Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

All the GOP’s “dumb” governors

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

South Dakota's Governor Kristi Noem called for “less Covid, more hunting.”

South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem called for “less Covid, more hunting.”

  “If you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids. That’s what the data shows from around the country.”

  With that absurd, ungrammatical and easily refuted statement to the press, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts last week boldly entered the competition for “dumbest” Republican governor in America. It’s turning into quite a contest in a steadily growing field. And, while I may be mocking this collection of nitwits, let me be clear in stating that this is no laughing matter.

    Let’s start with Ricketts. He is vigorously fighting an effort to legalize medical marijuana in his state. That’s right, they’re not even talking about recreational marijuana in Nebraska, just catching up with the 39 states and the District of Columbia, which have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes. 

     But killing kids? The Drug Enforcement Agency says “no deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.” Ever. As for its classification as a Schedule 1 Drug by the DEA — meaning it supposedly has no medicinal value — that was a product of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, passed by Congress as part of Richard Nixon’s racist campaign to demonize and nullify black voters. Fifty years later, and in the face of all scientific evidence to the contrary, Republicans are still trying.

        There’s no real race issue in white bread Nebraska, so this is likely just one more Republican politician playing to the lowest common denominator — the proudly uninformed who make up much of the party’s base. The Trump voters. The governor also threw in the false claim that marijuana serves as a gateway drug for teenagers to other drugs. The Centers for Disease Control says there is no evidence of this. In truth, alcohol has long been the gateway drug for young people. Yes, there are risks, especially for young people, in using marijuana, but Ricketts could have stressed common sense approaches to its use rather than making up scare stories. Unfortunately, Nebraskans suffering pain from a variety of illnesses would be deprived of the relief medical cannabis can provide if he has his way.

         At least Nebraskans still have a chance to escape the consequences of having a “dumb” governor. Others, Texans, for example, have already paid a steep price. On March 2, with most of the nation, including Texas, in the early stage of receiving Covid-19 vaccinations, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order lifting the mask mandate and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. When the mayor of Austin, the state capital, said the masks would stay on in his city, Abbott went to court to challenge this affront to his authority to put Texans at risk.

          This mandate came on the heels of the deadly deep freeze in the Lone Star State. When the state’s independent power grid failed during a winter storm in February, with Texans literally freezing to death, Abbott went on Fox News to say, “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for America.” Abbott said solar and wind power got “shut down,” while noting that those sources account for only 10 percent of the state’s energy.

          The truth: natural gas lines, which provide the largest percent of Texas’s power, froze up as well because anti-regulation Texas didn’t require companies to winterize. So, yes, almost all power sources froze up. A few windmills did keep producing. Also the truth: Texas refuses to join national power grids for protection against blackouts because Republican officials don’t want federal oversight. Neither do power companies who support them financially.

          Of course “dumb” governors are not new in Texas. In the midst of the blackout, with Texans looking for food and shelter and just trying to stay alive, former governor Rick Perry said Texans would rather deal with blackouts than have the federal government regulate their power grid. Perry, of course, was Energy Secretary in the Trump Administration.

           To top it all off, when the Texas lieutenant governor tried to roll back $16 billion in exorbitant power bills sent to residents, Abbott disagreed. Said he didn’t have the authority. But he can order people not to wear masks. As of March 17, Texas was still averaging 173 Covid deaths a day.

          Abbott has had serious competition on ignoring health experts in responding to the virus from other Republican governors, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who answered the question of whether anyone could be more obnoxious than Rick Perry with a resounding yes. In fact, anti-mask, open-up DeSantis, with an eye on the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has made his anti-science, anti-press approach the hallmark of his public utterances, again echoing the success of Trump with a core group of Republican voters.

          The same can be said of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has taken her campaign on the road and likes to come across as a wise-cracking cowgirl (where are you, Sarah Palin?) and has said from the beginning that South Dakotans don’t need any masks or social distancing and was disappointed when she couldn’t have a big fireworks show at Mount Rushmore. All this as Europe is seeing a resurgence of the virus.

         There are more candidates, but you get the idea. The real question, of course, is whether these politicians are truly dumb, or just playing a cynical role that makes them sound dumb to a majority of Americans, but enhances their reputation with the core group of Republicans who vote for them, often against their own self-interest. The willfully dumb.

          Given the prevalence of this in-your-face obnoxious ignorance, real or feigned, among Republican members of Congress (too many to name here), I have to think this is just further evidence of the disintegration of the Republican Party as a serious, principled participant in the governing of this nation. And that is a serious loss.

         Today, for GOP governors and other elected Republican officials, no platform is necessary. Atttack science. Deny history. Ridicule education. Blame “others.” Demonize the press. If people suffer, if they die, well those are the breaks. Make it all up as you go along. It will get you elected. Hey, it worked for Trump, didn’t it?

         Yes. Once. And if it happens again, we’ll have only our dumb selves to blame.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

       

Kale? Quinoa? How about Kefir, Kamut?

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

By Bob Gaydos

Kefir and kamut, new breakfast entries for real people. Oh Gaydos photo

Kefir and kamut, new breakfast entries for real people.
Bob Gaydos photo

      Move over, kale and quinoa. Make room for kefir and kamut.

      Warning! The following is a bit of “advocacy” journalism written by a long-serving member of the news fraternity that was recently described by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida as having “a worldview where you eat nothing but kale and quinoa, where those of us who cling to our Bibles and our guns and our fried foods and real America are looked down upon.”

       Mr. Gaetz, as one can deduce from the things he “clings to,” is a Republican. He is engaging in what passes for statesmanship in his party these days. That is, celebrate your “victimhood,” mock any suggestion of interest in good health, inclusiveness and a willingness to learn new things and vilify the press.

        It is a running battle between Gaetz and Louie Gohmert (he was actually a judge) for the title of dumbest member of the House. But I digress.

        Before Gaetz launched his broadside at the media — just more of the effort to divert attention from the impeachment proceedings against Gaetz’s hero, Donald Trump — I had already planned to write about two new additions to my breakfast menu: Kefir and kamut.

        As with many of my recent dietary choices, kefir was introduced to me by someone who pays much more attention to these things than I do and who also is concerned about my health. I have learned to pay attention most of the time.

        Kefir is a cultured, fermented, probiotic beverage that tastes somewhat like yogurt but is creamier and, I think, tastier. Grains (the kefir) are added to a beverage, usually but not necessarily, dairy milk, then allowed to ferment. The grains are then removed, providing the drink.

       Kefir has been gaining in popularity since it is beneficial to digestion and, since it is fermented, can be consumed by those who are lactose intolerant.  But it’s not just stomach health. It also boosts the immune system, is loaded with protein, B vitamins, potassium, and calcium. So it helps build muscle, strong bones and bolsters heart health and may even lower cholesterol, all, by the way, especially important to septuagenarians like me. It’s also tasty, coming in peach, strawberry and, my favorite, blueberry.

       And yes, I plead guilty to Gaetz’s charge of advocacy journalism. It’s not a sin. I have written frequently about food and health issues I think are important, especially since the facts tells us that many Americans have a weight issue and diabetes and heart problems are commonplace. I think reporting about healthful food choices is a good thing for the media to do, whether some choose to ignore the reporting or not.

       Kamut kind of snuck up on me. I like cereal in the morning from time to time and in my search for a healthful, tasty alternative to the sugar-loaded brand names, I picked up a box of Heritage Flakes. It’s an organic cereal from Nature’s Path, comprising kamut, oats, spelt, barley, millet and quinoa, unadulterated ancient grains all. I wondered, what is kamut?

        I learned that kamut is also called Khorasan wheat or Pharaoh grain since grains were discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs. It lost out to conventional wheat in America, becoming cattle feed. But, like kefir and quinoa, as the result of an increasing interest (aided by reporting) among Americans in more healthful, tasty foods, kamut and spelt and buckwheat are trending now on supermarket shelves. Real people are buying them.

        Kamut’s benefit is that it has significantly more protein than wheat and more fatty acids. It’s also loaded with zinc and magnesium and is an excellent source of fiber.  And, yes, it’s tasty. Plus, some people who are allergic to wheat can actually eat kamut without bad side effects. Add a banana or some berries, a splash of almond milk and dig in.

        Getting back to Gaetz (you knew I would), his adolescent rantings and behavior (crashing a closed House hearing and sitting down to eat pizza), have become all too typical of today’s Republican Party. I don’t care if he clings to his Bible, only that he not insist that others do the same or that those who do not share his beliefs are somehow enemies. As for his guns, yes, I would like stricter controls on who can own them and a ban on automatic weapons. So would a majority of Americans. That’s a fact. Nothing fake about it.

       For the record, I do occasionally eat kale and quinoa and I avoid fried foods for the most part because I have learned there are plenty of appetizing foods I can eat to my heart’s content without worrying about heart disease. I don’t think that’s elitist, just smart. And there’s nothing wrong with being smart, although Republicans have been doing their best to make it seem otherwise for some time now. It’s a bully’s weapon learned in grade school.

       The latest example of the GOP war on education and information comes in Gaetz’s home state of Florida where a five-man board of commissioners denied a library request for a digital subscription to The New York Times because “it’s fake news” and they “don’t need a New York paper” in their county.

       This is America, people. The library already has a print subscription that costs $3,000. The digital subscription would cost $2,700 and give all library users access to the newspaper. But, well, Gaetz’s “real people” apparently don’t need it as long as they have their Bibles, guns and fried foods. After all, we can’t have them stumbling across stories about kefir or kamut or kale or quinoa, now, can we?

(Full disclosure: I am not an influencer paid by either Lifeway or Nature’s Path.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com

      

 

The Buck Never Stops With Trump

Friday, November 9th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

D4EC7881-03DC-40CE-B0DA-02AA50509A49There’s still too much happening, too fast, so I’m sticking with the Jimmy Cannon approach for a while. So …

— Maybe it’s just me, but I’m having trouble figuring out which is worse: a) claiming you don’t know someone you just appointed to a pretty important job when critics immediately say the appointment is illegal and inappropriate; b) lying about knowing the guy when you just said on national TV less than a month ago that you know him and he’s “a great guy”; or c) thinking that the best way to cover your butt for making what is being described as an “unconstitutional appointment“ of someone who is being widely described as a “crackpot“ to the position of acting attorney general of the United States of America is to say, in effect, “Hey, they told me he was a good guy for the job. I never met him. Don’t blame me.”

The buck never stops at Donald Trump‘s desk. Think about it (you Trump supporters who stumbled in here by mistake can ignore this part), the man who occupies the most powerful position on the planet would rather people think he appointed a political hack to the most powerful law enforcement position in the country without ever talking to the man face-to-face than admit maybe he was a bit too hasty. Coincidentally, of course, at a time when the Justice Department this stranger would head has an active investigation of Trump and the 2016 election.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, with Drumpf, lying is second nature, but being embarrassed is unacceptable. It must be someone else’s fault. The media’s! Yeah, that’s it. I’ll blame CNN.

— Maybe it’s just me, but if I were a member of the White House press corps, I wouldn’t ask a single question at the next press conference if Sarah Huckabee Sanders is at the podium. No one. No questions. She took lying for a living to a new low with the use of a doctored video to revoke Jim Acosta’s White House credentials. The truth is under constant assault by this administration and the Republican Party. The press is the defender of the truth. Sarah must go,

— Maybe it’s just me, but I have issues with voters who prefer a dead pimp, a congressman indicted for insider trading, another one indicted for using thousands of dollars in campaign funds for personal affairs and another one who is proudly racist over their opponents just because their opponents are Democrats. Methinks it says some unpleasant things about those voters. The Republican Party of Reagan, never mind Lincoln, no longer exists.

— Maybe it’s just me (and this definitely falls in the category of patting my own back), but those dots (I listed 17 of them) I wrote about back in January got connected on Election Day with a wave of women (mostly Democrats) elected to the House of Representatives. Sparked by the #metoo movement, with “a record number of women, mostly Democrats, running for political office this year at the local, state and national levels,” I wrote, and with “female registered voters outnumbering male registered voters in the United States … this is not simply a revolution about sexual predation — or an attitude of male sexual privilege, if you will. As I see it, it is an awakening, a moment of clarity, a realization that what was does not have to continue to be. Cannot be, in fact. Republicans are mostly clueless to the moment. Democrats ignore it to their continued ineffectuality at the polls.” So I said. It’s nice to be right occasionally, even nicer that the Democrats paid attention.

— Maybe it’s just me, but has anyone heard about anyone being charged with murdering Jamal Khashoggi? Are we still buddies with the Saudis?

— Is that caravan still threatening our southern border?

— Is it petty to criticize by name the members of your political party who didn’t get re-elected because they didn’t beg for your support? Is it typical (see item one) to think you, with your policies and rhetoric, bear no responsibility for their defeat?

— Maybe it’s just me, but Floridians deserve whatever they get for electing Rick Scott governor in the first place and maybe a bonafide racist to replace him. Throw in Marco Rubio, too. Imagine, counting all the votes is cheating.

— And finally, maybe it’s just me, but have you noticed that, unlike Congress, the third leg of government, the courts, have been holding their own against the onslaught of anti-everything coming out of the White House? The latest rulings stalling the Keystone Pipeline and preserving DACA show the value of independent courts. Maybe it’s just me, so why is Chuck Schumer being so soft on Mitch McConnell?

#voxpopuli

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Beck

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

One generation in the Shubinsky line has just passed away. The earth of course will abide and I suppose that this, plus my aunt’s having had far more years than most people get, should bring comfort. But I’m bereft.

She was the youngest of three sisters, the only one born here in America. Her name was Rebecca. She was Becky to most people. To me, for some reason I’ve never been able to recall, she was always Beck.

She was married once to a guy who became some big hotshot in the Army. I have no memory of him. But later she married Mickey Klein, one of the sweetest men on the planet. It was from Mickey and Beck I learned my first Yiddish expression.

Soon after they got married, they came to visit us in Queens. My father was in the process of berating me for some transgression I was unaware I had committed. I imagine Mickey sensed my terrible embarrassment, and from him came the plea: luz-em-oop – leave him alone. Beck immediately agreed and my dad’s lesson was over, and these three short sounds became a kind of mantra, the secret password among my aunt, my uncle and me.

Funny how we remember these little moments that shape our lives and bond relationships.

During the war, Beck moved to Washington to take a job with the Navy. She wound up as secretary to some VIP. The story my mother told was that Beck was supposed to type up an official order noting that submariners were to have a service patch sewn onto their uniforms over the left shirt-pocket. Or maybe it was to be sewn onto the left sleeve. Doesn’t matter. What mattered was that Beck got it wrong. Maybe it had been a late night and she didn’t get enough sleep. In any event, for a while no one noticed. For me, it was a point of pride that my aunt changed the course of history. Sort of.

Even around the age of 4 I had a crush on Beck. In the words of the time, she was a swell-looking dame, with a great smile and a soft voice. Whenever she came to see us she would bring something for me. She kissed me a lot. Hugged me as well. In one visit she stood talking with my dad outside the gates of King Park in Jamaica. She kept beckoning me to come over for the gift she bought for me. But I was too bashful and kept riding my three-wheel bike in larger and larger circles.

Later, I opened her gift. It was a record of the Three Little Pigs. Since it was from Beck I had my father play it over and over. I must have listened a dozen times before the record finally broke in two. I’d like to say she got me another, but I don’t remember.

She and Mickey finally moved to Florida and we saw less of them but managed about once a year. Distance can be a curse.

When Mickey died a few years ago, I was saddened. Beck died this week. It doesn’t matter that she was 99. I’m heartbroken.

The GOP Comes Up Dry on Candidates

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio ... reaching for the unattainable?

By Bob Gaydos

When last we saw the Republican Party, they were plunging, lemming-like, over the cliff of national debt and letting President Barack Obama snooker them into approving what they describe as tax increases on their most favorite of all kinds of Americans — the really, really rich ones.

Since then, the survivors of the GOP cliff dive have continued to display their self-destructive instincts in ways both ridiculous and sublime. The most recent example falls into both categories. That would be Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s dry-mouthed, Saturday Night Live-like response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

Hold on! you say. Rubio’s whole response wasn’t a joke, it was just the beginning that was comical. Fair enough, I reply, but do you remember anything about the speech other than Rubio’s farcical stretch for an off-camera water bottle while keeping his eyes trained straight ahead at the camera? I sure don’t. And it’s doubtful most Americans do, what with the incident being ridiculed all over TV by the likes of Jon Stewart, David Letterman and, indeed, Saturday Night Live itself.

Fair or unfair, a fact of life in politics today is that image shapes discussion. Perception becomes reality. So when the supposed Great Latino Hope of the Pretty Much Whites Only Republican Party — one of the few Republicans who sincerely wants an immigration reform bill because it’s the right thing to do rather than it being the correct political thing to do — comes off in his debut as potential presidential contender as so nervous he desperately needs a drink of water barely a minute into his TV address, well, people are bound to wonder.

Is this the best the GOP can do? Can a guy who gets choked up so fast reading a speech on TV be counted on to handle really tense situations, such as routinely confront the president of the United States? When Rubio took his swig of Poland Spring, why didn’t he at least have the presence of mind to simply set the bottle down calmly and move on, rather than stretching comically again to replace it off camera? Did he think no one could see him? How people respond, even in the seemingly most mundane of circumstances, can be telling. Rubio’s response tells me that he’s not quite ready for prime time. The good news for him is that he’s got a couple of years to work on it.

As it was, commentators noted that at least Rubio’s actual eventual speech was a lot better than the State of the Union reply delivered last year for the GOP by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another minority voice who was billed then as the great southern conservative hope of the GOP. If Rubio was Plastic Man, Jindal proved to be Mr. Freeze, one of Batman’s nemeses. Jindal’s wooden delivery dropped him back in the pack among potential GOP presidential contenders, which may explain why he recently called out his fellow Republicans, saying they had to “stop being the stupid party.”

Now, them’s fighting words and, had he been a member of almost any other political party, they would have surely gotten some kind of respectful response: “Gee, do you think Gov. Jindal’s got a point? Maybe we should talk about it. Should we shun candidates with ridiculous, simplistic views on issues? Should we care about more than the rich? Would that get more of us elected?”

But stupid is as stupid does. And so, Karl Rove, the chief architect of last year’s disastrous GOP campaign, has decided to double down on his spend-as-much-as-necessary-to-defeat-Democrats policy by creating a super-PAC to knock off fringy candidates who might win a GOP primary, but would lose in a general election, as happened last year. Some might view that scenario and decide it was time for the party to reach out to a broader spectrum of voters, to establish a base more in line with the majority of Americans rather than with candidates who appeal to certain special interest groups.

Not Rove. His Conservative Victory Project is intended to bankroll already established GOP faithful with fistfuls of money so that they win the primaries. These would be, of course, candidates acceptable to Rove, which does not mean a majority of Americans would also like them.

Newt Gingrich, who has been both mainstream and fringy GOP candidate, is kind of going both ways this time. Having been buried by super-PAC money last year when he was rising in GOP presidential primaries, he calls Rove’s plan a form of political bossism, where the folks with the money pick the candidates. It’s destined to fail, Gingrich says, and the figures on Rove’s success in the last election bear this out. Rove’s big-money philosophy bought little last year, one estimate being he had a success rate of 1 percent on $103 million spent on PAC attack ads.

But Gingrich further says the GOP needs to reach out to a broader base of Americans — Latinos, blacks, women, Asians, young voters — to compete successfully with Democrats. Other Republicans have also criticized Rove’s new PAC, but the former top aide to President George W. Bush still has an influential voice among Republicans, last year‘s stunning failures notwithstanding.

What is striking and depressing in all this internal GOP fighting is that they so seldom talk about actually creating a better country through new, more enlightened policies, but simply about beating the Democrats by reaching out to groups who vote Democratic, whatever that means.

Maybe there’s a Republican who wants to run for president who thinks his or her party needs to review and actually change some standard GOP policies — on abortion, gay marriage, gun control, health care, education, immigration, a living wage, bank regulation, taxes, etc. — as a way to attract some of those voters who don’t pull the GOP levers. A candidate who can also deliver a major speech in a way that inspires confidence, not ridicule. So far, that person has yet to appear.

bob@zestoforange.com

Carrie’s Painting of the Week – 11/14/2012

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Keys Afternoon

By Carrie Jacobson

This is my first real time in Florida, and I’ve noticed some things.

The Atlantic is a different color here than in New England. Here, it varies tremendously, according to the light, the time of day and the weather, at least for starters. Often, it’s an amazing azure blue, like you see in the ads. In the day and a half I’ve been here, I’ve seen it green, turquoise, celadon, and the amazing and indescribable color you see from glacial runoff.

The water is saltier, too – or so it seemed this afternoon, when I dunked myself in. Yes, it’s November 14. So I had to go in!

It’s hard to remember what time of year it is. Everything is green. Flowers are blooming. If I lived here, I would lose track of everything. But in the stores, Christmas items are out, and in Homestead, the downtown Christmas tree was already decorated.

Far as I can tell, there are no Wal-Marts in the Keys.

Key West is like Newport with palm trees and mopeds. I drove in, drove around and drove out, happy to be away. I didn’t see Hemingway’s house.

I have seen at least five people who clearly just live outdoors.

In Sarasota, cows graze in fields across the six-lane street from Lowe’s and Applebee’s – and there are palm trees in the cow fields.

In the bathrooms, women apparently don’t squat above the seats. I have not encountered one wet seat, hallelujah.

People drive really, really fast here. I was in Sarasota for three days and saw four huge accidents. I’ve been in the Keys for a day and a half, and have seen two crashes that resulted in cars turned over on their roofs.

Here's my painting in the landscape