Posts Tagged ‘trump’

2024: Neither Trump nor Biden, Please

Friday, November 25th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

  91E29BA5-E946-48C8-A9D2-5FFC851BB1FF  Never again, Donald Trump.

    Thank you for your decades of service to the country, but please not again, President Biden.

    Yes, in large part because of Trump’s constant need for attention, we’re talking about the 2024 presidential election already. 

     The ex-president could barely wait for the final 2022 midterm election results (which were disastrous for the out-of-office Republican Party over much of which he still commands significant influence) before announcing his candidacy for the 2024 presidential campaign.

    I guess he figures it’s either that or answer a subpoena. Or two.

    Unfortunately for Trump, except for diehard MagaLomaniacs, the bloom is off the rose for him with many Republicans, including some currently holding elected office. And, he may have to answer those subpoenas even if he is an official candidate for president.

     Attorney General Merrick Garland tried to clear the air on the subpoena front by appointing a special counsel to investigate Trump’s involvement in the January 6 insurrection, his attempts at election tampering in the 2022 election and the possession of classified documents once out of office at his home in Florida.

   The counsel, a career prosecutor and lifetime registered independent voter, is a way to separate the Biden White House and Democrats from the ongoing investigation into Trump’s activities at a time when he is a declared candidate for president. It’s a welcome step.

     Whether the appointment of the counsel clears the air for the Republican Party is another matter. Having started decades ago down the road to gaining power at any cost, the party is now paying the price for looking the other way and holding its collective nose while registering any bigoted, racist, narrow-minded American who promised to vote for any Republican who fed their fears while doing little to deal with their actual problems.

     Sacrificing policy for scare tactics and voter suppression, the party gained power with Trump’s election in 2016. Never underestimate the American voter’s appetite for shock and awe over substance. But, having no actual platform save for giving wealthy people a tax break and being handcuffed to a self-serving leader who valued loyalty over competence, the party could not sustain its grip on Washington.

    Trump’s utter lack of understanding of the role of president and the failure of most Republicans to criticize him for his pathological lying and inflammatory rhetoric, among other things, finally registered on a significant majority of Americans. He lost to Biden in 2020, a result he refuses to accept, and most of his election-denying sycophants lost in state elections this month. And Democrats held on to the Senate. Some prominent Republicans are finally summoning up the courage to criticize him. Or, to be accurate, to say he may not be good for the future of the party and, thus, their political careers.

      Which leaves us with some potential Republican presidential candidates who want to prove they can out-Trump Trump (notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) and some who apparently hope voters won’t notice their complicity in quietly looking the other way while Trump was in the White House (notably former Vice President Mike Pence).

      It may be a knives-and-daggers battle among Republicans for the nomination, but there’s no way they can offer Trump as their candidate again without giving up their last chance of rescuing their party from the pit of shame into which he has dragged it.

      So what about the Democrats? They have a different problem. Biden will be 82 in 2024. (By the way, Trump will be a not so youthful 78.) Running a country is not an old man’s game except in kingdoms and dictatorships. While Biden has brought competence and dignity back to the office of president and demonstrated that the government can indeed address the needs of all the people, the daily stress of the job could well affect his performance of his duties. Indeed, campaigning for the presidency against a new, younger, bomb-throwing Republican candidate could prove to be challenging.

     More importantly, Democrats need a younger, newer, more forceful face for 2024. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, made that clear in announcing she would not be a candidate for House Minority Leader in the next Congress.

    The problem is, there aren’t many Democrats around who are well-known by a majority of Americans. Vice President Kamala Harris is an obvious candidate for the nomination, should Biden choose not to run. But she has been remarkably quiet in her two years as next-in-line for the presidency. That’s a contrast with her often outspoken, forceful demeanor in the Senate. A little more of that Harris would serve her and her party well.

     California Gov. Gavin Newsom is said to have his eyes on the White House and he has some national recognition. There’s also Labor Secretary Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who would bring a great deal of energy to a campaign.

     Of course, the best-known and one of the most popular political figures who would make a formidable presidential candidate is Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House Select January 6 committee. But Cheney,  a Republican who has been blunt in her criticism of Trump with regards to his claims about the 2020 election being stolen and for his involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, lost her seat in still strongly pro-Trump South Dakota. Right now, she’s a potential candidate without a party.

   Of course, a lot can happen in two years. But the 2024 presidential campaign simply cannot be a rerun of 2020. America needs to move on.

 rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Save democracy, vote Democratic

Thursday, November 3rd, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

   62395128-094D-465D-A455-BC0B61B1AABD  I voted early. Easy. No lines at the Government Center in Monticello at 2:30 on Tuesday a week before Election Day. Helpful, pleasant volunteers. I voted for every Democrat across Row A. Also easy. There was really no other choice.

    The hamlet where I live is tucked in to the southeastern tip of Sullivan County in upstate New York, about an hour’s drive to New York City. It’s between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River Valley. Pretty country. A lot of it is Republican country, but not as much as it used to be. Our area’s congressman and state legislators are all Democrats. A recent development.

       When I say there was no other choice on the ballot aside from Democrats, I don’t mean there were no Republicans running for federal, local or state offices. I mean, in my opinion, no Republican candidate for office even deserved consideration for my vote if he or she had failed to publicly voice any kind of criticism of the Trump disaster despite having six years and countless opportunities to do so. Two impeachments. The election conspiracy/lie. Thousands of other lies. The January 6 Insurrection incitement. Classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Threats of violence. And, of course, total incompetence. Nothing.

       Republican silence on Trump goes well beyond party loyalty to the realm of blind allegiance to their leader and/or sheer cowardice, neither of which I want in an elected official at any level. As far as I can tell, it is a pandemic of its own within the Republican Party in every state at every level. Silence, obedience … or unhinged vocal support.

          I cannot think of one local Republican official in the three-county area (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster) which I call home who has publicly said a negative word about Trump. Not one. Six years. To do so, many apparently fear, would cost them votes and maybe end their political careers. The thought that it might gain them respect and new votes apparently hasn’t occurred to them.

         Of course, there are those Republicans who support Trump vocally, if not vigorously, yet deny that this defines them as racist, bigoted, fascistic, phony, cruel, anti-science, anti-free press, ignorant of the law, misogynistic, double-dealing, anti-education, anti-veteran, hypocritical, self-absorbed, lazy liars. There’s more, but you know it all. If the Republican Party, individually and as a whole, supports Trump, it is Trump. The whole ugly package.

  Full disclosure: Most of what you’ve read so far is repeated from a column I wrote two years ago, prior to the presidential election.  Fortunately, Democrats prevailed. Yet, today, many of the leading voices in the Republican Party still parrot Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him. Indeed, Republican candidates for all sorts of state and local offices also repeat the lie. For many it’s their only campaign issue. Truthfully, the only issue Republicans seem to have is to gain power and maintain it in any way possible, legal or otherwise. Violence is apparently not ruled out.

     That’s a pretty harsh statement, but I repeat, I see no evidence that it is offbase. The only Republicans who have criticized Trump have been ostracized from the party. The silent ones are complicit in what I believe is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime.

    I am 81 years old and after more than a quarter century of writing editorials for daily newspapers I never imagined I would write these words. But then I never imagined one of the two major political parties would abdicate all responsibility to govern in favor of creating an authoritarian system of government designed primarily to protect conservative white Christians. 

      This column is directed primarily at those who say their vote doesn’t matter. Or that both parties are the same. Wrong. Every vote for every office matters this year. Joe Biden’s two years as president with a Democratic Congress produced meaningful legislation for all Americans. If Republicans control Congress, there will be two years of stalemate and phony hearings, but no meaningful legislation. If they control state governments, no Democratic victory will be accepted. Constant turmoil.

     Vote like democracy depends on it, America,  because it does. And vote for every Democrat on the ballot. Please.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Republicans have Stockholm Syndrome

Tuesday, September 27th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

Patty Hearst, holding up a bank with the Symbionese Liberation Army

Patty Hearst, holding up a bank with the Symbionese Liberation Army

A news report to ponder as the House January 6 Committee prepares to resume its hearings on Donald Trump‘s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results: 61% of Republicans contacted in a recent poll do not believe the aforesaid former president had classified government documents stored at his home at Mar-a-Lago.

     In that same poll, conducted by the Marquette Law School, 65% of independent voters said they believe there were indeed classified documents stored at Mar-a-Lago and 93% of Democrats agreed.

    Why the disparity? Stockholm Syndrome. I’m convinced the Republican Party was taken hostage by Donald Trump more than six years ago and, for a variety of reasons, like Patty Hearst, they have fallen in love with their kidnapper. We’ve all been paying the ransom, but few Republicans seem to want to actually be freed.

     Rather, the majority still support, implicitly by their silence or explicitly by their words and actions, Trump’s claim that Joe Biden was not legally elected president in 2020. In the same manner, the majority support Trump’s claims of having nothing to do with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2020. And, as this new poll indicates, they support Trump and all his outrageous claims about the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, including the fact that the FBI planted them.

       Stockholm Syndrome.

       While it is not an officially recognized mental health disorder, studies of the syndrome have found it to be present in victims of kidnapping or abuse. Or, in this case, both.

       In October of 2016, I noted in a column that Trump, as the Republican candidate for president, said he might not accept the results of the 2016 election if he lost. The crowd cheered. Republicans remained silent. He made good on that threat in 2020.

        In the interim, he has kept his followers in line by promising to give them what they want — in large part, assurance that people who don’t look like them (white) or think like them (ultra-conservative Christian) will take away whatever they feel is important to them (an illusion of power). He alternates this con job with threats to punish them if they challenge him. The latter strategy has been especially effective with elected Republicans lacking the courage to speak the truth about Trump lest he campaign against them. Safer to work with him. Stockholm syndrome.

     All the while, Trump has played the victim and raised enormous amounts of money from his sympathetic supporters for bogus campaigns. Over the years, many, probably a majority, of Republicans, have formed a bond with Donald Trump that belies their true relationship. He has made a mockery of everything this political party one said it stood for, repeatedly encouraging the use of violence to achieve his goals, turning the party of law and order into a mob that attacks police at the United States Capitol and threatens to attack the FBI.

      In October, 2016, I wrote: “Republicans, Trump is not one of you. He is Trump. Period. You created him. … He has sullied us all. And he has destroyed you.”

     But those documents he declassified by thinking about them, even though they weren’t actually there and the FBI planted them anyway and he still wants them back, although they really don’t exist. 

     Apparently, they still can’t get enough of it.

     Stockholm syndrome.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

Judge Needs 61 in 154 Games, or Less

Tuesday, September 6th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

(With a nod of respect and appreciation for the late, great Jimmy Cannon.)

Maybe it’s just me, but:

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

Aaron Judge, hitting another one.

— If Aaron Judge hits his 61st home run within the Yankees’ first 154 games, he is the undisputed, no asterisk necessary, single-season home run king of the American League. That makes him, to me at least, the record holder for all of baseball, because all those who hit more (National Leaguers Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire) did so while using steroids to enhance their performance. That’s cheating. Baseball says it doesn’t approve of cheating.

As for that asterisk, baseball used to put one next to Roger Maris’ name as home run king because he hit 61 in an expanded 162-game season in 1961. In the Yankees’ last game, in fact. That meant Babe Ruth’s magic 60 number (hit in a 154-game season) still stood. That asterisk now only exists in the minds of some older baseball fans. That’s why I say Judge can erase any doubts by getting to 61 or 62 in 154 games. But if he tops Maris in 162 games, he’ll still be the all-time single-season home run champ in my book … unless they catch him using steroids or some other performance enhancer. This may sound naive to some, but I don’t see how someone who cheats, however talented he or she may be, should be credited with any kind of athletic performance record. Otherwise, what’s the point of keeping records?

— Maybe it’s just me, but: The judge granting Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the thousands of federal documents the FBI removed from his Mar-a-Lago home is no big victory for the ex-president. It’s a sign the judge is being careful in this precedent-setting case. Any claims by Republicans beyond that is just more smoke. It may slow the investigation down a bit, which is what Trump always tries to do, but don’t you think the FBI is already well aware of what’s in those documents they’ve been scouring for days? Bottom line: No legitimate reason for Trump to have them.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Mikhail Gorbachev’s death, or rather, how it was received by many Russians, has a lesson for Americans who think Trump and the MAGAs are no big deal here. Many Russians criticized, even hated, the author of glasnost (an open government policy) because they felt the end of the Soviet Union represented a huge loss of Russian standing as a world power, rather than a victory for freedom and equal rights for all citizens of the union. They preferred the projection of world power to the right to live as they chose, rather than as how the Communist Party dictated. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a product of the Soviet regime, has worked tirelessly at recreating that dynamic. He snubbed Gorbachev’s funeral. The former Russian president did not even get a state funeral. Only one foreign dignitary attended (from Hungary), because of Putin’s invasion and continuing war in Ukraine. Authoritarians and their followers, once they have a taste of power, do not give it up easily. That’s why the Jan. 6 congressional hearings and the FBI probe into Trump’s stash of secret and classified government documents at his home are important. It’s also why voting for any political candidate who doesn’t agree with that statement is a vote against glasnost.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Serena Williams deserves all the accolades she received on her retirement from tennis. A true champion in every way.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

The Trump Mar a Lago Documents? … The French Have a Word For It

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

  2E64A078-5397-4E5A-9F5F-E845D579A554  An arabesque is an arabesque wherever you may be. A grand jeté is a grand jeté in Tokyo or “Paree”.

    Came across a YouTube channel the other day in which a Russian ballerina and a Japanese ballerina were discussing their chosen craft. They knew enough of each other’s language to be understood, but what really made the conversation possible and meaningful to both is that when either of them said, for example, “sur la pointe” or “battu,” the other knew exactly what she meant.

     Ballet terms are in French everywhere. Period. C’est entendu. 

     Thus has it been since King Louis XIV adopted the dance style that originated in 15th Century Italy for his own court.

     The king, an avid dancer, created many of the terms and steps that exist to this day. He took the ballet out of the court and introduced it to the public, plié by plié, creating a professional dance company. And, while styles may differ somewhat, the language of the ballet persists, from Moscow to London to New York to Rome to Tokyo to Paris and to every pirouette in every ballet class in the world. Everyone understands it.

      Brilliant. Simple. No confusion.

      If only the same could be said for some other forms of communication. Compare the universal language of ballet to, say, the confusing verbiage surrounding a sizable stash of apparently sensitive, even classified and top secret government documents that Donald Trump apparently took home with him, along with newspaper clippings, notes, magazines and other stuff when he moved from the White House to a golf resort in Florida. Threw it all in cardboard boxes for, well, he never said what for.

        Trump apparently regarded the documents as “mine.”

        The people at the National Archives, which stores and protects government documents for the American people, consider them “ours.”

         When Trump finally agreed, after many months, to return documents, his lawyer apparently said there were “none” left in Florida. The National Archives folks and the FBI disagreed. They said there were “some” documents left. In fact, “a lot.” They wanted them “all.”

          Another lawyer suggested that Trump had “declassified” the documents, as presidents can do. The National Archives replied that saying so doesn’t make it so. 

         Trump said the FBI conducted an “unwarranted” raid on his Mar a Lago home, treating him like some common thief, rather than a twice-impeached former president. A judge said the raid was, in fact, warranted. In fact, he signed the warrant, saying there was “probable cause” to believe that classified or other sensitive documents were still stored at Mar a Lago and, furthermore, that there was “probable cause” to believe that evidence of “obstruction” would be found there.

          At some point, Trump suggested the FBI planted documents, yet insisted he wanted them back. He even said the FBI should release the affidavit for the search, suggesting, one presumes, it would show no justification. What the FBI released said it had reason to believe Trump was keeping “national defense information,” a violation of the Espionage Act.

           Espionage, by the way, is French for spying, another word that everyone understands. 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

          

          

       

      

 

Liz Cheney for President? Yes, but How?

Sunday, August 7th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney

  Liz Cheney for president.

      What?

      Too soon?

      You got a better candidate?

       Republicans don’t.

       Neither do Democrats.

       Really, it’s a no-brainer.

       All she needs is a party.

       … All she needs is a party.

        Americans claim to like leaders with the courage of their convictions and the guts to speak honestly, regardless of the personal political consequences. Occasionally, such a person actually appears. 

        Liz Cheney. In today’s Republican Party, populated by cowards, racists, liars and hypocrites, Cheney is an outcast. A pariah. As vice chair of the House Jan. 6 Committee, she has been the most eloquent, plain-spoken, messenger of the truth about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to attempt a coup. On live television.

        Cheney’s outspokenness has led to her ouster from the House Republican leadership, a censure by the Republican National Committee and a decision by her home state Wyoming Republican Party to no longer recognize her as a member. It has also earned her millions of fans among Democrats, independent voters and even a few quiet Republicans.

      So, Liz Cheney for president. Why not? She has the political bloodline, for starters. In fact, one doesn’t have to work hard to note the straightforward, assured and occasionally wry manner of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, in her political speech. She’s grown up in politics and has learned a lot along the way, most notably, about the need to preserve democracy and defend it against those, like Trump and his allies, who would pervert it to their own benefit, or simply destroy it.

       Cheney’s opening remarks for the committee’s hearings should be required reading for every American who claims to be a patriot:

       “We cannot leave the violence of January 6th – and its causes – uninvestigated. The American people deserve the full and open testimony of every person with knowledge of the planning and preparation for January 6th. We must know what happened here at the Capitol. We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House – every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. Honorable men and women have an obligation to step forward. If those responsible are not held accountable, and if Congress does not act responsibly, this will remain a cancer on our Constitutional Republic, undermining the peaceful transfer of power at the heart of our democratic system. We will face the threat of more violence in the months to come, and another January 6th every four years.”

          She gets it. In fact, so do thousands of other Republican officials. But she is one of the few who has had the guts to state it publicly, repeatedly, and, in the process, put her political career in jeopardy.

          At least in Wyoming.

          It’s doubtful that she will be re-elected as the state’s lone member of Congress, given the exorcism of her by the state’s Republican Party. Most political analysts doubt that even a hard-hitting campaign ad by her father will help her win the party’s primary next week. Wyoming is solid red Republican, which means do or die with Trump. Dick Cheney’s campaign ad said, in part, “In our nation’s 246-year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump.” He called Trump “a coward.”

     You have to admire the Cheneys’ loyalty to each other and to their country. But it’s their political party that has betrayed them and others who once espoused a conservative but genuine loyalty to America’s stated ideals, including that no man or woman is above the law.

      To that point, Cheney has been consistently clear during the hearings. “As our investigation has shown, Donald Trump had access to more detailed and specific information showing that the election was not actually stolen than almost any other American,” Cheney said. “Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices …”

      As to those proclaiming he simply didn’t know any better, she said, “President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child. Donald Trump cannot escape responsibility by being willfully blind.”

     Even Cheney’s congressional  re-election committee, while no doubt frustrated by the actions of Wyoming Republican leaders, is aware of the profoundly positive reaction to her courageous stand among millions of Americans who have not swallowed the Trump Kool-Aid.

    As one of her state campaign team members said, “The fringe right and the fringe left all hate her. But you’ve got this overwhelming, massive majority of people in the center who believe that what she’s doing is the right thing. Frankly, it’s the type of person that we need in the White House.”

   Yes it is. 

    So, how does she get there? Cheney hasn’t talked publicly about a possible presidential run, but she has already raised a sizable war chest, much of which is not being spent on her primary campaign. She reportedly doesn’t spend much time with her Republican colleagues in Washington anymore, some of whom have expressed admiration for her courage, but apparently lack any of their own.

     It’s hard to imagine a Republican Party cleansed of any Trump influence by 2024. Even if Trump is not the candidate, Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott and other Trump wannabes are already looking to take his place. That makes it harder even to imagine a Cheney presidential campaign as a Republican. Third party candidates historically have been successful only as vote stealers from one of the two major party candidates.

     So that leaves the Democrats. 

     Joe Biden was needed in 2020 to save America from Trump, and deserves thanks for that, but a much more dynamic, younger leader is needed in 2024. Vice President Kamala Harris has made no impact as a leader and there is no obvious top candidate waiting in the wings. Democrats desperately want to win in 2024. America needs them to win to help erase the Trump stain on the republic.

       It seems to me that a Cheney switch to the Democratic Party, despite significant policy differences, is more likely to happen than a sudden change in Republican philosophy. There are conservative Democrats and Cheney did recently support a Democratic gun control bill in the House.

      Does any of this seem politically possible or even realistic? Well, consider that we as a nation have never been in this situation before. History is being written. History also tells us that Americans admire and vote for those seen as decisive in difficult situations. Of the 46 presidents, 12 were generals. They were: George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, William H. Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Col. Teddy Roosevelt famously led the Rough Riders in the Spanish American War. Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy was admired and decorated for his heroic actions as commander of PT109 in World War II. Men hardened and shaped as patriots by their leadership in battle.

      If Liz Cheney can succeed in her battle to make Trump accountable for attempting to overthrow a legitimate president, to preserve democracy, she will have written her name into history books. She will also have gained the thanks and votes of millions of Americans, political party registration notwithstanding. It will be one hell of a campaign message.

       Let’s hear from Cheney one more time:

       “I have been a conservative Republican since 1984 when I first voted for Ronald Reagan. I have disagreed sharply on policy and politics with almost every Democratic member of this committee. But, in the end, we are one nation under God. The Framers of our Constitution recognized the danger of the vicious factionalism of partisan politics – and they knew that our daily arguments could become so fierce that we might lose track of our most important obligation – to defend the rule of law and the freedom of all Americans. That is why our Framers compelled each of us to swear a solemn oath to preserve and protect the Constitution. When a threat to our constitutional order arises, as it has here, we are obligated to rise above politics.”

      Liz Cheney for president.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Soto, Trump, Ego, Greed: America

Monday, July 25th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

Report: Washington Nationals Will Entertain Trade of Outfielder ...

For Juan Soto, is the sky the limit?

   Greed. Power. Ego.

    The fuel for the engine of America today. Some might say, with justification, thus has it always been. Perhaps. But in the here and now of 2022, it seems to be more prevalent, more inescapable, more baffling and depressing.

      I offer two recent examples, one a major sports story, the other a story for the history books.

— Juan Soto, a 23-year-old outfielder for the Washington Nationals, turned down a contract extension offer from the team of $440 million for 15 years. Now, that is enough money to guarantee that, even with a minimum of financial prudence, young Soto’s future children, grandchildren, great-great grandchildren, etc. will have a comfortable start in life. “That’s generational money,” as a friend of mine put it.

       So why did Soto reject the offer? Well, obviously he thinks he’s worth more. He’s already won a batting championship, after all. He’s a home run-hitting machine. Fans love him.

       Still, $430 million is not chump change. Even over 15 years. It’s more than any other ballplayer has ever been offered. But it’s a little less than $30 million a year and there are reports that this fact irks the young superstar. For those who don’t follow the inflated world of baseball salaries, there are  superstars on other teams with contracts that do not total as much as the one offered to Soto, but whose average annual salary is more than $30 million.

      What an insult! The nerve of the owners of the Nationals. Don’t they recognize his worth? Let’s see what other teams will offer.

       Ego. Greed. Power. 

       Apparently the Nationals’ owners know that Soto, who has two years left on his current contract, is worth a ton of money to put fans in the seats, but they also know they have to pay other people they employ as well. Fans always want teams to pay their favorite stars what they want. Owners always want to, you know, make a profit and win games without giving away the store. After all, if $430 million isn’t enough for today’s superstar, maybe a half billion won’t be enough for the next hot shot.

     And really, when is enough enough? I don’t begrudge special recognition for special talent in any field, including sports, but it’s not as if the Nationals went cheap on Soto. He’s doing what he loves to do and is being rewarded handsomely for doing it well. In many societies, this would be a reason for some humility. Gratitude even. 

      I know. I’m out of touch. Greed. Power. Ego.

     — The other example has been in our faces for months. The Jan. 6 congressional hearings have demonstrated beyond any doubt that there was an attempted coup, by force and other extralegal means, planned and promoted by Donald Trump and his cadre of fascist Republicans. Greed, power and ego at their worst.

       Ignore high gasoline prices. The fact that millions are still OK with what Trump et al attempted and that other millions agree with Soto’s line of thinking are proof that greed, power and ego are what really keep the engine of America running today. We need to find a new formula, and soon.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Hate Groups Found a Home in the GOP

Saturday, July 9th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos  

Oath Keepers at the Capitol.

Oath Keepers at the Capitol.

   “They’re not here to hurt me.“

     The essence of Donald Trump. The not-so-secret weapon of the Republican Party.

      Hate is a powerful political motivator, especially when combined with fear and ignorance. It may also be the most dangerous threat to the American experiment in democracy.

      Trump uttered those confident words when aides and Secret Service agents informed him that some of the people marching to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, were armed. Trump wanted to join the march and watch the violent overthrow of a presidential election up close and personal. After all, he knew that these were his people and if weapons were going to be used they wouldn’t be used against him, but rather, against those certifying the election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States and those protecting them.

      No sweat, Trump said, “I’m the effin’ president.”

      The Secret Service wasn’t buying it.

      The marchers Trump wanted to join were motivated by hate, a hate for non-whites, Jews, other non-Christians, gays and them damn socialist libtards, who think they’re so smart just because they got a college education.

    It’s a hate nurtured, inflamed and exploited by Trump in his campaign for the presidency, in his four years in office and in his desperate effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

       The Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking hate groups in the United States since 1999. In its annual census, released in March, the Center identified 733 active hate groups in 2021. The Alabama-based civil rights group noted that the number of hate groups had fallen for the third straight year, after reaching a high of 1,020 in 2018, two years into the Trump presidency. The number of anti-government extremist groups had also fallen in 2021, from 566 to 488, the SPLC reported.

       At first glance, that sounds like good news, but there’s another, less positive, interpretation of the numbers. According to the SPLC, “Rather than demonstrating a decline in the power of the radical right, the numbers suggest that the extremist ideas that mobilize them now operate more openly in the political mainstream.”

      In fact, they are part of everyday discourse from Republican elected officials, including members of Congress, and on right wing media outlets, notably Fox, as well as numerous social media sites.

       Trump made it OK to spew this bigotry openly. No need to hide anymore. Put your sheets in mothballs. Republicans, traditionally trailing Democrats in numbers nationwide, welcomed the ill-tempered, ill-informed and angry white-is-right mob of haters into their club. Hey, more votes are more important than an actual governing program, right? Power is the goal.

       The haters had found a home, someplace where they could air their worst fears publicly and be taken seriously.

        Today, they have co-opted the Republican Party. The few party members with the moral principles and guts to speak the truth about Trump and his acolytes publicly are subject to daily threats. The assault on the Capitol and violent demonstrations elsewhere lend more weight to the threats.

     Trump, or an imitator, can call up an army of goons willing to violently defend his lies. They are in every state. 

     My area of strongly Democratic New York state is home to chapters of the Oath Keepers, who have a statewide presence, as do American Patriots Three Percent. Several other hate/anti-government groups are active here, according to the SPLC. Emboldened by the Trump Republican Party, they have emerged from the shadows.

     It makes fear the common denominator for all Americans, or at least it should. And that’s why the Jan. 6 hearings, the convictions of insurrection participants and further arrests of anyone who participated in the failed coup attempt are so important. Accountability is crucial for democracy to survive.

      Yet many Americans don’t seem to care, or feel it’s something they can do nothing about. That’s how we get a president like Trump. The obvious starting point is our schools. We need to rethink what we teach and how we teach it. A shamefully high percentage of Americans are clueless about history and lacking in the ability to sort fact from fiction.

       But this is a long-term project. More immediately, simply speaking out against hate and extremist behavior when it appears is something everyone can do and every religious group is theoretically supposed to practice. In addition, supporting political candidates who endorse laws to fight white supremacists, militias and spreaders of hate on social media is vital. Simply put, that means actually registering to vote and then voting for the Democrat because Republicans have lost any right to be trusted in this battle.

    Trump was right. The marchers with their weapons are not looking to hurt him. They are out to create an authoritarian government by destroying the democratic  institutions that protect our freedom. 

     Yes, hate has come out of the shadows.  Ignorance is its sustenance. Fear is its weapon. Apathy is its enabler. Only a stronger fear of losing our freedom can defeat it. The light of truth is crucial to the cause. 

      These are not merely the high-minded words of a retired editorial writer, people. I believe we are at a critical point in our nation’s history. It’s everyone’s fight. These hate groups must be exposed and held accountable. In truth, it’s probably what they fear the most.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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


Unwrapped over America’s Unraveling

Sunday, June 19th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

The insurrection.

The insurrection.

   A president of the United States actively sought to overthrow the results of a legitimate presidential election through a variety of lies, fraudulent claims, illegal maneuvers and political pressure, even though some of his closest advisers, including his attorney general, told him there was no basis for challenging the election. That same president, knowing he had no legitimate basis for his efforts to reverse his defeat, then encouraged thousands of supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol to prevent the formal certification of the election of the new president and pressured his vice president to invalidate the vote when presiding over the U.S. Senate and went so far as to publicly ridicule that vice president for refusing to do so, further inflaming the angry mob marching on the Capitol. That president then refused for hours to order any kind of police or military support to go the Capitol to help an overwhelmed Capitol police force when the mob stormed into the building, attacking police, sending members of Congress running into hiding, ransacking offices and erecting a gallows to hang the vice president.

    We know all this because (a) we witnessed it live on television when it happened and (b) members of that president’s political party and his own family have now testified so under oath before a congressional hearing.

    A president of the United States of America orchestrated a failed coup attempt. I still can’t wrap my head around that.

      Worse yet, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that millions of Americans, purportedly raised and educated in the land of liberty and justice for all, still defend that president and many at least pretend to still believe that he was denied a legitimate victory and had nothing to do with the Jan. 6 Insurrection.

     Finally, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that many Americans still don’t seem to understand or care about what Donald Trump and his power-hungry Republican sycophants, apologists and army of racist goons tried to do — install a president by force, against the will of the people. 

    Actually, one more thing I can’t wrap my head around: The wife of a Supreme Court Justice was part of the plot to overturn the election and her husband refused to recuse himself from any cases arising from the effort. A lot of Americans don’t seem to grasp the unacceptability of that situation either.

    I don’t know if the current attorney general has the guts and sense of duty to bring charges of treason where they apply. I don’t know if the owners and purveyors of phony information on the Fox TV network will be held accountable for fomenting racial and political tension in America. I don’t know if anyone will again be allowed to teach true American history in Republican-governed states.

   Personally, I hope all three happen, but I can’t wrap my head around the fact that too many Americans still don’t grasp that democracy itself is at stake.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

On Making History, the Painful Way

Monday, May 9th, 2022

The world in 500 words or less …

By Bob Gaydos     

Ex-NYPD Cop Thomas Webster Guilty in Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

Thomas Webster at the Capitol.

   History came to my area of slightly upstate New York twice in one week recently, but not in a celebratory way. The history was announced in newspaper headlines. Both involved “firsts.”  Some might have regarded these historic moments as simply the result of unfortunate circumstances, but they made me think of the choices we make.

        The headlines linked two of the biggest stories in the world — the Jan. 6 Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the war in Ukraine — with two men with ties to Orange County, N.Y. 

  •  The Insurrection: Thomas Webster, 54, a retired New York City police officer, was the first person arrested in connection with the riot to defend himself at trial by claiming Capitol police officers had used excessive force against the violent mob seeking to overturn the 2020 election results and maybe hang Mike Pence. Interesting defense choice right there.  After viewing videos of Webster profanely berating the officer, beating him with a metal flag pole, tackling him and grabbing the officer’s gas mask, the jury took only two hours to find the former Marine guilty of assault and other charges. Married and with a family, Webster started a landscaping business in Orange County after serving 20 years as a New York City cop. He said he chose to go to Washington, D.C., alone and carrying that flag pole, on that fateful day to hear Donald Trump speak about how the election had been stolen. Webster said he became agitated as the pro-Trump crowd approached the Capitol. Once there, he joined the melee and, like many others, was photographed doing so. Now, the man who once served on the protective detail of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, faces a possible 20 years in prison. 
  • Ukraine: Willy J. Cancel, a native of Orange County, graduate of Newburgh Free Academy, Walden volunteer firefighter, was reportedly the first American to die in combat against Russian forces in Ukraine. A former Marine who, reports said, had not received an honorable discharge and had never been deployed, Cancel was a corrections officer in Tennessee. But his family said he was also employed by a military contracting company. Soldier-for-hire might be considered an unusual second-job choice for a 22-year-old man with a wife and seven-month-old child. That company sent him to Ukraine, where he died. Cancel was praised back home for his service and bravery. A Go Fund Me site has been created on Facebook for his widow and infant child.

     I don’t know anything else about either of these men and am in no position to understand, much less judge, the choices they made. Their stories just reminded me that, what may seem to some like reasonable, even honorable, choices can have unintended, dire consequences. Even historic ones.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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