Posts Tagged ‘America’

Guilty! What Does it Mean, America?

Friday, May 31st, 2024

By Bob Gaydos
8893E6E3-E362-47C2-84E8-31C1791D89B4 America now has a convicted felon former president, 34 times … and still counting. I don’t know whether to be saddened or proud. I guess a bit of both.

    If, as some say, life is all a matter of how you look at it, then some people I know would say the Donald Trump era has been a disaster, a dark stain in the history of America. And it has.

    But others might say Trump has also given America another freaking growth opportunity. If you’re a fan of the AFGO philosophy, it’s easy to see that some people have failed to grasp the opportunity. They are called Republicans.

      Trump’s conviction in a Manhattan court was a tacky story of marital infidelity, lying, cheating and phony business records. Amoral from beginning to end, all to please one person. In other words, typical Trump.

       The fact that this man was once president of the United States made it an embarrassing spectacle, with Trump spreading lies outside the courtroom after each session in the court and the judge sealing the names of the jurors to protect them from threats by Trump supporters. 

      At the same time, the fact that 12 ordinary citizens of New York City found the ex-president guilty of illegally trying to influence the 2016 election was a vote of confidence for the country and the Constitution. No man is above the law.

      Thus, I am conflicted. There’s a lot more legal activity to come before several courts, including the supreme one, and I guess we’ll just have to wait to see how it all works out. So far, so good.

      But with leading Republican officials routinely siding with Trump, criticizing the trial, spreading his lies and ignoring his basic lack of character and morals, there’s no doubt about what the Trump era has meant to a once proud political party: A total loss of moral fiber and, really, no apparent sense of shame, all in a desire for power and its rewards. Faust without the music.

    Any sense of dignity has been lost with the party’s nearly totally blind obeisance to Trump. Abe, Teddy, Ike and probably even Reagan would be aghast at the lack of self-respect many members of this party have for themselves as well as their lack of any sense of obligation to the oaths they took to serve this country.

       There has been virtual silence (which I have noted many times) among elected Republican officials at the national, state and local levels for eight years, regardless of the recklessness of Trump’s words and actions. Talk about hush money. Talk about cowardice.

       So, while the Manhattan trial was a step in the right direction, the jury is still out on the eventual effect of the Trump era on the country. Actually, several juries, which have yet to be selected. But there is hope.

        Not so for this Republican Party. This growth opportunity has been squandered. Which, I guess, leaves a wonderful growth opportunity for new individuals with a sense of morals and dignity and dedication to country to create a new kind of political party.

     That’s the thing with AFGO. You can’t escape it.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

        

       

       

    

A Quiet Walk Midst an Insurrection

Saturday, January 6th, 2024

(This was written three years ago. The words still stand.)


By Bob Gaydos
   

The insurrection.

The insurrection.

  I took a walk around the pond  Wednesday afternoon, January 6, a little before 4:30. It was cold, but still light out. The sun had just begun to set. As I walked I thought about how lucky — privileged — I was to be able to enjoy such a quiet moment in such a beautiful place in such a shithole country.

    No, friends and family, I haven’t moved. I still live in America, in a particularly scenic part of it, I think. For new readers, that place is upstate New York. It’s a place where a man can be alone to enjoy nature, if the man turns off his electronic devices.

     Two hours of watching live news reports out of Washington, D.C., had made me feel something I had never felt before — a combination of fear, anger, sadness, shame and profound outrage. The calming words and presence of President-elect Joe Biden had finally broken the spell the scenes of chaos had cast on me. It will end, I told myself. It will not succeed. There aren’t enough of them. They are all fury and delusion, taking selfies as they lay waste to the seat of government of the country they profess to love. Ignorance and arrogance, the Trump formula. In the end, it fails, but oh the harm it does. He doesn’t care. They, the rioters, are too dumb to know. That’s the nicest way I can put it. Or they are racists. Or both.

       Those are the facts. And for several hours on a Wednesday afternoon, as our Congress was attempting to perform its constitutional duty of confirming a new president,  these “Make America Great Again” terrorists made it look like one of those “shithole countries“ their leader once referred to with intent to insult. Yep, that’s what it looked like to me. …

                                                              ***.                                     

        … As I resume writing, it is now a week later. Trump has been impeached, again. Incitement to insurrection. Five people died in the attempted coup on The Capitol, including a police officer who was beaten to death by the rioters. White rterrorists carrying a Blue Lives Matter flag killed a Capitol police officer. They spread feces and urine throughout the building. They ransacked offices and went looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence. The whole time, the rioters took selfies of themselves. Eventually, they went home or some D.C. bar, apparently thinking that would be the end of it. Just a friendly little failed insurrection in the nation’s capital, broadcast live around the world.

           If you stop to think about it – and apparently the rioters did not — the ignorance is astounding. It is surpassed only by the hypocrisy of the Republican members of Congress who encouraged and invited the assault and who voted against seating Biden as the duly elected president, even after the insurrection had been quelled. They stuck to the lies of the election being stolen from Trump, even though every one of them – except for perhaps a couple of conspiracy lunatics — knows that that is a lie. It was Trump’s biggest and most dangerous lie. In truth, a treasonous lie.

         Since that now infamous Wednesday, much more has been revealed about the attack on the Capitol. It wasn’t as innocent as it first appeared. There was a plan. There may have been inside help from some Republican members of Congress. Maybe even from the Capitol police, who were woefully unprepared for a massive event that was announced well in advance. There was a delay in getting National Guard troops to the scene, perhaps caused by someone in the Defense Department.

          There will be investigations. May they go on for as long as necessary and bring to justice all those who we’re involved in this assault on America. Every last one of them. Homegrown terrorists. White supremacists. Members of Congress. Conspiracy nuts. Nazis. Klansmen. Racists. Pick a name. The list includes police and ex-military members as well. The attackers were virtually all white, which is why they are still alive. Lock them all up. People who bring swastikas and Confederate flags to attack the seat of the government of the United States of America deserve no mercy.

           Trump now stands accused by Congress and convicted by the majority of the American people and the rest of the world of Inciting an attempted overthrow of a duly elected government. But his accomplices in the Republican Party are also guilty. They have ignored his assault on democratic principles for four years, out of fear or for their own gain or because they agreed with him. They deserve what they’re reaping. The party deserves to die. May it be reborn in some semblance of a responsible political party, perhaps including those Republicans who had the courage to speak out publicly and fight against Trumpism.

            America has been put on notice. There are those among us, appearing publicly as patriotic citizens, but operating out of hate and fear that their dream of a white, Christian nation with everyone else second-class citizens, is about to die. And in their foolhardy effort to avoid that fate, they may have actually hastened it. Republicans who remained silent, evangelicals who remained silent as Trump ravaged democracy, all stand indicted. Those who supported him financially along the way and now seek to distance themselves, all stand indicted. Rupert Murdoch and Fox News stand indicted. 

            In a country Trump would call a “shithole,” those seeking to overthrow the government usually try to get the military on their side if they hope to succeed. When they don’t, they don’t. As I watched with Lester Holt on NBC News as the idiots stormed the Capitol, I kept thinking, well, sooner or later troops with weapons and bullets will arrive. Hopefully, with orders to shoot. I also was dumbfounded that people were posting images of themselves on the Internet as they perpetrated this terrorist attack against this nation and gave no thought to the fact that this would make it easy to track them down and arrest them. Ignorance and arrogance.

              Yes, we have a lot of work to do, but the first thing is not to give into Republican pleas of coming together for the good of the country. They spent four years quietly watching Trump tearing the country apart. They must pay the price. I repeat, there are many more of us than them and what is necessary now is for all who know and love and respect what this nation is about to speak out forcefully in defense of it. Bring to justice those responsible. Convict Trump. Convict him again and again on whatever charges may be filed when he leaves office. Teach young people that actions have accountability. When we get around to it, teach young people about civics and government and history in school again. Clearly a lot of Americans slept through those classes. Evangelical Christians are on their own in this one.

           Joe Biden faces a monumental task when he becomes president on January 20, but he will have full control of the Congress to back him up and, I believe, fervent support of a vast majority of Americans as well. That white mob that assaulted the Capitol was an embarrassment to this nation, but maybe a lesson as well. American exceptionalism was put to the lie.

            No, this is not a “shithole” country, yet. I can still take a quiet walk around the pond every day. But those who would take the right to feel that safe and at home in this country away from anyone whose skin color or nationality or religion or politics they find fault with must know there can be no healing until the wounds are closed, Not until the guilty are prosecuted and those who aided and abetted admit their guilt. Not until journalists are not casually referred to as “enemies of the people.” Not until children are not put in cages. Not until all lives truly matter.                      

            Enough.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

         

           

            

         

          

Resolved: Work to Preserve Democracy

Monday, January 1st, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

 F6C3ED4D-2822-4ACE-865A-78176390446D   A friend of mine was talking recently about making  New Year’s resolutions and how it can be a futile or even delusional exercise (my words, probably misrembering his) since we rarely live up to them.

     I agreed. But … there are resolutions and then there are Resolutions. So, this year I resolve to continue to try to (1.) maintain a healthful diet, avoiding food and drink that will harm, not help, this aging body to keep on aging in a healthy way, (2.) get more sleep, (3.) pay more attention to the garden, (4.) pick up a book, (5.) take all my vitamins, (6.) keep in touch with family and friends, (7.) walk more, (8.) argue less, (9.) be more patient with the dogs and (10.) learn a new language.

    Ten ought to be enough and the key word was the first: “try.” (That language thing was a rounding throw-in.)

      Those are the first kind of resolutions. The ones we usually forget about around February. I will give them a good shot, but can’t promise anything.

      This year, though, I have another Resolution, one which I pledge to keep alive every single day: To do everything within my abilities to comment on the news and spread the truth as I see it, without fear or favor, until Joe Biden is re-elected president, Donald Trump is convicted and imprisoned and American democracy is saved from being tossed on the ash heap of history.

     That’s the story of 2024. That’s how important I think the coming election and the four Trump trials are. In my opinion, the future of this country as I have known it is in peril and far too many of my fellow citizens apparently don’t know or, worse, don’t care.

       I’ve given up on the “don’t care” crowd. I presume they like where Trump, the Republican Party and the MAGAS are headed. Maybe they’ll March off a cliff. Not caring is out of my reach.

       Instead, I’m going to focus on the “don’t knows,” starting with, “Where the hell have you been the past eight years?”

       Democracy requires participation, which means being involved in community, knowing who’s running for office and voting for those whose views coincide with yours. Just blindly pulling levers by party or not voting at all got us where we are today,

    “They” are not all the same.

   There is a world of difference between Joe Biden, a decent, intelligent, caring, experienced public servant and Donald Trump, who is none of the above.  And many Republican officeholders know this full well. They don’t care. They simply want the votes of his followers. If you don’t agree with him, don’t give them yours. Let them march off that cliff.

     It’s that simple. We are a majority. If we all do our part to preserve our democracy, we will prevail. I resolve to keep reminding you. This year, it’s that important.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Want My Vote? Who Won in 2020?

Friday, October 20th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

408D0046-5CB4-4AC5-A1AD-C3B82315CD7D     It may be a little early, what with Election Day still more than two weeks away, but I’m ready to announce my vote in any local, state or national office up for grabs: The Democrat.

      Any Democrat. Well, any unindicted Democrat, let’s say. Straight ticket. No Republicans. No contest. No need to drop off anymore campaign literature, local candidates. Save your pens for the undecided or uninformed potential voters out there. My mind’s made up.

     The decision was simple. After six decades of considering candidates’ positions on a variety of issues and trying to decide which one (of any political party) I preferred, my litmus test has come down to one, basic question: Has the candidate publicly declared Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election?

     Since every Democrat has done this, this is only a trick question for Republicans. Basically, it means going on the record and saying Donald Trump is a lying sore loser, a threat to democracy and should never hold public office of any kind again

     I know that might be a little difficult for some local Republicans to tell their constituents, even though they believe it, but you know what Harry Truman said about the heat and the kitchen. (Google it if you don’t.)

    Local Republican candidates everywhere, not just in my little corner of slightly upstate New York, have been coasting on the Trump question for seven years now. Either they’re with him or they’re agin’ him. Keeping quiet just to get elected or reelected won’t cut it. That’s how Trump got where he is today and that’s how the Republican Party got where it is today: Unable to even pick a Speaker of the House of Representatives in which it is the majority party because too many Republicans were afraid to stand up to a small group of ignorant Trump acolytes, who know nothing and care not a whit about bipartisan governing. 

     Silence is consent. And who wants to vote for a candidate who is afraid to speak his or her own mind?

      If the Republican Party has any hope of ever again being considered a legitimate, pro-democracy organization, it must rid itself of Trump and Trumpers. Sitting and waiting for the courts to possibly do it is the cowards’ way out.

     Otherwise, it can just continue on the path to Fascism, depriving certain groups of people of the vote, operating through fear and retribution, lying, cheating and threatening those who stand in its way. Vladimir Putin couldn’t ask for a better ally in his worldwide campaign against democracies.

      What has this got to do with my local county legislator or town councilman? Everything. That’s where it starts. Quiet coverups. Special favors. Refusal to compromise. And, in this case, failure to uphold long-standing Republican Party principles because the party needed bigger numbers. Failure to say, “We don’t do that.”

     The once unacceptable becomes accepted, commonplace, routine, expected. It works its way up the chain. It sells its soul to ignorance and avarice in exchange for perceived power and glory. Democracy be damned.

      It says a serial liar, twice-impeached, four times indicted narcissist facing 91 felony counts is the best person to carry the beacon of democracy for America

      I say, if you’re a local Republican candidate and you don’t believe in all that, I’ll look at your record and views and consider voting for you. Not until then. You don’t have to knock on my door to do it. Just post it on your Facebook page.

      And keep your Trump buttons.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Did the Press Scare America Straight?

Sunday, November 13th, 2022

By Bob Gaydos

    5C086408-528A-4128-99B1-CF8FBCE4BB82 Exhale, America, you survived another election in the era of Trumpism. Apparently, some of you did learn history’s lesson on complacency enabling the spread of fascism. Not that the purported defenders of democracy — a free press — did much to help the cause.

       The “surprising” results of the 2022 midterm elections, as characterized by the mainstream media, once again demonstrated the dubious reliability of political polling and the very real risks of news agencies relying heavily on them to “predict” what is likely to occur when people give their actual opinions at the ballot box.

        The “red wave” of Republican victories predicted to occur across America failed to materialize this year, even though in midterm elections the party out of power is “supposed to” make gains because people are fed up with the current president and his policies. That’s what the political “wisdom” is and that’s the bias that goes into much of the polling and the reporting on the campaigns.

         But this year it didn’t happen. Democrats maintained control of the Senate and may have an even stronger hold depending on a runoff election in Georgia. And Republicans are likely to have only a slim margin of control in the House. And, there was no avalanche of Republican election deniers being swept into office in state elections on the strength of a Trump endorsement.

        What happened? Apparently, abortion did matter. Democracy did matter. Ukraine did matter. Inflation? Yes, it hurts. But voters obviously felt they would survive it again and, just maybe, President Joe Biden wasn’t to blame. 

        But you’d have had a hard time knowing that pre-election if you listened to the loudly opinionated “newscasts” on television and the carbon copy reporting in most newspapers, much of it based on information provided by pollsters, many of them funded by Republicans. Did anyone reporting on the polls consider that a basic Republican strategy the past several years has simply been to lie?

      Of course, by constantly repeating the polls’ supposed prediction of what was likely to happen on Election Day, the media did create a lot of anxiety among a lot of people. And maybe that got more people (especially young people) to vote who might otherwise have sat this one out. But that would only mean that the basic assumption of most polls and much reporting was incorrect to start with: that Americans were fed up with inflation and Democratic spending and eager to embrace Republican policies.

    Republican “policy” under Trump has been to divide and conquer, lie and cheat, make voting harder, restrict freedoms of non-white, non-straight, non-Christian, non-male Americans, provide tax cuts for the wealthy, dumb down the public education system, promote violence against political opponents … and blame Democrats for everything. 

      That’s a lot of alienation. It’s a lot of restriction. It’s budding fascism, in fact.

       A lot of Americans apparently noticed. Not nearly enough, but enough to prevent total chaos in Washington and to provide time to take stock of what direction this purported beacon of democracy wants to pursue.

       In its unflagging pursuit of win-or-lose, horse-race reporting based on increasingly unreliable polls (do you know anyone who actually answered a poll?), the only thing positive to say about the job of the American press on this story is that it might’ve scared enough previously unconcerned people into voting and proving the predictions of the “experts” to be wrong.

      That would mean a lot of Americans deserve credit for recognizing, for many of them perhaps the first time, the real threat to democracy represented by the Republican Party’s capitulation to Trumpism. It also means that reporters ought to be talking to more real Americans, real voters, before writing about what those Americans supposedly think. It’s important, because the threat, while weakened, has not disappeared.

       There’s a lot of arguing among Republicans today about who’s to blame for their party’s disappointing (to them) election results. (I’d say they all are.) A lot of them blame Trump himself, which is a change, and Trump himself faces several serious legal actions. But the threat is still alive and well in some elements of the Republican Party. Start talking with voters in Florida and Texas, reporters. Trumpism may or may not be fading, but fascism is always looking for another face. 

rjgaydos@gmail.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.

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.

20 Years On, Terrorists Made in the USA

Friday, September 10th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

What TV showed on Sept. 11, 2001.

     Twenty years ago today, like millions of other Americans, I was preparing to go to work. The boys were off to school. It was a sky-blue September day. The news was on the TV, a practice of mine, in case there was something I needed to know about before I got to the paper.

   There was.

   The image on the TV screen froze me and shook the sleep out of my head. Oh, my God!

     What was I seeing? They replayed it.

     I quickly got myself together and headed off to work. But I stopped for a few moments in a nearby park to gather my thoughts and process what I had just witnessed  qThe radio news informed me that, in addition to the two planes flying into the Twin Towers in New York City, a plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and another had hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

     September 11.

     After about an hour of processing reports on what had happened, a meeting was held and it was decided that The Times Herald-Record would publish a special edition that afternoo, the first one, I believe, in the morning newspaper’s history.  My job was to write an editorial explaining what had happened. Or at least trying to explain it. About 500 words.“We need it in an hour.”

     I don’t have a copy of that editorial and I’m sure it was mostly emotion. I do remember writing, “America was at war.”  (Any colleagues who were in the newsroom on that day may feel free to corroborate or add any details you may remember in the comments section.)

       The world changed that day. America changed. We the people had been attacked. We were one nation, under the spell of the dynamic leadership of New York’s mayor, Rudy Giuliani. America’s mayor. We grieved together, healed together and called for retribution together, against whoever it was who had attacked us.

          So we started a war against, not the country where the terrorists responsible for the attacks came from (Saudi Arabia): but against a country (Iraq) that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. We justified it by claiming Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” that it could use against someone, maybe us. That was a lie our government told us. We found out later.

           Then we went after the actual attackers in the mountains of Afghanistan. We actually found and killed their leader, then decided to stay in Afghanistan for some 20 years, trying to save it from itself.

            In those ensuing 20 years, Giuliani went from “America’s Mayor” to embarrassingly ridiculous mouthpiece for every lie put forth by Donald Trump, including the lie that he lost his re-election bid to President Joe Biden because the election was rife with vote fraud.

             Also in the ensuing 20 years, the Republican Party steadily turned itself from a party that espoused defense of all Americans into a party of an aggrieved white minority whose leaders in Congress legislate only in the interests of wealthy donors who contribute to their campaigns..Inro a cult that believes and repeats Trump’s lies or, worse, repeats them for political gain or out of fear.

           Whatever galvanized us into one people 20 years ago (a common enemy I suppose) started disintegrating as soon as we started demonizing any group of people, different from us (Muslims) as the enemy. “Us” became more vague.”

            The World Trade Center was rebuilt, Trump exposed the fear and bigotry at the center of the Republivan Party and gave free rein to the fissures hiding within American society.

             The FBI now says the greatest threat to America is from domestic terrorism. Not Iraq. Or Afghanistan. The threat comes from the white supremacists groups who organized the assault in Washington and still threaten any who reject their cause.

       In 1870, cartoonist Walt Kelly coined a phrase in his Pogo comic strip: “We have mer the enemy and he is us.”

       Indeed.

       Not so long ago, on January 6 of this year, in fact, I once again stared transfixed at a scene on television. Am I really seeing this? Thousands of virtually all white Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol to prevent the certification of Joe Biden as president. Some were ready to hang Vice President Mike Pence to prevent him from fulfiling his duties. People died. Republicans refused to accept the election result and many even claimed there was no riot that sent them running for their lives.

          Today, the war to preserve American freedom and democracy is being fought right here at home. Fortunately, millions of Americans stand on the side of what”s right. Many still remember how we felt as a unified nation in the wake of the attacks 20 years ago.

           I’m not sure I”ll be here 20 years from now io mark the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, but whether I am or not, I pray the U.S. Capitol is still proudly standing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zest-of-orange.com. He was editorial page editor of The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y., for 23 years.

 

     

Get Vaccinated, Get Rich, Get High!

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Pot for a vaccine shot.

Pot for a vaccine shot.

  A billion free doses or pot for a shot? These are the days of our lives. 

     Some context. At the same time G7 nations were pledging to donate 1 billion doses of Coronavirus vaccines to less wealthy nations, back in the good old US of A, where everyone desperately wants to reach the 70 percent vaccinated goal so we can “open up” and get back to normal again, reluctant vaccine-getters were being wooed with all sorts of goodies, including a joint for a jolt, pot for a shot. A free dose of THC for an already free dose of a life-saving vaccine. What the heck, if your won’t do it for your own well-being, if you won’t do it for the health of your friends and neighbors, if you won’t do it because it is the easiest way to demonstrate both common sense and patriotism, won’t you please, pretty please, get vaccinated if we give you — free! — a pre-rolled joint of marijuana? What a country. 

      Indeed. What a country.

      The “Joints for Jabs” program in the State of Washington, where recreational marijuana use is legal, lets adults who are 21 or older claim a free marijuana joint after they receive their shot. The promotion supposedly will run through July 12. Presumably those who don’t partake in puffing will have to settle for a bottle of water.

        In the same vein, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce offered a “Shots for Shots” promotion. Anyone who got vaccinated at the Convention Center was given a coupon for a free drink at local watering holes.

       With President Biden’s stated goal of having 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by July 4, states, cities, corporations, businesses were, well, bribing Americans to do the right thing. Tickets to ball games, Disneyland, Six Flags, the Super Bowl, free Girl Scout cookies, French fries, hotdogs, donuts, Pizza, college scholarships, weekly drawings and lottery tickets that could be worth millions have all been offered to try to convince people to do their part to stop the pandemic that has, by the way, killed more than 600,000 of your fellow Americans.

         Meanwhile, the much-lauded agreement by the G7 nations to provide 1 billion free doses of vaccines to less wealthy nations around the world was welcomed and criticized by the outgoing U.N. aid chief, Mark Lowcock, who said, while the vaccines certainly would be appreciated, the wealthy nations offered no plan for how to distribute them.

         Oops. Since speed of delivery is vital in stemming the pandemic, it certainly would help to have a delivery plan, such as was proposed by the International Monetary Fund. This is especially vital for countries across Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and parts of South America, which desperately need Covid vaccines. For now, they can do without the hotdogs and Girl Scout cookies. Just vaccines, please.

          My point? With more than 177 million Covid cases worldwide and nearly 4 million deaths, I have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that tens of thousands of my fellow Americans need a free joint or a ticket to a baseball game or a shot at a lottery ticket to get them to take a free vaccine that could well save their lives, not to mention the lives of others. A vaccine that could finally stem the pandemic.

        Yeah, I just walked in and got my shots, no problem, thank you, so yeah, I’m more than a little annoyed and disappointed.

         Problem is, I don’t really have a solution. People were livid over being required to wear masks. Imagine requiring them to get vaccinated. January 6 would seem like a backyard barbecue. In some respects, I think pot for shots is just evidence that, in this country, we never really left “normal.“

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

America Finally Has a President Again

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

 

 By Bob Gaydos

President Biden delivering his first speech to Congress.

President Biden delivering his first speech to Congress.

    I tuned in a week ago for the first time in four years to listen to a president’s speech. I got more than I bargained for. The president’s speech was, in fact, a presidential speech. Thank you, President Biden.

     Why presidential? Because it was honest. Because it addressed seemingly every need and problem facing the nation, detailing what he wanted to do, challenging Congress to get busy with him doing it, and proposing to pay for the sweeping programs in a way with which the great majority of Americans could not possibly disagree. Help America win the 21st-century, Biden said. Restore it to its position of global leadership. Repair its tattered reputation.

      Only the congressional Republicans in attendance, sitting on their hands, dour-faced, had a problem with the speech. That’s because they knew Biden was speaking truth and hope to Americans and all Republicans had to offer — still — was lies.

      They couldn’t even claim that Biden was weak or stumbling or unsure of himself In delivering his speech, because he wasn’t. Because he was clear and direct as he laid out a detailed program of what needs to be done to bring America back from four years of incompetence and treachery in the White House. That’s presidential. It was long overdue and much-needed.

      Over and over, Biden referred to the economy, to making and buying American goods (“There is simply no reason why the blades for wind turbines can’t be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing.”) To helping families with young children. To paying fair (livable) wages and providing broader educational opportunities. To repairing roads, replacing ancient water systems. To building a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. To negotiating lower prices for prescription drugs. To getting everyone vaccinated so the country can open up and get back to work. And to jobs, jobs, jobs. As I listened, I thought of the old Democratic campaign motto, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

      And, he said we could pay for it by taxing only the wealthiest of Americans. Make corporations pay their fair share, he said. It was a message aimed right at middle America and, as polls have demonstrated in the following days, middle America heard and liked it.

       Republicans responded by having their only black senator declare that America is not a racist nation. Fine, but Biden never said it was. He said there was institutional racism, which there is. He said he would attack the threat of white supremacist terrorists within our borders, which the FBI has described as our greatest internal threat. He called for sensible gun reform in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings. And again, polls show that the large majority of Americans support this. And he said he was bringing our troops home from Afghanistan where they have been fighting since accomplishing their mission of killing Osama bin Laden 10 years ago. Again, most Americans are not in favor of endless wars with no clear mission.

        There was a lot more in Biden speech, but all of it was aimed at one goal: restoring America’s dignity. Let us work together, care for each other and show the world that our actions match our words, the president, a Democrat, said. The other party pouted. He stole the election, they lied, insulting state election officials of their own party in the process. He’s not uniting us, as he promised, they said, after years of ignoring all Democratic proposals. They voted against his programs and then took credit for the ones that benefitted them politically. They passed state laws making it harder for people to vote. And they lied constantly.

        America has a president who knows how government works, who knows about international diplomacy, who cares about more than his own selfish interests and who actually does his job. Joe Biden wants to heal America and he asked the “loyal” opposition to help. They sat on their hands. They have nothing, but we, at last, have a president again.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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