

Friday, June 20th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

In recent months, thanks mainly to the Republican Party’s simple-minded policy of anything President Obama does or says we don’t like, I have been lulled into a state of who-gives-a-rat’s-patootie about politics. Really. What’s the point? He says shoot; they say war-monger. He says don’t shoot; they say coward. Hot? Cold. Higher minimum wage? Lower taxes on the rich.

Leave it to the Associated Press, apparently committed to the mission of tracking the stuff no one else cares about, to remind me that Americans have another presidential election coming up soon. Well, not really soon. It’s actually nearly two-and-a-half years from now, but, the AP tells me, there’s no time like the present to catch up on the “movements and machinations of more than a dozen prospective presidential candidates.”

More than a dozen? I was flabbergasted. I could think of two Democrats:

  • Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, former senator from New York and former first lady is the odds-on favorite this far in advance of the vote to become the nation’s first woman president. She has the money, the machine, the name, etc. Although some people do hate her.
  • Vice President Joe Biden, who may make a token run against Clinton, but is more likely to step aside as, say, president of the University of Delaware or assume an advisory role in a new Clinton administration.

But the AP tells me there are two other Democratic possibilities:

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. No way. First of all, there is a Cuomo family tradition of not running for president. Second of all, Cuomo served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in Bill Clinton’s presidency and so is unlikely to challenge the Clintons. Plus, he’s got time on his side and is a shoo-in for re-election as governor.
  • Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland. O’Malley? Who? Maryland? Get real.

Why not Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who at least have national name recognition and ardent supporters? Next!

It’s on the Republican side, though, that I had real trouble grappling with what the AP tells me is reality. My political sensibilities were shocked into a state of numbness as I read the list of possible GOP presidential candidates. Could this possibly be the best the party of Lincoln had to offer? Would any of these men be competent to carry Ike’s golf clubs? I went through the list:

  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The supposed “moderate” Republican. His staff shut down the George Washington Bridge to get even with a Democratic politician who wouldn’t support Christie. Everywhere he goes, he has to defend himself against charges of being a bully. Tries to act like a reasonable politician, until you disagree with him. Two-faced. “I Am Not a Bully” does not resonate the same way as “I Like Ike.”
  • Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It’s between him and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (see below) for dumbest on the list. Renounced his Canadian citizenship to make sure he could run for president, even though he didn’t have to. Canadian citizenship may have been the best thing about him. Led the campaign to shut down the federal government. He doesn’t believe in science or education or government, etc. Thus, a tea party darling. Some Republicans hate him.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Again? Didn’t he demonstrate his intellectual shortcomings in the last campaign? Not big on science, education, health care. He likes to create lots of low-paying (minimum wage or less) jobs to brag about his state’s employment rate and visits other states to poach businesses. What is wrong with Texas?
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Another flameout from last time around. A president named “Bobby?” I don’t think so. Louisianans are among poorest, least educated, unhealthy people in country. He loves the oil industry (hello, Gulf of Mexico residents).
  • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Actually supported immigration reform until tea party robots attacked him. Now he doesn’t talk about it. Gutsy. Like Jindal, he messed up a big opportunity to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union. Coming up small in big moments is not a desirable trait in a president.
  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Again? Another loser from the GOP’s 2012 primary circus. He’s making Christmas movies. He criticized his own party. He’s a religious super-conservative. Why is he even on this list?
  • Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Okay, daddy was a Libertarian and son says he’s not. But he is. Which means there is no consistency. You will love him on some issues, hate him on others. Thinks employers have right to do pretty much anything with employees; opposes use of drones by government. He’s a favorite among tea partiers, for now. Wait until they ask him about penalizing people for smoking marijuana. Plagiarized other people’s words for his newspaper column. Unbending views are not a useful philosophy for governing, especially for the less-fortunate.
  • Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. Mitt Romney’s losing running mate for the GOP in 2012. Authored draconian budget cuts in House of Representatives that hurt, yes, the poorest and least fortunate, but did negotiate compromise deal. A favorite of the Wall Street crowd that wrecked the economy. Sometimes irritates tea partiers, but that doesn’t take much. Presidential timber? Plywood.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Hates unions. Is in midst of a scandal about government staff doing campaign work for him. In the Mitt Romney mode of good-looking and seemingly articulate, but had to survive a recall vote.
  • Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He’s a Bush. Two is enough. He believes in a sensible immigration policy, which means most Republicans will hate him. He’s on the list because he’s a Bush. We made that mistake already.

So that’s my take on the list of possible presidents, for now. You’ll notice no women on the Republican side. Some of the GOP names will, one hopes drop by the wayside between now and 2015. My even more fervent hope is that some more credible GOP candidates of substance will appear to challenge Clinton.

Maybe the AP can compile a list of those possibilities instead of following all these losers for two years.

 

 

Mr. Obama: No Proof, No Attack on Syria

Thursday, August 29th, 2013
President Obama needs to make an ironclad case to justify an attack on Syria.

President Obama needs to make an ironclad case to justify an attack on Syria.

By Bob Gaydos

Here we go again.

A brutal Arab regime, under fire from rebel forces, is accused of using chemical weapons against its own people, women and children included. This violates every rule of warfare and demands military intervention by the United States, to whom the role of defender of democracy and human decency has been assigned by other nations over the years. But like everything else in the Middle East, nothing about the war in Syria is that clear-cut.

The United Nations, established in part to unify and coordinate worldwide reaction to such atrocities, as usual, is paralyzed. Any effort by the U.S. and allies to get Security Council approval for missile or air strikes against the offending party will be blocked by Russia and China, who have veto power. They do not simply follow marching orders from the White House and are big enough to make that matter. That will probably require the U.S. to put together a coalition of enough nations to give the imprimatur of legitimacy, if not legality, for such a military action.

This will likely happen despite conflicting accounts as to who actually used the chemical weapons — the ruling Assad government or the rebels — and with the assurance that U.S. involvement will include only targeted air or missile strikes (remember smart bombs?) and no involvement of ground forces in Syria’s civil war. Apparently, it will also occur without a debate on the issue by the U.S. Congress, which is unfortunate since it is the only branch of government authorized to declare war. In addition, a clear majority of Americans, weary of fighting more than a decade of wars in the Middle East, are opposed to U.S. involvement in another war in the region.

Add to these complications the fact that there has still been no convincing proof given publicly that the Syrian military, not the rebels, employed the nerve gas. Rather, Americans have been reassured by a well-respected secretary of state that the White House is certain the weapons were used by Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s troops and that this is reason enough for U.S. involvement.

Sound familiar? Did anybody in the White House hear former Secretary of State Colin Powell — who made the case for attacking Iraq before the U.N. — recently call out former Vice President Dick Cheney for steamrolling President George W. Bush into attacking Iraq with similar justification and no solid evidence? Since that justifiable “moral” intervention lasted 10 years and cost tens of thousands of lives and destroyed a country, it would seem to behoove President Obama to present undeniable proof of guilt publicly before ordering any attack.

Obama, who has until now wisely resisted calls for U.S. military intervention in Syria, drew a red line in the sand to signal when the U.S. might actually get involved. That’s a risky diplomatic tool. His red line was the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Having made such a declaration and now believing that Syria has, in fact, crossed that line, the president faces a difficult choice. If he follows the will of the American people, recent history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East, and the lack of publicly offered conclusive evidence on who used the chemical weapons, he would surely not order U.S. warplanes or ships to attack Syria.

However, if he ignores his own red line, other nations that have been given similar warnings about development of nuclear weapons — Iran and North Korea — might feel emboldened to move ahead, figuring Obama was not a man of his word. That the American president was all talk, as it were. Then there is the matter of this being a deplorable act that cannot be allowed to go unpunished.

The key questions to be answered are:

— Who used the nerve gas, the government or the rebels?

— What is an appropriate response?

Given the American public’s growing distrust of the Obama administration because of its widespread spying on American citizens and its vigorous efforts to prosecute whistleblowers — who might be able to answer the question of who used the chemical weapons — the president should insist on a full public debate on Syria by Congress. This would be wise especially if he’s certain he’s got the goods on Assad. This would also be wise given the extended U.S. military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan, with little obvious gain except to the corporations that provide the machinery of war. Obama should welcome a full and open discussion by Congress of the situation and the options.

There is no good choice here. Some party is using chemical weapons against the people of Syria to further its own interests. This is barbaric. Just look at the photos of the bodies of dead children lined up. A surgical air strike or ship-launched missiles, aimed at the guilty parties only and the machinery that allows them to use the weapons, would be a viable military option. But “surgical” air strikes have been notoriously imprecise in the past. Innocent people have been killed in the name of protecting innocent people.

The obvious preference would be for a diplomatic solution that spares lives. That would probably require Obama to somehow convince Russia and China, friendly with the Syrian government, to work with him on a peaceful solution. Assad leaving Syria would be one. If that is not possible and if the president can provide conclusive and independently verifiable (say, by United Nations inspectors) proof of guilt by the Syrian government, and if Congress is given the evidence and conducts a public debate, and if more nations than Syria’s immediate neighbors (Turkey and Jordan) as well as U.S. ally Great Britain, support the action, Obama would be justified in launching a limited military intervention in Syria.

That’s a lot of ifs, to be sure and war is seldom the answer. Still, there are no ifs, ands or buts that whoever inflicted chemical weapons on the children of Syria must be made to pay.

bob@zestoforange.com

Limbaugh, Rand Paul, the ACLU and Me

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

We’re just the people. We go to a job or look for one. We pay the bills. We fight the wars. We die in those wars. We’ve come to understand that the only time politicians care what we think is when there’s an election. We’re all V.I.P.s around election time.

Nowadays we have special significance ever since word got out that all our telephone records are routinely made available for scrutiny by the National Security Agency. This, it is clear, could cost votes and shorten political careers so for a while we will be taken seriously.

But usually, we’re just the people. We voted for Obama the first time because, after eight years of Bush, he was like a fresh wind blowing in. We were a little less enthusiastic the second time. And now, five months into Obama’s second term, we find ourselves aligned with Michael Moore and the ACLU, also with Glenn Beck, Rand Paul, and Rush Limbaugh on the question of government snooping into our telephoning history.

We find something dangerous and suspicious about the NSA making notes on who we call on the phone, when we call, what numbers we call, how long we speak. Yes, but government isn’t listening in on the conversation, we’re told by the very same government. That’s supposed to reassure us. But you don’t believe it, do you? Nor do I. 

I’ve been thinking about the words of the great Ma Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath” as she tells the son she loves: “Why, Tom – us people will go on livin’ when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we’re the people that live. They ain’t gonna wipe us out. Why, we’re the people – we go on.”

I wonder if Ma Joad was just dead wrong, and that eventually them people – with their demands for lower taxes, with their specious argument that government should be run like a business (like Enron maybe?), and with their willy-nilly interpretation of the Bill of Rights – will win the war against us people. If us people lose that war, the nation will have been transformed into something unrecognizable.

As has been noted again and again, the framers could not have imagined the United States of the 21st Century. Maybe not, but it’s important to remember that the protections of the Fourth Amendment will live as long as people take the Bill of Rights seriously and do not allow it to become the plaything of those who see nothing amiss with keeping track of your telephoning.

The words of the Fourth Amendment are complicated only to the people who wish they did not exist: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Obama swore to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution and yet, as the ultimate the boss of the NSA, he seems to have done little or nothing to keep us protected from the big nose of government sniffing our affairs. It is not overly dramatic to suggest that never has the Fourth Amendment – and the rest of the Bill of Rights for that matter – been in greater jeopardy than now.

I’m 29 years late, but Happy New Year 1984 anyway.

The GOP Dives Over the Cliff

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

John Boehner ... the face of hapless GOP leadership

By Bob Gaydos

Wow! That was some drop off the fiscal cliff, wasn’t it? What’d we go, the equivalent of 10 feet before congressional Republicans caved and pulled the rip cord for 99-plus percent of Americans? Of course, in the process, they also slit their own wrists, showing themselves to be flaming hypocrites and tragically inept politicians. Many Americans already recognized this, witness the recent elections, but now even conservative commentators are throwing bricks, rotten tomatoes and anything else they can wrap their narrow minds around at the people who led the once Grand Old Party so far astray.

But there’s a problem even with this belated awakening. Whom do you blame? What leaders are we talking about? Even the hapless John Boehner tried to get a compromise bill through his House, to avoid the specter of going over that imaginary cliff into tax hikes and drastic budget cuts at midnight this year. He couldn’t get enough votes in the Republican-controlled House to pass the bill. This is leadership? Boehner gets a C for trying and an F in math. He also flunks Politics 101 (along with most leading Republicans) for allowing the angry, fearful, selfish politics of tea party conservatives to take over a party that once boasted of compassionate conservatism.

I defy anyone to find something compassionate in the GOP agenda today. It is a party well-known for what it opposes — even hates — not what it favors. For example, “big government.” This is stupid on the face of it because a world power like the United States could not have a “small government.’’ And even if you just mean a smaller government, Republican Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush all presided over an increase in government spending, with help from Republican Congresses.

Tax increases? None. Ever. For anyone. That’s been the GOP mantra for decades, even though Reagan and senior Bush raised them. That ironclad position led the country to the phony fiscal cliff, with President Obama pushing for an increase in taxes for the richest Americans, to help reduce the deficit, while maintaining soon-to-expire George W. Bush-era tax rates for everyone else.

Nope, the GOP had to protect its rich benefactors, with not one of them apparently recognizing that, once over the cliff, Obama would propose the same thing, with it now amounting to a tax break for everyone but the richest Americans, who would get a tax hike, according to the GOP’s own logic. How could they oppose cutting taxes for 99 percent of the country, especially with a fragile economy and having just gotten beaten up in the last election?

Only the most adamant of conservatives in the House voted against this, with Obama winning a victory that Boehner could not manage in his own party. Will Republicans raise taxes ever? Apparently yes.

What else? In direct contradiction with a majority of Americans, Republicans oppose comprehensive immigration reform with a provision for citizenship. (Where’d the Latino vote go, fellas?) They are also homophobic, and some of them unbelievably sexist. They would gut Social Security and Medicare, eliminate loan programs that make it easier for young people to go to college, think health insurance should be some kind of earned privilege (they lost this fight, too), have no use for federal involvement in education (please don’t raise your kids in Texas, Mississippi or West Virginia, folks), never saw a bill giving women a pay raise or control of their own bodies that they didn’t oppose.

They also don’t like to help people in need, voting to defeat a bill extending provisions of a disabilities act to other nations, even with once-revered GOP leader Bob Dole making a pitch for it from a wheel chair. And, of course, they voted down a bill providing aid to New Jersey and New York, devastated by Hurricane Sandy, even though GOP members in those states asked for it. Bitter and selfish come to mind.

But hang on. I just thought of a couple of things the 21st century GOP likes, even loves. Guns. Lots of guns, Any kind, in anyone’s hands. At the school house door, preferably. And rich, old white men, which is primarily what it comprises these days. And that’s now a minority.

And yes, I saved the most obvious for last. Republicans today — the old guard and all the tea partiers — hate Barack Obama. Hate that he’s president … again. They say he should sit down with them, preferably in the White House, and kiss their rings, or whatever, if he wants their votes. But they also shout at him from the floor of Congress during a presidential address and doubt his citizenship, showing no respect for the man or the office.

The president may well sit down with some of these “political leaders,” but don’t think he won’t know what he’s dealing with. He’s half-white and half-black and worked to organize communities in inner-city Chicago. There’s a kind of hatred he’s faced his whole life. Still, he is the most powerful person on the planet today, which suggests the haters are finally losing this fight.

bob@zestoforange.com

 

 

 

Good Policy Can Also be Good Politics

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Barack Obama: A humane move on immigration.

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe Barack Obama is finally figuring it out. You can only negotiate, compromise and reason with people who are willing to negotiate, compromise and reason. In other words, apparently no one with the authority to speak for the Republican Party.

Having committed itself on Day One of his presidency to a priority goal of denying Obama a second term as president, the GOP, led by the no’s of Tea Party conservatives, has opposed every idea, proposal, act of the Obama administration, including those with Republican origins. Even when the act is obviously a good thing — a moral thing — to do.

For example, Obama’s executive order immediately removing the fear of deportation from some 800,000 young people who were brought into this country as children by their immigrant parents. Make no mistake, these young people are Americans in every way but documentation. They have grown up in the United States, gone to our schools, our colleges, served in the military. They work in our businesses. And yet, with the fervor of the GOP anti-immigration campaign growing every day, these young people who call America home lived in fear of being sent back to a “home” they never knew.

Not any longer, thanks to Obama. In a quintessentially American act, the president gave these young people legal status. If they were brought here before age 16, have been here at least five years, are under 30 years old, are in school, have a high school or GED diploma or served in the armed forces, and have no criminal record, they can stay and even apply for work permits.

What was the Republican response to this humanitarian act?

They accused Obama of playing politics.

Really? That’s all of you’ve got? Politics? From a politician? Gosh, guys, you make it sound like a bad word. Just because you’ve been bashing Latinos for two years now during your presidential balloon fight of a primary race, anything positive a Democrat does on immigration is “politics”?

Face it, the GOP has surrendered any right it might have had to a Latino vote with its harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. So Obama, or any Democrat, would be a fool not to appeal to Latinos. If that be politics, so be it — but this also happens to be good policy and good politicians can marry policy and politics for success.

The pitiful GOP response included a failure by presumptive GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to answer a simple question — although asked three times on “Face the Nation.” If he disagrees with Obama’s order welcoming these immigrants, would Romney, if elected president, issue an order nullifying it? Yes or no? He never replied. Best he offered is that “events” might supersede the president’s well-motivated move as the Romney administration sought a comprehensive answer to the immigration situation.

Yeah, like Republicans have sought for the past ten years. They have blown up the Dream Act, which was a bipartisan immigration effort, in favor of urging deportation and pretty much nothing else. The thing is, Obama has been deporting illegal immigrants at a record pace. But he has just made nearly a million young people — who did nothing illegal — immune from that threat.

Look, Republicans for the most part are simply ticked off that they have been trumped, politically. They have shown no real interest in a humane immigration policy for this nation of immigrants. They may rail about drug trafficking from Mexico, but for years they had no plan for the thousands of immigrants who streamed in from Mexico just to seek work — often work most Americans didn’t want to do.

Worse, Republicans have become unable or unwilling to simply respond to acts or events for what they are. For example, to say in this case: The president did a good thing here. We applaud him.

Even Marco Rubio, the Florida senator with vice presidential aspirations and an obvious stake in the Latino vote, could not simply praise Obama for his humane gesture without suggesting it would have been better to get Congress involved.

Really, Mario? You know full well that Republicans in Congress scared George W. Bush away from humane immigration reform, which his instincts told him was the right thing to do and which could have been a major accomplishment in his otherwise disastrous presidency. Some Republican wing nuts in Congress are threatening to sue over Obama’s order, behaving as if the president does not have considerable powers of his own, including the power to grant amnesty and immunity from laws, including those on deportation.

Nothing drives a rigid, intolerant, uncompassionate, fearful, selfish person crazier than someone exhibiting a flexible, tolerant, compassionate, hopeful, generous attitude toward the object of their fear. Call it politics if you wish. Others call it basic human decency.

* * *

PS: I like that ending, but I have to add something for any Republicans who might have read this and feel upset or insulted or angry or whatever because they don’t necessarily agree with their party’s response to the president’s decision in this matter. It’s not my problem. If you are a Republican today, for better or worse, you are identified with these views. As I see it, you have three choices: (1) Accept the statements and views of your avowed leaders as they are, in silence; (2) work to bring your party back to a more traditional conservatism, one that still has a heart; or (3) get the heck out. The choice is yours, and that, too, is politics.

 bob@zestoforange.com

 

 

 

 

The Real Facts and the GOP ‘Facts’

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Karl Rove, mastermind of the GOP disinformation campaign

By Emily Theroux

The GOP’s refusal in recent years to deal in the currency of facts has flown in the face of an edict widely credited to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” The perspective of the entire Republican Party has been subsumed by a kind of mass denial of reality that relegates “facts” to the last millennium, the enlightened era before America’s own King George W. assumed the throne.

“Bush’s Brain,” diabolical conservative mastermind Karl Rove, first defined the new world order in 2004. During an interview with writer Ron Suskind, Rove stated cryptically and with appalling arrogance that people who lived in what Rove termed “the reality-based community” believed that “solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. … That’s not the way the world really works any more,” Rove opined. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study, too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Ever since Rove and his fellow neocons’ immense hubris inspired them to forsake empiricism in favor of empire, they gave loyal followers permission to reinvent themselves as players of “history’s bit parts,” existing in a bubble of misinformation, revisionism, creationism, nativism, and science denial. If the reactionaries aren’t satisfied with the “tangibles” that reality throws their way, they can always swaddle themselves in Karl Rove’s Orwellian cocoon, where black is white, lies are truth, conservatism is compassionate, corporations are people, and the world is 6,000 years old despite the extensive fossil record. When the conservative faithful feel cornered by reason or statistics or scientific evidence, they can opt out of “the reality-based community” any time they choose by flipping on Sean Hannity or streaming Glenn Beck, then retreating into a “fact-free zone” of philistinism and folly.

Sometimes, Republicans are confronted with the embarrassing truth about their stubborn ignorance or outright lies when an issue or policy suddenly proves politically inconvenient for them. Take, for example, the embarrassing necessity for Virginia’s “Governor Ultrasound,” Bob McDonnell (hoping to be drafted as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential candidate) to backtrack on his “principled” insistence that rape victims, too, must undergo mandatory ultrasounds and be forced to view the resulting fetal images, just like everyone else waiting in line to clear GOP hurdles to obtaining an abortion. When that kind of cosmic retribution occurs, Republican candidates can follow Rove’s dubious lead and choose one or more of the following five options:

1. Change the subject to some bogus controversy you can blame on the Democrats. “Reality-averse” pols like Mitt Romney, who is truly cynical – and fully aware that this ploy is a zero-sum game designed to obliterate his opponent – have deliberately set up these false constructs (the phony “mommy wars,” for example, designed to distract voters from the very real Republican “war on women”). Indeed, everything, to Romney, is a precisely calibrated political calculation. Like a twisted wingnut version of a Bob Dylan song scored by “Turdblossom” Rove, Mitt doesn’t even fart without first testing which way the wind is blowing.

2. Take credit for your opponents’ accomplishments. When President Obama mounts a successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden, tell voters that if it hadn’t been for Bush and Cheney’s meticulous planning (during all of those years after Dubya said he “wasn’t all that interested” in finding bin Laden), the coup of the century never would have happened. When 1.2 million jobs are created since June 2009 under Obama’s watch, count jobs lost before Obama’s stimulus bill took effect so you can say “he” lost 1.86 million jobs; then use phony-baloney numbers of jobs created by Staples long after Romney left Bain Capital so you can claim “he” created 100,000 jobs. When the American auto industry makes a startling comeback after you wrote an editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” claim as much credit for it as your lying mouth can possibly fabricate.

3. Turn your own failures around and blame them on your political foes. Characterize the historic downgrading of America’s credit rating, which resulted from the refusal of congressional Republicans to raise the debt ceiling for months on end in 2011, as the result of “high unemployment, big government, and ‘unsustainable debt’” caused by President Obama’s fiscal policies.

4. Turn to any of the fraudulent “authoritative” foils you rely on to issue “expert” guidance, official policy positions, or “model” legislation – such dynamic, partisan think tanks and lobbying conglomerates as the Heritage Foundation (funded by those clever Koch boys, who are as rich as God) or the furtive American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose member corporations prefer to slink around in the shadows so they don’t jinx their cushy tax dodge. Another option: For your next campaign event, call the bogus “activist” operation, FreedomWorks, whose own Dick Armey can rustle up a cast of boisterous “rent-a-redneck” subcontractors before you can shake a stick.

5. Get your “talking points” from focus-group guru Frank Luntz – called the “mack daddy” (translation: biggest, pimpingest bad-ass) of GOP strategists by Current TV’s Cenk Uygur. Then annihilate those dirty Dems by bellowing the bull that every other Republican talking head is bellowing, on every media venue you can get yourselves booked onto for the next four days. You’ll find that you get particularly good mileage out of Faux News, where sympathetic hosts will toss you softball questions, and “low-information” target audiences (who never watch anything other than Fox’s regurgitated extremist pablum) will generally swallow every last disingenuous word you say.