Posts Tagged ‘Utah’

On Growing Old with Mitt Romney

Saturday, September 16th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos
                                * * *

Mitt Romney … retiring, from what?

Mitt Romney
… retiring, from what?

“I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and …”*

     Forever hate the word ‘‘impeach’’?

                                    ***

   With profound apologies to T.S. Eliot and his poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” the topic here is politicians and age.

   Or is it? 

   If you believe Mitt Romney it is. Looking and sounding fit and capable and considerably younger than his 76 years, the senator from Utah recently announced he would not seek re-election to the Senate next year.

      In doing so, he also criticized President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, both older than Romney, and called for them to “stand aside” for a “new generation of leaders” in Washington.

     Romney, also a former governor of Massachusetts and the defeated Republican candidate for president in 2012, said neither Democrat Biden, 80, nor Republican Trump, 77, is effectively leading his party in addressing the important issues of the day, which is a typically safe and even-handed Romney style comment. A pox on both their houses.

   To be fair, Romney was the only Republican senator with the courage to vote guilty on Trump’s two impeachments and he did have some frank, unflattering words to say specifically about his party.

     “There’s no question that the Republican Party today is in the shadow of Donald Trump,”  he said, adding that the MAGA wing that has commandeered the party is less concerned with governing and more enamored with “resentment and settling scores and revisiting the 2020 election.”

       Those are unusually harsh and honest  — and rare — words for an elected Republican official to state publicly about his party today.

    Oh, did I mention that a biography of Romney is soon to be released and that excerpts of the book have appeared in an article in the recent edition of The Atlantic Magazine?

      And did I mention that the author of the biography, who had full access to all Romney’s notes, files, tapes, musings, etc., has apparently painted a candid picture of the cowardice and hypocrisy rampant in the Republican Party today? A picture that, obviously, is created with Romney’s words.

     A picture that, for example, has former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell envying Romney for being able to criticize Trump publicly and to vote to convict him on the impeachment — for “saying things the rest of us can’t say.”

     A picture that also has Republican senators sitting attentively in a room with an obviously clueless President Trump discussing foreign affairs and laughing hysterically the minute their “leader” leaves the room.

    It’s apparently the kind of “I’m out of here now” tell-all book that others in the Trump orbit have also written, telling millions of Americans what we already knew about the four-time indicted ex-president. It’s a dollar short and a day late. A book written only when there is no longer any fear of having to run for reelection in what would likely be a brutal primary against a Trump-backed opponent.

      In other words: I’m retiring from the Senate. It was fun while it lasted, but my party is now a cult of hypocrites, sycophants and liars and, besides, I don’t need the job.

        Now, Romney did say, “While I’m not running for reelection, I’m not retiring from the fight. I’ll be your United States senator until January of 2025.” But he didn’t elaborate. Too bad, because there are things a retiring, respected senator can do to improve things in Washington, but framing it as a generational thing is misleading and disingenuous.

          Yes, a majority of Americans (me included) would prefer a different presidential contest next year than Biden/Trump. But Biden, for all the complaints about his age, has been an effective president and still represents the safest protection against Trump for millions of Americans.

    His backup, Vice President Kamala Harris, is often dismissed by “political experts,” but she is intelligent, experienced, articulate, female and of a different generation. She is also a woman of color. These days, for many voters, these are all positive political attributes and, besides, what vice president has ever gotten glowing reviews from the public? It goes with the job description.

   Democrats also have a good back bench of younger leaders in Congress and state houses who know how to actually govern, not just air grievances.

     But Republicans are a different story. Trump may be convicted, in court, in Russia or who knows where next year and, in any scenario, his followers apparently are planning on being there to the end, whatever happens.

      There’s Romney’s “fight.” The problem is, he’s never shown much interest in waging it, in getting his hands dirty. As a former party standard bearer and recognized public figure, he could have been doing something about the MAGAs hijacking the GOP back in 2012, when he ran for president, or better, in 2008, when John McCain inexplicably ran with Sarah Palin as his clueless co-pilot. Romney could also have been much more vocal than he has been in the Senate about Mitch McConnell’s obstructionism and Trump’s criminal presidency.

     However, Romney, who has called the Senate an “old men’s club,” has burnished an image of himself as an old-time, conservative (wealthy) Republican who can work with Democrats to accomplish things for the public good: Gun legislation. Global warming. The Electoral Count. Sure, he’ll work with Democrats to craft legislation, but always quietly, always in the background.

      Romney’s probably right about age with McConnell, 80, who has had two mysterious “freezing” incidents when talking to the media. As a leader, his days should be over. Maybe Mitt can talk to Mitch about retiring. And while he’s at it, maybe Romney can talk senator-to-senator to Republican Tommy Turberville of Alabama about single-handedly holding up all senior military promotions, creating confusion and resentment in the Pentagon.

       If he really wanted to engage in a fight, Romney could encourage fellow Republican senators to support a code of ethics for Supreme Court justices. 

    And, good luck here, Romney can suggest that fellow Republican, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, certainly not an old man, start acting like a leader, not a sniveling coward, bending to every outrageous demand  of his mostly young, not terribly bright and mostly incorrigible Freedom Caucus.

     This is, after all, the “new generation” of Republicans and, for the most part, they are the reason “traditional” (“older”) Republicans like Romney are looking for an exit. This is where the real fight is, senator. Ready to get your hands dirty?

                                       ***

“I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.”*

*From “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

By T.S. Eliot

 

To Live and Die in America

Monday, April 25th, 2022



 The world in 500 words or less 

By Bob Gaydos

Maybe it’s just me, but…

Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust.” He says he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

Alec Baldwin on the set of “Rust.” He says he didn’t know the gun was loaded.

— New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined producers of the film, “Rust,” $139,793 — the maximum amount — and issued a stinging criticism of safety failures in connection with the fatal shooting of a cinematographer and wounding of the director during the filming of the movie. Actor/producer Alec Baldwin, who fired the fatal shot, says he was told the gun was safe. He is probably not through with the courts and may rue the day he lost his gig playing Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.

— South Carolina has given the phrase “pick your poison“ a whole new meaning. Unable to procure the drugs to administer lethal injections to Death Row inmates, the state now offers electrocution or firing squad as the available means of meeting your maker. A recent candidate appealed both the sentence and method as cruel and unusual and a court has postponed his date with destiny. There have been only three firing squad executions in the U.S. since 1950, all in the state of Utah. Why is that not surprising?

— The reason South Carolina had to stop using lethal injections for executions is that pharmaceutical companies apparently forbid the sale of their products for that purpose. Wish they showed the same concern for some of their drugs that are killing people who are not on Death Row.

— Prescribing fatal overdoses of fentanyl for 25 seriously ill patients would seem to be taking the doctor-playing-god thing a bit too far. Then again, a jury in Columbus, Ohio, had no problem with it, acquitting Dr. William Husel of murder charges in a trial involving 14 of those deaths. Putting people out of their misery did cost Husel his job when the hospital fired him and 26 other employees who went along with his unorthodox treatment protocol. Why it took several years and so many fentanyl-induced deaths has yet to be answered.

— The judges who selected this year’s winners of the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award got it perfect. Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine, was an obvious choice and eminently deserving, but the perfect selection was Rep. Liz Cheney, the only Republican in Congress with the guts, conviction and public name recognition to meaningfully stand up to the Trumpers spreading the stolen election lie and trying to treat the Jan. 6 insurrection as something other than a failed coup attempt. Forcefully defying the powers who can impact your political future takes moral courage, especially for Republicans today. I think JFK would applaud the choice. And, while I don’t share a lot of political views with Cheney or her father, Dick, I believe the former vice president should be proud of his daughter and her stout defense of the truth. Ironic, huh?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Playing Musical Monoliths; With Whom?

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

By Bob Gaydos

 The monolith in Utah. The first three that have mysteriously appeared.

The monolith in Utah. The first of three that have mysteriously appeared.

     They’re here. 

      Who’s here? Where?

     Them! They’re here. Well, actually, they seem to be everywhere.

       Who?

       Them. You know, the ones who planted a 10-foot tall, three-sided silver monolith into the rocky ground of an isolated section of southeast Utah populated only by bighorn sheep. Not to mention another monolith in Romania and another one in California. What a week. No sooner did one disappear than another appeared. It’s like a game of musical monoliths, without the music. As far as we know.

        What do you mean?

       Well, the three monoliths all popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, in remote areas of the planet, at the same time the Arecibo Radio Observatory, our famed ear to the universe, was falling down on itself in Puerto Rico. It’s almost as if there’s a silent message in the monoliths.

         But the Utah monolith was gone two days after it appeared — what’s up with that?

        Well, it was reportedly carted off by a bunch of preserve the wilderness types. “Leave no trace,” you know? Their thinking is that some artist planted the monolith in a desolate part of Utah, but that it really belonged in a museum. A lot of people made the connection with the “2001”  monolith. A joke, they said. In any event, the wilderness group apparently tracked it down — like a lot of other people – knocked it down and took it away, rivets and all. The removers also supposedly said they didn’t think it was safe to have a lot of people wandering around in such rugged, isolated country looking for the object.

       Somebody supposedly also took pictures of the whole removal operation and some people wrote media reports on it. Everyone said definitively that the monolith wasn’t the work of extraterrestrials. After all, it had rivets.

        Now, I’m not a big conspiracy guy, but I’m also more inclined to go with synchronicity over coincidence. And, our government has been known to hide information pertaining to possible connection with alien contact. No one knows who planted the Utah monolith and no one checked on the crew that removed it. And no one knows how the one in Romania appeared and disappeared. Or where the one in California came from.

       So what are you saying?

      Think about it. The planet is a mess right now. Pandemic — a million-and-a-half deaths. Global warming. Widespread hunger.  Economic instability. Polluted waters. Constant war. Racial strife. Trump.

       Too much entropy. Disorder on a global scale. The universe, we believe, prefers order. It might have grown tired of waiting for our tiny part of it to figure things out and sent some clues to help restore some sense of order. I think they may have finally lost patience with us. I mean, time may be relative and all, but even the universe apparently has its limits. Enough is enough, you know?

      What could the message possibly be? Maybe, take a break from killing each other. Stop polluting your air and water. Learn to live with all forms of life so you don’t kill yourselves with disease. Share your food. Educate your young people. Live by the rules your religions profess. Love and respect one another. We are all in this together.

        The message and the means to lowering the entropy may well have been contained in one or all of the monoliths, but we couldn’t decipher it. Or not. The monoliths may simply have been planted to get our attention off the chaos we have caused. But by whom?

        I live in an area known as the UFO capital of the Northeast. Pine Bush, N.Y. I know no one has reported seeing any UFOs in connection with any of the monoliths, but who says extraterrestrials have to travel only in ways that we earthlings can imagine. Maybe they don’t need rockets to move through time and space. Maybe they look like us. Maybe they’re not green. Who knows? In any event, I wouldn’t mind seeing one of these monoliths appear in our neighborhood. Smack dab in the middle of Main Street in front of Pudgy’s’ pizzeria. I can pretty much guarantee there wouldn’t be a great rush to tear it down and cart it off to who knows where. Some people around here are serious about learning about intelligent life not of this planet.

       We earthlings are predictably set in our ways of thinking of many things, including extraterrestrial intelligence. Little green men and UFOs. They don’t use rivets. Or stainless steel. But why not? How do we know? Yes, maybe these really were just clever pranks by an international — synchronistic? — conspiracy of artists. Maybe we should then thank them for reminding us of our infinitesimal place in the universe and how we’re destroying it. And, maybe we should try to think about where the idea for such a conspiracy came from in the first place. Maybe Arecibo wasn’t the only way to receive messages from elsewhere. Maybe the universe has other ways of communicating. Maybe there’s a message right before our eyes.

         Never mind out there; maybe they’re here already.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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