Archive for February, 2024

The Economy? None of Your Business

Wednesday, February 28th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

My “smart” TV

My “smart” TV. RJ Photography

   So the very smart TV made an unscheduled stop the other night on one of those “business” news shows with a bunch of well-dressed, middle-aged men and younger women talking to each other about money. I think. 

    They were talking about the day on Wall Street and they all sounded very smart, like the TV, but, I don’t know, maybe something got lost in the translation for me.

     What I can recall of their stream of consciousness conversation that day went something like this: “Nvidia … AI … Magnificent Seven … Tesla … Earnings … Inflation … Nvidia … Kathy Wood … Tesla … Fed … Rates … AI … Microsoft … Shorts … Inflation … Techs… Bubble… AI … Nvidia … Fed … Tesla … Apple … Trillion … Inflation … Fed … Nvidia … Over-Priced … Tesla … AI … China … Apple … Nvidia … Price Target… Shorts … Rates … Inflation … Amazon … Fed … Techs… Index… AI … Dow … Tesla … Kathy Wood … Nvidia … Google … Shorts … Inflation … Earnings… Recession … Fed … AI … META … Index … Fed … Nvidia.”

     That’s pretty accurate, I think. So it sounds like something to do with money, right? But not the economy because that word was never mentioned. Well, maybe someone said “consumer” one time in a passing remark on inflation.

     The thing is, they all seemed to understand each other and mostly agreed with each other, especially about Nvidia and Tesla and AI and Kathy Wood. But after listening, I wasn’t sure how the economy was doing or even what stock I should buy or sell, if I were in the market to do so and maybe couldn’t afford Nvidia. Or maybe I couldn’t afford not to afford Nvidia.

      Confused, I looked around and heard pretty much the same conversation on every TV business show, so I figured they got paid to talk to each other about Nvidia and inflation, but weren’t interested in telling me anything useful. Certainly not about business.

       Luckily, I finally found the “I-know-every-stock-out -there” savant, Jim Cramer, whose message, as usual, was clear: “Buy! Buy! Buy!” or “Sell! Sell! Sell!” But don’t trade Apple. Still. Oh, and the economy’s doing fine.

       There’s something quietly reassuring about being talked to directly, rather than eavesdropping on some private conversation. Especially about money.

      Smart TV take note.


You’ve Got Mail, Please Read It

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024


The mail. RJ Photography

The mail. RJ Photography

You can tell a lot about people by the contents of their mailboxes. In fact, if you pay attention, you can even learn a bit about yourself.

      For example, a recent day’s delivery to my box included ACLU Magazine, a letter from Planned Parenthood, one from the Southern Poverty Law Center and a note from Marlo Thomas for St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital.

     Now, anyone who is familiar with my columns would hardly be surprised by this mix. Since my days of reading David Bernstein’s daily editorials in The Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, N.Y. (1965-1973), I’ve been a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. Before that I was just a kid out of college who liked JFK. Since then, I’m lefty and proud and public.

     And I guess that’s the point here. Public and proud. I’ve been writing and commenting on the news and life in general for more than 50 years, but it has never seemed more important to me to be clear and forceful and consistent in expressing my opinions, however repetitive some may find them. Especially about politics and the state of the nation today.

     One of the two major political parties has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned the principle of compromise in governing for the good of the country. The Republican Party, as a willing and aggressive tool of Donald Trump, is a clear and present danger to our democracy. The past eight years testify to that.

     That’s my opinion and the opinion of many others. But still, there are millions of Americans who are buying the snake oil and gold sneakers to keep the Trump lies alive.

      And so, when I get my mail these days, I notice a certain urgency and consistency to it. These are people who feel the same as I do and are doing all they can to preserve and protect what was established in Philadelphia 248 years ago. Our democracy is at stake. This is our reality.

       I try to spread their messages so that those who have not yet recognized the true threat of the MAGA Party might one day hear it and realize what it means to them, to their freedom.

     This may sound a bit high-minded and exaggerated to some. But, again, I go back to my mailbox.

     The SPLC tells me about the spread of hate groups and its efforts to fight the threat of violent white nationalism and racism that has “gone mainstream’’ and is spreading  through our politics, media and schools and the constant racist rhetoric of Trump and a segment of the Republican Party. 

    The ACLU tells me about its legal efforts to protect voting rights from efforts, again, by Republicans, to restrict them for certain groups of people rather than promote ideas and programs those people might approve of and vote accordingly.

    The ACLU also tells me about its efforts to protect pregnant workers and  abortion rights and free speech.

    And Planned Parenthood tells me about its ongoing and increased efforts to educate the public about the threats to abortion access and to advocate for policies that protect sexual and reproductive health care for all.

     Freedom. It’s all about freedom. Many of you probably have similar messages in your mailboxes. 

   Again, that’s the point. Read them. They are there for a reason and I noticed them on this particular day for a reason.

    Our much-celebrated way of life is under attack and too many people still don’t recognize it. I would much rather write about the great work of the St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital that also comes in my mail, but if the MAGAs prevail, that will surely suffer also. Bigotry and hatred become pervasive.

      So I pay attention to my mail. I read it and I write about it. Because I still can. Because defense of freedom is not junk mail.

The (not so) Sweet Mysteries of Life

Friday, February 16th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Life is full of mysteries. Too many to solve and some (Why did Mario Cuomo not get on the plane to New Hampshire?*) never to be fully resolved. Lately, there are too many to keep up with.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.

Me and Mario Cuomo, circa late 1980’s, at a budget dinner presentation at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany, where he was apparently more comfortable than he would have been in the White House.


     At such times, I lean on a tactic made famous by a favorite sports writer of mine from a half century ago or more, Jimmy Cannon. With a deep bow of respect:

  • Maybe it’s just me, but:  When the leading vocal critic of Vladimir Putin dies unexpectedly during a stroll at a prison in the Arctic and that critic, Alexei Navolny, is only 47 years old, is there any doubt that the Russian president, a well-known fan of poisoning his detractors, is behind it? The only mystery is what story the Kremlin will come up with to “explain” the death since there were no  10th-story windows for Navolny to fall out of.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: If I am the governor of the state that just witnessed its crowning glory celebration of another Super Bowl win turn into a bloody mass shooting with one dead and more than 20 injured, including many children, I might want to rethink my state’s gun laws. In fact, I might think about actually having some. No sign yet that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a rock-ribbed, pro-gun Republican if there ever was one, has had such a moment of clarity. Parson, who was at the Kansas City celebration of the Chiefs’ championship, along with his wife and thousands of other happy fans, revealed that his security detail had quickly moved him and his wife to safety. Others had no such protection. In fact, Parson as governor has squelched efforts by Kansas City and St. Louis officials to pass stronger laws because of an increase in shooting deaths in both cities. He also supported a state law that forbad local police from enforcing stricter federal gun laws. The courts overturned that. Missouri has no state licensing requirement for possession of a rifle, shotgun or handgun, nor is any state permit required for purchase of those firearms, as per the NRA’s official site. It’s an open carry state. The shooting was reportedly the result of an argument among teenagers. The mystery: How do you live with yourself and your bloodied celebration just to get campaign donations from a corrupt organization?
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: When a former president, who has bankrupted several businesses, run a fraud university and phony charity, lied to banks and others about the value of his properties, been ordered by the court to pay $364 million in fines because of it, has routinely failed to pay lawyers and contractors and also showed a remarkable indifference to and ignorance of history and world affairs says he would be OK if Putin sent Russian troops against NATO countries who are behind on paying their dues, I don’t understand the so-called thinking of Americans who profess  patriotism, yet support such a man to be president of this country.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: The decision by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin not to launch an independent campaign for president under the No Labels Party — a rare wise decision by the retiring Democrat — should be enough to convince the phony baloney independent group to drop its efforts to field a spoiler in the 2024 presidential election. Manchin even said he didn’t want to play that role. The mystery here is, when the choice in November will be between democracy (Joe Biden) and fascism (Trump or another Republican wannabe Trump), why anyone would want to play that role.

*Mario Cuomo, the so-called “Hamlet on the Hudson,” was widely considered to be a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992. He kept a plane on the runway with its motor running on the day to register for the New Hampshire primary, but never got on the plane. A lingering mystery.