Posts Tagged ‘Bob Gaydos’

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.

         

35 Years and 9 1/2 Minutes to ‘Guilty’

Monday, April 26th, 2021

Derek Chauvin (left) and George Floyd.

Derek Chauvin (left) and George Floyd.

By Bob Gaydos

I exhaled with much of the rest of America — indeed, the world — last week when Judge Peter Cahill said simply and without any emotion, one word: “Guilty.” He said it twice more in reading the jury’s verdict and a tear slid down my cheek. Thank God. There won’t be any riots. They got it right. Finally, they got it right.

     All it took was a video showing 9 ½ minutes of George Floyd, a black man, being murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer. Nine-and-a-half minutes of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he said repeatedly, “I can’t breathe.“ Nine-and-a-half minutes and, in my personal experience, 35 years.

      Last year,when Floyd was killed, I wrote this: “I was writing editorials for The Times Herald-Record, the local paper, when Jimmy Lee Bruce, a 20-year-old black man, died in the back of a patrol car near Middletown on Dec. 13, 1986. He and a group of friends from Ellenville, N.Y., had gone to a movie theater in a mall outside Middletown. The group became rowdy. There was drinking involved. Two white, off-duty Middletown police officers, acting as security guards, escorted the group out of the theater. A scuffle ensued. An officer applied a chokehold to Bruce and tossed him in the back of a police car, which had brought two on-duty Town of Wallkill police officers to the scene.

       “The police then drove around for 7½ minutes looking for Bruce’s friends. When they returned to the theater, a state trooper, who had also arrived on the scene, shined a flashlight in the back of the patrol car and noticed the young man was not responding to the light. Police rushed him to a nearby hospital, but attempts to revive him failed.”

        I’ll cut to the chase. There was no video in the Bruce case. No recording of him saying he couldn’t breathe. No officers were even indicted in Bruce’s death, much less charged, tried and convicted, as was Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. Accountability is a necessary first step to someday attaining justice. The opportunities for that keep coming.

        There were at least three police shootings of black persons in America within 24 hours of the Chauvin verdict. There was also the 24-hour racist drumbeat of Fox News and the white supremacist movement now known as the Republican Party, criticizing the verdict and claiming the jurors were frightened. But those voices are being somewhat muted today by those of the majority of Americans who are not only tired of the white cop kills black civilian and gets away with it scenario, but embarrassed and angry about it.

         That’s why the Chauvin verdict was so important. That’s why I held my breath and prayed. If the jury couldn’t return a guilty verdict in this case, I thought to myself, there was no hope for America.

          We got a break. The verdict in the Floyd case says there’s still hope for us. All we have to do is change pretty much everything about the way most police forces operate in this country today.

          Attorney General Merrick Garland got the ball rolling quickly, announcing that the U.S. Justice Department was launching an investigation of the operations of the Minneapolis Police Department, Garland will head the investigation himself. This crucial role of the federal government was abandoned by the Trump administration‘s useless attorneys general, Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr.

          What else needs to be done? Diversify police recruiting. Hire more women. Weed out racists in the ranks and reject applicants with sketchy records. Give recruits more training, including on how to talk to the public, how to de-escalate tense situations and especially on how to use force properly. Make it their duty to speak out about improper use of force by other officers. Ban the use of chokeholds. Get rid of that surplus military hardware. Stop dressing police like storm troopers. They are not an occupying army. Police have traditionally been part of the community. Encourage them to become involved in the community again. Act swiftly and surely to punish officers who abuse their position. Do not allow officers who are fired for misconduct to be hired by other police departments. Educate all officers on the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of peaceful assembly. Make the entire community part of this reconditioning process. Do what they do in my neck of the woods, Orange  County, N.Y.,, and send mental health professionals along with police when the situation warrants and have a crisis line dedicated specifically to deal with issues that do not necessarily require a police presence. Incorporate an updated and honest version of race issues in America in high school history classes. Elect public officials who are willing to say, publicly, that it is possible to want to punish bad cops and still respect those police officers who do their job honorably and, yes, often in the face of danger. 

           Much of that I wrote 35 years ago. The list has gotten longer as the list of victims has grown, including Eric Garner, a black man whose cries of “I can’t breathe” actually were recorded, to no avail. He died of an illegal chokehold applied by a white policeman on Staten Island in 2014. Garner was guilty of selling loose cigarettes. Somehow, despite the recording, justice was avoided. That’s why I awaited the verdict on George Floyd’s murder with such anxiety. The bigots in the Trump camp, all the Trump wannabes in the Republican Party will continue to stomp their feet and lie about some conspiracy or other in the face of any attempted police reforms. It’s all they ever do.

            The jury in Minneapolis got it right. Now it’s up to the rest of us to do the same so that, for one thing, future jurors in police homicide cases won’t have to be anonymous to protect their lives. Think about that. It would be nice if we could do it in my lifetime, but I don’t think I have another 35 years to wait.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

             

            

Beware: No Labels is Mislabeled

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos (more…)

It’s Time for the Filibuster to Go

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

 Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith goes to Washington,“ Hollywood’s version of the filibuster.

Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith goes to Washington,“ Hollywood’s version of the filibuster.

     “If it’s good enough for The New York Times, it’s good enough for us.”

      With those words of wisdom, a newspaper editor gave a willing but wary member of his staff a gentle shove into the world of editorial writing. The staff member was me. The editor was Bill Kennedy. The newspaper was The Times Herald-Record in Middletown, N.Y. The time was late November, 1983. My maiden piece had appeared on Nov. 23,1983, the 20-year anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Serendipity. JFK and I share a birthday.

       On this day, I was asking Bill about an editorial I was thinking of writing, but which The Times, which circulated in our area, had just voiced an opinion on that morning. It was pretty much the same as what I had in mind and I was a little annoyed that they “beat” me. An ego thing.

      “Do we care?“ I asked.

      “Do our readers care, or even notice?” Bill answered.

      I wrote the editorial. The topic has long since been lost in my memory. But Kennedy’s message remained.

       It came to me in a flash a couple of weeks back as I was having a debate with myself on the wisdom of scrapping the Senate filibuster. I had pretty much decided I was all for it because, honestly, I am up to my eyeballs in Mitch McConnell single-handedly trying to destroy this country for anyone but the super-rich and super-white. With him as Senate majority leader for 10 years, any meaningful piece of social legislation proposed by Democrats had no chance. Now, as minority leader, he threatens to use the filibuster to kill Democrats’ sweeping voter reform law while having the gall to claim that Democrats refused to negotiate on it with Republicans.

         My only hesitation in writing this piece was that even some Democrats were defending the filibuster because of its “ttradition“ in the Senate and its supposed protection against a super majority running roughshod over democracy. Those arguments had pretty much lost out and I also thought about the threat the filibuster would pose to immigration reform, criminal justice reform and anything else President Biden might propose to advance racial and cultural harmony in the nation in the wake of four years of the divisive Trump administration.

         Enough of McConnell, already, I said to myself. Let’s save the country while I’m still alive to appreciate it. And then there was the Times editorial: “For Democracy to Stay, the Filibuster Must Go.”

        Well, thanks, Bill.

         Of course, I was so upset that I let them beat me on writing the editorial and didn’t want people to think I just copied theirs, that I waited a good two weeks before sitting down to do mine. This is it. The filibuster must go.

         Here’s why.

         Even though it is promoted as a barrier to a majority abusing its power over a minority, its primary application from the beginning has been to allow a minority of senators to exclude minorities in America from enjoying the rewards of democracy. First, it was slavery. More recently, civil rights legislation. Forget Jimmy Stewart in the movies. It is an outdated tool that has been used to preserve and promote bias. And for all it’s “tradition.” the Senate has already written exceptions into the rule.

         A brief description of the filibuster rule is appropriate here. When the Constitution was written, the framers kept it simple. In order for a bill to pass in the 100-member Senate, a simple majority of 51 votes was all that was needed. When Southern members took to long-winded floor speeches (filibusters) to delay or deter votes to abolish slavery, a rule was approved that requires the votes of 60 senators to end a filibuster.

        Modern senators being less fond of doing the actual work of talking for hours on end, in relays if necessary, to defeat a bill, amended the rule so that any senator can delay a vote on, and maybe defeat, any bill, simply by sending an e-mail saying he or she is filibustering it. That’s it. Go to lunch.

       In effect, that means the bill sponsor has to find 60 votes instead of 51. And, of course, there is no real debate on the bill. The Senate has already excluded money-raising bills and the appointment of federal judges and Supreme Court justices from the filibuster, allowing, most recently, Donald Trump to appoint three new justices to the high court.

         Some (including two Democrats) have suggested going back to the talking filibuster so that there is actual effort required to oppose and maybe some debate on the bill. But there has seldom been any debate provided by the filibuster and, even assuming Republicans are willing to argue for hours on end against expanding voting rights, Biden and the Democrats don’t have the time to waste.

          With Georgia leading the way, Republican legislatures and governors across the country are passing laws to make it much more difficult for members of minorities especially to vote. Basically, that’s un-American. More to the point, it’s racist as hell.

         The only way Republicans win congressional races in a lot of areas is by gerrymandering voting districts so that their candidate has a majority of Republican voters in the district. Even in Georgia, though, that failed when Democrats managed to put together a major get-out-the-vote effort. Republicans are basically scared to death they will not get elected again.

           Being able to vote should be one of the easiest things to do in this country. It’s almost insulting to have to write a column arguing that point. The fact that Republicans lied about the presidential election being stolen from Trump — and some still do — and make no bones about imposing restrictions on people’s ability to vote suggests that there is no debate to be had on this issue. Republicans just don’t want minorities to vote. They are not concerned with changing their policies to attract the voters, just denying the votes.

          Democrats have the presidency and control of both houses of Congress (but only the slimmest of majorities in the Senate) for two years. Midterm elections often produce changes in the power structure. Democrats can go a long way to repairing the damage done in the last four years by the Trump administration. (Biden has already started.) Democrats can go even further by passing sweeping voters rights legislation that will ensure that Congress is truly representative of the majority of the people rather than in the hands of a tyrannical minority interested only in power, not governing.

         Of course, what I just said is pretty much what The New York Times editorial also said. What can I say, great minds think alike. If it’s good enough for The Times (sorry, a slight edit, Bill), most of the time, it’s also good enough for me.

(Personal note: I wrote editorials for The Record for 23 years until I retired. Thanks, Bill.)
rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

All the GOP’s “dumb” governors

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

South Dakota's Governor Kristi Noem called for “less Covid, more hunting.”

South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem called for “less Covid, more hunting.”

  “If you legalize marijuana, you’re gonna kill your kids. That’s what the data shows from around the country.”

  With that absurd, ungrammatical and easily refuted statement to the press, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts last week boldly entered the competition for “dumbest” Republican governor in America. It’s turning into quite a contest in a steadily growing field. And, while I may be mocking this collection of nitwits, let me be clear in stating that this is no laughing matter.

    Let’s start with Ricketts. He is vigorously fighting an effort to legalize medical marijuana in his state. That’s right, they’re not even talking about recreational marijuana in Nebraska, just catching up with the 39 states and the District of Columbia, which have legalized marijuana use for medical purposes. 

     But killing kids? The Drug Enforcement Agency says “no deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported.” Ever. As for its classification as a Schedule 1 Drug by the DEA — meaning it supposedly has no medicinal value — that was a product of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, passed by Congress as part of Richard Nixon’s racist campaign to demonize and nullify black voters. Fifty years later, and in the face of all scientific evidence to the contrary, Republicans are still trying.

        There’s no real race issue in white bread Nebraska, so this is likely just one more Republican politician playing to the lowest common denominator — the proudly uninformed who make up much of the party’s base. The Trump voters. The governor also threw in the false claim that marijuana serves as a gateway drug for teenagers to other drugs. The Centers for Disease Control says there is no evidence of this. In truth, alcohol has long been the gateway drug for young people. Yes, there are risks, especially for young people, in using marijuana, but Ricketts could have stressed common sense approaches to its use rather than making up scare stories. Unfortunately, Nebraskans suffering pain from a variety of illnesses would be deprived of the relief medical cannabis can provide if he has his way.

         At least Nebraskans still have a chance to escape the consequences of having a “dumb” governor. Others, Texans, for example, have already paid a steep price. On March 2, with most of the nation, including Texas, in the early stage of receiving Covid-19 vaccinations, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order lifting the mask mandate and increasing capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100 percent. When the mayor of Austin, the state capital, said the masks would stay on in his city, Abbott went to court to challenge this affront to his authority to put Texans at risk.

          This mandate came on the heels of the deadly deep freeze in the Lone Star State. When the state’s independent power grid failed during a winter storm in February, with Texans literally freezing to death, Abbott went on Fox News to say, “This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for America.” Abbott said solar and wind power got “shut down,” while noting that those sources account for only 10 percent of the state’s energy.

          The truth: natural gas lines, which provide the largest percent of Texas’s power, froze up as well because anti-regulation Texas didn’t require companies to winterize. So, yes, almost all power sources froze up. A few windmills did keep producing. Also the truth: Texas refuses to join national power grids for protection against blackouts because Republican officials don’t want federal oversight. Neither do power companies who support them financially.

          Of course “dumb” governors are not new in Texas. In the midst of the blackout, with Texans looking for food and shelter and just trying to stay alive, former governor Rick Perry said Texans would rather deal with blackouts than have the federal government regulate their power grid. Perry, of course, was Energy Secretary in the Trump Administration.

           To top it all off, when the Texas lieutenant governor tried to roll back $16 billion in exorbitant power bills sent to residents, Abbott disagreed. Said he didn’t have the authority. But he can order people not to wear masks. As of March 17, Texas was still averaging 173 Covid deaths a day.

          Abbott has had serious competition on ignoring health experts in responding to the virus from other Republican governors, including Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who answered the question of whether anyone could be more obnoxious than Rick Perry with a resounding yes. In fact, anti-mask, open-up DeSantis, with an eye on the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has made his anti-science, anti-press approach the hallmark of his public utterances, again echoing the success of Trump with a core group of Republican voters.

          The same can be said of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who has taken her campaign on the road and likes to come across as a wise-cracking cowgirl (where are you, Sarah Palin?) and has said from the beginning that South Dakotans don’t need any masks or social distancing and was disappointed when she couldn’t have a big fireworks show at Mount Rushmore. All this as Europe is seeing a resurgence of the virus.

         There are more candidates, but you get the idea. The real question, of course, is whether these politicians are truly dumb, or just playing a cynical role that makes them sound dumb to a majority of Americans, but enhances their reputation with the core group of Republicans who vote for them, often against their own self-interest. The willfully dumb.

          Given the prevalence of this in-your-face obnoxious ignorance, real or feigned, among Republican members of Congress (too many to name here), I have to think this is just further evidence of the disintegration of the Republican Party as a serious, principled participant in the governing of this nation. And that is a serious loss.

         Today, for GOP governors and other elected Republican officials, no platform is necessary. Atttack science. Deny history. Ridicule education. Blame “others.” Demonize the press. If people suffer, if they die, well those are the breaks. Make it all up as you go along. It will get you elected. Hey, it worked for Trump, didn’t it?

         Yes. Once. And if it happens again, we’ll have only our dumb selves to blame.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

       

Time for Universal DH in the Majors

Monday, March 8th, 2021

  

By Bob Gaydos

Ron Bloomberg of the New York Yankees was the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball.

Ron Bloomberg of the New York Yankees was the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball.

   OK, baseball purists, welcome to 2021.  Finally free of the obligation to try to make sense of the daily tweet storm, I have lately been pondering one of those niggling, lifetime questions. And it’s not political at all.

       I’m wondering when National League team owners will come to their senses and sdopt the designated hitter rule permanently, not for just one pandemic-shortened season. I mean, really, after nearly a half century of acting superior to their fellow millionaires in the American League, who eagerly embraced the DH, aren’t the “purists” tired of watching pitchers flail awkwardly at routine fastballs and sometimes hurt themselves in the process?

       Why not give them a break from the embarrassment as well as the added risk of injury running the bases should they accidentally hit the ball? Let them focus on pitching, which is literally all they’ve done since graduating from high school.

       The National League is one of the few leagues in the world that still requires pitchers to bat. All but a handful of minor league teams switched to the designated hitter around the same time as the American League, 47 years ago. That’s how today’s pitchers grew up in baseball — pitching and rarely hitting. Hitting a baseball is not easy when you do it regularly; it’s almost impossible when practicing it is an afterthought.

      Yet, once again, it appears that the National League and the players union could not come to agreement on using the designated hitter for the 2021 season. Although the arguments around use of the DH generally focus on the so-called “purity“ of the game, when the owners and players are involved in any discussion, money is usually the central issue.

       Frankly, I have no sympathy for either side. This is a bunch of rich men — the players — versus a bunch of richer men, the owners. Everyone’s got plenty of money. The goal here should be to make the game more interesting and exciting so that more people come to the ball park, when allowed again, and more watch on TV, which will add to advertising revenue. More money. Plus, you can give some popular veteran players another year or two in the majors.

        Some say the DH takes away the element of strategy, but a double up the alley or a home run is a lot more exciting and productive than a sacrifice bunt or a strike out. I am what you might call an old school baseball guy, but school has been out for a long time. More hits and runs tend to make the game more exciting to watch over a season. By the same token, watching a pitcher easily frustrate a lineup of supposed sluggers is also impressive. I’d rather watch Jacob deGrom pitch than hit. So would most Mets fans, who remember his elbow injury suffered while swinging futilely at bat a couple years back.

       Baseball may have been the national pastime at one time, but football has assumed that position. It has changed to meet the times. So has basketball. There’s a lot of competition for the sports fans’ attention these days and most younger baseball fans have not grown up savoring the delicious question of whether the manager should remove a pitcher for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, even though he’s pitching a great game, because his team is down by one run and there’s no one on base. Today, the pitcher is likely to have been removed in the seventh-inning because he exceeded his pitch count, even though he’s pitching a great game.

        It’s a different game. Pitchers are coddled to protect their arms. Why expose them to injury and embarrassment by making them bat when they haven’t been allowed to practice that skill for years? And why, for heavens sake, have a different set of rules when both leagues are under the auspices of Major League Baseball?

          There are a handful of pitchers who are actually fairly decent hitters in major league baseball. If they’re that good, the manager can feed their egos and use them as a pinch-hitter once in a while. Embarrass a position player by having a pitcher hit for him. That might shake him up.

        Football pretty much eliminated the two-way player and goes out of its way to protect the most valuable player, the quarterback. If pitching really wins games, as all the baseball experts insist, then let the pitchers focus on pitching. And, for the purists, having a designated hitter for the pitcher might just keep that baseball staple, the hit-and-run, alive.

         Moneyball pretty much did away with the sacrifice bunt. Not only pitchers, but most major leaguers, are lousy at it today. Asking pitchers, some of whom can throw the ball 100 miles an hour, to also try to hit a pitched ball coming at 100 miles an hour, when they’ve had virtually no opportunity in their careers to do so — in fact, were never asked to do so — is unrealistic and unfair.

         Besides, after the Babe, the phrase “good-hitting pitcher” became an oxymoron.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

          

 

For the GOP, Is the Party Over?

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

 

 By Bob Gaydos

The Golden Trump at CPAC.

The Golden Trump at CPAC.

 It’s not easy being a Republican these days. First, there’s the question, “What is a Republican?” Second, there’s the problem with numbers. They don’t add up. Third … for now,  go back to Number One: What is a Republican?

      The future of the party has been the subject of debate ever since its candidate, Donald Trump, was soundly defeated by Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Not only did Trump, an incumbent, lose, but Democrats also took control of the Senate, giving them control of Congress as well, since they retook the House in the midterm elections of Trump’s four years in office.

       This is not exactly “winning,” which is what Trump’s lap dog Lindsey Graham says is what he’s all about. Yet Graham still supports Trump as the leader of the GOP. And apparently, according to several surveys, so do a lot of other Republicans.

       Which is good news for Democrats.

        It’s the numbers. According to the Pew Research Center, 29 percent of registered voters identified as Republicans in 2020, while 33 percent identified as Democrats and 34 percent as independent. Since Trump’s loss, his incitement of the riot at The Capitol and the continuing lie that the election was stolen from him, thousands of Republicans have left the party. Even without knowing the exact number of defections, clearly there are fewer Republucans today than just last year.

       But one survey showed 73 percent of Republicans still felt it was important to remain loyal to Trump, while about 70 percent would at least consider joining another party if he started one. Those numbers sound impressive, but they are 73 or 70 percent of a registered voter base that was only 29 percent of the total electorate. A big chunk of a relatively small chunk.

      However, if 30 percent of Republicans can’t abide Trump, his support among registered Republicans then drops to around 20 percent of the electorate. Since many independents also don’t like Trump and more tend to identify with Democrats than Republicans anyway, it’s hard to see where Republicans plan to find the votes.

        One answer is, they don’t. They plan to prevent as many Democrats (especially minorities) from voting as possible. Voter suppression proposals have been presented in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country. But they will be challenged in court. 

        Another answer is, many Republicans are consumed by the delusion that Trump is their messiah and is destined to lead them to victory and beyond. Case closed. This weird factor grew exponentially with the recent Conservative Political Action Conference convention at which a gold statue of Trump was presented for adulation. Which goes back to the question — what is a Republican? Or a conservative for that matter.

       If Trump were to start a new party (unlikely if Republicans are willing to just give him theirs which is already organized and well-funded), what would it stand for? More of the same? Racism, bigotry, corruption, deceit and incompetence? Losing? Lying? White supremacy? Loyalty to the leader above all else?

      Is that what a Trump Republican is today? Again, the numbers say it’s a losing hand. Yet Trump loyalists within the party say it would be foolhardy for those party members who reject Trump to either try to assume control of the party or start a new one based on traditional conservative Republican views because the party’s base wouldn’t go for it. The grassroots Republicans would reject such an attempt, it is said, because that’s not who they are.

      Precisely. The “grassroots” Republicans Trump appeals to are all-in on the racism, bigotry, bullying, etc. Forget traditional conservative principles. The GOP Big Tent today is flooded with angry white men and women who go to church and ignore what is preached. They believe what they’re told and have no use for compromise or, indeed, for government. And beware if you oppose them. The old line Republicans who let them in to boost their numbers are scared to death of this base. Literally. Republicans who criticized Trump were actually advised not to attend CPAC for their own safety. But the Golden Trump was there.

        Forget principles and numbers. The only hope I see for Republicans who want to preserve traditional party values and restore its place as a legitimate partner in governing America is to hope that those Democratic prosecutors looking into Trump’s affairs in New York, Georgia and who knows where else are really good at their jobs. Since they weren’t appointed by Trump, odds are they are. Maybe they’ll take Trump out of the picture. Then all the old-school Republicans will have to do is get rid of all the Trump wannabes in their party. That’s problem number three. It may be a bridge too far.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

      

 

For GOP, Lying is Easier Than Governing

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Frozen wind turbines were blamed for Texas’ power outage. Another Republican lie.

Frozen wind turbines were blamed for Texas’ power outage. Another Republican lie.

      “That’s the problem with the media today is they say all Republicans are liars, and everything we say is a lie. There are two sides to every story …”

     I began writing a column about this statement made by Rand Paul, the Republican-sort-of-Libertarian senator from Kentucky a couple of weeks ago, focusing on its fundamental absurdity. That it was, in fact, a lie in itself. The professionally run media never say that stuff.

       As days passed and events unfolded, I kept rewriting the column until it hit me like a bolt. There it was, every day, just waiting for me to hear it or read it. In his feigned outrage at ABC-TV’s George Stephanopoulos, Paul had inadvertently disclosed the underlying truth about today’s Republican Party: All Republicans are liars and everything they say is a lie.

     And, for Paul’s and other Republicans’ edification, a lie does not qualify as the other side to a story.

     Before I go any further, let me say that I am excluding from this declaration the roughly 10 percent of Republicans who were honest enough to say that Joe Biden was lawfully elected president and the handful who voted to convict Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection. But Trump is right when he says they are Republicans in name only (RINOs), because today’s card-carrying Republican is duty-bound to lie, or perish.

      After four years of daily lying, Trump came up with the Big Lie — the election was stolen from him. Every court and state rejected his lawyers’ pathetic efforts to prove otherwise. Every single one. But, and here’s where Paul and the rest of the gang come in, Republicans throughout Congress and coast-to-coast repeated the lie (and many still do), even though I am certain a good percentage do not believe it, because they feared the wrath of Trump and his more avid followers.

      Also, they discovered it was easier than actually governing and, since Republicans do not like government to begin with, they had no alternative plan. In Trump’s GOP, lying is the party platform. They as much as said so in nominating Trump last year to seek another term. There was nothing else offered. Not even a Wall. We stand by the liar. Period.

      Now, this can get complicated when there are other sources of information than Republicans and a lot of sensible people around who can spot BS when they hear it.

        Following Paul’s TV appearance, 43 Republican senators voted to acquit Trump at his Senate impeachment trial despite having been witnesses, some even accomplices, in inciting the riot at The Capitol. Mitch McConnell tried to refine the art of two sides to every story by arguing, first, that Trump could not be convicted because he was still president (as majority leader, McConnell delayed the trial a week), and then arguing (when demoted to minority leader) that Trump could not be convicted because he was no longer president. McConnell topped this off by saying, after voting to acquit, that Trump was indeed responsible for inciting the insurrection and someone should hold him accountable. That’s three sides, I think.

      So, McConnell lied twice, then sort of told the truth while, in true Republican fashion, passing the buck, basically to try to preserve his leadership role in the GOP without doing any of the dirty work, like maybe voting to convict Trump.

      It’s easier to lie than actually govern — Republicans might want to make that their motto. Now McConnell’s at war with Trump over control of the party. The suspicion is McConnell doesn’t plan to run for re-election in six years so he’s not worried about occasionally flirting with the truth and as a result having to buck a Trump candidate. 

        Which brings me to Texas, where the GOP platform of simply lying has been on display for the world to see. It has not been pretty. Texas, which has been run by Republicans for decades, recently nearly froze to death as an entire state due to the party’s aversion to actually governing. When temperatures plummeted and the snow fell, the lights went out all over the state. No power. No water. No heat. No help from the governor in Austin. Nothing from legislative leaders. Just excuses. Frozen windmills, they said. See, solar doesn’t work, they said. They even blamed the proposed Green Energy Deal, which has never even been voted on. Lies.

       They lied about the cause — the state’s refusal to join a regional energy grid for protection in emergencies and the failure of big energy companies to winterize their equipment because it cost too much and Texas did not require them to do so. Too much government regulation, you know? And while blaming solar and wind energy sources, they ignored the fact that 70 percent of Texas’s power comes from carbon fuels and their providers had lobbied hard against regulation, had donated heavily to Republican governors and had jacked their prices drastically when the deep freeze hit. An investigation is in order.

        This is what happens when lying is easier than governing. People suffer. People die. Yet Texas Republicans and their shills on Fox News kept up the lies. And their senator, Ted Cruz, headed with his family to Mexico where it was warm and there was plenty of water and electricity. When he was caught, he blamed it on his daughters. Said he was just being a good father. That was a lie. Reluctantly, he finally said it was “a mistake” to go on a Cancun vacation while people he ostensibly represented were dying in their beds, were desperate for clean water, were living for days in homes with no heat in temperatures well below freezing.

    Yes, it was a mistake, like his vigorous insistence without proof that the election was stolen from Trump and his equally vigorous opposition to impeaching Trump for inciting an insurrection. The Trump base — much of it anyway — bought those lies. But in Texas, that same base was getting electric bills for thousands of dollars from companies that neglected to prepare their facilities for cold weather and saw the freak storm as “a windfall.” Cruz couldn’t lie his way out it.

       Without demanding some apology from Trump supporters who didn’t vote for him, President Biden declared a state of emergency in the state and sent industrial generators, food, blankets and other supplies to suffering Texans, many of whom had bought the Republican lie that global warming was a hoax and oil and gas was still the future for proudly independent Texas.

       That’s the “other” side to this story. In truth, the only side.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

The Heart of the GOP: It’s Not Pretty

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Rep. Liz Cheney ... says she doesn’t recognize today’s Republicans.

Rep. Liz Cheney … says she doesn’t recognize today’s Republicans.

  While sitting around waiting for the Super Bowl to begin, I stumbled upon this interesting tidbit of news: Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said in a TV interview, “We are the party of Lincoln, we are not the party of QAnon or anti-Semitism or Holocaust-deniers, or white supremacy or conspiracy theories. That’s not who we are.”

     To which I immediately said to myself, “Umm, yes you are. In fact, that’s precisely who you are.”

     Then I wondered how someone with such an impeccable Republican pedigree could have become so out of touch with her colleagues. After all, her father, Dick, was also a congressman and served key roles in Republican administrations. As George W  Bush‘s vice president, he was a key member of the cast that lied the United States into a war with Iraq. Remember? And, staunch Second Amendment man that he is, her dad also managed to shoot a hunting partner accidentally. Plus they’re from Wyoming. Republican through and through, for Pete’s sake.

       So what has Ms. Cheney been doing the last four, eight, 12, 16, 20 years that she did not notice the GOP morph into the QOP? Methinks, what the rest of her Republican colleagues have been doing — closing their eyes, covering their ears, holding their noses and crossing their fingers as all those people she says aren’t Republicans joined the party in such numbers that, when lumped into one, united, bigoted bunch, they represent a major voting bloc. In fact, a career-threatening voting bloc for those who dare to cross it, as Republican office-holders, including Cheney, are now finding out. Did she really think Tea Party members held traditional, conservative Republican views?

         Desperate to achieve and maintain power, if not necessarily govern, the Republican Party needs numbers because there are more Democrats in this country than Republicans. That should be a message. But instead of trying to adapt their party to represent the changing face of America, Republican leaders took what they must have thought was the easier way out — welcome all the fringy groups who can’t stand those libtard, multi-cultural Democrats.

         Welcome heck, have them run for office as Republicans. Put big money behind them. Re-draw election districts to help them get elected.Tell them to criticize budget deficits and promise tax cuts. And to say that Democrats will take away your guns. Say that a lot. Also, God bless America.

         It kind of worked, but America kept changing. And even elected a black president. All those people Cheney talked about in her TV interview had no one to speak for them politically. So the GOP reconfigured its big tent and said, “Come on in. Turn on Fox News and turn off the rest of the world. Vote for Republicans and we will save you from those  book-reading, God-hating, science-believing, socialist  Democrats. And we’ll let you keep your guns.”

         Cheney is one of the few Republicans in Congress who had the guts to speak the truth, finally, about Trump — that he incited the insurrection at the Capitol and deserved to be impeached. She backed up her words with her vote, being one of only 10 House Republicans to do so. For that, Republicans in her home state voted to censure her and called for her to resign.

        Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, an example of what you get when you let anyone into your house, asked her to tone down the truth-telling. She refused, but still managed to hold onto her third-in-line leadership post among the House GOP. McCarthy also had a talk with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, the Trump-loving Quanon conspiracy queen, who has denied the Parkland school shooting, supported executing Democrats, defended the Capitol attack and said California wildfires were started by a Jewish family with lasers. (Hey! Who let her in?)

       She “apologized” for a whole raft of hateful nonsense she’s been spewing, said she was allowed to believe lies spread by the media and was allowed by McCarthy to keep her committee assignments, until Democrats, who control this House, took them away. (Cheney said McCarthy should have taken Greene’s committee posts from her.)

        Yes, this is definitely where the Republican Party is today: Stuck between members who still believe in a former president who was super-cozy with Russia, robbed Americans blind, lied constantly and tried to stay in power with a coup and a bunch of self-seeking, gutless members of Congress who knew what was going on, but let it happen. See anything Lincolnesque in there?

        When Cheney says of Republicans, it’s “not who we are,” she is really pleading for others to finally show some courage and admit they have been complicit, either through greed or cowardice, in allowing Trump’s transformation of the party into an organization that seeks power above all else and will do whatever is necessary to obtain and keep it.

         To do that, he only needed to tap in to the fears, ignorance and biases of all those anti-Semites, Holocaust-deniers, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists who somehow snuck into the GOP when Cheney and the rest apparently weren’t looking.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

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

 

 

Baseball, bigots and the Hall of Fame

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Curt Schilling ... never one to hide his feelings

Curt Schilling … never one to hide his feelings

It’s time for my annual turn from the front page to the back page (sports page) for some message on the meaning of life. Also, pitchers and catchers report any day now. 

  Typically, late January offers baseball fans an opportunity to argue (we don’t debate) about who got into the Hall of Fame and who didn’t and why. Last year was pretty mild, the only question being how one spiteful sports writer could’ve left Derek Jeter off his ballot, keeping the Yankee great from being named to the Hall unanimously of his first try. Baseball made up for that lack of drama when, in the same week, the Mets fired Carlos Beltran as their manager before he ever managed a game because he was part of a cheating scandal as a coach with the Houston Astros. Karma. So there was a lesson in good and evil on the back page.

     This year, the January controversy revolved around Curt Schilling, who wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame, even though he and 71.1% of the 401 sports writers who voted thought he belonged. A player needs 75% of the ballots to get in. Schilling needed 16 more votes. A star pitcher for Arizona and Boston, he fancies himself as a bit of an outspoken character. As fate would have it, he seems to have run afoul of baseball’s “character” clause. That is, he probably didn’t get enough votes not because he wasn’t a good enough player, but rather, because his presence in the Hall of Fame would somehow tarnish the name of Major League Baseball. He wasn’t a good enough person.

      A little about Schilling: His pitching credentials, in my opinion, are borderline Hall of Fame. He was a star in postseason play. I wouldn’t be too put out if he got in. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of his human-being credentials. He has espoused far-right conspiracy theories, compared Muslims to Nazis, said Hillary Clinton should “be buried under a jail somewhere“ and has spoken out vigorously against transgender people, among other things. He also enthusiastically endorsed a suggestion posted on social media that sports writers be hanged. (Since that’s who votes on Hall of Fame candidates, this was also a stupid thing to do, in my opinion.)

       But should stupidity or bigotry be reasons for disqualification from the Hall of Fame? (History says no.) And should baseball writers be the ones making that decision? These are the questions to ponder while waiting for the impeachment trial.

       Schilling has asked that his name be taken off the list of next year’s candidates. It would be his tenth and final year of eligibility and there’s been a lot of speculation, based on the history of other players, that he probably would manage to eke out that 75%. Schilling said he’d rather put his fate in the hands of another committee, which considers umpires, managers and other non-players as well as those who did not make the hall during their eligibility period. Apparently, he feels this group wouldn’t care how much he mouthed off about hanging sports writers or how much he hates Hillary and loves Donald Trump. The Board of Directors of the Hall of Fame said they would consider Schilling’s request.

        Of course, Schilling isn’t the only one of current Hall-eligible players running up against the “character” issue. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two dominant players whose Hall of Fame credentials are beyond question, also did not receive enough votes. That’s because they were part of baseballs “juicing era,“ when many players used steroids and other substances to enhance their performances on the field. To me, this would come under the heading of cheating, which one would think would qualify as being harmful to the image of baseball. Being not of good character. But neither man was penalized by major league baseball for using performance enhancing drugs and both have been on the Hall of Fame eligibility list for nine years, just like Schilling.

     It would seem to me, if baseball wants to have a character clause in deciding who gets into the Hall of Fame, it should apply that clause beforehand and decide which players do not even belong on the annual list, rather than leaving it to sportswriters. (I can’t think of a more qualified group to do the actual voting, as has been suggested.) That makes the writers’ task much simpler. If he’s on the list, just judge him on his on-field performance and nothing else. His character is OK with us. In that case, Bonds and Clemens would be shoe-ins. 

      Schilling to me would still remain borderline, a man with far-right extremist views who was also a very good pitcher. Someone who, ironically, was removed by ESPN as its commentator on the 2015 Little League World Series because he posted something on social media comparing Muslims to Nazis and who the next year was fired by ESPN for an anti-transgender post on social media. In those cases, I think ESPN made the right decision, for the good name of baseball and for them as journalists.

      So, this year’s lesson from the sports pages: If you want to be fussy about what kind of people can come into your home, you set the rules and you make the decision. Don’t give some strangers that responsibility. Also, if you’re going to shoot your mouth off with hateful nonsense, be prepared for the consequences.

      For me, Schilling can go to Cooperstown or not, just don’t ask me to have lunch with that bigoted, loudmouth jerk.

rjgaydos@gmail,com

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