Posts Tagged ‘LGBTQ’

Hamill, Voices, Opinions, Dogs, August

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

Pete Hamill

Pete Hamill

Some random observations of a Covid-weary pundit in the month of August …

By the way … The death this week of Pete Hamill, at 85, got me to thinking about journalism — by which I always mean print journalism — and the voices I listened to as I followed my own path as a newsman. Hamill was right there with Jimmy Breslin, the voices of New York, whose columns were more than words on a page. They were conversations in a diner. I heard them in my head. That’s because they were honest and true to their creators. Nothing phony. Less noted than Hamill’s recent death was that last year of Russell Baker, longtime New York Times columnist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, whose “Observer” column was as much a must-read for me as any of Hamill’s columns. Totally different, but required. Brilliant satire that was like having a cup of coffee with a very clever friend. 

   I had a couple of other favorites — Jim Murray, who never wrote a sports column the way they taught it in college, and Jimmy Cannon, whose ”Nobody Asked Me, But …” columns were required reading and the inspiration for this obvious knockoff. The voices in my newspapers are all gone. What remains with me is the now-conscious, but onetime unaware, conviction that a writer must be true to him or her self first. Do not try to impress or be what you are not. Tell the story as best you can so that people will actually want to read it. Trust your voice and your opinion.  Check your facts, use proper grammar and know how to spell, too. It seems I’m in search of some new voices to read today.

    By the way … They call these the dog days. Why? Have you ever known a dog to like the hot, humid days of August? No dog I’ve ever known, including each half of the current duo, Taj and Prince, has ever suggested taking a long walk on a 90-degree day and maybe playing some Frisbee later. It’s usually let me out to do my stuff and let’s get back inside with the air-conditioning, fast! And before some smart Alec with an itchy Google finger hurries to straighten me out, I already checked with Merriam-Webster. Apparently, the phrase was first used in 1538 and referred to the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, in the skies in the period from early July to early September. OK, but it’s been almost five centuries, people. Let’s give dogs their due with a star in the skies, but let’s not pin this crummy weather on them. They had nothing to do with it and they like it even less than humans do. Prince told me so.

    By the way … Try as I may, it is virtually impossible for someone writing about life as we know it today to avoid writing about the Embarrassment Administration. I’ll go easy, with a pass at the putz-in-waiting, Mike Pence. The nearly invisible and virtually mute vice president had something to say this week. He should’ve kept it to himself. Pence thinks Chief Justice John Roberts is a “disappointment” to conservative voters. Maybe it’s that lifetime appointment and separate and equal branch of government thing that Pence doesn’t understand. Maybe he doesn’t get that people in high government office, even vice presidents, are allowed and even expected to have their own opinions on issues and be willing to stand by them. And, in Roberts’ case, be protected by a lifetime appointment.

        The Chief Justice “disappointed” Pence by siding with the Supreme Court’s more liberal judges on cases involving LGBTQ labor rights, reinstatement of the Dreamers, a rejection of a Louisiana law restricting abortions and a rejection of. a Nevada church’s attempt to avoid limits on attendance because of Covid-19 restrictions. Pence said his boss would make sure to appoint more reliable rubber stamps to the court if he is re-elected. He’s even planning on putting out a list of potential candidates, not that he would dream of politicizing such an important position just before an election.

            Roberts, of course, cast the deciding vote in a previous 5-4 ruling that preserved Obamacare. Pence’s boss promises to provide a substitute for this healthcare plan about every couple of weeks. But apparently his golf gets in the way. I’d like to say it was nice to know the vice president actually speaks, but then, he is what is waiting in the wings. You, sir, are a disappointment to the majority of Americans. On the other hand, Mr. Chief Justice, well done.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

The Week Everything Went Right

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

 

  By Bob Gaydos

 The Supreme Court ruled that labor law protects LGBTQ rights.

The Supreme Court ruled that labor law protects LGBTQ rights.

    Sometimes, everything just falls into place, or, to put it another way, it all falls apart. Like Donald Trump’s week.

       You may have noticed that the Dotard had a very bad week last week, punctuated by a campaign “rally” in Tulsa that drew barely more than 6,000 faithful. The event, indeed the week, was a showcase for the now-familiar traits that define Trump — arrogance, laziness, pride, litigiousness, ignorance and callous disregard for anyone other than himself. To think there are some people who consider these to be attributes they want in a president used to astound me. Now, it saddens and angers me.

        Back to Trump’s week from hell.

        What ended dramatically in Tulsa began quietly in Washington, D,C., where John Roberts decided to act like the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. That is, the head of one of the three co-equal branches of government defined in the Constitution. Monday morning, with Roberts and new conservative favorite Neal Gorsuch joining the four liberal justices, the court ruled — against the Trump administration’s arguments — that the federal law which protects persons from being discriminated against in hiring and firing because of their sex applies to LGBTQs.

        The Trumpsters, catering to their conservative Christian supporters, had argued that someone could be fired — or not hired — simply on the basis of being gay. The court rejected that and, in a further jab at Trump, Gorsuch wrote the major decision. That same day, the court refused (7-2) to hear a Trump administration appeal of a California court ruling that upheld the state’s sanctuary law, which prohibits law enforcement officials from aiding federal agents in taking custody of immigrants as they are released from jail. And to top a week of attention-grabbing rulings, Roberts himself wrote the ruling which rejected the administration’s efforts to end the Dreamers program (DACA). The Chief Justice also chided Trump’s lawyers for their sloppy preparation and pointedly criticized Justicee Brett Kavanaugh’s arguments in the Dreamers as well as LGBTQ rulings.

     So, in one week, Roberts helped protect three vulnerable populations from the ego-driven whims of Trump, while also reminding him not to take the court for granted simply because he had recently appointed two supposedly friendly justices. Trump was thus reminded that presidents can’t fire Supreme Court justices. He, of course, took it personally, tweeting about whether the court didn’t like him. Roberts did not lower himself to reply.

     While this was going on, the White House was also in court trying to stop publication of a book — a typical Trump move, flying in the face of the Constitution and free speech. The book, by former national security adviser John Bolton, gives an insider‘s account of how the Trump White House operates. Which is to say, it is unflattering in its honesty. Bolton, no model of civic-mindedness, had refused to testify before Congress about this stuff, preferring to make a buck on what he witnessed (and participated in). The judge said the book could be published, mostly because it’s already been leaked and could easily be available on the Internet and there was no proof of risk to national security. Just to Trump’s ego.

      In the meantime, trying to get rid of another prosecutorial thorn in his side while no one was looking, Trump told Attorney General William Barr to get rid of Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Among other things, the prosecutor has been investigating Trump’s pre-White House dealings with Deutsche Bank, with bank fraud being the most often mentioned possible crime.

       Barr botched the job. He issued a statement Friday, when he hoped the world would be focused on the Trump anti-Covid rally in Oklahoma, saying that Berman had stepped down from his job. Berman promptly said that, no, he had not, adding that, since a federal judge had appointed him as a replacement, Barr could not fire him. Barr then said Trump had fired Berman. Trump was asked and, typically passing the responsibility buck, said he was not involved. It was Barr’s show. Confusion is another Trump trademark.

        Apparently, Barr got through to the Dotard and said, “Chief, if you want this done, you have to do it. But Berman won’t go quietly unless you name his deputy to succeed him.” And that’s how Audrey Strauss, who has worked closely with Berman on the Trump probe, came to be the new acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District. Trump got his man, but he may come to regret the whole messy, sloppy episode.

         And finally came Tulsa, in Oklahoma, where the wind not only came whistling down the plains, but could be heard whipping around a mostly empty arena Friday night. Never mind the million who had supposedly sought tickets on the Internet, there was nothing close to the 60,000 fans Trump’s team was expecting. The overflow venue was shut down early. The star rambled through an incoherent “speech” that featured him demonstrating an ability to drink water out of a glass with one hand and explaining the treachery of slippery ramps — both harking back to his previous week’s unsteady performance at West Point.

         The rally was meant to bring supporters out by showing a defiance of science and medicine and gathering en masse to show that virus a thing or two. The cherry on top of the week’s sundae was that the paltry crowd was apparently the result of an organized, nationwide social media effort to get teens and young voters to apply for free tickets on line but not show up. Wow! A million requests for tickets! Trump bragged earlier in the week, even as the campaign proceeded on social media. He and his team never saw it or never took it seriously. Lazy, Arrogant. Dumb. Dismissive.

      The Dotard showed up back at the White House late Friday night, looking disheveled and despondent. Unpresidential, to say the least. For him, the master of conceit, deceit and bluster (that could be a name for his law firm) it was a terrible week. Nothing went as “planned.” Everything fell apart. Or, to put it another way, for a change, everything fell into place.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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