Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Why Carlos Beltran Got Fired

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

 

  By Bob Gaydos 

Carlos Beltran ... the gods were unhappy

Carlos Beltran
… the gods were unhappy

  The Greeks had it right. The gods are toying with us, letting us think we’re in control of what’s happening when, in reality (or what we perceive to be reality) the powers that be are teaching us a lesson. I don’t know what that lesson might be, but I’m pretty sure the gods are fed up with us.

      Also, that Donald Trump got Carlos Beltran fired.

      Consider. On a recent mind-boggling day that saw: a) the entire Russian government — with the notable exception of President Vladimir Putin — resign; b) a Ukrainian wise guy say on American TV that the president, vice president, secretary of state, attorney general, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, the president’s personal lawyer, a Republican wannabe, and some shady Ukrainians were all part of a plot to intimidate (or worse) the American ambassador to Ukraine because she insisted on doing her job by the book; and c) the House of Representatives presented articles of impeachment against that president, Trump, for illegally withholding congressionally approved military aid funds for Ukraine in an effort to get that country’s government to say it was investigating the business dealings of the son of one of Trump’s potential opponents in the 2020 election … on that very same day, the New York Mets fired Carlos Beltran, their new manager, before pitchers and catchers even reported for spring training.

        What does Trump have to do with firing Beltran? Connect the dots.

        Trump was impeached, in effect, for attempting to cheat in the coming election, undoubtedly because that’s how he won the first time. In the 2016 election, he got considerable help from Russian hackers who infiltrated voting systems in all 50 states to swing the Electoral College vote to him. Those hackers work for Putin, the former KGB chief famous for arresting political rivals (the ones who don’t die of poisoning), having several unrecorded phone and in-person conversations with his American counterpart, and now, for setting in motion the tear-up-the-Russian-constitution process to make him ruler for life. Putin’s Russia was also found to be cheating in the 2016 Olympics and stripped of its medals. More recently, Russia was banned from all international sporting competition, again for using performance-enhancing drugs. Cheating.              

         Beltran was fired for being part of a Houston Astros baseball team that won the 2017 World Series, being helped considerably, according to an investigation by Major League Baseball, by an electronically based system for stealing the other team’s signs. Cheating.

      The Astros won their championship in 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency. What that presidency and the way it was attained said to the world is that you can cheat, have people know about it, and still be declared a winner. At least in America.  Nothing has happened yet to change that perception.

      History has shown that it is too easy for too many people to become accustomed to the abnormal, the improper, the inappropriate, the unethical, the illegal, the immoral when there appears to be nothing to do about it and there is no price to pay for it.

      Everybody does it, is the cry of the apologists. They’re all crooks and cheaters and liars anyway, say the uninformed or just plain lazy. Move along, nothing to see here.

       Actually, there was plenty to see. Major League Baseball investigated complaints of the Astros stealing signs flashed from the opposing catcher to the pitcher. It found the team was using electronic video feeds to spy on the catcher and then having someone in the dugout bang a garbage can to let the batter know what pitch was coming. High tech/low tech. This is against baseball rules. The fact that Astros batters had significantly higher batting averages at home in the World Series than they did in Los Angeles, home of their opponent, the Dodgers, was exhibit A.

      The whole Astros team was in on the plot. MLB suspended the Houston manager and general manager for a year apiece and imposed a fine and sanctions on the team. Houston owners promptly fired the two suspended men. Then the Boston Red Sox (under investigation for similar charges) fired their manager, Alex Cora, who was a coach on that Houston team. And the Mets, next in line, reluctantly fired Beltran, who was a player on that team, but the only player named in the MLB report, suggesting he had more than a supporting role.

        Consequences. When there is a fear that you could be caught cheating, most people don’t cheat. When there is a greater fear that you will be ostracized for not going along with the cheating than there is of anyone caring enough to punish you for cheating, many, if not most, people go along. Human nature. Fear. Negative energy begets negative energy. The abnormal becomes normal. Everyone does it. I didn’t say it. OK, I said it, but I didn’t mean it. OK, I meant it. Who cares? Cheating for hits or cheating for votes. Same thing. Look at Trump. He cheats all the time and he’s the president. You don’t see anyone coming after him, do you? Remember, this was in 2017, when we were making America great again.

    The Astros went to the White House in 2018 to be congratulated by Trump, a cheaters photo op. Beltran didn’t go. He’s Puerto Rican and was unhappy with Trump’s response to the island’s hurricane damage, but Beltran didn’t give that as a reason for his absence. He said he wanted to spend time in New York City with his family, sounding like every Republican in Congress who finds some excuse to avoid criticizing some aspect of Trump’s behavior. Fear. It’s contagious.

        But now, here come the gods. I think they may have had enough of letting us think we’re running the show. In their universe of actions and appropriate reactions, cheating must inevitably be punished, not rewarded. The energy flow must be corrected from negative to positive, lest a species destroy itself. Interestingly, the people in charge of our games seem to have had that awareness — hey, this is not right! — quicker than those who decide on our daily lives. The Olympics, Major League Baseball, even the long tone-deaf National Football League, have cracked down to some degree on cheaters. And, yes, in the same week as Beltran’s firing, Congress began the process of holding a president accountable for serial cheating.

        But, you say, Trump is still in office and the Astros team got to keep its title. None of the other Astros players was punished for going along with the sign-stealing rather than trying to stop it. Why?

        Fair question. I don’t know. While I respect them, I don’t claim to have a direct line from the gods, aka the greater consciousness. But I suspect that the Astros players, while they have their World Series rings, are going to spend a lot of time hearing fans remind them that they cheated to get them. The Greek goddess of shame, Aidos, may be their new mascot. And who knows, maybe the baseball gods will see the wisdom and fairness of simply declaring no champion for the 2017 season.

        As for Trump, narcissist that he is, he is undoubtedly twisting in agony daily with the Greek goddesses of pain and suffering, the Algea, as members of the U.S. Senate are challenged to live up to the oaths of honesty they publicly swore to gods of their choosing. 

        And Beltran? He was about to start a new chapter in his mostly stellar baseball career with his first managerial job. Why would the gods have the Mets fire him? Well, other than the cheating, the gods of Ancient Greece were known to be fans of sport and also occasionally spiteful. Maybe today’s gods are Mets fans with long memories. Just maybe they remember Carlos Beltran, as a Mets player, looking at strike three with the bases loaded to end the 2006 National League Championship series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe that’s why he needed someone in Houston to bang the garbage can.

        Clang, clang, Carlos. Here comes the curve.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

It’s Unraveling Before Our Eyes

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

 

By Bob Gaydos

Paula White ... spiritual advisor

Paula White … spiritual advisor

 It’s unraveling. Well, to be accurate, the Trump “presidency” has never been wrapped too tightly and he has always been loosey-goosey about such things as the Constitution, the law and the truth, but now the frayed strands of denial are becoming harder for even an occasional Republican to ignore.

     The change struck me recently when Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting Mr. Everything and currently acting chief of staff, said at a well-attended and well-recorded press conference that, of course, there was a quid pro quo proposal made by Trump to the president of Ukraine — a proposal that is now the focus of impeachment hearings in the House of Representatives. In fact, Mulvaney went on to say the White House did it all the time with foreign leaders.

      “Get over it!” he exclaimed defiantly, exhibiting the arrogance of the ignorant that surely will cost him his job. It’s one thing for the boss to indict himself with his own words, as Trump has frequently done, but “yes men” are wise to be stingy with their own words when defending the indefensible. Mulvaney has never been that type.

       When Republicans as well as  Democrats expressed shock at this bold admission of executive extortion masquerading as diplomacy — you’ll get U.S. financial aid if you try to dig up dirt on the Bidens -– Mulvaney was quickly dispatched to deny he said what the assembled media had recorded him saying. This trick — insisting you didn’t hear what you heard — only works for Trump because he’s assembled enough sycophants around him and throughout the government (hello, Lindsay Graham) that it’s taken this long for Democrats in Congress to begin a serious effort to remove him. 

    But it won’t work for Mulvaney, because, first of all, everyone knows he’s a stooge and, more to the point, like virtually everyone in Trump’s protective cocoon, he’s expendable. There’s always a Matt Gaetz auditioning to be the emperor’s next mascot.

     Gaetz made his play for Mulvaney’s job by leading a platoon of House Republicans on a mission to storm closed hearings in the pre-impeachment process. This was not only a stupid high school stunt that should have embarrassed all who took part, it was also a serious breach of security and violation of House rules. The stormers said Democrats were holding secret depositions, even though there were Republican committee members in the room and a dozen of the stormers themselves were entitled to be in there. But that would mean doing their jobs rather than staging a phony protest to try to delegitimize the process. Pure desperation.

        When it turned out Gaetz was acting with Trump’s blessing, the unraveling was even more obvious. Since then, there’s been nothing but name-calling by Trump (veteran government employees who testify are “traitors” or “scum”), refusal by White House staff to honor congressional subpoenas and demands that the whistleblower’s name be revealed. 

      That last is the nastiest, an indication of where Trump and his shameless acolytes (add Rand Paul to the list) have descended. Of course, there are laws to protect the identity of whistleblowers so that they feel safe enough to come forward with their concerns of government wrongdoing without fear of retribution. But Trump operates out of fear all the time. When he’s scared, he turns scarier and there’s not much scarier than the person occupying the most powerful position on the planet telling his supporters  — some of whom have displayed violent tendencies — that the whistleblower and those corroborating his or her story are traitors leading a coup to topple their leader.

        In addition to being an act of desperation, this can also be considered an impeachable offense — attempting to intimidate witnesses or obstruction of justice. But at this point, Trump doesn’t care. He’s also gone so far as to tell Republican senators who are up for re-election that he’ll support them only if they promise not to vote to convict him when the impeachment trial inevitably moves to the Senate. Bribing witnesses they call it. 

         Of course, in the ever-chaotic world that is Trump in charge, there was also the abandonment of the Kurds in Syria, pulling out U.S. troops without consulting his generals, insisting later that our troops were staying to protect Syrian oil (which is virtually non-existent), turning the killing of the Isis leader into another self-aggrandizing moment and thanking Russia and Syria for their help before mentioning U.S. troops who did the job, getting booed at a World Series game in Washington, D.C. (his staff had to know this would happen or they have become as delusional as he), and threatening to cut off federal aid to California, which is fighting devastating forest fires, because he doesn’t like the Democratic governor and the state voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

         This last bit of Trumpian unraveling put Californian Kevin McCarthy, House minority leader and the top Republican in that body in the delicate position of having to defend a man who was willing to let McCarthy’s home state be consumed by flames because the man was consumed by pride, anger and fear.

     But McCarthy, a true Trump trooper, grasping at strands, kept silent. After all, he would need Trump’s support from those California Republicans who fear what would happen if he were removed.

     In what would be considered the last strand for anyone else, Trump also announced that prosperity evangelist Paula White, described by some as his longtime personal pastor and by others as an opportunistic blonde con artist, had taken a position with the Office of Public Liaison as advisor to the president’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative. Let us all pray. Kneel if you wish. Send cash.

    When it’s all coming apart at the seams, turn to God, or in this case, someone who says you’re the next best thing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

The Kremlin and the Death of the GOP

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

People walk past a mural on a restaurant wall depicting Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin greeting each other with an passionate kiss in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP - Getty Images

People walk past a mural on a restaurant wall depicting Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin greeting each other with a passionate kiss in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP – Getty Images

That’s all. I’ve had it. I am through with writing about what a sick, repugnant human being Donald Trump is and then watching him reach a new low. Those who know about recovery from addiction, a subject on which I write regularly, say that every bottom has a trapdoor. Trump is living proof of that. Yet, with each new bottom, every poll seems to find 40 percent of those surveyed favoring him for president.

A few days ago, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to give people a reason to vote for Hillary Clinton, rather than against Trump. I stopped writing in mid-column because it seemed to be a waste of time. Who was I going to convince?

Here’s as far as I got …

There I was, having breakfast and rummaging around in my mind to find an angle for this presidential campaign other than don’t vote for Donald Trump because he’s an ignorant, racist, bigoted, misogynistic, cruel, vindictive, vile, narcissistic, xenophobic, quick-tempered, undisciplined, untrustworthy, uninformed, unspeakably crude sexual pervert and birther, who lies as naturally as he breathes.

Somehow, writing that message week after week (me and plenty of others) still hadn’t convinced a lot of people that the only vote that makes sense on Nov. 8 is one for Hillary Clinton. You don’t have to like her, folks, just know that that the future of this nation may well depend on voting for her.

Deaf ears. “Yeah, Trump may be all those things,” comes the unconvincing shrug, “but I can’t vote for her.” I have given up asking for reasons why. You know, reasons based on actual facts that would outweigh the choice at hand.

I set aside a newspaper article about how Trump had managed to actually make insulting comments about Clinton’s body as part of his defense against multiple charges that he is a sexual predator. Instead, I tried to focus on my egg white omelette (Swiss cheese and tomatoes). Then, as fate (or my excellent hearing) would have it, the angle was delivered to me from a nearby table. A reason to vote for Hillary … not that it was presented that way.

“DId you hear that Putin said if Clinton is elected, be prepared for war?”

The point the gentleman was making to his friend was that voting for Clinton would be dangerous because it could mean getting into a war with Russia. This was delivered in all seriousness because Vladimir Putin had said so and, as we know, he always speaks the truth and never has any nefarious plot in mind because that’s the way former heads of the KGB comport themselves when they get elected president of Russia.

The further point would be that voting for Trump would be smart because Putin says nice things about him. And Trump says he’d like to work with Putin.

So there you have it, America, the Republican candidate for president of the United States is now being touted as the better choice because the president of Russia doesn’t like the other candidate. Does this seem backwards to anyone else? When did being pals with Putin all of a sudden become more important than standing up to the Kremlin? When Trump launched his campaign based on lies and fear, that’s when.

Trump, of course, has said that he has met Putin. He has also said that he has not met Putin. You can be sure that Clinton and Putin know each other well. And he apparently does hate her guts. (I’m liking this reason for voting for her even more now.) That’s because, as secretary of state, she publicly called him out on stealing his election, something which Trump has accused Clinton of trying to do. She stood up to Putin. Meanwhile, Trump wants to do business with the man who grabbed Crimea from Ukraine and whose political opponents have a way of ending up dead.

It used to be that Republicans automatically voted for the candidate who was tough on Russia. They wanted someone the Kremlin would have to talk to and would do so with respect. Someone experienced in  diplomacy whose word could be counted on by friend and foe alike. That would be Hillary, not Donald. Donald, who doesn’t know Crimea from Korea, wants to sell out NATO and maybe get a hotel deal in the bargain. Putin has played him — and his followers — perfectly, from the hacked Clinton e-mails to the threat of war. Trump’s entire campaign is based on fear. That’s no way for America to negotiate with Putin, or any other world leader. …

I stopped there, wondering whether to go on. Then Trump said in the last debate that he wouldn’t necessarily accept the results of the election if he lost. That’s when I threw in the towel. For a man who has promoted violence at his rallies and some of whose supporters have openly espoused rebelling against any defeat, this is as unacceptable, unpatriotic, indefensible, possibly treasonous a statement as a candidate for president can make.

But that’s Trump — a new bottom every day. His fans cheered. I do not blame him for being who he is; I simply detest him. In truth, I’m sick of him. I do, however, blame the Republican Party for infecting American society (not just politics) with this utterly degrading election campaign. I mean every elected Republican official, from Speaker Paul Ryan to every governor, senator, congressperson, state legislator, county executive, county legislator, mayor, supervisor, councilman who has stood silently by and let Trump make a mockery of our democratic system and lay waste to any sense of decency or decorum in selection of the most powerful political leader on the planet.

A lot of these people went to Cleveland to vote for Trump. Then they stayed mute for months as he … okay, I said I’m not doing that anymore. The world knows what he has done. If you know all that and can still support him, words actually fail me. The same goes for those who say Hillary is just as bad. Not even close. You people need to get serious.

Republicans, Trump is not one of you. He is Trump. Period. You created him. Your hypocrisy and cowardice have emboldened him and his ilk. He has sullied us all. And he has destroyed you.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Hogan

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Putin & Nazi eyes

The Incivility of Any Civil War

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

By Gretchen Gibbs

A brutal civil war is being fought in Ukraine.

A brutal civil war is being fought in Ukraine.

The Ukraine people look haunted in the newspaper photos. Some want to stay with their country, some want to separate and join Russia. We tend to think of them as non-overlapping groups. My experience this past weekend on a trip to Washington, D.C., led me to think about the matter differently.

Our own Civil War divided our country in ways hard to fathom. I know little about the Civil War beyond the Ken Burns series and what I gleaned in high school and college. I have heard that books about Lincoln sell better than anything else, and given that, I am hesitant to put forward any views at all to readers who may be much more knowledgeable than I. But there must be some who don’t know all the things I learned this weekend.

First, I went to hear a concert at the Church of the Epiphany in downtown Washington. An attractive church with great stained glass and excellent acoustics, it is pre-Civil War and housed wounded Union soldiers during the fighting. According to the historical poster outside, Washington as a whole was essentially a southern, secessionist city, and that was especially true for the area of the city around the church. Most of the members were for secession. Jefferson Davis was a member with his own pew until conflict with the minister, who was strongly pro-Union, led to his departure. The poster mentioned that Mary Todd Lincoln had a brother and three half-brothers who fought for the Confederacy. Two of them were killed and one was wounded.

The next day we (I, my brother and sister-in-law) went to Arlington National Cemetery. I’d been before, but the lines after lines of white gravestones, stretching off in all directions, still made me gasp. These dead are from all our wars, of course, not just the Civil War, but there were three quarters of a million deaths in that war, the most costly of our history.

We climbed a steep hill to the former home of Robert E. Lee. Arlington Cemetery was built on his property just over the line in Virginia. It was  confiscated by the Union early in the war as a sort of statement: “See what you’ve done.” When you look out from the front porch, you see a bridge crossing the Potomac and right at the end of the bridge, the Lincoln Memorial. The two men seem enmeshed, or at least their differences bridged. I knew from Ken Burns that Lincoln had asked Lee to head the Union Army, and with great difficulty Lee had refused.

I didn’t know that Lee had released all his own slaves five years before the Emancipation Proclamation. I didn’t know that his wife returned to the house after the war ended and died five days later, apparently of a heart attack brought on by the level of destruction. Few of the articles in the house today are original, except for furniture or dishes or pictures that have been returned by some descendant of a Union soldier who stole them. Now the site is a National Monument, and rightly so, for Lee was a remarkable man. After the war, he became president of Washington and Lee College, and tried to help heal the divisions in the country.

Another thing I learned, not this weekend but when doing research on the 1692 witch trials for The Book of Maggie Bradstreet, was that my ancestors in Massachusetts had slaves. They were called servants, but they were slaves. Tituba, who set off the whole Salem witch hysteria, was a slave from the West Indies. Northerners didn’t need slave labor the way the plantations needed it, but that didn’t prevent them from using it when they could.

It’s a kind of cliché, “brother against brother,” but the ways the Union and Confederacy were linked and divided were so complicated, they can’t possibly be reduced to “good vs. bad” or “right vs. wrong,” the way we learn in high school to think about it.

When we see the division in Ukraine, or in Syria, or earlier, in North and South Korea, and North and South Vietnam, we could reflect more on our own experience. People suffer, for such a long time and in such complicated ways, from a Civil War.