Posts Tagged ‘trump’

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.

Media Letting GOP Slide on Trump Lies

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

   FE4E013A-2A2E-4B37-A1DA-1C03EC032D7F “Donald Trump said, ‘Blah, blah, blah …’”

    “Donald Trump said, ‘Diddly do wah.’”

    “Donald Trump said, ‘Frim skedaddle. Pence is a pussy …”

    “Trump promises pardons …”

    Trump, Trump, Trump …

     Even with him out of office, the media drumbeat continues. Honestly, I don’t give a damn what Donald Trump said. I am not surprised by what Donald Trump says. It is not news that he is a liar, a cheat, a thief, a narcissist, a bully, a con man and twice-impeached former president incapable of empathy and unconcerned with the rule of law, much less the Constitution.

      Yet the media persist, repeating his lies, insults and threats, basically just helping him to keep his base of bigots inflamed. Parroting Trump just spreads his message. Even pointing out the lies or the absurdities matters not to the true believers. After all, it’s the “fake news” and the Democrats and the “socialists” who are speaking.

     Enough.  I want to hear from the Republicans. I want to hear from the silent minority. I want to hear from every Republican officeholder in this country who sits silently by as their putative party leader does his best to destroy democracy.

        What do you think of the big lie? What do you think of Trump promising pardons to those who might defend his phony claims to the presidency with violence? For Pete’s sake, do you think Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president of the United States of America? If you do, then why don’t you just say so? What are you waiting for? What are you afraid of?

        These are questions the media should be posing to every Republican senator, every congressman, every state legislator, every governor, every mayor, every county executive, every town supervisor, every county legislator, every town board member. (more…)

Biden Wields a Sharp Verbal Dagger

Sunday, January 9th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

President Biden, aiming his verbal dagger at Trump and Republicans.

President Biden, aiming his verbal dagger at Trump and Republicans.

“Wow! I wish I wrote that.”

I doubt I ever said anything close to that after a Joe Biden speech in the past, but then, no Joe Biden speech has ever been anything like that of a few days ago commemorating the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S.. Capitol.

The phrase that caught my attention and drew my envy came near the end of his speech. It was stark and clear and powerful. It summed up, in effect, a new Joe Biden in the White House:

“I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”

Again, wow. The fact that Biden was speaking of a former American president, not a potential foreign adversary, made it all the more powerful. No president has ever spoken this way about a former president.

The sentence summed up a paragraph that left no doubt as to where this president stands today: “I did not seek this fight, brought to this Capitol one year from today. But I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach, I will defend this nation. I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”

“Who wrote that?” I wondered. Biden said it and clearly meant it. But all presidents have speech writers who have the unique, not easy, task of putting words into a president’s mouth that are both comfortable to be spoken and sound natural to the ear.

Obviously, presidents have veto power over what is in their speeches. And politicians, including Biden and his predecessor as president, have been known to vary from the speech text, But the “dagger at the throat of democracy” phrase was the perfect partnership of a speech writer and a president delivering an unmistakable message to the world. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

If Biden didn’t write it, he said it (with conviction), so he forever gets credit for it, much like JFK, a gifted public speaker, is credited for some memorable lines written by Ted Sorensen. Sorensen knew well the mind and mood of his boss, who was a pretty good writer himself.

And much like Ronald Reagan, another gifted speaker, is remembered for some lines written by his speech writers.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.“ Ronald Reagan via Peter Robinson, head speech writer at the time and clearly tuned in to his boss’ tone and mood.

Biden’s speech was also notable for its direct, no-nonsense blaming-without-naming of Donald Trump for the attack on the Capitol and the Republican Party for continuing to breathe life into the Big Lie that the election was stolen. Presidents don’t usually attack former presidents or another political party, but Biden rightly identified this as a unique time in history.

The moment called for leadership and Biden and his speech writer delivered it. Daggers? They brought their own to the fight for democracy.
(Note: Vinay Reddy is listed as head of the White House Office of Speechwriting.)
rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

A Date That Should Live in Infamy

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

The Insurrection.

The Insurrection.

   The scenes are still vivid. The memory is fresh. A year, passed disturbingly quickly, has not dimmed the shock nor diminished the sadness of witnessing the most direct assault on American democracy since the Civil War. A violent, deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow a certified, fair election.

       January 6, 2021 is now a date for Americans to remember alongside Dec 7, 1941 and Sept. 11, 2001. The storming of the Capitol is an event to place alongside the ,firing on Fort Sumter.

       That’s how I feel a year later and I am troubled that too many Americans, perhaps preoccupied by trying merely to survive and function in the middle of a pandemic, do not see the Insurrection and its aftermath for what it was — an attempted coup to keep Donald Trump in the White House.

      I know. Those things don’t happen in America. Not in the land of liberty, the leader of the Free World, the beacon of hope and opportunity where all are welcome.

      Once upon a time …

      The election of Trump to the presidency and the total acquiescence of the Republican Party to his program of greed, deceit, threat, ignorance, bullying and total disrespect for the rule of law simply in order to maintain power have rewritten the story line. Or at least they’ve submitted an alternative plot line — an adaptation of Orwell — that goes: “Welcome to America, where all men (not women) are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

        So my hopes this Jan. 6 lie with those public servants in Congress (including a couple of courageous Republicans) who have been investigating the Insurrection and preparing to give the American people a full report of who knew what and when they knew it, who did what and when they did it and, mostly, how we hold them accountable. My hopes also lie with the thus-far sluggish Justice Department of Merrick Garland in following through on any and all evidence of criminal behavior uncovered by the House Jan. 6 Committee.

        There is urgency to this because congressional midterm elections happen this year and, if Democrats lose control of the House, Republicans, fearful of Trump and devoid of any sense of duty to country, will probably disband the committee. They may even try to impeach President Joe Biden out of spite. Such is the state of that party and, from their overwhelming silence, local rank-and-file Republicans seem just fine with it.

         This means the rest of us, a solid majority of Americans, must insist on a full, public report by the committee and pressure members of Congress of whatever political party to honor the process.

         Finally, we must encourage historians and educators to present the events of Jan. 6, 2021, in a full and honest manner. Since they were televised, only the braInwashed will deny them, but this is key for our “Once upon a time” to not become a fairy tale.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

Really Old, Really Rich and Really Wrong

Sunday, December 19th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

A centuries-old horn stolen from Turkey, worth $3.5 million.

A centuries-old horn stolen from Turkey, worth $3.5 million.

  This is a story about how the rich often get special treatment from our justice system. There is also a footnote to the story which raises at least some hope that the rich-get-off-easy scenario may soon be amended.

     First, a favor for the rich guy.

     Michael Steinhardt, a billionaire who is used to having pretty much anything he wants, recently got an early birthday present from Manhattan DA Cy Vance Jr.: A stay-out-of-jail card.

   The gift came with a message, a stern warning if you will: Tsk, tsk, Michael. You know better than that. Now round up all those weird old things cluttering up all your homes and give them back to their rightful owners. And don’t ever do that again. (Signed), Cy

    Steinhardt’s lawyer said his client, a hedge fund founder who has been accused of sexual harassment in the past, was “pleased” with Vance’s gift. Most rich people Vance lets off the hook usually are.

    As he prepares to retire, Vance provided one more piece of evidence confirming that his scales of justice are weighted heavily in favor of the rich.

Michael Steinhardt

Michael Steinhardt

  Steinhardt, described in news accounts as a philanthropist and collector of antiquities, was ordered to return some $70 million worth of those antiquities to their rightful owners. People from whom they were stolen, in other words. The people of 11 nations, actually.

   He was also told to refrain from this practice, or else. The “or else” part was not spelled out. Two days after Vance’s  announcement, Steinhardt celebrated his 81st birthday, presumably suitably chastised.

    This “punishment” for aggressively seeking, purchasing and possessing 180 pieces of stolen property was the culmination of a four-year investigation by the Antiquities Trafficking Unit of the Manhattan prosecutor’s office. It involved investigators and officials in the following countries: Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Turkey, a veritable Who’s Who of places one might shop for antiquities. And Steinhardt was a frequent shopper. He also apparently knew where to find the good stuff.

Cy Vance

Cy Vance

In a prepared statement, Vance said: “For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe. His pursuit of ‘new’ additions to showcase and sell knew no geographic or moral boundaries, as reflected in the sprawling underworld of antiquities traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers, and tomb raiders he relied upon to expand his collection.”

       Despite all those traffickers, crime bosses, money launderers and tomb raiders with whom Steinhardt did business, Vance said he decided not to prosecute Steinhardt in order to return the stolen subject to their rightful owners as quickly as possible.  Suddenly, time is of importance with these extremely old treasures.

    Vance also said he wanted to protect the identity of witnesses around the globe. Future tipsters. So thoughtful. 

     In comparison, studies of his office’s prosecution rates show that low-level offenders (people in possession of less-pricey stolen property, for example) from Manhattan represent a significantly higher population of Rikers Island in New York City, than similar miscreants from Brooklyn, which has a significantly higher population of all types. Hey, if you do the crime in Manhattan, Vance says you gotta pay the time.       

    Then there are Vance’s past decisions not to prosecute movie producer Harvey Wasserman on sexual harassment charges, or to charge Donald or Ivanka Trump on the usual fraud stuff. People who care about ethics in government have also criticized Vance”s practice of accepting campaign donations from lawyers and law firms whose clients had dealings with his office. The connection between money and influence is, well, elementary.

       Now for the hopeful news in this story, the footnote. 

        This is Vance’s swan song in Manhattan. He’s retiring. That means the new, eager DA will get to work with New York Attorney General Letitia James on putting Trump and his cohorts behind bars on a variety of tax fraud charges. 

       James decided not to run for governor and to focus on the continuing Trump prosecution she has been working on with the Manhattan DAs office. She’s already forced Andrew Cuomo to resign as governor because of sexual harassment allegations. Nailing Trump would make her a political rock star as well as establishing a different, more balanced, atmosphere in the Manhattan DA’s office.

        Maybe Vance finally decided this was one political favor to a rich friend he couldn’t deliver. And maybe all those museums that slapped Steinhart’s name on galleries because of his “generosity“ need to take it down. At least his ego will pay a price.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

 

Shooting My Way Out of the Funk

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Swish …

Swish …

      It’s time to borrow from the book of Curry. Stephen Curry, that is.

      Back in 2017, when I was in a bit of a writing funk, I came across an interview with Curry, who is regarded by most basketball fans as one of the best, if not the best, pure shooter in the National Basketball Association. Swish is his MO.


      As synchronicity would have it, Curry at the time was going through a rare shooting slump. He was hearing a lot more clang than swish. The interviewer asked him what he did about that. How do you get out of a shooting slump?

     “You shoot your way out of it,” Curry said. “You obviously get more reps in between games, try to get that muscle memory back and the vision of the ball going in. You never lose confidence — that’s first and foremost. But there’s nothing really different to my approach. You’ve got to grind your way through it.”

   So this is me shooting my way out of a writing slump. Working on that muscle memory and grinding my way back into the groove.

     Four years ago, the funk settled in because there was really only one thing to write about every day: how Donald Trump had messed the world up in some unique way and how Republicans were just fine with it. Only the details changed; the arrogance and ignorance were ever-present. There are only so many ways to say that. Actually, I just said it.

    Now, Trump is thankfully gone from the White House, but his legacy and his minions linger on. The story today, the only story told in different ways, is President Biden trying to remedy the damage Trump caused while Republican politicians fall all over each other trying to emulate Trump.

     The constant lies, the hypocrisy, the unabashed arrogance and proud  ignorance. It’s infuriating and, honestly, writing about it constantly is as much a drag as reading about it. 

     Take Kevin McCarthy (please, as Henny Youngman would say). Having him as their leader in the House of Representatives should embarrass every Republican. He criticizes Biden’s infrastructure plan, yet takes credit for the good stuff in his home state of  California. He blames Biden for Covid lingering and spreading, while Republican governors continue to ignore the science and defy calls for vaccines and masks.

       He does it with a straight face, knowing it’s baloney, because this is how the Trump Republican Party is supposed to operate. 

       I don’t know how many times that has to be said, but I think I just took a shot and scored and I feel better.. Guess some of that muscle memory came back. A few more reps at the keyboard and I think I’ll be back on my game.

        Thanks, Steph.

(For those  younger than 50, Henny Youngman was a popular comedian, I once ran into in an art gallery in Woodstock. More synchronicity.)

 

rjgaydos@gmail.com