Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

The dumb, venal, rotten GOP game plan

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Sorry, Pop, we have no proof this program works. Last meal.

Sorry, Pop, we have no proof this program works. Last meal.

I think I have the White House game plan figured out. Actually, there are two of them. Make that three:

  1. The NIC (narcissist-in-chief) thrives on chaos. He will keep as many balls in the air — as many ridiculous charges, outrageous statements and out-and-out lies — as possible to keep everyone’s eyes off his efforts to milk the presidency for as much money as possible for his and his family’s business interests. It’s always about the buck with the Donald. The fact that he also happens to be an ignorant, racist, misogynist, bully only helps to camouflage his motivation: Greed.
  2. The Republican Party, which controls Congress, wants to use the NIC as a smokescreen for the fact it has no idea how to actually govern and really wants to only do what it always wants to do — reduce taxes for the rich and reward its corporate contributors, for as long as it can manage to keep the NIC in office.
  3. The Destroy-the-Government Gang. As its name implies, this is the really dangerous one, a  combination of Steve Bannon followers and Tea Party fanatics who have grabbed the Republican Party by the throat and said, “Listen up, we’re in charge now.” It combines dumb and venal, a deadly combination which also exists in game plan Number 2. Plus, it throws in just plain rotten.

Since all three are working together for separate goals, they share a mutual interest in fomenting chaos. The media have to decide daily what to focus on: The Russians? The wiretaps? The Wall? The travel ban? The budget? The conflicts of interest? The Trump/Ryan health care plan?

The only way for the rest of us to maintain sanity is to take it in digestible pieces. or, as is the case here, indigestible pieces. I offer two examples from the past week of what I think are the dumb and venal thinking that drive Republican policy today. One involves the budget, the other health care.

First, the budget. Mike Mulvaney, the NIC’s budget director, in defending his boss’s (Bannon’s) proposed 2017 budget, which mercilessly slashes social spending to further beef up the most powerful military on the planet and close the nation’s borders, defended the elimination of federal funds for the Meals on Wheels program because it “doesn’t work.”

He said it was “compassionate” to eliminate funds to feed homebound, low-income senior citizens because it wasn’t fair to ask single mothers to pay for something for which there was no proof of success. He also said the same thing about free school lunches and after-school programs for poor children.

This is dumb on steroids because, as reported in The Washington Post, numerous studies show that Meals-on-Wheels programs that feed more than a million homebound seniors every week “significantly improve diet quality, increase nutrient intakes, and reduce food insecurity and nutritional risk among participants. Other beneficial outcomes include increased socialization opportunities, improvement in dietary adherence, and higher quality of life.” It also reduces costs involved with taking care of the elderly in costly nursing homes.

Plus, what kind of country doesn’t want to fund programs that allow volunteers to bring meals to senior citizens with limited income or to feed hungry kids? That’s just rotten.

For the record, Mulvaney is a Tea Party loyalist. His nomination by the NIC was approved by the Senate, 51-49, with Republican John McCain joining all 48 Democrats in voting no. McCain said his vote was based on Mulvaney’s previous votes to cut defense spending. Interesting, now that he’s the NIC’s budget chief and not just another congressman, Mulvaney is OK with pumping up a bloated military budget by adding $54 billion, even if it means poor kids and older citizens go without food. Dumb, venal and rotten personified.

Now, health care. The GOP plan has been almost universally described as a disaster. We’ll save that for a later time. But if you’re looking for the kind of genius that went into writing it, let’s look at an exchange that took place in the House of Representatives in the middle of the night.

As the Energy and Commerce committee discussed the bill, Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.) asked Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) what he meant when he said premiums were “skyrocketing” in his state “because of the mandates from Obamacare.” What was he talking about, Doyle wondered. What did he object to? “Certainly not … pre-existing conditions, or caps on benefits or letting your child stay on the policy until 26, so I’m curious what is it we’re mandating?”

“What about men having to purchase prenatal care?” spoke up Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.). “Is that not correct? And should they?”

“There’s no such thing as a la carte insurance, John,” Doyle replied.

“That’s the point,” Shimkus answered. “We want the consumer to be able to go to the insurance market and be able to negotiate on a plan.”

“There’s not a single insurance company in the world that does that,” said Doyle. “You’re talking about something that doesn’t exist.’’

Dumb.

The debate moved on with no one being so rude as to point out that it takes a man as well as a woman to produce the result that triggers the desire for prenatal care. It’s a family benefit. Shimkus happens to be the father of three young men.

One more thing about this sharp tack. Shimkus is chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Environment Subcommittee. In an interview in 2010, discussing climate change in an interview, he said, “I do believe in the Bible as the final word of God. And I do believe that God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood.’’

Whew! I feel better.

As I said, there’s far too much of this kind of stuff going on with Republicans every day to be able to make sense of all of it. But if we focus really hard and snatch just one of those balls the NIC has in the air, all the rest will come tumbling down.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

GOP Has a Day of Reckoning Coming

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

The face of the Republican Party.

The face of the Republican Party.

There is a light at the end of this tunnel called a presidential election campaign and, if the gods are not playing a cruel trick on us, that light is not on an engine with TRUMP emblazoned on its sides. In any event, the end is near and I am as weary of writing about this ugly affair probably as  you are of reading about it.

The problem is, that’s all most of the mainstream and social media care to talk about these days. In case you missed the other news: 1) The Cubs and Indians are in the World Series. 2) Heavily armed police in North Dakota attacked hundreds of protesters who joined the Standing Rock Sioux tribe trying to block construction of a pipeline they say threatens water supplies and sacred sites. And 3) Tim Tebow is apparently just as good at baseball as he was at playing quarterback in the NFL.

But really, the only thing the media want to talk about are Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the election is rigged and that the press — meaning all the news outlets who report accurately on his words and actions — lie.

These are claims that losers and demagogues resort to when everything else — lies, threats, lies, threats, lies, threats — fails. Honestly, it is disheartening to feel a need to point out to, apparently, millions of Americans, that Trump’s claims are nonsense. It is even more disheartening to realize that many of the people who still support his candidacy don’t seem to care. There is a major issue to address some day soon in that.

Meanwhile, as to his two claims:

  • Voter fraud is virtually non-existent in America. You can check this with any legitimate news provider. The real threat is voter intimidation — keeping some people from voting through excessive (illegal) regulations and perceived threats. Suggesting rigged elections is a serious threat to the very foundation of a free, democratic society — an orderly transfer of power. This is something about which Trump knows little and seemingly cares less. As far as he’s concerned, if he doesn’t win, the powers that be must be against him.
  • The press. Ah, the press. “They can say anything they want,” he complained the other day. No kidding, Sherlock. You just noticed? He says if he’s president he’s going to change that and strip the major media companies of their power. He can try, of course. It won’t be easy though. You see, Donald, those same forefathers who were so wise as to guarantee Americans the right to bear arms in that Second Amendment you and your followers are so fond of spouting and shouting about thought the idea of a free and unfettered press was so important to a functioning democracy that they wrote it into the First Amendment of the Constitution. That’s one ahead of the guns amendment, which some might say suggests it is more important. Since a civics lesson is apparently in order for Trumpers, it should be noted that the First Amendment also guarantees everyone freedom of religion. Which is also to say, freedom from your religion.

But these are mere facts and Trump and the folks at Fox News have demonstrated the power of repeating false news over and over again until listeners — like the inhabitants of Orwell’s “1984” — simply take it for fact. We have always been at war with Eurasia. We have never been at war with Eurasia. Love is hate. War is peace. I know Putin well. I never met the man.

We are told that many Trump supporters — virtually all of them white  and the majority male — are angry and frustrated with their lives. Somehow, goes the argument, all those black, brown, Muslim, Mexican, gay, Jewish, Arab, Asian people who don’t belong here — and some pushy American women as well — have prevented these Trump fans from realizing the American Dream. They took all the jobs and live on welfare. Love is hate. Up is down. Bigotry has nothing to do with it. We just want to make America great again, like before all those other people said they wanted to enjoy the American Dream, too.

Enough already. At some point in a person’s life, if he or she is lucky, the opportunity presents itself to take responsibility for one’s actions. To take stock of how things are going. Not materially, but really. It can be frightening. It can also be rewarding. Among other things, this look in the mirror allows one to say — if one can be honest — “I’ve made some mistakes. I sincerely regret them. I hope to do better from now on.” A lot of people never do this.

With that runaway train called Trump menacing the trust and tolerance that are the pillars of our, yes, already great nation, I’m thinking that a lot of people — a lot of white, Republican people — have a date with a mirror. It’s far too late to undo the damage Trump has done or to deny any part in it, but it’s not too late to admit the mistake of supporting him in spite of all the hateful, false things he said. It’s not too late to admit to acting as if he didn’t say them because, well, maybe because you were angry or confused or frightened or thought it would be disloyal. Maybe you feel you were lied to. Or maybe you just wanted to believe the lies.

Republican politicians who have stuck with Trump have no such out. The McCains and Ryans and Cruzes and Rubios knew Trump was bad news from day one. But he was their bad news and his lies became their lies even when they disagreed with him, because they never had the courage — the humility, the simple decency — to look in the mirror and say: “Enough. This man is obscene. He is an insult to our party and our nation. We made a grave mistake in pandering to the worst instincts of some of our party members in order to get their votes. Our pride kept us from admitting this. Fear drove our decisions. We allowed him to make fools of us. Indeed, we made fools of ourselves.”

Speaking, if I may, for the rest of an angry, resentful nation, that day of reckoning can’t come soon enough.

rjgaydos@gmail.com     

The Truth Shall Make us Free, and Angry

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Mexican Preidnet Enrique Pena Nieto and Donald Trump ... a language barrier?

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Donald Trump … a language barrier?

I wrote a column last week in which I said that the media’s decision to give Donald Trump’s core supporters the dignity of a legitimate-sounding political movement name was, essentially, a bunch of hooey. A lazy, cowardly way of saying that the folks most passionate about Trump’s candidacy are bigots.

When you say Alt-Right, read it to mean the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, previously closeted fascists, anti-gays, and a bunch of woman-haters. The kind of people who, in previous eras stole land from Native Americans and slaughtered thousands of them. Who started a war to preserve slavery. Who had whites-only schools and bathrooms. Who herded fellow Americans of foreign descent into internment camps.

I thought it was a fair, truthful representation of what Americans have been subjected to for nearly a year now. Would that the major media had done the same for the past year. One reader suggested there must have been spittle on my laptop when I got through writing. Quite possible. I’ve been known to get a little messy when I’m angry. To me, one of the most disappointing aspects of this presidential campaign is that not nearly enough people are angry and downright embarrassed that one of our two major political parties has handed its presidential nomination to a congenital liar. A bigot. A misogynist. A narcissist. … There I go again.

Another reader noted a lot of “name-calling” in the piece. I don’t know. It seems to me when I use words to describe the reality of what is going on, it’s not name-calling, it’s doing what Trump says he does. You know, telling it like it is; calling a spade a spade, a bigot a bigot. I think Trump’s own words and actions legitimize every label I affixed to him. You can deny this if you want, but that merely puts you in line with the Republican National Committee, which is in bed with Trump, against its will but for its own selfish purposes. There are names for that, too.

Last week, Trump took his ego to Mexico to meet with that country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto. After the meeting, Trump said they discussed the infamous wall he has repeatedly vowed to build on the U.S. border with Mexico, but he said the two men did not discuss his demand that Mexico pay for it. Pena Nieto disagreed. He said he “made it clear” at the beginning of the conversation that Mexico would not pay for any wall.

If somebody is lying here, I’m going with Trump. Just hours after his cordial photo op/meeting in Mexico, the candidate was in Phoenix giving as extreme an anti-immigrant speech one could imagine. A wall. Mass deportations of migrant criminals. “Extreme-vetting.” “Ideological certification.” David Duke, former Klan leader, called it “excellent.”

Back in Washington, D.C., Priebus and his RNC crew were once again left trying to figure out how to put a positive spin on Trump’s latest hateful broadside. Their decision was to say nothing because, really, what was there to say. The RNC has made its bed. Now it has to lie in it and about it. Week after week, it has been waiting for Trump to become more … presidential? No, that hope disappeared long ago. Perhaps simply more sane, more rational, more compassionate. Compassion would help. If Trump had any.

Cliche after cliche after cliche comes to mind. What you see is what you get. He is what he is. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Anything beyond that is merely ignoring the loud elephant in the room.

When this campaign is over and Hillary Clinton has become the first woman president in U.S. history — by default, if you wish — Priebus and his fellow GOP travelers will have a major decision to make.

Many Republicans who finally summed up the courage to say they cannot support a candidate with no redeeming social values to be the leader of this country are already trying to figure out where their party goes from here. Or where they go from here, if not with the GOP. For votes and power, they surrendered their party to the likes of the Koch brothers, Fox News and the fearful demands of the Tea Party fringe. Rich bigots lying to not-so-rich bigots.

Trump told them what they wanted to hear. Then he changed his mind. Then he said he never said that. Then he said, the greatest insult of all — that he was going to make America great again.

Listen, great isn’t all it’s trumped-up to be. When this election is over, I would rather be proud of my country again.

 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

And So it Went: ‘2nd Amendment people’, ‘ISIS’ … more Trump ‘do-overs’

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Donald Trump ... shooting off his mouth again

Donald Trump
… shooting off his mouth again

It was The Week of the Do-Overs: Actually, for Donald Trump and Republicans, it has been nothing but one do-over after another as the disintegration of their party continues in the guise of a presidential campaign.

Most recently, the man “who tells it like it is” and “says what he means” has been going around saying that President Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were the founders of ISIS. That is so absurd on the face of it that only a rabid Trump supporter would believe it. But Trump said it often enough that his spokespersons (the most hapless lot of sycophants in history I have to believe) defended it all over TV. Then Trump did what he always does — a do-over. I didn’t mean it, he said. It was “sarcasm,” he said. His lackies moved on.

Trump also said that if Clinton won the presidency there would be no way to stop her from appointing Supreme Court judges who would not be amenable to conservative points of view. Then he added that maybe the “Second Amendment people” might be able to do something about it. When even Republicans said this was a possibly treasonous call for assassination of his opponent, Trump eventually said, well, he meant that politically they might do it. A do-over.

But there are no do-overs when you suggest that killing your opponent would be an acceptable political act. Not in this country where innocent people are murdered for no reason by deranged men with guns every day and the NRA buys congressional support to defeat any reasonable efforts at gun control. Not when all it takes is for one of those unstable Trump followers to get a gun and follow his leader’s suggestion. Some of them don’t even know what sarcasm is.

Trump is a threat, an insult, a slur, a lie, a boast, an absurdity waiting to happen anytime he speaks. Life to him is one, big do-over. He doesn’t tell it like it is; most of the time he doesn’t know what it’s like. He makes it up. Then, because he’s Trump, he expects to be able to say, “That’s not what I meant” or “the media misinterpreted it” and have everything be OK. He never even suggests an apology for any possible harm his words might cause.

For example, he recently said he “always wanted to get a Purple Heart,” one of the dumbest statements I have ever heard. Trump said it in the midst of insulting a father whose son earned the medal in losing his life in combat saving many of his fellow soldiers in Iraq. Because the man is a Muslim and used the platform of the Democratic Convention to attack Trump’s targeting of Muslims, Trump belittled the man by suggesting he was possibly an ISIS agent. Then, Trump showed how small he is himself (not just his hands) by saying he “always wanted” a Purple Heart and being given one by a veteran was “easier.” Ha ha. Joke.

Thousands of men and women who earned Purple Hearts by being wounded in combat were not amused. They would take no do-overs on this slur. If Trump wants to learn more about these wounded veterans, he can visit the Purple Heart Museum in New WIndsor, N.Y.. It’s not far from where he did his only “military duty” at the New York Military Academy.

But really, this is all the same, week after week. He knows Putin; he doesn’t know Putin. He’s not so sure about supporting NATO allies. What’s a Crimea? What’s the big deal about using nukes? Trump doesn’t tell it like it is. Rather, to use the overworn phrase, he is what he is. A phony, in so far over his head that he is trying desperately to find a way out. The debates are supposedly rigged, he says, so maybe he won’t take on Clinton. The elections are also rigged, he says, so he can’t possibly win.

The ones who really want a do-over are Republican “leaders” who allowed this racist bully to claim their prized possession — candidate for president of the United States. A man with no morals, no compassion, no intellect, no regard for anyone but himself. A man who mocks people with disabilities. A man who says he wanted to punch all those Democrats saying nasty things about him. This, to him, is reasonable discourse for someone wanting to be president of the United States. For shame.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is supposedly OK with Trump avoiding the debates and is his chief apologist. Well, Priebus, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan can go on denouncing Trump’s statements and supporting his candidacy at the same time, but it only makes them look like spineless fools. The know-nothings to whom Trump appeals will stick with them. That’s not enough to save the party of Lincoln. Their day of reckoning is looming.

It seems to me that any Republican with a shred of decency and self-respect, not to mention common sense, should have abandoned Trump and the GOP apologists by now. Any Republican male with a wife or daughters, or both, should have written him off months ago for his comments about women. Any veteran, any Hispanic, any Muslim, any black, any gay, any parent, any woman, any man who respects this country and has hopes for its future needs to look in the mirror and ask, “How can I live with myself if I vote for Donald Trump?”

Evangelicals will have to reckon with their maker.

Some mistakes have no do-overs.

rjgaydos@gmail.com   

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.

 

 

Give Me a ‘D’ for Dumb, Pat

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By Bob Gaydos

Pat Sajak ... scientist?

Pat Sajak … scientist?

It’s Pat Sajak’s fault.

For the past few years, I’ve been writing one opinion piece a week for a blog. It’s a way to keep doing in retirement what I did for more than 40 years for newspapers.

But I have been unable to form an opinion for three weeks — ever since I read about Sajak tweeting about “global warming alarmists being unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends.”

This made no sense to me, starting with why the ever-smiling host of “Wheel of Fortune” had any reason to think his thoughts on global warming were worth sharing on Twitter in the first place.

But as I tried to set aside the Sajak incident, I found myself unable to find anything else that made sense to me. What the heck is wrong with this country? I wondered. What could I write about when what is supposedly the most technologically advanced society in history seems to be paralyzed by a combination of willful ignorance and abject laziness. Sajak Syndrome, if you will.

When did dumb become fashionable?

Pick a topic. Global warming? Pictures of the Arctic ice pack melting? Nearly 100 percent agreement among scientists that humans are destroying the planet’s atmosphere through extravagant, ignorant use of fossil fuels and cutting down of rain forests? That’s nonsense, the pundits on Fox News say. Wasn’t it cold this winter? Didn’t it snow? What the heck do scientists know?

If it were true, the Fox News folks would tell us, the Fox flock say. Really? When they’re being paid to lie? This is abject laziness on the part of the viewers and willful ignorance on the part of the bosses and staff and big money backers at Fox News. And sadly today, most of the Republican Party.

How do you reach people who don’t want to be reached, I wondered, people who are too lazy to question, who are so set in their own prejudices that they eagerly accept the drumbeat message that the man living in the White House is to blame for all that scientific foolishness and everything else that is wrong with this country?

Please, tell me again how racism is dead in America since we elected Barack Obama, a black man, to be president. Tell that to people whose voting rights are being stripped (by Republicans). Tell that to people of color in “Stand Your Ground” states. Check the arrest and imprisonment statistics on drug crimes.

Forgive me for jumping around here, but, as I said, I can’t figure out what to write about because there is so much insanity going on in this country. The bankers drove this country into a recession through shady deals and didn’t go to jail. Today, people who still can’t find jobs because of the recession are called lazy and Congress — again, led by Republicans — cuts money for food stamps for the poor and refuses to extend unemployment benefits to the unemployed or raise the minimum wage or expand benefits to veterans.

It also refuses to cut college students — the future of this country — a break on the interest rates on their back-breaking loans. The corporations, of course, still get their tax breaks and CEOs who drive companies into the red still get rewarded with lavish golden parachutes. And the boss of McDonald’s tells his employees to get another job to make ends meet because he can’t afford to pay them a living wage. To Fox News, this makes sense.

Did I mention guns? There is a shooting at a school or mall or other public place virtually every day now, but it’s not because guns are too easy to get, the willfully ignorant insist. No, the leaders of the NRA tell us that if we armed teachers and let everyone carry weapons openly there would be fewer shootings. Bring your guns to Chili’s and Target. More guns mean fewer shootings. Oh, and if you don’t feel like paying your share of income tax, hole up on your ranch with an arsenal and defy the federal government. Because you’re a patriot. Fox News will defend your “right.’’ This is insane.

Look at the food we eat. Well, actually, most of us apparently would rather not. Monsanto, a chemical company that controls the food supply, changes the genetic structure of basic foods. This allows companies to sell food cheaper because more crops grow in less space and the “food” lasts longer on shelves. That food is usually full of salt and sugar and chemicals, in addition to having its genetic structure changed.

No one knows the possible effects of genetically modified food, but Congress (Republicans, again) allows it — won’t even require labeling of foods with GMOs — because Monsanto is a very generous donor to political campaigns. Europe has banned GMOs. China, too, and other countries. But Fox closes its eyes and ears and shuts off its brain to the obvious questions — willful ignorance — and its sheep munch away on cheap, addictive food, raising health insurance costs as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and weight-related illnesses increase. All the while, of course — again at the instigation of Fox — they are criticizing the president for trying to make health insurance more affordable for everyone.

There’s plenty more. We are a nation of immigrants that can’t come up with a reasonable immigration policy. We espouse freedom of religion, but in some areas of America it’s probably not wise to admit being Muslim. There is still some question among some conservatives as to who is responsible when a woman is raped. Evolution is considered by the willfully ignorant and abjectly lazy as a theory to be debated. But Noah and the Flood — an undeniable fact.

The Internet gets blamed for a lot of the misinformation that is spread today. But the Internet is just a tool. People spread ignorance, out of fear, greed, selfishness, prejudice, envy, laziness. I think many of the commentators at Fox News are laughing all the way to the bank. They are getting rich by criticizing the poor. Others are simply willing to say whatever they are told to say to get a paycheck. Some are just nasty and don’t like people who are different from them. I think at times they all say stuff that they have to know can’t be true, but they do it anyway because that’s their job. There is really no excuse for people like this — the willfully ignorant.

Why the Republican Party has allowed itself to be dragged down to this level, kowtowing to the frenzied anti-government, anti-Obama cries of the tea partiers, I don’t know. I suspect it has to do with race (the president’s) and with money — who is providing how much of it to whom. Integrity is clearly not held in high regard in the GOP these days, at least not since it offered Sarah Palin as a person to be trusted a heartbeat away from the presidency.

That leaves the climate-change deniers (who also doubted the president’s birth certificate) who think anything they read on the Internet is true, except if it’s on an actual mainstream news site or one run by liberals. These are the abjectly lazy who wouldn’t check a fact put forth by Fox News even if their life depended on it. And sometimes it does.

So there’s my dilemma. I know what I have described here doesn’t apply to everyone in this country. My belief — indeed, my fervent hope — is that it doesn’t apply to a majority or even large minority of us. But Sajak Syndrome exists. So I will continue to write with that in mind and encourage others of like mind to do so as well. Far too many Americans have bought into the idea that dumb is good, up is down, black is white and what some politician said yesterday doesn’t have to make sense with what he or she says today.

Far too many, in other words, would rather think of renowned scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of “Cosmos” (on Fox TV no less) as a charlatan and liar when he describes the “Big Bang” theory and tells us that global warming is an issue that needs to be addressed seriously and immediately. On this issue, they’d rather trust the judgment of game show host Pat Sajak.

That’s where I came in.

Bob Gaydos can be reached at rjgaydos@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

Hope: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Valerie Harper ... living each day to the fullest

By Bob Gaydos

I’m standing at the corner of hope and no hope, wondering how people who grow up in the same country wind up on opposite sides of the street.

Let’s start with the no-hope crowd so that I can end on a positive note. The Conservative Political Action Caucus is holding its annual convention this week. The overriding question is: Does it really matter anymore? CPAC used to be the heart and soul of the Republican Party, conservative to the core. Today, CPAC is adamantly conservative to a fault and, in truth, as a party, Republicans have become heartless and bereft of any apparent soul. That may sound harsh, but there hasn’t been a single “moderate” Republican to step up and challenge the view for several years.

Quite simply, hope cannot exist in an atmosphere of anger, hatred, bigotry, religious extremism and plain stupidity that characterizes what passes for the GOP today and which has its origins in the increasingly ultra-restrictive membership of CPAC. The big tent that some Republicans used to like to talk about today is miniscule. It has no room for immigrants, blacks, Latinos, gays, the poor, the young, the middle class or women who insist on being equal citizens. Or of any disagreement with it.

That formula cost Republicans the presidency the last two elections. Does CPAC get it? Apparently not. It’s not even certain that CPAC cares. The speaker’s list for this year’s convention includes prominent and generous time slots for such as Sarah (the irrelevant) Palin, Donald (still waiting for the president’s birth certificate) Trump and former Florida congressman. Alan (hopelessly out-to-lunch) West.

It does not include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, widely regarded (by those outside of CPAC) as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. He made the apparently unforgivable mistake of thanking President Obama for federal aid in helping New Jersey recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Vetoing a marriage equality bill was apparently not enough to restore Christie’s conservative credentials, at least not for CPAC.

Gay Republican groups are barred from official CPAC proceedings, but not members who routinely spout anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant rhetoric. Florida Sen. Mark Rubio, the Great Latino hope of the GOP, gets but a token platform appearance. Thoroughly confusing the issues, more mainstream Republicans such as the failed presidential candidate, Mitt Romney and the next-in-line Bush, former Florida governor, Jeb, are invited, to the chagrin of many CPAC members.

Out of this hodgepodge of negativity, hostility and failure, it is expected that libertarian Republican Sen. Rand Paul will emerge as the winner of CPAC’s straw presidential poll. He will see it as vindication of libertarianism, which it is not. CPAC will probably view it as an anomaly. The thinking public will, one hopes, see it for what it is — the death knell of a once proud, but now hopeless, political party.

Which brings me to Valerie Harper, and hope.

Valerie Harper, the wisecracking Rhoda on the popular “Mary Tyler Moore Show” on TV, is dying. She has a rare type of terminal brain cancer. Her time is limited, her prognosis poor. Her spirit is indomitable and full of positive messages about living life.

Harper, 73, says she is not sitting home on the couch feeling sorry for herself. She is on a book tour, talking about the wonderful life she has lived, cognizant of the fact that, whatever pain and horrible things may lie ahead, “they’re ahead. They’re not now.”

“Keep your chin up and don’t go to the funeral, mine, or yours or your loved ones, until the day of the funeral, because then you miss the life you have left,” Harper says. The actress, who has also battled lung cancer, may have three months to live, she says, but her focus is on enjoying each day as it comes along, with gratitude for the days she has had. And, she also says she feels she has a “responsibility” to raise awareness for early testing for cancer.

So, with death staring her in the face, Valerie Harper chooses to focus on life, on being a useful, positive member of society. She wants to help people, to build a better community.

Meanwhile, with everything possible in this wonderful country of ours to live for and the potential to do something about improving our collective lot, the members of CPAC, who control the destiny of the Republican Party, choose to focus on who they don’t like, what they don’t want, what they can’t and won’t accept, what they refuse to believe. They see no future for things as they are so they seem intent on destroying what can be, if for no other reason than spite. I can see no hope for such people or their ideas.

For Valerie Harper, though, I feel an abiding love and gratitude christened with tears. She gives me hope.

bob@zestoforange.com

 

 

Three Things That are Obsolete

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Obsolete

By Bob Gaydos

When, in the course of human events, certain things outlive their usefulness, it is important, perhaps even necessary, that society scrap them. Send them to the landfill or the museum. Say bon voyage, adios, good riddance. Thanks, but no thanks.

It strikes me that three things fall into that category today in America:

  • The penny: A penny for your thoughts? Really? This blog is free, but otherwise my thoughts are going to require three figures (no decimal points). It’s simple: The penny can’t buy anything today. It is a nuisance, forming colonies on dresser tops and deli counters. Merchants routinely round their prices to avoid it. And it costs 2.41 cents to mint every penny. That’s a hefty loss for a nation struggling with a debt ceiling.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced last year that the government would start using cheaper materials in pennies this year. What little copper was still there would likely disappear and there might be less zinc. He said this would save abut $75 million a year. Scrapping pennies altogether would save the government more than twice that amount and make life much more manageable for cashiers. (Nickels, by the way, are in the same category.) Rumor has it that some new pennies have arrived and they are, well, funky. Kind of light and not necessarily official looking.

I’m not sure who it is that still wants this money-losing money to be minted, There are surely plenty around to satisfy collectors. For comparison, Canada, which scrapped its penny Feb. 4, estimates there are 6 billion of them in circulation and it will take about four years for them to disappear now that minting has ceased. Merchants are rounding up or down until that time for cash customers. Sounds doable, eh?

  • Cursive writing: Or at least teaching cursive writing in elementary school. Before you traditionalists get your drawers in a knot, think about it. When was the last time you used true cursive, not some amalgam of printing and scribbling that was barely legible — by you? The days of “slide, slide and glide” (capital I, remember?) have been replaced by txtng. In electronic communications, neatness is automatic. It’s spelling  that suffers. Kids hate learning cursive. Teachers probably would rather be teaching writing well, not neatly.

There will always be people who will be able to write cursively, just as there are talented folks who can do calligraphy. But I have gone from cursive to manual typewriter, to electric typewriter, to laptop and smart phone. Each change made writing more efficient, which is the key. And think of the poor guy leaving memos on cave walls. What he would have done for papyrus and a pen?

Cursive is no longer required as part of the Common Core State Standards, but states have been slow to drop it. Hawaii, Indiana and Kansas have. New York leaves it up to the school district to make the decision. Folks, if your district teaches it, ask them to stop. You’d be better off learning about LOL than teaching your kids to write a capital Z.

  • The Republican Party: Talk about obsolete. The 21st century version of the party of Lincoln has been hijacked by haters, nay-sayers, evangelists, wealthy bullies and Flat Earthers. Anything, anyone, any idea that does not fit their narrow view of life is automatically a threat and subject to loud assault, not debate. It has no interest in working with others to better life for all Americans. It has no interest, in fact, in working with anyone who disagrees with its views.

In the last presidential election, women, Latinos, African Americans, gays and young people favored the Democrat, Barack Obama. The whiz kids of the Grand Old Party are now trying to figure out how to buy those votes or change people’s minds. Few Republicans talk abut changing the party’s stances on some issues, such as immigration, abortion or gay marriage. Those who do are subjected to attack, ridicule and phony allegations. In fact, facts have little currency in the current GOP.

The best thing would be for the Republicans with a brain, a heart and a sense of obligation to actual governing (I know they’re out there) to form a new party. Leave Karl Rove, Roger Ailes, the Koch brothers and the Tea Partiers the ruins of the day. We don’t need them anymore.

bob@zestoforange.com